The Play by Play
Show Russ The Money
And OKC did just that when Russell Westbrook (the same player mentioned when discussing both fashion and Kevin Durant) took home the largest check ever written in the history of the National Basketball Association, an honor previously, and very shortly, held by Stephen Curry. With one year left on his existing contract and a $205 million 5-year extension, Russell Westbrook is set to make $233 million over the next six years, which is, according to Bleacher Report, about half a million PER game. If the money wasn’t enticing enough, the off-season acquisition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony most likely made the decision for Westbrook a no brainer. Not only does he get to stay in the city he loves, with a team that supports him, he now has exceptionally talented teammates to carry some of the burden. The likelihood of Melo and George sticking around after next year also increases, since Westbrook is now setting up shop in Oklahoma.
OJ’s Expiration Date
And he’s out! After serving 9 years for a robbery-gone-wrong (although no real robbery ever goes right) in Las Vegas, OJ Simpson has been paroled. Now 70 years old, he had his first taste of freedom at 3:08 am Sunday morning, in order to avoid a media frenzy. When asked what he looks forward to doing, golf and seeing friends ranked at the top. Discussing his former murder charges in the death of his ex-wife Nicole Brown did not. If you haven’t yet seen it, and have time on your hands (gloved or not), check out the ESPN documentary “OJ: Made in America.” If in search of a more dramatic take, then The People v. OJ is the route to go, especially if you love Cuba Gooding Jr, David Schwimmer and/or John Travolta.
The Faces and Facts
Salary Cap/Luxury Tax: One reason that huge contracts grab headlines, other than simply being an amount of money unfathomable to most, is because of what’s called a salary cap. In the most basic terms, a salary cap is, according to Bleacher Report, “an agreement between the league and players that places a limit on the amount of money a team can spend on salaries for players.” The amount changes each year, determined based on the revenue of the league itself. The goal of the cap is to prevent any one team from having substantially more money, bringing in exceptionally higher talent and thus creating a lopsided league.
The NFL (football) and NHL (hockey) have a hard cap, which means the limit can’t be exceeded for any reason. The NBA (basketball), on the other hand, has what is called a soft cap, meaning that teams can spend beyond the set dollar amount under certain conditions, which gives them a bit more flexibility to retain players. However, there is a luxury tax that kicks into gear if the team opts to exceed the cap, and can be quite severe. Baseball is the league with the least control over salary, imposing only a luxury tax. If an MLB team exceeds the allotted threshold, they pay millions in taxes. Because teams that make enough individual revenue, through radio and advertising, happily fork over the penalty, the difference in payroll between the top team and that at the bottom can be huge. This year it was nearly 200 million dollars!
Regardless of hard or soft cap, some of the world’s best athletes have willingly taken salary cuts in order to stay with a team or move to another, because if they maintained the same paycheck, it would exceed the cap.
Erica Herman: The new (rumored) lady in Tiger Woods’ life. Chatter arose after photographers spotted her accompanying Woods during the President’s Cup, sporting a “player’s spouse” pass, used to allow wives and girlfriends onto the course. Can this new relationship overcome his sordid past (think recent DUI and previous sex scandal)? Maybe, at the very least, it will inspire an improved performance during the tournament.
Lavar Ball: The very outspoken, big personalitied father of Lonzo Ball, drafted second overall by the LA Lakers in this year’s NBA draft. It is a rare week in sports when father Ball is not doing or saying something that brings him and/or his three sons into the spotlight. Just yesterday Lavar announced he pulled his youngest son LaMelo from high school over disagreements with his coaches and will “make him the best basketball player ever” at home, despite never playing in the NBA himself. A few days before that, he came out with a statement telling Magic Johnson, the president of the Lakers and one of the league’s most famous players, that Johnson “can’t tell him what to do” when it comes to the work he does with Lonzo. Lavar also founded Big Baller Brand, a lifestyle apparel company, with some shoes selling for over $1,000.
The Midweek Rundown
As promised last week, here’s your rundown of the defensive positions, abbreviations and jersey number designations. While some numbers overlap with the offense, those teammates will never be on the field at the same time, so you’ll be okay!
Defensive Lineman (DL #90-99): Line up directly facing the offensive line. During every play they are pushing against the offense, trying to stop the run or sack the quarterback (when the QB is tackled behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of yardage). Depending on the defensive formation, on the defensive line you might have a defensive tackle (DT), a defensive end (DE) or a nose tackle (NT).
Defensive Back (DB): Also known as the “Secondary,” they stand the furthest away from the line of scrimmage (in the backfield, hence the name) and often wear #20-49. These players, specifically called free safeties (FS), strong safeties (SS) and cornerbacks (CB), cover wide receivers or other players who run down the field trying to get open. Their job is to either break up the pass so that it falls incomplete or make the tackle if/when the receiver they cover catches the ball. While all members of the secondary essentially have the same responsibility, there are slight differences.
Linebacker (LB): Defensive players who line up about 3-5 yards from the line of scrimmage, behind the defensive line (named due to the fact that they “back up the (defensive) line” ). Their job (similar to a QB on offense) is to read the play based on how the offense lines up, make a call and respond immediately- helping their defensive line to stop the run or dropping back to cover a pass. They usually have a jersey number between #50-59 and are sometimes specified as middle (MLB), weak-side (WLB) or strong-side (SLB) linebackers.
Colorado Rockies v. Arizona Diamondbacks: The NL wild card game is tonight, Wednesday, October 4th at 8 pm EST. While the Diamondbacks are favored to win and thus move on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers, the last time these two teams met the series was an even split, with both teams winning two. Perhaps Arizona’s home field advantage gives them the competitive edge.
It’s playoff time: Here are the other MLB playoff games scheduled for the next few days:
- Boston Red Sox v. Houston Astros Game 1: Thursday, October 5th at 4pm EST
- New York Yankees v. Cleveland Indians Game 1 (the team that lost last year’s World Series): Thursday, October 5th at 7:30 pm EST
- Boston Red Sox v. Houston Astros Game 2: Friday, October 6th at 2 pm EST
- New York Yankees v. Cleveland Indians Game 2: Friday, October 6th at 5 pm EST
- Chicago Cubs v. Washington Nationals Game 1: Friday, October 6th at 7:30 pm EST
- Winner of the NL Wild Card game v. Los Angeles Dodgers Game 1: Friday, October 6th at 10:30 pm EST
- Chicago Cubs v. Washington Nationals Game 2: Saturday, October 7th at 5:30 pm EST
- Winner of the NL Wild Card game v. Los Angeles Dodgers Game 2: Saturday, October 7th at 9:00 pm EST
Moral of the story- there’s a LOT of baseball in the coming days! If you’re curious as to what happens next week, here’s a complete playoff schedule.