Week of March 22, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.26.30 AM

Christian Laettner thinks this NCAA Tournament is heating up.

The Media is Public Enemy No. 1 in the Thunder Locker Room. Why?

The Oklahoma City Thunder are stacked with talent. They have two of the top five players in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But something is amiss in Oklahoma City. There is a growing divide between the Thunder players and the local media that covers the team. Things have gotten overtly hostile at times. Grantland’s Bryan Curtis dives deep – attempting to figure out what is going on and why. -TOB

Source: “Distant Thunder: What Did Oklahoma City’s Media Do to Piss Off Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant?”, Bryan Curtis, Grantland (3/20/15)

PAL: Fascinating read. What role do beat reporters play in today’s sports world? Athletes can communicate directly with fans or followers and have exponentially more reach than that of local newspapers. Regional cable sports affiliates (think CSN Bay Area) – business partners with the teams – have sideline reporters and bloggers (hardly objective), and the the team’s PR folks hover like chaperones at a Middle School dance during the post-game “scrum”. We all get shortchanged as a result. As Thunder beat reporter Berry Tramel puts it with regards to Westbrook, “I’m just going to be writing about how great he is. I’m never going to be writing about who he is.”


Steve Nash’s Legacy

The NCAA basketball tournament and the NFL free agency madness might have muted the retirement of an all-timer. Steve Nash, back-to-back MVP and the prototype of the modern point guard (Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook all have a pinch of Nash in their games) finally called it quits. Writer Lee Jenkins nails this summary of what Nash meant to his country (he’s a Canadian kid) and to the way the point guard position is played. Here’s a guy who received one D-1 scholarship offer from Santa Clara, and who was third string in Phoenix behind – get this – Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd. He’s given back to his community (his charity has granted nearly $5 million for child welfare) and has mentored the Lakers young draft picks while battling back and leg issues over the past couple years. What’s more, he’s established credibility to Canadian basketball. In fact, he’s the General Manager for the national team up there. Remember, the last two number 1 draft picks are from our neighbors to the north. All in all, he was a great shooter who also seems like a straight shooter. He was a pleasure to watch. – PAL

Source: “The Overflowing Legacy Of Steve Nash”, Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated (3/21/15)

TOB: I’ve been a Steve Nash fan since his college days in the mid-90’s, when he helped lead my parents’ law school alma mater (later mine, as well) to some classic tourney upsets. He is impossible to dislike – he made watching basketball more fun. He seems intelligent. He has a good head on his shoulders. This retirement announcement was a formality, as Nash has effectively been retired for a couple years now. But it’s a good opportunity to thank him for years of entertainment. And for a lot of NBA players, perhaps a time to thank him for their huge paychecks (I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas and Channing Frye). Nash, more than any player in my lifetime, made everyone around him better. That’s about the best thing you can say about an athlete, especially a point guard.


Old Man Does Not Trust Lady in iPhone

Thanks to 1-2-3 Sports! reader Michael Kapp for sending in this short but amusing story about New York Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin and his negative experience receiving driving directions from Siri. Choice quote:

“I don’t trust the lady in GPS, I don’t trust her, because they don’t send you the right way. I hit the button and I go ‘Park Ridge, New Jersey.’ And she comes back on, she’s giving me directions. So now I figure out where I am. I hit the thing and I said, ‘Thank you very much, I know exactly where I am now.’ And she comes back and says, ‘You don’t have to thank me.’ I swear to God that’s what she said. And then I couldn’t get her to shut up. Every turn. ‘Take a right here.’ I know where I am. I know where I am. I’m a block away from my house and she’s telling me where to go. I said, ‘I know where I’m going.’

He is definitely a grandpa (no offense, dad). -TOB

Source: Tom Coughlin Battles Siri”, Tom Rock, Newsday (03/25/2015)

PAL: Wait, this isn’t a story about my dad? There’s nothing more dangerous than a grandpa behind the wheel of a car with a smartphone in his hand. Nothing.


A Lesson In Class

We wrote and posted about Dean Smith following his death in February, but this little nugget was too good to pass up. A quick story worth your time about Smith’s final gift to every letterwinner at UNC (he coached for 36 years). I didn’t know much about Smith while he was alive, but now I understand what the fuss was about. He was a legitimate educator and community leader to the point where, if he hadn’t excelled at coaching college basketball (879 wins, two national championships, 11 Final Fours, 13 ACC Tournament championships, Olympic Gold Medal coach), his life would’ve still been extraordinary. – PAL

Source: “Dean Smith Used His Will To Buy Every One Of His Lettermen A Nice Dinner”, Samer Kalaf, Deadspin (3/26/15)


A World Series Game 7 “What If?”

Game 7 of the 2014 World Series was a classic, but it almost had one of the most bizarre and exciting endings in World Series history. With two outs in the 9th, the Royals’ Alex Gordon hit a line drive that skipped under Giants’ centerfielder Gregor Blanco’s glove, and rolled all the way to the wall. Gordon made it to third, but many wondered what would have happened if he had scored. Everyone involved (especially Royals manager Ned Yost, who says that Gordon would have been out by 40 feet) agrees that it would have been a huge mistake to send Gordon. But Tim Kurkjian still put together a great article – interviewing all the people involved in the play and using math to determine definitively what would have happened had the Royals sent Gordon. -TOB

Source: The Penultimate Play”, Tim Kurkjian, ESPN (03/25/2015)

PAL: Like Tommy, I dig the oral history approach to analyzing this play. As dominant as Bumgarner was, it is more likely that Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey would’ve executed a throw and catch from 120 feet apart than it was for something to go badly (for the Giants) during the next at bat. With Gordon on third, any hit, passed ball, or error ties the game. As odd as it sounds, Kansas City had more positive options facing Bumgarner than it did taking a chance with sending Gordon.


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

 

 

Advertisements

Week of May 18, 2014

The Western Conference Finals.

 


What Exactly Does a Pitching Coach Do? More Than You Might Think.

I’m a huge baseball fan. But sometimes I wonder, what exactly does a good pitching coach do? What does it mean to be a good pitching coach? Why do some seem to have such good reputations in the media? Doesn’t the staff’s success have more to do with talent, and the organizations ability to discover it? 123 favorite Jonah Keri explores why the Cardinals staff has been so good for so long, no matter the names: the foundation laid by former pitching coach Dave Duncan is the reason why. -TOB

Story Link: “The Duncan Way”, Jonah Keri, Grantland (05/21/14)


“I’ve been waiting 20 years for someone to knock him on his ass.”

Refs might not decide the outcome of a game, but they sure as hell influence it. Part 5/5 of a series examining NBA officiating and its lack of public accountability includes the story of Tim Donaghy–the ref busted for betting on games back in 2007–knocking out Joey Crawford (the bald ref that everyone hates, especially the Spurs). -PAL

Story Link: “Punching out Joey Crawford, and the issues on NBA officiating”, John Canzano, The Oregonian (05/16/14)


When’s the right time to call up a stud baseball prospect? Follow the money.

I’ll admit it; I’ve never completely understood the facts of team control over their baseball draft picks. This article lays it out nicely and explains the possible routes a team can take to promote (or delay) a stud minor leaguer to the bigs. Are teams putting playoff births at risk in the interest of staving off arbitration for one more year? How many divisions or wildcards have been won by a game? -PAL

Story Link: “The Polanco Problem…” Ben Lindburgh, Grantland (05/19/14)


Ever Wish You Had Grown Up Playing Sports With a Future Star? This Guy Actually Did.

Growing up, everyone probably had one or two people they played sports with, or against, that you were sure would be a future star. Usually, it never happens. This is a fun story about how a guy, about to graduate from Georgetown Law School played on a team with Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley. Yes, Beasley was always kind of weird. -TOB

Story Link: “The Lawyer Who Blocked Kevin Durant”, Dave McKenna, Grantland (05/16/14)


Sleeping With the Enemy

When my team is knocked out, I rarely root for a division/conference rival to do well. Did I want Stanford to win the Rose Bowl after my Cal Bears went 1-11 last year? Hell no. Did I cheer when they lost that game to Michigan State? Hell yes. Screw them. But that’s not the case for many Canadian hockey fans, a country that hasn’t seen the Stanley Cup return home to Canada in 21 years. They wrap themselves in the flag and root for their otherwise bitter enemies. -TOB

Story Link:  “Canada First: Why I Root for Teams I Hate”, Eva Holland, Grantland (05/22/14)


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

“And just remember, fans, in the airport of life, sports is just the baggage.”

-A.C. Slater