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All-Star Rap Basketball Team

The rap community has always had a close relationship with the sports world, especially the NBA.  We’ve seen countless rappers make appearances courtside at NBA games, numerous references to players in songs, and even some NBA players try their hand at rapping themselves.  With a number of NBA players, such as Shaq and Damian Lillard taking part in the game of rap, I thought it would be interesting to make a team of rappers that would be suited best to take part in the game of basketball.dame_dolla_bigger_than_us_long-00_03_06_10-still116

 

Owner/GM: Jay-Z

Besides the fact that Jay-Z is actually part owner of a team, I believe Jay-Z would be perfect for the role of owner for this squad since he has plenty of other business experience.  Jay-Z is great at getting people together for projects and is well-respected throughout the community.  He’s a great businessman, having experience with co-founding his own label, Roc-a-fella Records and being a certified NBA and MLB sports agent with clients on his agency’s roster of the likes of Robinson Cano, Kevin Durant, and Dez Bryant.  All in all, Jay-Z is a great businessman who could run this team quite smoothly.jayz

 

Coach: Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre could have also fit the bill of owner in this situation, but I felt he was better suited for the role of head coach.  Dre’s production skills are some of the best this world has experienced and I feel that ability to craft and create in the studio could translate seamlessly onto the court.  He’d be able to draw up plays flawlessly and whip the team into the best shape they could possibly be in.  Dre brings out the best in the people he works with and nearly everyone in the rap world has nothing but respect for him, leading him to having an excellent relationship with the players.dr-dre-2015

 

PG: J. Colej-colebasketballroc4life

Cole may be more on the taller side of talent on this team, but I feel his skills and abilities fit the Point Guard role beautifully.  Just like in his music, he has the ability to show off when he needs to, but also put his pride aside and help those around him, making him a perfect candidate for point guard.  The quiet, unassuming approach he took on his last record and seems to be sticking with would create a nice deception to the skill that Cole possesses when he has the ball in his hands.  Cole also has much experience playing basketball, having stated on numerous occasions that he loved playing growing up, even playing on his high school team.  We’ve also seen him play in the 2012 NBA celebrity game, where he had a nice dunk with the alley-oop assist from Kevin Hart, which shows that Cole is a great multi-tool player.

 

SG: Freddie Gibbs1372788855_7f76937d705d32c3aa8886f0bb25218a

Freddie Gibbs, I believe, would make an excellent addition to this team.  I was unsure where to put him exactly on this squad, but I believe SG is where he fit best.  Freddie Gibbs has a strong, aggressive style of rapping that could intimidate anyone.  This style is especially present on tracks such as “Shitsville” off of his collaborative album with Madlib, Piñata.  A style, that would without a doubt translate onto the court, making him a scoring threat, as well as a defensive powerhouse.  People would be afraid to try anything against him, leading them to be weak and weary on defense.  This is a great skill to have for a big man, but due to his size in comparison to the rest of the team, I believe he is best suited for SG.  Also, Gibbs is very knowledgeable on the game of basketball and is an avid fan, giving him an edge on his opponents.

 

SF: Tyler, The Creator

This pick is a bit out there and unexpected.  I wouldn’t expect other owners to draft Tyler high, if at all, but I believe he could be a great asset to any rap basketball team.  Despite not being a huge fan of basketball, or having any real experience playing the sport, Tyler has the athletic build that any owner would dream of having on their team.8f2d89233a5a17f8b6b7395e327ccabb-odd-future-abs  Having a tall frame, with a skinny, yet muscular build, paired with natural athletic talent, makes Tyler a deceptively athletic threat, if I may.  Finding a position for him was tough, but Small Forward suits Tyler best because he is the most well-rounded rapper on this team.  He has the ability to go hard and tough when need be, as evident by tracks such as “Domo23” and “I Ain’t Got Time!”  Meaning he could take control of the game and pound it in the paint.  Yet at the same time, he is able to play it smooth and slick as evident on tracks such as “911/Mr. Lonely” and “Treehome95”, meaning he can take a step back and facilitate the ball effortlessly.  Also, having worked with a number of other artists, Tyler would have great chemistry with his other teammates.

 

PF: 2 Chainz2-chainz-ftr-jpg_1rw6wiylhntq01vitg21u4a0ge

2 Chainz is the first of the big men on this squad.  Standing at 6’5”, 2 Chainz is one of the tallest rappers in the game.  2 Chainz also has some of the most basketball experience out of any rapper.  2 Chainz attended Alabama State University on a basketball scholarship from 1995-1997.  Experience like this is a necessity on a team like this.  Being a bit of a veteran, 2 Chainz would serve as a great mentor to the rest of the team.  His lavish raps and melodic music would translate into a very graceful and beautiful style of play.  2 Chainz, however, is still able to get down and dirty when the time comes, allowing him to play some gritty defense and really battle under the hoop.

 

C: Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg, rounding out the starting five, would for sure serve as the captain of this roster. article-2560396-1b81e45900000578-177_634x759 Having been around the game nearly as long as Coach Dre, Snoop has veteran presence up the ying-yang.  His catchy, upbeat flow would translate into some great motivation and leadership.  Snoop would be able to keep the good spirits running high in the locker room and out on the court, even if the team is down or behind.  As for his play, Snoop is an avid sports fan, coaches football, and has run basketball fundraisers in past years.  Snoop has the athletic blood in him, making him a natural talent that can easily be utilized on the court.  His athletic talent can even be seen in his son Cordell’s football skills.  Cordell was a former WR at UCLA and was highly touted in high school for his play.  And lastly, Snoop has some experience as well.  Who could forget his appearance at the 2014 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans?

 

Sixth Man: Lil B

No rap basketball team would be complete without Lil B.  Lil B could easily be in the starting lineup, but I feel that his skills would be better utilized coming off the bench.  Lil B has some experience under his belt, having tried out for the NBA D-League (Now known as the G-League), but just falling short.  He could provide an amped up energy that would surely get his teammates riled up.  Lil B is capable of lighting a fire that could spark a huge run for his team when they need it most.  It also helps that Lil B has been known to have great “influence” in the sports world.  An influence that could easily be used to his team’s advantage.17efecad

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

Lil Dicky

Lil Dicky, known at home as LiDicky, comes from a very athletic family.  For those who do not know, Lil Dicky is the often forgotten about fourth Ball brother, as seen in this video.  While he may not have been as highly touted as his other brothers, there is no doubt that Lil Dicky has some skill of his own.  

 

Wale

Wale has great athleticism, having attended multiple colleges on football scholarships, making him a good candidate for this team.  However I was unsure where he could have fit into this lineup or whose place he could have taken.  Also, his skill resides in football, so whether that athleticism would translate to basketball is unknown.

 

Meek Mill

Meek Mill does not have much of a sports background besides being a fan of it, but in recent years, he has been seen hanging out with members of the Philadelphia 76ers.  This may not mean much, but I’m certain that he could have picked up a thing or two from hanging out with the likes of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.cnsebyruaaevhn1

Alternative All-Star Break Events

With the MLB All-Star break upon us, I figured it’d be a good time to share some ideas that I had to make the All-Star break a bit more fun.  The All-star game itself is perfect.  Arguably being the best all-star game across the major sports, with no one really phoning it in or not giving it their all.  Everyone goes out and plays the game.  However, comparing the MLB All-Star break to the NBA’s, the MLB lacks the fun and exciting mini games that the NBA has.  Dunk contest, skills challenge, three-point contest, all these activities make the event more fun and entertaining for all (okay, let’s exclude last year’s).  The MLB does have the Home Run Derby, but that is only one event and fails to include players whose game is not based around power.  So I thought I’d think up some other events that could help include all players and bring more excitement to the event.

 

Bunting Challenge: Okay this one may sound boring, but stick with me here.  It would be a great way to reward and test players on their skills in situations like this.  Down each line, you have different zones worth different points.  Intervals of 1, 3, and 5, should work.  If they bunt it foul, or miss the zones, they get an out.  Just like in a real game, three outs and your turn is over.  Although bunting may not be the most exciting aspect of the game, I think this event could still be an exciting one.  And since many pitchers are used in sacrifice situations, they would be able to participate in this event.MLB: Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees

Possible Players:

Elvis Andrus

Delino DeShields

Alcides Escobar

Brett Gardner

Ichiro Suzuki

Julio Teheran

Edinson Volquez

Gio Gonzalez

 

Beat The Shift: The debate over whether the flurry of defensive shifts over the years has helped or hurt baseball is still very prevalent.  In light of this debate, a good potential activity is Beat The Shift.  The goal of the game is to hit it where they’re not.  A defensive shift like the one below would be put on and the goal of the hitter is to hit it (for a base hit) through the hole in the defense.shifts2  Home runs will not count as anything.  There will be actual fielders to make the plays, so there will be a competent team out there on the field trying to stop the hitter.  You could potentially have a defensive point system in place as an incentive for the fielders to try their best.  Perhaps even have the other hitters pick out their own team of fielders and for every stop they get in the outfield, their team gets a point.  This would keep the hitters for just swinging for the warning track.  Depending on how it all goes, I figure giving the hitter 7-10 outs is fair.  

Potential Players:

Brian McCann

Carlos Beltran

Chase Headley

Mike Napoli

Brandon Belt

Curtis Granderson

Matt Wieters

Eric Thames

 

Robbery: A contest to see who can rob the most home runs would be an exciting spectacle to watch.  Each player gets as many tries as possible, but if they miss, they receive a strike.  Five strikes and you’re done.  This would keep it fast-paced, but still give them room for error.  Robbing home runs is one of the most exciting plays in all of baseball.  Everyone loves to see a player scale the wall and haul it in.  Players who thrive in the defensive aspect of the game could finally have a place during the break where they could show off their skills.  Defense is an important aspect of the game and continues to get lost and forgotten about in an age of baseball that demands the long ball. Mike Trout 

Potential Players:

Mike Trout

Kevin Kiermaier

Adam Jones

Mookie Betts

Bryce Harper

Andrew McCutchen

Billy Hamilton

Christian Yelich

 

Retired All-Star Game: This one is fairly self-explanatory.  Basically, you take former all-stars, preferably ones that retired recently and can still play, and hold an all-star game for them.  There is an old-timer’s game held every year, but you could potentially hold another one during the All-Star break.  Also this one would be treated like an actual game.  No softball, no lobbing, just real, competitive baseball.  This is why it would be preferable to get recently retired players, that way, they’d still be able to move and throw.  Risk of injury would only increase as the age grows.  Fans would love to watch their old favorites get back out there and play.  It would provide a great nostalgic vibe to the break.New York Yankees v Seattle Mariners

Potential Players:

Literally any of your favorite recent retirees

 

Pitchers Home Run Derby: Last, but certainly not least, my favorite idea.  In recent years, pitchers have spoken up about wanting to compete in the Home Run Derby, so why not give them what they want?  Fans and players would get an absolute kick out of watching the pitchers swing for the fences.  Also it wouldn’t mess up their swing, which is a concern during the actual Home Run Derby, because these pitcher’s swing is already messed up.  It’s a win-win for everyone!21pitchers-master1050

Potential Players:

Madison Bumgarner

Johnny Cueto

Jake Arrieta

Zack Greinke

C.C. Sabathia

Bartolo Colon

Marcus Stroman

Trevor Bauer (Those Batting Stances??)

 

Invisible Force Fields: A Legitimate Strategy?

Every team in baseball looks for ways to help give their team an advantage when out on the field.  Any slight advantage could be the difference between a win and a loss.  In past years, pitchers have taken this philosophy to such great lengths that they would conceal pine tar, vaseline, or any other sort of substance to help them get a better grip on the baseball or to get the ball to move more effectively.  Because this method goes against the rules of baseball, however, teams looked to more “legal” approaches.

A big thing that teams do is design a ballpark that helps fit their style of play.  Colorado’s stadium is high up in the air, allowing the ball to fly out of the ballpark easier, so the Rockies play a more power-based game.  The Yankees have that short porch in right field, so they stock their lineup with left-handed hitters who can easily pull that ball down the line into the bleachers.  The Phillies have…an invisible force field?

Sitting in last place in their division and sporting the worst record in the MLB, the Philadelphia Phillies realized that something needed to change.  Despite being in a “rebuilding year”,odubel-herrera_kveivilgy5le129lorfd7fjmo Phillies ownership must have gotten tired of losing so terribly.  Even for a team rebuilding they have played exceptionally poorly.  With a run differential of -98 and a total of 104 home runs given up (7th most in the league), the Phillies needed something to help keep the ball in the ballpark.  A simple solution would be to trade for better pitching, but the Phillies are rebuilding.  There would be no sense in trading away prospects just to get some better pitching for the present day.  They’re planning for the future, not right now.  Another idea would be to move the fences back, but they can’t do that midseason.  So what other choice did the Phillies have but to put in invisible force fields to keep the ball from going out?  It truly is quite the revolutionary and fool-proof plan, the only problem is, it’ll sometimes backfire on you.

During last night’s Cardinals-Phillies game, the force field must have been malfunctioning because the Phillies gave up three home runs to the Cardinals.  Luckily, the Phillies were able to tie the game up at 5 and send it into extras.  But immediately in the tenth, the Cards put across two to give themselves a 7-5 lead going into the bottom of the 10th.  The first batter up for the Phillies in the bottom half of the inning was Andrew Knapp.  With a 3-2 count on him, Knapp hit a long fly ball to right field.  The maintenance workers must have been playing around with the force field generator, trying to get it to work, and accidentally turned it back on because the ball appeared to ricochet off of nothing.  The ball bounced back into play keeping Knapp at first base, preventing the Phillies from coming within one.  Good on the crew for doing their job, but too bad on the timing.  That home run could have been the kickstart the Phil’s offense needed to come back and win.  And that win could have sparked a win streak.  And that win streak could have led to a playoff berth.  And that playoff berth could have led to a playoff run.  And that playoff run could have led to a World Series ring.  How depressing.

So what am I getting at here?  Well that’s a good question Zach.  What I am trying to say is that force field could have cost the Phillies a World Series.  Yes, the intentions of the force field are good, but one must remember that the home team has to deal with it too.  Theoretically, the grounds crew could be instructed to turn it off when the home team is up, but that would be a bit too obvious.   The league would be all over that quicker than Manfred on a game that’s lasted for more than 3 hours.  So I salute the Phillies for their creativity, and hope they can come to a decision as to what they will do with the force field.  As for my opinion on the matter, I say leave it in.  You paid the millions of dollars for the prototype technology, so why spend even more to have it removed?  Just fix the problems with it and you’ll be all set.  No more home runs for anyone.  Hope you guys have learned how to bunt…

Don’t Judge LeBron Based On This Final

Welp, another NBA season in the books and boy was it a boring one.  82 pointless games followed by a pointless playoff series all to set up the matchup we all knew was coming.  At least Joel Embiid was fun to watch for the few months he was out there.  If it weren’t for him, I probably would’ve gotten into the hobby of watching paint dry just to bring some excitement into my life.  It’s too bad this season was boring because in all honesty, the finals matchup this year was one for the history books.  The only problem was that everyone saw it coming, so it wasn’t a thrilling ride and then once we got to the finals, it was made clear quickly that this series wasn’t going to be as intense as we had all hoped.  The Warriors made quick work of the Cavs, eliminating them in only five games, handing LeBron another finals loss.  But did LeBron really lose?lebron-james-6717-usnews-getty-ftr_xqvd93njhofk10z2vpv9pkw7d

To put it simply, LeBron straight up balled out this entire series.  He became the first player in history to average a triple double in the finals by posting a slash of 33.6/12/10 in the finals.  If you were to look at just LeBron’s stats for these finals, you would assume that the Cavs won solely based on that.  He was absolutely unstoppable during the finals, yet somehow it wasn’t enough.  So what happened?  Well, for starters the bench was absolutely nonexistent.   There was absolutely no help from anyone outside of the Cavs big three.  At times it felt like the Warriors had a 5 on 3 power play, leaving LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin to fend for themselves.  Tristan Thompson got outrebounded by Steph Curry.  Deron Williams didn’t score a bucket until game four.  Richard Jefferson was their fifth leading scorer at a mere 5.8 ppg. jr-smith-6517-usnews-getty-ftr_sy1ach5ffia513rdhwunf2uzx  JR Smith started playing well, especially last game, scoring 25 on ⅞ from 3-pt range, but his play came a bit too late.  With no help from outside the big three and the Warriors bench outplaying the Cavs bench, LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin were forced to play extra minutes in order to make up for the poor bench performance, putting all the work onto their shoulders.  Honestly if it weren’t for LeBron’s stellar performance, the result could have been even uglier than it was.

But by no means is this an excuse for Cleveland’s loss to Golden State.  The Warriors were just too good for the Cavaliers.  I don’t think any team in history could best this Warriors team in a 7-game series.  This has got to be the best team in the history of basketball.  There was no stopping them.  Kevin Durant went off this series, averaging 35 ppg.  It felt like every time he pulled up to shoot it was going in.  And when he would leave his feet to dunk it was as if he was gliding through the air to the hoop.  It was all so graceful to watch.22846785-mmmain  Add that performance with Steph Curry’s great series as well, and there was just nothing the Cavaliers could do.  Curry slashed 26.8/8/9.4 in this series, nearly averaging a triple double like LeBron.  Steph Curry really showed up this series and it made all the difference in the end.  And like I said earlier, the play by the Warriors role players really helped seal the deal.  They were able to outscore the Cavs bench and force Cleveland’s big three back out onto the court sooner than the Cavs would have liked, thus tiring out LeBron and Co. allowing the Warriors starters to punish them.  Nothing could be done to stop this Warriors team this year.  I have yet to see a weakness in the Warriors that could allow a team to beat them.  The only way for the Warriors to lose is if they beat themselves and they certainly did not do that this finals.

But LeBron still statistically lost another finals, putting him at a 3-5 record in the finals.  Many people look at that and say LeBron isn’t great because he has a losing record in the finals, which is absolute shit.  The fact that LeBron has been to 8 finals already is impressive enough, so what if he’s lost 5.  Losing in the finals shouldn’t be looked down upon as much as it is.  It’s impressive to even be there, so why give an amazing player like LeBron flak for losing five?  “Oh but MJ has never lost a final.”  Yeah well LeBron also hasn’t gotten swept in the first round.  Twice.  Also if you look back on the teams LeBron has lost to, they’re nothing to be ashamed about.  He’s lost to the Spurs twice and the Warriors twice.  Two amazing teams during their times and were not really seen as underdogs in any finals.  Yes, he did lose to the Mavericks in 2011, but you gotta remember, that team swept the two-time reigning champ Lakers team.  So why should LeBron be looked down upon for losing to that team?1465581946-bkn-nba-final-heat-mavericks_19739287

A player’s finals record should not be used to judge the greatness of said player.  People keep looking at LeBron’s finals record as if it’s been an individual affair.  LeBron isn’t 3-5 in the finals, LeBron’s teams are 3-5 in the finals.  People need to remember that this game is still a team sport.  You win and lose as a team, and one player isn’t going to dictate that.  Yes, one player can have a large impact, but it is still up to the team as a whole to perform well in order to bring home a ring.  LeBron has balled out every finals he’s been in and tried to give his team the best chance they have at winning it all.  You cannot blame someone who gives his all those losses, especially this year’s finals.  Averaging a triple double is going above and beyond what was asked of him, and I think a lot of people don’t see that.  All they see is that LeBron lost again.  LeBron sucks, end of story.  But it’s not the end of the story.  If you look at what LeBron does when he goes out there game after game, you would see that this man is an incredible talent that has nothing to be ashamed about.  LeBron is the exact opposite of a sucky player.  LeBron is one of the greatest to touch the court and too many people take that for granted.

LeBron is one of the greatest to play the game.  There’s really not much more to say.  I think those that do not see that are not paying enough attention.  Far too often LeBron’s skills are overlooked and under-appreciated.  Yet then those same people who think LeBron isn’t one of the best see him lose and blame it all on him.  It’s mind boggling to me how bipolar the fans of the NBA are towards this man.  One minute they love him, but the minute he has a “bad” game they’re down his throat.  Everyone needs to stop criticizing LeBron, especially when it comes to losing in the finals.  It’s a team game.  There is only so much that one player can do, yet LeBron day in and day out gives his team more than enough.  Honestly the fact that people expect LeBron to win a final on his own is impressive enough.  Says all you really need to know about LeBron.  So leave LeBron alone, it’s not his fault.  Teams win and lose together.  All the blame cannot be placed on one person, especially a player like LeBron.Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One

Watching The Hockey

Last night was game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators.  Pittsburgh held a 3-2 lead in the series, so with the season possibly about to be over, I decided to tune in.  I’ve always wanted to get into hockey, but never really got around to it, so I figured watching a finals game would be the perfect way to start.  Before last night I had never watched a full NHL game.  I’ve watched some college games in person, but other than that, nothing.  Instead of just writing about the game from memory, I decided to take notes on the game as it happened and then work off of those.  To make it easier, I also broke it down by period, too.  And a quick disclaimer, I do not know much about hockey.  My only knowledge comes from playing the 2002 edition of Backyard Hockey and a bit of NHL 14.  You know now that I think of it, maybe I am expert.  Anyways, let’s not waste any more time and begin!NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Nashville Predators

 

Pregame: So I turn over to NBC at 8 o’clock sharp and at this point, I’m pretty excited.  They show the huge crowds outside the arena and throughout the streets of Nashville.  I never expected such big crowds for this game.  At first I just assumed the power was out in the city, but then I saw all the Nashville jerseys and I realized that they meant to be out there.  Crazy kids.  Two men came out onto a stage outside the arena.  The one guy doesn’t matter, because I was focused on the fact that Dierks Bentley was the other guy. Has Dierks Bentley even been to a hockey game before?  What’s he doing there?  And that also got me thinking; Nashville is known for their Country Music.  But does Country and Hockey really mix?  I would find out the answer to that question by the end of the night.

Nashville seemed to really want it.  I haven’t seen a fan base this passionate in a long time.  They were literally smashing a Penguins-themed car…Now that’s passion.  Makes me wish I lived in a hockey town.  Is Nashville a hockey town?  I doubt it, but you get the point that it would be a lot of fun.  After seeing this, I thought that It’d be a shame if Nashville lost.  Their fans would be more devastated than an Atlanta Falcons fan.bigphotofornashville

Oh, there’s a commercial.  My dad’s flipping through channels.  The Simpsons and Tigers vs. Red Sox is on.  Any other night I would watch that.  But last night was special.  Okay so I watched the baseball game during commercials.  What else am I supposed to do?  

The game came back on.  Time for festivities.  They showed Sidney Crosby, man what a horrible playoff beard.  Looks like pubes.  I bet he wishes he could shave that off.   Also he’s the only player I’ve heard of in this game, and one of the only players I’ve heard of in the league.  On the subject of this Penguins team, I take it they’ve won before.  The way everyone’s acting, including the Penguins themselves, make me feel like they have.  Upon further research, it seems they’ve won four before coming into last night.  Including last year, so they’re going for that back-to-back title.  That sounded like a decent amount, but turns out the Canadiens have won it 24 times…Looks like I found the Yankees of the league.  

So Nashville is the last seed in this playoffs?  That’s awesome.  Plus they’re making their first finals appearance?  Man, I should’ve been watching this series from the beginning. Matter of fact, I should’ve been watching since the beginning of the playoffs.  That sounds like a lot of fun, unlike the NBA.  This NHL playoff actually sounds exciting and unpredictable, instead of the NBA’s where everyone knew who was going to be in the finals since before preseason began.  I should really watch the NHL.

Faith Hill emerged to perform the National Anthem.  Her hair looked amazing and she killed it.  I was trying to remember who she’s married to, but then he came out anyways. Hi Tim McGraw.  After the National Anthem, my dad made a pun, saying he had “Faith” she would do well.  Classic.faith-hill-predators-national-anthem

Period 1: Wow that game started off fast.  I don’t get how anyone can follow this game. And there’s so many substitutes.  How do people know who’s out there or where their favorite player is.

Would you call what they’re wearing shorts?  I think I would.

I know a Colin Wilson. That’s neat.

Someone threw a catfish onto the ice.  What was up with that?  And then the announcers said that this type of stuff has happened with other teams and with different animals? What kind of league is this?

Cody McLeod sounds familiar.  Where would I know him from?

I also forgot until about halfway through the first period that the United States was playing Mexico in soccer.  Boy yesterday was a big day in sports.  Stanley Cup game 6, U.S. vs. Mexico, Max Scherzer got his 2,000 strikeout, and Aaron Judge hit a 496 ft. home run.

Those hockey jerseys look comfy.  I should get me one of those.  I wonder how much they cost…I just searched them up, kind of expensive.  Eh, maybe someday.

I feel like I didn’t see Sidney Crosby all period.  Or maybe I did.  I don’t know, I can hardly tell who or what I’m watching.

Pittsburgh had that 2 on 1 and that guy missed that pass.  They probably would’ve scored if he caught that pass.  But he mucked it.  And then Nashville had a breakaway and their guy mucked it.  He probably felt bad for the Penguins player who missed the pass and wanted to make him feel better.  What a nice guy.  And god damn, I don’t get how these goalies block some of these shots or even see the shots for that matter.  The puck is coming at them so fast and the puck is so small, plus they have that mask with hardly any peripherals.  It’s honestly incredible that they can block shots.  Some of the shots practically just disappear.  I feel like the goalie just puts his glove up and hopes for the best.

I feel like if you’re a hockey player, you have to have long hair.  Example A, one of the only other players I know, Jaromir Jagr.  Also I’ve never seen so much red hair in one game before.  Or in one place for that matter.jagrmullet

There’s just so much going on.  And so many broken and lost sticks.  Does that happen a lot or is this game an anomaly?  Also I wonder if it’s illegal to purposefully break someone else’s stick.  I would imagine that it is.  That only makes sense.  On the same sort of subject, I don’t get how some of these hits are legal.  They look absolutely painful.  I’m surprised some of these guys are still alive.  Or at least don’t all have permanent brain damage.  I wonder what the average number of concussions is per game.

Why do some guys try those long-range slapshot.  How often do those even go in?  Or is it to send a message I wonder.

The Nashville goalie’s mask is dope.giphy

 

Period 2: Jeez only a minute in and they already got a shot on goal and then managed to knock it in.  Turns out it didn’t count though because the ref blew the whistle.  That’s bull, play shouldn’t have stopped and that should’ve been a goal.  What bullshit.  If the ref was in a better place, then maybe they would’ve gotten the call right.  He was more out of place than me at a Luke Bryan Concert.  Nashville had another chance a bit later on, but mucked the pass again.  Shame.  

Was that the first guy in the penalty box?  I think it was.  Clean game, I guess.  I wonder if those NHL workers in the box talk to the players.  If they do, I wonder what they talk about.  Dinner plans?  Hobbies?

Who’s the Steph Curry of the NHL?

These defenders have been insane all game.  Very tenacious.

Do the announcers work as auctioneers in the offseason?  If not, it’s a waste of their voice.

I bet team dentists make a fortune.

This game is absolute madness.  I can’t follow a damn thing.  And I think that one Pittsburgh player just leapfrogged that Nashville player in front of the bench.  I guess that’s one way to get around a defender.

High stick was called.  At what point does a stick become high?

I would kill to have the NBA tonight crew announce this game.

That was a great save by the Pittsburgh goalie.  Or was it?  Did Nashville just muck it up again?  Who knows?  Not me that’s for sure.

This is only the Penguins’ coach second year coaching this team?  That’s pretty impressive.  I wonder what happened to their previous coach.  Research time! Apparently the coach prior to their current coach, Mike Sullivan, was a man named Mike Johnston.  Guess they like Mike.  Anyways, Johnston coached the Penguins for a little more than one season before being fired.  Not sure why he was fired.  Oh wait it says it was because the team “Underachieved” according to the GM.  Interesting.

The splits these goalies are doing are incredible.  Especially the Pittsburgh goalie.  I wish I was that flexible.

Hockey might be the perfect sport to release any pent-up anger or frustration you have. You can just channel it into decking an opponent into the ground.

When a defender blocks a shot for the goalie it reminds me of the scenes in action movies when a guy jumps in front of a bullet for his friend.

That guy just faked a shot from center ice.  I was hoping he’d pull up and shoot like Paul George. pg2

Damn that coach was calling a timeout even after it was granted to him.  Was that the Pittsburgh coach?  I think it was.

Damn you could hear that last shot hit the post.

That period was insane.

 

Period 3: Wait Cage The Elephant is here?  What?  Why?  How?  They didn’t even show them play, either.  That blows.  I was kinda looking forward to that.  

From what I am hearing Nashville should have been winning at this point.  I guess there have been a lot of missed calls.  Besides that goal call, I haven’t really seen anything, but what do I know?

It’s hot in my house and that ice looked so refreshing.

Matt Murray is not human (look at me learning a player’s name).  He had 56 consecutive saves since what was it? The third period of game four?  Holy shit.  

I wonder how much it costs to have your ad on the boards.  I would love to be rich enough where I could just buy a space and put my face there.

The name Wilson has been said so much this game I feel like I’m watching Castaway.

That was a fresh backhand spinning shot.  Too bad he missed it.  Would’ve been great to put in your career highlight reel.

How was Trevor Daley (learned another name) not dead after that play?  Last time I did the math, Head + Ice=Bad.

What is happening.

Nashville goalie with another dope save.  I wonder what his name is.  They said it at the beginning of the broadcast, but I forgot…Just searched it up, his name is Pekka Rinne.  That’s a great name.  I like him.  He’s cool.

Some of these trips look like falls.  The one Maatta’s in the box for wasn’t, but I’m just saying in general.  But then they slow it down and it looks so obvious.  This game is magical.

They showed a replay and some Nashville player was getting absolutely punished and berated by a Pittsburgh defender.  The guy just kept pushing him in the back and then knocked him into the boards.  This game is brutal.

That 5 on 3 sequence was insane.  Great defense by the Penguins.  I thought for sure the Predators were going to score.  Probably should’ve.

What even is offside?

They said that there’s 2300 names on that trophy?  How is that even possible?  And what if they run out of room?  What happens then?1200px-stanleycupavs2000-01engraved

Fuck the post.  I thought that goal was in.  That’s happened a couple of times now.

Will anyone score?

If the puck goes into the stand and a fan catches it, do they get to keep it?

There’s some beautiful moves in hockey.  Not as nice as some in the NBA, but nice nonetheless.  They’re just so smooth and elegant.  It’s like watching a ballet.

Are these teams known for their defense?  Especially the Penguins, because these teams aren’t letting anything in.

Oops, spoke too soon.  What even happened on that goal?  It just barely squeaked in.  That was a nice reverse by 72 on Pittsburgh, though.  Props to him.  There’s nothing the goalie could do about that.  That’s just a great move and bad timing.  He shouldn’t beat himself up too much about that.

I did not know there were challenges in this sport.  Not sure why.  It only makes sense. Every other sport has reviews, so why not hockey.  Goal counts anyways, so didn’t really matter.  I didn’t think it was goalie interference, either.  It looked like he was just going for the puck.  But then again I don’t know what goalie interference is, so who am I to say anything?

Pulling the goalie always seemed risky to me.  Especially now in this case because the Predators didn’t do well during their power plays.  Don’t see how another guy is gonna help them against this Pittsburgh defense.

Open net goal.  That’s game.  I knew it was a bad idea.  I would never pull my goalie.  But I don’t think I’ll be coaching a hockey team any time soon to put my philosophy into place, so what does it matter.

Pittsburgh seems like the Warriors of the NHL.

 

Postgame: That was an amazing game.  Probably one of the best game in any sport I’ve watched all year.  Definitely better than any NBA playoff game this year.  Charles Barkley was right, the NHL playoffs are more exciting.

I feel bad for the Predators.  They seemed like they really wanted it.  Not only the players, but the fans as well.  Good for the Penguins though.  Winning back-to-back Stanley Cups is quite the feat.

And was Sidney Crosby nonexistent or did I just miss him?

Also it’s quite a feat what the announcer did.  Being able to talk quickly for nearly two hours straight and to also be able to follow what players are on the ice and what was happening when.  I know I could never do something like that, so props to them.

I don’t understand why more Americans don’t like this sport.  It seems like something Americans would really love.  It’s right up their alley.  It’s got action, suspense, and fighting.  What American doesn’t love some good haymakers?century-miracle-ice

 

Overall, I give it a 9.5/10.  Definitely would watch again and look forward to watching more games next season.  I will also be looking into a team to follow next season to help me get into the sport.  I’m not going to bandwagon any team.  I want to pick a team I love and can relate to.  Research is going to be done to find what team is right for me, but I am confident I will find a team I can love.

Oh, and to answer my question earlier…Yes.  Country and Hockey do mix.

Meme Music

Meme music is a term I like to use to describe the songs that are featured in viral videos across the internet.  Usually, it’s one or two songs that get passed around from video to video, which in turn make the song a hit.  For the most part, the songs that have been used in viral videos have been rap songs.  In recent weeks it has been Mask Off by Future that has followed this trend, mainly being used by white people in awkward dance videos on Instagram (Haha comedy!).  Another up and coming one that I have seen has been Magnolia by Playboi Carti, which is used in the same sort of manner as Mask Off is.  Meme music, however, is not a recent trend.  It may not have been called Meme music or referred in a similar manner, but it was still present in pop culture.  maxresdefault-4

The trend of songs becoming popular through frequent uses in other medias can be traced back to the ringtone era of rap.  Ringtone rap was prominent around the time when cellphones were becoming more widespread and people began customizing their ringtones.  The music industry, as well as up and coming artists saw this growing trend and realized that they could easily capitalize on it.  Since a ringtone was only played for a max of 30 seconds, music artists only really needed to make a catchy hook with a nice beat that people could use as a fun, catchy ringtone.  People would hear their friend’s catchy ringtone and want to use it themselves, then their friends would hear it and want to use it and so on and so forth.soulja-boy  When Kiss Me Thru The Phone came out, practically every teenager rushed to make that their ringtone.  It was such a fly song at the time, yet many look back on it as being wack as hell.  But these rappers didn’t care.  They just wanted to make something catchy.  Many of these songs saw millions of plays and their creators in turn, saw millions of dollars and that’s all most of them cared about.  Many rappers achieved their popularity through these means, but for many of them, it was short-lived.  Rappers like Soulja Boy, D4L, and Jibbs saw there moments of fame, with their hits Kiss Me Thru The Phone, Laffy Taffy, and Chain Hang Low, respectively, only to be left in obscurity once the ringtone age was over.  You may still see their names pop up every once in a while, but other than that, their music is nothing but a memory.  Ringtone rap died down like any other music trend, but with the launch of Vine in 2012, viral songs saw light in a new medium. 

Vine was introduced to be a fun, unique social media platform where people could create 7-second clips of whatever they wanted.  Many used Vine for comedic videos, to show off their musical talents, or sports highlights.  Like anything in pop culture and especially the meme era, Vine would follow certain trends.  Viners would recycle jokes, styles, and even music.  It became a trend to use certain songs in your videos, especially if you wanted to gain popularity on the site.  Many of the songs used were dance songs that’s sole intention was to do a certain dance to it.870x489_silento-clip  Examples being Watch Me by Silentó, Hit the Quan by iLoveMephis, and countless others.  The dances to many of these songs were quite simple, yet of course white people couldn’t figure them out, but they would still try nonetheless.  These songs were just novelties made for viners to use in their videos, so the rappers could make millions.  Of course none of this would be possible without the help of streaming sites like Soundcloud and Spotify to house the songs for people to listen to in their free time (Not sure why).  However what was different about the Vine era from the ringtone era was the fact that there was a large number of songs that were not intended to be viral hits.  Examples of such songs being Hot Nigga by Bobby Schmurda, Hotline Bling by Drake, and Ultimate by Denzel Curry.  What’s interesting about these songs is that they were not originally intended to become viral like their ringtone era predecessors.  For the most part, these were simply songs that were released by the rappers, picked up by certain viners, and then beaten to death by the entire site.  Although one could argue that these songs were intended to blow up due to the internet, Bobby Schmurda did have talent, in my opinion, before he got put in jail.  Drake is Drake, so he didn’t need Vine plays to gain popularity.  And Denzel Curry is impossible to group with the other Vine rappers, because he’s as far from being a Vine rapper as possible.  Denzel Curry is one of the best up and coming rappers in the game, who saw one of his songs see viral play.  Just because one of his songs blew up in that manner does not mean he should be written off as a one-hit wonder.  Denzel Curry has all the talent in the world and I have nothing but respect for him.

denzel-curry

Like every trend, however, it has to die and Vine saw it’s demise in January when it was shut down by Twitter, putting an end to the Vine era of rap. Viral rap, however, simply moved platforms, shifting from Vine to Instagram and Twitter, bringing us to the present day.  The songs that are popping on those sites being Mask Off, Magnolia, and perhaps some others that I have yet to notice, are slightly unique from their predecessors.  Both Mask Off and Magnolia were written and released within their artist’s album.  They weren’t released as singles like the countless other viral rap songs.  This shows that they were not intended to become viral hits.  They’re just catchy songs that lived out their purpose of catching on and gaining popularity.  It’s fun to see an artist that you love have a song catch on and be a success, but it got me thinking; is it always a good thing?

Looking at the history of viral rap songs, the majority of the rappers became one-hit wonders. In most cases it’s because the artist cashed out and just never made music again, but in some cases, it is because that one viral hit is all the rapper is ever known for, which is what I worry for Denzel Curry and Playboi Carti.  Denzel Curry has all the talent in the world, but I fear that his music will just always be associated with middle schoolers flipping water bottles and dabbing.  Playboi Carti, meanwhile, looks to be being picked up by the white kid crowd that dances to songs that don’t fit their style (hilarious, right???) as well as the revitalization of the Milly Rock.  I guess what my worries boil down to most is the lack of appreciation for these rappers and the delegitimization of their music.  I enjoy Ultimate by Denzel Curry and Mask Off by Future,future-portrait-a-billboard-2016-kn-b-1548 but now I have a hard time listening to them because it just feels…weird.  I can’t separate the song from the viral videos and neither can most people.  The average person who does not really listen to a lot of rap music hears these songs and automatically associate them with the viral trend.  I play Ultimate and my friends will just start dabbing and flipping water bottles.  I play Bad and Boujee and all the white girls in the room start acting hood.  

Now I understand that there will always be popular music, I mean that’s exactly why it’s called “pop” music.  There will always be those songs that you just can’t avoid because they’re played on every radio station out there.  That’s just how it goes.  And there’s always a reason that it is so popular.  It’s not like the songs that I have talked about have no appeal that I can see.  I completely recognize what exactly makes these songs popular, it is merely the attitude about the music that comes afterwards that bothers me about these meme songs.  Whether it be the trend becoming annoying and being beaten to death or the devaluing of the song and the artist. Now I’m completely okay with it if that is the only song the rapper has to his or her’s name, but when an artist like Future, drake-views-from-the-6-cover-story-interviewDrake, or even Migos have their entire discography devalued simply because of one viral song that they had, that’s where I get annoyed.  The majority of people only know a couple songs by these artists (Maybe not Drake) and write off the rest of them.  They don’t bother diving deeper into the rapper’s music because they only view them as a novelty.

People just disrespect the music.  I may be just whining about people not appreciating the music I like, but I’m sure many people agree with me when I say that I don’t like it when people disrespect the artists I love.  I’ve listened to Denzel Curry, Future, and Migos long before they saw their viral successes.  That sounds pretentious, but it’s just me wishing people would respect the music more.  Dive deeper into an artist’s discography every once in a while.  Don’t just hear an artist’s most popular song and associate them with that until you die.  

“Listen deeper than the music before you put it in a box”-Tyler The Creator.

I Am The Key to Sean Manaea’s Success

About a week ago, I sat down in front of the T.V. with my dad to watch the New York Yankees take on the Oakland Athletics.  The starting matchup for that game was Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees, and Sean Manaea for the Oakland Athletics.  Prior to the game beginning, I commented on how every time that I saw Sean Manaea pitched, he would get lit up for seemingly 5+ runs every time, so naturally, I called him trash.  After doing so, Manaea proceeded to throw seven scoreless innings, allowing only four hits, and leading the Athletics to a 4-1 win against the Yankees in New York.  Obviously, I was astounded by the man’s outing, but I immediately wrote it off as a fluke.  “The Yankees must’ve had an off day,” I thought.  Boy was I wrong.

Fast forward to this morning when I woke up to see that Sean Manaea pitched another solid game, this time against the Blue Jays, going six innings with 7 strikeouts, only giving up 4 hits and 2 runs. In fact, since I called Sean Manaea trash, he has gone 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA. 920x1240 It was also at this moment that I realized something; I am the key to Sean Manaea’s success.   Manaea, a career 12-12 starter with an ERA sitting at 3.84 and a WHIP of 1.15, has been nothing special since he arrived to the big leagues.  Prior to the last three games, Manaea was sitting on an ERA of 5.24, but since I called him trash, he has lowered his ERA to a 3.81.   His strikeouts per start have also been consistently higher, never being below 7, showing that he is pitching more effectively, and hitting his spots more accurately in order to get those punch outs.  That can be no coincidence.  There is a direct correlation between my comment and Manaea’s success.  I just wonder how my words could have gone such a long way.

Perhaps Manaea and the Athletics have set up microphones in every household in America in order to fully grasp what the public opinion is of Manaea and upon hearing that some college student from Upstate New York called him trash, Manaea was motivated to pitch better and prove him wrong.  And prove him wrong he has.  Sadly, however, this seems unlikely, due to the cost alone.  Upon a quick search on Amazon, the cheapest microphone I could find was around $7.  Clearly this would be the model the Athletics would go with due to Billy Beane’s famous1337256000000-cached_16 “Moneyball” policy, which is just code for spend as little as possible.  Now to make it easy, let’s assume that Billy Bean puts in 3 microphones per household in America.  That would mean spending $21 per household, excluding tax.  There are roughly 125,820,000 households in America, so you multiply $21 by 125,820,000 and you get a grand total of $2,642,220,000.  I’m no financial expert, but I would have to say that the Oakland Athletics don’t have that kind of money lying around.  Also with that kind of money, the A’s would be able to pay the Los Angeles Dodger’s entire roster nearly 11 times over, so I doubt they’d put that money into spying on every American household when they could instead just get better talent.  But if it wasn’t the work of surveillance, then what was it?

Since I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a coincidence, there has to be some sort of explanation as to how I was able to influence Mr. Manaea into performing at such an amazing level.   Clearly Oakland would not be able to afford the surveillance equipment needed to spy on every household, thus ruling out that theory.  And I was not at the stadium that day (I have my dad as my witness) so Manaea wasn’t able to hear my comment first hand, either.  So what happened?  Well here is my theory: When I called Sean Manaea trash, the front door opened and in walked my mom.  The sound waves of me calling Manaea trash must have gotten out the door, floated through the air until it got caught in a gust of wind, forcing my comment all the way to Yankee Stadium, where it was able to bounce off of countless fans before it was flung onto the field and picked up by Sean Manaea, who was standing on the mound, awaiting to make his first pitch.  Of course at this point, due to the distance they traveled, my words were merely a murmur, but they were still loud enough for Manaea to hear them and become enraged, motivating him to give it his all to prove whoever would dare say such a thing about him.  I feel as though this is the only explanation and it can be proved oh so easily with science.  I could go into more detail about it, but I wouldn’t want to bore anyone with the details.  If you wish to understand it yourself, simply do a quick google search.  It’s all pretty basic.  seanmanaea1280_saaqsufp_khqvscvz

So there you have it.  I am the reason Sean Manaea has been pitching so well as of late.  It’s all me baby.  You’re welcome Oakland.  You got yourself an ace.  May you ride him all the way to second place.  I know it sounds great, and believe me it really isn’t.  Still puts you a mere 15 games away from being in first.  But at least you can tell your kids your team finished second to the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros.  So you’re welcome.

Weighing the Parity of the MLB vs. NBA

dm_170501_mlb_fantasy_miguel_sano_twins_3bWith the baseball season roughly a third of the way through, it’s a good time to stop and appreciate how beautifully unpredictable the sport of baseball is.  So many teams are performing better than expected, and worse than expected.  The Twins and Brewers are in first, while the Royals and Pirates lie in last.  Aaron Hicks and Ryan Zimmerman are having great years, while Rougned Odor and Andrew McCutchen struggle to get going.  The league year in and year out features surprise performances (and disappointments) that keep the league entertaining and filled with uncertainty.  Uncertainty that makes it nearly impossible to anticipate who the World Series champion will be.

The NBA, meanwhile, is about to enter the third straight final featuring the Cavaliers and Warriors.  The last seven finals have featured a LeBron James team and have seen only four different winners.  Four different winners doesn’t seem too bad, but when it becomes so easy to predict who is going to be in the finals, it makes the entire season feel boring and pointless.  Take this year for example, since preseason, everyone knew it was going to be Warriors vs. Cavaliers.Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One  Hardly anyone predicted otherwise.  Now I love a good LePerformance from LeKing in Lefinals as much as the next guy, but I do miss the mystery of it all like you get with baseball.  I felt like it wasn’t even necessary to watch any of the playoffs (still did) because I knew what the outcomes were going to be.  The only real interesting series was the Boston vs. Washington one.  I know it’s not possible, but if every series was like that one, then I would find the playoffs to be much more fulfilling.  It just sucks for the great players out there whose ceiling is losing either to LeBron or Curry.  So many great players miss out on a chance at a ring because of these two great talents and their phenomenal teams.  Yet so many people argue that a player isn’t elite if they don’t have any rings, like the way Shaq does towards Barkley.  But Barkley had to go up against some insane teams like the Pistons and the Bulls, so can you really blame him for not having any?  

Basketball is filled with dynasties and when one dies another one just rises in it’s place.   And with the way things are shaping up in recent years, it doesn’t seem like anything is going to really change.  The Warriors and Cavaliers just keep building their rosters with no other team really looking to stand in their ways.  Even if a team was able to put together a roster to take down the Warriors or Cavs, they would just take the place of the giant they conquered.  There seems to be no stopping dynasties and while I don’t mind seeing great teams, I wish there was a bit more competition against them.

Baseball, on the other hand, has been a bit more balanced.  Yes, we’ve seen the Giants win three in the past six years, but they had even year voodoo working with them that wasn’t broken until last year (Thanks Cubs).  And yes, the Yankees have won 27 in their mlb_a_yankeeswin2_576history, but they’ve been around for over a hundred years, and in recent years, the playing field has been very equal, seeing them win only two since 2000.  Different teams have made appearances in the playoffs and the World Series.  MLB playoffs in the recent years have proved to be a lot more exciting and unpredictable than the NBA’s.  Every team is beatable.  There are no juggernauts going into the playoffs that everyone knows is going to go all the way.  And like we saw with the Kansas City Royals in 2014, underdog teams are capable of making runs all the way to the championship.  But does baseball actually have more parity than the NBA?mlb_g_royals-celebration01jr_668x376

First, let’s look at the playoff lineups since the 2010.  The NBA has featured 28 different teams (Sorry Sacramento and Minnesota) and the MLB has featured 25.  But the MLB hasn’t had their 2017 playoffs yet, while the NBA has.  Also, the NBA has 16 teams make the playoffs each year, while the MLB has 10.  The NBA finals has featured eight different teams with six different champions, while the World Series has featured nine different teams with five different champions.  From the looks of these stats, it appears that they’re relatively even.  So why is this a discussion?

It is a discussion because I do not believe that the stats tell the entire story.  I’ve never been a big fan of statistics.  I do look at them and take them into account, but I do not dive as deeply into them as others.  I believe there are certain aspects of life and sports that stats cannot explain.  When it comes to the MLB and NBA playoffs, it simply feels like there is more competition in the MLB playoffs.  There is more uncertainty due to the nature of baseball.  There is room for more upsets because the game always comes down to a one on one situation; the pitcher vs. the batter.  If one makes a mistake, the other can prevail.  There’s nine players out there as opposed to five in basketball.  Due to this, one player in basketball is able to have a larger effect on the game, like LeBron James, who has proven that time and time again.  In baseball, one player can only affect the game so much.  A baseball team needs to be all-around solid in order to see success, while in many cases, an NBA team can ride on one or two great players.  The NBA and MLB are different breeds, so maybe it is only logical that baseball seems to have more parity than basketball.  

Overall I think the NBA has a relatively decent amount of parity, but it just appears to not.  Perhaps basketball is simply more predictable than baseball because in most situations, the best team will win unlike in baseball, which sees a larger number of upsets.  Is this a bad thing?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I personally enjoy unpredictability in sports, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying this LeDynasty.  I suppose basketball is setup to have dynasties, it appears to be only natural.  I am worried, however, on the future of the game.  In the past, NBA dynasties were birthed, while these days the NBA appears to be headed in a direction where dynasties are created.25warriors-web-master768  The Warriors and Cavaliers are fortifying their teams and are going to hold this league hostage for years.  It would be nice to enter a season for once without knowing who is going to be in the finals, but I suppose that is not going to happen for a few years at least.  At least basketball dynasties aren’t as bad as they are in football (Looking at you Tom Brady) but I do wish basketball was more like baseball and had more mystery and uncertainty, but I am not sure what it would take to stop the formation of super teams.  Would eliminating the salary cap do it?  Or would that only make matters worse?  Who knows.  And who knows if any change will come, but for now I’ll just enjoy the LeDynasty and the Warriors battle it out in the coming week.

Yankee Ticket Troubles

enhancements-1_990x624_home-platecThis past week, the New York Yankees, despite being a first place team with great success so far this year, announced that they were having trouble selling tickets this year.  They claimed that they were unsure as to why exactly this was, but alluded to it being due to a lack of interest from the younger generations.  The Yankees wish to find a way to reach that market and appeal to them. In what seemed to be an attempt to do so, they introduced the “Judge’s Chambers” a place where a small group of fans are selected to sit in the designated area named after rookie outfielder, Aaron Judge.  This was supposed to be fun little thing to help get the young fans more interested in the game.  As a young whippersnapper myself, I know exactly what the reasoning is for the lack of interest in Yankee games, not only for the younger generation, but fans of all ages, and it’s not the lack of fun gimmicks like the Judge’s Chambers.  Instead, the answer is much simpler than that:  Make the game cheaper.

The Yankees have always been known as a very prestigious and high-end organization, but as of late, it has become absolutely insane.  The Yankees are pricing out their fans and making it nearly impossible for the everyday fans to go to the games.  The game is now only affordable for those who wish to make an event out of it and not simply go to watch the team play.  Going to Yankee Stadium is almost a status symbol to show how rich you are at this point.  Me, being the poor college student I am, watch my games from my little laptop screen and when they show the fans in the front rows, I hardly see any of them paying attention.  They’re usually on their phones not even paying attention to what’s going on.  They’re there for show, rather than the Yankees.  Those are not the people you want in the front rows.  You want your passionate fans up there who are actually going to enjoy the game in front of them.  But at Yankee Stadium, that’s not going to happen.  

Now tickets like that in the front rows are expensive no matter what ballpark you go to, but it is exponentially higher in Yankee Stadium.  Now I know that Yankee Stadium does offer cheaper tickets for those who cannot afford the floor seats, but those tickets still start at around $20, depending on who’s in town, and even then it still puts you in the upper decks in the way back.  To compare that to other stadiums, I remember my dad, brother, and I went to Cleveland to see two games a few summers ago and we got three tickets for about $30 each and that put us only 13 rows away from the field.  If you want fans to go to games, make tickets that affordable and maybe they’ll show up.  

Sadly, however, it is not just the ticket prices that are the problem, it is everything about the trip that is expensive as well.  Even if you do purchase a (relatively) cheap ticket at Yankee stadium, your bill could start at upwards of $50 before you even step through the gates.  Parking for Yankee Stadium is an absolute killer, sometimes being up in the $40 range.  poughkeepsie_train_stationNow if you’re like me, a college student at New Paltz, there’s no way in hell you’re driving into the city, so you just drive over to the train station in Poughkeepsie and take the train into New York and avoid the parking fees.  But that train round trip is just about equivalent to the parking fees, so there’s really no difference in pricing there.

So you finally get inside, you’re having a good time, but at some point you’re gonna have to eat.  It’s just tradition.  If you don’t get a beer and a hot dog when you’re at the stadium then what the hell are you doing?  You don’t belong there.  So you get in line, get your food and drink, and all you bought was a beer and a hot dog, yet you’re looking at a bill over $20.  That’s just absolute robbery.  I can go to my local pizza place and buy a pitcher of beer for $4.  There’s no reason to make your prices that outlandish.  I’m sure you make enough money as it is.54f93018536f8_-_yankees-nathans-hot-dog-6sfqac-xl

These next grievances are a bit off topic due to the fact that they have nothing to do with money, but they still have to do with getting people interested in going to the games.  I just wanted to address it while I’m on the subject because I don’t know when else I would be able to.  Yankee Stadium has the reputation of being sticklers when it comes to rules and such.  When at Yankee Stadium, it is nearly impossible to stop and stand anywhere.  Even if you stop for a few moments, a security guard is bound to come up to you and tell you to keep moving. It’s a good policy for keeping foot traffic moving, but it takes away the ability to stop and take in the stadium.  Sometimes I just want to enjoy a view of the stadium from a location different from my seat, but that is just simply impossible at Yankee Stadium.  At other stadiums there is plenty of room to stop and look on, but not at Yankee Stadium.  

Another rule they have at Yankee Stadium is they do not allow people to move down.  I understand this if people are taking people’s seats, but for the most part, they’re not.  And if they are, the people whose seats they are simply show them their tickets, and the people will move.  Problem solved.  I do not understand letting people enjoy seats that aren’t being used.  Not only will it please the fans, but it will also make the stadium appear fuller, thus influencing people to come out to more games, seeing it as a hot commodity, and will also bring more advertisers in because they notice that more people will be able to see their ads.  No one loses by letting people move up.  Even if they still don’t want people to move up right away due to monetary reasons, they could at least allow it after say the 5th inning or so, that way people don’t take advantage of seats that they did not pay for.

Everything that has to do with going to a Yankee game is expensive.  There is simply no way to avoid the high prices of the game, making it very difficult for your everyday fan to go to a game.  The only aspect of the game that I give them a pass for is the price of souvenirs because those prices are fairly consistent throughout all Major League stadiums.  When you pair the pricey, well, everything, of Yankee Stadium with the strict rules, the entire event seems unappealing to your everyday fans.  Turning off your everyday fans from going to the games is the biggest mistake you could make when it comes to business.  Everyday fans are the heart and soul of your business, you cannot upset them.  Sadly the Yankees have appeared to do this with their expensive tickets and such.  This has led those fans, like myself, to look to other stadiums to attend games at, or simply not go at all.  If the Yankees are to get the fans back into the stands, they need to make it more affordable for them.prog_top

The LeBron vs. MJ Argument and Why it Should End (Or At Least Put Off)

Whether it’s with your friends at your school or your co workers around the water cooler, at one point in time you’ve found yourself involved in an argument about who’s the greatest; Michael Jordan or LeBron James.  Hell, I found myself arguing with a 6-year-old girl I met at a Chuck-E-Cheese about it.  And with each of these arguments comes anger, stubbornness, and someone thrown into the ball pit at Chuck-E-Cheese (I’m embarrassed to say who in my case).  This argument about who is better has happened for years now, with people flinging stats left and right trying to gain leverage in the debate.  Now I’m not here to discuss who I think is better, I am here instead to explain why this entire debate is unfair, pointless, and time to be put to rest.

LeBron James and Michael Jordan are two of the most elite athletes in the history of sports and have dominated their eras of basketball since their respected entries into the league.  Michael Jordan’s career spanned 15 years, saw six rings, and brought basketball to the level of popularity we all know it as today.  LeBron James is in his 14th season and has seen three rings, and has brought constant talk as to if he is better than Michael Jordan.  Now, admittedly, I have engaged in said arguments, but all in all, I believe that it is silly and premature to have these arguments and I will explain why.

When it comes to the content of these arguments, the main focus is on the playoff performances of both players.  Many people tend to look at their number of rings and say that Jordan has three more championships than Lebron, so he is automatically better.  If that was the case, however, then by that logic, Robert 451682-chicago-bulls-guard-michael-jordan-holds-the-nba-championship-trophy-aHorry, Frank Ramsey, Jim Loscutoff, John Havlicek, Satch Sanders, K.C. Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Sam Jones, and Bill Russell are all better than Michael Jordan (Note: Arguments can be made for the latter).  So how is that a fair comparison?  I’ll tell you how; it’s not.  While championships may be an important sign of success and dominance, they do not always accurately represent the player.  Take Charles Barkley, for example.  Charles Barkley is arguably one of the best power forwards of all-time, yet he doesn’t have a ring.  Meanwhile, Larry Siegfried, a career 10.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.5 apg player, has five.  So is Larry Siegfried better than Charles Barkley?  Hell no.  God no.  So how is it fair to judge Jordan and LeBron the same way?c03-barkley-before-13-4_3

Another argument that comes into play is the fact that this is a different era of basketball.  A more competitive era of basketball.  An era filled with better athletes and better competition.  LeBron plays amongst players that are simply physically bigger and better than anything that Michael Jordan played against.  Biologically and historically, athletes are going to be better as time goes on.  The players develop alongside the game.  Now while I agree with this, I feel it is more important to look at the player within the era and what he accomplished.  Look at it this way: Babe Ruth is considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, but if you were to put him in the modern-day, where the average starting pitcher throws 95 mph consistently and the breaking balls are even nastier, he wouldn’t be nearly as good, yet I still consider him one of the greatest to play because of what he did during his era.  Tying it back into this debate, you need to take into account some of the teams that Michael Jordan and company went up against.  Michael Jordan had to go up against teams like the ‘86 Celtics, led by Larry Bird, and the Bad Boys Pistons team lead by Isiah Thomas.  LeBron played some tough teams, but for the most part, nothing like what Jordan played against (see 2011 Mavs).  In order to just reach the finals, Michael Jordan had to go through some of the toughest teams.  Many point out that Jordan had been eliminated multiple times in the first round of the playoffs while LeBron has not, yet they fail to realize that Jordan was going up against some tough teams, no matter what era you’re looking at.  Twice he and his Bulls got swept by Larry Bird’s Celtics, arguably one of the best teams in history.  Jordan played against some of the greatest talents in NBA history, but so has LeBron.  Jordan went up against guys like Bird, Thomas, and Barkley.  LeBron went up against guys like Garnett, Pierce, and Allen.  “But Zach, those last three guys were all on the same team.”  Yeah, well I just wanted to stick with the rule of three.  Can’t list those three without the other.  “Zach it just sounds like your list of talent for LeBron is inferior in comparison to yours for Jordan.”  Alright fine, want me to list some more?  Gilbert Arenas, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh (Yes he had to face them before he joined them) Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben and Rasheed Wallace (Damn good 2006 team) Derrick Rose, Paul George, John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, Demar Derozan, I could go on.  Just like I could with Michael Jordan.  Talent is simply timeless.

Along the lines of talent, it matters who you’re supported by. Although one player can make more of an impact in basketball, who your teammates are matters.  During his career, Jordan had a pretty nice group of guys to work with.  Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Horace Grant, and countless other great role players.  LeBron in his early career was sent out there with a lineup that featured Anderson Varejao at center…Jokes aside, he was a good defender at his peak, but the point is LeBron in early parts of his career was equipped with jack shit compared to the supporting cast that Jordan had.  That is partially why LeBron left to go to Miami, which brings me to my counter argument to this point.  LeBron eventually did have a good supporting group.  His big 3 in Miami was insane and featured some great role players that really contributed when it mattered most (See Ray Allen Gm. 6 3-pointer vs. Spurs).  And then when LeBron came back to Cleveland, he was once again well-equipped, besides 2015 when the team was riddled with injuries.  Having Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on your side is a big boost for LeBron.Kevin-Love-Kyrie-Irving-Champs-Cover

Now we have come to the end of this little ol’ random of mine, so I am going to end it with some closing notes on this whole debate, maybe explain myself a bit better and tie up some loose ends.  It isn’t right to compare these two players, or at least not at the moment.  Let LeBron play and finish his career, then we can all take a step back and look at what the two of them have accomplished.  But until then, let LeBron play.  And I know that I have come across as a LeBron supporter throughout all of this.  While he may be one of my favorite players to watch, I do not lean in his favor, nor do I lean in MJ’s favor.  I talk more about LeBron simply because I have seen more of him than I have seen Jordan.  I grew up with LeBron, not Jordan, so can you blame me?  Still, though, I know enough about Jordan to know that he is an exceptional talent and it is truly tough to top a player like that, I mean, just watch tape of his flu game and you’ll see the type of player Jordan is.  And I do admit that Jordan’s stats vs. LeBron’s are better, especially in the playoffs.  I just feel that it is simply too difficult to compare the two, especially since they both played in different eras of basketball.  If the two played alongside one another, sure, go right ahead compare and contrast them until your face turns blue, but their careers never crossed.  So let the greats be great and just enjoy it while it happens.  Basketball is a game, it’s meant to be fun and enjoyed.  No sense in worrying about who’s better than who.  Just watch and treasure the game.