Week of August 9, 2015

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Never not funny.


Searching for The Great Unknown in Alaska

Kayaking the Yukon River: Eva Holland is a solid writer – really enjoyed this one

At 445 miles, the Yukon River Quest in is the longest canoe and kayak race. If that’s not enough, the distance has to be covered in 84 hours. I read somewhere that adventures have now become races. There are fewer “firsts” to conquer. The highest mountains have been climbed. The globe has been circumnavigated – by plane, by all types of boats, even by exclusively human power. One dude literally ran around the world. But adventures – especially ones of endurance – are not about they take to complete.

Holland, an adventure writer from Alaska, has become one of my favorite writers since we started 1-2-3 Sports! She’s covered all sorts of endurance, adventure, and extreme sports, but she’d never experienced what she covered until taking on the Yukon River Quest with team of eight women this past spring.  “I’d signed up to paddle the River Quest because I wanted to experience the world I so often wrote about. I wanted to see the midnight sun set, and then rise again, on an empty stretch of wild river. I wanted to know what it felt like to hallucinate from exhaustion. I wanted to push my body to a point where I didn’t recognize it anymore. Most of all, I wanted to know: Could I do it?”

Holland’s story is viscerally written, hilarious, and inspiring. Joel Krahn’s photography ain’t too shabby either. Who’s up for an adventure?  -PAL

Source: “Hellbent, But Not Broken”, Eva Holland, SB Nation Longform (8/11/15)


2015 Baseball Players: Here’s a Real Brawl

There are so many incredible elements to the brawl between the Padres and Braves.

  1. Braves pitcher Pascual Perez (what a great name) beans the Padres batter with the first pitch of the game, and continues to pitch. Perez is thrown at in all three of his plate appearances.
  2. Bob Horner of the Brave is on the DL with a broken wrist, but that doesn’t stop him from coming onto the field and getting into it.
  3. Fans jump onto the field and get really get into the brawl after dousing the players in beer – always a good indicator of mayhem.
  4. A lot of WWF pointing and posturing, but it’s followed up by legit scrapping.
  5. So many non ironic mustaches.
  6. Bonus: Former Giants coach Tim Flannery is in the thick of it. The dude plays guitar, surfs, and throws down.

Source: 31 years ago today, the Brave and Padres had the greatest brawl ever”, Jason Foster, Sporting News (8/12/15)


Video of The Week: 


PAL’s Song of the Week: Benjamin Booker – “Violent Shiver

Check out all of our Songs of the Week here. Tommy’s wife likes it, but she didn’t love last week’s pick, so I have to prevent a losing streak.


“Well, it’s sentimental tacky crap. Do we look like the kind of store that sells I Just Called to Say I Love You? Go to the mall.”

– Barry

 

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Week of May 4, 2015

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1 year of 1-2-3 Sport! No sweat, says Draymond and Steph.


Happy First Birthday to 1-2-3 Sports!

The idea was hatched at a bar, as many good ones are. Our original goal was to make it six months. And to be honest, that seemed like a stretch. Before we found our groove, Thursdays were very late nights for us – reading, writing, editing. A few weeks after we started, my baby boy was born, making things even worse. But we powered through and here we are. We missed only one week – New Year’s Day – and in my mind that’s a hell of an accomplishment. We have had a lot of fun – there’s a lot of time and energy that goes into this weekly digest, but we have taken something we both really enjoy and tried to share that with our family and friends. The feedback we receive, whether online or in person, is rewarding – it’s nice to know that people enjoy our efforts and the product.

We will continue to do our best to bring you our favorite sports writing, with our own take – hopefully in an entertaining fashion. Please do continue to give us feedback as it is always appreciated. And if you really enjoy a particular week’s post, you can always share it with your friends and family, too. -TOB

Tommy likes sports. Phil likes sports. Here are our favorite stories of the week. That summary is at the top of every post we share, and that remains the goal: Hunt down the best sports-related stories, explain why we think they are worth your time, and link to the story. Simple. Tommy’s doing the heavy lifting with regards to eloquence and gratitude here. I’m going to ask you for something. On this, our first anniversary, I ask you to write an email to a few friends who like sports, add https://123sportsnews.wordpress.com into the email with the subject line “A Sports Blog Worth Your Time,” and write one sentence on why you like it. We appreciate you, and we need more of you! -PAL


Bill Simmons Is A Free Agent

ESPN will not renew Bill Simmons’ contract in September, 2015. The biggest name in sports blogs was a bartender when he started a website called BostonSportsGuy.com in 1997. At first, his column was only available on AOL. He started with ESPN in 2001, helped create the 30 for 30 documentary franchise, hosts the most popular sports podcast, and generally speaking has built a nice little empire for himself, all stemming from a sports blog. I don’t love his writing, but it will be interesting to see what he does next. Grantland will continue without Simmons at the helm-PAL

Source: Bill Simmons and ESPN Are Parting Ways, Richard Sandomir, The New York Times (5/8/15)

TOB Note: I saw this news on Twitter this morning while sitting on the toilet, which seems appropriate, given Simmons’ habit of encouraging readers to print his long columns at work and read them in the bathroom. Simmons has not been the entertaining Simmons he used to be for quite some time – probably since he moved from Boston to L.A. and began splitting his time with ESPN and the Jimmy Kimmel Show as a writer. He got to Hollywood, he started hobnobbing with celebrities, and he lost his fastball as a writer. It wasn’t all downhill, though. As Phil mentioned, Simmons helped create the 30 for 30 series, which isn’t perfect but has put out some damn good movies, and he created Grantland, which is also hit-and-miss. I am curious about what happens to Grantland. Despite Skipper’s statement that this won’t affect Grantland – how can it not? He is Grantland. He handpicked his staff. Wherever he goes, he has a stable of writers who may or may not want to follow. As Jerry Maguire once said, “Who’s coming with me?”


Baseball’s Renaissance Man

Michael Burke was a soldier and a spy. He ran the circus, worked in Hollywood, and had a butler deliver his juice to him while he served as a CBS executive. He was President and part-owner of the Yankees, drinking buddies with Ernest Hemingway, and he drove a Delorean. I don’t know what else I could tell you that would better convince you to read his story. – PAL

Source: Yankee, Executive, Soldier, Spy”, Robert Weintraub, Grantland (5/6/15)


There Was No Joy in Manila, Mighty Manny Had Struck Out

If you enjoyed the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, you are probably a boxing fan – Mayweather put on an absolute clinic and made one of the most exciting boxers of his generation, Manny Pacquiao, an absolute bore. That is the sign of a great boxer, and Floyd (for all his personal failings), has been doing that for his entire career. If you thought the fight was boring, you probably watch one or two fights a year, when you hear that a buddy is ordering the fight. If the fight left you dejected, though, then you are a huge Manny fan (or Floyd hater) and have an idea what the fight was like in Manny’s home country of the Philippines. Grantland’s Rafe Bartholomew was in the Philippines, watching the fight at a medium-sized public gathering with the people. His description of the scene as the fight unfolded is great:

“The Mandaluyong crowd, however, seemed unperturbed by Mayweather’s defensive clinic. Perhaps this was because many average Filipinos, with help from the partisan local media, haven’t been privy to the thorny, complicated history of why this fight took five years to be made. For them, the story is simple: It didn’t happen because Mayweather was afraid of Pacquiao. In Manila, the dominant fight-week narrative wasn’t Mayweather’s history of violence against women, but how Pacquiao would finally get a chance to shut up loudmouth “Money” Mayweather. So even though Mayweather was flummoxing Pacquiao early, the fans around me remained mostly untroubled because Mayweather wasn’t landing many telling blows of his own. Every time Mayweather jumped away from a Pacquiao blow or hugged him to squelch his combinations, the crowd hooted and laughed. They saw what they already believed: an opponent who feared the power behind their countryman’s fists.” -TOB

Source: Mayweather-Pacquiao: A Sad Morning in Manila”, Rafe Bartholomew, Grantland (05/04/2015)

PAL: I’m out on boxing. Has anyone talked about this fight after lunchtime on Monday? I like the idea of it, but I’m an amatuer watcher. The clinic that Mayweather put on Manny did nothing for me. I don’t know enough, and I don’t care enough. I do love the hype though. Leading up to the fight, I was getting excited. I like the slo-mo documentaries and the training montages, but from what I saw nothing happened in the fight. Because the fight stunk, my interest in the ancillary stories like this one fall a bit empty. So this is how the rest of you feel when you watch a baseball game, eh?


Del Boca Vista: Barry Bonds & Life After Baseball (and BALCO)

By most accounts Barry Bonds is a dick who was the best at his profession, which is why a story showing him experiencing humility is a good read. Bonds – a man whose connection to PEDs and doping are recorded ad nauseam – has donated over $100K to a women’s cycling team. The fact that a man famous for his skills in a sport forever linked to doping is backing a cycling team – the only other sport that rivals baseball in doping infamy – is interesting on the surface. What’s more interesting about this story is the unique situation Bonds found himself in following his retirement. What does someone who is the very best at his/her thing do when they can no longer do his/her thing? Barry Bonds was not only the most gifted hitter most of us have ever seen, but he was/is also a genius when it comes to hitting technique and the chess match between pitcher and hitter. In other words, he knew more about his craft than just about anyone breathing. So take that expert and put him on a bike – something he knows nothing about – at a time when he’s in court, hated by most everyone outside of the 415 area code, and going through his second divorce. A hyper-competitive, talented athlete exploring a sport and skill he knows nothing about at a time when he’s on an island. Instead of making adjustments at the most microscopic level, he’s learning the fundamentals. Here’s a fresh perspective on a master in the beginner class.  Thanks for sending this along, Jamie Morganstern. -PAL

Source: Barry Bonds Is Shifting Gears”, Bonnie D. Ford, ESPN the Magazine (5/6/15)

TOB: I didn’t love this story – there is far too much discussion about Bonds’ connections to steroids and cycling’s doping problem – but one thing I really like about it is that it shows Bonds has more depth than the baseball media portrayed during his career. It reminds me of the article we featured last week ahead of the Mayweather/Pacquaio fight – how the sports media paints with a broad brush on who is “good” and “bad”. Bonds was “bad” because he wasn’t polite to the writers who covered him, and that is how most sports fans knew him. But as with everyone, there are shades of gray. Bonds has done a lot of great things that don’t get a lot of attention, like offering to pay for Bryan Stow’s children’s college education, and now supporting this women’s cycling team. I’ve always liked Bonds and thought he got a bad rap – it’s nice to see him get some positive attention, even if it’s 20 years late.


Manny Being Too Manly?

Pedro Martinez released an autobiography this week. He’s been making the media rounds, telling some stories; this one, about the 2004 Red Sox, is especially great. They called themselves “The Idiots” – and, really, it was hard to argue. But the team also was a lot of fun. Pedro writes that before playoff games the players would take a shot, suggested by a different player each game. When it was Manny’s turn, he suggested a shot of “Mama Juana” – gin, honey, wine, and medicine root. But Manny added his own twist – Viagra. Ellis Burks, who was on the team but not active, decided to give it a shot. As Pedro tells it:

“I say, ‘You know, this Mama Juana, if you drink it, you might get turned on.’ He said, ‘Oh, I’ll try it. I’ll try it. I’m not playing anyway.’ So he took it, it seemed like it worked. So everybody was coming up to him for a little shot.”

Watch Pedro tell it himself here.- TOB

Source: Manny Ramirez Gave Ellis Burks a Boner”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (05/06/2015)

PAL: Two things: (1) Pedro Martinez, a head-hunter loathed by many (and one of the best 10 pitchers in the history of the game), is going to age very gracefully and become MLB’s cool uncle who’s full of wisdom. His stock will only go up in retirement, and he’ll become baseball’s better version of Charles Barkley. (2) Baseball players are a bunch of grown-ass men acting like fifteen year-olds, and sometime that’s really funny. This is one of those times.


Video of the Week:


PAL’s song of the week: Hey Now Baby” – Professor Longhair. The version on Alligator has the crackly recording, and the vocals are perfect.

Also, with permission from Ryan Rowe Productions, here is the “Walk Up Songs” playlist you’ve been waiting for. What song would want playing when you walk up to home plate to hit a home run?


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

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“I got laid off when they closed that asbestos factory, and wouldn’t you know it, the army cuts my disability pension because they said that the plate in my head wasn’t big enough.”

– Cousin Eddie

 

 

Week of January 5, 2015


Ownage: Mickey Morandini > Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz

Who? That’s the point. Second baseman Mickey Morandini hit .352 off of Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz over his career (Smoltz and Pedro were voted into the Hall of Fame this week). I’m not talking about 10 ABs either. He faced these two over 100 times in his career. While a .344 average against Smoltz is impressive, let’s focus on the real feat: the “dandy little gloveman” hit .370 against Pedro. Can you imagine what Smoltz and Pedro must’ve been thinking when this guy walked up to the plate? I’d bet money it included Joe Pesci’s preferred adjective ending in -ing, bookended by “this” and “guy”. This is a fun read that highlights the seemingly illogical nature of 1-on-1 matchups in baseball that’s hard to imagine in other sports. It doesn’t exactly translate, but can you fathom Jared Dudley owning LeBron James 1-on-1? And, yes, Pedro was as good of a pitcher as LeBron James is a basketball player. – PAL

Source: “Aces’ Obstacle on Way to Hall: A Modest Hitter”, Tyler Kepner, The New York Times (1/5/14)

TOB: As Phil notes, this article reminds me of why baseball is so weird. I checked – here are some other big name pitchers that Morandini killed: Maddux (.361), Andy Benes (.424), Tom Glavine (.293), Dwight Gooden (.359), Roger Clemens (.667 – but just 3 at bats). Wild. I also like wondering how the reporter stumbled upon this story – did someone tip him off to it? Is it some weird bit of trivia he came across years ago, and held onto for this day, when Smoltz and Pedro would be elected to the Hall? Or was he simply perusing baseball-reference.com for hitters who did well against the three electees when he noticed Morandini’s name at the top of two of the lists?


Ugh. The Maloofs Won’t Go Away
Oh, just die already. -TOB
Source: “Former Sacramento Kings Owners Maloofs Looking to Get Back Into Sports Business”, Dale Kasler, San Jose Mercury-News (12/25/14)

PAL: Owning a stake in a team is a great gig if you can get it. Frank McCourt runs the Dodgers into the ground, the team files for bankruptcy, then he sells the team for $2 billion (according to NBC sports, he walked away with $1.278 billion). Owners threaten to move teams if they don’t get state funding to build stadiums (my all-time WTF in sports, see: the Rams, Twins, Vikings, Saints, Marlins, etc.). So now the Maloofs are getting into the NHL as potential minority owners for a Las Vegas hockey team. Let them. Any team in Las Vegas will see a 2-year spike, then die, just like everything does in Las Vegas.


To Quote George Costanza, “You’re Superman,” Tommy Caldwell
This story has everything. Kidnapping by extremists: check. Saw accident: check. Sleeping in a tent on the face of El Capitan: check. I’m getting old. I’ve become drawn to simplicity in the world of sports. I scarfed down Christopher McDougall’s book, Born To Run, which looks to figure out why a forgotten tribe in Mexico is home to some of the best endurance runners the world’s ever known. I’m captivated by free solo climber Alex Honnold (high walls, no ropes). I’m fascinated by the objective of a pursuit being singular, instantly understood, and yet extremely difficult. Climb the wall. Run from here to there as fast as you can. All of this, topped off with a little nudge from Jamie Morganstern, led me to this story about Tommy Caldwell. He’s currently on El Capitan about to do something no one has ever done – solo climb the whole damn thing (ropes, but only to catch you if you fall). Simple objective, right? His route to this day is anything but simple. He lost the top of his finger in a saw. Oh, and he was taken hostage by extremist while climbing in Kyrgyzstan (he and the other climbers escaped by pushing a captor off of a cliff). This guy is fueled by simple, yet incredibly difficult challenges, and I dig that. – PAL

Source: “Abduction. Lost Finger. Now, a Rock Climber’s Tallest Hurdle.”, John Branch, The New York Times (1/7/15)


Long Live the Rex
A look back at the always entertaining Rex Ryan era, as presented by Matt Taibbi, one of the best writers/journalists of our generation. I am really, really hopeful that the 49ers hire Rex. He’s amazing. I’ll never forget this speech he gave on Hard Knocks in 2010 (language NSFW):

That speech was inspiring, ridiculous, and funny as hell. And that was the night before a PRESEASON game. I remember watching the show – first, I laughed at the “9:00 SNACK” on the whiteboard at the beginning. That still kills me. Then my now-wife and I kept rewinding and re-watching the end over and over again, laughing our heads off. “Let’s go and eat a god damn snack!” Man, I really hope he comes to the Niners. -TOB
Source: “Rex’s Last Stand”, Matt Taibbi, Grantland (01/06/15)

PAL: Taibbi can write a hell of a story – no doubt – but I’m confused. Do you want Ryan to be the 49ers coach because he’s entertaining, because he’s a good coach, or even both? He had two winning seasons during his six years as the Jets’ coach. He’s refreshing, especially in the context of Jim Harbaugh, but isn’t he entertaining from distance where we can separate the comedy from, you know, the lack of wins?

TOB: Both. How many wins can anyone get with Mark Sanchez as your QB? Chip Kelly learned all too well this year.


VIDEOS OF THE WEEK

Moms everywhere – do not throw the baseball cards away:

High School Dunk 1:

High School Dunk 2:


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: @123sportsdigest


“I don’t care. Anything. I would rather… I would rather watch “Beautician and the Beast”. I would rather listen to Fran Drescher for eight hours than have to listen to Michael McDonald. Nothing against him, but if I hear “Yah Mo B There” one more time, I’m going to “Yah Mo” burn this place to the ground.”

– David

 

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 July 14, 2014

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Summiting Everest: Money is a deadly thing.  

An examination of the world of Everest sherpas on. Everest had its most tragic day this year (16 sherpas died in a avalanche of massive proportion, even for Everest), which threatened to shut down the industry for the season. The entire culture up there at high base camp, with expeditions costing as much as $100K, and the sherpas earning relatively little, has created a precarious situation for such a high risk adventure. – PAL

Source: “Climbers Leave Everest Amid Regrets and Tensions Among Sherpas”, Bhadra Sharma & Ellen Barry, The New York Times (4/24/14)

Supplemental – A trailer for an excellent documentary I saw earlier this year about the growing tension: http://vimeo.com/78597417


Back to Back to Back to…Gone?

If you’re a sports fan, you’re familiar with Tom Emanski and his instructional baseball videos. “Back to back to back AAU National Champions!” The throw from center into the trashcan at home plate. And, of course, Fred McGriff, in a goofy hat, lending his endorsement. I must have seen those commercials a thousand times. The images, and the name, are burned in my memory. But I knew nothing about Tom Emanski, the man. Where’d he come from? How did he get into the business? How DID he get a big league slugger like Fred McGriff to make a fool of himself in a commercial (I was a bit surprised on that one)? And more importantly – where is he now? Fox Sports kicked off its Grantland competitor, “Just a Bit Outside”, this week with a bang – including this fascinating read. -TOB

Source: “Pitchman: How Tom Emanski Changed the Sport of Baseball – and Then Disappeared”, Erik Malinowski, Just a Bit Outside (07/17/14)

Note: There are some of you who might not know about Tom Emanski, but there is a large chunk of us (20-32 years-old), that have these instructional video commercials burned into our being. Yet another example of how nerds rule the world. Bonus: I never noticed that the iconic throw from the outfield into the garbage can bounces THREE times, and once on the mound..couldn’t they have used a kid with a better arm for this? – PAL


Home.

As we all know, LeBron announced his return to Cleveland last Friday in a well-written piece for Sports Illustrated. Since then, far too many words have been written about his decision. I read a lot of them, so you didn’t have to. This was my favorite. -TOB

Source: “The Long Game”, Seerat Sohi, Sports on Earth (07/14/14)

Note: 1) This notion that an athlete owes anything to a place is absurd. LeBron didn’t owe Cleveland/Ohio anything when he left, and he didn’t owe them anything when he considered the eventual return. Let’s say this mega-hyped high schooler is a bust – would the Cleveland Cavaliers owe him a second contract because LeBron is from Ohio? 2) I’ll buy a beer for any 1-2-3 Sports! follower who can make a legit argument that any athlete in the past 25 years had more power than LeBron James has now with the Cavaliers (yes, including Jordan). David Griffin, the GM of the Cavs (hired on May 14) may as well have “Assistant to the Traveling Secretary” on his business cards. – PAL


Deion Sanders’ charter “schools” were a mess from the beginning.

You ever heard of Emmanuel Mudiay? Probably not, but he’s listed as one of  the best (if not the best) high school basketball prospects from the 2014 class. He’s not going to Kentucky. He’s not going to Duke. He’s not going to UNC. He’s going to Europe, and he’s going because his high school was a joke (through little fault of his own). Deion Sanders’ Prime Prep schools were a disorganized mess intended on bringing in the best athletes from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. The only problem – aside from some shady financial records – is that the school failed to comply with Texas Education Codes. In other words, the athletes the school recruited are unlikely to be eligible for college athletics. And that’s why Emmanuel Mudiay is going to Europe to play ball. Great work with the kids, Deion. – PAL

Source: “Deion Sanders’s Disaster Of A School Is Being Shut Down”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (7/16/14)


Chuck Taylor: International Man of Mystery

Like the aforementioned Tom Emanski story, this is another story about a guy with a familiar name, but not a very familiar story. This story (available in text and audio) is about Chuck Taylor, whose signature shoe, the Converse All-Star, has remained fashionable over many generations. -TOB

Source: “Meet Chuck Taylor: The Man Behind the All-Star”, Doug Tribou, Only a Game (07/12/14, originally aired/posted 11/02/13)

Note: Favorite factoid from this story: Nike acquired Converse in 2003 and sold 2 million pairs of the Chuck Taylor All-Stars. The 2011 figure: 70 million. Nike knows how to market shoes. – PAL


123 Q&A

Q: “It looks like there’s some sort of movement for the San Francisco Giants to retire Will Clark’s number. Believe me, I love Will Clark more than any player ever, but for some reason it’s not a no-brainer for me. He was really good with some strokes of greatness, but should teams retire players’ numbers just because we really liked them?” – Thrilled by Will, aka R. Rowe, San Francisco

A (TOB): Excellent question, Thrilled. Will Clark was an instant fan favorite in San Francisco. On the first at-bat of his career, he a hit a home run off in-his-prime Nolan Ryan. Before I dig deeper into his career, let me say this – my impression of Will is that he’s not a Hall-of-Famer, and Baseball Reference’s Hall of Fame Predictor backs that up – but he was actually better than I thought. I thought that Will Clark’s career started out with a bang, and petered out a bit after he left San Francisco. A look at the numbers, though, shows something a little different.

Clark was a career .303 hitter over 15 seasons. The bulk of those were with the Giants and Rangers. In eight seasons with the Giants, he hit .299/.373/.499. In five seasons with the Ranger, he hit .308/.395/.485. Not a significant difference (and his slugging took a little dip) – but it does show some bias on my part. Once he left the Giants, he was more or less out of my consciousness, but actually got a smidge better, and he was actually an incredibly consistent hitter throughout his career. Unfortunately for Will, the middle of his career coincided with the earnest beginning of the Steroid Era – and while Will’s numbers were still very good, they didn’t look as good in an era of bloated offense. To illustrate that – Will made five All-Star teams and finished in the top five of MVP voting four times (including a second place finish) in his eight seasons in San Francisco. After leaving San Francisco, though, he made one All-Star team and never again finished in the MVP top ten, despite having basically the same numbers he had in San Francisco.

Does his remarkable consistency, over a long period of time, give him some boost? Probably. But while that might make him closer to a Hall-of-Famer than I thought, we can’t really look at his time after leaving San Francisco to determine whether the Giants should retire his number.

As noted above, his resume with the Giants is even better than I thought – the four top five MVP finishes is pretty fantastic. The relatively short tenure is troublesome. However, there is some precedent. The Giants retired Monte Irvin’s number (he played just seven of his eight major league seasons with the Giants, all in New York), Orlando Cepeda’s number (he played just nine of his sixteen career seasons with the Giants), and Gaylord Perry’s number (he played just ten of his career twenty-two career seasons with the Giants). Of course, all three of those guys are Hall-of-Famers (despite just eight major league seasons, Irvin played many outstanding years in the Negro Leagues before breaking into the majors).

When I first read your question, my gut reaction was that Will’s number should not be retired. After checking out his numbers, though, and comparing his short tenure with the Giants to other Giants players who have had their numbers retired, I am leaning toward yes.

But there’s one last aspect to this – from all accounts, Will Clark was a dick. And I think that counts, especially in a close case. A few weeks ago, we linked to a first hand account, from a former batboy for the San Diego Padres, about how great Tony Gwynn was. Buried in that story was an anecdote about Will Clark – one day, one of the batboys was wearing an earring, and Will Clark walked by during batting practice and sneered, “Nice earring, f-ggot.” Yikes. If this were a one-off story, it’d be easy to ignore. But it’s not the first time I’ve heard that Will Clark was a less than stellar guy. I interned right after college at KNBR – and an old-timer there told me that Will Clark was racist, and that his racism caused major issues between Will and Barry Bonds in their lone season together on the Giants, which is one of the reasons why the Giants let Will walk.

How does his reportedly less than stellar character play into whether or not the Giants should retire his number? I think it should quite a bit – and in an otherwise very close call, his character issues tip the scales against retiring his number, in my opinion. But if I had to guess, I’d say the Giants will eventually do it. After all, they’ve already welcomed Will back as a team “Ambassador” – essentially he gets paid to hang around the ballpark and greet fans. I’m guessing the retired number is next.

PAL: First of all, what is this – Dear Abby? “Excellent question, Thrilled?” And this dude referred to himself as “Thrilled by Will”…What has happened to this post? Retiring a number doesn’t have to be about numbers and a HOF career. This is why I love this question. Tommy is much better and analyzing the numbers of players than I am, and he’s almost won more than a few debates based off of the numbers. But a retired number is about the relationship between a player and place. It’s gut instinct informed by a casserole of factors. You have an immediate reaction when I ask whether or not Clark’s number should be retired, and in that reaction lies your answer. This is one of those instance where your first instinct is right.

As a Minnesota guy, I know Kent Hrbek is not a Hall of Fame player (less than 300 HRs, career average in the .280’s), but there’s no doubt in my mind #14 is rightfully retired. Untangling all the factors as to why or why not leads you further and further away from the answer: because he was one of our guys. Baseball can be so objective these days…isn’t it nice for something just to remain a feeling?


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“Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger…and one large fry.”

– Tim Fisher (inspired by SNL)

Week of May 26, 2014

No wonder Pedro Martinez had such nasty movement.

No wonder Pedro Martinez had nasty movement.


A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes To…Whom?

Late last week, coach Jürgen Klinsmann finalized his 23-man roster for next month’s World Cup. The greatest U.S. soccer player ever was not on that list. The decision was not without controversy. No matter how the team does in Brazil, we’ll never be sure if it was the right one. But his international career is, effectively, over. While it had its ups and downs, Landon will go down as our best, producing some of the most thrilling moments in American soccer history, and it sure is fun to look back. -TOB

Story Link: “Landon Donovan Was Our Savior All Along”, Greg Howard, Deadspin (05/23/14)


Alex Honnald just might be the best (and most insane) athlete in the world.

Old story, but worth the read, since this dude is (incredibly) still alive. Alex Honnald is a dopey kid from Sacramento. You’ve probably never heard of him, but he’s better at his sport than LeBron James is at basketball. His sport: Free soloing. He climbs massive cliffs without a rope. The chances are likely that he’ll die in the near future…or is he just that good? What kind of person gets into a sport like this? A really unassuming kid doing things that have never been done . – PAL

Story Link: No Strings Attached”, David Roberts, Outside (4/11/11)


Anyone want to host the Olympics? Nope.

It seems cities are wizening up to the economic land mine that is hosting the Olympics. The host of the 2022 Winter Games will be announced within a year, and the majority of the finalist cities have already pulled out, because–really–who the hell wants to build a bobsled course? Mostly, these cities have found little to no public support when it comes to sinking $50 billion into a two week event, but overthrown governments have factored in, as well (I’m looking at you, Ukraine). Who’s ready to go back to China? – PAL

Story Link: “Nobody Wants To Host The 2022 Olympics”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (5/29/14)

TOB Note: I wonder what they’d do if no viable city bid. Antartica 2022!


Pay No Attention To That Man Behind the Curtain!

Actually, pay attention. Pedro Martinez provides insight into how he approached the art of the game. A rare look into the internal workings of a pitching wizard.

Story Link: “Pedro Martinez on the Art and Science of Pitching”, Dave Laurila, Fangraphs (05/23/14) – TOB

PAL Note: It’s all about that one quote (you’ll find it). Also, he has alien fingers. 


Chris Bosh Is Better Than You Think He Is.

In Toronto, Chris Bosh was a star on a bad team – he put up big numbers and set himself up for a max contract, but his team lost – a lot. Instead of being content to be the big fish in the little pond, he took less money and less touches in order to win championships. As Miami looks headed for their fourth straight NBA Finals, and possibly their third straight title, Bosh looks back at the sacrifices he has made, and the ways his game has evolved, to make it all happen. Also, he once campaigned to make the All-Star team with this video. -TOB

Story Link: “Best Supporting Actor”, Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland (05/28/14)

PAL Note: I love his honesty when asked why his shooting percentage is so high near the rim – With LeBron and Wade driving to the hoop, “I’m wide open most of the time.”


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“Your hand and the ball is a marriage that should never end. The pitcher and the ball should be married forever. Hands, fingers, the ball – they should be married forever.”

– Pedro Martinez