Vin Scully Reciting the James Earl Jones ‘Field of Dreams’ Speech is Pure Baseball

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.”

…and Vin Scully too.

Scully will be taking a bow at year’s end on what has been an incredible broadcasting career in baseball. It began in 1950, when Scully joined Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the Brooklyn Dodgers radio and television booths. At 25 years old, in 1953, he was the youngest to ever call a World Series game…a record that stands today.

13 NL Pennants, 6 World Series titles, and 66 years with the same team makes Scully an all-timer. It’s hard to imagine someone other than James Earl Jones reciting the “People Will Come”, but then again Scully personifies what the speech means. Scully, like the game itself, endured. His voice is comforting, reminding fans of “when they were children and cheered their heroes.”

Now if only we can get Jones to recite Scully’s famous intro…

It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good (day/evening) to you, wherever you may be.”

For comparison.

 

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Can We Have More ‘Bat Dogs’ in Baseball, Please?

During a Wednesday evening stint with the New York Yankees Double-A affiliate, Trenton Thunder, third baseman Alex Rodriguez (and the rest of the internet) found out about one of the best things in all of minor league baseball…

…the “Bat Dogs”.

For the first two innings of Trenton home games, golden retrievers Derby and Rookie pickup the bats after each player’s at-bat. Below are the dogs in action after Rodriguez grounded out early on.

The New York Daily News has a great story on the origins of the bat dogs. As is the way of minor league baseball, Trenton was looking for something new and different that would attract fans to the ballpark. When a fans fell in love with traveling act “Jake, the Diamond Dog” in the late 90’s, the team knew they needed one to call their own. Jake’s trainer found the Thunder a puppy named Chase, who served as Jake’s understudy before going full-time with the club.

The bat dogs have been a staple in Trenton since 2003. Chase bred Derby in 2009 and Rookie was born in 2013. When the team goes on the road, the dogs go home with Thunder Sr. VP of corporate sales and partnerships Eric Lipsman. They don’t leave teeth marks on the bats and the only issue is that dogs really don’t like pine tar, which is understandable.

Some Major League organizations host their “Bark at the Park” promotional nights, which is an awesome opportunity to bring your pup to a ballgame. Others have their own Team Dog, like the Brewers and their little bichon frise named Hank. The first MLB team to implement bat dogs will be the real winner though. It’s not like they are taking jobs from bat boys, as they the dogs could just retrieve bats for the first two innings like in Trenton.

Having dogs around the clubhouse may be good for morale, unlike Adam LaRoche having his child around 24/7 (I couldn’t resist). Just take it into consideration, MLB marketing executives. Who doesn’t love dogs?

Bat Dogs

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‘American Crime Story’ S2 Spoof: The People vs. Draymond Green

Following the events of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 133-105 Game 3 victory over the Golden State Warriors, more has been made of Draymond Green’s actions than the final score itself.

For the young basketball players at home, that’s not how you make a jump stop.

While we feel sorry for Thunder forward Steven Adams and his nether regions, at least the Internet is here to alleviate some pain…with humor, of course. Enter Bill Simmons’s new site, The Ringer…

Simmons made it clear Sunday that The Ringer will launch in June and that it will be successful because of high quality content. I’m not the biggest fan of Simmons’s strategy of bashing his former employer, but well-timed mashups like this one are a nice start.

Personally, I wanted a John Travolta/Robert Shapiro spinoff from Ryan Murphy (What About Bob?). I would take a spoof like this over a Fox Sports debate show any day though.

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NBA Draft Lottery: Does Dikembe Mutombo Know Something We Don’t?

Just hours before the NBA Draft Lottery show, which airs Tuesday on ESPN at 7 PM CDT, Dikembe Mutombo tweeted a nice congratulations to the Philadelphia 76ers…

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…wait. How would Mutombo know that if they haven’t even picked the ping pong balls yet? He deleted this tweet shortly after sending it.

Maybe Mutombo misspoke. The Sixers have the best odds of snagging the #1 pick after winning only 10 games in the 2015-16 season. Their record earns them a 25% chance in the lottery. The Sixers also have the right to swap picks with the Sacramento Kings after trading them Nik Stauskas last year. The Kings have a 1.9% chance of getting the top pick in this year’s draft.

The Sixers can also have have 2 high draft picks by the end of the evening, as they also have the rights to the Los Angeles Lakers’ pick if their ball is pulled outside of the Top-3, due to a three-team deal that sent Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks and Brandon Knight to Phoenix. The Lakers have the 2nd best odds of landing the top pick with 19.9%. There’s a 44.2% chance the Sixers will get the Lakers’ pick otherwise.

Or perhaps the conspiracy theorists were right and the NBA is rigged and Mutombo let the cat out of the bag. We’ll just have to wait and see for ourselves tonight. If the Sixers land the top pick, the NBA is going to have some explaining to do.

UPDATE: Mutombo is already doing damage control on Twitter. This is fun. 

Like a digital finger wag.

Not In My House.gif

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Gronk’s on the Madden Cover, But Is He Cursed?

Thursday evening on SportsCenter, the new Madden ’17 cover was revealed with Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski appropriately spiking the ball.

Gronkowski always spikes the ball after a touchdown pass, and this seems to symbolize an achievement of making the cover. As the league’s premiere tight end, a 4-time Pro Bowler, 3-time All-Pro, and 66 touchdowns in 6 seasons, he has certainly earned it. The first thought many have when they hear an NFL Superstar has graced the cover, though, is whether or not said player is cursed for it.

John Madden is not only a Hall of Fame NFL head coach and beloved broadcaster, but his brand has been a staple for the gamer community since 1988 when “John Madden Football” was released on PC. Only Madden had appeared on the cover from ’88 until 1994, when the Cowboys tackle Erik Williams and 49ers defensive lineman Karl Wilson appeared in the cover’s background. Williams was a Pro Bowler, but missed half of the ’94 season after being injured in a serious car accident. Wilson was never a player of much significance, but he wasn’t a 49er the season he graced the cover of Madden. Madden would go back to being the lone figure on his video game covers until 1999.

Over the years, players who graced the cover have either taken a step back in their production, were injured, or something else went wrong that season. Let’s take a look at every Madden cover player to see if Gronkowski should be worried.

1998 Garrison Hearst – RB, 49ers

Garrison Madden

1997 – 1,019 rush yards, 194 receiving, 6 total touchdowns

1998 – 1,570 rush yards, 535 receiving, 9 total touchdowns

1998 Dorsey Levens – RB, Packers

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Barry Sanders was in the background of the John Madden version.

1998 – 4 starts, 540 total yards, 1 TD

1999 – 14 games, 1,607 total yards, 10 TD

2000 Eddie George – RB, Titans

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1999 – 1,762 total yards, 13 touchdowns

2000 – 1,962 total yards, 16 touchdowns

2001 Daunte Culpepper – QB, Vikings

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2000 – 3,937 pass yards, 33 TDs, 16 INTs

*2001 – 2,612 pass yards, 14 TDs, 13 INTs

*Missed the last 5 games of the season because of a knee injury.

2002 Marshall Faulk – RB, Rams

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2001 – 2,147 total yards, 21 touchdowns

*2002 – 1,490 total yards, 10 touchdowns

Started just 10 games battling injuries.

2003 Michael Vick – QB, Falcons

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2002 – 2,936 pass yards, 777 rush yards, 24 total TDs

2003 – Missed 11 games due to a preseason fibula injury.

2004 Ray Lewis – MLB, Ravens

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2003 – 120 tackles, 6 INTs

2004 – 100 tackles, 0 INTs

2005 Donovan McNabb – QB, Eagles

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2004 – 3,875 pass yards, 31 TDs, 8 INTs

2005 – Went on IR after 9 games and feuded with Terrell Owens

2006 Shaun Alexander – RB, Seahawks

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2005 – 1,880 rush yards, 27 touchdowns

2006 – Broke his foot in Week 3

2007 Vince Young – QB, Titans

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2006 – 2,199 pass yards, 19 total touchdowns, 12 INTs

2007 – 2,546 pass yards, 9 touchdown passes, 17 INTs

2008 Brett Favre – QB, Packers/Jets

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2007 – 4,155 pass yards, 28 TDs, 15 INTs

2008 – 3,472 pass yards, 22 TDs, 22 INTs

2009 Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald

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Polamalu played just 5 games because of injuries in 2009

Fitzgerald scored a career high 13 touchdowns in 2009

2010 Drew Brees – QB, Saints

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2009 – 4,388 pass yards, 34 TDs, 11 INTs

2010 – 4,620 pass yards, 33 TDs, 22 INTs

2011 Peyton Hillis – RB, Browns

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2010 – 1,177 rush yards, 11 TDs

2011 – Missed 6 games with injuries and strep throat.

2012 Calvin Johnson – WR, Lions

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2011 – 96 catches, 1,681 yards, 16 TDs

2012 – 122 catches, 1,964 yards 6 TDs

2013 Barry Sanders (25th Anniversary)

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Was voted by fans to be on the cover.

2014 Richard Sherman – CB, Seahawks

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2013 – Pro Bowl, Won Super Bowl

2014 – Pro Bowl, Lost Super Bowl

2015 Odell Beckham Jr. – WR, Giants

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2014 – 91 catches, 1,305 yards, 12 TDs

2015 – 96 catches, 1,450 yards, 13 TDs

 

Of the 20 players on the Madden cover, 7 were injured but 6 had significantly better seasons. The remaining 7 either played worse, had a normal season…or were Barry Sanders. The “Madden Curse” hasn’t applied to anyone over the past 4 years. Hopefully Gronkowski can breathe easier for it. I’m sure he will.

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MLB All-Star Game Voting Has Begun

Just 3 weeks into the regular season, polls are officially open for Major League Baseball’s All-Star game voting. You can vote early and often by clicking here to go directly to the ballot.

The 2016 All-Star Game takes place July 12th, at Petco Park in San Diego, CA, with some of the best craft beer selection you could ask for. Voting ends June 30th at 11:59 PM ET. Fans can vote up to 5 times in any 24-hour period.

This is what my first ballot looks like, considering the small sample size of work everyone has done so far.

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As of Sunday, April 24th at 1:00 PM CT…

  • Cubs OF Dexter Fowler leads the league in Wins Above Replacement (1.8 WAR) and is tied for the most doubles hit (9).
  • White Sox OF Adam Eaton leads the league in Defensive WAR (0.8) and runs saved (7) while batting .309.
  • Nationals 2B Daniel Murphy leads the league in Batting Average (.411) *with the required number of at-bats*
  • Nationals OF Bryce Harper and Rockies SS Trevor Story lead the league in Home Runs (8), while Harper leads all in Runs Batted In (22).
  • Astros 2B Jose Altuve leads the league in Stolen Bases (7).
  • Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo and Orioles 1B Chris Davis lead those in their respective leagues at their position in Home Runs (6).
  • Orioles 3B Manny Machado leads the league in Hits (27), Total Bases (53 and, On-Base Plus Slugging (1.225 OPS), while batting .397.

You can make your votes and see the stats lined up from each player from the MLB website here.

Let us know who you are voting for on Facebook or Twitter. 

Chicago Bears of Thrones 2016

A tradition we started a year ago was casting the new season of Game of Thrones with members of the Chicago Bears roster. This came about after Pro Bowl lineman had declared Jay Cutler “The One True King of the North”.

I love comparing the two. The Bears are one of the league’s most storied franchises and Game of Thrones is filled with generational lore. It references the glory days of each House, and Winter is always looming.

Since the original list, a year ago, things have changed drastically. Departures and additions to the team have been very similar to the show. Characters have developed and players have evolved. So let’s look at the current Chicago Bears roster and see how they stack up on Game of Thrones.

Kyle Long / Jon Snow

Jon Long

The biggest debate since the end of Season 5 was “Is Jon Snow dead or not?” Besides the correlations of leadership, pedigree, and loyalty, Bears fans had wondered “Is Kyle Long a guard or tackle?”

Jon rose to the ranks of Lord Commander, killed a White Walker then briefly united the Night’s Watch and the Wildling armies while alive. Long was a 2-time pro bowler as a guard and was awarded again as a tackle, making him the first Bears offensive lineman to named to the Pro Bowl each of his first 3 seasons. Fans of both will get their answers in due time.

 

Alshon Jeffrey / Daenerys Targaryen

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After proving doubters wrong over the course of his impressive young career, the Bears placed the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery to hopefully work out a favorable deal for both sides. At full strength, he’s a devastating force down the field…like Daenerys is with her dragons. Daenerys’s reign is wounded for the time being, much like the questions to Jeffery’s health during the 2015 season. Reunited with her dragons, she can maker her move on the rest of Westeros. One hope’s a new deal with the Bears would have Jeffery poised to do the same in the NFL.

 

Jay Cutler / Jaime Lannister

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A year ago, we had Jay Cutler paired with Stannis Baratheon, “The One True King of the North”. Unfortunately, Stannis couldn’t keep his head. However, Cutler is still quarterback of the Chicago Bears and appears rejuvenated with John Fox’s staff. Jaime Lannister was referred to as “The King Slayer” having literally killed kings and also blamed getting them killed, like Cutler when he was once called a “coach killer”.

The two have had their ups and downs in the public eye. It seems they both needed some humbling, suffered setbacks and injuries, and have adopted antihero statuses for it. Much weirder on Jaime’s end, but being fathers has helped them both in their maturations. You’ll see myself and others Tweet #CuttyDoesIt when Jay slings touchdowns. Might have to start #JaimeDoesIt this upcoming season too.

 

Pernell McPhee / The Mountain (Zombie Mountain)

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Two words: He’s violent.

Pernell McPhee is also coming off an injury and hoping to bounce back even more violent. The Mountain is about to do the same now that he’s been brought back to annihilate everyone on behalf of Cersei.  I call him Zombie Mountain, because I’m very sure he’s 1/3 brutal strength, 1/3 rage, and 1/3 dead. McPhee is likely half and half of the former two.

 

Willie Young / Daario Naharis

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Willie Young had to switch roles last season and had to prove to coaches that he could still get to the quarterback doing so. Daario switched roles going from mercenary to trusted advisor to Daenerys, as well as actors. Both showed they are effective no matter what you do with them and are cold blooded killers…relative to their professions.

 

Tracy Porter / Tyrion Lannister

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Like Tyrion, Tracy Porter was very successful in the beginning. Porter was a Super Bowl champion and Tyrion served as Hand of the King. Porter was then cast off after injuries and playing on unsuccessful teams while Tyrion was disowned by his father (who he would kill for it). Porter got a fresh start and a new contract after a successful first season with the Bears, and Tyrion is now temporarily in charge of Meereen after dream-teaming up with Daenerys.

 

Jeremy Langford / Arya Stark

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Jeremy Langford had the opportunity to prove he can be a feature back during his rookie season with the Bears, and took full advantage of it. Arya got a similar opportunity learning the assassination techniques of the Faceless Men and ALSO took full advantage of it. The Bears seem to be in the market for a new running back, hesitant to give Langford the reigns of the backfield, and the “Many-Faced God” took Arya’s sight. I imagine both will only grow from their experiences.

 

Zach Miller / Sansa Stark

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Over the course of his career, Zach Miller has faced setback after setback when it comes to injuries. Sansa has had to deal with the same, in WAY MORE BRUTAL instances. They both now appear due after their struggles. Miller shined while healthy for the Bears last season and was awarded a new contract. Sansa escaped another evil asshole husband and should have some support waiting for her outside of Winterfel.

Kevin White / Bran Stark

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Well, there’s the obvious. Both Kevin White and Bran Stark sat out last season. White did so because of an injury that kept him off his feet and, well, Bran wasn’t walking around anyway. Both are returning with high expectations in their respective upcoming seasons

 

Eddie Goldman / Hodor

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Eddie Goldman came to the Bears with White in the same draft. While he did play his rookie season, it’s not like he had much to say…like Hodor. Hodor will also be returning with Bran Stark and like Goldman, he’s capable of kicking serious ass.

 

Danny Trevathan / Davos Seaworth

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These are two big time free agents from the offseason. Danny Trevathan comes over from Denver, where he won a Super Bowl. Davos goes to The Wall after helping Stannis conquer much of the North. They’re both somewhere familar, Trevathan reunited with his former head coach and Davos in a place that housed him for a short while. Both will be quality additions for whom they are aligned with, both on gameday and in battle.

 

Robbie Gould / Ser Jorah

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Robbie Gould is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer and Ser Jorah is a decorated knight. Both lost some favor with their fan bases, Gould after missing big field goals and Jorah keeping secrets from Daenerys. They’re both fighting back to regain favor and trying to remind everyone of their accomplishments. Jorah also has a HUGE crush on Daenerys…I personally don’t know much about Robbie’s love life, but I do know the female demographic of Bears fans love him.

 

Kyle Fuller / Melisandre

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These two are being tasked with resurrecting the dead, in their own ways. I, like many, am very confident it will take Melisandre’s “Red Woman” voodoo to bring Jon back to life. I also believe it’s going to take Kyle Fuller showing his shutdown defensive back potential to bring the Bears defense back to life as well. In his first two seasons, Fuller has shown flashes of greatness. But like Melisandre, he’s also gotten everyone killed…in coverage.

Eddie Royal / Petyr Baelish

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Eddie Royal is a survivor in the NFL. Not the biggest or the most talented, but he has gets the job done and always has a home. Petyr Baelish is similar in the way that he’s adaptable. I don’t think Royal is necessarily scheming in order to watch the world burn, but he’s savvy and cunning like “Little Finger” that keeps him useful on most teams. He’ll have something to prove this season to remain so with the Bears, like Baelish will for Sansa Stark when they meet again.

 

Ryan Pace / Varys

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GM Ryan Pace is orchestrating this new era of Chicago Bears football and I believe Varys is subtly doing the same in Meereen. I don’t think it’s coincidence that Ser Jorah found Tyrion and brought him to Daenerys Targaryen. Varys has wanted that alliance to happen for a while and feels he’s on the winning team now, just like Pace after a seemingly successful Free Agent period.

 

Jerrell Freeman / Bronn

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Jerrell Freeman comes from the Indianapolis Colts as one of the league’s most consistent inside linebackers who is ready to make some noise with a new team. Bronn has done the same, joining Tyrion as a mercenary but eventually teaming up with Jaime on a rescue mission of his daughter. Both suffered injuries and are looking to bounce back and provide sold enforcement for their new teams.

 

Lamarr Houston / Theon Greyjoy

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Both Lamarr Houston and Theon Greyjoy took heavy blows to their hubris and were looking for redemption. After signing a big contract with the Bears, Houston injured himself for the season doing a sack dance. Theon was also hurt badly below the belt after getting too cocky (pun seriously intended). Houston was productive providing big sacks down the stretch and Theon FINALLY saved Sansa. Will things get better for these two or will their arcs go another direction?

 

Matt Slauson / Brienne of Tarth

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Slauson? Badass warrior. Brienne? Also a badass warrior. Both are tasked with protecting those who they promised to; Brienne has the Stark girls and Slauson has Jay Cutler. Both have also faced adversity to where they are now as Slauson grew up with a stutter and Brienne grew up a woman in seemingly a “man’s” world.

 

Akiem Hicks / Tormund Giantsbane

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Akiem Nicks was brought in to solidify the Bears’ front 7 against the likes of the Packers, Vikings and Lions. Tormund was brought in to do the same, uniting his Wildling people with other men to face off against the White Walkers…essentially the Packers, Vikings and Lions. In a Bears fan’s world, they are one in the same.

Bobby Massie / Giant “Wun Wun”

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Bobby Massie is also new to the Bears and he is a big bad 6’6, 316 pound man who is set to play tackle next to Kyle Long. Wun-Wun is a big bad 15+ foot, one ton (at least) giant who was set to fight alongside Jon Snow. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. What we do know for sure is that they both have a hell of a mean streak and will be prepared to kick some ass.

Wun Wun

Any other player/character comparisons you can think of? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter! Game of Thrones Season 6 begins Sunday, April 24th