Week of December 8, 2014

31736_588209022314_7271854_n (1)

Happy Birthday to my brother, Pat! Here we are living the 1-2-3 dream, way back in 2010 at Golden Gate Fields’ Dollar Day. He’s 31 today, and still rocking those Sanuks (I think).


I Survived a Soccer Riot and I’m Luckier Than I Even Realized

In 2010, I went to Argentina with my brother, Pat, and my friend Rowe. We were determined to go to a soccer game, and at the last minute figured it’d be safer to shell out the extra cash to join a tourist group, with tickets in the tourist section, than to fend for ourselves. Part of me thought it was kinda weak, to not just go it alone. I’d been to lots of intense games before. And as the game went on, the atmosphere was intense but I didn’t feel scared – except when the tour guide took us to the ATM to get cash to pay him – the look on his face let me know that even he didn’t want to be seen with that much cash.

Still, the game ended rather uneventfully. We were walking down this grand staircase to exit the stadium. I remarked, “It wasn’t THAT crazy.” My foot hit the ground floor and suddenly the massive crowd in front of us that had already exited the stadium came rushing back in. A huge piece of asphalt went whizzing by my head. More rocks came flying in as we scampered back up the stairs to relative safety. I saw a cop get hit with a huge rock, blood rushing from his head. Cops in riot gear appeared out of nowhere and fought back the crowd. They closed the large garage-like doors and we waited for a while. I asked the tour guide if this happens every game, and he said usually. I asked if this was a particularly bad riot, and he said no. Oh.

And apparently he was right, as this article illustrates. Eleven people were murdered at Argentinean soccer games in 2010, the year I was there. And really, it’s so much more than that. So the next time you feel like complaining that some opposing fans were rude to you, just be glad you’re not an Argentinean soccer fan – where the teams are controlled by the mob. -TOB

Source: The Beautiful Game”, Patrick Symmes, Outside Magazine (10/09/12)

PAL Note: Fascinating read, definitely worth the time. The connection between money, politics, and soccer down there is shocking. Here are some of my favorite quotes and factoids:

  • “In 2009, Argentina surpassed Brazil as the world’s top producer of soccer talent, farming out 1,700 players to professional leagues abroad.”
  • “Argentina’s fan clubs, meanwhile, have become ‘not quite as violent as the Bloods and the Crips, but similar,’ says Andy Markovits, a University of Michigan political scientist specializing in soccer culture.”
  • “South American teams are private clubs, owned by their members. That leaves fan clubs, with their big voting blocs, able to make or break club officials and thereby control coaches and athletes. The barras routinely skim off players’ salaries.”
  • “A riot. Some rocks. Gas guns. It’s just background noise.”

Marshawn Lynch: ‘Beast Mode’ Isn’t Even The Half Of It

We like our athletes to be one thing, and only one thing at a time. Tiger Woods: GOAT; Tiger Woods: the scandal. Manny Ramirez: ‘Manny being Manny’; Manny Ramirez: distraction. LeBron James: Judas; LeBron James: Prodigal Son. Aren’t these examples both of their labels? Seeing as Tommy is the biggest Cal fan/apologist I’ve met, I thought it would be interesting to present my take on a Marshawn Lynch story. I like that the story is about the multiplicity of him, both as a player and as a person. He’s described as the greatest teammate by several players, and yet he’s held out for more money. He’s both charitable with his time and has had run-ins with the law. I hope that, while reading this, you’re thinking, “none of these aspects are mutually exclusive,” because that’s the entire point of the article, and I like that variance is the focal point of an athlete profile. – PAL

Source: “A Marshawn Kind of Way”, Robert Klemko, MMQB (12/9/14)

TOB Note: His college coach, Jeff Tedford, loved him like a son. His coach with the Bills, Dick Jauron, loves him. Pete Carroll loves him. I thoroughly enjoyed this article, and I hope that the Seahawks do release him, so that I can go back to expressing my unabashed love for Marshawn in public. I want his Cal-colored Beast Mode shirt so bad, but not until he leaves Seattle. Also, I loved this quote from his Seahawks teammate K.J. Wright: “He does things outside of the media that no one ever sees, and most guys do it to get on TV. But he does it from the heart. It’s real.” Ahem.


NERD ALERT, NERD ALERT: A Sport Technology Story (but, you know, a cool one)

Of course Wired brings us this story. I like the “Kiss Cam” at a ballgame, I like seeing players’ stats on the scoreboard, and the yellow first down line on TV helps out, too. Other than that, I tend to think I don’t need much razzle-dazzle connected to sporting events. Well, I just might be a liar, because these optical illusions playing out during the pregame at NBA courts and NHL rinks are pretty damn cool. Here’s a short article about how they do it and why teams are shelling out seven figures for the technology. At the very least, it’s worth clicking through to see some of these pre-game routines for the New Jersey Devils & Calgary Flames (I know the Cleveland Cavaliers have a pretty cool one, too). – PAL

Source: The Visual Trickery That Turns Hockey Rinks Into Lakes of Fire”, Tim Moynihan, Wired (12/11/14)

TOB Note: I first saw this a couple years back, I think a video from a Cavs game. So cool. Watch the videos in the story – the table hockey video in the Flames video is fantastic.


Darren Rovell Sucks, So This is Great

God, this is great. ESPN “sports business” analyst Darren Rovell is a huge tool. It’s really the perfect word to describe him. Some guy took Rovell tweets, word for word, and used them as pick-up lines on Tinder, to varying degrees of success. Hilarious. -TOB

Source: Hitting on Tinder Girls Using Only Word-For-Word Rovell Tweets”, WorldWideWob (12/07/14)

PAL Note: This guy is a comedic visionary. I have nothing more to say.


Hockey Player Has No Idea Who Nelson Mandela Was, Keeps Talking

This is kinda mean to laugh at, but I’m sorry, I can’t help it. A Toronto Maple Leaf player attended an event on the one year anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela. Unfortunately for him, he was asked about Mandela. I say unfortunate because he had NO IDEA who Mandela is. This, however, does not stop him. Here’s a taste:

“Well obviously growing up, he’s one of the most known athletes in the world. A lot of impact in any kind of sport that he did, and even playing hockey, everyone knows him, right? From being the type of person that he was off the ice and on the ice. It’s unfortunate that he passed a year ago, but, he changed a lot while he was with us, and he’s a tremendous guy.”

So good. -TOB

Source: Jonathan Bernier Humiliatingly Has No Idea Who Nelson Mandela Is“, Kevin Draper, Deadspin (12/09/14)


Dude, Where’s My…

This article is short, but hilarious. A reader sent Deadspin a newspaper clipping from 1941. It’s hilarious:

tj8spoc3lxb5cywstmlt

“Broooooo!” “Duuuuuuude!” -TOB

Source: Fans Were Just as Drunk and Stupid in 1941 As They Are Today”, by Tom Ley, Deadspin (12/08/14)

PAL Note: What a fantastic mistake that is all but impossible today. I’m positive these dudes had the time of their lives, and the story only highlights how little the actual game means to the fan experience.


Video of the Week


Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or: Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

Twitter: @123sportsnews


“My density has popped me to you.”

-George McFly

Advertisements

Week of November 17, 2014

 

Guy Fieri: Mullet Club

Amateur Kickboxer Dies – How Can This Happen?

In March of this year, amateur kickboxer Dennis Munson, Jr. died after just two rounds of a fight due to repeated blows to the head. It was his first career fight. After a tragedy like that, the first question is how could this happen? There are referees. Ringside doctors. How can they all fail this young man? This article breaks down how, when, and where they failed, leading to Munson’s death. Embedded in the story is a ten minute video, where boxing experts break down the many, many times that the referee ignored obvious signs of the trouble Munson was in, and allowed him to continue to get beaten about the head. It also shows the complete failure by the ringside doctor. It is a brutal video to watch, and a brutal story to read. If you don’t have the time, Deadspin has the Cliff’s Notes version here. -TOB

Source: Death in the Ring“, by John Diedrich, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (11/16/14)

PAL Note: Brutal. Not many characters in this story come away looking good, especially the ringside doctor. Incompetence is one thing, but carelessness on nearly every level is quite another. I highly suggest reading the full story instead of summary version.


And That’s Why You Have Agents

Money and family has proven a very bad combination in sports, yet here are a couple more stories where family members of athletes act on the belief that they are entitled to some of the wealth, sometimes a whole lot of the wealth. They are not. I direct you to exhibits A and B: Ryan Howard (MLB) and Jack Johnson (NHL). I’m guessing these families aren’t getting together for Thanksgiving this year. – PAL

Source: “The family legal fight over Ryan Howard’s finances”, David Murphy, Philly.com (11/19/14); “Blind-sided: Blue Jackets’ Jack Johnson is bankrupt; who led him there is biggest shocker”, Aaron Portzline, The Columbus Dispatch (11/20/14)


San Francisco Is Smart. Hosting The Olympics Is Dumb

Larry Baer, CEO of the San Francisco Giants, is leading a committee to have San Francisco bid on the 2024 Summer Olympics. Yes, this is a long way off in the distance, and there are other cities currently showing interest, but let’s just drop this right now. This is the fourth attempt at bringing the Games to the Bay Area (2008, 2012, 2016). Everything we’ve learned about host cities in recent history tells us that hosting the Olympics is a colossal waste of money that does not deliver the economic growth promised. – PAL

Source: “San Francisco puts in chips for 2024 Olympics”, John Coté, San Francisco Chronicle (11/20/14)

TOB Note: I don’t care. BRING ME THE OLYMPICS!


The Line Between Advocacy and Amazement
For those of you who have loyally been following 1-2-3 Sports! (thank you!), you know that I’ve recently got into climbing, and Alex Honnald is the the Babe Ruth of free solo climbing (no ropes – you fall and you die). We featured his story in the May 26 digest. After 4 years of sponsorship, Clif Bar recently dropped its sponsorship of Honnald and 3 other climbers. It seems as though Clif Bar, like anyone who’s watched Honnald climb, essentially believes his life will come to an end sooner rather than later, and they don’t want to sponsor an athlete who kicks it doing what they are sponsoring him to do. The brand risks being seen as an advocate. When considered in the context of the X Games, where extreme sports are becoming exceedingly popular and life-threatening, I side with Clif Bar. This story was sent to us by 1-2-3 follower Jamie Morganstern (@jjmorganstern). Solid find, Jamie. Send us more stories, folks! – PAL

Source: “The Calculus of Climbing at the Edge”, Alex Honnald, The New York Times (11/19/14)

TOB Note: I’m going to take the other side, here. He does something dangerous, yes. But so do lots of athletes. Race car drivers (ok, they’re not athletes, but still), downhill skiers, BMX bikers, etc. Should all the companies that sponsor these athletes pull their money on the chance that the athlete will die while wearing the sponsor’s logo? Seems like a copout by Clif Bar.


Video of the Week: 


Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or: Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

Twitter: @123sportsnews


“A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I’m a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald… striking. So, I’m on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one – big hitter, the Lama – long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-lagunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, ‘Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.’ And he says, ‘Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’ So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

– Carl Spackler

 

Week of October 20, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.37.25 PM


Giants Don’t Rise to the Occasion

And that’s what makes the San Francisco Giants of the last five years great. OK, let’s set aside Wednesday’s bullpen debacle (like many of you, I’m done with the Hunter Strickland experiment). How else can you explain a team making it back to the World Series without: A) their lead-off hitter (honestly, when’s the last time Angel Pagan entered your mind?), B) their starting 2nd baseman/#2 hitter/2012 post-season hero (Marco Scutaro), and C) two of their five starting pitchers (Cain and Lincecum)? I’ve never bought in to the notion that sabermetrics (empirical analysis) and the intangibles are an either/or situation. Why can’t a team’s WHIP and team’s chemistry be appreciated by the same person? Why must we be able to attach a numerical valuation to every goddamn aspect of my favorite sport, and why can’t the “old school” and the “new school” meet somewhere in the middle? I’m a big believer in the self-fulfilling prophecy, and I’m also a big believer in Pablo Sandoval’s 1.305 OPS in the World Series. -PAL

Source: “Giants’ brotherhood, consistency paying dividends in October”; Michael Rosenberg; Sports Illustrated (10/22/14)


Concussions: When Is Enough Enough?NHL star Patrice Bergeron suffered a severe concussion in 2005 that almost ended his career. Some attribute Bergeron’s willingness to speak out about the side effects of the injury to the NHL’s advances in dealing with concussions. Players are no longer told to “shake off the cobwebs,” and that’s a good thing. It’s a very good article, but I find it troubling that Pierce mentions Bergeron’s multiple concussions since 2005 without any suggestion that, by continuing to play, Bergeron is jeopardizing his chances of living a long and normal life. Or rather, he acknowledges it, but it doesn’t bother him. He closes the article, “He has counted the cost more closely than most. He has given the game his informed consent.” I find this sentiment sad. We all know the story of players like Junior Seau. I hope Patrice Bergeron, no matter how good he might be, is able to get out before it’s too late. -TOB

Source: Cerebral Commotion: Patrice Bergeron’s Quiet Concussion Radicalism”, by Charles P. Pierce, Grantland (10/23/14)

PAL Note: I really like the sentiment of Pierce’s story here. Bergeron is tough in the traditional sense of the word, but the idea of open honesty being considered a type of toughness makes sense, especially in the context of such a masculine sport. Also, like Tommy, I’m concerned for this dude.


After the Storm at Penn State

It’s been three years since the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. Incoming freshman were 14 when the story broke. The tragedy is old, depressing, tired, and still infuriating (he was found guilty of raping kids, and I don’t know why we call it by any other name); however, it takes years for us to grasp a story of this magnitude. Perspective and time have never been more important than right at this moment when our attention span has been reduced to seconds. We have to remember to look back at a story after the headline has passed. While I think the last part of the article fans out pretty wide, it’s an important read. -PAL

Source: “Forever changed: Where is Penn State three years after Sandusky scandal?”; Tim Layden; Sports Illustrated (10/23/14)


A Race Car Fueled By Marijuana

In May 1986, IndyCar racer Randy Lanier won the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Award. He appeared on the verge of stardom. By the fall, he had been arrested and was facing a lifetime in prison. Lanier had come out of nowhere, and his sponsors were few. People wondered where the money was coming from. As the world would soon find out, Lanier was a marijuana kingpin. He was arrested and convicted, and under harsh new laws, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. His story is a fascinating one. -TOB

Source: The Man Who Turned Speedboats Full of Weed Into Indy 500 Glory”, by Patrick George, Jalopnik (10/22/14)

PAL Note: So, when is this movie coming out, because I really want to see it. What an insane story. Can you imagine – I mean, can you freakin’ imagine – taking a speed boat down to the Bahamas, filling it with weed, then driving back to Florida and getting in a race car and going 200 MPH? This guy was a rock star! I would need a diaper, a barf bag, and a life jacket.


Short-Shorts: Not Officially Dead

Ladies, rejoice! L.A. Clipper Chris Douglas-Roberts (aka CDR) was a favorite of mine when he was in college at Memphis. He has bounced around the league in the ensuing years, but he is making headlines as we head into the NBA season. Not for his play – but because he is choosing to bring back short-shorts. This is at once terrifying and hilarious. Good job, CDR. -TOB

Source: Clippers’ Chris Douglas-Roberts is Medium-Cool with His Short-Shorts“, by Ben Bolch & Nathan Fenno, Los Angeles Times (10/21/14)

PAL Note: Please. They are just regular shorts! Comparatively speaking – yes – they are short by NBA standards, but they are normal length. Call me when he fully commits to this, a la John Stockton.


VIDEO OF THE WEEK


Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or: Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

Twitter: @123sportsnews


“What do you know about Tweetle Beetles? Well…”

-Dr. Seuss

Week of September 15, 2014

pic


Hey, Everybody. We Matter!

Yes, more about the mess in the NFL. My opinions on this have been conflicting and inconsistent. I have at times lamented the fact that the NFL punishing players for off-field incidents is nothing more than PR, and so it seems hollow and fake. But in this article, Will Leitch makes a really great point:

The pressure on everyone involved, from the league to the sponsors to the team to the players … it has all come from you. From us. Sure, it’s cynical and hypocritical of all these entities to pretend they care about “the right thing” and justice, when all they really care about public relations. But that doesn’t mean that the right thing wasn’t done, that justice wasn’t actually served. That’s because of you. That’s because so many people spoke up and, more important, they could all hear us. They couldn’t ignore us if they tried…. Sometimes you look at Twitter, and social media, and comments sections, and it makes you despair for humanity. But sometimes it makes a difference. Sometimes it is a force for good. Sometimes, it really is progress.”

That is spot on. Unlike Phil, I don’t feel the need to boycott the NFL. Being vocal about how these incidents, and the NFL’s maddeningly inconsistent punishments, however, does help. And if the punishments cause players to stop doing things like beating their wives and girlfriends (or even just reduces the number), well, that’s also good. -TOB

Note:  Boycott, tweet, post, etc – whatever card you want to play is fine by me, but play a card.  We – the common people – need to be better on calling b.s. when b.s. is what we’re fed. – PAL

Source: The NFL: Where Our Opinion Matters”, Will Leitch, Sports on Earth (09/17/2014)


Yes, Even More About the NFL

Dave McKenna is a great sports writer with real integrity. In this piece, he goes in-depth on how the most prominent NFL sportswriters have become nothing more than mouthpieces for the NFL and Roger Goodell. But this cozy relationship hung these prominent writers out to dry when the second Ray Rice tape was released. They had all suggested or said that the NFL had seen the second video, and that the video backed up the light punishment. Those writers now look like idiots, and initially they were quite unhappy. But, they couldn’t bit the hand that feeds too long, and before the week was up, many of them were backing off their criticism of the NFL, and once again spouting the party line. Sad. I highly recommend this one. -TOB

Source: “Will the Elite NFL Media Still be Stooges After the Ray Rice Scandal“, Dave McKenna, Deadspin (09/16/2014)

Note: This story was a pick of mine this week, too. Upon more reflection, it seems obvious that we shouldn’t have our primary source of sports news be a company that has a professional relationship with a league upon which it reports. -PAL


Power Play

I don’t expect you to care about the Columbus Bluejackets. Hell, I don’t expect you to even know what professional league the Columbus Blue Jackets play in (the NHL). But here’s a story for any fan who’s gone through the dreaded contract negotiations headache (Giants fans, be prepared – your next one will be Pablo Sandoval, and we all know he’s looking to get paid). Depending on your view, the NHL team in Ohio (not a misprint) pulled either a pretty gutsy or dumb move  – they went public with the offers rising star Ryan Johansen has rejected. How could this move end well for the team? Maybe they just wanted to call b.s. on this kid. I can get behind that. Of course he can call b.s. on the team, and I can get behind that, too. -PAL

Source: Blue Jackets Not F*&^ing Around With Ryan Johansen Contract Negotiations”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (09/17/2014)

Note: I know nothing about this kid, but if he’s a very good, young star, then I have no problem with him seeking as much money as he can get. Owners are greedy billionaires who make money hand over fist. If Johansen, a restricted free agent, can get better money elsewhere and force the Blue Jackets to let him take that deal, or to give it to him themselves, more power to him. -TOB


1 Swing >/< $10 Million?

Anthony Kim was on the verge of being the next young rival to Tiger Woods. Don’t forget – he was a badass on the 2008 Ryder Cup team. He also liked to party and spend his money (and wear oversized belt buckles). Where has he gone? Injuries have a lot to do with it, but so too might a hefty insurance policy that would be void if he came back. -PAL

Source: “Anthony Kim, MIA Since 2012, Wrestles With Whether To Tee It Up Again or Reap an Eight-Figure Disability Settlement“, Alan Shipnuck, Golf.com (09/17/2014)


Close, But No Cigar

A guy placed a $5 bet on the NFL games last week. No big deal, except he did a 15-team parlay. Through Sunday, he was 14-0 and poised to turn $5 into $100,000. Then a kid from Stanford had to screw it all up. – PAL

Source: Bettor loses $100k payday”, David Purdum, ESPN (09/17/2014)

Note: As always, Eff Stanfurd. -TOB


VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Bryan Cranston, aka the Dad from Malcolm in the Middle aka Walter White aka Heisenberg absolutely kills this long commercial for the MLB Playoffs. It’s six minutes, but super funny.


Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or: Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

Twitter: @123sportsnews


“…cause’ there will always be poverty and pain and war and justice in this world, but there will, thank the Lord, always be… the Beatles.”

-The Count, Pirate Radio

Week of June 9, 2014

cakdauqhmgswm3umyezd


Argentina needs Messi, but do they want him?

Lionel Messi left his home in Argentina when he was 13 for pretty understandable reasons – one of the best clubs in Europe wanted him (FC Barcelona), and they would provide the medical treatments he needed (he had a growth-hormone deficiency). Yet, even as Messi is widely considered one of the best players ever, Argentineans have a surprisingly complicated relationship with their star. They don’t completely see him as one of their own. “We’ve always liked how Messi plays,” the driver, Dario Torrisi, told me, “but we don’t know who he is.” This story does a great job exploring what “home” means in the context of the world’s most popular game. -PAL

Source: “The Burden of Being Messi”; by Jeff Himmelman; The New York Times (6/5/14)

TOB: I visited Argentina about a month before the 2010 World Cup, as Messi was tearing up the Champions League. I can say that Argentina was pretty bonkers for him. The media narrative right now seems to be that Messi is not loved in Argentina (though the latest issue of ESPN the Magazine argues that, while this is true for those old enough to have lived through the 1986 World Cup, the younger generation loves Messi and finds Maradona rather abhorrent). He’s a quiet guy – he’s not bombastic. He has struggled, comparatively speaking, on the national team. He’s not Maradona. This is all true. But he’s amazing to watch, and some of his national team struggles can be pinned on a coach who had no idea how to use him (and had no business being coach *coughMaradonacough*). I think this is his time – and I think Argentina should go deep into this World Cup, with Messi leading the way.  


The Times, They Are a-Changin’

I can’t watch college football anymore without feeling a twinge of guilt, though I still do. In fact, I’m a season ticket holder.  But a tidal wave of change is preparing to hit American college sports. We might not know yet when exactly it will arrive and what it will leave in its wake, but it is coming. The debate on whether to pay college football players seems to be approaching a cultural tipping point (with Title IX implications of paying players threatening to leave college sports completely unrecognizable). The myth of amateurism has never rung so hollow. Making matters even worse is the fact that universities nationwide are facing budget reductions, as state legislatures have been cutting back on higher education funding for years (California, my home state, chief among them). And while public university budgets are being slashed, with those costs being passed on to students, universities across the country continue to subsidize their athletics programs with millions of dollars per year. So it was with some pride that I read this article, about how my alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley, has attempted to eliminate its athletic subsidy. In a few years, Cal has reduced its athletic subsidy from $12.1 million in 2010, to $3.2 million in 2013. The job is not done, but Cal has set a model that other schools should look toward. TOB

Source: “Cal Finds Little Company in Push to Cut Subsidies”; by Steve Berkowitz, Christopher Schaars, and Jodi Upton, USA Today (06/05/2014)

PAL: About a week ago I texted Tommy to give him crap. I’d heard the football field at Memorial Stadium (Cal’s football stadium) referred to as “Kabam Field” on the local sports radio station. Cal had struck a deal with a mobile game maker. “How lame,” I thought, as I grabbed for my phone. In fact, it’s not lame at all. Aside from the fact no one will ever, ever, ever refer to the field as “Kabam Field” in any normal conversation, Cal stands to earn $18 million over 15 years. Among other things, that money will be used to help finance the stadium renovations and student-athlete center (you can find the breakdown here). Lame? No. More like common sense.


A Million Dollars a Year on Fantasy Sports? What the Hell?

You ever win a fantasy league? I have. A few times. The gratification is short-lived, but I still feel pride in each of those wins, and aggravation for the losses. Months of work and hours pouring over stats often come down to something as stupid as 3 blocked shots in 5 minutes by a point guard who had 3 blocked shots the entire season before that, costing you the title (this actually happened to me). But what if the season didn’t take months, but occurred in the course of one night? And what if you bet money on that “season”? And what if you played thousands of “seasons” per night? You’ve just entered the world of Cory Albertson, a business school student at Notre Dame, who has turned fantasy sports into a science – and expects to make $1 million dollars this year on fantasy sports. Yes, one million. On fantasy sports. -TOB

Source: “A Fantasy Sports Wizard’s Winning Formula”; by Brad Reagan, Wall Street Journal (06/04/14)

PAL: When something  conceived as a game then becomes a business, there will be gap when it’s ripe for the taking. Fantasy sports hedge fund? I have some buddies who will no doubt contribute to this dude’s next vacation estate. Also, did you notice TOB mentioned he’s won a fantasy league a few times?


This is the perfect story if you don’t love (or “get”) hockey.

I grew up playing the sport in Minnesota. It’s a great game. Fun to play, fun to watch in person, and it features incredible athletes. Aside from a little San Jose Sharks fever once every couple of years, there aren’t a ton of hockey fans out here in California, even when two of the best teams play out here (it pains me to write that). Here’s a cool story breaking down a seemingly tiny, momentary element of the game – the faceoff. Like a jump ball in basketball, it determines possession; however, unlike in basketball, faceoffs happen dozens of times in a game where scoring is much harder to come by. What makes a player a great faceoff guy? Quick hands, researching the tendencies of the refs, and of course the willingness to headbutt your opponent. -PAL

Source: “Controlling the Faceoff is Critical to the Game of Hockey”; by David Wharton, Los Angeles Times (6/11/14)


No Respect At All.

As I write this, the Heat just lost by 21 points on their home floor in Game 4, and the Spurs have taken a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. That the Spurs are winning should not be much of a surprise to anyone who has been watching the NBA closely this year. The Heat are talented but old, and the Spurs are incredible, and have mostly torn through these playoffs. What continues to amaze me, though, is that LeBron James does not get the respect he deserves. “He’s not Jordan.” Yeah, and? No one is. “He abandoned Cleveland on national TV.” A mistake, to be sure. But why has LeBron not been forgiven? The guy has won two NBA titles and and made 5 NBA Finals. He’s the greatest player of his generation, and the ultimate team player. He works hard on defense, unlike many star players, and he shares the ball like Magic Johnson. Every bit of respect seems to be given grudgingly, and every time he does fail, people seem to relish it. Why? -TOB

Source: “LeBron James Has Earned More Respect Than He’s Given”; by Vincent Goodwill, The Detroit News (06/08/14)

PAL: I typically deplore when people play this card, but here I go: Magic and Michael didn’t play in the era of Twitter and 24-hour sports channels. Every sports story (and every news story for that matter) is reported on 10 percent of the time, then analyzed, editorialized, and debated the other 90 percent of the time. Stories are then made out of the opinions expressed about the original news story. This is why I can’t watch ESPN anymore (they aren’t the only guilty party, but definitely the most insufferable). LeBron was/is the most popular athlete when this media pivot took place. It’s not fair, but it makes sense.


Video of the Week Baseball players are the best.    

Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or: Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

Twitter: @123sportsnews

“I saved Latin. What did you ever do?” – Max Fischer

Week of May 18, 2014

The Western Conference Finals.

 


What Exactly Does a Pitching Coach Do? More Than You Might Think.

I’m a huge baseball fan. But sometimes I wonder, what exactly does a good pitching coach do? What does it mean to be a good pitching coach? Why do some seem to have such good reputations in the media? Doesn’t the staff’s success have more to do with talent, and the organizations ability to discover it? 123 favorite Jonah Keri explores why the Cardinals staff has been so good for so long, no matter the names: the foundation laid by former pitching coach Dave Duncan is the reason why. -TOB

Story Link: “The Duncan Way”, Jonah Keri, Grantland (05/21/14)


“I’ve been waiting 20 years for someone to knock him on his ass.”

Refs might not decide the outcome of a game, but they sure as hell influence it. Part 5/5 of a series examining NBA officiating and its lack of public accountability includes the story of Tim Donaghy–the ref busted for betting on games back in 2007–knocking out Joey Crawford (the bald ref that everyone hates, especially the Spurs). -PAL

Story Link: “Punching out Joey Crawford, and the issues on NBA officiating”, John Canzano, The Oregonian (05/16/14)


When’s the right time to call up a stud baseball prospect? Follow the money.

I’ll admit it; I’ve never completely understood the facts of team control over their baseball draft picks. This article lays it out nicely and explains the possible routes a team can take to promote (or delay) a stud minor leaguer to the bigs. Are teams putting playoff births at risk in the interest of staving off arbitration for one more year? How many divisions or wildcards have been won by a game? -PAL

Story Link: “The Polanco Problem…” Ben Lindburgh, Grantland (05/19/14)


Ever Wish You Had Grown Up Playing Sports With a Future Star? This Guy Actually Did.

Growing up, everyone probably had one or two people they played sports with, or against, that you were sure would be a future star. Usually, it never happens. This is a fun story about how a guy, about to graduate from Georgetown Law School played on a team with Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley. Yes, Beasley was always kind of weird. -TOB

Story Link: “The Lawyer Who Blocked Kevin Durant”, Dave McKenna, Grantland (05/16/14)


Sleeping With the Enemy

When my team is knocked out, I rarely root for a division/conference rival to do well. Did I want Stanford to win the Rose Bowl after my Cal Bears went 1-11 last year? Hell no. Did I cheer when they lost that game to Michigan State? Hell yes. Screw them. But that’s not the case for many Canadian hockey fans, a country that hasn’t seen the Stanley Cup return home to Canada in 21 years. They wrap themselves in the flag and root for their otherwise bitter enemies. -TOB

Story Link:  “Canada First: Why I Root for Teams I Hate”, Eva Holland, Grantland (05/22/14)


Video of the Week:


Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or:

Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

Twitter: @123sportsnews

“And just remember, fans, in the airport of life, sports is just the baggage.”

-A.C. Slater