Author Archive

Finally, an award white boys can win

Although insignificant, a groundbreaking award was handed out for the first time this year to nine athletes: the “Radbourn Award.” For the young people who weren’t born in time to watch Old Hoss Radbourn win 59 games in the 1884 baseball season, it was a sight. Never have I seen with my own two eyes a more gritty and determined player.

 

The Old Hoss himelf. This is my brah, brah.

 

Author Edward Achorn was just as taken with Radbourn as I was, and wrote the book Fifty-nine in ’84 about Radbourn’s season and old-timey baseball in general, I guess. He also decided to give out the ridiculously arbitrary and undoubtedly racist Radbourn Awards for the first time, in all likelihood to promote his book further. The team?
P – Tim Lincecum
C – Ivan Rodriguez
1B – Albert Pujols
2B – Dustin Pedroia
3B – Evan Longoria
SS – Derek Jeter
OF – Josh Hamilton
OF – Ryan Braun
OF – Ichiro Suzuki

 

I’ll let that sink in for just a minute…

 

Yes, there are three non-whites on the team (three and a half if you factor in Jeter’s oft-forgotten black father), the acceptably mainstream Pujols, Rodriguez and Ichiro. Other than those guys, this team is literally just the best white guy at every position. Except Jeter, who, as Joe Buck can attest, just wins games despite his obvious limitations as a ballplayer, because he’s gritty, I suppose.

 

What is the point of naming this team? To prove that white guys with worse statistics, injury problems, natural limitations and drug problems provide even more value to their teams than the threatening minorities who play better do? Heck, other than Hamilton and Pujols, every damn one of these players had a worse season this year than the year before. Did they get grittier because they played worse? Should we award them for “sticking with it?”

 

I don’t have a problem with grit as an aspect of the character of an athlete to evaluate. But the fact is that grit, heart, hustle, intelligence and “love of the game” have long been euphemisms to describe white athletes, regardless of how athletic they may be. Those same terms have also rarely been used to describe black athletes, so it’s not surprising to see this list is 66 percent white.

 

In fact, when I think of grittiness and overcoming a lack of talent and ability to make a positive contribution to the team, this past season, only one player comes to mind: Livan Hernandez. The guy is 35 years old, has been pitching a full season’s worth of games since his mid-teens, and was almost out of the league a few years ago. Last year, he comes out and tosses a 3.66 ERA and wins 10 games for the woeful Nationals. He averages about 82 m.p.h. on his pitches. Lincecum can throw in the high 90s, yet Tiny Tim’s ERA was just slightly better last year at 3.43.

 

And I’m sorry if I don’t see what’s so damn gritty about Josh Hamilton. Is it the fact that he was the #1 overall pick in the draft? Is it that dozens of scouts have their own stories of when they realized Hamilton was the most talented ballplayer they had ever seen? Or is it that he was a crackhead and an alcoholic not too long ago? He somehow managed to defy the odds and be the ballplayer that he was always supposed to be. Meanwhile thousands and thousands of gritty everyday people have overcome drug addiction to lead lives based on hard work, not on talent that was always there.

 

Give me a break. Achorn should name himself to the all-gritty author team, because he’s certainly overcoming a severe lack of judgment to become a successful writer.

The last time the Giants won the World Series, my thumb was in my mouth.

That it was my dad said to me tonight when I called him to talk about the World Series. My dad, who was born and raised in Washington Heights, New York, was a fan of the New York Baseball Giants in his youth. They moved to San Francisco when he was nine years old, but what nine-year-old kid hasn’t already fallen in love with a baseball team?

 

Photo Credit: John G. Mabanglo/European Pressphoto Agency

 

 

So, like millions of little kids, he moved, begrudgingly, on to rooting for the hapless Mets, who in their first year of existence (and best chance to win over millions of fans of support) set the record, still standing to this day, for the worst season ever. He still followed his favorites over on the West Coast. Willie and Willie were doing their Hall-of-Fame thing, but the team never psychologically recovered from leaving their beloved lopsided stadium and prime Manhattan real estate (just north of Central Park), and failed to capture a title in 53 years.

I don’t need to tell you all that the Giants won the World Series, because the picture I put up there was a pretty definitive statement on the major story of tonight’s news cycle. However, the length of time that the Giants of baseball went title-less should be considered serious, top-story news.

It may not be 84 or 86 years like the Red Sox and White Sox, but the Giants and Dodgers, when they moved out West in 1957, were the only teams on that side of the country. If you weren’t a Dodgers fans, you didn’t have the benefit of watching Sandy Koufax with anything other than dread and despair, because you were a Giants fan.

You were watching some of the all-time great players. Mays. McCovey. Marichal. Gaylord Perry. Orlando Cepeda. You never saw them win it all, then go out and see them at a bar later, like so many Yankee fans and so many unfortunate women had the pleasure of doing with Mantle and the boys. Then, you saw decade after decade of mediocre baseball. No all-time great players. Sure, there were the Kevin Mitchells, the Matt Williamses, the Will Clarks.

Then, in 1993, your team traded for Barry Lamar Bonds. You had one of the all-time greats, and then some. You also have one of the most hated and unfriendly baseball players as your hero, on the posters on your wall. You don’t get Cal Ripken, who if you met would buy you a drink if you say you’re from Baltimore. You don’t get Ken Griffey Jr., who, though he may have been an inferior ballplayer, was just so much more fun than Bonds.

It was easier to say Griffey was your favorite player than Bonds, just because you feel like you’d want to hang out with your favorite player all the time and play arcade games and throw snowballs together. Bonds would just cheat at snowballs and pack his with ice. You would hate him.

Fast forward to the present.

Bonds left a couple of years ago, for better or for worse, and the Giants have struggled to stay above water. They’ve had the game’s best pitcher the past few years, despite his maybe-soon-to-be-legal extracurricular activities, but struggled to score for him, even in the Majors’ worst division.

Tonight, and this month, everything came together for the Giants, who, I suppose, were always destined to win in The Year Of The Pitcher, because that was the only way they could win. They didn’t have Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, or even a Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. Their punch was Lincecum and Cain. Sanchez and Bumgarner. Wilson and The Machine.

So congratulations to all Giants fans, of all ages, on both coasts. It was a long time coming. The Yankees will win it again next year. Just like old times.

The NBA is back, y’all

Many of you are fully aware of my NBA obsession, but for those whose only connection to the NBA is my blogging whimsy, let me inform you that it returns tomorrow night with a ridiculous slate of games: the Miami Heat start their run of unachievable expectations against the Boston Celtics at 7:30, the Blazers and the Suns play somewhere out west that no one cares about because it’s not on national TV. At 10:30, my Rockets will be the first team to beat the two-time defending champion L.A. Lakers.

 

These guys are playing together for the first time. You should watch

 

 

Now, I know basketball isn’t for everyone. Most Americans don’t have the attention span to love a sport that happens continuously instead of for 10 seconds out of every minute. It’s why this country has never caught on to soccer – it forces fans to pay attention for far too long. 45 minutes and no commercials? Can you imagine such tomfoolery? The same goes for basketball, to a lesser extent. For minutes (MINUTES) on end, the play is continuous, and at any second something like this can happen (maybe not like that, but certainly like this). Sometimes it’s frustrating when you need to pee and miss a Kemp-on-Lister moment, but that’s life.

The reason I’m so in love with the NBA is because it has so many moments that will take your breath away. In any innocuous game over the course of the season, you’re going to see something downright incredible, because basketball is the sport that athleticism, timing and aggressiveness turn into physical art. College basketball is grunge rock and the NBA is The Notorious B.I.G. Yes, we all love Nirvana and what they did for white people in the ’90s, but look closer and you’ll see what the real art is.

That’s why I campaign so much for everyone to watch the NBA. If you love sports, you should love the NBA. No other “Big Four” league can touch it right now in terms of talent (sorry, NFL, but there’s nothing like the fivesome of LeBron, Kobe, Wade, Durant, and Chris Paul in your puny league), and no other team sport is quite as team-oriented as basketball (any time a Randy Moss-type effort is put forth by a player in the L, he’s systematically driven out of the league. Just ask Eddy Curry). You should all tune in tomorrow night, if for no other reason than you can always watch Glee on Hulu the next morning.

 

Missing out on the greatest sports writer of all time

I’m 21 years old. It’s currently 1:06 a.m., and the only reason I’m still awake is because the class that is ritualistically held at 9:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday was cancelled. This class is the only class I could possibly tolerate that early (my lack of functionality during the morning is part of the reason I love sports journalism), because it’s taught by the great Kevin Blackistone, and it’s one of the few classes where I can safely say that I learn on a regular basis.

Being 21 means certain things. Besides having a newfound, legal appreciation for the Dogfish Head Raison D’Être I’m currently sipping, having already experienced three-plus years of college (“Years you’ll never get back!” -Everyone Ever), and having the ability to participate in athletic activities multiple times a day and not need an ice bath, being 21 means I’m too young for things.

Specifically, I’m too young to know who Jim Murray was. Which is, frankly a damn shame. In fact,

Jim Murray

I’m a journalism major on track to graduate in less than a year, all set to embark on a career writing about sports for a living, and before tonight, I had never heard of the guy. My father will now gasp in horror.

 

For my contemporaries reading this who are the knowing-about-Jim-Murray equivalent of Yesterday Ethan, here’s his Wikipedia page. Wiki-Jim Murray obviously doesn’t tell the full story. I don’t think anyone or any entity could tell the full story, the late Murray included. His story is too full, too rich to be recounted.

At this point, you may be rhetorically asking yourself how I could possibly know, considering I’ve already disclosed that my knowledge of Jim Murray extends only a few hours. Well, I just read this story by Rick Reilly from 1986. Yes, the same Reilly who is now a caricature at ESPN, who the sports-blogosphere likes to consistenly snicker at behind its veil of self-importance. There’s a reason, however, that Reilly is worth snickering at. It’s that he made a name for himself with good, old-fashioned journalism, and that’s something to be said.

If you don’t read this story, the terrorists (and probably the Patriots, who are, ironically, on the same level as terrorists in my eyes) will win.

Yes, the story is that good that it warrants an entire sentence/paragraph link. Yes, the story made me cry. For multiple reasons. Don’t you wish you could go back to the era where a journalist was twice as famous as the subject of his story, for all the right reasons? A time that predates ESPN, screaming, talking heads on the telly and where following Brett Favre from a high school football practice to his truck isn’t crazy, it’s what’s expected?

I truly wished I lived in a time where four times a week, I could read Jim Murray’s column. I wish the sports journalism world was one where good writing and reporting always beat out sleaze and smut, and where the general public encouraged good writing instead of smut and sleaze.

Maybe it’s just me, and maybe the Raison D’Être has gone to my head, and consequently my fingers, the keyboard and the interwebs, but I kind of feel cheated that I never got to experience that. We all got cheated.

So I raise this bottle to the memory of Jim Murray: the greatest sports writer you’ve never heard of.

There’s a reason “hamstrung” is an adjective

Darrelle Revis is a fool. He’s a ridiculous talented fool who happens to be the best man-to-man cornerback in the NFL. But that doesn’t exclude him from foolishness, tomfoolery, and foolhardiness (if you have any other nouns that fool is a part of, lemme know).

A hamstring injury isn’t a serious injury. My hammies (hammys? HAMM-IES.) have been sore all fall, and I’ve still managed to play basketball multiple times a week and practice with the club ultimate team four times a week. I haven’t been at full strength, but my full strength isn’t very impressive, so it hasn’t held me back very much.

 

This is where he hurt it. This is the only way to beat Revis

 

Darrelle Revis and I are very different, for a variety of reasons. This much you know. One of those ways is that his body is a much more effective machine than mine. When something goes wrong with his, it’s a big deal. It’s worth a lot of money (finally). If he’s five percent less effective, that five percent is a much larger number than my five percent.

He knows this. Moreover, it’s common sports knowledge that hamstring injuries take as long as you take, and playing through them is always a bad idea. ALWAYS. NO EXCEPTIONS. If you try to come back to early, you won’t be able to play well through it, and you put yourself at serious risk for a much more serious injury.

Why, oh why, then, did he decide that he was different from everyone else, and play through the pain?

Q: How does the hamstring feel?

A:”It’s very, very sore right now,” Revis said. “It was hurting throughout the whole game, and I just fought through it and got through the game.”

….

Q: Do you know if you will be able to play next week?

A: “I don’t know. We don’t know right now how severe the soreness is. We’ll figure it out tomorrow and go from there.”

Because he’s a fool that’s why. I know our dozens (DOZENS!) of readers are made up entirely of two demographics: friends and family members, and professional athletes. So to the professional athletes among you, STOP TRYING TO COME BACK EARLY FROM HAMSTRING INJURIES. IT BENEFITS NO ONE.

That’s all

NFL REDZONE LIVE BLOG. OH YEAH.

NFL RedZone at The Great Mike Luu‘s place, and live blogging about fantasy football. Life is sweet. Peep the bullets:

1:40 p.m.

  • Matt Forte already has four rushes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Yikes. I never knew he was this fast. Where was this kid last year when everyone drafted him top-3?
  • Hakeem Nicks is living up to all the ridiculous projected stats for himself, already catching seven balls for 97 yards and two TDs. Holy macaroni, the Texans pass defense is awful. He was projected in the Villain and my PPR league for 12.20 points…which seemed a little high to me. Guess we were both wrong there.
  • Ray Rice and Joey Flacco each have a short-yard rushing score. The Denvers have actually been pretty good at the goal line, but the Ravens have been able to punch it through directly.

2:30 p.m.

  • Santana Moss and Donovan McNabb have rekindled some of their old chemistry. On their last drive, McNabb targeted Moss at least four times, including one in the end zone. Me likey. Once upon a time, the little Moss was my favorite football player. Then he was traded for Laveraneus Coles, effectively rendering my first ever football jersey (a white Moss #83 Jets jersey) valueless. Thanks, Dan Snyder.
  • Marcedes Lewis and David Garrard have an absurd red zone chemistry. They’ve connected six times for six this year, and twice today. Just picked him up in a league, dropping Owen Daniels, who had had something like seven total points this year. Despicable.
  • The Texans’ vaunted offense has been completely stymied by the Giants, and their pass rush looks like the ’07 Giants. Just while I’m typing, Osi Umenyiora forced a fumble by Matt Schaub, recovered by Justin Tuck.

4:00 p.m.

  • Lots of action since I last checked in. Ray Rice scored another TD, Michael Turner is over 140 yards, Cedric Benson made the Buccaneers defense his bitch, and McNabb has thrown for over 300 yards. These guys all ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE.
  • Brandon Lloyd has been called one of the biggest surprises of the year, and he has 5 catches for 135 yards and two scores today. No, he is not a huge surprise. Years ago, the Redskins signed him to a huge deal because he had this kind of potential:

9:45 p.m.

  • It’s official: I beat Collin. I didn’t just beat him, though, I demolished him, embarassed him, obliterated him, humbled him. He was talking smack all week about how he thinks he’ll win and about his running backs (where’s Arian Foster now, eh?) and how great of a move it was to pick up Sam Bradford in the final hour. None of it mattered. All three of my receivers (Santana Moss, Hakeem Nicks and Malcolm Floyd) had at least seven catches and more than 110 yards. Nicks (who, if you remember, was on Collin’s team until he traded him away for Tom Brady and his girly hair) was a monster, tallying 12 receptions, 130 yards and two scores. Malcolm Floyd proved that no matter the matchup, he’s now a must-play: Going up against Nnamdi Asomugha, he brought in eight balls for a ridiculous 213 yards and a TD. Cedric Benson also ran wild against the Buccaneers, and Tony Romo had a prolific day, throwing for more than 400 yards and three scores (but also three picks. Das bad IRL). Eat it, Collin.
  • Michael Bush was wildly successful filling in for the injured-but-previously-wildly-successful Darren McFadden. Running against a Chargers’ D that was the fourth-best in the league, Bush carried the rock 26 times for 104 yards, crossing the plane once. That’ll play in all formats. That’s got to make all McFadden owners a tad nervous.
  • Much along the same vein, Christopher Ivory was filling in for an injured Pierre Thomas. However, you can consider Bush the “Ebony” to Chris Ivory, because Ivory laid an egg, running for only 39 yards, no scores, and no catches. What a dud. The PT Cruiser should be back next week, and not a moment too soon. The Saints needed him today.
  • Staying in that same game, it’s clear that Max Hall doesn’t help any Cardinals position players. Fitzy finally had a nice week, but the only TDs that the Cards scored were either by an O-lineman or on defense. The Saints consistently loaded the box, holding Beanie Wells (20 carries) and Tim Hightower (four totes) to less than 2 yards per carry. Ouch. Hopefully the Cards will fare better in week seven after their bye next week

Hope you enjoyed today’s action as much as I did. If I get some comments (anyone out there?), this could become a weekly thing. Not next week, though, because I got a thing. Stay golden, pony boy.

Rudy, but mo’ gangsta

It’s been a frustrating year for me in fantasy baseball. I entered the year mired in a Konerko-esque career slump, having not even gotten a trophy (a top-3 finish) in any baseball league since 2005. Every year I’ve had at least two, sometimes more, teams. I had good keepers, but my team had a desperate lack of pitching. Jair Jurrjens’ injury, Scott Baker’s mental implosion, Tim Lincecum’s worst season to date, and Andre Ethier injured himself when he was leading the NL in all three Triple Crown categories. The luck seemed bad, the odds long.

Gangsta

Rudy

The calendar turned to June. I trade a still DL-stricken Andre Ethier to my older brother for David Wright (at that point, with eight homers, nine steals, a .260-something average and 34 RBI) and John Danks (who had just been blown up for eight runs and 11 hits and walks in four innings). Ed. Note: Ethier keeps for 13, so Jeremy isn’t a jackass. I guess.

Five weeks later, I deal Jason Heyward, an unbelievably good keeper at 8, to another manager in my league who had given up already (he was in a perfectly reasonable fifth place at the time) for Cole Hamels (sporting a 4.20 ERA) and Roy Halladay (cementing himself as the frontrunner for the Cy Young already).

In two big deals, and admittedly some awesome luck with midseason acquisitions (picking up Corey Hart, Paul Konerko, Jose Tabata, Ian Desmond, Mike Leake (early), hitting Josh Willingham on his hot streak, Chris Perez, John Axford, Joel Piñeiro for one start – a complete game shutout – they all helped the cause), my season picked up from a low point of 54 at the end of June.

I shot up the rankings to first place by early August, then was unceremoniously passed by the defending champion, my twin brother (and lifelong arch-rival), a few days leader. Riding fantasy offensive juggernaut-cyborg-roto-terminators Carlos Gonzalez, Albert Pujols and Carl Crawford (Y! season-to-date ranks: 1, 2 and 9 respectively), Roy Oswalt’s ridiculous production after his trade to the Phillies and Josh Johnson and Cliff Lee’s all-important early season contributions, Matt stormed past me and built an intimidating late season lead.

Beating me 79-68 on August 20-something, and 83-74 just ten days ago, Matt looked unstoppable. Climbing from that deficit seemed like an insurmountable task. What’s a ridiculous task that I could use to metaphorize and explain to you…

hmm…

It’s like climbing up….

uuuuuupppppppppp……

THE CLIFFS OF INSANITY!!!!.

But I Man-in-Blacked that shit. I did it. Today, I am in first place. 82-81.5. No, it might not last. I don’t care. Second place pays for both my leagues anyway. I made it back to the top. I caught Matt, and proved that I still got it.

Allow me to re-introduce myself.