Week of March 4, 2016

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Uhh, can you tell that baseball is back? Yes, 1-2-3 Sports is excited. Photo c/o Dottie Blue


The Science Behind the Sweetest Sound in Sports

Every baseball fan knows and loves the crack of the bat. Even when an opponent does it to your team, when you hear that pure sound of a ball crushed by the sweet spot of the bat, you know you’ve witnessed something pretty amazing.

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So, why, exactly, does the sweet spot create that crack, while a ball off the end or the handle creates completely different noises? SCIENCE is here to help. -TOB

Source: An Ode to the Crack of a Bat, The Most Satisfying Sound in Sports”, Carrie Hunt and the Spoonerisms, Deadspin (03/01/2016)

PAL: “Watching baseball is an exercise in craving that sound as a sort of near-Pavlovian stimuli. Our brain is constantly receiving hundreds of messages from our sensory system, and our sense of sound is a big part of filling in the gaps of what we see.” What a great article. Applying science, psychology, and even neurology to a feeling so absolutely perfect only adds to my appreciation for one of my favorite sounds. That and my buddy Matt Scanlan just made me a wooden fungo bat – he friggin’ made it. I mean, look at that beauty in the photo up top. Hot damn! I’ve been looking forward to hitting fungos this Saturday morning for the last 24 hours. 


Fun With MLB Photo Day

This made me legitimately LOL a number of times. This week MLB had “Photo” day, where they take headshots (and more) of every player and coach at Spring Training. Grant Brisbee went through over 5,000 of this year’s photos and noticed that most of the photos fall into one of eleven categories. In this article, Grant lays out the eleven categories, including “Let Me Show You a Baseball”, “Fake Hitting a Home Run”, and my favorite – “Coach Swallowing a Bug:

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Yep, he definitely just swallowed a bug. Please enjoy. -TOB

Source: The 11 Genres of Baseball Photos from Photo Day”, Grant Brisbee, SB Nation (03/03/2016)

PAL: TOB, you overlooked the best category: The Class Photo. Who knows? Perhaps someone from 1-2-3 Sports! has a series of senior class pictures with a lot of hair gel, wearing a suit from Jos. A Bank, and pointing a baseball bat at the camera. Baseball players are such doofuses.


Do They Panic? Do They Flinch? NOPE.

I wanted to share these two stories on Steph Curry and the Warriors last week, but life got in the way and I didn’t have time to write them up. Lucky me. Because on Saturday night Steph and the Warriors went bananas – trailing the Thunder the entire game, only to force overtime after a crazy turnover, and then winning in OT on a 32-ish foot bomb by Curry. If you didn’t see it, crawl out from that rock you’re under because here it is:

That, by the way, tied the NBA record for 3-pointers in a game, at 12 (including 3 in OT). During the game, Curry also broke his own record for 3-pointers in a season, set last year. And there are two months left in the season! He’s incredible.

Anyhow, the first story is an ode to Curry by Bethlehem Shoals, one of the best basketball writers around, and how Steph’s supreme confidence allows him to do the previously inconceivable things that he routinely does. The second is a look at whether the Warriors should sacrifice their depth for a chance to sign Kevin Durant this summer, which to me is a tough call. The Warriors bench is so good that when the bench comes in during the 2nd quarter, they always extend the lead. Does Kevin Durant give enough to the starting unit to make up for what they’d lose in trying to get him? The Warriors would likely need to lose Barnes, Bogut, and Livingston, if not a little more. That’s a hefty price to pay. On the other hand…Curry and Durant together would be terrifying. It’s one of those nice problems to have, but also a problem I am glad I would not have to make the call on. -TOB

Source: Stephen Curry’s Essential Confidence”, Bethlehem Shoals, SB Nation (02/24/2016); Golden State’s Kevin Durant Question”, Zach Lowe, ESPN.com (02/24/2016)

PAL: It is absolutely nuts that a story about a team coming off of a championship, in the home stretch of a 70+ win season considering breaking up that team is…well, not necessarily ludicrous. That said, under no circumstances would I bring in KD and get rid of Barnes, Bogut, and Livingston to free up space for KD for 3 reasons:

  1. Ah…they are going to win 70+ games, and this team already holds the title.
  2. Name 1 team you enjoyed after they added a top 10 player to a team that already has/had a top 10 player (TOB loved Miami with LeBron and Wade…gross).
  3. Steph – you have your nucleus with Draymond and Klay. This Warriors team can win multiple championships without KD. The league is better when the alphas are leading their own crew. Also, that would be a weak move on KD’s part. 


Video of the Week

Clippers owner, and former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer with an absolutely ridiculous, emasculating trampoline dunk. My favorite part, other than his hilarious face, is how he very nearly misses the trampoline.


PAL Song of the Week: Etta James – “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Check out all of our weekly picks here. Science has proven this playlist increases volume and shine in your hair.




 “Well, you don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Take a look at my cousin: he’s broke, don’t do shit.”

Lawrence

 

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Week of June 8, 2015

You just suck so hard, Skip.


David Lee, Draymond Green & Harrison Barnes for Kevin Love?

This was an actual thing. So was Klay Thompson for Love. With an injured Love for the Finals, it’s even harder to imagine, but these were hot button topics on local sports radio last summer. In this article,  Zach Lowe looks beyond Love’s injury and the “what-ifs” that dot every barstool sports debate. Trends in the NBA are evolving at an unprecedented rate, and Kevin Love – widely considered a top-1o player less than a year ago – now seems like an afterthought. The new hot button question is whether or not the Cavs are better without Love on the floor. “By not playing, [Kevin] Love has become the league’s most confusing and polarizing player.” And let’s not forget the real prize – Andrew Wiggins – now in Minnesota. Considering what LeBron is doing with a depleted roster, would keeping Wiggins on a team in the weak Eastern Conference have prevented the Cavs from getting to where they are now? As Lowe puts it, “ LeBron is winning with this Love-less crew of misfits, and there exists a reality in which the Cavaliers could have kept Wiggins, gained cap flexibility, and snagged Thaddeus Young to serve as Love Lite by simply cutting Minnesota out of the three-way deal that ended up sending Love to Cleveland.” Potential trades are always fun to talk about in the future tense, but Lowe’s article looks back on a non-trade and its impact on the Finals. – PAL

Source: What’s Next for Kevin Love”, Zach Lowe, Grantland (6/9/15)

TOB: There exists no reality in which the Warriors regret their decision. I have long been anti-Kevin Love, despite his numbers. I don’t really care what you do on the offensive end if you are a complete sieve on defense. The best point in that article was about Warriors officials having nightmares about Curry and Love defending the pick and roll. Terrifying. Vaguely related, after Game 2 of the Finals, I posited that the Cavs might be better off without Love and Kyrie, because neither of them plays a lick of defense, and the guys that stepped up in their place were busting their asses on that end. But after Game 4…I’m not so sure. LeBron is the best player since Jordan, but not even Jordan could have won a title with zero offensive help. LeBron needs someone to help shoulder the load, and that help is not coming. After Kyrie went down in Game 1, Phil asked me if LeBron was able to take this Cavs team to the title, would it be the greatest Finals performance of all-time? Instinctively, I said no. I mentioned Jordan’s 1993 Finals (41 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists per game) vs the Suns. I assumed LeBron had no chance to touch those numbers, and no chance to win the title. But he kind of is, and he definitely does. Does he have two more amazing performances in him? Probably. Will it be enough? I don’t know. Should be a great finish.


Serena Williams Keeps on Truckin

I don’t know a lot about tennis, but who doesn’t love Serena Williams? I will leave you with this, because this is some great writing:

“During her run at Roland Garros, she wasn’t light or uncertain. She was exhausted and clinical, struggling through a flu that left her, in her semifinal match against Timea Bacsinszky, hunched over and panting on her racket. When she saw an opening, she annihilated the ball, and when she didn’t see one, when a drop shot looked a little too far away or an angle a little too acute, she let the point go. It was, in other words, a win enabled by supreme experience, a master class in high-stakes resource management by a player who’s won 20 of her 24 Grand Slam tournament finals and who’s lost only once since November. And when she took the microphone after the final, she didn’t stammer or blink. She addressed the crowd in confident French, a worldly, sophisticated woman who spends much of each year in Paris.” -TOB

Source: “Like It’s 1999: On Serena Williams’s Dominance and the Passage of Time“, Brian Phillips, Grantland (06/08/2015)

PAL: “It’s so rare, in tennis, to watch a player really grow up. I don’t mean ‘mellow out’ or ‘stop partying’ or whatever grow up usually means in sports; I mean develop a fully adult self, distinct from the kind of prolonged high-stress adolescence that most stars, for obvious reasons, inhabit throughout their twenties.” The Williams sisters, who started as teenagers, took a sport and completely changed its face and attitude. Hell yeah. You know an athlete is transcendent when you take his or her greatness for granted. Serena won her first Grand Slam at 17. She’s now 33 and has 20 Grand Slams to her name. Can you name 5 other athletes who were at the top of there game for 16 years? Can you even name 2?


All Hail American Pharaoh

Last weekend a horse won the fabled Triple Crown for the first time in my life. It had been 37 years since Affirmed won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont in 1978 (Affirmed’s win was the 3rd in 6 years, but before 1973 there had been none since 1948). American Pharaoh ended the drought in dominating fashion. I’ve enjoyed horse racing since I was a teenager. The first horse to capture my attention was Cigar, who tied Citation’s record of 16 consecutive victories in 1995. As soon as I knew what the Triple Crown was, I had wanted to see it accomplished. But no horse came close from 1989 until 1997, when Silver Charm won the first two legs. That began a string of near-misses – 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2014 all saw horses win the first two legs. I had begun to believe it would never happen. Normally, if a horse has a shot at winning the Triple Crown, I do not miss it if I can help it. But on Saturday I was at a family party and didn’t get a chance to watch. My uncle had recorded the race, so late in the evening, the entire family gathered around the TV and watched. A couple of us had gotten wind of the result, but it didn’t make American Pharaoh’s win any less dramatic. Though the race had been over for hours, the entire party was transfixed – cheering American Pharaoh on. He led wire to wire, and when he opened up that huge lead on the homestretch, everyone went crazy. After the race, I heard multiple people remark that they had thought they’d never see a Triple Crown. I don’t know what it is about horse racing that has the ability to capture the nation’s attention for just a few minutes a year, but when it does it is quite the experience, as Charles P. Pierce experienced first-hand. -TOB

Source: King for a Day: American Pharaoh and the First Triple Crown in Generations”, Charles P. Pierce, Grantland (06/08/2015)

PAL: I just don’t care. This is counterintuitive. It’s a beautiful thing to see an animal do what it’s bred to do. Watching a dog on point while hunting pheasants jolts you, reminds you that it serves a purpose beyond playing fetch at the park. Seeing – er, watching on Discovery Channel –  a cheetah stalk and chase down a gazelle is beautiful. And yet, I don’t care about the Triple Crown. Perhaps it’s because seemingly every year a horse wins the first two races, which is then followed by talk radio and Sports Networks filling a sport season gap (pre-NBA Finals, early in the baseball season, NFL offseason, pre-Stanley Cup, no college sports of consequence). They tell me why the Triple Crown matters, which is followed by it never happening. Horse racing and boxing were once the biggest sports in America, so I’m told. That was 8 gazillion years ago. I just don’t care, and neither does anyone else besides writer Charles P. Pierce – an old fart with an old fart name. Oh, and Tommy. Tommy and old farts with old fart names who wear fedoras care about horse racing.

TOB Rebuttal: 

Total Attendance of the Triple Crown Races, 2015: 392,193 (and that’s with a first ever no-infield admission to the Belmont, with a cap of 90,000 attendance)

Total Viewers of the Triple Crown Races: Approx. 33,000,000 including over 14,000,000 for the Belmont.

There sure are a lot of old farts out there.


Follow the Bouncing Ball…

This is a fascinating story about NBA basketballs – starting with the tannery where the leather is made and ending with what happens to them after they get to NBA arenas, including some great stuff on how certain players like basketballs to be, and how the basketball has evolved over the last 40 years. In the old days, players liked a well-used basketball, sometimes using the same ball for all 41 home games. Today, they don’t have much choice, as the NBA won’t use a basketball for more than 3 or 4 games, for aesthetic purposes. Which is lame, really.  I have used an NBA game ball before, and you’d be shocked at how hard and slick it is. I am one of those players who is very sensitive to a basketball. If it’s too slippery, it doesn’t come off my fingers right and I will shoot poorly. Others don’t care about how it feels, and when they hear people like me complain about it, they think we’re making excuses. Maybe so. But I can tell you that I can pick up a basketball and know immediately if I’m going to shoot poorly with that ball. This article about how some NBA players are similarly sensitive, vindicates me. -TOB

Source: A Game Ball’s Road to the NBA Finals”, Baxter Holmes, ESPN (06/07/2015)


Video of the Week


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Update from last week: Steve Kerr is still the best.


PAL’s song of the week: Nina Simone – “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free“. Check out all of our weekly picks here (they’re super good).


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“I figure, I have two press conferences on the day of the game. I’m asked a lot of strategic questions; so, my options were tell the truth, […] and telling the truth is the equivalent of knocking on [Cavaliers coach] David Blatt’s door and saying ‘hey, this is what we’re going to do.’ I could evade the question, which would start this Twitter phenomenon: ‘Who’s gonna start for the Warriors?’ Or I could lie. So I lied. Sorry. I don’t think they hand you a trophy based on morality, they give it to you if you win. So, sorry about that.”

– Steve Kerr