56 thoughts on “July 18, 2018: All Star”

  1. I woke up this morning with vertigo. It has not passed yet. I've had this happen once or twice before (not recently), but this time is something else. Everything I read tells me I shouldn't worry, it'll just most likely take some time to fade. Ugh.

  2. I was at a White Sox game this weekend and the player statues at The Rate are inside the ballpark, not outside, like at Target Field. Anyway of course I got a photo with one of my favorite players as a kid, Carlton Fisk. Which reminded me of this play I saw on the Saturday Game of the Week in 1985.

    1. I was reading a children's baseball fiction book where this play happened and remember thinking, "Yeah, like that would ever happen." As it turned out, the author watched this game.

    2. Being in college and a Saturday afternoon, we were drinking and probably "smoking." When that play happened, we are strutting around the room saying "Carlton Fucking Fisk! Carlton Fucking Fisk!

  3. Apparently, the San Antonio Spurs have traded Kahwi Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first round pick. I still consider the Spurs my team, but I don't really follow the NBA all that closely any more. For those of you who do, what do you think of this trade?

    1. I think it is a terrible trade. Toronto should have traded DeRozan for Wiggins last summer....

      But seriously. Leonard is a franchise player. DeRozan is a nice scoring two-guard/small forward. A deserving All Star, but not in the conversation for best players in the league. And he's a Max contract guy. Poeltl is a rotation guy at best. The draft pick probably won't deliver anything more than an end-of-bench guy.

      I am shocked that this is the best the Spurs could do.

      1. The trade is just for a year of Leonard, though, right? If Leonard is already sold on signing with the Lakers next summer, and I have to imagine having LeBron there makes it even more enticing, you are looking at a one-year rental. Toronto can’t offer him enough additional money to make up for the difference in endorsements he’d wind up with in LA vs Toronto.

        This is just another symptom of the NBA’s messed up cap structure. There should be a ton of competition for Leonard, because he’s a great player, but the max salary means the only teams which can get him in free agency are already good, in a big market, have a superstar already on hand, or have some kind of recruiting advantage (usually meaning close to home.)

        In baseball, he’d be worth a lot to a team willing to sign him to a big extension, ahead of free agency, and he’d be willing to agree because he could get close to his FA payday without the risk of losing that payday to injury over the next season.

        1. Of course, if the only argument in the objective function that matters is total (expected) financial returns to the player, major media markets will win every time for the best available players.

          I am willing to believe that at least some players weight other things ("fit", coaches)/ownership/colleagues, quality of life, etc.) as well. How else do we explain LeBron returning to Cleveland or Duncan staying in San Antonio or Karl Malone staying almost his whole career in Utah?

          1. LeBron grew up in Ohio.

            There are exceptions, but I hate the NBA version of the salary cap.

            1. It's a pretty impressive failure to both underpay stars and reward dynasties. At least it succeeds in allowing lottery teams to keep their draft mistakes for many years.

            2. LeBron grew up in Ohio.

              that might be reflected in

              I am willing to believe that at least some players weight other things ("fit", coaches)/ownership/colleagues, quality of life, etc.) as well. How else do we explain LeBron returning to Cleveland

          2. Make a cap such that teams can only have one highly paid star. If Durant had to choose between a $10M/year offer from GSW or $35M/year from a small market team, small market teams might actually have a chance to sign a star.

            Abolish the draft and limit rookie contracts to a 3-year max. If you want a top rookie, clear some cap space.

            And if teams are limited to one super-duper star, there’s even a chance you could build a winner around above-average non-megastars.

              1. This stuff makes me laugh. GS was AWFUL for years prior to 2012-13. They had four consecutive losing seasons, and 16 of 18 losing seasons back to 1994. And now we are complaining about a dynasty.

                Eight different franchises have won a title in the last 15 seasons.

                  1. You are complaining that a franchise that had 16 losing seasons in 18 years prior to 2012-13 is now successful?

            1. I know we have these back-and-forths frequently, usually about the Yankmes and Dodgers. But I truly do not understand these kinds of complaints/arguments, particularly with respect to the NBA.

              There is perhaps no other major team sport in which one or two players can turn a mediocre team into a very good team overnight. NBA franchises tend to have 6-8 year runs of excellence, built around a couple of lucky draft picks preceded by several years of misery.

              Were we complaining about the NBA being boring during Michael Jordan's two runs of three-peats? That was a great, great team built around a transcendent superstar, an upper-echelon star, a nutjob specialist at the top of his game, and a bunch of role players. Were we complaining about the Spurs' run of excellence around an upper-echelon star, two All-Star caliber players, and a bunch of role players? Did we complain about how Lebron going to Miami to play with Bosh and Wade was ruining the game?

              I really don't understand the invective that has been leveled against Durant. It's funny how him wanting to play with other great players in a fun system is bad, but Kyrie Irving being unable to coexist with perhaps the greatest player ever (there, Stick, I said it!) in Cleveland is not worse.

              For my money, I want players who want to win and are willing to sacrifice to be part of a winning program. We used to say we valued that kind of attitude, and we decried the selfishness of players who had to be "the Man" all the time, at the expense of team success.

              The NBA has been pretty successful in creating compelling storylines in a four-year period with one transcendent superstar and one transcendent team.

              The draft is still a crap shoot, but it's only two rounds (60 players), and the evidence pretty strongly suggests that all that really matters is the top dozen or so picks. Very good players are able to move via free agency. And the league has been able to sustain competitive teams in smaller markets (San Antonio, Toronto, Portland, Oklahoma City, etc.). I don't see much talk about small-market teams losing money, because the league's revenue is heavily focused on national broadcast rights that are divided very equally.

              The worst team last year was Phoenix. They have had 4 consecutive losing seasons, and last made the playoffs nine years ago. But that year, they made the Western Conference finals and won 54 games. Phoenix is terrible. They rated last in offense and last in defense. And yet, there is considerable hope, thanks to young talent, mostly acquired through the draft via being terrible for a few years.
              The second worst team last year was Memphis. But that was their first losing season since 2009-10, a stretch in which they had 7 trips to the playoffs, including a loss in the conference finals, and three 50+ win seasons.
              The third worst team last year was Atlanta. It was their first losing season since 2013-14, and they won 60 in 2014-15 and had a run of 10 consecutive trips to the playoffs, including a loss in the conference finals.
              The fourth worst team last year was Dallas. This was their second consecutive losing season after a run of 15 playoff appearances in 16 years, including two trips to the finals, one championship, and 12 50+ win seasons (three of which were 60+ win seasons).

              1. Not a huge NBA follower, but I suspect your response might be a bit off point. My sense is that the objection isn't to a lack of parity overall, it's to a lack of parity at the very top: sure, you can be a winning team and make the playoffs (half the league does...) and losing teams have a chance to get back to that via the draft, but... do they ever really have a chance to be a super-star team? Making the playoffs is small consolation if you don't really stand a chance of making the finals.

                In that regard, if the complaint is "no other team will have a significant chance to make the finals", then it isn't really a response to say "but there is parity overall between generally good and generally bad teams."

                So if the only real chance to win is by completing a super team, and if there are natural advantages and disadvantages that affect your market's ability to build a super team... it makes sense that one would be very frustrated.

                We would say there was a problem with a board game if the person who was the green piece and the person who were the blue piece got to start half-way towards the finish, and all the other colors had to start way back at the beginning. Same idea here, right?

                1. so, easy solution. Ban Lebron James. That will make the league better, right?

                  I mean, he's made the Finals in eight consecutive seasons. Clearly, the league has a competitive balance problem.

                  But I will remind that I addressed this issue. 8 different franchises have won a title in the past 15 seasons (and ten have lost in the Finals; overall, a total of 9 different franchises with appearances in the Finals [err, I need to check my math, obviously.]). In the 15 seasons prior to that, it was five (2 for Detroit, 6 for Chicago, 2 for the Spurs, 3 for the Lakers) with 12 total franchises appearing in the Finals. I am not sure if that is more competitive or less competitive.

                  either way, having 9 of 30 franchises making the NBA finals in a 15 year period despite the GOAT having made 8 consecutive finals seems pretty competitive at the top.

                  1. Lack of an easy solution doesn't mean there is no problem. I've taken your previous LTE's to suggest that the problem isn't really a problem. Your acknowledgement to Jeff below suggests some recognition that it is, in fact, an issue.

                    1. No. If you read it that way, then I wasn't sufficiently clear.

                      The NBA has demonstrated throughout its history that truly great players matter. The questions are whether that is a problem and whether something "should" be done about it.

                      I don't agree that the NBA's problem is great players, and I don't agree that there is such a lack of competitive balance that drastic measures need to be taken to further limit the mobility of great players.

                      I don't agree that the league needs to break up the Warriors. Truth, Justice, and the American Way prevailed when they beat Houston in the semis. It's not the Warriors' fault or Durant's fault that Cleveland could not keep Kyrie.

                    2. But on a more meta level, isn't it an issue that certain markets don't seem to have a real chance at drawing top talent? It's an issue in MLB too, and one that drives me crazy there, but in the NBA that top talent makes an even bigger difference... shouldn't we do something to level the playing field between markets?

                    3. If we frame this as "some franchises, particularly in smaller markets, seem never to rise to the level of competing for titles," I agree that this would be a problem. Nobody wants to be stuck rooting for a franchise that has no hope year after year after decade.

                      The EPL addresses this via relegation. Basically, it incentivizes every franchise not to totally suck, because the financial costs of relegation are huge. Conversely, it incentivizes every franchise in the next level down to get good enough to win a big payday. I'm not sure that this system really solves the incentives problem or the "hope" problem, but it comes close. Fortunately/Unfortunately, that is not a viable solution for any US major sports league. Unless you think of the NBA Eastern Conference as the equivalent to the EFL.

                      The NBA actually is now talking about doing away with conferences and instead seeding 1-16 for the playoffs. That will help with some aspects, not with others.

                      I actually like one aspect of ubes' proposal. Get rid of the (formal) max salary. Keep the cap at XX percent of revenue, keep a minimum salary, minimum roster, and requirements about signing players for the remainder of the season after Y 10-day contracts, but otherwise do away with salary restrictions. Make players decide more expressly that they are willing to sacrifice team success for individual pay. I just don't think it will make THAT much difference, given how high max salaries are already.

                      The draft already is highly constrained, and, I think, really important for distributing opportunities to bottom feeders. How else are the really dysfunctional franchises going to change their culture? It is all but impossible for really bad cultures to attract top free agent talent now, creating a vicious cycle: you have to get bad to get good, but you can't get good via free agency. You have to be good already to attract talent. The draft makes "getting good" possible. It's just that transformational talents are few and far between.

                  2. The max salary absolutely makes it easier for LeBron to constantly go to the Finals, though! Imagine a league with a hard cap and no max salary. Some team is going to pay through the nose to get LeBron, but then they would be forced to pinch pennies on the rest of the roster. LeBron is probably the best player ever, so his teams would still do really well, but it would have been a more difficult path.

                    I have no problem with Durant’s decision, I have a problem with the system that made it such an easy decision for him. More than parity, I’d like to see more top talent spread around to more markets.

              2. I don't follow the NBA well enough to join the argument, but yes, I remember a lot of people complaining about how LeBron going to Miami to play with Bosh and Wade was ruining the game.

                1. Maybe. Not really my recollection -- mine was more the outcry that he was turning his back on Cleveland.

                  The league is far more competitive today than it was in the 1960s when Boston won pretty much every title. But it is inescapable that a very small handful of very great players wield outsized influence over outcomes in the league.

                  1. Both reactions were in play, of course. I wouldn't know how to quantify which was greater. But there were definitely complaints about him joining Bosh and Wade. Especially Wade, we was considered a major star at the time.

              3. To be fair, I'm not sure anyone is trying to say the NBA is boring (I know I'm not. It's as entertaining to watch as its ever been.) But you do have to admit the NBA's salary cap is pretty frickin messed up. My main complaint is that the best players get severely underpaid.

                I think it's also very easy to complain about teams like the Warriors or Spurs when you're a fan of the Wolves, aka the worst franchise in NBA history. Beyond those two teams, for my money its the Blazers that frustrate me more than any other team considering how they always seem to be entering a "rebuilding" year only to make the playoffs.

                1. I agree from a relative (i.e., marginal value) perspective, the top players are often underpaid. I don't think we've identified any "good" remedies, however. And yes, I share some of your frustration about the Wolves, who largely wasted the best years of their pantheon player.

                  I am old enough to remember things like Cleveland being the worst franchise in NBA history, however. 🙂

    1. That makes me think the Twins may not be trading Dozier. If that's an indication of what the market is, they might well want to just let him play out the season.

    2. Honestly, this haul sort of gives me flashbacks to the Johan Santana trade - a superstar on the verge of free agency, a fanbase that's been told by multiple outlets not to get their hopes up for a team to be selling the farm.

      1. Wow. I talked to my brothers almost daily as the Johan speculation machine went into overdrive. I totally recall circling a home improvement store in Albuquerque chatting up what would make the fans happy in return for trading johan.

    3. Three months of a star that you can't get draft compensation for isn't worth much. Spreading that over five players further dilutes the top end of the return.

      1. And they might sign him too.

        Orioles would have gotten more had they done this during the offseason. But front offices are just too smart these days.

  4. On the Rochester broadcast, Josh Whetzel mentioned that the Twins have a rule that if one of their minor league pitchers throws thirty-five pitches or more in an inning, he has to come out of the game before the next inning. I was not aware of that.

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