Scale the ladder

As baseball spring training gets underway, the heated rivalry between 22 year old phenom Mike Trout and reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera will skate front and center once again.  Each fan’s preference for one or the other generally comes down to new school versus old school arguments, such as advanced metrics (which rate Trout as a much better all-around player than Cabrera) versus the traditional Triple Crown statistical categories (which rate Cabrera as the superior offensive force).  Much ink has been spilled on the subject, and this season will likely keep the trend going.  This post is no attempt to re-hash that debate, but rather to appreciate Trout in a much more important historical context.  Everyone knows that he has made his historical mark in just two seasons, but where does he rank on the all-time MLB fish rankings?

miketrout

Continue reading

Advertisements

Major red flag

Some thoughts on the law and twisted logic of NFL replay challenges.

NFL referees are judges.  Just look at their titles – other than the Referee, Umpire, and Head Linesman, each crew has a Line Judge, a Field Judge, a Side Judge, and a Back Judge.  There are no robes and, unfortunately, no powdered wigs, but they damn sure make determinations like judges in a courtroom.1  In the NFL, sometimes they have too much power.  Sometimes, not nearly enough.

gavel

Continue reading

Get shorty

rideheight
As the NFL Scouting Combine gets underway this week, many eyes will be turning to standout Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.  Many of those eyes will not see anyone at first, and will peer left, then right, then squint forcefully, and will only notice Manziel after dropping their chins and their gazes downward toward the Indianapolis turf.  He is, after all, a “short” quarterback, or so the media would have us believe.  Out of all the variables used to judge quarterbacks, height is the only one that cannot be controlled or managed.  What effect does it really have on a quarterback’s success?

Continue reading

The five people you meet in hell

Sordid sagas of the sports world.  Unfortunately, there have been many.  Sports can produce amazing and exhilarating highs, moments that enrapture entire nations, and goals that inspire people to go farther and dig deeper.  But some athletes let their notoriety involve them with people and pursuits that should be avoided.  Some have simmering underlying problems that get masked for years by athletic glory and media success.  Some have trouble dealing with the fading stardom that comes at the end of a career.  A few are just sociopaths.  Telling sports stories means telling a few cautionary tales along the way. Continue reading

T.J. Sochi

More than six and a half years after the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” when a bunch of American amateur hockey players downed the vaunted Soviet team at the Olympics in Lake Placid, T.J. Oshie was spawned in the Boeing hub of Everett, Washington.  It’s safe to say he doesn’t have the same visceral reaction to the 1980 matchup1 as do those who were in attendance or watching live, or at least those who were even arguably alive at the time, but he seems comfortable enough authoring an exciting epilogue to it… Continue reading

Sir names

A couple years after the historic 2003 NBA draft, I remember thinking it was odd that the three marquee talents from the draft all had common first names as their last names.  LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade.  They had joined other more established stars with the same attribute, namely Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Ray Allen.  That’s mildly interesting, I thought.

It may have been when Brandon Roy of the Portland Trailblazers was establishing himself as a top 10 player – 2009 or so, when he made the All-NBA Second Team – when the trend crossed my mind again.  Brandon Roy was making waves.  Dwight Howard was already the best center in the league.  Chris Paul was probably the best point guard in the league.  James, Bryant, Duncan, Anthony, Wade, and Allen were still at the top of their games.  It was officially a strange trend among NBA stars.

And now it is 2014.  Continue reading

Controlling the narrative

Two all time greats.  Each made a similar announcement within a day of one another.  First, on February 12, the all-time Yankees hits leader, modern baseball legend, and gift basket enthusiast Derek Jeter told his fans via Facebook that 2014 would be his final season playing baseball.  The following night, probably the greatest male figure skater of all time, Evgeni Plushenko, withdrew from the male short program event in front of his home crowd in Sochi due to a back injury, and announced his retirement shortly thereafter… Continue reading