Saturday, July 27, 2013

20 years ago today

On July 27, 1993 I was a teenager on vacation with my family at Yellowstone National Park.  I'm not sure exactly what we did that day, but I will never forget what happened when we got back from the park that evening.

Since we didn't have cable television at home, staying in hotels with MTV and ESPN was always a treat for me.  Late that night with my sisters sleeping in one double bed and my parents in the other, I lay on a cot close to the TV with the volume down low and took advantage of a rare opportunity to watch SportsCenter.  I remember whispering to my father (it was really more of a yell/whisper) "Dad, wake up!  Reggie Lewis died."

Somewhere in my parents' house I know I still have this issue of Sports Illustrated.  For the younger Boston fans who don't remember Reggie's game, watch this YouTube clip (and mute the volume if you don't want to hear rap music with explicit lyrics):

Friday, July 26, 2013

It's funny how people compare themselves to pro golfers

When I'm at work behind the bar during the lunch shift there is often golf on the television.  And at least once a day without fail some businessman guy will look up from his meal, see somebody hit a nice shot, and make a comment like "man, I wish I could drive like that."  Usually I just chuckle and respond with something like "I know, right?"  But what I want to say is more along the lines of "Yeah, no $#*% buddy, of course you do.  That guy you're watching is a professional golfer, one of the best humans on the planet.  He's 1000 times better than you."

Since golf is an "every man's game" that lots of people partake in regularly, it feels normal to compare your abilities to those of the players on television.  But in reality it's no different than watching an NFL game and making a comment like "wow, I wish I could sack the quarterback like that guy!"  That would be weird.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

The first high end restaurant I ever worked at was called Buddakan, in New York City.  It's number one priority was (and still is) to have an impeccable level of hospitality.  And while I learned a lot of valuable lessons from this, there were many times when it absolutely infuriated me.  Sometimes people who were wrong (and knew they were wrong) would complain because they realized that we would go out of our way to accommodate them.  They would argue absolutely absurd points of view, and we would still give them free stuff.  People who never leave unhappy will always come back, and they'll tell others.

My friend Cliffy was a manager there, and I remember him often saying to me "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."  This applied to the restaurant's staff as well (and just about everywhere else I've worked too); those who complain often get what they want in order to make things run smoothly.  My genetic predisposition is to refuse to be a squeaky wheel.  Where am I going with this?  Take a look at the piece I just wrote for Celtics Life entitled "Celtics say season ticket sales still strong, but are they misleading?"

Celtics Life has a a twitter following of over 150,000; it's kind of a big deal.  There's a reasonable chance people in the Celtics organization will read it.  My gut instincts and journalistic integrity wouldn't allow me to, but I wonder what might have happened if I'd taken more of a "squeaky wheel" approach to that article?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

NBA tanking: Historical data that shows it's a very bad idea

I am of the opinion that Boston fans (and sports fans in general) who say "all that matters are championships" are sadly misguided.  Most teams don't win most years, so if titles are all that you care about you're in for an enormous amount of perpetual disappointment (check out my article on why stats can sometimes be more important than victories).  Having said that, I think the Celtics should try to win as many games as they can next year.  I'm confident they could be fun to watch, maybe even make the playoffs; and that would be enjoyable.  But for those who believe otherwise and want the C's to lose as much as possible in order to get a lottery pick to build for the future, history disagrees.

The NBA draft lottery was first instated in 1985.  In the 28 years since it's inception, the team with the worst record in the league has gotten the #1 pick on just four occasions (14% of the time).  But since 2014 is a "deep draft," getting the number one selection isn't that important, right?

I researched the top 4 picks in every lottery, and of the 84 players chosen in spots 2-4 since 1985, only three of them have won a title with the team that drafted them.  In two cases they were dealt away and then came back later (Sean Elliott was picked #3 by the Spurs in '89, traded to the Pistons in '94, and later got a ring with San Antonio in '99.  Jason Kidd was chosen 2nd overall by the Mavs in '94, then eventually won it all with Dallas two teams and 16 years later).  The third example is Darko Milicic, who played a grand total of 5 minutes as a rookie for Detroit in the 2004 Finals on his way to becoming known as one of the biggest draft busts of all-time.

  In the lottery era, no players taken with the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th picks have ever led the teams that drafted them to a championship.  The Grizzlies had five cracks in a row at it with the #3 selection in '96, the #4 in '97, and then the #2 three consecutive years from 1998-2000.  They followed that up with back to back 23-59 seasons in '01 and '02.

So if a 2-4 pick isn't likely to return the Celtics to greatness, maybe the #1 still could?  That sounds good in theory until you realize that with the exception of San Antonio, no team that's won the lottery has ever won a championship afterwards.  The Spurs have actually done it with two #1's, David Robinson and Tim Duncan.  But of the twenty-eight #1 overall lottery picks, only four (again 14%) have helped lead their team to titles, and the other two (Shaq and LeBron) didn't do it with the clubs that drafted them.  Whose to say a draftee with rare franchise altering potential even sticks around long enough to make it happen?

Assuming Boston would be able to hang on to their young superstar, based on past occurrences there's at best a 14% chance of getting the #1 pick, and then another 14% chance he could lead them to banner #18.  That leaves the odds of "tanking" being successful at roughly 2%.

I realize there are all kinds of holes in this logic, and the numbers don't really work like that.  Not to mention that later lottery picks Kobe Bryant (13), Paul Pierce (10), Dirk Nowitzki (9), and Dwyane Wade (5) have all been Finals MVP's for their original teams.  But the point is still valid; there is very little historical evidence to support losing now as a means to a championship later.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One of Paul Pierce's #THANKYOUBOSTON photos is pretty hysterical

Last week Paul Pierce spent an afternoon sending out pictures of some of his favorite memories as a Celtic on instagram and twitter.  Each one featured the hashtag "THANKYOUBOSTON."  It was very touching, and showed his love for the city and team where he's spent the last 15 years.  I retweeted most of it, and you can watch a video of all his pictures here.

One photo in particular really cracks me up though (I added the green circle):

I applaud the message here, and it's great that Pierce donated money to have a medical building named after him, but the title of it just makes me laugh.  I wonder if he was pissed back when he first found out what it was they decided to build in his name?


Monday, July 22, 2013

Are the MLB steroid bombs about to really start dropping?

Major League Baseball suspended Ryan Braun today for the rest of the season.  Supposedly he cut a deal at the last minute, probably by ratting out others.  Many more suspensions are said to be forthcoming, with the Yankees Alex Rodriguez among them.

One guy who I can't fathom can possibly be clean is the Oakland A's Bartolo Colon.  Colon started to lose his fastball back in 2006.  That was seven years ago.  After several bad seasons he was out of baseball completely by 2010.  One of the first posts I ever wrote for this site in March of 2011 was called "Bartolo Colon might not be dead?"  Two months later I accused him of being on steroids after posting a complete game shutout for the Yankees at age 38.  My suspicions turned out to be correct, as last season he was suspended 50 games for illegal testosterone use.

Now this year Colon is back, and was somehow the lone All-Star for the first place Oakland A's.  The 40 year old is 13-3 with a 2.52 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP.  How this is possible without everyone else in MLB screaming bloody murder is beyond me.  Every time he pitches the opposing team's players should be talking to the press about him being a cheater.

This notion begs the question, why aren't there more steroid-free guys in baseball calling out everybody who isn't?  The most likely scenario I can come up with is that almost all of them are doing something, and that's kind of a scary thought.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Awesome Old Song of the Week: "Rush" by Big Audio Dynamite II

Big Audio Dynamite II was another band I discovered during my freshman year when I became a DJ at my high school radio station.  The group was created by former Clash singer/guitarist Mick Jones in 1984 as Big Audio Dynamite.  In 1990 Jones formed a new version with different members, and added the "II" to the name (later in 1994 a third rendition was called simply Big Audio).

Their 1991 album The Globe had a pair of hits; the title track, and "Rush."  To this day I can never decide which one I prefer, and I often get the two songs confused.  


Back to homepage