Dreams Blog

July 25, 2014

The Next Derek Jeter
Jayson Stark (ESPN.com) talked up Mike Trout: “But who is better positioned to grab that torch and not let go than Mike Trout?
The more we see of him, the more we get to know him, the more it feels as if he rolled into baseball out of the pages of a W.P. Kinsella novel. Larger than life. Too gifted and humble to be real.
So why can’t this be Trout’s night, too? A night to put his stamp on a special All-Star Game. A night with the potential to make us reflect on where he’s going — for about the next two decades — and on where he might be taking this whole sport along with him.
“Derek Jeter is going to have an All-Star moment, but it’s going to be more of a career-reflection moment,” said Bill Sutton, one of America’s brightest sports-marketing minds, and the director of the Sports and Entertainment Management MBA program at the University of South Florida. “But if Mike Trout does something that becomes an All-Star moment, it’s not a career-reflection moment. It’s a whole different kind of thing. … It’s about the future of the game.”
And inside baseball’s inner sanctum, there’s nothing they root for harder than for Mike Trout to BE the future of their game. Heck, even the commissioner, good old Bud Selig, found himself telling a story recently of how he asked a longtime scout friend about the legend of Trout.
“I said, ‘Compare him to somebody,'” Selig recalled. “He thought for a second — and he was dead serious — and he said, ‘Mickey Mantle-type ability.’ And that’s breathtaking. Really breathtaking.”
“Mickey Mantle-type ability,” the commissioner repeated, after swirling those words around in his brain for a few seconds. “Breathtaking.”
Not So Instant Replay
The Sports Curmudgeon wrote, “The problem with replay is that all of the logical and rational arguments for its use are negated by practice. Let me take those logical and rational arguments and examine them in light of actuality:
-We have to get the call right. No one in his right mind would argue that we need to get the call wrong; nonetheless, sometimes officials get it wrong. The problem is that if there is a definitive “right call”, then why is there so much dispute/confusion after a replay review? The fact is, replay does not get all the calls right.
-Change only comes with “conclusive video evidence”. Really? How many times have you looked at replay in super slo-mo and from 4 different angles and come up with an answer that is different from the one that comes from the replay folks? “Conclusive” must also mean something else to these folks.
-Replay will confirm – or correct – calls on plays that decide games or championships. I completely agree that replay should confirm a play such as Santonio Holmes’ TD catch in the Super Bowl with about 30 seconds to play. Everything rode on getting that right. However, replay is also used for trivial matters – such as a tag play at second base in the second inning of a game.
-Replay will eliminate arguments between the manager and the umpires. Surely, you jest…”
Michael and LeBron
The Sports Curmudgeon quoted Gregg Drinnan’s thoughts, “Gregg Drinnan was the Sports Editor for the Kamloops Daily News until the paper closed up shop early this year. He used to write a notes column, Keeping Score, which ran on Saturdays – except when it didn’t. That was his description, not mine. He has kept that column alive in blog form here. In his 5 July posting, I found this item:
“[LeBron] James, it seems, is intent on spending his playing days chasing the ghost of Michael Jordan. What James, who has two NBA championship rings, seems to forget is that Jordan won six rings in eight years and did it all with one team, the Chicago Bulls.”
I think there is more to it than that. Michael Jordan and the Bulls went to the NBA Finals 6 times. The Bulls won all 6 of those series AND Michael Jordan was the MVP of the finals all 6 times. The simple fact is that James cannot meet let alone exceed that standard. James and his teams (Cavs and Heat) have been to the Finals 5 times. The Cavs/Heat have only won 2 of those 5 series. It would seem to me that the only way to exceed 6-for-6 would be to go 7-for-7. That is mathematically impossible…”
World Cup Diving
Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) gave us Julie Foudy’s thoughts on the women’s World Cup, “”I actually think women don’t like that side of the game,” former U.S. star Julie Foudy told the New York Times. “Women play far too honest sometimes. They take the hit, ride the tackle and stay on their feet, when they would have drawn a foul if they’d gone down.”
Foudy went on to say, “I think that will change. My cynical side tells me that as women get more sophisticated and the stakes get higher, it will become more prevalent.” Foudy would know best, but I’m taking the other side. I can’t say exactly why, but I see the women’s game forever upholding the honor of honest competition.
Disco Demolition 2, You Better Belieb It
Any fan (of the Charleston River Dogs, owned by Bill Veeck’s son), wrote the Sports Curmudgeon, who brought a piece of Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus memorabilia got into the game for $1; those memorabilia were destroyed on the field after the game. Moreover, fans got a “Bobble-Leg” to honor Bill Veeck who had a wooden leg as a result of a war injury in WW II. It is not just a bobblehead; there have been tons of them; this one has a bobblehead and a bobbling wooden leg too.
Somewhere in the cosmos, Bill Veeck nodded approvingly…”
Park Review
Scott Ostler (SF Chronical) looked at the ‘Niners new home Field, “As a nod to the team’s 49er roots, each restroom will feature a gold-panning sluice. Nuggets can be exchanged for concession items.”

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Dreams Blog

July 18, 2014

From John Shea’s (SF Chronicle) All Star Notes
“The Rod Carew statue outside the park shows his classic pose, crouched stance and bat parallel to the ground. He said he developed it after Nolan Ryan kept striking him out, and suddenly Ryan’s pitches appeared straighter. Ryan didn’t like it, Carew said, and yelled at him, “Stand up, stand up.”
Parallel MLB Universe
The Sports Curmudgeon looked at the other side of the statistical coin to show that MLB collects these numbers: “Speaking of individual player stats, consider White Sox catcher, Tyler Flowers. He has 257 at-bats this year and he has struck out 102 times. If, instead, he had 102 hits in those at-bats, he would be hitting .397. For his career, Flowers has struck out 303 times in 786 at-bats so this year’s level of futility at the plate is only slightly greater than normal for him.”
The Washington General
I received this notice from ESPN.com news services: “Louis “Red” Klotz, the mastermind of the Washington Generals and other teams that traveled with the Harlem Globetrotters and regularly lost for more than 60 years, died Saturday (July 12th) at the age of 93.
Klotz formed a working relationship with the Globetrotters in 1952, putting together the Generals in addition to the Boston Shamrocks, New Jersey Reds, New York Nationals, International Elite, Global Select and World All-Stars to face the famous traveling team and mostly lose.
He was a player, coach and owner at various times throughout the partnership.
Klotz scored the winning basket the last time one of his teams beat the Globetrotters. While playing for the New Jersey Reds as a 50-year-old player/coach, his last-second shot lifted his team to a 100-99 victory on Jan. 5, 1971, in Martin, Tennessee.
He became the first non-Globetrotter to have a jersey retired, when in 2011 he received the honor in his native Philadelphia. He is one of six people to have his jersey retired by the Globetrotters, joining Curly Neal (No. 22), Goose Tatum (No. 50), Marques Haynes (No. 20), Meadowlark Lemon (No. 36) and Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13) as those to receive the distinction.
“The Harlem Globetrotters organization is extremely saddened by the passing of Red Klotz, and our deepest sympathies go out to his entire family,” Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider said in a statement. “Red was truly an ambassador of the sport and as much a part of the Globetrotters’ legacy as anyone ever associated with the organization.
“He was a vital part of helping the Globetrotters bring smiles and introduce the game of basketball to fans worldwide. He was a legend and a global treasure. His love of the game — and his love of people — will certainly be missed.”
Klotz briefly played in the NBA, joining the Baltimore Bullets in the 1947-48 season and serving as a member of the squad that defeated the Philadelphia Warriors in six games to win the 1948 title.
Penalty-kick Shootouts: Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) talked about World Cup shootouts, “I’m not among those vehemently opposed to this manner of settling a game, but I always loved this by Ian Thomsen, then with the International Herald Tribune: “The equivalent of taking Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson off the Augusta National after 72 even holes and ordering them to settle the Masters at the Putt-Putt miniature golf course on Route 17 somewhere outside the city.”
Jenkins Recap
Bruce told us, “Give full glory and credit to the Germans, who scored a long-awaited victory in the storied Estadio do Maracana. Wish all those Argentine fans a safe trip back home. And for Messi? Maradona vowed that he’d “lay out the red carpet” if Messi returned with a World Cup title. The man in the parallel universe would have settled for his country’s blue and white. As it stands, it’s little more than an empty dirt road.”
Dwight’s (Seattle Times) Slight
Dwight riddled this question:
“Q: What’s last thing that a FC Barcelona player wants to hear from new teammate Luis Suarez?
A: I’ve got your back.”
The Sports Curmudgeon’s Home Companion
The SC passed Wrigley Field while on vacation and thought of Garrison
Keillor’s explanation of the Cubs’ jinx, “Garrison Keillor – normally not one of my favorite entertainers – offered an excellent alternative hypothesis to the futility of the Cubbies over the past 106 years:
“It’s the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field in Chicago, which was built in 1914 on the site of the old Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary. And right there is the key to the story of the Chicago Cubs. This team is the living embodiment of Lutheran theology, which if I need remind you is not about winning. It’s not about being No. 1. It is about taking the back seat and being of service to others.
“The Cubs have been of service to so many other teams. They have pulled other teams out of losing streaks. Batters who were in painful slumps have recovered their confidence against the Cubs.
“It’s a good Lutheran team you’ve got there on the North Side of Chicago.”
Cubs’ fans have tried myriad ways to exorcize the demons they believe afflict their team; perhaps – if Professor Keillor is correct – they should try something new. Perhaps the Cubs’ owner needs to go and nail a document of 95 Theses on the Bud Selig’s door. After all, none of the other exorcisms has worked…”
Perry Patter
From the Sometimes These Items Just Write Themselves file comes word that among those gored (in the thigh) this year was Bill Hillman — co-author of “How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona.”
AND
Tour de France cyclists say spectators taking selfies while standing in the road of oncoming competitors is putting the riders in danger.
Too bad this fad hasn’t caught on at the Running of the Bulls.
Need A Chuckle?
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) told us to “Just say the words ‘Wimbledon gentlemen’s singles’ – then remember that John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase played in them.”
Late Breaking News
“The Left-field fence,” Dwight said, “Caught fire during the minor-league Lancaster (CA) JetHawks annual Fireworks Night.
In other words, third base was only the second-hottest corner.”

Dreams Blog

July 11, 2014

NBA Snake
The Daily News referred to Jason Kidd as being shifty and being “A common snake.” Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) quoted Harvey Araton (NY Times) as saying, “New York Times columnist Harvey Araton referred to Kidd’s “well-chronicled reputation as a viper” and cited his various indiscretions from the past: facing domestic-abuse charges, pleading guilty to DWI and conspiring to get coach Byron Scott fired when Kidd played for the New Jersey Nets.
What if the Bucks, fearing a wave of negative publicity, back off Kidd’s desire to run the team? Then he’ll simply be the head coach in Milwaukee, possibly the NBA’s least attractive destination. A fate well deserved, some would say.”
A Cup Recap
Ann Killian (SF Chronicle) gave us her impression of the American appearance in the World Cup tournament:
‘It would have been a breakthrough.’ “According to Landon Donovan – left off the U.S. team but providing commentary for ESPN – the back-to-back losses to Germany and Belgium proved where the United States is compared with the truly elite teams.
‘That’s the level we need to aspire to,’ Donovan said. ‘We need to develop the technical skills so we’re the team creating 25 chances.’
“This is exactly what Klinsmann meant when he said our country isn’t capable of winning the World Cup, not yet. He was skewered for his honesty, but it’s a simple fact. Though the games with Germany and Belgium were close, and with a little luck the U.S. team could have pulled the upset, the talent divide between that level and the Americans was obvious.” (b: that divide wasn’t that great. We took them all to OT’s. Now we’re seeing good new players like 19yr. old Julian Green and 20yr. old DeAndre Yedlin, arriving.)
A Stunning Defeat
Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) talked about the Germany-Brazil shocker- well I guess to the really knowledgeable it wasn’t a surprise. “Then the game was played – and for Brazil’s 7-1 loss, there will be no forgiveness. There can be no rationalization of a disgrace. Most observers were immediately calling it the most astonishing, inexplicable match in World Cup history, and surely the critiques were more severe among Brazil’s devoted populace.
Fans were in tears well before halftime, and those were the people who weren’t in shock. Normally goals are a treasure in this sport, something to be appreciated and replayed in the mind. In Germany’s hands, they were as common as groundballs to the second baseman. However one places this match in historical perspective, there’s no question that a seven-minute stretch in the first half, where Germany’s lead grew from 1-0 to 5-0, has no equal in the World Cup’s realm of the unexpected.”
Bruce Jenkins then talked about Argentina’s Messi: “When it comes to Messi and Argentina, there are no fond memories of the past. He’s the most technically brilliant player in the world, but until this World Cup, he’s had a tenuous relationship, at best, with his home country. And it all goes back to a tiny little kid who needed one of American sport’s dirtiest words – steroids – to become whole. Messi was so undersized at the age of 10, his parents sought medical advice. Without treatment, they were told, he would grow no taller than 5 feet as an adult. Thus began a series of human growth hormone injections, effective but also expensive, to the point where neither Messi’s parents nor his soccer club could afford to pay. The HGH treatment was a five-year plan, and when Lionel was 13, his family moved to Barcelona, where he could join the world’s most prestigious club and not have to worry about finances.
He grew to just 5-foot-7, but as the world soon discovered, his was a towering presence. Graced by the midfield genius of Barcelona teammates Xavi and Andres Iniesta, among other stars of the football galaxy, Messi became the centerpiece of an elegant, technically superior powerhouse. What a contrast of storied performers. It now seems obvious that Argentina needed to move on from Maradona, with his history of underworld associations, cocaine abuse and countless other unsavory episodes. On Saturday, as Messi’s phenomenal dribbling led to Gonzalo Higuain’s goal, the only one in the quarterfinal against Belgium, it seemed the transition was complete. Argentina will meet the Netherlands in the semifinals, and it seems entirely possible that Messi can orchestrate a long-awaited championship.
FIFA Questions
The Sports Curmudgeon posed questions about some future World Cup locations selections: There are more chapters to be written here, but as things stand in 2014, there are a few questions we all should keep an eye on as time marches forward:
1. The 2018 World Cup Tournament will be held in Russia. What could possibly go wrong there?
2. If Sepp Blatter thinks the only issue involving the 2022 bid won by the Qataris is the climate, is he ready to tell the world how he – and his august colleagues – did not know that it is hotter than Hades in Qatar in the summertime back when they did their voting?
3. What contractual pressures can individual clubs and national leagues – and international competitions such as those run by UEFA – put on FIFA with regard to moving the World Cup to the winter?
4. How come one of the 2022 major sponsors – Emirates Airlines – located in Dubai has not found it important to register its discomfort with the alleged human rights issues regarding their neighbors in Qatar?
These kinds of issues can keep me focused on international soccer politics and practices for the next few years. However, I prefer to close here with an issue that Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle honed in on back when the vote was taken to assign the tournament to Qatar.
‘The government of Qatar is still questioning the need to sell beer at World Cup matches in 2022. Isn’t Qatar in the desert? Yo, vendor, gimme a hot chocolate!’”
Far Out
Dwight Perry(Seattle Times) told us, in case you missed it, that 7/2 was world UFO day. “In keeping with the theme, 87 people swore they saw Dennis Rodman drive by.

Dreams Blog

July 5, 2014

Thank You, Sports Curmudgeon
Jack Finarelli, the SC, sent along a post while on his National Park road trip saying that a lot of super-star athletes don’t have success trying to manage, “My hypothesis, which is not testable, is that great players are great because of their instincts or because of their physical prowess. Neither of those things is “coachable”; therefore, the great player has difficulty explaining to his young wards how to do what he had been so good at doing. Consider a few examples:
Ted Williams: He was the single best hitter I ever saw play baseball. Anyone who doubts he was a great player is an ignoramus. As a manager for 3 seasons, the closest his team came to winning the AL was 23 games; cumulatively, his teams were 41 games below .500/
Alan Trammel: His first season managing the Tigers produced 119 losses for the season. He lasted two more years and those years combined to have his teams, 38 games below .500.
Wilt Chamberlain: He actually coached an ABA team for a year. The San Diego Conquistadors – usually referred to as “the Q’s” in headlines – finished 37-47.
Bill Russell: Russell’s initial success as a coach probably had a lot to do with the fact that Bill Russell was also a player on those Celtics teams. In the late 70s, Russell had a stint with the Sonics and it was undistinguished; the Sonics missed the playoffs in 2 of his 4 seasons there. Later, he coached the Sacramento Kings and did not finish out the season; when he left, the team was 17-41.
Norm Van Brocklin: Yes, the Vikings were an expansion team when he became the coach. Nonetheless, in 6 seasons there, he posted one winning record and a cumulative record of 29-51-4. Later with the Falcons for six and a half years, his cumulative record was 37-49-3.
Forest Gregg: He had three coaching stops – Cleveland, Cincy and Green Bay. (The man had to love cold weather, no?) His cumulative NFL coaching record was a less-than-exciting 75-85-0.
Otto Graham: As a QB, Graham had a record of 114-20-4; as a coach for the redskins from 1966-68, Graham had a record of 17-22-3. The disparity there speaks for itself…
Yes, there have been a few great players who went on to be pretty good coaches too. Billy Cunningham comes to mind; so do Mike Ditka and Yogi Berra.”
Paul Pierce
Ohm Youngmisuk (ESPNNewYork.com) reasoned, “Still, the Nets turned their season around with Pierce playing a big role in the turnaround with his move to power forward after Brook Lopez was lost for the season.
League sources say the Nets, in a perfect world, would like to secure Pierce to a short-term contract starting at $6-to-$8 million a season. They own his Bird rights so they can offer him more than anybody else. If Pierce, who shares the same agent (Jeff Schwartz) with Kidd and made $15.3 million this past season, is turned off by the recent developments and wants to find his way to a reunion with Doc Rivers with the Clippers, the Nets should give him enough financial reason to return.
If the Nets don’t have Pierce’s leadership this coming season, this season could start off even worse than last season’s Cyclone roller coaster-like start.
They have to adapt to a new coach, a new staff and a new system again. Deron Williams and Lopez are both coming off surgeries and the franchise will have to take it very slow with them in training camp and at the start of the season.
If the 38-year-old Garnett returns, he and Lopez will be on a minutes and likely games restriction. Livingston likely won’t be back and Andray Blatche and Alan Anderson also could sign elsewhere. ESPN.com sources reported that the Nets recently revisited trade talks from last season with the Cavaliers involving Jarrett Jack as a contingency plan for Livingston. But sources say Cleveland has put that deal for Marcus Thornton on the backburner. So the Nets may have to find another point guard.
Much of the team’s star core will be either making its way back from surgery or be a year older and slower.
That’s why the Nets need Pierce’s leadership even more to help keep things together.
Kidd is gone. The Nets need to make sure Pierce doesn’t leave too.”
Jenkins- World Cup
Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) commented on “Suarez The Biter, “Suarez, after biting an opponent for the third time in his career explained, ‘I lost my balance, making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent.’ Wow, I’ve seen cheetahs less deliberate than that.”
My Take On The Cup
European players are supposed to be more talented than the Americans. But from what I see, they’re only more dramatic with supposed injuries. They seemed to whine and moan a lot to the officials who allowed themselves to be influenced by such histrionics.
Dwight Perry’s Patter
“Michelle Wie got a congratulatory bouquet from actor Adam Sandler when she won her first U.S. Open. ‘I feel that’s the biggest prize in golf,’ Wie said, ‘getting flowers from Happy Gilmore.’; Hey, it certainly beats getting a tin cup from Kevin Costner.”
Well, duh. Everyone knows you can only get Trout with a hook or a sinker.”
“Anthony Castrovince (MLB.com) asked Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, ‘What did you say to plate umpire Quinn Wolcott to get yourself ejected from the game?’
Pierzynski’s answer: ‘Give me a new ball. One you can see.’”
Quote Marks From Dwight
“Steve Schrader (Detroit Free Press) on the Pistons chances of landing LeBron James: ‘About the same as getting bitten by a shark and a soccer player on the same day.’”
“R.J. Currie (SportsDeke.com) on second-seeded Li Na’s upset loss at Wimbledon: ‘Barbora Zahlavova Strycova overwhelmed her- 23 letters to 4.’”
Clothing Option
Dwight Perry said that, “NBA pundit predict that second round draft-pick Thanasis Antotokounmpo will have an immediate impact on the Knicks.
The need for long-sleeved jerseys, for one.
Marcus Browne
Marcus, who I think is the real-deal, is a light-heavyweight and is now 11-0, with 8 KO’s.