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Is the Underhand Free Throw Unaesthetic?

On Saturday the Tugboat Captain and I drove to the north shore of Long Island so she could show me her hometown. (Fun fact: For several years her next-door neighbor — at least on weekends — was William Shea, the namesake of Shea Stadium. One time she even went trick-or-treating at his house for Halloween.) On the drive there, we listened to the new epside of This American Life, which turned out to be largely about Wilt Chamberlain and underhand free throws.

Quick background: Everyone knows Rick Barry did his free throws underhand, but you might not realize that Chamberlain did it as well, at least early in his career. On the night of his famous 100-point game in 1962, he made 28 free throws (still a single-game record) — all of them underhand. He was a very good free throw shooter when he used the underhand style, but he didn’t stick with it. Instead, he reverted to the conventional overhand shot — and was, for most of his career, a brutal shooter from the charity stripe.

The This American Life episode is all about people who make bad choices even when they know better, and the poster child they present for this phenomenon is Chamberlain, who stuck with the overhand shot even though he knew he was much better with the underhand style. At one point the segment’s narrator — the writer Malcolm Gladwell (who, aside from writing bestselling books like The Tipping Point, happens to be a big basketball fan) — quotes from Chamberlain’s autobiography, written in the 1970s, as follows:

I felt silly, like a sissy, shooting underhanded. I know I was wrong, I know some of the best foul shooters in history shot that way. Even now, the best foul shooter in the NBA, Rick Barry, shoots underhanded. I just couldn’t do it.

In other words, Chamberlain’s objection to the underhand style — and, I think it’s fair to say, most people’s objection to it — was aesthetic. He didn’t like the way it looked, or how he looked while he was doing it, or how he imagined he looked to other people who were watching.

Gladwell thinks this is ridiculous, because it kept Chamberlain from being the best player he could be. (Barry, who’s interviewed extensively in the piece, agrees.) Personally, I think it’s more complicated than that, because you can’t always compartmentalize one aspect of an athlete’s game and say, “Okay, perfect that one aspect” without impacting other aspects. Either way, though, it’s a really interesting example of how aesthetics can play into sports.

The piece got me thinking about the aesthetics of certain athletic maneuvers. When I was a kid, I’d stand in front of a mirror and mimic a particular pitcher’s wind-up, or a particular batter’s stance, or the way a particular quarterback lined up under center, or a particular hockey goalie’s pose, or a particular tennis player’s serve. I didn’t choose random players to mimic, and I didn’t even necessarily choose the ones who played for my favorite teams. I chose the ones whose motions or stances I thought looked cool. I definitely knew about Rick Barry’s underhand free throw style back then, and I was always fascinated by seeing it on TV, because it seemed like such a novelty. But I never once thought to mimic it in front of the mirror. Didn’t look cool.

The This American Life segment isn’t perfect. Like most economists or economist-wannabes, Gladwell frequently falls into the trap of celebrating success as a self-justifying end in itself, with little concern for ethics, morals, or social standards. (That’s why Rick Barry — a guy whose idea of success was basically that everyone else should always give the ball to Rick Barry — is Gladwell’s hero in this story, even though Barry basically comes off sounding pathological in the segment.) But those quibbles are all tangents off of the larger aesthetic point, which I think is a really interesting. The segment is 28 minutes long and highly recommended. To hear it, go here and skip ahead to the 8:57 mark.

Meanwhile, here’s a little more about Chamberlain and free throws:

• • • • •

Raffle results: The winner of the green Adidas cleats is Shawn Dobbins. I’ll have more raffles soon — possibly later this week, and definitely next week — so stay tuned.

• • • • •

Birthday boy: Happy birthday to Ticker assistant Mike Chamernik. Hope you get everything you wish for when you blow out the candles, Mike!

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: Brewers and Nationals went color-on-color yesterday (from Chris Jorgenson). … Three days, three alternate uniforms for the Mariners (from Edward). … Kids at the Pirates game last night got an awesome free jersey (from BSmile). … Great find by Kenneth Traisman who pulled this Cubs’ “Boys of Zimmer” T-shirt out of the attic. RIP, Don. … Painter Robert Thom incorrectly depicted Wrigley with ivy walls in this painting of Babe Ruth’s called shot (1932). The ivy wouldn’t be planted for another five years, in 1937 (from Tom Ekstrand). … Creighton blatantly ripped off the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1991 College World Series ”” maple leaf and all (from Tyler Maun). … Check out this Indians “Pictorial Review” from 1965 ”” and note the incorrect version of Chief Wahoo on the 1948 uniform (from T.J. Zmina). … Maryland flag unis for the Bowie Baysox (from Adam Vitcavage). …. The Orix Buffaloes are wearing “galaxy-themed” uniforms for a few gams this season (from Graveyard Baseball). … Jose Reyes wore a single-flapped Mets batting helmet while playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones yesterday. It’s common for MLBers to wear their single-flapped big league helmet, instead of the standard MiLB double-flapped helmets, while playing on MiLB rehab assignments, but Reyes isn’t rehabbing — he signed a minor league contract with the Mets and was assigned to Class-A Brooklyn — so it’s odd that he was given a single-flapped Mets lid (from Jack Pesin). … Keith Hernandez always had great-looking stirrups, but late in his career, while he played for Cleveland, he dabbled with two-in-ones (from George N.). … A recent study compared hitting performance with axe-handled bats vs. conventional handles.

Pro and College Football News: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has a new personal logo. … Check out this photo of Steelers Dave Williams wearing a knit hat over his helmet (thanks Phil). … Louisiana Tech football recently became an Adidas school, so the team photoshopped the Nike logos out of their team schedule (from Oscar Collum). … The B1G is taking the freebie race T-shirt to the next level by letting runners pick their preferred school (from Kenneth Traisman).

Hockey News: Check out what the U.S. wore in the 1976 Canada Cup (from Jason Gurwin). … Some Leafs fans ordered custom Auston Matthews jerseys before the team even drafted him first overall on Friday. … Did the makers of this poster use an action figure instead of a photo to represent Blackhawks goalie Ed Belfour? (from J. Walker.)

Soccer News: NOB misspelling for the Galaxy’s Steven Gerrard. Tony the Tiger must be the LA’s equipment guy. … Here’s Manchester City’s new change kit. Also, new kits for Burnley (from Patrick Thomas). … Arsenal’s new third kit has leaked (from Josh Hinton). … Nashville’s new USL club will get a name, logos and colors on Friday (from Lee David Wilds). … Soccer player or superhero? (from Yellow Away Kit).

Grab Bag: Think keeping your white Chucks clean is tough? Try keeping a pair of white Tom Fords clean. … U.S. Rowers will get antimicrobial suits for the Olympics, to protect them against Rio’s polluted water (from Tim Cross). … Samsung is developing a Google-glass like product that attaches to helmets. … Here’s your chance to vote for the NASCAR Paint Schemes of the Week.

•  •  •  •  •


Click to enlarge

What Paul did last night over the weekend: Six years ago, in June of 2010, my friend Victoria said, “This is going to be the best summer ever,” to which I replied, “What about last summer?”

“Oh,” she said, “that was the best summer ever, too!”

“And next year..?”

“That’s going to be the best summer ever!”

“Okaaay,” I said. “But if everything is special, then nothing is special, right?”

“No no no, you’re missing the point. It’s really easy for summer to not be special, unless you make it special. This summer is the only summer we’ve got, so it’s important that you make it the best summer ever, because it’ll be gone before you know it.”

Of course, you could just as easily apply that same mindset to any of the other seasons, or even to each individual day (best day ever!). But I got her point, and I liked it, so I tried to put it into action. When my upstairs neighbors knocked on my door the very next day and invited me to go kayaking with them, I started to say, “Thanks, but I’m busy with all this work…,” but then I thought, “Best summer ever!” and ended up going with them. We had a great time, and it turned out that postponing the work I was doing didn’t cause the sky to fall after all, so after that I was in full-on BSE mode: An impromptu dinner party at a friend’s house even though I had planned to stay in for the evening? Best summer ever! A quick weekend getaway even though I’d planned to clean the house and the backyard? Best summer ever! An unexpected opportunity to get naked with a certain someone, which might be ill-advised but would almost certainly be fun? Best summer ever!

You may be thinking, “Why do you need a slogan or a mantra to have a fun summer? That’s nuts!” Yes, it is. But BSE is a good mental exercise for someone like me. I’m better at planning than at being spontaneous, I get seriously engrossed in my work (ever wonder how I manage to crank out so much content?), and I often default toward being solitary over being social, all of which can be unhealthy if I overdo it. BSE turned out to be a good corrective to those tendencies.

Anyway: I stuck with the BSE program over the next year or two, but at some point I drifted. Last summer, frankly, was a stinker, and I’d say at least part of the reason was that I never got into the BSE mindset. I’d forgotten about the whole thing until last week, when Victoria — the one who taught me about BSE in the first place — marked the summer solstice with a Facebook post that included the hashtag #bestsummerever. And I was like, “Oh, right — that!”

All of which is a very long-winded way of saying I had a fucking awesome weekend. Highlights included eating crabs with friends at my favorite crab shack, a long sit-down with friends at my favorite bar, shooting pool, swimming in the ocean, eating some of the best fried seafood I’ve ever tasted, exploring a nature preserve, scaling a wall (that’s what I’m doing in the photo at the top of this section), visiting the house my girlfriend grew up in, having drinks on a pier at sunset, seeing some great music, playing with the cats, playing with my friend Robert’s super-cool vintage spy camera, doing a bit of small but satisfying car maintenance, getting a soft-serve cone from an ice cream truck, going for two absolutely perfect bike rides, and a lot more. Several of those things wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been in BSE mode.

Will every weekend be this good? Maybe, maybe not. But I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be the best summer ever.

91 comments to Is the Underhand Free Throw Unaesthetic?

  • Phil Hecken | June 27, 2016 at 7:49 am |

    Happy Birthday, Mike!

    Here’s to the BSE (for everyone)..

    • Paul Lukas | June 27, 2016 at 8:00 am |

      You know, the funny thing is that BSE is also the abbreviation for mad cow disease — bovine spongiform encephalitis — but only serious livestock/beef geeks (like me) know that….

  • Jon | June 27, 2016 at 8:00 am |

    The Big 10K thing is pretty cool. I know they did it last year too. I was in Chicago that weekend and happened to see all of the runners walking around the park after the race.

    Heck, race t-shirts/logos could probably be a whole blog in of itself.

    And the best summer ever? I love that. Good reminder to live in the moment and not take tomorrow for granted.

    • mike 2 | June 27, 2016 at 12:09 pm |

      As a frequent racer, I agree with you completely. Though race shirt design has gone to crap lately. The most interesting aspect of race design right now for me is the design of medals.

  • Rob Manfred | June 27, 2016 at 8:13 am |

    Hot dogs are not sandwiches.

    • Dumb Guy | June 27, 2016 at 8:35 am |

      Only in an emergency (no buns) could/should they be called sandwiches!

      http://www.paulnoll.com/Oregon/Cooking/Sandwich/sandwich-hot-dog-08.jpg

      • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 9:10 am |

        And I’m requesting an “I’m Calling It A Sandwich” shirt in ketchup & mustard colors.

    • arrScott | June 27, 2016 at 10:05 am |

      Definitions are important and fun. Thinking about definitions makes us think about how we categorize our world – thus, thinking about definitions makes us think about how we think.

      So, to anyone who holds that hot dogs are not sandwiches, a challenge: Try to write a one-sentence dictionary-style definition of “sandwich” that excludes hot dogs, but that does not exclude other foods that literally all of the world’s 2.4 billion English speakers regard as a sandwich.

      In my experience, it cannot be done, and the absurd results produced by the attempt demonstrate amply that hot dogs are a kind of sandwich and that it is silly to think otherwise. But the exercise is interesting regardless, and who knows, you might just find a way to define “sandwich” to exclude hot dogs but still include hamburgers and cheesesteaks. The latter is a tough case for any sandwich definition that excludes hot dogs, since cheesesteaks share some key formal characteristics with hot dogs and are also commonly known as cheesesteak sandwiches or just steak sandwiches.

      Tougher question: If hot dogs are sandwiches, are pigs-in-a-blanket sandwiches?

      • Phil Hecken | June 27, 2016 at 10:16 am |

        “If hot dogs are sandwiches, are pigs-in-a-blanket sandwiches?”

        ~~~

        Hot dogs are not sandwiches.

      • scottrj | June 27, 2016 at 10:37 am |

        If it’s served on a bun, it’s not a sandwich. Game, set, match.

        • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 10:49 am |

          Two words: sub sandwich.

          Hamburgers are sandwiches too.

        • TEB33 | June 27, 2016 at 12:51 pm |

          A sub served on a bun is not a sandwich, it is an abomination.

      • Winter | June 27, 2016 at 10:40 am |

        I would think there is some kind of exception for “encased meats”.

      • Lee | June 27, 2016 at 12:16 pm |

        Sliced meats and/or vegetables within separate and sliced bread.

        Lee

      • arrScott | June 27, 2016 at 1:19 pm |

        Interesting definitions. If a bun makes a food not a sandwich, then hamburgers are not sandwiches. (Also, what differentiates between a bun and a loaf? If I start with a bun, but cut it into four pieces instead of two, then don’t the inner two pieces become slices of a small loaf rather than halves of a bun?) If the presence of encased meats makes a food not a sandwich, then anything with salami on it is not a sandwich. If sliced meats and/or vegetables are required, then a grilled cheese is not a sandwich. If the bread must be both separate and sliced, then we have several interesting consequences:

        1) Nothing served on a roll, such as a sub, hero, or hoagie, is a sandwich. Also, cheesesteaks are not sandwiches.

        2) No food served prior to the invention of sliced bread in 1912 (true fact!) was a sandwich. All those people who thought they were eating sandwiches in the 19th century? Idiots.

        3) The aristocratic lunch serving attributed to the Earl of Sandwich, from which the category of food known as “sandwich” draws its name, was not a sandwich. For one thing, the Earl of Sandwich lived long before the 1912 invention of sliced bread. But more to the point, the Earl’s creations most likely used buns or rolls, or were an adaptation of trencher serving, in which fresh bread was substituted for stale. A single piece of bread, wrapped not cut, eaten in a manner much closer to either a hot dog or a gyro than a two-slice BLT.

        • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 1:50 pm |

          Everything Arrr mentioned is a sandwich. Also, people are excluding PB&J and ice cream sandwiches. And Oreos. Sandwich, sandwich and sandwich.

        • The Jeff | June 27, 2016 at 1:57 pm |

          It’s really all about the construction. A sandwich is a stack. A tower. It’s bread, filling, then bread on top. A hamburger is still a sandwich (if you replace the beef with chicken, everyone instantly calls it a chicken sandwich). While a hotdog is not, because it is filling stuffed into a bread pocket. There is a very clear difference.

        • arrScott | June 27, 2016 at 3:56 pm |

          What about a pulled-pork sandwich? The meat is neither sliced nor shaved, and it’s most commonly served on a bun. (Though I maintain that pulled pork tastes better served on two slices of Texas toast than on a bun.) So by any definition that can exclude hot dogs from the “sandwich” category, the pulled-pork sandwich is also not a sandwich. Yet you literally cannot order a pulled-pork sandwich from a restaurant without using the word “sandwich.” If you order “pulled pork” instead, you’ll receive a plate of pulled pork with no bun or bread, save perhaps a side of cornbread, and you’re eating that meal with a fork. If you order “pulled pork, but on a bun,” your server will reply, “So, a pulled-pork sandwich?”

          THE’s suggested hot-dog-excluding definition raises a couple of questions for me. 1) If the key issue is the bottomness and topness of the bread, then most hot dogs comply, since the standard hot dog bun has a top and a bottom. And the entirety of the non-bread components – preferably dog, mustard, and slaw – are contained in a layer between the top and bottom portions of bread. Only in a few weird places where they add extra “r”s to the ends of words at random is a hot dog stuffed vertically into a bun that’s cut with no top or bottom. (Also, other weird places where they say “dontcha know” where they actually stuff a wiener into a literal bread pocket and stab it with a stick.) and

          2) If the fact that the top and bottom of the bun are not separated from one another, but instead form a sort of horizontal pocket with a bready hinge on one side, disqualify hot dogs from the sandwich class, then so too are properly made cheesesteaks not sandwiches. Neither are the sandwiches at most national sandwich stores, such as Subway and Potbelly, which list their meat-in-bread-pockets servings as “sandwiches” on their menus.

      • Brent | June 27, 2016 at 2:25 pm |

        The box says a Hot Pocket is a sandwich. That’s always bothered me. Seems like more of a snack or thing unto itself.

    • mike 2 | June 27, 2016 at 12:04 pm |

      Hot dogs are sandwiches.

      Weiners are not sandwiches.

      • Phil Hecken | June 27, 2016 at 2:31 pm |

        So…a hot dog is not a weiner?

        • mike 2 | June 27, 2016 at 2:52 pm |

          No. A weiner is a tube of meat containing spare meat and shame. A hot dog is a sandwich containing a weiner.

        • Paul Lukas | June 27, 2016 at 2:53 pm |

          I must say, today’s comments section has been one of the weirder ones in recent memory!

        • Phil Hecken | June 27, 2016 at 4:07 pm |

          “A weiner is a tube of meat containing spare meat and shame. A hot dog is a sandwich containing a weiner.”

          ~~~

          Pretty sure it’s debatable that either contains any actual “meat.”

          But if a weiner is not a sammich, then neither is a hot dog.

        • mike 2 | June 27, 2016 at 4:58 pm |

          That’s my point. A weiner is not synonymous with a hot dog.

          Its like I’m saying that a hamburger patty is not a sandwich, but a hamburger is.

    • Donnie | June 27, 2016 at 2:06 pm |

      I’m putting this to bed right now. Hot and Italian sausages in a bun are called sandwiches. A hot dog is a type of sausage which happens to be in a bun, therefore a hot dog is a sandwich. One of my co-workers brought up a good point that we call hot dogs “hot dogs” both when they’re in a bun and also when they’re by themselves so it’s important to specify the bun part. That’s the only technicality that would NOT make a hot dog a sandwich, when they’re un-bunned. It all boils down to semantics

      • Judy A | June 27, 2016 at 5:27 pm |

        The problem with this discussion is the attempt to inject logic into it. A hot dog isn’t a sandwich because it isn’t. A hamburger isn’t a sandwich because it isn’t. A steak sandwich is a sandwich, but a cheesesteak isn’t a steak sandwich. The only reason for any of this is simply, “because.” Why ISN’T a hot dog a sandwich? Because it isn’t. Simple.

        • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 7:50 pm |

          Trying to inject truth into it.

          If I spread peanut butter on a hotdog bun, guess what? I’ve just made a peanut butter sandwich. If I put a weiner/frankfurter on a hotdog bun, guess what? I’ve just made a hotdog sandwich (with a silent “sandwich”). Truth.

  • BurghFan | June 27, 2016 at 8:17 am |

    “Kids at the Pirates hame last night got an awesome free jersey (from BSmile).”

    It’s a little less awesome in person, where you can see an automotive logo on one sleeve. And “hame” should, of course, be “game.”

    The on-field unis, on the other hand, really popped for me. I thought they looked great, and nostalgia had nothing to do with it.

  • Greg Mays | June 27, 2016 at 8:26 am |

    I made the same choice as Wilt one night. Playing with a badly sprained shooting wrist that couldn’t bend I was fouled on a shot. I think maybe it was competing a three point play. I remember looking at coach, and making a ‘granny’ free three pantomime and he shrugged and leftvit up to me. I knew the underhand was my only real chance to make it. We were top ten in state, on road, against a team of juniors that would be state champions the next year. This was a game that ended 42-39. Every point counted. I threw the ball at run in a kind Jamal Wilkes-esque motion that had almost zero chance of going in. I missed. A teammate hit a shot from the baseline behind the backboard in final seconds to save us. But I chose Wilt.

  • Alex Dewitt | June 27, 2016 at 8:29 am |

    I think that if you’re a great basketball player, but can’t shoot a free throw if your life depended on it *cough* Drummond *cough* you should underhand. Would more than likely kill the hack-a-Shaq technique without a rule change.

    • marc | June 27, 2016 at 9:15 am |

      *cough* Tristan Thompson *cough*

  • Dumb Guy | June 27, 2016 at 8:33 am |

    “Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has a new personal logo.”

    Let’s see his OLD one, please.

    • Rydell | June 27, 2016 at 9:03 am |

      I never even knew there was an old one

  • Steve D | June 27, 2016 at 8:39 am |

    I never realized the purpose of the three chances to make two rule that was used when I was a kid. It could penalize excessive fouling, especially of poor free throw shooters. Of course, I now wish even more they bring it back.

    • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 9:07 am |

      I miss the 3-to-make-2 rule.

      And it kills me that the childish act of flopping to gain an advantage is growing like a cancer, yet underhand free throws are seen as “unmanly”? Maybe if you made more free throws you wouldn’t have to try and draw so many fouls. Grow up and play the game.

      • marc | June 27, 2016 at 9:23 am |

        In regard to the flopping: As a lifelong Cavs fan, I admit I’d never paid much attention to Andy Varejao’s shameless flopping act until I saw it from the other side. Brutal.

      • Phil Hecken | June 27, 2016 at 10:14 am |

        “…if you made more free throws you wouldn’t have to try and draw so many fouls.”

        ~~~

        I’m not quite sure what one has to do with the other, logically, but OK.

        Won’t disagree on flopping though. Hoops needs red cards

        /Missi

        • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 10:37 am |

          My point: if you can’t make free throws, how do you score more? By getting to the line more often. So instead of working on FT%, some players hone their acting skills.

        • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 10:44 am |

          This is in regards to offensive flopping, not when you’re on defense.

        • Phil Hecken | June 27, 2016 at 10:47 am |

          “if you can’t make free throws, how do you score more? By getting to the line more often”

          ~~~

          Um…if you can’t make free throws, how are you going to score more by shooting more shots you can’t make?

        • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 10:51 am |

          You make *some*. Just takes you more chances to get the same amount of points that you’d get if you practiced free throws or shot them underhand.

        • Phil Hecken | June 27, 2016 at 10:57 am |

          Well why didn’t you just say that?

      • The Jeff | June 27, 2016 at 10:19 am |

        Uh… yeah, Vilk’s kinda backwards there. More like, if you made more free-throws, the other team wouldn’t intentionally foul so often.

        • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 10:38 am |

          That too

  • Paul Lukas | June 27, 2016 at 8:48 am |

    We appear to have a troll this morning.

    As you all know, I can respect a really good troll, but today’s troll is just pathetic.

    I have to go to a doctor’s appointment now. Phil will do his best to clean up the troll’s mess, so I won’t even see any of the trolling. But Phil is busy with his own work/life/etc., so some of the troll’s comments may be visible for a while. If so, please don’t respond — just ignore them. Thanks.

    Best summer ever!

    • Phil Hecken | June 27, 2016 at 9:19 am |

      Phil is busy today…but he’s never too busy to lift the ban hammer.

  • Lance Smith | June 27, 2016 at 8:57 am |

    Maybe like two-handed bowling, if someone starts hitting every underhand free throw it will make a comeback.

    • marc | June 27, 2016 at 9:14 am |

      Agreed. Two-handed bowling looks pretty awkward and “uncool,” but it definitely works for some guys.

      • Paul Lukas | June 27, 2016 at 10:07 am |

        Two-handed bowling has made a comeback at the highest pro level:
        http://getmorehook.com/two-handed-bowling-technique/

        – Paul, from the doctor’s waiting room

        • The Jeff | June 27, 2016 at 10:17 am |

          Interesting, but I’m not sure if that’s exactly the two-handed technique that Lance & Marc are thinking of.

  • Winter | June 27, 2016 at 9:12 am |

    The athletic maneuver I remember imitating as a kid was Tony Pena’s extreme crouch behind the plate. I probably also imitated Rickey Henderson and Rod Carew’s batting stances a time or two.

    I remember hating Steve Garvey’s stance. It was so…nothing. Looking back on it, it was kind of amazing in how deceptive it was, but at the time, it (and he) was the most boring thing imaginable.

    • Paul Lukas | June 27, 2016 at 10:10 am |

      Garvey’s stance when he held a runner on at first base was just as unsatisfying!

    • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 10:27 am |

      I used to always imitate Willie Stargell at the plate, until 1982 when I experimented with Cecil Cooper’s stance. Realized I had a little more control with Cecil’s so I used it more often.

    • Dumb Guy | June 27, 2016 at 3:39 pm |

      I’ll just stick with aping Carmen Ronzonni’s pitching motion(s)!

  • marc | June 27, 2016 at 9:12 am |

    Happy Birthday, Mike! Keep up the great work!

    Re: In the Indians’ “Pictorial History,” 1948’s uni isn’t the only one that has goofs. 1901 shows a.) a dark blue uni which (according to Okkonen) they didn’t use until 1902, b.) a wishbone C which the Tribe didn’t use until 1933, and c.) cuffs like a standard dress shirt.

  • marc | June 27, 2016 at 9:19 am |

    Wowzers! That ’76 Team USA hockey jersey is incredible!

    • Wade Heidt | June 27, 2016 at 8:39 pm |

      ’76 Team USA jersey is sweet. WHL Tri-City Americans wear a rendition of it for their 3rd uniform.

      http://amshockey.com/

      It has been a while since we have seen USA hockey wear the red, white and (royal) blue. Would like to see them ditch the navy for royal blue. Go back to a uniform that looks like it is the USA. Same with the soccer team (after seeing those black uniforms at Copa America)

  • Michael Bochum | June 27, 2016 at 9:33 am |

    Definitely an Ed Belfour action figure used instead of a photo.

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YTNCy7dsT2o/T_xaSjanMnI/AAAAAAAAAr0/0PcecC2qA6k/s1600/IMG_2777.JPG

  • Attila Szendrodi | June 27, 2016 at 10:14 am |

    To me, best summer ever is like taking a clean dump – it’s still crap. By far my least favorite season (outside of the fresh produce). But I’ll never shit on someone else’s enjoyment. Now if you need me I’ll be over here with the blinds drawn and the A/C pumping.

  • arrScott | June 27, 2016 at 10:19 am |

    Sports, as a class of activity, definitely has an aesthetic component. There is beauty to athletics. But that beauty is a result of the competition and performance that are at the true heart of any sport. Beauty results from competition; it does not precede competition. To value the superficial beauty of any component of the athletic act over the competitive outcome of the performance is a fundamental error. And it’s an error that makes the competition less beautiful – less aesthetically pleasing, in other words fly.

    I mean, take Wilt’s foolish position to its logical extreme: You could send two troupes of ballet dancers out to play a game of baseball. Individually, each would play his or her position with far more natural grace and physical beauty than the best and most gifted professional baseball players. But the all-ballet contest would be a shitty baseball game. The game would be played badly by people who move beautifully while they fail. And what do we call such a game in any sport? An “ugly game.” Because it is.

  • Richard Craig | June 27, 2016 at 11:16 am |

    Under the heading of aesthetics over results in baseball, how about all the guys that slide head-first into first base on close plays?
    Then again, does anyone have actual proof that it slows you down in comparison with running through the bag? We’ve all heard that for years, but has anyone proved it?

    • Aaron | June 27, 2016 at 2:38 pm |

      I remember Bill Nye doing a segment on it when I was little. I want to say Jay Buhner helped him out with it.

      I know all the years I played ball, I was specifically told never to slide into first unless the throw was going to take the first-basemen off the bag, but that was more to avoid a tag than to beat the throw.

  • Mike Engle on iPhone | June 27, 2016 at 11:25 am |

    Pre-made custom NHL draft pick jerseys aren’t completely uncommon. You just need a runaway #1 pick with a slam dunk number choice. See John Tavares and Connor McDavid.

    • RobYaz | June 27, 2016 at 1:04 pm |

      True, but the jersey Matthews will be wearing is not available yet. People were putting his name and number on a jersey Matthews won’t be wearing.

  • Randy (George) Miller | June 27, 2016 at 11:43 am |

    Ahh, the “macho” mentality never realizes it takes MORE GUTS to go outside the perceived norm of manliness. Rick Barry shot underhand free throws at a 90% (or better) clip and had the guts to not give a hoot what someone thought. Plus, the idea that one would instantly lose their masculinity by stepping to the foul line with an underhand approach is a numbskull way of thinking… especially since he’s in the same league as the naysayers and shooting better… Like Barry, I’ll take the winning results over the “perceived aesthetic” anytime.

    • Paul Lukas | June 27, 2016 at 11:46 am |

      Wilt realized all of this. It’s right there in the quote from his autobio: “I know I was wrong.” And yet he did it anyway! That’s what’s so fascinating about all of this.

    • Kevin | June 30, 2016 at 4:19 pm |

      I agree with you – but I have a problem with calling this an underhand technique. If you’ve got your hands under the ball then you spin it the wrong way – if you watch Rick Barry his hands are on top of the ball so it lands really gently at the rim.

      I’m not sure what to call it though – underarm?

      This is the place for pedantry right?

  • Roger Faso | June 27, 2016 at 11:54 am |

    Under hand or over hand, reminds me of the debate about how to wear a guitar … slung low or up high?

    • Dan T. | June 27, 2016 at 2:49 pm |

      It looks cooler slung low. James Hetfeild of Metallica wears his guitar so low he actually kind of bends forward to play it, and the effect helps him to look like a badass.

      • UmpLou | June 27, 2016 at 5:11 pm |

        Then there’s Bill Wyman, who in the early days of the band, would lift his bass up so the neck was even with his eyes. One of his explanations was that the lighting in the ballrooms, cinemas and so on they played in then was so poor, he needed to do it so he could see his fingering on the fretboard.

    • Dumb Guy | June 27, 2016 at 3:25 pm |

      With guitars one could choose “somewhere in between”.

      Foul shooters don’t really have an “in between”.

  • walter | June 27, 2016 at 1:55 pm |

    When I threw a baseball, I wanted to be like my hero, Kent Tekulve. I tried to submarine the ball despite my lack of athleticism and accuracy. It drove my friends batty; can’t say I blame them.

    • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 2:20 pm |

      My wiffleball repetoire is a mix of submariners, knuckleballs and an occasional “fast”ball. My go-to pitch is the Teke pitch.

  • Dan T. | June 27, 2016 at 2:47 pm |

    I do wonder: did Shaquille O’Neal ever attempt the underhand free-throw in practice or when working on his FT’s with a coach?

    I’ve often thought that had Shaq been even an average FT shooter, he probably would be considered the greatest NBA player ever, or at least of the last few decades. He was pretty much unstoppable otherwise.

    I actually felt pretty bad for the guy upon learning that he really did put a ton of work into improving his FT shooting, hiring specialized coaches and even sports psychologists. Hard to imagine that he didn’t at least try the underhand approach at some point.

    Maybe it’s for the best – if he could have shot FT’s, he would have probably averaged 40 points or more per game for his career and won so many titles it would have gotten boring.

    • mike 2 | June 27, 2016 at 2:53 pm |

      My favourite bit of NBA trivia: Shaq had one (exactly one) three pointer in his career.

      • Paul Lukas | June 27, 2016 at 2:55 pm |

        My own favorite bit of NBA trivia is the number of times Wilt Chamberlain fouled out.

        Zero.

        • Phil Hecken | June 27, 2016 at 4:09 pm |

          I thought it was more like 20,000 times

  • Judy A | June 27, 2016 at 5:32 pm |

    I’m totally on board with the Best Summer Ever idea. Starting today, this is going to be my Best Summer Ever. And come September, I’m looking forward to the Best Autumn Ever.

    • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 8:05 pm |

      If it didn’t remind me of a certain SpongeBob Squarepants episode, I’d just focus on making each day my Best Day Ever.

    • Attila Szendrodi | June 27, 2016 at 9:07 pm |

      EVERY Autumn is the Best Autumn Ever.

  • urbanleftbehind | June 27, 2016 at 6:48 pm |

    I was partial to the Bill Cartwright way of shooting free throws. High release point, arms brought in narrow, with shooting hand cupped directly over head.

  • Jim Vilk | June 27, 2016 at 8:03 pm |

    Almost forgot…Happy Birthday, Mike!

    (unless you think a hotdog isn’t a sandwich…then I hope someone put trick candles on your cake. 😉)

  • Mike Chamernik | June 27, 2016 at 8:32 pm |

    Thank you all for the birthday wishes!

    I liked to mimic Gary Sheffield’s batting stance even though I’m sure it screwed up my timing and focus. Waving the bat around like he did just seemed so intimidating.

  • RickAZ | June 27, 2016 at 8:47 pm |

    I heard a radio interview with Rick Barry back in the Hack-A-Shaq days say that Shaq should shoot free throws underhanded. He said he could have top taught him quickly to be a good free throw shooter. Same can be said for players now like Dwight Howard. I hope the NBA doesn’t change the rules and give a break because some players can’t shoot free throws.

  • StLMarty | June 27, 2016 at 9:51 pm |

    Is a taco a sandwich?

  • Max | June 28, 2016 at 3:24 am |

    You would think if there was ever a time when the underhanded foul throw could gain acceptance it would have happened…sports are so much more competitive and coaches will do anything to gain an edge. I’m sure coaches know about this technique and we all know that while the players may be concerned with looks, the coaches like to nerd out over stats and whatnot. I can’t imagine they don’t know how beneficial this thing could be and am surprised more of them don’t try to force it on their players. Yeah, maybe it looks a little goofy when you’re the only person doing it, but I think Rick Barry got over that pretty quickly thanks to setting records, and if a whole team was doing it, it would lose the negative stigma pretty quickly.

  • KC | June 29, 2016 at 2:30 pm |

    I shoot three pointers underhand if my defender plays off enough or it’s a saggy zone. I’m probably around 75%, where I’m about 45% regular-style. I learned it from my grandfather, who bombed from 4-point land underhanded.

    Drives the opponents insane. I can usually get off 2-3 a game that way before they start guarding it.