Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Only In New York (Tebow Edition)

At least they let me keep my pants when they cut me.
In other cities, when the backup QB gets let go, there's a collective shrug.
In New York, it's "the Jets' worst move ever".
Safely removed from the possibility of actually playing in a game, Tim Tebow has once again acquired sainthood status as The Guy Who Never Got A Chance.
Never mind that his throwing motion looks like a T-rex trying to lay down a bunt.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dolphin Unsafe

And in the third round, we're drafting Giancarlo Stanton
Miami attracts bad sports owners like Liz Taylor attracted Dick Burton. You've got Marlins commandante Jeffty Loria, whose desire to smash his action figures together now extends to dictating which pitcher starts which game. You've got pleathery Heat owner Micky Arison, whose cruise ships have a bad habit of running aground (among other, stinkier things). And you've got ham-fisted Dolphin-in-chief Stephen Ross, a bad Burn Notice villain if ever I saw one, whose got a short-term memory like the fish Ellen DeGeneres played in Finding Nemo.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Post-Draft Report Cards

We're deeply ashamed we used this
There's very little funnier than the notion of the "draft report card". Beyond very broad exceptions - the RIcky Williams draft for New Orleans, for example - there's really no way to tell who did well and who did poorly the day after the drafting happens. And this is for one very simple reason: they're drafting people to play football, and nobody's playing football right now. Until you actually get the guys you drafted on the field - and let's not even get into externalities like trades, injuries, coaching staff shifts, etc. - and in many cases, give them a couple of years to develop, there's no way to tell if a pick was good or not.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Odds That Your Average NFL Fan:

  • Knows the name of his team's 1st round draft pick: 3:2
  • Knew the name of his team's 1st round draft pick 2 weeks ago 8:1
  • Knows that "Barkevious Mingo" isn't a spell from Harry Potter: 5:2
  • Knows the position of his team's 1st round draft pick: 3:1
  • Knows the school his team's 1st round draft pick attended: 4:1
  • Knows the school his team's 1st round draft pick attended if it wasn't Alabama or LSU: 6:1
  • Know the name of the guy Mel Kiper said his favorite team was going to draft: 24:1
  • Knows the name of the guy Todd McShay said his favorite team was going to draft: 30:1
  • Will remember next week whom his team was supposed to draft according to the "experts": 60:1
  • Knows if his team's first round pick has a degree: 35:1
  • Cares if his team's first round pick has a degree: 543:1
  • Knows his team's first round pick's major: 23432:1
  • When asked by a friend what he thought of his team's first round pick, had an answer: 14:1
  • When asked by a friend what he thought of his team's first round pick, quickly Googled and read a "Draft Scorecard": 3:1
  • When asked by a friend what he thought of his team's first round pick, quickly Googled and read a "Draft Scorecard", then kept looking until he found one that he liked: 4:1
  • Wishes his team had drafted Barkevious Mingo: 6:1

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dear NBA

Please, for the love that is all that is good in this world, stop trying to make a story out of Spurs-Lakers. The Spurs were one of the best teams in the NBA this year, not that anyone noticed. The Lakers fired their coach, scuffled, and led the league only in "number of appearances as lead story on SportsCenter". The Spurs are largely healthy. The Lakers, missing Kobe Bryant and generally running a roster out there more suited to a Flomax commercial than running the floor, aren't. The Spurs have their best player on the floor. The Lakers don't.
And while I realize it is your job to drum up interest in what is honestly a not-terribly-interesting matchup, and while I realize that "the Lakers were hot, even without Kobe!" and "the Spurs slumped going into the playoffs!" can be seen, if you squint hard enough, to look vaguely like a chance for an L.A. upset, we all know better.
Kobe's done for the year, maybe forever. The Lakers are done, too. And if you spent a little time getting the casual fan base interested in any team other than L.A. or Miami, maybe you could feel comfortable talking to us about one of the actually interesting series going on instead.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Do You Feel A Draft?

Mental Organism Designed Only for Drafting
God help us, it's NFL draft season again.
Only the NFL can turn what is essentially a very slow roll call into a three day television event, marked by months of breathless leadup. Then again, slap the NFL logo onto fat guys sweating through their Underarmor thongs in a dome in Indianapolis and you've got four days of non-stop coverage of the Combine, so your mileage may vary.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Thing You Never Want To Hear As A Phillies Fan

Even This Would Be Better
"Left fielder Freddy Galvis"

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sit, Rex.

In a week marked by tragedy in Texas, Boston, and Iraq, it's very generous of Rex Ryan to provide the healing gift of laughter. The fact that he didn't do it intentionally is besides the point.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Because We Are Nothing If Not Timely...

Some thoughts on the NCAA basketball title game, courtesy of our own Sean Kiley...

So I don’t watch a lot of college basketball during the regular season. I just find regular season games to be boring as hell and all very similar. I have, however, in the past, taken the day off of work to watch the first day of the tournament. (I said I was “sick with March Madness.” I actually used that when I missed a class in college. The professor was Pakistani, and thought it was a legitimate illness until the other guys in the class started snickering.) I really think that the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is the best sporting event of the year. No seven game series, upsets galore, and kids playing their hearts out, living and dying with every lead change. I missed out last year, not having the time to watch most of the tournament. I’ve had two reasons to get into the tournament more this year:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sports and Politics and Boston

You see it a lot on sports blogs: "Leave out the politics and just write about sports". This generally happens when a sports blogger voices an opinion on a topic that one member of her or his readership disagrees with. At that point, out come the demands that the blogger just "stick to sports" and leave the "right wing crap/hippie liberal socialist crap" (depending on the blogger and the audience) at home.
One can almost sympathize with the folks who feel that way. They're there to read about sports, after all. We get enough politics in our daily lives. We want the space between the white lines to be free of it, a charmed circle where competition is what matters and the striving is all. We want a break from contention and argument and name-calling, well, a particular type of name-calling, and we want a break from the consequences that politics seems to have and sports seems to avoid.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Guest Post: Don't Leaf Me This Way

From Friend of Sportsthodoxy Bill Fisher

Last night, in the NHL, the New Jersey Devils played the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs haven’t won a Stanley Cup since I was 5 weeks old. I did the math. This year, they’re going to make the playoffs. They won’t win the Cup; there are too many better teams out there (like, say, the Penguins, the Blackhawks, the Separatists...I mean the Canadiens). The Devils aren't going to make the playoffs, so they’re not going to win the Cup either.

The interesting thing about the game last night is that the Leafs had 13 shots on goal. That’s about half as many shots on goal as you might expect to see. The Devils had 32 SOG, in comparison. Why the big difference in number of shots? To paraphrase the Admiral in charge of the Rebel forces at the Battle of Endor, “IT’S THE TRAP!”

A quick summary of the Neutral Zone Trap, as created by the Devils: one forward covers the puck carrier, preventing a pass down the ice. The rest of the team clogs up the boards (2 per side) so that a side pass can be broken up easily and stop the attack. Now that the two-line pass is allowed, the trap is less effective, so instead, defensive-minded teams switch to a ‘third man high’ system, where effectively they have three defenders.

Neither of these defensive structures is at all entertaining.

One thing that makes hockey interesting is the natural speed of the sport. This year, the fastest skater in the NHL went about 30 MPH (I had to do more math). And he’s got knives on his feet. You don’t want to mess with a guy with knives on his feet (unless you have them too). Now, let’s take that really fast guy with knives on his feet and have him skate at 30 MPH into a brick wall. That’s entertaining once. Maybe twice. Then, you just feel bad for the guy bloodying his manly chin on a boring brick wall.

Maybe in the next year or two, we can hope the Devils will move out of a defensive mindset and start being more offensive. Although, being from New Jersey, maybe they’re already offensive enough.

Monday, April 15, 2013

In 1991, We Started A Thing

This is my rich and rewarding fantasy life
22 years ago, we started a thing. And by thing, I mean "4x4, NL-Only, Standard Roto Fantasy Baseball League"

There were ten of us, mostly friends from college. One guy's dad and kid brother, another guy most of us didn't know whom someone brought in because we needed to round out the numbers. We drafted that year on the living room floor of the commissioner's housing unit, crammed onto college furniture and beanbag chairs, and reading the agate type baseball stats from the NY Times as cheat sheets. One league member showed up late; he'd forgotten it was Daylight Savings that morning. One league member - me - had to run off mid-draft and fix his girlfriend's computer. The first throw was Benito Santiago, then catching for the Padres. And since we'd all read the same one fantasy baseball guide, which said "pay for premium talent at premium positions", we bid him up and through the roof.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Great Moments In Surprise Actual Brawling

I swear, we're totally brawling here
In the aftermath of Carlos Quentin's takeout of Zack Greinke, one thing is certain: Greinke isn't going to be pitching for a while. Beyond that, it's a haze of internet yammering and finger-pointing over who's at fault, what should be done, and all that usual good stuff.
It's an unusual case, largely in that what we have here is a baseball brawl in which someone actually got hurt. Usually you're in more danger on Black Friday at Filene's than you are in a scrum at the pitcher's mound; the number of actual punches thrown can be counted on the finger of one foot. Sure, everyone's out there and pushing and shoving, but most of the time nobody's actually fighting because nobody wants to get hurt or hurt anyone else. (And for all of the mockery from the football guys out there, baseball players are still generally very large people who can do an awful lot of damage with a swing if they put their minds and their lower bodies into it). When someone does get hurt - or even actually fight, like in that Reds-Cardinals brawl from a few years back - it's news because it's so unexpected. A baseball brawl is there to show that you're upset, not to try to lay the other guy out, and that's just fine.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

MLB Preview - AL West Edition

Mariners outfield headed this way? No problem.

Once, long ago, I was privileged to attend a game at Safeco Field in the company of the esteemed Derek Zumsteg, a man who is both a gentleman and far more knowledgeable about baseball than I will ever be. During the announcement of the Mariners' starting lineup - one that featured Willie Bloomquist hitting second, shortly after his unfortunate "clamming" incident, and Miguel Cairo playing first base - he started booing.
'nuff said. Here's the AL West.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2013 MLB Predictions - AL Central Edition

He's back. And he stepped on a banana peel on the mound.
Today, the NL Central, where no lead is safe until the Tigers wake up in mid-September

Detroit Tigers
Why They'll Win: Two of the all-time great talents in Cabrera and Verlander. Prince Fielder would be the big star on most teams, he's third banana here, and V-Mart's gone fourth. A pitching staff full of guys who can bring it, and a sneaky good lineup beyond the big guns. Lots of talent pushing its way up out of the system, providing some trade chits to flip at the deadline. Jim Leyland is definitely on the plus side of the managerial ledger. They play in a division weaker than the first pull off a keg of Natty Ice.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Great Moments In Amazing Expanding Strike Zones

On Monday Night, the Rays were mounting a comeback in the top of the 9th inning when this 4th ball pitched to Ben Zobrist was errantly called a strike to end the game:

What made this call so bad was that it was the third called strike of a six pitch at bat where no single pitch even came close to the strike zone. Rays Manager, Joe Maddon said in his post game presser "That can't happen in a Major League Game." Unfortunately, the Rays had to beat the 26th man on the Roster and he's a ringer...

This prompted me to consider the MLB worst calls of all time. Here are a few of my favorite bad calls:

2013 MLB Predictions - AL East Edition

"Past a diving Cthulhu. I'm telling you, Hastur, he's got to make that play"
And now, by special request, we turn our gimlet eye to the Junior Circuit, starting with the AL East

Toronto Blue Jays
Why They'll Win: They pantsed the bottom half of the NL East and took both their lunch money and their talent. Reyes, Johnson, Dickey, Bonifacio (when used properly) are a lot of talent. Melky Cabrera may be off the reindeer antler extract, but he's still better than what they were running out there last year. Jose Bautista is healthy. Edwin Encarnacion has left his E5 days behind him. Their bullpen is finally healthy. They have a manager who wants to be there. The Yankees and Sox are in down years, the Rays have James Loney at 1B, and the Orioles stood pat with a team that was luckier than a leprechaun in a horseshoe factory. Also, they stock the visiting clubhouse with poutine, to slow opposing players down.

Monday, April 08, 2013

A Walking Tour of AT&T Park

And Beyond That Wall: McCovey Cove
The walking tour of AT&T Park is roughly two miles. It starts at one of the two gift shops (and woe betide you if you don't realize there are two gift shops) with street entrances, winds through the club level, the press box, the terraces, the visitors clubhouse, the awards cabinets, the indoor batting cage, and finally, both dugouts (though you are warned to never, ever step on the grass).

Sunday, April 07, 2013

2013 MLB Predictions - NL West Edition

The NL West's Only Hope Against The Giants...
Closing out the National League out west, where we're picking Scrooge McDuck to unseat the Giants....

Los Angeles Dodgers
Why They'll Win: Money. After shelling out $2B for the team (and accidentally enriching human gravy stain Frank McCourt in the process), ownership isn't going to flinch over spending a few dozen million for a veteran pickup before the trade deadline. Matt Kemp is an MVP level-talent, Clayton Kershaw is a Cy Young-level talent, and if the guys they picked up from Boston rebound to previous levels of performance, they'll be scary. Oh, and Zack Greinke.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

2013 MLB Predictions - NL Central Edition

Continuing our ongoing series...

Cincinnati Reds
Why They'll Win: Strong lineup anchored by MVP candidate Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo and Lord of Twitter Brandon Phillips. Sneaky-good rotation, and a bullpen anchored by Aroldis Chapman unencumbered by questions about his role. Lots of the old, not-so-good veterans retired or got hurt, meaning Dusty Baker has to play the young, talented guys pretty much by default.

Friday, April 05, 2013

2013 MLB Predictions - NL East Edition

And now in first place, the Miami Marlins!
There are blogs and publications that spend thousands upon thousands of words writing up minutely granular predictions of the upcoming season. They use advanced statistical packages like ZIPS and PECOTA, they spend countless hours scouting A-ball LOOGY types who might make a six-inning contribution in mid-August on the back end of a day-night doubleheader, and they generally pour their hearts, souls and minds into their previews.

We are not one of those blogs.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Most Yankees Thing Ever

Kind of a chalky taste, really...
Over at Amanda Rykoff's Tumblr, she rips into the Yankees for their so-called "Craft Beer" station, which features nothing but small-label product put out by MillerCoors. So, for $12, you get the privilege of partaking of a cleverly disguised chunk of The High Life, or perhaps a stop on the Silver Bullet Train, while thinking you're actually getting something that's a little less....mass produced.
Mind you, I have zero sympathy for anyone who can't do the research and figure out these are all big brewery product. I do mind the Yankees claiming it's craft beer and then laying out the mass produced stuff under that rubric.
Then again, these are the Yankees, and showing off overpriced brand names at the ballpark is kind of what they do.
A Crispin's Cider and a Vernon Wells? Sounds perfectly refreshing to me.

Opening Day In Toronto

Opening Day at the Rogers Centre.
My first major league opening day, courtesy of my generous hosts at Ubisoft Toronto. 
Jerseys everywhere in the crowd - a sea of Lawries and Bautistas and Dickeys and Reyeses. A few Encarnacions and others mixed in here and there, with a smattering of old school Carter and Halladay and and Molitor bobbing through the crowd of 48000 plus. Those who aren't wearing jerseys are wearing Jays themed t-shirts, ones commemorating Opening Day, or seasons past, or a bunch of guys proudly displaying shirts that say "I LOVE BJs". Hats are everywhere to - retro Jays caps, modern ones, a fedora someone has attached a stuffed bluejay to, and more. Everyone is excited, everyone is here for the new team full of airlifted former Mets and Marlins and Giants and Angels that is finally going to challenge the Sox and the Yankees atop the AL East.
And floating through the crowd, one guy in a Miami Marlins jersey. It's a #7, a Reyes. Which means he got it cheap.
Just like the Jays.

Monday, April 01, 2013

March in Review

Thanks for making March our biggest month ever! Our most popular posts in March -- if you're looking for a "best of" -- would be:

#5 "All Hail Jordany Valdespin"
#4 "Midnight In the Madison Square Garden of Good And Evil"
#3 "A Modest Proposal, Olympic Wrestling Edition"
#2 "Pens-Lightning"
#1 "Your Handy-Dandy Guide to NCAA Tournament Jargon"