Monthly Archives: April 2016

Feeling a Draft

Today is Christmas in April for the NFL. All 32 teams are wondering if when they open their gifts they will be getting a cool new bicycle, socks and underwear, or a pair of slippers that don’t fit.

The NFL draft is is the most watched craps game in America. Teams gamble millions of dollars on a handful of 20-year-olds they hope will solidify their franchise’s future and lead them to the promised land. Sometimes they strike gold, and sometimes they…well, are just playing craps.

Draftniks from Miami to Seattle will be waiting with palpitating hearts tonight and throughout the weekend, hoping to hear the name of their favorite NFL prospect called by their team, and overdosing on stats, highlights and the shrill pitch of Jon Gruden.

draft

It appears the Rams and Eagles will take QB’s Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, and pay them big bucks in hopes they will become the next Peyton Manning, not the next Ryan Leaf. Quarterbacks have been taken with the 1st pick 32 times in the draft’s history, including 11 of the last 15 years. Of those 32, only 3 have gone on to the Hall of Fame, with Manning certain to join them. And speaking of Manning, the Broncos could become the 3 team since the draft’s inception, to draft a QB in the first round after winning the Super Bowl. The others: Packers in 1967 and the Steelers in 1980. Don Horn or Mark Malone, anyone?

Which all goes to remind us that this is, after all, just one big craps game. There are no sure things, even when Mel Kiper or any other of the plethora of “draft experts” says so…as Leaf, Trent Richardson, Tim Couch, Jamarcus Russell, Tony Mandarich, Johnny Manziel, et al have proven.

So, don’t get too uptight about who your team selects tonight. Instead thing about how they will be putting the keys to the franchise and several million dollars in the hands of an entitled 20-year old who didn’t finish college and whose taste is demonstrated in that awful looking suit he wears on stage tonight.

That oughta to make you feel much better.

 

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Kneed You Back Soon

Steph Curry’s sprained MCL is just about the worst thing that could’ve happened for the NBA right now. Curry and the Warriors are the main reason people are tuning in this season. People want to see if Steph and the boys can complete the the end to end journey from title to title, with 73 regular season wins sandwiched in between.

Curry

The team says Steph will out 2 weeks, minimum. When I saw Steph slip and fall, I winced, knowingly. I experienced a near exact fall 4 months ago while skiing. Same type of split. Same contortion of the right knee. Same injury. Sprained MCL. It took me a good month before I could run; two to do so without pain. Granted, I’m twice Steph’s age, so he will heal faster. Hopefully a lot faster. I’m hoping it’ll be fast enough for him to get back in time for the Warriors second championship.

Why, you might ask?

Well, he makes the game fun to watch. The childlike joy is similar to what we all experience playing ball as kids on the blacktop or in the driveway as kids.

More than that, in this era of packaged NBA stars with their sullen attitudes, deftly crafted marketing strategies, and massive egos – the size of which may only be surpassed by their entourages – Steph is an anomaly. A humble kid who doesn’t take himself too seriously, is compassionate, patient and often defers to others. He’s like one of us… except, of course, he regularly drains 35-footers.

Hurry back, Steph.

 

Fair Trade

Milt Pappas died yesterday. If you don’t remember Milt, he won 209 games over 17 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs.

One day before a 1962 start against the Yankees, a writer asked the 23-year-old what he needed to do to beat the Yankees. Pappas replied, “If I pitch a shutout and hit a home run, we’ll probably win.”

You know what happened, right? Pappas went out and pitched 6 shutout innings and hit a home run as the Orioles beat the Yanks 1-0. As Yogi once said, You could look it up.

He had a pretty good career. He was one of a small handful of pitchers to win 150 games by age 30, had 43 shutouts, and tossed a no-hitter. But he will long be remembered for being the key piece in one of the most lopsided trades in MLB history.  In 1965, he was traded for Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who went on to lead the Orioles to four World Series.

pappas

Reading of Pappas death made me think about some of the trades in sports that didn’t work out too well for one side… like the Herschel Walker trade from Dallas to Minnesota. Or the Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi Angels-Mets trade.

So, what do you say? What do you think is the most lopsided trade in sports history?

All Wound Up

Check out this video ESPN has posted on some of the most unusual pitching styles in modern Major League Baseball.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=15214842

The clip shows some of the most unusual of today, along with a few memorable delivery styles from the past five decades. I remember vividly, as a kid, watching Juan Marichal’s super high leg kick, and Luis Tiant’s…well, whatever you want to call all that he did. But I’ve never seen anything quite like Carter Capps. Check out his jump-step on the video, and his ball placement in the image below.

carter-capps-041315-getty-ftrjpg_x3r7qvqg6dzt1njai4gqwr6ki

Feel free to insert your own caption.

It seems to work for Capps. And for others. Perhaps the unorthodox delivery is part of their success. The deception, distraction, and unusual timing all can throw a hitter off, and make it difficult to find the ball upon release.

Which pitcher’s delivery is most memorable to you?

 

Fan-Tastic

73 and 60. Numbers, yes. But numbers that have so much meaning behind them. And, no, this is not about numerology. It’s about the NBA. And historic moments. And the people who made them.

If you’re not an NBA fan, you missed a great show last night. I mean, how often do two historic moments in sports occur on the same day – let alone the same time?

The only such date I quickly recall, is when Fernando Valenzuela and Dave Stewart both threw no-hitters, 2500 miles apart, on the same night in 1990.

Last night it happened in the same state, minutes apart.

Kobe Bryant closed out his storied career by giving basketball fans a glimpse of the greatness they had witnessed during the best of the last 20 years, pouring in 60 points and, as he has so often done, leading the Lakers to a dramatic win. For even those who are not fans of the self-proclaimed “Black Mamba”, it was a remarkable display from the greatest player of the past two decades.

At the same time, about 350 miles north, Steph Curry was firmly taking the baton as the greatest player of now.

His 10 3-pointers propelled the Warriors to their 73rd win of the season, breaking the all-time record, set by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in 1995-96 – the year before Kobe entered the NBA. In the great symmetry of sport, it was Kobe who took the baton from Michael back then.

Which leads us to an interesting distinction. In the aftermath of last night’s events, in LA, Kobe was front and center, celebrated – as he should have been – for all that he has meant to the game, and to a city.

In San Francisco, the scene was somewhat different. The young Warrior who has taken basketball and carried it on his back for the past two years was also front and center, amidst celebration of surpassing a record many thought would not be broken. His credentials are impressive: League MVP. Scoring leader. 402 3-pointers this season – many from a different area code. Yet, in the midst of this historic celebration, Curry deflected praise, and gave credit to God and the team.

In demonstrating authentic humility and grace, the young man did what he’s been doing all season long. He nailed it.

He also made us realize that while for us fans, it’s all about Steph…for Steph, it isn’t.

Steph

Strong Week

Is this the best sports week of the year? It started with Opening Day of the baseball season and concludes tomorrow with the donning of the green jacket at the Masters. In between, the NCAA basketball champions were crowned on Monday night, NBA and NHL teams pushed for the final playoff spots, your favorite college football team moved through spring practice, and some key free agents switched teams in the NFL. It’s a convergence like no other time of the year… a veritable sports buffet.

What is your favorite time of the year as a fan? Super Sunday. College football’s bowl season? Daytona 500?

batsgolftipoffSCspringprac

What is the most wonderful time of the sports year for you and why?

Story Book Beginning

Baseball season began this week. Every year, when the season begins, it seems to bring with it a newness. Everything is new. The blue sky, the green grass, the fact that your team has a chance this year, even if they lost 103 games last year.

Hope springs eternal.

The season has already started with a bang…literally. At least for a rookie shortstop. Colorado’s Trevor Story became the first player ever to hit two home runs in his first MLB game, then homered in the next two games, becoming the only player in history to do that. Talk about a debut.

Story2

The Rockies’ rookie wasn’t the only one to have a record-setting start. Starlin Castro became the first Yankee ever to collect 7 RBI in his first two games in pinstripes. Ruth never did it, nor Gehrig, nor DiMaggio, nor Mantle – no one. In fact, the previous record of 6 was set by none other than Todd Greene, who then totaled 5 more RBI in the next 33 games.

Then there were the San Diego Padres. They became the only team ever to be shutout in their first three games of the season, courtesy of the Dodgers, who came to San Diego with no less than 10 players on the disabled list.

An empty plate in San Diego. Castro makes a splash in New York. And a new Story is introduced in the Rockies. Sounds like the news of the week. Actually, it Trumps the news of the of the week.

Oh yeah, and George Springer hit a big grand slam to kick-start this year’s World Series favorite, the Houston Astros.

Proving that Spring(er) hopes eternal, too.