Week of December 6, 2015


It’s Time to Talk About the Warriors

I have been hesitant to write about the Warriors until, you know, they actually lose a game. But it’s time. What the Warriors are doing right now, 23-0 at the time of publication, is likely the most incredible thing I’ve seen in my life as a sports fan. Most of those 23 games haven’t even been particularly close. There are not enough superlatives for this. The Dubs have the whole league feeling like Kemba Walker does here:

 Unfortunately, in the closing seconds of a win over the Pacers on Tuesday, Klay Thompson sprained his ankle. I hope it isn’t too bad, because they will need him in order to do something historical. How historical? Before their 23rd win on Tuesday, FiveThirtyEight’s projection system has them with a 44% chance of setting the all-time NBA record with 73 wins a season, surpassing the 72 wins recorded by the 1995-96 Bulls (and a 25% chance of winning an insane 75 games). In this brief article, Kyle Wagner breaks down the various projection systems’ predictions for the Warriors’ final record.

Source: It’s Time to Take the Warriors’ Chances of Going 73-9 Seriously”, Kyle Wagner, FiveThirtyEight.com (12/08/2015)

PAL: The Warriors are absurd, and oh-so-fun to watch. Solid article, but I liked the other FiveThirtyEight article, which focused on trying to contextualize Steph Curry’s shooting. How about this nugget: “Curry shoots threes about as well with a defender 2 to 4 feet away (classified as “tight” by NBA.com) as an average NBA shooter does with the nearest defender 12 feet away.”


Scott Weiland’s Letter to Charlie Weis. Wait, What?

Back in 2005, in the first year of his original deal and after very little success, Notre Dame handed head football coach Charlie Weis a massive, 10-year contract extension. They quickly lived to regret that, and ended up having to pay him a buyout of $19 million. Notre Dame made their final annual payment on that contract this month. In other news, Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland died last week at the age of 48. Weiland had struggled for years with drugs and alcohol. These two stories are seemingly unrelated. So why do I bring them up together? As it turns out, Weiland was a huge Notre Dame football fan. He grew up in the midwest and his father went to Notre Dame. Weiland was such a big Notre Dame fan that in 2007 when Weis was rumored to be considering taking the New York Giants head coaching job, Weiland wrote Weis a fervent open letter, literally begging Weis not to leave Notre Dame. A sampling:

But LEAVING NOTRE DAME, your Alma Mater, without having achieved really anything of monolithic proportions like you’ve promised us is absurd and unfair. So at this point, I will get on my knees and beg. Don’t do it Coach. Don’t do it! Stay and do what you promised; your team, your school, the fans, the legacy deserves to be taken to the Promised Land.

The whole letter is pretty amusing, as Weiland writes like a 12-year old throughout. What a weird story. -TOB

Source: Dead STP Frontman Scott Weiland’s Impassioned Letter Begging Charlie Weis to Stay at Notre Dame”, Troy Machir, Sporting News (12/04/2015)

PAL: I never would’ve guessed this. It’s strange to read the words of a rock star that come off like such a dorky Notre Dame guy – impassioned and hyperbolic with the blinders firmly affixed. Also, Jimmy Clausen was a thing.


Vicarious Abuse

In Minnesota, the “Hockey dad” is a thing, as I’m certain it’s “Football dad,” in Texas, “Tennis dad” in some faux “academy” in Florida and so forth, especially in places where a sport and location are nearly one and the same. Watching a parent lose control at youth sports game is surreal and disturbing. The lack of awareness needed in order to, say, threaten violence on an umpire, referee, or – worst of all – your kid  in a public setting at a meaningless sporting event is unsettling.

Untitled 2

O’Sullivan’s dad was beating him by the time this picture was taken.

Patrick O’Sullivan’s story of enduring years of physical abuse is horrible, yet familiar. We’ve heard this story before. However, his perspective on it is refreshing and needed, especially  in an era when younger and younger kids are specializing in a sports at the insistence of coaches and parents. O’Sullivan’s take on the single-mindedness of it hits home, especially for a dude that grew up in a hockey-crazed community:

“Once you get to the pro level and you witness how fast the game moves, you finally realize that no amount of running or weight lifting or private lessons is going to change one simple question: Do you understand hockey? Do you really understand the game? Do you know where that puck is going next?”

O’Sullivan’s dad is a pathetic failure. – PAL

Source: Black & Blue”, Patrick O’Sullivan”, The Players’ Tribune (12/09/2015), ℅ 1-2-3 reader Pat O’Brien

TOB: This was a really disturbing, but also necessary, read. It helps that O’Sullivan is a little removed from the game – he is 30 years old, but has been retired since 2012. This perspective allows O’Sullivan to note two important truths about his horrible story: (1) the worst part of it all is that O’Sullivan’s NHL success undoubtedly makes his awful father believe he did the right thing; that O’Sullivan owes his success to his dad beating the hell out of him, day after day, for over a decade; and (2) that there were people, grown adults, who saw O’Sullivan’s father abusing him after games and did absolutely nothing. O’Sullivan’s story could have been a woe is me memoir – but instead he makes an important point: parents abuse their children, and it is not acceptable. But the least acceptable thing is for other adults to witness the abuse, look the other way, and do nothing. As O’Sullivan closes his story:

“I’m writing it for the people in the parking lot. Yes, if you say something, you may ruin the relationship you have with that person. You may get embarrassed in front of the other hockey parents. You may have to go through the awkwardness of filing a police report.

I can understand why a lot of people worry, “But what if I’m wrong?”

If you are wrong, that’s the absolute best case scenario. The alternative is that child is a prisoner in his own home. What you’re seeing in the parking lot or outside the locker room — whether it’s a kid getting grabbed and screamed at, or shoved up against a car — could just be the tip of the iceberg.

It’s so ironic, because the hockey community loves to talk about toughness and courage. In that world, courage is supposed to mean standing in front of a slap shot without flinching, or taking your lumps in a fight.

But that’s easy. That’s not real courage. Anybody can do that. I guarantee you there’s hundreds of kids across North America who will get dressed for hockey this weekend with their stomach turning, thinking the same thing I did as a kid: “I better play really good there, or tonight is going to be really bad.” It just takes one person to act on their instinct and stand up for that child. That’s real courage. The kind we don’t always glorify in the hockey world.”


Video of the Week:

Wait for it…

Baseball players are so lovably dumb.


Tweet of the Week

-Former teammate of Marshawn’s at Cal, who went on to play quite a few years in the NFL.


PAL Song of the Week: A Tribe Called Quest – “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo

Check out the playlist here. Consider it your holiday bonus.


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Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?

– Clark Griswold

 

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Week of November 30, 2015

God bless the super senior.


Greatest Post-Fight In-Ring Interview Ever

I almost made this the Video of the Week, but it really deserves so, so much more. When I saw this I texted it to Phil and said: “This is why we started 1-2-3 Sports!” It’s quite possibly my favorite sports video of all-time. Quick background: British boxer Tyson Fury beat long-time Heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko last Saturday. It was a HUGE upset. Klitschko had been the champ for 10 years. In the ring after the fight, Tyson Fury (that name is pretty fantastic) took the mic and…just watch:

Tears in my eyes, man. -TOB

PAL: I cannot recommend clicking on this link enough. So absurd and hilarious.


Once Again, Navy’s Uniforms Are So Choice.

A few years ago, Navy unveiled these awesome uniforms for its annual game against Army. Those helmets remain SWEET.

Navy 1Nothing about that is bad. Great job by Nike. Since then, Navy has moved to UnderArmour, and I do not often say this, but UnderArmour has bettered Nike on this one:

Navy 2

Look closely. Those are seven different helmets, with seven different hand-pained Naval ships, with one ship for each position group. Plus:

Navy 3“Damn the Torpedoes” vertical down the leg. They’re gonna be so fired up, they’ll win by 50. Sorry, Army. And thank you to my own mother for sending in this story. We love reader submissions! -TOB

Source: Navy’s Badass Helmets for Army Game Have Hand-Painted Ships, Custom For Each Position Group”, Jason Kirk, SB Nation (11/30/2015)

PAL: “Damn the torpedoes” on the pants is a half-step too far. Everything else about this jersey kicks ass.


The Greatest Season by The Great One

In the 85-86 NHL season, Wayne Gretzky tallied 215 points in 82 games. For some perspective, Gretzky had more assists in that season (163, or just about 2 per game) than the previous NHL scoring record-holder (Phil Esposito) had goals and assists. To be fair, the NHL in the 80s was kind of like the NBA in the 80s – that is to say, high scoring – and I’m trying to figure out what a good comparison would be. Jordan averaging 45ppg? Magic averaging 15 points and 20 assists per game? I don’t know, which is kind of the point of this story. It’s hard to find a comparison to how great Gretzky was, especially in that 85-86 season. – PAL

Source: Assist by the Great One: How Wayne Gretzky redefined scoring in the NHL”, Colin Fleming, Sports Illustrated (12/02/2015)

TOB: I thought about Phil’s challenge for about 30 seconds before Steph Curry’s name popped into my head. And I spent much of the evening trying to formulate how I would make the argument that what Curry is doing as a shooter in basketball is equal to Gretzky’s prime as a scorer in hockey. Curry is shooting so many threes, at such a high rate, that the comparison is apt. But I wanted to find something to really make it stick. While trying to find an article to support my position, I had Sportscenter on in the background and heard Scott Van Pelt start talking about Curry. And he nailed it. I transcribed it, edited a bit for space:

“After our show last night a few of us were sitting in the office when something hit me: We’d done the highlight of the Warriors win, it’s 20 wins in a row to start the season; we’d shown the highlight where Steph scored 40 and we’d shown his latest monotone explanation about being more confident, and whatever else he said. And, here’s where I think we failed: We just acted like this is normal. Because this is what he’s done. Steph Curry has blinded us in short order to the fact that what he does on a nightly basis is completely out of order and outrageous.

An Ethan Strauss article on ESPN.com today began with a Klay Thompson quote: ‘This is normal. This is normal, now.’ Well, yes and no. Yes, this is what Curry does. But no, nothing about this guy is normal. He scored 28 points in a quarter. He had 14 points in the final 1:53 of the quarter on shots averaging almost 30 feet.

Tom Haberstroh had some insane stats on ESPN.com and on Sportscenter that framed the lunacy of Curry so very well. He’s 4 for 10 on shots of 30 feet or more this season. That’s legitimately his range. He’s gonna pull from a dribble over halfcourt sometime soon and I will expect it to go in. It will be effortless and it will be a reasonable shot for him to take. Haberstroh listed 17 NBA teams that have gone a combined 4 of 119 from 30 feet or more this season.

Another gem: Curry is on pace to make more 3’s over the course of last season and this one than Larry Bird had in his entire 13 year career. Larry Friggin Bird. 

Whatever the volume of freakout is on Curry, it is still insufficient and it is not hyperbole. He’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen and it’s really not close. I want to make sure we do a better job of not being as nonchalant as he is about it. Because this is starting to feel like some once in a lifetime stuff, and acknowledging it, and appreciating it, as it happens is what ought to be done. So we will.”

Amen, SVP.


Never Change, KG

Kevin Garnett is very nearly insane, and the stories are so damn entertaining. This is an anecdote by Jackie MacMullan, in a story about how KG is mentoring the young Timberwolves. It is set back in 2009, when KG was still with the Celtics. Coach Doc Rivers asked KG to sit out a practice, to give him some rest. Here’s what happened:

“Garnett, forbidden to take the floor by his own coach, had concocted his revenge: He would track the movements of power forward Leon Powe, the player who had replaced him in the lineup. As Powe pivoted, so did Garnett. As Powe leaped to grab a defensive rebound, Garnett launched himself to corral an imaginary ball. As Powe snapped an outlet pass, Garnett mimicked the motion, then sprinted up his slim sliver of sideline real estate as Powe filled the lane on the break. The players were mirror images: one on the court with a full complement of teammates, the other out of bounds, alone. Two men engaged in a bizarre basketball tango.

“KG,” Rivers barked, “if you keep doing this, I’m canceling practice for the whole team. That will hurt us.”

Garnett’s reverence for coaches was legendary, but still he turned his back on Rivers. He returned to his defensive stance, an isotope of intensity, crouched, palms outstretched, in complete concert with Powe. He was, in fact, becoming so adept at this warped dalliance he’d invented, he actually began to anticipate Powe’s movements, denying the entry pass to his invisible opponent before Powe thought of it.

Finally, an exasperated Rivers blew the whistle. “Go home,” Rivers instructed his team. Then he glared at Garnett. “I hope you’re happy.”

Hilarious. More KG stories, please. -TOB

Source: “Rookie Watch: The Cruel Tutelage of the Wolves’ Kevin Garnett, Jackie MacMullan, ESPN.com (11/25/2015)

PAL: Just to be clear, this is not the endearing type of crazy. KG is crazy crazy, as in “ruin a career crazy”. Also – I know I’m in the minority on this, but I can’t help but think the picture of him sitting in front of Flip Saunders’ parking spot has a pinch of self-aggrandizement. Interesting read, to be sure, but what KG defines as leadership comes off as, well, a teenager’s misguided understanding of the concept.


Flip A Coin: The Sports Tradition Goes Way Back

The coin toss first shows up in a sport’s rulebook in 1774. No surprise here, it appears in a cricket rulebook. Many of us consider it a tradition that now carries little significance to the game it precedes, but this story outlines many instances where that was not the case. Sometimes it led to a rule change (Jerome Bettis, anyone?), and in other cases (the NBA Lottery) it likely changed a franchise’s destiny. Most interesting, however, is how important the coin toss remains in cricket (for now?). Fun read about something we hardly ever think about in sports. – PAL

Source: Coin Toss Retains Its Place in History, if Not in Cricket, Victor Mather, The New York Times (11/30/15)


Bench Celebrations Never Get Old

Monmouth’s basketball team is off to a good start. They got a win at UCLA, then beat #17 ranked Notre Dame and USC. They are 4-2 and were a on my radar a bit after those big wins. But now they’re really on my radar, thanks to this Deadspin article highlighting their bench celebration antics. My favorite has to be this one:

But click the link and watch the rest. These guys are having fun and not afraid to look silly. Isn’t this what college sports should be about? -TOB

Source:Nobody in Sports is Having As Much Fun As the Monmouth Bench”, Patrick Redford, Deadspin (11/29/2015)

PAL: Would it be in poor taste to buy a keg and send it to the residence of where these perfect morons live in New Jersey? 100% love these goofballs.


Video of the Week:

PAL: Do any of our readers know this young lady? Asking for a friend.


PAL Song of the Week: Van Morrison – “Into The Mystic”. Dance with a loved one in the kitchen. Hold them tight, and don’t say a damn word.

Here’s the full playlist of all our picks. It’s all over the place, like you and me. 


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“You thought he was cute? Do you realize when he graduated we were like three years old?”

-Mike

Week of April 27, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 12.04.56 AM


Camden Yards Attendance: 0

In response to the riots in Baltimore this week, MLB made unfortunate history: On Wednesday, the Orioles and White Sox played the first ever major league game without a paying crowd. The game at Camden Yards was closed to the public so police and National Guard resources could be stationed elsewhere in the city. The decision was made in response to the riots that overtook Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. While the “ghost town” atmosphere created bizarre results – infielders openly heard talking to each other, the crack of the bat echoing around the stadium, and announcers calling the game as if it was The Masters – it was a stark reminder that sports do not only exist on highlight reels and big screen televisions. Ironically, a game played before an empty stadium served as a reminder that sports and the communities for which they play are inseparable. – PAL

Source: Even with Camden Yards closed to the public, fans found way to support O’s”, Eduardo Encina and Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun (4/29/15)

TOB: At 1-2-3 we write about sports, and we generally avoid divisive political/social issues. But the situation in Baltimore, I cannot abide. However, there are writers who can say this more eloquently than I can, and so I leave you with this story from the Atlantic, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, wherein he writes:

When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.


So, Lonestar, Now You See That Evil Will Always Triumph, Because Good Is Dumb

On Saturday, the fight boxing fans have been waiting for will finally take place: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao. Unfortunately, it’s about 4 years too late, as both fighters are no longer in the prime of their careers. Nonetheless, the years-long buildup and anticipation are expected to make this the highest-grossing pay-per-view fight in boxing history.

Floyd Mayweather is not a good person. He has done some terrible things. Boxing fans have largely overlooked that fact because Mayweather is the greatest fighter of his generation, and a very good entertainer. But the press is building this fight up as Good vs. Evil (Mayweather, a showman and a salesman, is not exactly discouraging that story, as he knows it will increase PPV sales and therefore his paycheck). But as with all such real-life storylines, it’s not that simple. Manny Pacquiao is no saint. Diana Moskovitz details some of their failings. As she sums it up:

What’s worse, beating up women or trying to make it harder for millions of them to get birth control? Do you mind less the absent politician or the abusive father? Which is easier to tolerate, a man who leveraged his fame and fortune for favors across the Philippines or a man who leveraged his fame and fortune for favors across the United States? Athletes are human; they exist on the same ethical continuum as the rest of us, stretching from saints to sinners with a long, murky middle where most reside. It should be enough to sell this fight that Mayweather and Pacquiao are the two best boxers of their generation. But don’t let the appeal to morality confuse you: that’s all they’re good for.

She’s right: this is entertainment (though I disagree with her other contention that who you root for says something about you). I will be rooting for Mayweather, because I think Mayweather is the better fighter and have thought so for years…and I like being right. Either way, I’ll be watching the fight. You’re welcome to come by, but don’t start crowing about Mayweather being a bad person. Pacquiao ain’t much better. -TOB

Source: Don’t Believe the Hype: Mayweather-Pacquiao is Not Good vs. Evil”, Diana Moskovitz, Deadspin (04/09/2015)

PAL: “But sports is never just about the act itself. It’s about the the storylines, the unknown, the unexpected, the sides we choose, and what those choices say about us. We do define ourselves by the team or the athlete we back. And in this case, we have no comfortable choices.” Moskovitz brings up a fresh and insightful argument, but I would only add this caveat: We are allowed – and take advantage of this allowance –  to selectively “define ourselves by the team or athlete we back.” We define ourselves with partialities when it comes to sports, because we have no negative relationship with beloved athletes or teams. It’s easy for me to sing the praises of Kirby Puckett because he gave me great personal moments. As horrible as it sounds, I have no personal connection to him allegedly threatening his wife with a knife or being charged with fifth degree sexual assault. But I can tell you that I jumped up from a video game rocking chair when he hit that home run in the ‘91 Series. Charlie Leibrandt leaves a circle change-up out over the plate. Chili Davis is in the on-deck circle, and my mom – a lady who would rather vacuum than watch a baseball game – is laughing, cheering, and crying at the same time. Joe Buck’s announcing the game and shouts, “We’ll see you tomorrow night!” I can hear Buck shout that line out as if he is on my radio as I write this. Puckett bookmarks some of the happiest moments of my life, and that’s unchanging. Like it or not – there are more than a few people out there who feel the same way about Mayweather and Pacquiao.


OH, HELL YEAH: A STORY ON HUMAN CANNONBALLS

Yeah, I went full capslock. That’s how excited I am to share this story. It doesn’t disappoint. How are the cannons made? No one knows. How far down the barrel is the human projectile? No one knows. How many people have died doing this? Not exactly sure. Why don’t we know the answers to any of these questions? Because the human cannonball is like a magic trick* in that no one who practices the art divulges any information on how it is done and it’s not like there’s a circus version of Baseball Reference out there to keep records such as fatalities for a stunt that’s been going on for hundreds of years. Also, good luck if your dream is to become a human cannonball. It’s a family affair, in large part to protect the aforementioned trade secrets. One overachiever from – where else? – Minnesota has found her way into a club that some estimate is less than 10 active members. Gemma “The Jet” Kirby gives writer Robbie Gonzalez a partial peek into the guarded world of the Human Cannonball. – PAL

Source: A Glimpse Inside The Secretive World Of Human Cannonballs”, Robbie Gonzalez, io9 (4/30/15)

TOB: Wow. This is fascinating on many levels. I recall the first time I saw a person shot out of a cannon. The details are incredibly vivid to me. I was at Disneyland, probably about 6 years old. We were headed toward Tom Sawyer’s Island (yes, I know the name has changed). A crowd was gathered and my parents told me that someone was about to be shot out of a cannon. What in the world!  We were quite close to the cannon – I remember him tucking inside. He was dressed a bit like Evel Knievel. There was incredible anticipation in the crowd. Then an explosion! And holy hell if the guy didn’t fly halfway to Tomorrowland! Looking back, he probably flew only to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. But it was far! Far enough that I couldn’t see him land. My dad assured me he was ok. But in reading this article, and about how dangerous this job is, how could he have been so sure? Maybe the guy broke his neck? Thanks for letting me see a guy break his neck, Mom and Dad. Also: Drug dealers use cannons to shoot drugs across the border from Mexico??? This story has it all. Finally, am I imagining this story at Disneyland? Was it a dream? Mom and Dad, you are invited to chime in on this topic.


Math Is Good; ARod Was Better

This is really funny. Someone got a copy of Scott Boras’ actual projections for Alex Rodriguez when he was negotiating with the Rangers back in 2000. For Boras’ “projection system” he simply took Rodriguez’ previous 5 years and averaged them out until A-Rod was 40. Stupidly simplistic, right? Well, amazingly, Boras was pretty accurate, up through A-Rod’s age-34 season, which would have been the end of his original, 10-year, $252 million dollar contract. A-Rod was that good for that long. This is funny, the way the writer presents it is funny, and the way it makes me think that this is what Boras did to convince Sabean to give Zito that huge contract is not funny. -TOB

Source: Pebble Hunting”, Sam Miller, Baseball Prospectus (04/27/2015)

PAL: Great find, TOB (eat it, Rowe). In other words, Boras was negotiating a contract for an unprecedented player. Wasn’t that the larger point? Wasn’t his goal to convince teams to throw out all financial comps when it came to ARod’s contract, because there was no comparable player like him? Boras’ projections were simultaneously laughable, accurate in chunks, and a $uccess ($252MM).


Updates:

  • Last week we posted a great story about how a series of photographs from the Boston Marathon helped changed the course of female athletics. My sister, Angela Fehringer (mother of 4), burned up the 2015 race with a staggering time of 03:23:07. So impressive.

Video of the Week:

CANNONBALL! The aforementioned Gemma “The Jet” Kirby in action, GoPro-style.


PAL’s song of the week: I Ain’t Blue,” Bonnie Raitt. Yep, still have a crush on her. Also, SF’s Nicki Bluhm sounds a lot like Raitt, and that’s not at all a bad thing.

Follow the 1-2-3 Sports! Weekly Pick’s playlist


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“Illusions, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money.”

– GOB

Week of March 9, 2015

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Hanging with chef Guy Fieri

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Sports Bucket List: The Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament

I’m sentimental about this. Every year growing up I would skip school and head down to the Civic Center in St. Paul to watch the Thursday session of the State Tournament with my grandpa. Two afternoon games, lunch at Cosseta or McGovern’s, then back to the arena for two night games. While we both looked forward to sharing the day, I know we both loved the event – separate from the fact that we were there together – which of course made it even more enjoyable. Iron Range teams (up north) like Bemidji, Cloquet, Duluth East, and International Falls would come down to the big city (bringing the entire hometown with them) and face off with metro powerhouses like Hill-Murray, Edina, and Bloomington Jefferson. Nearly 130k fans attended the four-day event this year, and to this day there is no sport more universally loved in Minnesota than high school hockey. Here’s a collection of the best of 2015 – PAL

  • Best goals of the tourney – ℅ CBS Sports
  • This article reminded me of my late grandpa – ℅ Andy Greder (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
  • And of course, the annual All Hockey Hair Team, ℅ PulltabProductions:

TOB: Doesn’t Phil’s memory of skipping school and heading to the State hockey tournament with his Grandpa sound awesome? With the NCAA tournament starting next week, it makes me want to skip work and have a 1-2-3 Sports! March Madness viewing party. I don’t think it’s gonna happen this year, but a guy can dream, can’t he? Also, if you like fun, watch the All Hockey Hair Team video. It does not disappoint.


“The Slow Destruction of Pete Reiser, the Greatest Player Who Never Was”

W.C. Heinz is generally considered one of the greatest sports writers of all-time. This is a Heinz story from 1958 about a former baseball player named Pete Reiser. Reiser had talent many compared to Mantle and Mays, but his penchant for crashing into outfield walls and getting beaned in the head left him in the hospital almost as much as he played. Heinz’ story on Reiser, from a collection of his best sportswriting, Top of His Game, was reprinted in Deadspin this week. It is funny and sad, and an interesting look into an athlete who gave too much of himself. At one point, later in his career, a reporter asks Reiser where he thinks he’ll finish the season. The reporter means in the standings, but Reiser replies: “In Peck Memorial Hospital.” He was only half-kidding. -TOB

Source: “The Rocky Road of Pistol Pete“, W.C. Heinz (1958), reprinted in Deadspin (03/10/2015) 

PAL: This reads like a novel. Aside from the stories – which come off like folk tales – the writing is simple, classic, and a pleasure to read. One of my favorite lines: “On the way back to New York I kept thinking how right Pete was. To tell a man who is this true that there is another way for him to do it is to speak a lie.” Morgan Freeman was meant to do the voice over on to this story.


Coming Back From the Brink

The Ravens signed running back Justin Forsett to a 3-year, $9 million deal on Thursday. The signing didn’t make too many headlines, and most probably didn’t take note. But…Forsett went to Cal and is one of my favorite all-time Bears. He was always humble and hard working. He was the backup to Marshawn Lynch, and when Lynch was out, the offense did not miss a beat. Forsett bounced around the NFL for the better part of a decade, never catching the break he deserved, despite performing well in limited playing time. Until this year. The Ray Rice debacle gave Forsett his chance – and he ran with it, literally. Forsett led the NFL in yards per carry, made the Pro Bowl, and earned his payday. After signing, Forsett wrote this great piece for NFL.com about life on the fringes of the NFL, how close he came to retiring after the 2013 season, how he was preparing for life after football, and how it felt to flourish when he got his shot. -TOB

Source: What I Wanted Most in Free Agency, and Why I Stayed a Raven”, Justin Forsett, NFL.com (03/12/2015)


Scouting vs Statistics

There is a cold war in baseball – between the “scout” and “stats” teams. Some teams are “old school” and rely on what they observe – from personnel decisions to on-field tactics. Other teams use statistics and try to play to the averages. Meanwhile, the Giants have won 3 of the last 5 World Series. How have they done it? As Christina Kahrl writes, part of the reason the Giants have been so successful is by finding a happy medium between the two approaches. For example, that huge catch by Juan Perez off of Nori Aoki to preserve the Giants’ lead in Game 7 of the World Series. Normally, when defending against a left-handed batter, the left fielder would be damn-near to center field. But the Giants used a combination of statistics and instincts to put Perez in an otherwise strange position – defending the left field line (click the thumbnail to go to the video):

 

And it paid off in a big way. -TOB

Source: “How the Giants Use Metrics on D”, Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com (03/11/2015); Companion Reading: Giants Defensive Positioning a Big Assist in Game 7 Victory”, John DeWan, Bill James Online (11/06/2014);Giants’ Aoki Could Have Been a World Series Hero”, Andrew Baggarly, San Jose Mercury-News (02/25/2010)


Hilarious First Person Accounts Of Getting Dunked On

The headline says it all. Here are several accounts of regular dudes getting slammed on by future pros, top prospects, and otherwise absurd athletes from other sports. After reading, I now know not to attempt taking the charge when a future NBA player is bearing down on you with a full head of steam. You might get a ball (or balls) slammed in your face. Most of them are hilarious, but my favorite ends with the following: “It was the most aggressive teabagging I’ve ever seen and I just walked off the court and didn’t come back. Ever.” – PAL

Source: “Your Best Stories About Getting Dunked On Like The Losers You Are”, Samer Kalaf, Deadspin (03/09/2015)

TOB: Quite happy I could not have contributed to this. I am always smart enough to get out of the way.


What Makes an NBA Coach Successful?

How do we measure the value of a coach? For years, it has been wins and losses (and championships), counter-balanced with the perceived talent the coach has to work with. But in basketball, we often see an individual player’s performance wax and wane depending on the system he is in. Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry uses the very different performances of first-time head coaches Terry Stotts in Atlanta (a Popovich disciple) and the recently-fired Brian Shaw in Denver (a Phil Jackson disciple) to theorize that the rise in importance of the three-point shot in the NBA will give a clearer picture as to which coaches are the best. Goldsberry makes a strong case that how the coach creates open looks for his players, thus maximizing their ability to make shots, will go a long way in evaluating a coach’s worth. -TOB

Source: The Sons of Pop and the Zen Master: It’s Time to Properly Measure the Value of NBA Coaches”, Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland (03/06/2015)


Video of the Week

Let’s be real. This week’s video of the week is the Hockey Hair video above. But we’ll leave you with this:

That is steak sauce.


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“If you’re rich you don’t have to be smart. That’s the whole beauty of this country.”

-Joey from Little Big League. Also, Jed York