Mike Leach officially ushers in the 2015 college football season

College football returns in less than two weeks, which means it’s time to check in with one of our favorites, Mike Leach. Thankfully, the Washington State head coach dropped by the Jim Rome Show– the place where I first heard him years ago– yesterday for a classic interview. Take a listen:

And for you readers, here‘s the textual recapitulation on Rome’s website.


Cougar dating tips from Mike Leach
Mike Leach Favors Cougars

Another audible discussion of current baseball stories

While the ALDLAND Podcast‘s technical hiatus continues, I returned as a guest on this week’s episode of the Banished to the Pen podcast, where we discussed current baseball stories, including the latest Dave Dombrowski news, the status and outlook of frequent trading partners the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays, and issues surrounding the possible expansion of safety netting in MLB stadiums.

You can download or stream the entire podcast here.

How Marvin Gaye’s NFL tryout changed his career (via The Undefeated)

marvinlionLem Barney had just finished a round of golf at Detroit’s Palmer Park Golf Course in the summer of 1968. Palmer, one of four prominent courses in the area, attracted many of the city’s black celebrities, including Joe Louis, Smokey Robinson and The Temptations.

Barney had heard Marvin Gaye, one of his favorite artists, lived nearby. With time to kill before heading back to training camp for afternoon practice, he figured why not? Gaye sang the score to Barney’s high school and college years at Jackson State University. The second year defensive back introduced himself to Palmer’s clubhouse employees, who quickly obliged with his request for Gaye’s address.

Barney easily found Marvin’s house, less than a mile-and-a-half from the course. When the legendary Motown crooner and avid sports fan opened the door, he instantly recognized Barney, inviting him in for breakfast.

For nearly two hours, the athlete and the singer chatted like long-time friends, bonded by mutual passions: sports and music. … Read More

(Via The Undefeated)

ALDLAND Archives: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Lion: A tale of two teams?

Last night, the Detroit Lions opened NFL preseason action by stomping– when the Dan Orlovsky scores on you, that qualifies as a “stomping”– the New York Jets, 23-3. Before Lions fans run off to soil their newspaper pages, web logs, Twitter feeds, and MLive.com comment sections with flowery projections of now and present greatness, some perspective may be helpful, and I’m not even talking about the manual/surgical realignment of Gino Smith’s jaw. We all hope the Lions have a good season and make a good showing on Thanksgiving Day, but if you are a fan of these or any other Detroit Lions, it will benefit your sanity to recall that a win (or four) in the preseason is but a nugget of fool’s gold.

Here, then, to cut through your Honolulu Blue hangover of victory is a selection from fairly deep in the ALDLAND Vault, such as it exists, that seems as likely as anything else we’ve published to be of perennial import. -Ed.


Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Lion: a Tale of Two Teams?

September 7, 2011

The NFL’s as-yet-unabridged preseason finished up last weekend, and the Detroit Lions turned in another dominant performance, posting a 4-0 record and notching an especially impressive win over the New England Patriots. Analysts and commentators repeat the common mantra that the preseason doesn’t mean a lot, but in the same breath, many of them are pointing to this year’s Lions as a team that could be a surprise success. . . . Read the rest . . .

Ready to Die: Three Days of Drugs and Disintegration with The Grateful Dead (via Vice)

gd50We’re clacking and lurching on a Red Line car to the Roosevelt stop. This is the exit for Chicago’s Soldier Field, site of “Fare Thee Well,” the last three shows for the band formerly known as The Grateful Dead. Ask me why I’m here and I can only give you elliptical answers.

On most Sundays, the Grateful Dead are my favorite rock band of all-time, but this seems destined for pure farce—a Necrophiliac spectacle where the hallucinogenic ashes of Saint Jerry spike the Fourth of July fireworks. During intermission, the field will split open and he’ll ascend in a floating mausoleum, wax mannequin covered in tie-die, exhumation costs covered by the largesse of Ben and Jerry. A Jerry hologram was planned, but couldn’t be properly brought to fake life in real time. The Jerry impersonator from Half Baked was waylaid with prior Independence Day plans. One of these is true.

Somehow, four old guys, Bruce Hornsby, and Trey from Phish sold 65 percent more tickets per show than Taylor Swift—more than every summer festival except Coachella. And there may be more floral garlands here. The Golden Road to Devotion now costs a couple mortgage payments. No free press passes either. Entrance meant that you won the lottery, sold spare appendages on the black market, or finessed the Patchouli circuit plug. Maybe you’re one of the hundreds outside with a cardboard sign that reads: “Hoping for a Miracle.” … Read More

(via Vice)

One thing that is not among the Three Failures That Doomed Doug Melvin

Yesterday, the Milwaukee Brewers relieved General Manager Doug Melvin of his general managing duties. Today, Dave Cameron, writing for JABO, detailed “Three Failures That Doomed” Doug Melvin. (To save you a click: poor drafting, trading Zack Greinke for peanuts, and retaining a bunch of bad players.) One thing that is not one of the Three Failures That Doomed Doug Melvin is the simple fact that he looks like Kurt Vonnegut If Kurt Vonnegut Had Been Born And Lived His Life In Wisconsin.


(Here note for the sake of completeness that Dave Cameron also is not one of the Three Failures That Doomed Doug Melvin.)


Phil Jackson is Ron Burgandy?
Visualizing NFL Politics (Mike Smith is John McCain?)

Window Shopping: Step Back From the Window, or, Thank You Very Much, Mr. Rebooto

The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline was an especially active period for the Detroit Tigers franchise, which made big moves both with player and front-office personnel.

Detroit traded three of the best players on its 2015 roster in the days and minutes prior to the trade deadline. The team’s biggest move, and arguably the biggest of one of the most active trade-deadline periods ever, was their decision to trade number-one starter David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays. They also sent closer Joakim Soria to Pittsburgh, and, in the final moments before the deadline, Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets.

The basic logic behind each of these moves is that, even prior to these trades, each of these players was, for all practical purposes, not going to be a member of the Detroit Tigers in 2016. That’s because each is in the final year of his current contract, meaning that each becomes a free agent at the end of this season. The Tigers would have no special ability to keep Price, Cespedes, or Soria in Detroit after the end of the 2015 season, and, given their individual successes, each is likely to fetch contract offers on the free market too rich even for Mike Ilitch’s blood. Rather than keep Price, Cespedes, and Soria for August and September on a team that’s unlikely to even make the playoffs, only to watch them walk away in the winter, the Tigers, with an eye on the post-2015 future, decided to cash in some of the value of these assets by trading them now. In doing so, Detroit converted these three expiring assets into six prospects, including five pitchers and one infielder.

Baseball analysts widely praised these transactions as beneficial to the Tigers, who, general manager Dave Dombrowski announced were “rebooting,” selling with the goal of remaining competitive in the near term, rather than undergoing a full rebuilding. The top return for Detroit was Daniel Norris, a now-former Blue Jay who lives in a van and shaves his beard with an ax. They also received Matt Boyd from Toronto, a younger starter who, in his recent Tigers’ debut, beat Johnny Cueto and the Royals.

Of course, the only real question for Detroit was not whom to trade but whether to trade. As July 31 approached, that question divided fans and, it later would be revealed, members of the team’s front office and ownership. As for the former group, most fans recognized the Tigers’ slim playoff odds and supported selling, although a minority that included this writer held out hope that the team could make one more postseason push before initiating a rebuild. Ultimately, Dombrowski’s “rebooting” seemed to satisfy both camps: Detroit would get close-to-ready prospects in exchange for their expiring assets. No long rebuilding process– a full surrender– was in store, just a quick retooling.

Two additional notes in the context of these trades: 1) one week before the trade deadline, Toronto, the biggest buyers, and Detroit, the biggest sellers, sat four and five games out of the last American League wild card position, respectively, and 2) while it isn’t at all likely that Price, Soria, or Cespedes will return to Detroit in the offseason, the effect of an unusual clause in Cespedes’ contract is that the Tigers actually increased whatever chance they have of resigning Cespedes by trading him.


As the Tigers and their fans were settling into life without Price, Soria, and Cespedes, and enjoying their first trial run with Norris, who had a strong start on Sunday in Baltimore, unbeknownst to them, even more action was afoot behind the scenes.    Continue reading

Free Baseball: Patient Braves fashion dramatic comeback to beat the Giants in extra innings

giant bravesOn a muggy night in Atlanta, the Braves opened a three-game series with the visiting Giants at 7:10 pm– actually a bit before then, by our watches– Monday. Atlanta’s starter, Mike Foltynewicz must’ve missed the memo, though, because he spent about an hour of game time serving batting practice to the San Francisco hitters, who responded by bombing fly balls to the deep reaches of Turner Field, netting them three homers to left, one to center, and a 6-0 lead by the fourth inning.

The rain that fell amidst the sunshine– likely the prompt answer to a desperate prayer from Foltynewicz, who, unbelievably, was sent back out to pitch the fifth and sixth innings– seemed to cool the Giants’ bats and, eventually, nurture the opposite effect for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Jace Peterson’s three-run homer halved the Giants’ lead, and (remember this name) Adonis Garcia’s follow-up double chased San Francisco starter Matt Cain. A Nick Markakis RBI single scored Garcia, and the Braves ended their productive sixth inning having trimmed the Giants’ six-run lead to two.

Atlanta would edge even closer in the next inning, thanks to a solo shot from the once and prodigal BABIP king Chris Johnson, but a two-out rally in the top of the ninth allowed the Giants to extend their lead to 7-5.

Two San Francisco relievers later, the Braves were down to their final out, trailing by two with no men on. Johnson kept his team alive with a hard-hit single, and A.J. Pierzynski’s third hit of the night landed in the outfield seats, tying the game and sending it to extra innings. Continue reading

Window Shopping: oY?

The notion of a “platoon split” refers to the fact that, on average, batters have more success against opposite-handed pitchers than they do against same-handed pitchers. Thus, right-handed batters generally fare better against left-handed pitching, and left-handed batters generally fare better against right-handed pitching. If you think this sounds like some Monty Hall voodoo, take a look at the numbers. It’s one of the oldest tricks in baseball.

Occasionally, however, a player will buck the trend and find himself with a reverse platoon split, meaning that he hits same-handed pitching better than opposite-handed pitching. Such appears to be the case this year for Detroit outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

The 2015 season is shaping up to be a career-best for Cespedes. Here are his current offensive numbers:

yo2015His 3.2 fWar is good for twenty-second overall, and his 120 wRC+ (a comprehensive measure of offensive value) is third-best on his team, behind only Miguel Cabrera and the sensational J.D. Martinez. Pretty good.

What’s lurking behind those numbers, though, is something seemingly odd and definitely obviously foreshadowed by the words in this post you’ve read so far: a reverse platoon split. Cespedes bats exclusively right-handed, but, contrary to the long-prevailing trend, he has much more success against right-handed pitchers than left-handed pitchers. These are his current splits:

yo2015splitThese numbers aren’t even close. Continue reading