I’m not going to lie, we - as Devils’ fans - kind of had this coming.
By “this”, of course, I don’t mean a disastrous defeat in which the team treated a 4-0 second period lead in the home-opener as if it were a 4-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, nor am I referring to back-to-back, uncompetitive no-shows in which a revamped roster switched on-and-off between relying too much on skill and aimlessly searching to figure out where they misplaced it.
Instead, I am talking about the inevitable crash following what was the offseason equivalent of an unadulterated opium drip. Not to excuse what’s been a nightmarish start to an insanely important season, but our wildest dreams - and they were a bountiful with how shamelessly optimistic the pandering was at all levels of the organization - never stood a chance of being immediately fulfilled. With a hell of a lot of new talent comes almost an entirely new team, so these growing pains, and the despondent disappointment that's come right along with them, were unavoidable.
That being said, the instantaneous timing and abrupt sharpness of them all but force at least an initial conversation about the elephant in the online echo chamber. Personally, I think John Hynes is a great motivator and a good coach, but what’s really scary is that the most deafening argument against that idea isn’t being made by irrational people on the internet. Rather, it’s come by way of dispirited efforts and desperate decisions. It was always going to take time to gel, as chemistry can't be created on paper, but to call the New Jersey Devils “a work in progress” three games into the season would be offensive to the term ‘progress’.
You need not look further than another team’s trash, in John Hayden, being promoted mid-game as some foolproof fix-all to defensive woes in an obvious act of over-coaching.your way out of a 3-goal, third period lead. However, if you did you might see a 36-year old Andy Greene opening the season in a first pairing role that even his agent wouldn’t argue he’s still capable of filling. Speaking of agents, Mirco Mueller's probably highlighted his ability to get his client a job on his resume while in search of a gig with a semblance of security, and yet it still took said client two whole games post a pathetic preseason to get him relegated to a luxury suite.
I typically don't like to overreact to line combinations, because there's not a soul that can definitively say what will eventually end up working for a young group that's in its infancy when it comes to playing together. However, any soul belonging to someone who has watched them play prior to this season could confidently tell you that an improvisational offensive threat, the likes of Jack Hughes, was the oil to the water bowl that Miles Wood always appears to be running towards when he plays the game with the spatial awareness of a dog chasing a tennis ball across a hardwood floor.
I'm all for experimentation, especially early on in a locker room full of unknowns, but I also don't need to dump ketchup on my spaghetti to know that it makes for a meal as unpalatable as the archaic idea of icing objectively worse players in the name of toughness. The Devils didn't line up across from Bobby Clarke in his prime last night, but they certainly made sure they were prepared in case the Broad Street Bullies took the ice, 'Field Of Dreams'-style, by benching one of the better defensive forwards on a struggling PK (Pavel Zacha) against a perennially dangerous powerplay in favor of bringing extra fists to the 4th line.
The truth of the matter is, short of pepper spraying their opponent in the pregame, there's not one move - made or left unmade - that would have changed the Devils fortunes thus far. To varying degrees, every player that has taken the ice for them has contributed to the pile of shit that has failed to stick to the wall and been left to form a heaping mound of crap so hilariously huge that it could be used as comedic relief in the next 'Jurassic Park' movie...
It just feels like everyone both on the ice and behind the bench is doing a whole lot of guessing, but it's more in the vain of "how many gumballs do you think we can fit on this sinking ship before Taylor Hall calls for a life raft?", as opposed to being a simple matter of unfamiliarity. It truly looks like less than nothing was learned throughout training camp and that's far more concerning than taking a couple of early L's.
Of course, it's psychotically premature to make any blanket statements about where this team is headed or who will be leading them when they get there. It's not too early, however, to say that it's too late in the rebuild to simply brush off the dumbfounding deployment of under-performing players. We've reached fine-tooth comb territory, and - as the Devils somehow stand more spineless than they are winless a week into what was supposed to be a transformative season - the fanbase is left feeling like a school nurse during a lice outbreak.
Things could turn around as soon as tonight and there is still a ton of hope to potentially be had, but the ease with which everyone in the locker room pissed away the unprecedented amount of excitement that Ray Shero built up over the summer has expedited enraged overreactions as much as it has humbled expectations. I'd prefer to say that's not fair, but almost everything about the hockey they've played thus far has been inexcusably foul. The extremely early returns of this 'New Era' has the fan base pulling their proverbial hats down over the eyes in familiarly fatalistic fashion, and - from the top down - I can't see that being tolerated for too long.
Colts' Fans Definitely Shouldn't Have Boo'd Andrew Luck, but I'm Not Exactly Sure What They Should Have Done
I think it pretty much goes without saying that it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad look for a fanbase to boo a selfless teammate and leader who gave his body and, apparently, his self-worth/peace of mind to a franchise that proved wildly undeserving it for the better part of a career cut short.
What does bear mentioning, however, is that it’s also a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad look for a superstar to have his early, unexpected, and untimely retirement leak while he’s ON THE SIDELINE in front of thousands of fans that had the return on their investment into season tickets scorched to ashes by receiving devastating news during a practice game that’s supposed to predominantly serve as the peak of offseason optimism.
Andrew Luck obviously didn’t plan on being in a position so obnoxiously awkward that it would make Larry David dig a hole for his head. However, the circumstances caused by the insatiability of social media didn’t just put him in that situation. They also put the people who paid a full ticket price (or 10-15x the actual value of the product on the field) for what ended up being the most shockingly unfulfilling sports experience of their entire life in that situation.
To clarify, if I were a Colts’ fan I couldn’t personally envision myself booing a player who undoubtedly just made the most difficult decision of his life after sacrificing the vast majority of his professional potential to an organization that was blissfully ignorant of its own incompetence for far too long. That’s partially because I find the act itself to be that of a drunken caveman and partially because my ability to utter sound probably would have temporarily departed my body along with my violently extracted soul. That being said, a well-deserved round of applause would have fallen behind two dozen depression beers at 25th on the list of rounds I felt up for participating in.
The truth of the matter is that there is no wrong time to do what’s right for yourself, so credit has to go to Andrew Luck for pushing aside an ungodly amount of peer pressure in refusing to put a price tag on his health and happiness. Prioritizing both your family and your long-term future while presently entrenched in a billion dollar business in which you’re widely worshiped is as commendable as it is rare. He earned every last dollar he made in getting bludgeoned into bi-monthly body scans behind an offensive line that, for years, was only addressed from in-house with “hey, at least you tried”, and in doing so reinforced his right to walk away from what is nothing more than a game when it stopped fulfilling him as much as frustrating him.
Still, we are talking about someone who is retiring prior to the age of the 30 with the Fort Knox equivalent of financial security in part due to the same fanaticism that saw him leaving the field for the final time to a chorus of half-baffled boos. Never mind that the emotional and overly invested idiots that couldn't help but get caught up in such a morose moment were likely "speaking" to an unfathomable organizational failure as much as they were the main victim of it. There's an inherent stupidity that comes with placing such an obsessive value on the athletic achievements of people in a particular uniform and it's one that drives both profit and popularity. In simpler terms, fandom makes people act irrationally, and that doesn't even take into account that the fans in question were hardly granted any time to accept an announcement that was universally stupefying throughout the entire sports world.
I’m certainly not blaming Andrew Luck for getting Schefter'd in making official the end to his thankless, rinse-and-repeat process of constant rehab, nor am I endorsing the actions of the people that took part in such an undeniably cringeworthy display of disrespect towards him. What I am doing is saying that I get how such a completely FUBAR'd farewell that seemingly came out of nowhere and cratered the otherwise realistic championship hopes of the home crowd two weeks before the kickoff to what was presenting itself to be a promising season wasn’t a fond one. It's far more important to be sympathetic to the plight of Andrew Luck as a person, but those outside Indianapolis can hop off their high horse in acting like his decision to stop being a player is one that should have been fully absorbed, understood, and embraced by his most impassioned fans in the time it took literally everyone else to triple-check to make sure they weren’t being trolled on twitter.
Much Like Almost Every Football Thrown in His General Direction the Last Three Years, 100 Million Dollar Mike Finally Secured His Bag
It might read like a weird thing to write about a contract negotiation that resulted in a star player’s absence from a Super Bowl contender’s training camp, but I don’t think there was a more fitting way for the New Orleans Saints and Michael Thomas to finally commit to each other for the next five years. Honestly, given everything we’ve come to know of a braintrust that’s always been bullish on their ability to replace skill position players who are up for a raise and a wideout who was aggressively and openly aware of his need for a massive one, it wouldn’t have felt right had the two sides been ready to break the bank immediately after breaking the proverbial bread. If it had been as easy as we were being led to believe prior to his holdout, I’d have spent more time trying to find a catch than the Saints’ offense when Michael Thomas wasn’t the intended target last season. Therefore, in the sense that some of Mickey Loomis' funny money was necessary in the making of a milestone extension, the extra time it took to get signed, sealed, and delivered really reinforced the belief that Michael Thomas is the perfect Saint, as he basically reflects the near-stubborn confidence of the front office that just rewarded it.
Please allow me a 50 mile head-start before telling him I said so, but Michael Thomas isn’t the best wide receiver in the National Football League. What he is, however, is close enough to that crown to quite easily justify leveraging the Saints’ over-reliance on his efforts in the passing game into an amount of zeros previously unmatched amongst offensive players that don’t wear a different color jersey at this time of year. What he might lack in game-breaking ability he makes up for in the proficiency of his efficiency. Never mind keeping happy the go-to guy that’s helped a first ballot HOFer age gracefully as he looks to add another ring to his finger before waving goodbye to the game. Think it might matter that when Drew Brees inevitably rides off into the sunset that his replacement will be lucky enough to throw to a reliable playmaker who is such a guarantee to catch everything thrown in his general vicinity that it makes you believe he can't possibly come as advertised without there being some tomfoolery in the fine print?
Historical precedent might say that paying top-dollar for receivers doesn’t result in a high level of organizational success, but all that history serves as to a player as profoundly prideful as Michael Thomas is a challenge...
We're talking about someone who is so self-motivated that I wouldn't be surprised if his biggest rival was his mirror. Someone who relies just as much, if not more so, on expertise as athleticism. Someone whose attitude and work ethic are infectious throughout the locker room. Position aside, Michael Thomas is the type of competitor you don't mind paying big money to because he makes everyone better and there is no amount of dollars that could pay away his undying desire to be dominant.
Of course, the Saints really had no choice but to pay him big money as the window to win a championship is closing by the day and they certainly weren't doing so without #13 on the field drawing attention and bullying open passing windows for Drew Brees. Still, the concerns that come with paying a premium for a pass-catcher aren't as worrisome when said pass-catcher has a chip on his shoulder than even surgery couldn’t remove and fully bought into a cohesive culture long before his annual salary allowed him to buy any damn thing he pleases.
Who Better to Punctuate This Summer's Massive Migration of Talent to the New Jersey Devils Than The Goose Himself
You know, when the celebration of this offseason title finally subsides, there should be no shortage of apologies addressed to the man that turned a bad team with money to burn into one of the NHL’s most exciting rosters in the short time it typically takes for some fans to convince themselves that they are better at his job. Honestly, I want strong consideration given to constructing a confessional booth on the Prudential Center concourse between now and opening night for preseason use by any and every idiot that slandered Ray Shero for his reluctance to commit the sins of cap-strapped teams before him by falling victim to the fool’s errand that is free agency. I don’t know about you, but the irony of him being able to give Devils’ twitter exactly who they desperately wanted - with the shrewd acquisition of the best player outside the NHL - solely because he left them to spend a season-plus screaming into an empty void of an echo chamber while obsessing over the prospect of overpaying for past performance isn’t lost on me.
As for the actual player that serves as the next chapter of what’s been a quick and complete organizational rewrite, I’m not sure there’s anything other than his nationality that’s not to love. Once you get over the entirely understandable and otherwise undying trust issues that come with New Jersey signing another offensive-minded Russian, Nikita Gusev perfectly fits the bill of what the Devils openly prioritized at the very public request of their impending free agent of an MVP...
If absolutely nothing else, he is pretty much the personification of talent. He might not be the most physically imposing or fleet of foot of talent, but the skillset of someone that compares favorably to a New York Ranger that shall remain nameless are as undeniable on the ice as they are in the analytics...
How well it’ll translate to the NHL can obviously be questioned, but its existence can not. The player that owns two KHL MVP awards and the second highest scoring season in league history has star-power potential and he’s joining a team that hardly even needs him to fully realize it as he is presumably the final, complimentary piece to a formidable Top-6. With the risk of throwing in some ‘B’ level assets in order to pay an unproven commodity nine million over two years being minimized by the fact that the Devils don’t need full financial flexibility until those seasons have elapsed, it becomes pretty hard to envision it not being easily matched by the reward of rostering a preposterous amount of puck skills.
Whether or not the Goose takes flight towards the top of a lineup that’ll cater to his creativity remains to be seen, but Ray Shero’s laser-focused vision for the long-term future of the franchise he’s built from the barest of bones is not. Championship contention isn’t exactly around the corner, but it’s a hell of a lot closer than it was in April. That’s due in large part to the possibilities that patience provides, and those possibilities appear damn near endless with the Devils renovating their roster by adding Jack Hughes, P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Ty Smith, Nikita Gusev, and potentially Jesper Boqvist to a flock that’ll look almost unrecognizable for all the right reasons.
By Hook or By Crook, Kawhi Leonard Gave the Lakers Exactly What They Deserved in Spurning Them for the Clippers
I don’t think Kawhi Leonard’s intention was to do anything other than put himself in the best possible position to win both now and later as the number one option for a team located in his beloved Southern California. He clearly accomplished just that in proving that robots are, indeed, en route to outsmarting and exterminating all of us by quietly forcing the hand of two separate franchises, while leaving two others lying in the lurch, to make an 11th hour trade that involved a record-setting return. At the end of the day, it's possible that the biggest reason the Lakers thought they had a real chance was because they convinced themselves they had a real chance, as the insertion of an exceedingly silent, ball-dominant assassin next to Anthony Davis in the LeBron James' media circus never made any sense whatsoever.
That, however, doesn't make the collateral damage caused by his decision, with that being the complete compromising of the Lakers' superiority complex, any less sweet. I have a hard time believing that Kawhi Leonard had sticking it to Bron on the brain when he was playing hard-to-get with Jeanie Buss while going door-to-door around the NBA in trying to recruit a second star player to the Clippers...
However, if one were to plot out a maniacally meticulous plan of attack on the insufferable entitlement of an organization that couldn't be bothered to show a baseline level of competence in expecting a third transcendent talent to just fall in their lap? Well, I'm not sure they could craft a better backstabbing than the one that Kawhi Leonard just pulled off in leading on the Lakers for nothing more than leverage in making the Clippers more competitive.
Uniting two stars who, in consecutive years, more or less told LeBron & Co. to piss in the wind despite both having an obvious affinity for Los Angeles, and doing so in a form and fashion that brought the most formidable of foe in-house? With the way his free agency played out, eventually leaving Rob Pelinka to pick from the scrap heap of what was left over of the mid-tier free agents he missed out on by chasing the dragon that is star-power (which he did a decent job of, in all fairness), you'd think Kawhi Leonard was seeking vengeance after being Don King'd by Klutch Sports. I'm not sure his plan was as devious as it was determined, but reminding the Lakers of their most recent free agency failures by going above and beyond to have them call home the same building in a less prestigious uniform is how you pour gasoline on a dumpster fire in showing a legendary organization the error of its current leadership.
Kawhi Leonard sent the Lakers their reality check by choosing to both join and actively reinforce the deeper, more complete roster in Los Angeles while putting his trust in the city's most accomplished coach and executive. Whether they deposit said "check" or refuse to withdraw their head from their ass in continuing to live in LaLa Land remains to be seen. Regardless, they are currently the second-most flexible franchise in their own arena due to dumbass decision-making that couldn't possibly have done less to earn the services of the most deadly three-headed monster in NBA history.
It never made any sense for Kawhi to subject himself to a high-profile power struggle for possessions. The Lakers being unable to see that while going against the wishes of the introverted player they had targeted in aimlessly leaking baseless bullshit like they lost control of their organizational bladder tells you pretty much everything you need to know. They are a franchise that's been made spoiled by LeBron and his team choosing to make them relevant in prioritizing local interests outside basketball. They are a franchise that can't seem to wrap their head around AD only finding his way into purple and gold because they got desperate in giving up the entirety of their future for a 7-foot pawn on Rich Paul's chess board. Lastly, they are a franchise that was dead ass wrong in thinking they had some sort of right to a player who needs not to be part of such a shameless sideshow to win championships in Los Angeles. Long story short, the Lakers got what they deserved in the Kawhi sweepstakes...which was absolutely fucking nothing.
Look, if Kyrie Irving, who was raised in West Orange, is just trying to pander to the regionally protective and overtly proud New Jerseyians that still call themselves Nets' fans by speaking so glowingly of "home" then...well...it's working, and well enough for me to ignore that he did so while crossing (up) the Brooklyn Bridge. I'm of no illusion that the Meadowlands would have been able to outmaneuver the mystique of MSG in gaining the the NBA spotlight of two simpatico superstars simultaneously. However, if Ian Eagle says Kyrie has contacted him to reminisce about running around Continental Airlines Arena in awe of Jason Kidd & Co. then that's exactly the type of gospel that can make me reconsider a reluctance to organized religion that compares favorably to ye' who shall not be named's skepticism of the government...
That said, one flat-Earth truther's affinity for his old stomping grounds (...or a place a borough and change away from them) wasn't my main takeaway from his upgrade to Carmelo's "I'm coming home" video. Instead, my takeaway was that Kyrie Irving is...::cleans out ears and turns up volume::...currently happy?!
If his tenuous and bipolar tenure in Boston is any indication, that could change with the wind of one media member blowing hot air, but man - if working alongside his friends helps the NBA's foremost idiot savant keep that same cosmic energy then the New Jersey Nets of Brooklyn could have big, big things on the horizon. So long as he reallocates the time he would have spent getting ludicrous leadership lessons from LeBron to self-preserving his sanity, the team he's joining should be markedly better while his running-mate rehabs. If he just keeps that third eye on the prize and his young teammates out from under any and all cross-borough buses then the insanely deep and developing roster Sean Marks has assembled should only incrementally improve by leaps and bounds over the next few seasons.
I somehow have more faith in Kevin Durant making a full recovery from a crippling injury that's crapped on the course of plenty of promising career paths than I do in Kyrie Irving's ability to maintain his current mood or keep to catering to his crazy while off-the-clock. However, if "home" (or something like it) is truly where his heart is and said heart is set on making things work with a team he grew up enamored by then he should (...being the operative word) be far from the only person bouncing over to Brooklyn with basketball on their brain and a smile on their face.
TL;DR: Don't worry Kyrie, as you can leave that to Nets' fans, just please be fucking happy.
We Might Never Again See an NHL Offer Sheet With How Badly The Hurricanes Bodybagged the Canadiens and Their Attempt to Sign Away Sebastian Aho
And that, my friends, concludes your two day emasculation of a once-proud, long-storied franchise that might have the most wins in NHL history but couldn't save themselves from taking one of the most monumental L's. I was half kidding about never seeing another offer sheet throughout a league that has stigmatized them in such a way that the signing of one is comparable to the targeted spreading of an STD. However, I'm probably not far off with how savagely the "bunch of jerks" running a small market team in the South are do-si-doing atop the occupied cap space of an Original Six organization.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. Marc Bergevin looks like a complete buffoon, as he presumably got duped by an agent into doing Don Waddell's job for him in inking a point-per-game centerman in Sebastian Aho to a ridiculously reasonable deal to stay in Carolina for the next five years. There's dumb, and then there is insulting your own intelligence. Which category do you think front-loading a contract in an attempt to price-out an owner that, without so much as a second thought, sunk $70 million into the fool's errand that is trying to contend with the NFL falls under? I'll give you a hint, it's the one that allows the entirety of the Carolina Hurricanes' front office to publicly bend you over their knee and mix in abject mockery between metaphorical spanks with the wooden spoon while your negotiation tactics get laughed out of the room louder than Dr. Evil's.
A team that is no stranger to being the butt of the joke is basically sitting on the head of a legendary franchise like the Montreal Canadiens and belly laughing while bullying them without even having to lift a finger until Monday. Knowing how tight-assed NHL GM's are when it comes to the attempted robbery of restricted free agents, I can't imagine such a relentless roasting does anything to make them unclench any time soon. Though, I suppose the easy way to avoid being victimized by a similar spectacle would be to spend two seconds on a Google search of a team owner's net worth or six seconds scanning their salary cap situation before finalizing something as intricate as an offer sheet.
Alex Morgan Celebrated What Turned out to Be the Game-Winning Goal by Sipping the Soul out of England
See, now THAT is how you do it! Not by tainting what was a thoroughly dominant win over a entirely under-womaned Thailand team by running a goddamn Conga line through them after every uncontested goal. Instead, by feigning class in displaying what overly repressed idiots would consider a lack of class following a legitimately meaningful goal on a massive stage.
Mocking the time-honored traditions of literally every other country in the world is a time-honored American tradition, so I'm not sure Alex Morgan could have possibly done a better job paying homage to her homeland on the day of her birth. As far as I'm concerned, that was a red, white, and blueprint for how to express yourself at the expense of your international opponent. Go ahead, try to write up a think-piece on her perfect pinky extension without sounding like you didn't already have that bee in your bonnet, I dare you!
As long as they are celebrating things that are worth celebrating I thoroughly encourage the USWNT to troll the entire globe a dozen times over en route to winning back-to-back World Cups. Especially if the birthday girl can teach her teammates some more incredibly dignified ways to clown the customs of actual competition.
Sip on that England, but beware the bitter taste it'll leave in your mouth. On behalf of Alex Morgan, CHEERS!
Oddly enough, given the absurdity of the feat, I don't think the most impressive part about this clip is Myles Garrett going from flat-footed to jumping multiple feet in the air with the free-weight equivalent of a prepubescent teenage boy in tow. Rather, I think the most impressive part of this clip is that, somewhere along his path to NFL stardom, the Browns' quarterback crusher just assumed he was strong and agile enough to be able to do so.
Of all the exercises out there, I'd say a box jump is one of the few that you don't even consider attempting unless you're at least 90% certain of your ability to complete it. I imagine that also stands true for professional athletes who, while inherently more confident, are just as likely to fall backwards and bust their ass or bang their head if their eyes do happen to travel higher than their vertical. Therefore, there was a time when Myles Garrett instinctually knew himself to be capable of adding injury to injury, in the form of weight to body mass, while spitting on the laws of science and standing to tell the tale before even successfully doing so.
That time probably wasn't the one we just watched. After all, he seemed a bit too casual in his otherworldly athleticism, as if he were a seasoned vet of such superhumanity. However, with there being a first time for everything, the first time Myles Garrett circumstantially proved gravity a farce makes the umpteenth time seem just ever so slightly less impressive than the most impressive thing ever.
Dame Lillard Called Bullshit on Enes Kanter's Claim That the Blazers Only Gave Him 6 Minutes to Decide on His Future
You know what? I'm going to go ahead and say that Enes Kanter made the right decision in turning down the Trail Blazers, because - despite a couple impressive postseason performances - it's very clear he learned nothing during his time as one. He's always been a bit overly dramatic, especially online, but to have spent time with Damian Lillard as your teammate and not think he's not going to take a no-nonsense approach to any nonsense directed at the franchise for which he plans to forever man the front lines is just plain old stupid.
To be clear, Dame is absolutely right in saying that 45 minutes is hardly an eternity when it comes to deciding on the fate of your future, but business doesn't give a fuck about your feelings and, at the end of the day, the NBA is one of most cutthroat. I'd expect a journeyman of a 10-year veteran to have realized that by now.
To be honest, while I generally don't like to go this route, you're fighting a pretty steep uphill battle if you're trying to play the victim of time's essence in deciding which city you'd like to live lavishly in while playing a sport professionally. Mix in an exaggeration that makes your choice of where you'd prefer to surpass $100 million in career earnings seem as difficult as deciphering which cord to cut in trying to beat the clock to defuse a bomb and you're really setting yourself up to look silly. Never mind doing so at the expense of a team led by one of the NBA's most formidable flushers of all bullshit.
Free agency is referred to as a frenzy for a reason. With all due respect, that reason is immeasurably more important than where a playoff-run rental like Enes Kanter plays defenseless basketball for the next two seasons.
In Speaking From Experience, Giancarlo Stanton Offered Advice to the Angels on Dealing With the Difficulties of Grieving the Loss of Teammate Tyler Skaggs
"RIP Bro, My heart goes out to your family. My message to the @angels while having no time for yourself to grieve is to hug each other, laugh, cry, lift the ones taking it extra hard up. Youâre going to wonder why all of this is happening , is it real, why are u suiting up to play a game that seems irrelevant. Some Anger will ensue while u have to grieve in a fish bowl.. A lot will go through your mind. So stay together through that. The first days back to schedule are the weirdest feeling, from the energy to the questions to having to walk by his locker. Try to Focus & understand how important your strength is for his family, all of your supporters & anyone looking for the power to overcome something. They're looking @ you for guidance. So you all really need each other right now. Stay strong fellas I'm thinking about you!"
Well, when you put it like that.
That's not to imply that anyone would ever assume it's easy to mourn the gut punch that must be the tragic, midseason loss of a beloved teammate. However, it is to say that the way Giancarlo Stanton spoke from his experience in doing so, following the disastrous death of Jose Fernandez in 2016, really makes real the impossibilities of grieving during the daily grind of which the absence of the dearly departed is ever-present.
Considering the inevitable emotional toll to be taken by the constant reminders that Tyler Skaggs is no longer with them, the rest of the Angels roster having to lace up their cleats at least another 77 times before having any extended period of time to themselves must feel pretty damn daunting. Trying to battle their own innately human brains in trying to push heartbreak to the back them and focus on playing a game that offers as much time to think as baseball at a professional level on a public stage is just not an undertaking I can even wrap my head around, for a variety of reasons.
The true test of a team shouldn't be something that you'd hope and pray no team would ever, in a million years, have to go through. However, I can't imagine there is any one circumstance more trying of a clubhouse's cohesiveness than having life and death unexpectedly intervene in it's day-to-day operation. Here's to keeping the Angels in mind as they find their way in...well...finding a way, for the best way to honor the unforgettable and disturbingly abbreviated existence of Tyler Skaggs is to keep playing the game he was so passionate about at the highest level possible, as impossible as that currently seems.
Rest In Peace, kid.
The Warriors are Unofficially "Retiring" Kevin Durant's Number, In Case You Were Wondering Exactly How Guilty Their Conscience Is
To be clear, I have absolutely no idea how guilty the Warriors organization should feel about letting Kevin Durant make an appearance in a must-win game that ended up costing him a full season of his prime and the certainty of his future as one of most transcendent talents in basketball. I'm quite sure there was plenty of inquiring minds mending together to make an extremely difficult decision that ultimately spelled disaster. While I definitely think some were swayed by the situation, even more so after listening to Andre Iguodala's story, I highly doubt all of them were only acting in the best interest of Golden State's dwindling chances at winning a third straight championship.
That being said, I think I have a pretty good idea of how guilty the Warriors' organization does feel, as the idea of "retiring" a player's jersey after three seasons, no matter how successful, is laughable to say the least. I can understand not immediately giving out the number of your back-to-back Finals MVP to some schlub off the street, but going out of your way to express exactly how off-limits it is in a press release the day after he asked "where Brooklyn at?!" in telling you "thanks, but no thanks"? Especially when you could just not say anything and easily go a decade without anyone voluntarily requesting to wear a number as unsightly as 35? That seems to be about as desperate a play/ploy for good will as...well...blubbering all over yourself in a postgame press conference while deflecting from a devastating injury by giving a sermon on the sainthood of the person who suffered it...
Simply put, Kevin Durant was a mercenary. He may have been a good person, a great teammate, and a quality leader in coming within one "calf strain" and two wins of being the most valuable part of a 3-peat in Golden State, but he was still a mercenary. Mercenaries don't get special treatment. Unless, of course, they are still owed payment for services rendered. KD rendered a hell of a lot in being left without time restriction in putting his career in jeopardy on behalf of a team that was, for intents and purposes, already beaten. Therefore, if the Warriors really want to settle things in the court of public option they should get to work on immortalizing him in bronze outside every gate of their new arena. Everyone already knows what they are doing in shamelessly kissing his ass as he limps out the door anyway. Might as well do it right by offering up more than some half-assed and likely unnecessary hold on the #35 disguised as a grand gesture.
Jimmy Butler Either Loves Miami or Loves Masochism, As I Can't Think of Any Other Reason He Would Turn Down the Sixers Max Offer to Sign With the Heat
I'm starting to think that Jimmy Butler's favorite song might be 'Only Happy When it Rains', and that's not so much an acknowledgement of his new city's on again, off again relationship with precipitation as it is an observation that he seems pretty damn content in being perpetually pissed off.
To be clear, I'm totally fine with a player prioritizing quality of life over quality basketball. It's just that Jimmy Butler hardly strikes me as the type to plop down on the 142 million dollar, state tax-free bag he just secured and enjoy sitting South Beach-side while calmly resting on his laurels as a great veteran player on a middling team whose cap is as strapped as its potential. In fact, his career speaks to him taking a much more, shall we say, incendiary approach to how things go down when they aren't quite looking up basketball-wise.
I guess I can see Philly having too many young, developing mouthes to feed for an overly proud player to picture himself staying there as nothing more than a complimentary option throughout the remainder of his prime, but Miami as the alternative? I'm sure him and Pat Riley will get along swimmingly in chastising everyone who doesn't come within a BPM or two of hustling their way into a heart attack during any given practice. However, that on-court marriage between a hyper-competitive malcontent and an unworthy roster is so obviously asking for trouble that I can't but think Jimmy Butler only agreed to it because he derives pleasure out the process of messy divorces.
In What Will Surely Serve as a Stick to the Craw of Flyers' Fans, The Devils Have Signed Wayne Simmonds to a One-Year Deal
Please welcome all the impatient Devils' fans that spent all of last offseason (and, unbelievably enough, the last couple of hours of this offseason) incessantly whining for Ray Shero to go blind to his future budget for the temporary thrill of overspending to the wonderful world of free agency! It's a highly stressful place where your options are either obnoxiously expensive, entirely over-the-hill, or all of the above. Can't believe the Devils didn't decide to vacation here sooner!!!
In all seriousness, as far as flawed players who aren't worth 5 million dollars are concerned, I actually like Wayne Simmonds fit in the Devils' lineup. So long as his role is limited one, there is very little risk associated with adding a player who adds a rare combination of talent and toughness to an undersized lineup for one season during which the continuation of his career as an impactful NHLer hangs in the balance.
If that's not convincing enough for you then go rewind last season's game tape and try to watch the Devils' 2nd powerplay unit operate for more than 45 seconds without being brought to the saltiest of tears. If absolutely nothing else, Wayne Simmonds gives them endless options with the extra man as the type of net-front, pain-in-the-ass presence that actually has puck skills.
Now, I can't say I love inserting an old and slow defensive liability into a lineup that has young players who better fit the team's collective style banging on its door. For example, if Wayne Simmonds is what gets an NHL-ready Jesper Boqvist sent back to Sweden for another season then I'll lose my shit. I have an extremely hard time believing that's a legitimate possibility at this point in their rebuild, but it's one of the very few concerns I have about adding a player that brings attributes that the Devils don't otherwise have.
All in all, the reward might be limited to a 15-20 goal prick of a powerplay specialist who plays sparingly at even strength in the bottom-six. However, the risk is next to nothing for a team that's got a pretty populated nest to protect and could easily afford to sign a burning pile of money to a ten million dollar deal so long as the fire extinguished after this season.
Plus, can you really put a price that can be measured in AAV on the Flyers signing Kurtis Gabriel within the same 60-minute span as their fans finding out that one of their most beloved shit-stirrers took his tenacity up the Turnpike?
Harrison Barnes Celebrated Signing His 85 Million Dollar Extension With a Pic of Him Bricking a Jumper, Which is a Hilarious Commentary on NBA Free Agency
Contrary to what some bungee-less conclusion jumpers on the internet may think, Harrison Barnes didn't accidentally post a picture of him missing a jump shot nor was he intentionally making light of how profitable his career has been relative to his production.
âWhat he did do, however, was unintentionally make light of how profitable his career has been relative to his production. All you really have to do is read to see this was clearly supposed to be a spiritually-driven narration on persevering past your failures and remaining unconditionally confident in yourself. That's not exactly the type of social media celebration I would have chosen after cashing in on another 85 million dollars, but it's also not one that's entirely senseless.
That said, as I find the Bible to be largely senseless, I can't help but laugh at the objectively funny visual aide that Harrison Barnes chose to go along with his excerpt, as it makes for quite the indictment of the mystifying money monsoon that it is NBA free agency. Teams that stand next-no-chance at contention just holding their form on long shots that will serve as a swing-and-miss the second the ink dries. I think Harrison Barnes is worth what he got relative to the market, but only because the market when it comes to shameless summer spending on supplementary talent is absolutely insane. So much so that the following might be the only better portrayal of it...
Finally. That admittedly feels like a weird word to use in reference to the comeuppance of a franchise that relocated from New Jersey seven years ago and almost instantly made a devastatingly dumb trade that paralyzed the team in basketball purgatory while suffering through it's unforgiving aftermath. However, the truth of the matter is that the Knicks have basically been begging to be overshadowed in their own city for ages. So much so that the Nets' rebuild, that was pretty quick relative to the complete lack of lottery picks that a team so demonstrably bad should have been privy to, put them in a far, far better position to make entice top-end talent than the most stupefyingly self-important organization in sports. It took a bit longer than he would have hoped, but Jay-Z's words just went from punchline to prophecy, as "little brother" made big brother's dream his reality - albeit one that is about 14 months from true fruition - in sending Knicks' fans scrambling for the shattered remains of their superiority complex from mere miles away...
The key word in that prophecy, of course, being management. With that of the museum of mediocrity that is "The Mecca" being entirely incompetent in a way that's long shown itself throughout every level of the Knicks' organization, it was somehow more likely than not that James Dolan would let the Knicks get lapped in relevance in their own city. Tough to deny that that's exactly what he's done, as it was he who led the season-long suckfest at the feet of Kevin Durant before only choosing to change his stance on paying top-dollar for damaged goods when the goods in question were an all-time great...
Make no mistake, this is a massive win for both the Brooklyn Nets and the team-building process. That said, it's also a demotion-to-the-G-League worthy 'L' for a franchise that crapped away an unfathomable competitive advantage in a media market that should realistically be entirely their own. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and - to a much lesser extent - DeAndre Jordan could easily be bringing the magic back to MSG, be it not for MSG making a mockery of itself. The long-held belief of both the Knicks and their fans that if you can make it there then you can make it anywhere isn't entirely untrue, but I hardly think Frank Sinatra was referring to extinguishing an organizational dumpster fire when harmonizing (not to be confused with harmonica'ing) about the mystique of Manhattan.
Obviously, there is plenty of risk that comes with putting your young team and selfless culture in the hands of an objectively insufferable asshole, who just lit the fuse that led to the implosion of a somewhat similar roster, for a year while his 32-year-old running mate recovers from an injury that has all-but-ended plenty of promising careers before. It's just a risk that any team would be stupid not to take, as Kyrie Irving eventually falling back into the Robin role (in which he ended a 50+ year championship drought for the city of Cleveland) to KD's Batman (at even 75% of his former freakishly talented self) is a recipe for title contention.
Be it Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LaVert, Taurean Prince, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, or even Rondae-Hollis Jefferson, the Nets put together a playoff-level team that was simply a superstar or two away from becoming a championship-level team. Meanwhile, the Knicks pissed away money on contracts that were more inflated than clown shoes in continuing to run an absolute circus of an operation on a wing and a prayer (See: trading a unicorn for cap space). Take out the alleged allure of a building that hasn't hosted a truly meaningful basketball in decades and this decision seems all-too-easy. From the Sean Marks on down, Brooklyn was a better basketball situation and for that reason they have a basketball team whose intrigue and potential is so exponential in comparison to the team whose city they just took over that it managed to rewrite the harrowing history of the Celtics' heist.
If you recall, the last we saw PK Subban he was really struggling to make ends meet in trying to dress properly for a celebration of new beginnings...
Well, the Devils lent him a helping hand to make sure he made David Puddy proud by, ya know, supporting the team, and I got to be honest folks...not even sitting cross-legged on a hardwood floor can rid me of this paranoid feeling that I am about to have the rug pulled out from under me. I don't know what feels more like a photoshop, seeing the provocative PK Subban in red and black after all these years or just seeing literally any legitimate #1 number defenseman in red and black after all these years. Whatever the case may be, if my eyes don't deceive me then my mind does, as it has yet to fully process that one the most electrifying talents in the NHL is going to be calling New Jersey's blue line home.
I'm assuming I won't have the opportunity to sneak my way onto the ice to gently caress the face of #76 in making a proactive pitch for it sink in that such a special specimen can actually still exist on the Devils' backend, as if my brain convinced itself that the concept of a first-pairing defenseman was deceased within the organization or something. Therefore, I think I'm going to need someone to pinch me or punch me prior to October. The days of Scott Niedermayer effortlessly wheelin' around Continental Airlines Arena were far too long ago for me not to feel like I just caught a glimpse of a fresh spring off in the distance while crawling dehydrated through the desert. Like, are we entirely sure that Lou Lamoriello didn't body-snatch Ray Shero and is just waiting to unveil that the whole trade was a hoax as revenge for letting Nico Hischier wear #13? Past his prime or not, I'm still wary that the visual of PK Subban flashing his 1,000 watt smile from under a Devils' helmet is a long con, as I've become astonishingly accustomed to New Jersey's defense being an complete joke.
The Rockets are Looking for Reinforcements to Help Cure What Ailes Their Volatile Locker Room, and Have Reportedly Settled on Trading for...Jimmy Butler?
Would you look at that? The Rockets went and took the name right out of my mouth. Well, at least I assume that's why I was left speechless upon reading this report.
Who needs to be brought in to cure the temperamental locker room of a team led by clashing personalities and explosively opposing ideologies? Why, of course, it's Jimmy Butler! With Chris Paul being unable to get through to a superstar who has unlimited organizational support in playing however selfishly he sees fit, it only makes sense to double-down on difficult blowhards who demand accountability. I can't think of a more perfect way to motivate the most stubborn scorer in the NBA to share the ball and exert the excess effort on the less celebrated end of the floor than tag-teaming him with the most overbearing of peer-pressure. If I know James Harden like I think I know James Harden then people taking turns screaming in his ears for 82 games is what will really bring the cutthroat competitor out of him come playoff time!
In all seriousness, I think it might behoove the Houston Rockets to slap the calculator out of Daryl Morey's hand and enroll him in a chemistry class. Dude is so caught up in the math of basketball that he's completely forgotten that it's a team sport played by those with very distinct egos, emotions, and playing styles. I do rather enjoy the mental image of someone who would gladly die diving for a loose ball rolling his burning retinas while watching James Harden throw himself to the ground like he had just been shot between the eyes by a light brush against his wrist and CP3 bark at an official like the whistle was only discernible to the ears of old dogs who are fresh out of new tricks. However, to think that such an inevitable scene is fitting of a championship caliber basketball team is to think that the relationship between a dried-out forest, a fire, and a can of gasoline is a fruitful one.
Unless the assumption is that everything is already destined for ashes anyway, in which case I would applaud the Rockets for sacrificing their sanity in acting solely on behalf of the sadistic fans of a sports' soap opera, this simply doesn't add up in any non-analytical way.
Yet Another Irrefutable Reminder That Sports are Surreal, Featuring an Astros' Fan, Her Gamble, a Grand Slam, and the Trampiest of Stamps
I'll tell you what, if Ava does what I hardly expect her to do by putting her money where her mouth is in eternally making a veiny, triumphant bastard where her underwear ends then she might well have the most innocent explanation for a tramp stamp and the most relatable story behind having a stiffy in the swell of one's back. I don't know that that would make her feel any better about being seen in a crop top or a bathing suit, but surely sports' fans would be sympathetic to the trials, tribulation, and now testicles of the irrational and untimely internet criticism of struggling athletes.
I can't say I ever expected the the otherworldly forces that often appear to be at work during otherwise inexplicable moments in sports to expend all their energy in an attempt to guilt some random chick into branding herself a non-believer by way of back balls, but I am sure glad they did. Not every "would you believe that?"-type play needs to be immortalized in memory as unforgettable. Take this one for example, that absolutely should be immortalized in ink as uncircumcised.
Throwing hyperbolic shade on a forum that never forgets is a gamble, and there is a proverbial piper waiting to be paid for his services in drawing a dead-on-balls-accurate dick that doesn't even need Viagra to stand the test of time. Hell, if I were Tyler White I might just flip the bill for that condescending cock just to guaranteed myself the self-satisfaction of knowing some girl has to wake up every day for the rest of her life with a boner on her back for doubting my power with three runners on.
The Torch of New Orleans' Sports Could Soon be up for a Passing if Drew Brees' Gift to Zion Williamson Is Any Indication
I don't want to hate too hard on Anthony Davis here. After all, in many ways, him becoming a villain in New Orleans after spending year and year personally flourishing on a floundering team that greatly needed a reality check has inherently made Zion Williamson all the more galvanizing to a city that might soon be in need of another "savior". Rich Paul depositing that reality check by trying to...ahem...Klutch the Pelicans by the balls mid-season really woke the front office up to the fact that their franchise was largely seen as a farce.
More importantly, it presumably inspired the organizational overhaul that got kickstarted with the hiring of an accomplished exec like David Griffin and got put into overdrive by some prosperous ping pong balls. The Pelicans no longer being treated like a second-class citizen internally has made the external shift in optimism all the more possible, and it's impossible to know if things would have been so quick to change if not for the embarrassing public spectacle of the Anthony Davis saga.
That said, while also taking into consideration the imprisonment of the moment, the aura surrounding this 1st overall selection as opposed to that of his premier predecessor just feels so much different. Anthony Davis both was and is a transcendent talent in his own right, but as the forward-facing ambassador for a long-suffering franchise and the city they call home, Zion Williamson appears to have a Drew Brees-lite type "it" factor.
Lord willing, the circumstances surrounding the arrival of the current torch-carrier will never again be replicated, as his impact was unimpeachable for reasons far beyond a resurgence in sport. However, I don't think #9 is merely "passing it on", figuratively speaking, because he's on his last leg as an elite arm in the NFL or because he received strict instructions to go out of his way to be overly complimentary to make the newest member of a tight-knit community feel welcome. I'm probably unwrapping far too much from a gift that required no ripping or tearing. Still, if I can see that Zion Williamson has the rare mix of personality, potential, and magnetism that can make him a larger-than-life figure both on and off the court then surely so does the regional diplomat of a future HOF quarterback that implied as much in a message that, in an already large frame, made mention of an even bigger picture.
I don't know that the Pelicans can ever come anywhere close to reaching a Saints-like level of importance in New Orleans, as Sundays are basically a cult-like spiritual experience in and around the parish that lays claim to the insanely excitable church that is the SuperDome. However, their stars might soon have the capability to shine somewhat close to as brightly throughout the city and that alone would be a massive shift in the right direction for what's been, until recently, a red-headed stepchild of a professional basketball team.