Monday, March 31, 2014

Things We Think We Think About the 2014 Baseball Season

"I'm trying to warn you about Seattle's roster construction, kid."
With Opening Day upon us (not counting proto-opening day, which happened in Australia and which we can only imagine looked like one long Outback Steakhouse commercial up to the moment when Yasiel Puig jumps into a pool to celebrate a victory and gets bitten by a blue-ringed octopus), it is generally time for baseball writers - and, more importantly, writers who know nothing about baseball but feel compelled to comment and/or vote for the Hall of Fame - to unlimber their trusty typewriters and write lengthy pieces previewing the season. We're talking predictions, scouting reports on every team, you name it, all at great length and all likely to be rendered irrelevant by the next injury report.

Seriously. Clayton Kershaw signs gazillion dollar contract, gets hurt. Who saw that coming?
But here at Sportsthodoxy, we're not going to do that. Instead, we're going to tell you what we think will be interesting. Because, frankly, that other stuff is way too much work, and we're much more into the sorts of opinions you develop over a Foothills IPA sitting in the seventh row at a Durham Bulls game.

That being said, we think:

  • That it's going to be Tampa Bay and the Dodgers in the World Series, largely because Detroit seems intent on shooting itself in the foot and there's no way those guys in Boston pull off two in a row. We'd say it would be the Nationals in the NL, except we can't see anyone or anything associated with our nation's capital actually doing anything.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

D-Jax Gone

We are never going to know all of the reasoning behind why the Eagles released wide receiver DeSean Jackson. On the surface, it seems like a really dumb move. Jackson was signed for three more years, he was in the prime of his career, and he'd just put up stellar numbers in new coach Chip Kelly's offense.

Kelly's offense is predicated on doing things really fast. Jackson is, for the record, really, really fast.

Friday, March 28, 2014


My initial instinct was just to write DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON about five hundred times, claim I'd hit word count, and hit publish.

But that would be wrong. Or at least, a little eerily reminiscent of The Shining.
So, let us take a moment, and some verbs, to consider the University of Dayton, which has advanced to the Elite 8 when nobody thought they'd be in the Big Dance to begin with.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Abreu Into the Sunset

In about ten years, assuming that NASA study is incorrect and society hasn't collapsed into a Mad Max-style hellscape, we'll be talking about Bobby Abreu the way baseball statheads now talk about Tim Raines or Bobby Grich or Dewey Evans. He'll be the guy whose numbers don't scream "HALL OF FAME" at first look, but when you look at them more closely, you start realizing how good he was, and for how long.

And then you realize that there's no way in hell he's getting into Cooperstown, and you write angry tweets or something with the hashtag #Abreu4TheHall, which make you feel better but don't get him any closer to upstate New York.

But I digress.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I suppose I should wait to write this until after the 76ers have tied the record for longest losing streak in NBA history - and rest assured, they will. 30th in points allowed, 20th in points scored, bereft of the vast majority of experienced players they started the season with, they're simply awful.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

8 Things We Will See Moving Into The Sweet 16

  • There are 2 AAC teams still alive in the tournament: UConn and Louisville. There is one ACC team: Virginia. Look for ACC fans to start pre-emptively claiming Louisville as one of their own, even though the Cardinals don't jump conferences until next year.
  • Roughly 98% of the locals grousing about how all of the NC Triangle teams have been bounced from the tournament will mention Duke and Carolina. Some will mention NC State. Almost none will mention North Carolina Central, which, at 28-6, had the best record of any of the bunch.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Random NCAA Tournament Thoughts So Far...

A few stray observations from the tournament so far...

  • A 5 seed is code for "you were in the Top 10 earlier in the year but you're playing like crap now".

Friday, March 21, 2014

Does This Spring Training Storyline Matter, Round 2

Storyline: Manny Ramirez wants to play again.
Does It Matter?: No
Why?:Because there are a ton of aging DH types floating around AAA who'll give you more production than Manny at this point without the injury risk or the media circus. Dan Johnson, I'm looking at you.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Does This Spring Training Storyline Matter, Round 1

And it's time to play every baseball fan's fifth-favorite spring training related game (behind Will This Guy Help My Fantasy Team?, Is The Rookie I Never Heard Of Hitting .545 This Spring For Real, Oh Crap What's A-Rod Going To Say Next? and Whatever Happened To Jayson Stark's Epic 'Stache?), Does This Spring Training Storyline Actually Matter? Let's begin!

Storyline: The Braves Just Signed Ervin Santana
Does It Matter?: Yes
Why?: Because three-fifths of the Braves' proposed starting rotation came down with injuries this spring, and it's kind of hard to compete with a two man rotation. With two of their top five starters hoping to get a group rate discount on Tommy John surgery, the Braves went out and got the best pitcher left on the market because otherwise this season - which is one of the last seasons in which guys like Heyward, Simmons, and Freeman will be dirt-cheap - would have gone down the toilet. For the rest of us, it means we can stop hearing "Is the compensation pick hurting Santana's chance of signing?" The answer was, and always will be, yes.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Your Handy-Dandy SECOND Guide to NCAA Tournament Jargon

Last year, we published a guide to NCAA tournament jargon. As part of our ongoing outreach effort to educate, illuminate, and pre-write blog posts for GDC week, we are proud to present a further translation guide of bracketologist-to-English:

"A team no high seed wants to face" - A tournament team from a small (read: one-bid) conference that can play defense, shoot threes, and keep from turning the ball over. Teams like this have a habit of getting hot just often enough to send Kansas home in the first round once every five years; as such, this has become shorthand for "team that has a slim chance of pulling an upset so please watch the first-round games from Dayton". No team with this designation has ever gotten higher than a 13 seed.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Things We Learned About the ACC During The Conference Tournament

Incontrovertible truths demonstrated on the hardwood of Greensboro:

The way to beat NC State is to beat holy hell out of T.J. Warren. If Warren and someone else are scoring, the Pack is damn hard to beat. If Warren alone is scoring, they're in the game. If he's not scoring and nobody else is, they're done.  Duke understood this, which is why Warren was eating hardwood for most of today's semifinal. And nobody else really stepped up to make them pay for it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Guest Post: How To Win A Large Portion Of A Billion Dollars

Every so often we turn the mike over to someone else, in part because we welcome other perspectives and ideas, and in part because anything anybody else writes is word count that we don't have to generate.

In that vein, we're pleased to welcome a contribution from game designer Rob Newns, who offers an interesting take on Warren Buffet's offer to pay a billion dollars to anyone getting a perfect bracket in this year's NCAA tournament. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Helmetful of Hollow

That's how it ends for Steve Smith in Carolina.

With rumors the Panthers were trying to trade him, then with speculation, then with an unceremonious release. After that, the spin and the damage control, as GM Dave Gettleman said lots of nice things about the guy he'd just axed while tactfully not alluding to declining production, a mercurial personality, a complicated injury history, a large paycheck and worries that Smith took up too much of the locker room oxygen that's needed for the care and feeding of Cam Newton. Smith, for his part, hinted that he would have been happy to take a reduced role, said nice things about the team, showed himself off for new teams and only sideswiped Gettleman a few times in various interviews. The media, dutifully, lapped it all up as the outrage - how could they release STEVE SMITH - built in Charlotte. The tributes to his character and leadership, his production and his dedication to the team and area, all of them flowed freely. References to the multiple teammates he cold-cocked? Not so much.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

On Getting Overexcited About NFL Free Agency

Here's the sad truth:

For all the frenzy surrounding it, there's very little your favorite NFL team can do in free agency to make any kind of difference. This is because free agency, as the NFL defines it, stinks. And by "stinks", I mean that it is so heavily slanted toward preserving the sanctity of owners' pocketbooks (and protecting them from their uncontrollable urge to spend like a drunken grandmother at Filene's the night before Hanukkah) that it does very little for either the players or the teams that it's supposed to benefit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On The Exit Of The Turtle

For the past few weeks, you could hear it building.

All the ACC folk, cheerfully circling Sunday's Virginia-Maryland tilt at the end of the ACC regular season. Anticipating with pleasure the thought of a resurgent Virginia taking Maryland to task for the grievous sin of leaving the conference. Hoping out loud that the Terps' last regular season game would be a whupping of epic proportions, with league champion Virginia standing in for Duke and Carolina to do the honors. That Maryland would be ushered out of the league it was abandoning with an epic loss.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Heart to Heart

In the NHL preseason, Rich Peverly of the Dallas Stars underwent a procedure to address an irregular heartbeat.  Medical professionals monitored his health throughout the season.  It wasn't enough.  Less than a minute after finishing a shift 6 minutes into tonight's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, he collapsed on the Stars' bench, and the ensuing emergency and concern caused the game to be called (it's postponed until an as yet unscheduled time).  For the record, he is alive and as well as can be expected in this situation.  When he came to and was able to talk to Stars' coach Lindy Ruff, he asked about the progress of the game.  You can't say for sure that there was no damage, but it's a good sign, I think.

Short term, this game was postponed, and Dallas' game tomorrow against St. Louis may also be postponed.  I'm not sure about tomorrow, but today, anyone suggesting any other course of action is wrong.  This impacts fans, and the teams, but those things are manageable.

The medium term repercussions are obvious.  Peverly will be out for some time to recover and determine his future with regards to hockey.  He's not a prolific scorer, but he has 30 points in the season, that's important.  Dallas' players will have to manage their emotional state, after experiencing an event like this.  Game schedules will have to be rearranged.

Long term, the NHL and the organizations involved in this come out smelling like roses.  He survived, with most if not all of his faculties intact.  His wife was present at the arena or at least able to get to the hospital with him.  The management of this medical emergency couldn't have been better, and the NHL is acknowledging the concern of the fans, both for Peverly as a person and for the more business oriented side of things.  I reserve judgement on how they will handle the people who came to see a game and only got just over 6 minutes of hockey.  But I think they'll do the right thing, for once.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Phil-Jax and the Terrible, Horrible No Good Owner

As of the writing of this post, Phil Jackson has not yet accepted an offered post with the New York Knickerbockers basketball organization.

To this dawdling, which we can assume is due to A)Phil's desire to join the Lakers instead B)Phil's reluctance to work for megalomaniacal meatball-faced wannabe bluesman James Dolan and C)the fact that the Knicks are an endless train wreck that, due to cap considerations, will continue to unfold in slow motion for the next several years, we can only say: please, Phil, take the job.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Book Review: The Stark Truth

When I was growing up in Philadelphia, Jayson Stark was my favorite sportswriter, and not just because he got Dallas Green to famously wear a shirt that read "#$%@ YOU JAYSON" on it to a post game presser. He was funny and he was quick and he had a seemingly magical talent for pulling out rare and wacky tidbits from baseball action that made you realize exactly how weird and unique and wonderful the Mickey Morandini unassisted triple play (or whatever other moment you choose) actually was. 

Friday, March 07, 2014

Dr. Frank Jobe, RIP

"An army travels on its stomach" is a pithy way of saying that logistics are important. The visible part of any enterprise is supported by a much larger structure of people doing incredibly vital jobs, without which the shiny stuff never happens. Watch a movie's credits; the drivers and key grips and effects artists outnumber the "stars" by a couple of orders of magnitude, and without their efforts, the damn thing just doesn't happen. 

And the same goes for sports teams. There's an entire structure underpinning the nine guys standing on a baseball diamond at any given moment. There's coaches, and clubhouse staff and grounds crew and traveling secretaries and bus drivers and ticket takers and a million other folks.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Ian Kinsler's Heel Turn

There's an important lesson for Ian Kinsler in all this:

Don't act like a complete jackass unless the local media really, really loves you.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Bruce Deserves Better

Follow me! Follow me to the Arena Football League!
All the jokes that need to be made about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new uniforms have already been made.

Alarm clock numbers? Olbermann got it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

On Being a Derek Jeter Hater

Here's the thing about hating Derek Jeter:

People who love Derek Jeter - and I mean the ones who really, really love Derek Jeter - are like the people who get fired up every year around Thanksgiving about the perceived "War on Christmas". Never mind that If you look around, 90% of all stores are thoroughly bedecked in tinsel, that the Christmas carol-only radio stations have gone on the air, that damn near everything after the Detroit Lions give their annual feeble Thanksgiving effort is solid Christmas for a solid month. The folks who are convinced there's a War on Christmas will dig up the fact that someone in South Podunk, North Dakota said "Happy Holidays" to a Salvation Army Santa and use that as evidence that everyone in the world is conspiring to totally Grinch up the holiday. 
The Jeterphiles are like that. No matter how much praise gets heaped on The Captain, it's never enough. And anything that isn't pure, unadulterated praise is by necessity deepest, foulest vitriol. "WHY DO YOU HATE EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD AND TRUE IN BASEBALL?" they howl.
And the answer is, we don't. We hate you.

Monday, March 03, 2014

On Why The Draft Wheel Is A Very Bad Idea

As we thunder down the homestretch of the NBA season, the grim specter of "tanking" has rarely been more visible. The Philadelphia 76ers, who traded away pretty much every veteran with a pulse for spare parts and 2nd round draft picks (and then released or bought out those spare parts) have lost roughly 57 games in a row and are so bad that they're literally falling down on the court. They are doing this - the trading, not the falling down - in the interest of getting their hands on as many ping pong balls in the draft lottery as possible, in hopes of adding a superstar through the draft to match with this year's haul of Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Bold Prediction: In 3 Years, Johnny Manziel Will Probably Be A Biped

Heard on the radio today: an earnest call-in discussion over what Johnny Manziel is going to turn into over the next three years. Sadly, none of the callers went with my guesses, which went A)a pumpkin B)a giant crime-fighting robot from the planet Cybertron or C)The Yellow King, and instead they droned on about how they knew Manziel had "it" on one hand, and how he was going to flame out immediately on the other.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Boeheim Freakout, Reconsidered

One of the more interesting tropes I've come across recently is the notion that Jim Boeheim's freakout against Duke was a result of him being unable to handle the unfamiliar pressure of Cameron Indoor Stadium. Presumably it was this, and not an iffy blocking call, that caused Boeheim to go completely monkey @#$#nuts all over the refs while performing a half-Magic Mike.

To which, after due consideration, I can only say "nope".