Bench Talk 17/06/2017
“It’s like the bottom of the ninth and I’m never gonna win. This life hasn’t turned out, quite the way I want it to be.” — Chad Kroeger
Losing can be tough. Losing while riding the pine is downright insufferable. Reach into the styrofoam cooler, crack a cold one and let’s talk some sports.
In the News
Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather: Is this the greatest examples of cross-sport performances or are boxing and MMA too similar?
Cameron Burgess (CB): I’m just hoping this ends up being more entertaining than the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight. That fight was supposed to be the fight of the century, yet fans witnessed Mayweather run in circles, land a jab, and then back out and keep running. This tactic isn’t just a one-time thing for Mayweather, and I’m expecting much of the same when he faces off against McGregor. I’d love to see 49-0 become 49-1, but I don’t know how realistic that might be. McGregor has become the biggest star in the UFC, but boxing is a completely different sport. The UFC has a ground game, and obviously many different fighting styles, while boxing is just one style that fighters may specialize in. McGregor is a better all around fighter, I don’t doubt that at all, but Mayweather has been one of the best boxers throughout his whole career and has been training and improving his skills since he was a kid. My heart says McGregor, but my head says Mayweather.
As far as one of the greatest cross-sport performances, this doesn’t come close. Yeah it’s a huge fight, but it’s more impressive when an athlete dominates at two completely different sports. Obviously Bo Jackson is one of the most recognizable two sport athletes, but Nate Ebner being able to play in the NFL and also compete in the 2016 Olympics with the USA Rugby 7’s team is the most recent example I can think of.
Thomas Waind (TW): The media keeps stressing that MMA and boxing are as similar as swimming to darts and continue feeding you Mayweather-heavy betting lines. Just remember that in boxing, like MMA, whoever gets knocked out loses.
That’s why I think McGregor has a shot at beating Mayweather and also why I don’t think this is nearly as crazy of an athlete crossover as we’ve seen in recent memory. Jordan pursued baseball at the height of his basketball powers. Bo Jackson was a star in the NFL and MLB. Tim Tebow… Has played in two sports professionally I guess. But none of those is as bizarre/awesome as wrestling icon’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s brief stint with the Calgary Stampeders practice roster in the Canadian Football League.
Brendan Ballantyne (BB): Believe it or not The Rock won a National Championship with the University of Miami back in the day.
BB: Not to beat a dead horse, but Jack (the monkey from the MVP movies) still holds the cross-sport crown in the animal kingdom over Air Bud. Anyways, I’d tend to see these sports as similar enough to not really think of it as crossing over like we’ve seen in other cases. UFC/MMA fighters all train their boxing skills to a certain degree, and although they don’t master the craft like actual boxers do, there are elements of boxing that are used when they compete.
Some cross-sport performances that interest me most seem to come from the Olympics. I’d say Clara Hughes winning medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics in both Cycling and Long-Track Speed Skating, respectively, is incredibly impressive. Another one that sticks out is former CFL running back Jesse Lumsden competing for the men’s Olympic Bobsled team. Oh, and shout out to the Decathlon and Pentathlon athletes, cross-sport competing is what their sport literally is.
Is this year’s Golden State Warriors 16-1 Championship run the greatest team playoff performance in professional sports?
BB: Greatest team playoff performance may be tough to say, but most dominant? I don’t see why not. There’s not much else they could’ve done to separate themselves from the competition this postseason. I mean, they set the record for point differential in a single NBA playoff run. If you think of a 16-1 stretch in any sport during the regular season, that’s considered extremely impressive as it is. But to go 16-1 against teams who get multiple looks at you and are all of playoff calibre? Pure dominance.
CB: It’s easy to be dominant when your team has 4 All-Stars. This is what should’ve been expected from them, which almost takes away from how good this run actually was. And when you go back beyond the playoffs, the Warriors ended the year on a 31-2 run (All credit goes to the famous “Toaster Guy” on this one). I just find it hard for me to say whether this was the greatest playoff performance when this is what the outcome should have been. In my opinion, a great playoff performance is when a team that nobody expects to win goes all the way, taking down higher ranked and better teams along the way.
TW: “______ Blew a 3-1 Lead” was the unofficial slogan of 2016. The Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 series deficit to capture the NBA championship and to be the first NBA team to overcome such such a deficit in the Finals. Not only was the comeback impressive, the fact that it came against the 73 win Golden State Warriors team is that much more impressive.
Then the Chicago Cubs snapped a century old curse by overcoming a 3-1 deficit of their own by overtaking the Cleveland Indians. This is one of the most culturally significant sporting moments of all-time and it ended in one of the craziest Game 7’s of all-time. Basketball, hockey and football may be more exciting, but baseball has got me by the heart.
Three Stanley Cups in nine years. Where does Pittsburgh rank in modern NHL dynasties?
TW: While it’s cool that the Penguins are the first back-to-back since Detroit in 97 and 98, I still would put them below Chicago, but still ahead of the Kings. The reason is because the Blackhawks were able to win three Cups in six years despite massive roster turnover after each one. After the 2010 Cup they unloaded Byfuglien, Ladd, Versteeg and Niemi. Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg and Nick Leddy were the salary cap casualties after the 2013 Cup. And now they are still dominant after the 2015 Cup after losing Saad, Sharp, Shaw, Vermette and Teravainen. That type of success in the face of roster turnover is almost unheard of in the salary cap era. They have managed to build and maintain a legendary core of two sure-fire Hall of Famers in Toews and Kane, two border-line Hall guys in Keith and Hossa, and two perennial All Stars in Seabrook and Crawford.
BB: I’d still have put Chicago at the top when it comes to modern dynasties because of their annual contention and consistency across the board. What’s probably most impressive when it comes to the Pittsburgh Penguins is how they were able to return to being Cup champions seven and eight years after winning for the first time in the “Crosby era”. That being said, back to back is definitely a notable accomplishment. Almost as much of an accomplishment as it was for the Pens to actually win a Cup with that defense core.
CB: I hate to say this but Chicago is still #1. The way that they’ve been able to keep their core intact while pretty much rotating through depth players is impressive. They’ve had to trade away some of the players that have been big reasons why they won due to salary cap issues, but year after year they are always a legit contender. Even with Crawford in net (Tom don’t even get me started on this), the Blackhawks seem to have no weak links. Even though this year didn’t end the way they expected, it’s very likely we could see them back in the Stanley Cup Final again next year.
TW: Finals MVP Durant.
Haters will make excuses, but Durant’s got his ring and was the best player in the world on the biggest stage. I’m not a Durant guy by any stretch, but the guy flat-out showed that he had another gear.
BB: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
This is simply because this guy gets nowhere near the recognition he deserves. Goldy has put up MVP-like numbers for a few years now, and the D’Backs finally look like they’re putting together a season that’ll get them back into the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Much of the credit goes to Goldschmidt, as the first baseman has put up elite all-around numbers (.323 average, 15 HR, 53 RBI, 13 Stolen Bases and 58 runs scored) in the heart of their order. This production has him ranked at #1 in essentially all Fantasy Baseball leagues this season, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
CB: Floyd Mayweather
This one isn’t necessarily directly related to his performance, but this guy just signed a contract that will reportedly earn him at least 9 figures. That’s at least $100 Million, all to run around a ring for a few rounds. He made $250 Million for his fight against Pacquiao, and this one could end up being around the same. It makes sense why he’d only come out of retirement to fight McGregor. He held out long enough, the demand for this fight increased, and he cashed in on that (literally and figuratively).
TW: Reggie Bullock and Monta Ellis
Today it was announced that these two NBA role players were suspended for violating the NBA’s Drug Policy. Quite honestly this doesn’t really strike a chord with me, but it does give me a chance to lay down a “Stay off the Weeeeed” track by Dr. Stephen A. Smith Esquire.
Also once upon a time Ellis was Golden State’s “star” guard. I remember reading articles about fans nearly revolting when he was flipped for Andrew Bogut in 2012 so the Warriors could hitch their wagon to some small, weak-ankled point guard name “Steph” Curry. The Warriors really lost that one. There was no way that they’d be able to win two championships in three years and break the Bulls’ regular season win record with Stephanie Curry.
BB: Marco Estrada, Toronto Blue Jays
He’s been a steady, reliable piece in the Blue Jays rotation for a long while now, but he’s seemed to lose himself of late. Over his past three starts, he’s 0-3 and has allowed 17 earned runs on 28 hits and 3 walks in just 12.2 innings. I cringed just typing that out. That’s enough for a godawful 12.54 ERA and 2.54 WHIP. He’s not fooling anyone right now and getting completely crushed for it. Which is very discouraging given that the elusiveness of his pitching style is what he thrives on with the lack of a power arm. The Jays have to hope Estrada finds himself soon if they’re going to fight their way over that .500 mark.
CB: Lonzo Ball
While it seemed like all along it was destined for the UCLA standout to end up with the Lakers, but after his workout with the team it seems like this may not be the case. Ball apparently seemed out of shape for his workout with the Lakers earlier in the week. And now, the likely first overall pick and other lottery prospect Markelle Fultz has reportedly dazzled the Lakers with his workout and the front office might be considering trying to trade up for the first pick. Management seems split on whether or not Ball is the right choice, but the former sure thing seems to be not so sure. Looks like telling 29 NBA teams not to draft you might not have been the best idea after all.
Tweet of the Week
Power Rankings: Best EA Sports NHL Soundtracks
I grew up playing these games, and hearing these songs now still brings back memories from sitting around a GameCube and playing NHL for hours. Not only were these songs good then, but they’re still good now.
5. NHL 2011
Shipping up to Boston and The Final Countdown on the same soundtrack? Yes please.
4. NHL 2009
This was the first NHL game I had for Xbox 360, and it might as well have been the only game I owned. I’ve heard Nine in the Afternoon so many times I’ve lost count.
3. NHL 2005
Listening to Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand while forcing the computer to trade Jarome Iginla to me for a 60 overall nobody is basically how 10 year old Cameron spent his free time.
2. NHL 2004
Before Tom gets mad at me for not having NHL 2004 first on this list, hear me out. I never actually owned this game but played it enough that I still turn up Oh! Ellin by Gob every time shuffle comes through, but when you look at the full tracklist, it’s hard to put this ahead of the real #1.
1. NHL 2003
Just look at this soundtrack and try to tell me how another is better. Maybe I’m a bit biased because this is the first GameCube game I ever had, but in my opinion this is the best and it’s not even much of a competition. Gob, Jimmy Eat World, Queens of the Stone Age AND Treble Charger all on one list, and that’s just some of the most notable. Both songs by “Default” were enough to get you fired up when they started playing during the pre-game montage. Not to
mention Papa Roach in there too. This soundtrack was full of big songs by some pretty big bands, and this is exactly what my childhood sounds like.
The GOAT. Now I might be biased because I was thrifty and played NHL 2004 until 2007, but I don’t think I’m that offside in saying that the soundtrack was banging. So much punk rock. SO much angst. Too much emotion for Grade 4 me to really process.
Also if you ever go back and play NHL 2004, you’ve gotta use Colorado. Sakic, Forsberg, Selanne, Kariya, Hejduk, Tanguay, Rob Blake, Foote, Aebisher… Man salary caps suck.