Friday, August 01, 2014

8/1 August Kickoff Quickie

By the end of the month, you'll have your fantasy football team(s), college football season will have kicked off and perhaps some vacation. Not bad...

*MLB Trade Deadline: Love the moves by the Tigers and A's. Win while you can, especially for two teams qualified by (a) a very old owner and (b) a GM who knows the variance of the postseason.

*Clayton Kershaw is so good that he's probably worth MLB splicing off a "Kershaw pass" on At Bat to let fans pay to watch his starts. I would.

*Most intriguing MLB game of the weekend: Lester's first start for Oakland, on Saturday.

*Pro Football Hall of Fame: The New Class. Derrick Brooks might be the best college football defensive player I have ever seen. Michael Strahan has been as successful in transitioning to post-career life as any NFL player ever. Ray Guy was long overdue. Andre Reed is very interesting -- he's almost a proxy for the log-jam of worthy receivers who are still waiting to get in.

*Bills-Giants kick off NFL friendlies: Worth tuning into just to see how Sammy Watkins does.

Speaking of friendlies, there's USA Basketball scrimmage tonight at 9 on ESPN, if you need a fix.

-- D.S.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

7/31 End of July Quickie

A few notes as I catch up from a brief vacation...

*Wow, the "Kevin Durant to DC" meme went from funny thing on #WizardsTwitter to Real Thing. I think he ends up in DC, fwiw -- I'm not sure any athlete (including LeBron) loves his hometown more than Durant does -- but it's a LONG way off. The take to read is Grantland's Andrew Sharp, and also this FAQ from SB Nation's Mike Prada.

*A's trade for Jon Lester: Cespedes feels like a LOT to give up, doesn't it? Gotta love "championship or fail" by the A's. Flags fly forever, y'all.

*I didn't watch "Sharknado 2" last night, but I did follow the hysteria on Twitter and it allowed me to relate an anecdote from my vacation, about the moment when my two boys were in the water and a shark cruised by, between them and the beach. Unnerving, to say the least!

-- D.S.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday 7/27 Hall of Fame Quickie

I informally keep a running list of my favorite players of all-time, by sport.

In baseball, the list is topped by Ryne Sandberg, then Cal Ripken.

No. 3 is Greg Maddux, who goes into the Hall of Fame today.

"Peak Maddux" is the most remarkable pitcher I have watched in my lifetime ("Peak Pedro" is close, but I hate the Red Sox, so.)

Peak Maddux is what I imagine it was like watching Peak Koufax or Peak Walter Johnson. That is the level Maddux is/was at (although he was better, longer than Koufax by a wide margin.)

A huge part of Maddux's appeal was his average size. He wasn't some kind of hulk like Clemens or giant like Randy Johnson.

Maddux was relatable. He dominated with approach. Typically, "guile" is associated with marginal nibblers - crafty average. Maddux was "power guile," which is just about the best combination you could ask for.

He was brilliant. But he also came across as totally cool - he didn't ooze intensity; it felt natural, as if befuddling hitters and pinpoint mastery of the strike zone was you in the backyard.

Among the highest compliments you can pay a player is that thy were the best of their generation. That's Maddux.

There are other power pitchers, obviously. (In wondering whether we'd see a pitcher as good as Maddux again, King Felix - currently still in his peak -comes to mind.)

But no one combined a mortal look with immortal results like Maddux.

- D.S.