Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a brand new barely-journalism series I like to call “This Week’s Bullsh***” a weekly piece that’ll not only help me keep posting a bit more often, but also will allow me the chance to further disappoint my mother with my potty-mouth and horrendous misuse of that college degree she paid for…
Love ya mom.
Anyways…each week I’ll tackle a few topics from around the sports world, give you just enough detail to feel knowledgeable about the subject, and then grossly misrepresent my opinion as fact in the hopes that you recite some of this to someone else, they come here to see what the hell you’re talking about, and the cycle repeats. I’m like 99% sure that’s how Fox News got so big, and if it’s good enough for Bill O’Reilly, then f*** it I’ll do it live!
Hot Start: The Legend of Gardner Minshew II
You thought I was going to start with the Yankees, didn’t you Squidward? Don’t worry, I promise we’ll get there. So for those of you who don’t follow the NFL closely, get all of your football information from Madden commentary, or don’t care at all but are being forced to read this by me, there’s some big changes happening around the National Football League in the early going. Most importantly perhaps is that sarcastic fans of the sport have fallen in love with the jock strap-strutting, nearly named-Beowulf, mustachioed QB1 in Jacksonville.
But the Gardner Minshew II fan club should not just be reserved for frat boys, internet trolls, and nudists. Minshew is a man of great appeal. And that includes fans of strong quarterback play. Get this, following his stellar game on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans, Minshew made NFL history. He amassed the highest completion percentage (78.3) and highest passer rating (110.6) by any quarterback through the first three games of his career, in the 100 year history of the NFL. People were quick to write off the Jaguars this year after they mega-million dollar QB signing, Nick Foles, got hurt in the team’s opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Foles might be done for the season, but the Jags might not be. Not to say that Minshew is right now as-good as the man two years removed from leading Philly to their first Super Bowl victory, but he’s certainly no Blaine Bortles either. His 80 rushing yards are good for fourth most by a QB this season, behind only the obvious suspects: Lamar Jackson, Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott. That opens up a whole new offensive bag of tricks for the Jags to play around with, as they try to press on towards the playoffs.
Yikes: New England’s Buyers-Remorse
Some are calling the Antonio Brown to the New England Patriots fiasco, the biggest conspiracy in football. Claiming that the ex-Steelers wideout made this happen because his initial trade request to be traded from Pittsburgh to the Pats got denied by his former employer. He feigned marital-bliss with the Raiders in the early stages of OTAs and training camps, but when the season inched closer, he became such a toxic locker-room presence that Oakland had no choice but to release him. Then, able to sign with whatever team he wanted, he skipped right into the waiting embrace of Tom Brady.
I have a different theory though. Perhaps this was the grand scheme of Mr. Brown, but I don’t believe that Bill Bellichek and Brady were as complicit in it as the sports world has speculated. I’ll cite the fact that the Patriots’ 2019 outlook was already in great form. Fresh off of yet another Super Bowl win, they’re still playing in the easiest division in football, and likely riding a relaxed schedule to another first-round playoff-bye. So I’m not sure that they were as desperate for AB, as he was for them.
Did it make sense for a New England team with the money to spend, and a history of turning a eccentric wide receivers into Lombardi Trophies, to sign Antonio Brown?
Do I think that they’re now regretting it with two sexual assault allegations, an apparent threat to one of his accusers regarding her children, and weird rumors of him dating Leveon Bell’s baby momma swirling?
See the above.
History: Boone & The Bronx
Thursday night not only saw an NFL game so horribly paced because of penalty calls, that the poster child for the sport tweeted that he couldn’t watch it anymore…it also saw a somewhat surprising stat in baseball. You might be thinking that it was the fact the Yankees have won their first AL East title since 2012, a figure that feels wrong simply because the team is so synonymous with winning, that them not placing atop their division’s ranks for a seven-year stretch seems unimaginable.
No, the stat that I’m referring to is instead that on Thursday night, Aaron Boone became the first manager in the history of Major League Baseball to begin his career with consecutive 100-win seasons. Think about that for a moment. There have been a combined 926 managers in the history of Major League Baseball, and a man with no prior coaching (let alone managerial) experience stepped into the role for the New York Yankees and won more games in his first two campaigns as skipper than any one else.
This was a man who was vilified upon being named to the position, because the baseball world (Steinbrenner family obviously excluded) believed there were a lot of better choices out there; most notably, the guy Boone was replacing, Joe Girardi. It’s now somewhat of a blur to look back at, but two years ago, after leading the Bombers to within a game of the World Series, the Yankees fired Girardi to the surprise of everyone…players included.
“But Nick, look at the roster that the Yankees have. Even you could’ve won 100 games with those teams”. Thanks for the vote of confidence there, pretend critic. I’ll secede that even a no-talent hack like myself could have just allowed the Yanks to go out there and slug long balls at a record clip last summer, enroute to 101 wins. But the real genius in Boone’s approach is what he did with a group of opening day back-ups that had to fill in for the record number of hurt players on this club in 2019. Seriously, name another manager in that group of 926 who could have won 100 or more games while not seeing his ace (Severino) start a game until September 17th and see none of his 1-5 hitters from the prior season (Hicks, Judge, Gregorious, Stanton, Sanchez) play more than 105 games. I’ll wait…
LegaCCy: Sabathia’s Goodbye
Athletes have long been deemed fixtures in the world of celebrity, but only in the past 10 years has this concept of paying homage at each stop along their final season, become such a mandate of bidding-ado to the greats. In 2013 I watched and cried along with Mariano Rivera from my dorm room in Queens, as he was ushered off the field by his best friends. A fitting end to a career that saw each of those men be a cornerstone of 5 championship teams. In 2014, I felt the swell of excitement as Derek Jeter had his walk-off single in his final game in the Bronx. Again a seemingly ideal end to the career of history’s greatest clutch hitter. About a year and a half later I stood in awe as Kobe Bryant dropped 60 points in front of a packed house at the Staples Center. In taking the most shots by anyone in the past three decades, he lived up to the Black Mamba mantra. Heck even in 2016, I got caught up in the emotions of the Fenway faithful as they gave a standing ovation to the living embodiment of “Boston Strong”, David Ortiz.
I sat in the stands at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night, like many, trying to soak up the last few pitches I’d ever see from the likely Hall of Famer. In just two and two-thirds innings, CC Sabathia managed to perfectly sum up his entire career too. His first hit surrendered that night was to second baseman, David Fletcher. A perfect tribute to the first hit he ever gave up…in 2001 to Orioles’ second baseman, Mike Bordick. He’d go on to sit down four consecutive batters via strikeout between the third and fourth frames, an homage of sorts to the dominating stretch of four top-4 finishes in Cy Young voting in his career. He got pulled from the game in inning number three having surrendered a pair of runs early and leaving the Yanks in a desperate need of help from their relievers, a sad indication of the depths to which we’d seen him plummet in recent years. But in the end, a standing ovation was in order, and Yankee Stadium, although frustrated to no end with what they just watched, was proud of what they’ll always remember about CC.