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Warriors OT Loss Causes Two-Day Hangover in the Bay

In NBA on May 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm

By Jeff Gibson

The Bay Area was reeling Tuesday morning, afternoon, and night, after a double-overtime Golden State Warriors loss to the San Antonio Spurs the night before.

Like adults in their late twenties finding out their liver doesn’t work as well as it did in college, the hangover has surprisingly carried over to day 2. Everywhere I go, my Dubs hat prompts head shakes, displays of mutual disgust, subliminal “we should have pulled that one off”s. “That was our game to win.”

Mark wonders what went wrong. Courtesy csnbayarea.com

I roll into my favorite Oakland pharmacy and the guy behind the counter holds up his hands. “Man, I don’t wanna talk about it. I just got done with a fifteen-minute tirade.” We proceed to vent to each other for fifteen more minutes before I finally make my purchase.

On BART, the struggling rappers look at me like “Not today. Too soon to spit about it. Might as well sulk in these old smelly seats and scare old rich tourists.”

I see televisions with broken screens lining the sidewalks in front of houses — holes in them as big as remote controls.

Local radio stations, like 95.7 The Game, are wondering if the Warriors will be suffering the same hangover with which their fans have been diagnosed.

Even E-40 felt the need to tweet that the Dubs “ain’t no marshmallows mane!”

What you smoking, Mark? Courtesy godermag.com

But, Warriors. There’s one simple way to avoid going down 2-0. Learn from your mistakes. And quickly.

Most fans I speak with are questioning Mark Jackson’s substitutions. My friend and die-hard Dubs fan Drew See puts it perfectly, “Mark Jackson should have never put Curry, Jack, and Bazemore on the floor at the same time. Three mediocre defenders, and all undersized. It’s just common sense. 14-point lead. Disappeared. Like that. We played like the old Warriors.”

I’m assuming he means the Don “No-Need-to-Rebound” Nelson Warriors. See would know. He’s been a fan forever. He’s followed the Dubs since the 80s and finally has a reason to believe the Warriors future is promising. Like all Dubs fans do, what with plans for a sick new stadium potentially drawing high-profile free agents, in turn helping to ease what concerns most fans have for Steph Curry’s ankle holding up.

Giggity

But Dubs fans believe that future can also start now. With rookie forward Harrison Barnes and center Andrew Bogut playing with increased intensity, the loss of David Lee seems to have actually helped the team, dare I say it, giving these two more room inside and thus less focus the opposition can put on Splash Brother #1 Steph Curry.

I figured the Warriors would lose game 1. Maybe I was being pessimistic. But after getting so much closer than I thought we would have on Monday night, I’m more optimistic about our chances in game 2 tonight. It’s a must-win in my book. And a tied up series going back to Roaracle would give the Bay Area more reason to believe their team is getting better every game.

But it starts with Mark.

And as See puts it, even if the Spurs resort to a Hack-a-Bogut philosophy, he’s urging Mark Jackson to keep him in. “I bet Bogut could have hit more than a few free-throws in the last few minutes if he had a string of chances together.”

Bogut like Dubs fans hoped he’d be come playoffs.

I’m with See. With Bogut in, Dubs win.

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Why Are You Still Watching ESPN?

In Media, MLB, NBA, NFL on May 1, 2013 at 5:55 pm

By Jeff Gibson

Some people would consider it a character flaw I possess— the second anything becomes popular in America, I lose all desire to follow the masses in their blind passion for consuming mass-marketed garbage. Take Twilight, American Idol, Uggs, McDonalds, Sarah Palin, Bud Light lime, etc. Some people, like my girlfriend, claim I need to watch a movie/show before I dub it awful, or slip on a pair before I “hate”.

I wonder how they get people to buy this stuff. Courtesy zimbio.com.

Well, if you want to call it “hating” then I’m most definitely hating. I’m not sorry I can spot poop when I see it and smell it from eight feet away. I can judge it without having to eat it. I’m not a baby that has to put everything in its mouth to know what’s poop and what isn’t.

But I’m in my late twenties. I’ve got grey hairs on my chin.

What I’m saying is that it takes time to learn to spot poop. We’re not born knowing most marketing campaigns are designed to trick us. And that’s why marketing campaigns for poop are so profitable when executed correctly. Meaning, the least intelligent audience with the most disposable income is selected for consumption. Teenagers.

Jeter being mistaken for Robert Pattinson. Courtesy withleather.com

Well, unless you consider professional sports. But there are “teenagers” in professional sports. Most people call them bandwagon fans. I call them Yankees fans, Red Sox fans, Celtics fans, Heat fans, Giants fans, Patriots fans. Like poop, they’re easily identifiable. They’ve got on brand new gear, but didn’t wear a glove to the game and spend every inning gossiping about the cute boy wearing an Affliction t-shirt that went home with them last night. Or they’ve got a blue and white Giants hat on, flat-billed of course, and when you ask them if they’re wearing it to be ironic, they mug you and claim they’ve been a Giants fan their whole life. You smell poop. So you ask them what they thought of JR Phillips. You try players a bit more well-known. Robby Thompson? Royce Clayton? Alright alright. An easy one. Will Clark.

“You think you’re smart because you know all the coaches, bro?”

Poop again.

You shouldn’t be surprised to learn I hold zero respect for All-Star games, in any professional sport. They’re popularity contests. And who are the voters? The same “fans” who don’t even know three players on their favorite team but will spend their entire welfare check on an authentic Patriots jersey of a player their team will waive next season. Did I mention they’re not even from Boston? Nor the East Coast?

Even if these “fans” are informed, they get shafted by the mainstream sports entertainment outlets who interview “experts”, aka “reporters” on their own payroll, to provide pre-chewed fluff to boost ratings. Touting the same players over and over and over again. Even my girlfriend knows who Tim Tebow is. And she can throw a football farther than him.

Pop-quiz. How do you profit off of two bored individuals bombing a marathon and killing innocent people? Or a gay basketball player fighting to simply be himself publicly? Ask ESPN, their ratings skyrocketed after these events, after they dubbed cowards pointing cameras and pundits spouting hate “heroes”. No, heroes help others. These selfish people earned profits for your corporation — maybe I should have included this network in that opening list up above, right between Sarah Palin and Bud Light Lime. The same network that allows one of their reporters to ask Golden State Warrior guard Steph Curry, arguably the best player in the history of the NBA to get shafted out of an All-Star appearance, whether the team can compete in the playoffs without their “All-Star” David Lee. How misinformed can you possibly allow your staff to become before a player calls you out on it? Can’t prove it either, see ESPN doesn’t like to leak anything online that proves how awful they are. At least they inspired Curry, judging by how he played the following game.

I have a better acronym for this broadcasting network. BS.

I wonder how they sell this stuff. Courtesy usatoday.com

At least with Twilight, American Idol, and all that other BS, there are myriad alternatives. In the sports broadcasting world, there are few to none.

TNT, CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC (nope, owned by Disney, same parent company as ESPN). If you think these networks are decent alternatives then that’s like believing the Angels lineup is dangerous. Hint: you’re misinformed and watching too much BS. But it’s not your fault. Just like it’s not teenagers’ fault they buy into the misinformation, the garbage dubbed entertainment (in middle school I owned a KORN t-shirt, seriously). They don’t know any better. But come on, not all of us are still teenagers. Are you? (Put the vampire fan fiction down).

We don’t have to continue this nonsense.

You can start by turning the channel away from BS and other networks that show clear biases in their sports coverage even though they claim otherwise. It won’t be as easy as telling your girlfriend you’re not going to the new Twilight premiere, but let’s face it. If you’re a real fan of your team, then you’ll tell the networks they aren’t important if they’re going to tell you that your team is not important.

If you’re at a bar and BS is on. Ask them to change it to a local channel. Support your local affiliates and your local affiliates will support you, eventually. It may take some time and energy, but seriously, when was the last time BS aired the Oakland A’s? Or the Golden State Warriors? The Colorado Rockies? The Sacramento Kings? The San Diego Padres? The Seattle Mariners? The LA Kings? The Arizona Diamondbacks? The Portland Trailblazers? The Oakland Raiders? And when they did, they had two broadcasters covering the game that couldn’t tell the die hard fans the difference between Jamarcus Russell and Marcus Allen, before touting the BS’s favorite to win for the duration of the game.

Joe Buck wondering why his microphone is made of wood.

If you’re a fan of the teams listed above, maybe it won’t take much energy at all. You don’t need some network based out of Maryland to tell you which teams are good and which aren’t.

Highlights? Please, you can find highlights on MLB.com, NBA.com, NFL.com. Are you that lazy, that truly American, where you have to have highlights spoon-fed to you? We’re not the society depicted in WALL-E, not yet. Hooray for the internet!

Heads-up. Cable companies won’t make it easy. Most sports television packages come with local and ESPN together, without an either/or alternative. So write to the cable companies, call them and tell them to stop supporting the BS. Stop hiring Joe Bucks and Tim McCarvers to spout out nonsense to more informed viewers (demand the local broadcasters get to move networks with their teams, especially for the playoffs!). You’d think the local companies would want a package that excludes the bigger companies, that way they could hold a bigger share of the market, in turn growing, possibly becoming a powerhouse sports network the West Coast desperately needs.

But I’m no business savant. I’m just a fan.

All I know is BS is BS.

And I’ll never root for Boston.

Kevin Ware Is One Lucky Dude

In College on April 2, 2013 at 6:47 am

By Jeff Gibson

I’m not sure why I’m so interested in the gruesome leg injury sophomore guard Kevin Ware suffered in the Louisville vs. Duke game this weekend.

Louisville guard Kevin Ware after suffering a broken tibia. Photo courtesy us magazine.com.

All I know is that I’m not the only one: Articles mentioning Ware among similarly gruesome injuries in sports history are popping up all over the internet. It was more popular on Twitter than people making fun of Lindsay Lohan demanding prescription pills in her latest rehab stint.

Some fans want to see Ware’s leg snap in half from every angle. Others were happy with the quick, long distance replays CBS chose to give its viewing public. Others turned away, not wanting that image stuck in their memory.

The Louisville bench reaction. Courtesy fansided.com

I’m not going to discuss what makes fans watch these gruesome injuries. Every fan has her own reasons. What I’m more concerned about is why we are supposed to feel bad for Ware, or other athletes who’ve gone through similar highlight reel injuries.

Why do we gossip in such high numbers for the gruesome, but ultimately less significant, injuries than the slowly accumulating ones that lead to brain damage and diseases like dementia, Alzheimers, etc? Injuries that not only affect the athletes living with the repercussions of their sport later in life, but also the other people it affects: the spouses they beat, the children they abuse, all swept under the rug by the media because who Tweets about retired athletes with diseases? Especially when you could post the top ten most gruesome sports injuries of all time. I bet I know which would get more hits.

It’s that same argument I’ve heard over and over again. Just with different sports. The argument that fans only watch NASCAR to see the crashes. Or hockey to witness the fights. Baseball for the brawls. Why do you think MMA is so popular? Are you not entertained?

But I haven’t heard this argument with basketball. It’s supposed to be the safest major American sport. Minus the ACL tears, or the eyeballs popping out, getting scratched or rolling an ankle are about the worst thing that could happen to a player. You don’t have players trying to hurt each other, like in football, even baseball. And that’s what leads me to an opinion I haven’t come across yet.

Kevin Ware did this to himself. No one pushed him. No one landed on his ankle, forcing it to break. No one tackled him low.

Ware jumped to block a shot. Was never touched on the play. He landed awkwardly on his own accord. So, once again, why am I supposed to feel bad for Ware?

Louisville players’ reaction. Photo courtesy msnbc.com.

Yeah. I’ve never had my leg snap in half. But I’ve also never had an athlete’s health care.

Yeah. Ware’s dreams of playing and winning a National Championship have been crushed.

But he’s living a dream of playing college hoops anyway. Something many fans would break their leg in half just to have the same opportunity.

Yeah. That sucks for Louisville.

But look at what Ware’s injury did to jump-start the determined emotions of a collegiate team playing for all the marbles?

Yeah. He may never play again.

But he’s got a free ride through a collegiate education.

Hopefully, Ware realizes now how quickly his physical talents can disappear. That life’s not all about basketball. That he should prepare his mind to contribute to this world, and use this injury as a catalyst. Not many players are that lucky.

And that’s what I’m struggling to type out, but it’s the truth: Kevin Ware is one lucky dude.

After beating Duke, Louisville holds up Ware’s #5 jersey. Photo courtesy nesn.com.

He might not think that right now, but somewhere down the road, I hope he stumbles upon this idea. Maybe he realized it while his entire team came to tears for him on the sideline. I have faith he’s on the right track: telling his team to beat Duke with a bone sticking out of his leg. That made headlines. It inspired his veteran coach. And his dedication to his team resonated emotionally with every fan who read about it.

More importantly, it showed he has a brain. And hopefully he realizes he’s lucky to have that. Because if you lose that, then no one is going to give a damn about you.

Blame our society. The media. The devil. Obama. Blame whoever you want. But it’s the truth. Seeing legs snap in half. Arteries severed. Knees bent backwards. Broken jaws and noses. These all get more attention than blows to the head.

Kevin Ware on crutches the day after. Photo courtesy cbsnews.com.

Maybe it’s because there’s nothing to see after a concussion. Fans need evidence that they’re getting what they paid for. And concussions are so boring. There’s no blood spurting out. No bones poking through the skin. No teammates crying, huddled around the concussed. No one is praying.

But they should. The brain doesn’t heel like a surgically-repaired tibia. That’s science. And I wonder how long it’s going to take to get sports fans realize this.

Gruesome isn’t a leg bone poking out of your skin.

Gruesome is losing your ability to perceive reality.

Let’s change how we react to these two entirely different types of injuries. Let’s follow CBS’s lead and not invest too much air time on the broken bones.

We also can’t put these highlight reel injuries into perspective without getting stories about the affects of head trauma later in life. Where’s the Junior Seau story sweeping the media? Let’s stop brushing the afflicted under the rug and give the real gruesome injuries the attention they deserve.

Rickie Fowler’s Quadruple Bogey Inspires David vs. Goliath Inspection

In Golf on March 25, 2013 at 5:37 pm

By Jeff Gibson

I woke up late Monday, amazed that Rickie Fowler was keeping pace with Tiger Woods during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. I’d called out Fowler a week earlier for the flat-billed Puma costumes he dons, instead of keeping his head inside the game I know he can dominate.

No. 24 ranked golfer Rickie Fowler. Photo courtesy his sponsor, Puma. In case you couldn’t figure that out.

Well, here was the 24-year old, still down two strokes and tied for second behind Woods, teeing off on the 16th, a perfect drive down the center of the fairway, making my Monday off a little intriguing from the get go. Then Tiger Woods found the right bunker.

Now, I don’t normally root for Woods, just good golf. But I was still surprised when I didn’t grimace at Tiger’s errant shot. I paused. Was I rooting for Fowler to prove my opinion wrong, that he could step up his game without ditching the neon wardrobe? Was I delusional, hoping my insignificant message somehow made it through the ether to Fowler’s brain, shaking him, telling him: “You can’t be consistent if every time you look at the ball your pants are there you screaming at you!”.

Fowler didn’t get my message. He had on neon-orange pants and a flat-billed black hat, Puma insignia as always. But here I was despite this, actually wanting him to beat Tiger. Call it rooting for the underdog. Although it was more like Temecula’d-out David versus once-troubled adulterer/now guilt-free Goliath. Or like rooting for Florida Gulf Coast this past weekend, even though they’d be knocking off Georgetown, ruining my bracket. Thing was, it ruined everyone’s bracket. Yet we all still rooted for the Eagles anyway.

But on Monday, at Bay Hill’s 16th, there weren’t any winged birds for Fowler to find. His iron attempt from the middle of the fairway fell short of the green and rolled back into the water hazard. And this right after I thought I saw Tiger look over from inside the trap and seem to wish he was the one in the middle of the fairway, rocking neon pants and poking-out Bieber hair, sans Puma hat (no offense Nike). Does Tiger think in parentheses?

Fowler Fowlering?

Anyway, Tiger nailed the green on his next shot — out of the bunker, and over the water trap Fowler couldn’t even avoid from a perfect lie. Did Fowler ever have a chance? A slim one, I thought, until he lost another ball to the water on the following 80-yard chip shot. He finished with an eight, +4 on the par four, knocking him back into a tie for 3rd. Tiger parred, en route to another victory this year and a reclamation of the No.1 throne atop the golf world.

courtesy businessinsider.com

Watching Tiger cruise through the last insignificant holes made me wonder: Why is it that we fans root for the underdog? Are we holding out hope that we will triumph over a similar, all-odds-against-us situation in the future? Do we feel sorry for the lesser opponent? Jealous of the player(s) that the pundits and public dub superior? Do we just want to stir up the pot and be entertained?

I’m not sure of any of those. I find myself rooting for the Miami Heat (not an underdog) in their attempt at 34 wins in a row. But maybe, once again, that’s me rooting against the Lakers (see: 1970s Goliath, plus short-shorts). I also find myself feeling happy for Tiger Woods and his number-one world ranking (It could be I just don’t think Rory McIlroy deserves to be there). Woods has done some stupid stuff, but so have I. And I didn’t have a million plus people peeling back those scabs every minute of my life. Nor did I have to deal with the ramifications of coming off of steroids (just an unfounded hunch), nor the injuries that pop up once you’re off them. But there it is again, Tiger still isn’t the Goliath he used to be. He went all David on us (who knew a raised golf club could take him off his game for that long?). And there it is: I’m back to rooting for David.

It’s as if I try to find the facets of every player or team’s game that make them underdogs so I can justify rooting for them. Maybe it’s how I was raised. Or where I was raised. Growing up watching the crappy 1990s SF Giants, Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s, the Golden State Warriors, the Oakland Raiders (good riddance Tuck Rule), Cal at virtually anything except water polo, rugby, and research.

Maybe I’ve been programmed to spot the inferior, unfortunate, misunderstood, and/or ignored aspects of the game and enjoy seeing dedication to the underrated facets of any game prevail.

Like hearing my high school’s boys basketball team just made an incredible run to the state championship, ultimately losing in the final game to a taller Redondo Union squad. See, I remember my high school days, where my buddies had to stare up at the rafters inside their own gym and see a handful of cross country state titles smacking them in the face every practice, these buddies winning one game all season, albeit against a local team that only lost once all season, to us of all schools. How more Cinderella can you get?

I said the same thing out loud driving home the other day, turning on the radio and hearing the voice of my Korean-born buddy Arthur Ballesteros on 95.7 The Game’s Lucky Break contest, going from unknown underground rapper and stand up comedian to an on-point on-air bay area sports radio commentator right before my ears.

In case you didn’t know, my area bleeds this anti-Goliath mentality. And maybe it’s bigger than the East Bay, or the San Francisco Bay Area, or California, or the West Coast. And while the East Coast bias filtering through every major American news outlet inspires most of us, I think it also bonds us.

But what do I know about bonding? I didn’t read 50 Shades of Grey. I go with local writers instead, like author Joshua Mohr. Although if I called him a Cinderella he might try to get me in the ring and go a round with him.

Back in November, I remember telling Mohr over coffee in the Mission District that the SF Giants were going to sweep the Tigers to win it all. I figured Verlander couldn’t keep getting strikes called a foot off the plate. But really what I was hoping for was a quicker end to the whole thing. The SF Giants were David by default, but by the time they won their second championship in two years, the bandwagoners busting up MUNI buses threw David out the emergency window, if there was still any doubt. Hate to say I called it. But I did. Not the outcome of the World Series. The aftermath.

San Francisco city officials and public wondered why citizens would flock to the streets and vandalize property to celebrate a victory. But they weren’t celebrating (in no way am I condoning this selfish, juvenile behavior). The Giants were no longer the underdogs. Because once you win, you’re not the underdog anymore. You’ve become Goliath.

And what is there to do when David becomes Goliath?

This guy ever going to get prosecuted? Photo courtesy rsvlts.com.

Find another Goliath to fight. Whether or not one even exists.

So, who’s your Goliath?

Fantasy Football Angst Flattens Treasurer’s Bill

In NFL on March 20, 2013 at 6:19 pm

By Jeff Gibson

It’s envelopes like this one — those that taste bitter when you lick them even though the reason has nothing to do with toxic glue or the bleached paper — that make you consider how much time you’ve wasted into the whole fantasy football crapshoot. (Note: my girlfriend is somewhere nodding her head.)

It’s envelopes like this one — a champion’s check neatly tucked inside — that make you consider what could have been a great season. If it wasn’t for Scam Newton’s slow start. Or your overestimation of any Cardinals’ quarterback to get Larry Fitzgerald the ball, even occasionally. Maybe then you’d have at least broken even.

But you didn’t break even. Perdiste todo. Your team stunk and you know it. That’s what you get for naming it “Twinning!”.

Tom Brady and Justin Bieber’s hair #thingsbetterthanyourfantasyteam

It over-performed and made you think for a few weeks you had a decent shot at a playoff push. If it wasn’t for those damn replacement refs giving the game to Hawks, then your Green Bay defense would have given you enough points to push you past your division rival, giving you the division you rightfully deserve.

This doesn’t get old.

That game was six months ago.

And you’re still holding on to it.

Just like the pot.

Not that pot. The league purse. The booty. You’re the dude who agreed to collect everyone’s money. The guy they all trusted wouldn’t blow it in Vegas. The sucker.

Admit it. You know nothing about football. You can’t fathom how a call on the field can’t be overturned when there were in fact two calls on the field so therefore no call on the field. You don’t grasp why garbage time scoring plays aren’t given as much attention in the review booth as when it “matters”. At least baseball umps can’t completely control the outcome of a game.

Hey. Forget the refs. That’s not really what bothers you. What bothers you is that these envelopes should have been given out weeks, even months ago.

It’s that time of the year when you should be getting your bracket together or your celebrity league big board organized, but instead you’re licking stamps. You’re hoping Venmo.com is going to help next year. Then those certain league mates won’t have an excuse not to pay up before the draft. It’s an easy fix. How did you not think of that years ago? But that’s not what bothers you either.

It’s that you had to flatten the bill of your Red’s hat and be a dick about it.

“Hey, what’d you call me? Oh, well, that’s fair.”

You didn’t want to have to be a dick about it. But what bothers you is that they made you be a dick about it. How many texts does it take to get friends to pay you back? How many hints/nudges/reminders? Maybe you should write an article about it. Maybe that would help.

Yeah, but then you’ll get everyone who owes you coming out of the woodwork. Your buddy in Portland who never paid years ago because he started a super sweet rock band. Your commissioner’s buddy, his buy-in you’ve just considered a wedding present at this point. No, no way he even remembers that he owes. It’s a foreign concept to you. It’s like a plague or something with your generation. Like flaking. Monetarily flaking.

Maybe it’s too little for them to care. How much is too little to care about though? Five bucks? Sure, it’s like a favor. Twenty bucks? Mehhhh. Okay, twenty and over is a reasonable some to pay back promptly. But this is you we’re talking about here.

Are you the only one who pays your debts? Our country doesn’t set a very good example.

Hell, you could go back to flattening your bill. Just all the time. It’s in fashion these days. Maybe you’ll fit in. Remember to act all tough though. No one will know the truth.

Like how you spend more time on your outfit than you do your game.

Indians Post Craigslist Ad Asking for Help Posting Craigslist Ad for Pitching Coach

In MLB on February 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm

By Jeff Gibson

Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson has made a career out of going with the flow. The flow of pitching coaches Cleveland hires and fires like they’re on reality television. Masterson has had a new pitching coach every year of his big league career, except one — astonishingly, it was his best season. He’s the Alex Smith of Major League Baseball. An underperforming talent that just needs the right coaching staff. Ahem, a coaching staff that lasts more than one season. But with the Cleveland Indians hiring manager Terry Francona this offseason, Masterson might be wishing he too was on the trading block just like the soon-to-be-prospected 49ers $8 million #1b quarterback. Although he’s too cool for that.

Murica!

See, while Smith may have had a new coach and a new system practically every year he’s been in the NFL, he’s never had to deal with the turnstile of Niner coaches actually spinning back around and hitting him in da mouf for round 2.

That would be the left hook from Francona. Check it out: he’s got a history with Masterson. In May of 2008, Francona, then skipper for the Boston Red Sox, called up Masterson to serve as a replacement starter for an injury-plagued Boston rotation. Masterson went six solid innings of one-run ball for the Sox, impressive against an Angels squad that went on to win the AL West, and a noteworthy first big league stint with the club. But he was sent down to the minors two months later by Francona, to be transitioned into a relief pitcher. Francona thought his starting rotation of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Bucholz, and Tim Wakefield could duplicate their collectively fluke 2008 championship season. That experiment failed. As it did again in the 2009 edition, where the Sox were swept by the Angels in the first round of the playoffs — too bad they’d traded Masterson to the Cleveland Indians three months prior.

Hey Buddy! Hey Guy!

Francona overlooked/misunderstood what he had in the young slinger from Indiana back then and I don’t think it’s too far out in left field to assume Francona, with his second stint with Masterson, still doesn’t know what he’s got.

It’s a shame, really. After being shipped from the Red Sox to the lndians, Masterson has been one of the only solid consistencies for Cleveland. The 6’6” 250-lb sinkerballer has been the Tribe’s ace for the past two seasons, albeit after suffering a setback in 2012.

But let’s look deeper. Masterson has had a different pitching coach every season he’s been in Cleveland. In 2009, it was Carl Willis, who’s three Cy Youngers in CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Felix Hernandez are more treasures that fell in his lap than young arms he’s groomed into big league talent. In 2010, Masterson worked under the guidance of first time pitching coach Tim Belcher. Masterson went 6-13. In the following year, Belcher coached Masterson to his best season to date (3.21 ERA,12-10), only to resign at the end of the season. In 2012 Scott Radinsky was promoted from bullpen to pitching coach for the Indians. Radinsky’s coaching helped Masterson to his worst ERA of his career (4.93) and the most losses he’s suffered (15). Radinsky also helped turn a near twenty-game winner in Ubaldo Jimenez into a 5+ ERA, 17-loss starter.

Something about rocking a mullet just screams pitching coach.

Luckily for the Indians’ starters, Radinsky is gone and this season the entire Indians coaching staff has been overhauled. Their new pitching coach is Mickey Callaway, after a brief offseason interim stint by Ruben Niebla. Callaway is the best pitching coach the team has had in years, and the guy hasn’t ever coached in the big leagues. I don’t know how Masterson has been able to keep a level head the last three years. He’s a testament to the argument that there’s still class left in baseball. He’s more Alex Smith than even Alex Smith is. Although I hope he’ll get a shot one day at proving his ability, because his ceiling as a starting pitcher is ten times what Smith’s is at the quarterback position. He just needs consistency in coaching.

The secret to being a pitching coach you ask? Well, you tell the pitchers things and those things help to make them better pitchers.

Just look at the Oakland Athletics, and what pitching coach Curt Young has done for the organization’s young arms over the past decade and a half. Bary Zito, Mark Mulder, and Tim Hudson round 1. Dan Haren and Rich Harden round 2. Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez round 3. Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, and Brett Anderson round 4. Will the list keep going? Curt Young and other great pitching coaches appear to be producing successful young starters out of thin air.

But it’s not thin air. Organizations like the Indians just think that it is. When the fact of the matter is they are investing in young arms without the most important piece in that equation: a veteran pitching coach who has proven he can coach young arms.

The Indians have the offense to compete in the AL central. And they have at least two All-Star arms to guide them if they’re coached properly. But they won’t be. And it’s going to be another long season for Cleveland fans. Unless Mickey Callaway learned a thing or two during his time in South Korea.

MLB, Breathalyze This: What’s Yellow, Checkered, and Gets You Home Safe?

In MLB on February 12, 2013 at 9:49 am

By Jeff Gibson

It’s that time of year again, folks! Spring Training is just around the corner and baseball players are getting their last Wade Boggs swigs in before the season begins. Only problem is (as has been the norm the last few years) they’re getting behind the wheel after said swigs.

Rockies first basemen Todd Helton is the latest major leaguer to put innocent people’s lives on the line (this time in order to purchase lottery tickets in the wee hours of a Wednesday morning, because the 141 million dollar contract he signed back in 2001 wasn’t enough). Here’s a snippet of his public statement after the arrest: “I am very sorry and embarrassed by my actions. I hold myself to a high standard and take my responsibility as a public figure very seriously.”

Helton sure looks like he takes his

Helton sure looks like he takes this “public figure” role very seriously.

Seriously? “Embarrassed”. Embarrassed? Yes, embarrassed. The emotion that comes with rosy cheeks and a wad of tighty whities up your bum. Maybe the feeling you get when you ask out that pretty red head who lives down the hall and then she tells you her boyfriend is your boss, causing you to wet yourself right in front of her. Like if you stash your 9mm in your belt and head out to the NYC club scene, only to accidentally shoot it off in a night club, nailing yourself in the groin. Well, actually that might be pretty embarrassing. But at least that offense gives you jail time. And a suspension. Thing is, Major League Baseball doesn’t suspend players for DUI arrests. It’s not part of their collective bargaining agreement.

Point is, embarrassment is not the emotion you should harbor after you put innocent lives in danger because your inflated ego is too steroided out for you to care about anyone but yourself and your shrinking man parts. How about remorse? Or shame? Or regret? How big of a narcissist are you to feel embarrassment over a DUI?

La Russa now knows how stray animals feel after they’ve been picked up by Animal Control.

However, Helton isn’t the only MLBer to express this middle school-age emotion over such a selfish crime. Ex-Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was arrested during spring training in 2007, releasing a statement that read: “Last night’s situation is the opposite of feeling good. It was an embarrassment, so I apologize to anyone who is close to me, members of the Cardinals organization, our fans. I regret it, take responsibility and I’m not sure there is anything else I can say.” Again, an “embarrassment”. Calling this an embarrassment is an embarrassment. It’s as if MLBers are coached to give this same bogus answer. But at least La Russa figured out mid-statement that words weren’t going to help clear his name, or right the wrong in this matter. Although another World Series ring in 2011 seems to have been enough. Or the nonprofit foundation he’s set up to rescue domestic animals around his hometown in the San Francisco Bay Area. Do his good deeds make him immune to MLB punishment? No. Apparently, you don’t even have to act like you care one bit about your crime.

Who smiles in a DUI photo?

Point in case: Mr. Triple Crown & Coke himself, Tigers first basemen Miguel Cabrera had the audacity in February 2011 to swig from a bottle in front of officers, then exclaim, “Don’t you know who I am?” As if being a ballplayer meant he got a free pass to potentially kill the less fortunate non-baseball players who may have been crossing the street in front of his SUV before being pulled over. He went on to win MVP in 2012, shaming every player to win the prestigious honor before him. Even Pete Rose. Or 7-timer Barry Bonds. And Major League Baseball keeps them out of the Hall of Fame for gambling on baseball, and for taking steroids, respectively. But these “crimes” don’t put anyone’s lives in danger. Bud Selig, his henchmen, and major league ball players need to address the issue in their next collective bargaining agreement. Until then, I’ll be counting down the days until a ball player kills someone after boozing behind the wheel.

The odds are in my favor. Judging by this list of offenders the last ten years thanks to the Political Game. 2012: Matt Bush, Bobby Jenks, Eric Langill, Alex White. 2011: Miguel Cabrera, Shin Soo Choo, Coco Crisp, Austin Kearns, Adam Kennedy. 2010: Dane Sardinha. 2009: Ryan Ouellette. 2008: Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Furcal, Luis Vizcaino. 2007: Gustavo Chacin, Jim Hickey, Tony La Russa, Steve Swindal. 2006: Jim Bowden, Esteban Loaiza, Dontrelle Willis. 2005: Erik DuBose, Sidney Ponson. 2004 Rafael Furcal.

Oh wait, it already happened! Former big leaguer Jim Leyritz was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter when he killed a woman after running a red light under the influence back in 2007. He didn’t serve a second in jail. Only a year of probation and a $500 fine. This acquittal coming just days after MLBer Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver driving on a suspended license. Guess how many years this “average citizen” received behind bars? Try 51. The absolute minimum.

Ahem. Unless you’re a major leaguer. Or former major leaguer.

Honey badgers don’t look this mean.

I’m not the first to write about this atrocity in major league baseball. Bleacher Report just came out with one a few days ago. Last year it was ESPN. Before that it was CBS sports. I might not even be the hundredth person who has written about it. So why isn’t something being done to address this problem? I could care less about PEDs or HGH at this point. I care more about my safety on the road when I have to share it with major leaguers who don’t have to abide by the same set of rules normal citizens must.

Especially when the solution is so absolutely, brutally, truthfully simple. Call a @#!%ing taxi!

Not that kind of taxi.

So here’s what you do, Bud Selig. You grow a pair and make a decision. Don’t form a committee. Don’t consult your assistants. Or the owners. Put your fist down and doll out some business cards for taxi services to each and every player. I estimate this would cost about $300. Work to prevent this problem from escalating further. Not by shelling out fines and suspensions equal to or greater than the penalties that result from positive drug tests, but by coaching players on the options they have available to them after they’ve been drinking. Punishments won’t solve the problem. It hasn’t solved the steroid era. Help your players by getting them the assistance they clearly need.

Here’s what you do, owners. Hire personal drunk dial drivers for your players. Take it out of your players’ salaries. One drunk dial driver per team. Ten grand for a dude to chill out on warm spring nights waiting for that phone call. What’s that total? $300,000 total for all of the MLB?

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