Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ballmer Baller

The best thing possible happened for the NBA Thursday*. former Microsoft CEO and billionaire Steve Ballmer apparently won the bidding for the Los Angeles Clippers, which the league wishes extracted from the palsied, racist claw of owner Donald Sterling, with an all-cash offer of roughly $2B dollars. Sterling, who has the chutzpah to demand the league pay his capital gains tax on an investment that went from $13M to $2B, makes out like a bandit, in that he will still clear somewhere north of a billion dollars when this is all over.

For the Clippers. The team that could not live without Michael Olowokandi. Let that sink in for a minute.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Fiscal Responsibility, Cobb County Style

Never let it be said that baseball let the other sports push it around when it came time to grab the stupid share of the headlines.

At a moment when the season is in full swing, when a guy has hit 16 home runs in a month for the first place Toronto Blue Jays (think about that for a minute), when we've got tight races and rising stars like George Springer and the ever-entertaining Yasiel Puig show is on every night, the Atlanta Braves have to go and jam their spikes in their collective mouth.
Mind you, you can't really blame them. The prospect of getting a couple of hundred million dollars in public money for a poorly thought out stadium to be planted at one of the worst intersections for traffic in the United States where the Braves' financial obligations are, if you read the fine print, kind of more of a suggestion, well, that would make anyone giddy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Feeling Minnesota

In the other football news last Tuesday, the NFL awarded the 2018 Super Bowl to Minnesota. Apparently the stiffest competition came from Indianapolis, which meant that the owner who got four felony charges knocked down to two misdemeanors got beat out by the one who's already had a judge call him a racketeer.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

On Personal Responsibility, the NFL, and Getting Screwed Over

In the wake of the announcement of the lawsuit against the NFL, it's become popular for ESPN's in-house ex-player contingent to dismiss the suit's claimants as, essentially, whiny babies. The meme, stated memorably by Mark Schlereth, is that a player should take responsibility for what was done to him while he played, and by suing, these guys are trying to have their cake and eat it, too.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Great Moments In Mood-Swinging Sports Journalism

And this is why I love NBA journalism:

Before game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals:

"The Pacers are terrible. They're going to get run right out of the gym. I don't know why the Heat even have to bother playing the games. Also, Pacers coach Frank Voepel is a dummy, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is a genius."

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Your Handy Dandy Guide to Donald Sterling's First Amendment Rights

And here's a reminder for all you budding constitutional law scholars out there:

Donald Sterling's banishment from the NBA is not a First Amendment issue. Mr. Sterling is not being prosecuted by any government agency for his words, as ill-chosen, hateful, embarrassing or stupid as they might have been. He is free to say as many dumb-ass racist things as he'd like, without fear that they will land him in jail. Ergo, his First Amendment rights are not being infringed.

Friday, May 16, 2014

It's Schafer Time. Or Maybe Not.

Sometimes, the funny stuff that happens in baseball never makes SportsCenter.
Take, for example, the sad case of Braves reserve outfielder Jordan Schafer. A former top prospect who blazed his way out of the Braves organization (and yes, that means exactly what you think it means) before returning as a surprisingly useful spare part last year, Mr. Schafer is not entirely happy with his role.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On Michael Sam and Toughness

The word we hear used more often than nearly other when talking about the NFL is "toughness". Coaches want players with toughness. Announcers love guys who show toughness, because "tough" players do things like break tackles, and that can be shown again and again in slo-mo to fill air time. Analysts praise guys for their toughness, because it's a great way to say a nice thing about a guy even if there is nothing else to say. Fans fall in love with players because of their toughness, because, hey, it's easier to imagine yourself as the not-as-talented-guy-who-nevertheless-gives-his-all-and-somehow-makes-the-team than as guy-with-star-level-talent-you-demonstrably-don't have.

Monday, May 12, 2014

11 Things We Learned From The NFL Draft

We won't know who "won" or "lost" the NFL draft for years. It kind of takes that long for players to develop, or not. We can, however, take certain things away that are strictly a result of the data provided by the draft, and that on-field production (or the eventual lack thereof) will have nothing to do with. 

To wit:

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

It Was A Really Thick Sandwich

Baseball injuries are the best.

Case in point: Matt Cain, starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, just got himself put on the disabled list as a result of a - and I am not making this up - sandwich-related accident. Apparently Mr. Cain was making himself a snack in the clubhouse before his start and decided to go all Top Chef on that sucker, because he sliced a finger open trying to cut it into "fancy little triangles".

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

NBA First Round Surprises

Do you remember when the 1st round of the NBA playoffs were all about the upsets? When Indiana was about to go down to Atlanta because they hadn't played well since trading for Evan Turner, and Oklahoma City was about to get knocked out by Memphis, and #1 overall seed San Antonio was on the ropes against 8 seed Dallas, and those veteran Nets everyone was supposed to be afraid of were getting pushed around by the Raptors? Remember how commentators were stone-facedly telling us that 3 of the 4 serious contenders for the title were likely to go down in that first round (which, incidentally, lasted longer than a Phillip Glass improv session, and probably contributed to the favorites' comebacks by allowing the more veteran teams to rest and recover).

Yeah. About that.

Never mind.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Feeling the Draft

This year, in an attempt to tear American families apart, the NFL pushed its annual player draft back two weeks to Mother's Day weekend. The logic, apparently, was that two more weeks of buildup to the draft would be two more weeks of people talking about football and doing mock drafts (replacing two weeks after the draft with everyone talking football and doing draft report cards, equally erroneous).  So far, the only apparent difference is that roughly 5% of the on-air time that used to be spent wondering if Jacksonville was going to take a left tackle you'd never heard of with their first pick is now spent wondering about the wisdom of that additional two week buffer.

So in order to relieve you of what must be the unbearable tension of waiting for the NFL draft - which, it must be said, is a glorified roll call that now extends over 3 days - here is the official Sportsthodoxy guide to what's about to happen:

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Minus Several Million For Good Thinking

I remember going to a Carolina Mudcats game back in the day when Michael Pineda hit triple digits on the Five County Stadium radar gun. His first warmup pitch - he was with the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx in those days - hit the catcher's mitt with a sound like shotgun being fired. People stopped what they were doing, all around that chatty, friendly little ballpark. People turned. People listened as much as they watched. And the numbers from the radar gun showed 100, 102, 99, 100, 101.

The Mudcats, who were not what you'd call an offensive juggernaut at the best of times during that 2010 season, were helpless. And I walked away from that game thinking I'd seen a future star.