Today’s study is about bodies, and pain, and general “What the hell did he just say?” starting with Giants pitcher Tim Hudson’s instant analysis of the Washington Nationals, through Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga:
“Obviously they have a talented group over there, there’s no question,” Hudson said. “They have some great pitching. But come playoff time, talent can take you a long ways, but what do you have between your legs? That’s going to take you real far. And I think we’ve got a group in here that really has some of that.”
Pregame analysis has never been more distasteful.
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Now, pain, from Seth Wickersham’s Jim Harbaugh well-struck different-stories-to-verify-what we-already-know-about-him profile:
“A speech Harbaugh delivered to the team a few days later, entitled ‘2014 1st Team Meeting,’ explained his approach to battle. He usually writes in a spiral notebook, but this was typed and eight pages long. ‘I will be your alarm clock and wake you early,’ he said. ‘It can be a great temptation to rest on the field and let the opponent have a play without making him pay for every inch. I must hold his pain where it is. Mine does not matter. The punishment I inflict, his fatigue, and that he is up against something that he does not comprehend is everything.’
“It was vintage Harbaugh, sincere and obsessive, inspiring and crazed. And its decisive moment, as Harbaugh described how he fights in the trenches, contained a clue as to why a coach who has won 74.5 percent of his games might just be expendable: ‘My opponent is going to have to die. But does he have to kill me too? He is killing me. But he has a right to. I have never seen a greater opponent than him. I do not care who kills who now.’”
So it may not just be the locker room he is allegedly losing. It may also be some of his grip.
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Next on pain, Seattle quarterback and Players Tribune (a new Derek Jeter athletes unfiltered vehicle) senior editor Russell Wilson on the seamy underbelly of off-field violence and football:
“I used to beat people up. Truthfully, I used to beat people up a lot. Many of you readers probably think I have been Mr. Goody Two-Shoes my whole life, but honestly, I was a bully growing up. In elementary and middle school, I threw kids against the wall. I rubbed their heads in the dirt at recess. I bit them. I even knocked teeth out.
I had a lot of anger that I didn’t know what to do with. Thankfully, I was saved by my faith when I was 14 years old, and was able to start living for others instead of just myself. But if you’ve ever been at the bottom of a pile with me, you know that I still have a bit of that bully deep down inside—just ask DeMarcus Ware—and I work hard to keep it there.”
Truth-telling is a bear, and Wilson worked it hard.
“I can’t fix the world. I can’t fix the NFL. I can’t change the guys around me. The only person I can change is the one in the mirror. I’m not a perfect person by any means. I’m just a recovering bully. But if we start being honest about our pain, our anger, and our shortcomings instead of pretending they don’t exist, then maybe we’ll leave the world a better place than we found it. For those of us in the NFL, there’s no excuse for violence off the field.”
He is starting a foundation called Why Not You. Read up on it and decide if it's worth your time and attention. It seems so, but everyone is in charge of their own choices.
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And then there’s Tennessee’s Bernard Pollard to bring us back to earth, more or less, via USA Today:
“As far as saying we need the fans to show up and back us up, they've been backing us up since we've been here. You want to call them fair-weather fans and say they don't show up, rightfully so. I wouldn't root for this team, either, because we're a team that comes out and shows greatness one time and then we come out and drop an egg. We can't do that.
“I'm going to try to p--- some people off. We have talent. We have guys that can take the roof off and guys that can be stars in this league. It's time for us to do that. We're a 1-3 football team. The first quarter was . . . horrible. We sucked butt. I say that again, and I mean what I say: We were horrible. But we have a shot at being a very good football team, and I'm going to try and pull that out of all of us . . . Right now, we're doormats to a lot of people around the league.”
This may be closer to the Hudson analogy, to be honest, but you take the Bizarro World as it comes to you.
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Which is why New York Giant Antrel Rolle’s analysis of Prince Amukamara is so, well, football. Amakumara, a devout Christian who has previously said that he was waiting until marriage to lose his virginity, finally did, and Rolle decided this explains the Prince’s improved play, from NJ.com’s Jordan Raanan.
“There are a lot of things different about Prince. For one, he's married, so he's (enjoying some things that he wasn't experiencing before he was married). For a man, that could definitely help him out. For a man . . . I'm just being honest . . . it's helping him out. He walks around with a little more swagger, which is something that we need, which is something that we love. I think it all ties into one another, as far as him getting married, being able to (have sex).”
Later, Amakumara confirmed the happy news, telling reporters as he walked off the field, “Yeah, yeah, I'm getting laid. I'm getting laid.”
I wonder how Mrs. Amakumara feels about this.
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And as a break, we give you math, and how sabermetrics meet common sense to make everything better for everyone. From Barry Petchesky of Deadspin, explaining why the Kansas City Royals spit in the face of the new conventional wisdom in place of the old conventional wisdom which is actually modified new conventional wisdom.
“The Royals hit the fewest home runs in baseball this season, and are, in all, a terrible offensive team. Because of that, and because they have a terrific pitching staff, and because baseball generally is in a low-scoring era, they're in a very low run environment, which actually means that running makes a lot of sense, mathematically. Their break-even rate, using a formula from Fangraphs' Bradley Woodrum, sits at a meager 64.22. So not only are these Royals stealing bases more efficiently than just about everyone else (80 percent), but each stolen base carries less risk and more potential value for them than it does for any other team.
“Baseball's changed a lot from the era in which statheads started to pay attention to this stuff, even in recent memory; the leaguewide break-even rate is down significantly from its peak at baseball's home-run apex in 2000. It's sort of baffling that anyone thinks running is somehow anti-sabermetric. For a slap-hitting team like the Royals, stealing isn't just a weapon. It's almost a necessity.”
See? Everyone wins -– old thinkers, new thinkers, hybrid thinkers. Everyone except the A’s
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And finally, back to scatology: Interviewed in the new FourFourTwo magazine, Barcelona defender and professional Mr. Shakira Gerard Pique talks in a response to a reader’s question about being intimidated by Sir Alex ferguson in his time at Manchester United. Instead, he turned it into a revolting anecdote about the nightmarish visions of having played with, and against, maniacal former Manchester United star Roy Keane.
“I wouldn’t say I was scared of (Ferguson). Roy Keane? Well, maybe that’s different! I remember we were in the changing room at Old Trafford and my phone started vibrating. Keano could hear the vibrations and went crazy trying to find out who the phone belonged to. That’s who he was.
“Before we (Barcelona) beat Celtic, 1-0, last season, I noticed him by the side of the pitch as a pundit as we went to warm up. I hid my face with my hand because he still scares me. I was 26 years old, and I was s----ing myself!”
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And finally, in summation, that’s Hudson on bollocks, Harbaugh on being killed, Wilson on bullying (reformed), Pollard on hinder-sucking, Rolle on a teammate’s sex life, Amakumara confirming that he has one, the Royals on the percentage of base stealing, and Pique on soiling himself.
No wonder people hate math. It’s no fun at all.