Hacking Baseball

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

You may or may not have heard that the Houston Astros were hacked and it was apparently done by their former division rivals, the St Louis Cardinals. It’s serious enough that the Department of Justices and the FBI are investigating and subpoenas have been handed out. While many are wondering ‘who did it’ or ‘why’,  the rest of us are wondering how has this not happened sooner.

HACKING

The Astros were alleged victims of hacking last season too when a bunch of internal information hit the Internet. While it is unclear if this new case is related, what we do know is that in this new case the hackers were able to use an old password of Astros GM and former Cardinals executive Jeff Luhnow.

Regardless of who is responsible, this should be the first of a many hacks we will be seeing across the sports landscape. While this isn’t as severe as Stuxnet or the breach at the Office of Personnel Management (OMP)this is sports after all and not national security but it does, technically, fall under the umbrella of ‘corporate espionage’. One entity was possibly attempting to acquire another’s inside information and in the process gain a possible competitive advantage.

Trying to gain a competitive advantage is half of sports though. From stealing signs in baseball to spying on practices to the New England Patriots ‘Spygate’ (Why do the Patriots always get caught up in ‘gate’ anyway?) Trying to gain an advantage has always been and always will be a part of the sports landscape. The question now is if trying to gain that advantage may violate state and federal law.

The Cardinals may have been able to gain a competitive advantage by gaining access to the Astros ‘Ground Control’ application but with everyone using data analytics these days, this can’t possibly be the first time this has happened. The Oakland A’s pioneered the big data revolution back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s so it is hard to believe that over the last 15 years or so that no one has gained access to or capitalized off proprietary baseball information.

Regardless of who, how or why someone ‘hacked’ into another sports franchises proprietary system is almost irrelevant. What matters now is A) how do you protect the data you own and B) if data was taken did it truly provide a measurable competitive advantage? This is the beginning, not the end of this. The consequences of heavy reliance upon analytics is here so we better get use to it.

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To Be Bigger

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

2015 NBA Finals

The NBA is already playing regular season games in London, just like the NFL. The NBA may have a leg up on other leagues though due to their popularity in China. It’s estimated that some 300 million people play basketball in China. That’s roughly the US population. While the next generation of players are currently being drafted, it’s important to know where the NBA’s real growth is coming from.

READ THIS.

 

 

What To Watch Thurs. June 25th -Sun. June 28th

All times are Pacific.

Thursday June 25th

NBA Draft – 4pm ESPN: Well there isn’t a LeBron or Jordan in there but it’s entertaining none the less.

Ottawa Redblacks at Montreal Alouettes – 4:30pm ESPN2: It’s Football!!!! We can only hope that the Redblacks will be better than the 2-16 they put up last year.

NY Yankees at Houston Astros – 5pm MLB Network: Yankees are game behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East and the Astros are the surprise team of 2015 baseball season.

REMOTE

Friday June 26th

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Calgary Stampeders – 6pm ESPN2: A rematch of last years Grey Cup. Not a bad game for opening weekend.

NHL Draft – 4pm NBCSN: While it doesn’t get the fanfare the NBA Draft will get, it is still a first look at the future of the sport.

 

Saturday June 27th

Toronto FC vs DC United – 2pm MLS Live: Two of the better teams in the East and a chance to see some big time stars like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.

College Soccer National Championship – 2pm ESPNU: Virginia vs UCLA as UVA goes their second National Title in four days in two different sports.

NE Revolution vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 4:30pm MLS Live: Second place team in the East vs the second place team in the West.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Saskatchewan Roughriders – 5pm ESPN3: Probably the best venue in all of the CFL plus Rider quarterback Darian Durantis back. If he can stay healthy the Riders are a force to be reckoned with in the East.

 

Sunday June 28th

NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls – 1:30pm ESPN: Three points separate these two teams. Hell, the distance between stadiums is more than that.

Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders – 4pm FS1: No Clint Dempsey but it’s still the best rivalry in MLS.

Chicago Cubs at St Louis Cardinals – 5pm ESPN: Two of baseball’s oldest rivals. Not to mention that they are first and second in the NL Central.

 

 

The Sunday: A Bad Week

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Dempsey Sent Off

US National team star Clint Dempsey was suspended three matches by MLS for his actions which led him to be sent off during a US Open Cup match last week. Dempsey took the referee’s notebook, tossed it and then picked it up and ripped it in half.

It’s not a good look for Dempsey or MLS. Apparently if a player takes the referee’s notebook it is supposed to trigger a six match ban and is considered an act of assault.

 

Fox Fails At Golf

A couple of topics for discussion during this years US Open at Chambers Bay. Most have to do with the golfers or the course (which a lot of players say is just terrible) and another is with Fox Sports’ coverage. Covering golf is a new thing for Fox and it showed during the tournament. Upsetting fans seemingly at every turn. From the leader board crashing to a vignette of Jason Dufner going to Seahawks practice instead of showing actual golf.

ForTheWin probably has the best summary of the coverage and well worth the read. While some argue that golf needs to get younger no golf fan young or old turns on the TV because you have a drone. They tune in to watch Rory McIlroy nail a 72 foot putt

 

The One You Want Back

Max Scherzer was literally one strike away from having Major League Baseball’s 24th perfect game. That one pitch that ended up hitting Pittsburgh Pirates pinch-hitter Jose Tabata. Ouch. It’s not all bad news for Scherzer, he did get the no hitter and lowered his ERA to 1.76 while retiring 54 of the last 57 batters he has faced. 

What To Watch Fri. 6/19 – Sun. 6/21

All times are Pacific.

Friday June 19th

US Open Round 2 –  9am FS1: Tune in just to see if Tiger Woods will melt down again.

Detroit Tigers at NY Yankees – 4pm MLB.TV: Justin Verlander takes the mound for the Tigers. Will the Yankees make Kate Upton wear a Yankees hat again?

 

Saturday June 20th

US Open Round 3 – 11am FOX: Go time!

NY Red Bulls vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 4pm MLS LIVE: Vancouver heads out to Red Bull Arena for a East meets West showdown.

 

Sunday June 21st

F1 Austrian Grand Prix – 5am NBCSN: Early morning racing live from Europe. Can’t beat it.

US Open Round 4 – 11am FOX: Final round.

DC united vs NE Revolution – 2pm ESPN2: Top two teams in the Eastern Conference. You’re welcome.

SF Giants at LA Dodgers – 5pm ESPN: One baseball’s best rivalries on Sunday night.

The Sam Saga

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Michael Sam’s professional football career is on life support. He left the Montreal Alouettes training camp late last week citing ‘personal reasons.’ While we don’t know the true reason why Sam left Quebec, we do know that his chances of making a roster in professional football (CFL or otherwise) are dissipating quickly.

Michael Sam at practice

Sam has every right to want to go home and not be put under the media microscope. The banality of being asked the same questions over & over again. He also has the right to pursue a career in his industry of choice, however in this case his industry of choice has a very small window. Sam is a smart guy and  probably understands this better than most which makes his decision to leave the Al’s all the more shocking.

Sam’s window of making an impact on a roster in the CFL or NFL is very small. While most people in the NFL cited Sam’s lack of size and speed, it is also the same league that once didn’t have an African-American quarterback for no reason other than the individual was black. Sam can prove his football critics wrong but he has to be on a field in order to do so.

Like we said before, Sam has the potential to be one of the best pass rushers the CFL has every seen. Being successful there could lead to an opportunity in the NFL a la Cameron Wake. But it may not be the right path for Sam. Maybe the game, culture and not being in the NFL are too much for him. Maybe he was tired of being the center of attention when he hasn’t proved his worth on a professional field yet. Maybe being the poster boy for the LGBT community weighed on him too much and he couldn’t put everything he had into his trade. We don’t know. The facts are that he is on the Al’s suspended list and not playing football.

We hope Sam’s ‘personal reasons’ are not serious and that he returns to the Al’s. We think he is a heck of a player and could really do well in the pass happy CFL. If he decides to not go back to the Al’s that’s fine too but this guy was meant to pin his ears back and get after a quarterback in a passing situation.

 

The Sunday: Goodbye Is Such Sweet Sorrow

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Such

Two Filipino divers gave two of the worst dives ever. No really, we mean ever. Even before the advent of social media there couldn’t have been worse dives then the ones you will witness in the video. Odds are, these two are not going to the Olympics.

Sweet 

Kucherov into post

‘Jesus that must have hurt’, is what most people must have said after Nikita Kucherov went shoulder first into the Chicago Blackhawks goal. He went to the locker room and did not return to Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final. On Sunday it was noted that he was doing ‘considerably better’ .

Sorrow

Michael Sam left the Montreal Alouettes camp on Friday, the day before their first pre season game. While the team issued a statement which cited ‘personal reasons’ for Sam’s departure, we can’t help thinking that this all might be too much for a 25 year old. We do still think that the CFL is the right move and he should pursue it with everything he has.

What To Watch Fri. 6/12 – Sun. 6/14

All times are Pacific.

Friday June 12th

USWNT vs Sweden – 5pm FOX: Coming off a 3-1 win over Australia in their first match, the US Women’s National teams looks to get a step close to the knock out stage of the Women’s World Cup.

Kansas City Royals at St Louis Cardinals – 5:15pm MLB.TV: In state rivals and division leaders square off for a weekend series in one of the best baseball cities in North America.

 

Saturday June 13th

College World Series: Arkansas vs Virginia – Noon ESPN: First game of the 2015 College World Series.

Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers – 1pm MLB.TV: Both teams have shown a lot of promise this season and it’s a decent pitching matchup too.

Stanley Cup Final: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning – 5:20pm NBC: Series is tied so it’s the best two out of three.

UFC 188 – 7pm PPV: Heavyweight unification bout between Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum. Velasquez hasn’t been inside the octagon since October 2013. That’s a long layoff only to face a seasoned vet like Werdum.

 

Sunday June 14th

Nascar Quicken Loans 400 – 10am FS1:  Sunday’s are for racing. FACT.

Orlando City FC vs DC United – 4pm FS1: East leading DC United flies into a hornets nest in Orlando.

NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors – 5pm ABC: Game five goes down in Oakland.

Rising Of The Recently Dead

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Back in December of 2014 the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) shut down their football program citing money concerns. Now it is back after some $27 million was raised by various sources. How did this happen? Well, it’s not all about money.

Killing an FBS program takes some balls. While money always plays a part it wasn’t the only reason in this case. Fox Sports Tim Brando and his team did some work and laid it out on The Audible podcast last week. Apparently legendary coach Bear Bryant’s son, Paul Bryant Jr, wanted UAB gone. It’s so unbelievable, and so very Southern, that Bryant was allegedly able to get the UAB football program killed off.  Brando explains it better than we could ever write it so do yourself a favor and listen to the podcast.

It’s hard enough to be a football program outside of the Power 5. Then to have someone lead a charge against you while you’re trying to be a viable program is like pouring salt in an open wound.

Look at the position that UAB is now in because of this mess; they won’t play football again until maybe 2016, players have left, and it will almost be impossible to recruit anyone of any ability to go there because of what happened. If head coach Bill Clark thought this was a tough job before, well it got even harder.

College football is in a big transition period. There are so many issues facing the sport right now from the debate over paying players to concussions to who should be allowed to play for a National Title. What it doesn’t need is what happened to UAB.

The Sunday: Wins & Losses (Sometimes Of Your Shirt)

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Blatter Bursts

Sepp Blatter is out as the head of FIFA. After winning his fifth term as FIFA president Blatter held a hasty press conference to announce his departure from the organization while under investigation for corruption and amid arrests of FIFA officials. But let’s not start popping the champagne just yet, he has said that he won’t leave until there is a ‘proper election’ which could mean that he will still be in charge well in 2016. Unless of course the FBI  and Interpol get to him first.

For a better explanation about FIFA, we turn it back over to John Oliver.

 

Triple Crown

American Pharoah became the first horse in nearly four decades to win the Triple Crown. That’s right, it’s been 37 years since a horse, Affirmed, won all three races. Winning the Triple Crown must have felt like chasing shadows over the last 37 years for trainers and owners. 13 horses had a shot and yet none of them could win the last and longest race of the three, the Belmont Stakes.

It’s not all about winning the Triple Crown for the owners. Now the owners can pretty much pimp the horse out for the rest of it’s life and collect ‘stud fees’. Forbes puts that number around $50 million

 

Harbaugh Goes Topless

Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh was in Alabama as part of a satellite camp this past week. Satellite camps have become the college football worlds version of campaign finance. While many don’t like it, a lot of them take advantage of the loophole

None of this stopped the ultra intense Harbaugh from taking full advantage. He stripped off his Michigan shirt and went topless. We recommend following Coach Harbaugh on twitter for the sheer entertainment value.

HARBAUGH TOPLESS