The Drama Continues at Grantland – I haven’t found the Simmons drama to be that interesting. To be clear, I follow. I’m a Simmons fan and he’s indubitably a pioneer to what hacks perhaps like myself attempt. But these stories often feel like much ado about nothing. A guy isn’t getting along with his boss(es). So what? Obviously the stage is far bigger than ‘Phyllis and John’ bickering in Accounts Payable, but this is something we’re familiar with. It is interesting to see how upset Simmons seems to get people in high places (which James Andrew Miller extensively explores). Also, the general tone around all of this is that ESPN is the asshole, Simmons just the whiner.
It’s time to stop being stupid about sports gambling – While it’s still around, thought I’d at least link to a Grantland piece. They’ve historically been good. This one is by Charles Pierce who often brings perspective to obtuse subjects. In this case, it’s the daily gambling sites FanDuel and Draft Kings. The Pac-12 has asked to not be a part of it while other major sports are cuddling up to these unregulated and “legal” entities. Read what Pierce thinks and get back to me because this is a great topic for a night cap. Scotch?
Shrimp Boy’s Day in Court – If you get around to reading this story about Shrimp Boy – a notorious crime boss in San Francisco – I’d be curious to hear your opinion. In my circles (non-criminal), the lore of Shrimp Boy is hysterical. This is a bully and a gangster known as “shrimp boy.” I suppose the cruelest realities are ironies. Nevertheless, I thought the article jumped around to the point that I wasn’t sure what stage in all of his legal troubles Shrimp Boy was in? Was he free or about to stand trial? Is he relevant considering new charges or because he’s a fascinating tale? Read it. Has nothing to do with Pac-12 basketball or sports although Cal is mentioned.
Former Louisville recruit about his visit: ‘It was like I was in a strip club’ – Sportscenter was moved up an hour this East Coast morning to break this story. If that doesn’t suggest that this is a big deal – college basketball moving ESPN programs in the heart of NFL season – then let me tell you its time to start paying attention. Katina Powell, no matter what you think of her credibility, has been vetted by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist (Dick Cady). Even if you think she’s 90% full-of-it, then 10% of her allegations are true and wild at that. Her television appearance begins to name names (we love names, right? Russ Smith, Motrezl Harrell – players with championship rings). Alas, this isn’t about the players, it’s about those at the helm and the age old question: How much did he know? As in, which of these allegations – if true or even partially true – did Rick Pitino know about? Further, who was indeed propagating this? Andre McGee is the most named culprit, a graduate assistant at the time (now an assistant at UMKC). And maybe these aren’t the right questions at all? Sure we’re fascinated by college basketball and scandal in general, but what of a mother shopping her teenage daughters like this? That’s a sad reality amongst all of this as well. This isn’t a good story – for anyone – and its likely only to get worse.
Things we think we know in the Pac-12 – Fellow Pac-12 blogger, Andrew Murawa, takes his first crack at 2015-16. In this post, Drew runs through some of the knowns and unknowns of the Pac-12 season. It’s a great composite of the innumerable questions begging to be answered about this odd Pac-12 season. It additionally begs the question: Don’t we know nothing? Is that why we like college basketball? Is that why other people hate it? I think about these things.
What Baseball Taught Me – A lot of thoughts here but namely that the early-2000s A’s were the reason for the only piece of baseball paraphernalia that I own: A green Oakland A’s cap. Now this Player’s Tribune (a hit-or-miss publication) piece by Barry Zito takes a turn I didn’t expect but it’s thoughtful and bold. In there he writes, “At some point, even in the ethers of their mind, everyone has thought that they could maybe, just maybe, square up a 90 mph fastball.” I’m here to tell you: You cannot square up to a 90 mph fastball. Neither can you throw one.
Baseball with Urgency – This video, written and narrated by Tom Verducci, will give you chills. Guaransheed. I long ago fell out of love with baseball but not its playoffs. As Verducci explains, in October, “we sit on a knife’s edge between fame and infamy.” And now think of why we watch college basketball. There aren’t 162 games and when it comes to its great stage, that knife’s edge is as sharp as they come. March offers no room for error, no opportunity to ‘get ’em tomorrow.’ The baseball playoffs are no doubt fantastic, my second favorite season’s end. But if urgency is what you need, you’ve come to the right blog.
Sights, sounds from Arizona’s Red-Blue Game – Homer linkage? Perhaps. But this was produced by friend of the blog and friend of mine, Sarah Kezele. Who is she? SK is amongst the sharpest, brightest, most driven producers out there. Currently, she’s on Arizona Central’s video team, a group bringing new media to its dated paper model. Which is to say, SK is cutting edge. Give her a follow. Also – in case you were wondering – Arizona had some 30-stars worth of talent in attendance at their sold out Red-Blue game and five of those stars, committed.
Youtube wants you to pay for premium video content – Well so too does HBO, Netflix, and Amazon! Tube sparked the change in digital consumption, offering us unlimited video content as well as a video voice. Talents have been discovered on Youtube, careers ignited, yet their model hasn’t necessarily kept up. I think part of Youtube’s business fault has been in distinguishing our content from theirs. Is this a first step in that direction? Will “premium content producers” have the same reach or be happy with that reach? If Youtube isn’t going to fund high production programming (like Narcos, House of Cards, etc.) will people be willing to pay for ad-less access to Charlie Bit My Finger (full disclosure, I’m not sure that’s the content they’ll be charging for but damn that thing has 830 million views). But maybe it’s not Youtube’s to solve? Google has its fingers in seemingly everything (and owns Youtube). Presumably, Youtube’s direction can/will be Google’s direction through the evolution of media distribution. This ‘premium service’ is a glance at that direction.
Waylp, Bye: Steve Spurrier up and left – Spencer Hall honesty about the Old Ball Coach that helped him become the kind of fan he is today. And now think about it for you. When did your coach bow out? How did he go? For me it was Olson, unceremoniously and indirectly diving into the sunset. For everything he’d built, he left even more abruptly despite it’s two-year roll out. Whatever the case, ESDSBS was built on Spurrier.
Playboy to Drop Nudity as Internet Fills Demand– The adage tells us that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Playboy was (is?) a pioneer in more ways than pinups. As the article notes, they’ve been on the cutting edge of journalism and art. I saw my first Playboy in my grandfather’s bathroom. Then more in my uncle’s over Thanksgiving. I didn’t read the articles. Alas, the take away from such a development is that we’re living in a completely new world of content consumption. What worked yesterday, won’t work today. Buzzfeed was pumping out asinine lists. They simultaneously have employed Pulitzer Prize winners.
The Thrill of (Near) Victory (podcast) – My new commute is most conducive to Podcasts and this was the first one I jammed. It’s a brief 20-ish minutes – perfect for my walk – but more importantly provides insights into everything that matters to me: career, basketball, life. Broad brushstrokes, to be certain, but when understanding the human brain, many of these behavioral studies provides insights that can help to understand what you’re all about. The why in what you do.
Missed classes, a changed grade, and one disillusioned adviser – Accusations of – well just as the article’s title dramatically explains: missed classes, a changed grad, and a disillusioned adviser. In this instance of WTF NCAA, the accusations are pointed at UCLA. In related news, HBO is considering a True Detective season loosely based on this story with Steve Lavin starring as Steve Alford, Jessica Chastain as Layla Kiffin, and Lavar Burton as the disgruntled adviser. There’s also heavey speculation that SDSU’s Steve Fisher will make an appearance as the ghost of John Wooden during the series. If you really want to read about an academic scandal, read about UNC.
‘I play with guns:’ Caron Butler’s inside account of the Gilbert Arenas gun incident– Even without Caron Butler’s commentary – which is unsettling in its own right – what a weird effing story. We played a lot of card games on baseball road trips in High School and my buddy Mac always seemed to lose. The pot would get up to an astronomical high school amount of like $75 or something, he’d lose, and the lot of us would lose it, cracking up at Mac’s misfortune. Mac’s fine and well adjusted now. I think he one time tackled our second baseman for it.
Documents, former players point to Steve Sarkisian’s alcohol use at Washington – Remember when the Red Sox were running Theo and Terry Francona out of Boston? There were rampant reports of ridiculous things and now there’s a book about it. Things many in the know had seen or heard in the past. That sort of “leaking” was coming from the top. There are pictures of receipts in this article. This is the public shaming – under the guise of someone doing reporting – of a man who didn’t harm anyone but himself. The depths of Sarkisian’s issues are surfacing now because USC has allowed it to happen, presumably to fire him with cause. I suppose that’s the ugly head of business, guaranteed contracts and the pressure of the wins column. It’s likely that Pat Haden – the presumed handler of this mess – is gone soon, too.