Week of July 5, 2015

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How about our team?


More Than A Game: USA Women’s World Cup Victory

I was back home in Minnesota over the Fourth of July. Coming from large family (5 siblings, 17 nieces and nephew at last count), trips home are delightfully filled to the brim with dinners, youth games, late night beers, errands, and – on this occasion – work. It’s rare for me to find myself in the house alone, but that was the case during the USA’s semifinal match against Germany. I’d yet to watch this USA team play, but the collective talent on the field was clear in an instant. I was into it, man! Without knowing Germany was actually the favorite, I just assumed the USA team would prevail, which they did thanks in large part to two penalty kicks (a miss by Germany and a gift call that led to a USA goal). I expected a US Soccer team to win a Wold Cup match. Have we ever assumed the US men’s team would win a World Cup match?

Many celebratory articles and posts have been made about the USA victory, but Maggie Mertens puts the triumph into a global, social context. Take, for instance this stat:  “A recent analysis by Public Radio International showed that the greatest predictor of a nation’s women’s soccer team’s success was gender equality—more than even the country’s GDP or overall interest in soccer.” The US women certainly made us proud of their victory, but the fact the team’s dominance is a long-earned result of a much larger movement is reason for even more celebration. -PAL

Source: A Different Kind Of Party At The Women’s World Cup, Maggie Mertens, Screamer (7/9/15)


Who Let The Dogs Out: A Retrospective on the biggest stadium anthem of all-time

The first “Sports Anthem” I can recall brings me back to a better time. A time when the NHL team in Minnesota was called the North Stars, the jersey was a classic, and they were a team of destiny before running into a young Mario Lemieux and an even younger Jaromir Jagr in the Stanley Cup Finals. The year was 1991. A good year in Minnesota sports to say the least. The song name might not mean a thing – “Rock And Roll Part 2” – but it’s that “Hey Song”. The next song that comes to mind is the terrible, no good, awful “Who Let The Dogs Out”. While the song is brutal, the marketing behind it was trailblazing.

Mercury record executive Steve Greenberg pins down the genius: “Most songs peak on radio. ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ peaked at the World Series. It was the biggest sports anthem ever, in the sense that it got all its strength from being a sports anthem, and the radio was secondary. It was the only hit record that was ever like that.”

But why this song, of all songs? “Herschel Small, one of the band’s longtime guitarists, suggests that the song managed to tick all the boxes that 15 years later are common to many viral Internet memes: dogs and sports and kids.” I hate this song, but I love the story behind it. – PAL

Source: How ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ forever changed music’s place in sports, Ben Reiter, Sports Illustrated (7/8/15)

TOB: This article is hilarious, especially with the producer of “WLTDO” (yes, they use that initialism), Steve Greenberg, trying to defend the quality of that god awful song. “Dogs’ is a really good record. That’s why it won a Grammy. It’s tight, it’s colorful, it’s infectious. There was magic in that record.” I literally LOL’d when I read that. I also dispute his assertion, as quoted by Phil, that it was the biggest sports anthem ever. What about The Macarena? WHAT ABOUT THE MACARENA? I remember being at an Oakland A’s game in the height of Macarena Fever, and even the construction guys hard at working building “Mt. Davis” in the Coliseum’s outfield stopped to dance to the Macarena. I don’t know which song was worse, but I do know which was more of a cultural phenomenon: The Macarena hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and stayed there for FOURTEEN weeks!) and went 4x Platinum. Who Let the Dogs Out only got to #40 (40!) on the Hot 100 and the album went 3x Platinum. Case closed. Verdict entered for the Macarena.


Bartolo Colon is one Fat, Old, Impressive Baseball Player

He was a Major League pitcher before Monica Lewinsky was an intern at the White House. Bartolo Colon’s longevity is, as writer Dan Barry puts it, “confounding,” even without the fact that he’s not exactly a fitness freak (read: fat), but it goes beyond durability with him. “Consider the Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard, 22 years old and able to throw at 99 miles an hour. In the Colon paradigm, Darling said [former pitcher and Mets broadcaster Ron Darling], Syndergaard “would have to have the ability, in 2035, to throw the ball 92 miles an hour. In a big league game.” Even with the PED suspension a few years back, Colon’s career and journey from the Dominican Republic reads more like folklore than biography. – PAL

Source: Defying Time and Space”, Dan Barry, New York Times (7/9/15)


Video of the Week 


PAL Song of the week: The Dramatics – “Gimme Some” (Good Soul Music)

Check out all of our weekly picks here (they’re super good).


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“Pontoon boat? What the hell are you gonna do with a pontoon boat? Retake Omaha Beach?”

– Roman Craig

 

 

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Week of December 15, 2014

DrD1SSX


Redemption Lost

Tommy Gaines III was a high school basketball star in Georgia in the 1980’s. He never “made it”, or even came close, because he became addicted to crack. In an SAT analogy, redemption stories are to sportswriting as pratfalls are to comedy. The supply is seemingly endless, and it’s a little cheap, but it will always get the intended reaction. I’ve read (or watched) countless stories about former star athletes who lost it all (usually due to drugs), but have fought back as they’ve aged to provide a lesson to those who are now coming up. This is not one of those stories. Tommy Gaines is now in his late-40’s and is still dealing with his addiction to crack, losing the battle, trying to resurrect, and self-destructing again. Heartbreaking. -TOB

Source: The Sad Saga of Tommy Gaines”, Jordan Ritter Conn, Grantland (12/11/14)

PAL Note: I’m blaming my reaction to this story on VH1’s Behind The Music. I’ve become a bit “numb” to stories in which drugs or alcohol incite the downfall of someone with exceptional talent. Tommy’s correct – it’s a heartbreaking story that stands out for its lack of redemption, but it also stands out as heavy-handed prose on Ritter Conn’s part.


All Is Fair In Love & Twitter: Sports Reporting In The Time of “Now”

Do you care about journalistic standards when it comes to sports writing? Honestly – I don’t mean that in a pithy way. I didn’t really think about it before reading this article about NBA scoop monster Adrian Wojnarowski, but the piece is a really interesting reference point from which to consider the role reporting has in an instant news landscape, especially when it pertains to sports (as opposed to politics, world events…you know, real news).  Wojnarowski has become the go-to NBA writer when it comes to breaking news, but his methods and track record are shady at best. Writer Kevin Draper sums it up this way: “[C]ompromising your objectivity to score scoops is not great reporting. Relentlessly attacking a key subject and reporting incorrectly on him is not great journalism. Hating a rival so much it clouds your analysis of events is not great reporting. By Wojnarowski’s own standards, he is failing.” -PAL

Source: “Basketball’s Biggest Reporter Is Waging War on ESPN – And He’ll Do Anything to Win”, Kevin Draper, New Republic (12/16/14)

TOB Note: I follow Wojarnowski on Twitter and he does break a ton of news. But after reading this, I will be following with a sharper eye.


How the NFL Pissed Off a Lot of TV Execs

As you may have seen, someone hacked Sony and released e-mails (and plenty more), which the internet has found quite amusing (note: I wrote this before the controversy arose surrounding the non-release of “The Interview”. Now people don’t find this so funny. I still find it rather amusing). This story, about how the NFL’s deal to air some Thursday Night games this year on CBS really pissed off Sony executives in charge of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, is only tangentially related to sports, but is still quite interesting. -TOB

Source: How CBS and the NFL Teamed Up to Screw Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, Timothy Burke, Deadspin (12/12/14)

PAL Note: I, too, have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the Sony hack emails over the past couple of weeks. While that makes me a bad person, I’m infatuated by what a person’s email style says about them. A lot of high-level execs really don’t care about spelling or grammar, and there’s no “I hope this finds you well” opening crap that I’ve leaned on for 10 years. This one is funny because we’ve all been a part of a similar email chain – partial information from the onset leading to mass confusion coming to a head and someone being offended. And if Jamie Morganstern has taught me anything, you don’t f with someone’s Jeopardy! routine. Love this story.


Show That Watt Who’s Boss

Most kids send their heroes a letter asking for an autograph; this duder took a different approach. The only thing better than the kid sending his autographed jersey to J.J. Watt is the letter that came with it. Boss move, pipsqueak. Boss move. – PAL

Source: “Little Badass Sends Autographed Jersey To J.J. Watt”, Tom Ley, Deadspin (12/16/14)

TOB Note: I think three different people sent this to me. I must be the only person in America who didn’t find it that cool. This 7-year old sounds like a real prick.


Jordan (Still) Rules.

You may have heard that Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list over the weekend. Laker fans the world over rejoiced, as they see it as another feather in Kobe’s cap, and another data point in the only-in-their-heads argument about whether Kobe is better than Jordan. No non-Laker fan who saw them both play thinks this argument is close, and fivethirtyeight.com does a great job of viciously, yet succinctly, laying waste to any claim that Kobe is superior. Long live His Airness. -TOB

Source: Once and For All: Michael Jordan Was Way Better Than Kobe Bryant”, Neil Payne, fivethirtyeight.com (12/12/14)

PAL Note: Here’s my idea/challenge to our readers. Have a friend or family member who’s a Lakers fan read this article, then record the video of his or her reaction/rebuttal. We’ll all get a kick out of it, and for the first 3 people to post the video with a link to 1-2-3 blog I will arrange for a 6-pack of good beer to be in your possession no later than January 15, 2015.


The Gordon Bombay of U.S. Soccer

Chris Wondolowski was a late bloomer. After college, Wondo worked his way up from the lowest rungs of professional soccer all the way to playing for the U.S. this year’s World Cup. It’s a pretty remarkable if it ended there, uneventfully. And then he nearly put the U.S. through to just its third World Cup Quarterfinal ever. In the 92nd minute of the U.S.’ Round of 16 match against Belgium, he found himself free in front of the net, and the ball came to his feet. This is what Wondo had spent his life preparing for – the whole reason he was on the team was because of his knack for finishing goals like this. But then…Wondo missed. A quarter of an inch in the other direction, and he’s a national hero. But he missed. The U.S. went on to lose in extra time, and people were angry. This is a great look at how a down to Earth athlete deals with failure, and the public blowback that results because of that failure. -TOB

Source: After the Miss“, by Jordan Ritter Conn, Grantland (12/17/14)


Video of the Week


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“You’re not wrong, Walter, you’re just an asshole.”

-The Dude

Week of December 8, 2014

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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:

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“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


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“My density has popped me to you.”

-George McFly

Week of September 29, 2014

That's how you celebrate.

That’s how you celebrate.

The Friends We’ve Never Met: Mike Krukow & Duane Kuiper

Earlier this season, San Francisco Giants’ color commentator Mike Krukow revealed that he is suffering from a rare muscle disease – inclusion body myositis (“IBM”). Although IBM is not directly life-threatening, it features slow and progressive weakening of muscles, especially those in the legs and hands. This loss of muscle strength can cause sufferers to fall over, which can of course cause life-threatening injuries. Krukow, along with his broadcast partner Duane Kuiper, is the rare announcing team that you wish you could sit and watch a game with. They provide great insight into the game, while being hilarious and fun. Hell, I wish Kruk and Kuip were my real-life friends (and I oddly feel like they actually are, though I’ve never met them). Kruk and Kuip are universally beloved by Giants fans, and the news of Kruk’s disease was met with sadness. Steve Fainaru brings us a rare look into the world of Kruk and Kuip – a true and lasting friendship, and how the two of them are dealing with Kruk’s condition, both in and out of the broadcasting booth. -TOB

Source: A Giant Friendship”, by Steve Fainaru, ESPN (09/30/2014)

Note: One of the true pleasures of living in San Francisco is listening to these two friends talk baseball over the course of 162 games. It seems Kruk and Kuip genuinely love what they do and love that they get to do it together. They are the best, and Krukow has an army of Giants fans supporting him. -PAL


Hooligan Revolutionaries

The fact of the matter is we have no idea what it’s like to fight a war on U.S. soil. Our understanding of war is removed. It is something we follow, keep tabs on, discuss; most of us don’t live it and understand its impact on, among other things, culture. That’s why this story on soccer in Ukraine is so fascinating to me. The byline: “Vice Sports contributor R.J. Rico spent two weeks in Ukraine reporting on the role of soccer and soccer fans in the nation’s conflict, and how that conflict has affected the sport.” -PAL

Source: “Soccer and Revolution in Ukraine”, R.J. Rico, Vice Sports (09/26/2014)


Jim Harbaugh is a Fascinating Lunatic: A Profile of a Complicated Weirdo

Intensity is in most cases a strength, and the pursuit of success doesn’t necessarily feel good. There is no Rocky montage in real life. When I read this profile on Harbaugh – brilliantly and humorously structured around a game of catch between the coach and the writer – I am reminded of the least common denominator. If there is a person out there so one-dimensional in his focus on winning everything – from a conversation to a football game – then how does that impact the chances of success for any well-adjusted human? I’m also reminded that sport is perfect for these types of people (and why we as fans love it so much as a reprieve) – everything is objective at the end of the day. One team wins, and one team loses. There is no gray. -PAL

Source: “Jim Harbaugh comfortable in chaos”, by Seth Wickersham, ESPN The Magazine (10/2/2014)


More Than a Routine

Sergio Romo catches the ceremonial first pitch before every Giants home game. Most of us aren’t even in our seats yet, and – let’s be honest – we’re kind of hoping for a catastrophe. After all, there’s something fair in a b-list celebrity who doesn’t know how to throw bouncing one in there for us to laugh at, right? Well, that’s not always the case. Here’s a story of that meaningless first pitch changing lives. -PAL

Source: “Giants’ Sergio Romo inspired a teen girl to keep fighting”, Daniel Brown, San Jose Mercury News (09/26/2014)


Video of the week:

 

Quote of the week:

“You and your mom are hillbillies. This is a house of learned doctors.”

– Dale Dobak

Week of August 11, 2014

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Click on the pic to get the joke.


The Tiger Effect: Overrated?

“Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity.” – Earl Woods. I didn’t buy that even when I was 14, but I did buy into the notion that Tiger Woods was one of the very few transformative athletes. While his impact can’t be summarized by the almighty $, Matt Brennan’s examination of Tiger’s financial, social, and cultural impact on the game is revelatory. This could be one of the best original pieces I’ve read on Deadspin. -PAL

Source: “What Happens To Golf After Tiger?”, by Matt Brennan, Deadspin (8/14/14)

TOB: I have always liked Tiger Woods. But whenever I think of how Tiger’s career has fallen apart over the last five years, I think of this. At the 2009 Big Game, a game that underdog Cal would win over Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck, Stanford honored Tiger Woods. As Tiger tried to give his speech, the Cal fans that had taken over Stanford Stadium began to boo him mercilessly. And the look on Tiger’s face is priceless. He is a true Stanford Man – smarmy and entitled – and he had no idea how to react to a negative reception, even some good-natured ribbing like this. Cal fans rightfully take credit for jinxing his career.

PAL: Did you guys know that Tommy went to Cal?


Think Different

Chip Kelly is a great football coach because he doesn’t think like a typical football coach. He doesn’t do things just because that is the way they’ve always been done. He questions why things are done a certain way and whether there is a better way to do them. This method has allowed him to be extremely successful everywhere he has coached. In short, I’m glad he’s not coaching Oregon anymore (did you know I went to Cal?), and this story is why. -TOB

Source: “The Influencer”, by Chris B. Brown, Grantland (08/14/14)

PAL: I’m not the biggest NFL fan in the world, but this is a good read on innovation, especially for anyone who’s coached or thinking about coaching. My favorite part: “The practice field is not where we talk. It is where we do the skills. We want to keep the words there to a minimum. The words you do use must have meaning. [Players] do not want to hear you give a 10-minute clinic in the middle of the field.”


The Next Great American Hope

I am not exactly a soccer nut, but I do enjoy it, and I feel as though I know more about it than most American sports fans. So while my soccer knowledge is not great, it was impossible not to notice 21-year old Deandre Yedlin every time he entered the game for the U.S. at this summer’s World Cup. It was really freakin obvious – he was fast as hell, and caused havoc all over the field. The world took notice, too – and Yedlin became one of the most sought after young players to emerge from the World Cup. Since the article was published, the Seattle Sounders agreed to transfer Yedlin to the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspurs (former team of current Sounder Clint Dempsey) for about $4M, to begin in 2015. If you want to know what it’s like to go from being a fairly unknown athlete to being chased by some of the top teams in the world in a very short amount of time, read this. -TOB

Source: “America’s Most Wanted”, by Jordan Ritter Conn, Grantland (08/12/14)

PAL: This is the first time I’ve heard about the MLS Homegrown Rule, and I think we should immediately implement it in all major sports (TOB: Agreed). Also, I buy into the belief that it has/will take generations before US Soccer can legitimately compete for a World Cup. The infrastructure has been there in youth leagues for about 25 years now, and I think we’re starting to see it bear fruit on the world stage.


The guy behind ‘The Guy’.

Listen, I’m over the PED in sports stories, too, but this article is about the disposable men in illegal schemes. Does the name Yuri Sucart mean anything to you? I didn’t think so. He’s Alex Rodriguez’s cousin. He’s the guy A-Rod threw under the bus the first time he tested positive for PEDs, and Sucart was up to his elbows in the Biogenesis scandal that will more than likely end A-Rod’s career (don’t forget – A-Rod was on track midway through his career to become one of the best 5 players to ever play the game by any standard). I found this mini-profile interesting, sad, a bit pathetic, and quietly dark when you look at the facts. – PAL

Source: “Yuri Sucart Faces a Decade in Prison After Years of Doing A-Rod’s Dirty Work”, by Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times (8/11/14)

TOB: If you need more confirmation that Barry Bonds is great and A-Rod sucks, you have it here. Bonds’ Guy, Greg Anderson, served time in jail instead of testifying against Bonds, and I guarantee that Bonds didn’t cut the guy off. Even the mob knows (in the movies) that you take care of your loyal soldiers. A-Rod sucks.


Too good to be true. 

Grantland’s “30 for 30” shorts are admittedly hit or miss (Steve Nash’s ‘The Finish Line’ series had its moments, but any doc in which the feature is also an Executive Producer is a bit suspect). Danny Almonte captivated the Little League World Series, striking out 32 out of a possible 36 batters in the first two games. That stat turned out to be literally unbelievable. At just under 18 minutes, don’t feel the need to watch the entire thing if it doesn’t grab you, but watching the highlights of him dealing is pretty funny, especially for those of us who vaguely remember Almonte. Spoiler alert: he’s filled out. Also, parents in youth sports can be the worst. No embed available. -PAL

Source: 30 for 3o Shorts: ‘Kid Danny’, directed by Andrew Cohen, Grantland (8/13/14)


Video of the Week: 

Mike Schmidt should be number 1, for crying out loud. I’ll give TSN – a Canadian network – a pass here, but that squeal at the end is the capper.


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

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Herman Blume: So you’ve changed your mind and you want the job.
Max Fischer: No, I’ve got an idea and I need some money.

– Rushmore

Week of July 7, 2014

 

By popular demand, we’ve got a new feature this week – The 123 Q&A. Keep reading, and submit your questions to 123sportslist@gmail.com or on twitter @123sportsnews


The Boys of Section 220

Sometimes, when life gets stressful, I think back to one of the happiest times in my life – the summer during college. I moved back home, as did all my friends. We had zero worries. We played rec-league basketball on Sunday nights, followed by pizza and beer at the local pizza joint (wuddup Steve’s Pizza!). We had weekly poker games, even though none of us were any good. And whenever anyone felt like it, usually thought up late the night before – we drove into Sacramento to see the Rivercats – AAA baseball. We’d sit in the cheap lawn seats in the outfield. We’d drink beer and heckle the opposing team. It was awesome. This experience is hardly unique, and this story is about a group of friends, during the summer after high school, who had season tickets to their local semi-pro baseball team. They went every day. And loved every moment of it.  As the author writes, “This is a story about friendship. This is a story about growing up, and being on the cusp of growing old. This is a story about last chances. This is a story about baseball.” -TOB

Source“Closing Time”, by Ryan Winfield, Deadspin (06/23/14)


The Most Honest Sports Story Ever Written

Toward the end of his brilliant career, Floyd Patterson (the original “Pretty Boy Floyd”) began to lose – badly – like all boxers eventually do (except, apparently, Bernard Hopkins). The two-time Heavyweight Champion of the World was knocked out by Sonny Liston in the first round in consecutive fights in 1962 and 1963, at the age of just 28. The following year, Esquire published this excellent article – a look into the mind of an athlete coming to grips with the end of his career. This story is different than many of this nature, however, because Floyd reveals truths about himself not often seen in sports – especially the ultimate macho sport of boxing –  including this excerpt on why he continued to fight. -TOB

“First of all, I love boxing. Boxing has been good to me. And I might just as well ask you the question: ‘Why do you write?’ Or, ‘Do you retire from writing every time you write a bad story?’ And as to whether I should have become a fighter in the first place, well . . . when you’re hungry, you’re not choosy, and so I chose the thing that was closest to me. That was boxing. One day I just wandered into a gymnasium and boxed a boy. And I beat him. Then I boxed another boy. I beat him, too. Then I kept boxing. And winning. And I said, ‘Here, finally, is something I can do!’ And what were the requirements? Sacrifice. That’s all. To anybody who comes from the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, sacrifice comes easy. And so I kept fighting, and one day I became heavyweight champion, and I got to know people like you. And you wonder how I can sacrifice, how I can deprive myself so much? You just don’t realize where I’ve come from. You don’t understand where I was when it began for me.”

Source: “The Loser”, by Gay Talese, originally published in the March 1964 issue of Esquire, re-printed by Deadspin with the Author’s permission (07/18/13)


How 14 Football Players Helped Integrate the Mormon Church

In 1969, 14 football players at the University of Wyoming (“The Black 14”) tried to take a stand against the Mormon church’s refusal to allow African-Americans to be priests. On the eve of their game against BYU, they went to talk to their coach about a possible organized statement against the racist policy. Instead of a discussion, they were immediately kicked off the team. The story garnered much national interest – and pretty much destroyed what had been a surprisingly successful Wyoming football program for good. But more importantly, what those 14 young men went through helped usher real change – by 1979, the Mormon church changed their policy and opened their priesthood to African-Americans. -TOB

Source: “The Black 14: Race, Politics, Religion, and Wyoming Football”, by Phil White, Wyohistory.org (09/17/13)


A Blueprint for a U.S. World Cup Title in 2030

The U.S. made the round of 16 in this year’s World Cup. No small feat. But it is the third time in four World Cups that we’ve made it that far, without advancing farther – and it doesn’t seem like we are any closer to doing so. Although young talents like DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green provided hope for 2018, what the U.S. would really need to do to become a true world soccer power, is start from the ground up. I first read this article at the start of the 2010 World Cup, but it’s worth revisiting. It details how Dutch soccer club Ajax long ago created what has become the blueprint for youth soccer development worldwide. It is a fascinating read – looking at where the U.S. falls short (mainly, too much focus on games and winning, not nearly enough focus on developing skills), and what we might need to do if we ever expect to seriously contend for a World Cup title. -TOB

Source: “How a Soccer Star is Made”, by Michael Sokolove, New York Times Magazine (06/02/10)


123 Q&A

Q: Ryan R., San Francisco: “The Oakland A’s wear white cleats whether their jerseys are home OR away; thoughts?”

 A (TOB): Presently, the A’s are the only team in baseball that wears white cleats both home and away. Before I offer my thoughts, I figured I should answer: Why? So I did a little research. Charlie Finley owned the A’s from 1960 to 1980. In that time, he had a lot of interesting ideas on how to improve baseball. Some were good (night games!); some were awful (monochromatic gold uniforms – the A’s were the Oregon Ducks 40 years before the Ducks were the Ducks); some were ridiculous (he wanted to change baseballs from white to orange); and some were controversial but terrible if you have half a brain (the Designated Hitter). But another idea he had was to change his team’s shoes to white – his reasoning was apparently based on PR – Joe Namath had begun wearing white cleats for New York Jets and gaining a lot of attention for it. Finley hoped to follow suit. Apparently it worked. A lot of people made fun of the white cleats at the time (as they do now), but ultimately many teams copied the look. Eventually the 70’s ended and white cleats went the way of leisure suits – except for the A’s. They have stubbornly stuck with it. In a way, I kind of admire that. It looks terrible, but they don’t care. The A’s do the A’s. -TOB
Counterpoint (PAL): White cleats are disgusting. 15-20 year-olds think they are cool. Cake-eater youth teams wear white cleats. It’s a fact. They are awful. Just awful. White cleats are so bad that they are worse than the following:
Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.02.36 AM

The rope necklace

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The protective hat

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The blinker (back pocket out)

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A.J. Pierzynski

-PAL
TOB: NOTHING is worse than AJ Pierzynski.

Video of the Week:

Mrs. Fields of Mrs. Fields Cookies started out as an A’s ballgirl…and she was (Is? Is.) hot. What the hell?

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Twitter: @123sportsnews


“You’re killing me, Smalls.”

– Hamilton “Ham” Porter

Week of June 16, 2014

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RIP Tony Gwynn

Two stories for the one of the greatest hitters of all-time, a genuinely good man, one who died too young. As you probably heard, Tony Gwynn died this week, after a long and difficult battle with cancer. On Father’s Day, the day before his death, the first story was published. It’s about Tony and his son, Tony Jr. Read it, then call your father. The second story, a tribute from a former Padre bat boy, who Tony made feel special when many other ballplayers did not. It provides insight into a ballplayer that most of us do not ever receive. And, for once, that insight makes you appreciate the player more than you did from before. Rest in peace, Tony. -TOB

Source: “The Gwynn Men: A Son’s Love, A Father’s Fight”, by Jim Salisbury, Comcast Sportsnet (06/15/14); “I Was Tony Gwynn’s Bat Boy”, by David Johnson, Deadspin (06/17/14)


Soccer for Dummies

Are you enjoying the World Cup, but want to know more about the strategy involved? This is a good start. -TOB

Source: “How to Watch the World Cup Like a True Soccer Nerd”, by Mike L. Goodman, Grantland (06/06/14)


Meet the Rocky of distance running

We’re getting into marathon season. For most of us, that means suffering through bar conversations about your friend’s mileage this week (full disclosure: I’m guilty of this stupidity). But Steve Jones — even his name is unremarkable — has a pretty great story of how he came out of nowhere to be one of the best marathoners in the world, all while never wearing a watch. -PAL

Source: “I Never Wore A Watch”: Running Lessons From A Record-Breaking Everyman, by Sarah Barker, Fittish (5/21/14)


The Melkman Continues to Deliver

In 2012, Melky Cabrera came out of nowhere to win the All-Star Game MVP, lead the league in batting, and help spur a Giants run to the postseason, which eventually ended in their second World Series title in three years. As he did so, Melky became a fan favorite in SF. But in early August, he was suspended for testing positive for PEDs (and even more shameful, for a bizarre attempt to cover it up). Two years later, now in Toronto, Melky is quietly among the league leaders in hitting (and may even start in the All Star game), as he attempts to move on from his mistakes. -TOB

Story Link: “Melky Cabrera on His Own Little Island”, Jerry Crasnick, ESPN (05/13/14)


Like a fart in church, athletes trying to be musicians is always funny.

An updated list of the worst musical forays. I’ve never liked Tim McCarver, but his contribution to this list almost salvages our relationship. I’m left with a lot of questions. Why does the WSJ have the exclusive on this? More importantly, who’s the best “slash” in the world of athlete/musician?

Story Link: “Listen to the New Rap Song by World Cup Player Clint Dempsey”, Andrew Beaton & Hannah Karp, The WSJ Blog (6/18/14)


 

Video of the week: Scorpion kick! 

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

“Never in my wildest imagination did I ever dream I would have sons like these.”  – Herman Blume