Ari (twitter link) and Alex talk Indians, Cavs, and Browns. First, they complain about last night’s lengthy Tribe loss before praising Corey Kluber. Then, they argue Brian Hoyer vs. Johnny Manziel and make a way too early Browns season prediction. Lastly, the duo talks about what LeBron James‘s return means, including an argument over who is better: Kevin Love or Andrew Wiggins/Anthony Bennett. Listen to the podcast using the player below!
When LeBron James signed his 2 year contract earlier this month, I didn’t understand why it was considered a 2 year deal even though the second season is a player option. In each sport, contracts are reported and described in different terms. For anyone who is confused about how contracts are measured by sport, I have it all spelled out below, for baseball, basketball, and football, with examples for each sport.
MLB – All money is guaranteed and option years are added onto a contract”s description. For example, Nick Swisher signed for four years and $56 million with the Indians in 2012. The contract also has a vesting option for a fifth year at $14 million. This could bring the deal to five years and $70 million. In this sense, baseball is the simplest of the three major sports because the guaranteed money is spelled out in contract interpretation, separate from the option years. There is little confusion in describing baseball contracts.
NBA – In the NBA, contracts can be fully, partially guaranteed, or non-guaranteed, with all possible money and option years included in the description. LeBron signed for two years and $42.2 million, though the second year is a player option. Next season, he will make $21,573,398. For partially guaranteed and non-guaranteed deals, there are dates written in each contract that a team can cut the player without paying the balance. For NBA contracts, read the details. There is little confusion leftover upon reading the specifics of a signing.
NFL – Not all money is guaranteed upon signing, option years are separated from the rest of the contract, and both guaranteed and possible figures are reported upon signing. Signing bonuses are also factored into both figures. For example, when Johnny Manziel signed with the Browns, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal tweeted this:
Per @spotrac, Johnny Manziel’s deal: 4 yrs., $8.25 mil., including $4,318,000 signing bonus, $6,702,625 guaranteed. Team option for 5th yr.
— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) June 17, 2014
If that’s not confusing enough, read this explanation of Joe Haden‘s extension from May. There is so much fine print and cap magic done in the NFL that even I choose not to read into all of the details in every contract. Compared to “The Shield,” Jerry West and Harmon Killebrew have contract setups that are much simpler. Yes, I am only scratching the surface, but this is a general primer and not an all-encompassing guide. If you have any other questions about contract specifics in any of the three major sports, let me know in the comments.
Let me just get the awkward part out of the way first: I am almost 19, soon to be a sophomore in college, and I still enjoy watching a handful of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon TV shows. Last summer, I ranked all of Dan Schneider’s TV shows in a 3000-plus word “love letter” style piece to the famed sitcom genius (it, like everything else from NSF 2.0, is no longer on the site, though I have a copy of that post saved offline). Schneider actually read the piece and enjoyed my rankings, though not even he could have predicted the fall of the show I ranted 4th on that list, Sam & Cat.
Sam & Cat has been canceled by Nickelodeon after just one season. The spin-off of both iCarly and Victorious was a ratings winner for Nickelodeon, with the network doubling the order of first season episodes from 20 to 40 after just one month on the air. The show never even made it to that 40, with its cancellation coming after just 36 episodes and a lengthy hiatus. Behind the scenes drama derailed a Nick sitcom that looked extremely hopeful early on.
When my rankings came out, I was way too optimistic about the show’s doubled order and ratings after just nine episodes. I understood that Nick wanted to expedite the show’s production as the stars got older, but no one could have predicted what would happen to the actresses portraying both Sam and Cat. Ariana Grande, soon after the show premiered, became a music superstar with her debut album Yours Truly releasing in August. Jennette McCurdy was dealing with drama of her own, from her bizarre relationship with Andre Drummond to their even weirder breakup to the leak of racy photos, along with reports of a pay dispute throughout. There were also reports of tardiness and infighting between the two stars as the exhausting first season dragged on. Moreover, both girls are now women, in their 20s and wanting to grow up from the G-rated bubble of Nickelodeon.
Sam & Cat was the last show of the “third generation” of Dan Schneider’s career. His first period was as an actor, most famously in the ABC sitcom Head of the Class. When he started taking positions behind the camera, Schneider moved into the second generation of his career, with famous shows such as Kenan & Kel and All That. When All That and Kenan & Kel both ended their original runs, Schneider moved on to The Amanda Show, a bridge between the second and third generations of his career. The Amanda Show starred eponymous Amanda Bynes, but also Drake Bell (who I interviewed earlier this year), Josh Peck, and Nancy Sullivan, 60 percent of the Parker-Nichols household on Drake & Josh. Drake & Josh, along with Zoey 101, created a domino effect of successful sitcoms and spin-offs that ended with Sam & Cat. The final episode of Sam & Cat airs this Thursday night preceding the Kids’ Choice Sports Awards (not making that up), while Schneider’s newest project, Henry Danger, premieres in under two weeks, on July 26th.
Henry Danger begins a new, fourth generation of Schneider comedies, with Schneider essentially starting from square one with this show. It is arguably Schneider’s first sitcom that doesn’t at least have some semblance of reality attached to it. In fact, the show has a superhero shtick to it, based on promos. Not a single member of the main cast has their own Wikipedia page, and the show’s page lists the protagonist as just 13 years old. That means Schneider is starting out with a whole new generation of tween actors. These youngsters will have 20 episodes to show what Henry Danger is worth, but with no big names attached to the show, the ratings could suffer compared to other Schneider sitcoms.
I believe Dan Schneider wants to leave behind his past and prove that he can create a great Nick sitcom without reusing a big name actor from a past show, something he hasn’t done since the failed Guys Like Us, a UPN sitcom that wasn’t aimed at tweens. When excluding Guys Like Us, Schneider has never had to create a sitcom that didn’t star at least one actor from a prior show of his. This is unfamiliar territory for Schneider, whose popularity will be tested in the ratings. He might have trouble attracting fans of his older shows because of the new actors and a premise that isn’t at least slightly realistic.
Henry Danger has big shoes to fill, but it does not need to be the ratings equivalent of Sam & Cat. Using lesser known actors will keep their salaries down, which contributes to a lower overhead. Furthermore, there will not be egos or personalities that make certain cast members feel too big for the network (not that I’m saying that’s the case with anyone in Sam & Cat). It also gives Dan Schneider the opportunity to create a completely new brand that will make up for his shortest running tween sitcom, if all goes right. If all goes wrong, Henry Danger would give Schneider two misses in a row, something that even someone of his stature might not be able to withstand.
I wish Dan Schneider all the best with Henry Danger, especially when considering how Sam & Cat ended. He has created a lot of fantastic tween sitcoms over the years, shows that kids reminisce about even years after they have grown up. Though Sam & Cat‘s 36 episode disappointment has ended, the allure and unknown of Henry Danger will hopefully lead to a strong fourth generation of popular comedies with a Dan Schneider influence.
Earlier today, LeBron James broke twitter by announcing he would return to Cleveland and sign with the Cavaliers. He announced via Instagram, but the focus was on this piece, LeBron explaining his decision in his own words. It was a coup for old school media and a humanizing of LeBron himself, an illustration of how much he has grown in the last four seasons.
When LeBron made his first decision, I had recently finished my freshman year of high school. That summer, I was enrolled in a chemistry class through my school. Everyone in my class knew I was a big sports fan and that “The Decision” was going to be important to me. Naive young Alex didn’t think LeBron would leave his hometown. Then Jim Gray broke my heart. I’m not ashamed to admit that I shed a tear watching our hero desert us, for Miami of all places. I didn’t want to get up for chemistry the next day, and I was late to class. My classmates were genuinely worried about me and how “The Decision” had affected me.
I didn’t cry today. Just as LeBron has matured through his SI piece, so have I. Now, I am a college student working hard toward a successful sports media career. LeBron was a college age kid when he decided to bolt for Miami and he used his “college” years in Miami to grow up. That much is clear in the essay. He’s a human just like the rest of us and he knew the backlash any decision would have. He understands what it means to be from Northeast Ohio. The old adage goes “If you love him, set him free. If he comes back, then it’s meant to be.” It’s meant to be with LeBron James.
There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said by LeBron himself and by other media outlets. It’s an exciting day to be a Clevelander and a Cavs fan. LeBron James brings hope to this city as we look to end our 50 year title drought. I cannot wait until NBA season starts.
Welcome home, Mr. James.
Last night, the Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving reached an agreement to sign the All-Star point guard to a five-year extension worth $90 million. This was the largest amount of money the team could offer the 22-year-old, with Irving now fulfilling the team’s “designated player” extension, allowing more contractual freedom for the team and more money for the player. I am glad that a talented guard like Irving will be staying in Cleveland for an extra half decade, but he is not worth the so-called max because of his five major flaws, detailed below.
1. Bad defense
Even in Mike Brown‘s defense-focused system, Irving looked lost when the other team had the ball. Maybe he realized that if the other team scored, he would get the ball back and not have to waste as much time without it. Probably not. If Irving wants to be a bona fide star in the NBA, he’ll need to be better than his 108 defensive rating, which was not just below average compared to the league, it was below average compared to the rest of his defense deficient Cavaliers teammates, who sat at 107.7 as a team. The top four teams last season, based on record, all ranked in the top 9 in defensive rating, none allowing more than 104.8 points per 100 possessions.
2. Scoring-oriented point guard
It is clear that the days of the extreme pass-first point guard are over as just one player averaged more than 8.8 assists per game last season. That said, plenty of point guards, including Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, and John Wall, knew how to score while still accruing plenty of assists. Kyrie Irving is not of that mindset. When Irving has the ball, he is looking to drive and score first, then to shoot the ball second. Only after these two options have been have been exhausted does Kyrie look to pass, which explains his career assist percentage below 33 percent. Basketball-Reference has figured this out, with some of Irving’s closest comparisons being Ray Allen, Klay Thompson, and Isaiah Thomas, none true point guards. Irving is a talented player, but he’s more of a combo guard than a true point guard.
3. Shooting gets worse and worse
I’m all for a great shooter, but Irving wasn’t even close to great last season. He set career lows in shooting percentage (43%) and three-point shooting percentage (35.8%), but his usage rate was still above 28 percent. The average distance of his field goal attempts was 14.5 feet from the hoop, the farthest it has been in his three professional seasons. Irving’s bricks led to a lower player efficiency rating and effective field goal percentage, two metrics that help determine player value. There are arguments that can be made using Mike Brown and his defense-focused system, but great players are able to plow through adversity and stay great no matter how bad the team around them may be.
4. Injury prone
This one is pretty straightforward, as Irving played in just 11 games at Duke before missing 15 games during his rookie season. In the NBA, Irving has missed 49 of 230 total games, or 21.3 percent. That number doesn’t even include minor injuries that Irving played through. Considering Irving is just 22 years old, this does not bode well as he ages. Yes, there are players like Grant Hill, who played at a high level into his late 30s even though he missed a lot of time in his early 30s, but there are five or six players such as Amar’e Stoudemire, Greg Oden, and Shaun Livingston, guys who couldn’t stay healthy and have become shells of themselves, for every one player who returns to form. My opponents will argue that Irving’s injuries have been “flukey,” but I don’t buy it because he’s missed more than one of every five games in his NBA career.
5. Hasn’t actually won anything
Kyrie Irving has played well, but his teams have been Bad with a capital B. He’s never won more than 33 games in a season, rewarding himself with two extra months off every May and June. He’s never led an offense that has finished better than 19th in the league, and that is supposed to be where he truly shines. Part of the M.O. of great players is that they elevate their teammates to a higher level, allowing for improved team play and team success. Irving hasn’t made his teammates better and he hasn’t been a winner in the NBA.
I am glad that Kyrie Irving is staying in Cleveland for five extra seasons. He is a talented, albeit flawed, player who makes the Cavs somewhat relevant. That said, these five major flaws are why Uncle Drew’s new contract scares me. Lucky for Irving, he’s got five extra seasons to prove me wrong. I wish him the best of luck.
14 should be a number synonymous with change, revolution, and integration in baseball. It is a number that belonged to Larry Doby, the second African-American player in Major League Baseball, the man known for breaking the color barrier in the American League. Sadly, Doby is not remembered as he should be, as the junior circuit’s equivalent of Jackie Robinson.
On July 5th, 1947, Doby made his Major League debut, striking out as a pinch hitter. The following season, he hit .301 and helped lead the Indians to their most recent World Series title. Doby endured the same racism, segregation, and unfair treatment as Robinson, but he did not get a first ballot Hall of Fame induction or a feature film, though Doby holds the distinction of being the first player to make a direct transition from Negro League Baseball to Major League Baseball, courtesy of then-Tribe owner, Bill Veeck, who purchased him from the Newark Eagles for $15,000.
Doby was signed as a middle infielder for a team that already had Joe Gordon and Lou Boudreau, both eventually enshrined in Cooperstown. That made it difficult for the South Carolina native to find playing time, as he got just 33 plate appearances as a rookie. The following spring, Veeck brought Tris Speaker to spring training to teach Doby how to patrol center field. With a Hall of Fame on-field advocate in Speaker, Doby thrived as an outfielder, hitting 253 home runs and making seven consecutive All-Star teams.
Though Doby did not gain the attention of national media like Robinson had, his signing had a major impact in Cleveland. In her book, Integrating Cleveland Baseball, Stephanie Liscio explains that the Cleveland Call and Post, the city’s prominent African-American newspaper, became Doby’s biggest supporters when he debuted. The Call and Post focused on the Buckeyes, Cleveland’s Negro League team, up until Doby broke the color barrier, at which point the paper shifted almost exclusively to the city’s Major League team. Regarding his lack of media coverage compared to Robinson, Doby came to a realization later in life, figuring that “the media didn’t want to repeat the same story” of a black player overcoming extreme adversity in segregated America.
Aside from breaking the color barrier in the American League, Larry Doby was the second African-American manager in Major League Baseball and a naval hero in World War II. Being overshadowed by Robinson hurt his legacy, notably when it came to Hall of Fame voting. Doby never accrued more than 3.4 percent of Hall of Fame votes, getting dropped from the ballot after just two seasons. His number was not retired by the Indians until 1994 and he did not get into Cooperstown until 1998, one year after Jackie Robinson’s number was retired throughout Major League Baseball. In 2012, the Indians renamed a street adjacent to Progressive Field after Doby. These recognitions are not enough for a man who deserves more than being known as a footnote in baseball history.
While Jackie Robinson was trained in minor league baseball before making his Major League debut, Larry Doby was added to Cleveland’s roster just two days after signing his contract. American League fans and players had not seen an integrated roster prior to Doby’s debut, a debut that came eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson. Sentiments against African-Americans had not changed in eleven weeks, yet Robinson gets all the recognition while Doby is buried in the annals.
April 15th has become Jackie Robinson day, where every Major Leaguer wears 42 to honor Robinson’s contributions to the game. Larry Doby was the Jackie Robinson of the American League and it is about time he got some recognition for his actions. There is no reason Major League Baseball cannot give Doby a similar treatment as Robinson, retiring his number throughout the American League and mandating all players wear 14 on July 5th to honor his legacy. And maybe, just maybe, there will be a movie one day about a soft spoken Carolina boy who finally got the recognition he deserved, seven decades after he made history.