Week of December 6, 2015


It’s Time to Talk About the Warriors

I have been hesitant to write about the Warriors until, you know, they actually lose a game. But it’s time. What the Warriors are doing right now, 23-0 at the time of publication, is likely the most incredible thing I’ve seen in my life as a sports fan. Most of those 23 games haven’t even been particularly close. There are not enough superlatives for this. The Dubs have the whole league feeling like Kemba Walker does here:

 Unfortunately, in the closing seconds of a win over the Pacers on Tuesday, Klay Thompson sprained his ankle. I hope it isn’t too bad, because they will need him in order to do something historical. How historical? Before their 23rd win on Tuesday, FiveThirtyEight’s projection system has them with a 44% chance of setting the all-time NBA record with 73 wins a season, surpassing the 72 wins recorded by the 1995-96 Bulls (and a 25% chance of winning an insane 75 games). In this brief article, Kyle Wagner breaks down the various projection systems’ predictions for the Warriors’ final record.

Source: It’s Time to Take the Warriors’ Chances of Going 73-9 Seriously”, Kyle Wagner, FiveThirtyEight.com (12/08/2015)

PAL: The Warriors are absurd, and oh-so-fun to watch. Solid article, but I liked the other FiveThirtyEight article, which focused on trying to contextualize Steph Curry’s shooting. How about this nugget: “Curry shoots threes about as well with a defender 2 to 4 feet away (classified as “tight” by NBA.com) as an average NBA shooter does with the nearest defender 12 feet away.”


Scott Weiland’s Letter to Charlie Weis. Wait, What?

Back in 2005, in the first year of his original deal and after very little success, Notre Dame handed head football coach Charlie Weis a massive, 10-year contract extension. They quickly lived to regret that, and ended up having to pay him a buyout of $19 million. Notre Dame made their final annual payment on that contract this month. In other news, Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland died last week at the age of 48. Weiland had struggled for years with drugs and alcohol. These two stories are seemingly unrelated. So why do I bring them up together? As it turns out, Weiland was a huge Notre Dame football fan. He grew up in the midwest and his father went to Notre Dame. Weiland was such a big Notre Dame fan that in 2007 when Weis was rumored to be considering taking the New York Giants head coaching job, Weiland wrote Weis a fervent open letter, literally begging Weis not to leave Notre Dame. A sampling:

But LEAVING NOTRE DAME, your Alma Mater, without having achieved really anything of monolithic proportions like you’ve promised us is absurd and unfair. So at this point, I will get on my knees and beg. Don’t do it Coach. Don’t do it! Stay and do what you promised; your team, your school, the fans, the legacy deserves to be taken to the Promised Land.

The whole letter is pretty amusing, as Weiland writes like a 12-year old throughout. What a weird story. -TOB

Source: Dead STP Frontman Scott Weiland’s Impassioned Letter Begging Charlie Weis to Stay at Notre Dame”, Troy Machir, Sporting News (12/04/2015)

PAL: I never would’ve guessed this. It’s strange to read the words of a rock star that come off like such a dorky Notre Dame guy – impassioned and hyperbolic with the blinders firmly affixed. Also, Jimmy Clausen was a thing.


Vicarious Abuse

In Minnesota, the “Hockey dad” is a thing, as I’m certain it’s “Football dad,” in Texas, “Tennis dad” in some faux “academy” in Florida and so forth, especially in places where a sport and location are nearly one and the same. Watching a parent lose control at youth sports game is surreal and disturbing. The lack of awareness needed in order to, say, threaten violence on an umpire, referee, or – worst of all – your kid  in a public setting at a meaningless sporting event is unsettling.

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O’Sullivan’s dad was beating him by the time this picture was taken.

Patrick O’Sullivan’s story of enduring years of physical abuse is horrible, yet familiar. We’ve heard this story before. However, his perspective on it is refreshing and needed, especially  in an era when younger and younger kids are specializing in a sports at the insistence of coaches and parents. O’Sullivan’s take on the single-mindedness of it hits home, especially for a dude that grew up in a hockey-crazed community:

“Once you get to the pro level and you witness how fast the game moves, you finally realize that no amount of running or weight lifting or private lessons is going to change one simple question: Do you understand hockey? Do you really understand the game? Do you know where that puck is going next?”

O’Sullivan’s dad is a pathetic failure. – PAL

Source: Black & Blue”, Patrick O’Sullivan”, The Players’ Tribune (12/09/2015), ℅ 1-2-3 reader Pat O’Brien

TOB: This was a really disturbing, but also necessary, read. It helps that O’Sullivan is a little removed from the game – he is 30 years old, but has been retired since 2012. This perspective allows O’Sullivan to note two important truths about his horrible story: (1) the worst part of it all is that O’Sullivan’s NHL success undoubtedly makes his awful father believe he did the right thing; that O’Sullivan owes his success to his dad beating the hell out of him, day after day, for over a decade; and (2) that there were people, grown adults, who saw O’Sullivan’s father abusing him after games and did absolutely nothing. O’Sullivan’s story could have been a woe is me memoir – but instead he makes an important point: parents abuse their children, and it is not acceptable. But the least acceptable thing is for other adults to witness the abuse, look the other way, and do nothing. As O’Sullivan closes his story:

“I’m writing it for the people in the parking lot. Yes, if you say something, you may ruin the relationship you have with that person. You may get embarrassed in front of the other hockey parents. You may have to go through the awkwardness of filing a police report.

I can understand why a lot of people worry, “But what if I’m wrong?”

If you are wrong, that’s the absolute best case scenario. The alternative is that child is a prisoner in his own home. What you’re seeing in the parking lot or outside the locker room — whether it’s a kid getting grabbed and screamed at, or shoved up against a car — could just be the tip of the iceberg.

It’s so ironic, because the hockey community loves to talk about toughness and courage. In that world, courage is supposed to mean standing in front of a slap shot without flinching, or taking your lumps in a fight.

But that’s easy. That’s not real courage. Anybody can do that. I guarantee you there’s hundreds of kids across North America who will get dressed for hockey this weekend with their stomach turning, thinking the same thing I did as a kid: “I better play really good there, or tonight is going to be really bad.” It just takes one person to act on their instinct and stand up for that child. That’s real courage. The kind we don’t always glorify in the hockey world.”


Video of the Week:

Wait for it…

Baseball players are so lovably dumb.


Tweet of the Week

-Former teammate of Marshawn’s at Cal, who went on to play quite a few years in the NFL.


PAL Song of the Week: A Tribe Called Quest – “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo

Check out the playlist here. Consider it your holiday bonus.


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Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?

– Clark Griswold

 

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Week of October 6, 2014

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We’ve all been there.


The Flood Gates of Free Agency

Even if you are a huge sports fan, you may not have not heard of Curt Flood. But more than perhaps any athlete since Jackie Robinson, Curt Flood changed the landscape of American sports. Two words: free agency. Flood sat out the 1970 season to sue MLB over the ‘Reserve Clause’. In plain speak – after a player’s contract with a team expired, team owners could unilaterally renew those contracts for one year at a time, in perpetuity. While he lost the case (and would go on to only play 10 more games in his career), MLB players were granted free agency by 1975. In the coming years, the other major sports would follow suit. Now, when a player becomes a free agent and is able to sell his services to the highest bidder, he should thank Curt Flood. There’s also an accompanying video that must be watched. -TOB

Source: “The Athlete Who Made Lebron James Possible”, Clyde Haberman, New York Times (10/05/14)

PAL: What a great piece of multimedia (the accompanying doc short is on par with a 30 for 30 piece). I knew of Curt Flood’s importance, but only in the way you know the answer to a trivia question. There’s much more to the story than the advent of free agency and the flawed man who demanded it. One detail stands out in particular: “After his death in 1997 — in January, during the off-season — no active players could bring themselves to go to his funeral, though they were all beneficiaries of his legacy.”


The Inexact Science of Breaking World Records

“At the very edges of human capacity, fewer and fewer things can turn out less than perfect and keep a record attempt intact.” While this story focuses on how far we are from witnessing a 2:00:00 marathon, its draw comes from the axis of science, physiology, and environment. Clearly, the main ingredient is an athlete that is what Malcom Gladwell termed an “outlier” (see: Usain Bolt). However, there are so many other seemingly minute factors that come into play when the difference between a 2:02:57 marathon (current record) and a 2:00:00 marathon is 6 seconds per mile. Physiological makeup, the route, the pace, the natural instinct to beat the field rather than the clock – hell – even the prize money comes into account (as a disincentive, if you can believe that). Once you’ve considered all of this, ask a friend who’s run a marathon what kind of difference 6 seconds per mile feels like, and they’ll tell you it’s a huge chunk of time. Whether or not you’re a runner, this is a great read. -PAL

Source: “How Close Are We To A Two-Hour Marathon”, Kyle Wagner, Regressing (10/3/14)


Goodell Hoisted By His Own Petard

Deadspin’s Drew Magary with an excellent explanation of how the NFL, under Roger Goodell, unwisely tried to become a shining beacon for American society and how the decision to portray the league as such has blown up in Goodell’s face. -TOB

Source: “The NFL Is Having Its Steroid Moment”, Drew Magary, Deadspin (10/02/14)

PAL:  The parallels between the NFL’s handling of domestic abuse and MLB’s handling of steroids are right on. “Football cannot be anything more than what it is, which is cheap and disposable entertainment for the masses. The second you try to seize the moral high ground, you have lost it. Baseball still hasn’t quite figured that out, and it doesn’t look like the NFL will either.”


What The Hell Is Going On With Adrian Peterson?

By now you’ve heard Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been charged with felony child abuse. As of Thursday, it’s being reported that paperwork has been filed for his bail to be revoked after Peterson told a drug tester he has “smoked a little weed,” which is a violation of the terms of his bail. There are also reports citing problematic financial discrepancies surrounding his charity. Currently, a man in Sioux Falls, SD is charged and pending trial for second degree murder (amongst other charges) in the death of Peterson’s 2 year-old song. I’m in no place to say Peterson is guilty or innocent of anything; I’m just looking at the bullet-points here, and I’m reminded again and again that we have idea for whom we cheer. Seinfeld was right; we’re cheering for laundry. Here’s a breakdown of Adrian Peterson’s timeline of issues, dating back to his college days at Oklahoma. – PAL

Source: “Behind Peterson’s perfect image lay an imperfect human being”, by Mike Kaszuba, Rochelle Olson, and Paul McEnroe; Star Tribune (10/7/2014)

TOB: This story just keeps getting weirder. But, as a silver lining, the guy who had Peterson in my fantasy league released him in protest of his actions,. I scooped him up and will stash him on my bench. It’s a keeper league, so I was pretty pumped. I’m awful.


Video of the Week:

Quote of the Week:

“I think we can agree that all wine tastes the same and if you spend any more than 5 dollars on wine, you are very stupid.”

– April Ludgate