Friday leftovers

A few random comments:

1)Sal Paolantonio was on Mike and Mike earlier this week to talk about Philadelphia sports (it’s toward the end of this segment). It was an entertaining segment in which SalPal, who’s been covering Philly sports forever capturing nicely the zeitgeist of the resentment roiling the City of Brotherly Love. This was before the Eagles’ debacle yesterday, an absolute pasting at the hands of the lowly Lions, by the way. Paolantonio noted, of course, all the anger toward Chip Kelly, whose ingenious methods were supposed to remake professional football (remember how many pundits jumped on the bandwagon this preseason to proclaim that the Sam Bradford-run offense was going to score ten touchdowns a game this year forgetting, apparently, that it was going to be a Sam Bradford-run offense). SalPal also reached deeper for some historical perspective, reminding Mike and Mike that, in the Super Bowl era, the Eagles’ three division rivals – the Giants (4), Cowboys (5) and Washington (3) have won a combined dozen Super Bowls while the Eagles have been shutout in that department. That’s blood-boiling type stuff for the Philly Phaithful. SalPal also had a great riff about the absolutely pathetic 76ers, who’ve started the season 0-16 in the third or fourth year of what’s turning out to be the worst “re-building” project of all time. Paolontonio invoked the broad powers of the commissioner to uphold the integrity of the sport to suggest that Sixers’ ownership should be severely punished for allowing this travesty to continue. I don’t think that’s going to go anywhere, but I like the thinking.

2)In early 2014, I wrote a post explaining why Russell Westbrook was overrated. For the record, I never said he was bad. Nor did I deny that he was fun to watch. No one plays the game with his abandon. It’s just that his obvious strengths – his absurd athleticism and ability to absolutely go off – masked some of the shortcomings in his game, like his tendency to turn the ball over a *lot* and his mediocre shooting, two deficiencies that adversely affect his team’s chances of winning. Well, Westbrook’s game has now fully caught up to the hype. Westbrook was always an above average rebounder for his position. Now he’s ridiculously good in that area. He still shoots too many threes – something he’s not very good at – but otherwise his field goal efficiency has been improving for the past two seasons, and has been excellent so far this year. He’s turning the ball over more than ever, but he’s also dishing out way more assists per 48 minutes than ever before. Add it all up and so far this season he’s playing at an MVP level (non-Steph Curry division).

Call this a non-apology apology.

3) The Washington Post ran a widely-circulated article this week on the economics of college athletics, noting that some of the highest-profile programs are, despite generating more revenue than ever before, still operating in the red as they spend more money than ever before (despite their *very* affordable labor costs). Andy Schwarz, whose work and reasoning on these issues I respect greatly, begs to differ, each noting the many ways that athletic departments generate revenues that are not readily apparent to the untrained eye. I’ll write more about that soon, but I just wanted to put a pin in that for now. Here’s one long piece by Andy detailing the accounting shenanigans that allow schools to mask the true extent of the money they’re making off athletics.

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