On Fandom, Narrative, and Dallas

2011 World Series Game 6 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

"Tonight, the Texas Rangers of Dallas, Texas won the World Series."

... Except for the part where they didn't. Explanation time. I wrote those words at roughly 11:41 PM, EST. The Cardinals were coming up for their last half inning. The Rangers were up 2, and had Neftali Feliz coming out -- a closer who, like Valverde, makes you sweat a little but reliably gets his three outs about as well as anyone. And yes, he certainly made it interesting. Struck out The Riot to get the Cards down to two outs, gave up a double to Pujols, walked Berkman, and got Craig on a nasty pitch. Then he got David Freese out to his last strike. Cards still down two. So I looked away from the TV and continued writing my post.

Whoops. With the game suddenly and without warning tied, I put down the computer and watched the game. Within 10 minutes, the Rangers had once again built a two run lead in the 10th on a clutch Andrus single and a Hambone homer. And once again, I picked up my computer and continued to add things to this post -- I was intending on posting it last night, after all. And once again, in the bottom of the 10th, the Cardinals were down to their last strike, and pulled out a clutch Berkman hit to tie the game and send it to another inning. But the Rangers' magic was gone -- they wouldn't score again, while Freese would proceed to blast Mark Lowe's fifth pitch of the game into the stands to make Lowe the game's loser and to force a game 7 that looked completely inconceivable not but an hour before. And made this post almost completely irrelevant, where it will only become useful if the Rangers win the world series tonight -- a tough thing to call.

... Whoops.

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Player Capsules #4-6: Antawn Jamison, Glen Davis, Carl Landry

As one of our mainstay features, Aaron is writing posts highlighting every single player in the NBA. Role players, superstars, key cogs, or players who are barely as useful as ballboys -- none are exempt from the prying eyes of our readers. Check the index for a lowdown on order, intent, and all that jazz. Today's batch includes Antawn Jamison, Glen Davis, and Carl Landry.

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Juwan A Blog? #1: Wages of Wins

As a recurring feature, Alex will be reviewing and analyzing various blogs and hoops sites. No number ratings or anything silly like that, just a good overview of the sites at hand with their strengths, weaknesses, etc. To see an index of previously reviewed sites, click here.

The way many fans tell it, the field of sports statistics is a conspiracy against their favorite player (*cough* Kobe). For others, sports stats is a conspiracy against the fan experience.  For many beyond that, sports stats is a useful and instructive field still in its infancy that often makes claims far above its pay grade and level of sophistication. For a fourth group, sports stats is absolutely perfect with no flaws. Now, most people are in the third camp, largely because of the way I worded that paragraph to make it seem most reasonable. Obviously you can find good examples of the first two groups on any sports comment section or any basketball forum.  Of course, no one is really in the fourth group this brings us to Wages of Wins, by process of elimination.

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Kevin Garnett, the Man of Unspeakable Cruelty

This is Kevin, the league's reigning UVP (unbelievably vexed player). Hi Kevin.

Kevin Garnett, the Man of Unspeakable Cruelty.

And now, some Choice Examples of this Unspeakable Cruelty.

Ray Allen: Hey Kevin, could you help me out with moving this 50 pound bag?
Kevin Garnett: Do it yourself, Ray Allen. Here, take this strap so you can wear it on your back and buffer most of the load.

Stephon Marbury: Hey Kevin, could you help me pave my pool over?
Kevin Garnett: No, Stephon Marbury, because that's really not a wise decision. Drain your pool if you don't wish to use it or clean it, but it adds value to your property which is not going to be recouped by whatever else you put there.

Glen Davis: Hey Kevin, could you help me with a deeply personal problem?
Kevin Garnett: No, Glen Davis. You have to solve that by yourself. That's a personal problem.

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Shades of Willis Reed #1: Ty Lawson

Makin' funny faces all the way to the NBA.

For our inaugural post for our "Shades of Willis Reed" feature, I was planning on doing a post about one of the league's injury-ignoring resident badasses (most likely Kobe or Manu). Then I was looking through my player capsule stuff and realized that, given the feature isn't primarily about injury and more just about moments where a player simply does something undeniably awesome, I had a perfect anecdote to start the feature off with right under my nose. Our starting player? Not a well-known star or an injury-prone fighter, no. He's not even a regular starter, or a well-known player. But he is the subject of one of my most impressive personal basketball anecdotes, and that's all you really need to make this feature. So without further ado: today's post is about Ty Lawson.

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Player Capsules #1-3: Joakim Noah, Shawn Marion, John Salmons

As one of our mainstay features, Aaron is writing posts highlighting every single player in the NBA. Role players, superstars, key cogs, or players who are barely as useful as ballboys -- none are exempt from the prying eyes of our readers. Check the index for a lowdown on order, intent, and all that jazz. For the starting five, we'll begin with Joakim Noah, Shawn Marion, and John Salmons.

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12/24/1984: King drops 60, and the myths of MSG.

As a regular lockout feature, we will be highlighting old masters through a series of classic NBA games in our Eye on the Classics series. For our first featured game, I'll be taking a look at Bernard King's classic 60 point bomb in Madison Square Garden during one of the few successful seasons in a long and rarely noted career. 

As a statistician, I'm always one of the strongest proponents of the idea that the average fan vastly overrates the importance of a volume scorer on a contending team. Rebounding, passing, and lockdown defense are all roughly as important as volume scoring -- in a vacuum. But even the most curmugeonly among us (Berri exempted) can't deny the sheer joy a basketball fan can find in a virtuoso scoring performance. Players who end a game having scored over half their team's points in an altogether dominating fashion are, at the moment they take their leave of the court, the most important thing a basketball player can be. They're the franchise. At least for a game. They vindicate their decision to regularly dominate the ball, again, at least for a single game. And they captivate us. They get our attention, no matter how negative we are about their skills.

In short, scoring may not be the single most important thing a player can do on the court. But it is, without question, the most electrifying. And Bernard King, bless his soul, exemplifies it. This game in particular. Like all record-setting or challenging performances, this one didn't really start with any particular fanfare. A lot like Kobe's 81. King misses his first several shots and actually fades badly in the second half, enough so that the Nets win the game despite his outburst and despite the Knicks being one of the four best teams in the league that season. But the failures are important for our purposes -- his misses allow watchers of this game the levity to properly examine King's offensive game, as well as differences in the general offensive strategy in the 80s compared to today.

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