Reader’s Notebook, 7/19/17

Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic – Jason Turbow
I teased this one awhile back when I mentioned I was roaring through an awesome book. I started it on a Monday afternoon and wrapped it up before lunch on Wednesday. It was that good!

Turbow looks at one of the iconic dynasties in baseball: the Swingin’ Oakland A’s of the early 1970s. The team, which featured Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, Vida Blue, Blue Moon Odom, Ken Holtzman, Rollie Fingers, and primary manager Dick Williams, was one of the great collections of both talent and personalities in big league history. They also were the first team to win three-straight World Series since the Yankees of the 1940s and 1950s.

Turbow dives into how the team came together, how they learned to become winners, and how they battled each other as often as their opponents. Most notably, after clinching their first pennant in 1972, Vida Blue and Blue Moon Odom had a full-on fistfight in the locker room as their teammates celebrated and the media looked on. That was par for the course for the A’s. He also highlights how all the teams they beat over the years – the Orioles, the Reds, the Mets, the Dodgers – refused to give the A’s credit, adding to the attitude the team played with.

But the book isn’t just about the players or the games. A huge focus is on the team’s owner, Charles O. Finley, the man who took the team from Kansas City to Oakland and turned them into winners. Finley loved the spotlight, loved drinking, and loved battling baseball’s orthodoxy. He was also loathe to accept responsibility for his failings, looked for scapegoats at every opportunity, and loved to litigate. He was a brilliant yet exceptionally flawed man. Moving to Kansas City in 1980 I followed the local media’s gleeful coverage as a desperate Finley sought to sell his A’s when he could no longer afford to own the team. I still think he was a jackass – more because of how he treated people and his Trump-like qualities of never accepting blame – but can also appreciate the positive changes he brought to the game.

This is a top-notch baseball book. Expertly researched and well written.

*The Harder They Come8 – T.C. Boyle.
Here is a tougher book to nail down.

It begins with a retired American couple – the Stensons from California – vacationing in Costa Rica. While taking an excursion into the country’s interior, their tour group is accosted by armed thieves. Sten Stenson, a former Marine, kills one of the attackers and saves the group. He returns to the states a hero, but quickly grows weary of all the attention.

Back in Northern California, Stenson’s son, Adam, is a self-styled, modern mountain man and meets a Sara, a woman who doesn’t believe in the legitimacy of the US government. Both Sara and Adam are soon pulled into conflicts with local government officials, which soon spin into much larger conflicts due to Adam’s mental illness.

The story is loosely based on that of Aaron Bassler, who led law enforcement on month-long manhunt through Northern California in 2011.

At it’s core, the book is about how we perceive and desire freedom, and how there is an inevitable clash between the freedoms of individuals and those of society as a whole. It is taught, veers off in unexpected angles, and has wonderfully flawed characters. All that said, it’s not a book I loved. I don’t know why, but I kept waiting for there to be a slice of humor or irreverence injected into the story. When it never came, I grew a little frustrated with the book. But that’s on me, not the book itself. And I think this is a book I may look back upon more fondly after I think about it for a bit longer.

R’s: Uh Oh

I was worried this would happen.

The Royals were the second-hottest team in baseball in the six weeks leading up to the All-Star Break. They were playing really good baseball and were in the heart of both the Wild Card race and the AL Central. Suddenly not only were the Royals keeping all their free agents to-be until the end of the season, but they might just be kicking the tires on a pitcher or hitter to add for the stretch.

Then they got swept in their final three games before the break. Sure, that series was in LA, against the Dodgers, the hottest team in baseball. But getting swept was a bad way to end the first half. Given how this season began, I got worried it was a sign the hot streak was over. Would the four days off erase all the Royals momentum and with it the hopes that the championship core had one more run in them?

They stretched the losing streak to five before getting a lucky win Sunday. Then they got pummeled but Detroit on Monday, with ace Jason Vargas getting hammered for his second-straight start. The offense suddenly looks more like its April iteration than the June one. The DH spot is a disaster. Alex Gordon seems unsalvageable. Lorenzo Cain has looked terrible for two weeks. Injuries keep popping up.

Still, they’re only three back in the Central and two back in the Wild Card race.

With the trading deadline less than two weeks away the Royals are in a tough spot. Do they move someone from their depleted minor league system for a DH that can actually put the ball in play, or someone who can throw 5–6 decent innings every fifth day? Does Raul Mondesi have any value and do you risk moving him to get someone who can help this year?

I think if you have an opportunity to make the post-season you go for it. The problem is the trend lines aren’t great. Who says that moving Mondesi and a couple other prospects will be enough? It’s not like 2015, when the Royals were firmly in control of the division and had their eyes on plugging holes for October when they acquired Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. Those were very good and reasonable gambles. When you’re about to begin a large rebuilding process, do you move bodies you’re going to need next year and the year after for ones that will help you for just two-plus months?

My biggest fear is the Royals get stuck in the middle. I’d almost rather them fall apart completely than muddle along and stay 4–6 games back, treading water. I don’t know if Dayton Moore will start moving guys if the Royals go 1–9 over their next 10, but at least that gives him cover if he decides to. Sitting right around .500 on July 29 makes it tough either way.

They have nine games against Detroit and the White Sox before they go to Boston next weekend. I really think they need to break off a 6–3 stretch if they want to be honest about having hopes for October. If they reverse that, and go 3–6, Moore has to be honest about what this team is capable of. And if there’s a decent offer out there for Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, or one of the other guys who will leave this off-season, he needs to jump on it. He hasn’t had great luck with high draft picks, so I’d almost rather him acquire players with minor league track records than get a bunch of extra picks in next year’s draft.

I realize that’s all kind of wishy washy. What I really want is 10 more weeks of these guys playing decent ball. I’m fine if they come up short. But I want to see Lorenzo, Eric, and Moose go out strong.

Pinching the Weekend

What was supposed to be a relaxing weekend got a little weird. All thanks to sleeping strangely, or something simple and dumb like that.

A few times a year I get a pinched nerve in my neck. It’s usually the result of sleeping on my stomach too much. Which is a problem because I prefer to sleep on my stomach. Anyway, sometimes these episodes are particularly powerful, and this weekend was one of those occasions. Strong pain through my neck, upper back, and left arm got in the way of my having very much fun on our weekend at home.

We did have brunch on Saturday morning at a cool little spot, then hit a couple hipster stores around the corner. By the time we got home, I could barely move my neck so I went for the muscle relaxers. I don’t do well with muscle relaxers, so that’s a sign of how uncomfortable I was. Sure enough, I dropped off to sleep about 20 minutes after taking one, and when I woke was groggy for the rest of the day and evening. I took another at bedtime thinking that would knock me out, I’d wake up in the morning refreshed and ready to go.

I got half my wish: it knocked me out alright. I slept straight through from 9:45 to 7:10, rolled over and looked at the clock, then went back to sleep for another hour. When I got up I felt like garbage. Drowsy, a little dizzy, and just plain out of it. Damn muscle relaxers! My sensitive system clearly can’t take them.

We went to a birthday brunch for one of my sisters in law, and I kind of muddled through that. When the rest of the family headed north to our nephew’s county fair parade, I returned home and sat on the couch watching TV and reading and trying to stay awake for four hours. I knocked out a couple episodes of Better Call Saul and about 50 pages of the book I’m reading, so it wasn’t a total loss. And my neck was feeling better. But I missed the fair, which I both always enjoy and is a great picture taking location.

Fortunately I woke this morning feeling close to normal again. All the after effects of the meds seem to be gone. My neck isn’t 100% pain-free, but neither is it keeping me from doing normal things.

Pinched nerves. Another chapter I should have included in my “getting older sucks” post from my birthday.

Friday Photo

Fujifilm X-T2, XF35mmF2 R WR, 1/500 second at f/3.2, ISO 200
My niece’s toes peeking down the slide before she mustered the courage to push off. Once she hit the section of the slide that was in sunlight, she kept saying, “HOT! HOT! HOT!”

Friday Playlist

“Never Been Wrong” – Waxahatchee. After several months of teasing single, Katie Crutchfield’s third solo album is finally out, and is receiving rave reviews. Based on the early songs, I’ve really been looking forward to it. And, after one listen, it really delivers. One of the best albums of the year so far.

“Dean’s Room” – Allison Crutchfield. I ignored Katie’s twin sister’s album – released back in January – because I didn’t love the first single. I the album a listen earlier this week and it’s pretty great, too. There’s a lot of talent in that family!

“The Gold” – Manchester Orchestra. I’ve ebbed and flowed with this band, loving some of their stuff and then not enjoying their music. They seem to have dialed the drama back a bit, and this is a really good song. The early buzz for their next album is quite positive.

“Westside” – Ratboys. Another album I’ve been spinning a lot over the past week, the Ratboys combine classic, mid-90s alt-rock with a hint of alt-country and come up with a very pleasing sound.

“Rain” – The Cult. 

Getting pretty sick of rain around here. Three inches in less than an hour last night flooded the entire north side of Indy. Right outside our neighborhood the water was measured at eight inches deep. Fortunately we’re on a bit of a rise and everything drains away from our house. And unlike the 2003 Labor Day flood our street didn’t flood. So no pushing S’s car around the corner to our driveway after she tried to drive through the backed up water a block away. Maybe Ian Astbury’s 1980s brilliance can help dry it out here for awhile.

ASG ’17

Some All Star Game, huh!?!? So good that I waited a full day before sharing my thoughts on it.[1]

I’m being sarcastic: the game kind of sucked. Under most circumstances a tense, 2–1 game that goes 10 innings would be highly compelling. But it’s the freaking All Star Game in a year of the juiced ball. We want to see homers soaring through the South Florida air. We want runs, baby!

Worse, unlike a 2–1 game played during the regular season, this wasn’t a tight affair because two pitchers were throwing brilliance at each other. When the managers run a new pitcher out every inning, there’s no one to earn/deserve the credit or build the tension with the viewers.

Anyway, I found myself spending as much time scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, or otherwise checking things on my iPad as I was paying attention to the game. Of course, I might have been doing that anyway even if the game was exciting, so warped has my brain become by constantly flooding it with feeds.

A few observations:

  • People love to talk about what’s wrong with baseball. The games take too long, there are too many strikeouts, not enough action, etc. etc. etc. I felt like MLB fed into those arguments with how they timed the pregame activities. During Monday’s Home Run Derby, the constant refrain was to watch the ASG “at 7:30 tomorrow on Fox.” Which we all know means the game probably starts right after 8:00, because there are going to be all kinds of extended pregame activities that require airtime. And that’s fine. But then they save the excellent honoring of the Latino Hall of Famers and group first pitch until after 8:00, too. So first game pitch doesn’t come until after 8:20 Eastern, nearly an hour after the broadcast began. When people have 1000 channels of other things they can watch, you can’t stretch shit out like that, especially when it’s just for an exhibition game.
  • Worse, Fox runs a freaking ad for their own college football coverage immediately before the first pitch. Kind of sums up the current state of American sports.
  • Fox is always going to push the boundaries in their broadcasts, especially when it gives them a chance to force players and managers to talk to them during the game. I thought it was dumb to have Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci ask the lead off hitters about their approaches seconds before they stepped to the plate. Neither player seemed super excited about it. Those moments summed up the current state of sports media: two of the best baseball writers out there are reduced to asking weak questions of reluctant-to-participate athletes. Having A-Rod walk around the field and talk to players between innings was also dumb.
  • And I was prepared to think mic-ing up George Springer and Bryce Harper during their defensive innings was dumb. But that turned out to be kind of cool. I thought both players handled it well, gave interesting responses and observations, and – thankfully – it didn’t interfere with action on the field. Until Harper asked Joe Buck a football question. COME ON! You just talked about how great the future of baseball was with all the young guys coming up, then you willingly pivot to the NFL.
  • I watch a ton of baseball. But 95% of it is the Royals. Without This Week In Baseball, a Saturday game of the week, The Sporting News, or me getting a morning paper with good MLB coverage, I honestly don’t have a great idea of what’s going on around the leagues. So there were several moments of “Who is this guy?” for me. That’s totally my bad. If I put the effort into it, it could still be like 1983 where I had deep knowledge of every player in the game.
  • Both a shame and unsurprising that there seemed to be more Yankees fans than Marlins fans in the house.
  • Also a shame that Aaron Judge seems like such a good dude. I always found it easy to root against Derek Jeter, for a variety of reasons. And maybe I’ll hate Judge in due time, especially if he leads the Yankees back to dominance. But for now, I kind of like the guy. You can’t deny being impressed by his unreal first half. We’ll see if he can keep it going.
  • Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison wins the best shoes award, going with one gold cleat and one white cleat. Harper’s Jose Fernandez tribute cleats were solid, too. Yadier Molina’s C3PO catching get up was a little much, though.
  • L watched about the first 7 innings with me. I didn’t really explain the concept of the game to her beforehand, and she doesn’t know a thing about the differences in the leagues. So she was pretty confused for much of the night. “Which team do we want to win? Why is Salvy catching for that guy on the Red Sox? Why isn’t Moose playing now?”
  • I very much wanted the American League to win, just because that’s the way it’s been since I first watched the All-Star Game back in 1979. But it made me sad that Wade Davis gave up the game-winning homer.
  • My man Dave V. had a fine comment immediately after Robby Cano’s blast, “That’s some sort of crazy 2012 irony.” For those who don’t get the reference immediately, Cano was booed mercilessly in Kansas City in ’12 when he failed to pick Royal Billy Butler for the Home Run Derby. To the delight of the booing Royals fans, Cano failed to hit a ball out in his turn. Davis may not be a Royal anymore, but as it hurt Royals fans to watch him fail, perhaps Robby got a measure of revenge.
  • A rather boring game with few memorable moments. And now we have the extended break with no teams returning to play until tomorrow. MLB really knows how to screw itself.

Next week I’ll share some thoughts about the Royals prospects in the last two weeks before the trade deadline and through the second half. Things have changed a wee bit since the last time I wrote about them. Hopefully they haven’t swung back the other way before I get a chance to write.

  1. Which says something, as my ASG post has been a tentpole of my summer content for 14 years.  ↩

More Summer Notes

Before I share another tidbit from our holiday week, we had kind of a crazy morning today. M and I went out to buy school supplies[1] and then grabbed some lunch. In the five minutes it took us to get from Target to the restaurant we caught a break in the storm. But the western skies looked pitch black.

By the time we got inside and had ordered, rain was coming down in sheets again. We got our food, began to eat, and I noticed the winds outside had really picked up. Moments later the power went off in the whole shopping area we were in. Strangely the restaurant’s audio system was on their backup power, so while all the main lights were off and the kitchen was completely shut down, we could still listen to the piped-in music while we munched on our food under the glow of the emergency exit lights.

Then, suddenly, it was like we were in the middle of a hurricane. We couldn’t see the Starbucks that was 50 feet away. Patio furniture was flying all over the place. The manager came out and asked us all to retire to the restrooms. We stayed in there for just a couple minutes before the worst had passed and we were able to return to our tables. When we left 10 minutes later, the power was still off. There were trees down here and there on our way home. Fortunately I didn’t see any damage to our home or property. It appears that we were just in a wave of the storm that had 60+ MPH winds; there was no tornado.

Totally crazy way to spend our lunch time.

We packed so much into the past week that I forgot to share one other kind of big element: I had my first ever photo shoot. A week ago we went up to S’s aunt and uncle’s house for a pool party and the aunt asked if I could bring my camera and take some pictures of her family.

That’s all I knew going in, so I was a little surprised when we showed up and her whole family had coordinated their outfits. Three generations, including a new grandchild and a new fiancé, and I was on the hook for documenting this for Christmas cards, wall calendars, etc.

I have to admit I got a little nervous when I realized that there was some pressure to get this right. I’m pretty proud of some of the pictures I’ve taken over the past two years. But, to be honest, my best pictures are of things and not people. It’s easier to get a picture of a cool building, an interesting aspect of nature, etc. than even one person, let alone nine people. My photographic eye tends to be better when I can focus on a small area of the viewfinder rather than examining the entire space, making sure each person is aligned correctly, the light is flattering to them all, all the kids are looking at me rather than the sky, and so on.

The beauty of digital photography is you can just fire away and you’re bound to get a few right. I shot a couple hundred frames that afternoon. About half of those of the entire family, then smaller groups of two of the sub-families. After editing I ended up sending back about 20 which I think looked pretty good. I was lucky that there was good light (we were outside) and we could also find an area where people weren’t blinded. The kids, who are 2 and 6 months, were both about as good as you could hope for. There was an occasional breeze that moved some hair into faces. But those were minor quibbles.

So I think I can call it a qualified success. I’m not ready to start taking family pictures for money or anything. I’m constantly reading photography books but I’ve never read a single one about portraits. Even if all I ever do are pictures of S’s extended family, I think I need to brush up on my portrait technique a little more before I try it again.

  1. It was pouring rain so we needed to get out of the house and I figured we should knock a bunch of the shopping out now before you have to beat people to claim the last 3-ring binder.  ↩

Summer Doings

Time to get back at it. After the long holiday week, bookended by trips down to the lake house, we’re finally home for what should be a very quiet week at home.

Last week we had my brother-in-law, his wife, and their two-year-old daughter from Boston staying with us. It was good to catch up and hang out with them. The two-year-old, we’ll call her Little L, has reached the hilarious stage of kid-dom. She does funny things and then continues to do them when they get a reaction. Our favorite thing she did was calling me “Uncle Ken” and S “Aunt Cindy” all week. I’d go walking through the room and hear a little voice say, “Bye Uncle Ken!” Apparently she does have a great uncle Ken, but he and I have zero in common in appearance. And Cindy is the Asian lady who runs her daycare. So we’re not really sure how we got labelled with those names. It made us laugh all week, though.

She has a fun way with words because of her background and how she spends her days. Her mom is from Kuwait, so Little L has learned Arabic from day one. The daycare she goes to in Boston is run by Chinese women, so she learns Mandarin from them. She does the normal, two-year-old babbling where you can only pick out a word or two clearly from every 7–8. With her you wonder are those words you miss really either Arabic or Mandarin words and she just said something that makes perfect grammatical sense if you allow for three languages. She’s going to be one smart cookie!

This weekend we had three families from St. P’s down to the lake house, 18 people total. It was a busy and fun weekend.

C got to check out a little early as she headed down to CYO camp yesterday afternoon. This is her first time going and she was super excited. We’re a little nervous about her going away simply because every time she has a sleep over she gets herself worked up and ends up with a stomach ache or headache or sleeps weird and can’t move her neck without pain for three days or some other weird ailment.[1] She’s in a cabin with at least five of her classmates from St. P’s, so hopefully they’re getting so wiped out during the day that she can pass out at night.

L is camping it this week, too, although she’s just going to a half-day basketball camp five minutes from our house. She’s in a group with four classmates and apparently they are the only girls in a camp of about 100 kids. She claims they still “dominated” at today’s session, but she always says that. She was pretty excited to get her school shoes early so she would have new kicks for camp. She picked out some Kyrie Irving 3s with matching socks this year. But she also got a new Steph Curry ball so she’s properly representing her favorite player.

So M and I are home alone for three hours a day all week. She went shopping with S this morning, as S had no meetings today. But the next four days I imagine will involve her sitting in her room reading and listening to music on her iPhone while I sit in another room and read and listen to music on my iPad. Apples falling close to trees and whatnot.

As much as we love going to the lake and sharing it with friends and family, we’re kind of glad to be taking next weekend off. It’ll be nice to have a quick break and do some summer things closer to home.

  1. The best was the night she was sleeping away and woke her host family up at 4:00 AM saying she felt like she was going to get sick. Which meant we got a call and I had to go pick her up. She never got sick.  ↩

Friday Vid

“Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. Still busy with family and prepping for another lake weekend, so just a vid this week. I heard this all-time classic this morning, which seemed like a sign. Enjoy your weekends!

PG, Pritchard, & the Pacers

How’s this for symmetry: when the calendar passed from Saturday to Sunday, we were officially on the backside of 2017. And when we passed from Sunday to Monday, we were officially on the downhill slope of our summer break. Weird!

We’ve been busy with several family events: gatherings, trips to the lake, visitors from Boston.

But I did want to check in quickly to share some words in which I try to figure out what the hell my man Kevin Pritchard is thinking.

In case you missed it, in a shocking deal last week, the Pacers traded Paul George to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Now Pritchard and the Pacers were kind of up against it, as George had said a couple weeks back that his goal was to sign with the Lakers next summer when he becomes a free agent. And, just before the trade, he further added that even if the Pacers sent him to another team this summer, he would still be most likely to head to LA after he plays out his contract. So the Pacers weren’t holding many good cards.[1]

Even when you consider that, this was a terrible trade.

First off, Pritchard didn’t get a single draft pick back in the deal. The way you rebuild in the NBA is collecting as many draft picks as you can. You can hoard them and draft a ton of players over a couple drafts, you can use them as chips in trades for other players, to jump from weak draft years to deep ones, or as several teams did in this year’s draft, you can take a couple low picks and turn them into a much higher single pick. But the Pacers, faced with a total rebuild, improved their ability to draft players zero percent when they moved one of the 10 best players in the league.[2]

You can only trust rumors so much, but there is a persistent rumor that Atlanta was offering four draft picks for George. None of them were potential lottery picks. But they were still four assets that can be used on or before draft night to augment what should be high picks for the Pacers anyway.

Shaking my damn head.

And then there is the return. Oladipo is a nice player. He was overrated when drafted #2 four years ago. He’s a good guy. He went to IU. But he’s making TWENTY ONE MILLION FREAKING DOLLARS PER YEAR. FOR FOUR MORE YEARS. He made $3 million more than Paul George did this year. And will make $2 million more than George will next season. And he’s not even 3/4 the player George is. Adding a guy who is guaranteed $84 million over the next four years and is a sixth-man talent is just dumb.

There’s been talk they went after Oladipo because of his off-the-court character and IU connection to be the new face of the organization. Again, they way overpaid if that is what they were looking for. Besides, Myles Turner is/should be the face of the organization. He’s the guy who is poised to be the Pacers’ next elite player, someone who lands on All-NBA teams, goes to All-Star games, and has his name amongst the game’s statistical leaders. Oladipo checks none of those boxes.

Banging my damn head.

Domantas Sabonis is an innocent bystander in all of this. Regardless of who they traded with, the Pacers were likely to get someone similar to Sabonis in the deal. He’s a young big guy with potential to be a role player. He also did little to impress during his rookie year. He doesn’t move the needle.

But the assessment of the personnel of the trade is all about Oladipo. Pritchard needed to do better there.

It’s hard to say anything about the trade is worse than the return in talent, but the timing of it is actually far worse. It feels like Pritchard panicked. There was no need to make the trade at the exact start of the NBA free agency period. You wait and see where all the big free agents go, what other trades are made, and let the market develop. Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta, Houston, Denver, and of course the Lakers were all at least testing the waters on PG. Now that Gordon Hayward has signed with the Celtics, maybe Utah jumps in. You hold on as long as possible for the simple fact perhaps LA freaks out that PG signs with the Celtics or Cavs, plays there for a year, and then thinks, “Wow, this is great! I’m signing here for two years and I’ll worry about LA later.” That was the only leverage Pritchard had: getting LA to think the smart move was to offer players and/or picks now rather than just sitting back for 12 months and signing George then.

I will say this: none of us know for sure exactly what offers Pritchard entertained. Perhaps after PG’s public assessment of love for LA, no one was offering anything decent. Maybe Atlanta’s offer really was for four second round picks. Or LA was offering three guys from the end of their bench. Or Boston wasn’t really offering their #1 pick back in May, or a choice of two of their current starters. I will give him like 8% slack because of the overall difficulty of the situation and not knowing what his conversations with others were.

Still, terrible deal for the Pacers. Even if Oladipo and Sabonis were all he could get back in terms of current NBA talent, he has to get at least one draft pick back. And he needs to not bring over a player making $84 million. And he has to wait until the last possible moment, not jump at the first opportunity.

The Thunder are taking a huge gamble that PG and Russell Westbrook can coexist. I don’t think they entertain huge hopes that they can re-sign PG, but this may be more an incentive to get Russ to re-sign. Oh, and they shed a terrible contract in the process. In every single way, they killed it in this trade.

Oh well. I watch like five Pacers games a year anyway. My winters are spent watching KU and Big East and really any college ball before I watch the NBA. But I’d really be pissed if I spent my winter watching them and hoping they could climb back into the league’s elite. And it really sucks that it was a former Jayhawk who pulled the trigger on the deal.

  1. Well, other than one of the 10 best players in the NBA.  ↩
  2. OK, that’s not totally true. They’re going to be much worse next year, so they will draft higher than any recent year. Except the Eastern Conference is barren right now and they might still sneak into the playoffs and be stuck outside the lottery.  ↩