Roundup: Lincecum, USMNT, NBA/NHL drafts, sellers

This is a particularly crazy week in sports. Here are some of the highlights.

Tim Lincecum pitched his second no-hitter yesterday.

If you follow baseball, I’m not breaking that news for you.
My other post today explores a bit of how Lincecum is a different pitcher, but my post is centered on pitching injuries and prevention. Ben Reiter of SI.com has more on the no-hitter itself.

The U.S. Men’s National Team faces Germany at noon.

It’s a bit of a miracle the men have come this far through the “Group of Death,” but it would be a shame to come this far and not advance.

Sunday night’s game was deflating, as Portugal scored in the final minute of stoppage time on a beautiful cross. Maybe the U.S. should have been able to clear that ball, but let’s not lose sight of how well placed the cross was.

Jürgen Klinsmann and the U.S. men have some work to do against a powerful German squad that showed it was human when Ghana forced a draw. To ensure advancement to the round of 16, both Germany and the U.S. need a draw. The U.S. doesn’t need a win to move on, though. The different possibilities for U.S. advancement are outlined here, but we’ll know in a few hours who’s advanced.

If that’s not the sort of thing that piques your interest, just go ahead and watch the game(s). Someone will explain it all later.

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Incentivizing good fan behavior

Fan interference is far from an everyday problem, but as many who watch the game can attest, it takes away opportunities for one team or another several times over the course of the season.

Before video review became a reality, fan interference that was missed could not be rectified. Look no further than Derek Jeter’s home run in game one of the 1996 ALCS. Even today it can still cause major problems. Josh Reddick has a case for the impact of Victor Martinez’s fly ball that was ruled a home run despite interference in game four of last year’s divisional series. Official review of such a play becomes a highly-contested judgment call.

There’s a major problem in terms of prevention, the one approach that could lessen occurrences. How can fan interference be stopped before it happens so it doesn’t continue to work against the integrity of the game?

The primary means to prevent interference is usually an announcement. But it’s a drop in the midst of a sea. This message is usually made along with similar warnings concerning the behavior that will result in ejection from the stadium and/or fines or jail time. In that context, it’s not enough. The announcement is clearly the least memorable compared to surrounding ones, and those who don’t occupy their seats until later innings may miss it altogether. It’s time for a positive way to present the message to catch their attention.

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Ruben Amaro Jr. and the future of an organization

Sports Illustrated’s Ben Reiter posted an insightful column yesterday about the recent lack of success by the Phillies and Rays, who faced off in the 2008 World Series. I’ll incorporate elements of two of his points.

Reiter talks about the “human factor,” saying that by rebuilding, GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. would be admitting he’s failed to do his job after inheriting a World Series-winning team. And there’s a lot of truth to that. The club’s postseason success waned, moving backwards one step every year from 2009 to 2012, culminating in missing the playoffs altogether one year after winning 102 games.

Reiter also mentions how demanding Phillies fans are. If the team were to ship out the stars who contributed to the not-so-long-ago successes, the stands might empty out:

Even with the team’s struggles this season, it still ranks 10th, as fans are still drawn to Citizens Bank Bark by their recent positive memories, and to see the longtime stalwarts who contributed to them. If any club has an incentive to hold onto its stars as long as possible, and to profit off the gate receipts those stars still produce, it is Philadelphia.

This creates an interesting dynamic. The team wants to do well long-term, but in order to keep a job — and to keep money coming in — Amaro can’t move too many players. But hasn’t the management of money just perpetuated the need to spend?

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The Lakers and head coach searches

While I won’t pretend to have a clear idea of who the Lakers are targeting to be their next head coach, this round of media speculation brought to mind some big-picture thoughts.

When it comes to a head coach search, the fans want some idea of how things are going. If those responsible for the search have kept everything close, there isn’t always a ton of material. Anyone club officials speak to goes onto the radar. The best candidates for the job become the topic of discussion. There’s a reasonable chance – at least a decent chance in comparison to others who might get the job – that they could be in contention, but sometimes many subjects of the speculation never seriously considered the opportunity.

The current search for a new Lakers coach led some to speculate about Larry Brown. While Brown has had success in both the college and professional arenas, he only relatively recently (2012) took the post of head coach at Southern Methodist University. Continue reading