Ep 142- NBA Arms Race, Aaron Judge & MLB Summer

 
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Ep 142- NBA Superteams Arm Race. Aaron Judge & The MLB Dog Days! Time to get Mullin about sports!

Listen to the podcast here; also available on iTunes

Recorded Friday, July 9, 2017

Hosts: Count Yorga & Jerkules

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Make sure you check out the All In Sports Talk Network, where you can find in depth soccer analysis with a focus on Toronto FC and Liverpool FC.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m trying a bit of a different approach to the posts for the TFQ Podcast, in hopes that you pricks will read it as well as listen to the episode. I bet you’re reading it now, aren’t you? Good. You’ll find that I’m giving you different content here to summarize the episode. I’d love to say it’s because I care, but somehow (only me) I think it’s because I don’t.

Here we are. The dog days of the North American sports summer. Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. Tennis. Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. Golf. Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. Baseball.

Sensing a trend? We sure as fuck do. And thank god that one of us gets off* on baseball overdose, or else, frankly, the TFQ Podcast would degenerate into two middle-aged stoners, one getting drunk all of the time, the other photographing it. Thank god.

*- Literally.

Okay, so this is from our Craig Sager tribute, several episodes ago (back when I didn’t finish these posts, thus it was never shown), and Yorga didn’t photograph it. But I’m drinking and we’re both stoned, so you get the idea.

But hey – what’s a little bit of clammy palm, panic-induced baseball overload without our patented visit into Count Yorga’s Mad Scientist Baseball Inner Sanctum? Thanks to us, you don’t have to know. We’re taking the first trip of 2017 into that laboratory this episode.

But that’s not it – there are NBA salaries, so much more – and the birth of a new pun that we’re excited to begin riding into the ground like a dead horse. You’ll probably hate it…especially after Mullin it over.

Think about it…and after Mullin, we’ll have you feeling like Don Nelson in the background.

Bedshitter of the Week

We try (and often fail) every episode to anoint at least one person or team an award that goes to the biggest choke job, or soul-searing collapse in recent sports. We were going to give it to the Miami Heat fans and Chris Bosh for a certain jersey retirement, but instead we decide to combine the distinction with our Weekly Woodshed, which recognizes the biggest blowout in recent days. When the Houston Astros wallop the Toronto Blue Jays 19-1 while you’re recording, adjustments must get made. In fact, the defeat was even worse than the score indicates, since Ezequiel Carrera broke the ’Stros shutout bid with a two-out solo homer in the bottom of the ninth. Houston looks like a dominant team right now; Sunday’s lambasting of the Jays drives that point home in a way that would impress Spud from Tranispotting.

Wouldn’t want to do this after Sports Illustrated predicted us to win it all…

Episode 142 is Dedicated To: “Now batting for the New York Yankees: Shortstop, number (one forty-) two, Derek Jeter, (one forty-) two.”

Sure, this was an opportunity to impersonate the iconic delivery of longtime New York PA announcer Bob Sheppard. It’s also a shout-out to this day in 2011, when the Yankees legend hit his 3,000th career hit in a performance against the Rays that was vintage Jee-tah, and laced with TRIVIA BOMBs.

Speaking of career hit shout-outs, the Beasties Boys’ “Sure Shot” opens up the episode because last week Ichiro Suzuki got his 3,054th, making him the most prolific international-born MLB hitter, passing none other than the man who Mike D has mad hits like: Rod Carew. Because you can’t, you won’t, and you don’t stop.

No joke – I was wearing this Beastie Boys shirt during recording as coincidence! (Shirt obtained at a concert at the now-defunct Molson Park in August, 1998.)

#PROPS & #DROPS

If you’ve already worked clicking on the fuckin websiiiiiiiiite into your routine, YOU’RE NOT DONE YET. Follow us on Twitter, where we will occasionally give a thumbs-up or –down ruling on something in the world of sports. We’ll hashtag that shit PROPS or DROPS, and then we’ll turn right around and set you all up with more of them in every episode. To wit:

I give #PROPS to Buffalo Bills wideout Sammy Watkins, who retweeted a quote from NFL player promoter Jake Steinberg: “NFL players have the right to be pissed. They get the smallest piece of the pie. NFL has $12B in annual revenue; NBA has $5B.” This also calls for a #DROPS to NFL owners yet again for their failure to do right by their players – not only by paying them more, but by granting fully guaranteed contracts. It’s a complicated issue, but it also isn’t. Just fucking pay them. I point out that what it would likely require is a push from the quarterbacks, because, well, they drive the league. Watkins’ quote was motivated by seeing all of the fat contracts NBAers have inked during their free agency period…except some stars don’t opt for that route, like Golden State’s Kevin Durant, who did what Tim Duncan used to refer to as “investing in championships” by taking a sizeable pay cut in order to keep players with the salary cap space saved. That seems admirable, but again, come on asshole owners, just pay the guys.

EDITOR’S NOTE: \If you don’t believe me about that Durant-Duncan comparison, at least believe Dubyas head coach Steve Kerr, who echoed my sentiments, barely 2 days after we recorded this episode.

Count Yorga gives #DROPS to former Cubs catcher Miguel Montero. In this case, our #DROPS takes on a more literal meaning, because Montero was literally dropped – from the Chicago roster. This occurred after a Cubs-Nationals games during which Washington stole seven bases against starting pitcher Jake Arrieta. Naturally, the instinct here is to blame the catcher for not having a good throw to second base to nail the base runner. However, Montero decided to point the finger at Arrieta for his reputedly slow delivery to the plate. As Anthony Rizzo noted after this debacle, not only is it very uncool to throw your teammate under the bus, they have another catcher, Wilson Contreras, who doesn’t seem to have the same problem with abundant base stealing when he’s behind the plate. Yorga empathized with two-time All-Star Montero, especially because the Cubs staff overall can be a handful with runners on base. (Remember – John Lester became so snake bitten by his move to first base at one point in his career that he flat-out stopped using it, and John Lackey is no speedster in terms of his delivery to home either.) I get that, and don’t disagree. But the greater point – at least one that manager Joe Maddon and GM Theo Epstein seem to have emphasized – is that the fact of that matter was made secondary to this unspoken rule: Even if it is true that your pitcher is largely responsible for those stolen bases, you don’t point fingers at teammates during press conferences. Case in point: Montero was released by the Cubs after the incident, and is now a Blue Jay. Memo to Miguel: when it comes to criticizing teammates to the press, shaddup your face.

I give #PROPS to writer Bill Simmons* who, in an article for his site The Ringer, made an observation that, though somewhat obvious, hadn’t occurred to me: With the proliferation of event ticket sites such as SeatGeek and StubHub, which offer a wide variety of “second-hand” tickets to sporting events at reasonable prices and right up until (and during) game time, season tickets are in some senses living on borrowed time. I’m not entirely convinced that season tickets will go the way of the Dodo bird, if for no other reasons than the use of them as corporate perks and/or sales pitches, and the seemingly still-large number of families that keep at least a pair of seats across generations. The latter reason is arguably less admirable, since most of said families I’m familiar with go to a handful of games per season at best, selling the rest for profit. The possibility of the decline of the season ticket also begs the question: How else would leagues like the NFL fill seats in preseason games, since season ticket holders are forced to buy tickets to each one – at regular season prices. Don’t tell me the league(s) might have to consider lowering the ticket prices for preseason games! Heaven forbid the product be reasonably priced!

*- Sure, Simmons has other marketable interests beyond writing, but after the premature death of Any Given Wednesday at HBO, his status does feel demoted to writer-blogger.

Yorga gives #PROPS to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros, who became just the sixth and seventh teams to win 60 games before the All-Star break. (The Astros reached the 60-win plateau while we were recording, courtesy that Weekly Woodshed.)

TRIVIA BOMB: This is the first season during which two teams have accomplished that feat. The other five teams: the Baltimore Orioles in ’69; the Cincinnati Reds in ’75; the New York Yankees in ’98; the Seattle Mariners in ’01; the Atlanta Braves in ’03.

Stats like that get us in a mood for…

Pre-flattop Mullin is cause in itself for mullin.

I give double-#PROPS to retired NFL lineman Ryan O’Callaghan, who recently came out as gay, and Cyd Ziegler of SB Nation, who wrote the exclusive piece that started with this ominous line: “Ryan O’Callaghan’s plan was always to play football and then, when his career was over, kill himself.”

Gives you just the slightest idea of what inner and outer trauma gay athletes must go through – be they in or out of the closet. O’Callaghan was an elite blocking prospect after dominating in college at Cal, but I still hope for a bigger star to come out as gay and really test the views held by so many homophobic sports fans. Also, I totally understand why O’Callaghan couldn’t manage the plight of overt discrimination that would possibly engulf an active player, but it would also be nice to see a prominent athlete come out while, say, in his athletic peak.

Extra #PROPS goes to then-Chiefs GM Scott Pioli for being so supportive of one of his players once they told him face to face about his sexual orientation.

Listen to the podcast here; also available on iTunes

NBA Arms Race

Days after we recorded (just racing through getting this post done!) Washington matched Brooklyn’s max deal for Otto Porter. To be clear, that means that Porter – he of 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 51.6% FG and 43.4% 3PT last season, all of which are career highs – will make $106 million over the next four years. If that feels wrong, you’re right. So much so, we don’t even mention it during this episode. (Or do we? I drink.)

During almost every offseason in recent years, NBA franchises find a way to pay max/star cash to a role player. One of the latest fads in this regard revolves around “3 and D” players.* Porter is such a player. Guess what else he is, on a Wizards team that boasts one of the top backcourts in the league in John Wall and Bradley Beal? The highest paid player. His deal had better feel wrong now.

*- Porter’s max contract is bonkers, but the deal Kent Bazemore inked with Atlanta last summer for four years, $70 million is somewhat proportionate. Bazemore went undrafted and is four years older than Porter, who was drafted third overall in 2013. Sidebar: Holy shit was the 2013 draft ever weak at the top. And holy shit have I ever written a lot here about something we very likely didn’t mention in the ’cast. Let’s just leave it at this: Peeps are overpaying in spades for the top few 3 and D guys available each summer. Hell, Chandler Parsons can’t even D (or walk without a limp) and he’s already richer than Jesus.

Each free agency period can be difficult to appraise in terms of value/spending, because we seldom contextualize them against other years, and the biggest deals are the ones that characterize each summer. A contract like Porter’s was almost the norm last offseason, when the salary cap reached an all-time high. This year, however, saw a normalizing effect. In other words, most franchises were gifted max contract space last offseason thanks to the bloated salary ceiling – Timofey Mozgov got paid, for Christ’s sake – whereas this season? Notsomuch. Remember the disappointing amount of blowouts Yorga and I bitched about throughout this season’s NBA Playoffs? Well, that made for a shorter postseason, which made for less playoff games, which made for less revenue, and a markedly lower cap than expected.

However, echoing contemporary big business, teams braced for a “decrease” in cap space. In reality, the $94.1 million limit of the wild summer last year still went up this offseason, to $99.1 million, which can be more significant than one might think. But teams clamor and wring their hands as though all hell were breaking loose, because falling short of a projected $108 million is tantamount to a loss when locked in the proverbial shark tank. Put differently, there were a few other eyebrow raisers apart from Porter under the new cap ceiling, such as the almost-hilarious 5-year, $125 million deal the Hornets awarded Jrue Holiday (the things we’ll do to keep two 7-foot All-Stars together), but overall franchises have already had to get – as I put it during this episode – Back to Reality.

But that hasn’t stopped any of the insane jockeying for position against the Warriors – who, thanks to the aforementioned bargain contract they signed with the Durantula, retained Andre Iguodala and kept a leg up on all those pesky “contenders.” No, there has been plenty of action in the Superteam area, with “The Dickpuncher” Chris Paul joining Mr. T James Harden in Houston, Gordon Heyward reuniting with head coach Brad Stevens (he played for Stevens at Butler) to set the Celtics up for possibly even bigger things next summer.

And that’s where the real gravy of this NBA offseason is: In the moves teams are making for the bigger crop of stars that become free agents after next season, most notably – that’s right – LeBron James.

Make no mistake: There have always been superteams in the NBA. But with the higher amount of elite talent available, the number of franchises with a foot in that game has increased. There are plusses and minuses to this new era…

What, you thought I’d spoon-feed your asses all of our podcast content? Fuck, no. We talk about that superteam thingy, and analyze a bunch of new signings. Listen up, fuckers!

Heed the MLB! – 1:58:45

You know what? Listen up for this shit too, bitches. (We love you.) It’s about time we got more focused on MLB goings-on… So, we do. We discuss the All-Star game rosters, and Yorga unloads a salvo of TRIVIA BOMBs that help put into perspective how wild June was in terms of power hitting.

One young and immense man set the Yankees record for home runs by a rookie before the AS break, with 30. He’s the inspiration for our first session of 2017 in the Inner Sanctum: Aaron Judge!

Count Yorga’s Mad Scientist Baseball Inner Sanctum

Have you ever been scared shitless? Count Yorga has. Search him – no shit whatsoever. Seriously, dude is like perma-constipated. He also happens to have a really fucking spooky laboratory deep under TFQ Headquarters, and in it he tinkers, and uses beakers, and thinks, and winks (even my mom feels awkward) and comes up with baseball ideas. So scary. Hold onto your shitless.

Aaron Judge is 6’7”, 282 lbs. Let’s be real here: LeBron James is 6’8”, 250 lbs. And in the NBA there’s a higher propensity to overlist height than anything else. So, the man who I refer to as having a force field because he’s so huge and powerful, as in LeBron? He’s almost 25 pounds lighter than Judge. We have a term for such a life form in there parts: Manimal. But what Count Yorga got to thinking about in his lab is the super-rare combination of mammothness – like, height/size – and a smooth, easy swing that still generates power – let’s say a natural swing.

Girth & Natural birth. That’s what Judge has in abundance. He’s the only position player in league history to be able to blend in with NBA power forwards in terms of body type/frame, yet he has an athletic and smooth natural swing that usually belies a much smaller man. As the Mad Count himself put it, “Big-ass guys who also had that sweet swing that makes a ball jump.”

So we got to

Arahhhhh this one’s a toughie!

, how many players over the years have had anything close to comparable to Judge’s immense build (girth) while also having the same instincts and ease with a bat (natural birth) that he’s displayed so far during his record-breaking (sorry, Joe) rookie year?

Well, in the simplest of terms, no one has. Not with such unprecedented success, anyway.

Keeping in mind that Judge is still a rookie with an unknown future and that the players we discuss are most of them legends, we spent this visit to the Inner Sanctum going through our own homework: Each of us had to make a list of at least five players, active or retired, who possess both girth & natural birth.

Yorga’s Hitters With Girth & Natural Birth

Ted Williams

Carlos Delgado

Miguel Cabrera

Giancarlo Stanton

Joey Votto

Jerkules’ Hitters With Girth & Natural Birth

Ken Griffey Jr.

Dave Winfield

Matt Kemp

Steve Balboni

My All-Drug Duo: Daryl Strawberry & Josh Hamilton

Hitters With Girth & Natural Birth We Thought of Before Assigning Homework

Frank Thomas

Albert Pujols

Alex Rodriguez

I’d just like to say, Balboni.

Shit We Wrote Down – The Notebook, the Sequel

Take this, Noah and Allie, ya freakin’ saps! One excerpt from our TFQ Notebook: “We’ve had it with Ryan Gosling. Dude shortens his release under pressure… If scouts kept saying, ‘He can make all the throws,’ then how come he’s never made any in the pros yet? Wait – Sorry, that’s Rams QB Jared Goff. Can you blame us for confusing the two? LOOKALIKE BOMB!

“I wish Todd Gurley was more girly, like Rachel…”

I digress. So we have a notebook, and whenever we come up with new (just as dumb) thoughts while recording the podcast, we write them down in our trusty notebook. Whenever I’m lucky enough to read my own writing (which is less often than you might think) and myself or Yorga actually remember what the scribbles mean, we’ll put them here, at the end of the episode. Congrats! – You made it to the end? Guess what you win: Another chance to click on the fucking…you get it.

You know how everything in life is interconnected? Sorta like Kevin Bacon? C’mon – everyone likes bacon. Well anyway, remember at the start when we segued from Derek Jeter’s huge 3,000 hit day to Ichiro passing Rod Carew for most career hits by an international player? Carew hails from Panama. I point out that the man who retired the last three Tampa Bay hitters to give the Yanks the win on July 11, 2011 and cement Jeter’s day in history was none other than The Buzzsaw himself, The Bat Breaker, The Sandman – Mariano Rivera, also a Panamanian. We’re basically solving the JFK conspiracy over here.

While we’re at it, let’s fix the souvenir NFL jersey problem. Why make them the oversized fit that you’d have when you wear pads? Make them fit like normal goddamn shirts.

You know who else knows fashion? The guys over at All In Sports. They’ve already added a slick golf tee, but peep this fine backpack modeled by yours truly.

Listen to the podcast here; also available on iTunes

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