Best of 2015, Part 2: The Funny Stuff

The other day, 1-2-3 Sports featured the best stories of 2015; todays’s post is all about the laughs. Here are the funniest stories and video clips that we came across in 2015.  We couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the post than this picture of Chris Christie playing softball.

In all seriousness, we love sharing these stories with you, our friends and family. If you love 1-2-3 Sports, or even like it sometimes, then we would so very, very much appreciate you spreading the word this weekend. While our readership is the best, it’s quite small. We’d like to change that, and we need your help in order to do so. Send the link to a friend and tell them it’s worth 10 minutes every week. – TOB & PAL

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Mascot Rampage

This is amusing. The guy pictured below, with the fantastic mullet, went to a minor league baseball game in North Carolina last weekend. 

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He got so drunk that he passed out in a stairwell and awoke around midnight, long after the ballpark had been deserted. While leaving, he stumbled upon the team’s mascot’s costume. He put the costume on and met up with friends at a local bar – dancing the night away and, as he put it, “ragin’, dude.” Nice work, guy. Also, excellent headline, Creative Loafing Charlotte. -TOB
Source: Homer’s Night on the Town: If You Drank a Shot With the Knights’ Mascot on Sept. 20, You Were Basically Harboring a Fugitive”, Ryan Pitkin, Creative Loafing Charlotte (09/30/2015)

PAL: Since there is nothing I could possibly write to make this story any better than it is, please read this excerpt:

He said he was at Hooters, so I told him to stay there. I start walking down the hallway to leave and I look to my right and see the mascot dressing room. I thought, there’s no way this door is unlocked. I turned the handle and it opens right up and there’s the damned costume.

So, I suited right up, walked out the door and proceeded to Hooters. I walked right up into Hooters and my buddy didn’t even know it was me. I was ragin’ dude.

I left Hooters and there was a big line at Tilt next door. I just said, “Yo man, can I go in?” The guy said, “No,” and I was like, “Dude, You’re not gonna let Homer the f*&kin’ mascot into your bar right now?” Then he said I could go in. There was nobody on the dance floor. I come sliding in and start getting it. I was doing all the moves you always wanted to try but are too embarrassed to.


Manny Being Too Manly?

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

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

Watch Pedro tell it himself here.- TOB

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

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


Kurt Busch’s Ex Is A WHAT (allegedly)?

Nascar is dumb, but this story is fun. Fun > Dumb. Kurt Busch makes left turns for a living, and allegedly got into a physical altercation with his girlfriend. They’re in court right now, and part of Busch’s defense is that he didn’t do it because Patricia Driscoll could kill him…because she’s an assassin. Here is a thorough back story on Driscoll that makes it at least appear that the Busch’s claim isn’t that out of left field. The accompanying profile video on Driscoll is hilarious, too. – PAL

Source: “Testimony: Kurt Busch Ex Terrible At Keeping Assassin Gig On The Downlow”Stef Schrader, Jalopnik (1/14/15)

TOB: This is great writing. When I read the headline I thought, “This is going to be the dumbest thing I read all week.” But…as Phil suggests… somehow it makes sense! She’s totally an assassin! I’m all in on this and I can’t wait for the resolution.


Rapper Baseball Card Puns = The Best Tumblr

There’s more where this came from at http://straightouttacooperstown.tumblr.com


Never Change, Marshawn

This one does not require much explanation: Marshawn Lynch was at his youth camp this week and a reporter saw he had chicken wings. Stored in his sock. When the reporter asked why, Marshawn said: “My auntie fried up some chicken and I had my hands full, and I don’t have no pockets on my shorts, so I just had to use what I had.” So resourceful. As I said: Never change, Marshawn. -TOB

Source: Why Marshawn Lynch Kept Chicken Wings in His Sock”, Jeff Bercovici, Maxim (07/16/2015)

PAL: Man, this would have been great as an “extra” in the Marshawn Lynch biopic (single tear). Hard not to love Lynch, but – come on – this is disgusting.


An All Too Familiar Scene

This is great. A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle dragged his girlfriend to the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night, and the two of them chronicled the events in a series of amusing tweets. Here are my two favorites:

https://twitter.com/EireannDolan/status/677629950694981633/photo/1?ref_src=twsrctfw

Source: Sean Dolittle Dragged His Girlfriend to Star Wars“, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (12/18/2015)


Funniest Videos

Not much for reading words? We got you covered. Here are the funniest videos of 2015. We’ve watched these videos over and over, and they in no way get old or unfunny.
Shake that off, cake eater

I will never get tired of that smirk followed by that bomb. -TOB


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.


I Just Want To Be Friends With The Currys

Yes, that is Steph Curry, on a pony, set to Ginuwine. 


He’s The Bro-iest Bro We Know

May-may!


Life Moves Pretty Fast

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfL4G_8Uy9g

I could watch this over and over and over and laugh every time. And I have. -TOB


Warning: Explicit Language & Dumb L.A. Guy


Funny Song of the Year, Part 2: John Prine – “In Spite of Ourselves”

Check out all our weekly picks here. It’s a good playlist.


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“Life gets in the way. And, you know, the songs weren’t that good.”
-Darland Miller
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Week of March 16, 2015

NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship

Don’t Hate The Player – Hate The Game

As someone who doesn’t have a horse in the race, my rooting allegiance was available for the NCAA tournament. Kentucky is the odds-on favorite to win it all and has a chance to be the first team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to go undefeated (note: the tournament included only 32 teams in 1976). This article goes beyond the reasons Kentucky will or will not win the title; rather, Sharp makes argument for why as the headline suggests, the team matters. For instance, Coach John Calipari might be hated for recruiting “1-and-done” players, but all the major programs have followed his lead to a lesser degree of success. Furthermore, attracting super recruits is one challenge; getting a group of them to understand that playing as a team ultimately better for the individual player’s future is quite another challenge. And ultimately, the product is more entertaining during a time when the college game has become slow, low-scoring, and devoid of upper-classmen with NBA talent. Taking all of this into consideration, go Wildcats. – PAL

Source: Kentucky Is the Only Team That Matters, Andrew Sharp, Grantland (3/19/15)

TOB: #theyjustjealous. Every other coach wishes he could recruit the kind of talent that Calipari does every year. This is a true story: Kentucky has a guy named Marcus Lee. Lee is a 6’9 PF from the Bay Area. He was ranked as high as #19 in the country out of high school. He picked Kentucky, with Cal as his #2. Lee and his family explained that while they knew he wouldn’t get much playing time at Kentucky, he had a better chance of making the NBA by playing against the one-and-dones at Kentucky in practice every day for four years, than he did as the best player at Cal. Now, I don’t know if I agree with this, but it’s not insane. As I was writing the preceding sentence, I heard Calipari say at halftime of their first round game against Hampton, “It was nice I could get Marcus Lee into the game because (Cauley-Stein) had foul trouble.” Lee, who probably could have helped transform Cal’s basketball program, is a garbage time afterthought at Kentucky (he averages 11 mins and 2.7 points per game). I can’t be mad at that, though. Kentucky is undefeated and outscoring opponents by twenty-one points per game. They beat tournament teams UNC and UCLA by 24 and 39. They beat Kansas (a #2 seed) by 32! They are fun to watch – I hope they meet Arizona in the Final Four (who I think is even more fun). It will be can’t miss television.


Who Am I? (What’s My Name)

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Guillherme Fuck is a college basketball player in Canada. He’s from Brazil. His last name, as you can see, has made some…uncomfortable. But Fuck embraces his name and so should we. I hope he runs for office one day. -TOB

Source: What’s in a Name? Fuck Proud of His”, Ryan McCracken, Medicine Hat News (03/19/2015)


Chalk One Up For The Geezers

With a kiss! Send it in, Jerome! Bill Raftery (73) has one of the most recognizable voices (and catch phrases) in college basketball, so it shocked me to discover he’s never called the Final Four on television until this year. He’s never complained or lobbied for the job, even when he’s been passed over for younger, and in some cases far less experienced candidates. He also represents a group of geezers that have no intention of retiring (I don’t believe the Jim Boeheim “retire in three years b.s. any more than you do). Legendary announcer Dick Vitale (76), SMU coach Larry Brown (74, and damn, did they get hosed in that game or what), and defiant Syracuse coach Boeheim (70) all keep chugging along. Unlike the others, who have reached the pinnacle of their respective professions – Brown is the only coach ever to win both an NCAA and NBA title, Boeheim got a title behind a teenaged Carmelo Anthony, Vitale as the pop culture icon – this is Raftery’s first time to the mountaintop. Good on you, Bill Raftery. You deserve it. -PAL

Source:At 73, a First TV Job at the Final Four”, Richard Sandomir, The New York Times (3/16/15)

TOB: As if Billy Packer for decades wasn’t bad enough, whoever chose Clark Freakin Kellogg over Raftery for the Final Four should be tried for crimes against humanity. And then Greg Anthony after that!? The stated reason of not wanting to break up Verne Lundquist and Raftery is bull. I’m excited for Raftery – I just wish it had happened sooner. At 74, he’s not quiiiiiite the announcer he used to be. Nonetheless, I expect at least one, “ONIONS IN INDY!” at the Final Four. I can’t wait.


One Player’s Pre-emptive Strike Against CTE

As you’re probably aware, 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired unexpectedly this week. Borland had a very promising rookie year. But he walked away, after just one season and less than one million dollars in career earnings, because he was afraid of what the game of football might do to his brain. The news was shocking, especially to 49ers fans, who have experienced an almost comically bad offseason. As you can imagine, a lot of words were written about Borland’s decision. These were two of my favorites. -TOB

Source: Everyone Wants Chris Borland to Mean Something”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (03/17/2015); The Definition of Tough: How Chris Borland Walked Away From His Dream Job”, Bill Barnwell, Grantland (03/17/2015)

PAL: “At this point, it’s about the fact that football destroys some or many of the people who play it, and the consequences of that knowledge.” That’s the best description of where the NFL (and the country) is at with the CTE situation. Now that we have the knowledge, what do individuals do with it? Some players will say, “screw it,” and play anyway, and some won’t. More important to the long-term future of football: what decision will parents make on behalf of their kids? What’s most shocking to me is when I hear retired players who are seemingly healthy and got out unscathed (Herm Edwards is one example) say they would go back and do it again while knowing the risks. Really? You were lucky enough to have made it through the gauntlet once, while other players have suffered horribly, and you’d risk it again? That’s arrogance. Above all, I think Borland displays humility and confidence by walking away now. He’s not foolish enough to think it (CTE) won’t happen to him, and he has the confidence to not define himself by football.  


Crawford’s Web

Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford makes some incredible defensive plays. This article was a great idea by Giants beat writer Alex Pavlovic, who sat down with Crawford to break down five of his best. Crawford explains what went through his head, how he made the play, and how he feels watching them now. I enjoyed it thoroughly. -TOB

Source: Giants’ SS Crawford Breaks Down Top 2014 Defensive Gems, Alex Pavlovic, CSN Bay Area (03/18/2015)

PAL: Beer on me for whomever posts a picture or short video of the following (someone take me up on this already, dammit!). Go to your local field (regulations size, folks), stand where the infield dirt meets the outfield grass 20 feet from the third base line, and throw a ball to first base. You’ll find it’s a hell of a long throw. Imagine diving for a ground ball, getting up, and making a throw to first base in time to beat a professional athlete to the bag. Someone please do this. Pat O’Brien, Al Pflepsen, and Ryan Nett, Ryan Rowe – I’m looking at you. In fact, Tommy and I might be cooking up a video series idea to try to recreate the best plays of each month from this upcoming season. You can already file it under comedy. Crawford is a maestro.


The Manhattan Project of College Sports

This week, Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, the most influential AD in the NCAA, just pulled a Harry Truman, announcing the college sports atomic bomb. This has been brewing for years, but to hear the Notre Dame AD come out and present it as a viable plan is more than a little shocking. Swarbrick addresses the movement toward paying college players, and how some schools just will not go there (e.g. Notre Dame and Stanford). He proposes a move to two associations. Teams like Alabama and Oregon, who are committed to winning football at all costs, would go in one association. In the other association would be teams like Notre Dame and Stanford, following more of an Ivy League model. He believes that Notre Dame will still command a major TV contract even if they are not playing the other elite teams. I’m not so sure, and this seems like a major gamble for him. Will ND’s nationwide fans continue to follow the team if they move to what will be viewed as a lower division? I also found the placement of my alma mater, Cal, in the same division as Notre Dame as interesting. No doubt, the administration would want to join that league. But Cal just renovated their stadium a few years ago and need to pay off around $300 million over the next 40 years. Can they afford the move to the lower division? I am skeptical. -TOB

Source: Notre Dame AD Has a Vision of Two Collegiate Athletic Associations”, Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports (03/18/2015)

PAL: Let’s say this happened tomorrow. Notre Dame Football would be (more) irrelevant within 3 years, if not sooner. The coach would bolt, and boosters would have Swarbrick canned long before that. Perhaps one example of collateral damage in the eventual payment of college athletes is Notre Dame becoming a note in a sports almanac. Also, you are delusional if you don’t think Notre Dame athletes are receiving “benefits” right now. My advice: Lean into it, Mr. Swarbrick.

TOB: With the rare counterargument: From what I have read, Swarbrick is extremely intelligent and good at his job. It would shock me if, before he went public with this, his message was not run by (1) ND Administration and (2) NBC Sports Execs. I find it hard to believe that this mandate is not coming from his school’s higher ups – ND fancies itself in the rarefied air just below the Ivies, and they truly may not want to go to a pay-for-play model. But, I find it hard to believe they’d also forego the TV money they get from NBC. Perhaps they convinced NBC that they’d still draw ratings (though I think, as Phil said, it would not take long for viewers to tune out).


Video of the Week

This week’s video is another edition of MLB Statcast, where they use science to break down amazing plays. This play is the near-double play the Giants pulled on the Cardinals after the deflection off of He Who Shall Not Be Named’s glove in Game 5 of the NLCS. Click the image to load the video.


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“What kind of person could ever cheer for that Duke team over the Fab Five? Is that someone you would ever want to be friends with?”

-Chris Ryan, Grantland

 

 

Week of October 13, 2014

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When the Greatest Basketball Player on Earth Went to Alcatraz

Phil’s alma mater, the University of San Francisco Dons, won two NCAA national championships in men’s basketball in the 1950’s, led by future NBA hall of famers Bill Russell and K.C. Jones. It’s pretty remarkable to think about now, and it would have been fun to be living here when they were dominating from their tiny school that did not even have its own gym at the time. If they made a tourney run now, you’re damn right I’d jump on that bandwagon. Well, back in the 1950’s, the inmates at Alcatraz felt the same way. The Dons had a lot of fans on The Rock, and when the inmates asked the prison chaplain, who doubled as a professor at USF, if he could bring some of the players to meet them, he was happy to oblige. The players were welcomed like conquering heroes, and all seem to look back on it fondly. This is a pretty cool story, made even more interesting because it had been previously unreported, nearly 60 years later. -TOB

Source:”Bill Russell, KC Jones Treated Like “Rock” Stars at Alcatraz”, by Baxter Holmes, Boston Globe (10/11/14)


The Giants Win the Pennant! The Giants Win the Pennant!

I’m writing this less than two hours after the Giants finished off the Cardinals to win their third National League pennant in five years. So with that in mind, I say: Baseball is friggin great. But, baseball has a lot of detractors: People say the games last too long, despite being shorter than football. Others say the games are too slow/boring. Well, as my good friend Ryan Rowe once said, “Baseball is a thinking man’s game. I wouldn’t expect you to understand it.” I think the biggest criticism of baseball that I actually agree with is the claim that it is too regional. Here’s the thing about baseball: When your favorite baseball team is good, the summer zooms by. No matter what else happens, you have your baseball team to look forward to at the end of the day. Because they play every day for six months, you really start to feel a part of the team. Unlike football, where a deep playoff run is just two or three games, in a deep baseball playoff run, your team plays almost every day for a month. Every pitch brings anxiety, but it’s the good kind of anxiety. Your liver is about the only thing in town not having a great time. But I get it – if your team sucks, the season is unbearable. When the Giants weren’t in the playoffs last year, I could barely drag myself to watch. That is not true for me with basketball and football. And I love baseball! But this postseason has been especially dramatic. Here, Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal discusses baseball’s problems, but argues that the only cure baseball needs is the postseason. Thankfully, that comes around every October. -TOB

Source: Baseball Makes Its Dramatic Case”, by Jason Gay, Wall Street Journal (10/06/14)


For the Last Time This Month, I Give Props to a Royals Pitcher

One of the coolest/weirdest things about Twitter, is how it puts us in touch with celebrities/athletes/politicians/etc. that until this point in history, we had no chance of being in contact with. It’s pretty cool when you tweet at a famous person and they reply. It’s also pretty weird. This is a great little snapshot into the coolness/weirdness of these interactions. A Kansas City Royals fan jokingly (?) tweets at a Royals pitcher, saying he’s too broke to buy tickets to the ALCS, but really wants to bring his girlfriend. Surprisingly, the pitcher, Brandon Finnegan, actually replies. And hooks the dude up with two tickets. And – he may have also treated him to dinner? What a cool/weird time we live in. And a tip of the cap to Brandon Finnegan – good lookin’ out! Of course, now that you’re facing the Giants in the World Series: Die like a dog. -TOB

Source: “Royals Pitcher Gives Playoff Tickets to Broke Dude on Twitter“, Tom Ley, Deadspin (10/14/14)


You Play for Cleveland, LeBron. Remember?

This is a short and admittedly insignificant story, but I find myself coming back to it. LeBron James, while playing against Miami Heat in a pre-season game, appeared to set a pick against the wrong team. After 4 years playing for Miami, I can understand the brief mental lapse, yet he denies that’s what happened. Compared to LeBron James, I know nothing about basketball, but I’ve watched the video 10 times now, and he absolutely sets a pick for the wrong team. Why does LeBron lie about something as insignificant as a pick in a pre-season game? Just goes to show you – never trust the Cowboy/Yankee fan combo (LeBron is one of these folks). -PAL

Source: LeBron Denies Forgetting Which Team He Plays For Now”; by Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (10/16/14)

-TOB Note: I’m siding with LeBron.


Sumo School Keeps Calligraphy Alive 

This is largely a photo story, but it’s too good to keep from you. Sumo school curriculum includes history of sumo (obviously), sports medicine (makes sense, but don’t they have trainers for that?), biology (um), traditional singing (I want to go there), and Japanese calligraphy (click on the link already, folks). This all takes place in what looks like a second grade classroom. I repeat, massive sumo apprentices go to class (shirtless, for some reason) for 6 months to paint calligraphy, sing songs, and drill the differences between meiosis and mitosis. No wonder Japan is kicking our ass in the classroom – our athletes don’t go to class while their athletes are learning calligraphy. -PAL

Source: “Sumo School is a Magical Place”; Brian Ashcraft, Kotaku (10/14/14)


Video of the Week

Usually we only do one video of the week, but this week we could not help it. We present you with the following:

1. Hockey fan from Columbus, pretty much summing up my stereotypes about both hockey fans and people from Columbus.

2. Fox Deportes with an EPIC call of Ishikawa’s walk-off homer to deliver the Giants the pennant (no embed available)

http://deadspin.com/giants-win-the-pennant-on-travis-ishikawa-walk-off-home-1647464716

3. Classic brother-on-brother sports-related pain. In slow-mo!


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QUOTE

“We got no food, we got no jobs, our pets heads are falling off!”

-Lloyd Christmas


 P.S.

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Not a bad Thursday night.

Week of September 22, 2014

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Defending the Indefensible?

Considering Phil and I love sports so much that we spend hours each week creating this sports blog, that we don’t even get paid for, this is a difficult read. It’s hard to argue with most of the points because the amount of public money spent on stadiums is at once staggering and sad. NFL stadiums are used for football around ten times per year. And yet we build them these stadiums, and lease them to the NFL owners at ludicrously low prices. The owners are practically printing their own money at this point. Between player health, public funding, and the general buffoonery of Roger Goodell, it is difficult to defend the decision to watch the NFL. And yet. I still watch. So I won’t try to defend it. It is indefensible. This is an excerpt from Steve Almond’s book, referenced here back on September 1, 2014. -TOB

Source: Why Being a Football Fan is Indefensible”, by Steve Almond, excerpted from his book “Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto”, published 08/26/2014

Note: Professional sports teams should build their own stadiums. Franchise valuations are jumping over the the $1 billion mark. I will never vote to support a tax increase for a publicly funded stadium. Here’s the other thing, there aren’t that many cities in the U.S. that can support a professional franchise. Guess how many cities have a population over 600,000? 30. Most of them already have teams, which is why L.A. not having a football team is such a great negotiating chip for current owners. In other words, they need us as much as we want them. So – yeah – they can pay their way. – PAL


How Many Points Did You Score for Stevie Johnson’s Fantasy Workplace Team Today?

In lighter news, this is great. Likely annoyed at fans tweeting him to complain about his fantasy football performance so far this season, Stevie Johnson joked that he had drafted many of “us” for his workplace fantasy team. He asked us not to let him down. The ensuing back and forth with fans is really amusing. -TOB

Source: Stevie Johnson Drafted a Really Great Fantasy You Team”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (09/25/2014)

Note: God, I effing love this so much. Highlights: changing a diaper is worth 10 points in the Fantasy Work League. – PAL


Yeah Jeets!

Derek Jeter played the last home game of his career last night. I watched the first inning. At Yankee Stadium in the Top of the 1st, the crowd chants each player’s name until they acknowledge it. They did every player, and they got to Jeter. As soon as they begin chanting his name, the Orioles Nick Markakis hit a home run. It was hilarious and awkward. Of course, Jeter ended the game with a tie-breaking, walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th. Rather fitting. Good timing, zero power. There has been a lot written about Derek Jeter over the years, and over the last week. I think Jeter is a good player, a Hall of Famer, but I also think that if he hadn’t played for New York, he’d be Craig Biggio. He’s not the greatest Yankee or the greatest shortstop of all-time. And he’s always been a terrible defender, despite what announcers/talking heads might have you believe. But his being overrated by the media doesn’t mean he was not great, either. In the first article, Jonah Keri takes a look at Jeter’s career and attempts to find his place historically. It’s a good read. And if you’re curious about what Jeter, the opaque Brand that he is, is really like, New York Magazine profiles him. Interestingly, he’s so image conscious that he comes off a bit poorly here, if you ask me. -TOB

Sources: Goodbye, Mr. November: Taking Stock of Derek Jeter’s Divisive Legacy, by Jonah Keri, Grantland (09/24/2014); Derek Jeter Opens the Door, by Chris Smith, New York Magazine (09/21/2014)

Note: Who has ever made the argument Derek Jeter is the greatest Yankee? Who has ever called him the greatest shortstop of all-time? Nobody, which is why Keith Olbermann’s rant was so stupid (seriously, who enjoys watching this guy get off on his own pontifications?) He was a very good player on a dynasty that won it all 4 out 5 years in (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000).  Tack on another championship in 2009, and that’s a career worth celebrating. As for the “if he hadn’t played in New York” angle – well, he did play in New York, and we all know that is different. It just is. Of course the Yankees are going to make a big deal about this, and of course it will get overblown; it’s 2014 – the age of hyperbole. He had his shortcoming as a player, and I hated him growing up to be sure, but he gets a thumbs up on this day. To be honest, all I ever wanted was to never hear Tim McCarver announce another baseball game, so it’s all been gravy to me since then. -PAL


Persistence, Personified

13 years, 4,095 games. Guilder Rodriguez played in the minors for 13 years before being called up to the Rangers. He was drafted when I was a freshman in college (2001). It’s a hard and beautiful thing when a guy keeps a dream alive for 13 years before it’s realized. You have a MLB stat line now, Mr. Rodriguez. The stories for this didn’t do it for me, so instead take 5 minutes and check out this guy’s stats on Baseball-Reference. Think about all the things that have happened to you over the last 13 years while keeping in mind he was just plugging along down there. -PAL

Source: Guilder Rodriguez Minor League Stats, Major League Stats


VIDEO OF THE WEEK


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“I don’t give a frog’s fat ass who went through what. We need money! Hey, Russ, wanna look through Aunt Edna’s purse?”

– Clark W. Griswold

Week of September 15, 2014

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Hey, Everybody. We Matter!

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

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

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

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

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


Yes, Even More About the NFL

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

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

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


Power Play

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

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

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


1 Swing >/< $10 Million?

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

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


Close, But No Cigar

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

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

Note: As always, Eff Stanfurd. -TOB


VIDEO OF THE WEEK

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


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

-The Count, Pirate Radio

Week of July 14, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 8.21.14 AM

Summiting Everest: Money is a deadly thing.  

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

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

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


Back to Back to Back to…Gone?

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

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

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


Home.

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

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

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


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

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

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


Chuck Taylor: International Man of Mystery

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

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

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


123 Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Video of the Week


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

– Tim Fisher (inspired by SNL)

Week of May 26, 2014

No wonder Pedro Martinez had such nasty movement.

No wonder Pedro Martinez had nasty movement.


A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes To…Whom?

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

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


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

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

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


Anyone want to host the Olympics? Nope.

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

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

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


Pay No Attention To That Man Behind the Curtain!

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

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

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


Chris Bosh Is Better Than You Think He Is.

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

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

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


Video of the Week:

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

– Pedro Martinez