Recent Comments by dfleming

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

The legend of Masai Ujiri continues - getting Lowry back on an insanely reasonable deal allowed them to pick up Lou Williams and James Johnson to deepen the bench despite Landry Fields' dead weight contract.

posted by dfleming at 09:11 AM on November 23

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

The Blue Jays get Russell Martin for 5 years, $82m. Martin's 5.5 WAR was third behind Jonathan Lucroy and Buster Posey last year among catchers and he finished 13th in NL MVP voting.

Despite on face value seeming like crazy money for a 31-year-old catcher, the way he seems to call games with piecemeal, young pitching staffs just might be the wisest thing the Jays could've done with that money on the market right now.

posted by dfleming at 01:59 PM on November 17

Penny-pinching, no more!

I've read there is an opt-out in 2019 or 2020 in the deal, which makes oodles of sense getting this deep into bed with Jeffrey Loria. If his end goal was the money, he got there, but if consistently being on a competitive team matters to him, he's perhaps got the leverage to make that happen.

It's hard to imagine with Loria's track record he's going to consistently have someone behind him in the lineup that strikes enough fear for teams to consistently give him eminently hittable pitches.

This also makes Mike Trout's deal even more of a steal for the Angels, considering he's a better player on a similar arbitration-avoiding deal for about $1m/year less til 2020, when in theory they both could be free agents.

posted by dfleming at 11:15 AM on November 17

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

13 years, $325 million for Giancarlo Stanton. The annual value is 52.5% of the Marlins' total 2014 team salary.

posted by dfleming at 07:51 PM on November 14

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 10

Andy Dalton's QB rating of 2.0 last night was the worst for a QB with more than 30 passing attempts since 1983.

Of course, of the things that one could talk about being subpar last night, Jeremy Hill thought it best to focus on the Browns being worse than he thought. Hill of course torched the Browns for 55 yards on 12 carries and a lost fumble, in a performance that left fans saying "....who?"

posted by dfleming at 07:12 AM on November 07

Giants Win World Series

The plot for this alternate timeline where Yost doesn't bunt in the 5th would be interesting - he plays against the data for an entire season which gets them to game 7 in the World Series, then get hit by lightning/a heaved, massive burrito off a bridge/a Motley Crue drumstick at a concert, and when he wakes up is equipped with an entirely different analytical framework.

Because as you all know, if you change it at any other point, who knows what happens in the rest of the timeline. Perhaps he takes up swing dance because that's what the ladies in grade 11 were into.

posted by dfleming at 04:17 PM on October 30

Giants Win World Series

Affeldt really was an unsung hero this postseason - 11 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, 7 holds, and two key wins - the other being the complete bailout job he did for Santiago Castilla that preserved the lead before Ishikawa hit the big home run against St. Louis.

posted by dfleming at 07:57 AM on October 30

Giants Win World Series

If the initial starter is ineffective, doesn't the official scorer have discretion to choose any reliever he or she feels contributed most to the win, even if it was not the pitcher of record when the final lead was taken? I thought it was originally a win, they even mentioned it on air in like the 8th or 9th after Joe Buck mentioned the 5 inning save and corrected himself shortly after. So why did it turn it from a win to a save a while later?

The relief pitcher of record who enters the game needs to be deemed ineffective by the scorers in order for them to pick someone else as the winner. Affeldt was the pitcher of record when they scored the 3rd run and had thrown 2.1 scoreless innings which doesn't qualify as being ineffective.

There are degrees of judgment involved, but Affeldt did a solid job and deserved the win, while Baumgarner deserved the save. I think the scorers got a bit caught up initially in the romance, which to be fair, I would too.

posted by dfleming at 07:53 AM on October 30

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

See, they would've said that to Ol' Colt a few years ago, but he didn't let a little thing like mediocrity get in the way of an occasional paycheque.

posted by dfleming at 10:38 PM on October 28

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Got evacuated out of the downtown core about half an hour ago. Crazy, sad day.

posted by dfleming at 04:09 PM on October 22

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

I know the Jets carried a lot of cap space through the off season, but at 1-6, this seems like an odd move. They're not exactly one wide receiver away from anything.

They're maybe one receiver away from finishing on a high enough note that Idzick and Ryan keep their jobs. They need progress to make that happen, and Harvin's a hail mary attempt at that.

The pick doesn't really matter to either of them if they get canned following a 2- or 3-win season. I see this as borrowing from the future to keep yourself alive a little while longer.

posted by dfleming at 04:32 PM on October 18

Royals Advance to First World Series Since 1985

The Royals have a terrible GM, a terrible manager, and terrible plate discipline.

And people are going to go ahead and use them regardless as an example for how the game is changing rather than considering the "weird shit happens sometimes" effect. Like Time, who say the Royals are leading a movement with their one truly successful year in 20 years.

Pitching and defence have been the foundation of the game forever, but a single data point on a quirky team doesn't mean a trend. Go back a couple of years and both San Fran and St. Louis hardly ran at all in 2010/11. Plus - it's not been THAT long since a team that hit a lot of home runs made the World Series.

posted by dfleming at 04:00 PM on October 16

DeMarco Murray Ties Jim Brown Record

It will be interesting to see what happens with Murray the rest of the way - he's on pace to eclipse his previous high in carries in game 9. The Cowboys talked about easing off his workload, but he touched the ball 35 times last night.

He's on pace to just break Larry Johnson's carries record, which for a guy with a questionable track record for health is playing fast and loose. That said, the Cowboys are a pretty devastating team when Romo's able to play off a running game and not do-it-himself, so unless Joseph Randle shows he's able to consistently get yardage on touches, I'm not sure they can stay this good without him.

posted by dfleming at 11:39 AM on October 13

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Jesus - Joe Flacco has 5 touchdown passes at the half against a Bucs team who look utterly hopeless right now.

posted by dfleming at 02:25 PM on October 12

MLB Pace-of-Game Committee Suggests Six New Rules

But remember what it was like when ESPN dropped hockey and a big chunk of its time on SportsCenter disappeared? How would that feel if it happened to baseball?

Again - baseball TV contracts continue to be more valuable than ever. This is nowhere near being a reality. Baseball is still #2 in the major 4 for ratings.

I'm surprised there are so many voices here for baseball doing nothing about game length and speed of play. Do you all really think baseball needs no changes? If so, how do you explain the long drop in World Series ratings, and why is that not a problem?

There's been a huge dip since the 2005 PED congress hearings that has never been recovered. They have a 4-7 game series' held in October - which, since the 1980's, has meant they're competing at night with prime-time shows on an expanding dial of channels.

The Super Bowl, comparatively, is one Sunday night in February, at the same time every year, and has nothing else to compete with on the dial. It also has a shit-ton of people who don't watch the game content who watch the program.

Additionally - MLB.TV and online streaming mean Neilsen ratings aren't necessarily capturing the whole picture anymore. I haven't watched a game on cable TV in years. Multiple time-zones and a 4-7 game series mean people who have to go to work can't necessarily catch San Francisco finals games.

There's also the argument that a successful Toronto team captures an entire Canada market (see: 1992 and 1993's super ratings), and they've been out of it for so long that it barely registers up here.

The point being - concluding the game is too long, in a very changing world, is the reason people don't watch the World Series anymore is ignoring a lot of factors - one huge one being, a lot of people still haven't forgiven baseball for the PED scandal.

posted by dfleming at 05:48 PM on October 04

MLB Pace-of-Game Committee Suggests Six New Rules

I think it can be both. When you sit down to watch a game on TV, baseball asks for more of your time than any other major spectator sport.

Tennis? Auto racing? Wresting/MMA pay-per-view? Golf on a championship Sunday? Football coverage on a regular Sunday? Cycling? Poker? People are willing to invest four hours to watch sports and entertainment.

As for getting out of the hustle and bustle, would any team sport but baseball be described that way for spectators? It's an odd selling point. Hustle and bustle is pretty entertaining in soccer, football, hockey and basketball.

Baseball has always had a different pace than those sports, and yet has somehow survived for over a hundred years. Not to mention, attendance is up and TV contracts are worth more than they have ever been.

Killing the intentional walk obviously won't kill the game, but killing it also won't make baseball more exciting than video games or as fast-paced as football, hockey, or basketball, so I'm not sure why it having a different selling point is a problem. It's a different experience.

posted by dfleming at 01:57 PM on October 03

MLB Pace-of-Game Committee Suggests Six New Rules

But I don't see my sons' generation taking to the game the way I did, and I think slow play is a factor.

Do you honestly think that is about games being 15-30 minutes longer, or due to the fact that kids have way, way more options available to them now than they did when you grew up?

I go to a bunch of games and I don't see kids really falling apart in the 6th inning. Mostly, they have their face in a Nintendo DS or an iPhone from the start. I think baseball is dealing with what every sport is dealing with - that kids have other, sexy options out there and aren't as into sports as they used to be.

Going to a game is an experience. If I can't realistically get a hot dog or have a pee without missing action, it's going to make games less fun to be at. I, personally, would hate to watch a run walked in because a pitcher took 22 seconds to deliver a pitch. The proceduralization of games is not necessarily making them any more entertaining - just more predictable and consistent. Video replay is a bore live but decent TV on key plays.

Again - effective is better than efficient. Baseball is never going to be a high-action thriller. It's not the point. Like golf, the whole romance has been getting out of the hustle-and-bustle and enjoying a few hours of peanuts, cracker jacks, and never going back to real life.

posted by dfleming at 11:01 AM on October 02

MLB Pace-of-Game Committee Suggests Six New Rules

Yeah, add me to the list of people who think shaving 15 minutes off the length of game and adding in a bunch of procedural penalties and rules isn't exactly making the game sexier.

A more efficient game is not necessarily a more entertaining one.

posted by dfleming at 09:43 PM on October 01

Royals Steal 9-8 Win Over A's in Epic 12-Inning AL Wild Card

KC hit the fewest home runs in the league this year (by 10) and had the fewest walks in the league. They're middle of the road in OBP and in the bottom third in slugging, and only San Fran (OBP) and St. Louis (SLG) are teams that are left that are worse in either category.

They stole the most bases in the league, and were tied for 1st in steal percentage in the league. In a game where it is pretty clear they are going to need to score some runs, the Royals have to press on the base paths because they don't really have the skill-sets (based on the previous 162 games' history) to do much else.

The double steal was folly (and way too much complexity to put on players who are mostly playing their first playoff game), but perhaps part of the reason Norris dropped the ball on the pitchout was he was getting torched all night and it was getting to him. Pressure cracks, and they pressed all night.

This strategy is boom or bust, but I don't really see what Yost does with his roster otherwise. 3 guys hit more than 9 home runs, and one regular has an OBP over .350. KC isn't a great team hitting their stride - they'll win because they grind it out and get a little luck.

posted by dfleming at 10:23 AM on October 01

Royals Steal 9-8 Win Over A's in Epic 12-Inning AL Wild Card

An incredible game (and a testament to aggressive base running if there ever was one), but Ned Yost was insane bringing a rookie who got torched on a start on Sunday in as his first reliever out of the bullpen, to inherit two on with nobody out.

I get the Royals have a shaky pen past the big three, but I'd roll the dice on a vet like Frasor a lot earlier than a guy who's hardly ever pitched in relief, is 23, and is in his first playoff action.

posted by dfleming at 07:38 AM on October 01

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Jeter isn't going to be remembered for a walk off single in a season where his presence prevented his team from securing a playoff berth, but a nice ending non the less. He will be remembered for clutch performances when the competition was most intense.

You're wrong. Baseball is arguably the most romantic of the major professional sports. The narrative of one of the most clutch hitters in this generation going out on a walk-off single in his last home game is the kind of story arc that lasts. This will be part of the folklore on Jeter.

The playoff moments will certainly be what people recall first, but going out on a game-winning hit is more or less the plot of most sports fiction for a reason. People love to imagine things ending like this.

posted by dfleming at 02:37 AM on September 26

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

The Red Sox would be foolish to trade Betts at this point - he's an undersized, two-position 21 year old whose ML experience hasn't been good enough to nab an elite starter on his own.

Fourth outfielder, spot starter for Pedroia, maybe he even picks up SS or 3B enough to spell there too. A hedge against injury (Victorino in particular) or Castillo not being as ready as everyone thinks he is.

The Sox need pitching, but Betts isn't going to get them far enough down the road to an ace like Hamels to skip another top prospect or two. They can get the rest of the rotation with other prospects and/or FA without having to deal a flexible tookit like he has.

posted by dfleming at 10:55 AM on September 25

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Tulloch pulled the old Vontae Davis.

posted by dfleming at 03:37 PM on September 22

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Robert Griffin III is out for at least a few weeks, but if he needs surgery may be done for the year.

If Kirk Cousins plays as well as he did in relief, it's going to put the Redskins in a real pickle - you don't want your franchise QB to lose his job due to injury, but if he is susceptible to the big injury and he's ineffective for long periods as he works his way back to health, maybe the Redskins will be better off with a steadier hand who can stay on the field.

posted by dfleming at 09:13 AM on September 15

Video of Ray Rice Elevator Punch on Partner Released

I'm not suggesting if someone attacks you that you get to go medieval on their ass way beyond the point of deflecting/stopping the attack, but throwing a punch when someone comes at you is almost instinctual, and provided that's all it is- one punch- it's justifiable even if there's a huge disparity in size.

I am 31. I have, in my life, never thrown a punch. I have taken a couple (both at bars.) The instinct that people feel in this arena seems to congregate over, and over, and over with the same people. The vast, vast majority of the population seems entirely capable of controlling it.

By the way - this is exactly the line of reasoning abusers take with people they abuse. It's my natural instinct baby and I can't help it - you just need to stop doing X, so I don't end up hitting you. It's bullshit blaming the victim. People who can inflict major damage have a greater responsibility to avoid doing so. What they do escalates too quickly.

For example, we have Hope Solo arrested for attacking her sister and underage nephew back in June, and she's still on the playing field, setting records, while she awaits a November trial. So why is that not more of an outrage?

A.J. Jefferson (formerly of the Vikings) strangled a woman this time last year and there wasn't as much play either - suspension was lifted quickly after it was levied. There's a popularity multiplier effect here - the NFL is way more popular than women's soccer, and even within the NFL, players are more well known than others. Further - in this case, the video has been widely shared and it really resonates with a lot of people.

The way you analyze why this situation is so raw for people to me seems like you're trying to validate a foregone conclusion on how "sexism" is affecting men negatively. You want to focus on the minority, or the individual situations like Hope Solo in a vacuum - meanwhile, across the country, the vast, vast majority of assault (based on actual cite-able statistics, and not "studies" which you don't cite) is perpetrated by men. You seem to have very little to say about that - but in a post where the "heart" is about the NFL sticking to punishment in its own arena, you have a whole hell of a lot to say about women's actions and roles in gendered violence.

It doesn't seem like the moderators are censoring you at all, so quit martyring yourself on not getting civil discourse here. Part of civil discourse is ignoring or blocking people whose opinions you don't like, including this MRA bullshit.

posted by dfleming at 07:42 AM on September 11

Video of Ray Rice Elevator Punch on Partner Released

Domestic abuse isn't solely a male on female problem As much as archaic and sexist people like to pretend otherwise, the apparent truth is that domestic abuse is fairly gender neutral, with each gender having roughly equal splits as offenders. I've seen studies suggesting a 40/60 female/male split, as well as ones that suggest more severe physical violence actually skews towards female perpetrators (indeed, apparently lesbian couples have the highest incidence of domestic abuse). It's certainly not unheard of for a woman to physically attack her mate, or to initiate violence, and I for one think the "but a MAN doesn't EVER hit a WOMAN" moral is old-fashioned and incredibly sexist.

Most people think people shouldn't ever hit people - and there's a bigger onus on people with significant height, weight, and strength advantage to tread lightly. Provocation doesn't excuse everything that comes afterwards. You can't kill someone of ANY gender, for example, because they slapped you. Our court system takes a number of things into consideration when it levies a charge, including the broader context.

Look at the size difference between these two. Do you really think Ray Rice couldn't have held her off in any way without knocking her out?

I don't know where the statistics and "studies" you cite come from, but most conventional sources such as the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief suggest that 85% of domestic violence (reported and unreported) is against women. Statistics on sexual violence are overwhelmingly with males as the perpetrators (either against women, or other males.)

Rather than focusing on who the victim is, focus on who the perpetrators are - violence of all kinds skews heavily to male-on-someone crime. That a small percentage of this is women-perpetrated is such a perverse place to put your focus - focusing on 1 out of every 6.5 people who are subject to domestic violence and claiming sexism in the process? Good grief. Here's a tissue. When we've solved ANY of the majority's sexism and violence issues, perhaps we'll give you a call.

And yes, in many instances women recant or withdraw their complaints, for a whole host of reasons - people being battered has huge psychological implications in addition to the physical ones. It doesn't negate the fact that it happened, nor does it reflect any less on Ray Rice's public image being an incredibly important part of his job.

Finally, what he does with the ball is only part of his job - considering where revenue comes from in the NFL, it's about being an attraction. The NFL didn't suspend him because they are a court - they suspended him because, as a representative of the NFL (who receives millions of dollars as a result of the NFL's reputation and marketability), he has tarnished their image. People do not want to be associated with a league who willfully employs people who commit violence against women. People don't mind being associated with a league who willfully employs people who commit DUI. The court of public opinion does matter, because the NFL ceases to exist and prosper without it.

You can't separate Ray Rice, the millionaire who profited from the public's opinion on the NFL for decades before he got there, from Ray Rice, the guy who runs with the football today. Thus, the NFL has a duty to keep up with the public's morality because without them, they have absolutely jack shit.

posted by dfleming at 08:21 AM on September 10

Video of Ray Rice Elevator Punch on Partner Released

Apparently the NFL went only to law enforcement to request the video, not to the Casino, who say they would've gladly shown them the tape.

posted by dfleming at 07:24 AM on September 09

Video of Ray Rice Elevator Punch on Partner Released

The last couple of years have made me feel bad about loving it - like I'm supporting brain damage, spousal abuse, animal abuse, etc when I'm watching. This two game suspension to indefinite ban thing has knocked the last bit of wind out of me. Yesterday was not a bad opening day, but I think I might take the next few Sundays off. I don't imagine I'm the only person feeling this way.

You're not. I've been there since the initial lacklustre response. Entertaining as it is, there is a tipping point where the bullshit you have to accept gets to be too much. I passed it with Ray Rice.

posted by dfleming at 06:25 PM on September 08

Video of Ray Rice Elevator Punch on Partner Released

The really shitty side notion out of this is that the NFL needed video evidence to corroborate that spousal abuse really was bad enough to warrant an indefinite suspension. He hit her hard enough to knock her out. Regardless whether she hit him back, he's bigger, stronger and trained for violence.

This should be Goodell's time to get the fuck out. The disciplinary system in the NFL is completely void of any attachment to reality or morality. You set the culture, you deal with the fact the culture is one building bullies on and off the field. You're failing, commish.

posted by dfleming at 04:57 PM on September 08

Dangerous Experiment : A Roster of 25 Adam Dunns

I really enjoy that series - the content is interesting enough, but the enthusiasm of the writing sells it.

posted by dfleming at 08:39 AM on August 14

Tony Stewart Kills Driver in Dirt-Track Race

You can see Stewart's car fishtail and take a more direct route towards Ward than the previous driver did. It's tough at those speeds to know if it's intentional or not, or just the result of the previous corner.

On the surface, it looks like he throttled up, which given how long he's been driving for would not be a surprise that the car did what it did. It even looks a little like Ward is moving away from the car when he gets hit. But it's so quick it's tough to tell.

There's a lot going on here (i.e., Ward angrily wandering out into a tiny track and getting aggressive with a speeding vehicle), and the tape isn't great, but it kinda looks like Stewart might've done a couple of things to avoid this. I doubt he wanted to hit him, but a hot head leading to someone getting a little too close for comfort and it going awry? Not necessarily out of the question.

I really doubt unless an interview (or the Go Pro that's in all their cars) produces something really substantial that there will be criminal charges stemming from this, but man this just sucks.

posted by dfleming at 12:28 PM on August 10

Ray Rice Suspended for 2 Games

Are you going to stop watching football because of this?

Sorry - stepped away for a few days - and yes, I'm going to watch less football because of this. I'm not at no football level yet, but this is another step in that direction.

posted by dfleming at 02:02 PM on August 01

Ray Rice Suspended for 2 Games

You're moving the goalposts a bit by talking about whether men are doing enough about it. Where we started was whether men care.

I consider sitting idle, or not changing your behaviour because you find out a man beats women, as an attribute of a "meh" attitude. You don't care enough to do anything about it. If your definition of caring about things is the words we use, then we've got different definitions of what constitutes caring about something.

The goalposts were that people wouldn't change the channel because Ray Rice has beaten a woman - and that's the only morality the NFL knows. If when Rice comes back, and nothing changes in terms of Ravens viewership - then it's clear a predominantly male audience accepts a person who beats a woman so long as they play football. We can wax poetic about our beliefs, but it's our actions that are more than just smoke.

The suspensions would be longer if there were more $$ consequences for the NFL for employing people who commit domestic violence.

posted by dfleming at 05:39 PM on July 26

Ray Rice Suspended for 2 Games

All I'm saying is that I question the idea men have a "meh" attitude about this. I don't think you give most men enough credit.

Credit for what? Being aware it's a problem?

posted by dfleming at 09:41 AM on July 26

Ray Rice Suspended for 2 Games

I don't know any men who'd take a "meh" attitude about domestic violence, going back through my entire adulthood.

1 in 4 women report being the victim of domestic violence in their lifetime. Nearly 1 in 5 women report being the victim on sexual violence in their lifetime. And yet, in protests and organizations working to get those numbers down, the vast, vast majority of people standing up are women.

You don't have to be vocal to show you don't care - not showing up or doing anything about it is enough, particularly when these numbers mean with any kind of social circle you know people who've been a victim - whether you're aware or not.

posted by dfleming at 07:32 PM on July 25

Ray Rice Suspended for 2 Games

So how does the NFL justify the mentality that smoking pot is worse than beating on a woman?

They're a self-policing entity, for which the majority of fans either embrace or shrug off a massively cultivated violence culture.

The viewership is predominantly male and based on most research I've read, males as a whole tend towards a more 'meh' attitude towards physical and sexual violence towards women. We are perhaps getting to be more enlightened, but there are a metric fuckton of male viewership out there who won't change the channel because a woman-beater is playing.

Why are drugs so unfairly scrutinized? A largely Republican ownership group, surrounded by largely wealthy Republican friends, and the Maud Flanders' of the world who believe that athlete drug activity leads to kid drug activity, and thus smoking pot in your free time is worse than hitting a woman in your free time because ol' Whitey might not buy ad time next year.

There are no morals on what's worse or better - it's all about what brings in viewership and revenue. I find it more challenging every year getting geared up to cheer for a sport so fundamentally morally bankrupt.

posted by dfleming at 04:07 PM on July 24

Germany Wins World Cup

I was ranting to my wife about the same thing: sometimes soccer players fall to the ground without bracing themselves, but that's because they threw their arms up to indicate sniper fire. Arms down, no brace = unconscious. FIFA needs to offer either a stoppage or some kind of substitution rule for concussions. This World Cup had too many of them to ignore.

I agree. I've thought a third-party doctor running concussion protocol on any player who hits the deck claiming a head injury would do two good things - one, it would get players out of the game who need to be, but two, it might curb the dangerous embellishments to get a foul that lead to these kinds of injuries if they need to sit out 5+ minutes for an assessment.

posted by dfleming at 11:00 AM on July 14

LeBron James Returning to Cleveland

LeBron was well liked until the Decision. His letter admits his mistakes in how that was handled and in his boastful predictions of championships, but it's not like he was breaking a promise by leaving. He didn't owe Cleveland his entire career.

Well, the the thing about words like you are using - loyalty - is that it's about sticking it out through the tough times. It's about promises. Nobody owes anybody anything in the sports business, but if you're going to use hero and loyalty and all these big words - they mean transcending the ego and the business of sport. Otherwise they're meaningless fluff words.

I liked LeBron before the decision, and I think I can go back to liking him, but I and am further away than a one-year with a player option from talking about loyalty and forgetting the last four years. A week ago he was in Vegas with Pat Riley and talking to other teams. If it was such a no-brainer, loyalty-based decision, those meetings were completely pointless and wouldn't have happened.

He's owned up to his mistakes, and I'll give him credit for that, but let's see what happens if Cleveland goes 41-41 this year.

posted by dfleming at 11:27 AM on July 13

LeBron James Returning to Cleveland

Some people don't want to take LeBron at his word, but why would he go to Cleveland if it wasn't primarily about loyalty to the area?

It's about his tarnished image. LeBron is tired of being the villain and wants to be the hero again. He got his championships, so now people can't criticize him for not being a winner, which weighed on him before he left.

He certainly has the right to use the leverage of being Cleveland's only shot at a championship to get more say over the team and to maximize his capacity to earn revenue over the next five years, but I retain the right to think the same guy who orchestrated "The Decision" four years ago is still out for his ego first, finance second, and Cleveland a distant third.

posted by dfleming at 09:40 AM on July 13

LeBron James Returning to Cleveland

Why do you fault him for trying to maximize his salary when the new TV deal arrives in two years?

posted by rcade at 09:44 PM on July 12

Here's more on LeBron's salary strategy.

It's not faulting him about his strategy, it's that he's got this strategy while simultaneously writing letters about how he is going to finish his career somewhere and how much he loves Cleveland and blah blah. He's making this out to be about Cleveland above anything else, which it isn't.

posted by dfleming at 01:29 AM on July 13

LeBron James Returning to Cleveland

Let's see if Northeast Ohio truly is bigger than basketball a couple of years down the road if the nucleus around him doesn't result in a championship. LeBron left to play for a dream team, and now plays on a team who've drafted first overall three years in a row.

LeBron isn't a romantic, he's a pragmatist - he sees star level talent in Irving and Wiggins (or Love) and a shot to repair his tarnished legacy. And I've no problem with him being pragmatic, but the Stephen A. Smith's of the world who make this seem like a benevolent act make me ill.

posted by dfleming at 04:36 PM on July 12

Michael Bradley Covered Most Ground in World Cup

He seemed to turn the ball over a lot (particularly in the Belgium game), but I suspect in proportion to his time of possession it wasn't as bad as it seemed.

He didn't seem to get a lot of help, in terms of his teammates' positioning and getting opportunities to feed productive passes, so occasionally he'd end up carrying the ball 2/3 of the pitch before running into a wall of defenders.

posted by dfleming at 08:06 PM on July 02

Mexico Faces The Netherlands in Round of 16

During one of his runs yesterday, with the ball still moving in front of him, he blazed ahead and flew over a leg tackle as though he were in an equestrian event because he knew he might be able to finish.

To be fair, Robben had pace and room to make that jump. He can't jump with forward momentum on a lot of his challenges where he's speedily dribbling but moving laterally or slowly forward. The foul was a cutback from the goal line with next to no pace. You could jump up, but not forward with the ball intact.

Robben certainly flourishes every contact made with him, but on the Marquez foul he'd have had to contort himself and would've landed into three other Mexican players to avoid it. It was a certain turnover otherwise and Marquez really didn't need to make that challenge.

posted by dfleming at 10:10 AM on June 30

Luis Suarez Banned 9 Games for Biting Opponent

Why do Liverpool pay the big price for a bit of idiocy done in an Uruguay shirt? And why is this punished more harshly than headbutting? FIFA BS, that's why.

Agreed on the former - Liverpool doesn't stand to gain anything via international play, so why should teams take on the risk of injury AND suspension if there's no reward?

The latter - attempts to penetrate (quit it) the body are always treated more severe than to hit it. Think of the penalties for eye gouging vs. punching in most sports. There's something particularly barbaric about it that garners a worse fan response. That and the serial nature of this seems to make it a lot more appropriate.

posted by dfleming at 12:17 PM on June 26

Tim Lincecum Throws 2nd No-Hitter Against Padres

Dascenzo, for the record, was so unremarkable as a position player than his 1991 Score card position/photo ended up pretty confusing.

posted by dfleming at 10:02 AM on June 26

Tim Lincecum Throws 2nd No-Hitter Against Padres

Lince gets a few Smoltz points for doing well out of the bullpen.

Well, Lince's RP resume is only 9 innings more than former utility infielder Doug Dascenzo's sparkling 0.00 ERA resume. Sample sizes and such.

posted by dfleming at 09:57 AM on June 26

LeBron Taking His Talents Out of South Beach

I love this - the dream team that has won 2 of the last 3 championships and has been to the finals each year is obsolete and LBJ now needs to be "pitched" on a new plan to win him some championships.

Wade and Bosh now look like the bad guys if they don't opt out, because LeBron leaves and takes all their championship hopes with him if they don't have the flexible cap space to add another star. Great set of coattails to have ridden.

Meanwhile, Duncan gets championship #5 and has nurtured a sustainable core that will survive past him. The mark of a true leader isn't just how many championships you've won, but leaving teams better off than you found them. Cleveland gutted. Miami, on the verge of gutted.

Legacies are earned, not crafted, and the subtlety seems totally lost on LeBron.

posted by dfleming at 09:36 AM on June 25

Luis Suarez Bites Opponent at World Cup

Oh, by the way, if there are bite marks on the Italian, check them against Suarez's dental records. It would not surprise me if there might have been a nip or two taken in the locker room in order to prove the case.

So you're purporting that every player on the Italian team bit each other in the locker room on the off-chance that Suarez might bite them? Did they do it before the game, and then again at halftime, to ensure they have fresh marks?

I just want to be clear how far the lunacy of this statement goes.

posted by dfleming at 09:10 PM on June 24

Alex Torres First Pitcher to Wear Protective Cap

Style-wise, it's a big of a step back from John Olerud's field helmet. I'd think convincing people to wear a low-profile helmet vs. what effectively looks like an overstuffed couch would be easier.

posted by dfleming at 12:15 PM on June 22

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

The Iranian defender crumpling is a little heartbreaking.

posted by dfleming at 10:31 AM on June 22

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Seriously. The players need to be hounding the NHLPA to be putting pressure on the league. Cooke's setting a precedence that you can be as dirty as you want and still have a long and prosperous NHL career.

posted by dfleming at 09:24 AM on May 14

Gay Athlete Michael Sam Drafted by St. Louis

I would actually call it a masterful PR-written apology. I don't think it could have been done better

I think, at least personally, when a player reads an apology so masterfully written that it had to come from a PR pro it doesn't come off as very sincere.

A better one would've included something about his beliefs were wrong and he's going to work on tolerance and respect, and not just that his outward expressions here on out will conform to the team he's trying not to get cut from.

posted by dfleming at 10:06 AM on May 12

Gay Athlete Michael Sam Drafted by St. Louis

You can assert that, but I think the absence of an out gay athlete prior to Michael Sam suggests otherwise, as does how far he fell in the draft.

Do you think if Sam had Clowney skills he wouldn't have gone in the top 3 of the first round?

posted by dfleming at 06:44 AM on May 12

Gay Athlete Michael Sam Drafted by St. Louis

The spread on that is telling - Jeffcoat (another undersized DE who won the top college DE award this year) was also supposed to go in the middle rounds but didn't get drafted. They project as guys who need big adjustments to make it in the pro game and guys you might need to wait a year or two for results from.

I'm not naive enough to think that there isn't one executive or team out there not willing to pick him for either his sexual orientation or the additional pressure he'll face as a rookie, but college results are rarely enough to overcome physical limitations. Troy Smith's an example - a Heisman winner who went in the 5th round because a lot of people didn't trust he could put the same numbers up in the pro game.

posted by dfleming at 04:29 PM on May 11

Gay Athlete Michael Sam Drafted by St. Louis

I'm glad the Rams picked him, but I have trouble believing he fell as far as he did. I thought a few more NFL front offices would be more enlightened.

He was ranked by many scouts as a 4th or 5th round pick before the combine - he's got the body of an undersized DE like Cameron Wake, but his foot speed is that of a huge bull-rush style DE. Cam Wake ran a 4.55 40 and had a tough time making it right away - Sam is running 4.92.

If you look at the last DE taken before him, Shelby Harris - Harris is 25 pounds heavier, benched 8 times more than Sam and still ran 0.2 seconds faster. I am sure the entire lead up had something to do with his combine results, but it's pretty easy to see that a straight Michael Sam was going to be a project NFL player who with bigger and stronger OL would need to change his body to approach his college results.

posted by dfleming at 03:47 PM on May 11

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

The difference between the guys you listed and Jeter, is that they only had ONE horrible final season. Jeter is working on his second one right now.

Hank Aaron hit .234/12/60 and .229/10/35 his last two years. I think people will remember those years exist, but when you go looking for Aaron/Mays/Gibson memories, they're not going to be the ones people go for as summing up your career.

Plus, we're talking about a small sample size here. His line in 2011 after 27 games (.250, .577 OPS) is nearly identical to this year's. Couple that with last year and it's not unthinkable he's got some rust to shake off and something left to give.

That said - if it is July, and things haven't improved and the Yankees are still in the midst of a pennant run, I think the thing to do would be retire early - given it'd be sacrilegious to bench #2 no matter how he plays in his final season, it'd be pretty damn selfish to finish your PR tour at the expense of a team that's trying to grow its next group of leaders into playoff veterans.

posted by dfleming at 03:14 PM on May 05

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Anyone having this Jeter in their book of memories 10 years from now is not a baseball fan. Babe Ruth hit .181 for the Boston Braves in '35. Aaron hit .232 his last two years with Milwaukee. Mays, Halladay, Bob Gibson, Alomar - lots of greats had completely forgettable ends to their careers.

So long as he's a class act and his piss is clean all year, Jeter's memories are already forged.

posted by dfleming at 12:19 PM on May 05

A's Demote Closer Jim Johnson After 8 Games

Johnson had 9 blown saves last year - there were times he seemed tenuously holding on to his job as it is. That contract, particularly from the A's, was kinda nutty.

He reminds me a lot of Todd Jones' career where he certainly showed he could close but never was steady enough to give you the confidence to think he'll ride through rough patches and come out the other side.

posted by dfleming at 10:24 AM on April 11

Exceptionally Small Crowds Greet New Baseball Season

Baseball is becoming one-dimensional. All position players think they are home run hitters, and the days of players knowing how to actually hit, especially hit to all fields, is practically gone.

Wholeheartedly disagree. There have always been dead pull hitters, and there are still an exceptional number of truly pro hitters. Guys like Cabrera, Pedroia, Trout, McCutchen, Jeter, Posey, Votto, Cano, Molina - they all go the other way.

Jack Clark existed 20 years ago. The defences have shifted, but not because there are more pure pull hitters, but they've adjusted how they play 'em. The league average since 1972 has fluctuated between .255-.275, and while we're currently at a .256, you have to also take into account that the defences are much improved and players are more athletic today than ever.

posted by dfleming at 07:10 AM on April 11

Josh Hamilton Needs Thumb Surgery

Dude can't catch a break.

Well, I'd say he caught a $125m break a year ago, but I guess it's relative.

posted by dfleming at 11:30 AM on April 10