The Arizona Cardinals gave Kyler Murray almost a quarter of a billion dollars, but they don’t trust him enough to study film on his own time. George Wrighster points out how ridiculous Michael Bidwill is for locking up a QB that he clearly doesn’t trust.
We need to talk about MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
This weekend, leading up to the all-star festivities, Rob Manfred took a break from his full-time job of not marketing Mike Trout in order to make some hilariously disconnected comments to Hannah Keyser of Yahoo! Sports.
When asked if MLB owners don’t pay minor leaguers a living wage because they can’t afford to, or because they aren’t interested in doing so, Manfred responded by “rejecting the premise” of the question, and pointing to recent raises, signing bonuses, and housing.
Rob Manfred rejecting the premise of a question about minor league compensation is pretty rich, considering just how rich the commissioner is. On the day he answered this question, he pocketed his daily salary of nearly $48,000, AKA about four times the minimum annual salary of a AAA baseball player, and ten times the annual salary of someone in single A.
“Living Wage” isn’t a buzz word. It has a literal definition, and it varies from state to state. Take the Charlotte Knights, for example. The Chicago White Sox AAA team in Charlotte pays a minimum of $700 a week to its players, but based on cost of living calculations, someone working in Charlotte would need to be making $750 per week to support a one-person household.
Rob Manfred claims that free housing alleviates that issue, but a minor league season is only 3-4 months long. What are the players that make up the foundation of the game you’re in charge of supposed to do for the rest of the year?
Surveys have shown that nearly 50% of minor leaguers are working a second job. If minor leaguers can’t make what they need to survive as a professional baseball player, or at the very least be able to fund the pursuit of the baseball dream, it puts the entire future of the league at risk.
Maybe Rob Manfred isn’t sympathetic to the idea of paying minor leaguers enough to focus on one job because Rob Manfred has deep, personal knowledge that being paid handsomely to do something, like run baseball, doesn’t mean that you actually know what you’re doing.
Let that sink in.
We need to talk about Albert Pujols and the legacy he’s leaving behind.
On Monday, a 42-year-old Albert Pujols participated in the Home Run derby as an all-star weekend swan song. Earlier this year, Pujols returned to the St. Louis Cardinals on a one-year deal for his final season, and while many people thought Pujols’ inclusion in the derby was a gimmick, he actually advanced to the second round.
In case Pujols time with the star-studded but lowly Angels organization made you forget, this is one of the best baseball players we’ve ever seen.
Albert Pujols is a three-time MVP, two-time World Series champion, two-time golden glove winner, 11-time all-star, is fifth all-time in home runs, tenth all-time in hits, and third all-time in runs batted in.
While I’m not like some stuffy baseball gatekeepers who turn their back on the players of the steroid era, it’s definitely worth noting that Pujols accomplished all this in the era of strict PED testing.
What I want to talk about most though is the fact that Pujols has set the stage for Dominican born baseball players to do exactly what he did- stand on the shoulders of giants and ultimately surpass them. Albert Pujols started his first all star game alongside Dominican legends like Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa and Vladimir Guerrero.
On Monday, it was a pair of young Dominican superstars in Juan Soto and Julio Rodríguez that grabbed the torch from Pujols and showed that the future of baseball is bright. Soto, at just 23 years old, is in the process of captivating the nation with both his play on the field, and a stratospheric contract negotiation with the Washington Nationals that saw him turn down a $440 million contract.
Pujols made sure to let anyone that was listening know that he believes Juan Soto is a future Hall of Famer. Soto’s response? “He’s gonna make me cry.”
Julio Rodríguez, who finished second in the home run derby, but hit over 80 home runs in the contest, was awarded $50,000 more for finishing as runner up ($750,000) than he’ll make on the entire season ($700,000).
The 21-year old Rodríguez said of Pujols, “He’s a legend. It’s amazing that I’m here sharing the stage with him.”
Well Julio, the stage is now yours. And the next generation of baseball fans, and children in the Dominican Republic, are watching. Time for you and Juan Soto to do what Albert did for you.
We need to talk about Tom Brady’s comments on Parenting
Last week, the GOAT QB opened up to Ford CEO Jim Farley on the Drive Podcast, saying that the hardest thing about parenting his three children was his wealth.
Wealth is the best kind of problem you can have, but make no mistake, it absolutely can be a problem.
I see people out here calling Tom Brady out for these comments like Kelly Price didn’t sing this exact truth 30 years ago.
It’s like the more problems we come across, the more problems we see.
Tom isn’t complaining about having money, he’s looking back fondly on his youth in a northern California middle class family, and on his supermodel wife’s upbringing in rural Brazil.
His kids aren’t going to know what it’s like to have anonymity, or privacy, or do any of the “normal” things that help ground somebody enough to appreciate a life of privilege once they’ve earned it.
Tom Brady and Giselle know a big reason they had unparalleled success in their fields comes from an upbringing that is impossible to turn around and give to their kids.
I’m not wealthy by Tom Brady standards but I’ve had the generational come-up, and it’s no big deal for my kids to regularly be hanging out around professional athletes or celebrities. Things that would have blown my mind growing up are completely regular occurrences for my kids.
Sometimes you wonder if your kids even know how sweet they have it when they haven’t experienced the same level of sour you have. And like Tom Brady went on to say in the interview, how do you impart to them that the sweet things they experience are treats, and not a baseline reality?
I’m not saying you need to feel sorry for Tom Brady, or me for that matter. But it is important to recognize that in a world where there’s a million things to be divided on, some things are universal- we all want the next generation to have enough adversity that it makes them, but not so much that it breaks them.
Let that sink in.
The Suns and restricted free agent Deandre Ayton came to an agreement on an extension the hard way last week, with Phoenix instantly matching Indiana’s 4-year, 133 million dollar offer to the former #1 overall pick.
Phoenix wanted Deandre Ayton on a four-year extension all along, and despite how dysfunctional the path was to achieving that goal, they got it done. It’s a win for the Phoenix Suns, who are fighting to keep a championship window cracked open while simultaneously negotiating to land Kevin Durant to support Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
In the end, this could be a win for Deandre Ayton too, as he’ll be approaching free agency again at age 27, but it’s only a win for Ayton if he locks in and makes massive strides over the course of his second contract.
Ayton hasn’t always gotten a fair shake from NBA fans, who constantly point out that he was selected ahead of Luka Doncic and Trae Young, but he has been a good player on what has become a contending team.
Still, you don’t have to be one of the fans that has had Deandre Ayton under a microscope over the last four season to know that there are some massive holes in both his game and his approach that led to a contract standoff with the Suns rather than an automatic offer for a 5-year max rookie deal.
While Ayton has the body and skillset of a dominant 90’s center (in a game that has largely evolved past the need for one), Ayton struggles to hold onto the basketball in traffic, and his lack of physicality is enough to drive both young fans and NBA oldheads insane. Over his four year career, Ayton has only 47 more made free throws than he does turnovers. While Ayton is a solid shot-alterer, he’s averaged less than one blocked shot per game over the last two regular seasons combined.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Ayton’s game is in the area of consistency, both in-game and over the course of a full season. There are very few players that put up more first quarter points per game at the center position, with Ayton ranking 4th last year at 5.9, behind MVP Nikola Jokic (7.8), all-star Karl Anthony-Towns (8.4), and Philadelphia franchise player Joel Embiid (8.5). Ayton’s production falls precipitously once the fourth quarter hits, ranking 19th amongst centers with 3.1 points per game, one spot behind his own 2021-2022 backup JaVale McGee. In addition, while Ayton has averaged a double-double for four consecutive seasons, he actually has more games played without a double-double over the last two seasons (54) than he does games with a double-double (53).
Combine that with his PED suspension, his admission that he stays up most nights playing video games, his public declaration that he “doesn’t like the big man role,” and his reported feud with Suns coach Monty Williams that spilled over onto the court in a game 7 western conference finals blowout loss, and you have some serious questions about whether Deandre Ayton will ever meet his potential.
We know what a dominant center’s attitude and leadership is supposed to look like. We saw it in Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and more (None of whom, by the way, had their best FG% season come anywhere close to Ayton’s career average of 60%). Ayton has natural skills that could put him that same conversation some day, but Ayton has been quoted as saying his NBA goal was to achieve his second contract, and it’s not unreasonable to think that if this money robs him of any motivation to improve, he could be in the same conversation as an Andrew Bynum or Jahlil Okafor instead.
At this point, it’s up to him.
We need to talk about Spencer Webb.
Oregon Tight End Spencer Webb passed away at the age of 22 yesterday in what is being ruled a diving accident at Triangle Lake outside of Eugene.
Spencer Webb’s story was one of incredible perseverance, and if you want to know more about the type of young man he was, I recommend you read John Canzano’s latest piece about the adversity he had to overcome to get where he was.
Like Spencer Webb, I also played Tight End at Oregon.
Like Spencer Webb, my college years were spent taking advantage of the incredible natural beauty of the Lakes and rivers outside of Eugene. It helped expand my horizons as a young man from Southern California, and helped mold me into the man I am today.
I’m devastated that we won’t get to see how Spencer Webb’s time in Eugene helped mold him.
It’s stories like this that serve as a sobering reminder that these college football empires are built on the backs of young men trying to make their way in the world.
If we hope to save what made college football one of the world’s greatest spectator events, we can’t get lost in the dizzying business aspects of this sport, like coaching carousels, conference carousels, and mountains of television money.
We need to focus on the people. People like Spencer Webb, who rose up from awful circumstances to give himself endless opportunities.
Take a moment today to reflect on and appreciate the stories of the young men that make up your favorite college team.
We need to focus our energy on giving these young men their flowers while we still have the chance. We need to let their stories impact and inspire us in the moment.
Let that sink in.
We need to talk about the reaction to LeBron James’ comments about Brittney Griner
On a preview for the fifth season of his show, The Shop, which debuts on July 15th, LeBron James can be heard noting that Brittney Griner has been detained by Russia for over 110 days for having hash oil in her luggage.
In the clip he says “How can she feel like America has her back?”
He also adds that in her situation, he might be questioning whether he even wants to go back to America.
The usual suspects are upset by LeBron’s suggestion that love of country might depend, for some people, on how much your country loves you.
“This country gave LeBron everything,” they say.
“If you hate it so much here, you’re free to leave,” they say.
Well I’m here to ask those same people that are offended every time our generation’s greatest basketball player attempts to use his voice to call for an improved American experience:
If you love America so much, why is the number one rated news show “Tucker Carlson complains about the direction of America?”
If you love America so much, why walk around in a red hat that claims that America is no longer great?
If you love America so much, why give less energy to supporting the release of one of the greatest women’s basketball players of all time than you do supporting the release of idiots that tried to lynch YOUR vice president when he wouldn’t help rig an election?
People that safeguard what “love for America” looks like can do that because at some point in their life, they felt like their country truly loved them back. Newsflash to those people- NOT EVERYBODY IN THIS COUNTRY HAS HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF FEELING THAT LOVE.
And a lot of those people happen to have similar skin tones to Brittney Griner and LeBron James.
They should be allowed to chase that feeling, just like you do. Even if they complain, just like you do.
Let that sink in.
We need to talk about Hunter Biden
You know and I know that most of what we see on social media regarding the president’s son is in bad faith.
There are conservatives doing anything they can to find examples of wedge issues and hypocrisies to claw their way back to executive power. When you have over 80 million votes for anyone but your guy, you’re going to do whatever it takes to get back in the game.
For Republican operatives, Hunter Biden is the gift that keeps on giving.
The Make America Great Again crowd keeps Hunter’s name trending, but every time a new recording or email comes out that shows how deep Hunter’s addict brain had him into destructive, hurtful, and illegal behaviors, people on the left react the same way every time-
“Why should I care about someone that isn’t an elected official? It’s not like Joe has him doing state business like Jared and Ivanka.”
Well, as a black man in America, I’m about to tell you exactly why you should care.
If you are a liberal that has become dependent on the minority vote to retain power and push for progress in this country, you need to know that the more that comes out about the consequence-free illegal activities of the president’s son, the more some of us are reminded that nearly 400,000 people in this country are incarcerated for drug offenses, a number that disproportionately affects people of color.
Black people overwhelmingly forgave Joe Biden for his roles in 1986 and 1994 crime bills in order to cast a vote against a guy in Donald Trump who didn’t seem to see anything wrong with the result and legacy of those laws.
But here we are in 2022, with jails still full of people that committed non-violent drug offenses. Many are there because of the harsh sentencing involved with Hunter’s drug of choice in a lot of these leaked videos- crack cocaine. Of course they don’t have the benefit of having a daddy in the Senate or the White House.
They also don’t have the advantage of having lived in the under-policed neighborhoods where Hunter Biden had the privilege of struggling with his addiction.
I’m not here to advocate for Hunter Biden to be punished, or for this ongoing scandal to take down the Bidens. I’ll leave that to conservatives on Twitter. I want for Hunter Biden what I want for anyone struggling with addiction- opportunities for peace, prosperity, and amends with anyone they hurt along the way.
What I am here to say is that if this administration expects to continue to carry the minority vote, they need to see these Hunter Biden stories the same way that a lot of us see them, as another exhausting example of how things work one way for us and another for them.
If Hunter Biden can avoid jail, and enjoy the benefits of multiple stints at rehabilitation facilities, we should at the very least be aggressively reducing and commuting the sentences of Americans whose penalties directly resulted from the laws his father, and our current president, put into place.
Let that sink in.
Until today, I never reflected on my relationship with James Caan. The charismatic actor always gave me “tough guy” vibes. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the son of Jewish immigrants born in the Bronx and raised in Queens.
So when I read that Caan sadly passed away at the age of 82, I started to think about his career, and the more I revisited his filmography, the sadder I was knowing the world lost a terrific actor. I did not know Caan personally so I can only speak about his performances. However, so many positive tributes have poured in about Caan, the man, and how much people loved working with him.
Every tribute to Caan will start with his role as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. You’ll hear no negative remarks from me about Caan’s performance as Vito Corleone’s eldest son. Caan is a lightning rod throughout the film, bringing the necessary chaotic, machismo energy required to play the don-in-waiting. Al Pacino’s performance as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II is arguably the pinnacle of acting, but Caan’s performance is better than Pacino’s in the first film. When he sees Connie with the bruises on her face, Sonny goes from enraged maniac to sympathetic brother in a matter of seconds, convincing the audience that he might show remorse towards Carlo, when in fact, he beats the life out of him. Caan is so committed and believable as an older brother who would kill to protect his family.
Caan’s other iconic roles in the 1970s that struck a chord with me are Brian’s Song and Rollerball. For the former, Caan played Brian Piccolo, a halfback for the Bears whose life ended at 26 from cancer. Caan wasn’t the tough guy anymore. Caan played Piccolo with such grace and vulnerability that it became known as a “movie that will make every guy cry.”
In Rollerball, Caan starred as Jonathan E., the superstar of the violent and deadly game known as Rollerball. The film was simply ahead of its time, brutally foreshadowing a world dominated by corporate greed and global capitalism. Caan is the perfect actor to give the middle finger to “the man” and represent individualism.
Skip ahead to 1981 when Caan ends up starring in Michael Mann’s directorial debut, Thief. For my money, Thief is on the Mount Rushmore of Caan performances. It’s the best representation of the heartwarming tough guy I used in the title. Caan is an enigmatic thief, but he’s a criminal with morals and a code of ethics that make him easy to root for. In one scene, he’s pistol-whipping a henchman. In another scene, he’s pouring his heart out at an adoption agency, trying to convince the state to grant him a child. Caan’s vulnerability is unmatched.
Unfortunately, Caan took a 5-year hiatus in the 1980s to coach his children’s sports teams to combat his depression over the death of his sister and his cocaine use. Luckily for us, Caan returned to acting and starred in 1990’s Misery. Almost every big name in Hollywood turned down the role of Paul Sheldon, who is brutally tortured and confined to a bed throughout most of the movie. But not Caan, who became the perfect foil to Kathy Bates’s Annie Wilkes.
Skip to 1996 when Caan appeared in four movies:
- North Star, a movie I have never seen
- Bottle Rocket, Wes Anderson’s directorial debut
- Eraser, where he plays the adversary to Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Bulletproof, where he struck up a personal and professional friendship with Adam Sandler
That’s a hell of a year.
The last iconic role of Caan came in 2003 when he played Walter Hobbs in Elf, the mean-spirited book publisher, and father to Buddy (Will Ferrell). To think there is an entire generation of people who know Caan strictly for Elf and not any of the roles mentioned above is a testament to his impact in Hollywood.
There are plenty of roles I didn’t mention, which speaks to Caan’s longevity and versatility. At the end of the day, Caan is one of the most talented performers of the last 60 years. It’s not hyperbole to say he is one of one. May he rest in peace.
What is your favorite James Caan performance? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, at @danny_giro.
We’re not even 24 hours into NBA Free Agency, and the drama is at an all-time high. Kevin Durant dropped an atomic bomb on the NBA community by requesting a trade out of Brooklyn. The Knicks somehow signed Jalen Brunson a week ago. The Pacers traded Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics for a bag of peanuts.
The NBA is more dramatic than the hallways of a high school. Here are my somewhat organized thoughts on NBA Free Agency so far what has transpired so far.
Kevin Durant Wants Out Of Brooklyn
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller describing the last two seasons for the Brooklyn Nets.
When things go from this…
in the span of two seasons, the word “roller coaster” does not do it any justice. Circus? Disappointment? The word I’ve settled on is failure. The Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving partnership failed. Both star players pushed for James Harden, and the Nets mortgaged their future to create a “big three.” On paper, it was a genius move. However, Harden wanted out after one season, and now both Kyrie and KD want out.
Is Kyrie the main reason behind both Harden and KD’s exits? Perhaps. Did getting swept by the Celtics make matters worse? I think so. Whatever the reason might be, Owner Joe Tsai and GM Sean Marks did everything in their power to accommodate KD, but now they’re left with their pants on the ground as one of the greatest players to ever play this game wants out with four years remaining on the contract. That, my friends, is not good!
So where does Durant end up? Phoenix is the logical answer because they could send Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, and a boatload of draft picks and pick swaps to Brooklyn. You can never count out Pat Riley and the Heat. The man who has been spot-on about every Nets rumor, Brian Windhorst, said teams need to watch out for the Utah Jazz.
I’m interested to see if the Nets move KD or Kyrie first, and then convince the remaining member to stay. This will be an interesting weekend, to say the least.
Jalen Brunson Becomes A Knick
It wouldn’t be a Dan Girolamo article (yes, I referred to myself in the third-person) if I failed to mention the New York Knicks. Jalen Brunson agreed to a 4 year, $104 million contract with the Knicks.
To my Knicks fans, do not take out your frustration with the front office on Jalen Brunson. Make no mistake about it, Brunson is a good player. To save your mental health, I will not include the list of Knicks’ starting point guards over the last 15 years. It’s not good. Brunson will be the best option at point guard for the Knicks for well over a decade. For being only 6’1″, Brunson is very crafty in the lane while shooting over 37% from behind the arc. Now that he’s the true number one point guard, he should be able to average around 20 points and 6 assists.
Brunson is only a piece. The team-friendly deal puts the Knicks in a good situation for the future. They need to make more moves, but Brunson is a nice piece.
– Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics – ROBBERY.
– Kyle Anderson to the Timberwolves – This league! The new rivalry between the Grizzlies and Wolves is getting spicy!
– Joker signs the supermax – Not enough money.
– Zach LaVine re-signs with the Bulls – Personal pick. I can’t quit Lavine.
– Bobby Portis re-signs with the Bucks – Good for morale.
– Victor Oladpio re-signs with the Heat – Take the flyer on the “bet on yourself” player.
– Royce O’Neale to the Nets for a first-round pick – What the hell?
– PJ Tucker to the Sixers – Good for this year, but how about in two years?
– Mitchell Robinson re-signs with the Knicks – I love Mitch. He earned this deal. However, I’m not crazy about $60 million. Was $48 million not an option?
– Lonnie Walker IV to the Lakers – Your guess is as good as mine.
– Juancho waived by the Jazz – Fuck this.
To Be Determined
– Dejounte to the Hawks while the Spurs openly tank – Only time will tell.
Enjoy the best soap opera on television, the NBA offseason! I’ll leave you with this masterclass segment from Windy.
What is your biggest NBA Free Agency storyline? Leave your answers in the comments below.