I’m so Sick of how We Handle Players Leaving in Free Agency

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Unless you’re totally unplugged to the NBA world, you know Gordon Hayward just signed with the Celtics. If you’ve ever read this site before, you know I am a Celtics fan and have somewhat wary about some of these win-now moves the Celtics might do. You’re also probably wondering why I hadn’t addressed it yet. Well, because it all happened on July 4th and I didn’t feel like doing anything, I decided to wait until his introductory press conference to give my thoughts on the move. And I’ll probably still do that. While I’m excited to have a player of Hayward’s caliber join the Celtics, this creates a lot of issues in the short term, the chief of which is they now have way too many players. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. What forced my hand into finally talking about Gordon Hayward is the concept of loyalty.

Search #betrayward on Twitter and you’ll find hundreds of these. Judging by the reactions, you’d think Gordon Hayward just assassinated every member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. That he’s a fugitive from justice who said Joseph Smith was a crackpot. Like, what did this guy do? Oh, he just decided he wanted to work somewhere else? That’s it? I’m so sick of this stupid idea that players need to be “loyal” to their teams. So just because a team drafted you you have to spend your entire life there? It doesn’t matter if they hate it or whatever, they drafted you so you have to be miserable living there forever. Sorry, man! The teams have no loyalty to the player. Unless you’re a Kobe-level megastar, which Hayward isn’t, 99% of teams will dump you the second you’re no longer worth the investment. The entire point of free agency was to give the players some choice and control over their careers. Do people not understand that? Literally every time someone leaves a team now he becomes public enemy number one. LeBron. Durant. Wade. Ray Allen. LaMarcus Aldridge. Jason Heyward got destroyed on Twitter when he left the Cardinals. The jersey burning, the bitching online, the booing, the death threats, it’s all just so stupid. These people aren’t robots. You can’t just assume the first team they play for is their dream scenario. Unless Gordon Hayward repeatedly said something like “I’m going to run for Congress in Utah I love it so much,” why should he be forced to stay? Utah has some great national parks. You also can’t drink or do anything after like, 10 p.m. And come on, do Jazz fans really think their team has any future whatsoever in the Western Conference? Utah stinks. How are they totally blindsided by this? How were the people of Oklahoma City blindsided by the fact that a professional athlete would rather live in San Francisco than OKC? How the HELL did the people of Cleveland think it’s more appealing to live there than MIAMI? Have some self awareness, people. Your city probably stinks, your team probably stinks, and the player who dares to leave the warm embrace of your psychotic fans probably has legitimate reasons to leave. Maybe he has a brain and saw that, since 90% of the good players in the NBA are now out West, maybe going East would be a good idea? Maybe he liked his time in college better than his time in the NBA (gasp!) and wanted to recapture some of the magic with his old coach. Maybe they have friends, or family, or just want to change things up. Maybe when, the last time he was a free agent, he took note of the fact that his current team decided not to give him the fifth year and the max and decided that they clearly didn’t want him that much?

How many of you hate your job? Be it your boss, the commute, you think it’s boring, the pay isn’t right, whatever. How many of you would leave your job, if you could? You could pick the city, the company, the perfect house, everything. You could literally have your dream life, all you had to do was leave your current job. How many of you would do that? 100%? I know I would. But it’s bad when pro athletes do it because…..why exactly? They make more money than you? Well, maybe if you weren’t so invested in sports and didn’t watch or go to games then the leagues wouldn’t have all this money to give out. Because they drafted him? So no other team (besides, of course, Portland) would have wanted Kevin Durant? He was a diamond in the rough that only Oklahoma City believed in? Because they decided they had a better chance to win somewhere else? Is that not what everyone who changes companies because they can get a better position does? Are people that hypocritical? “I don’t like the team he signed with so it’s okay if I burn his jersey and tell him I’ll kill his family!” Makes sense. I know all those people in Utah don’t get to experience the outside world much so they’re probably pretty emotionally stunted, but acting like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum probably isn’t going to make Hayward regret his decision. Grow up. I’m sorry your team isn’t in Florida or California, but the world needs ditch diggers, too. Everyone, including pro athletes, has a right to decide where they work. Whining about it on Twitter isn’t going to change that anytime soon.

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All or Nothing is like Water in a Desert

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It’s summer. Fourth of July is tomorrow. Everyone is feeling joyful and patriotic and enjoying the sunshine and cookouts. Add in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, and this is one of the happiest, most carefree times of the year for normal Americans. Well, unfortunately, I’m not a normal American, and all I can think about is how much I need football back in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love baseball. It was the first sport I ever loved. But now that we’re knee deep in the summer grind? Someone get me to September, STAT.

As always, though, Amazon has the answer. Season 2 of All or Nothing was just released on Amazon Prime, and I’ve never needed anything more. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s basically Hard Knocks, but during the regular season not the pre-season. So take away the contrived storylines about guys fighting for roster spots, meaningless pre-season games, and people trying way too hard to become the newest Hard Knocks-guy (the guy with the catchphrase, the guy who’s just so wacky, the coach who’s way too vulgar, etc.) and add in regular season games, features about players who are actually good, and, since it hasn’t really caught on yet, everyone seems to be pretty genuine. It’s just better. Unfortunately, while season 1 was about the Cardinals and we got to see some playoff preparation, this season is about the Rams. The Rams were also the subject of Hard Knocks last year. Literally every second of the 2016 L.A. Rams season was captured for us football-starved suckers to consume. The 2016 Rams might have been the most boring team of all time, so do we really need all this Rams access? But, beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll just consume this snippet of football like a good, loyal sheep and count the days until training camp starts. It’s been a while, so I forget, who won the Super Bowl last year? I remember it was a crazy game, I just can’t think of who won. Oh, that’s right, it was the Patriots! The Patriots won the Super Bowl last year. And they’re going to do it again this year. Must suck rooting for anyone else.

P.S. Two seconds in I was triggered harder than I’ve ever been triggered before:

SMH

MLB Thoughts

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Yet another edition of MLB Thoughts is coming to you hot off the presses. We’re approaching the dreaded Dog Days of the Baseball Season, including the Bermuda Triangle of Sports that is the MLB All Star Break. But, still plenty going around around the Majors, so might as well dive right in.

  • Have to start with the obvious. The All Star rosters are being announced tonight, so I need to give my official Brian’s Den All Star Picks©. As I’m sure you know, the MLB All Star rosters are required to have at least one representative from every team, one of my least favorite rules in all of sports. So, rather than parse through the Padres bullpen in order to fill out the 25-man roster, I’ll just give my starting lineups. I use games played as a bit of a tie-breaker, so even thought Mike Trout’s stats still somehow rank among the best in the league despite the fact he’s missed the last month or so, he doesn’t make the cut. Winning doesn’t matter to me, because holding an individual position player accountable for the success of a baseball team is stupid (it just so happens that the good teams have a lot of good players. Weird). I also don’t care about fan voting, so if you’re wondering why you see players from teams that aren’t the Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, and Cubs, that’s why.
    • American League
      • C- Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
      • 1B- Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays
      • 2B- Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
      • 3B- Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
      • SS- Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
      • OF- Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
      • OF- Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
      • OF- George Springer, Houston Astros
      • DH- Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays
      • P- Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
    • National League
      • C- Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
      • 1B- Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
      • 2B- Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals
      • 3B- Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
      • SS- Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds
      • OF- Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
      • OF- Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
      • OF- Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
      • DH- Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
      • P- Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
  • Boy, the Yankees have been scuffling lately. After spending the entire year in first place, all of a sudden they’re two games behind the Red Sox. It’s almost as if they couldn’t sustain this pace and are starting to regress towards the mean. If only someone thought this might happen. Oh, well. You can’t always be right.
  • Speaking of the Red Sox, they’re in first and haven’t even really played well all season. The offense has been stinky all year. They give up home runs every two seconds. But, they have Chris Sale, play good defense, and have gotten some unexpected dominance from the bullpen, which is apparently enough to climb to the top of the toughest division in baseball.
  • At long last, the Rockies are no longer in first place. In the blink of an eye, they’re seven games back of the Dodgers. They still have the third most wins in the National League, but I can’t beat my chest about calling their success all year without facing the music when they start sucking.
  • Brewers need to go to these jerseys full time:
  • Personally, I can’t wait until top prospect Timmy Tebow makes his MLB debut for the Mets when rosters expand later this season. You know, you just know he’ll go deep in his first game.
  • June set an all time record for home runs in a month, and, this being baseball, that’s of course a bad thing. Why can’t baseball just embrace something fun, for once. Home runs are awesome. They make things exciting. It gets new people to tune in. Higher scoring means more people care. More people care and everyone makes more money. But, predictably, the crybaby pitchers, lead by David Price (who is doing the impossible and making a run at J.D. Drew for the title of My Least Favorite Red Sox Player Ever. He and his constant bitching can go straight to hell) have to make a big stink about it. Like so what if the balls are juiced? Maybe don’t throw it right down the pipe and people won’t hit it into the stratosphere. It’s just so typical and annoying. No one’s allowed to have fun playing baseball, not on baseball’s watch.
  • A lot of great third basemen in the league this year. One would imagine it’ll be tough to crack the All Star teams at that position. I mean, someone like Travis Shaw is hitting .291/.357/.911 with 17 homers probably won’t make it. Man, can you imagine if the Red Sox had a guy like that? Can’t believe they haven’t had anyone in their organization the last couple years who has proved time and time again to be better than fat turd Pablo Sandoval. Just bad luck, I guess.
  • Julio Urias injury aside, I feel like the Dodgers have the best minor-league player development in the league. Everyone they bring up is nasty right away. Cody Bellinger leads the National League in homers. Corey Seager is going to be an All Star every year for the next decade plus. He goes through hot and cold streaks, but rookie Joc Pederson was electrifying. It feels like they never bring a guy up just to bring him up. If they bring you up, you automatically produce. And this isn’t new. Rookie Yasiel Puig threatened to completely change the game. That Kershaw guy was pretty decent. In fact, since the award’s inception, the Dodgers have more than twice as many Rookies of the Year as any other team in the majors. Maybe they just keep getting lucky with great players, but I think the Dodgers themselves have something to do with it.
  • I don’t care if this comes back to bite me later, but the Cubs are officially Dead. They stink and should feel bad about themselves.
  • Angels are 26-27 with Mike Trout and 17-15 without him. Is Mike Trout Overrated? Pick up tomorrow’s Newspaper for my column.
  • Because MLB treats its video vault like Fort Knox I can’t really embed the footage, but longtime catcher Carlos Ruiz pitched against the Twins a couple weeks ago and promptly gave up a home run to the first batter he faced. I feel like when position players pitch they never give up homers. I can’t remember it happening, at least. Almost every time a position player pitches he winds up doing okay. Maybe that’s why David Price is so sensitive about everything. He knows that if Mookie Betts decided to start pitching his ass would be out on the street.
  • I know it’s kind of played out by now, but I’m still a big Home Run Derby guy and don’t really get why people don’t want to do it. It’s just batting practice, man. One night of trying to hit homers won’t ruin your swing unless you’re Bobby Abreu.
  • I’m excited to see how Goose Gossage thinks the game is being ruined this year. I’m sure he’ll be interviewed during the All Star Break.

THUNDER TRADE FOR PAUL GEORGE AND THE CELTICS HAVE OFFICIALLY WASTED YET ANOTHER OFFSEASON


This just happened a second ago and I’m typing this out on my phone but it couldn’t wait. Thunder just traded Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. If you’re waiting for more names there aren’t any. That’s the whole deal. Seriously. And the Celtics couldn’t match it. Just like they couldn’t beat the pupu platter Minnesota just gave Chicago for Jimmy Butler. And Blake Griffin is going to re-sign in L.A. Great work, Danny!

How did they let this happen? I don’t care if he wasn’t going to sign a long-term deal, how do you not beat that? Trading Jae Crowder straight up for George would have been a better deal than what they got. They could have given any number of deals better than what Minnesota gave up. They had a LEGITIMATE CHANCE AT PORZINGIS! WHAT’S THE POINT OF HAVING ALL THESE “ASSETS” IF YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO DO ANYTHING? DO THEY NOT REALIZE YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO GIVE SOMETHING UP TO GET SOMETHING? Listen, I’ve been at the front of the pack preaching patience, but when ALL IT TAKES IS A BAG OF BALLS TO GET A MULTIPLE TIME ALL STAR, PULL THE GOD DAMN TRIGGER!!!!!!!! YOU’D REALLY RATHER HAVE JAYSON TATUM OVER PAUL GEORGE, EVEN FOR A YEAR? JAYSON TATUM STINKS! WHAT IS THE THOUGHT PROCESS HERE? WASN’T THE WHOLE POINT OF GETTING ANOTHER FORST ROUNDER NEXT YEAR TO TRADE FOR SOMEONE GOOD? WELL THERE’S NO ONE GOOD LEFT SO WHOOPS! I’d be totally fine with this if they had just kept Fultz and committed to what they were doing. But after trading him I have absolutely ZERO confidence left. He’s just addicted to acquiring draft picks. Next year they’re going to have two top five picks and trade both of them for first rounders the year after. Then the cycle will keep repeating itself year after year. It’ll never end, the Celtics will never be good again, and they will never, ever, EVER use all of these so called assets to do anything.

What the Hell is Going on at Real Madrid?

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So this has been going on for a little while now, but it’s too weird and too crazy not to address. Apparently literally everyone who has ever been involved with La Liga in Spain is being investigated for tax fraud. Cristiano RonaldoAngel Di MariaJose MourinhoAlexis SanchezLionel Messi’s case is finally starting to wrap up after about a year. Soccer players in Spain just refuse to pay taxes. And I don’t blame them. Taxes stink. But most governments say that you have to pay them if you want to live in their country.

Now, I’m not naïve. I went to a college with big time athletics, I know how this arrangement works. We (the normal folk) do something the athletes don’t want to do (homework, taxes), and, in turn, we get to live vicariously through the athletes as they excel on the field. It’s a win-win scenario. The only people that have a problem with it could easily be classified as haters and losers. I’d love to meet the goody two-shoes who blew the whistle on Ronaldo. Like, good job guy. Now Ronaldo is desperate to leave the country to escape massive tax fraud allegations. Way to go. I guarantee everyone in the Spanish government was well aware of the fact that Messi hadn’t paid taxes in years and was perfectly fine with it. But the second some self-righteous justice warrior decides to point it out, their hands are tied. There’s going to be a lot of “jail time turned into paying a small fine” sentences going around as the government tries to smooth over relations with their star players. I’ve got some advice for whoever called this in: you’d better leave the country, fake your own death, get an entirely new identity, and leave your life behind entirely. Because if Ronaldo does, in fact, leave, once the Ronaldo fans find out who you are, it’s over. Forget a closed casket, you won’t even have a funeral because your body will be nowhere to be found. No one will even know you’re dead. Those Ronaldo fans are vicious, and they’re coming for you. Right after this siesta.

NBA Draft Thoughts

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So, anything happen last night? Besides the draft, can’t think of much. Pretty quiet night in terms of the NBA. Everything went according to plan, no real excitement. Wait, what’s that? The Bulls finally traded Jimmy Butler? And not to the Celtics? I almost couldn’t believe it.

Honestly, this trade really annoyed me. Not that someone else got Jimmy Butler. As anyone who has read any of my thoughts on the NBA could tell you, I was not overly eager for the Celtics to get Jimmy Butler. But mostly because the Bulls were asking for every single draft pick the Celtics had until 2075 and half the roster. Then they turn around and give Butler to the Timberwolves, who were still run by Bulls’ front office arch-nemesis Tom Thibodeau last time I checked, for two players and a pick swap? Are you kidding me? Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn? Seriously? That’s all it takes? I love LaVine, but who knows what he’s gonna look like next year after his knee injury. Kris Dunn is trrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassssssssshhhhhhhhhhh. Then they give up the 16th pick to thank the TWolves for taking their best player off their hands? And then they take Lauri Markkanen 7th overall? How can these people run an NBA team? To think the biggest display of idiocy by a front office last night didn’t involve Phil Jackson is dumbfounding. Even the Kings made good moves last night! Were the Bulls asleep? Were they drugged? Have they ever watched basketball before? Honestly, no profession in the world has more accepted incompetence than NBA GM. The morons that 90% of teams have running their billion-dollar franchises shouldn’t be trusted to manage a Bruegger’s Bagels. How can you go from asking the Celtics for absolutely everything to accepting the TWovles table scraps? And if you’re now committed to a rebuild, how do you not take someone with a higher ceiling than Lauri Markkanen? Dennis Smith, Malik Monk, OG Anunoby, even Donovan Mitchell were still there. Or, I don’t know, don’t give up your own first round pick, too and take someone like Harry Giles at 16. I just can’t believe how poorly they handled this trade. Now I’m pissed that Butler’s not on the Celtics, because apparently all they would have had to give up was Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier then swap picks. So annoying. Hey, Bulls, you stink!

Anyway, there was an actual draft last night. Most of it kind of went according to plan. No big shockers, besides maybe Malik Monk falling to number 11. Still, there’s plenty to talk about. I guess I should get used to Jayson Tatum now that a potential trade is probably off the board (I know, I can’t believe it, either). After throwing up multiple times thinking about the abomination that is St. Louis-style pizza, I was able to listen to him talk for a bit. If nothing else, at least he seems like a good guy who’s going to commit to the team. That shouldn’t be taken for granted, but I still have concerns. It doesn’t help that he’s the internet’s least favorite player.

Oh, well. Guess the Celtics are just going to punt on this year again, possibly get multiple picks in the top five, and trade both of them for future picks and take guys with no ceiling again. Sweet. Love Danny Ainge, man. Best in the business. On to what I liked and didn’t like.

Things I Liked

  • Markelle Fultz to Philadelphia
  • Dennis Smith to Dallas
  • Josh Jackson to Phoenix
  • Lavar Ball’s interviews
  • Malik Monk to Charlotte
  • All the old tweets that were dug up
  • OG Anunoby to Toronto
  • All the Kings picks (De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, Frank Mason)
  • All the Lakers picks besides Lonzo (Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant)
  • Jordan Bell to Golden State
  • The huge number of random picks that were in the stands
  • Frank Jackson to New Orleans
  • John Calipari continuing to stay ten steps ahead of every other coach

Things I Didn’t Like

  • Celtics not getting Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, or Jonathan Isaac
  • Jonathan Isaac going to the barren wasteland of Orlando
  • The Bulls. Literally everything they did
  • Bam Adebayo at 14
  • John Collins to Atlanta
  • Derrick White to San Antonio (I just wanted to be the only guy not praising them for this pick)
  • Devin Robinson going undrafted
  • Anyone mentally weak enough to stop watching before all 60 picks have been announced
  • Not enough Fran Fraschilla
  • Everyone’s suit is too conservative and classy now. Nothing to make fun of

NBA Draft Preview

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There’s nothing quite like the NBA offseason. The crazy trades. The traitorous free agency decisions. The emoji wars on Twitter. In the week since the Finals ended, every day has had more drama than a Daniel Day-Lewis movie (R.I.P), and we haven’t even hit free agency yet! Dwight Howard was traded for a Plumlee, completing one of the most self-inflicted falls from grace in human history. The Lakers decided to give up on D’Angelo Russell after two years because…….? and traded him to the Nets in a move that somehow screwed the Celtics over twice. Phil Jackson has mysteriously put Kristaps Porzingis on the trading block (I doubt he’ll be traded), leading every fan base to rush to Photoshop to see what he’d look like in their jersey. But tonight is my favorite part of the NBA offseason, draft night. I’ve got my DiGiorno. I’ve got my spot on the couch picked out. I’m ready to be disappointed. Is it possible to go from all in on someone to all out on someone in a few days? Because that’s what I’m feeling now. Look at this:

??????????????????? What the hell is St. Louis-style pizza? Why would he pick a fake food over all the other quality foods that have a right to go number one overall? Now I’m seeing him in a new light. Now all his flaws clearly counteract his strengths. Now he’s just the exact same prospect we’ve seen in every single draft that does absolutely nothing. I can’t believe the Celtics are seriously going to take an un-athletic Tobias Harris number three overall. Hey Danny, draft Josh Jackson please!

You can go anywhere on the internet and find a mock draft, so I decided I’d just say which prospects I like and who I don’t like. That way, the only thing I can be wrong about is if they’re good or not, not if they’re good or not and what team takes them.

Guys I Like

  • Markelle Fultz- Oh, what might have been
  • Josh Jackson- Come on, Danny, think of him and Jaylen Brown on defense together! I’m aroused, aren’t you?
  • De’Aaron Fox- Completely dominated Lonzo twice. A sign of things to come for one of them
  • Jonathan Isaac- Anthony Randolph with a jumper. Guy could be the best player in the draft or be out of the league in four years
  • Dennis Smith- I like him a lot, especially if you can get him outside the top 10
  • Malik Monk- Don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but the NBA is all about 3-point shooting these days
  • OG Anunoby- People are acting like he’s dead. It’s just a torn ACL. It’s 2017, he’s probably already fully healthy. He’ll the best defensive player in the draft, just take him
  • Harry Giles- Speaking of not dead yet. His injuries are considerably worse than OG’s, but if you’re not in the lottery, absolutely no reason not to roll the dice
  • Bam Adebayo- Mostly because he’s projected to go so low

Guys I Don’t Like

  • Lonzo Ball- As I’ve said before, I don’t think he’s that good
  • Jayson Tatum- This is appalling
  • Lauri Markkanen- I watched him play a lot. He never had a good game
  • Zach Collins- Taking college backups highly in the draft works out every time!
  • Luke Kennard- I actually like him as a role player in the NBA, but lottery feels way too high for him
  • John Collins- I don’t know, I just don’t see it with him. He’s like a less-refined version of Caleb Swanigan that you have to take 30 picks earlier
  • Justin Patton- He’s a wallflower. Don’t pick
  • Justin Jackson- At best an 8th man in the league
  • Tyler Lydon- I just hate his face

Random Stuff I’m Looking Forward To

  • The one guy who gets old tweets bashing the team that drafts him exposed
  • How awkward every white guy that gets drafted makes the handshake with Silver
  • John Calipari somehow having a better seat than Markelle Fultz
  • The one girlfriend the internet loses its mind over
  • Some foreign guy who gets drafted in the second round but came to the draft and is sitting in the stands

Late First/Second Round Guys I Like

  • D.J. Wilson
  • Caleb Swanigan
  • Thomas Bryant
  • Frank Jackson
  • Frank Mason
  • Monte Morris
  • Kyle Kuzma
  • Derrick White
  • Cam Oliver
  • Jordan Bell
  • Jawun Evans
  • Terrance Ferguson
  • Semi Ojeleye
  • Devin Robinson
  • Alec Peters