Week of February 16, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.59.21 PMThe 49ers’ terrible management has incurred the wrath of The Bird of Death upon Levi’s Stadium.


The Cat’s in the Cradle

As Tim Lincecum’s pitching deteriorated over the last three years, so did his relationship with his father. His dad built the pitching mechanics that led to two Cy Young Awards, but his critiques were no longer welcome, and the relationship between father and son suffered. But after losing his spot in the rotation and making just one mop-up appearance in the Giants’ run to the World Series, Timmy knew he had to make a change. He went back to his father “with (his) tail between (his) legs” and asked for help. His father’s response? “We’ve done this together. Let’s continue to do this together until I’m not here.” Father and son worked hard in the offseason, and will continue to do so during Spring Training. Reading this story reminded me of Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. On so many levels, I hope the reunion with his pitching coach/father helps Timmy return to form. -TOB

Source: “Tim Lincecum Turns to Father as He Tries to Find Cy Young Form”, Alex Pavlovic, CSNBayArea.com (02/18/2015)

PAL: Going back to his dad is Timmy’s last move. Like everyone in San Francisco, I love and pull for Timmy. The pantry is looking bare, and this is the last idea he has. I’m pulling for him, and I really hope he just lights it up this year.


Curtain of Distraction

1-2-3 Sports! reader Michael Kapp brings us this fascinating story:

As far back as I can remember, basketball fans behind the basket have attempted to distract opposing free throw shooters. They stand, make noise, and wave balloons. In recent years, college student sections have begun printing giant heads of various people – themselves, opposing players, famous people, etc., in the hopes of distracting shooters. It’s unclear that it’s ever been effective. Until now: Last season, Arizona State introduced what they call the “Curtain of Distraction.”Here are some examples:

The novelty of “The Curtain” has garnered a lot of attention. But the strangest thing is that it appears to actually work. Over two seasons, opposing teams are missing around 5-10% more free throws at ASU than in their other games. The New York Times performed a statistical analysis and found that:

“Taken together, the data suggest that something changed to affect the accuracy only of free throws, only by visiting teams, only when those teams were visiting Arizona State, and only after the Curtain of Distraction was introduced. Statistics can never fully prove a causal link, but this case is pretty strong.”

We will undoubtedly see copycats, which will likely reduce the Curtain’s effect. Nonetheless, pretty fascinating. -TOB

Source: “How Arizona State Reinvented Free Throw Distraction”, Justin Wolfers, New York Times (02/13/2015)

PAL: Well, I guess ASU has 3 things to be proud of now – Pat Tillman, John Hughes, and the “Curtain of Distraction” (what a great name). The downside – the players and students still attend ASU. I’m interested to see whether or not this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Too bad they aren’t making the NCAA Tournament (currently 14-12 W/L) and given the national spotlight.


Sympathy for the Devil: Alex Rodriguez

We’ve all read stories about falls from grace. I know, I know – everyone is sick of ARod. I’m sick of ARod. He lied about taking PEDs – yeah – but he’s far from the only one. The PEDs are not why people are sick of him. People are sick of him because he’s not lovable in any way. He comes off as a d-bag time and time again. It’s the $400+ million dollars he’ll earn by the end of his career, the picture of him kissing himself in the mirror at the gym, tanning in Central Park, the Madonna relationship (when she was perhaps most insufferable), the popcorn at Cowboy Stadium with Cameron Diaz, the highlights (hair), the pearl white batting gloves…but most of all it’s that smug gaze reserved only for the super-duper rich, good-looking, touched-by-God athletic, tall dude. That guy messed up – twice – and, boy, do we like watching him fall on his ass. So many steroid/PED stories focus on the fall or the subsequent rise; I was captivated by this story because it examines the quiet absurdity of purgatory for an adult grasping for sense of self. He’s Derrick Zoolander – superficially talented, banished, hated, ill-equipped for anything outside of his absurd profession, and seeking answers in ridiculous places while holding out hope for his “Blue Steel” moment. It’s a long story (absolutely worth the read), so I pulled some of the most captivating and bizarre tidbits below. – PAL

  • Barry Bonds throws ARod batting practice in Marin and talks a lot of sh*t.
  • “[H]is stealth hobby is visiting college campuses, that he’s been to nearly 40 so far, that he almost always takes the campus tour, visits the bookstore and buys a sweatshirt and a backpack”
  • “[T]hroughout his decade-long tenure with the Yankees, he tries to buy three custom-made suits for every rookie who walks into the clubhouse.”
  • “In New York he would routinely befriend young artists, leave them tickets at the box office so they could come see him play, and in exchange they had to let him drop by their studios. He’d sit in the corner of some dingy loft for hours, watching some intense kid paint or sculpt or draw, because it inspired him, sent him back to his own studio, the batting cage, with new dedication.”

Source: “The Education of Alex Rodriguez”, J.R. Moehringer, ESPN the Magazine (02/18/2015)


Albert Belle Was a Baaaaaad Man

I vaguely remember this, but it is awesome. In 1999, Albert Belle was playing for the Baltimore Orioles. In this game against the Angels, he had already hit three monster home runs and was coming up in the 11th inning, looking to win the game with his record-tying 4th. Instead, the pitcher throws one near Belle’s head, hitting him with a fastball in the shoulder. The umpire immediately signals that Belle was hit, and sends him to first. But Albert Belle shakes him off! Skip to the 1:16 mark:

You can read his lips, as he lies, arguing with the umpire, claiming the ball hit his bat. Albert was so sure that he was going to win the game, that he would have rather taken a strike than taken a base. Awesome. -TOB

Source: No Hitter Has Ever Been More Terrifying Than Albert Belle in This Game”, Tom Scocca, Deadspin (02/16/2015)

PAL: I forgot about Albert Belle. Seriously. The name has not occupied space in my brain for some time until I saw this story, which is crazy. While this scene takes place when Belle is on the O’s,  I remember him as a member of the supremely talented Indians of the 90s (Jim Thome, Roberto Alomar, Omar Vizquel, Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Matt Williams, David Justice, Jose Mesa, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle…jesus!) Belle was the baddest of the bunch, and he definitely scared me the most out of that group. He was really, really good, and a redass to boot, which is captured perfectly here. The video is pretty incredible, too.


Video of the Week

In honor of Cal announcing a home and home series with Ole Miss, we present you this video of fans tailgating at “The Grove”. 1-2-3 Sports! is already planning an RV trip to Oxford in 2019.


Tweet of the Week


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“Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity.”

-Earl Woods

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Week of September 29, 2014

That's how you celebrate.

That’s how you celebrate.

The Friends We’ve Never Met: Mike Krukow & Duane Kuiper

Earlier this season, San Francisco Giants’ color commentator Mike Krukow revealed that he is suffering from a rare muscle disease – inclusion body myositis (“IBM”). Although IBM is not directly life-threatening, it features slow and progressive weakening of muscles, especially those in the legs and hands. This loss of muscle strength can cause sufferers to fall over, which can of course cause life-threatening injuries. Krukow, along with his broadcast partner Duane Kuiper, is the rare announcing team that you wish you could sit and watch a game with. They provide great insight into the game, while being hilarious and fun. Hell, I wish Kruk and Kuip were my real-life friends (and I oddly feel like they actually are, though I’ve never met them). Kruk and Kuip are universally beloved by Giants fans, and the news of Kruk’s disease was met with sadness. Steve Fainaru brings us a rare look into the world of Kruk and Kuip – a true and lasting friendship, and how the two of them are dealing with Kruk’s condition, both in and out of the broadcasting booth. -TOB

Source: A Giant Friendship”, by Steve Fainaru, ESPN (09/30/2014)

Note: One of the true pleasures of living in San Francisco is listening to these two friends talk baseball over the course of 162 games. It seems Kruk and Kuip genuinely love what they do and love that they get to do it together. They are the best, and Krukow has an army of Giants fans supporting him. -PAL


Hooligan Revolutionaries

The fact of the matter is we have no idea what it’s like to fight a war on U.S. soil. Our understanding of war is removed. It is something we follow, keep tabs on, discuss; most of us don’t live it and understand its impact on, among other things, culture. That’s why this story on soccer in Ukraine is so fascinating to me. The byline: “Vice Sports contributor R.J. Rico spent two weeks in Ukraine reporting on the role of soccer and soccer fans in the nation’s conflict, and how that conflict has affected the sport.” -PAL

Source: “Soccer and Revolution in Ukraine”, R.J. Rico, Vice Sports (09/26/2014)


Jim Harbaugh is a Fascinating Lunatic: A Profile of a Complicated Weirdo

Intensity is in most cases a strength, and the pursuit of success doesn’t necessarily feel good. There is no Rocky montage in real life. When I read this profile on Harbaugh – brilliantly and humorously structured around a game of catch between the coach and the writer – I am reminded of the least common denominator. If there is a person out there so one-dimensional in his focus on winning everything – from a conversation to a football game – then how does that impact the chances of success for any well-adjusted human? I’m also reminded that sport is perfect for these types of people (and why we as fans love it so much as a reprieve) – everything is objective at the end of the day. One team wins, and one team loses. There is no gray. -PAL

Source: “Jim Harbaugh comfortable in chaos”, by Seth Wickersham, ESPN The Magazine (10/2/2014)


More Than a Routine

Sergio Romo catches the ceremonial first pitch before every Giants home game. Most of us aren’t even in our seats yet, and – let’s be honest – we’re kind of hoping for a catastrophe. After all, there’s something fair in a b-list celebrity who doesn’t know how to throw bouncing one in there for us to laugh at, right? Well, that’s not always the case. Here’s a story of that meaningless first pitch changing lives. -PAL

Source: “Giants’ Sergio Romo inspired a teen girl to keep fighting”, Daniel Brown, San Jose Mercury News (09/26/2014)


Video of the week:

 

Quote of the week:

“You and your mom are hillbillies. This is a house of learned doctors.”

– Dale Dobak

Week of August 25, 2014

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Jerry Jones Has a Great Life.

This profile on Jerry Jones is incredibly long, and you probably don’t have time to read it all. Which is why we’re here, with the best tidbits from a really good read:

  1. Jerry Jones is 6 feet, ½ inch tall. I always thought he was like 6’4.
  2. Jerry Jones played college football.
  3. George Strait fans really love George Strait. $1000 for parking spots?!
  4. Jerry claims he spent all the money he had at the time ($150M) buying the Cowboys. Forbes now values the team at $3.2B. Billion! Seems like a wise investment.
  5. Sports radio guys are idiots. I did not learn that from this story. But I did learn that one of the dumbest is in Dallas, who stated in this story that being GM of the Cowboys is maybe one of the most important jobs in the world. The world. Ugh.
  6. Jerry Jones uses a flip phone. For the record, I love flip phones.
  7. Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson were teammates in college?!
  8. Romo talking about how Jones is all about substance and not style, and that is why he passed on Johnny Manziel, right after reading how angry Jones was that they did not take Manziel, is really funny.
  9. Romo drinks Miller Lite. Of course.
  10. While the reporter was there, Adrian Peterson called Jerry Jones and told him he’d like to play for the Cowboys. Jones expressed that the interest is mutual. I can’t wait to see what the Vikings’ response is to this.
  11. Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson were ROOMMATES in college??
  12. With outside financial backing, Jerry Jones almost bought the San Diego Chargers when he was just 23 years old. His father talked him out of it. That is wild.
  13. Years ago, Jones gave up alcohol to lose weight. But his own mother convinced his wife to get Jones drinking again, because he was too much of an asshole sober.
  14. God I wish I was rich: “He and Jones were drinking heavily in Austin one night and stumbled into a dance club at 2:30 a.m. when the bartender told them that last call had long passed. “Either you start servin’ drinks,” Jones said, “or I buy the bar and you’re the first son of a bitch I get rid of.” Ten minutes later, Jones tells Hansen, “Go to the bathroom.” Inside, Hansen discovered a bartender sitting behind a hastily assembled but fully stocked bar; Jones, Hansen and another 10 pals enjoyed mixed drinks until 5 a.m. Hansen was shipwrecked with a hangover until late the following afternoon. “Jones was on ‘Good Morning America’ at 7 a.m.,” Hansen says in awe.)”

As I said, Jerry Jones has a great life. -TOB

Source: Jerry Football”, by Don Van Natta, Jr., ESPN The Magazine (08/28/14)

Note: Jerry Jones is one of the primary reasons I love sports. When it all comes down to it, we want characters. Give me more weirdos, drunks, oddballs; give me a second helping of Mark Cuban, Dennis Rodman, and Lawrence Taylor. While of course I want the Twins* to win the World Series, it’s not happening more than 5 times in my life (stop laughing – a guy can dream – they’re 40% of the way there already). At some point we all recalibrate our definition of ‘hero,’ and Kirby Puckett, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, etc. are replaced with mom, dad, brother, and teacher. It’s a liberating moment, actually. What we really want from sports is characters – characters we like, characters we hate, and characters we like to hate/hate to like. Keep on keepin’ on, Jerry. More strippers. More plastic surgury, you dirty ol’ man.  – PAL

* I want the Giants to win, too. There – I said it. I like – no, I’m a fan – of the San Francisco Giants. If the Twins aren’t in it, then I’m rooting for the Giants. They’re my sidepiece.


Inner. Inner City. Inner City Pressure.

How will the recent Little League World Series, where an all-black team from inner-city Chicago and a diverse team from inner-city Philadelphia dominated the headlines, change the way MLB approaches baseball in major U.S. cities? One idea in this article is that MLB teams should start baseball academies in their city to promote the game and develop talent who might not otherwise have a chance to play. The article suggests one issue is that teams would not want to develop a talented player, only to have him be drafted by another team. Of course, an obvious solution, one I first heard suggested right here by our own Phil Lang, is that MLB teams should follow the MLS rule – teams who develop a player in their academy should be able to select him before anyone else has the chance. Do it, MLB. My son is 2 months old. I can’t wait to send him to the San Francisco Jr. Giants Academy that does not yet exist. -TOB

Source: “A Catalyst for Change”, by Anthony Castrovince, Sports on Earth (08/21/14)

Note: Steve Bandura articulates it perfectly. I’ve been circling around this point, but I couldn’t flesh it out. Let’s get past the soundbite (the number of African Americans playing in the MLB is dwindling) and talk about the cause so we can explore possible solutions. “The African-American kids in the suburbs play,” Bandura said. “So what, if they go inside a certain boundary, all of a sudden they’re not interested in the game? None of those stereotypes make any sense. A six-year-old kid is not saying, ‘Well, I’m not going to play baseball because there are more scholarships in football for college.’ It doesn’t make any sense, and I’m tired of people running out those stereotypes.” – PAL


Everybody Seems to Be Coming Around…

Since I was a kid, I have rooted against the darlings of the sports media. So, I never liked Peyton Manning. When he was in college, I did not want him to win the Heisman, and I was really excited when Charles Woodson beat him for it. I have reveled in Peyton’s playoff failures over the years. I have no idea why, looking back. He seems like a decent guy. Part of it is because I’ve been reading/seeing the same stories marveling at how much film he watches for two decades now, and it gets old. On the other hand, I also really enjoy players continuing to excel far beyond an age when they should. I also like improbable comeback stories. Peyton’s comeback from the neck surgeries, at this age, is pretty remarkable. So I decided to read this profile, and I’m glad he did. He’s a strange dude, but I am actually beginning to like him.

Source: Inside Manning”, Dan Pompei, Sports on Earth (08/25/14)

Note: Peyton Manning can work as hard as he wants – it will never make up for the $40 he cost me on the halftime score of the Super Bowl last year. Jerk. What the hell is this OCD nutcase going to do after he retires? If there’s any poetic justice left in the world, for the love of god, please let Manning’s son love soccer. Also, he owns 21 Papa John’s in Colorado. Papa John’s pizza stinks.


“Mama, If That’s Movin’ Up, Then I’m Movin’ Out”

While reading this story, I couldn’t help but think of Todd Marinovich (if you haven’t seen this 30 for 30, do yourself a favor and watch it soon). It lacks the angle of the parent maniacally engineering a star athlete, but it is a fascinating look, not often seen, into the mind of a once promising athlete who didn’t quite make it, and how he has adjusted to the fact that he will not be a star. Many people think how great it would be to be a professional athlete – but what happens when an athlete falls a little short of riches and fame, and his sport becomes a job? -TOB

Source:The Making and Unmaking of Preston Zimmerman, American Soccer Player”, Brian Blickenstaff, originally published in XI Quarterly (Fall 2012)


 

Track & Field Has a Great Idea

When do you care about Track & Field? Every 4 years, just like the rest of us. How exciting is it to watch? I love it. This article brings to light a new approach to Track & Field that makes a lot of sense, and it’s based off of the following take: “Track is a sport crippled by two evils: the stopwatch and the Olympics. The stopwatch tries to find validation in the thousandth of a second, and the Olympics wants to have one big hoopla every four years. Both are complete crap.” Quick read. Fresh opinion. Good idea.

Source: “Jenny Simpson Is Better Than Any Gold Medal Or World Record”, Jon Gugala, Fittish (8/29/14)


VIDEO OF THE WEEK:


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“Well, everyone knows Custer died at Little Bighorn. What this book presupposes is… maybe he didn’t.”

-Eli Cash