Week of September 14, 2015

COlJSk6WoAAFtHf


It’s Just a Sweet, Sweet Fantasy, Baby…

If you watch sports on TV, you have lately been inundated with commercials for “Daily Fantasy” sports. The Daily Fantasy commercials feature excited people receiving oversized, seven figure checks (longtime 1-2-3 readers may recall this story about a guy making $1M/year in fantasy sports that we featured in one of our very first posts). It all sounds great, and on Monday night, I thought, “Well maybe I should try it.” This, despite the fact that I am a terrible fantasy football player. I am glad that I instead found this story on Tuesday, which made me realize that I would merely be throwing my money away. To wit: “Analysis from Rotogrinders conducted for Bloomberg shows that the top 100 ranked players enter 330 winning lineups per day, and the top 10 players combine to win an average of 873 times daily. The remaining field of approximately 20,000 players tracked by Rotogrinders wins just 13 times per day, on average…Only the top 1.3 percent of players finished in the green during the three months measured by the Sport Business Journal.” Those odds are awful. Don’t get suckered in. Don’t play Daily Fantasy. -TOB

Source: You Aren’t Good Enough to Win Money Playing Daily Fantasy Sports”, Joshua Brustein and Ira Boudway, Bloomberg Businessweek (09/10/2015)

PAL: Hey, my college buddy and sportswriter posted the perfect companion piece! Whereas Brustein and Boudway’s take underscores the odds of winning playing DFL (I will only refer to it as DFL from here on out), Opatz takes a crack at the effect DFL has on how we experience games. In addition to learning about DFL camps in Vegas (for cryin out loud), he nails it when he writes, “Watching sports for fantasy takes the poetry out of it, reducing the subtleties and nuance of sports to simple accounting in a ledger. It turns an epic novel into a spreadsheet. But that didn’t stop me from drafting a fantasy football team this year.”

Source: Fantasy Factory”, Louie Opatz, Litchfield Independent Review (09/10/2015)


Baby, I’ve Got Your Money

If you enjoy college sports, the idea to allow schools to pay players directly is troubling. In a free market system, an already stratified sport would only become worse, and the games would become a farce. Inevitably, many schools who are barely breaking even as is would be forced to cut football. At other schools, profits from football pay for non-revenue sports, including women’s sports. If college football players begin getting paid, available profits for smaller sports will shrink. The Title IX implications are also significant – it is likely that, at least at some schools, every non-revenue male sport would have to be axed in order to comply with Title IX. It seems like a horrible mess and the death of college sports. However, inspired by a Nike commercial tribute to Animal House featuring great Oregon Duck football players of the past, Andrew Sharp proposes a system to pay college football players, without the payments coming directly from the schools themselves. His suggestion: Allow private companies to pay them. Nike, UnderArmour, local car dealers, etc. Just let players trade off their fame. It hurts no one. Hell, it even helps college football. If Johnny Manziel could have traded off his likeness for $10M/year for two more years of college, he’d be a lot better off, and so would college football fans who got to watch him, than he is being battered in the NFL. This idea is not without flaws, as schools like Oregon, with strong ties to Nike will have a strong advantage over other schools. But it’s better than the alternative, and at least the players are getting paid. -TOB

Source: The Pac-12 and the Smartest Way to Pay College Athletes”, Andrew Sharp, Grantland (09/16/2015)


I’ll Give You Summer Teeth. Some’r Here, Some’r There.

As a non-hockey fan, I do enjoy a good hockey fight. I was actually a big hockey fan in the early to mid-90’s, but when you get older you have to prioritize. I watch way less sports in general than I did when I was a kid, and hockey is one of those sports that did not make the cut. One of my favorite things about hockey fights is “jerseying” – when the players fighting attempt to pull their opponents’ jersey over their head. I had no idea, though, that this practice was effectively banned by the NHL in the late-90’s, which is a bummer – it’s such a classic move. This light-hearted article takes a look back at the history of Jerseying with some excellent examples, including an appearance by Terry O’Reilly, who was immortalized in the opening moments of Happy Gilmore. -TOB

Source: It Made Sense at the Time: The Art of Jerseying”, Sean McIndoe, Grantland (09/16/2015)


Discussing the Writing of the Unwritten Rules of Baseball

This is hilarious. First, watch this video:

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/6479266/v484986883

Ok, who was wrong here? I think it’s Seager. What a punk. For a more thorough and hilarious breakdown, please read Grant Brisbee’s article. -TOB

Source: The Unwritten Rules of Kyle Seager Calling for Time the Wrong Way”, Grant Bisbee, SB Nation (09/17/2015)


Alabama Weak Sauce

By now everyone has heard how nuts Alabama football fans are about their team. They are proud to be certifiable when it comes to the Crimson Tide, so I have to call them out on this weak ass crap. Every year before the home opener, people come together for the “Bear Bryant Namesake Reunion”. I know what you’re thinking – whoa, that’s nuts! Everyone named after Paul “Bear” Bryant come together to celebrate his or her father’s obsession with football that swirled out of control to the point where he named his child after a football coach. Here’s the deal – the rules for being a namesake are weak. Bryant Lambert, Andrew Bryant Madaris, William Bryceton Wooters, Paula Harrison – although technical namesakes, these folks are getting pretty loose with it. Only one kid featured here had the obvious, most bad-ass name: BEAR. That’s commitment to the insanity which should be at the heart of this bonkers tradition. As far as I’m concerned, there are only two people who should get the invite next year: Bear Bryant’s son (Paul, Jr.), and 7 year-old Bear Zeiden. – PAL

Source: Where Bear Meets Bryant, Again and Again“, Mark Tracy, The New York Times (9/14/15)

TOB: This reminds me of a favorite story of mine. In the late-1980s, the father of Isaiah Thomas, the player currently on the Celtics, was a huge Lakers fan. The story goes that his father was friends with a big Pistons fan, and that the two made a bet before the 1989 NBA season. If the Pistons won the title, Thomas’ dad had to name his son Isaiah Thomas, after the Pistons star. The story goes that although Isaiah was born 3 months before the Finals, by that time his dad had warmed to the name and it stuck.


PAL’s Song of the Week: Fleetwood Mac – “What Makes You Think You’re the One”Bullseye Podcast w/ Jesse Thorn

Check out all of our weekly picks here. It’ll make you better looking


Video of the Week

Hitting Cage Bombs with my amigo, Domingo Ayala! If you get a few minutes, check out more of Domingo’s videos. Like this one. And this one.

Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or:

Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

Twitter: @123sportsdigest

Facebook


“Hi… not you… Hi.”

– Ernie McCracken

Advertisements

Week of May 25, 2015

1270893815643475529

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.


Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or:

Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

Twitter: @123sportsdigest

Facebook


“Why are you so sweaty?”

“I was watching Cops.”

– Dale Doback & Brennan Huff

Week of November 3, 2014

Who Will Play Robin Ficker In The Biopic?

Robin Ficker is a heckler. A heckler at a game has to be pretty damn clever for me to appreciate him or her. It’s never been my thing, so why the hell is a feature about this nuisance making our top picks this week? Robin Ficker’s life story reads like the slightly lesser version of Forrest Gump. Some highlights from this long but worthwhile read:

  • Ficker would hang out at Muhammad Ali’s training facility and joined Ali on his morning runs.
  • He played a somewhat significant role in Watergate.
  • He is a primary reason why local blackouts no longer exist for sporting events that sell out.
  • He’s a lawyer who played a major role in combating gender discrimination while representing Deborah Drudge (the mother of Matt Drudge).
  • He’s run for public office for the past four decades, with only 1 victory.
  • Charles Barkley flew him to Phoenix for the 1993 NBA Finals in order to taunt Jordan.

I still don’t know what to make of this guy, and that’s what made this story spin around in my head the last couple days. I’m not sure I’d like him, but – man – would I love to go on a run with him and hear some stories. – PAL

Source: “What The Most Infamous NBA Heckler Learned From His Friend Muhammad Ali”, Dave McKenna, Deadspin (11/4/14)

TOB: Last night, Phil and I got to sit courtside at a Cal basketball exhibition game against CSU San Marcos. I’ve never sat courtside before. It was awesome. It’s also sort of frightening. I didn’t talk trash at first, but toward the end (mostly because I was annoyed with CSUSM’s coach, who would scream in the Cal player’s ears and was generally an ass to his players, too) I started to lightly heckle. For example: “Shoot the J! SHOOT IT!” But it’s definitely intimidating sitting that close. So when I read this story I was sort of amazed. Ficker pissed people off so much that he was spit on by both a player and a coach. Isiah Thomas threw a shoe at him! The story about Barkley hiring him to heckle Jordan in the Finals reminds me of the heckler in Happy Gilmore. “You will not hit this putt, JACKASS.”


Rest In Peace, Oscar Taveras

A little bit lost amidst the hoopla of the World Series, was the tragic death of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras. Taveras died, along with his girlfriend, in an automobile accident in his home country of the Dominican Republic. Taveras was a top prospect – ranked the #3 prospect coming into the 2014 season – and he oozed talent. Giants fans knew him well. He was called up on May 31st and in his second career at bat, absolutely destroyed a Yusmeiro Petit pitch deep into the right field bleachers. In Game 2 of the NLCS, he homered against the Giants again. He had a sweet swing – it was a big, looping swing. He had his struggles this season, as rookies often do, but he kept flashing that potential – a potential that was not realized. You wonder – what if the Cardinals win that NLCS over the Giants – Taveras would still be alive. It’s a sad thought, but the Cardinals didn’t win and Oscar is gone. Grant Brisbee is one of my favorite writers – he’s funny, smart, and a huge Giants fan. He wrote about Oscar Taveras’ death and it really hit home with me – why the death of someone I never met had me so stunned:

“That hope is gone. You’ll never find the right amount of empathy for someone you didn’t know personally, so there’s no sense beating yourself up over it. But you’re an expert in the kind of hope that Taveras offered to his fans, to his friends, to his family and to himself. It’s gone now, and all you can do is mumble something like “Rest in peace,” even if you have no idea what that really means.”

Rest in peace, Oscar. Whatever that means. -TOB

Source: The Lost Hope of Oscar Taveras”, by Grant Brisbee, SB Nation (10/27/14)

PAL Note: Brisbee crystallizes something I’ve definitely felt but never identified, which is the sign of excellent writing. “It’s why this is different from the traffic accident you’ll surely pass one day, why it’s different from the news about the young friend of a friend of a friend, why it’s removed from the awfulness you have to step over every day to keep moving. Those are abstract situations. Your brain has to keep them abstract or you’ll collapse. You knew exactly how Taveras was going to make millions of strangers happy, though. You knew exactly how he was going to make himself and his family happy. You could see it. It was familiar. You had the path all plotted out in your head. He deserved that chance. Your brain can’t keep that loss abstract.”


A Statistical Push: Bowl Championship Series vs. College Football Playoff
The college football national champion will be determined by a tournament format for the first time this year, and it might not make a difference. From 1998 – 2013, the national champion contestants (2) were determined by a hybrid of algorithms and polls (a Coaches’ Poll and an Associated Press poll). This year, the tournament teams will be selected by a committee that includes Condoleezza Rice (Stanford), Archie Manning (Ole Miss), and athletic directors from USC and Wisconsin. While contingency plans are in place should the teams associated with committee members be a factor in the playoff selection, the numbers and research suggest how little a difference the playoff approach might make in determining teams that deserve to play for the title. Right or wrong, a tournament format allows for more drama and excitement than a single-game approach, which is the entire purpose of sports. There seems to be a lot of emphasis on “getting it right” in the sports landscape in recent years (instant replay, player safety, fines/suspensions/investigations), and – if I’m being honest – I don’t know if “getting it right” plays a major role in why we love them in the first place. – PAL

Source: “The BCS Wasn’t Any Worse Than A College Football Playoff Will Be”, by Neil Paine, FiveThirtyEight (10/28/14)

TOB Note: The selection process shouldn’t be too hard. The top 4 teams seem pretty obvious in most years. Nonetheless, I remain skeptical, because the members of the committee are a complete joke. The list reeks of ridiculous politics and PR. The members include Condoleeza Rice (now a Stanford professor) and a retired Air Force Lt. General. What, exactly, are their qualifications? Andrew Luck’s dad is on there (he’s the Athletic Director of West Virginia). So is Tyrone Willingham, former coach at Stanford. Gee, are we seeing a theme? If you’re keeping score  that is 3 out of 13 members with direct ties to Stanford. The Gods have righted this wrong, though, as Stanford is in serious jeopardy of not being bowl eligible this year and is certainly not in the discussion for the playoffs. Hallelujah! Forever and ever, amen!


There Can Only Be One Winner

Considering we wrote over 3,000 words last week, all of them basking in the glory of the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series, we should probably say a bit about the Kansas City Royals. This article, written by lifelong Royals fan and Grantland writer Rany Jazayerli, is excellent. Unlike Giants fans, Rany and his fellow Royals fans experienced pain and heartbreak. But does a great job illuminating why we love sports – despite the fact that sports almost always bring pain – because of the feelings of hope and community and shared experiences that are otherwise becoming tougher and tougher to experience as we as a culture otherwise continue to isolate. -TOB

Source: Pain Demands to be Felt“, by Rany Jazayerli, Grantland (10/31/14)

PAL Note: It’s awful but true – “Sports are pain, but pain is something only the living can feel.” With that said, I have to put it to our readers who are Giants fans: Is this how you felt after the Giants lost the 2002 World Series in painful fashion? Did you see the silver lining of community and relevance like Jazayerli, or did you just want to throw up for two months?


VIDEO OF THE WEEK


Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or: Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

Twitter: @123sportsnews


“You’re not trying hard enough. Try harder.”

– Random dude at the gym