NFL16: History of the Decline & Fall of the Cowboys’ Empire?

27 Apr ............CowboysHelmet.wc.5.16.8.DukeHa.109k

Some’ll read this title and say, ‘Au contraire, Steven, the Dallas Cowboys are far from decline (the rise part, that’s implied (See; Gibbon)), they’re NFL’s most valuable commodity.’ In other words, ‘you’re a certifiable loon, Mr. Keys.’

The ‘loon’ line would be way off-base most days but when talking strictly dollars & cents they’d be right on-point.

Forbes last year valued Jerry Jones’ football enterprise at approximately $4 billion, twice the League average (Google). That’s alot of loot and alot of rise.

But there’s more than one way to catalog a cow.

...........Cowboys.cheer.7.16.11.wc.D.Wertman.thmFrom this viewing vaquero’s vantage point the gridiron guys from Dallas are in steady, uninterrupted decline, looking ‘all hat and no cattle’ as the sun sets on one frustrating, unfulfilled season after another, their last NFC championship coming in 1996 (v GB) on way to their most recent NFL title in SB30 (v PIT).

And the Cowboys roundup still somehow manages to pull off the America’s Team thing. Like “Shane” said, “the brand sticks.” Pray tell, why?

Uniforms & logo are classic cool and Jones has shown good sense to steadfastly refuse any aspirations to change by kids at Nike who seem expert at messing up a good thing (See; Browns, TB, etc.). Plus, nobody really cares about the AT tag anymore. Belichick & Brady don‘t and Packers’ fans want it too much.

But the long-running futility that’s displayed on the Arlington, Texas field renamed AT&T Stadium (‘14) is a major drag and hardly befitting of a franchise that had became the standard of success in American sport ever since Mickey Mantle hung up his spikes (‘68) and Bill Russell called it a career (‘69).

..........Jones.12.7.15.K.Allison.wc.thmMurchisons & friends (Hawn, Wynne, Lee) gave it life (1960), firm of Schramm, Brandt & Landry gave Cowboys form, early-QB Eddie LeBaron made it fun, All-Pros Don Perkins, Mel Renfro and “Dandy” Don Meredith made it close (Ice Bowl) and Roger “The Dodger” Staubach, Bob Lilly, Ray Wright, Chuck Howley & Dan Reeves got the 1st brass ring (‘71). Then Drew Pearson, Tony Dorsett and Randy White helped hand Tom and Dallas their 2d NFL title (‘78) and Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer worked the mental maneuvers to resurrect the glory in the 90s with 3 rings in 4.

Since Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin hoisted their last Lombardi 20 years ago (1996) the Cowboys have made the post-season but eight times and have not been close to a Super Bowl without having played in nary one NFC championship contest.

Twenty years is a long drought for any team but for the Cowboys crowd it must feel like the well’s run dry for a thirst that’ll never be quenched. Gulp.

And the worst of it is that charismatic Jerry who bought the club in ’89 from the giving arms of the RTC who’d intervened as then owner “Bum” Bright was neck deep in the savings & loan scandal, doesn’t seem all too concerned with Cowboys plight, apparently content with the trophies on his mantel, AT&T rental fees and the resounding cash-register ring he savors with every quarterly report.

..........Romo.10.13.10.bigcatsliar.wc.thmbWhen the ’Boys looked to be turning the corner onto Contender Alley back in 2014-15, compiling a RS mark of 12-4 and only exiting playoffs after a gut-wrenching defeat to longtime nemesis Green Bay in the divisional (26-21) (THAT was a catch, and one heck-of-a-catch at that (D.Bryant)!), they lost their run game in the off-season bidding wars when 1500+ man DeMarco Murray chased the bigger bucks (PHI) only to flounder in Philly and then stat-star but oft-injured, long-time Dallas QB Tony Romo (‘06) went down with a clavicle break in W4 as the club limped to 4-12 in 2015.

Tony’s a topper in the pocket and his jersey number surely retired one day but has the luck of a may-fly and crunch-credentials that are somewhat questionable (2-4 PS). He just turned 36 (4.21) and is nearing the end of a long, notable trail.

Because there’s a dearth of pro-style, proven QBs in NFL ranks and Draft16 will have to, in Gomer Pyle speak, “surprise, surprise,” to help alleviate that sorry state, Romo still carries a premium and has full support of Jones, as he should.

But while Cowboys are beginning to re-establish their trademark defense with key team ranks ending upward in middle-of-the-pack in 2015 (#16 papg (23.4) / #17 yapg 9348)), All-Pros Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Romo are no spring chickens and the ‘need-list’ in Big D is longer than a…chuckwagon chow-line at Chisholm Trail’s close.

.........RomanLegion.wc.StoriadItalia.1979.Mainz.tmDrafts are largely exercises in ephemeralia so don’t expect big reversal of last season’s 4-12 to a 2014 result. Boosting Dallas’ and every team’s chances is that the present state of (quality) competition in the NFL is probably at its lowest ebb in decades (See last season’s flops: ATL, NO, DET, MIA, SD, BAL, CHI, NYG, PHI, etc.) (See Also: NBA16) and anything is possible in NFL16-17.

Though Barbarians are massing at the borders there’s still time for Jerry Jones to put Dallas’ house in order and set ‘em again on that path to glory.

Unless he wants to go down in Texas football lore as the Romulus Augustulus of Cowboys’ empire, he serving as the last Western Roman emperor when the Vandals & Visigoths swarmed Rome (476 AD), he best turn his major attention away from the cha-ching ($) and back to turning this thing around but quick.

“Rome wudn’t burnt in a day (B.Hopkins, American Graffiti (‘75))” but when it was it wudn’t pretty and all the statues came tumbling down. Gasp!

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credits: Cowboys.helmet, wc, 5.16.8, Dukeha; Cowboys.Cheer, wc, 7.16.11, D.Wertman; J.Jones, wc, 12.7.15, K.Allison; T.Romo, 10.13.10, bigcatsliar, wc; Barbarians.Rome, wc.cca, 19c, EV.Luminais, BAL; Roman.Legion, wc, Mainz, StoriadItalia, 1979; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc.cca, 2011.
Posted: 4.27.16 @ 4:09pm; Copyright © 2016

NBA16: Cavaliers’ Key? Ceding #2 Star Some Needed Love

20 Apr ........Love.wc.11.21.14.K.Allison.464k

♫ “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It’s the loneliest number since the number one (“One” / Nilsson (’67))”♫

Every team’s got one.

He’s the guy (or gal (WNBA)) who tops his team in talent and on most nights tops the scoreboard, too. He attracts throngs of celebrity seekers, most of the camera shots and in the professional basketball ranks will rake in the biggest bucks.

He gets coach’s gaze for most the game and bears the responsibility of being the team leader on and off the court. When down, he picks ‘em up, when they’re hitting on all cylinders he keeps ‘em steady. That’s the expectation, anyway, of co-workers and brass. And he’s typically the go-to guy (gal) in the clutch. Swish!

He’s the #1.

But you don’t need to be a b-ball aficionado to appreciate that in team sport, no #1 can carry a squad on their back for long, not Bill Russell nor Dirk Nowitski. To win a title there must be skill at all positions, filled by both a capable cast of reserves coming off the bench and a stalwart set of starters to boot, and re-boot.

Most important of those leading men? The #2, of course.

.......Love.10.1.14.E.Drost.wc.thmEvery great #1 had a top-flight second, in compliment as a double-barreled bang of shooting or rebounding prowess, other times to fill the void, step into the breach when the main man has taken a tumble, gets the debilitating double-team or is just having one of those rare ‘off’ games.

Like the superstar, the All-Star vice-admiral, as it were, has a great responsibility, maybe greater than the #1 because if he slips up more than once it’s a pretty good bet it’ll be ‘Sayonara, Sonny’ sometime soon. Scapegoat‘s must be had, especially on digestible contracts. Gulp.

A short list of some of the best NBA player tandems-in-terrific:

Bill Russell (#1) and Bob Cousy (#2), then John Havlicek;
Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, then Jerry and Wilt (#1);
Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Oscar Robertson;
Willis Reed and Dave DeBusschere (Walt Frazier (2.25));
Magic Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar (James Worthy);
Larry Bird and Robert Parrish (Kevin McHale);
Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler;
Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer;
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen;
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant (or vice versa);
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker (Manu Ginobili);
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (Chris Bosh);
Steve Curry and Klay Thompson

On occasion the #2 will resist his better-suited but somewhat subservient role as a 2d-in-Command, attempting to usurp the #1 (See; Westbrook & Durant (#1) (OKC)), keeping a team in quandary-land.

But typically, the issue concerns a clouding of the #2 spot by any number of other talented yet supporting cast members on the team.

......James.wc.1.25.15.E.Drost.thmbWithout that solidified #2 the team will never reach it’s true potential.

Such is the case in the Forest City.

We all know #1 on Cavs’ roster, though, LeBron James himself will forever be semi-shy about grasping firmly his role, believing too often ‘‘tis better to give (assists) than to receive.’

LeBron is a 6’8” 250 lbs. strong-as-an-ox power forward who nonetheless led the Cavaliers in total assists 2016 (514) and apg (6.8), though, pt-guard Kyle Irving (249 (4.7)) suited for just 53 of Cavs’ contests. The game-averages speak loudly.

A top gun who readily shares the ball is very sweet, sensible sometimes, but not exactly enhancer of that championship-run, either, if done out of consternation, misplaced sense of generosity or fear of failure.

Who then is Cavaliers’ #2? That’s an issue presently in flux and unless worked to wide satisfaction soon, potentially derailing of a championship run.

Thirteen-year NBA veteran J.R. Smith (12.4 / 1.7a / 2.8rb (2015-16)) would like to believe it is he who’s Cavs 2d-in-Command and James’ right hand man. This outlook may stem from his Knickerbockers stint (18.1 (2012-13 (NBA 6th-Man))). But like Stevie Wonder sang, ‘When you believe in things you don’t understand, then you suffer.’ And sometimes Earl Joseph tends to “suffer” realization he’s not #2, or #1, for that matter.

More troubling for Cleveland would be Mr. Irving believing he is in fact #2.

.....Irving&Singler.10.17.13.wc.E.Drost.thmNot because Kyle is not All-Star caliber. He is (x3) and led the way for Cavs in opening playoff round match against Detroit, pouring in 31 w/6 assists and 5 boards in their too-close-for-comfort win vs Detroit, 106-101. Because Irving is a point guard needed to set-up the score (See; M. Cheeks) and if too tied to swishery will tap team synergy.

Cleveland’s true #2: Kevin Love, the 6’10, 250 lbs, power-forward / center who unfortunately has not been playing to that number often enough.

The 27-year old is counting on making this playoff run to it’s conclusion, his second attempt in Cavaliers uniform after suffering injury-exit in 1st-Rd of last season‘s post-regular play.

Kevin was top free-agent on the market two years back when his contract was set to end in Minnesota. Cleveland knew they wanted Kev and made early in-road and signed the 3-time All-Star to a deal which was extended last year.

On most any other team Love is the #1, the prototypical soft-shooter’s touch who’ll bang inside for the boards. Out of the same mold as Jerry Lucas, Bob Pettit, Elgin Baylor, Elvin Hayes, Jack Sikma, Charles Barkley and Dirk Nowitski. Big names all and big shoes to fill but Kev’s played big enough in his NBA career (2008 (UCLA)) to at least slip ‘em on and walk around a bit.

Get Kevin to cut down on the tres and he might lace ‘em up (439 / 5.7 (‘15-16)).

The Santa Monica (CA) native, Oregon-reared (Lake Oswego HS) and UCLA matriculee gave up a #1 status to join a Cleveland team needing a #2 to tandem with James and get that championship ring for himself and the city on the Great Lake Erie, a top priority for LeBron and owner Dan Gilbert.

.....Love.1.25.15.thm.wc.E.DrostThough James (#1) – Love (#2) pecking order was the likely plan but too often it has not been the reality in the 2015-16 Cavaliers’ campaign as other talented teammates seem all too eager to fill that key #2 slot. Nobody ever tried to move Scottie Pippen out his #2 spot and haven’t Kyle Thompson as yet.

Love’s certainly been playing with moxie enough. Making 93% of the RS slate in his two Cleveland tours (152 of 164) and is a Assc’n leader in rebounds (9.9 / 762 (‘15-16)). The ORB is down a bit from Minnesota days and season total has been considerably higher (1112 (‘10-11)). Fair to write that different roster make-up and delegated duties (coach think) play a role there.

It’s the notable downward trend in his scoring average (16.0 (26.1 (‘13-14))) that red-flags and offers insight into why Cleveland may not be getting all it hoped.

Because scoring is interwoven with team play, it suggests his ‘mates are playing more of a role than expected in shaping Love’s play into a form that’s probably not as planned and not to Kev’s nor Cavaliers best advantage.

Love’s not being paid king’s ransom in Cleveland to be 3rd in team scoring, a guy who’s averaged 26 per, twice in his 8-year pro career.

Okay, Kev’s the #2, arguably, and not meeting expectation of that rank, how do you get him there? It’s one thing to be tabbed #2, it’s another to hold onto it.

.....Lue&Blatt.1.25.15.wc.thm.E.DrostSetting that pecking-order is not often verbalized, and for good reason, so Love must assert himself, make clear he wants the job, can carry it off through thick n’ thin (latter which’ll test everyone’s championship mettle), won’t take kindly to usurpers and if succeeds gets good backing. Part of that process now means asking for the ball more often or, if necessary, demanding it.

The FG% is down to lowest in his career (.419) while FT% is one of his highest (.822). Anyone who’s played b-ball knows you’ve gotta’ shoot ‘em to make ‘em, not just to up the total but to find your rhythm, get in a groove (%). Feed the big man the ball more often and watch that average rise to a former rate.

And that’s where first-year head coach Tyronn Lue and LeBron play key roles.

Dishing out possessions (assists) is what James likes to do. I question the tack, believing that whenever this forceful figure gets the ball he aught keep it and take it strong to the hoop. Who’ll stop him? But “a rose is a rose,” as Gertrude Stein would’ve said. The die is cast. LeBron won’t change and can help Love, the team, by-way of his ‘assistance.’

Knowing your role is crucial when mining for the O’Brien metal.

.....straight_shooter.thmbSteven Keys
Straight-Shooter
Photo credit: K.Love, wc.cca, 11.21.14, K.Allison; Love, wc, E.Drost, 10.1.14; L.James, wc, E.Drost, 1.25.15; K.Irving-Singler, wc, 10.17.13, E.Drost; Love, wc, 1.25.15, E.Drost; Blatt-Lue, wc, 1.25.15, E.Drost; Straight-Shooter, produce-label.
Posted: 4.20.16 @ 6:32pm, edit 8:29 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16: London Calling, Best Pack a Toothbrush & extra Jim-Jams, Mate

16 Apr ......London.DD.bus.wc.1.36m.6.26.12.BH.Spier

Word came down recently from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the League is still desirous of and actively perusing the prospect of assembling a franchise for London Town, England (“Roger Goodell: ‘Realistic’ Possibility” / 4.5.16 / CBS.com / J.Breech). The schematics, so to speak, are being drawn for review and an owners vote sounds a likelihood in the not too distant future.

When speaking at a Jaguars’ ticket holder hoedown in early April the National’s top cufflink-in-management was queried about where the issue stood in terms of development and decision to plant an NFL team in the land of fish n’ chips.

Roger stated it in pretty plain speak, laced with some specifics and sufficient non-committal: “I actually believe that a franchise in London is realistic.” The two keys according to Goodell: “Competitive(ness)” and “logistics.”

.....toothbrush.paste.wc.thegreenj.9.6.8.thmSomething tells me once logistics get ironed-out (travel (Brits expect extended stay), scheduling, conversions (metric), language barrier (sed-jo͞oəl (schedule)), etc.) the competitive issue will find resolution as well.

Securing a viable and committed investment group goes a long way to satisfying performance potential of a planned franchise. If it comes to fruition, like any expansion club, London will be given ample time and then some to find its winning way with the added challenges they‘d surely face.

Two issues likely not to be discussed, not in public, anyway:

1) Oil to Burn?

Why now, to propose this distant addition to the NFL family in a call that flies in the face of a depleting worldwide energy reserve (don’t let the price plunge fool you), a problem looming large even as most everyone is hiding heads in the sand? With no major shelf discovery in 45 years, a squeeze on oil-shale that red-flags trouble, an ever rising demand (China, etc.) and nearly no movement on the alternative front (hydrogen, solar), less travel aught be the norm.

......Goodell.8.30.12.wc.thmb.SSG.T.Wade.USMA2) Mexico City

You can figure why Canada has not been a place for NFL expansion as it has with pro baseball and basketball. No real good comes from trying to topple the Canadian Football League (‘58). No such issue in the land of Moctezuma. Maybe it’s Mexico’s vast soccer set-up and love of baseball that precludes the possibility of NFL presence but it’s hard to imagine a franchise could not succeed South of the border. No hablan inglese?

Nevertheless, and thank heavens for ‘nevertheless,’ the idea of any city outside North America joining NFL ranks is a tantalizing thought, especially as the design is taking shape in the capital of the world-spanning British Commonwealth upon which the “sun never sets (Xerxes I).”

♫ Everybody wants to rule the world ♫ but will settle for wanting everybody else to want what they want. An affirmation of ideals as it were. I like football and like it when others join in the fun. Not exactly altruistic but human enough.

I can’t speak for our colonial forebearers, early adversary (1776 & 1812) and since long-time Anglo-American ally from across the Atlantic, but it seems a serious segment of the British consumer public is responding to the NFL presence at Wembley Stadium these past dozen years. Otherwise the League would not be feeling as chipper as it does about the prospect of a permanent presence in the land of Ivanhoe, the Virgin Queen and the Sex Pistols.

......SexPistols.wc.Riksarkivet.1977.TrondheimOne of America’s most notable contemporary pop culture contacts with London comes by way of HBO host John Oliver. John’s not so much a comedian as he is a testy traffic-cop on trends, some of which most certainly do need an accounting (greed). But Benny Hill, he ain’t, and that’s a bloody shame.

Birmingham-born John boarded the recently crafted anti-Redskins bandwagon (2012) as a critic of NFL’s 80-yr old moniker, making it unlikely he’d be among that group of Onslowians who are receptive to London joining the NFL club. “Onslow,” the lovable & lounging Geoffrey Hughes character (d.2012) on the 90s hit TV and long-time PBS syndicated series Keeping Up Appearances, was seen to sport a Packers shirt and personified UK’s version of ‘(Jeremy) Six-Pack.’

Oh for those racy days of when “Mrs. Slocombe (Mollie Sugden)” and junior staffer “Mr. Lucas (Trevor Bannister)” traded barbs at “Grace Brothers” department store (Are You Being Served (1972-85)) (before the politically correct bullies like Oliver were building shopping malls-in-the-minds), selling discounted (cheap?) laughs on bawdy display to a consumer public that had discriminating taste but was rarely imperious.

Count me with Judy Garland (“Esther Smith (Meet Me In St. Louis (‘44))”): “If there’s anything I hate, loathe, despise and abominate it’s a bully.” Hear, hear!

Once it’s in the hopper (London locale), next big question is, what to name the NFL’s hottest new prospect now that the Rams are back in the City of Angels?

......spank.VanityFair.thm.wc.6.6.1903Far be it for me to tell Britannia, that small but clouty cluster of islands & cliffs jutting out from that last major oil deposit discovery in the North Sea (’70), one that gave birth to Shake-a-Spear (de Vere) and Dickens, Newton and Darwin, Mick Jagger and Petula Clark, who for near 300 years ruled the Seven Seas, imprinted their language on every major consumer good and diplomatic dossier on the globe and have “150 magazines devoted to spanking (“Dr. Fiscus (St. Elsewhere)”),” what logo they should choose to adorn their NFL uniforms, if & when awarded said team.

But with a history background, decades of experience in the gridiron game (a word the Limey‘s will need work into their lexicon) by viewership and fun play, and descending from a parentage vested in the commercial art and advertising fields, I feel well qualified to advise on the subject, take it or leave it.

Forget-About-Its

The musings will start with the expecteds like monarchs (NFL Europe & WLAF), knights (of the Roundtable (Sir)) and probably wrap-up with the king of the jungle, the long traditional symbol in England, the lion. All terrific: Strong, relevant and about as common and non-inspirational as eagles and toothy mammals this side of the pond.

Possibilities

Montys

Not the “Full” kind like in the hit movie (‘97) but as in Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, England’s most decorated and distinguished commander on land during WWII. “Monty” was winner of the decisive desert battles against Italian and German forces (Rommel) at both Alam el Halfa & El Alamein (2d), the Italian invasion and European theatre closing Battle of the Bulge (‘44). This one’d take moxie but then Nashville’s NHL franchise is called the Predators, so there’s that.

Admirals (Drakes)

.....Drake.bowl.wc.thm.J.Boehm.LobsterthermidorThere are the Admirals of Milwaukee (AHL) and Norfolk Admirals of the Eastern Coast Hockey League but the British admirals that ruled the liquefied waterways shaped the course of history and made Rule, Britannia! the song of the seas. Nelsons (Horatio (Vice – Trafalgar)), maybe not, but the Drakes might sail. Not in reference of the Canadian rapper, not necessarily, but Sir Francis Drake (Vice) who after lowering his privateer flag went on to scuttle the Spanish Armada (1587 (Cadiz)) and foil it’s invasion (’88): Raiders, Buccaneers & Drakes, aye, matey!

Dukes

A British title more suited to Walter Camp football than Sir (knight), “Duke” was nickname of our most famous movie cowboy (J.Wayne) and is currently burned onto the official NFL game ball (Wilson®), a tradition that began in 1941 at behest of Bears’ owner / coach Halas to honor Giants’ owner Tim Mara’s son, Wellington “the Duke” Mara who himself was named after Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, most renowned for his victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo (1815). No hazard in choosing the Dukes design.

Champion!

Post-war, outside the realm of science (TV (Baird), jets (Whittle), computers, economics (Keynes), fibre, physics, internet (Berners-Lee), lava lamp (Walker)), no persons, event, creation of British origin has had more impact on these United States than their greatest export, The Beatles. More than symbol of an era, their music and personas set the standard, sometimes went way-out & wild but were always in control.

The four ‘mop-top’ lads from Liverpool dominated the scene in the 60s and individually stayed relevant into the 80s. But their influence went beyond music even before they became social advocates. The hair, cloths, manner, it all worked into the cultural and commercial fabric, Sinatra / Elvis fans aside.

.....JFK.stamp.5.29.64.FBEP.tmUnpretentious (John only stated a truth: “bigger than Jesus (‘66)”), ever evolving, innovating, setting trends and never following, The Beatles were the quintessential non-conformists, a way that can exact the highest price (11.22.63), though, the foursome would freely discuss the strong influence American blues and early rock n’ roll had on their music. I sometimes marvel that any other music made it onto the radio, making The Kinks, The Seekers, Peter Paul & Mary, Spanky & Our Gang, Dionne Warwick, Herman’s Hermits, The Guess Who, Simon & Garfunkel, The Fifth Dimension, Burt Bacharach and the like, that much more amazing.

From their Hamburg days to the slim suits set by betters Epstein & Martin, Misters Lennon, McCartney, Harrison & Starr would lead the British Invasion in 1962 (Love Me Do), landing by air in a ‘64 campaign of music, money & merriment. From 1963 until their break-up in ‘70 they reeled off #1 hits like nobody‘s business to help a still grieving America (JFK) find comfort in a rocking new beat that both energized and waxed poetic. Through their transformations from leather jackets to chicken-slacks to hippie-hair, no other English good or services compares to their body of work and cultural impact.

Churchill inspired on USA tour post-WWII but Great Britain never had goodwill ambassadors quite like The Beatles, likely never will again. After comment controversy, fired mostly by organized Christian conservatives, their kids and hate-groups (Ku Klux Klan) in US South, the big band conducted their diplomacy almost exclusively in studio record and interviews but the sway held swag and the sounds still resonated with music lovers, media and corporate keens.

.....Lennon.wc.1969.thm.R.KerwoodAnd though resented by some music lovers in later generations for their talent, success, visceral vibes and ♫ feelings ♫ that are largely lacking from their own toe-tappers and angry rappers, the foursome’s relevance will last as long as humans make music or beam their broadcasts to worlds beyond.

Because of that it is a word / image in reference to The Beatles and their large legacy that should adorn the helmets and all appurtenant for any English entrant into the NFL field of frolic. Anything else would seem, so-so.

Their hint-on-helmet would also be the coolest thing since John Lennon worked distortion into the opening of “♫ I Feel Fine (‘64) ♫,” which was the coolest thing since Judy Garland sang “♫ clang, clang, clang went the trolley ♫.”

How then would The Beatles translate into the commercial design?

To the colors and logo the possibilities are many. And that’s for another day.

On the team name, your instinct has you pursuing Beatles vast library of songs hoping to find a perfect fit. You won’t, not for a football moniker. And then the copyright question comes into play. Some are fun to consider, impractical as they be: Day Trippers, Rocky Raccoons, Yellow Submarines, Nowhere Men, Eleanor (Rugbies), Revolutions, Paperback Writers, Walruses, Mean Mr. Mustards.

......Beatles.heads.thm.2.7.64.JFK.LOCThe name: London Beats

The band’s name itself is reference to the new ‘beat’ sound of the late 1950s and early 60s. Add in the football meanings and it works the triple entendre, i.e. beating / besting (there’s a pun, Pete) your opponent in score and into a bloody pulp, figuratively speaking, of course.

There is an Anglo-American band of some prominence by the name LondonBeat who scored a #1 pop hit in 1991 with “I‘ve Been Thinking About You,” and were the NFL – London group interested in the Beats name, might have a British copyright claim on the tag (See; patent lawyer (US), solicitor / barrister (UK)). Even if not, it’s likely contact would be in order and handshakes made.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credits: London-bus, wc, 6.26.12, BH.Spier; Toothbrush, wc, thegreenj, 9.6.8; Goodell, wc, 8.30.12, SSG.T.Wade, USMA; SexPistols, Riksarkivet, wc, 1977; Spanking, wc, VanityFair, wc, 6.6.1903; FrancisDrake-bowling, J.Boehm, Lobsterthermidor, wc; JFK-stamp, 5.29.64, wc; Lennon-guitar, 1969, R.Kerwood, wc; The-Beatles, wc, 2.7.64, JFK-NYC-UPI, wc; Macroecono-lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc.
Posted: 4.16.16 @ 7:34pm, edit 4.17 @ 12:58am; Copyright © 2016

Inking Kaep Krusader & RG3: ‘Strange Destiny’ or ‘Experiment(s) Perilous?’

6 Apr .....Ben-Hur.wc.1959.Berti-Heston.1.6m

It’s a strange destiny that has brought me to this new life, a new home (“Ben-Hur (C.Heston)” speaking to a gathering in celebration at the house of his adopted father Counsel “Quintus Arrius (J.Hawkins) (Ben-Hur (‘59))”).

Or…

Life is short, art long, decision difficult and experiment perilous (Hippocrates & “N. Bederaux (Lukas)” in movie by the same phrase (Experiment Perilous (44)).”

Rome would prove a strange place for “Judah” to call home.

Formerly enslaved on a charge of attempted murder upon the Governor (his jailed sister “Tirzah” the true culprit) then freed for saving the life of an Admiral (“Quintus Arrius”), the City was capital of the vast Italian empire and base for the army which occupied his own land of Judea.

Likewise, the Forest City on the banks of Lake Erie, even with it’s industrious people who ♫ rock ♫ the cradle in the State that theoretically gave birth to pro football (See; Canton, AAFC, NFL, etc.), could not have been where Bob Griffin even imagined a residence 4 years back when his newborn NFL career took it’s first baby steps in our own nation’s capital, DC.

I’m the metaphor guy, what can I say?

.....RG3.Baylor.8.15.9.wc.Caesarscott.thmBut like the charmed chariot racer and Christian convert “Ben-Hur,” Cleveland’s newest add-on at the quarterback spot in the former Heisman hoister and Redskins’ hopeful (2y, $15M), Rob too may find his new home provides the place where he can re-charge his battery to power a similar rebirth in spirit and success, sans any grizzly bone-crushing horse-trample (See: “Messala (S.Boyd)”). Ouch!

The Brownies and their Super Bowl starved fans sure hope so. It’s been a downhill ride ever since Bernie Kosar (‘92) and then the original team left town for the Crab Cake City in 1995.

What may be more surprising than where Bob has ended up is how last season played-out in DC, or more correctly, didn’t play-out for Washington’s former starter as he didn’t take nary a snap in Redskins regular slate.

After starting summer camp fit & ready to re-prove himself (All-Pro ‘12), Bob got concussed in a pre-season contest where Detroit coach Jim Caldwell apparently had his felines go full-tilt and Bob got his bell rung hard. The Sporting Gods were not all too pleased with Lions’ decision-making and as they will often do sent bad karma the offender’s way in-season (1-7 start, W13 L-GB, Calvin exit, etc.).

.....Cousins.7.31.12.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumbThat’s all it took for coach Jay Gruden to insert the man who’d prove to be the season long #1 in Kirk Cousins who made most of his opportunity by leading ‘Skins to a 9-7 mark, NFC East title, playoff birth and Fatty Arbuckle-wide stats.

So girthy were the digits (70C%, 29t-11, 4166y) that KC & Agency have been engaged in an off-season duel of contract-swords with owner Dan Snyder over how much coin the new franchise face will collect. Corked tips, of course, nobody wants blood.

Considering that Kirk played for relatively (pro) peanuts his first 4 years ($2.5M) and that we’re presently and likely to remain in a seller’s market for pro-style NFL signal-callers for some time, the man from Holland, Michigan who’s set to turn 28 in August should get a princely sum.

Ask Bob about Kirk’s situation and he’d likely not begrudge his former ‘mate the moolah and the same opportunity to succeed as he received in 2012-13 when hope was springing eternal for the former Baylor Bear.

.....Manziel.8.2.14.ED.Drost.wc.thmb.headThe Browns signed the now well-rested if a bit rusty RG3 to a widening QB klatch in Cleveland that no longer includes Jon Manziel who unfortunately probably disdains the java brew, benefits & all.

So where does Robert stand (sit) in the depth chart?

Checking in with Ourlads.com “NFL scouting services,” Bob sits at #2 behind last season’s early starter Josh McCown (1-7, 64C%, 12t-4i) and ahead of Austin Davis (0-2, 59.6C%), Connor Shaw and Pat Devlin. Johnny ‘Uh-Oh’ Manziel (2-4, 57.8C%, 7-5) was released in March, maybe on his Tebow-esque techniques (2-4, 57.8C%, 7t-5, 37ra-230), sans the wins, but more likely on as his juvenile and addictive mental states.

Josh is bit toothy, set to turn 37 in July and has not made the most of his chances in five stops (18-39, 59.5C%, 73t-63i) AZ, OAK, CHI, TB, CLE). But he’s always had good size (6’4), mechanics and must be saying the right things because coaches keep giving him a shot. In his defense, the teams he’s led have been short on top talent. Cleveland in 2016 is not much different.

All that means Bob has a good chance of becoming Browns 20th (+/-) starting QB (10 HCs) since post-Kosar. On opposite end of success spectrum, Packers have had just two, Favre and Rodgers (Flynn 6gs). But that’s anomaly cheese.

.....Jackson.8.12.8.wc.K.Allison.thmWhether or not Bob earns the starter’s job in autumn, and I’m confident Browns’ brass expressed it as such and Griffin agreed, it will likely come eventually. Whomever gets the nod in September the pressure to win will be high at FirstEnergy Stadium, as unrealistic an expectation as that my be with the current roster.

The Browns have more holes than a nightshirt come April (I’ll be damned if I can’t find a pair of quality long-johns anywhere at any price anymore) and first year head coach Hue Jackson will have his hands full.

Hue will need to utilize every bit of offensive know-how in strategy and development to get the Brownies scoring game in gear. In 2015 Cleveland ranked 25th in ygpg (331.9), just two spots behind the QB-set Packers (#23 / 334) and 30th in ppg (17.4), topping the terrible Cowboys (17.2) and 49ers (14.9). Browns didn’t fare much better on the D-side where returning DC Ray Horton will be expected to shore things up (CLE ‘13 (TN ‘14-15)), coming in at 27 (379 / yapg) and 29 (27 papg) in the key components.

Will Cleveland draft a QB in May? Best guess, no, late Rd possible, of course. Instead expect them to plug top picks elsewhere, especially that the collegiate QB talent pool’s been rated shallow this time around. Rated, not necessarily reality.

If & when Bob does happen to win the starter’s job, big question on most minds will be what style of quarterbacking will he and his coaches implement?

.....RG3.LBoyd.MGreen.USMC-NY.wc.4.26.12.thmWill he work in the office, behind the line of scrimmage, refine his read skills and learn to love the pocket or will he go back on the road and revert to the run mode that served him well at Baylor and his rookie campaign when he scampered for 800+ and led Redskins to 10-6?

Wise answer: The former, no matter the learning curve. His knee can’t handle the latter, not for long, anyway.

The prediction: Something in-between, a half-measure which’ll prove impotent. But life’s full of surprises and maybe Hue has one or two up his sleeve.

Old dogs, new tricks

Bob’s still fairly young in NFL terms (26) but like Shane (A.Ladd) said, “Man has to be what he is, can’t break the mold…the brand sticks.” That’s a high drama and flowed from a situation much hairier than Bob’s, but it does hold true most often for mature athletes, as well.

Once a flash-QB, always a flash QB.

There’s a stubbornness, an arrogance-in-athleticism, fed by the occasional burst of brilliance or playoff run, that will likely inhibit the conversion from run-under-pressure to cool-as-cucumber in the pocket. Those hunker skills are honed over time, a process starting in Jr. High when you learn to brave the first hard hits and fight natural instinct to rabbit. It’s a long, painful, educational process, not something you just pick-up spending a few extra hours in the film room on Wednesday before your next shoe-wear photo-shoot. Only those dedicated to the switch will survive and thrive. Maybe that’s Bob.

.....Kaep.2.3.13.wc.cca.Au.Kirk.thumbAnd it’s why Denver might be wiser to take a pass on the Colin Kaepernick deal, Super defense aside. But then maybe finding, fashioning that elusive good fit ain’t exactly keeping John Elway awake at nights anyway, feeling his oats & all after piecing together a team that made one of the best championship runs in NFL annals.

After letting Peyton retire (showing him the door?), arguably greatest QB in history, one I believe wanted to be ‘wanted back’ for one more, hopefully healthy and celebratory season in Broncos blue & orange (It’s just not the same on the links), and then parting ways with a ready-man starter in Brock Osweiler who should’ve been reminded that he will not be passing to J.J. Watt in Houston colors, the Mustangs seem…content.

Denver’s defense has Kaep Krusader déjà vu-ing “all over again (SF 2012-14).” And he’s got some call to feel cocky: He’s been there before (two NFCCs (SB47)), is not careless with the ball (brass love that) and he’s presently shopping his services in a seller’s market for established QBs.

But while Kaepernick will do his best to bust through brick walls, he’s so cautious, slow-to-read routes he won’t easily thread-the-needle (59-C%), is dealing with the #2 franchise in negotiation wherewithal (GB #1) and tenses-up in the red-zone (See; SB47 & NFCC14). Guy’s still a project of sorts and then not exactly made from the Denver Broncos‘ mold of quarterbacking.

Broncos clearly have the edge here, budget or not. Kaep & Co. are well advised to give some ($) now to make the deal, then make it up later, if he can win over the guys in the locker-room who already got their rings (SB50). Keep in mind new Denver QB in Mark Sanchez has guided teams to Conference games himself (Jets), though, like Colin (10-14 post-NFCC14), has looked more like a caretaker-QB (PHI 4-6) than a take-care-of-business field general (See: Patton).

What’s more, the run-around routine won’t often catch Ds off guard anymore.

.....Newton.2011.wc.thm.Pantherfan11Sure, their ‘athleticism’ will see they break off a 80-yarder now & then (See: Mariota), and it’s most successful adherent to date in Cam Newton did lead Carolina to only their 2d Super Bowl (50) last February, garnering the MVP in the process.

But Carolina got thumped like San Fran (SB47), before the lights went out.

Camster-the-Hamster is a special player. His size (6’6”) and not yet fully unrealized pass potential will extend his tenure beyond most (See; Young, Vick, Tebow, Manziel), that is if his ACLs can take the add’l tackles to which run-QB subjects himself. And like other flash-men, Sir-Runs-Alot is plagued by the same foible: Red zone funk: An indecisiveness wherever advanced reading skill is required (SB50). A deficiency Elway and Jackson may compensate but never overcome: Old dogs, new tricks.

And it’s why a setting like Cleveland is a good fit for RG3.

If Browns’ front-office can muster the patience, a rare virtù these days in any operation, a mindset that allows Bob to develop his own patience in the pocket, and then fashion an O-line that can protect (53sk 2015), find a pair or two of go-to hands that can assist and a ground-man who “run(s) to daylight (See; NFL Draft.16),” this “experiment” can be less “perilous” and more profitable for the history-laden franchise on the lake.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credit: Ben-Hur, Berti-Heston, MGM, 1959, wc; R.Griffin, wc, 8.15.9, Caesarscott; K.Cousins, wc, 7.31.12, K.Allison; J.Manziel, 8.2.14, ED.Drost, wc; H.Jackson, wc, K.Allison, 8.12.8; RG3-Lboyd-Mgreen, wc, USMC-NY, 4.26.12; C.Kaepernick, wc, 2.3.13, Au.Kirk; C.Newton, wc, Pantherfan11, 2011; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc-11;
Posted: 4.6.16 @ 3:05pm EST; Copyright © 2016

Tim Duncan: Spurs ‘Peerless Leader’ In the Paint

31 Mar ....Duncan.1.28.07.M.Sandoval.wc.49k

Roundball Recovery Act

They were giants of the sporting world, names like George Mikan, Bob Pettit, Bill Russell, Wilt the Stilt, Truck, Moses, The Enforcer, Mr. Mean, the Big O, the Big E and the Big Redhead.

Basketball’s leviathans in the low post.

Fans thrilled at their combination of size, strength and agility. The battles they waged under the boards defined the National Basketball Association and made sport headlines for over 50 years.

But change is the constant in a consumer democracy.

The Chuck Taylor high-tops and short-shorts are long gone, replaced with hideous foot-wear and a plethora of prison-yard tattoos. Historic but cramped old arenas gave-way to bigger & brighter venues with better seats, paint-happy hardwood and $14.50 nachos.

And no change has been greater than disappearance of the inside game. In particular, the demise of the dominant center and power-forward.

....Duncan.CC-BY-2.0.wc.12.05.thmDifferent from women’s basketball where the tall pivot player still has a place, the menacing man in the middle has become an endangered species.

Since the days Kareem Abdul-Jabbar donned the Lakers’ royal regalia you could count on two hands the number of big men who’ve dominated down low: Robert Parish, Larry Bird, Kev McHale, Bill Laimbeer, Shaq, Magic, Dennis Rodman, Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard nearly fill out a very short list.

The culprit: NBA’s adoption of the 3-point shot.

The National was sitting pretty in the late 70s. In a State-sponsored legal structure that today embraces monopoly, the Assc’n siphoned what liquidity was left in it’s only competitor, the 10-year old ABA (‘67-76)), negotiated lucrative TV / merchandise deals but then started to get cute in the marketing department.

In 1979 they reached into their former rival’s bag of tricks (the ABA employed the dunk and the tres in 1968 “as marketing tool(s) to compete with the NBA (Wikipedia)”) and pulled out the three-point shot to prime the pump.

And b-ball’s never been the same.

There had been a symmetry, a yin & yang that worked a balance in roundball.

....Cowens.wc.1976.TSN.thm.R.KingsburyFans were treated to two theaters of play: one inside where bruisers like Thurmond, Dantley, Unseld, Reed, Walton, Lanier, Cowens, Maurice Lucas, Gilmore and Issel waged war; the other, out on the key where long-rangers David Thompson, West, Bing, Frazier, “Pistol” Pete Maravich, George “Iceman” Gervin, Brian Winters, James Worthy and Vinnie “Microwave” Johnson could heat up in a hurry. And then marvelous middle-men like Bobby Dandridge, Marcus Johnson and Bobby Jones who could seemingly do it all. A veritable smorgasbord of spectacular.

As long as both theaters had direction there was a symbiosis and the houses were packed. No need to bait with famble (fantasy – gamble), no talk of tank and the game flourished for all ages.

By the mid-90s the physical, combative play which had made the sport so colorful simply vanished. Centers and power forwards devolved into mere supporting cast. Much of the action moved away from the paint and out to the key where guards and wannabes directed the flow and became the stars.

The spotlight swung away from bangers and over to finesse men like Erving and Jordan as the 3-pointer and un-contested dunk became signature plays.

As most NBA rookies are today on the 3-yr maturation plan they’ll not develop the wide range of skills that stylers like Dr. J and Michael would eventually learn.

“You don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle (Seinfeld).”

.....Durant.thm.OKC.K.Allison.2.1.14.wcThey don’t sell the game anymore, they sell celebrity, air-time (TV / Twitter), gambling (FanDuel / DraftKings) and merchandise (cantaloupe-sized driver heads and wicked metal bats in Little League (Outside the Lines (Disney); 3.1.11)). If it generates a revenue stream then history, integrity, quality and sometimes safety it would appear, get swept aside until uproar begins.

When big-shots like Kev Love (6’10) and Kev Durant (6’9) spend half their time on the perimeter, averaging around 400 three’s per season, you know the game’s gone soft. Both should live inside 15 feet. Instead, recent seasons have seen a steady up-tick in their 3PAs, surprising, given the fine shooting touch both possess when not launching long ones (FG%: .444 (.360) / .483 (.380)).

Prime example of a tamer NBA: In a 2012 post-season game between the Lakers and Thunder (G2), with 6 ticks left and down by just one, rather than design a drive to the hoop for two, maybe draw the foul for three and even on a 2-pt miss, possessing good rebound capability (Gasol / Bynum), coach Mike Brown opts for the low-% 3-pt’er that Steve Blake rims out. Both got lambasted post-game but what the Lakers did was SOP in today’s basketball.

There are men who keep alive dynamic play in the paint like Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Kev Love (imagine if he‘d forget the tres), DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond and forward Blake Griffin: A dying breed.

.....Chance.1913.Bain-News.LoC.thmClosing in on 40 (4.25.76), the former Demon Deacon (See Also; Chris Paul) and U.S. Virgin Islands native has seen his scoring average dip under double-digits (8.5) and minutes below the 25 mark (24.9 (55g)) for first time in his illustrious 19-year NBA career. But like the original “Peerless Leader” in Cubs’ champion Mgr/ 1B’er Frank “Husk” Chance (1898 – 1914), the savvy & strength Duncan imbues in his Spurs team down the stretch, a roster with no shortage of experience in fellow gray-beards in Tony Parker (14), Manu Ginobili (13), Andre Miller (16), Kev Martin (11), David West (12), Matt Bonner (11) and Boris Diaw (11), may make-up for the decline in mobility & capacity that father time always exacts from the athlete who loves the game and goes long.

For the 3-pointer, it’s time it was bounced outta’ the building. Send it, along with dunk contests and home run derby back to Cartoon Country, i.e., Saturday morning TV. That’s not likely to happen but seeing as how the youthenized NBA has no use for the balanced game, maybe a new adult pro league would. Then watch the roundball renaissance begin.

Don’t ever forget this pointer: It’s their business but it’s our game.

.....straight_shooter.thmbSteven Keys
Straight Shooter
Photo credit: T.Duncan, wc, M.Sandoval, 1.28.07; Duncan, 12.05, CC-BY-2.0, wc; D.Cowens, 1976, TSN, R.Kingsbury, wc; K.Durant, wc, OKC, K.Allison, 2.1.14; F.Chance, wc, Bain-News, 1913, LoC; Straight-Shooter-produce label.
Posted: 3.31.16 @ 5;16pmEST; Copyright © 2016

NBA16: Curry Tres and How the ABA Got the Last Laugh

31 Mar ......ABA.Darden.Moe,1970.wc.209k

Poison Pill

A metaphorical meeting between the official ABA (Spaulding) and NBA (Wilson) game balls sometime in early 1976:

NBA: ‘Hey, ABBA, you look kinda’ down, like you need a needle & air but bad. You must’ve heard the news. It’s in the hopper, the merger’s set.

ABA: Merger? That’s cute. More like leveraged buyout, no? I’m just sick over it, like I was bounced around a discothèque for days. Ten years, good times, sustainable profits, the Nets could take Rick Barry and those Warriors easy, hell, the Celtics in six. What was it all for?

......ABA.J.Hadnot.1967.wc.323k.Oaks.thmNBA: For? Are you kidding me? So we could close off avenues of profit and pick your bones clean for expansion, that’s what for. You know the score, competition will not be tolerated. Look at baseball, the WFL, it’s the American way: Monopoly. Didn’t you see Rollerball? The Suits & Skirts in DC are trained seals, the Robes, too. Throw ‘em some smelt ($), give ‘em a bouncy ball to perch on and it’s all set.

ABA: What about the Founding Fathers, The Wealth of Nations (A.Smith), competition in the marketplace, Lincoln, FDR, democracy?

NBA: That‘s political. This is business, baby. Whoever has the jack gets to make more jack. And the faux fan, he doesn’t even care. And he’s majority. They wouldn’t make a peep if it meant missing McDonald’s or a Starsky & Hutch. Laverne & Shirley, maybe. When’d you fall off the rubber truck?

ABA: At least some of us will ♫ survive ♫. Of all four clubs, Spurs, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, I figure the Nuggets…no, the Nets…the Nets will really shine in the National. They’ve been a dynasty here since 1974. Watch n’ see.

NBA: Maybe. That Dr. J is something else, David Thompson, too.

ABA: Could you do me one favor, Nash, it’s no biggie.

NBA: Name it, amigo.

.....ABA.R.Taylor.wc.thm.WA-Caps.1969ABA (Sniffle): Could you take something on, something we in the American have really taken pride in, something that set us apart.

NBA: The ball, that red, white & blue pom-pon? You gotta’ be kidding? Sorry, no offense, ABBA, you know I love you, all balls, any shape, size or color, but c’mon.

ABA: Are ya’ done? Geez. No, not the ball.

NBA: What then!?

ABA: The 3-point shot. It’d mean alot to us. And it’s kitschy.

NBA: Kitschy, huh? Kind of a gimmick I‘d say…hey, take it easy, ABBA, here’s a Kleenex®. Okay, I’ll pitch it to Larry (O’Brien). He doesn’t even watch. Loves The Rockford Files and Kojak. But I’ve got his ear. If I want it in the game, it’ll happen. Bank on it (‘79).

ABA: Thanks, friend (wink).’

Curry Conundrum

This gimmick, some’ll call it an innovation, has never been bigger than in 2016.

With reigning MVP and NBA champ Steve Curry sinking 3-pointers as often as you’ll hear ‘awesome’ uttered in a 24-hr time span, and a finesse heretofore unseen in World NBA, the shot that turned the game into a near non-contact sport has never been more matterful to players & coaches and noticeable to those who monitor basketball’s ebb & flow.

.....Curry.wc.4.6.14.N.Salzman.thmbBut on-the-whole the game’s b-ball beacon has never luminated on such a weak signal. And for that you can thank the tres.

For starters, it’s a long-distance launch that for all practical purpose is almost indefensible. The phrase ‘defending the 3-point’ is downright oxymoronic.

The Curry conundrum is a mindset of indecision: Defender either plays the 3-pt shooter tight, creating back space big enough for a tractor-trailer while risking the 4-pt play (and momentum swing) too easily afforded in these quick-whistle / phantom phoul times; or, he / she opts out of trying to stop the tres altogether after running the cost / benefit analysis which, to the Curry class, is an open invitation with near 50% likelihood of success. Excellent odds for a fat swish.

Steve found his niche and perfected the play (his coach Steve wasn’t too shabby himself). Credit Curry for that. He and others before him took the manner of game given and after a few decades of practice are making the most of it. Now every kid on the block can be a hero. And isn’t that wonderful?

And we’re moving closer to apples & oranges in species of basketball.

The former game fashioned by founder Jim Naismith (1891) was exciting enough to keep fans fascinated for five generations. At it’s core fueling the fun was the symbiotic “association (The Triangle, 1.15.1892 (JN))” between inside – outside games: Power & positioning around the basket contrasted with daring drives to the hoop and swish artistry from the perimeter, all of equal value.

.....Naismith.wc.Evdcoldeportes.thmIt’s now given way to a new millennial form of play termed by this writer as ICBM: Inter-Continental Ball-istic Mode where the 3-point threat pulls most the action away from the frontcourt (paint & post) and into the back, out on the arc (wings) far from the rim and into a nether region of uncertainty. The tres may account for under a third of a game’s total point output but impacts the entirety.

The big guys don’t really know where to post anymore: Up top, down low, somewhere in between (no-man‘s land). Because of that we’ll never know just how good LeBron James could’ve been in the true power-forward position.

Is this what Commissioner Larry O’Brien & Co. foresaw for the NBA when they instituted the 3-point shot in the ‘79-80 season, a basketball game where the once celebrated center spot has lost so much significance it doesn’t even rate mention on the annual All-Star ballot? At first blush I’d answer, no, they did not.

On deeper reflection, however, the prevailing mood amongst guardians of the game may’ve been to seek a change in tempo and temper

In wake of the devastating punch Lakers’ Kermit Washington threw at Rockets’ Rudy Tomjanovich in a 1977 on-court fracas, a slug so severe it collapsed his face and required multiple surgeries to repair the damage, NBA owners may’ve been seeking a means to calm the game, to a degree, by rule change.

Whether that was a true motive or not it’s calming effect has been so certain it turned the game prosaic where the defensive pulse is so weak the doctor would pronounce the basketball patient comatose.

.....Horse.carosuel.12.30.12.Dinkum.wc.thmSide-effect has been an activity that more resembles a game of running H.O.R.S.E. than a battle on the boards, where every trot down court is merely set-up for matching long-range lift-offs: Low contact, no designed plays, create a space, feed me the ball and watch it fly. Whoop-dee-frickin-do.

Surprisingly, or not, it’s the women’s game (WNBA / college) that is the truer form of roundball in 2016. The strength and torque, as it were, are lesser with the ladies but the synergy between shooter skill and physical fortitude in the paint still thrives to maintain a harmony and a verve that bests the big boys.

Clearly, NBA overlords did not fully consider the gradual but inescapable game-changing impact this ABA osmosis would have on the National and b-ball in general, to the great detriment of the tremendous inside – outside dichotomy that had defined the game from its inception and made it a captivating show.

Perusing my 1983 paperback edition of The Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball (Z. Hollander), the NBA 3-pt shot was slowly mastered and adapted into play where 100 attempts was fairly rare for most shooting guards in the early 80s and the top takers like Mike Bratz (CLE 138a – 46 (82)), Mike Donleavy (SA 194 – 67 (83)), Joe Hassett (214 – 71 (82)) and Darrell Griffith (257 – 92 (85)) only rarely reached the 200 plateau. The championship clubs of the day like the Lakers, Celtics, Pistons (80s), Bulls and Rockets (90s) were still seriously symmetrical working both inside and outside games.

Might the 3-pointer go the way of the dodo bird? Doubtful. Love it and leave it (in place) probably says it best. It’s now the central component to today’s distant cousin of the Naismith game, even as fan interest ebbs low. Sad to think for those who love the rich, full flavor basketball that had thrived for 100 years.

.....straight_shooter.thmbSteven Keys
Straight Shooter
Photo credits: ABA, Darden-Moe, wc.cca, 1970; ABA, Oakland, J.Hadnot, 1967, wc; ABA, R.Taylor, DC-Caps, 1969, wc; S.Curry, 4.6.14, N.Salzman, wc; horse-carousel, Paris, MoFA, Dinkum, wc, 12.30.12; J.Naismith, wc, Evdcoldeportes; J.Naismith, wc; Straight-shooter, produce-label;
Posted: 3.31.16 @ 12:24pm EST; Copyright © 2016

 

MLB16: Troutonics and the Return of Hamiltonianism

14 Mar .......Trout.2m.wc.7.23.11.K.Allison.MD

In a time when numerology has become the method by which every editor and marketing director in the land shapes their sport media product, a use that borders on the obsessive and snoozerific, this primordial statistic has somehow become the Rodney Dangerfield (“I don’t get no respect”) of all mathematical rods by which batsmen are measured in 2016: Runs scored.

This, even as runs account for one-half of that most basic of baseball equations: Runs scored in excess (>) of your opponent’s tally = victory. Sport simple.

But simple just won’t cut it today, so the sellers would have us believe.

.......Trout.wc.7.24.11.thm.MD.K.AllisonSuccinctness will neither get your sportswriter résumé read nor keep you in that job that requires a wherewithal for the number schemes. The more complicated the better appears the mandate.

A selling strategy that seems to prefer keeping fans mentally-barefoot and in the kitchen-of-confusion, so to speak. Tsk-tsk.

Convoluted calculations will serve the sportician – mortician by separating themselves from we of the unwashed masses, serving as a sort of secret, cliquy code. A club as it were. Whether it truly helps or not in appreciation of players and strategy or prognostication of contests is beside the point. A niche has been carved out. So the consumer overlords see it.

Do sabrmetrics actually help one to master the fantasy game? They certainly haven’t made much of an impact in the general managing profession, not if you aim for pennants (See; B.Beane (OAK ‘98-present))?

They may help one believe they’re an aid and that’s all that matters to make the register ring, cha-ching! Kind of like the philosophy of that great New Yorker, “George Costanza” of Seinfeld lore: “If you believe it’s true then it’s not a lie.”

......Beane&DePodesta.090911.GabboT.thumbWhere the deep delve into digits can assist the fantasy fan in tangible result lies in simple fact that in crunching all of the calculations it’s just as likely that helpful patterns gleaned from performance stats will have been gotten from elementary totals (runs scored, ERA, etc.) and breakdowns (home / away, lefty v. righty) as from the trendy new acronyms. Unless you sequester your survey from the primes, who’s to say it wasn’t the traditionals that didn’t shape the mind?

And try telling that to a sabrhead. Oh, brother.

Because of this modern numbers myth, the easily discernable, key figures that served box-score connoisseurs and graced the backs of cards for decades in W-L, ERA, home runs, OB%, hits, RBIs, BA, steals, etcetera, are today relegated to the nether regions of TV graphics and sporting prose or neglected altogether, to make room for the new brood of cryptic acronyms (WAR, OPS%, QBR (NFL)) that befall & befuddle most fans every spring and pompously portend to’ve finally quantified the best calculations. Sure, Simon, whatever you say.

One exception where an elementary element is still accorded respect: The home run. Think of it as the Vin Scully of statistics: Resilient and revered.

......Trout.7.22.11.thm.K.Allison.wcSince the Bambino began knocking ‘em out with a passion (1919) the round-tripper, the dinger or in former Brewers’ batsman George Scott lexicon, the “tater,” has continued to capture the national attention. And Bud Selig’s Family Fun Show & All-Star Home Run Derby Jamboree week in July has made sure it stays captured.

But there’s a new style of play on the ball diamond.

A man who upon making the major league scene in 2011 showed himself to be a throwback who knows the equation and keeps his eye on the prize: Score runs on the base-path and prevent them with the glove. His name: Mike Trout, centerfielder for the California Angels. I’m a throwback, too.

Trout is what’s known as a Hamiltonian, a rare breed in 2016.

That’s not to be confused with that early American political party named after it’s chief proponent in Alexander Hamilton, born of British West Indies who would become an aid-de-camp to General George Washington, a co-author of the Federalist Papers, our fledgling nation’s first Treasury Secretary and dueling casualty (d.1804) of then Vice President, Aaron Burr.

.....Hamilton.LoC.Goodwin.B.Edwards.1887.wc.thmAlternatively known as Federalism, a view which promoted strong central government in opposition to the Jeffersonians who were anti-elitist, pro-States and individual rights. Oh yeah, tomatoes, too. Tom also touted that lycopene-rich fruit that changed the world (See; cooking & “Michael Dorsey”).

He’s not that kind of Hamiltonian, at least not to my knowledge.

Having led the Junior Circuit in runs for three of his four full seasons in the majors, Trout is on pace to be in league with that greatest of all plate-crossers, the incomparable Billy “Sliding” Hamilton (1888 – 1901) who finished with 1697 total in just 14 seasons, bested the 140 mark six times and still holds the single-season tally of 198 runs scored.

The great Rickey Henderson (1979 – 03) bested Billy by 600 runs, compiling that figure in 25 seasons with his highest season total being 146 (‘85 (143g)).

The percheron-necked slugger from the Garden State, winner of the 2014 AL – MVP, has scored 477 runs in just four full campaigns in Anaheim and the cup of coffee (20g) he had in his first taste. That consistently high run production is even more impressive alongside a strong RBI output (397 (4y)) and nice power stroke where Mike has averaged 33 homers per and topped at 41 in 2015.

.....Trout.wc.7.23.11.K.Allison.thmTrout’s Achilles heel is lack of bat control in the S-zone.

Attitude today on batter strikeouts is essentially ‘pay no mind,’ even as opportunities are forsaken, as long as RBIs and BA run respectable. On that trend the New Jersey juggernaut runs with the pack, averaging 150+ whiffs per season. He’s in good company as Senior Circuit’s 2015 MVP and runs champ Bryce Harper (131 (118r)) and ROY Kris Bryant (199! (87r)) are free-swingers alike.

Trout: 5yrs: 2448 AB; 647 SO; .304 BA
Hamilton: 14yrs: 6283 AB; 362 SO; .344 BA

You might say, ‘It’s too different a game today to fairly compare.’ Not on making contact, it isn’t. Teams in 2016 who put the ball in play with greater regularity are more likely to win games and titles just as they were in 1894.

The world champion Kansas City Royals were ranked AL tops in fewest team SOs (973 (#1)), 2d in hits (1497 (#2)) and sixth in runs scored (724 (#6)). You need to satisfy other half of that equation (pitch) but KC computed fine there too.

....Pujols_041412_LAA_M.O'Leary.thmMike’s anchoring a Los Angeles Angels’ batting lineup short on big names, one of the few being a game but aging superstar in Albert Pujols (36). But Trout is looking to keep his season strikeout trend on downward direction (158 (‘15) / 184 (‘14)), slugging percentage strong (.590 (#1 AL)) and a fielding display that at times is downright thrilling and nearly flawless in routine (428 PO / 7A / 0E (1.000)).

If Mr. Rock Steady can avoid those career-altering injuries and keep his nose pointed to home-plate, when all is said & done he may get fans to take notice of runs again and then find himself in amongst the best of company, the GAT in career runs-scored, including Misters Henderson, Cobb, Aaron, Rose, Hamilton and his teenage sports idol, Derek Jeter. Not ♫ bad company ♫ at all.

...canned cornSteven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: M.Trout-cap, wc.cca, 7.23.11, MD, K.Allison; Trout-fan, wc, K.Allison, 7.24.11, MD; B.Beane-DePodesta, wc, 9.9.11, GabboT; Trout, 7.22.11, wc, MD, K.Allison; B.Hamilton, LoC, B.Edwards, Goodwin, 1887, wc; Trout-gloves, 7.23.11, wc, Allison, MD; A.Pujols, wc, 4.14.12, M.O’Leary; Canned-corn.
Posted: 3.14.16 @ 2:35pm, edit 6:50 Eastern Standard Time; Copyright © 2016

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