Week of September 7, 2015

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


Story Update: Tom Brady, Still a Bimbo

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

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

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


Home Court

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

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

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


Finding a Diamond in the Rough

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

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

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

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

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


Jarryd Hayne: One of a Kind (?)

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

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

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


Video of the Week

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


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

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


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

– Rob Gordon

 

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Week of October 13, 2014

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When the Greatest Basketball Player on Earth Went to Alcatraz

Phil’s alma mater, the University of San Francisco Dons, won two NCAA national championships in men’s basketball in the 1950’s, led by future NBA hall of famers Bill Russell and K.C. Jones. It’s pretty remarkable to think about now, and it would have been fun to be living here when they were dominating from their tiny school that did not even have its own gym at the time. If they made a tourney run now, you’re damn right I’d jump on that bandwagon. Well, back in the 1950’s, the inmates at Alcatraz felt the same way. The Dons had a lot of fans on The Rock, and when the inmates asked the prison chaplain, who doubled as a professor at USF, if he could bring some of the players to meet them, he was happy to oblige. The players were welcomed like conquering heroes, and all seem to look back on it fondly. This is a pretty cool story, made even more interesting because it had been previously unreported, nearly 60 years later. -TOB

Source:”Bill Russell, KC Jones Treated Like “Rock” Stars at Alcatraz”, by Baxter Holmes, Boston Globe (10/11/14)


The Giants Win the Pennant! The Giants Win the Pennant!

I’m writing this less than two hours after the Giants finished off the Cardinals to win their third National League pennant in five years. So with that in mind, I say: Baseball is friggin great. But, baseball has a lot of detractors: People say the games last too long, despite being shorter than football. Others say the games are too slow/boring. Well, as my good friend Ryan Rowe once said, “Baseball is a thinking man’s game. I wouldn’t expect you to understand it.” I think the biggest criticism of baseball that I actually agree with is the claim that it is too regional. Here’s the thing about baseball: When your favorite baseball team is good, the summer zooms by. No matter what else happens, you have your baseball team to look forward to at the end of the day. Because they play every day for six months, you really start to feel a part of the team. Unlike football, where a deep playoff run is just two or three games, in a deep baseball playoff run, your team plays almost every day for a month. Every pitch brings anxiety, but it’s the good kind of anxiety. Your liver is about the only thing in town not having a great time. But I get it – if your team sucks, the season is unbearable. When the Giants weren’t in the playoffs last year, I could barely drag myself to watch. That is not true for me with basketball and football. And I love baseball! But this postseason has been especially dramatic. Here, Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal discusses baseball’s problems, but argues that the only cure baseball needs is the postseason. Thankfully, that comes around every October. -TOB

Source: Baseball Makes Its Dramatic Case”, by Jason Gay, Wall Street Journal (10/06/14)


For the Last Time This Month, I Give Props to a Royals Pitcher

One of the coolest/weirdest things about Twitter, is how it puts us in touch with celebrities/athletes/politicians/etc. that until this point in history, we had no chance of being in contact with. It’s pretty cool when you tweet at a famous person and they reply. It’s also pretty weird. This is a great little snapshot into the coolness/weirdness of these interactions. A Kansas City Royals fan jokingly (?) tweets at a Royals pitcher, saying he’s too broke to buy tickets to the ALCS, but really wants to bring his girlfriend. Surprisingly, the pitcher, Brandon Finnegan, actually replies. And hooks the dude up with two tickets. And – he may have also treated him to dinner? What a cool/weird time we live in. And a tip of the cap to Brandon Finnegan – good lookin’ out! Of course, now that you’re facing the Giants in the World Series: Die like a dog. -TOB

Source: “Royals Pitcher Gives Playoff Tickets to Broke Dude on Twitter“, Tom Ley, Deadspin (10/14/14)


You Play for Cleveland, LeBron. Remember?

This is a short and admittedly insignificant story, but I find myself coming back to it. LeBron James, while playing against Miami Heat in a pre-season game, appeared to set a pick against the wrong team. After 4 years playing for Miami, I can understand the brief mental lapse, yet he denies that’s what happened. Compared to LeBron James, I know nothing about basketball, but I’ve watched the video 10 times now, and he absolutely sets a pick for the wrong team. Why does LeBron lie about something as insignificant as a pick in a pre-season game? Just goes to show you – never trust the Cowboy/Yankee fan combo (LeBron is one of these folks). -PAL

Source: LeBron Denies Forgetting Which Team He Plays For Now”; by Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (10/16/14)

-TOB Note: I’m siding with LeBron.


Sumo School Keeps Calligraphy Alive 

This is largely a photo story, but it’s too good to keep from you. Sumo school curriculum includes history of sumo (obviously), sports medicine (makes sense, but don’t they have trainers for that?), biology (um), traditional singing (I want to go there), and Japanese calligraphy (click on the link already, folks). This all takes place in what looks like a second grade classroom. I repeat, massive sumo apprentices go to class (shirtless, for some reason) for 6 months to paint calligraphy, sing songs, and drill the differences between meiosis and mitosis. No wonder Japan is kicking our ass in the classroom – our athletes don’t go to class while their athletes are learning calligraphy. -PAL

Source: “Sumo School is a Magical Place”; Brian Ashcraft, Kotaku (10/14/14)


Video of the Week

Usually we only do one video of the week, but this week we could not help it. We present you with the following:

1. Hockey fan from Columbus, pretty much summing up my stereotypes about both hockey fans and people from Columbus.

2. Fox Deportes with an EPIC call of Ishikawa’s walk-off homer to deliver the Giants the pennant (no embed available)

http://deadspin.com/giants-win-the-pennant-on-travis-ishikawa-walk-off-home-1647464716

3. Classic brother-on-brother sports-related pain. In slow-mo!


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QUOTE

“We got no food, we got no jobs, our pets heads are falling off!”

-Lloyd Christmas


 P.S.

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Not a bad Thursday night.

Week of June 9, 2014

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Argentina needs Messi, but do they want him?

Lionel Messi left his home in Argentina when he was 13 for pretty understandable reasons – one of the best clubs in Europe wanted him (FC Barcelona), and they would provide the medical treatments he needed (he had a growth-hormone deficiency). Yet, even as Messi is widely considered one of the best players ever, Argentineans have a surprisingly complicated relationship with their star. They don’t completely see him as one of their own. “We’ve always liked how Messi plays,” the driver, Dario Torrisi, told me, “but we don’t know who he is.” This story does a great job exploring what “home” means in the context of the world’s most popular game. -PAL

Source: “The Burden of Being Messi”; by Jeff Himmelman; The New York Times (6/5/14)

TOB: I visited Argentina about a month before the 2010 World Cup, as Messi was tearing up the Champions League. I can say that Argentina was pretty bonkers for him. The media narrative right now seems to be that Messi is not loved in Argentina (though the latest issue of ESPN the Magazine argues that, while this is true for those old enough to have lived through the 1986 World Cup, the younger generation loves Messi and finds Maradona rather abhorrent). He’s a quiet guy – he’s not bombastic. He has struggled, comparatively speaking, on the national team. He’s not Maradona. This is all true. But he’s amazing to watch, and some of his national team struggles can be pinned on a coach who had no idea how to use him (and had no business being coach *coughMaradonacough*). I think this is his time – and I think Argentina should go deep into this World Cup, with Messi leading the way.  


The Times, They Are a-Changin’

I can’t watch college football anymore without feeling a twinge of guilt, though I still do. In fact, I’m a season ticket holder.  But a tidal wave of change is preparing to hit American college sports. We might not know yet when exactly it will arrive and what it will leave in its wake, but it is coming. The debate on whether to pay college football players seems to be approaching a cultural tipping point (with Title IX implications of paying players threatening to leave college sports completely unrecognizable). The myth of amateurism has never rung so hollow. Making matters even worse is the fact that universities nationwide are facing budget reductions, as state legislatures have been cutting back on higher education funding for years (California, my home state, chief among them). And while public university budgets are being slashed, with those costs being passed on to students, universities across the country continue to subsidize their athletics programs with millions of dollars per year. So it was with some pride that I read this article, about how my alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley, has attempted to eliminate its athletic subsidy. In a few years, Cal has reduced its athletic subsidy from $12.1 million in 2010, to $3.2 million in 2013. The job is not done, but Cal has set a model that other schools should look toward. TOB

Source: “Cal Finds Little Company in Push to Cut Subsidies”; by Steve Berkowitz, Christopher Schaars, and Jodi Upton, USA Today (06/05/2014)

PAL: About a week ago I texted Tommy to give him crap. I’d heard the football field at Memorial Stadium (Cal’s football stadium) referred to as “Kabam Field” on the local sports radio station. Cal had struck a deal with a mobile game maker. “How lame,” I thought, as I grabbed for my phone. In fact, it’s not lame at all. Aside from the fact no one will ever, ever, ever refer to the field as “Kabam Field” in any normal conversation, Cal stands to earn $18 million over 15 years. Among other things, that money will be used to help finance the stadium renovations and student-athlete center (you can find the breakdown here). Lame? No. More like common sense.


A Million Dollars a Year on Fantasy Sports? What the Hell?

You ever win a fantasy league? I have. A few times. The gratification is short-lived, but I still feel pride in each of those wins, and aggravation for the losses. Months of work and hours pouring over stats often come down to something as stupid as 3 blocked shots in 5 minutes by a point guard who had 3 blocked shots the entire season before that, costing you the title (this actually happened to me). But what if the season didn’t take months, but occurred in the course of one night? And what if you bet money on that “season”? And what if you played thousands of “seasons” per night? You’ve just entered the world of Cory Albertson, a business school student at Notre Dame, who has turned fantasy sports into a science – and expects to make $1 million dollars this year on fantasy sports. Yes, one million. On fantasy sports. -TOB

Source: “A Fantasy Sports Wizard’s Winning Formula”; by Brad Reagan, Wall Street Journal (06/04/14)

PAL: When something  conceived as a game then becomes a business, there will be gap when it’s ripe for the taking. Fantasy sports hedge fund? I have some buddies who will no doubt contribute to this dude’s next vacation estate. Also, did you notice TOB mentioned he’s won a fantasy league a few times?


This is the perfect story if you don’t love (or “get”) hockey.

I grew up playing the sport in Minnesota. It’s a great game. Fun to play, fun to watch in person, and it features incredible athletes. Aside from a little San Jose Sharks fever once every couple of years, there aren’t a ton of hockey fans out here in California, even when two of the best teams play out here (it pains me to write that). Here’s a cool story breaking down a seemingly tiny, momentary element of the game – the faceoff. Like a jump ball in basketball, it determines possession; however, unlike in basketball, faceoffs happen dozens of times in a game where scoring is much harder to come by. What makes a player a great faceoff guy? Quick hands, researching the tendencies of the refs, and of course the willingness to headbutt your opponent. -PAL

Source: “Controlling the Faceoff is Critical to the Game of Hockey”; by David Wharton, Los Angeles Times (6/11/14)


No Respect At All.

As I write this, the Heat just lost by 21 points on their home floor in Game 4, and the Spurs have taken a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. That the Spurs are winning should not be much of a surprise to anyone who has been watching the NBA closely this year. The Heat are talented but old, and the Spurs are incredible, and have mostly torn through these playoffs. What continues to amaze me, though, is that LeBron James does not get the respect he deserves. “He’s not Jordan.” Yeah, and? No one is. “He abandoned Cleveland on national TV.” A mistake, to be sure. But why has LeBron not been forgiven? The guy has won two NBA titles and and made 5 NBA Finals. He’s the greatest player of his generation, and the ultimate team player. He works hard on defense, unlike many star players, and he shares the ball like Magic Johnson. Every bit of respect seems to be given grudgingly, and every time he does fail, people seem to relish it. Why? -TOB

Source: “LeBron James Has Earned More Respect Than He’s Given”; by Vincent Goodwill, The Detroit News (06/08/14)

PAL: I typically deplore when people play this card, but here I go: Magic and Michael didn’t play in the era of Twitter and 24-hour sports channels. Every sports story (and every news story for that matter) is reported on 10 percent of the time, then analyzed, editorialized, and debated the other 90 percent of the time. Stories are then made out of the opinions expressed about the original news story. This is why I can’t watch ESPN anymore (they aren’t the only guilty party, but definitely the most insufferable). LeBron was/is the most popular athlete when this media pivot took place. It’s not fair, but it makes sense.


Video of the Week Baseball players are the best.    

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“I saved Latin. What did you ever do?” – Max Fischer