Video of the Week

I’m flashing back to basketball season for this one. This is a “for the love of the game” moment for me.

As most avid college basketball fans know, the Duke-UNC rivalry is probably the best rivalry in college basketball. Even to the point that the managers of both teams play a game of pick-up basketball when the teams get together to play. The video above captures the game-winning shot from a Duke team manager. I’ve heard that students and Duke basketball players were in the stands watching this game when it happened. What a special moment to reverse roles. Instead of players being mobbed, it’s the players mobbing the managers. Oh, and by the way, I’m a big Duke fan so that makes this video even better for me.

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Who’s call?

The above video is a call that went against my favorite team to end a game. And I don’t care too much. Because I understand the umpire’s perspective and the difficulty of his job.

Baseball is my favorite sport. I understand that people are sometimes bored by its slow-pace. But I love it nonetheless and I know many other do as well.

Recently talk has surfaced about the role of replay in MLB. And I am against it all. Replay in all sports is great in helping to get calls right. But it also causes games to drag on, and regardless of what is said there is a business/entertainment aspect of sports. Games need to keep moving to keep fans entertained.

The worst part about replay in MLB is the time it will take umpires to leave the field. In football and basketball, at least there is a booth or scorer’s table for officials to check replay monitors. Do we really want to wait at an already slow-paced baseball game for umpires to jog into the locker room for 10-20 minutes and then return to make a call. And then a manager to argue or seek an explanation for the final decision. I don’t think so.

I’ve grown up playing a lot of baseball. I’ve had a lot of lucky calls go my way. I’ve also had a lot of bad calls go my way. I’ve also umpired myself. It isn’t easy. The human error of umpiring is part of the game. There aren’t scandals, there are mistakes but not enough to damage the reputation of the game.

Take a look back into baseball history. Aside from the Derek Jeter home run I can’t think of many game-altering calls that have hurt the league. You win some, you lose some. I recognize we have the technology to probably eliminate umpires all together. In 50 years we might not need human officials in any sport. But is that really the point?

All humans make mistakes. And I heard during a Mariners broadcast last year that umpires actually have the highest correct-call percentage of officials in all the major sports. They really are very talented and good at what they do. So why remove the human element of the game and make games even longer with the use of technology?

A Rarity for Russell

As we get into the heart of the NBA Playoffs, a familiar face has gone missing.

Russell Westbrook has not been playing. Wait, did we hear that right? This is Russell Westbrook we are talking about. The three-time All-Star and insanely athletic point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

As a Sonics/Thunder fan, I was a little skeptical when the Sonics took him 4th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft. Playing at UCLA, I remember when he played the Huskies and I didn’t think he was top-five talent after being named to the all Pac-10 Third Team his sophomore year. But after quickly seeing what he has done in OKC, I couldn’t be more happy with the pick.

This dude is unreal at the point guard position. If you dont believe me, watch the highlights above. He was 5-8 140 lbs entering high school. And after growing to 6-3 his senior year the athleticism has blossomed. Westbrook and Derrick Rose are in a league of their own when it comes to point guard athleticism. I’ve heard broadcasters describe Westbrook as a freak of nature. His quickness, power and touch at the point guard position is a rare combination.

All this athleticism is also durable too. So often great talent in sports is limited or diminished because the player is injury-prone. I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I saw a couple years ago that Westbrook has never missed a game since before high school. Or maybe ever. But I know for sure that ever since attending UCLA for two years and then playing 394 consecutive games in the NBA, Westbrook has never sat out a game. Not for suspension, or injury or anything. That is flat out remarkable for the rate tha athletes get injured, and especially for Westbrook with the high-flying pace of his game.

Westbrook was injured in the first round of the playoffs against the Rockets and in his absence the Thunder have not been the same team. That is in part why I do this post. Analysts have criticized Westbrook for his decision-making. The media have tried to say that there is a feud between Durant and Westbrook. Someone please show me legit proof of that because as a close follower of the Thunder I haven’t seen proof of the feud.

I don’t know how much longer the Thunder can last without Westbrook. He fuels the team alongside Durant, and is simply irreplaceable  Derek Fisher and Reggie Moore are quality players, but they aren’t Westbrook. And knowing the type of intense competitor Westbrook, you know that sitting out for the first time ever is eating him up inside.

So here’s to whatever playoff run the Thunder can muster without Westbrook. Here’s to recognizing an outstanding stretch of games without an injury. And here’s to a speedy recovery.

Video of the Week

Richard Sherman is such a character. He’s one of those guys that you might not root for if he isn’t on your team. Even just this weekend Sherman was riding a jet ski around on the water to check out the Sehawks rookie mini-camp. This video is a bit of a throwback to the end of football season. But it’s such a great and clever watch that I had to post.

A clever idea by Bleacher Report and of course Sherman doesn’t disappoint with his personality.

 

The Name Game

I have a fascination with names of athletes. Does an athlete name have anything to do with anything? In all seriousness, no. Nicknames are a big part of sports. I mean, you get 36 nicknames from Google alone for Shaquille O’Neal when you google “Shaq nicknames”. Names also help with marketing athletes sometimes. But for whatever reason, I just like unusual names. So, I’ve decided to rank my top 10 names in sports.

In all truthfulness, I could probably make a lot of different lists. And year-to-year that list would vary. For my list, I am going with current players. Well not exactly current, but either current or in recent memory from the last decade or so. Using older athletes would make these decision a lot harder. And also, let it be known that I don’t even know what it is about names that intrigue me. It doesn’t impact the way a player plays. But right now, here are my top 10.

10. Fred

I’ll admit, I’m not very familiar with soccer names. But this one stands out to me. There are great one-name players in soccer. Ronaldo, Ronaldihno, Pele, etc. But this one stands out because it’s one syllable. His full legal name is Helbert Frederico Carreiro da Silva. But he goes by Fred. That’s awesome!

9. Uche Echefu

I first heard this name reading a high school magazine about top high school basketball players in the nation. The remarkable fact about Echefu is that he only started playing organized basketball in high school. His senior year at Florida State was in 2009. I just remember seeing his name in a magazine and thinking how great it was. A great name and a great one for the PA announcer to say as well.

8. Milton Bradley

A classic. A character on and off the field as a baseball player.But you can’t ignore the fact that his name is the exact same as the famous board game brand. The only major difference of course being the board game Bradley died in 1911 while the recently retired baseball player was born in 1978. You have to wonder if his parents were aware of the board game maker or not when naming him.

7. Picabo Street

Picabo is a retired alpine race skier. But what a great name! She also put out an autobiography called Picabo: Nothing to Hide. Is that a a play on her own name? She even appeared on a Sesame Street episode and Elmo was searching for Peekaboo Street but instead found the actual Picabo Street.

6. Pierre-Marie Altidore Cespedes

I first heard about Cespedes when he played basketball for Gonzaga in 2004. What a great name! Long names in sports always fascinate me, especially when the public adress announcer or broadcaster had to call his name. Such a mouthful, but at the same time so great. Cespedes transferred to Marshall after playing at Gonzaga but I’m unsure of whether or not he still plays basketball today.

5. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Hard to rank Cespedes and Mbah a Moute. For me, Mbah a Moute goes ahead in part because of longevity in the game. Mbah a moute played at UCLA, which was when I first heard his name. And now he plays for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, and is an outstanding defender. From Cameroon, Mbah a Moute has a father who is a government official for Cameroon and Mbah a Moute is actually the prince of a village in Cameroon. A pretty cool success story getting to the NBA, and a pretty cool name.

4. Chief Kickingstallionsims

I head about Kickingstallionsims when he played for Alabama State in the NCAA Tournament a few years back. The dude is 7-foot-1 and weights 265 lbs. Although his team didn’t make it far, his story and name was a talked about a lot while the team was in the tournament. I’m pretty sure he know plays professionally in Europe.

3. Longar Longar

Longar played basketball collegiately for Oklahoma. I remember reading his name somewhere and having to reread. A first name the same as a last name! He was a senior in 2008, and may be out of basketball by now. Originally from Sudan, I found his full name is Longer Salvatory Longar. I wish I could have been at an OU game to here the PA announcer call his name when he scored.

2. Andrew Andrews

Probably a little biased ranking Andrews up so high. But a current basketball player for UW, I remember seeing that the Dawgs were going to sign Andrews. At first I was like, “Cool his first name is the same as mine…but wait is last name is too!” I found out Andrews changed his last name after his aunt adopted him and helped raise him. So it was actually somewhat of a choice? A great choice by my judging. It’s great to hear an announcer call the name “Andrew….Andrews!” in the starting lineup introductions.

1. Vander Blue

A current player who recently finished his career with Marquette and will now enter the NBA draft after his junior year. I hope he has a good NBA career. That name can sell some t-shirts or something, I know it. The rare first name combined with one syllable last name is great. Here’s a highlight video of Blue in tribute of his name and spot on my countdown list.

 

 

 

 

Video(s) of the Week

The Pepsi Campaign Series

The original video. Uncle Drew (NBA star Kyrie Irving) dominates a playground basketball game. A genious campaign in my mind, combining athletes and comedy to market a product. Also, a great length video for YouTube that would be too long for a television commercial.

Uncle Drew Part 2. Why not build off the success of the first video is over 7 million views? This time, even better in my mind, using Irving and fellow NBA star Kevin Love. A bit more of an introduction story build-up which I love, and using NBA legend Bill Russell who is actually an old man now. Here’s a video that promoted the release of Uncle Drew Part 2 with a comical interview Uncle Drew had with ESPN. Click here to go behind the scenes of the production. The dressing up of Kevin Love even freaked out his own dad a little bit.

For me, maybe the most comical of the three. Less people to fool with just the car salesman and a nice change from the first two video. I’m excited to see if Pepsi has plans to make anymore of these internet campaign videos and if they will continue to involve different sports.

Video of the Week

I’ve been a fan of Russell Wilson ever since I first saw him playing football for N.C. State. As a former baseball player, I loved that fact that Wilson was a two-sport athlete playing football and baseball. I also like the fact that he has a composed demeanor on and off the field, and that ESPN chose to feature him in their pre-draft video. So great to see anyone from the the Pacific Northwest, and better yet a Seattle team, featured on the national stage.