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Monday, August 08, 2011

The Sports Poscast with SI’s Joe Posnanski: Michael Schur

Two, two, two drafts in one!  (Because I missed the last one.)

Most Exciting Plays in Sports Draft: (August 2 Poscast)

Joe Posnanski: Tag plays at home plate
Michael Schur: Walk-off HR when team is behind
Poz: Behind-the-back pass in basketball
Schur: Long snapper snaps the ball over the punter’s head
Poz: Blind-side sack
Schur: Flea-flicker
Poz: Breakaway in hockey
Schur: Soccer goal
Poz: “Turning the corner” in 200m or 400m track race
Schur: Championship point in tennis

Best Balls in Sports Draft: (July 5 Poscast)

Schur: Baseball
Poz: Football
Schur: Wiffle Ball
Poz: Basketball
Schur: Golf ball
Poz: 8-ball
Schur: Tennis ball
Poz: Soccer ball
Schur: Kickball
Poz: Bowling ball

The District Attorney Posted: August 08, 2011 at 01:39 AM | 40 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball geeks

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   1. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 08, 2011 at 01:17 PM (#3895304)
Behind the back pass? Most exciting play in sports? Oh come on! The Kentucky Derby is way more exciting. And where's the triple?
   2. villageidiom Posted: August 08, 2011 at 01:54 PM (#3895311)
I didn't HTFP, but to me inside-the-park HR is more exciting than any of theirs in the excerpt, except maybe the first two. I've never seen a triple play in person, but I'd think that would be up there, too. Part of it is how the play develops, from the first recognition that it might be possible to the fulfillment.

Behind-the-back pass in basketball is probably there because, well, what else would you pick for basketball? Maybe the last possession for a team down by 1 would make it, except that I think football is far more exciting in that same scenario. (And walk-off for baseball is already higher on the list.) An alley-oop might be better, again I think because you can see it develop. From the moment the ball is passed there's an anticipation factor.

I agree with #1, Kentucky Derby is pretty exciting. The finals in half the Olympic events are pretty exciting as well... At least for the non-judging events. But regardless of the sport, I find it always far more exciting if I go into it with a rooting interest. If I don't care which horse wins, the Derby is just a bunch of horses running, and the Olympics are boooring. I suppose one might say the same for any sport.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:06 PM (#3895323)
I didn't HTFP, but to me inside-the-park HR is more exciting than any of theirs in the excerpt, except maybe the first two.


I prefer the triple to the ITP HR. The inside-the-parker usually develops because the defense has done something stupid or unfortunate (a misguided dive or a collision with another player/wall), and it often ends with the runner gassed for the last leg of the jaunt. The triple is more often a dead run for 270 feet against a ball that just happens to find a peculiar spot in the outfield.

In terms of consistently exciting plays, I'd put a first-and-third, double-steal attempt against just about any in sports.
   4. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:12 PM (#3895327)
Stealing home in general is pretty crazy awesome. For basketball I think you could pick runs in games where both sides are hitting all their shots with lots of transition play. Way better than a gimmicky pass.

ITP HR are still a lot of fun, especially when a big fat guy does it. Prince Fielder's was one of my favorite ever
   5. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:12 PM (#3895328)
No cricket ball? To me it's fascinating; the condition of the ball dramatically affects the way that play unfolds over the course of an innings, and 'ball-shining' (yes, I giggled too) is, apparently, a skill valued among players.
   6. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:29 PM (#3895333)
Here is one of the most exciting moments in sports:

I'm a Syracuse alum, and will go to the Carrier Dome every couple of years to see a big basketball game. National TV, prime time, it's hot, it's crowded, 35,000 people watching, etc.

It'll be a close game, and then the home team (in this case, Syracuse) will go on a run. A couple of 15-footers. A nice look away pass for an easy lay up. A couple of free throws. Maybe a 3-pointer. It's a 10-2 run, the home team is hot, and it feels like every shot is going to go through the net. The crowd is getting louder with every made bucket. Then one of two things happens that brings a complete explosion of energy and noise:

1) The point guard will drive to the hoop, and kick it out for a three-ball to the team's sharpshooter. The sharpshooter is sooooo open that he has time to read the label on the ball, set himself, and let it fly. You can see it about to happen, you know Georgetown is calling timeout if this ball goes in, the place goes quiet as he sets up to shoot...it's awesome. Then...swish! The players on the court are hopping, chest-bumping, etc., John Thompson calls a timeout, the Orange go from up 2 a couple of minutes ago to up 14 like THAT. The crowd is crazy loud.

2) Same situation, except this time, the home team steals the ball on the defensive end, and the team's skywalker breaks out and is all alone at halfcourt. He gets the pass, nothing ahead except the hoop, and you have a couple of seconds to be like, "Holy ####! He's about to tear the rim off!" And then it is quiet, as we all wait for him to do just that...and then he does. Explosion of noise, game over, the best.

The thing that makes both of these moments so great is that they all had a leadup - a run that created a growing wave from the crowd, followed by a final play that everybody had a few seconds to prepare for. Anticipation is a huge part of an exciting play, because otherwise too many people will simply miss the play. That's what makes a triple play a little weak - nobody sits there with runners on first and second and nobody out and says, "Holy ### - a triple play could be coming any second!" In basketball, these runs build up - you can see them happening - and there is usually that one moment where a crowd knows that ONE MORE emphatic play will cause the timeout, and the two minutes needed to celebrate as a crowd. That's probably as good as any non-championship moment in sports...
   7. villainx Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:37 PM (#3895337)
The hidden ball thingy in baseball is pretty cool.
   8. Jim P Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:41 PM (#3895338)
"The Greatest" in ultimate frisbee, where you leap from in-bounds, catch the disc, and throw it back into play before you land out of bounds, and it is caught by a teammate.

My team once had a Double Greatest for a goal.
   9. Jose Canusee Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:45 PM (#3895341)
I am not a golf fan but I would think a hole in one has to be up there; I would agree with ITP HR. Not knowing the rules of whether the situation counted (I see walkoff HR and championship point, which leads to the long #6-type situation) you have to assume they just did this off the top of their heads rather than having time to plan it like a fantasy draft.
Without winning Super Bowls or Olympics, I also nominate for situation-independent:
TD on a KO return
converting a 7-10 split in bowling
steal of home
   10. Tim Wallach was my Hero Posted: August 08, 2011 at 03:13 PM (#3895357)
Has anyone listened to the Pozcast? Because both Poz and Schur explain why they didn't put either the ITP HR and the triple. In fact, their whole conversation comes from the fact that neither find that the triple is exciting enough to be in a top-ten of exciting plays. Their argument is similar to what #3 wrote: basically, both the triple and ITP HR happen because of botched defensive plays. At the end of the Pozcast, they have a contest to win some prizes. The passsword to the contest is #screwthe3b...
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: August 08, 2011 at 03:22 PM (#3895365)
Has anyone listened to the Pozcast? Because both Poz and Schur explain why they didn't put either the ITP HR and the triple. In fact, their whole conversation comes from the fact that neither find that the triple is exciting enough to be in a top-ten of exciting plays. Their argument is similar to what #3 wrote: basically, both the triple and ITP HR happen because of botched defensive plays. At the end of the Pozcast, they have a contest to win some prizes. The passsword to the contest is #screwthe3b...


I never listen to Podcasts, even ones that try to trick me by replacing the D with a Z.

I disagree that the triple is the result of a botched play. It may happen sometimes, but I think the speed of the runner is a far greater factor than defensive ineptitude on the majority of triples.
   12. Banta Posted: August 08, 2011 at 03:25 PM (#3895367)
I disagree that the triple is the result of a botched play. It may happen sometimes, but I think the speed of the runner is a far greater factor than defensive ineptitude on the majority of triples.

Yeah, I was gonna reply to #10 with "tell that to Jose Reyes", but his recent injury (again!) gave me a moment's pause.
   13. Tim Wallach was my Hero Posted: August 08, 2011 at 03:30 PM (#3895376)
I was gonna reply to #10 with "tell that to Jose Reyes"

I'm not arguing anything here. I'm only the messenger.

I also like the 3b (although I'm not convinced it's that exciting...) and wonder why the back pass is on top of the list. But, hey, it's their list.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: August 08, 2011 at 03:34 PM (#3895380)
Yeah, I was gonna reply to #10 with "tell that to Jose Reyes", but his recent injury (again!) gave me a moment's pause.


Obviously, Jose just happens, year-in, year-out, to be the beneficiary of more defensive bungling than anyone else in the National League.

Look at the triples leaderboard and you see it populated by the absolute fastest guys in baseball. The idea that triples are often the product of a defensive misplay is simply foolish.

It's almost impossible to hit an ITPHR without something going very wrong for the defense. The same simply isn't true for triples.
   15. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 08, 2011 at 03:51 PM (#3895393)
Look at the triples leaderboard and you see it populated by the absolute fastest guys in baseball. The idea that triples are often the product of a defensive misplay is simply foolish.
While I don't disagree with your conclusion, your logic is faulty. The fact that only the fastest players hit triples does not mean that they're not the result of defensive miscues; it means that only the fastest players can take full advantage of those miscues. (And, in addition, being fast sometimes helps cause the miscues, as the fielder is rushing to make the play.)
   16. WillYoung Posted: August 08, 2011 at 04:01 PM (#3895397)
Here is one of the most exciting moments in sports:

I'm a Syracuse alum, and will go to the Carrier Dome every couple of years to see a big basketball game. National TV, prime time, it's hot, it's crowded, 35,000 people watching, etc.


Even more exciting would be seeing Syracuse play a legitimate road non-conference game. It's a once a century occurence!
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: August 08, 2011 at 04:08 PM (#3895401)
While I don't disagree with your conclusion, your logic is faulty. The fact that only the fastest players hit triples does not mean that they're not the result of defensive miscues; it means that only the fastest players can take full advantage of those miscues.


Yes, I'm aware of that. But it's also true that a defensive miscue that's too large is an error (even with today's scorekeepers). You're talking about a very narrow band between small defensive lapse and full-on error, one that simply doesn't happen often enough with major league outfielders* to account for Jose Reyes' annual position on the triples leaderboard. Yes, there are probably a few of Reyes' 16 three-baggers this year that might have been doubles if not for a minor glitch in the outfield. But it's pretty farfetched to think that the bigger factor wasn't his phenomenal set of wheels.

* Obviously, it happens even less frequently to lead to ITPHs, but in those events it usually requires something monumentally bad (a poorly executed/thought out dive for a ball by a centerfielder, a collision or other injury in the outfield, etc.) to have happened to allow any player, regardless his speed, to fully circle the bases on a ball that remains in play.
   18. Dave Spiwak Posted: August 08, 2011 at 04:28 PM (#3895418)
Some of the choices these guys made were really weird. Poz's second choice for most exciting play in all of sports was "behind-the-back pass in basketball"! Did he panic when the other guy picked his top choice in the previous round? Panic picks in response to my favorite players getting taken just before my turn are becoming a staple of my fantasy baseball drafts.

Here are a few others:
Horses rounding into the home stretch of a triple crown race. Exciting if it's close, but also very exciting if one of the horses is pulling away for a big win.
Olympic men's 100 m dash. You're truly seeing the fastest human beings on earth compete on the biggest stage -- for just 10 seconds, every 4 years. The winner is quite simply the world's fastest man.
I also like when college football games go into 3 or more overtime periods. Same with basketball. 2 OTs is good but 3 feels like you're seeing something really special.
Do they still have sudden death OT in pro football? Sudden death is always exciting.
The 5th set in tennis of a championship round between two greats like Nadal and Federer is great theater.
   19. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: August 08, 2011 at 04:43 PM (#3895434)
No penalty shootout? Boooooo!

Also, I feel like I could up with a list of 10 NFL plays better than any of the ones they did: TAINT; Hail Mary; Kickoff/Punt Return; 4th down plays; long game winning FG with no time...
   20. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 08, 2011 at 04:45 PM (#3895438)
Horses rounding into the home stretch of a triple crown race. Exciting if it's close, but also very exciting if one of the horses is pulling away for a big win.
It's an animal running in a circle. Why not just watch your hamster spin that wheel in its cage?
   21. An Athletic in Powderhorn™ Posted: August 08, 2011 at 05:24 PM (#3895466)
TAINT"
What does this mean? (Just in football terms. I'm not looking for an all-purpose taint primer.)

Behind-the-back pass in basketball is probably there because, well, what else would you pick for basketball? Maybe the last possession for a team down by 1 would make it, except that I think football is far more exciting in that same scenario."

Does every sport necessarily need to be represented? I don't think I agree with that premise. If I was making my own list, I do think I'd pick the one that you're alluding to: 3 seconds left, 1-point game, and the trailing team is inbounding the ball from halfcourt.
   22. Red Menace Posted: August 08, 2011 at 05:29 PM (#3895472)
Touchdown after interception. Bill Simmons has been pushing it to replace "pick 6". Schur actually picked that, then started talking about longsnaps over the head and switched. You really can't take these drafts too seriously.
   23. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 08, 2011 at 05:41 PM (#3895478)
Touchdown after interception. Bill Simmons has been pushing it to replace "pick 6".

How ... outré.

Shut up, Simmons.
   24. The Marksist Posted: August 08, 2011 at 05:58 PM (#3895491)
Best ball in sports isn't a ball: the flatball.
   25. OsunaSakata Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:14 PM (#3895498)
If you calculate average speed, it's actually higher for the 200m than the 100m. The 100m runners are still accelerating. Other than tradition, there's no reason the current 200m record holder can't claim being the world's fastest man.
   26.   Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:26 PM (#3895509)
That was fun. If you're like me and work at a desk and like having something to listen to while you work, this little "interview" was a great choice.
   27. villageidiom Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:29 PM (#3895510)
It's an animal running in a circle.
On some level, so is an inside-the-park home run. OK, that's more like a square, but I don't think that's a crucial difference.
That's what makes a triple play a little weak - nobody sits there with runners on first and second and nobody out and says, "Holy ### - a triple play could be coming any second!"
I disagree slightly. There's still anticipation, but it's in a shorter span, starting essentially when the ball is initially fielded and spiking rapidly. It's the same anticipation that comes with a DP, but bigger.
Does every sport necessarily need to be represented? I don't think I agree with that premise. If I was making my own list, I do think I'd pick the one that you're alluding to: 3 seconds left, 1-point game, and the trailing team is inbounding the ball from halfcourt.
I agree, not every sport needed to be represented. My point was more "what is relatively unique to basketball that would make the list?" And, really, there ain't much.

OTOH, I find most behind-the-back passes in basketball to be more exciting than most championship points in tennis.
   28. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:30 PM (#3895511)
It's hard to generalize about the behind-the-back pass. Done without a purpose, meh; done usefully and stylishly (**), there's nothing better.

(**) As in the breathtaking two-way sequence that starts at 2:21 of this clip

Cross-referencing another thread, this was one of the games you could have got for your halfcourt 10 rows up season ticket that "supply and demand" deemed "overpriced" at $9 per game.
   29. smileyy Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:44 PM (#3895520)
Is "Jim P" ultimate legend Jim Parinella?
   30. PreservedFish Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:44 PM (#3895521)
The 100m runners are still accelerating. Other than tradition, there's no reason the current 200m record holder can't claim being the world's fastest man.


I don't think they're accelerating at the finish line. They reach top speed at 70 meters, or something like that.
   31. Conor Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:47 PM (#3895522)
Even more exciting would be seeing Syracuse play a legitimate road non-conference game. It's a once a century occurence!


I'm an SU fan, and I frequently rail against this. It does kind of suck, no reason we shouldn't be playing at least one OOC road game against at least a fringe NCAA tourny team per year. I was surprised to read, and i can't find the link now, but that over the past 5 years or something SU has a top 10 OOC schedule ranking I believe.

That being said, they should play more road games. And with that, I apologize for the hijack.
   32. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 08, 2011 at 07:07 PM (#3895538)
TD on a KO return


The thing that makes both of these moments so great is that they all had a leadup - a run that created a growing wave from the crowd, followed by a final play that everybody had a few seconds to prepare for. Anticipation is a huge part of an exciting play, because otherwise too many people will simply miss the play. That's what makes a triple play a little weak - nobody sits there with runners on first and second and nobody out and says, "Holy ### - a triple play could be coming any second!" In basketball, these runs build up - you can see them happening - and there is usually that one moment where a crowd knows that ONE MORE emphatic play will cause the timeout, and the two minutes needed to celebrate as a crowd. That's probably as good as any non-championship moment in sports...


Or how about a TD on a punt return that ended with no time left on the clock to break a tie. After the winning team came back from a 21 point deficit in just over 7:00 minutes of play. I am still incredulous over that game.
   33. BDC Posted: August 08, 2011 at 07:25 PM (#3895554)
nobody sits there with runners on first and second and nobody out and says, "Holy ### - a triple play could be coming any second!

I actually do. But part of this is that I've been going to major-league games for 46 years, and I've seen pretty much everything else. I want to be paying attention when a triple play happens. :)

The only triple play I ever saw on TV was a game on 5/5/05 (weird date), the Cardinals turning it against the Padres. The miracle that is the Internet means that SABR offers an excruciatingly detailed account of the triple play here. (Scroll down.) First and second, nobody out, liner to 1B, steps on the bag to retire the trail runner, throws to second to retire the lead runner. Uncomplicated, but the way it happened, the shortstop who made the third putout (David Eckstein) got the throw and thought he'd just made the second putout. He looked up at the trail runner, failed to tag him coming past, and then threw back to first base, recording a superfluous putout. Neither the SS nor the trail runner (Phil Nevin) actually realized he was already out, the play having taken place so quickly. It's interesting that sometimes major leaguers don't really have an idea what they've done in the triple-play situation. (And that possibly militates against its excitement.)

The same is true sometimes of the infield fly, another reason I watch especially carefully when there are 1st and 2nd, none out. There are plenty of major-leaguers who know the infield-fly rule, at least instinctively, no better than the casual fan.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that the most exciting play ought to be something you can see once in a while. I've never seen a straight steal of home or an ITPHR, though I've heard them happen on the radio. (Never been at a no-hitter, but I've heard and seen those on broadcasts, too.) So my vote for most exciting baseball play is probably some form of backs-to-the-wall strikeout to save a game. There's anticipation, there's hope, there's despair, there's relief and joy. Sorry to choose something kind of static, though from the pitcher's point of view it's anything but, of course.
   34. SoSH U at work Posted: August 08, 2011 at 07:36 PM (#3895568)
There are plenty of major-leaguers who know the infield-fly rule, at least instinctively, no better than the casual fan.


Frank Robinson concurs (perhaps my favorite managerial moment of the last 20 years). The utter contempt he showed for his team's ignorance was fantastic.
   35. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: August 08, 2011 at 08:39 PM (#3895628)
If you calculate average speed, it's actually higher for the 200m than the 100m. The 100m runners are still accelerating. Other than tradition, there's no reason the current 200m record holder can't claim being the world's fastest man.


Wait a second. So peak speed is faster for 200 m runners?
   36. The District Attorney Posted: August 08, 2011 at 11:24 PM (#3895742)
Most exciting play in sports? Oh come on! The Kentucky Derby is way more exciting. And where's the triple?
Heh, funny that this is both the first comment here, and the first two things that P & S shot down ;) I guess they are the two cliche answers.

In addition to what was mentioned above about the triple, I think P/S thought it was a little too common to get ultra-excited about. (Admittedly, "turning the corner" and championship point occur in every event, and most soccer games have at least one goal... but I suppose those are all also the pivotal point of their contests, which a triple isn't necessarily.)

As for the Kentucky Derby, I think it wasn't really the spirit of the thing to name an entire event as a "moment". And/or maybe they just don't like it all that much ;-)

TAINT"
Sure, this abbreviation seems infelicitous at first, but... is a taint really worse than a war? Think about it.

Schur actually picked that, then started talking about longsnaps over the head and switched.
That discussion was great, BTW.
   37. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: August 08, 2011 at 11:56 PM (#3895778)
Frank Robinson concurs (perhaps my favorite managerial moment of the last 20 years). The utter contempt he showed for his team's ignorance was fantastic.

Unless this happened more than once, you're referring to an Expos game in San Francisco that I was in the stands for. Maybe the fact that you remember it still gives me justification to move it into "most famous sporting event I saw in person". Because as it stands now, it's the Jeter flip to get Giambi which just kills me. Let's spread the word about this event and get Frank's glare put into an "intensity" montage during a sports drink's commercial.
   38. PreservedFish Posted: August 09, 2011 at 12:07 AM (#3895782)
Wait a second. So peak speed is faster for 200 m runners?


I don't think they track peak speed enough to get a good answer for this. But as I said above, the original comment is wrong. 100 m runners do reach peak speed before the finish line.

The reason 200m runners can have higher average speeds is that they get a running start on their second 100m, of course.

The internet says that Donovan Bailey has the highest peak speed ever recorded, but maybe they just haven't had the radar gun on Usain Bolt at the right time.
   39. Jeff R., P***y Mainlander Posted: August 09, 2011 at 12:53 AM (#3895839)
As for the Kentucky Derby, I think it wasn't really the spirit of the thing to name an entire event as a "moment". And/or maybe they just don't like it all that much ;-)


The moment the eventual winning horse pulls ahead of the pack, takes the turn, and just keeps accelerating past the rest of the herd is an absolutely breathtaking moment. Watching that horse pound the track as he gains a length every other second...that's a hell of a thing to see. Beats the heck out of some stupid triple. Unless it's one of the rare Molina brothers' triples, which are like beautiful, terrifying, slow-motion train wrecks.
   40. phatj Posted: August 09, 2011 at 03:34 AM (#3896056)
The 100M finals in the 2008 Olympics was pretty incredible, even if the outcome was hardly in doubt. Likewise the 200M (actually, IIRC, this one wasn't considered Bolt's best distance, right?).

The triple play is pretty amazing to witness. I've seen three live; Furcal vs. the Cardinals in 2003, Nunez-to-Utley-to-Howard against the Reds in 2007, and the incredible walk-off unassisted triple play by Eric Bruntlett against the Mets in 2009. In the first case, I had no idea what was happening until Jon Miller (it was a Sunday night game) shouted "TRIPLE play!" I was amazed that the fielder would have the presence of mind to do that. I guess the fielders are always thinking of that possibility in 2 on 0 out situations.

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