All posts by Bert

I'm thinning, not balding... I've got a lifetime of embarrassing moments just waiting to be shared RCNJ Baseball '19

Life Becomes Easier When You Just Accept the Rebuild

It was a gloomy and gray Tuesday morning. I had to get up early to go to the DMV because Saturday they closed early on my ass when I was literally two people away. I had a three hour class and a full day of work right after. And to top it off, the Seahawks were embarrassed on Monday Night Football. Yet, on this day, and amongst all this, I found peace.

The score does not in any way indicate the way the Seahawks-Bears game went last night. They lost 24-17, with a less than 1% chance at tying it up in the last ten seconds if they recovered an onside kick. As a team, they had 276 total yards, but 99 of those came on the final drive when the Bears defense was in protect mode. They were 5 for 13 on 3rd down, lost 2 fumbles, threw a pick-six, and at one point were only averaging 2.9 yards per play. There was one time where I walked out of the room for a second right before first down, and by the time I came back they were already punting. But, as I said before, I have found peace.

Image result for seahawks vs bears
Image via UPI.com

The Seattle Seahawks are 0-2, with Dallas coming to them next week. They lost to the Broncos and the Bears, two teams with good defenses. The thing is, if you want to be a Super Bowl winning team, you have to beat teams with good defenses. That is not in the Seahawks destiny this year though, and now that I have come to realize that, I have found peace. I’ve said it three times now, so I’ll explain.

I’ve officially accepted the Seahawks run as a contender is over. It’s a hard reality to face, and one you don’t truly believe until it actually happens to you. I compare it to being on the receiving end of a dad-bod. You’re young, you workout a few times a week, but let’s be honest, you drink a lot of beer and McDonalds tastes so good. For a while, you’re in denial. The v-shape starts to fade away underneath a plump circle that is now your stomach. You think “Nah, I’ll just go for a run tomorrow and I’ll be back in shape in no time”. Similarly, the Seahawks thought, “We’ll sign average linebacker Barkevious Mingo and we’ll be back in contention, even though we lost Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Richard Sherman!”. Friends, it doesn’t work like that. Life doesn’t work like that. In football, and in dad-bods, there is a point of no return. One day you’ll look in the mirror and you’ll say to yourself “I think I’ve peaked”. The Seahawks have reached that point, and if this paragraph sounds a little familiar, you might have too. It’s better to just accept it. Once you embrace your current fate, life becomes a whole lot simpler. And you find your peace.

Look how happy Clayton Kershaw is

You see so many fans who get frustrated over every loss because on the surface they think their team has a chance to play on that Sunday in February, but deep down they know it’s over. When you wholeheartedly come to terms that your team is mediocre at best, everything around you opens up. The sun comes up, the grass gets greener, people get kinder. The games become easier to watch, and your Mondays through Saturday aren’t filled with “what ifs” and getting angry at Colin Cowherd for insulting your team’s “pitiful” performance.

This isn’t an overreaction to an 0-2 start, trust me. If the Seahawks of three years ago started 0-2, I probably wouldn’t even be panicking. They had an abundance of talent and usually found a way to figure it out. But this year, you can just see it. There’s a lot of young players who don’t really understand the flow of an NFL game, or what to do when they are forced to adjust on the fly. Beyond them, the veteran talent really isn’t there. They have the makeup of an average to below average team. And you know what, that’s okay. We had our reign at the top, it’s time for somebody else.

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Image via OregonLive.com

The frustrating part is when the team you know can’t compete does not just rebuild already. I would love nothing more than to see the Seahawks tank this year, get a top pick and impact player, and explode back onto the scene in two or three years before Russell Wilson leaves his prime. I pray Pete Carroll is thinking the same way, but it also gets me nervous because he might be trying to squeeze the last bit of success out of his former championship window so when he is done coaching after the 2019 season, he’ll retire knowing he at least gave it his all. I don’t think many coaches plan to start a rebuild at 67 years old, and I think it’s a reason Earl Thomas is still in a Seahawks uniform.

He believes in his team more than he should, which I respect. If the Seahawks turn it around this year, please, shove this article in my face forever. I’ll be glad to take the beating. But, it’s gonna be really annoying to see them try to capture the magic they’ve lost when they could bite the bullet now and find their way sooner than later.

A little advice from a hardcore fan, just press “Go” on the rebuild button. It’s green, it’s big, and it’s wrapped with a 5th overall pick in 2019 and a 12th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft (on top of the Cowboy’s picks when we finally trade Earl Thomas there). It’s a beautiful thing, and I’ll take hope for the future as opposed to dismay in the present any day. Delayed gratification is a beautiful thing, let’s get this thing started.

I’m All In on the Andrew Bynum Comeback

Many eras ago, there was a time where NBA players truly hated one another. A time once the playoffs rolled around, nobody was all talk. It was time to man up or go home. Not “If we lose it’s okay, we’ll just move our vacation together up one week”. One of the guys who spearheaded that era was Lakers center Andrew Bynum, as seen below:

Image result for andrew bynum gif
It should probably be noted this behavior is not condoned, but the NBA is definitely softer than it was back then

A few days ago, we learned that this former Lakers, Cavs, and Pacers center is en route to an NBA comeback.

Despite the fact that his dribbling sort of reminds me of Stanley from The Office (gif below for all you uncultured swine), I’m actually really pumped for Bynum.

Image result for stanley playing basketball gif

Why? Am I former Lakers fan? No. Did I place an irrational bet years ago saying he would be a Hall of Famer? Fortunately, no. Does he represent something larger than any of you probably understand? Fuck. Yes.

Andrew Bynum’s comeback is not just about a former star center playing basketball again. It’s so much bigger than that. His attempt to get on a professional court again gives hope to players of the past just like him. That’s right, every oversized and overrated center that ever graced the NBA is looking at Andrew Bynum right now like “Holy shit, he’s gonna do it”. Greg Oden, Kwame Brown, Anthony Bennett, Darko Milicic, and Sam Bowie are all sitting on their couches viciously icing their knees and crying their eyes out. But deep, deep under those tears of failure is a glimpse of hope. A belief that just because you’re a big man that fell out of the NBA, and your body was bigger than your brain could handle, that you and so many others could be great once more. If Bynum completes the comeback, it will be a lesson to all of them…don’t give up, even if literally every doctor tells you that you should. Listen to your heart, not your knees.

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Image via Sporting News

Fortunately for him, Bynum is the rich man’s version of all these players, and actually had/will continue to have a solid career. At his peak, he averaged 18.7 PPG and 11.8 RPG. Knee injuries derailed him, but at one point he was part of discussions in a blockbuster trade for Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. He was an impact player without a doubt.

Most people will shake their heads at this, much like we do with all old players who leave the league. But, at 30 years old, this really isn’t that far of a stretch. He could really go out and perform well in front of a couple of teams, and they’ll decide to take him as a project. Off the bench, you’ll get a player similar to Dwight Howard’s level of production, probably a little less. Regardless, a veteran who has been to the end of the world and back is great for a young team with young big men on the team (@SacramentoKings?)

You know what, give me Andrew Bynum in a Kings uniform by mid-October or I’m not watching a single second of the NBA season this year. ALL IN.

#BringBackBynum

The Most Silent NL MVP Candidate

Maybe it’s just me, but MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Cy Young discussions are some of my favorite discussions to have in baseball. Pretty much anyone that has a clue about the sport can speak on the topic, and you won’t get any showoffs trying to make outrageous statements because the conversation pretty much writes itself. If you try and tell me somebody like Andrelton Simmons should be a candidate just because he’s batting .296 and is good on defense, I will tell you that you should learn how to not talk anymore.

This year, the NL MVP has been notoriously close, but mostly for the fact that nobody has broken away from the crowd with ridiculous seasons. The AL is looking at J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts competing for a batting title on the same team, Jose Ramirez is having another crazy year as the quietest superstar in baseball, and Mike Trout continues to be baseball’s messiah. In the NL, you have a few players that experts are suggesting, but there’s one player I simply don’t understand why he isn’t in the discussion.

Trevor Story. The guy that hit a baseball that is currently in orbit around Earth.

I have not heard many people use his name in the discussion, but the Rockies are currently one game ahead of the Dodgers and Story is a big reason why. Here’s are some of the top NL MVP Candidates and their most focused-on stats:

Matt Carpenter, STL .270 AVG, 35 HR, 77 RBI
Freddie Freeman, ATL .306 AVG, 21 HR, 84 RBI
Javier Baez, CHC .294 AVG, 30 HR, 100 RBI
Nolan Arenado, COL .297 AVG, 32 HR, 95 RBI
Max Scherzer, WAS 17 Wins, 2.31 ERA, 271 Ks
Aaron Nola, PHI 16 Wins, 2.29 ERA, 196 Ks
Jacob deGrom, NYM 8 Wins (lol), 1.68 ERA, 230 Ks
Christian Yelich, MIL .316 AVG, 18 HR, 61 RBI

And here is Story’s line:

Trevor Story, COL .293 AVG, 31 HR, 96 RBI

Not to mention (but I will), he also has 25 stolen bases, the most of any of the other candidates. Now, I certainly believe stats don’t tell the entire story (no pun intended). There are factors that make a player an MVP Candidate and factors that don’t. For example, some players stats might be better because they are part of a more dangerous lineup. The Rockies have 2 MVP-caliber players, Charlie Blackmon, and former batting champ D.J. LeMahieu all in the top 5 positions in their lineup. That is going to inflate your RBI stats, as well as get you more hitable pitches because pitchers have to get outs somewhere. Matt Carpenter, on the other hand, is not part of as dangerous of a lineup with the only fearful hitters being Jose Martinez and Marcell Ozuna. Therefore, his RBI total and average will depreciate. For a reason as simple as this, that makes Carpenter that much more valuable to his team than Story, and a large reason why he’s on the consistent discussion list as opposed to the Rockies shortstop.

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Image via USA Today

But, I believe Story’s numbers are too good to be ignored. As a middle infielder that is going to finish with 35+ HR and 100+ RBI with an average floating around .300, that cannot be played off as a slightly above average season. Baez is supposedly the front-runner and he’s having the same season as Story, just on the other side of the second base bag.

I’m not saying he needs to be crowned the winner right now, but in a year that nobody is running away with the title, it would be cool to see an underdog pull away in September and walk away with the award. It should be an interesting battle for the rest of the season to see who comes out on top.

The Sophomore Slump: Why You Should Be Hesitant with Second-Year Running Backs

In athletics there are trends that coaches, players, and fans all make a note of. In baseball, it’s struggling after the Home Run Derby or a World Series Hangover. In football, there’s the Madden Curse. And in every sport, there’s the Sophomore Slump.

This trend is particularly notable in football, and to be even more specific, in running backs. If you look back, there have been a countless number of running backs who have gone from exciting rookies to disappointing busts in the matter of a few seasons. Some have picked their career back up the next season, and others you’ll be left saying “Oh shit I forgot about that guy”.

There are countless reasons why it happens, whether it be injury, suspension, or just lack of productivity. No matter the excuse, a striking consistency exists and you have to wonder…why?

Take a look at some of the guys. I made an extraordinarily average and plain chart that will document exactly what I mean, dating all the way back to 1972.

PLAYER, Rookie Season ROOKIE SEASON SOPHOMORE SEASON
Ezekiel Elliott, 2016 1,631 rush yards, 15 TD 983 rush yards, 7 TD
Todd Gurley III, 2015 1,106 rush yards, 10 TD 885 rush yards, 6 TD
Thomas Rawls, 2015 830 rush yards, 4 TD 349 rush yards, 3 TD
Zac Stacy, 2013 973 rush yards, 7 TD 293 rush yards, 1 TD
Trent Richardson, 2012 950 rush yards, 11 TD 563 rush yards, 3 TD
Doug Martin, 2012 1,454 rush yards, 11 TD 456 rush yards, 1 TD
Steve Slaton, 2008 1,282 rush yards, 9 TD 437 rush yards, 3 TD
Cadillac Williams, 2005 1,178 rush yards, 6 TD 798 rush yards, 1 TD
Kevin Jones, 2004 1,133 rush yards, 5 TD 664 rush yards, 5 TD
Rashaan Salaam, 1995 1,074 rush yards, 10 TD 496 rush yards, 3 TD
Don Woods, 1974 1,162 rush yards, 7 TD 317 rush yards, 2 TD
Franco Harris, 1972 1,055 rush yards, 10 TD 698 rush yards, 3 TD

I’m sure the more you dug, the more you’d find guys just like this. I had to exclude guys who burst onto the scene into their second season, but first as a starter, then declined the next year because that is “technically” not a sophomore slump. These were the more obvious and overt ones. Players like Gurley, Doug Martin, and Cadillac have had their moments after their slump, and we expect Elliott to do the same. But a lot of these players completely fell off.  Like where the hell is Steve Slaton? Probably doing maintenance at a Walmart somewhere in Houston. Trent Richardson? He’s the poor man’s Eddie Lacy and turned in a pretty sad NFL career.

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Image via Yardbarker

My guess for why these things happen is people get complacent (in Zeke’s case, stupid or conspired against if you’re a Cowboys fan). They feel they’ve accomplished the world because they see they can dominate the NFL. Or, they get figured out…and all they had on teams was the element of surprise. Once teams are prepared for them, they are simply not good enough to adjust and be effective again.

This trend exactly is what makes me scared to draft, or be confident in if I’m a fan of these teams, players like Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Kareem Hunt, and Leonard Fournette. All these guys achieved at par or above their rookie expectations. It’s hard to predict who is going to actually fall, but I’ll give it my best.

Kamara: Possibly the most surprising of the bunch, but I actually think he will continue to perform at a high-level. Usually, small and quick players don’t last but Kamara proved last year he can do it. When Ingram was the starter throughout the first few weeks, Kamara was still forcing playing time because of his big play ability. By the time the year ended, he was getting more snaps and getting better each and every week. Now that Ingram is gone for the first four weeks, it’s Kamara’s job to run with. The only problem, which could lead to a decline, is can he handle the heavy workload? That remains to be seen, but due to the fact he had an increased role towards the end of the year, I believe he can.

McCaffrey: He only ran for 435 yards last year, while totaling 651 through the air. I can’t imagine he puts up similar numbers receiving-wise with Greg Olsen back, Cam more comfortable with Devin Funchess, and rookie D.J. Moore coming in. But with that said, Jonathon Stewart is no longer there to hog carries, so McCaffrey’s run game should improve, as well as his TDs. I don’t see him declining from an overall perspective.

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Image via Panthers Wire

Hunt: With essentially a new mindset on offense, the Chiefs are going to be very different this year. Mahomes plans to throw the ball deep with heavy consistency, making Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and maybe even Sammy Watkins great options. But that leaves Kareem Hunt, somebody who excelled in the Alex Smith check-down game, with a somewhat smaller role. With the Chiefs barely ever running the ball last year and a healthy Spencer Ware on the sideline in 2018-2019, I can definitely see him taking a step back this year.

Fournette: Not much has changed in Jacksonville, so nothing should change for Fournette. He should be another success story this year, and I strongly believe he’ll have long-term success similar to Adrian Peterson thanks to his size and speed.

Again, this is just my analysis. I wish all these guys success, but ya never know. One of them is bound to be a different player this year, but it could be anyone of them. That’s why you play the games.

You Know Your Team is Screwed When Their Best Draft Pick is a Punter

Pls watch:

The Seahawks pretty much did everything I told them not to during the offseason, so if they wind up being horrible, I can at least say I was right.

But man, how sad is it that the best player out of this class could be the damn punter? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for downing the ball inside the ten yard line, but when your team misses the playoffs the year before it’s not very encouraging to hear that field position is your biggest improvement.

For some reason, the Seahawks used a first-round pick on a backup running back in Rashaad Penny. Yes, he’s talented and certainly has potential, but when Michael Dickson and his knuckleball fucking punts are being raved about while Penny is coming back from finger surgery, I wouldn’t say we’re in a solid spot.

In all reality, this punter fella seems like a stud. He’s an Australian trick shot specialist-converted NFL punter that the Seahawks traded up to get, as stated in the video. He’s also making open field tackles on returners that are putting linebackers to shame, and if you Google “Michael Dickson” you’ll see that the Seattle media has a collective middle school crush on the guy. Could he be the very first punter to win Rookie of the Year? Maybe, I’d certainly love to see it.

I have also learned to never doubt Peter Clay Carroll and the Seahawks front office. They’re definitely a little obscure, but let’s not forget what the magnificent Shania Twain once said:

“I find that the very things that I get criticized for, which is usually being different and just doing my own thing and just being original, is the very thing that’s making me successful.”

Bottom line, In Pete I trust. But dude, a punter?

Are You a Bad Fan for Rooting for an Opposing Team’s No-Hitter When It’s Already Happening?

So I’d like to enter into an embrace debate with the BTB readers for this post. Earlier this month, I attended a Yankees vs. Red Sox game at the always Yankee-friendly Fenway Pawk. There was constant calking from the loyal Red Sox fans, who told me on multiple occasions (I was wearing a Judge BP top) that I sucked, was worthless, and that I should take a seat. I should note, I was never standing when they told me to sit down, but as Mr. Walker would say, I digress.

Through all that, there was a game going on. A game where Rick Porcello, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, threw a complete game one-hitter. While his no-hitter effort was spoiled early in the game due to a Miguel Andjuar home run, nobody else (obviously) got a hit the rest of the time. He was dominant, and the Red Sox won 4-1.

His performance got me thinking. In the 9th inning, when it seemed inevitable the Yankees were going to lose the game, I said to myself, “I kinda wish Andjuar didn’t get a hit so I could have seen a no-hitter in person”. Immediately, I retracted that statement in my mind with the thought that I should feel guilty for wishing negativity on my favorite team. Since then, I’ve battled back and forth with my thoughts.

Image result for rick porcello

So, the reason I come to you all is to try and figure out if I’m a bad fan or not. If you’re in the presence of a potential opposing pitcher no-hitter, do you root for that to happen?  Let it be noted, the chances of seeing a no-hitter in person, according to the Chicago Tribune and ESPN, is 1 in 806, or .00124069%.

Here’s my view, and tell me if I’m wrong:

We go to baseball games to see something incredible happen. Most times, we go with the thought of that incredible moment happening for our team. Playoff tickets, and not that this is any news but it pushes forth the argument, are so heavily desired because history could happen before your very eyes. You could be at the game where Jeter becomes Mr. November. You could be at the game where the Red Sox complete the greatest comeback in baseball history. You could watch Madison Bumgarner come out of the bullpen to close out Game 7 and compile a 3-0 record in a single World Series. My mom and uncle were at the Bill Buckner game. History happens, and if you’re there to see it, you feel a part of it. If somebody were to ask us what we want to see when we go to baseball games, the only proper response I can think of is this:

Image result for the incredibles something amazing gif

Now obviously, expectations are rarely heightened for your average regular season game. At best, you realistically expect and hope for your team to walk away with a solid win and maybe you see a couple home runs, have a few beers, and get home safe. But when you have an opportunity for “something amazing” to actually happen, to literally witness history, even if it means going against your team for one night, I take that 10/10.

It’s selfish, and it puts your role as a fan of the game above a fan of the team, but when I look back on my life as a baseball fan, I’m 100% going to wish Miguel Andujar did not put that ball 60 feet over the Green Monster and I got to see Rick Porcello throw a no-hitter. I’ll see plenty of more Yankee wins in my life, and probably see Rick Porcello get shelled the next time he plays against them, but if for one night I could put a once-in-a-lifetime moment into my Hall of Fame Memory Bank, I’ll gladly tip my cap to him and root for it…once the game is out of reach.

I Can’t Decide If This Is a Good Idea or Not

At the Home Run Derby, Bryce Harper showed us why he may be worth $400 million dollars come the offseason. Hitting 8 home runs in 47 seconds is not something most normal people can do. Not even the power aspect, but the fact he wasn’t even getting tired? Usually people have to break after a couple swings that deep into the contest, just to take a breathe.

He looked like human version of this gif:

fail world series GIF by Looney Tunes

But something else interesting happened that night that I think should be considered, or at least discussed:

I really cannot tell if this is a good idea or not. On one hand, how cool would it be to see some of the top pitchers throw as hard as they can to a poor catcher who will have to ice his hand until the next year when he has to do it all over again. On the other hand, this is basically writing off the rest of the season because Tommy John might as well be a lock for one of these guys. It’s only a matter of who will fall victim to the injury.

So there’s a question to be answered: Is it worth it?

For sure, all-time records for hardest ball thrown would be broken in this contest. Guys totally gearing up with everything they got to be crowned the “hardest thrower in baseball”. We’d see 104, 105, and maybe even the untouched 106 MPH. But, we could also see some young arms derail their career very early.

Another side to argue is the chicken and the egg, “which came first” question. If a player slumps after the Home Run Derby, was that just bound to happen based on the premise that everybody falters at some point in the season, or is it guaranteed that because the player was dipping and jacking for an hour on a Saturday night that the rest of his season is screwed. It’s hard to tell. Similarly, if a pitcher gets injured from throwing his hardest, which ideally he’s doing two to three times a week regardless, isn’t there a chance he was already hurt and this contest might have put him over the edge? Again, difficult to pinpoint.

Bottom line, if you came here for an answer, I don’t have one. As I stated, I have no clue if it’s a good idea. There’s a good amount of pros, and a good amount of cons.

I’d love to see more action on All-Star Weekend. All baseball has is their version of the Dunk Contest. A little more diversity and appreciation for players with other skills would be cool to see for the die-hard baseball purists. Show me the fastest runner, let me see which duo can turn the fastest double play, who’s got the best arm from the outfield, which guy has the best baseball IQ. If baseball has a problem marketing their players, giving all of them more of a chance to perform on the big stage is a great opportunity to let everyone know their name. But at the risk of a potential injury, who knows what the right call is. I guess it should fall under the same category as the Home Run Derby…enter at your own risk.