Some Things I Read Today

Other than the Mets missing out on Sunday Night Baseball this season — though more than half of Sunday Night Baseball’s schedule is decided during the season, usually two or three weeks in advance of the game — we’re light on Mets news today. How about some basketball analysis via the New York Times instead:

Shot creation has long been crucial to ascendancy as a premier scorer, but Michael Jordan’s eminence brought that particular skill to unprecedented heights. Jordan revolutionized one-on-one play with his electricity; one of his many enduring legacies is the way scorers are perceived and evaluated today.

. . .

But with scoring efficiency valued now more than ever, perhaps it’s time for us to look beyond those who take difficult shots when in search of dominant scorers. Rose, Bryant, and Durant all combine production and efficiency (hence their current standing as the centerpieces of their respective teams’ offenses), but so do some of the league’s most impressive off-ball scorers.

– Rob Mahoney, “Bosh and Anderson, Efficiency Experts”
The New York Times

That’s an excellent point about Michael Jordan revolutionizing one-on-one play. I’m young. When I play basketball, I’m all about little fakes to create space — jab steps, step backs, and fadeaways, things like that. My moves are aimed at beating someone in isolation, and I think as much is true for everyone who learned to play basketball after Jordan.

But does anyone ever play pickup basketball with old guys, or at least watch old guys play pickup basketball? Old guys are all about moving the ball and finding the open man, and once the ball passes halfcourt, there’s very little dribbling. I’ve found that off-ball defense against old guys is more important than on-ball defense, because old guys almost never face the basket while dribbling. They’re only going to look for and find easy baskets in a cutter or by running someone off a screen. And old guys love backdoor cuts. It’s like they play a different game.

Michael Jordan changed his sport all the way down to the way amateurs play pickup games. Babe Ruth, who decided to swing with an uppercut and ended the deadball era, is the only other athlete to do so, right? Jordan made one-on-one play acceptable, and Babe Ruth made trying to hit the ball over the fence acceptable. Has anyone else changed their sport as dramatically as those two?

Moving on. Jon Bois writes about the startling decline of athletes named Bob:

Again: only one of 1,844 Bob-athletes are currently active, and most of the rest were playing only a handful of decades ago. If that slope were a road, it would have been gated off years ago. Very few trends drop off at such a startling rate without some sort of explanation: yes, people are buying fewer typewriters in favor of computers and the like. But who usurped Bob? Where is our better Bob?

– Jon Bois, “The Bob Famine”
SB Nation

The Mets should have R.A. Dickey, Robert Carson, Bobby Parnell, and Rob Johnson all in camp this Spring. All have the first name Robert, yet none of them go by Bob.  I know two fellows my age named Robert: One goes by Bobby, the other by Rob. I actually don’t know if I’ve met anyone named Bob, even though “Bob” or “John” are still what I consider commonplace names. Why has Bob become so unpopular? Where are all the Bobs?


Filed under Words

6 responses to “Some Things I Read Today

  1. Hate to say it, but I can understand, somehow “Bobby Parnell” sounds like a young, flamethrowing relief pitcher. Whereas “Bob Parnell” sounds like middle aged John Deere Tractor salesman.

    • PS-I’m fairly sure that I’ve heard Toby Hyde refer to Robert Carson as “Bob Carson” a few times on the podcast. I resonates because it took me a few seconds to realize what prospect he was talking about.

      • Patrick Flood

        I think he says Rob Carson, but now I’m unsure. He might say Bob Carson. Maybe Bob Carson is the final hope for Bobs everywhere.

  2. I definitely resonate with your point about playing older guys in pickup basketball. In college it was a whole new world when we lost to some guys in their 40s and 50s. The cutting, moving the ball, and even team defense was completely new to us as well.

    As for “Bob”, I feel as though I know many people named “Robert”, but there’s only one I can think of that goes by “Bob”.

  3. I work with a guy who goes by Bob. His given name is Abraham. Why Bob and not Abe? I don’t know, but he is a Yankees fan. So… Yeah.

  4. That old man’s game of basketball you’re talking about sounds like Big East basketball to me, specifically Syracuse (although their assist totals are down from their historically high levels of the past two seasons). Zone defense, ball and off-ball screens, backdoor cuts, passing around the perimeter, using all of the shot clock, forcing the other teams into using all of the shot clock…. Yeah, that’s the Big East all right.

    As far as ‘Bob’ goes, I guess that’s a name from my era (b. 1960). I remember watching an animated sci-fi movie several years ago, and when the heroine asks the hero what he’s going to name his new planet, I got out ‘Bob, of course’, before he could. It’s just natural. “Bob, for short’ is like ‘Curt, for short’; it just flows off the tongue. I might be the wrong guy to comment on this issue, since I did create the character of “Bob Purcell: Superhero”(tm).

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