Week of August 18, 2014

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But How Old Are They In Dog Years?

A follow-up to the 30 for 30 short on Almonte. This is a must-read, if for no other reason that it introduced me to this amazing video, of Tom Verducci confronting Miguel Tejada with his real birth certificate, revealing that he was two years older than thought. -TOB
Source: “After Almonte: Sports and the Age Fraud Menace“,  Katie Baker, Grantland (08/15/14)

Note: I know this makes very little sense, but I like a good fake birth certificate story (at least the ones when they are doctoring their age to make them younger). The chances of a MLB player playing long enough for a 2-year discrepancy to matter is slim. So Miguel Tejada earned more money on his second or third contract. He also grew up in extreme poverty, and every single one of us would do the same if we were put in similar circumstances. However, misrepresenting an age to make an athlete appear older (see: China’s gymnastics team) is different. Putting a 13 year-old on a stage like the Olympics is messed up. Love Katie Baker’s story. – PAL


Mo’ne is Money

There’s a lot to love about Mo’ne Davis. In case you missed it, she is the first girl to be the winning pitcher in a Little League World Series (it was a shutout, too). It’s nice to read a genuinely feel-good story. The best part of the story is how she seems to be handling it. There are some folks out there who have been critical of SI putting her on the cover, but I’m not one of them. While I think putting her story in the context of the unrest in Ferguson, MO is a stretch, Davis is far and away the best sports story going at time when football (NFL and college football) hasn’t begun, MLB is not quite into the playoff push, and NBA and the NHL aren’t playing. Let’s all just agree that she’s a badass and enjoy. -PAL
Source: “Mo’ne Davis’ success works ‘to uplift us at a time of great sorrow'”, John Timpane, Philly.com (8/20/14)

Note: I was bummed to see Mo’ne get knocked around a bit on Wednesday, and then eliminated on Thursday. It was fun to watch, especially coming off the heels of an argument my dad and I had with my wife and my mom a couple weeks back, about whether it is appropriate/realistic or inappropriate/sexist to teach my son (currently just 8 weeks old) how to not “throw like a girl” when he gets older. If he throws like Mo’ne, I’m ok with that. I also enjoyed this read about how/whether Mo’ne should monetize her popularity right now, as well as this article about how interesting it is that she pitches as well as she does. -TOB


Rule 4.12 (a) (3)

On June 16, 1986 the Pittsburgh Pirates won a protest of a MLB game. The next time it happened: August 19, 2014. In other words, protests are never won, until the San Francisco Giants did it this week. Why does this matter? The Giants are in the thick of a division race, and with a second Wild Card team added to each league, a game can make all of the difference. The best part of the story is why the grounds crew at Wrigley might of had issues – “Sources said the Cubs ordered grounds-crew staffing reductions this week to cover recent ‘overages’ in hours by the crew.” Some manager just gambled on a safe bet (there’s not going to be rain tonight) and lost big. – PAL
Source: “Staffing issue may have been responsible for Cubs ‘tarp gate’”, Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun-Times (8/20/14)

Note: As we now know, the Giants ended up losing this game on Thursday, after another rain delay. They nearly pulled it off, but did not. That’s ok, though. I might be crazy, but I feel a different mojo with the team already. I am hoping the Giants (presently just two games back in the loss column) use this quirky occurrence to rally together and streak to the division title. Also, I like the implication in this story, that there was no malfunction and that the Giants, the Cubs, and MLB worked to find a way to resume the game. A little shenanigans may have been at play. Why would the Cubs cooperate? The Giants are in the Wild Card race with the Cubs’ division rival Cardinals. It’s always fun to screw over a rival. If only they’d coughed up the game, too. -TOB


Video of the Week:

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“O God, ease our suffering in this, our moment of great despair. Yea, admit this kind and decent woman into thy arms of thine heavenly area, up there. And Moab, he lay us upon the band of the Canaanites, and yea, though the Hindus speak of karma, I implore you: give her a break.”

– Clark W. Griswold
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Week of August 11, 2014

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Click on the pic to get the joke.


The Tiger Effect: Overrated?

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

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

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

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


Think Different

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

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

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


The Next Great American Hope

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

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

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


The guy behind ‘The Guy’.

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

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

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


Too good to be true. 

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

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


Video of the Week: 

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


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

– Rushmore