Tag Archives: NBA

The worst article about Seattle sports ever written

It’s nice to have your team land in the Superbowl. For two wonderful weeks, your city attracts media attention from every corner of the internet. Especially in Seattle, we don’t get a lot of it — which is why it’s important the national media get the facts right: They might not check in again for a while,

Many failed. Unfairly or not, I’m going to single out one egregious example, just to make Richard Sherman proud of me. In my own preemptive defense, this article has been up for five days now, and FOX still hasn’t managed to correct even the most basic egregious errors I noticed in my initial read-through. A few examples.

1. The headline: “Seattle hoping Seahawks bring home elusive championship.”

Continue reading The worst article about Seattle sports ever written


Bigfoot hunting expedition goes horribly wrong, and yet so wonderfully right

I had no idea that Bigfoot lives in Oklahoma — he doesn’t show up anywhere in this predicted range — until I read about one Sasquatch-hunting expedition in that state gone horribly wrong:

Rogers County Sheriff’s Department arrested three people in what appears to be an accidental shooting. One of the men told deputies he’d shot his friend while the two were on a Sasquatch hunting expedition.

. . .

The two men were hunting – apparently for Bigfoot – around 177th East Avenue and Tiger Switch Road Saturday night. Omar Pineda reportedly heard a “barking noise,” jerked and shot his friend in the back, authorities say.

My sympathy is minimal. Seems to me the people of Oklahoma feel unjustifiably entitled to set out and haul in a Sasquatch whenever they damn well please.

Turns out, Okies, you’ve gone after this guy one time too many:

Continue reading Bigfoot hunting expedition goes horribly wrong, and yet so wonderfully right

The NBA season just started and already things are starting to get awkward, Part II

Two years ago, at the conclusion of the NBA lockout and the commencement of the 2011-12 season, I wrote a post titled The NBA season just started and already things are starting to get awkward. Feel free to check it out — the whole thing is 58 words-and-a-picture long — but the main thrust was that the NBA was insensitive for choosing to sponsor a Tweet of any sort in the Seattle area.

Nearly two years later, and under similar circumstances, you might have thought the marketers of the world learned their lesson — but apparently, they don’t all read my blog. Which is how we ended up with this:

Continue reading The NBA season just started and already things are starting to get awkward, Part II

The New York-Seattle rivalry: the tale of a truce violated

Flash back to 1847. The Donner party set out along the Oregon Trail to reach California, but was trapped in the Wasatch range of Utah. Its members resorted to cannibalism in order to survive the harsh winter.

Just four years later, and perhaps wary of meating [sic] the Donner party’s fate, the Denny party arrived at the future site of Seattle — sensibly, by boat. They named their landing site “New York alki” — alki being the native word for “by the by” or “someday.” And so, precisely coincident with the founding of the City of Seattle, a good-natured (and perhaps one-sided) rivalry was born.

After a century and a half, Seattle has yet to live up to its aspirational name, and in no place is the discrepancy more apparent than on the field of play. New York is home to eleven* major league sports franchises, while the Emerald City boasts only three.

*I’m counting soccer only because it gives New York a bigger lead. Go Sounders!

Seattle would be home to four, but the Sonics absconded to Oklahoma City, taking with them “the city’s first and only major men’s sports championship.”

Or so the narrative goes — a narrative that is totally wrong.

In fact, Seattle once hosted a major league hockey team, which just so happened to become the first American team to ever win the Stanley Cup in 1917. Despite its early success, that team ceased to exist after 1924, but no worries: its name lives on courtesy of — read: it was adopted by — the New York Mets.*

*OK, technically there were also New York Metropolitans in the 1800s, well before there were Seattle Metropolitans, but I’m not going to let facts get in the way of my history.

Today, Seattle still dreams of landing a team in the NHL — but if the city is successful, we’d be happy to call it the Thunderbirds. You can have “Mets.” Let’s keep this a civil, good-natured rivalry: We pretend to steal your city’s name. You steal our hockey team’s name in retribution. We’ll all bury the hatchet and drink some coffee.

And so, despite occasional outbreaks of violence in the MLB playoffs, on former industrial sites, and on Seinfeld — in case you don’t recall: Seattle, George says, is “the pesto of cities” — the peace has largely held for years.

But it’s all starting to come apart. Witness what Jimmy Fallon coaxed Mets RHP Matt Harvey into doing before he started the All-Star Game:

Continue reading The New York-Seattle rivalry: the tale of a truce violated

Aaron Hernandez charged with murder; which city will welcome him home next?

A few days ago, when it looked like Aaron Hernandez was about to be arrested for obstruction of justice, I not-so-subtly accused him of having committed considerably more than that. I made those allegations on the basis of no specific information in particular, which I suppose means I may have exposed myself to liability for libel had he never been so charged.*

But no matter: Hernandez was finally arrested this morning and charged with murder — bad news for Hernandez, but good news for my credibility. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those darn texts and deliberately-sabotaged home security system and actual video footage and proximity to the event and acquaintance with the victim and especially for those meddling kids.

Hernandez’s team, the New England Patriots, immediately tried to distance itself from the tight end, announcing his release just two hours after news broke of the arrest — and just one year after signing him to a 5-year, $37.5 million contract. The NFL as a league tried to distance itself, as well, releasing a statement calling the arrest “deeply troubling”:

Continue reading Aaron Hernandez charged with murder; which city will welcome him home next?

Does this peculiar Google search signal the end of draft grading?

For once, the answer to a headline question is Yes, maybe.

The 2013 Major League Baseball draft came to a close yesterday, at the end of 40 exhausting rounds. Until two years ago, the draft lasted 50! — and even that number was down from the inaugural event, which stretched into the 72nd round.

But though its length has changed over time, another aspect of the baseball draft hasn’t: trying to evaluate its impact just days after it ends is a guaranteed waste of time. Back in 1965 — that first draft — the Reds picked Johnny Bench in the second round, and Nolan Ryan wasn’t picked until the 12th. If those future Hall of Famers had been recognized as such on draft day, they probably would have been picked ahead of Les Rohr (New York Mets, 2nd overall pick), who never even appeared in an All Star Game, or Alex Barrett (Houston Astros, 4th overall pick), who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.* The limited value of draft-day prognosis is little improved today.

*Granted, these are not the best measures of a player’s value.

There are a lot of reasons it’s hard to tell how the draft will turn out when it happens. For one thing — unlike in the NBA and NFL — the vast majority of players spend years in the minor leagues before they ever — if they ever — crack a major league roster. For another, the MLB draft is so long — compared to two rounds in the NBA, and seven in the NFL — and so many players are drafted (and draft-eligible), that it’s impossible for any one reviewer to evaluate every pick in context. Finally, the draft is governed by complex rules limiting signing bonuses that often prevent players from signing with the teams that drafted them. Basically, until the players sign and start to play, all you’ve learned is a list of unfamiliar names.

But though it’s impossible to judge how a team did on draft day, that hasn’t stopped many people from trying. To nicely illustrate the futility of the practice, I’m going to shift focus briefly to the NFL. Just one year ago, the Seahawks’ draft was roundly panned: Mel Kiper (ESPN) gave them a C-, Chris Burke (Sports Illustrated) gave them a C, NFL Network — the league organ! — also gave them a C. One year later, it looks like the Hawks came out with the best draft class in football, and Mel Kiper didn’t even wait for the season to end before retroactively upgrading his grade from C- to an A.*

*I’d complain this is against the rules, but that’s part of the problem: there are no rules, and no accountability… and I don’t care.

Meanwhile, it’s instructive to examine the one reviewer who had the Seahawks pegged correctly from Day One — Kenneth Arthur over at Hawks blog Field Gulls put together the following report card:

[Player], [Round]-[Overall]: [Grade]

Bruce Irvin, 1-15: A
Bobby Wagner, 2-47: A
Russell Wilson, 3-75: A
Robert Turbin, 4-106: A
Jaye Howard, 4-114: A
Korey Toomer, 5-154: A
Jeremy Lane, 6-172: A
Winston Guy, 6-181: A
J.R. Sweezy, 7-225: A
Greg Scruggs (for whom it has been a lifetime Scruggle), 7-232: A

Overall Seahawks Draft Grade: F because if you think that arbitrary grades from me or anyone else mean a damn thing, then you are batshit insane.

And if that’s true in the NFL, with its short draft that regularly sees recent picks start on Opening Day, that’s even more true of MLB. Jeff Sullivan, now writing for USSM, explained just before this week’s draft that the event just isn’t worth losing sleep over:

People want opinions. They want strong, certain, oftentimes provocative opinions. This is not a desire to give in to. This is a desire to fight. It’s good to have opinions. It’s great to have opinions! But it’s critically important to recognize when you don’t have an opinion, or when you’re not sufficiently informed. It’s important to not always declare a position on something. It’s important to not be afraid of uncertainty. In this way, trust can be established and built. In this way, actual strong opinions can carry actual weight, standing out from the ordinary baseline.

It seemed like draft day was the right day for this post, because draft day brings out a whole host of strong opinions. Let’s make one thing clear: when it comes to roster construction, drafts are the thing you know about the least. You’re not out there scouting draft-eligible players. Scouting itself is in large part a subjective exercise, which is why so many scouts differ on so many players. There are statistics, but they’re empty, and no one really cares about numbers in high school or college. Numbers matter a lot in the majors, and a little in the minors. Draft-eligible players don’t have a meaningful, statistical track record. If there’s one time to just defer to the organization, it’s when it’s conducting a draft. They know more than you do, by a lot.

Smart writers like Sullivan and Arthur have been beating this drum for years, and widespread acceptance of their argument is long overdue. Which is why I got curious this morning to see how quickly Respected Baseball Outlets (TM) would manage to post grades of their own — and was pleasantly surprised to see the backlash against the practice finally seems to be gaining some traction. Just look at what happens when you google “mlb draft grades 2013” — or, more instructively, where Google really wants you to end up:

Continue reading Does this peculiar Google search signal the end of draft grading?

O really, O Canada?: A Trade War of Northern Aggression

The Canadian government today, Reuter reports, imposed criminal penalties on Nestle and Mars for colluding to fix the price of chocolate:

The three executives [one each from the candy companies, another from a wholesale distributor] face up to five years in prison if convicted, while the companies and the executives could each be fined up to $10 million.

The Competition Bureau has been probing the allegations of price fixing for five years in a scandal that has already resulted in a major class-action suit.

Both Mars and Nestle said they intend to “vigorously defend” themselves against the allegations.

Not every company targeted by the investigation is in so much trouble:

Canada’s Competition Bureau recommended lenient treatment for the Canadian arm of Hershey Co, which cooperated with the investigation. Hershey said it had reached a deal with the bureau, and would plead guilty to a single count of price fixing.

In its statement Hershey expressed regret for its actions and blamed workers who had already left the company.

“The current Hershey Canada senior management team as well as The Hershey Company and its management had no involvement in this conduct,” the statement said.

But I’m less interested in why Canada targeted Nestle and Mars over Hershey, than I am in its decision to target chocolatiers over other kinds of confection-makers. You may recall the breathless headlines back in August, when thieves made off with $18 million worth of maple syrup from Canada’s “global strategic maple syrup reserve.” If not, you probably remember when the Daily Show did a bit on it back in February.

The maple syrup reserve, explains the Atlantic, exists to manipulate supply and demand for the sticky sweet stuff in the global marketplace — in other words, it works hard to make sure you never have to resort to slathering your pancakes with “breakfast syrup”:

Continue reading O really, O Canada?: A Trade War of Northern Aggression

The most annoying thing about Dove’s “Real” Beauty Sketches

By now, you’ve seen — or at least heard about — the Dove ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign that made the rounds a few weeks ago. In case you didn’t, the following video is what the rest of this post is about, so check it:

[Editor’s note: above is the full, six-minute version. There is also a three-minute version, with over ten times as many hits as of the time of this writing. I included the six-minute version for the sake of completeness.]

After watching the video for the first time last Thursday [it got lost in a sea of open tabs/general apathy], I knew something about the ad bothered me. I did a few googles to see if anyone had quite put a finger on what rubbed me the wrong way, and when they turned up nothing, I decided to write it up myself. And so, I proudly present my personal contribution to a long line of Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign critics.

To get you caught up, here’s a distilled sample of what other people didn’t like about it [every word in that sentence links to a different critical article]:

Continue reading The most annoying thing about Dove’s “Real” Beauty Sketches

Now that Jason Collins is out, which major league sports league is next?

Earlier this week, Jason Collins came out as the first gay male athlete playing professionally in a major American sport. Some sort of announcement of this sort had been expected for some time, but the details — who, where, when, how (,why)? — were the topic of a certain amount of blind speculation.

As it turns out, Collins chose to come out in the pages of Sports Illustrated, and while his announcement caused a minor sensation when it hit the nation’s newsstands, I imagine one distinct group of people — who knew exactly what was going to happen — managed to take the news in stride. I speak, of course, of the staff over at Sports Illustrated.

Meanwhile, Collins may have broken the rainbow barrier in the NBA, but the NFL, MLB, MLS, and NHL still haven’t seen anyone come out of the closet. As we’ve seen, it’s only a matter of time — but that leaves open the question who, and when? And again, I think there’s one group of people with all the answers.

That’s why I’ve been scouring sports coverage across the nation — for the off chance that one has a scoop and accidentally tips its hand. And I think I’ve finally got something — in the pages of Yahoo! Sports. As you can see, one of these headlines is not like the others:

Continue reading Now that Jason Collins is out, which major league sports league is next?