Week of October 19, 2015

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Stan Van Gundy’s rap game is raw. 


Donuts Are Serious Bidniss

Sometimes it seems that being a professional athlete can be really tedious. That coupled with the fact that many pro athletes are overgrown children can at times lead to some really strange and funny happenings. Take the Minnesota Vikings’ Donut Club. On Saturdays, the players don’t have to arrive at team facilities until 10 a.m. But, as an incentive to arriving early, the players have created a Donut Club – which is exactly what it sounds like and so much more. There are rules to Donut Club: For example, don’t be late; don’t touch the donuts before the designated time (8 a.m.); Always finish your donut; and wear your Donut Club uniform. Yes, Donut Club has a uniform. And it’s kinda sweet:

donut

This is one of the funnier, goofier stories I’ve read in quite a while. -TOB

Source: The Rules of Donut Club”, Kalyn Kahler, The MMQB (10/20/2015)

PAL: These are the seemingly insignificant traditions the make life great. Stupid routines and rules that bring us together and laugh. Doesn’t matter the reason or the time of day – find a way to get together with your people. Look at the smiles on the dudes’ faces. 100% joy. Who wants to start a donut club?


Still The Same: The Chicago Cubs

Cubs fans – and baseball fans in general – have seen this movie before. The Cubs find ways to come up short. Sometimes it’s a cursed goat. Other times the blame falls on a dorky guy in a turtleneck reaching over the wall to snatch a potential out from his home team. This time, it was a better team with a scary-good starting pitching staff and a second baseman out of a Matt Christopher book who can’t stop hitting home runs. This article sums up the 100+ years of heartbreak. D. Francis Berry writes this game summary in the vernacular and stylings of a turn-of the 20th Century sports reporter. It might be a little cute, but it’s the perfect way to to encapsulate the timeless failure that is the Cubs. God love ’em. – PAL

Source: Even in the Language of 1908, the Cubs Come Up Losers”, D. Francis Berry, The New York Times (10/22/15)


Gif break! 


Handsome Man Throws Baseball

Sometimes I read an article that is not terribly interesting, but I want to share the article because of one passage or quote that is too funny to pass up. This is one such instance: Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was struck on his pitching arm by a line-drive in Game 1 of the NLCS. He was fine and was throwing the ball around a few days later. Mets’ pitching coach, Dan Warthen, was asked how Harvey looked playing catch and Warthen responded: “Very handsome.” Heh. -TOB

Source: Matt Harvey Expected to be Available for Game 5 Despite Triceps Bruise”, Anthony Rieber, Newsday (10/19/2015)

PAL: Here’s my Matt Harvey prediction –  his career will mirror Josh Beckett’s in every way. Great stuff, solid success, moments of clutch post-season greatness (don’t forget Beckett threw a complete game shutout against the big bad Yankees, in New York, in the deciding game 6 of the series). Also, at 26, Harvey is already on his way towards mimicking Beckett’s skinny man gut


Gif break! 


The Next Great Fight Already Happened

Tommy is the boxing fan of this duo, but this story has a cool angle to it. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, a late-bloomer from Kazakhstan, is an unlikely choice to be the next big draw in boxing after Floyd Mayweather’s apparent retirement. Yet, the man has serious power (30 knockouts in 33 of his wins. The more likely “next big thing” would have been Canelo Alvarez. The young, talented boxer’s path to the main attraction seemed to be determined before he was 20. The two boxers, with paths that bear no resemblance, find themselves one last fight from the top before it would make sense for them to square off. They fight would be the main draw in a sport that really needs just that. Turns out, they’ve already fought. There were only a handful of people to witness it, but GGG and Canelo sparred 5 years ago it what might prove to be the preview to an eight-figure fight in the near future. There is a lot of other elements to this story – some I dig and some I don’t mind, but I’m a sucker for the foreshadow story that takes place in some nondescript ring. Boxing is all about the build up anyway, right? I mean, I for one like Rocky’s training montages more than the fights. – PAL

Source: ‘Are You Serious?’ The Unlikely Ascent of GGG to PPV”, Eric Raskin, Grantland (10/16/15)


PAL Song of the Week: Ann Peebles – “I Can’t Stand The Rain”

Check out the full playlist with all of our songs here. Play it loud while doing your Saturday chores. You ain’t too old to play your music real loud.


Video of the Week: 

http://bcove.me/kpufkj3i

Bills fans go hard.


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“And then, I look over, and she’s reading J. Crew, which was so weird, because I was such a huge J. Crew person then, too. Still am. We sometime like to go to Starbucks on weekends and take an L.L. Bean catalogue along, and I’ll say, ‘Honey, what’s new?’ And she has 5 minutes to look through and find out what’s new.”

– Hamilton Swan

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Week of September 14, 2015

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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.

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“Hi… not you… Hi.”

– Ernie McCracken

Week of August 17, 2015

Mantis

#RallyMantis


Dirty, Flashy Money: Miami & Scamming Athletes

As if being a professional athlete doesn’t attract enough leeches, try being one in Miami. It’s not surprising that con men are swindling athletes out of money, but I’m shocked at how easily careless and shortsighted folks get million-dollar checks from people. In this story, Miami Heat employees even facilitated the introduction between the scammers and Heat players Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis, and others. There is a new money culture in Miami that is the perfect breeding ground for scams. Columnist Fred Grimm (not this story’s author) sums up this way:

“So many of us come from other states and other countries that we seem to lack that sense of shame that doing wrong would bring to someone living in, say, small-town America, where people have known you and known your family for years. What we have instead is a place where someone who flashes money and drives luxury cars and lives the high life can find instant social acceptance.” –PAL

Source: Taking the Heat”, Robert Andrew Powell, Grantland (08/18/2015)


Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy

There aren’t too many true “Bad Guys” in sports, but I think I found one. “New Jack” was a wrestler in the underground “ECW” (Extreme Championship Wrestling). The ECW was known for being, well, extremely violent. Absurdly so. New Jack was one of the more violent and infamous ECW wrestlers, and he was not a good person. In one match, he once beat an amateur wrestler unconscious – and then continued to beat him with weapons – including a cheese grater, a garbage can, and a crutch, at one point yelling, “I don’t care if the motherfucker dies!” The amateur, Jason Kulas, did not die. And New Jack escaped any consequences. When asked about it twenty years later, New Jack said, “I was high. I didn’t care. It didn’t matter to me. The fucking fans loved it. I thought it was great.” You know the famous scene in Scarface, when a coked up Tony Montana makes a scene in the fancy restaurant and then turns to everyone staring at him and gives his “Bad Guy” speech? New Jack was/is a true Bad Guy. He did truly insane things, but he was also insanely popular, even getting name-dropped by Weezer in El Scorcho (“…Watching Grunge leg drop New Jack through a press table, and then my heart stopped…”). In a truly fascinating profile, Grantland catches up with New Jack and tries figure out what made (and makes) this Bad Guy, who regrets nothing, tick. -TOB

Source: The Most Violent Man in Wrestling Lays Down His Staple Gun”, Tom Breiham, Grantland (08/18/2015)


A Quality Craigslist Find

Matthew Wallock was trying to find a used hockey goal for his young kids. He found one on Craigslist and went to pick it up. When he got there, he realized that the owners were the parents of NHL star Phil Kessel and US Women’s Hockey Player Amanda Kessel. A nice find. But he realized that the goal could not fit in his car. No matter. Mr. and Mrs. Kessel offered to drive the goal 40 minutes to Wallock’s house. And they did. To top it off, they threw in some hockey pucks and autographed photo of Phil for the kids. But that’s not all! Mr. and Mrs. Kessel then told Wallock that before they owned the goal, it was owned by hockey legend Bob Suter, a member of the 1980 Olympic Hockey “Miracle on Ice” team. Like I said, that’s a quality Craigslist find! -TOB

Source: Phil Kessel’s Parents are Top-Notch Craigslist Sellers“, Kevin Draper, Deadspin (08/18/2015)


Jason Day: An Unlikely Golf Story

This is an old story, but in the wake of Day’s first Major victory at the PGA Championship last weekend, it’s worth taking a look at his unlikely path to the PGA. Unlike most PGA golfers, Day grew up in poverty in Australia. His father, an alcoholic*, died when Day was 12. Shortly thereafter, the son was following in his father’s footsteps as a 13 year-old. His mother mortgaged the house and sought out help to get her youngest boy into a sports academy. His coach at the academy remains his coach to this day, caddies for Day, and has long been a father figure to the 27 year-old golfer. There have been other challenges along the way, and I found Day’s honesty in this story refreshing (he admits that for the first few years as a professional he played for the money because he’d never had any, and sometimes he likes to check his bank account online just to see the money in there). As writer Shane Ryan puts it, “For the poor kid from Beaudesert who started with nothing but a sawed-off 3-wood, the hard part of this journey ended a long time ago. The miracle was getting to the threshold; the price of a major is just four rounds of golf.” Now Day has paid that price, too. – PAL

Source: “Just Another Day, Shane Ryan, Grantland (07/17/2014)


“Like a Band of Gypsies We Go Down the Highway…”

Because of political wrangling over upgrades to their stadium, the Biloxi Shuckers (in their first year in Biloxi), the AA affiliate for the Milwaukee Brewers, began their season on a 58-day, 54-game road trip. David Fleming (not of SF Giants announcing fame, of course) followed the team on the trip – which ended up even more eventful than he could have imagined. A great look at a team enduring the ups and downs of minor league baseball, magnified by the longest road trip in American sports history. Long, but highly recommended. -TOB

Source: On the Road Again”, David Fleming, ESPN the Magazine (08/17/2015)


Video of the Week

Hopefully this kid learns a lesson here, or he’s gonna be grow up to be an unbearable jerk. For now, this is hilarious – as he smarmily shakes off his catcher and then gives up a dinger.

PAL’s Song of the Week: D’Angelo – “Sugah Daddy”

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“Let me tell you something about these tattoos, okay. That is Buddhist, that is Nordic, that is Hindu, that’s just gibberish. They are completely conflicting ideologies, and that does not make you a citizen of the world, it makes you full of shit!”

– Sarah Marshall

1-2-3 Sports! Week of July 20, 2015

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There’s more where this came from at http://straightouttacooperstown.tumblr.com


Can You Spare An All-Star: Why Loaning MLB Players Is An Interesting, Stupid Idea

Deadspin fairly well rebutted this article here, but I wanted to write something anyways. This idea, by Grantland’s Bill Barnwell, sounds sensible at first. Sure, why not allow a bad team to simply loan out a star player to a good team for player compensation, instead of outright trading him. But could you imagine how much this would suck for fans of bad teams? Take for example the case of Tim Lincecum. In 2008 and 2009, Lincecum won the Cy Young Award on bad and ok Giants teams that 72 and 88 wins, respectively. But those two seasons by Tim Lincecum, and to a lesser extent 2010, made Timmy a fan favorite and gave hundreds of thousands of fans a reason to come to the ballpark on days he pitched. Every start was “Tim Lincecum Day” – and every Tim Lincecum Day brought the promise of something special in an otherwise forgettable season. Had the Giants loaned out Lincecum to, say, the Phillies for a couple prospects, that would have been so terrible for Giants fans. Deadspin’s Tom Let puts it well in the article I linked above:

The fan experience isn’t the only thing that matters in sports, but it is the central thing, and sportswriting starts to get cockeyed when fan experience is waved off—purposefully or otherwise—as subsidiary to the questions of how to best maximize projected returns on investments and how best to turn assets into still more assets. Those are means; the end is people having a good time watching sports.” – TOB

Source: Trading Places: MLB Needs a Player Loan System”, Bill Barnwell, Grantland (07/14/2015)

PAL: In a word, dumb. I wish I could add more to this, but Let’s quote pretty much sums it up for me. It is, however, an interesting idea to ponder. I’m curious to hear a soccer fan’s take on this. Fernando Estrada – I’m looking at you. Weigh in on this, dude.


Stop Making Sense: The 2015 Minnesota Twins

It would be one thing to post a story about the surprising success of the Twins (who got mopped by the A’s last weekend when Tommy and I went to watch them, but I’m not chapped about it…not at all), but one Louie Opatz wrote this story. Lou is the Sports Editor for the Litchfield Times back in Minnesota. He is also one of my closest buddies from college and a damn good lefty for our Augustana Viking team back the day. How does Opatz describe the Twins 2015 season (51-44)? With a music reference to the Talking Heads documentary, of course. It’s a wonder we get along. Call it cluster luck, or call it clutch, but the Twins have many more wins than the advanced stats suggest they should. As Opatz points out, all that luck is already in the bank. Luck doesn’t run out. Those games are won, and it makes the chances of a playoff run legit, as they currently hold the second Wild Card spot. -PAL

Source: 2015 Twins Have Stopped Making Sense”, Louie Opatz, Banished To The Pen (7/19/15)

TOB: I’m not terribly interested in the Twins, but it is a testament to this article that I read the whole thing, and I was entertained the whole way. My favorite passage: “…Danny Santana, who’s to fielding what a three-year-old is to painting. Ervin Santana is back from his suspension, which he incurred due to an accidental anabolic steroids binge (it can happen to anyone)…” That’s really good. Also, as Phil mentioned – we went to the A’s/Twins game last Sunday and I got my first ever foul ball! And it was off the bat of Twins’ Centerfielder Aaron Hicks, for whom I shall forever have a soft spot.


Korean Basketball League ISO: Tall Men

Unlike most international basketball leagues that use free agency to distribute American players to its teams, the Korean Basketball League holds an American player draft every year. Players then sign one year contracts, and all American players re-enter the draft each season. The draft takes place in Las Vegas, and it is quirky, to say the least. For example, if you don’t attend the draft, you are not eligible to play in the league that year, even if spots open up during the season. Once players arrive in Korea, the coaches are demanding. But the draft, and the KBL, remain quite popular with American players because it pays well – a few hundred thousand a year, and the paychecks always arrive on time. This is a fascinating look into a strange process in a familiar game, featuring a cameo appearance by former Cal Bear/international rap video star/famed NBDL blogger Rod “Boom Tho” Benson. -TOB

Source: “What Happens In Vegas…the Strange World of the Korean Basketball League Draft”, Les Carpenter, The Guardian (07/23/2015)

PAL: “Starting this year each team must take one player 6ft 4in or under.” So you’re saying there’s a chance. In all seriousness, it still is a bit jarring when I remember that the majority of professional sports are not the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, and big-time soccer. I could ask what the draw is to watch less than the best sports teams, but then I think about college sports, high school sports, and – hey – a minor league baseball game is a pretty good time. This story also highlights the financial crapshoot that is a lot of professional teams when it comes to, you know, paying your employees. This is not the case in the KBL, which is why these dudes jump through absurd hoops. Good find, O’Brien!


Have we done too many Pedro stories? I don’t care.

As he awaits entry into the Hall this weekend, here’s a great story of a writer trying to interview Pedro in the Dominican Republic back in 2004 after Martinez was traded to the Mets. It was supposed to be a 24-hour trip. 4 days later, writer Juliet Macur is playing percussion in a band with Moises Alou in tow. – PAL

Source: “Recalling a Few Strikeouts in Pursuit of Pedro Martinez”, Juliet Macur, The New York Times (7/23/15)

TOB: Being a sportswriter does not seem all that fun – and chasing down an interview for four days is one such reason. But if you have to do it, being in the Dominican Republic on someone else’s dime doesn’t seem half bad.


Video of the Week: 

We present to you: Radball.


PAL’s Song of the Week: John Prine, Iris DeMent – “In Spite of Ourselves

Check out all of our weekly picks here (they’re good).


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“I just want my brother to envy my money, but he’s got that hair. Why can’t I have hair and money, and him nothing?”

– George Bluth

 

 

 

Week of July 13, 2015

“How come your dad couldn’t pick you up from practice?”


A Giant Pedigree

1-2-3 favorite Jonah Keri, who inspired me to buy this very cool tie that I am wearing as I write this, wrote about how the Giants managed to put together an all-home grown infield. That infield is presently the best in baseball by WAR: Posey, Belt, Panik, Crawford, and Duffy, three of whom are All-Stars. It’s especially impressive in light of (1) the Giants losing home-grown Pablo Sandoval to free agency in the offseason; and (2) team architect Brian Sabean’s previous reputation as a guy who did not know how to draft and develop position players – a reputation that was pretty well deserved for a long time. When you throw in the fact that the Giants have a possible all home-grown rotation (when everyone is healthy) of Bumgarner, Cain, Lincecum, Vogelsong, and Heston, and you start to see why the Giants have been so successful over the last half decade. -TOB

Source: Grown at Home: How the Giants Built the Best Infield in Baseball”, Jonah Keri, Grantland (07/15/2015)

PAL: Man, did I pick the right time to move to San Francisco or what! All five infielders and five starting pitchers. Damn, that’s cool. This article really underscores what a huge, unexpected surprise Panik and Duffy are this year. Crawford, Belt, Posey – hey – that’s pretty good. But all five? Again, damn.I love this team like the rest of you – and this story only adds to that love, so let me be the fun sponge for a moment. The starting pitching scares the hell out of me. The word “fumes” comes to mind when I think of all they’ve done over the past 5 years. Cain, Timmy, and Vogelsong might well be on career fumes. One more time, guys!


Media: Please Stop Covering Eldrick Woods.

There’s no story here, just a rant: The British Open began yesterday. It’s at St. Andrew’s, a classic links course. I don’t watch much golf, but St. Andrew’s is my favorite when I do. Tiger Woods has won the Open three times, and twice it was at St. Andrew’s. So there seemed to be some interest in how Tiger might fare there this year. After one day, it is official: Tiger is done. DONE. Can we stop covering him? He hasn’t won a major since 2008. 2008!!!! And yet his weekly failures are reported on ESPN’s frontpage as if it is news. Especially in the Majors. He shot a horrible 76 yesterday, tied with old man Tom Watson for 139th of 156 golfers, eleven strokes behind the leader. And Tiger made the ESPN.com frontpage. Sportscenter did a full 5-minutes on him. Enough! He no longer deserves that status. He should be treated like every other golfer: When he is in contention, cover him. When he’s not, don’t. And it’s time to revoke the nickname Tiger. He’s back to Eldrick. “Tiger” is for closers. -TOB

Source: The 2015 British Open Leaderboard

PAL: “Tiger” is for closers. File that under “Favorite Tommy Lines”. I agree with you, but no one outside of the die hards watches golf. A lot of people have at least a passing interest in Eldrick’s story. While there is a certain group of people who relish this extended comeuppance after his salacious downfall, I think the real draw is the fact that a GOAT at the front end of his prime (for his sport) seems to have lost it. As crazy as this sounds, 49% of me thinks this dude still has 2 majors in him. While they weren’t majors, Woods won 5 tournaments as recently as 2013, and few sports allow a competitor to play at or near the highest level for 20 years. That, and I’m still a bit blinded by his dominance now 10 years in the rearview.

TOB: Quick point: You think Tiger is on the front side of his prime? He turns 40 this December, so the PGA Championship next month will be the last major of his 30’s. Even ignoring all his knee trouble, which has been significant, that is old. The average age of a winner of a major is 32. Guess how often players win a major over 40? Since 1986, when Arnold Palmer famously won the Masters at the ripe “old” age of 46 for his first major since the year he turned 40, only 7 players over the age of 40 have won a major. That is about 5%. Eldrick is done.


You Mess With The Bull…

Joe Distler was an ad man in New York living the regular life. Life was routine. Then he picked up The Swords of Spain in a bookstore. Then he went to San Fermin. Then he ran. He’s been running with the bulls ever since, and he’s considered one of the best to do it. I love how his story is a balance of romance (“I feel I am part of the herd”) and instruction (“Rules of The Run”). If nothing else, give this story a chance just to check out the beautiful photographs. At a more fundamental level, this is a story about a regular guy rediscovering a the passion for life that’s all so often inseparable from fear. – PAL

Source: “How To Run On The Horns In Pamplona”, Joe Distler, Tru.ink (2015)


“Dunk of Death”

Although the name doesn’t stick, most of us know Frédéric Weis. He’s the 7-footer Vince Carter jumped over in the 2000 Olympics. It is one of the most popular – and some would say incredible – dunks of all-time. Prior to the Olympics, The Knicks drafted Weis in the first round. Despite the posterization, things were looking up for the big man from France, but everything changed for the worse shortly after the Prior to the “le dunk de la mort” (Dunk of Death). The professional embarrassment at the hands of Carter had nothing to do with it. Here’s a story about the other guy in the sports highlight. – PAL

Source: For Frédéric Weis, Knick’s Infamous Pick, Boos Began a Greater Struggle“, Sam Borden, The New York Times (7/14/15)

TOB: Reminds me a bit of the story on Craig Ehlo we covered a few weeks back. I knew that Weis was the guy that Vince dunked over, but did not know that he was drafted by the Knicks. An interesting tidbit in there is how Weis was treated by Jeff Van Gundy during his one summer with the Knicks: Not well.


Never Change, Marshawn

This one does not require much explanation: Marshawn Lynch was at his youth camp this week and a reporter saw he had chicken wings. Stored in his sock. When the reporter asked why, Marshawn said: “”My auntie fried up some chicken and I had my hands full, and I don’t have no pockets on my shorts, so I just had to use what I had.” So resourceful. As I said: Never change, Marshawn. -TOB

Source: Why Marshawn Lynch Kept Chicken Wings in His Sock”, Jeff Bercovici, Maxim (07/16/2015)

PAL: Man, this would have been great as an “extra” in the Marshawn Lynch biopic (single tear). Hard not to love Lynch, but – come on – this is disgusting.


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GOAL!!!!! Look at him pulling a Steph Curry, celebrating before it even goes in.


PAL Song of the week: Mike Sempert – “Oceans of Rock and Roll” (great song for a solo drive)

Check out all of our weekly picks here (they’re good).


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“There is nothing better than to be shot at and missed.”

– E. Hemingway

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

Week of June 1, 2015

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie bats during the first inning of the “True Blue” benefit celebrity softball game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

No comment.


Steve Kerr: Good Dude

Steve Kerr is a five-time NBA champion as a player, and his Golden State Warriors are presently up 1-0 in the NBA Finals in his first year as an NBA coach. He is quite possibly my favorite person in sports – earnest, honest, unflappable, a great father, and above all else he seems kind, which is a rarity in his world. But there was a time when Steve Kerr was just a scared, lonely, 18-year old kid, just weeks into college, when he received news that his father, a university president in Beirut, had been assassinated by a terrorist organization. Kerr’s family was scattered throughout the world at that point. He could have packed it in and left college. I don’t think too many people would have faulted him. Instead, he marched on. As his college teammate Bruce Fraser says, “It feels strange to say this, but…I think the death of his father helped Steve as a basketball player, because he realized it was just basketball.” I am sure that if given the choice, Kerr would take his dad over his basketball career, but it does give some insight into how he has become such a truly decent person, when so many people in sports are not. Kerr understands – this is a game, it is not life, and he is lucky to have created such a great life by playing a game. -TOB

Source: The Assassination of Steve Kerr’s Father and the Unlikely Story of a Champion”, Chris Korman, USA Today (06/03/2015)

PAL: I wish this focused less on Kerr’s biography following his dad’s death and more about how he struggled and/or dealt with the tragedy. That wish isn’t likely to come true. By all accounts, Kerr doesn’t talk about it much, and his friends follow his lead. I understand. I’ve heard Kerr on a couple podcasts and on his weekly interviews with Tom Tolbert, and this guy comes off like the real deal. Sincere, funny, and – judging by this story – a hard-ass competitor. There’s not a lot of bluster to him, and I like that. I was just talking to TOB, and we agreed – we’d like to be more like Kerr than, say, a Tom Thibodeau if we were coaches (we’re talking about coaching a Little League team to greatness next year). Kerr seems like a good dude who’s succeeded following a horrible tragedy, and though that storyline might seem cliché on the surface, his version of it is unique in sports. With that said, I don’t understand how he remained at school instead of going to Beirut for the services after his dad’s death.


Glory Days: The One Dude Who Struck Out Joe Mauer In High School

I grew up playing against Joe Mauer in Minnesota. Before he was “Baby Jesus” (as he’s sometimes referred to in Minnesota), he was right there with the rest of us in the Catholic School league games, the youth summer camps at Hill-Murray, and the 6:00 PM games at Concordia (no fence). He was “one of us”, or at least it felt like it for about 5 minutes when he was about 10, and then it became clear his talent was from a stratosphere the rest of us could never even see with a telescope. He struck out one time in high school. Once. Here’s a story about the regular dude who did it. – PAL

Source: 15 years later, Paul Feiner’s high school strikeout of Mauer still resonates”, Tyler Mason, Fox Sports North (6/1/15)

TOB: So much to like about this story. How does Joe Mauer strike out only once his entire high school career? How does the guy who strikes him out look like…that? How is it that the guy who struck him out now runs a sports website and has a media credential for Twins games, and Phil and I don’t have squat? Wait, that’s the one part I don’t like.


No Back Talk, Please

This is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time. This week, the New York Times re-ran an article introducing then-Boston Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth to its readers after he dominated the New York Yankees, 100 years after its first publication, on June 3, 1915. The article is short, but I highly recommend that you read it. It reads as almost a parody of old-timey sportswriting. Examples: “As the sky promised to weep and Old Boy Fahrenheit was flirting with the freezing point…a crowd of about 500 were exposed to the pneumonia germs… a teeth-chattering, shivery afternoon was had by all.” And, “…but Umpire Dineen calculated that the run counted. No back talk, please.” And, “Ruth was then at bat. The big pitcher’s architectural make-up is of such a nature that it doesn’t lend itself to speed. He rather rolls along.” It goes on, and you will laugh. -TOB

Source: Left-Hander Ruth Puzzles YankeesNew York Times (06/03/1915)

PAL: Sportswriting is worse today than it was in 1915. To wit: “Between his (Ruth) pitching and batting yesterday the Yankees were as comfortable as a lamplighter in a gunpowder factory.” Call me crazy, but it reads like the writer actually had a good time with this game recap. Reporting? Sure. Entertainment? Absolutely. It’s always best when we don’t have to take sports seriously.


So Fresh, So Clean

I’ve been romanced. I didn’t see it coming. Hell, I don’t even love basketball. Still don’t, but I’m smitten with Steph Curry’s shot. So are you. Recently, Ryen Russillo said that he’s never expected a shot to go in from any other player ever as much as he does when Curry pulls the trigger. I agree. The article dissects the emotions of love into equally impressive analytics that back it up. When a shot’s this pretty, I forgive hyperbole like the following:

“It’s hard to imagine someone so relatively slight having such a huge impact on the game. But that’s what Curry is doing — in the same way a great artist changes the way we see the world, he’s changing the way we see basketball. Suddenly, our ideas of risky shot selection, of off-balance attempts, of what is and isn’t “long distance” have changed. About 20 years ago, in the time of Jordan, sharpshooters like Dell Curry (Steph’s dad) and Steve Kerr (Steph’s coach) were niche contributors, mostly relegated to role-player status…Oh, how things have changed.” -PAL

Source: Outsider Artist: Understanding the Beauty of Steph Curry’s Jumper”, Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland (06/04/2015)

TOB: Steph Curry won the NBA MVP this year. That is pretty amazing. He’s the best “little guy” since Allen Iverson, and that is saying something. Steph can do a lot of things on the court, but for him it comes down to his shooting. He is just so much better at it than everyone else, it is hard get a frame of reference. But this article gives one stat that I think might do it – the average NBA player shoots 24% when his shot is contested and 44% when he is wide open. Steph Curry shoots 44% when his shot is contested! I’ll go a step further than Russillo – it is to the point that I am a little shocked when Curry does miss. That is remarkable. And to top it all off, he’s a great dad.


MORE CURRY!

On the eve of the NBA Finals, the New York Times revisited a really funny rap video featuring college-aged Steph Curry and his fellow students rapping about Davidson College’s dining commons, to the tune of Asher Roth’s “I Love College.” Come for the horrible rapping by Steph and his buds, stay for the the mid-aughts college throwback. -TOB

Source: Stephen Curry Gave Davidson Good Publicity, and a Bad Rap“, Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times (06/03/2015)

PAL: This is terrible. We were all terrible in college, and yet somehow still endearing.


Video of the Week

Fifteen years after his peak, Stone Cold Steve Austin is still culturally significant.


Tweet of the Week

Yes, that is Steph Curry, on a pony, set to Ginuwine. 


PAL’s song of the week: The Band’s cover of Springsteen’s “Atlantic City“. Check out all of our weekly picks here (they’re super good).


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“Dane Cook, pay–per–view, 20 minutes, let’s go!”

– Derek Doback