Friday, December 19, 2014

The Mavericks answer the wrong question by trading for Rajon Rondo

Last night, the Celtics agreed to trade nine-year veteran Rajon Rondo and someone named Dwight Powell to the Mavericks in exchange for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, a first round pick, and their 2016 second round pick. The first round pick falls to Boston if the Mavericks pick between 4-14 in 2015 and if not, the Celtics receive the Mavericks pick as long as it is not a top 7 pick. The Celtics are fully committed to their rebuild and have a shit ton of draft picks in the upcoming years. This post is going to focus on the Mavericks and why they would want Rajon Rondo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Correct Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

All this Ferguson stuff is making me sick, so let's take our minds off that for a second with some sports. A couple of years ago, when no one was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, we were upset. Last year, by failing to vote in "Hall of Very Good" pitcher Jack Morris, the voters made up for their 2012 debacle a little bit. JUST A LITTLE THOUGH. Here at The Whole 42 Minutes, we take the Baseball Hall of Fame very seriously for some reason. So to follow up on that last linked post -- Sean's logical HOF ballot from 2012 -- I'm doing the 2014 edition. The candidates were just released, and here they are.

Side note before we begin: Kenny Lofton, someone who I publicly believed should be in the Hall of Fame, is no longer even on the ballot because he didn't receive 5% of the voters' votes. That's a shame. I'll always remember you, Kenny.

First-timers who deserve a spot

Randy Johnson: Randy Johnson has a legitimate case for the Mount Rushmore of pitchers. He's either the 4th- or 5th-best pitcher ever on my list. 303 wins, 5 Cy Youngs, 2nd-most strikeouts ever, and a 75 ERA- over a 22-year career. Also a World Series MVP in 2001, for what that's worth (something!). He's the definition of a first-ballot HOFer.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ranking Baseball's Positions

During game 7, Harold Reynolds continued his postseason of saying stupid shit when he casually said that third base was one of the weakest positions in the league. This random remark was immediately proven wrong when me, Jon, and Steve being the nerdy nerds that we are just started texting each other names of good third basemen. So take that Harold, with your stupid name.

Anyways, now that baseball is done, let's rate the top positions in baseball. These ratings will look at the overall crop of players at each position. The point is not to say that catchers are worse than first basemen at hitting; this we know. It's about figuring out if there are clusters of good or bad players at the positions right now.

Here we go:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ranking the NBA's Best Backcourts

Noted idiot Dion Waiters got into some Twitter fight or something with John Wall this week over who was the best pair of starting guards in the NBA, the Wizards' Wall and Bradley Beal or the Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Now Waiters might have rested his case with a Youtube clip of him scoring 24 points on contested 2s, but we at The Whole 42 Minutes like to dig a little deeper (Andy a little deeper?).

What follows is the comprehensive ranking of NBA guard units, including backups.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How Good Derek Jeter Actually Was

Derek Jeter's farewell tour is mercifully over, and the Yankee captain of the past decade is finally hanging up the spikes. We've all seen the fanfare around Jeter's exit, and also the vomit-inducing hagiography, and the backlash to that hagiography. Jeter is a player who had a great career, but his legacy is buried under piles and piles of bullshit from both sides. I'm here to right the wrongs, and give Jeter exactly the objective farewell that he has earned (at least, as much as I am able to as a Red Sox fan).

I'd like to focus on something that has plagued Jeter's legacy in the last few weeks: cherry picking stats. It's easy to argue against those who call Jeter the greatest Yankee, or in some cases, the greatest player of all time. That's just crazy talk. But people on both sides of the Jeter conversation -- the knob slobbers and the haters -- have been cherry picking stats to make Jeter seem the way they want him to seem. That's obviously unfair, and for any player with a 20-year career, you could find stats that make him sound like the best or worst. Two examples of this cherry picking are Keith Olbermann's rant against Jeter's legacy and Jayson Stark's very stupid article detailing Derek by the numbers.

Clayton Kershaw For 2014 MVP

Clayton Kershaw is fighting a battle on two fronts for the NL MVP award. Since pitchers have the CY Young award, voters have been reluctant to vote for pitchers - not only does Kershaw have to best the rest of the NL, he has to best historical trends. I think he will and deserves to do win the award this season.

First, Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet. His numbers this year put him in a class above everyone else, and it’s been a great year for pitchers. Corey Kluber, Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale in the AL and Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright in the NL all put up fantastic seasons, and yet Kershaw will win the CY Young unanimously and would in either league. He has the best WHIP, ERA and FIP, of course, but the underlying numbers are there too. Kershaw put up the best strikeout rate in baseball and 7th best walk rate so he did everything he could to avoid balls in play and unnecessary baserunners. He also induced weak contact: 15th best ground ball rate and third best infield fly rate (the best types of contact for a pitcher as they have the greatest correlation to outs). No other pitcher can match this arsenal of strikeouts, control and run-suppressing contact.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Revisiting FanGraphs WAR

Back in June, I posted something about the problems that I saw with team WAR about a third of the way through the baseball season. In that post, I said I'd revisit the WAR issue, seeing as how there was a relatively small sample size. Now that the season is really almost over, let's revisit that.

At the time of the last post, the line of best fit of the WAR-adjusted wins and real wins had a slop of about 0.4, quite far from the "ideal" 1. This is what that graph looks like now:

As we can see, the line of best fit has a slop of over 0.85, which is essentially as close to perfect as one can expect. This makes me feel better. However, there are some major differences between the team WAR calculations in June and those today.

This time, the highest FanGraphs team WAR belongs to the Nationals at 2.0, and the lowest is the Cubs at 0.6. The essential definition, or perhaps goal, of WAR is to measure a player's value above a hypothetical "replacement" player. That replacement-level is defined as the level of players that, if an entire team consisted of such players, its winning percentage would be .294. So if we are to take that definition to heart and apply it to team WAR as it stands now on FanGraphs, no team would have more than 50 wins at this point by WAR. Obviously, team WAR is not measuring this, but I'm not sure what it's measuring. It's been adjusted somehow, but I'm not sure how. I've adjusted the WAR win totals to more closely reflect real wins so that they could be compared more easily apples-to-apples.

So as we can see, there are very few serious outliers at this point in the season, and the line of best fit more or less accurately reflects a pretty good approximation of wins as seen through the lens of WAR. But that team WAR certainly is not just a stat that adds up all the individual players' WAR throughout the season, so I'm not sure what it is exactly. Player WAR is still not clarified by this examination.

Next season, I'll be keeping an eye on this and digging deeper into these issues. For now, let's throw all these out the window and enjoy the randomness of 1, 5, and 7-game series.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ray Rice and the Monolith

Ray Rice deserved this suspension in February. He got it Monday.

TMZ's release of the Ray Rice footage had one crucial consequence: it turned a hypothetical into a definite. As many have pointed out, what was on the video didn't reveal anything we didn't already know. Janay Palmer entered the elevator conscious and was unceremoniously dragged out of it unconscious. Rice entered the elevator conscious and left it remorselessly shuttling his limp fiancee's body out. She switched from active to passive voice; he did not.

There really aren’t any extenuating circumstances to that story, there can't be. Ray Rice has been paid millions of dollars to take abuse from men nearly twice his size, to use his muscular and explosive body to elude them, even to dish out punishment to those giants and to do it well. Whether his fiancee provoked him or not, Rice’s reaction was unconscionable and sickening. He beat the ever-living shit out of her, and we knew this in February. (I could do without the pandering a man should never hit a woman angle. Maybe just don't assault people in general.) The tape was nothing but visceral confirmation and now Rice is out of a job, probably for a long time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ranking the Hours of the Day

24. 5 a.m. If you're up this late or this early you're going to be miserable.
23. 6 a.m. Same as 5 a.m. but a little more plausible.
22. 7 a.m. Waking up between 7:00-7:59 is pretty standard, but that's not a fun hour. The highlight is probably brushing your teeth.
21. 11 a.m. Damn man I be getting so hungry before lunch.
20. 8 a.m. You're most likely commuting this hour, not that much fun!
19. 3 p.m. Fuck, I've been here six hours and am so tired and not even close to done.
18. 4 a.m. One of the least utilized hours, most likely you're sleeping but if you're not it sucks.
17. 3 a.m. This is the hour of awful college kids have deep meaningful conversations in the dorm lounges.
16. 12 p.m. It's just starting to get hot, sports haven't started yet, and if you're doing it right you are starving and waiting another whole fucking hour for lunch.
15. 2 a.m. You're either in that solid REM sleep or not quite sure why you've been watching shitty TV for the past 4 hours and mad at how tired you're going to be tomorrow.
14. 10 a.m. Actual working has commenced, you've got hours to go before you lunch, and the good articles haven't come on the internets yet.
13. 9 a.m. An overall decent hour. You're probably enjoying that nice snooze on the weekend and during the week you're getting into work which means time to hit up gchat and not work for at least your first hour.
12. 6 p.m. Huge inconsistency with 6 p.m. Could mean you're working out or starting happy hour or it could mean you're realizing how late you're going to be stuck at work and cancelling your plans.
11. 4 p.m. Afternoon sports are ending which is nice, but in the winter you're saying goodbye to the sun and getting all sad.
10. 2 p.m. You're up, you've got energy, there's still some sun. Not too shabby.
9. 1 a.m. Pretty late, you're probably sleepy, but some cool stuff could be going down to keep you up this late.
8. 11 p.m. The hour of Seinfeld reruns. Not a bad hour. Solidly above average with decent upside potential.
7. 8 p.m. The dinner hour is pretty solid, but you're probably going to have to do dishes too. Minus points for not having good TV yet.
6. 12 a.m. You're finally getting into that good good sleep, hit that REM cycle like whoa.
5. 5 p.m. Hopefully you're getting off work and free. Minus points for it being an hour for commuting.
4. 7 p.m. Sports and jeopardy start this hour. Pretty solid hour imo.
3. 1 p.m. The lunching hour means you don't have to work. Bonus points for it being the starting time for afternoon sports.
2. 9 p.m. Good TV on, night events starting, drinking likely beginning on the weekend.
1. 10 p.m. Still got energy, good shit is on TV, sports games are ending, good stuff all around.

NFL and Roger Goodell: Idiots who are Full of Shit

The video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee in an elevator, something we already knew happened, was released a few days ago. The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens came down hard on Ray Rice. There's a lot of talk out there about how there must have been a cover-up and how the NFL must have seen the tape before. This piece by Deadspin's Drew Magary makes a pretty strong hypothetical case for why the NFL must have seen the tape before a couple of days ago. Drew's last bullet point, however, is causing me the most confusion: we didn't need the tape to know what happened.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Baseball's Dumbest Rule

Just a friendly reminder that starting tomorrow, September 1, baseball rosters will expand from 25 to 40 players. Why would the rules about how many people you can have change for the last 20% of the season? It's unclear. In theory, the fact that minor league seasons typically end around September gives teams an opportunity to keep their best minor leaguers fresh until the big league season ends. That's cute and all and some shitty teams certainly take advantage of the opportunity to see what guys can do. Mike Trout certainly benefited from a month of at bats in 2011 before he became Mike Trout in 2012.

However, you don't just fucking change the rules for the last month when playoff spots are being finalized. Smart teams will use the additional 15 players (that's almost an entire other team!!!!!) to get tons of little advantages. Teams can bring up the all glove double A player and use him only in the field without worrying about running out of players. Speedy pinch runners can steal a crucial base winning just one more game for their team. Imagine if football teams could use 80 players on gamedays in December instead of 46. You'd never risk a player like Rob Gronkowski getting hurt on an extra point, you'd use the 7th string tight end. Don't worry though, this rule goes away in the playoffs, where the you know normal fucking 25 players are required. Also, weirdly, players who start with a team after September 1 cannot play on the postseason roster. So these callups will only screw up things in the playoffs before they are ineligible for the playoffs and the rosters go back to 25.

This is baseball's dumbest rule and now that old-man farter Bud Selig is going, new commissioner Rob Manfred (jesus that's a fake sounding awful name) needs to fix the roster size.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Rules for ReTWOling

Two years ago, the Red Sox were among the worst teams in baseball. They traded away all their awful contracts in August of that year. Then they were the best team in baseball. And now, after all the injuries and disappointments that could have happened this year are now happening (along with the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury), the Red Sox are back to being bad and trading everybody. They're looking to next year again, for the second time in three years.*

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Yankees, Stephen Drew, and Shortstopping in Jeter's America

In the Red Sox trade deadline bonanza that ultimately saw four of last year's World Series-winning starters get traded (all in at least arguably good deals, especially Lackey), a lesser trade occurred, the first between the Yankees and Red Sox since 1997. The struggling Stephen Drew was dealt for the declining yet cheap Kelly Johnson. Stephen Oris Drew, he of .176/.255/.328 slash line in 39 games this year with the Red Sox, was headed to New York. With the Yankees' recent acquisitions of Chase Headley to play third and the suddenly overpaid Martin Prado to play whatever position they needed (including 2nd base), it seemed as though Stephen Drew would fit nicely on the Yankees' bench. However, what the Yankees are actually doing with Stephen Drew is pretty crazy when you think about it for more than two seconds: he's their everyday second baseman.

To clarify, this is not crazy because Stephen Drew is having a terrible year at the plate and should not be an everyday player. Drew missed spring training and the beginning of the season while waiting for a contract offer, and his struggles against players in midseason form aren't overly surprising. He's likely to bounce back, and has always been a productive player at the plate, and also in the field.

And that second part is what makes the Yankees' new arrangement crazy. Stephen Drew has never played another position besides shortstop in his Major League career. Another player on the Yankees can also make that claim, and he happens to be in his retirement tour with the Yankees struggling to stay in the playoff race. That other guy, #2, also happens to be one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Very Meaningful and Correct List of Seinfeld Characters

A few of weeks ago, Rolling Stone came out with a list of the 100 greatest characters in Seinfeld history. Seinfeld is probably my favorite show ever (either that or Chappelle's Show basically), and I have to say, the list was downright turrible. Characters left off, the order was all effed up, and very weak reasons for placing characters where they were. Also, in going through a straight list of 100 characters, it's tough to figure out if someone is really 94th or 86th. I'm here to make things right.

Here is my list of the greatest Seinfeld characters ever. It will be broken up, however, in a meaningful way: by number of appearances. Comparing the Soup Nazi to Newman to Elaine is a very difficult task. Is this like WAR, where just the sheer number of games played counts? Or is it like OPS+, where the effectiveness per game is the real determining factor? Is it somewhere in between? I'm going to avoid those issues by grouping characters by number of appearances. Within their groups, they're going to be based essentially on how funny they are, and how classic they are. Here we go. The real list.

Ruthie Cohen

1. Ruthie Cohen: The cashier at Monk's gets her own category. She has lines in, I believe, 1 episode, but is seen in 101 total episodes. She doesn't fit into the category of characters with tons of appearances, but is worth noting just sort of for appearing in so many. Way to go, Ruthie.

Unseen and/or Imaginary Characters (including pseudonyms)

Ray Rice's Apology: You Did More Than Let People Down

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens running back, beat his wife unconscious and was suspended by the NFL for two games. Nothing more needs to be said about the complete failure and embarrassment of the NFL in its lenient actions toward this situation. Anyone who sees the length of this suspension as just is actually, objectively wrong.

Ray Rice attempted to apologize for his actions -- which became known almost six months ago -- yesterday at a press conference. It is worth watching the entire statement, as this is an issue that plagues the NFL and the United States of America, and even those perpetrators who seem contrite (and Rice, I think, does) completely miss the point.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

#HotSportsTake: The Tie Generation In America

We’ve all heard the complaints.  

A tie is like kissing your sister.

A boring, INCONCLUSIVE style that practically encourages ties in soccer means it will never catch on in America.

A tie is literally worse than genocide.  

If you can tie, well why not just call off the match and go straight to the handshake line? Dan Shaughnessy would be happy that hands are involved at least.

With a tie against Germany on Thursday, the USMNT would advance to the knockout rounds of the World Cup. A US win would do it too, and there’s a good chance we advance even with a loss, but a tie guarantees it. What’s more, Germany would be through in first place as long as they don’t lose. It’s a horrifying thought to most, that it would be in our advantage for both teams to take it easy and play for a scoreless draw, to collude in futility. It must be the influence of that fruity European coach.

Playing for a tie is everything we claim to hate about the sport.

Well, I have a different take on the matter.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Yasiel Puig is not a child

If you haven't read Andrew Sharp's piece on Grantland about LeBron love/hate, I highly recommend it (thanks to Seansie for pointing it out to me). We have covered some themes that come up in that post, most notably (I like to think) in my post about Richard Sherman following the NFC Championship Game this year. When idiots are idiots, people who write on snarky blogs (heh) sometimes take the battle against these idiots to the extreme. And oftentimes, that extreme defense is as bad as or worse than the idiots' initial opinions. This is becoming true of Deadspin's coverage of Yasiel Puig.

Deadspin is a blog that I read every day, and my favorite Internet writer -- Large Father Drew Magary -- writes his best stuff on said blog. I like Deadspin a lot for the most part. Their schtick gets annoying occasionally, and some writers are definitely better than others, but it's one of the beacons of light in the horrible darkness that is sports writing on the Internet.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Spurs Are A Fine Wine

“Legendary.” It’s the only adjective this Spurs team, which has been great every season since I first started watching basketball nearly two decades ago, couldn’t necessarily lay claim to. The 2013-14 Spurs rebounded from a heartbreaking defeat in last year’s Finals to cut through one of the most difficult conferences in NBA history, winning 62 games while no single player averaged over 30 minutes per game. Then in the playoffs, they beat their two nemeses, first the hyper-athletic, kinetically explosive Thunder in the Conference Finals and then world's greatest player LeBron James and the two-time reigning champion Heat in the Finals. They did so in astonishing fashion. Twelve of the Spurs’ sixteen playoff victories were by 15 or more points, and the Finals ended with three consecutive blowouts. Honestly, Game 5 felt more like a coronation than a competition. The Spurs have been among the NBA’s very best the entire Tim Duncan/Gregg Popovich era, an astonishing sixteen consecutive years, and they were far and away the best team in the NBA this year. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Serious Problems with WAR

Right now, as of the afternoon of June 5, 2014, the best team in Major League Baseball is the San Francisco Giants. They are 38-21, good for a .644 winning percentage and the best record in all of baseball. According to Fangraphs, the Giants are also the owners of the 19th-highest total of Wins Above Replacement. Judging by their performance, they are the 19th-best team in baseball and the third-best team in their own division. I wondered how this could possibly be the case, and discovered a few interesting, and troubling, facts about WAR -- Wins Above Replacement, the most advanced of advanced statistics, the golden stat that attempts to boil down a player's entire contribution to his team's winning into one meaningful number.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Third-of-the-Way-Through MLB Awards

Before we all become consumed in the NBA Finals (or the Stanley Cup Finals, sure), it might be nice to see where we're at in the baseball season. For many fans of basketball and/or hockey, baseball has taken a back seat as the playoffs have been happening in those other sports. So to get you up to date on what's been happening, I'd like to present the Third-of-the-Way-Through-the-Season MLB Awards. We actually did this last year as a blog, but you know how it is coordinating 3 schedules. Nightmare. So I'll be flying solo on this one.

The AL MVP so far is Josh Donaldson, third baseman for the Oakland A's. He narrowly beats out a few other players, like Mike Trout, Nelson Cruz and Jose Bautista. But Donaldson has the most WAR (3.6) and the fifth-highest wOBA in the AL. He plays a premium position at third base, and not for anything, but he plays for the best team in the AL (which I know shouldn't matter but it's a thing to say).

Friday, May 16, 2014

MLB Team Name Rankings: Ranking Stuff is Fun

Ranking stuff that doesn't actually have anything to do with sports analysis is probably one of the most fun things to do on a sports blog. Take it from me, a true blogger. We've done the NFL team names, as well as the NFL starting QB names (we'll have to do that again this year), and now it's time to do the MLB team names. I'm in the position of having the worst team of the 3 bloggers this year (though the Red Sox will ultimately repeat as WORLD CHAMPIONS no probably not but like MAYBE, right?), so it's better to just write about stuff that doesn't have to do with, y'know, baseball. Onward and sideways.

30. Cleveland Indians
Native American stuff has to GO. This team is last--behind the Braves--because of its logo, which has nothing to do with this list, but Chief Wahoo deserves all the scorn he gets.

29. Atlanta Braves
The only thing that's almost as racist as Chief Wahoo is the Tomahawk Chop. Truly stunning.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Donald Sterling and the Commodification of Human Beings

Donald Sterling is horrifying. Donald Sterling is predictable.
From Deadspin:
Stiviano: Do you know that you have a whole team that's black, that plays for you?
Sterling: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? … Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners that created the league?
The validity of the recording notwithstanding, we already knew this much about Donald Sterling: he is an unrepentant racist obsessed with the commodification and fetishization of black men. If, as many suspect, a combination of public and private forces impress on him to sell the Clippers, he will be roughly one billion dollars richer for his latest public act of inhumanity. Sterling is a slumlord and a misogynist and, as NBA-humping Chris Broussard of all people put it, he “has the mentality of an antebellum slave master.” The NBA, which has for three decades ignored fairly public signs of this mindset (see: Deadspin’s cavalcade of Sterling’s horrors), was finally compelled to act, launching an investigation and asking Sterling to steer clear of NBA games.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ranking of the #2 Overall Picks Since 1984

Why not write something, right? This is a blog after all!

About a year ago, I wrote a post ranking the #1 picks in the NBA draft since 1984. Did it win a Pullitzer?

Below is a list of the #2 picks, using the same methodology as the other list, except for one small and obvious change. If the #2 pick ended up being much better than the #1 pick in that draft, that will be very beneficial for that #2 pick on this list. Just like the #1 picks list, this is a list of players as players, but also players as picks. The value of their #2 pick status will be important. This year, we'll be stopping at the 2010 draft, and we'll be excluding the tragic case of 1986 #2 pick Len Bias. Let's get it on.

26. Hasheem Thabeet, 2009: Highest pick ever to be sent down to the D-League. Let go by Memphis. Surrounded by Blake Griffin and James Harden in the draft. Geez. Poor Hasheem.

25. Darko Milicic, 2003: LeBron. Carmelo. Wade. Bosh. Enough said.

The Definitive Ranking of All 50 States

50. Mississippi
49. Alabama
48. Oklahoma
47. Wyoming
46. Idaho
45. North Dakota
44. South Dakota
43. Arizona
42. Arkansas
41. Kentucky
40. Nevada
39. Nebraska
38. Montana
37. Iowa
36. Alaska
35. South Carolina
34. West Virginia
33. Kansas
32. Utah
31. Tennessee
30. Louisiana
29. Indiana
28. New Mexico
27. Missouri
26 Michigan
25. Rhode Island
24. Texas
23. Georgia
22. North Carolina
21. Maine
20. Delaware
19. Vermont
18. Ohio
17. New Hampshire
16. New Jersey
15.  Maryland
14. Illinois
13. Wisconsin
12. Minnesota
11. Oregon
10. Washington
9. Connecticut
8. Florida
7. Hawaii
6. Pennsylvania
5. Virginia
4. Colorado
3. California
2. Massachusetts
1. New York

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dan Shaughnessy is an Idiot

This title is pretty obvious and it's low-hanging fruit to call out an out-of-touch hack newspaper writer on a blog, but I can't help myself and am doing a Fire Joe Morgan style takedown of Dan Shaughnessy's latest "picked-up pieces" column. Dan Shaughnessy is one of the last vestiges of an era when people had no choice but to read newspapers, especially in major markets like the Boston Globe where Shaughnessy has written for over thirty years. Due to a limited supply of options, people had to read the opinions of guys like Dan. At this point we can fairly easily yada yada yada why that's no longer the case and breathe a collective sigh of relief that Al Gore invented the Internet.

Dan Shaughnessy is here though. He's here with his thoughts after two weeks at Red Sox spring training. These thoughts might not make sense in any coherent column, but far be it for Danny boy to deprive us of his glorious "picked-up pieces."

Sunday, March 2, 2014

TW42Minutes: Running Diary of the 2014 Oscars

The Oscars are a great celebration of movies with an affinity for boring hosts, Ellen de Generes, "comback" narratives (see Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey), and throwing shade on women's fashion choices. They are smug, pretentious, uncomfortably unfunny, and a great way to spend four hours once a year. The three of us have continued our tradition of keeping a running diary of the Oscars for a third year.

Stay tuned for live updates every twenty minutes throughout the night.

3rd Annual Live Oscar Hatery

7:56 -- Early highlights of the night, using the phrase throwing shade in a sentence to explain the concept to my mom, “You’re throwing shade on that actress by saying, how did her hair and makeup, bleh.” (SP)

8:01 -- This year, I’ve seen 12 Years a Slave (cried), Dallas Buyer’s Club (cried twice!), Inside Llewyn Davis (with Jon!), Saving Mr. Banks, Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Gravity, Hunger Games, Anchorman 2, and About Last Night. I’m going with the favorites tonight, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity’s Director, McConaissance, Jared Leto, Cate Blanchett, and in a raycess upset over Lupita Nyongo, J-Law to fall on the stairs again as she wins her second Oscar. (SP)

8:11 -- I’m that annoying guy who’s watched one football game all year and then shows up at your Super Bowl party pretending I know everything about football. I saw Inside Llewyn Davis (with Sean!) and that’s it. Having said that, I have strong opinions on all these movies. NEESONS AIN’T GOT NO STATUE?

I don’t know enough to have even an educated guess, but I assume the Oscars will be mad racist and give Gravity the statue over 12 Years. (JM)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jason Collins And When A Story Isn't A Story

Whether he plays or not, Jason Collins will make history when he suits up for the Nets tonight (right as I'm posting this he just checked in). No out gay man has played a major American team sport, and Collins will be the first. That barrier has fallen tonight.
Signing Jason Collins is a vintage Mikhail Prokhorov Nets move. The team, currently in eighth place in the craptastic Eastern Conference, is all sizzle only missing the sizzle. It’s an expensive collection of veterans - per Zach Lowe, the Nets owe more in luxury tax payments than any other team's payroll - led by a first-year coach and team legend, who couldn’t even win a personality battle with former head coach and future actuary Lawrence Frank, banishing him to preparing detailed reports in an assistant capacity. The only redeeming personality Kidd could conjure was in growing a kickass Bond villain beard. The team he has is undeniably skillful, and at one point featured five starters who possessed all pro talent, but that talent has not translated into victories. The owner is a Russian billionaire who, as of three years ago, did not know where his 200-foot mega-yacht was, and whose outer trappings really are that of a Bond villain. He does not attend the games (perhaps he misplaced his arena). The franchise, meanwhile, is nothing but a cynical branding exercise, which makes sense in a cynical branding exercise called Brooklyn. The aesthetic, in ever-chic black and white, is the literal embodiment of wealth yearning for meaning.

The Nets aren't the best thing money could buy, but certainly an example of money put to use. They just forgot one thing: the team is mind-numbingly dull to watch.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Protecting the Shield: Why the NFL really cares about Michael Sam

Sunday night, everyone found out what Michael Sam's friends, family, and teammates had known for some time--Sam is an openly gay football player. Sam's courageous decision brought much deserved admiration, but soon after being lauded, the ramifications on his career, specifically his draft status, became the focus of the story. This quick pivot away from Sam's decision is partially a product of our news cycle but was fueled by an SI news article, posted shortly thereafter titled, "How will news that Michael Sam is gay affect his NFL draft stock?" This article, full of off-the-record quotes from eight anonymous NFL executives and coaches, subtly explains exactly why Michael Sam's homosexuality will drop him in the NFL draft, costing him hundreds of thousands of dollars and hurting his chances of making an NFL roster.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Richard Sherman is actually a dick though

There's been plenty of coverage about Richard Sherman's post-game interview with Erin Andrews. Richard Sherman is black, talented, and arrogant, and people have said racist things about him. However, let's not forget one thing: Richard Sherman is an arrogant asshole, and I don't have to like him.

Many members of the mainstream media were disappointed, outraged, or upset by Richard Sherman's outburst with Erin Andrews after the NFC Championship Game. They said that it showed bad sportsmanship (he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting Michael Crabtree), winning without grace, and unsavory self-aggrandizement. None of these are false. They just don't matter. Richard Sherman has no obligation to be sportsmanlike, or graceful, or humble because he's a football player, and professional athletes are held to a "higher standard." If you're holding pro athletes to a "higher standard," you're a naive idiot.