Week of November 16, 2015

I beg your pardon?


Two of A Kind: John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski

John Calipari stands for what’s wrong in college basketball, while Mike Krzyzewski represents what’s pure about the game. These seem to be the respective narratives that follow the two best college basketball coaches. They present themselves differently, to be sure, but are they all that different?

“Calipari is the salesman who laughs past the pretense that his players are ostensibly students first; alternatively, he is the false consciousness-lifting truth-teller who plays within bad rules (after years of reportedly flouting them) and thereby exposes the sport’s unfair reality. Krzyzewski is the traditionalist who still believes in developing players; or he is the hypocrite who pretends that player development is his priority, rather than winning.”

Here’s the thing, Duke exploits the absurd NBA rule requiring players to be one year removed from high school before entering the draft just as much as Kentucky. Talent trumps experience in big-time college hoops. Calipari accepts it, Krzyzewski grumbles over it, but they both know it’s true and run their teams accordingly. -PAL

Source: “Kentucky and Duke Are Looking More Alike All the Time”, Marc Tracy, The New York Times (11/17/18)

TOB: I’ll take it a bit further than Phil is willing to: Calipari and Coach K are the same, but Cal is honest and Coach K is full of it. Here’s the thing about “one-and-done” college basketball players: It’s such a farce. To remain eligible, they need only pass classes the Fall semester, then they can focus on basketball in the Spring. Anyone who pays attention understands this, and really it’s fine. But here’s why I can’t stand Coach K: There was a time when Coach K tried to hold himself and his program up as a model for all other college basketball programs to follow. And he resisted the move toward “one-and-done” recruits because, by golly, he had principles. But, Coach K had those principles until Duke stopped winning. Then those principles went right out the window. Now, Coach K freely recruits players he knows will leave after one year – for example, last season he won the national title on the backs of three freshman who did not return to Duke this year: Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones. In my view, Coach K is the guy who looks at the system and pretends to be above the fray, and Coach Cal is a guy who embraces the hand he was dealt.


Fashionable + “Technology” = Nike Air

I’ve been buying the same model of running shoes for a couple years now. Before that, I bought the same running shoe for 5 years. Over the course of 7 years, 14 pairs of running shoes. I find shoes that feel good, and I stick with them, but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t care what they looked like (the current pair are a god-awful black and green combo). Let’s be honest here, there is a certain level of fashion in our fitness purchases. If we’re going to put in the work, we’re at least going to get the cool gear, right? Damn right. Want to read a great story on marketing? I highly recommend this history of Nike Air. Teaser below. – PAL

“Nike’s mercurial take on technology is a lot like the fashion industry’s relationship to certain recurring trends, like fur or metal. They come and go, without much rhyme or reason. There’s very little science involved in Nike’s constantly-evolving ideas about shoes. Yet for fans, the bullshit seems to be half the fun.”

Source: The Absurd History of Nike Air Technology”, Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo (11/19/15)

TOB: That last line is perfect.


Video of the Week:

May-may!

Bonus Video of the Week

White Chocolate. Nuff said.


PAL Song of the Week: Charley Pride – “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone

Here’s the full playlist of all our picks. Get fat on turkey, stuffing, and good tunes.


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“You know that Julie chick? Loves you. You want her? Gotta play it cool, you know. You can’t let her know how much you like her, cause if she knows, she’ll dump you like that. Believe me. Like, if she asks you if you want a ride, you say, ‘No, I’ve got my own ride, but maybe I’ll see you later.’ Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? It works.”

-Dawson

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Week of December 22, 2014

 

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Now that I am married, I could do that with Christmas cards, like this high school football player does with his recruiting letters. And it makes me feel like this bear:

Merry Christmas, everybody!


 

This Is How Sports Matter

One of the best concepts for a story I’ve seen, and one of the best written sports stories I’ve read. Don’t read this on your phone – there’s a very cool interactive element that deserves a bigger screen. Gary Smith hits this piece flush, which focuses on a fascinating photograph taken by Marvin E. Newman. The picture features TCU in the locker room 15 minutes before facing off with Jim Brown and Syracuse in the 1957 Cotton Bowl. Smith walks the reader through the stories of the subjects, the place, the time, and what waits in the future for all involved. Beautiful, every part of it. If someone asks me why I loved playing sports so much, I will just send them this story from now on. Joe Williams (a player on the team) summed it up best 40 years after the photograph was taken: “More than who you’re looking at now, that guy in the picture, that’s me. That’s who I really am.” – PAL

Source: “Moment of Truth”, Gary Smith & Marvin E. Newman, Longform – SI.com (12/18/14)

TOB Note: Damn, Phil stole what I was gonna quote. But don’t worry. This story is so great, there are plenty of other options to use to induce you to read it. For example:

“That’s Frankie Hyde just behind Doc Hardt’s right shoulder…Doesn’t know that he’ll hurt his shoulder a few months from now in spring training, that he’ll never suit up for a football game again.”

This reminds me of  the time the the equipment manager, an old former player and coach, came to my JV football practice. He told us to enjoy each practice and game, because he had seen seniors crying on the sidelines at the end of the season, knowing it would be the last time they’d ever play the game. This lesson stuck with me, as a broader message: you never know when something will be the last time you do something, whether it be something you cherish or something mundane. So enjoy it. This story has stories about this thought in spades, and as Phil said it demonstrates why sports matter to us.


The Next Frontier in Draft Bust Avoidance

Before the 1998 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts reportedly agonized over their choice with the #1 pick – Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf. Manning is possibly the greatest passer in NFL history. Leaf is widely regarded as the biggest bust in NFL history. In 2014, it’s hard to believe, but it was a real debate over the two of them. The Colts got it right. But they almost didn’t, and teams invest millions of dollars in their top picks – and they are always looking for a way to find the Peyton Mannings and avoid the Ryan Leafs. The newest tactic being employed? Facial coding experts – teams are attempting to determine the emotional makeup of a player through facial microexpressions. But does it work? Or is it junk science? -TOB

Source: Teams Turn to a Face Reader, Looking For That Winning Smile“, Kevin Randall, New York Times (12/25/14)


A Running Race We Can All Get Behind: The Beer Mile

I have done the Beer Mile. 4 laps around a track, 1 beer before every lap. There are other rules, but that’s the gist. I wouldn’t call it a good time, but it’s something everyone should try (1-2-3 Sports! Beer Mile, anyone? Get at us, and we’ll set it up). The fact that people are close to breaking the 5-minute mark on this is insane, and I love it. A great way to get a party started, as long as you can keep the beer down. I’m calling out “Mr. 5k” to do this with us, if that’s even your nickname anymore. – PAL

Source: “Chug, Run, Repeat”, Allison McCann, fivethirtyeight (12/12/14)

TOB Note: I’m in. Tell me where. Tell me when. Reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from Revenge of the Nerds – the beer chug/tricycle race. Classic.


Jim Harbaugh Is Crazier Than You Can Imagine

Harbaugh is crazy, we all know that. But this story has me utterly dumfounded:

It was 2007, his first year as Stanford’s football coach, and during what was meant to be a motivational speech, Harbaugh told his players that he wanted to play in the game alongside them. He wanted this so badly that he informed his players that he wanted their blood on him if they bled during that week’s game.

But in the game, right tackle Chris Marinelli ran off the field with the rest of his offense after a touchdown drive, his arm bloodied. He went straight to Harbaugh to show him.

Harbaugh looked at the blood and did exactly what he said he would. He took his hand and wiped it on Marinelli’s arm. The player’s blood was on the coach’s hands.

Then, Harbaugh took it a step further. He smeared Marinelli’s blood all over his own face like war paint.

What the god damn hell? -TOB

Source: “From War Paint to Shakespeare…“, Max Cohen, Michigan Daily (12/23/14)

PAL Note: These stories of Harbaugh’s insanity have gone to such an extreme that I’m beginning to question his sincerity. Wiping someone else’s blood on your face and quoting Bill Shakespeare come off like the actions of someone who wants a legend built around him, which is inherently lame.


What Would You Rather Do: Play QB For the Browns or Kite Surf?

For most of us, the answer is easy: If you had the ability to play QB in the NFL, you’d do it. But if you’re Rex Grossman? And it’s December, when it is cold as hell in Cleveland? And you’re in Florida? And you’ve been kite surfing? And you’ve made a lot of money? And the pay is “just” $53k? Well – Rex Grossman made his choice. And it’s hard to argue with it. Enjoy the swells, Sexy Rexy. -TOB

Source: “Rex Grossman Rebuffs Browns to Kite Surf With Family Over Christmas”by Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports (12/22/14)

PAL Note: Not mentioned in the story was the fact that Rex couldn’t get the deposit back on the house rental, and Kai – the windsurfing instructor – is booked for, like, 5 weeks!


VIDEO OF THE WEEK


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“We need to get there early if we want a seat at Christmas Mass.”

– Phil’s dad

Here’s the available seating at 8:30 A.M. for the 9 o’clock mass:

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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