Week of November 30, 2015

God bless the super senior.


Greatest Post-Fight In-Ring Interview Ever

I almost made this the Video of the Week, but it really deserves so, so much more. When I saw this I texted it to Phil and said: “This is why we started 1-2-3 Sports!” It’s quite possibly my favorite sports video of all-time. Quick background: British boxer Tyson Fury beat long-time Heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko last Saturday. It was a HUGE upset. Klitschko had been the champ for 10 years. In the ring after the fight, Tyson Fury (that name is pretty fantastic) took the mic and…just watch:

Tears in my eyes, man. -TOB

PAL: I cannot recommend clicking on this link enough. So absurd and hilarious.


Once Again, Navy’s Uniforms Are So Choice.

A few years ago, Navy unveiled these awesome uniforms for its annual game against Army. Those helmets remain SWEET.

Navy 1Nothing about that is bad. Great job by Nike. Since then, Navy has moved to UnderArmour, and I do not often say this, but UnderArmour has bettered Nike on this one:

Navy 2

Look closely. Those are seven different helmets, with seven different hand-pained Naval ships, with one ship for each position group. Plus:

Navy 3“Damn the Torpedoes” vertical down the leg. They’re gonna be so fired up, they’ll win by 50. Sorry, Army. And thank you to my own mother for sending in this story. We love reader submissions! -TOB

Source: Navy’s Badass Helmets for Army Game Have Hand-Painted Ships, Custom For Each Position Group”, Jason Kirk, SB Nation (11/30/2015)

PAL: “Damn the torpedoes” on the pants is a half-step too far. Everything else about this jersey kicks ass.


The Greatest Season by The Great One

In the 85-86 NHL season, Wayne Gretzky tallied 215 points in 82 games. For some perspective, Gretzky had more assists in that season (163, or just about 2 per game) than the previous NHL scoring record-holder (Phil Esposito) had goals and assists. To be fair, the NHL in the 80s was kind of like the NBA in the 80s – that is to say, high scoring – and I’m trying to figure out what a good comparison would be. Jordan averaging 45ppg? Magic averaging 15 points and 20 assists per game? I don’t know, which is kind of the point of this story. It’s hard to find a comparison to how great Gretzky was, especially in that 85-86 season. – PAL

Source: Assist by the Great One: How Wayne Gretzky redefined scoring in the NHL”, Colin Fleming, Sports Illustrated (12/02/2015)

TOB: I thought about Phil’s challenge for about 30 seconds before Steph Curry’s name popped into my head. And I spent much of the evening trying to formulate how I would make the argument that what Curry is doing as a shooter in basketball is equal to Gretzky’s prime as a scorer in hockey. Curry is shooting so many threes, at such a high rate, that the comparison is apt. But I wanted to find something to really make it stick. While trying to find an article to support my position, I had Sportscenter on in the background and heard Scott Van Pelt start talking about Curry. And he nailed it. I transcribed it, edited a bit for space:

“After our show last night a few of us were sitting in the office when something hit me: We’d done the highlight of the Warriors win, it’s 20 wins in a row to start the season; we’d shown the highlight where Steph scored 40 and we’d shown his latest monotone explanation about being more confident, and whatever else he said. And, here’s where I think we failed: We just acted like this is normal. Because this is what he’s done. Steph Curry has blinded us in short order to the fact that what he does on a nightly basis is completely out of order and outrageous.

An Ethan Strauss article on ESPN.com today began with a Klay Thompson quote: ‘This is normal. This is normal, now.’ Well, yes and no. Yes, this is what Curry does. But no, nothing about this guy is normal. He scored 28 points in a quarter. He had 14 points in the final 1:53 of the quarter on shots averaging almost 30 feet.

Tom Haberstroh had some insane stats on ESPN.com and on Sportscenter that framed the lunacy of Curry so very well. He’s 4 for 10 on shots of 30 feet or more this season. That’s legitimately his range. He’s gonna pull from a dribble over halfcourt sometime soon and I will expect it to go in. It will be effortless and it will be a reasonable shot for him to take. Haberstroh listed 17 NBA teams that have gone a combined 4 of 119 from 30 feet or more this season.

Another gem: Curry is on pace to make more 3’s over the course of last season and this one than Larry Bird had in his entire 13 year career. Larry Friggin Bird. 

Whatever the volume of freakout is on Curry, it is still insufficient and it is not hyperbole. He’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen and it’s really not close. I want to make sure we do a better job of not being as nonchalant as he is about it. Because this is starting to feel like some once in a lifetime stuff, and acknowledging it, and appreciating it, as it happens is what ought to be done. So we will.”

Amen, SVP.


Never Change, KG

Kevin Garnett is very nearly insane, and the stories are so damn entertaining. This is an anecdote by Jackie MacMullan, in a story about how KG is mentoring the young Timberwolves. It is set back in 2009, when KG was still with the Celtics. Coach Doc Rivers asked KG to sit out a practice, to give him some rest. Here’s what happened:

“Garnett, forbidden to take the floor by his own coach, had concocted his revenge: He would track the movements of power forward Leon Powe, the player who had replaced him in the lineup. As Powe pivoted, so did Garnett. As Powe leaped to grab a defensive rebound, Garnett launched himself to corral an imaginary ball. As Powe snapped an outlet pass, Garnett mimicked the motion, then sprinted up his slim sliver of sideline real estate as Powe filled the lane on the break. The players were mirror images: one on the court with a full complement of teammates, the other out of bounds, alone. Two men engaged in a bizarre basketball tango.

“KG,” Rivers barked, “if you keep doing this, I’m canceling practice for the whole team. That will hurt us.”

Garnett’s reverence for coaches was legendary, but still he turned his back on Rivers. He returned to his defensive stance, an isotope of intensity, crouched, palms outstretched, in complete concert with Powe. He was, in fact, becoming so adept at this warped dalliance he’d invented, he actually began to anticipate Powe’s movements, denying the entry pass to his invisible opponent before Powe thought of it.

Finally, an exasperated Rivers blew the whistle. “Go home,” Rivers instructed his team. Then he glared at Garnett. “I hope you’re happy.”

Hilarious. More KG stories, please. -TOB

Source: “Rookie Watch: The Cruel Tutelage of the Wolves’ Kevin Garnett, Jackie MacMullan, ESPN.com (11/25/2015)

PAL: Just to be clear, this is not the endearing type of crazy. KG is crazy crazy, as in “ruin a career crazy”. Also – I know I’m in the minority on this, but I can’t help but think the picture of him sitting in front of Flip Saunders’ parking spot has a pinch of self-aggrandizement. Interesting read, to be sure, but what KG defines as leadership comes off as, well, a teenager’s misguided understanding of the concept.


Flip A Coin: The Sports Tradition Goes Way Back

The coin toss first shows up in a sport’s rulebook in 1774. No surprise here, it appears in a cricket rulebook. Many of us consider it a tradition that now carries little significance to the game it precedes, but this story outlines many instances where that was not the case. Sometimes it led to a rule change (Jerome Bettis, anyone?), and in other cases (the NBA Lottery) it likely changed a franchise’s destiny. Most interesting, however, is how important the coin toss remains in cricket (for now?). Fun read about something we hardly ever think about in sports. – PAL

Source: Coin Toss Retains Its Place in History, if Not in Cricket, Victor Mather, The New York Times (11/30/15)


Bench Celebrations Never Get Old

Monmouth’s basketball team is off to a good start. They got a win at UCLA, then beat #17 ranked Notre Dame and USC. They are 4-2 and were a on my radar a bit after those big wins. But now they’re really on my radar, thanks to this Deadspin article highlighting their bench celebration antics. My favorite has to be this one:

But click the link and watch the rest. These guys are having fun and not afraid to look silly. Isn’t this what college sports should be about? -TOB

Source:Nobody in Sports is Having As Much Fun As the Monmouth Bench”, Patrick Redford, Deadspin (11/29/2015)

PAL: Would it be in poor taste to buy a keg and send it to the residence of where these perfect morons live in New Jersey? 100% love these goofballs.


Video of the Week:

PAL: Do any of our readers know this young lady? Asking for a friend.


PAL Song of the Week: Van Morrison – “Into The Mystic”. Dance with a loved one in the kitchen. Hold them tight, and don’t say a damn word.

Here’s the full playlist of all our picks. It’s all over the place, like you and me. 


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“You thought he was cute? Do you realize when he graduated we were like three years old?”

-Mike

Week of November 9, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 10.04.40 PM

Known as a dunker early in his career, Steph Curry has added a reliable outside shot to his game this year. 


 “I’ve never really given it my best” – Michael Phelps

He’s the most decorated Olympic athlete ever. A GOAT in every respect, and, for a good amount of time, he was also a young man adrift, unhappy, and – though no one close to him will out and say it – flirting with addiction issues. Following a stint in rehab, Michael Phelps seems happy, focused, and serious about training for the first time since the Beijing Olympics in 2008. If his recent race times are any indication, Phelps’ best might be yet to come in what will be his fourth Olympics. Referring to the upcoming Rio games, longtime swim coach (not Phelps’ coach) Eddie Reese says, “I think we’re going to see him go faster than he’s ever gone. Faster than [high-tech] suit times. He’s going to be very, very hard to beat.” I dug into this profile – it touches on a lot of factors at play (absent father, addiction, yes people vs. real friends, and riveting relationship between Phelps and his long-time coach, Bob Bowman). When it all comes down to it, I’m in – I want to see what Phelps’ best looks like. – PAL

Source: “After rehabilitation, the best of Michael Phelps may lie ahead”, Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated (11/10/15)


Phil Lang: Ahead of the Fashion Curve

Not too many years ago, it seemed weird to me to see a guy wearing shorts above the knees. But fashion has changed and now it’s weird to see a guy wearing shorts below the knees. Just the other day I was at a coffee shop and I saw a guy in his early 20’s and he had those monstrously baggy basketball shorts that were down to his mid-calf, and I could not stop wondering how he thought this was ok. To be fair, I always thought shorts that baggy were terrible. To be sure, baggy shorts were in from the early-90’s until just a couple years back. To his credit, 1-2-3’s own Phil Lang has been rocking thigh-highs for years. But even as men’s shorts have crept back northward, it hadn’t really hit the NBA. Until now: LeBron James, has begun wearing shorts several inches above his knee this season. To wit:

Nov 6, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) works against Philadelphia 76ers guard JaKarr Sampson (9) during the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

He’s still wearing compression shorts underneath, but it did get me wondering: With LeBron wearing shorter shorts, could we eventually see an NBA player return to the butt-huggers of the 70’s and 80’s?

DRJ

And then I read this article about Russell Westbrook’s interest and influence in high fashion. We now have our suspect: If any current player has the fashion sense and the clout to rock the Thighlights like Dr. J did, it’s Russ. I predict he does it within the next two seasons. -TOB

Source: LeBron Reveals the Reason Behind His Shorter Shorts“, Zach Harper, CBS Sports (11/09/2015); NBA Star Russell Westbrook is Changing How Men’s Fashion Works“, Joshua Green, Bloomberg Business (11/03/2015)

PAL: Am I visionary? A fashion icon? An inspiration? It’s hard to say no to any of those questions I posed to myself. I’ll add that I’m grateful my contemporary, LeBron James, finally saw the light I was shining.


We, The Fans, Are Morons, Exhibit 845

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was busted for DUI a couple weeks ago. The response from fans: Frustration with law enforcement for not doing real work. I would contend keeping drunk drivers off the road qualifies as real work, but that’s just me. My favorite: “[U]nderage drinking and a blood-alcohol content threshold of 0.08 are artificial limits set by a cowardly Ohio General Assembly more interested in federal highway funds than what was right for Ohio.” – PAL

Source: These Letters To The Editor Of The Columbus Editor Defending J.T. Barrett Are Hilarious”, Patrick Redford, Deadspin (11/8/15)

TOB: We now have dash cam footage of the arrest. Do yourself a favor and watch it to the end. The best part comes when the cops, who have kindly decided not to take J.T. to jail and allow someone to pick him up, have a hearty laugh at the fact that the person on his way to pick J.T. up is none other than Cardale Jones. Cardale is the other Ohio State QB, and J.T. and Cardale have played a bit of musical chairs with the starting QB job over the last two seasons.


The NFL Wants SF to Take Down Overhead Muni Cables

I just can’t even. At this point, the NFL is just trolling me. Me, personally. Reports this week say that the NFL wants the city of San Francisco to remove all the overhead Muni cables on Market Street in order to accommodate “Super Bowl City” for Super Bowl 50, which ohbytheway, will be played 45 miles south at Levi’s Stadium, the home of the Santa Clara 49ers. And ohbytheway, this will cost millions of dollars to accomplish. Even if the NFL foots the bill (which there is no suggestion that they are offering to do), I want to punch Goodell in the face. This will inconvenience commuters for weeks. I don’t even want them in our city. Go to San Jose, which is a lot closer to Santa Clara. If you wanted to “host” a Super Bowl in San Francisco, then maybe you should have built the stadium in San Francisco. And if the citizens of San Francisco wouldn’t give you any money to do so, maybe the 49ers should have spent their own money to do it, just like the Giants did. -TOB

Source: Muni Wires May Come Down for Super Bowl“, Joe Fitzgerald RodriguezSan Francisco Examiner (11/12/2015)

PAL: There’s one point you’re missing, TOB: The NFL wants it. They want it! Gimme…gimme. Come on. Just…Seriously, come on. I want it. I want it. I waaaaaaaaaant iiiiiiiiit! God, this is so unfair. 


Thursday Night Football Unwatchable For TOB and Others Like Him

So there were some new jerseys on display in Thursday night’s football game. The Buffalo Bills wore all red; The Jets wore all green. “Who cares?” you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you who – colorblind folks like Tommy. Deadspin did a nice job putting together a video of what the game looked to those folks – it really does look like everyone’s wearing the same jersey.

image

I’ve seen :15 of the world from your perspective, TOB, and I don’t like it. – PAL.

Source: Stupid Nike Uniforms Wreaking Havoc On Colorblind NFL Fans”, Timothy Burke, Deadspin (11/12/15)

TOB: Actual post I made about these uniforms as a comment Thursday night on FB long before reading this story: “I’m colorblind. When it is zoomed in, I’m fine. But on the normal distant shot I have serious trouble telling them apart.” It sucks, man. I am hopeful that, one day, the plight of the Color Blind is taken seriously.


Video of the Week:


PAL Song of the Week: Goat – “Run To Your Mama

Check out the entire playlist. I like it, and you just might, too.


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“I’m not talking about dance lessons. I’m talking about putting a brick through the other guy’s windshield. I’m talking about taking it out and chopping it up.”

– Royal Tenenbaum

 

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 May 11, 2015

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I am only a doctor of law, but I can tell you: That is not good.


Big Data Reaps Big Rewards

Like many Americans, you probably tuned into the 2012 Olympic Games in London. One of the events that garnered a lot of attention was Team Pursuit Cycling in the “Velodrome”. The U.S. women’s team surprised many people when it came out of nowhere to capture the Silver medal. In the months leading up to the Olympics, the women’s team was putting up times during competition and training that would have left them well off the medal podium. In a short amount of time, the team shaved upwards of 5 seconds (which is an eternity in this event) off their mark. How did they do it? According to a documentary premiering on May 16 at the Seattle International Film Festival, the team owes its thanks, in some part, to Datameer, a big data analytics tool. The team began using fitness/sleep trackers, medical devices, and DNA testing to collect mountains of data on how their bodies were responding to training, and different factors in their lives (e.g., diet and sleep). The team then turned to Datameer to help analyze that data and try to identify patterns and inefficiencies in the way the athletes trained or prepared for training. Full disclosure: my wife works for Datameer and, prior to the 2012 Olympics, got to travel to the team’s training facility to help produce this video:

She had a great time at the Velodrome and I can’t wait to see this documentary, demonstrating how “data, not doping” can improve athletic performance. -TOB

Source: How the U.S. Women’s Cycling Team Transformed Itself With Technology”, Tom Taylor, Sports Illustrated (05/14/2015)


Show Her the Money!

On the court, the NBA is in the midst of its most entertaining stretch of the season – the playoffs, and there things are good. Off the court, however, a storm is brewing. In October, the NBA signed a new TV rights deal with ESPN and TNT – $2.7 billion dollars per year (starting in 2016), nearly triple the size of the previous deal, signed in 2007. That should mean sunshine and roses for all involved – after all, the players are guaranteed around 49% of basketball related income (BRI). More money from the TV deal means more money to be divided up by the players. However, the Players’ Union was smoked by the League in the last two rounds of labor negotiations (e.g. prior to the 2011 deal, the players were guaranteed 57% of BRI, and gave back that 8% to save the season) and they are looking to get some of that back, among other concessions. Last summer, the Union selected Michele Roberts, an extremely successful attorney with little sports experience, to be its new executive director. Roberts is the first female head of any major American sport’s players’ union. As she told the players in her pitch to select her: “I bet you can tell I’m a woman. My past is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.” No wonder she was a near-unanimous selection.

Immediately, Roberts came out swinging – setting the stage for an absolute labor war with Adam Silver, the NBA’s new commissioner, and the owners. Roberts has begun with a PR battle. “The (league has) done a great job promoting the notion that the owners make all the investments and take all of the risks and barely make a dollar … One of the things that I have on my list, that I will absolutely not go to my grave until I correct, is responding to that narrative.” She has a point: The value of NBA franchises has soared recently. Just six years ago, the New Jersey Nets were purchased for $365 million. They are presently valued at $1.5 billion, and would likely sell for over $2 billion on the open market. Pretty good ROI.

But Roberts’ job is not an easy one and her biggest problem may arise from within her own ranks. Although she has enlisted the help of stars LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony, NBA players have little incentive to pass up the kind of money that a work stoppage requires. “The problem is that basketball players have an average career of four years and an average salary of $5 million per year,” says Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College. “Given that and given that these guys love to play basketball, they don’t really have the basis to stay unified for a substantial period of time. They’re saying, ‘You want me to risk half a season so my salary could go from $5.1 million to $5.2 million?’ That’s going to be Michele Roberts’s main challenge.”

I have been on the union’s side in sports labor fights since the first one I can remember – the 1994 baseball strike. As Roberts points out, “It’s mind-boggling to me that people think that the players make too much. There would be no money if not for the players. Let’s call it what it is. There. Would. Be. No. Money. If not for the players. They create the game.” Good luck, Michele. You’re going to need it -TOB

Source: Outside Shooter”, Max Chafkin, The Atlantic (May 2015)

PAL: Roberts is right, but Zimbalist is more right. While owners have nothing to do with what I like most about the sport – a LeBron chase-down block, a Steph Curry 3 from 29 feet, Paul Pierce going to the well one last time – the stars aren’t the players most impacted by rev share. It’s not about the difference between $20M and $25M; it’s about the difference between $3M and $4M. Are aging, financially set stars whose main concern is their legacy on the court really going to give up a season for the seventh man in the rotation?


NBA Draft Reform

Tanking for draft position has been around for a long time. Way back in 1985, the NBA instituted the Draft Lottery to discourage teams from tanking for the opportunity to draft Patrick Ewing. The lottery has been in place, with some variations, ever since. In recent years, there have ever-growing calls for reform, to remove the incentive to tank. The fact is, tanking remains the best way for a bad team to get better, and as long as that is true, bad teams will have incentive to be even worse than they are. One proposed solution is known as “the wheel” sets draft order based on a rotating schedule, known years in advance. I hate this idea – because while tanking is disheartening as a fan, it at least offers hope. If your team is bad and you don’t have the hope of a high draft pick, following your team is the not fun.

Enter the “You’re the Worst” Plan, as proposed in this article. In short, before a season, teams would select, in reverse order of their finish from the previous season, the team they think will have the worst record the following season. In the draft the following summer, you would then have that team’s draft position (teams could not pick themselves). For example, the Timberwolves had the worst record in the NBA this season. They’d pick first. If they think the Sixers will have the worst record next year, they’d take the Sixers. If the Sixers had the third worst record next season, then the Timberwolves would draft third.

There would still be some incentive to tank, because it would give you an earlier pick to select the worst team, but the reward is far less immediate and far less concrete. After all, a team could end up being a lot better than you hoped. Plus, the possibility of bad blood between teams would be fantastic, and the selection process would make for amazing television. I’m in! -TOB

Source: The NBA Draft Is Broken: Here’s How to Fix It”, Seth Stevenson, Slate (05/13/2015)

PAL:  A list of #1 draft picks since 1999 (I’ve italicized the ones I think have proven to be franchise players):

  • 1999: Elton Brand
  • 2000: Kenyon Martin
  • 2001: Kwame Brown
  • 2002: Yao Ming
  • 2003: LeBron James
  • 2004: Dwight Howard
  • 2005: Andrew Bogut
  • 2006: Andrea Bargnani
  • 2007: Greg Oden
  • 2008: Derrick Rose
  • 2009: Blake Griffin
  • 2010: John Wall
  • 2011: Kyrie Irving
  • 2012: Anthony Davis
  • 2013: Anthony Bennett
  • 2014: Andrew Wiggins (TBD)

All involved have been happy with the results of 5/16. Let’s be honest – I’ll take a 31% chance at LeBron, Anthony Davis, or even Blake Griffin. In that same 16 years, six teams have won NBA Championships: Spurs (Duncan), Lakers (Kobe), Pistons, Heat (Wade + Shaq/LeBron), Dallas (Dirk), and Celtics. The Pistons, Celtics, and the Heat (Shaq and LeBron pairing with Wade) did it with free agents as cornerstones of the team. It’s cheaper to draft greatness, but ultimate success is still a crap shoot. I get why the Sixers are tanking (now in its third year?), but there’s a shelf life and a limited amount of patience, and I think the team has less than one year to start showing some flashes of improvement. All of this is to say that, of all the proposed changes to the lottery, I think I like the true lottery option the best. Every team that doesn’t make the playoffs gets the same odds of winning the first pick in the next draft.


Jered Weaver: Total Killjoy

Jered Weaver sucks. I know because I have him in a fantasy keeper league. He’s got enough of a name that I don’t want to outright drop him, but he has zero trade value. After getting rocked in just about every start this season, I benched him for his start against the then-hot Houston Astros last weekend. Of course, he threw a complete game shutout and had the most K’s he’s had in you a game all season. Dillhole. So how does this guy celebrate?

By getting legitimately angry at his teammates who were just having a little fun. Look at that stare at the 1:03 mark! And how he ends the interview like a petulant child! Man, what a fun teammate he must be. Stupid Jered Weaver. -TOB

Source: Weaver on Shutout, Gets Doused”, MLB.com (05/08/2015)

PAL: Sounds like someone’s got his panties in a bunch over fantasy sports. I couldn’t disagree with you more on this, TOB. First of all, let’s just chill out on the Gatorade showers. Also about just a pinch of “act like you’ve been there” for a shutout…in May on a team that’s currently .500. I guarantee you Pujols and other veterans sided with Weaver. What’s more, I honestly think Weaver handles the situation really well. He rolls with the hack move Gatorade dousing, but throwing what I assume is a bag of sunflower seeds at him on top of that is: (A) not funny or entertaining, (B) overkill after the dousing, and (C) an aggressive, dick 12 year-old move. Weaver takes a moment to gather himself (the camera zoom doesn’t help here), gives a polite, canned answer to get out of the interview, and ducks down into the clubhouse where he can light into some idiot for acting like a moron.


Has King James Left the Building?

For around a decade, LeBron James has been the best basketball player on the planet. He led the Miami Heat to four straight NBA Finals, winning two, before returning to Cleveland last summer. When he returned, though, something seemed off. Was it the hair plugs? Well, yes, those looked odd. But LeBron didn’t seem as explosive. He was more content to take jump shots than to get to the rim. He seemed less aggressive, less focused. People openly questioned if he was finally on the decline. Now, with the regular season behind us, we can evaluate – did LeBron’s game change? As it turns out, it did. Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry uses statistical analysis (noticing a trend?) to show that LeBron did shoot more jumpers this year and did attack the rim less. Is he in decline? Or was it a one-year blip? And where does his game go from here? -TOB

Source: The King’s Burden: Saving the Cavs Has Changed LeBron James”, Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland (05/13/2015)

PAL: “One of the most interesting things about superstars is watching them change their games in the face of decreasing athleticism. It’s the most human thing about them.” As Goldsberry captures in this piece, it’s fascinating to watch a supreme athlete be so open to evolving his game. Fascinating – yes – but it will never be better than watching a guy at his peak. Also, carve out 8 minutes and watch the video of LeBron working on post moves with Hakeem. Hakeem still has it in his fifties. That’s one graceful big dude.


Video of the Week

In honor of Corey Kluber’s ridiculous 8-inning, 18-strikeout, 0-walk, 1-hitter this week, check out the above video of young Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game against the Astros in 1998. Filthy. Nasty. And that ‘Stros lineup was legit!


“I bet you can tell I’m a woman. My past is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.”

-Michele Roberts

Week of April 13, 2015

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When it’s your birthday, Helmet Nachos are acceptable.


Why Charles Barkley Once Gained 19 Pounds in 2 Days (On Purpose)

Unrelated to the above photo, this is a great story about Charles Barkley. We’ll get out of the way and let Charles tell it:

“Back in my day we had a hard salary cap so you could not go over the salary cap like you can today and the Sixers had the No. 5 pick in the draft. I left college after three years and in fairness, I was fat in college. I played at 300 pounds. The Sixers called me a month before the draft and said, “We want you to get down to 285 pounds and come in before the draft.” So I get down to 283 and the night before we fly into Philly my agent said, “You do know if the Sixers draft you they are going to give you $75,000,  right?”  I said, “Dude, I didn’t leave college for $75,000. We have a problem.” He said, “You weigh about 283 now. What do you want to do? You beat their weight limit.” I said, “Let’s go out.”

So we went to Dennys and I had like two Grand Slam breakfasts. We went to lunch and I had like two big barbeque sandwiches. That night we went to a big steakhouse. The next morning I had two more Grand Slam breakfasts and when we flew to Philly, I weighed 302. I was like, Thank goodness, the Sixers are not going to draft me. So when you look at my face when commissioner [David] Stern says ‘With the fifth pick in the draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Charles Barkley,’ I was like, ‘Oh, sh–.’ When people go back and look at me walking, and they see that awful burgundy suit, everybody else is happy and Charles isn’t happy. But it worked out great. The most important person in my basketball career was Moses Malone and he got me down to under 250 pounds and the rest is history.”

Classic Chuck. -TOB

PAL: If for nothing else, read through Barkley’s transcript to see a dude who can get onto a tangent faster than a dog gets on a dropped piece of steak. In response as to whether he will accept an invitation to the Sloan Conference (an advanced metrics gathering), he said the following:

“They just charge you more calling them analytics but they are just stats. It’s kind of like, if you are black, you are a cook and if you are white, you are a chef. The chef gets paid a lot more than the cook (laughs). But my big rule is if people should be able to take a joke … Everyone knows Muhammad Ali is a hero of mine. So is Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. I did some research on Abe Lincoln when that movie came out. There are a lot of great men. But when they asked me for some great Americans, I said Colonel Sanders.”

Source: Charles Barkley Talks Fame, Social Media, at SXSW”, Richard Deitsch, Sports Illustrated (04/12/2015)


Curt Schilling Message to Himself at 16: Don’t Chew Tobacco

I’m not a fan of Curt Schilling. He’s a blowhard. But this should be mandatory reading for all people who chew tobacco, and all teenagers and their parents. Curt Schilling chewed tobacco for decades. It gave him cancer. He is still here, but there’s no way to know if the cancer will come back. Here, Curt writes a letter to his 16-year old self, urging himself to never start the habit. It’s a very powerful essay, written by someone who has stared his own mortality in the face. -TOB

Source: Letter to My Younger Self”, Curt Schilling, The Players’ Tribune (04/11/2015)


Bonds on A-Rod…But Really on Himself.

I have always liked Barry Bonds. I have never liked Alex Rodriguez. This makes their new-found friendship a conundrum for me. Barry helped A-Rod during his hiatus and is supportive of A-Rod’s pursuit of home run milestones. So how do I reconcile this? I have mostly ignored it. My dislike of A-Rod has nothing to do with steroids (as I’ve said here before, I don’t care about that). But in reading this article about Barry and his feelings on A-Rod’s return – it’s striking how Barry’s plea to give Alex a chance is really a plea to give Barry a chance. For example: “Why the hate? Why hate on something you’re paying to see? I don’t understand it. He’s entertaining us…I wish life wasn’t like that…This guy is not running for president of the United States. He’s not running for commissioner. We’re not running for political office. We’re just ballplayers. We’re not God. We’re imperfect people. We’re human beings.” Poor Barry. Just elect the greatest hitter of all-time to the damn Hall of Fame, will ya? -TOB

Source: “Barry Bonds on A-Rod: ‘I can’t wait until he hits 660’”, Bob Nightengale, USA Today (04/13/2015)

PAL: First off, I think TOB and I need to have a good ol’ debate about the Hall of Fame (I don’t think Bonds, ARod, Pete Rose, Sosa, Palmerio, etc. should be in). Secondly, I agree with TOB in that Bonds’ support for ARod is a plea for himself. I would also add that Bonds’ support is conditional, in that he knows ARod will never challenge his home run record.


Matt Barnes: Future Sacramento Mayor?

Well, that’s his life goal, anyways. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when I read that. I’ve never liked Matt Barnes. He’s a punk. He was a punk in high school, and college, and in the NBA. But I read this story, and I’m glad I did. It gives a lot of insight into an athlete that has many layers and wears his emotions on his sleeve. For example:

“We get paid a lot of money to play basketball. But what I want to let people know is that we’re still human. We’re still going through day to day struggles that everybody else goes through, but for two and a half hours, when you see us on TV, we have to act like we have the most amazing life in the world.” He pauses. “A lot of people don’t give a s— and I get that. They’re paying a lot of money to come see us play and we get a lot of money, so f— your human side.”

Matt Barnes may never be the mayor of Sacramento, but I understand him a bit more after reading this. -TOB

Source: The Clippers Polarizing Pariah Who Tells It Like It Really Is”, Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated (04/10/2015)

PAL: “And being an a–hole, he knows, is what’s kept him in the league.” Matt Barnes is a goon, and I mean that as a compliment. Every great hockey player has had a goon by his side. Teams in any sport need an enforcer, someone to keep the edge sharp. You don’t like these guys, and — guess what — you’re not supposed to like them, but they serve an important purpose. It’s a bonus that he seems to have his priorities straight when it comes to his kids, too. His job in the NBA isn’t glamorous, but it’s a necessity for a team to be great.


It’s Not Yet an Ending, And It’s Not Exactly Happy – But This is Great

As you may recall, Bryan Stow is the Giants fan who was beaten nearly to death, in front of his children, four years ago after an Opening Day Dodgers-Giants game at Dodger Stadium. He suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result. Stow has had a long road to recovery. It’s not over, but this week he provided quite the moving moment. On Thursday, Stow threw out the first pitch at the San Jose Giants’ (the San Francisco Giants’ minor league affiliate) game. Stow needed a walker to get out on the field, and he can no longer throw overhand, but damn if he didn’t get it to the catcher’s glove. Great job, Bryan – and good luck in your continued rehabilitation. -TOB

Source: Stow Tosses First Pitch For San Jose Giants Home Opener”, Jimmy Durkin, San Jose Mercury-News (04/16/2015)

PAL: You know what really sucks about this? Bryan Stow is known by millions as the guy that was beaten into a coma in some pointless, drunken brawl outside a baseball game. No one deserves to be defined by what has happened to him or her. I wish him all the best, and I commend the Giants for sticking by him all these years (especially Tim Flannery), but it pisses me off that he’s known for what happened to him.


Video of the Week

Well, that was ridiculous.


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Before we get to the quote of the week, I want to thank Tommy for being a great friend, a pain in the ass in a debate, and a well of inspiration. This guy is a friend who always shows up, a doting father, and a husband who’s ridiculously in love with his wife. He’s doing it right, and I’m lucky to call him my friend. Happy birthday, buddy!

“Damn you people. Go back to your shanties.”

-Shooter McGavin

Week of March 22, 2015

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Christian Laettner thinks this NCAA Tournament is heating up.

The Media is Public Enemy No. 1 in the Thunder Locker Room. Why?

The Oklahoma City Thunder are stacked with talent. They have two of the top five players in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But something is amiss in Oklahoma City. There is a growing divide between the Thunder players and the local media that covers the team. Things have gotten overtly hostile at times. Grantland’s Bryan Curtis dives deep – attempting to figure out what is going on and why. -TOB

Source: “Distant Thunder: What Did Oklahoma City’s Media Do to Piss Off Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant?”, Bryan Curtis, Grantland (3/20/15)

PAL: Fascinating read. What role do beat reporters play in today’s sports world? Athletes can communicate directly with fans or followers and have exponentially more reach than that of local newspapers. Regional cable sports affiliates (think CSN Bay Area) – business partners with the teams – have sideline reporters and bloggers (hardly objective), and the the team’s PR folks hover like chaperones at a Middle School dance during the post-game “scrum”. We all get shortchanged as a result. As Thunder beat reporter Berry Tramel puts it with regards to Westbrook, “I’m just going to be writing about how great he is. I’m never going to be writing about who he is.”


Steve Nash’s Legacy

The NCAA basketball tournament and the NFL free agency madness might have muted the retirement of an all-timer. Steve Nash, back-to-back MVP and the prototype of the modern point guard (Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook all have a pinch of Nash in their games) finally called it quits. Writer Lee Jenkins nails this summary of what Nash meant to his country (he’s a Canadian kid) and to the way the point guard position is played. Here’s a guy who received one D-1 scholarship offer from Santa Clara, and who was third string in Phoenix behind – get this – Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd. He’s given back to his community (his charity has granted nearly $5 million for child welfare) and has mentored the Lakers young draft picks while battling back and leg issues over the past couple years. What’s more, he’s established credibility to Canadian basketball. In fact, he’s the General Manager for the national team up there. Remember, the last two number 1 draft picks are from our neighbors to the north. All in all, he was a great shooter who also seems like a straight shooter. He was a pleasure to watch. – PAL

Source: “The Overflowing Legacy Of Steve Nash”, Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated (3/21/15)

TOB: I’ve been a Steve Nash fan since his college days in the mid-90’s, when he helped lead my parents’ law school alma mater (later mine, as well) to some classic tourney upsets. He is impossible to dislike – he made watching basketball more fun. He seems intelligent. He has a good head on his shoulders. This retirement announcement was a formality, as Nash has effectively been retired for a couple years now. But it’s a good opportunity to thank him for years of entertainment. And for a lot of NBA players, perhaps a time to thank him for their huge paychecks (I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas and Channing Frye). Nash, more than any player in my lifetime, made everyone around him better. That’s about the best thing you can say about an athlete, especially a point guard.


Old Man Does Not Trust Lady in iPhone

Thanks to 1-2-3 Sports! reader Michael Kapp for sending in this short but amusing story about New York Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin and his negative experience receiving driving directions from Siri. Choice quote:

“I don’t trust the lady in GPS, I don’t trust her, because they don’t send you the right way. I hit the button and I go ‘Park Ridge, New Jersey.’ And she comes back on, she’s giving me directions. So now I figure out where I am. I hit the thing and I said, ‘Thank you very much, I know exactly where I am now.’ And she comes back and says, ‘You don’t have to thank me.’ I swear to God that’s what she said. And then I couldn’t get her to shut up. Every turn. ‘Take a right here.’ I know where I am. I know where I am. I’m a block away from my house and she’s telling me where to go. I said, ‘I know where I’m going.’

He is definitely a grandpa (no offense, dad). -TOB

Source: Tom Coughlin Battles Siri”, Tom Rock, Newsday (03/25/2015)

PAL: Wait, this isn’t a story about my dad? There’s nothing more dangerous than a grandpa behind the wheel of a car with a smartphone in his hand. Nothing.


A Lesson In Class

We wrote and posted about Dean Smith following his death in February, but this little nugget was too good to pass up. A quick story worth your time about Smith’s final gift to every letterwinner at UNC (he coached for 36 years). I didn’t know much about Smith while he was alive, but now I understand what the fuss was about. He was a legitimate educator and community leader to the point where, if he hadn’t excelled at coaching college basketball (879 wins, two national championships, 11 Final Fours, 13 ACC Tournament championships, Olympic Gold Medal coach), his life would’ve still been extraordinary. – PAL

Source: “Dean Smith Used His Will To Buy Every One Of His Lettermen A Nice Dinner”, Samer Kalaf, Deadspin (3/26/15)


A World Series Game 7 “What If?”

Game 7 of the 2014 World Series was a classic, but it almost had one of the most bizarre and exciting endings in World Series history. With two outs in the 9th, the Royals’ Alex Gordon hit a line drive that skipped under Giants’ centerfielder Gregor Blanco’s glove, and rolled all the way to the wall. Gordon made it to third, but many wondered what would have happened if he had scored. Everyone involved (especially Royals manager Ned Yost, who says that Gordon would have been out by 40 feet) agrees that it would have been a huge mistake to send Gordon. But Tim Kurkjian still put together a great article – interviewing all the people involved in the play and using math to determine definitively what would have happened had the Royals sent Gordon. -TOB

Source: The Penultimate Play”, Tim Kurkjian, ESPN (03/25/2015)

PAL: Like Tommy, I dig the oral history approach to analyzing this play. As dominant as Bumgarner was, it is more likely that Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey would’ve executed a throw and catch from 120 feet apart than it was for something to go badly (for the Giants) during the next at bat. With Gordon on third, any hit, passed ball, or error ties the game. As odd as it sounds, Kansas City had more positive options facing Bumgarner than it did taking a chance with sending Gordon.


Video of the Week

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Week of February 2, 2015

Madbum rocking the Carhartt while slamming suds with Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones. No big deal.

Running & Autism: A Perfect Fit For Mikey Brannigan
Remember those “Faces In The Crowd” pages in the old SI magazines? Well, I’ve just found out they’ve expanded the format for the online version, and – man – it is really cool. Instead of the one paragraph description, SI goes all-in with a full article. This month’s feature is especially impressive – a must-read. Mikey Brannigan was diagnosed with Autism at an early age, and it wasn’t until a chance encounter that the family found the perfect outlet for him: running. The simplicity of the sport, combined with a lot of other factors specific to autism, has allowed Brannigan to do more than compete at the varsity level – he excels. He’s on track to be an Olympic hopeful. How cool is that? – PAL

Source: “High School Athlete of the Month: Mikey Brannigan”, Ali Fenwick, Sports Illustrated (2/4/15)

TOB: Enjoyed reading this, and also enjoyed that it led me to finding this – people featured on Faces in the Crowd who went on to famous athletic careers, including Phil’s favorite (/sarcasm), Joey Mauer.


The Basketball Glass Ceiling Has Been Broken in Russia
WNBA players are not paid very much money. I knew this was true, but even the very best players barely get paid over $100,000 a season. To supplement that income, many WNBA players head overseas in the offseason and play in leagues in Europe and Asia. Amazingly, though, they get paid more overseas. A lot more. Take Diana Taurasi. She was the 2014 WNBA MVP runner-up, and she made just $109,500. But in Russia she made $1.5 million. This has been going on for years. The new twist, though, is that Diana Taurasi’s Russian team, looking to protect its $1.5M investment, is paying Diana Taurasi to sit out the next WNBA season, thus keeping her healthy and fresh for her Russian team. This must be very embarrassing for the WNBA, and worse yet is that apparently foreign teams have been trying to get WNBA stars to do this for years. If more players follow Diana’s lead, the WNBA could be in serious trouble. – TOB
Source: “Diana Taurasi’s Russian Team is Paying Her to Skip the WNBA Season”, Kevin Draper, Deadspin (02/03/15)

PAL: A part of me thinks if some Russian oligarch wants to lose $7 million to fund a women’s basketball team for which no one pays to see play, then that’s on him. A part of me thinks that the US market for a professional female basketball player is somewhere between 50-150k – it’s not even in the stratosphere of the NBA, but – hey – it’s a living, right? And then I think about the LPGA (est. 1950) and the Women’s Tennis Association (est. 1973 by Billie Jean King). While Tommy was right – both tennis and golf are individual sports that derive a large portion of revenue from sponsors, consider the following:

  • According to the LPGA official website, 45 women have earned over $5 million in winnings throughout their career.
  • Look at the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) – 30 women have earned over $10 million in their career
    • The Williams sisters have over $80 million in prize money between them!
    • You know how much Billie Jean King won in her first Wimbledon – what amounts to $857.89.

Women’s professional sports is a longview, social endeavor. It requires support, because it’s more than business. Should I have a daughter, and should she excel in sports, I want to live in a place that allows her dream to become a reality.


10 Steps To Buy A Recruit

Wednesday was National Signing Day for college football, so this story is timely despite its publication date. ESPN televises 17 and 18 year-olds doing their version of LeBron’s “The Decision” on this day – the first day for recruits to officially commit to a college. While the relatively recent glamorization of this day doesn’t sit well with me, the under-the-table work of actually getting player X to sign at school Y is pretty interesting, as this step-by-step, first-person account reveals. We all know that illegal benefits are given to top recruits, but I haven’t seen a story about the system of how to do it been laid out this plainly. This isn’t the story of Nevin Shapiro at Miami – this is the story from the guys who are smart enough to not get caught. One other note – the scroller indicates this story is much, much longer than it actually is. – PAL

Source: “Meet the Bag Man”, Steven Godfrey, SB Nation (4/10/14)


Video of the Week

Vine of the Week


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“I call it the goddamned blessed road. I’ve buried friends. I’ve put friends in rehab. I’ve watched marriages dissolve. There’s a lot of collateral damage in this lifestyle I’ve had for 33 years. I’m going to send myself home safely.”

– Tim Flannery