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”

Check out all of our picks here.


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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

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Week of January 19, 2015

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Happy Birthday to the sometimes-editor of 1-2-3 Sports – my lovely, kind, and very competitive wife. Happy Birthday, Suze! -TOB


I’m In Love with the Polo

Possibly the greatest athlete in his sport’s long history is still dominating, at the age of 39, and I am almost certain that you have never heard of him. Adolfo Cambiasso plays polo. Not water polo. You know, the sport that is sort of like hockey, but on horses. Maybe you’ve seen Prince William play it. Well, you and I may not know Adolfo Cambiasso, but I think that’s ok with him. The guy is a multi-millionaire, and doesn’t even know it. He’s married to an Argentinean model. His kids are adorable. He does things in a polo match that people cannot believe, and he keeps winning, even at his age. Life is good for Adolfo Cambiasso. Friend of 1-2-3 Fernando Estrada submitted this story. We appreciate it, and welcome your suggestions, too. -TOB

Source: Argentina’s Polo Star Adolfo Cambiasso – the Greatest Sportsman You’ve Never Heard of?”, Harriet Alexander, The Daily Telegraph (12/08/14)


Storytime: NHL Dentists

A heartwarming, flowery piece about the athletes with the most messed up teeth, and the dentists who “fix” them. These dentists have seen some gnarly, gnarly stuff, and they share their best stories here. NHL players are very, very tough, and a bunch of oddballs to boot, which is why they are the coolest. Bonus: this article changed my mind about Jaromir Jagr. I always thought of him as a bit of a cake-eater. – PAL

Source: “Blood, Sweat, and Teeth: Wild Nights with an NHL Dentist”, Matt Crossman, Bleacher Report (1/20/15)

TOB: This article was equal parts cool and gross. As an aside, I only recently learned that “cake-eater” was not an inappropriate way to call someone a homosexual, but a very appropriate way to call someone wealthy/spoiled. Good to know!


Max Scherzer Helps Janet Yellen

Here’s an excellent story of how long-term sports contracts shed light on projected inflation rates. The Nationals signed Sherzer to a 14-year/$210 million contract. Because of the length of the contract, this essentially means Scherzer’s agent is in part betting on a low inflation rate increase, while The Nationals are betting on a higher inflation rate increase (it’s a little more complicated than that, but the article explains it really well). There’s an element of self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to inflation rate: “[W]hatever level of inflation that key actors in the economy expect to occur is then more likely to actually occur.” Max Scherzer will be very rich either way, but this accessible article looks at contracts from a fresh perspective. – PAL

Source: “The $210 Million Baseball Contract That Explains How Inflation Works”, Neil Irwin, The New York Times (1/21/15)

TOB: Since this article, and this equally excellent one by FanGraphs, was published, more details on the deal have emerged:

Scherzer gets a record $50 million signing bonus, of which $5 million is due this year and $15 million each in 2019, 2020 and 2021. The money is due in 12 equal semimonthly installments in those years from April through September.

He receives salaries of $10 million this year, $15 million in each of the next three seasons and $35 million in each of the final three years. That $105 million total due over the final three years will be deferred without interest and paid in $15 million installments each July 1 from 2022 through 2028.

I’d like to see the analysis done by NYT and FanGraphs to be re-run given this information. Nonetheless, pretty interesting. Another tidbit from that FanGraphs article is that, although the reported number of Scherzer’s total deal is $55M more than what the Cubs gave Jon Lester, in actual value the difference is only $10M. Yes, the Giants could have been in on Scherzer for just $10M more than they were offering Lester. Ugh.


Help Me, Help You

You may not know the name Leigh Steinberg, but you do know him. Steinberg was the first sports “superagent” and the inspiration for Jerry Maguire. Leigh was enormously successful and was more famous than many of his clients. But then in the early 2000’s, ego and alcoholism combined to lay waste to Steinberg’s empire, and his fortune. Now attempting to get back into the sports agent business, this is a fascinating read – it is not often that a profile is so openly skeptical of its subject, as the writer repeatedly questions whether Steinberg is engaging in the very same behaviors that once ruined him. -TOB

Source: Show Leigh Steinberg the Money (Again)”, James Vlahos, The New York Times (01/15/15)

PAL: Hold the goddamn phone. If Tom Cruise’s character was based off of Leigh Steinberg, then there should be a sequel in the works for Jerry Maguire. Let’s break this down. Cameron Crowe: needs a hit (We Bought a Zoo was a tremendous flop). Tom Cruise: wouldn’t hurt for him to reintroduce himself as a guy that sings to Tom Petty in the car. Bring glasses kid back, have him date Emma Stone – the intern with a shark mentality. Renee Zellweger can debut her new face, too, and Cuba is playing an effing horse farmer on Empire. Since when does Terrence Howard get the lead role over Cuba in a drama about a Hip Hop empire? This works on every level.


Swept Up In A Story: Robert Allenby 

Dear PGA Golfer Robert Allenby,

We’ve all been there, man. I mean, who among us hasn’t missed the cut at a PGA Tour event, drank away our sorrows at a wine bar in Honolulu, and ended up bloodied in a park 6 miles away from said wine bar (or 10 yards away from said wine bar)? We get it, buddy. We know the horror of patting down our pockets hoping our phone and wallet aren’t actually missing and instead in the cargo pocket of our shorts. And – yes – we’ve taken pictures of the scrapes and bruises to show the crew. The conclusion is the same for all of us: we must have been beaten, kidnapped, and in danger of being swept up by a street sweeper…Wait – what the hell? This story obviously isn’t meaningful on its own, but add it to the endlessly entertaining list of athletes hitting the panic button, making up a story to cover up a truth that’s either more embarrassing or incriminating, then backpedaling as facts or other accounts come to the fore. The latest witness claims Allenby was drunk at a strip club, which seems more logical, but not nearly enough to make up a kidnapping story in my opinion. There’s got to be more to this, and I’m eagerly awaiting its arrival. – PAL

Source: “Robert Allenby’s Kidnapping Story Challenged By Another Witness”, Kevin Draper, Deadspin (1/21/15)

TOB: What’s more bizarre? This story, or former Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad story about swimming 21 miles in the Atlantic Ocean to the safety of the shore after falling off his fishing boat? Crazy.


Update: Climbing the Dawn Wall

A couple weeks ago we brought you the story of the attempt by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson to free-climb the Dawn Wall on El Capitan, Yosemite. We are happy to report that they both made it safely. This quick video is incredible to watch (thanks for sharing, Jamie Morganstern).


Video of the Week

Give yourself a pat on the back if you could understand every word on the first viewing.


Bonus Gif of the Week:

This kid rules.

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“I didn’t want to do this, but I’m afraid I’m gonna have to pull rank on you. I’m with the Mattress Police. There are no tags on these mattresses.”

– Fletch

Week of January 12, 2015

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Chucky, wassup?


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Kurt Busch’s Ex Is A WHAT (allegedly)?

Nascar is dumb, but this story is fun. Fun > Dumb. Kurt Busch makes left turns for a living, and allegedly got into a physical altercation with his girlfriend. They’re in court right now, and part of Busch’s defense is that he didn’t do it because Patricia Driscoll could kill him…because she’s an assassin. Here is a thorough back story on Driscoll that makes it at least appear that the Busch’s claim isn’t that out of left field. The accompanying profile video on Driscoll is hilarious, too. – PAL

Source: “Testimony: Kurt Busch Ex Terrible At Keeping Assassin Gig On The Downlow”, Stef Schrader, Jalopnik (1/14/15)

TOB: This is great writing. When I read the headline I thought, “This is going to be the dumbest thing I read all week.” But…as Phil suggests… somehow it makes sense! She’s totally an assassin! I’m all in on this and I can’t wait for the resolution.


Locker Room Butts.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Video of the Week

Click here.

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

2) Pasch “outing” himself as a creationist.

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

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

-Stephon Marbury

 

Week of December 15, 2014

DrD1SSX


Redemption Lost

Tommy Gaines III was a high school basketball star in Georgia in the 1980’s. He never “made it”, or even came close, because he became addicted to crack. In an SAT analogy, redemption stories are to sportswriting as pratfalls are to comedy. The supply is seemingly endless, and it’s a little cheap, but it will always get the intended reaction. I’ve read (or watched) countless stories about former star athletes who lost it all (usually due to drugs), but have fought back as they’ve aged to provide a lesson to those who are now coming up. This is not one of those stories. Tommy Gaines is now in his late-40’s and is still dealing with his addiction to crack, losing the battle, trying to resurrect, and self-destructing again. Heartbreaking. -TOB

Source: The Sad Saga of Tommy Gaines”, Jordan Ritter Conn, Grantland (12/11/14)

PAL Note: I’m blaming my reaction to this story on VH1’s Behind The Music. I’ve become a bit “numb” to stories in which drugs or alcohol incite the downfall of someone with exceptional talent. Tommy’s correct – it’s a heartbreaking story that stands out for its lack of redemption, but it also stands out as heavy-handed prose on Ritter Conn’s part.


All Is Fair In Love & Twitter: Sports Reporting In The Time of “Now”

Do you care about journalistic standards when it comes to sports writing? Honestly – I don’t mean that in a pithy way. I didn’t really think about it before reading this article about NBA scoop monster Adrian Wojnarowski, but the piece is a really interesting reference point from which to consider the role reporting has in an instant news landscape, especially when it pertains to sports (as opposed to politics, world events…you know, real news).  Wojnarowski has become the go-to NBA writer when it comes to breaking news, but his methods and track record are shady at best. Writer Kevin Draper sums it up this way: “[C]ompromising your objectivity to score scoops is not great reporting. Relentlessly attacking a key subject and reporting incorrectly on him is not great journalism. Hating a rival so much it clouds your analysis of events is not great reporting. By Wojnarowski’s own standards, he is failing.” -PAL

Source: “Basketball’s Biggest Reporter Is Waging War on ESPN – And He’ll Do Anything to Win”, Kevin Draper, New Republic (12/16/14)

TOB Note: I follow Wojarnowski on Twitter and he does break a ton of news. But after reading this, I will be following with a sharper eye.


How the NFL Pissed Off a Lot of TV Execs

As you may have seen, someone hacked Sony and released e-mails (and plenty more), which the internet has found quite amusing (note: I wrote this before the controversy arose surrounding the non-release of “The Interview”. Now people don’t find this so funny. I still find it rather amusing). This story, about how the NFL’s deal to air some Thursday Night games this year on CBS really pissed off Sony executives in charge of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, is only tangentially related to sports, but is still quite interesting. -TOB

Source: How CBS and the NFL Teamed Up to Screw Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, Timothy Burke, Deadspin (12/12/14)

PAL Note: I, too, have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the Sony hack emails over the past couple of weeks. While that makes me a bad person, I’m infatuated by what a person’s email style says about them. A lot of high-level execs really don’t care about spelling or grammar, and there’s no “I hope this finds you well” opening crap that I’ve leaned on for 10 years. This one is funny because we’ve all been a part of a similar email chain – partial information from the onset leading to mass confusion coming to a head and someone being offended. And if Jamie Morganstern has taught me anything, you don’t f with someone’s Jeopardy! routine. Love this story.


Show That Watt Who’s Boss

Most kids send their heroes a letter asking for an autograph; this duder took a different approach. The only thing better than the kid sending his autographed jersey to J.J. Watt is the letter that came with it. Boss move, pipsqueak. Boss move. – PAL

Source: “Little Badass Sends Autographed Jersey To J.J. Watt”, Tom Ley, Deadspin (12/16/14)

TOB Note: I think three different people sent this to me. I must be the only person in America who didn’t find it that cool. This 7-year old sounds like a real prick.


Jordan (Still) Rules.

You may have heard that Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list over the weekend. Laker fans the world over rejoiced, as they see it as another feather in Kobe’s cap, and another data point in the only-in-their-heads argument about whether Kobe is better than Jordan. No non-Laker fan who saw them both play thinks this argument is close, and fivethirtyeight.com does a great job of viciously, yet succinctly, laying waste to any claim that Kobe is superior. Long live His Airness. -TOB

Source: Once and For All: Michael Jordan Was Way Better Than Kobe Bryant”, Neil Payne, fivethirtyeight.com (12/12/14)

PAL Note: Here’s my idea/challenge to our readers. Have a friend or family member who’s a Lakers fan read this article, then record the video of his or her reaction/rebuttal. We’ll all get a kick out of it, and for the first 3 people to post the video with a link to 1-2-3 blog I will arrange for a 6-pack of good beer to be in your possession no later than January 15, 2015.


The Gordon Bombay of U.S. Soccer

Chris Wondolowski was a late bloomer. After college, Wondo worked his way up from the lowest rungs of professional soccer all the way to playing for the U.S. this year’s World Cup. It’s a pretty remarkable if it ended there, uneventfully. And then he nearly put the U.S. through to just its third World Cup Quarterfinal ever. In the 92nd minute of the U.S.’ Round of 16 match against Belgium, he found himself free in front of the net, and the ball came to his feet. This is what Wondo had spent his life preparing for – the whole reason he was on the team was because of his knack for finishing goals like this. But then…Wondo missed. A quarter of an inch in the other direction, and he’s a national hero. But he missed. The U.S. went on to lose in extra time, and people were angry. This is a great look at how a down to Earth athlete deals with failure, and the public blowback that results because of that failure. -TOB

Source: After the Miss“, by Jordan Ritter Conn, Grantland (12/17/14)


Video of the Week


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“You’re not wrong, Walter, you’re just an asshole.”

-The Dude

Week of December 8, 2014

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Happy Birthday to my brother, Pat! Here we are living the 1-2-3 dream, way back in 2010 at Golden Gate Fields’ Dollar Day. He’s 31 today, and still rocking those Sanuks (I think).


I Survived a Soccer Riot and I’m Luckier Than I Even Realized

In 2010, I went to Argentina with my brother, Pat, and my friend Rowe. We were determined to go to a soccer game, and at the last minute figured it’d be safer to shell out the extra cash to join a tourist group, with tickets in the tourist section, than to fend for ourselves. Part of me thought it was kinda weak, to not just go it alone. I’d been to lots of intense games before. And as the game went on, the atmosphere was intense but I didn’t feel scared – except when the tour guide took us to the ATM to get cash to pay him – the look on his face let me know that even he didn’t want to be seen with that much cash.

Still, the game ended rather uneventfully. We were walking down this grand staircase to exit the stadium. I remarked, “It wasn’t THAT crazy.” My foot hit the ground floor and suddenly the massive crowd in front of us that had already exited the stadium came rushing back in. A huge piece of asphalt went whizzing by my head. More rocks came flying in as we scampered back up the stairs to relative safety. I saw a cop get hit with a huge rock, blood rushing from his head. Cops in riot gear appeared out of nowhere and fought back the crowd. They closed the large garage-like doors and we waited for a while. I asked the tour guide if this happens every game, and he said usually. I asked if this was a particularly bad riot, and he said no. Oh.

And apparently he was right, as this article illustrates. Eleven people were murdered at Argentinean soccer games in 2010, the year I was there. And really, it’s so much more than that. So the next time you feel like complaining that some opposing fans were rude to you, just be glad you’re not an Argentinean soccer fan – where the teams are controlled by the mob. -TOB

Source: The Beautiful Game”, Patrick Symmes, Outside Magazine (10/09/12)

PAL Note: Fascinating read, definitely worth the time. The connection between money, politics, and soccer down there is shocking. Here are some of my favorite quotes and factoids:

  • “In 2009, Argentina surpassed Brazil as the world’s top producer of soccer talent, farming out 1,700 players to professional leagues abroad.”
  • “Argentina’s fan clubs, meanwhile, have become ‘not quite as violent as the Bloods and the Crips, but similar,’ says Andy Markovits, a University of Michigan political scientist specializing in soccer culture.”
  • “South American teams are private clubs, owned by their members. That leaves fan clubs, with their big voting blocs, able to make or break club officials and thereby control coaches and athletes. The barras routinely skim off players’ salaries.”
  • “A riot. Some rocks. Gas guns. It’s just background noise.”

Marshawn Lynch: ‘Beast Mode’ Isn’t Even The Half Of It

We like our athletes to be one thing, and only one thing at a time. Tiger Woods: GOAT; Tiger Woods: the scandal. Manny Ramirez: ‘Manny being Manny’; Manny Ramirez: distraction. LeBron James: Judas; LeBron James: Prodigal Son. Aren’t these examples both of their labels? Seeing as Tommy is the biggest Cal fan/apologist I’ve met, I thought it would be interesting to present my take on a Marshawn Lynch story. I like that the story is about the multiplicity of him, both as a player and as a person. He’s described as the greatest teammate by several players, and yet he’s held out for more money. He’s both charitable with his time and has had run-ins with the law. I hope that, while reading this, you’re thinking, “none of these aspects are mutually exclusive,” because that’s the entire point of the article, and I like that variance is the focal point of an athlete profile. – PAL

Source: “A Marshawn Kind of Way”, Robert Klemko, MMQB (12/9/14)

TOB Note: His college coach, Jeff Tedford, loved him like a son. His coach with the Bills, Dick Jauron, loves him. Pete Carroll loves him. I thoroughly enjoyed this article, and I hope that the Seahawks do release him, so that I can go back to expressing my unabashed love for Marshawn in public. I want his Cal-colored Beast Mode shirt so bad, but not until he leaves Seattle. Also, I loved this quote from his Seahawks teammate K.J. Wright: “He does things outside of the media that no one ever sees, and most guys do it to get on TV. But he does it from the heart. It’s real.” Ahem.


NERD ALERT, NERD ALERT: A Sport Technology Story (but, you know, a cool one)

Of course Wired brings us this story. I like the “Kiss Cam” at a ballgame, I like seeing players’ stats on the scoreboard, and the yellow first down line on TV helps out, too. Other than that, I tend to think I don’t need much razzle-dazzle connected to sporting events. Well, I just might be a liar, because these optical illusions playing out during the pregame at NBA courts and NHL rinks are pretty damn cool. Here’s a short article about how they do it and why teams are shelling out seven figures for the technology. At the very least, it’s worth clicking through to see some of these pre-game routines for the New Jersey Devils & Calgary Flames (I know the Cleveland Cavaliers have a pretty cool one, too). – PAL

Source: The Visual Trickery That Turns Hockey Rinks Into Lakes of Fire”, Tim Moynihan, Wired (12/11/14)

TOB Note: I first saw this a couple years back, I think a video from a Cavs game. So cool. Watch the videos in the story – the table hockey video in the Flames video is fantastic.


Darren Rovell Sucks, So This is Great

God, this is great. ESPN “sports business” analyst Darren Rovell is a huge tool. It’s really the perfect word to describe him. Some guy took Rovell tweets, word for word, and used them as pick-up lines on Tinder, to varying degrees of success. Hilarious. -TOB

Source: Hitting on Tinder Girls Using Only Word-For-Word Rovell Tweets”, WorldWideWob (12/07/14)

PAL Note: This guy is a comedic visionary. I have nothing more to say.


Hockey Player Has No Idea Who Nelson Mandela Was, Keeps Talking

This is kinda mean to laugh at, but I’m sorry, I can’t help it. A Toronto Maple Leaf player attended an event on the one year anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela. Unfortunately for him, he was asked about Mandela. I say unfortunate because he had NO IDEA who Mandela is. This, however, does not stop him. Here’s a taste:

“Well obviously growing up, he’s one of the most known athletes in the world. A lot of impact in any kind of sport that he did, and even playing hockey, everyone knows him, right? From being the type of person that he was off the ice and on the ice. It’s unfortunate that he passed a year ago, but, he changed a lot while he was with us, and he’s a tremendous guy.”

So good. -TOB

Source: Jonathan Bernier Humiliatingly Has No Idea Who Nelson Mandela Is“, Kevin Draper, Deadspin (12/09/14)


Dude, Where’s My…

This article is short, but hilarious. A reader sent Deadspin a newspaper clipping from 1941. It’s hilarious:

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“Broooooo!” “Duuuuuuude!” -TOB

Source: Fans Were Just as Drunk and Stupid in 1941 As They Are Today”, by Tom Ley, Deadspin (12/08/14)

PAL Note: What a fantastic mistake that is all but impossible today. I’m positive these dudes had the time of their lives, and the story only highlights how little the actual game means to the fan experience.


Video of the Week


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“My density has popped me to you.”

-George McFly