Since its creation, baseball has always served as a metaphor for our country. In the 20th Century, artists like Norman Rockwell and the creators of the film Field of Dreams used the game to contrast modern, urban obsessions with America’s simple, rural, and more grounded roots. Contemporary America is a long way from those values – and the national pastime is too. Today, baseball is more about power, data, recruiting overseas talent, and total revenue earned than playing the game the old, “right way”. These changes reflect the newer America: an appetite for speed and immediacy, emphasis on increasing power/production, utilizing immigrant labor, and profit maximization. A majority of fans may be happy with the majestic home runs and electrifying strikeouts they witnessed in the 2017 World Series. But, there are some who believe that it is baseball that has lost something fundamental about its essence.
The conversation’s been heating up over the past couple of weeks – who is this year’s NBA MVP? The four top candidates seem to be Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and LeBron James, and each has their own defining claim to the trophy. Westbrook is putting up the best box score stats of anyone in the modern era. Harden probably has the next-best box score stats but has a better record. Kawhi is the best defensive player of the bunch and his team has the best record of the bunch. LeBron is probably still the “best player in the NBA” if you ask players or coaches. So who will take the crown?
Last night after the All-Star Game, a bombshell deal was announced (now official) as the Sacramento Kings sent their superstar center, DeMarcus Cousins, along with Omri Casspi, to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and 2017 first- and second-round picks. This was a surprising move for multiple reasons, the first being that less than two weeks ago Kings GM Vlade Divac made it clear that Cousins would not be traded.
On August 19, after a brutal 8-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants, the New York Mets, defending champions of the National League, were 60-62. Their playoff odds were 6.7%, per Fangraphs. 6.7%! It wasn’t quite the home stretch to the 2016 season the Mets had visualized when they entered the year looking to defend their pennant and complete the path to redemption in the World Series. When they re-signed Yoenis Cespedes on January 26, they looked poised to do it, with a rotation that was being hailed as potentially one of the greatest of all time, and a mostly-intact offense from last season’s number one NL offensive team in the second half. Baseball wouldn’t have it that way.
Welcome back to Corner Three, and welcome to Tuesday Takeaways – on a Wednesday – as we kick off football season and get the juices back flowing!
Get that weak stuff outta here! Of course blocks help. Why wouldn’t they? There’s no better feeling as a big man than swatting your opponent’s naive attempt at a basket into the third row. Nowadays, however, with more data, there’s a bit deeper to dig when it comes to correctly valuing the NBA blocked shot.
The Bulls have had a solid season so far, now ranking second in the Eastern Conference after a recent 5-game winning streak, but many still have labeled new coach Fred Hoiberg’s first season with the team a disappointment. Where has the team succeeded, and where is there room for improvement?
Fresh off of his 2015 National League MVP season, including a league leading 9.9 WAR, Bryce Harper is one of the most exciting and talented young players in baseball. At the tender age of 23, Harper’s best years likely lie ahead of him, though his contract with the Washington Nationals will keep him off the free agent market until after the 2018 season. With 2016 right around the corner, and considering the outfielder’s potential, it’s certainly not too early to start conjecturing about the possibilities that surround his future and, perhaps, the first $400 million contract in professional sports.
The New York Mets are coming off of a very pleasantly surprising season in 2015, making a thrilling run to the World Series after not previously making the playoffs since 2006. They also have plenty of cause for optimism in the future, with a young and still improving pitching rotation that could already be considered the best in baseball. However, some of the moves (and non-moves) they’ve made this offseason have the fanbase scratching their heads and even calling for the owners to sell the team. Why?
Though it’s finally over, the Golden State Warriors’ winning streak was the talk of the NBA during its run, and why not? The dominance of the Warriors has been more than apparent this season. Their already-defending-MVP Stephen Curry has been by far the best player in the Association this season, contributing over 1.5 wins more than the next best player in our WAR rankings. Golden State is 24-1 with an average point differential of +13.1, and there’s no doubting the already-defending-champions have been the NBA’s best team, but by how much?