Weekend Links

Managed to keep this week’s links to American sports, for once, this despite spending Saturday watching rugby and cricket. You’re proud, I know. As always, this post appeared first at RandBall, your home for the retirement of the greats.

When the media begins to bother players who have reported to spring training, the vast majority of the players declare some variation of the following statements:

  1. I’ve never felt better.
  2. I’ve changed my diet / workout routine / offseason routine / trainer / agent / et al, and it’s really made a difference.
  3. I’m not worried about (insert injury that affected player last year.)

This is why it was so disconcerting to hear Justin Morneau be realistic about the possibility that his recurring concussion symptoms could end his career. Major league baseball players are not fatalistic. They do not admit reality; like a tightrope walker refusing to look down, they do not admit the possibility of failure. They just can’t, especially in a sport with such a well-developed minor-league system. Morneau knows that there are a dozen or more first basemen in the Twins’ system, all waiting for the guy at the top to quit so they can move up a notch. And so, usually, players don’t say things like this; by nature, it’s not in their makeup.

It’s hard to see our favorite athletes struggle with this sort of thing. It’s unlike them. We depend on them to be different from us, to be calm when we would panic and to succeed when we would fail. They are our representatives on the field, our proxies, and they are supposed to be able to do what we cannot. I don’t want to admit – don’t want Morneau to admit – that he might be too human and fragile to overcome a solid kick to the head, because that says too much about me and my belief in my favorite athletes than I’m comfortable with.

That, I guess, and that I just want to see him hit some dingers again. On with the links:

*We begin this week at Twinkie Town, as Jesse Lund interviews assistant GM Rob Antony on a wide range of topics. It’s a long interview, but well worth your reading time.

*The Economist explains why Jeremy Lin is actually kind of a problem for the Chinese government. Key quote: “Mr Lin is, put plainly, precisely everything that China‚Äôs state sport system cannot possibly produce.”

*Speaking of Lin, If you missed Sebastian Pruiti’s breakdown of the strategies NBA teams have used to guard Lin, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

*Spencer Hall writes about his roots as a NASCAR fan, as part of the celebration of the week leading up to the Daytona 500.

*The goofs at Down Goes Brown have put together their own team-by-team guide for this week’s NHL Trade Deadline.

*And finally: the search is over, everyone. We’ve found the worst sports fan, and possibly the worst person, in America.