Cubs

Players believe in Blazers' curse?

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Players believe in Blazers' curse?

When the Portland Trail Blazers selected Greg Oden with the first pick in the 2007 NBA draft, he was supposed to pair team with the duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy to form a trio that would help contend for titles for years to come.

In five years, Oden would only play in 82 games, dealing with a multitude of knee injuries and surgeries.

Brandon Roy would retire following the resolving of the NBA lockout last year as his knees had degenerated so much, he didnt think he could sustain the grind of a regular NBA season, let alone a condensed 66-game schedule.

LaMarcus Aldridge, diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome in 07, received heart surgery at the beginning of the season to evaluate the status of the electrical system of his heart.

While not as serious as one may think as Aldridge was relatively healthy this season before a slight labral tear in his hip forced season-ending hip surgery, the Trail Blazers -- going back to Sam Bowie and Bill Walton -- have had several players suffer serious lower body injuries and the thought that the franchise might be cursed isnt one that just floats around through the collective media and fan base.

As told to ESPNs Marc Stein, former Trail Blazer Marcus Camby says the curse is also discussed in the Portland locker room.

Q: You know those of us in the media throw around words like curse. But what about the players on that team? In the Blazers locker room, are guys asking: What next?
A: They might not want to admit it, but when I was there, my goodness, people were saying, Are we really snake-bit? Are we really cursed? Doubts and talks like that came about. Everybody just tried to brush it to one side and remain positive, but it was hard to escape because everybody was talking about it. Its hard to argue when it keeps happening year after year after year.

It took Portland some time to rid itself of the Jail Blazers tag, but it might take even longer to escape something serious enough to be labeled a curse.
Its a stigma that Cubs fans know all too well.

Fantasy Baseball in Math Class? Maddon Offers Unique Perspective On How MLB Can Grow

Fantasy Baseball in Math Class? Maddon Offers Unique Perspective On How MLB Can Grow

You’ve seen the tweets - the ones that take TV ratings from big baseball games and throw them next to a random Warriors game from late March, just to make a point. It’s not a groundbreaking narrative: baseball’s struggle to retain younger fans continues. According to some of the latest Nielsen Ratings research, MLB ranks 2nd among the four major sports when it comes to drawing interest from the 18-24 age group. On the surface, not so bad. And while the “Baseball Is Dying” argument is a heavy-handed one, it’s not hard to see that the NBA is quickly gaining ground - especially among the younger generations. 

“The NBA is definitely attracting a younger audience, there’s no question about that,” Joe Maddon said. “The fact that there’s the glitz and the color and the speed -- I don’t even know what the allure is, quite frankly. I don’t know. I think the spotlight on it and the way it’s promoted appeals to the younger generation.”

Maddon was quick to defend the length of the game, saying he didn’t think the two were correlated at all. (For what it’s worth, a 2018 study revealed that the average NBA game lasted 2:13, while the current average run time of a MLB game this year is at 3:06.) Instead, Maddon pointed to how the NBA’s stars are marketed. 

“I do agree in the sense that I think we could do a better job promoting our players, no question,” he said. “I would not disagree with that. We have so many interesting stories to tell among our groups and I don’t think the fans - the young fans- really get to know that possibly as well as they know NBA players. Even in the NFL, I don’t think you know those players - plus they wear helmets so you can’t see their face. All that stuff matters.” 

Much of the issue lies in MLB’s approach to digital media. There are restrictive (bordering on archaic) rules in place about the use of their footage on all the various social media platforms, and their official website makes searching for video highlights a chore. Contrast that with the NBA, whose Twitter presence has quite literally become its own subculture. Here’s what commissioner Adam Silver had to say on the subject back in 2018:

"We promote the posting of our highlights. The highlights are identified through YouTube's software, and when ads are sold against them, we share in the revenue. We analogize our strategy to snacks versus meals. If we provide those snacks to our fans on a free basis, they're still going to want to eat meals — which are our games. There is no substitute for the live game experience. We believe that greater fan engagement through social media helps drive television ratings"

For his part, Maddon tries to find time to skype into different school classes as often as he can. That face-to-face interaction is something he feels MLB lacks. 

“ When you can connect faces and voices, even though it was through technology, you will be attached,” he said. “I can’t even imagine me growing up having that opportunity. I can’t even imagine that, how I would have taken to that. I don’t think we utilize technology well enough to connect with young kids. To me, that’s the more practical and important way to get them involved with and wanting to be baseball fans.” 

A more off-the-wall idea Maddon threw out was incorporating fantasy baseball into school curriculum. Math classes could offer a gentle approach into the world of analytics, and teachers could give students roles as GMs, Ass. GMs, and scouts of their own teams. 

“They don’t have to play the game, it’s not about playing the game,” he said. “This NBA group you’re talking about, the ones that love the NBA, they’re not there to play the game, they’re there to watch the game. And the enjoy all the components of it. 

“You’re not necessarily needing to attract people who play the game, as much as people who are interested in the game. We do have the most intellectually stimulating game of all, by far. So teach them the game. It doesn’t have to happen more quickly, they just have to understand it better.” 

Tim Anderson scratched from White Sox lineup for second-straight game

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USA TODAY

Tim Anderson scratched from White Sox lineup for second-straight game

For the second-straight game, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson was scratched from the team's lineup just a few hours before first pitch.

Anderson was scratched from Saturday's lineup with right wrist soreness, with Jose Rondon getting the start in his place. In the second inning on Friday, Anderson hit a foul ball that deflected off of his bat onto his wrist. Despite the injury, Anderson went 3-for-3 before Rondon pinch-hit for him in the eighth inning.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria said that while Anderson is better than yesterday, he still feels something in his wrist.

“He’s better than he was yesterday, but he felt a little bit, Renteria told reporters before Sunday's game. "We’ll keep treating him up during the game and see if we have to have him available late for some situation. Right now, we just keep making sure he’s dealing with it."

Although Anderson is out of the lineup again, he has not gotten x-rays. He holds a .337/.369/.506 slashline with eight home runs in 46 games this season.

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