Week of January 12, 2015

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Chucky, wassup?


Yes, EVEN MORE on the Ray Rice/NFL Story. But This Is Important.

The Robert Mueller “independent” report on the NFL’s response to the Ray Rice “scandal” came out last week. This story is so tiresome. We are tired of reading about it. We are tired of writing about it, and in fact I think this is like the fifth time that 123 Sports has said something to the effect of, “We are tired of writing about this story, but…” And so it is with some reluctance that we bring you this story. HOWEVER. As Michael Rosenberg writes, “In fact, this whole report is supposed to be part of the lie, which is ongoing and will probably not end until you forget this incident, or simply get tired of it.” He’s right. This is important. The Mueller report is Grade-A b.s., intended to divert our attention away from the real issues. Goodell asked Mueller to answer the wrong questions, so that Goodell could get the answers he wanted. And he did. Please read this story. Goodell is a horrible human. -TOB

Source: Mueller Report Underscores Roger Goodell’s Deceit In Ray Rice Case”, Michael Rosenberg (01/08/15)

PAL: The argument for Goodell keeping his job as NFL Commissioner is, to my understanding, as follows: (1) he takes the bullets so the owners don’t have to, and (2) the NFL is  wiping its butt with cash under his leadership (TV deals, launching the NFL network, involvement in negotiating the current collective bargaining agreement). Someone needs to explain to me why another qualified executive wouldn’t be able to perform those tasks just as well as Goodell without the PR nightmare he’s bolted to following the handling of Ray Rice. Also, why aren’t people going after the owners on this? Goodell works for them, after all.

TOB: I want to add – Deadspin’s Drew Magary made an excellent argument for the NFL’s long term popularity problem in an article this week: Kids today care more about games/social interaction on their phones/tablets over watching four-hour sporting events.  And the problem for football, is that it, more than any other American sport , takes time and patience – there are a lot of rules you need to learn to understand the game, and that takes a lot of football watching to gain. Drew wonders if kids today will ever put in the time to understand football. I recommend you read it. Here.


How Does One Come Back From the Loss of Two Children? You Just Do.

This story is not an easy read. Most baseball fans will remember Hirschbeck as the ump who Roberto Alomar spit on back in 1996. What this story will tell you about is the unfair amount of tragedy Hirschbeck has had to deal with in his life. He had two sons diagnosed with a rare and deadly disease – ALD. In 1993, his oldest son died in his parents’ arms. He was 8 years old. His youngest son fought the odds and survived childhood – only to die last April from a seizure related to ALD. His parents were asleep in the house when he died. In between those tragic events, Hirschbeck twice fought off cancer. You might think someone who has survived such heartache would be bitter. But not Hirschbeck:

“Believe me,” Hirschbeck says, “if someone had told me when I was a young dad like you that this is what’s going to happen, I’d say, ‘Give me a gun! I’m out! I’m shooting myself right now!’ But when you’re faced with something, you just say, ‘Why not me? Why should it be anybody else? What makes me different?’ You have to realize that. Otherwise, you’re going to cry for yourself forever.”

We can all only hope to be that strong in the face of such pain. -TOB

Source: “John Hirschbeck’s Survival Guide”, Anthony Castrovince, Sports on Earth (01/13/15)

PAL: Hirschbeck is tough, and not in the b.s. stoic way. He’s crushed by these tragedies, but still moves forward with some aspects of his life. That’s toughness. This is one of those stories I read and really doubt whether I could take what Hirschbeck, his wife, and two daughters have gone through. Best of everything to the Hirschbecks.


Kurt Busch’s Ex Is A WHAT (allegedly)?

Nascar is dumb, but this story is fun. Fun > Dumb. Kurt Busch makes left turns for a living, and allegedly got into a physical altercation with his girlfriend. They’re in court right now, and part of Busch’s defense is that he didn’t do it because Patricia Driscoll could kill him…because she’s an assassin. Here is a thorough back story on Driscoll that makes it at least appear that the Busch’s claim isn’t that out of left field. The accompanying profile video on Driscoll is hilarious, too. – PAL

Source: “Testimony: Kurt Busch Ex Terrible At Keeping Assassin Gig On The Downlow”, Stef Schrader, Jalopnik (1/14/15)

TOB: This is great writing. When I read the headline I thought, “This is going to be the dumbest thing I read all week.” But…as Phil suggests… somehow it makes sense! She’s totally an assassin! I’m all in on this and I can’t wait for the resolution.


Locker Room Butts.

There’s nothing groundbreaking about this article. It’s a fairly short look at the history of cigarette smokers in the NBA. I’m a non-smoker. A never-smoker. I hate smoking. But this cracked me up, especially this quote from Celtic Hall of Famer Bob Cousy:

“I was a nonsmoker. I eventually smoked cigars for 20 years. One of the many bad habits I picked up from Arnold [“Red”] Auerbach. He and I used to go to Europe together, so I had to protect myself and start smoking those damn things myself. Otherwise I’d inhale his smoke. But I never smoked cigarettes. When we were kids we didn’t have money to buy anything. Damn cigarettes were too expensive. Other than drinking a lot of beer, which we picked up in college — that was the extent of our vices. We did like girls, I think. Although it being so long, I can’t rely on my memory for that either.”

*ba dum tsh!*. Also, big ups to my boy Vlade Divac, who stars in this article, and whose honor I once defended so hard that I “c-walked” through a window. True story. I got witnesses. -TOB

Source: Smoking in the Boys Room”, Amos Barshad, Grantland (01/14/15)


It’s Not Me; It’s You: Mark Jackson Calls A Warriors Game

Quick recap: Mark Jackson coached the Warriors to the team’s first back-to-back playoff appearances in 20 years. He was fired. Steve Kerr takes over as coach. The team is 31-5 and a legit contender. A week ago, Jackson called the nationally televised game between the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The scenario is fascinating. Guy who gets fired from a good team he helped turn around gets to call their game for a national audience. They now look like a great team under new coach, which forces the question of whether Jackson was a good coach who got a franchise over a hump, or if he underachieved with a great roster. Jackson handles the situation like a teenager and pretty much talks crap about his ex on TV. Class, class, class. – PAL

Source: “Mark Jackson Returned To Oracle Arena And Threw Shade: An Explainer”, Kevin Draper, Deadspin (1/14/15)

TOB: Ugh, Mark Jackson is such a tool. Also, I like Jeff Van Gundy a lot – but what a load of bull he was trying to sell. As Draper points out, Steve Kerr has taken almost exactly the same roster and has them at 31-5 – on pace for SEVENTY ONE wins. The NBA record is 72, set by the 1996 Chicago Bulls. Last year, under Mark Jackson, the Warriors won just 51, and were sixth in the Western Conference. So, no, Jeff, this isn’t about an improved roster. It’s about a coach who can spout more than empty platitudes and catchphrases, and who knows how to coach a team – both schematically and in terms of managing personalities.


Video of the Week

Click here.

1) Bill Walton trying to give his announcing partner, Bill Pasch, a copy of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” as a present.

2) Pasch “outing” himself as a creationist.

3) Jay Bilas touting the greatness of Sactown’s own Cake.

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“One plus one is two, all day long, and it’s never gonna change. And that’s factorial.”

-Stephon Marbury

 

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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

 

 

Week of September 15, 2014

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Hey, Everybody. We Matter!

Yes, more about the mess in the NFL. My opinions on this have been conflicting and inconsistent. I have at times lamented the fact that the NFL punishing players for off-field incidents is nothing more than PR, and so it seems hollow and fake. But in this article, Will Leitch makes a really great point:

The pressure on everyone involved, from the league to the sponsors to the team to the players … it has all come from you. From us. Sure, it’s cynical and hypocritical of all these entities to pretend they care about “the right thing” and justice, when all they really care about public relations. But that doesn’t mean that the right thing wasn’t done, that justice wasn’t actually served. That’s because of you. That’s because so many people spoke up and, more important, they could all hear us. They couldn’t ignore us if they tried…. Sometimes you look at Twitter, and social media, and comments sections, and it makes you despair for humanity. But sometimes it makes a difference. Sometimes it is a force for good. Sometimes, it really is progress.”

That is spot on. Unlike Phil, I don’t feel the need to boycott the NFL. Being vocal about how these incidents, and the NFL’s maddeningly inconsistent punishments, however, does help. And if the punishments cause players to stop doing things like beating their wives and girlfriends (or even just reduces the number), well, that’s also good. -TOB

Note:  Boycott, tweet, post, etc – whatever card you want to play is fine by me, but play a card.  We – the common people – need to be better on calling b.s. when b.s. is what we’re fed. – PAL

Source: The NFL: Where Our Opinion Matters”, Will Leitch, Sports on Earth (09/17/2014)


Yes, Even More About the NFL

Dave McKenna is a great sports writer with real integrity. In this piece, he goes in-depth on how the most prominent NFL sportswriters have become nothing more than mouthpieces for the NFL and Roger Goodell. But this cozy relationship hung these prominent writers out to dry when the second Ray Rice tape was released. They had all suggested or said that the NFL had seen the second video, and that the video backed up the light punishment. Those writers now look like idiots, and initially they were quite unhappy. But, they couldn’t bit the hand that feeds too long, and before the week was up, many of them were backing off their criticism of the NFL, and once again spouting the party line. Sad. I highly recommend this one. -TOB

Source: “Will the Elite NFL Media Still be Stooges After the Ray Rice Scandal“, Dave McKenna, Deadspin (09/16/2014)

Note: This story was a pick of mine this week, too. Upon more reflection, it seems obvious that we shouldn’t have our primary source of sports news be a company that has a professional relationship with a league upon which it reports. -PAL


Power Play

I don’t expect you to care about the Columbus Bluejackets. Hell, I don’t expect you to even know what professional league the Columbus Blue Jackets play in (the NHL). But here’s a story for any fan who’s gone through the dreaded contract negotiations headache (Giants fans, be prepared – your next one will be Pablo Sandoval, and we all know he’s looking to get paid). Depending on your view, the NHL team in Ohio (not a misprint) pulled either a pretty gutsy or dumb move  – they went public with the offers rising star Ryan Johansen has rejected. How could this move end well for the team? Maybe they just wanted to call b.s. on this kid. I can get behind that. Of course he can call b.s. on the team, and I can get behind that, too. -PAL

Source: Blue Jackets Not F*&^ing Around With Ryan Johansen Contract Negotiations”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (09/17/2014)

Note: I know nothing about this kid, but if he’s a very good, young star, then I have no problem with him seeking as much money as he can get. Owners are greedy billionaires who make money hand over fist. If Johansen, a restricted free agent, can get better money elsewhere and force the Blue Jackets to let him take that deal, or to give it to him themselves, more power to him. -TOB


1 Swing >/< $10 Million?

Anthony Kim was on the verge of being the next young rival to Tiger Woods. Don’t forget – he was a badass on the 2008 Ryder Cup team. He also liked to party and spend his money (and wear oversized belt buckles). Where has he gone? Injuries have a lot to do with it, but so too might a hefty insurance policy that would be void if he came back. -PAL

Source: “Anthony Kim, MIA Since 2012, Wrestles With Whether To Tee It Up Again or Reap an Eight-Figure Disability Settlement“, Alan Shipnuck, Golf.com (09/17/2014)


Close, But No Cigar

A guy placed a $5 bet on the NFL games last week. No big deal, except he did a 15-team parlay. Through Sunday, he was 14-0 and poised to turn $5 into $100,000. Then a kid from Stanford had to screw it all up. – PAL

Source: Bettor loses $100k payday”, David Purdum, ESPN (09/17/2014)

Note: As always, Eff Stanfurd. -TOB


VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Bryan Cranston, aka the Dad from Malcolm in the Middle aka Walter White aka Heisenberg absolutely kills this long commercial for the MLB Playoffs. It’s six minutes, but super funny.


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“…cause’ there will always be poverty and pain and war and justice in this world, but there will, thank the Lord, always be… the Beatles.”

-The Count, Pirate Radio

Week of July 28, 2014

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It’s Not That I Condone Fascism, or Any ‘ism’ for That Matter.

Our muscles are covered with a series of connective tissues called “Fascia”. Until recently, fascia has been understudied and largely ignored. For decades, it was believed to have no function at all. However, recent research has shown that fascia may be incredibly important to our health. “New Age” medicine has been onto this idea for decades, but the medical establishment had been slow to come around. And there is still push back – but as a guy in his early 30’s, still feeling sore four days after pitching three innings of stick ball, this article certainly had me fascinated. -TOB

Source: “How a Mysterious Body Part Called Fascia is Challenging Medicine”Robert T. Gonzalez, i09.com, (07/29/14)


Roger Goodell Sucks.

I have hated Roger Goodell since the beginning of his commissionership. He is heavy handed with punishments – including recently suspending the Browns’ Josh Gordon for the entire season for failing a marijuana test. Imagine the surprise, then, when the NFL announced Ray Rice’s suspension – for knocking his then-fiancee, now-wife, unconscious in a public elevator, and then dragging her unconscious body into the lobby of the casino – of only two games. It seemed preposterous. How could that be worth two games, but marijuana is worth a whole season? But details have emerged of the NFL’s investigation of the incident, which make it even worse – including the wholly inappropriate decision to interview Rice’s wife – and even worse to do so with Rice, her abuser, in the room at the time. Yes, I’m sure she felt she could answer freely, Rog. To make matters worse, the story subjected us all to the idiotic ramblings of Steven A. Smith. Twice. Thanks, Rog, you soulless human being. -TOB

Source: “Does the NFL Think Ray Rice’s Wife Deserved It?”Greg HowardDeadspin (07/30/14)

Note: I’m pretty much done with ESPN, and its coverage of this story is a perfect example as to why. They first report on the story (NFL player knocks is then fiancé out), then every ESPN personality weighs in, then ESPN makes a story of how its employees weigh in on the story. After someone says something stupid (Stephen A. Smith), a contest emerges amongst ESPN talent to see who is more offended by A) the original story, and/or B) the Smith’s reaction to the story. As for Goodell, he couldn’t have handled this any worse. What about the Baltimore Ravens (the team for which Rice plays)? They could simply make him inactive and impose a larger punishment. They didn’t. Also, you can shove your apology up your ass when you knock out a woman. Don’t tell me, “That’s not who I am,” Ray Rice. It is who you are, because you did it. – PAL


Life Imitating Art Disneyshit. 

Remember Remember the Titans  – that high school football movie that has Denzel Washington acting all Denzel while using football to solve the racial tension of 60s school integration? Aside from introducing me to Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale, folks…come on!), the only other thing the movie had going for it was the “based on a true story”. At least I could think to myself, “this really happened?” Well, as we now know, “based” is code for “some of this sorta happened at some point in time”. What’s fascinating here is Herman Boone, the coach Denzel portrays, maybe wasn’t the great guy leader of young men that the movie made him out to be. What’s more, in the wake of the movie’s success, the real Herman Boone has taken on an acting role of his own – he’s portraying (and selling) himself as the Denzel version of Herman Boone.

Source: “Remember The Titans” Is A Lie, And This Man Still Wants You To Know ItDave McKenna, Deadspin (7/29/14).

Note: Remember the Titans introduced you to Wood Harris? C’mon, Phil! Above the Rim! Motaw! Really, a stunning cast. Tupac, Marlon Wayans, Bernie Mac, Leon (aka Dereese from Cool Runnings), Eric Nies. Eric Nies. If you haven’t seen Above the Rim, or haven’t seen it in the last ten years, do so tonight. -TOB


Videos of the Week (Both of these are too good not to share):


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“Isms, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in an ‘ism,’ he should believe in himself.”

– Ferris Bueller