Get Well, Lamar Odom

My heart was broken earlier this week when I saw the news about Lamar Odom being found unresponsive in a Nevada brothel and the subsequent news about him going into a coma, and being on life support. Today I was delighted to find out that Odom is reported to be out of the coma and breathing on his own.

There’s no player in sports that I feel empathetic towards more than Odom. As a Lakers fan it was an absolute pleasure to watch Lamar create on the court. As a 6’9″ player who could run an offense, guard multiple positions, and create at will he was ahead of his time. In a lot of ways he embodies what it means to be a modern NBA player. The Lakers don’t even come close to winning the 2009 and 2010 titles without him.

Ironically it’s in this time where his game would shine the most, that Odom has hit bottom. I don’t want to get into all of Odom’s history, if you are interested you can read this incredibly well thought-out article from Sports Illustrated’s, Lee Jenkins. Just know that this is a man who has dealt with tragedy his entire life, but by all accounts has never been less than gracious and kind with everyone he has ever met.

It’s been in this time of crisis that so many players and coaches have come out to show their absolute support and love for one of the most genuinely good souls in the league.  Kobe Bryant, by no means the warmest of souls, spent hours by Odom’s bedside after he found about his friends condition. There has been a deluge of positive Tweets from current and former NBA stars, and here is Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich on Lamar as a person.

I don’t concentrate on what kind of player he is,” Popovich said after Friday’s practice. “I feel all the other things, because I know him as a person. Warm-hearted. Good-humored. Wonderful guy to be around. Who cares about how he played? It’s about who you are and he was a good person

I’m usually the first person to tell people not to care about athletes personal lives, but I can’t help but feel for Lamar Odom. He is one of the most unique talents that I have ever watched play. I don’t think any basketball nerd will ever forget him. Now at the all too young age of 35 Odom is in a fight for his life. It’s not a game any longer. It’s not reality TV. It’s just a good human being trying to fight off his demons. I’ve never wanted to cheer for him more.

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One Night Only: Yankees-Astros Playoff

Greg BirdTonight the New York Yankees play the Houston Astros in the MLB’s first Wild Card game of the postseason. As a Yankees fan I am excited to see my favorite team back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. As a fan of advanced statistics I am excited to see the Astros organization’s patience be rewarded in the form of a super exciting young team headed up by probable Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, who will be taking the mound in this winner-take-all game.

I haven’t watched a ton of Yankees games this year, but it’s been fascinating following the team throughout the year. This team is like the island of really expensive misfit toys. To think that Alex Rodriguez at 40, coming off of an entire year away from the big leagues could hit 33 home runs, and carry a team for weeks at a time is pretty incredible. You could say the same about 35 year old, Mark Teixeira who stayed healthy just long enough to put the Yankees in a position for a playoff run. When Tex finally did succumb to a season ending tibia injury, the bombers got a huge push from the relatively unknown call up Greg Bird, who was able to come up with some really big hits in the 46 games he’s played.

You pair the Yankees patch work lineup and pitching staff with the an above average bullpen that boasts one of the best set-up man to closer bridges in the majors you get yourself just enough to make the playoffs in this modern day, 5 team playoff bracket.

And now New York goes up against their foil in the Houston Astros, a team with a loaded farm system players like short stop, Carlos Correa, second baseman, Jose Altuve and the before mentioned Keuchel. The Astros spent years building up their farm system, and now have most of that talent on the field for tonight’s game.

This is a fun way to start the MLB Postseason, with two teams that have gotten hear by drastically different means. Both teams will be heavy underdogs to the defending AL Champion Kansas City Royals, but baseball is a really goofy game, and typically doesn’t care much about which team is favored. It would be great to see this group of misfits make a run at the pennant.