The Cleveland Frowns are the next up for HBO’s Hard Knocks

Baker Mayfield went #1 overall in the 2018 draft, do the Browns know something no one else does?

Step right up, you’re the next contestant on HBO’s Hard Knocks – the show that gives an inside look into franchise’s day-to-day process of becoming the 7-9 team that they truly are.

It’s the Cleveland Browns‘ turn to be placed in the NFL spotlight as the subject of the league’s popular HBO reality series. The show will debut Aug. 7 on HBO.

So what lies ahead for the Browns? If the previous 12 seasons of “Hard Knocks” are any indication, there will be lots of drama, crushing injuries, ice cream socials, golf cart crashes and maybe even a brawl or two. Over the 12 years of the show, the average wins in a season for a participating team is 7.5, so the formerly 0-16 Browns have that going for them….which is nice.

Here are the most memorable highlights of “Hard Knocks” according to ESPN writers:

Season 1, 2001: Baltimore Ravens

The defending Super Bowl champions dealt with the season-ending knee injury to star running back Jamal Lewis, and cameras captured the moment when coach Brian Billick received the phone call detailing the severity of the injury. The most memorable moment came during the rookie show, when linebacker Tim Johnson did a spot-on impersonation of tight end Shannon Sharpe. Johnson re-enacted the time Sharpe was locked in the meeting room by defensive tackle Tony Siragusa and wanted his “restitution.” The shot of Sharpe and linebacker Ray Lewis laughing uncontrollably remains one of the series’ most light-hearted moments.

Season result: The Ravens went 10-6 and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs, where they lost in Pittsburgh.

— Jamison Hensley

Season 2, 2002: Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys were a team in transition with only Emmitt Smith remaining from the days of the team’s renowned “Triplets.” After a 5-11 finish in 2001, the Cowboys believed they were on to better things in Dave Campo’s third year coaching. The Cowboys definitely lived up to the made-for-TV moments: Chad Hutchinson, fighting for the starting quarterback job, spent time playing the guitar with receiver Richmond Flowers; receiver Anthony Lucas’ gut-wrenching call on Jerry Jones’ phone after he tore up his knee for the second year in a row; and George Foreman speaking to the team. The lasting image from this “Hard Knocks” season was Campo in a wet suit during a break in camp at SeaWorld in San Antonio playing with the dolphins.

Season result: The Cowboys finished 5-11 for the third straight year. Campo was fired and replaced by Bill Parcells.

— Todd Archer

Season 3, 2007: Kansas City Chiefs

Quarterback Casey Printers was incredulous when told by Ray Farmer, the Chiefs’ personnel director, that he would be released. Printers wasn’t good in training camp or the preseason, but he might have played better than any of the other Chiefs quarterbacks. “Hard Knocks” made a cult hero of Bobby Sippio, a journeyman wide receiver who joined the Chiefs in the middle of training camp after injuries struck hard at the position.

Season result: The Chiefs, after winning four of their first seven games, lost their final nine to finish 4-12.

— Adam Teicher

Season 4, 2008: Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys took to Hollywood this season. After going 13-3 in 2007, they were viewed as Super Bowl contenders with quarterback Tony Romo, receiver Terrell Owens, tight end Jason Witten and linebacker DeMarcus Ware among 13 Pro Bowlers from the previous season. The Cowboys added cornerback Adam Jones and defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who both had faced legal troubles in Tennessee and Chicago, respectively. The Cowboys had memorable practices against the Denver Broncos that featured a back-and-forth between Jones and receiver Brandon Marshall.

Season result: The Cowboys finished 9-7 and were torn apart from within. It didn’t help that Romo missed three games with a broken pinky. The team closed with two losses, including a 44-6 debacle to Philadelphia in the finale. As he walked off the field, Johnson said aloud, “I’m a free agent, baby.”

— Todd Archer

Season 5, 2009: Cincinnati Bengals

HBO’s portrayal of the 2009 Bengals earned the team and the network a pair of Emmys. It was during this installment of “Hard Knocks” that football fans were more broadly introduced to receiver Chad Johnson (then Ochocinco) and his “child, please” and “kiss the baby” catchphrases. They also met Chris Henry, the embattled but up-and-coming receiver whose quiet personality endeared him to team president Mike Brown. In December of that year, Henry died when he fell off the back of a truck. Brown later said he thought the ability of “Hard Knocks” to tell personal stories about his players humanized the team and helped change people’s view of the Bengals.

Season result: Cincinnati went 10-6 before losing in the wild-card round of the playoffs to the Jets.

— Coley Harvey

Season 6, 2010: New York Jets

It’s still the highest-rated “Hard Knocks” in series history. Colorful coach Rex Ryan stole the show, entertaining many — and annoying some — with his R-rated vocabulary and nonstop sense of humor. The highlight was the “snack” speech. In a team meeting on the eve of a preseason game, the then-portly Ryan punctuated a tirade by barking at his players, “Let’s go eat a goddamned snack!” The season also featured cornerback Darrelle Revis‘ contentious holdout. In the final scene of the final episode, Revis — after signing a new contract — walked out to practice and rejoined his teammates, who greeted him with a “Rudy” clap.

Season result: The Jets went 11-5 and lost in the AFC Championship Game.

— Rich Cimini

Season 7, 2012: Miami Dolphins

The seventh season of “Hard Knocks” was highlighted by the introduction of then-rookie head coach Joe Philbin and the sudden ending to the career of receiver Chad Johnson. Philbin came off as a stickler for minute details in his first year, including one curious instance in which he picked up trash off the practice field. Philbin also had a short leash on Johnson, who got into a domestic incident with his former wife. In a memorable scene, Philbin brought Johnson into his office and cut him from the team. It turned out to be Johnson’s final shot in the NFL.

Season result: The Dolphins went 7-9 and were mostly competitive in 2012 with a rookie coach and rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. However, they failed to post a winning season for the fourth straight year. The streak would reach seven until the Dolphins finished 10-6 and reached the playoffs last season.

— James Walker

Season 8, 2013: Cincinnati Bengals

One of the most-asked questions as it relates to the 2013 Bengals is this: Does Giovani Bernard still drive the minivan? Thanks to “Hard Knocks,” viewers learned the rookie running back drove a van belonging to his girlfriend’s mother to training camp in Cincinnati as he started getting his bearings in the new city. He no longer drives it. This season also told the story of defensive tackle Larry Black. After a promising start to the summer, the Cincinnati native and undrafted free agent suffered a season-ending ankle injury in a practice. The injury gave a raw glimpse at how quickly dreams can be delayed in the NFL.

Season result: Cincinnati went 11-5 before losing in the wild-card round of the playoffs to the Chargers.

— Coley Harvey

Season 9, 2014: Atlanta Falcons

The most memorable moment from a rather dull season of “Hard Knocks” with the Falcons was the number of fights that arose, some of which appeared to be staged. It started immediately with linebacker Kroy Biermann getting into it with rookie offensive tackle Jake Matthews. Then-coach Mike Smith was more vocal and demonstrative than normal, particularly when it came to regulating the fighting. Joe Hawley, Ra’Shede Hageman and Jacques Smith were involved in the fight as well. Hageman was portrayed as an out-of-control, out-of-shape rookie who kept getting frustrated with himself, which he didn’t appreciate when the episodes aired.

Season result: The Falcons finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

— Vaughn McClure

Season 10, 2015: Houston Texans

Texans coach Bill O’Brien wasn’t delighted to be on the show but wound up one of its biggest personalities. The show documented a set of brawls during joint practices with Washington and also the Texans’ decision to choose Brian Hoyer as the team’s starting quarterback over Ryan Mallett. Cornerback Charles James and receiver EZ Nwachukwu became fan favorites who then were released by the Texans when they cut the roster to 53 players. James eventually returned.

Season result: The quarterback drama continued after the Texans stopped being filmed, and they started 2-5. They recovered to become a 9-7 playoff team but lost in the first round.

— Tania Ganguli

Season 11, 2016: Los Angeles Rams

A running theme throughout the show was the bizarre convictions of veteran defensive end William Hayes, who firmly disregarded any proof that dinosaurs ever existed and proudly clung to his belief that mermaids might actually be out there. It prompted a trip to the museum, where Hayes hilariously dismissed the fossils on display. It led to a training camp visit by a woman dressed in an Ariel costume. Said Hayes: “This is not something I just thought of a couple years ago. This is something I’ve always believed in.”

Season result: No mermaid or dinosaur, real or otherwise, could have saved the Rams in 2016. Their first season back in Los Angeles was a disaster. They had the worst offense in the NFL, lost their last seven games and finished 4-12. Their longtime head coach, Jeff Fisher, was fired before it was over.

— Alden Gonzalez

Season 11, 2017: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterback Jameis Winston took center stage as cameras followed him everywhere, including to his childhood home in Bessemer, Alabama, where he stomped on a cockroach and declared, “This cockroach havin’ a baby! This cockroach havin’ a baby, for real! Or they mating. It’s one of ’em.'” But the highlight of the season had to be when the Bucs decided they had to cut kicker Roberto Aguayo, a year after trading up in the second round to draft him. After a dismal rookie season, Aguayo’s struggles continued in training camp, and he was beaten out by veteran Nick Folk. GM Jason Licht said to coach Dirk Koetter, “(Aguayo) can make 20 of his last 20 kicks and then go to a game and nobody’s confident he’s going to make it — not even an extra point. … It’s just such a bigger mistake to keep holding on to him.” The young kicker fought back tears when he got the news from Licht and Koetter: “I let you guys down. I let myself down.”

Season result: The Bucs said all along the show would not be a distraction — and maybe it wasn’t — but the team that many believed would make the playoffs regressed in 2017, posting two five-game losing streaks on their way to a 5-11 season. Winston, who had never missed a game in his first two seasons, sat for five games because of a shoulder injury.

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Gambling is illegal here at Bushwood sir…..

Here’s What That Supreme Court Decision About Sports Betting Actually Does

re-post via deadpsin:

I’ll take the Browns to win the Super Bowl please…

There are wiser ways to start an article about sports betting than this but still, I have to warn you: Murphy v NCAA—Monday’s Supreme Court decision that freed New Jersey to allow casinos and racetracks to open sports books—is boring as hell. I’ll do what I can to overcome this burden, but there is only so much that can be done. Yes, this involves people being able to bet money on sports, and is definitely fun—word of warning to anyone whose interest has been piqued, you can actually lose money doing this—but the case itself turns on abstruse principles of federalism and not anything cool like odds or vigs or earth-shattering dunks. It’s just a bunch of nerds parsing things finely, after all.

To lay out the basics: Back in 1992 Congress passed, and President Bush the Elder signed, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a cheerfully naive attempt to pretend that legal sports betting would “change the nature of sporting events from wholesome entertainment for all ages to devices for gambling.” At the time, just four states allowed sports betting—Nevada, obviously, but also Delaware, Montana, and Oregon, which ran state sports lotteries. Those states were grandfathered in.

New Jersey was considering allowing sports books to open in Atlantic City casinos at the time, so PASPA gave them a year to get their legislative shit together so that they might also be grandfathered in. Jersey ultimately passed on the opportunity, but after roughly 20 years of Atlantic City getting battered by tribal gaming and Donald Trump’s debt boondoggles and literal hurricanes, then-Governor Chris Christie decided that he wanted AC to have sports betting after all. Alas, the federal government was no longer keen to open up the law to any more betting on sports. Whether this is due to a strong moral conviction against vice or the aggressive and constant lobbying of the NCAA and professional sports leagues I will leave as an exercise to the reader, but also in case you are dumb, it was definitely the lobbying.

As even casual followers of politics already know, Christie has never let anyone say no to him without being a big baby about it, and so he and the rest of New Jersey went ahead and repealed the state prohibition on sports gambling anyway. The state did so in a very specific way that limited the right to run a sports book to people already licensed for gambling by the state. Finding their lobbying money suddenly and disturbingly squandered, the NCAA sued New Jersey to enjoin the repeal of their prohibition on gambling on the grounds that it was prohibited by PASPA. To be clear, because this comes up later, PASPA has two main provisions: Section 3701(1), which prevents states from sponsoring or permitting or promoting sports betting and Section 3702(2), which makes it illegal for individuals to do the same thing if a state ignores the first part and allows sports betting anyway. Because New Jersey law now “permitted” sports betting, the NCAA challenged New Jersey’s right to do that.

New Jersey defended its new law primarily under the “anti-commandeering doctrine.” At its simplest, the anti-commandeering doctrine says that while Congress can pass laws within its enumerated powers that preempt state law in various ways—say, through exclusive regulatory authority on immigration or pensions—they can’t literally direct a state to do something. This is why Trump can go ahead and get really mad online about sanctuary cities but can’t actually do anything about those infuriating sanctuary cities beyond live-tweeting Fox News segments about how infuriating they are. Basically, San Francisco can’t keep ICE from arresting people, but also ICE can’t force SFPD to arrest anyone on an ICE warrant. The last time this made it to SCOTUS, it was when the federal government tried to pass off the responsibility and expense for doing background checks on gun purchases to local police. Good federalists that they are, the anti-commandeering doctrine is the kind of thing that the current SCOTUS majority likes.

Anyway, the NCAA and the feds tried to defend PASPA by saying that the law didn’t require New Jersey to do anything, because sports betting was already illegal. It only required New Jersey to freeze its laws and never change them. This distinction without a difference is exactly as stupid as it sounds, but for some reason the lower courts bought it. Even Justice Ginsburg’s dissent doesn’t bother arguing that this is a reasonable reading of the anti-commandeering doctrine. The NCAA made other similar arguments along these lines, but you don’t want to hear them and also the Court brushed them off for roughly the same reasons.

After this, the case gets a even more obscure, because once the Court decided, more or less by acclimation, that after striking the part of 3702(1) keeping New Jersey from “allowing” sports betting, the next question for the Court was what about the rest of the statute, like whether states could “sponsor” sports lotteries, or Section 3702(2), which said “even if the states happen to make this legal for an individual to do this, you still definitely can’t.” This part broke the Court into four different opinions, and friends if you think anti-commandeering doctrine is tedious, wait until I tell you about severability. I will do this one in bullet points:

  • Alito, with Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Kagan, and Gorsuch agreed that if Congress knew the challenged parts of 3702(1) were unconstitutional, they never would have passed the rest of the statute, and therefore the whole thing is also unconstitutional. The analysis the majority engages in here is an extended counterfactual hypothetical that is effectively SCOTUS saying “nah.” Six votes, though.
  • Thomas, in his quirky tricorn-hat way, concedes that Supreme Court precedent operates basically the way Alito says it does, so he joins the majority opinion, but then spends the better part of five pages on an interesting philosophical argument that the entire doctrine of severability and the ways in which courts invalidate statutes—and have done since roughly the late 1800’s—is incompatible with textualism, standing, and the separation of powers. It would make a good law review article but also even the rest of the Supreme Court will never care, so let’s just consider it noted.
  • Breyer agreed with Alito on everything but the severability of 3702(2), so he wrote about that for a little bit, but he basically just agrees with Alito on the main challenge but with Ginsburg on severability.
  • Ginsburg and Sotomayor argue that since the federal government can clearly prohibit sports betting under the interstate commerce clause, 3702(2) is a reasonable exercise of that power, has an independent logic, and is therefore severable and constitutional.

One thing everyone agrees with, though, is that if Congress wanted to make sports betting illegal—which, contra whatever tweets you’ve seen, this decision does not do—it absolutely could. Some justices would quibble about what constitutes interstate commerce, the same way they argued about it in the context of intrastate marijuana farming for legal medical use, but in general, the federal government can make sports betting illegal, but it can’t make the states make sports-betting illegal under state law.

The upshot here is this: after the decision, two types of lawyers immediately sprung into action. First, every casino and racetrack operator in New Jersey started working on a license application to the New Jersey Gaming Commission to add a sportsbook. Second, the NCAA and every professional sports league in the country—possibly over Mark Cuban’s objection—have reengaged the lobbyists that pushed PASPA through the first time. This time, though, the ask is bigger: they’re going to ask Congress to pass a broad federal anti-sports gambling prohibition. For the integrity of the game. For the children. For … well, you already know why.

Come and meet the Mets, greet the Mets!

A potential first-inning rally ended prematurely for the New York Mets because they batted out of order Wednesday after a discrepancy in lineup cards. They went on to lose to the Cincinnati Reds 2-1.

“It’s frustrating,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “It probably cost us the game.”

A screw-up of this nature typically is saved for Little League, Tee-ball or Beer-league softball, which accurately describes where the Mets are sitting currently in the National League East, where they sit only above the cellar-dwelling Zombie Marlins.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Brewers were the last team to bat out of order, doing so in the first inning on July 4, 2016, against the Nationals.

I can’t believe this has happened in two MLB games within 3 seasons of each other…..even my old-man rec softball league in which I attend for the purpose of drinking in a dugout while wearing a uniform hasn’t screwed up the batting order in the last 3 years.

 

 

NBA first round exit interviews

It’s peanut butter jelly time.

When a team exits the first round of the playoffs, for some less-than smiley players on the losing squad, the final post-game interview of the season can be a bit daunting. Typically younger players with more to lose keep a tight lip, potentially spit out the athlete-rhetoric responses we have grown used to about “the future” or “keep working hard” or my personal favorite, “it is what it is”.

“Did IIIIIIIIIII do thattttt?!?!”

But every once in a great while, a player who’s a little longer in the tooth and full in the belly, may spew out some interesting nuggets of truth and /or general tone-def selfishness.

Cool armpit tattoo bro.

Take John Wall for example, when disposed about his team’s future:

“It’s just figuring out what pieces we can add to our team,” Wall said. “What guys can stay and what guys can go. That make us, that really want to be here. That really want to win and really want to take that next step.

“I don’t put the pressure on everybody else. I put the pressure on myself because I am that franchise guy. I am the guy that has to be the leader of the team, that has to get everybody better, make everybody better on my team,” Wall said. “At the same time, if I’m doing my part, the other 14 guys on my team have to do their part at getting better every year. Just being true to the team. Our problem at a lot times is guys don’t understand their role and respect their role.”

After the post-game interviews cooled, he elaborated more by throwing players under the bus:

“It’s pretty obvious. I don’t need to point it out. I think the way the league is going, you need athletic bigs, you need scoring off the bench, you need all of those types of things,” Wall said. “We don’t really have an athletic big.”

later adding….

“I don’t know. It’s up to them to make the decision. Like I said, whoever comes back, whoever stays, what it is, we deal with it because those are our teammates,” Wall said. “Those guys do the best they can. They have the ability to help us out as much as possible. We know what it is, what the situations are. That’s up to the front office to decide. If they want to make any changes or keep guys. At the same time, you kind of know what guys want to be here from what people have said in the past or what they haven’t said.”

Sooooooo that’s one way to do it, I guess.

Carmelo Anthony, who in the last 6 months, fell off of a cliff the size of the friggin Grand Canyon averaged an awkward 16.2 ppg and 5.8 rpb this season (both career lows) only to follow-up the downward spiral in the playoffs by slopping out 11.2 ppg and 5.6 rpg. The stat line in the playoffs for Melo read more like a third year role player who might get traded in the off-season than that of a scoring champ, gold medalist and league scoring title-belt owner.

So when the OKC Westbrooks were put out of their misery by the Utah Yazz flutes, an obviously frustrated Melo took to the microphone, and when asked about next season, Melo replied:

“I’m not sacrificing no bench role. That’s out of the question. As far as sacrificing—I don’t even like to talk about finances and the economics of the game of basketball. When that time comes, that time will come. If and when we have to sit down and talk about what’s the future, and ideas and situations, then, that time will come. I honestly don’t even feel comfortable sitting here talking about money and basketball.”

Kudos for Melo NOT speaking money publicly, he’s smart to ignore that part of it. Melo si owed $28 million next year if OKC takes his option and brings him back. But there’s zero chance Melo will be a starter, he’s hit his wall athletically and there’s no chance he can be anything but a spot up shooter with Westbrook’s gazelle offense. This season he produced a dismal 50.3 True Shooting percentage, and an even shittier 48.3 percentage after the All Star break. He’s been an inefficient scorer and a poor defender for at least the last four seasons and forever respectively.

 

The NBA playoffs are here- rejoice unto him

Key dates: 2018 NBA playoffs

April 14: First round begins | Tickets on Vivid Seats

April 30-May 1: Conference semis begin (possible move-up to April 28-29)

May 15-16: Conference finals begin (possible move-up to May 13-14)

May 31: NBA Finals begin

(1) Toronto Raptors vs. (8) Washington Wizards


(2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Milwaukee Bucks


(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (6) Miami Heat


(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Indiana Pacers

(1) Houston Rockets vs. (8) Minnesota Timberwolves


(2) Golden State Warriors vs. (7) San Antonio Spurs


(3) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (6) New Orleans Pelicans


(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Utah Jazz

USA Men’s curling team should stick to curling

The gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic men’s curling team could use some work on the ceremonial first pitches, or maybe any type of sport that doesn’t involve ice, a broom and a rock.

Man, those were bad. Crummy opening pitches have become the norm, pretty much across the board. But every once in a while you get a REALLY shitty throw that makes everyone watching simultaneously say “tha fuck was that?”.

The combined efforts of (from left to right) Joe Polo, John Shuster, Tyler George, Matt Hamilton, and John Landsteiner resulted in one respectable throw—well, one and a half if we count Hamilton rolling his baseball to the catcher. By far the best/worst of the bunch is Tyler George (middle) going full “Wild Thing” by tossing it to the wrong catcher completely in curling-unison with John Shuster’s toss that ended up in the bottom of Lake Minnetonka.

Go team USA.

 

 

You’ve all been asking – what’s really going on with Korean basketball?

Determination masked as mouth-breathing

Recently many of you may have been pondering, as I often do, what’s going on in the world of professional Korean basketball?

Resting in the shadows of the 2018 Olympics, nuclear weapons and politics – we have the current state of hoops going through a bit of a renaissance in South Korea.

As reported by Deadspin:

The KBL instituted a rule last month to limit the height of foreign players to two meters, and to only have a maximum of two foreign players per team, according to the Korea Times.

The rule was reportedly put in place to encourage teams to recruit more locally. And in the true over-40 rec league sense of rule making – to find players who aren’t merely a tall drink of water holding a basketball above their head while “the littles” attempt to swing at the just-out-of-reach ball like they’re swatting at flies. If this sounds like a scene from Space Jam, well…..it kinda is:

He’s so little!

David Simon, a 35-year-old Anyang KGC center, has been playing overseas for more than a decade now, but this new rule means he’ll have to find a team in another country. He’s now too tall for the Korean Basketball League. At 6-foot-8 or 202 centimeters, Simon doesn’t cut it, the limit is now 200 cm per player.

Although height definitely helps on the hardwood, it doesn’t necessarily translate to skill—but it has for Simon, who led the league this season in scoring (26.1 points per game) and blocks (2.2). So, essentially the league just gave it’s best player the boot.

David Simon (not The Wire)

This isn’t the first time the Korean pro league has made some headlines of late, recently coach Yoo Jae-hak of the Korean Basketball League was livid during a timeout, even though his team was winning by 13 points, and one specific player caught his ire.

Jae-hak was so inexplicably furious that he had a staff member give tape for Ham Ji-hoon to place over his mouth. Now, I don’t speak Korean, so I’m not sure what was said, but the tape probably meant Jae-hak wanted that player to shut up.

And let’s not forget the greatest basketball themed mannequin challenge ever perpetrated on a basketball court (I apologize for the social commentary in this video):