Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ten Things I Think I Think About Sports This Week

"Also, Bill Buckner in '86? Totally caused by aliens."

  1. The Philadelphia 76ers, a team that is actively trying to be bad, does not have the worst record in the NBA this season. They don't even have the second-worst, and at least one of the teams they're ahead of was supposed to be a contender this year. Which means either the Sixers can't even screw up right, or, man, do certain people in New York and Minnesota need to feel ashamed.
  2. All Alex Rodriguez has done this spring training is play baseball reasonably well. All the frothing will-he-get-himself-painted-as-a-centaur-clutching-a-syringe-and-a-giant-letter-I nonsense from the New York tabloids has been approximately 0% correct. He's gotten back in shape, knocked the rust off, and played decent baseball, and that's it. It's a pity that's not good enough for some people who claimed that was all they wanted.
  3. I predict that all of the groundball pitchers on the Yankees' staff are going to see significant improvement on their stats this year for the simple reason that, in addition to a full season of Chase Headley being on tap, Didi Gregorius is going to be playing short. And for all the bleating about Derek Jeter's Gold Gloves, the first time Didi makes a routine play on a ball that Cap'n Jeets would have had to do one of his patented jump-throw-bounce moves on, the conversions will start.
  4. Chip Kelly's offseason with the Eagles seems to have the frenzied desperation of the guy in your fantasy baseball league who suddenly realizes in round 9 that there's only two decent catchers left, and who will do whatever it takes to get both of them. Said guy then proceeds to slam two energy drinks, inhale a bag of M&Ms, and get up on the table in order to declare that Jarrod Saltalamacchia is totally going to win this thing for him, baby. It's going to be a long season in Philly.
  5. That being said, signing Tim Tebow would be the equivalent of tripping over the league commissioner's laptop cord, face planting in the nachos, and spilling Mountain Dew into a half a dozen MacBooks at once.
  6. It's very nice that superagent Scott Boras has discovered the vast injustice inherent in the Cubs manipulating service time rules to keep megaprospect Kris Bryant down on the farm a couple of weeks so as to delay his free agency by a season. Boras' job is to get the best deal for his client, and I commend him for staying true to that commitment. That being said, he was mysteriously quiet on this issue when it was non-Boras clients being kept down by, say, the Rays, and if the Cubs weigh the cost of not having Bryant for two weeks at the start of the season versus the cost of having him hit arbitration and free agency one season sooner, it's kind of a no brainer. Patience, Scott. You'll get your slice of Bryant's inevitable monster free agent contract soon enough.
  7. There is nothing funnier than watching amateurs try to extort cities and states for stadium money. Witness the new MLS franchise targeted for Minnesota, which is currently on the hook for stadia for both the Twins and the Vikings and has no appetite for dumping another hundred million into a soccer-only stadium that presumably would need to come with multiple snowplows included. The league has decided to play the "no stadium, no team" card, because that worked so well for them in Miami. Wait, you say, there is no MLS team in Miami! Which is kind of the point.
  8. Nobody ever actually wants to hear about your fantasy team. Not fantasy football, not fantasy baseball, not fantasy hockey or golf or NASCAR or whatever the hell you do. Honestly, we're all just being polite, and the journalists that have made a career of not giving fantasy advice but rather just yammering on about their team need to suffer for their crimes. 
  9. The best story in college basketball right now is not the NCAA tournament. It's not Kentucky's expected coronation or the fact that Gonzaga finally got back to the Elite Eight or that Frank Kaminsky has supplied material for endless Will Ferrell references. It's the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the only independent in Division I basketball. They're still playing - they're up against Canisius in tonight's CIT (that's "the tournament that the guys who didn't make the tournament that didn't make the tournament that didn't make the tournament play in") quarterfinal - and they're doing it against any kind of sense or reason. They beat Michigan this year. They beat the Yale team that was *this* close to an NCAA bid. They beat tournament team Hampton. They beat two St. Francises, both of which made postseason tournaments. They played anyone who'd play them, from Villanova to schools so obscure ESPN's web page doesn't have a link for them, and so far they've won 20 games doing it. And their team is named "The Highlanders", which should earn them extra points from every Queen-loving nerdy child of the '80s. So go on, Highlanders. Seek The Prize. And keep being much more interesting than the big guys.
  10. Nothing makes sports media generalists sound stupider than the notion of PEDs in baseball. The latest example? Dan Patrick talking about how David Ortiz' long-ago release from the Minnesota Twins - at age 26, after a 20-HR season when it was clear that he was about to get expensive and couldn't field worth a damn - as damning circumstantial evidence that he did indeed take PEDs. Whether or not Ortiz did is pretty much irrelevant to the discussion at this point; short of someone digging up a Patterson-Gimlin film of Big Papi shooting up with ground-up moose testicles, nobody's changing their mind on this one. But the leaps of logic that those who've already settled on one side of the debate will make are so stunningly ridiculous that even the Ancient Aliens guy thinks they might be stretching things a bit. Then again, you want the real explanation for why Big Papi is still a productive hitter at age 39? It's got to be aliens.
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