Week of June 8, 2015

You just suck so hard, Skip.


David Lee, Draymond Green & Harrison Barnes for Kevin Love?

This was an actual thing. So was Klay Thompson for Love. With an injured Love for the Finals, it’s even harder to imagine, but these were hot button topics on local sports radio last summer. In this article,  Zach Lowe looks beyond Love’s injury and the “what-ifs” that dot every barstool sports debate. Trends in the NBA are evolving at an unprecedented rate, and Kevin Love – widely considered a top-1o player less than a year ago – now seems like an afterthought. The new hot button question is whether or not the Cavs are better without Love on the floor. “By not playing, [Kevin] Love has become the league’s most confusing and polarizing player.” And let’s not forget the real prize – Andrew Wiggins – now in Minnesota. Considering what LeBron is doing with a depleted roster, would keeping Wiggins on a team in the weak Eastern Conference have prevented the Cavs from getting to where they are now? As Lowe puts it, “ LeBron is winning with this Love-less crew of misfits, and there exists a reality in which the Cavaliers could have kept Wiggins, gained cap flexibility, and snagged Thaddeus Young to serve as Love Lite by simply cutting Minnesota out of the three-way deal that ended up sending Love to Cleveland.” Potential trades are always fun to talk about in the future tense, but Lowe’s article looks back on a non-trade and its impact on the Finals. – PAL

Source: What’s Next for Kevin Love”, Zach Lowe, Grantland (6/9/15)

TOB: There exists no reality in which the Warriors regret their decision. I have long been anti-Kevin Love, despite his numbers. I don’t really care what you do on the offensive end if you are a complete sieve on defense. The best point in that article was about Warriors officials having nightmares about Curry and Love defending the pick and roll. Terrifying. Vaguely related, after Game 2 of the Finals, I posited that the Cavs might be better off without Love and Kyrie, because neither of them plays a lick of defense, and the guys that stepped up in their place were busting their asses on that end. But after Game 4…I’m not so sure. LeBron is the best player since Jordan, but not even Jordan could have won a title with zero offensive help. LeBron needs someone to help shoulder the load, and that help is not coming. After Kyrie went down in Game 1, Phil asked me if LeBron was able to take this Cavs team to the title, would it be the greatest Finals performance of all-time? Instinctively, I said no. I mentioned Jordan’s 1993 Finals (41 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists per game) vs the Suns. I assumed LeBron had no chance to touch those numbers, and no chance to win the title. But he kind of is, and he definitely does. Does he have two more amazing performances in him? Probably. Will it be enough? I don’t know. Should be a great finish.


Serena Williams Keeps on Truckin

I don’t know a lot about tennis, but who doesn’t love Serena Williams? I will leave you with this, because this is some great writing:

“During her run at Roland Garros, she wasn’t light or uncertain. She was exhausted and clinical, struggling through a flu that left her, in her semifinal match against Timea Bacsinszky, hunched over and panting on her racket. When she saw an opening, she annihilated the ball, and when she didn’t see one, when a drop shot looked a little too far away or an angle a little too acute, she let the point go. It was, in other words, a win enabled by supreme experience, a master class in high-stakes resource management by a player who’s won 20 of her 24 Grand Slam tournament finals and who’s lost only once since November. And when she took the microphone after the final, she didn’t stammer or blink. She addressed the crowd in confident French, a worldly, sophisticated woman who spends much of each year in Paris.” -TOB

Source: “Like It’s 1999: On Serena Williams’s Dominance and the Passage of Time“, Brian Phillips, Grantland (06/08/2015)

PAL: “It’s so rare, in tennis, to watch a player really grow up. I don’t mean ‘mellow out’ or ‘stop partying’ or whatever grow up usually means in sports; I mean develop a fully adult self, distinct from the kind of prolonged high-stress adolescence that most stars, for obvious reasons, inhabit throughout their twenties.” The Williams sisters, who started as teenagers, took a sport and completely changed its face and attitude. Hell yeah. You know an athlete is transcendent when you take his or her greatness for granted. Serena won her first Grand Slam at 17. She’s now 33 and has 20 Grand Slams to her name. Can you name 5 other athletes who were at the top of there game for 16 years? Can you even name 2?


All Hail American Pharaoh

Last weekend a horse won the fabled Triple Crown for the first time in my life. It had been 37 years since Affirmed won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont in 1978 (Affirmed’s win was the 3rd in 6 years, but before 1973 there had been none since 1948). American Pharaoh ended the drought in dominating fashion. I’ve enjoyed horse racing since I was a teenager. The first horse to capture my attention was Cigar, who tied Citation’s record of 16 consecutive victories in 1995. As soon as I knew what the Triple Crown was, I had wanted to see it accomplished. But no horse came close from 1989 until 1997, when Silver Charm won the first two legs. That began a string of near-misses – 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2014 all saw horses win the first two legs. I had begun to believe it would never happen. Normally, if a horse has a shot at winning the Triple Crown, I do not miss it if I can help it. But on Saturday I was at a family party and didn’t get a chance to watch. My uncle had recorded the race, so late in the evening, the entire family gathered around the TV and watched. A couple of us had gotten wind of the result, but it didn’t make American Pharaoh’s win any less dramatic. Though the race had been over for hours, the entire party was transfixed – cheering American Pharaoh on. He led wire to wire, and when he opened up that huge lead on the homestretch, everyone went crazy. After the race, I heard multiple people remark that they had thought they’d never see a Triple Crown. I don’t know what it is about horse racing that has the ability to capture the nation’s attention for just a few minutes a year, but when it does it is quite the experience, as Charles P. Pierce experienced first-hand. -TOB

Source: King for a Day: American Pharaoh and the First Triple Crown in Generations”, Charles P. Pierce, Grantland (06/08/2015)

PAL: I just don’t care. This is counterintuitive. It’s a beautiful thing to see an animal do what it’s bred to do. Watching a dog on point while hunting pheasants jolts you, reminds you that it serves a purpose beyond playing fetch at the park. Seeing – er, watching on Discovery Channel –  a cheetah stalk and chase down a gazelle is beautiful. And yet, I don’t care about the Triple Crown. Perhaps it’s because seemingly every year a horse wins the first two races, which is then followed by talk radio and Sports Networks filling a sport season gap (pre-NBA Finals, early in the baseball season, NFL offseason, pre-Stanley Cup, no college sports of consequence). They tell me why the Triple Crown matters, which is followed by it never happening. Horse racing and boxing were once the biggest sports in America, so I’m told. That was 8 gazillion years ago. I just don’t care, and neither does anyone else besides writer Charles P. Pierce – an old fart with an old fart name. Oh, and Tommy. Tommy and old farts with old fart names who wear fedoras care about horse racing.

TOB Rebuttal: 

Total Attendance of the Triple Crown Races, 2015: 392,193 (and that’s with a first ever no-infield admission to the Belmont, with a cap of 90,000 attendance)

Total Viewers of the Triple Crown Races: Approx. 33,000,000 including over 14,000,000 for the Belmont.

There sure are a lot of old farts out there.


Follow the Bouncing Ball…

This is a fascinating story about NBA basketballs – starting with the tannery where the leather is made and ending with what happens to them after they get to NBA arenas, including some great stuff on how certain players like basketballs to be, and how the basketball has evolved over the last 40 years. In the old days, players liked a well-used basketball, sometimes using the same ball for all 41 home games. Today, they don’t have much choice, as the NBA won’t use a basketball for more than 3 or 4 games, for aesthetic purposes. Which is lame, really.  I have used an NBA game ball before, and you’d be shocked at how hard and slick it is. I am one of those players who is very sensitive to a basketball. If it’s too slippery, it doesn’t come off my fingers right and I will shoot poorly. Others don’t care about how it feels, and when they hear people like me complain about it, they think we’re making excuses. Maybe so. But I can tell you that I can pick up a basketball and know immediately if I’m going to shoot poorly with that ball. This article about how some NBA players are similarly sensitive, vindicates me. -TOB

Source: A Game Ball’s Road to the NBA Finals”, Baxter Holmes, ESPN (06/07/2015)


Video of the Week


Tweet of the Week Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 9.55.57 PM

Update from last week: Steve Kerr is still the best.


PAL’s song of the week: Nina Simone – “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free“. Check out all of our weekly picks here (they’re super good).


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“I figure, I have two press conferences on the day of the game. I’m asked a lot of strategic questions; so, my options were tell the truth, […] and telling the truth is the equivalent of knocking on [Cavaliers coach] David Blatt’s door and saying ‘hey, this is what we’re going to do.’ I could evade the question, which would start this Twitter phenomenon: ‘Who’s gonna start for the Warriors?’ Or I could lie. So I lied. Sorry. I don’t think they hand you a trophy based on morality, they give it to you if you win. So, sorry about that.”

– Steve Kerr

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Week of May 25, 2015

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We’ve all been there, bud.


The Military and The NFL: Guess Who’s Buying

The Department of Defense funneled $6 million to NFL teams, some of which went towards Support The Troops initiatives. Why is there any exchange of money between these two organizations for initiatives like this? Never mind that $6 million is chump change for both the NFL and the DoD, the insincerity is in such poor taste. Charles Pierce articulates what I’m sure we all have felt as we watch the massive flag and fighter jets routine one too many times:

“Most veterans you will see on the field in an NFL stadium, or standing on top of a dugout between innings, are genuinely worthy of the country’s admiration. They’ve earned every cheer they get. They also have earned decent health care and a chance at an education and whatever counseling they need to get beyond what they’ve experienced. What they don’t deserve to be are front people through whom the rich get richer, to be walking advertisements for the services that they already have paid back in full. This is a transaction grotesquely inappropriate for their sacrifices.” – PAL

Source: Veteran Affairs: The Uneasy Marriage Military Money and The NFL”, Charles P. Pierce, Grantland (5/27/15)

TOB: Pierce is a very good writer, but he sometimes takes a while to get to his point, as is the case here. But do read this, and stick with it, because as Phil noted, Pierce has a very important point: Why, for example, did the DoD give the New York Jets $600,000 for “a segment at Jets home games in which soldiers were featured on the big screen, thanked for their service and given tickets to the game”? That is not a ton of money in the scheme of the Department of Defense, but it sure could have been better spent elsewhere. And if the NFL wasn’t such a horrible institution, maybe the Jets (and other teams) could have such a segment at their games, you know, for free? Because the NFL is evil. They will do anything to make a buck. See, also: this twitter rant by Adrian Peterson, complaining (correctly) about getting crap for not wanting to honor his contract, when NFL teams never have to honor their contracts with players and can cut them at any time.


Uncharted: David Blatt

Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt was the Greg Popovich of Israeli basketball. His record for Maccabi Tel Aviv was 225-55 over the last four years, he coached the Russian team to its first Olympic medal since the Soviet Union era, and here nobody cared, especially when the Cavs started the season 19-20. Well, nobody cared except for maybe Steve Kerr, another rookie head coach who finds himself in the NBA Finals. He tried to hire Blatt as his assistant when he took the Warriors job. While everything in Cleveland is understandably about the return of the prodigal son, LeBron James, Blatt is on an uncharted journey. No coach has make the jump from international basketball to the NBA without any NBA experience (Mike D’Antoni, who coach for the Suns, Knicks, and Lakers, played in the NBA before heading across the Atlantic). Just another reason why I’m looking forward to the Finals. – PAL

Source: Isn’t it time Cleveland Cavaliers coach Davie Blatt receives some credit for taking his team to the NBA Finals?”, Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer (5/27/15)

TOB: Two things stick out here: (1) Blatt left his wife and kids in Israel to come to the NBA. I mean, Jesus. (2) The article glosses over this, but the job Blatt did after the roster changes is phenomenal, in my opinion. Here’s what Blatt said: “Guys really bought in… You get a rim protector like Timo. You get a defender like Shump. You get J.R. Smith, who is really locked in and plays both ends of the court. Put that together with the guys we had already buying into what we wanted, that turned things around for us.” He makes that sound easy. The first time I read it I even thought, “Well, sure they did better. They got a lot more talented.” But, wait. Iman Shumpert is a heck of an athlete and a great defender when locked in. But before coming to Cleveland, he seemed unable to stay focused for an entire quarter, let alone for a deep playoff run. J.R. Smith had the exact same scouting report, plus the fact that he never cared a lick about defense. Mozgov’s numbers in Cleveland are the best of his career. Blatt took these castoffs and headcases and got them to gel in almost no time at all.This was not an easy task! Having LeBron never hurts, but this was a heck of a coaching job.


Baseball Card Nostalgia

I’m not sure how it happened, but this week I read two great stories (published the same day) that mirrored my childhood love and adult relationship with sports cards. Grantland’s Shea Serrano wrote about recently purchasing a box set of Skybox basketball cards (which were awesome in the 90’s). SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee, one of my favorite writers, wrote about discovering his childhood baseball cards recently. I highly recommend both articles.

I particularly enjoy nostalgia stories where I feel like the author and I had a shared experience. Like me, the writers were big sports card collectors as kids. I still have a binder full of them. I also had some boxes, which I lost years ago. I considered them an investment, one that surely did not pay off. But I still hold onto that binder, and every few months I flip through the pages, organized by what I considered the best/most valuable cards when I was 12. Each time, I am amazed at how big of a Nick Van Exel fan I was when he was in college. As in the Skybox article, I am excited to share them with my son when he is old enough to understand. But like the writer, I will probably react in horror when the boy gets his filthy hands all over my Michael Jordan 1990 Fleer. -TOB

Source: Skybox Basketball Trading Cards Were Incredible”, Shea Serrano, Grantland (05/26/2015); How I Fell In Love With Baseball Cards All Over Again”, Grant Brisbee, SB Nation (05/26/2015)

PAL: I was a careless, half-assed card collector, but I love Brisbee’s adult approach to picking his baseball cards now: “What I needed were cards with stories. If my daughters asked for a story about the 5,339 Eric Anthony rookies I had in a box, it would be simple. They weren’t worth as much as I thought they were going to be. Sorry. That’s the story, kid.” Curt Flood (father of free-agency) and Doc Ellis (pitched a no-hitter on acid) cards from 1970 actually have some folk-like worth beyond their monetary value. The cards are cool mementos of culture, and that makes a lot more sense than caring if a card has a bent corner on it.


Wacky Rules in Baseball’s Youth

This is fun. In its early years, baseball was trying to figure itself out and had some weird rules. This article runs down the 10 best. My favorite: “[Umpires] were chosen from the crowd prior to first pitch — they were often prominent members of the local community — and rather than spend all that energy to squat behind the catcher, umpires were given easy chairs in the general vicinity of home plate….The old time umpires were accorded the utmost courtesy by the players. They were given easy chairs, placed near the home plate, provided with fans on hot days and their absolute comfort was uppermost in the minds of the players. The umpire always received the choicest bits of food and the largest glass of beer.” I umpired youth baseball this year. Hot damn, that sounds great. -TOB

Source: “10 Bizarre Baseball Rules You Won’t Believe Actually Existed”, Chris Landers, MLB.com (05/22/2015)

PAL: “The spitball was outlawed in 1920 — but pitchers who had been throwing it for years were grandfathered in.” When has the Grandfather Clause ever been less than an entertaining solution? No helmets in hockey? Awesome old-timers with and hair unencumbered by a dumb helmet were men amongst wimps. No ear flaps on batting helmets? Dave Winfield was awesome and had no flaps in the same league that included scary, double ear flaps Otis Nixon.


Catching Up With Craig Ehlo: The Victim of “The Shot”

For many sports fans, the mere mention of the name Craig Ehlo evokes the very same memory – “The Shot” – Michael Jordan’s series winning jumper in the 1989 NBA Playoffs. Jordan drives to his left, rises, and hangs in the air for an impossible amount of time while Craig Ehlo flies by. Jordan then leaps into the air and pumps his fist over in joy, while Ehlo collapses to the ground in agony.

jordan-vs-ehlo

Ehlo was a decent player who will always be remembered for that image. Bleacher Report brings us this short video interview with Ehlo where he reminisces on that game, and the unfortunate turn his life took after his retirement from the NBA. -TOB

http://bleacherreport.com/video_embed?id=pjdGxidToE8nQlc8KfK-5nlyfX7enTPa

Source: Craig Ehlo: Michael Jordan’s Most Famous Victim and the Lowest Point of His Life”, BR Studios, Bleacher Report (05/27/2015)


Video of the Week

I have no idea how I missed this when it came out two years ago, but thanks to friend of the blog, Ryan Rowe, I have now seen Bob Costas rapping some Ludacris. And so have you.


PAL’s song of the week: Nation of Heat” – Joe Pug. Check out all of the 1-2-3’s weekly picks right here.


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“Why are you so sweaty?”

“I was watching Cops.”

– Dale Doback & Brennan Huff

Week of February 9, 2015

The only Derek Jeter I like is a fat, retired Derek Jeter.

The only Derek Jeter I like is a fat, retired Derek Jeter.

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Legends Lost

Over the last week, two legends of college basketball passed away: Dean Smith and Jerry Tarkanian. If you are familiar with these two coaches, you might think they could not be more different, but that’s not quite right. Let me back up: I like college basketball now, but when I was a kid I loved college basketball. Guys who were talented enough to leave early (as they do today), stayed 3 and 4 years. Unlike now, you could get to know a team and its players. I watched college basketball every night. I loved the mid-90’s UMass teams with Marcus Camby and Lou Roe; the Kansas squad with Jerod Haase (my hometown hero), Jacque Vaughn, Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, and Scot Pollard. The Fab Five. But perhaps more than any other teams, I loved the 90-91 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, with Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon, and the 94-95 UNC Tarheels, with Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse. Those two teams were fun to watch and didn’t really care about fitting a mold, which appealed to me, and still does. Some of that personality can be traced to the two coaches who led them – Jerry Tarkanian and Dean Smith. Tark and Dean were not your typical coaches. Tark stood up and called out the NCAA for its hypocrisy thirty years before it was fashionable to do so, and took a lot of crap over the years because of it. Dean Smith perhaps showed even more guts. When he was in high school in the 1940’s, he helped integrate his basketball team – in a school district that would later become infamous in 1954 in the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Dean would continue to champion racial equality the rest of his life, as well as other issues that made him unpopular in conservative North Carolina: speaking out against the Vietnam War, the Death Penalty, and nuclear armament, among other things. College basketball lost two greats this week. Though they haven’t been coaching in quite some time, I will miss them. I enjoyed these articles looking back on their lives and their careers. -TOB

Source: Dean Smith: 1931-2015”, Charles P. Pierce, Grantland (02/09/15);An Appreciation of Dean Smith’s Life”, John Feinstein, Washington Post (02/08/15); “Jerry Tarkanian: A True Rebel If There Ever Was One”, Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports (02/11/15)

PAL: I knew about Tark challenging the NCAA, but I had no idea about Dean Smith’s activism. Considering when and where he was doing this, it’s even more impressive, and I better understand why people like Michael Jordan held him in such high regard.


Pimp My Ride Meets Cribs

Daniel Norris pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays. When drafted, he was given a $2 million signing bonus. He bought a Volkswagen van, and lives in it. How cool is that? His idea of luxury – French press coffee and an ocean view. You don’t need a mansion for either of those. He climbs, hikes, surfs, and – from what I can tell – excels at being awesome. – PAL

Source: “Meet the pro baseball player who lives in a van”, Johnie Gall, Grindtv (2/5/15)

TOB: A few months ago, Phil told me he was looking for a new car, and in particular that he was looking at a VW Westfalia van. I was all for it. Those vans are awesome. We had a VW van when I was a kid, but not a Westfalia. Phil ultimately bought a taxi cab. None of which is relevant, except to lead into this: I am fully on board with Daniel Norris’ life decisions. In fact, I am really jealous. This dude (1) is 21 years old and (2) has $2M in the bank, (3) is a professional baseball player, (4) lives in a dope van (5) surfs a bit, (6) has a solid beard. He is truly L-I-V-I-N. It’s also Reason #5,988 why baseball is better than football. If a top-10 projected NFL prospect told teams he was thinking of stashing away his signing bonus and living in a van down by the river, he’d fall to the 7th round because he doesn’t “want it” enough.


Remembering Ted Agu

One year ago, Cal football player Ted Agu collapsed during an early morning run, and died shortly after. It was a dark day for Cal football. Ted Agu wasn’t a star: he was a walk-on. I am a borderline-obsessive Cal football fan, and I had heard of Ted, but I was not terribly familiar with him. However, from all accounts, he was an amazing person. If there was a silver lining to this tragedy, it was reading all the stories about what a great person Ted was, and how many lives he affected during his time. On the anniversary of his death, team captain Brennan Scarlett wrote an article in the school paper, remembering his friend and teammate. It is heartfelt and I hope you read it. -TOB

Source: Remembering Ted Agu”, Brennan Scarlett, The Daily Californian (02/06/15)

PAL: “Ted did not sacrifice one aspect of his life for another.” The more I think about this line, the more I think it’s one of the nicest things that could be said about a person. Agu’s is a sad story that on most days gets pushed through the pipe filled with other sad stories, so it’s comforting to be reminded the legacies of the relatively common of us live on – not only in memory, but in the thoughtful words of a friend.


Who’s Your A.J. Pierzynski: Baseball Players We Hate

Can you tell I’m ready for baseball to start up again? What a perfect conversation-starter to get us ready for Spring Training. John Paschal polls some other baseball writers on the players they loved to hate, and they nail some good ones (spoiler alert: former Giant Brian Wilson makes the list, which – let’s be honest – we all probably knew before his downfall, right?). More than just listing players, I like that the article attempts to answer why we hate players. Are the players we hate the ones that kill our teams, or are they they guys that underperform for our teams? For me, it was never about the off-the-field stuff. It always came down to what they did to the Twins combined with an annoying, insignificant detail that I latched onto. The Yankees toyed with the Twins, ending four of their last five playoff runs (the Twins managed to win 2 games – f*&%ing 2! – in those 4 playoff series). So, yeah, Derek Jeter is just the worst. Nice Jordan high top cleats, you tool. Honorable mention: Brett Boone and his highlights. – PAL

Source: “Question for the Ages: Who’s Your Least Favorite Player?”, John Paschal, hardballtimes.com (2/11/15)

TOB: I feel like this article is what 1-2-3! was made for. We are putting out a call: What athlete do you hate? What athlete did you hate growing up? It can be rational or irrational. Tell us who it is, and why at our brand new Facebook page. Show your work.


Subsidizing Professional Stadiums – A Band-Aid for a Head Wound

As some of you might know, I’m completely, totally, and entirely against public subsidies for stadiums. It’s a racket, flat out. Whatever local economic growth and job creation that comes from a stadium being built should be an incentive for the owners and not a negotiation play with the state and local governments. You know, help the community in addition to making money type of thing. Detroit is looking to push the issue by trying to pass an ordinance that will hold developers seeking public funding accountable by hashing out a C.B.A (Community Benefits Agreement). While I understand the reasoning, I’m stubborn. How about this – don’t give them public money to build stadiums! The counter-argument is the team could leave a city that doesn’t need more bad news, but I don’t want to support a team who doesn’t support me. – PAL

Source: “Has Detroit Found An Answer To The Publicly Financed Stadium Scam?”, Bill Bradley, Deadspin (2/10/15)

TOB: In a perfect world, Phil’s wishes would be reality – all U.S. cities would collude and tell professional sports teams to build their own stadiums, or go pound sand. But, the problem is analogous to running a sports team. When you are a coach or a GM of a team, your interest is short-term due to concerns for job security. If you’re a coach, you are going to try to win games at the expense of developing your young players. Young players need time to develop, but they also lose while they figure it out. GMs will bargain with the future of a team in order to help the team in the present. Similarly, local politicians are in a tough spot. If they let a professional team leave, they will be largely despised. If they manage to keep a team who is looking to leave, they are received as a conquering hero (See: KJ). Their duty should be to the public, but on a human level, I get the need to look out for themselves and their families, too. With that said, I appreciate that the leaders of Detroit are at least trying to come up with a compromise – if you want public money for your palace, you better guarantee locals will get jobs to build it. We can build on this.


Sad, Pathetic Day For Little League

1-2-3 Sports! reader Jane Williams sent this story along. Remember the all African American Little League team from Chicago that snatched our imagination last summer on its way to win the U.S. Little League title? Remember how great of a story it was (hell, we even featured them as one of our cover photos). Well, leave it to the adults to screw up a good story about youth sports. Then again, who else craps on youth sports except adults? The morons in charge of the team bent the rules with regards to zoning (read: they had really good players that didn’t come from their district play on the team). They were caught. The title was stripped from the team. It’s a crap situation, but in no way changes my feelings towards the kids. They were great. Some of the adults in charge – not so much. – PAL

Source: “Little League national title stripped from Jackie Robinson West”, Austin Knoblauch, L.A. Times (2/11/15)

TOB: This really pisses me off. I feel for the kids – it is not their fault. They played the games and do not deserve this. However, unlike some, I stand by Little League’s decision: the best way to combat this problem is to deter it, and the only way to deter it is to strip any value from it. Not that this will stop this sort of thing completely – it seems that adults have been trying to game the LLWS system since its inception, but if they let this slide, they would be incentivizing adults to do this in the future.


Video of the Week

Tweet of the Week


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“BOOM. ROASTED. Hey, kid. That’s what happens when you hop on them sticks!”

-Thomas O’Brien, Esq.

Week of October 20, 2014

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Giants Don’t Rise to the Occasion

And that’s what makes the San Francisco Giants of the last five years great. OK, let’s set aside Wednesday’s bullpen debacle (like many of you, I’m done with the Hunter Strickland experiment). How else can you explain a team making it back to the World Series without: A) their lead-off hitter (honestly, when’s the last time Angel Pagan entered your mind?), B) their starting 2nd baseman/#2 hitter/2012 post-season hero (Marco Scutaro), and C) two of their five starting pitchers (Cain and Lincecum)? I’ve never bought in to the notion that sabermetrics (empirical analysis) and the intangibles are an either/or situation. Why can’t a team’s WHIP and team’s chemistry be appreciated by the same person? Why must we be able to attach a numerical valuation to every goddamn aspect of my favorite sport, and why can’t the “old school” and the “new school” meet somewhere in the middle? I’m a big believer in the self-fulfilling prophecy, and I’m also a big believer in Pablo Sandoval’s 1.305 OPS in the World Series. -PAL

Source: “Giants’ brotherhood, consistency paying dividends in October”; Michael Rosenberg; Sports Illustrated (10/22/14)


Concussions: When Is Enough Enough?NHL star Patrice Bergeron suffered a severe concussion in 2005 that almost ended his career. Some attribute Bergeron’s willingness to speak out about the side effects of the injury to the NHL’s advances in dealing with concussions. Players are no longer told to “shake off the cobwebs,” and that’s a good thing. It’s a very good article, but I find it troubling that Pierce mentions Bergeron’s multiple concussions since 2005 without any suggestion that, by continuing to play, Bergeron is jeopardizing his chances of living a long and normal life. Or rather, he acknowledges it, but it doesn’t bother him. He closes the article, “He has counted the cost more closely than most. He has given the game his informed consent.” I find this sentiment sad. We all know the story of players like Junior Seau. I hope Patrice Bergeron, no matter how good he might be, is able to get out before it’s too late. -TOB

Source: Cerebral Commotion: Patrice Bergeron’s Quiet Concussion Radicalism”, by Charles P. Pierce, Grantland (10/23/14)

PAL Note: I really like the sentiment of Pierce’s story here. Bergeron is tough in the traditional sense of the word, but the idea of open honesty being considered a type of toughness makes sense, especially in the context of such a masculine sport. Also, like Tommy, I’m concerned for this dude.


After the Storm at Penn State

It’s been three years since the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. Incoming freshman were 14 when the story broke. The tragedy is old, depressing, tired, and still infuriating (he was found guilty of raping kids, and I don’t know why we call it by any other name); however, it takes years for us to grasp a story of this magnitude. Perspective and time have never been more important than right at this moment when our attention span has been reduced to seconds. We have to remember to look back at a story after the headline has passed. While I think the last part of the article fans out pretty wide, it’s an important read. -PAL

Source: “Forever changed: Where is Penn State three years after Sandusky scandal?”; Tim Layden; Sports Illustrated (10/23/14)


A Race Car Fueled By Marijuana

In May 1986, IndyCar racer Randy Lanier won the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Award. He appeared on the verge of stardom. By the fall, he had been arrested and was facing a lifetime in prison. Lanier had come out of nowhere, and his sponsors were few. People wondered where the money was coming from. As the world would soon find out, Lanier was a marijuana kingpin. He was arrested and convicted, and under harsh new laws, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. His story is a fascinating one. -TOB

Source: The Man Who Turned Speedboats Full of Weed Into Indy 500 Glory”, by Patrick George, Jalopnik (10/22/14)

PAL Note: So, when is this movie coming out, because I really want to see it. What an insane story. Can you imagine – I mean, can you freakin’ imagine – taking a speed boat down to the Bahamas, filling it with weed, then driving back to Florida and getting in a race car and going 200 MPH? This guy was a rock star! I would need a diaper, a barf bag, and a life jacket.


Short-Shorts: Not Officially Dead

Ladies, rejoice! L.A. Clipper Chris Douglas-Roberts (aka CDR) was a favorite of mine when he was in college at Memphis. He has bounced around the league in the ensuing years, but he is making headlines as we head into the NBA season. Not for his play – but because he is choosing to bring back short-shorts. This is at once terrifying and hilarious. Good job, CDR. -TOB

Source: Clippers’ Chris Douglas-Roberts is Medium-Cool with His Short-Shorts“, by Ben Bolch & Nathan Fenno, Los Angeles Times (10/21/14)

PAL Note: Please. They are just regular shorts! Comparatively speaking – yes – they are short by NBA standards, but they are normal length. Call me when he fully commits to this, a la John Stockton.


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