The San Francisco Giants fascinate me going into the 2023 Major League Baseball season. (And I’ve previously written about my admiration for their manager, Gabe Kapler.)
I don’t know how often I’ll watch them playing on Pacific time (especially as I try to prize sleep and stay on a consistent routine), but a team that tried to take that big step and fell short — or should I say took a big swing and missed — is very intriguing.
Aaron Judge or Carlos Correa signing with the Giants could’ve had a significant effect on the balance of power in Major League Baseball. What would the New York Yankees be without their star, 62-home run slugger? Would the Minnesota Twins begin a downward spiral without Carlos Correa? And what if Correa signed with the New York Mets, as he clearly wanted?
In Sunday’s New York Times, James Wagner visits the Giants and looks at a roster bolstered by $175 million worth of free-agent additions including outfielders Michael Conforto and Mitch Haniger, and pitchers Sean Manaea, Taylor Rogers, and Ross Stripling. All of them are good players, but not stars. And certainly not the marquee names that bring fans to the ballpark and attract media attention during Spring Training.
I love football. During the past year, especially, perhaps because I was able to watch without thinking about what I might have to write, I really enjoyed college football Saturdays and NFL Sundays. (The success of Michigan and the Detroit Lions probably didn’t hurt either.)
But there have been plenty of times over the past 15 years or so when I’ve wondered if I should watch football, if I should support it with my fandom, viewership, and work. The sport is so incredibly violent, taking such a toll on the physical and mental conditions of the men who play it. Players are left with broken-down bodies and diminished mental capacity due to head trauma.
It was impossible not to think about that Monday night as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field and required CPR before being taken off the field in an ambulance. Hamlin appeared to be hit hard in the chest while tackling Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, though his head and neck could also have been affected by the impact. The Bills later confirmed in a statement that Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest and is currently hospitalized in critical condition.
If generating headlines and media buzz is now the game in college football, then the University of Colorado undoubtedly made the right decision in hiring NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders as its new head football coach.
“Coach Prime” might not be ready to make the jump from Jackson State, HBCUs, and lower-level FCS to upper FBS and a Power Five conference in the Pac-12. But if football is football, Sanders brings an impressive record to Boulder and an ability to recruit top-flight talent attracted to his personality and history as a player. Everyone following college football will be curious to see if Coach Prime finds success and maybe moves up to an even more established program.
This week, Demetri Ravanos invited me onto his Media Noise podcast for Barrett Sports Media to discuss a column I wrote on Sanders and how he’ll provide plenty of content for college football media to cover. You can listen to the show below. My segment begins at the 4:21 mark:
Peacock and WWE are giving wrestling fans — and anyone who follows sports and entertainment — a gift during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. A documentary on wrestling legend Ric Flair will premiere on NBC’s streaming platform Monday, Dec. 26. The two-hour doc is titled Woooooo! Becoming Ric Flair. possibly
Renowned sports reporter Tom Rinaldi narrates the film, also interviewing the many figures providing insight and commentary. Since leaving ESPN for Fox Sports, Rinaldi has expanded his work to documentaries, including last year’s John Madden retrospective, All Madden. That probably shouldn’t be a surprise since storytelling is Rinaldi’s trade. Many of his features for ESPN and Fox are essentially mini-documentaries.
Woooooo! is the second mainstream documentary to chronicle Flair’s life and career, following ESPN’s 30 For 30 film, Nature Boy, which premiered in 2018. Rory Karpf focused largely on Flair’s wrestling exploits and the effect that they had on his personal life and loved ones.
NFL training camps are about to open, so we’re getting in a football segment before The WISE Guys radio show goes on a two-week break while Pat Ryan takes a vacation. (We’ll still do our regular baseball update next Monday.)
When we return, we’ll get to talk about more on-field, actual football stuff. Until then, however, much of the offseason chatter still concerns Deshaun Watson’s pending suspension for sexual misconduct allegations and Jimmy Garoppolo trade rumors. We also cover the Buccaneers finding a replacement for Rob Gronkowski and sad news on former Steelers receiver Charles Johnson.
Is San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler the most interesting man in baseball? My guess is that he doesn’t mind being viewed that way and does his part to create that impression.
ESPN’s Tim Keown followed Kapler around for a feature article that reinforced the perception that the Giants skipper is hardly an old-school baseball man like Buck Showalter, Dusty Baker, Brian Snitker, or Bob Melvin. Those guys don’t have writers highlight their fitness, facial hair, nutrition, shoes, taste for Scotch, and fashionable watches. (Unless I missed those profiles of Jim Leyland 12-15 years ago…)
“His diet consists almost solely of red meat, and it’s almost because he recently began mixing in some berries and the occasional bacon-and-egg breakfast. ‘There’s really not a lot of vitamins the body needs that doesn’t cover,’ he says of red meat and berries. ‘Now, I’m making that statement without being an expert on the topic. I always know there’s a chance I could be wrong.'”
Happy Baseball Opening Day! A 2022 Major League Baseball season that I doubted would begin on time (or be played at all) because of the labor dispute between team owners and players is going to happen. And there’s some excitement in Detroit after the Tigers won 77 games last year, finished on a strong note, signed some top free agents, and have promising young players ready to emerge.
I am terrible with predictions. Maybe I should start a gambling blog. But I suppose I tend to better with preseason picks, rather than playoff predictions. With that said, I’ll get these 2022 MLB predictions on the record so we can laugh about how wrong they were in October.