How to Swat Away Tanking in the NBA

Written by :
Published on : July 10, 2015

During a recent podcast by the website fivethirtyeight.com, the show hosts asked fans to submit solutions to the notion that the NBA draft structure is broken which is leading to struggling teams “tanking.” I was very intrigued with this article, being someone who agrees with this belief, and judging by the nearly 7,000 responses on the website, many fans out there also believe the NBA needs to address this potential problem.
Before divulging some of fivethirtyeight.com’s favorite responses and sharing my solution to help prevent tanking, first let’s answer the question what exactly is tanking? The biggest misconception in regards to “tanking” is that it is when teams are deliberately trying to lose. Well, that isn’t exactly the case. After all, it wouldn’t be too hard to spot if on a yearly basis a few teams were all intentionally throwing games. Instead, tanking is essentially when a team doesn’t do everything it can to win, and then doing that for an extended period of time.
Now, the latter part of that is huge. Any game where a team rests a star player or two shouldn’t send up a red flag for tanking. For example, Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, is known for, and even has even been fined for resting his trio of stars on occasion. While he runs the risk of losing that game, it’s to his team’s benefit during the season that his trio of veterans get the rest they need to make deep playoff runs. His five championship rings over the past fifteen years can also remove any doubters of his strategy I’d say.
Instead, the evidence of a team tanking is generally found near the bottom of the standings where a team has a strong chance at landing a top pick in the following year’s draft. In recent years especially, the NBA drafts haven’t been very deep with talent so teams, especially the smaller markets who struggle to land marquee free agents, are desperate to land a top pick.
The main problem I have with tanking is that it is disingenuous to the supporting fan base. Consider a family of four taking in an NBA game for a fun family night out. Estimate maybe around $100 for tickets, another $10-20 for parking potentially, the rising costs of food and refreshments, and you’re looking at around $150 to take your family out for a game. Obviously a win is never guaranteed, so the least your hometown team could do is give you their 100% effort to win the game for you, right? Unless, of course, franchises let fans know ahead of time that they have given up on trying to win games, and are instead looking to improve their draft picks all at the risk of losing all revenue from ticket sale…yeah, didn’t think so.
Fivethirtyeight.com’s only ground rules for this contest were that the fan’s proposal had to be viable, understandable and as they put it, “cool.” Otherwise, everything was fair game, so here’s a quick look at some of the top responses.
An idea titled “The Tombstone Date” suggested the amount of lottery balls a team receives will be determined by “Elimination Wins.” The author of this proposal defines Elimination Wins as victories that occur after that team has officially been eliminated from playoff contention. That day would also be known as that team’s Tombstone Day. Whichever lottery team has the most Elimination Wins after their Tombstone Day, receives the most lottery balls in the upcoming draft.
Another idea called for a lottery playoff that would immediately follow the regular season. At the end of the regular season, teams that made the playoffs will receive a week off to mentally and physically prepare for their first round opponent, while the fourteen teams who missed the playoffs will partake in a single elimination tournament to decide who gets the top picks in the draft. The top two teams would receive a first round bye, and the winner of the tournament would receive the top pick while the runner-up received the second pick. The rest of the lottery would be determined by regular season win totals giving the incentive to still win as much as possible in the regular season.
Perhaps the most thought-provoking idea, and the chosen winner by fivethirtyeight.com, was one termed The NBA Futures. In this proposal, we disregard the fact that teams own their draft picks all together, and instead, teams own stock market-style futures on other teams. In other words, teams would get to predict other team’s finishing position and therefore get that team’s pick as their own. So this year, the Minnesota Timberwolves hold the number one pick, if they wished to do the same next year, they would have to correctly guess which team would finish in the bottom next year.
I thought all of these ideas were creative, and all would hypothetically help to make even the worst of teams fight until the bitter end of the season, which as a fan, is all that we really ask. My idea was a much simpler plan, but perhaps still would be effective. The premise of my idea is very similar to what is used often in professional soccer leagues overseas known as relegation. With this rule, the bottom few teams in a league get kicked out of the league, and sent down to a lower tiered league the following season. On the flip side, the top three teams in the lower league then move to a higher tiered league to replace them. The perk here of course is while the top teams are fighting for the league title, the struggling teams near the bottom are fighting just as hard but just for them to stay in the league. Obviously from a franchise standpoint, the higher the league you are in, the more money you make from things like sponsorship and ticket/merchandise sales, and then thus the likelier you sign better players, and ultimately win games.
Now, my idea of relegating teams of course wouldn’t fall into the “viable” category which fivethirtyeight.com required because here in the United States, we don’t have any other professional basketball leagues that could compete with the NBA, so I tweaked it a bit. In my scenario, the bottom three teams wouldn’t get relegated out of the league, but instead would be relegated out of the lottery itself, and would instead automatically pick 12th, 13th, and 14th in the upcoming draft. The remaining eleven teams would make up the lottery and the lottery balls would be divided amongst those teams in a similar fashion to how they are currently distributed in today’s NBA Draft Lottery system.
My thought is, usually when you question how many teams are tanking in the NBA, it’s only a few. Sixteen of the league’s thirty teams make the playoffs to begin with, and there’s always a couple teams in each conference vying for the playoffs so they’re also not tanking. That typically leaves just a handful of teams that can see the writing on the wall and therefore know their season is all but over well before the rest of the league. However, those teams will want to win as many games as possible to stay out of the bottom three. Directly from that, teams that are just above those bottom teams, won’t be able to sit comfy either knowing the teams below them still want a shot at the number one pick.


SBS Short Story Series: Rookie Card

Written by :
Published on : July 10, 2015

A dark bedroom, Tim sits up in bed, his face only visible from the glow of his open macbook. He glances to his sleeping girlfriend. She’s in dream town. He opens a new tab, a few keys and back to the old habit; cards, well Basketball cards, 80’s NBA Fleer to be exact. Another check. Still sleeping. Scrolling, scrolling, then, wait. What? Tim’s eyes dart over the post “Mint condition”, “Michael Jordan”, “PSA 10”, and then the doozie “Rookie card” Tim holds back a shriek, his girlfriend stirs but doesn’t wake. Then he reads “Autographed”. He screams.

The next day,  Tim pulls up the ad and types a response. “I’ll trade you my whole collection…” He hits ‘send’ and crosses his fingers. Tim, in his red Jordan jersey, waits inside Chipotle. No burrito. He eyes the door. Finally, Kent arrives. He’s tall, older, windbreaker, briefcase, like Clint Eastwood, if he sold drugs. Tim waves him over. Kent sits and opens the briefcase. The Jordan. In its hard plastic case. Tim inspects it like a jeweler while Kent gets in line. Tim looks up and realizes he is alone with the prize. He looks across the dining room to the door. He calculates the distance. He looks to Kent then back to the door. In walk two Chicago Police Officers. Tim’s eyes go back to the card. Kent returns with a soda. “So we got a deal or what?”

In the parking garage, Tim opens the trunk to his car and pulls out two huge boxes of cards. Kent gives them a quick look and nods. He hands the briefcase to Tim. Kent loads the boxes into his car. Tim locked in a trance, starring at his new baby. Before leaving Kent asks “you wanna know how I got the autograph?” Tim never looks up from the card. “Of course”. Kent gets close and leans in “I met him at the grocery store” with that, Kent stabs Tim in the gut. He stabs him again and again. He is the Michael Jordan of stabbing people. Tim gasps as his last breathe oozes out. Kent pulls the rookie card from his hands. Blood all over the case. He wipes it on Tim’s jersey and then drives off.

Kent in his trophy room. Wall to wall memorabilia. He adds Tim’s cards to his collection and returns the Jordan to its rightful place on the mantel. Later, Kent lies in bed with his laptop, his wife next to him. He posts “Rookie Card for sale or trade”.

The End.


Fireworks go Boom

Written by :
Published on : July 9, 2015

In the immortal words of Katy Perry:

Just own the night like the 4th of July, ‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework, Come on, show ’em what you’re worth”

Two NFL players took these lyrics to heart over Independence Day weekend. New York Giants’ Defensive End Justin Pierre-Paul and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Corner Back CJ Wilson both lost fingers as a result of firework-related accidents. You heard right. Injuries due to explosions from firecrackers. That is insane. What Looney Tunes world are we living in?

In the case of Wilson, he lost two fingers on one hand. That might be enough to end his two-year career. Where he mostly served as a backup. Wilson hoped to make the starting roster this summer but those chances just went up in smoke.

Pierre-Paul initially only suffered nerve and tissue damage to his hand but later decided to amputate his right index finger in the name of speeding up his recovery. Which is important because JPP has not signed his contract and the Giants have pulled their long term offer. So on top of losing millions, he may be looking for a new team if things don’t work out.

These bizarre events underline an ongoing issue with pro athletes where stupid recreational activities nearly cost them everything. Some may remember in 2006 when Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, with no helmet, got into a nasty motorcycle accident. Or in 1985 when Houston Astros Pitcher Nolan Ryan got his hand bit trying to pet a coyote. There are countless other examples of this reckless behavior. When are these Millionaires gonna learn?

Here is a list of things you should NOT do if you play pro sports:

  • play with fireworks or explosives of any kind

  • sword fight

  • race cars/motorcycles/jet skis/camels/anything

  • run with scissors

  • re-shingle your roof
  • goof around with handguns

  • walk on hot coals
  • wrestle a gator

  • fight Batman

  • Skydive or bungee jump

  • swim after eating

  • go anywhere with Pac-Man Jones

This may seem like a lot of restrictions but no fan wants their favorite player to blow up. So stay safe. And if all else fails, make someone in the entourage light the fuse.



Warren Sapp: Scumbag

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Published on : June 27, 2015

Once upon a time Warren Sapp was just an opinionated clown who didn’t know what he was talking about; a hotheaded antagonist who got his kicks from happily skipping through the opposing team’s warm up session, getting into altercations refs and opposing coaches, and pretty much making a fool of himself. And for a while it was pretty funny.

This is the same man that claimed that the NFL was a “slave system” because he was fined $50,000 for running into an official before a game in 2003. Well Mr. Sapp, that same “slave system” helped you garner contracts worth an estimated $72.6 million between 1998 and 2004, so save us your sob story and claims of discrimination. A normal person would kill for the opportunity to earn that much money by doing something that they love. I suppose you would also suggest that it’s the system’s fault that you squandered those riches and had to file for bankruptcy in 2012.

Warren’s ludicrous claims about the structure of the NFL system and his money problems aren’t really the focus of this discussion though. What we are really here to talk are his alleged legal transgressions of the past few years. Transgressions that cement his status as a true scumbag, not just a loud mouthed buffoon.

Let me start by saying that in accordance with the foundations of our legal system, Mr. Sapp is indeed innocent until proven guilty (except for the crimes that he actually pled guilty to). But that’s not to say we can’t go over his alleged crimes and transgressions as evidence of his questionable character.

We will begin all the way back on February 6, 2010, the day before Super Bowl XLIV. Sapp was partying at the Shore Club Hotel in Miami Beach. An argument ensued with a female and she later alleged that Sapp choked her and threw her down. Upon further investigation, improprieties were found in the alleged victim’s account of the incident and the charges were dropped. While there was no further legal action, the damage was already done to Sapp’s public image and broadcasting career, and he was immediately terminated from his position at NFL Network.

After a couple of years the dust settled and he was given another broadcast gig at NFL Network. That is, until 2015, when the Super Bowl festivities and the month of February proved to once again be his Achilles heel.

This time Warren was charged with solicitation and assault on February 2nd for paying two women $300 each to perform sex acts and then roughing them up after an argument over the money. He wouldn’t get off the hook so easy this time, and later pled guilty to both charges in exchange for the completion of two separate counseling programs and payment of restitution to both victims. After all of this one would think that he would want to keep a low profile and stay out of trouble, but it seems that he just can’t help himself.

In what is becoming a common theme for the hall of fame defensive linemen, Warren Sapp was arrested on three counts of domestic violence after an April 28th, 2015 incident with his girlfriend at what the media has called a Las Vegas resort (in reality M Resort is 20 minutes outside of the city in Henderson); the same girlfriend who stayed with him after he was caught with two prostitutes. What a way to repay her for her dedication to him.

The latest incident featured Sapp throwing a drink in his girlfriend’s face, biting her finger, throwing a belt at her, and stepping on her face with his 300lb-plus frame. If that doesn’t scream scumbag I don’t know what does.

The media usually gives people at least one chance, if not more, when it comes to things like this. After the charges in 2010 were dropped, Sapp was given a second chance and after a few years he regained a place in the broadcast media world. Now he has begun to display a clear pattern of violence against women it’s hard to believe that the public will be so forgiving. And they shouldn’t be.

Warren Sapp faces up to 18 months in jail for his current charges and if you ask me he should serve every single day. There is no excuse for domestic violence and it is clear that he needs to be punished severely. No matter how you spin it, this man has a problem, and someone of his large physical stature presents a very real threat to the women around him. He could easily do great harm to most full grown men and the harm he could bring to a woman, should he keep on this path, could be deadly. He has grown into an abusive criminal, and there’s nothing funny about that. All we can do is hope he gets locked up and take solace in the fact that we will probably never have to hear his baseless, idiotic rants or see his stupid face on TV ever again.


The 9 Funniest Sports Movies. Ever.

Written by :
Published on : June 25, 2015

The Internet loves lists, we love sports, and everybody loves funny movies. So we felt it was only right to have a countdown of the 9 funniest sports movies of all time.

Why 9, and not 10? Because it’s my list and I can choose whichever arbitrary number pleases me.

As for the movies, these films are the greatest of their genre and they have the ability to uplift, entertain, inspire, and most importantly make people laugh. They are about the underdogs, the outcasts, the naturally gifted, the hopelessly talentless, the improbable, the odds and the defiance of those odds. If that isn’t special, I don’t know what is.

But enough talking about it, and let’s get to business. Here are my 9 Funniest Sports Movies. Ever.

The movie "Slap Shot", directed by George Roy Hill. Seen here of the Charlestown Chiefs hockey team, the Hanson Brothers. From left, David Hanson (as Jack Hanson). Steve Carlson (as Steve Hanson), Jeff Carlson (as Jeff Hanson). Initial theatrical release February 25, 1977. Screen capture. Copyright © 1977 Universal Pictures. Credit: © 1977 Universal Pictures / Courtesy: Pyxurz.

#9. Slap Shot (1977)

This hilariously violent and vulgar film stars Paul Newman as Reggie Dunlop, a player/coach with the Charlestown Chiefs, a team that just found out that local mill will be closing and 10,000 workers will be laid off.

In an attempt to save the team from a similar fate, Dunlop resorts to fighting with other teams as his go-to strategy for winning games. And it works..

By far the funniest thing in this film is the above-pictured Hanson Brothers. These spectacle wearing man-children leave more than a little to be desired when it comes to intelligence and actual game-skills, but they more than make up for it with bare-knuckled savagery. Some of the jokes in this film would have a hard time making it to screen in today P.C society but it is undeniable that this movie is still as funny as they come.

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#8. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

As someone who isn’t an actual fan of racing I may be way off base here, but Talladega Nights so hilariously captures the general air of white-trashiness that surrounds the world of stock car racing. Will Ferrell’s portrayal of Ricky Bobby, a lowly pit crew member who is thrust into the drivers seat and onto stardom, is as close to his Old School/Anchorman greatness as he ever got again.

Ricky comes to consider himself untouchable, only to have everything, including his hot racing groupie wife, his under-appreciated teammate and best friend Cal Naughton Jr (John C Reilly), and his badass racing skills taken from him in a flash by his own arrogance and a French Formula 1 driver named Jean Girard (Sasha Baren-Cohen).

In the end Farrell and Reilly, who just do too good a job at caricaturing the hilarious mentality of the NASCAR world, carry this movie all the way to finish line.

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#7. White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) is a street ball hustler who takes advantage of his non-assuming, good ol’ boy Caucasian looks in order to make the ball players of Los Angeles underestimate his game. When fate brings him together with Sidney Dean (Wesley Snipes) a working partnership, and eventually a friendship, is born. Together they set off to run the courts of LA, and make some money in the process.

There are a ton of yo-mama jokes and an almost never ending amount of overly dramatic slow-motion basketball scenes that are hilarious in their own right, if not only for the fact that they look so ridiculous.

The colors and fashion, and Rosie Perez, of this film are so perfectly 90’s. It takes me back to that era while making me laugh, and as someone whose formative years occurred in this time period, I can still remember renting this VHS from the Blockbuster video.

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#6. The Bad News Bears (1976)

This film starring Walter Matthau created an entire genre of sports comedy that would be copied, repackaged and remade many times in the future. The Mighty Ducks, The Little Giants and The Ladybugs would all go on to copy the formula of The Bad News Bears. But none of these other films are as good as this mid-seventies classic. It’s funnier than all those movies if merely for the fact that its much more R-rated than its future, kid-friendly imitators. And sometimes that’s enough.

Matthau’s character, Morris Buttermaker, is coaxed into coaching a team made up from all the worst players of a highly competitive little league, and he inspires his team by showing up drunk to games and practices, and just generally not caring about the whole thing.

After acquiring a couple of ringers (a necessary step in any sports comedy) they make it all the way to the championship game, only to lose to the obviously better team. In the end coach Buttermaker is kind enough to make them feel better about the loss in the only way he knows how, by letting them drink his beer (something that I’m sure the Hollywood of today would never let happen on the screen).

 

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#5. Happy Gilmore (1996)

Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) is an unlikely hero who has always had the dream of playing hockey. There’s just one problem, he’s not any good. He does, however, have a hell of a slap shot, which he parlays into an unlikely, but successful golf career, with a little guidance from perhaps the greatest on screen mentor ever, Chubbs Peterson (Carl Weathers).

Happy is violent. He curses and drinks. And could care less about the traditions or etiquette.

He is there to win and doesn’t care who he pisses off along the way.

Oh, and its hilarious.

For me the comedic highlight of the movie is a fight in which Bob Barker beats the hell out of Happy. Much of the humor is crude and violent, and is balanced out by golf environment that is supposed to be so refined and proper. Adam Sandler is at his peak in his first film after his debut in Billy Madison, and he would never again make a movie this great.

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#4. Kingpin (1996)

Woody Harrelson stars as Roy Munson, a once promising bowling champ who loses his good hand due to the negative influence of Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray), who takes the title of sleaziest sleazeball the moment he steps on screen.

Fast forward a couple decades and Munson has developed the kind of questionable morals and bleak outlook that can only be acquired through a lifetime of disappointment and shattered dreams. Munson eventually stumbles upon Ishmael (Randy Quaid), a previously undiscovered bowling prodigy who also happens to be from Amish country. Roy’s plan is to have Ishmael bowl in a big tournament and help them both win some money.

Ishmael’s kindhearted ignorance of modern society, along with some questionable influence from Munson, creates an opportunity for both slapstick and shock humor. The journey they undertake together proves to be one of self-discovery for both Roy and Ishmael, as they learn more about themselves and the world around them.

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#3. The Sandlot (1993)

What a great film this is. Not only is it one of the funniest sports movies ever, it also happens to be one of my favorite overall movies ever. It’s just that good.

Its amazing that The Sandlot can make me feel so nostalgic despite the fact that I didn’t grow up in a small town in middle America during the 1960’s and I wasn’t in love with the game of baseball during my youth in the way that I am now (I was a football kid). There’s just something totally relatable about the kids on the sandlot that makes you feel like it have been you or me out there playing for the love of the game and nothing else. The jokes may be juvenile at times but that doesn’t make them any less funny.

This is the second baseball movie on the list, and before I re-watched Major League it was actually the first. Despite being leapfrogged by Major League, this movie makes a very strong case for being higher on the list; the fact of the matter is that Major League is just a funnier movie. With that said, I absolutely love this film and it does a great job of giving the viewer the feeling of being a kid playing sports with your friends in the summer.

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#2. Major League (1989)

This is an amazing film and would probably be at the top of most people’s list. With late 80’s/early 90’s stalwarts like Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Rene Russo and Tom Berenger it’s pretty easy to see how this movie was such a home run (get it?). This movie provides constant laughs and the uplifting type of story that everyone who has ever been on a bad team dreams about living out, on and off the field.

Battling against their own ineptitude and a money-hungry new owner who wants to move the entire franchise to Miami, this motley crew of players, who includes washed up veterans, ex-cons, and a voodoo practitioner, must turn themselves around and save the team. By going from laughing stock of the league to winning the division in dramatic fashion, raise attendance to levels at which the owner can’t justify moving the team.

The laughs alone are enough to raise this movie up, but the solid sports-related plot puts it in the top 3.

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#1. Caddyshack (1980)

When the idea for this list was in its earliest stages, I knew immediately which movie was at the top. Caddyshack is not only my favorite sports comedy of all time; it is also one of my favorite overall movies of all time.

Caddyshack stars three of the greatest comedians of all time: Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield, whose performances help create one the most genuinely funny films ever. I’m not even going to try to list some of the hysterical things in this movie; if you don’t know them off the top of your head, you need to go and watch this film right now!

This movie has all of the necessary components of an all time epic sports story. Rag-tag group of underachieving but loveable characters? High Stakes? Antagonist who you just love to hate? With of these elements there’s no better film I could think of to top this list, and for that reason, Caddyshack takes the title of the funniest sports movie ever.

 

 


Now Batting: The Designated Hitter

Written by :
Published on : June 25, 2015

Over the past few years, Major League Baseball has made numerous changes in an effort to improve on America’s Pastime. From lowering the height of the mound to give hitters a better chance against dominant pitchers, to recently moving the Houston Astros, formerly of the National League Central, to the American League West creating an equal amount of teams in each division and league. Also, before this season, pace-of-play rules were implemented to ultimately speed up the game. All of these changes, of course with the hopes of getting your average sports fan back into baseball.

In 1973, the American League decided to do away with pitchers batting thus creating the Designated Hitter, or DH position, which allows for a player to bat in the lineup without taking the field defensively. The National League however, has held its stance and have maintained their rule of keeping the pitcher in the batting order. Over the years, this variance between leagues has been debated over and over, although the movement to bring the DH position into both leagues is picking up steam.

Personally, I feel like bringing the DH into the National League is long overdue. For one, having an American League and National League, thankfully now even with fifteen teams each, playing with different rules makes no sense, but it also presents both leagues with some major advantages and disadvantages. Here are my top 3 reasons to bring the DH to the National League.

CREATE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

It has long been thought that pitching is easier in the National League because generally pitchers struggle at the plate, with many of them batting under, or even just around the .100 mark, whereas in the American League, a pitcher rarely has to face a batter hitting below the .200 mark. Therefore, you often times will see lower ERA’s and more dominant pitchers in the National League. Currently, one might argue that because teams only play roughly around 10% of their games against the other league, it doesn’t necessarily have a huge factor in the final standings. However, with the National League having pitchers hit on a daily basis, it allows for their pitchers to actually partake in occasional batting practice throughout the year, whereas in the American League, pitchers don’t put nearly an equal amount of emphasis on hitting. During the World Series especially, this can become a huge advantage for teams in the National League. For the American League, the use of the DH creates a better opportunity to score runs by having a better bat in the lineup, however it does make it more difficult for the pitchers who do not have an “easy out” so to speak every time at the bottom of the order.  Granted, not all pitchers are completely inept at the plate, while it is always amusing reminiscing the times when Randy Johnson, potentially the most dominant left-handed pitcher in the history of the game, would be flailing at pitches like a blind-folded kid swinging aimlessly at a piñata, some pitchers have actually had some success at the plate. Former Chicago Cub, Carlos Zambrano, hit a total of 23 home runs during his career and today, San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, hit .258 last season with 4 home runs. To put that in perspective, only four everyday players on the Milwaukee Brewers have a higher batting average. Perhaps worth noting though, both of those pitchers spent the majority of their careers in the National League.

PLAYER SAFETY

By not having the pitchers hit, it also may be helping to avoid further injuries to American League arms too. In recent years, we have seen some of the richest contracts in baseball given to starting pitchers, but have also seen many season and sometimes even career ending injuries to those expensive arms. Two of baseball’s top starting pitchers in recent years, Adam Wainwright of the St Louis Cardinals, and Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals, both have had injuries this year, but not while delivering upper 90-MPH fastballs, or from snapping off a nasty breaking ball. Instead, their injuries came at the plate, with Wainwright’s Achilles injury likely ending his 2015 season. Any time you step into the batter’s box, you run the risk of getting hurt. For one, human error. No matter how great a pitcher is, there is no guarantee that he is going to locate his pitch perfectly on the inside corner without occasionally getting a little too inside and plunking the hitter. Also, there’s foul balls off your ankle, your instep, your knee, etc. that also can cause a great deal of pain and if you’re a pitcher, your legs can be just as important as your arm considering your delivery all starts with your legs. Your drive leg and your plant leg both play vital roles in pitching. The DH also allows for the American League to give its players a little bit of a rest while still getting the most out of their bat. Sometimes players just need a little break from the everyday grind of shagging fly balls or getting beat up by sharply hit grounders and thus they get a day off from the field but can still deliver a clutch hit when the team needs it most. This is especially useful when a player is recovering from an injury or just tweaked something the night before, but you don’t want to remove him from the lineup completely. In the National League, you don’t have that luxury.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE

Lastly, as a fan of baseball, I just flat out want to see pitchers pitch and hitters hit; it’s that simple. As great as a pitching duel can be, fans want to see runs scored and having a two out rally killed when a pitcher comes up to bat gets old really quick.  We all enjoy seeing New York Mets’ pitcher Bartolo Colon swing his 265-pound frame so ferociously that his helmet tumbles off of his head, then watching him rumble his way around first base and into second base for a rare double. It can fill the stands with excitement, shock and awe, but moments like that however are the anomaly. Perhaps not as rare as say seeing Haley’s comet shoot across the sky like a rocket off the bat of Miguel Cabrera, but more often we see a situation where a team gets a couple of runners on, or even a two out double or triple, the crowd is on their feet, the pitcher is rattled on the mound, and the pitching coach comes out and orders up an intentional walk, or even two intentional walks, to bring up the opposing team’s pitcher to hit. Three pitches later, a couple weak, feeble attempted swings, and the rally is over.

“If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people see hit — Big Papi (David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox) or me?” Scherzer said to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. “Who would people rather see, a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher swinging a wet newspaper? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules.”

Major League Baseball has had its glory days, and most recently its dark days in dealing with the aftermath of the Steroid Era in particular. But through it all, one thing has been constant, the fan’s desire to see runs. In fact, it’s generally the consensus in most sports. Viewers want runs, goals, points, touchdowns etc. As baseball continues to evolve, and improve upon itself by making changes for the better, its next step needs to be implementing the DH position in both leagues, and therefore having one set of rules for all thirty teams. My hope and my prediction is, you will see the Designated Hitter coming to a National League ballpark near you by the 2016 or 2017 season.


Deflategate and the Patriot Way

Written by :
Published on : June 19, 2015

 

Let’s face it; Bill Belichick is not a nice guy (or at least he doesn’t show it). He is not likeable. His presence doesn’t inspire the people in the way that a Vince Lombardi would, and you surely won’t find many people outside of New England to sings his praises. He is monotone, flavorless and boring. Like Eeyore on Xanax, he seems like his whole face is going to droop right off his skull in every post-game press conference. But for what he lacks in people skills and likeability, he makes up for with the only thing that really matters. Winning.

 

In football winning is all that matters and Bill Belichick has done that consistently over his last fifteen years as the Patriots’ head coach. He is widely regarded as one of the best in the game and no one can deny that every squad that the Patriots put on the field, even when no one knows the players names, is among the best coached groups in the league, year in and year out. He has continually shown that he is willing to do whatever it takes to win, and that’s why no one should believe what he has to say about the team’s most recent equipment related antics.

 

In an NFL season that has been marred by controversy its only fitting that it would have come to an end in this fashion. From the Ray Rice domestic violence saga to Ndamukong Suh’s controversial suspension, and the even more controversial repeal of that suspension, there seems to have been a constant black cloud hovering over the 2014-15 season. Never one to disappoint, the league saved the best for last it seems, as The Patriots, once thought of as the new “America’s Team”, were revealed to be up to their old tricks with the latest controversy, aptly named deflategate. In Nixon-esque fashion, everybody’s favorite curmudgeon, the grumpiest of gusses, Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, finds himself once again at the center of a scandal involving a violation of NFL rules, even though his team was already widely considered the best in the league.

 

Breaking or bending the rules is one thing (as they say, if ya ain’t cheatin, ya ain’t tryin), but the fact once again remains that the Patriots were probably the best team in the league regardless of if they were cheating or not. Like the typical evil villain he has become, Belichick can’t help himself but to do everything within his power to put his band of helmet clad henchmen in the best position to succeed. He doesn’t need to keep doing the things he does, but he does them anyways. It’s maniacal and inexplicable that he continues to foster a culture within the organization that allows for things like this to happen, or that owner Robert Kraft continues to look the other way.

 

Maybe Kraft doesn’t have any choice but to look the other way? Maybe he is under some type of undue influence at the hands of his championship winning head coach? Maybe Bill Belichick is hiding his true identity and powers from the rest of the world?

 

That’s right, as previously rumored, Bill Belichick is indeed the dark lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious aka Emporer Palpatine. He is a diabolical genius bent on complete domination of the galaxy, and he must be stopped.

 

For more evidence look no further than what he has done to former-America’s sweetheart; the clef-chinned California boy, Tom Brady. Darth Belichick has used his mastery of the dark side  to corrupt the once wholesome, yet insecure and unsure paduwan learner and turn him to the dark side, using him as a pawn in his evil plan to bring the entire NFL under his control. Through his manipulation of the young man’s good intentions, and his masterful coaching ability, The Dark Lord of the Sith has made his quarterback more powerful than he could have ever imagined, while also dragging Brady down to his level and making him into his own personal Darth Vader. Dispatching him throughout the football galaxy to do his bidding and quell rebellions among such factions as The Colts of Indianapolis and The Bronco’s of Denver, he has turned Tom Brady from Anakin Skywalker, the hero everyone loves, into Vader, the ultimate villain. Where once he was a new hope, he is now the phantom menace.

 

Under the Tudorship of Darth Belichick, Darth Brady has himself become a master of the force. Together they have flourished and the rest of the NFL has felt their wrath; all have at some point or another, bowed to their power. In their time together, Brady has grown into the best quarterback of our era, and arguably of all time. A four-time Super Bowl champion, ten-time pro-bowler, and two-time MVP, Tom Brady has been the gold standard of NFL quarterbacks for the last fourteen years. Like Peyton Manning and Brett Favre he is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and hell, he deserves it, but I think it is safe to assume that the repeated infractions, and the teams willingness to be evil will leave a dark stain on the legacy of coach, quarterback and the entire Patriot’s organization.

 

Now I’m not actually claiming Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are fictional characters from the Star Wars universe (though I’m not entirely convinced otherwise), but it illustrates my point that they have become the supreme villains of the NFL. First it was spygate, with The Patriots videotaping opposing teams defensive signals during the game and even videotaping The St Louis Rams walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. The organization and coach Belichick himself both received stiff penalties in the form of the loss of a first round draft pick and a $500,000 fine for the coach.

 

Now the allegedly innocent infraction involving under-inflated footballs used by the Patriots during the first half of their unrelenting beat down of the Colts in the AFC Championship game, has cemented the reputation of the Patriots as a dirty team and organization, in the hearts and minds of both fans and players alike.

 

It doesn’t matter that the Patriots put the final nails in the coffin in the second half of that game, after the balls were re-inflated by the officials. All that matters is that The Patriots are once again the bad guys. And you know what? I don’t think they care. They know they have lost the benefit of the doubt, and Belichick and Brady can have all of the press conferences they want. It wont change anything in the eyes of the fans outside of New England. Even after Belichick tried vainly to get scientific with his defense (Bill Nye promptly confirmed that he didn’t know what he was taking about), nobody is buying it. The simple fact is that these guys are great at everything having to do with football and are willing to cheat and get dirty in order to give them an extra edge in any given game. It doesn’t even matter if they were personally involved in the under-inflation of those 11 game balls, the damage is done and they are destined to go down as a couple of shysters with a handfuls of super bowl rings.

 

 


5 Things Lions Fans can do to help the team get better

Written by :
Published on : June 18, 2015

The Detroit Lions are coming off one of their best regular seasons in team history. After finishing 11-5 the cats returned to the playoffs only to have their hearts broken by the Cowboys (and Refs) in the Wildcard round. Looking forward, the team has lots to be excited about: A league leading Rush Defense, the all most complete return of the Coaching staff, and continued development of Matt Stafford gelling with the rest of the Offense.

But what can us fans do to help the team? Most folks would say “nothing” and that it’s in “Coach Caldwell’s hands” or “it’s GM Mayhew’s Job” but those folks would be WRONG. Here is a list of the top 5 things Lions fans can do to help the team improve and maybe even get the 2016’s Super Bowl.

5. Keep our boys out of trouble.

The NFL regular season is hard enough with a full roster. But trying to manage a squad racked with suspensions and non-injury related issues makes it even tougher. Since parting ways with Titus Young, the Honolulu Blue and Silver have avoided any real Police issues and this trend needs to continue for the team to succeed.

Here’s where you can help. Leave the Lions alone! Don’t buy them drinks, don’t fight them at clubs, don’t talk to their girlfriends, wives or mistresses. Just stay away and don’t instigate shit. If you own a Michigan area Strip club, please be discreet about player activity. Help keep our boys on the field and out of jail.

4. STOP with all the negativity.

These are not the “same old Lions”. That phrase needs to be retried. In one year as Head Coach Jim Caldwell successfully changed the culture in Detroit. For the first time in a long time, there is something to really root for. So act like it. That means don’t boo Matt after he throws one incomplete pass. And please quit being so rotten to other fans, Lion or otherwise. It all just reinforces an outdated Thug image we are desperately trying to shed.

If the 2014 Lions’ season taught us anything, it is that our boys are always in the game. Stafford has shown a great ability to lead the team back late in games. Something that all great QB’s do. With our D playing well and all the weapons on Offense, our squad should NEVER be counted out. So no more “here we go again”. That stuff is history. If you need proof; go watch the 2014 games versus Atlanta, Miami, and New Orleans.

3. Find a good luck Charm.

This may seem silly to the causal sports fans but there is nothing silly about it. Athletes in every sport believe in practice, routine and a little luck. Us fans need to adopt the same policy. So go out and find a rabbit’s foot, maybe custom made Lions t-shirt, or a vintage Barry jersey. Then watch the games the same way every week. Pick a bar, a buddy’s house, illegally stream the content, whatever just do it the same each Sunday.

This goes for snacks and viewing buddies. Don’t suddenly stop ordering Little Caesar’s Deep Deep Dish Pizza when the Football Gods have grown accustom to the tradition. And it should go without saying, but don’t watch football with Bears, Vikings or Packer fans.

2. Cheer like Crazy.

Seems like a no-brainer, but Home Field Advantage in the league is major. And the louder the stadium, the better. Force opposing offenses to deal with the noise. Make them waste time outs or rack up False Start and Delay of Game Penalties. All of these little things can add up to a serious bonus for the hometown squad. Just look at 2014 Super Bowl Champs Seattle and their “12th Man”. No coincidence that they won it all and have the loudest fans.

Lions went 7-1 at home in 2014. Which is great but a Championship squad wins all 8. So get loud Detroit. And if you aren’t at the game, you still gotta scream. The players can hear you no matter where you live. Get hype. Every neighbor on my street knows I’m a Lions fan. Cause I let the TV know what’s up. Remember, it’s all our jobs to Defend the Den.

1. Transform into a Mega-fan.

Following on the heels of #2 on the list, step up your support of the team. What if all Lions fans went to ALL games home and away? Imagine the insane crowd at every stadium for 16 weeks. That just might be enough to vault our boys through the playoffs and to a ring ceremony.

So I’m asking all Lion fans, please quit your jobs, open as many credit cards as you can and follow the team around the country. Also, get your Passport ready cause we need support for our return trip to London to play the Kansas City Chiefs. Who cares about debt when you can finally wear one of those stupid hats that says “Detroit Lions – Super Bowl Champs”


What if Marriage laws were like Pro contracts?

Written by :
Published on : June 18, 2015

Forever is a romantic idea. But for most people it is not practical. The divorce rate in our country is substantial yet we insist on drawing up love contracts that are only void at “death do us part”. That’s a raw deal. Lots of folks are tying the knot at a young age, how can they know what the next 10 years is going to be like? Or others get hitched for the wrong reason. Are these poor saps doomed forever just because we have an archaic method of joining houses? Look, I’m not against love but I can recognize that things need to change. So what can we do?

What if the laws for marriage were more like a sports contract? The pro game has tons of relationships to manage: owner-player, team-network, league-sponsor. All of the arrangements are done with multi-year deals, allowing what’s best for both sides. So let’s take a closer look how this would work out.

When a couple is ready to wed, they get a marriage contract for 3 years. This allows for new partners to focus on chemistry and communication without the burden of eternity. The weight of commitment can hamstring younger minds so a short term contract should help alleviate that pressure. If someone finds themselves trapped in a bad marriage then they have the relief of knowing it will be over soon. And if you absolutely have to break a contract you can but there will be penalties and you will pay the other party.

Just like other rookie deals, years 4 and 5 are optional. If at the end of 3 years, if one or both sides are unhappy they can simply opt out. But if the newlyweds are done with 3 years and aren’t ready to commit long term then they can option the 4th or 5th year to buy more time to figure things out. At any point during contract, committed lovers can extend the deal to as many years as they like.

This system allows both sides to grow and build the team around them exactly the way they want it. Just like Championship squads do. If you marry a ’10’ and their game falls off then you should be able to cut ties and draft a new superstar. Or maybe your partner fails 4 consecutive drug tests or gains a ton of weight in the offseason. This is America and we all deserve the right to more forward.

I wish we still lived a world where players stayed with the team that drafted them for their whole career but that rarely happens anymore. We can’t all be Dan Marino, so instead let’s be realistic. Some will say this goes against the whole institution of marriage and I agree. But the system needs to change if it wants to stay relevant. Now, I gotta go, my girlfriend of 8 years wants to renegotiate closet space terms.


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