Week of January 5, 2015


Ownage: Mickey Morandini > Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz

Who? That’s the point. Second baseman Mickey Morandini hit .352 off of Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz over his career (Smoltz and Pedro were voted into the Hall of Fame this week). I’m not talking about 10 ABs either. He faced these two over 100 times in his career. While a .344 average against Smoltz is impressive, let’s focus on the real feat: the “dandy little gloveman” hit .370 against Pedro. Can you imagine what Smoltz and Pedro must’ve been thinking when this guy walked up to the plate? I’d bet money it included Joe Pesci’s preferred adjective ending in -ing, bookended by “this” and “guy”. This is a fun read that highlights the seemingly illogical nature of 1-on-1 matchups in baseball that’s hard to imagine in other sports. It doesn’t exactly translate, but can you fathom Jared Dudley owning LeBron James 1-on-1? And, yes, Pedro was as good of a pitcher as LeBron James is a basketball player. – PAL

Source: “Aces’ Obstacle on Way to Hall: A Modest Hitter”, Tyler Kepner, The New York Times (1/5/14)

TOB: As Phil notes, this article reminds me of why baseball is so weird. I checked – here are some other big name pitchers that Morandini killed: Maddux (.361), Andy Benes (.424), Tom Glavine (.293), Dwight Gooden (.359), Roger Clemens (.667 – but just 3 at bats). Wild. I also like wondering how the reporter stumbled upon this story – did someone tip him off to it? Is it some weird bit of trivia he came across years ago, and held onto for this day, when Smoltz and Pedro would be elected to the Hall? Or was he simply perusing baseball-reference.com for hitters who did well against the three electees when he noticed Morandini’s name at the top of two of the lists?


Ugh. The Maloofs Won’t Go Away
Oh, just die already. -TOB
Source: “Former Sacramento Kings Owners Maloofs Looking to Get Back Into Sports Business”, Dale Kasler, San Jose Mercury-News (12/25/14)

PAL: Owning a stake in a team is a great gig if you can get it. Frank McCourt runs the Dodgers into the ground, the team files for bankruptcy, then he sells the team for $2 billion (according to NBC sports, he walked away with $1.278 billion). Owners threaten to move teams if they don’t get state funding to build stadiums (my all-time WTF in sports, see: the Rams, Twins, Vikings, Saints, Marlins, etc.). So now the Maloofs are getting into the NHL as potential minority owners for a Las Vegas hockey team. Let them. Any team in Las Vegas will see a 2-year spike, then die, just like everything does in Las Vegas.


To Quote George Costanza, “You’re Superman,” Tommy Caldwell
This story has everything. Kidnapping by extremists: check. Saw accident: check. Sleeping in a tent on the face of El Capitan: check. I’m getting old. I’ve become drawn to simplicity in the world of sports. I scarfed down Christopher McDougall’s book, Born To Run, which looks to figure out why a forgotten tribe in Mexico is home to some of the best endurance runners the world’s ever known. I’m captivated by free solo climber Alex Honnold (high walls, no ropes). I’m fascinated by the objective of a pursuit being singular, instantly understood, and yet extremely difficult. Climb the wall. Run from here to there as fast as you can. All of this, topped off with a little nudge from Jamie Morganstern, led me to this story about Tommy Caldwell. He’s currently on El Capitan about to do something no one has ever done – solo climb the whole damn thing (ropes, but only to catch you if you fall). Simple objective, right? His route to this day is anything but simple. He lost the top of his finger in a saw. Oh, and he was taken hostage by extremist while climbing in Kyrgyzstan (he and the other climbers escaped by pushing a captor off of a cliff). This guy is fueled by simple, yet incredibly difficult challenges, and I dig that. – PAL

Source: “Abduction. Lost Finger. Now, a Rock Climber’s Tallest Hurdle.”, John Branch, The New York Times (1/7/15)


Long Live the Rex
A look back at the always entertaining Rex Ryan era, as presented by Matt Taibbi, one of the best writers/journalists of our generation. I am really, really hopeful that the 49ers hire Rex. He’s amazing. I’ll never forget this speech he gave on Hard Knocks in 2010 (language NSFW):

That speech was inspiring, ridiculous, and funny as hell. And that was the night before a PRESEASON game. I remember watching the show – first, I laughed at the “9:00 SNACK” on the whiteboard at the beginning. That still kills me. Then my now-wife and I kept rewinding and re-watching the end over and over again, laughing our heads off. “Let’s go and eat a god damn snack!” Man, I really hope he comes to the Niners. -TOB
Source: “Rex’s Last Stand”, Matt Taibbi, Grantland (01/06/15)

PAL: Taibbi can write a hell of a story – no doubt – but I’m confused. Do you want Ryan to be the 49ers coach because he’s entertaining, because he’s a good coach, or even both? He had two winning seasons during his six years as the Jets’ coach. He’s refreshing, especially in the context of Jim Harbaugh, but isn’t he entertaining from distance where we can separate the comedy from, you know, the lack of wins?

TOB: Both. How many wins can anyone get with Mark Sanchez as your QB? Chip Kelly learned all too well this year.


VIDEOS OF THE WEEK

Moms everywhere – do not throw the baseball cards away:

High School Dunk 1:

High School Dunk 2:


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“I don’t care. Anything. I would rather… I would rather watch “Beautician and the Beast”. I would rather listen to Fran Drescher for eight hours than have to listen to Michael McDonald. Nothing against him, but if I hear “Yah Mo B There” one more time, I’m going to “Yah Mo” burn this place to the ground.”

– David

 

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Week of May 26, 2014

No wonder Pedro Martinez had such nasty movement.

No wonder Pedro Martinez had nasty movement.


A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes To…Whom?

Late last week, coach Jürgen Klinsmann finalized his 23-man roster for next month’s World Cup. The greatest U.S. soccer player ever was not on that list. The decision was not without controversy. No matter how the team does in Brazil, we’ll never be sure if it was the right one. But his international career is, effectively, over. While it had its ups and downs, Landon will go down as our best, producing some of the most thrilling moments in American soccer history, and it sure is fun to look back. -TOB

Story Link: “Landon Donovan Was Our Savior All Along”, Greg Howard, Deadspin (05/23/14)


Alex Honnald just might be the best (and most insane) athlete in the world.

Old story, but worth the read, since this dude is (incredibly) still alive. Alex Honnald is a dopey kid from Sacramento. You’ve probably never heard of him, but he’s better at his sport than LeBron James is at basketball. His sport: Free soloing. He climbs massive cliffs without a rope. The chances are likely that he’ll die in the near future…or is he just that good? What kind of person gets into a sport like this? A really unassuming kid doing things that have never been done . – PAL

Story Link: No Strings Attached”, David Roberts, Outside (4/11/11)


Anyone want to host the Olympics? Nope.

It seems cities are wizening up to the economic land mine that is hosting the Olympics. The host of the 2022 Winter Games will be announced within a year, and the majority of the finalist cities have already pulled out, because–really–who the hell wants to build a bobsled course? Mostly, these cities have found little to no public support when it comes to sinking $50 billion into a two week event, but overthrown governments have factored in, as well (I’m looking at you, Ukraine). Who’s ready to go back to China? – PAL

Story Link: “Nobody Wants To Host The 2022 Olympics”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (5/29/14)

TOB Note: I wonder what they’d do if no viable city bid. Antartica 2022!


Pay No Attention To That Man Behind the Curtain!

Actually, pay attention. Pedro Martinez provides insight into how he approached the art of the game. A rare look into the internal workings of a pitching wizard.

Story Link: “Pedro Martinez on the Art and Science of Pitching”, Dave Laurila, Fangraphs (05/23/14) – TOB

PAL Note: It’s all about that one quote (you’ll find it). Also, he has alien fingers. 


Chris Bosh Is Better Than You Think He Is.

In Toronto, Chris Bosh was a star on a bad team – he put up big numbers and set himself up for a max contract, but his team lost – a lot. Instead of being content to be the big fish in the little pond, he took less money and less touches in order to win championships. As Miami looks headed for their fourth straight NBA Finals, and possibly their third straight title, Bosh looks back at the sacrifices he has made, and the ways his game has evolved, to make it all happen. Also, he once campaigned to make the All-Star team with this video. -TOB

Story Link: “Best Supporting Actor”, Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland (05/28/14)

PAL Note: I love his honesty when asked why his shooting percentage is so high near the rim – With LeBron and Wade driving to the hoop, “I’m wide open most of the time.”


Video of the Week:

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“Your hand and the ball is a marriage that should never end. The pitcher and the ball should be married forever. Hands, fingers, the ball – they should be married forever.”

– Pedro Martinez