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 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 August 25, 2014

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Jerry Jones Has a Great Life.

This profile on Jerry Jones is incredibly long, and you probably don’t have time to read it all. Which is why we’re here, with the best tidbits from a really good read:

  1. Jerry Jones is 6 feet, ½ inch tall. I always thought he was like 6’4.
  2. Jerry Jones played college football.
  3. George Strait fans really love George Strait. $1000 for parking spots?!
  4. Jerry claims he spent all the money he had at the time ($150M) buying the Cowboys. Forbes now values the team at $3.2B. Billion! Seems like a wise investment.
  5. Sports radio guys are idiots. I did not learn that from this story. But I did learn that one of the dumbest is in Dallas, who stated in this story that being GM of the Cowboys is maybe one of the most important jobs in the world. The world. Ugh.
  6. Jerry Jones uses a flip phone. For the record, I love flip phones.
  7. Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson were teammates in college?!
  8. Romo talking about how Jones is all about substance and not style, and that is why he passed on Johnny Manziel, right after reading how angry Jones was that they did not take Manziel, is really funny.
  9. Romo drinks Miller Lite. Of course.
  10. While the reporter was there, Adrian Peterson called Jerry Jones and told him he’d like to play for the Cowboys. Jones expressed that the interest is mutual. I can’t wait to see what the Vikings’ response is to this.
  11. Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson were ROOMMATES in college??
  12. With outside financial backing, Jerry Jones almost bought the San Diego Chargers when he was just 23 years old. His father talked him out of it. That is wild.
  13. Years ago, Jones gave up alcohol to lose weight. But his own mother convinced his wife to get Jones drinking again, because he was too much of an asshole sober.
  14. God I wish I was rich: “He and Jones were drinking heavily in Austin one night and stumbled into a dance club at 2:30 a.m. when the bartender told them that last call had long passed. “Either you start servin’ drinks,” Jones said, “or I buy the bar and you’re the first son of a bitch I get rid of.” Ten minutes later, Jones tells Hansen, “Go to the bathroom.” Inside, Hansen discovered a bartender sitting behind a hastily assembled but fully stocked bar; Jones, Hansen and another 10 pals enjoyed mixed drinks until 5 a.m. Hansen was shipwrecked with a hangover until late the following afternoon. “Jones was on ‘Good Morning America’ at 7 a.m.,” Hansen says in awe.)”

As I said, Jerry Jones has a great life. -TOB

Source: Jerry Football”, by Don Van Natta, Jr., ESPN The Magazine (08/28/14)

Note: Jerry Jones is one of the primary reasons I love sports. When it all comes down to it, we want characters. Give me more weirdos, drunks, oddballs; give me a second helping of Mark Cuban, Dennis Rodman, and Lawrence Taylor. While of course I want the Twins* to win the World Series, it’s not happening more than 5 times in my life (stop laughing – a guy can dream – they’re 40% of the way there already). At some point we all recalibrate our definition of ‘hero,’ and Kirby Puckett, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, etc. are replaced with mom, dad, brother, and teacher. It’s a liberating moment, actually. What we really want from sports is characters – characters we like, characters we hate, and characters we like to hate/hate to like. Keep on keepin’ on, Jerry. More strippers. More plastic surgury, you dirty ol’ man.  – PAL

* I want the Giants to win, too. There – I said it. I like – no, I’m a fan – of the San Francisco Giants. If the Twins aren’t in it, then I’m rooting for the Giants. They’re my sidepiece.


Inner. Inner City. Inner City Pressure.

How will the recent Little League World Series, where an all-black team from inner-city Chicago and a diverse team from inner-city Philadelphia dominated the headlines, change the way MLB approaches baseball in major U.S. cities? One idea in this article is that MLB teams should start baseball academies in their city to promote the game and develop talent who might not otherwise have a chance to play. The article suggests one issue is that teams would not want to develop a talented player, only to have him be drafted by another team. Of course, an obvious solution, one I first heard suggested right here by our own Phil Lang, is that MLB teams should follow the MLS rule – teams who develop a player in their academy should be able to select him before anyone else has the chance. Do it, MLB. My son is 2 months old. I can’t wait to send him to the San Francisco Jr. Giants Academy that does not yet exist. -TOB

Source: “A Catalyst for Change”, by Anthony Castrovince, Sports on Earth (08/21/14)

Note: Steve Bandura articulates it perfectly. I’ve been circling around this point, but I couldn’t flesh it out. Let’s get past the soundbite (the number of African Americans playing in the MLB is dwindling) and talk about the cause so we can explore possible solutions. “The African-American kids in the suburbs play,” Bandura said. “So what, if they go inside a certain boundary, all of a sudden they’re not interested in the game? None of those stereotypes make any sense. A six-year-old kid is not saying, ‘Well, I’m not going to play baseball because there are more scholarships in football for college.’ It doesn’t make any sense, and I’m tired of people running out those stereotypes.” – PAL


Everybody Seems to Be Coming Around…

Since I was a kid, I have rooted against the darlings of the sports media. So, I never liked Peyton Manning. When he was in college, I did not want him to win the Heisman, and I was really excited when Charles Woodson beat him for it. I have reveled in Peyton’s playoff failures over the years. I have no idea why, looking back. He seems like a decent guy. Part of it is because I’ve been reading/seeing the same stories marveling at how much film he watches for two decades now, and it gets old. On the other hand, I also really enjoy players continuing to excel far beyond an age when they should. I also like improbable comeback stories. Peyton’s comeback from the neck surgeries, at this age, is pretty remarkable. So I decided to read this profile, and I’m glad he did. He’s a strange dude, but I am actually beginning to like him.

Source: Inside Manning”, Dan Pompei, Sports on Earth (08/25/14)

Note: Peyton Manning can work as hard as he wants – it will never make up for the $40 he cost me on the halftime score of the Super Bowl last year. Jerk. What the hell is this OCD nutcase going to do after he retires? If there’s any poetic justice left in the world, for the love of god, please let Manning’s son love soccer. Also, he owns 21 Papa John’s in Colorado. Papa John’s pizza stinks.


“Mama, If That’s Movin’ Up, Then I’m Movin’ Out”

While reading this story, I couldn’t help but think of Todd Marinovich (if you haven’t seen this 30 for 30, do yourself a favor and watch it soon). It lacks the angle of the parent maniacally engineering a star athlete, but it is a fascinating look, not often seen, into the mind of a once promising athlete who didn’t quite make it, and how he has adjusted to the fact that he will not be a star. Many people think how great it would be to be a professional athlete – but what happens when an athlete falls a little short of riches and fame, and his sport becomes a job? -TOB

Source:The Making and Unmaking of Preston Zimmerman, American Soccer Player”, Brian Blickenstaff, originally published in XI Quarterly (Fall 2012)


 

Track & Field Has a Great Idea

When do you care about Track & Field? Every 4 years, just like the rest of us. How exciting is it to watch? I love it. This article brings to light a new approach to Track & Field that makes a lot of sense, and it’s based off of the following take: “Track is a sport crippled by two evils: the stopwatch and the Olympics. The stopwatch tries to find validation in the thousandth of a second, and the Olympics wants to have one big hoopla every four years. Both are complete crap.” Quick read. Fresh opinion. Good idea.

Source: “Jenny Simpson Is Better Than Any Gold Medal Or World Record”, Jon Gugala, Fittish (8/29/14)


VIDEO OF THE WEEK:


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“Well, everyone knows Custer died at Little Bighorn. What this book presupposes is… maybe he didn’t.”

-Eli Cash