Week of September 7, 2015

“Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor.”


Story Update: Tom Brady, Still a Bimbo

Around the Super Bowl last year we brought you a story about Tom Brady and we wondered aloud: Is Tom Brady a bimbo? We answered our own question with a resounding “yes”. This week, fuel was added to our Tom Brady as bimbo fire, as Brady’s locker was spotted with a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hat. After the photo went viral, people wondered if Brady’s owned the hat seriously. The answer: Another resounding “yes”. In response to the question, Brady said this week that Trump is Brady’s “good friend” and that Trump “has done amazing things.” Once again, 1-2-3 Sports can confirm: Tom Brady is a bimbo. -TOB

Source: Tweet from Michael McCann, @McCannSportsLaw (09/08/2015)

PAL: Trump is the DNC’s secret weapon. Is Billy Clinton still the maestro?


Home Court

No surprise that the NY Times is at the cutting edge of multimedia stories. Here’s yet another example of a clear concept executed to perfection. This story is a series of short, narrated vignettes about the home courts of tennis greats set to the moving images of a typical day. Here is the neighborhood court where Andy Murray, Serena & Venus, Federer, Sharapova, and more first honed their craft. This feature is remarkable in its simplicity, and I love it. – PAL

Source: The Top Tennis Players In The World Started Here”, Catrin Einhorn, Joe Ward and Josh Williams, The New York Times (09/03/2015)

TOB: Really cool. One thing I like about tennis, as opposed to golf, is that while it seems like an upper-crust sport, it does not take a lot of money to play tennis, and so many of the great tennis stars have come from very modest backgrounds. That fact is well illustrated here by NYT.


Finding a Diamond in the Rough

For NFL teams, finding a good quarterback has always been difficult. The speed of the NFL game is so much faster than the college game that many great college quarterbacks have flamed out in the NFL. NFL coaches, though, fear it is getting worse. With the proliferation of spread and hurry-up offenses throughout college football, quarterbacks are not being prepared to face NFL defenses. The idea behind the hurry-up offense is not to fool defenses, but to run simple plays, over and over so that the offense perfectly executes the plays, and to do them quickly, to prevent defenses from having the opportunity to adjust or substitute players. College coaches using these offenses do not concern themselves with preparing their quarterbacks for the NFL – they do not see themselves as a minor league for the NFL. They want to win. Baylor is a perfect example – Bryce Petty entered the NFL this year after two great, record-breaking seasons at Baylor. But when quizzed by NFL coaches prior to the draft, he couldn’t identify even the most basic football concepts that any NFL quarterback should understand. And that’s because no one ever taught him. Understandably, NFL teams are terrified of what this could mean for the future of finding elite quarterbacks and they do not have a plan. I do think college coaches should be wary, though: If high school quarterbacks start to realize that these offenses are not preparing them for the NFL, the recruiting wells could begin to dry up for those schools. -TOB

Source: Why the NFL Has a Quarterback Crisis”, Kevin Clark, Wall Street Journal (09/09/2015)

PAL Note: So you’re telling me that the NFL has to coach its players? On a macro-level, it’s an interesting notion that the premier league (NFL) has to adapt to trends surfacing in what is essentially its farm system (college football).

TOB: But I get it. If you’re going to risk your job and pay millions to a player at the most important position in your sport, you’d hope that they understand the difference between a Cover-2 and a Cover-3, something someone who has played even a little bit of Madden understands, but somehow one of the best college quarterbacks in the country could not do.

PAL: Is Madden a new Settlers of Catan spin-off?


Jarryd Hayne: One of a Kind (?)

Perhaps the one bright spot in what has become an atrocious offseason of historical proportions for the 49ers is Jarryd Hayne. By some, he’s considered the Michael Jordan of the National Rugby League (Australia & New Zealand). Like Jordan, Hayne left his sport in his prime to pursue another sport – the NFL. It’s still unknown whether or not Hayne will make the gameday roster, but he’s shown enough in the preseason to at least start on the practice squad. This story breaks down how Hayne’s rugby talents are unique in their application to football, which are not likely to be followed by other rugby stars. Cool story, and I’m rooting for him. – PAL

Source: “Why Jarryd Hayne will make it in the NFL — and other rugby league players won’t”, James Dator, SB Nation (09/09/2015)

TOB: Very astute question mark in the title there by my main man, Phil. I don’t get why Dator wrote this. He is strongly discouraging other rugby players from even attempting what Hayne is trying to do. But why? Maybe he’s right. Maybe Hayne is unique in the rugby world in his ability to make an NFL roster. So what? If a rugby player attempts and fails to make the NFL, can he not go back? Dator writes as though the player cannot, which is silly. It’s also silly to suggest that there are literally no rugby players from Australia (or elsewhere) that have the skillset/talent to make the NFL. Hayne is half Fijian, a Polynesian country. There have been Polynesian players in the NFL for decades – great ones, too. Players like Troy Polamalu, Haloti Ngata, Mike Iupati, Jesse Sapolu, Mark Tuinei, and of course Junior Seau. Polynesian players in Australia and elsewhere excel in rugby, and there is no reason those same athletes can’t follow in the footsteps of guys like Seau and Polamalu and have an impact in the NFL.


Video of the Week

Our first 1-2-3 Sports Poll. Which wiffle ball catch is more impressive:


PAL’s Song of the Week: The Band – “Don’t Do It

Check out all of our picks on this dynamite playlist here. John Muir said, “It’s the best playlist I’ve ever heard.”


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“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”

– Rob Gordon

 

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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 5, 2015

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How about our team?


More Than A Game: USA Women’s World Cup Victory

I was back home in Minnesota over the Fourth of July. Coming from large family (5 siblings, 17 nieces and nephew at last count), trips home are delightfully filled to the brim with dinners, youth games, late night beers, errands, and – on this occasion – work. It’s rare for me to find myself in the house alone, but that was the case during the USA’s semifinal match against Germany. I’d yet to watch this USA team play, but the collective talent on the field was clear in an instant. I was into it, man! Without knowing Germany was actually the favorite, I just assumed the USA team would prevail, which they did thanks in large part to two penalty kicks (a miss by Germany and a gift call that led to a USA goal). I expected a US Soccer team to win a Wold Cup match. Have we ever assumed the US men’s team would win a World Cup match?

Many celebratory articles and posts have been made about the USA victory, but Maggie Mertens puts the triumph into a global, social context. Take, for instance this stat:  “A recent analysis by Public Radio International showed that the greatest predictor of a nation’s women’s soccer team’s success was gender equality—more than even the country’s GDP or overall interest in soccer.” The US women certainly made us proud of their victory, but the fact the team’s dominance is a long-earned result of a much larger movement is reason for even more celebration. -PAL

Source: A Different Kind Of Party At The Women’s World Cup, Maggie Mertens, Screamer (7/9/15)


Who Let The Dogs Out: A Retrospective on the biggest stadium anthem of all-time

The first “Sports Anthem” I can recall brings me back to a better time. A time when the NHL team in Minnesota was called the North Stars, the jersey was a classic, and they were a team of destiny before running into a young Mario Lemieux and an even younger Jaromir Jagr in the Stanley Cup Finals. The year was 1991. A good year in Minnesota sports to say the least. The song name might not mean a thing – “Rock And Roll Part 2” – but it’s that “Hey Song”. The next song that comes to mind is the terrible, no good, awful “Who Let The Dogs Out”. While the song is brutal, the marketing behind it was trailblazing.

Mercury record executive Steve Greenberg pins down the genius: “Most songs peak on radio. ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ peaked at the World Series. It was the biggest sports anthem ever, in the sense that it got all its strength from being a sports anthem, and the radio was secondary. It was the only hit record that was ever like that.”

But why this song, of all songs? “Herschel Small, one of the band’s longtime guitarists, suggests that the song managed to tick all the boxes that 15 years later are common to many viral Internet memes: dogs and sports and kids.” I hate this song, but I love the story behind it. – PAL

Source: How ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ forever changed music’s place in sports, Ben Reiter, Sports Illustrated (7/8/15)

TOB: This article is hilarious, especially with the producer of “WLTDO” (yes, they use that initialism), Steve Greenberg, trying to defend the quality of that god awful song. “Dogs’ is a really good record. That’s why it won a Grammy. It’s tight, it’s colorful, it’s infectious. There was magic in that record.” I literally LOL’d when I read that. I also dispute his assertion, as quoted by Phil, that it was the biggest sports anthem ever. What about The Macarena? WHAT ABOUT THE MACARENA? I remember being at an Oakland A’s game in the height of Macarena Fever, and even the construction guys hard at working building “Mt. Davis” in the Coliseum’s outfield stopped to dance to the Macarena. I don’t know which song was worse, but I do know which was more of a cultural phenomenon: The Macarena hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and stayed there for FOURTEEN weeks!) and went 4x Platinum. Who Let the Dogs Out only got to #40 (40!) on the Hot 100 and the album went 3x Platinum. Case closed. Verdict entered for the Macarena.


Bartolo Colon is one Fat, Old, Impressive Baseball Player

He was a Major League pitcher before Monica Lewinsky was an intern at the White House. Bartolo Colon’s longevity is, as writer Dan Barry puts it, “confounding,” even without the fact that he’s not exactly a fitness freak (read: fat), but it goes beyond durability with him. “Consider the Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard, 22 years old and able to throw at 99 miles an hour. In the Colon paradigm, Darling said [former pitcher and Mets broadcaster Ron Darling], Syndergaard “would have to have the ability, in 2035, to throw the ball 92 miles an hour. In a big league game.” Even with the PED suspension a few years back, Colon’s career and journey from the Dominican Republic reads more like folklore than biography. – PAL

Source: Defying Time and Space”, Dan Barry, New York Times (7/9/15)


Video of the Week 


PAL Song of the week: The Dramatics – “Gimme Some” (Good Soul Music)

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


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“Pontoon boat? What the hell are you gonna do with a pontoon boat? Retake Omaha Beach?”

– Roman Craig

 

 

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

 

Week of May 18, 2015

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I spy irony.


The Phenom’s Phenomenal Comeback: Shaun Livingston

He could’ve been the next Magic Johnson or Penny Hardaway (before the injuries). As a 6’7 point guard drafted 4th out of high school (the only high school guard ever taken in the top 5 of the NBA Draft), Shaun Livingston was a special talent, and then his knee exploded in every possible way when landing after a layup. Torn MCL, ACL, PCL, meniscus, and a dislocated knee. There was legitimate concern that they would have to amputate. All the potential gone, and that makes his presence as a key role player for the Warriors all the more rewarding. Dude came off the bench and scored 18 in game 1 of the conference finals. Those aren’t garbage time stats, either. This guy who was supposed to have it all fought for years when no one was watching to make it back, and he’s done it. It’s easy to think you love something when you’re young and it comes easy; it’s cool when when a story like this happens, and it reveals someone’s work ethic and passion exceeds his potential. -PAL

Source: Shaun Livingston’s long, broken road to unlikely postseason hero”, Roger Sherman, SB Nation (5/20/15)

TOB: It’s hard to know what Livingston’s career would have been. He was part of those fun mid-aught’s Clippers teams with Elton Brand and Corey Maggette (the fact that he missed Darius Miles like ships passing in the night is a shame. Imagine the lobs!). I don’t know about the next Magic or Penny, as Phil suggests. He was closer to a tall Jason Williams – not much of a jump shot, not much of a scorer, but boy – could he pass. My guess is his ceiling is not much more than we’re seeing – it’s hard to be great in the NBA when you can’t shoot. Also, as the article notes, his injury was absolutely gruesome. One of the top 5 worst I’ve ever seen. But I wonder if Shaun would find this article a bit patronizing. The author seems to be saying, “Gee, Shaun, anything you contribute on a basketball court is great, considering.” That being said, I have always enjoyed Livingston’s game, and I am rooting for him.


Law and Order on the Allegheny

As both a sports fan and an attorney, this is an interesting case. Here’s the scenario: On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez crushed a home run deep beyond the stadium in right field, and right into a boat docked along the edge of the Allegheny River.

Shortly thereafter, a man jumped into the boat and took the ball.

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A local news station tracked the owner of the boat down and he said that he’d like the ball back. The news station then contacted the local police department to see what they had to say, and the officer they spoke with said that no crime was committed because the passerby only grabbed the ball and nothing that belonged to the boat owner, noting that when balls are hit out of the park it becomes a “free-for-all.”

In law school, I had the pleasure of studying the infamous case of the fate of Barry Bonds’ record-setting 73rd home run, Popov v. Hayashi, (memorialized in the film “Up For Grabs”). An interesting fact that I remember from that case is that MLB considers baseballs hit out of play to be abandoned property. Hence the officer’s legal analysis. However, where this differs from a normal home run or foul ball is that the ball came to rest in someone’s private property – a boat. The passerby then committed a trespass in entering the boat, and took the baseball.

I contacted my dad, who has worked in criminal law for over 35 years, and he agreed with my analysis. Based on common law principles, whether the baseball belonged to the boat owner when the ball landed in his property is unclear, but the man certainly committed a trespass. BOOK ‘EM, DANO. -TOB

Source: Pirates’ Home Run Lands in Boat, Passerby Grabs Ball; Boat Owner Wants Ball Back”, Ashlie Hardway, WTAE.com (05/20/2015)

PAL: Wait, when did Tommy become a lawyer? Laws aside, you never board a man’s boat without permission.


No Experience Required

There is a coveted and limited job out there that pays over $500K and requires no prior experience. On May 18, The Florida Marlins fired Mike Redmond and moved its GM Dan Jennings into the manager role. Although Jennings has several years experience as a baseball executive, the last time he actually coached a team it was of the high school variety. This isn’t exactly an outlier. Currently, there are 10 managers in MLB with no prior managing experience. Most of them are former players – sure – but at no point did they learn how to do the job they currently hold. You can see this happening in the NBA as well. Steve Kerr, Mark Jackson, Jason Kidd, and Steve Fischer never led a team as a coach prior to their current gigs. What gives? Part of it might be a result of better analytics. Another part of it might be organizations loading up in the experience department by way of the assistant coaches. That being said, it’s noteworthy that at the pinnacle of a profession, more and more people are entrusted to succeed at something they’ve never done while being paid a heap of cash in the process. – PAL

Source: Grizzled Manager Part of a Bygone EraTyler Kepner, The New York Times (5/18/15)

TOB: To me, the most interesting point in this article was the role of the minor league manager in modern baseball. As Mets manager Terry Collins notes, minor league managers today have very little autonomy:

“In the minor leagues, you really don’t manage anymore. The minor leagues are set up like: ‘You’re starting, he’s coming in for the fifth, he’s throwing X amount of pitches, let’s make sure these guys play today, let’s give so-and-so a day off.’ Nobody pinch-hits. It’s, ‘Hey, look, here’s your lineup, go get ’em.’ ”

 Given that, it makes sense that an aspiring major league manager would not want to waste his time managing in the minors. You are really nothing more than a babysitter in a baseball uniform.


The Musical Vulgarity of Sports: Action Bronson

You know who Action Bronson is if you’re a fan of Hip Hop. While incredibly vulgar, he’s also hard to dislike. Here’s an overweight former line chef who’s one of the most talented rappers going today…and has a food show series called “F*&k, That’s Delicious”. He’s also a mega sports fan, so here’s every sport reference from his songs. He’s not afraid of obscure sports references (Jeff Hornacek, Randy Velarde), which makes these even more enjoyable, albeit incredible crude. You’ve been warned, now enjoy. – PAL

Source: The Young Randy Velarde, and 289 Other Sports References by Action Bronson”, Roger Sherman, SB Nation (5/18/15)

TOB: This is pretty great. But I got a beef with Bronson:

I’m the doobie scholar / Old foreign white shooters, Tom Gugliotta — from “Auntie Maria’s Crib” by Nitty Scott

Though Tom Gugliotta sounds foreign, the dude is American! Where’s your fact checker, bro?


Bumgarner > Kershaw

Yesterday, the Giants swept the Dodgers at home for the second time this year. It was particularly sweet. They shut the Dodgers out for the entire series (only the second time the Dodgers have shutout for an entire series of at least three games since moving to Los Angeles – the previous was also by the Giants, waaaaay back in 2012). The sweep also cut the Dodgers’ division lead to just 1.5 games.

The final game was a matchup of aces – Bumgarner vs. Kershaw. It was only May 21, but it was the third time the two have faced off this season. The Giants have won all three games, with Kershaw, the reigning NL Cy Young and MVP, taking two losses and a no decision. The best part of yesterday’s game, though, may have been Bumgarner taking Kershaw deep in the third to open the scoring. It was the first time Kershaw had ever given up a home run to an opposing pitcher. For the series, Bumgarner outscored the entire Dodgers team over three games! With all that said, MLB Statcast is one of our favorites here at 1-2-3 Sports!, and Statcast analyzed Bumgarner’s homer off Kershaw (the distance of the homer at 415 feet with an exit velocity of 105 mph!). I enjoyed it. -TOB

Source: MadBum HRs Off Kershaw; Statcast Tells You Why“, Mike Petriello, MLB.com (05/21/2015)


Video of the Week:

https://vid.me/e/pcVw


PAL’s song of the week: My Baby Just Cares For Me” – Nina Simone (and here’s a playlist of all PAL’s Songs of the Week)


“What is art? Are we art? Is art art?”

-Lisa Turtle

Week of April 20, 2015

This is why the Warriors are up 3-0 in the series. God does not reward Anthony Davis fandom of this nature.

Picture Perfect

Monday was Patriots Day in New England, which is something I have to experience firsthand in my life. It’s a recognized holiday, so no school and no work. The Boston Marathon (the longest running marathon in the world) kicks things off, which by all accounts is 26.2 miles of well-wishers cheering on 30K+ runners fulfilling a bucket list accomplishment. That’s followed by a day game at Fenway. All join in the festivities, and the runners represent seemingly all makes and backgrounds. But back in the mid 1960s, this was not the case. “The universal thinking among sports’ male powerbrokers was that women were not physically equipped to endure the rigors of the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. They claimed that the strain would cause women’s uteri to fall out or that they would become musclebound and grow hair on their chests.” Now, I don’t need to tell you that isn’t the case anymore, but I do need to tell you about a series of photographs. Three pictures that capture perhaps the moment when the shift took place for women’s athletics.

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Here’s a story about that moment, the leadup, and the culture shift that followed. To quote Julia Chase-Brand, a running legend, “The iconic photos of this encounter clinched it: American women were not going to be pushed off the roads, and now a sports issue became a feminist issue—which of course it always had been.” – PAL

Source: Behind The Photo That Changed The Boston Marathon Forever”, David Davis, Deadspin (4/20/15)

TOB: A very good article on a story I had never heard about before.


The Closest Thing The NBA’s Got To The Godfather

Great stories are about perspective, which is yet another reason why you all should bookmark The Stacks series on Deadspin. They find the best sportswriting from throughout the years and post them (with author permission). What’s cool is the time between the original publication of the stories and the moment you’re reading them adds yet another layer of enjoyment and and intrigue. This edition sheds light on Pat Riley when he first went to Miami to coach. This is before he won with Shaq and Wade, before he courted Lebron, won 2 more championships, and the subsequent parting of ways. The dapper Riley’s upbringing will surprise you, and the 1995 cultural references will bring a smile. – PAL

Source: What Failure Did To Pat Riley”, Mark Kriegel, Esquire (12/1995); reposted by The Stacks (4/21/15)

TOB: Two passages I really enjoyed:

“I want to treat my players to the best. If I’m having a team party, I want white tablecloths, I want china, and I want silverware. I don’t want fuckin’ plastic plates. And I want a flower arrangement in the middle. And if the towels are hotel white, hey, put some color in there, I don’t give a shit. I want my team to fly first-class, to stay in first-class hotels. I’m gonna ask them to do a lot. So tell me, is that wrong, wanting them to have the best?”

And:

“And the clothes?…They’re really all Armani?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

He looks at me with disbelief, even irritation, squinting until the hint of a grin forms at the corners of his mouth. “’Cause it’s good shit, that’s why.”


Stanozolol: The Old-School Steroid Worth The Risk

Until this season, it had been seven years since a MLB player tested positive for using Stanozolol (this is is what sprinter Ben Johnson tested positive for, and what Barry Bonds is accused of taking). This year, three pitchers were suspended 80 games for a positive test. It’s an old school anabolic steroid, and an easily detected one at that. However, during the past six season a whopping 125 minor league players have been busted using the steroid. What gives? Perhaps the risk (80 game suspension or roughly ½ a big league season) is worth the long-term rewards. Four-time olympian Francis Dodoo, who now serves on the World Anti-Doping Agency committee, might sum it up best: “You don’t just dope, get caught and return to where your body started.” I guess some guys just take a short-term risk, and if they get burned, then they still have a better shot at reaping the benefits down the line. – PAL

Source: Persistence of a Steroid Bedevils Baseball”, Juliet Macur, The New York Times (4/21/15)


Interview with Barry Bonds’ Son

An interesting interview by sportswriter Jeff Pearlman, who once wrote a very unflattering book about Barry Bonds, with Bonds’ son Nikolai. Nikolai, a former Giants bat boy and now in his mid-20’s, opens up about growing up as Barry’s son – both the good and the bad. It’s a complex relationship, to say the least. But Nikolai clearly cares about his father, and strongly believes that his father belongs in the Hall of Fame:

“My dad’s job was what exactly? To entertain. That’s it. That’s the first reason. Second is, as you said, he didn’t break any rules of the game. So what did he do wrong? Third, Hank Aaron admitted to greenies. An enhancer. Babe Ruth drank during prohibition. Illegal. Ty Cobb beat a woman during a game. What we are talking about is someone who is enhancing his performance within the rules of the sport he plays to entertain the rest of this world … and he is getting crucified for it.”

But my favorite part is this exchange:

Q: In exactly 33 words, can you make a Hall of Fame case for Jeff Kent?

A: Nope.

Nobody likes Jeff Kent. -TOB

Source: Nikolai Bonds”, Jeff Pearlman, jeffpearlman.com (04/21/2015)

PAL: Is it just me, or did Barry Bonds’ son admit that his dad took PEDs:”…[H]e didn’t break any rules of the game. So what did he do wrong?…Hank Aaron admitted to greenies. An enhancer. Babe Ruth drank during prohibition. Illegal. Ty Cobb beat a woman during a game. What we are talking about is someone who is enhancing his performance within the rules of the sport he plays to entertain the rest of this world…” Also, I don’t believe Barry Bonds’ son was ever homeless as he claims.


Updates:

  • Last week we recommended a story about Barry Bonds working with (and rooting for) Alex Rodriguez. ARod’s off to a surprisingly good start to the season (15 games): 4HR, 11 RBI, .991 OPS
  • Two weeks ago, we posted about Lon Simmons’ passing. On Wednesday night during the Giants-Dodger game, I swear I saw Vin Scully pay tribute during the Giants Wednesday broadcast. Am I making this up? Can someone confirm or deny this, please. – PAL

 Videos of the Week:

(Explicit language, but so worth it)

Steph Curry is the truth.


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“Life is just one crushing defeat after another until you just wish Flanders was dead”

-H. Simpson

Week of February 16, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.59.21 PMThe 49ers’ terrible management has incurred the wrath of The Bird of Death upon Levi’s Stadium.


The Cat’s in the Cradle

As Tim Lincecum’s pitching deteriorated over the last three years, so did his relationship with his father. His dad built the pitching mechanics that led to two Cy Young Awards, but his critiques were no longer welcome, and the relationship between father and son suffered. But after losing his spot in the rotation and making just one mop-up appearance in the Giants’ run to the World Series, Timmy knew he had to make a change. He went back to his father “with (his) tail between (his) legs” and asked for help. His father’s response? “We’ve done this together. Let’s continue to do this together until I’m not here.” Father and son worked hard in the offseason, and will continue to do so during Spring Training. Reading this story reminded me of Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. On so many levels, I hope the reunion with his pitching coach/father helps Timmy return to form. -TOB

Source: “Tim Lincecum Turns to Father as He Tries to Find Cy Young Form”, Alex Pavlovic, CSNBayArea.com (02/18/2015)

PAL: Going back to his dad is Timmy’s last move. Like everyone in San Francisco, I love and pull for Timmy. The pantry is looking bare, and this is the last idea he has. I’m pulling for him, and I really hope he just lights it up this year.


Curtain of Distraction

1-2-3 Sports! reader Michael Kapp brings us this fascinating story:

As far back as I can remember, basketball fans behind the basket have attempted to distract opposing free throw shooters. They stand, make noise, and wave balloons. In recent years, college student sections have begun printing giant heads of various people – themselves, opposing players, famous people, etc., in the hopes of distracting shooters. It’s unclear that it’s ever been effective. Until now: Last season, Arizona State introduced what they call the “Curtain of Distraction.”Here are some examples:

The novelty of “The Curtain” has garnered a lot of attention. But the strangest thing is that it appears to actually work. Over two seasons, opposing teams are missing around 5-10% more free throws at ASU than in their other games. The New York Times performed a statistical analysis and found that:

“Taken together, the data suggest that something changed to affect the accuracy only of free throws, only by visiting teams, only when those teams were visiting Arizona State, and only after the Curtain of Distraction was introduced. Statistics can never fully prove a causal link, but this case is pretty strong.”

We will undoubtedly see copycats, which will likely reduce the Curtain’s effect. Nonetheless, pretty fascinating. -TOB

Source: “How Arizona State Reinvented Free Throw Distraction”, Justin Wolfers, New York Times (02/13/2015)

PAL: Well, I guess ASU has 3 things to be proud of now – Pat Tillman, John Hughes, and the “Curtain of Distraction” (what a great name). The downside – the players and students still attend ASU. I’m interested to see whether or not this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Too bad they aren’t making the NCAA Tournament (currently 14-12 W/L) and given the national spotlight.


Sympathy for the Devil: Alex Rodriguez

We’ve all read stories about falls from grace. I know, I know – everyone is sick of ARod. I’m sick of ARod. He lied about taking PEDs – yeah – but he’s far from the only one. The PEDs are not why people are sick of him. People are sick of him because he’s not lovable in any way. He comes off as a d-bag time and time again. It’s the $400+ million dollars he’ll earn by the end of his career, the picture of him kissing himself in the mirror at the gym, tanning in Central Park, the Madonna relationship (when she was perhaps most insufferable), the popcorn at Cowboy Stadium with Cameron Diaz, the highlights (hair), the pearl white batting gloves…but most of all it’s that smug gaze reserved only for the super-duper rich, good-looking, touched-by-God athletic, tall dude. That guy messed up – twice – and, boy, do we like watching him fall on his ass. So many steroid/PED stories focus on the fall or the subsequent rise; I was captivated by this story because it examines the quiet absurdity of purgatory for an adult grasping for sense of self. He’s Derrick Zoolander – superficially talented, banished, hated, ill-equipped for anything outside of his absurd profession, and seeking answers in ridiculous places while holding out hope for his “Blue Steel” moment. It’s a long story (absolutely worth the read), so I pulled some of the most captivating and bizarre tidbits below. – PAL

  • Barry Bonds throws ARod batting practice in Marin and talks a lot of sh*t.
  • “[H]is stealth hobby is visiting college campuses, that he’s been to nearly 40 so far, that he almost always takes the campus tour, visits the bookstore and buys a sweatshirt and a backpack”
  • “[T]hroughout his decade-long tenure with the Yankees, he tries to buy three custom-made suits for every rookie who walks into the clubhouse.”
  • “In New York he would routinely befriend young artists, leave them tickets at the box office so they could come see him play, and in exchange they had to let him drop by their studios. He’d sit in the corner of some dingy loft for hours, watching some intense kid paint or sculpt or draw, because it inspired him, sent him back to his own studio, the batting cage, with new dedication.”

Source: “The Education of Alex Rodriguez”, J.R. Moehringer, ESPN the Magazine (02/18/2015)


Albert Belle Was a Baaaaaad Man

I vaguely remember this, but it is awesome. In 1999, Albert Belle was playing for the Baltimore Orioles. In this game against the Angels, he had already hit three monster home runs and was coming up in the 11th inning, looking to win the game with his record-tying 4th. Instead, the pitcher throws one near Belle’s head, hitting him with a fastball in the shoulder. The umpire immediately signals that Belle was hit, and sends him to first. But Albert Belle shakes him off! Skip to the 1:16 mark:

You can read his lips, as he lies, arguing with the umpire, claiming the ball hit his bat. Albert was so sure that he was going to win the game, that he would have rather taken a strike than taken a base. Awesome. -TOB

Source: No Hitter Has Ever Been More Terrifying Than Albert Belle in This Game”, Tom Scocca, Deadspin (02/16/2015)

PAL: I forgot about Albert Belle. Seriously. The name has not occupied space in my brain for some time until I saw this story, which is crazy. While this scene takes place when Belle is on the O’s,  I remember him as a member of the supremely talented Indians of the 90s (Jim Thome, Roberto Alomar, Omar Vizquel, Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Matt Williams, David Justice, Jose Mesa, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle…jesus!) Belle was the baddest of the bunch, and he definitely scared me the most out of that group. He was really, really good, and a redass to boot, which is captured perfectly here. The video is pretty incredible, too.


Video of the Week

In honor of Cal announcing a home and home series with Ole Miss, we present you this video of fans tailgating at “The Grove”. 1-2-3 Sports! is already planning an RV trip to Oxford in 2019.


Tweet of the Week


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“Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity.”

-Earl Woods