Yankees Fans Are Comfortable With Being Confident. Learn from Us.

aid61482-v4-728px-Be-a-New-York-Yankees-Fan-Step-1-Version-4#RKOI is a popular hashtag on instagram. It stands for “rich kids of instagram.” Cars, homes, jewels, bags, etc. Through no fault of their own, these children were born on third base, unbeknownst a genuine struggle some strive their lives to achieve. The Super Sweet 16s, disproportionate equilibrium of normalcy, and your feeling that if you’re going to wear the cost of my college tuition on your pinky, it is humanly impossible to comprehend the distance of our versions of “hard work.”

And that is jealousy.

And I was that kid.

The sports version.

Yes in 1996 I was six years old and finally able to comprehend sports. A third-generation New Yorker the Yankees were my favorite team because they were my father’s and grandfather’s as well.

When you’re six the adults let you win, you get A+’s, and you always get a trophy.

And the Yankees win the World Series. And again, and again, and again.

So in 2000 when the Mets played the Yankees in the world series. I was the #RKOI. I knew the Mercedes would be mine once I turned 16 and I knew Daddy could get me out of any major trouble should the situation arise.

And I knew the Yankees would win.

To my fifth grade Mets fan contemporaries I’d say “Of course you’re not going to beat the Yankees, but that’s not fair why should you expect to?” It was undertones of confusion, not narcissism, sympathy, not superiority.”

Go to @RKOIofficial, their account says “we’re young, we’re beautiful, and dirty rich.” As a blue collar worker or someone else in the 99% it’s hard to see the (interior) “beautiful” of those fortunate enough to don the #.

But if you’re in the club, you can. This is why Selena Gomez and Biebs give it a shot and why in general the rich and fortunate marry each other. It’s a rich+confidence factor. And if you want to know what that feels like, get comfortable with it.

Because there are some really nice rich people, some really smart assholes, and some very human <insert race> people. And you should learn how to be friends with all three and its accompanying etc. You’ll learn a lot.

Their team is down 2-0 in a best of five series and it’s probably their manager’s fault. In the previous inning they finally got a leadoff runner on but was promptly erased by an Aaron Hicks double play. Now their one shot at keeping this game scoreless is Masahi-oooook that’s now a triple with 1 out.

What does your fanbase do?

Through a lifetime of disappointment and venom towards the successful, Mets fans, Utley just knocked a triple off the wall. Don’t the groans start immediately? Phillies fans, it’s the first inning and Chipper Jones just put the Braves up 3-0. Here…we gooooo….again….

I was at the Wild Card game when the Yanks went down 3-0. It got louder.

Don’t mistake arrogance for confidence.

Last night after Kipnis’ one-out triple, on a ball that could have been caught, the fans got louder. The collectively smart Yankees fan base knows success requires support. Because they’re comfortable with it.

The Yankees didn’t win last night because Tanaka ended up getting out of that inning. Tanaka didn’t get out of that inning because the crowd was positive. But maybe in the duration of time after Dozier’s triple and Tanaka’s next pitch, a mental ability to stay positive and focused was facilitated by a smart, confident, and professional fan base. The Yankees won 1-0 yesterday and are going into a series down 2-1 with more confidence than I’ve seen from a team in a similar situation.

Still, baseball’s inherent volatility based strongly in the randomness of the day-to-day starting pitcher, the Yankees have less than a 50% chance to advance. But over the course of a season, decade, and franchise, is a fan base going to have a tangible, yet unknown effect on their team. You’re damn right.

Embrace confidence. Mets fans, we root for you. Yes, we’re the #RKOI, and you’ll want your kids to be one, too.

Sporcle of the Week: Top 5 NBA Scorers by Draft

I’m a sucker for 90s basketball, and this Sporcle delivers. Since 1992 and until 2011, name the top five NBA scorers from their respective draft class.

Make sure you have 15 minutes to kill. I got 55 of 105 but know I could’ve gotten more. One of those “Oh c’mon I knew that” quizzes.

Happy Sporcling!

SPORCLE OF THE WEEK: TOP 5 SCORERS BY DRAFT CLASS

Lance Armstrong, Choosing Oprah Shows Weakness

By now you have probably heard that Lance Armstrong, probably the most popular cyclist of all time, has decided to come clean about his doping – that all seven of his Tour-de-France titles were won under circumstances not disclosed at his time of victory.

I’m glad Armstrong came clean. By doing so it reveals the seven-time champion could no longer support the weight of the monkey-turned-ape that has weighed on his shoulders since that first injection. It gives me hope he will use this to better himself as a person.

Earlier today my sister and I discussed his legacy. I support anyone who has raised over half-a-billion dollars for cancer research, and he now seems prepared to start a new chapter. Everyone deserves a second chance.

My sister took it from another angle: Why Oprah?

Why the loving, caring, everything’s-gonna-be-okay philanthropist who has limited connection to the sports world? Does Armstrong think he can soften the blow of an image crumble by coming clean to someone known to emphasize the good more than bad?

I had to agree.

To do what Armstrong has done — embarrass an entire sport for a full decade — I think you owe us an interview with Barbara Walters, Stephen A. Smith, Katie Couric, or someone of equal objectivity.

Say what you want about Alex Rodriguez, but he handled this situation better than anyone has so far: admit what you did as soon as you’re accused, accept an interview by a figure in the category above (Peter Gammons in this case), and try to move on.

While I have no doubt Oprah hit all the major points and conducted a professional, emotional, informational interview, I can’t help but think how it would be different if the interviewer was of a different breed. It’s tough to envision Ms. Winfrey unleashing caged anger on someone who single-handedly cheated an entire sport for so long. While I wouldn’t want to see him interviewed by a Tour-de-France beat writer, it would’ve been nice to see him answer the questions of someone more tied to the sports world.

Does his choice of Oprah show he’s not mature enough to accept the beat down he deserves? Or am I over thinking it? For someone who has put on an act of this magnitude for this long, I think we have every right to micromanage.

But who knows? Maybe for the first time we’ll see the cycling fan side of Oprah. I heard every night she stays up late and watches cycling coverage on The Ocho.

Hey Peter Le Fleur, don’t quit on your team. Just do what I did and everything will be okay.

If healthy, RGIII will be the best quarterback in the league by 2015

It started with Michael Vick. A revolutionary quarterback who forced defenses to sacrifice a defender for a spy. A quarterback who can turn a broken play into a 20 yard run.

Sounds enticing, but Vick never was a great quarterback, just one that makes magic with his feet. Vick didn’t throw to a 60% completion percentage until his eighth year in the league and probably won’t win a Super Bowl. And we all know about his turnover rate.

But imagine Peyton Manning with Vick’s legs. Picture Aaron Rodgers en route to a game-winning 78-yard touchdown run after his third and fourth options were covered.

In his rookie season, the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III averaged fewer interceptions per pass than every other starting quarterback (five int. in 258 attempts; 1.3%) and threw to a 65.6% completion rate. For their careers, Manning sits at 65.2% and Rodgers at 65.7%.

Griffin’s numbers
Vick’s numbers
Peyton’s numbers
Rodgers’ numbers

In his seven full seasons as a starter, Vick eclipsed RGIII’s 2012 total of 3200 passing yards only once (2011) and only twice rushed for more yards than Griffin’s 2012 tally of 815.

But it was Griffin’s 4.41 dash in the ’12 combine that foreshadowed his dazzling ground work during the regular season. Like Vick, Griffin can break out for 13 fantasy points on one play (below). Unlike Vick, it seems Griffin can protect the football and throw accurately.

If Griffin can somehow extract enough passing potential to work up to Manning or Rodgers’ level, then his edge in the footrace department would put him at a separate level of any quarterback in NFL history.

Before we get gung-ho, we must acknowledge health when evaluating RGIII’s style of play. If he wants to remain in the league, he needs to become a pass-first quarterback who can dive into the arsenal if needed, not the other way around.

Picture this scenario – it happened week 13 against the New York Giants.

Redskins up a point with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The Redskins have the ball and the Giants have two timeouts.

In this situation most offenses run the ball to eat up clock. The defense knows, so late-game situations such as these usually result in a three-and-out and a punt with two minutes or so left.

But with RGIII you don’t hand the ball off, you run the option. The defense now has to worry about a separate threat with a proportion of attention on each. What is usually a gimme three-and-out is now a mind game between Griffin and the defense.

In that game, the Giants couldn’t stop the combination of Griffin and rookie running back Alfred Morris, the Redskins ran out the clock, and took a must-win away from the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Griffin’s unique late-game threat will lead to more wins such as these.

Take this likeable fella and evaluate his numbers. In four years compare his passing numbers the elite ones and his running numbers to Vick’s. If he keeps pace with those guys like he did this season, you could be watching the greatest quarterback of all time.

But let’s get that knee back in order first.

Half-Court Shots Should Not Count as Field Goals

David Stern, NBA Commissioner

During yesterday’s Knicks game, Jason Kidd threw up a wild shot from 3/4 court to end the third quarter. The shot landed nowhere near the hoop, but it was a nice effort.

Kidd is shooting a career-high 45% from three-point range this year, but the aforementioned miss counts against that percentage despite the 2% chance the shot connects.

In today’s stat-driven age, a few percentage points could be the difference between thousands of contract dollars. Logically, a vast majority of players hold the ball in the final seconds of a quarter despite zero risk to your team by chucking one up from 70 feet.

If players are collectively more worried about hurting their stats than helping their team (in this instance), then Commissioner David Stern and the NBA should cater to it.

Treat shots behind half court like shots after a foul – if it goes in, it counts as a three pointer made. If not, then it doesn’t count as a shot attempt.

“Dude Perfect” hits a shot from the top of Texas A&M’s football field. VIDEO

The most exciting part of a basketball game is the buzzer beater. The cherry on top is a buzzer beater from far, far away. (Here’s a compilation of them). By giving players the freedom to hoist one up without personal risk, you’ll see more end of the quarter excitement. In turn, more fans will tune in to end a quarter and potentially add more advertising demand on the commercials following.

From the time I was little and until today, I’ll watch any basketball game if there’s under a minute to go in the quarter/half, just in case I see a fun buzzer beater connect.

Without proof, I know I am not the only basketball fan who does this.

In its current state, basketball is not in its truest form. Imagine this scenario: the Houston Rockets are up by 15 to the Cleveland Cavaliers with 10 seconds to go in the third quarter. As the clock winds down, the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving drives to the basket and misses a layup. With three seconds left, James Harden grabs the rebound and holds it – Rockets up 15 to end the third quarter. However, the Cavaliers make a great fourth-quarter push and eventually win by a point.

Now this: without worrying a half-court shot could potentially hurt him down the road financially, Harden takes one dribble, spins around a defender, and throws up a wild, off-balance 60-footer. Swish.

Down by 18, the Cavaliers walk back to the bench with new-found dejection, possibly with the added emotion “maybe this just isn’t our night.” Maybe Harden’s three is the difference in the game. Maybe it’s not, but maybe it is. Maybe the Rockets make the playoffs by a game.

In this instance, basketball punishes the team player.

Take Player A, a great shooter in his contract year. He won’t risk taking a wild shot at the buzzer because every miss means less money in his next deal. It’s not that he’s a bad person, just a human being. He doesn’t take any shots behind half court and ends the year 80-200 (40%) from three-point range.

Now Player B, an equally great shooter, but a team player. He doesn’t care about stats. If he has the ball in the backcourt with a second to go in the first quarter, he’ll throw up a prayer because maybe it’ll help his team. He took five half-court shots this year and missed all to make him 80-205 (39%) from three-point range.

At season’s end, the Clippers need a three-point specialist. According to stats, Player A is the better choice, even though their only difference was Player B’s stronger will to help his team.

Mr. Stern, don’t count shots beyond half-court as field goals. Add excitement to the game. Bring back its purity. If I’m tuning in to watch the end of the quarter, so are others, and that means more money in your pocket.

Because who doesn’t want to see more of this:

Kobe Bryant’s Class Gives Kevin Durant Scoring Title

In 1941, Boston Red Sox’ Ted Williams went into the final day of baseball’s regular season batting exactly .400. While he could’ve sat out – Boston was 17 games back of the first place Yankees, Williams understood batting .400 wouldn’t mean as much if put himself before the team. Williams went a combined 6-8 in the doubleheader (Game 1 Game 2) – on his way to the .406 batting average we haven’t seen since.

According to this story on ESPN.com, Bryant will sit out in the final game of the season against the Sacramento Kings tonight, forfeiting a chance to take home his third career scoring title. He needed 38 points to beat out Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, who played their final game of the regular season last night.

Kobe had the chance to smack ESPN in the face tonight. By scoring 38, he makes an argument he’s the best player in the NBA, not the seventh best according to a preseason rank on NBA on ESPN. Remember, this comes in the same season he had to adjust to a coach not named Phil Jackson and a Scottie Pippen not named Derek Fisher. He has not let his basketball stardom fog his vision of another NBA title – basketball’s ultimate measuring stick.

In today’s story with ESPNLosAngeles, Kobe said, “It’s not a challenge for me to score 38 points, you know? … We know I can go out and score 38 points. The most important thing is sending the right message to the group which is putting a championship above all else. That means rest. That means letting other guys play. That means us getting ready for Sunday (for the playoff opener).”

Yeah…Kobe is exactly right. We do know he can go out and score 38 at whim. He’s the only player in the league that can say that without a backlash of pseudo-news and debate on Twitter. Let me know in the comments if you disagree. LeBron could say it and be truthful, but we love hating LeBron too much to let a comment like that slide.

While Kobe could use father time to school the younger Durant, he didn’t. He showed class. He conveyed he’s not bigger than the game. It was refreshing, and I think it reminded basketball fans how special Kobe is.

When we look back on Kobe’s career, there will be an unofficial asterisk next to Kobe’s amount of scoring titles. In a sports era where asterisks are associated with negativity, this asterisk will reiterate how special Kobe was.

“Yes son, Kobe only won three scoring titles way back when, but he could have had a fourth if he decided to play in the final game of that 2012 season.”

Remember when Jose Reyes voluntarily sat out of last season’s finale to ensure his batting title? Yes he won, but sports fans partner his batting title with, “Yes, but he sat out the last day of the season to ensure he would win,” communicating he put himself before the team.

Rest up Kobe. A third scoring title doesn’t look as impressive as a sixth championship.