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

 

 

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Week of June 16, 2014

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RIP Tony Gwynn

Two stories for the one of the greatest hitters of all-time, a genuinely good man, one who died too young. As you probably heard, Tony Gwynn died this week, after a long and difficult battle with cancer. On Father’s Day, the day before his death, the first story was published. It’s about Tony and his son, Tony Jr. Read it, then call your father. The second story, a tribute from a former Padre bat boy, who Tony made feel special when many other ballplayers did not. It provides insight into a ballplayer that most of us do not ever receive. And, for once, that insight makes you appreciate the player more than you did from before. Rest in peace, Tony. -TOB

Source: “The Gwynn Men: A Son’s Love, A Father’s Fight”, by Jim Salisbury, Comcast Sportsnet (06/15/14); “I Was Tony Gwynn’s Bat Boy”, by David Johnson, Deadspin (06/17/14)


Soccer for Dummies

Are you enjoying the World Cup, but want to know more about the strategy involved? This is a good start. -TOB

Source: “How to Watch the World Cup Like a True Soccer Nerd”, by Mike L. Goodman, Grantland (06/06/14)


Meet the Rocky of distance running

We’re getting into marathon season. For most of us, that means suffering through bar conversations about your friend’s mileage this week (full disclosure: I’m guilty of this stupidity). But Steve Jones — even his name is unremarkable — has a pretty great story of how he came out of nowhere to be one of the best marathoners in the world, all while never wearing a watch. -PAL

Source: “I Never Wore A Watch”: Running Lessons From A Record-Breaking Everyman, by Sarah Barker, Fittish (5/21/14)


The Melkman Continues to Deliver

In 2012, Melky Cabrera came out of nowhere to win the All-Star Game MVP, lead the league in batting, and help spur a Giants run to the postseason, which eventually ended in their second World Series title in three years. As he did so, Melky became a fan favorite in SF. But in early August, he was suspended for testing positive for PEDs (and even more shameful, for a bizarre attempt to cover it up). Two years later, now in Toronto, Melky is quietly among the league leaders in hitting (and may even start in the All Star game), as he attempts to move on from his mistakes. -TOB

Story Link: “Melky Cabrera on His Own Little Island”, Jerry Crasnick, ESPN (05/13/14)


Like a fart in church, athletes trying to be musicians is always funny.

An updated list of the worst musical forays. I’ve never liked Tim McCarver, but his contribution to this list almost salvages our relationship. I’m left with a lot of questions. Why does the WSJ have the exclusive on this? More importantly, who’s the best “slash” in the world of athlete/musician?

Story Link: “Listen to the New Rap Song by World Cup Player Clint Dempsey”, Andrew Beaton & Hannah Karp, The WSJ Blog (6/18/14)


 

Video of the week: Scorpion kick! 

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“Never in my wildest imagination did I ever dream I would have sons like these.”  – Herman Blume