Week of April 19, 2019

Did not give up popcorn for Lent.


Reminder: Tiger Woods Won The Masters

It’s not even a week old, but Tiger’s unlikely Masters win, his fifteenth major victory, feels like such old news. We’ll get into why people care about this so much in a moment, but the sleazeball actually made it all the way back after his life and his body fell apart. Say what you want about the type of person he is, or has been (I don’t know; is he a ‘good guy’ now?), but it’s undeniably incredible that he came back to win another major after over a decade of setbacks – injuries, surgeries, infidelities, arrests, and just bad golf. Through it all, people held out hope to see this performance. We just kept waiting, long after we should have, and then it finally happened.

Tiger Woods is undeniably bland and boring and captivating and unique. The regular sports fan cares about Tiger playing golf; the regular sports fan doesn’t care about golf. I haven’t experienced an athlete with that much gravity in his or her sport. I’m guessing Ali was like that and maybe Babe Ruth. Whoever’s on that list, it’s a short list.

Needless to say, there was a few columns written about Tiger’s win at Augusta. I found this Drew Magary paragraph in particular to be the most resonant:

Athletes are measuring sticks. You measure their ability against yours and you measure their ability to handle pressure against your own, naturally. But you also measure their lives against your own. Their history is your history. They’re personal markers, just as certain movies and songs and pictures evoke moments from your youth that have grown warmer and fonder and perhaps more unattainable over time. I was rooting for Tiger yesterday, but to be more accurate: I was selfishly rooting to relive my own past. I was still in college and away on a semester abroad when Tiger Woods won his first Masters, back in 1997. I read all about his win in a hard copy of USA Today I got from a newsstand in England, because reading news online wasn’t a thing most people did back then. He was already the biggest name in golf even before he won that first title, and he has remained the biggest name in the sport—perhaps all of sports—as he’s toiled for the past 11 years and change to assume his throne once more.

Magary’s onto something here. I was absolutely pulling for Tiger, and afterwards I wondered why. I really wanted him to win, and it just might be because no other golfer serves as personal marker on my life. I also just want to witness historic moments in sports. There are very few events when you know something historic is taking place in the moment. – PAL

Source: Un-Fucking-Real”, Drew Magary, Deadspin (4/14/19)


Pesky Morality

We’ve posted a lot of stories about CTE over the years. Heartbreaking personal stories, medical stories, political stories; this issue flows into so many facets of culture and very well could be the defining sports story of our generation.

This week, Michael Powell wrote about another scenario in which CTE cannot be ignored. When a college wants to hire a coach, that needs to be approved by a board of regents, as was the case at the University of Colorado recently. Mel Tucker’s five-year, $14.75MM contract went to the board for a vote. That vote comes with some culpability.

The nation’s universities face a more ticklish problem known as morality. These institutions were founded with the purpose of developing and educating young minds. It is difficult to square that mission with the fate of those like running back  Rashaan Salaam, who ran so beautifully for the University of Colorado and then as a pro, and like Drew Wahlroos, a fearless, rampaging Colorado linebacker. Both men suffered emotional and cognitive problems that friends and family and even university officials related to thousands of hits taken over the course of their careers. Each killed himself.

In what I’m sure would be seen as high comedy on the campuses of Ohio State, Clemson, or Alabama, two regents at Colorado voted against the hiring. It wasn’t as much about Tucker as it was about their belief that football is an unsafe game.

Regent Linda Shoemaker: “I really thought at first that we could play football safely with better rules and better equipment; I drank the Kool-Aid. I can’t go there anymore. I don’t believe it can be played safely anymore. I want these young men to leave C.U. with minds that have been strengthened, not damaged.”

Wherever you come down on CTE and football (or any sport connected to CTE), what this story highlights is the fact that this issue touches all of us. It’s not just isolated to locker rooms and athletic departments; we vote and pay taxes that go schools that field football teams. Those institutions, and the student body, are our responsibility, and that – man, that really hit home reading this story. – PAL

Source: At Colorado, a Breach in Football’s Wall”, Michael Powell, The New York Times (4/18/19)


Video of the Week: More of this, please.


Tweet of the Week: 


PAL Song of the Week: John Prine – “A Good Time”

 


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With all due respect, Officer Berg, you are not bald. You’ve chosen to shave your hair and that’s a look you’re cultivating in order to look fashionable, but we don’t really consider you part of the bald community…with all due respect.

-L.D.

Week of March 2, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.51.31 PM

It’s that time of year again, folks. Spring Training is here!

Holding Back A Running Prodigy

According to running guru Alberto Salazar, Mary Cain has “as much talent as any young athlete I’ve ever seen in running in my life.” For now, though, she needs to take it slow. Writer Elizabeth Weil uses Cain as a jump point to examine a variety of subjects, including the physiological dangers in over-training young women, the positive impacts of a more matured Title IX, and how to approach practice when the intention is to peak in six or seven years from now. Thanks for sending this along, Jamie Morganstern. It’s a great read for everyone, but I think runners – especially female runners – will be fascinated. – PAL

Source: “Mary Cain Is Growing Up Fast”, Elizabeth Weil, The New York Times Magazine (3/4/15)

TOB: My grandparents (I think) got us our first subscription to Sports Illustrated when I was a kid. I’ll never forget the first issue we got – Jennifer Capriati’s “And She’s Only 13!” cover story after her run to the finals of a tournament in 1990. I’ll also never forget her fall from grace, culminating in her arrest in 1993. It is refreshing to read about a coach and parent who are not pressuring a young prodigy into too much too soon. I hope to hear Mary Cain’s name at the next Olympics.


“The Winds of Autumn are a Pirate…”

I say this with the knowledge that it is not necessarily a good thing: But I’d put my knowledge of sports trivia up against most. A big part of this is thanks to NFL Films – whose Super Bowl recaps I watched religiously as a kid. In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, ESPN would show them in chronological order, and I would tune in everyday after school to gobble it up. These days, NFL Films get the winning team’s Super Bowl recap together in a very short amount of time, complete with footage and audio from the game, sideline and huddle – all set to inspiring music. NFL Films is the best in the business. This is an interesting look at how that sausage gets made. -TOB

Source: Monuments Men: Inside the Mad Scramble to Bring You Your Annual NFL Championship DVD”, Katie Baker, Grantland (03/02/2015)

PAL: For the past 7+ years I’ve worked at a company that shoots a lot of music performance videos. One of our biggest events is shooting concerts at the SXSW music festival. It’s a crazy amount of pre-production, man power, logistics, and media management…and that’s just for 15 bands over 3 days. The scale of what NFL Films does is staggering (covering 30 teams), and the efficiency with which they do it is masterful. A fun read on the cultural staple that is NFL Films. Also, please join me in supporting Tommy’s bid to get on Sport Jeopardy.


Game, Blouses

We all know and love the legendary Prince basketball skit from Chappelle Show. Well, here’s some evidence that Prince (5’2”) was a solid player for real, and he argued about playing time with his coach, too. The team photo alone is worth the click here, folks. A side note: while I love Bob Dylan, Prince is actually the musical icon of Minnesota. The dude still lives there, regularly goes to Timberwolves and Vikings games, and records his music right there in Minnesota. True blue Minnesotan. Got to love it. – PAL

Source: “Prince Was An Afro-Rocking, Coach- Hating Schoolboy Basketball Player”, Billy Haisley, Deadspin (3/3/15)


The Cardinals Can’t Stop Talking About Not Talking About Themselves

As far as rants go, Drew Magary dropped the mic on this one. Giants fans will get an additional kick out of this, too. The St. Louis Cardinals self-aggrandizement is insufferable, and writers who drink the punch on this line of B.S. are even worse. A writer from USA Today did a story about how the team lets its play to the talking for them. Naturally, the story is filled with quotes from several players and management talking about how “talk is cheap.”  Maybe I was only halfway into my coffee this morning, but I’m ready to loathe the Cardinals again. Ah, spring must be in the air. – PAL

Source: “Moron USA Today Columnist Thinks The Cardinals Poop Vanilla Sprinkles”, Drew Magary, Deadspin (3/4/15)


Video of the Week:

Bonus:


“About those sit-ups you want me to do. I got it right here in my contract – it says I don’t have to do any calisthenics I don’t feel are necessary. So, what do you think about that?”

– Roger Dorn

 

Week of January 12, 2015

charles-barkley-fedora

Chucky, wassup?


Yes, EVEN MORE on the Ray Rice/NFL Story. But This Is Important.

The Robert Mueller “independent” report on the NFL’s response to the Ray Rice “scandal” came out last week. This story is so tiresome. We are tired of reading about it. We are tired of writing about it, and in fact I think this is like the fifth time that 123 Sports has said something to the effect of, “We are tired of writing about this story, but…” And so it is with some reluctance that we bring you this story. HOWEVER. As Michael Rosenberg writes, “In fact, this whole report is supposed to be part of the lie, which is ongoing and will probably not end until you forget this incident, or simply get tired of it.” He’s right. This is important. The Mueller report is Grade-A b.s., intended to divert our attention away from the real issues. Goodell asked Mueller to answer the wrong questions, so that Goodell could get the answers he wanted. And he did. Please read this story. Goodell is a horrible human. -TOB

Source: Mueller Report Underscores Roger Goodell’s Deceit In Ray Rice Case”, Michael Rosenberg (01/08/15)

PAL: The argument for Goodell keeping his job as NFL Commissioner is, to my understanding, as follows: (1) he takes the bullets so the owners don’t have to, and (2) the NFL is  wiping its butt with cash under his leadership (TV deals, launching the NFL network, involvement in negotiating the current collective bargaining agreement). Someone needs to explain to me why another qualified executive wouldn’t be able to perform those tasks just as well as Goodell without the PR nightmare he’s bolted to following the handling of Ray Rice. Also, why aren’t people going after the owners on this? Goodell works for them, after all.

TOB: I want to add – Deadspin’s Drew Magary made an excellent argument for the NFL’s long term popularity problem in an article this week: Kids today care more about games/social interaction on their phones/tablets over watching four-hour sporting events.  And the problem for football, is that it, more than any other American sport , takes time and patience – there are a lot of rules you need to learn to understand the game, and that takes a lot of football watching to gain. Drew wonders if kids today will ever put in the time to understand football. I recommend you read it. Here.


How Does One Come Back From the Loss of Two Children? You Just Do.

This story is not an easy read. Most baseball fans will remember Hirschbeck as the ump who Roberto Alomar spit on back in 1996. What this story will tell you about is the unfair amount of tragedy Hirschbeck has had to deal with in his life. He had two sons diagnosed with a rare and deadly disease – ALD. In 1993, his oldest son died in his parents’ arms. He was 8 years old. His youngest son fought the odds and survived childhood – only to die last April from a seizure related to ALD. His parents were asleep in the house when he died. In between those tragic events, Hirschbeck twice fought off cancer. You might think someone who has survived such heartache would be bitter. But not Hirschbeck:

“Believe me,” Hirschbeck says, “if someone had told me when I was a young dad like you that this is what’s going to happen, I’d say, ‘Give me a gun! I’m out! I’m shooting myself right now!’ But when you’re faced with something, you just say, ‘Why not me? Why should it be anybody else? What makes me different?’ You have to realize that. Otherwise, you’re going to cry for yourself forever.”

We can all only hope to be that strong in the face of such pain. -TOB

Source: “John Hirschbeck’s Survival Guide”, Anthony Castrovince, Sports on Earth (01/13/15)

PAL: Hirschbeck is tough, and not in the b.s. stoic way. He’s crushed by these tragedies, but still moves forward with some aspects of his life. That’s toughness. This is one of those stories I read and really doubt whether I could take what Hirschbeck, his wife, and two daughters have gone through. Best of everything to the Hirschbecks.


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.


Locker Room Butts.

There’s nothing groundbreaking about this article. It’s a fairly short look at the history of cigarette smokers in the NBA. I’m a non-smoker. A never-smoker. I hate smoking. But this cracked me up, especially this quote from Celtic Hall of Famer Bob Cousy:

“I was a nonsmoker. I eventually smoked cigars for 20 years. One of the many bad habits I picked up from Arnold [“Red”] Auerbach. He and I used to go to Europe together, so I had to protect myself and start smoking those damn things myself. Otherwise I’d inhale his smoke. But I never smoked cigarettes. When we were kids we didn’t have money to buy anything. Damn cigarettes were too expensive. Other than drinking a lot of beer, which we picked up in college — that was the extent of our vices. We did like girls, I think. Although it being so long, I can’t rely on my memory for that either.”

*ba dum tsh!*. Also, big ups to my boy Vlade Divac, who stars in this article, and whose honor I once defended so hard that I “c-walked” through a window. True story. I got witnesses. -TOB

Source: Smoking in the Boys Room”, Amos Barshad, Grantland (01/14/15)


It’s Not Me; It’s You: Mark Jackson Calls A Warriors Game

Quick recap: Mark Jackson coached the Warriors to the team’s first back-to-back playoff appearances in 20 years. He was fired. Steve Kerr takes over as coach. The team is 31-5 and a legit contender. A week ago, Jackson called the nationally televised game between the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The scenario is fascinating. Guy who gets fired from a good team he helped turn around gets to call their game for a national audience. They now look like a great team under new coach, which forces the question of whether Jackson was a good coach who got a franchise over a hump, or if he underachieved with a great roster. Jackson handles the situation like a teenager and pretty much talks crap about his ex on TV. Class, class, class. – PAL

Source: “Mark Jackson Returned To Oracle Arena And Threw Shade: An Explainer”, Kevin Draper, Deadspin (1/14/15)

TOB: Ugh, Mark Jackson is such a tool. Also, I like Jeff Van Gundy a lot – but what a load of bull he was trying to sell. As Draper points out, Steve Kerr has taken almost exactly the same roster and has them at 31-5 – on pace for SEVENTY ONE wins. The NBA record is 72, set by the 1996 Chicago Bulls. Last year, under Mark Jackson, the Warriors won just 51, and were sixth in the Western Conference. So, no, Jeff, this isn’t about an improved roster. It’s about a coach who can spout more than empty platitudes and catchphrases, and who knows how to coach a team – both schematically and in terms of managing personalities.


Video of the Week

Click here.

1) Bill Walton trying to give his announcing partner, Bill Pasch, a copy of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” as a present.

2) Pasch “outing” himself as a creationist.

3) Jay Bilas touting the greatness of Sactown’s own Cake.

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“One plus one is two, all day long, and it’s never gonna change. And that’s factorial.”

-Stephon Marbury

 

Week of October 6, 2014

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We’ve all been there.


The Flood Gates of Free Agency

Even if you are a huge sports fan, you may not have not heard of Curt Flood. But more than perhaps any athlete since Jackie Robinson, Curt Flood changed the landscape of American sports. Two words: free agency. Flood sat out the 1970 season to sue MLB over the ‘Reserve Clause’. In plain speak – after a player’s contract with a team expired, team owners could unilaterally renew those contracts for one year at a time, in perpetuity. While he lost the case (and would go on to only play 10 more games in his career), MLB players were granted free agency by 1975. In the coming years, the other major sports would follow suit. Now, when a player becomes a free agent and is able to sell his services to the highest bidder, he should thank Curt Flood. There’s also an accompanying video that must be watched. -TOB

Source: “The Athlete Who Made Lebron James Possible”, Clyde Haberman, New York Times (10/05/14)

PAL: What a great piece of multimedia (the accompanying doc short is on par with a 30 for 30 piece). I knew of Curt Flood’s importance, but only in the way you know the answer to a trivia question. There’s much more to the story than the advent of free agency and the flawed man who demanded it. One detail stands out in particular: “After his death in 1997 — in January, during the off-season — no active players could bring themselves to go to his funeral, though they were all beneficiaries of his legacy.”


The Inexact Science of Breaking World Records

“At the very edges of human capacity, fewer and fewer things can turn out less than perfect and keep a record attempt intact.” While this story focuses on how far we are from witnessing a 2:00:00 marathon, its draw comes from the axis of science, physiology, and environment. Clearly, the main ingredient is an athlete that is what Malcom Gladwell termed an “outlier” (see: Usain Bolt). However, there are so many other seemingly minute factors that come into play when the difference between a 2:02:57 marathon (current record) and a 2:00:00 marathon is 6 seconds per mile. Physiological makeup, the route, the pace, the natural instinct to beat the field rather than the clock – hell – even the prize money comes into account (as a disincentive, if you can believe that). Once you’ve considered all of this, ask a friend who’s run a marathon what kind of difference 6 seconds per mile feels like, and they’ll tell you it’s a huge chunk of time. Whether or not you’re a runner, this is a great read. -PAL

Source: “How Close Are We To A Two-Hour Marathon”, Kyle Wagner, Regressing (10/3/14)


Goodell Hoisted By His Own Petard

Deadspin’s Drew Magary with an excellent explanation of how the NFL, under Roger Goodell, unwisely tried to become a shining beacon for American society and how the decision to portray the league as such has blown up in Goodell’s face. -TOB

Source: “The NFL Is Having Its Steroid Moment”, Drew Magary, Deadspin (10/02/14)

PAL:  The parallels between the NFL’s handling of domestic abuse and MLB’s handling of steroids are right on. “Football cannot be anything more than what it is, which is cheap and disposable entertainment for the masses. The second you try to seize the moral high ground, you have lost it. Baseball still hasn’t quite figured that out, and it doesn’t look like the NFL will either.”


What The Hell Is Going On With Adrian Peterson?

By now you’ve heard Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been charged with felony child abuse. As of Thursday, it’s being reported that paperwork has been filed for his bail to be revoked after Peterson told a drug tester he has “smoked a little weed,” which is a violation of the terms of his bail. There are also reports citing problematic financial discrepancies surrounding his charity. Currently, a man in Sioux Falls, SD is charged and pending trial for second degree murder (amongst other charges) in the death of Peterson’s 2 year-old song. I’m in no place to say Peterson is guilty or innocent of anything; I’m just looking at the bullet-points here, and I’m reminded again and again that we have idea for whom we cheer. Seinfeld was right; we’re cheering for laundry. Here’s a breakdown of Adrian Peterson’s timeline of issues, dating back to his college days at Oklahoma. – PAL

Source: “Behind Peterson’s perfect image lay an imperfect human being”, by Mike Kaszuba, Rochelle Olson, and Paul McEnroe; Star Tribune (10/7/2014)

TOB: This story just keeps getting weirder. But, as a silver lining, the guy who had Peterson in my fantasy league released him in protest of his actions,. I scooped him up and will stash him on my bench. It’s a keeper league, so I was pretty pumped. I’m awful.


Video of the Week:

Quote of the Week:

“I think we can agree that all wine tastes the same and if you spend any more than 5 dollars on wine, you are very stupid.”

– April Ludgate