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Hot Takes Blog

  • Video games are great for a variety of reasons: they tell great stories that you can’t get in a movie or TV series, they can bring people together around the world, and allow you to yell at children without it being “frowned upon by society.” Over the years it’s been something that has infiltrated the mainstream media. Sports outlets talk about players rating in Madden or NBA2K, we see movies and TV series based on games, and now we are seeing a rise in competitive video games, aka esports.    Over the past year, TV stations like ABC, ESPN, and TBS have started airing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Apex Legends tournaments, as well as Overwatch League matches. Fans of the respective games are excited to see their favorite game rise in popularity. However, there’s always the Joe Knuckledraggers out there who are quick to turn it off…   If you watched it and didn’t like it, I would understand. After all, I don’t see the appeal to Minecraft but people love it. But to look at it for five seconds and immediately turn it off because “it’s video games,” is a very archaic view.   “I can’t believe kids play video games competitively, this is what’s wrong with society.” — The guy who watches the World Series of Poker.    Believe it or not, esports athletes are similar to normal athletes in that they spend numerous hours perfecting their craft. Do you think Steph Curry just came out of the womb shooting from 100 feet? No, he spent hours working on his shot. These esports athletes aren’t immediately great at their respective games. They spend hours working on their skills, working on their strategies, and making sure they play to the best of their abilities. I spoke with a player in the Overwatch League about his training regimen who said, “I wake up, I play Overwatch. I go to practice, where we play Overwatch. Then after practice, I come home and play a game, which is Overwatch.” If you think about it, esports athletes need to have the reflexes of a hockey goalie, the hand-eye coordination of a baseball player, and execute plays similar to a football team.   “Yeah, but they don’t have the body of an athlete.”   You’re right, they don’t exactly have an athletic body. But neither do baseball pitchers Bartolo Colón and CC Sabathia, third baseman Pablo Sandoval, heavyweight champion boxer Andy Ruiz Jr, MMA fighter Roy “Big Country” Nelson, NBA player Glen Davis, and NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.   “Yeah, but I don’t want to watch a kid in a competitive environment.” — The guy who loves watching collegiate sports. Also the guy who’s excited about 19-year-old Zion Williamson.    Most tournaments require it’s participants to be at least 18 years or older. If they are under 18, they must get approval from a parent/guardian.   “Yeah, but they’re just sitting on their butt playing a game.”   Okay, but if you break it down, you can make any sport sound basic.    Basketball: Throwing a ball into a hoop.  Football: A bunch of guys move a ball forward while getting dogpiled.  Baseball: One guy said “I bet you can’t hit this ball,” and someone said, “Bet you I can.”  Tennis: Hitting a ball while grunting.   Plus, like sports, not all games are the same. Baseball is different than football. Overwatch is different than League of Legends. So if you weren’t a fan of one game, you might like another. Besides, is it really worth getting angry that video games are on TV when it’s probably only replacing a re-run of “Whacked Out Sports,” an infomercial, or some cheesy 90s sci-fi show? (Hint: No. The answer is no.)   I’m not saying you need to start liking esports. I’m just saying that instead of immediately dismissing esports because “video games are childish,” you try watching with an open mind.
  • Since the Dwight Howard trade, I’ve been paying more attention to the NBA Draft. I look at the new batch of talent with child-like optimism, thinking the lottery pick would be the piece we need to get back into the playoffs. However, this year was different. The Magic didn’t have a lottery pick, so I had no idea what to expect. Could this guy be a key role player, or would we get the rare mid-draft superstar. They had a bevy of choices — from Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker to Virginia’s Ty Jerome to UNC’s Nassir Little. As Commissioner Adam Silver walks to the podium, I’m flip-flopping my choices. I want NAW...no wait. Jerome? No. Maybe we’ll get Nassir. No, it’s NAW. Here comes Commissioner Adam Silver who said...   “With the 16th pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select…   CHUMA OKEKE!”    ……   …...   … wait, what?    Many Magic fans, including myself, were baffled by the Orlando Magic’s pick. It was a pick that had more questions than answers. Why didn’t they trade down to get this guy? Why draft someone that has a torn ACL? Why him over Nickiel, Nassir, or Ty? I felt like a New York Giants fan after Daniel Jones got drafted. It was a twist that not even M. Night Shyamalan could write.    I sat on this for a while, questioning the decision of General Manager John Hammond and President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman, but after some thought, it makes a lot of sense. If you play fantasy football, you occasionally draft players who are already hurt or suspended in later rounds. Yeah, you won’t get results week 1, but they’ll come through in week 6, 7, or 8. Or, if you play in a keeper league, you play the long game — like drafting Julian Edelman with the last pick in 2017 after he tore his ACL and keeping him so you have a great wide receiver in the 22nd round in 2018.   I’m not saying Chuma Okeke is going to be the basketball equivalent to Julian Edelman. In fact, I think one of Okeke’s arms is taller than Edelman. I’m saying that Hammond and Weltman are thinking long term with Okeke. We saw them do the same thing with the Markelle Fultz trade: spend minimal to get an injured player who could greatly impact your franchise in the long run. In this case, spend a mid-round pick and take a chance on someone who would have been easily a top 10 player if it hadn’t been for his torn ACL during the NCAA Tournament. He has a 7 foot wingspan, he’s a great defender, he shoots the 3-ball fairly well, and he’s an unselfish player.   Also, let’s not forget that our General Manager and President of Basketball Operations have a combined 50+ years of experience in the NBA. You can call them many things, but “inexperienced” is not one of them. They drafted a solid pick in Jonathon Isaac, Mo Bamba showed promise before his injury, somehow got rid of the Biyombo contract, brought in Steve Clifford who helped create an all-star (and a snubbed all-star), and traded for the 2017 1st overall pick without giving up anything. And, you know, it’s not like they traded Tobias Harris for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova. Or traded away their future superstar for the expiring contract of Serge Ibaka. Or posted a photo of a player signing a contract while showing a whiteboard full of players they’re going after. Pretty much, they’re not Rob Hennigan.   I’m not going to say I’m a draft expert, but sometimes we need to have faith in the current administration when it comes to drafting. After all, let’s not forget the last time we got upset over a draft pick… when Aaron Gordon was drafted over Dante Exum in 2014.
  • Ben Franklin once said “Nothing is certain except death, taxes and the Rays having attendance issues.” I may have made one of those up, but we know it’s true. The Tampa Bay Rays are currently one of the best teams in baseball, yet they are 29th in attendance. They are above the Miami Marlins, who are one of the worst teams in the league. With ownership frustrated with attendance issues, the new stadium shouldn’t be in Tampa, it should be in Orlando    During the opening series against Houston, three out of their four games had an attendance over 15k. The following series, at home against the Rockies, had their attendance over 10k. Taking away games against the Red Sox and the Yankees (Rays fans know, it might as well be an away game) their attendance broke 10k three times, their 2 games against the Dodgers and the Memorial Day game against the Blue Jays. What’s worse is following that Memorial Day game, less than 6,000 fans showed up to the second game against the Blue Jays the next day. That is the lowest since Sept 5th, 2017...when Hurricane Irma was about it hit. Since 2011, the Rays have never been over 29th in attendance.   I watched the Rays take on the Yankees at home for the first time this year and the crowd was erupting...when the Yankees did something.    ***But Chase, it’s always that way when New York or Boston come to town.***   You’re right, but this team doesn’t deserve that, not anymore. This team deserves a fan base that will attend the games, and not depend on their rivals to fill their seats. That fan base isn’t in Tampa, it’s in Orlando.    ***But Chase, it’s in St. Pete and I don’t want to drive over the 275 bridge. And besides, that’s baseball. No one likes baseball.***    Okay, let’s look at the most popular sport in the country, the NFL. Since 2008, the Buccaneers have never been higher than 23rd. That’s the NFL, the most popular sport in America...and they can’t break into the top 20. Better yet, their stadium actually in Tampa, not St. Pete. It’s not the location, it’s the city. Tampa is that friend that always makes excuses for not wanting to hang out. “Well, I don’t have a ride,” I’ll get you. “Yeah but I don’t have any money” I’ll spot you. “Yeah but…” We get it, you don’t want to go. The new stadium shouldn’t be in Tampa, it should be in Orlando    According to Forbes’ yearly team valuation, the Orlando Magic made $223 million in revenue and $40 in revenue per fan in a metro area population of 2.4 million people. The Rays made $228 million in revenue and $33 in revenue per fan in a metro population of 3 million. It should also be noted that the Rays play as many home games as the Magic play regular season games.    Attendance has never been a problem for Orlando. Since joining MLS, Orlando City has been in the top 6 in attendance every year. Their ECHL team, the Orlando Solar Bears, have been in the top 7 in attendance since 2012 and that is a mid level hockey team. Since the Dwight Howard trade, the Magic have been in the top 20 in attendance, with the exception being the 2014-15 and 2015-16 season where they were ranked 23rd. Not to mention, the Pro Bowl brought in 50,000+ for the three years it’s been in Orlando.    ***But Chase, you just mentioned that Tampa has the higher metro population.***    Yes, but the tourism numbers help make up for that difference. According to Worldatlas.com, Orlando is the fifth most visited in the country with 48 million visitors. Not to mention, that Orlando International Airport is the busiest airport in the state. ***But what about the people who live in the state?*** Orlando is easier to drive to than Tampa. To OrlandoTo TampaFromApprox TimeFromApprox TimeTampa1 hr 30 minOrlando1 hr 30Gainesville1 hr 45 minGainesville2 hrsJacksonville2 hrsJacksonville3 hrs 15 minDaytona1 hrDaytona2 hrs 30 minMelbourne1 hr 20 minMelbourne2 hrs 30 min The biggest issue this move would face is location. Lake Nona is a budding community and you could put it there or buy some land and demolish the buildings that are on it. I know one building Orlando natives have in mind, and it rhymes with I-4 piesore. Or not move the stadium there and just demolish it anyway.   I’m not a business expert or anything but we are in danger of losing the Rays. An agreement was reached for a piece of land in hopes to build a baseball stadium in Montreal. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he won’t think about an expansion team until the Rays and the Athletics get a new stadium. The A’s are making progress toward a new stadium while the Rays are hitting a snag. The Rays ownership tried to get a stadium in Ybor City however, the plan fell through. Even Rob Manfred blasted the deal citing the county’s commitment among other things. We could very well see Rays ownership pack up and head to Montreal due to these attendance issues. I would much rather see the Rays stay in the state rather than them go elsewhere. - Chase Bunker  
  • Posturing, politicking and picks. It’s NFL draft season and the number one overall pick is up for sale. But don’t get it twisted, you won’t hear anyone from the Cardinals say they’re selling. On the contrary, all you’re hearing right now is how Arizona is scheduled to work out and meet with Murray, all you’re hearing right now is how Kyler is a perfect fit for 1st year head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, all you’re hearing is ‘With the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select, Kyler Murray. Quarterback, Oklahoma.’ But here’s the thing, that’s exactly what Cardinals GM Steve Keim wants you and every QB-desperate team to hear. Before I get into any of this, I just want to make my views on Kyler Murray the player extremely clear, I believe he is the best Quarterback in this draft and has a chance to be a very good player in the NFL. Kyler being talked about as the number one pick is exactly what should be happening based on his talent and his projection to the NFL game. With that being said, he’s not going to be the first overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2019 NFL Draft.    Yes, Kliff Kingsbury recruited Murray when he was the head coach at Texas Tech. Yes, Kingsbury said that he would draft Murray first overall before he was fired from Tech and hired as the Cardinals coach. And yes, Kingsbury runs a high-octane air raid offense that most college quarterbacks nowadays are used to. All these things are true, and yet I’m telling you that the Cardinals aren’t going to take Kyler number one. I look at the arguments being made, and I think ‘Yeah, but’ in every instance. Yes, Kliff Kingsbury recruited Murray to play at Texas Tech, but in college recruiting coaches will recruit anyone with 4 and 5 star rating, it doesn’t mean they’ll play/thrive under that coach’s tutelage. Yes, Kingsbury said he would take Murray first overall when he was at Tech, but that’s what you say as an opposing coach and even if you believe Kyler is the best QB in this draft, it doesn’t mean you think he’s a better player than the guy you have under center right now, Josh Rosen. And Yes, Kliff Kingsbury runs a high octane Mike Leach-style air raid offense similarly to OU head coach, Lincoln Riley, who learned under ‘The Pirate’ himself for 6 seasons as an assistant at Texas Tech. But unlike Riley, Kingsbury consistently chose a Quarterback architype that isn’t close to Kyler Murray. Yes, he had 6 foot nothing semi-mobile Baker Mayfield as his starter early on, but guess who he benched him for? 6’5 pocket passer Davis Webb. After him, 6’3 gunslinger with a rocket arm, Patrick Mahomes. Clearly, Kingsbury has a type and 5’10 mobile quarterbacks ain’t it, chief. Sure, you can point to Johnny Manziel when Kingsbury was the OC for A&M as a QB architype similar to Murray and that’s fair, but I can’t speculate on how much control he had over the QB choice during his time in College Station. Maybe Kingsbury loves Murray, maybe Kingsbury thinks Murray’s a perfect fit for his system, but history points to that being misguided and in my opinion, flat out wrong.    But let’s be real here, none of this matters. Kingsbury isn’t making this decision, GM Steve Keim is the one running the show here. Keim is the one that is going to have to answer to drafting Kyler with the first overall pick after giving up assets last year to move up and draft current starting QB, Josh Rosen. I think most people would look at the Cardinals roster, the team Keim helped build, and say ‘they have some pieces but this roster is far from competing for a title.’ I’m sure everyone in the Cardinals organization would agree with that crude assessment. The question I am left with is, what is the best way to build this team? The simple answer remains, use the number one overall pick in the most efficient way possible and personally I don’t think drafting a QB in the top-10 in back to back years screams efficiency. But above just logical thinking and beyond my own opinions of this roster, the thing that makes me think this has never been real is the disconnect between the talk and the action. Simply put, I think that if you knew at this point you were going to draft Murray with the first pick, there would have been concrete reports that Arizona was shopping Josh Rosen. The act of not shopping Rosen does not align in my mind with the action of deciding Kyler is your guy moving forward. The argument to be made here is as simple as, GM Steve Keim is just waiting out the market to get a better deal for Rosen. I don’t buy that, I don’t buy that Keim is willing risk allowing the draft to come, picking Murray at 1 and seeing Josh Rosen’s trade value drastically fall.   At the end of the day, I go back to one thing and one thing only, it’s too loud. Everything surrounding Murray to the Cards is too loud, and it’s gotten to the point where it feels orchestrated. It feels like a clever GM decided he needs to build the value of his most important asset, it feels like he knows Rosen is his guy, and it feels like Keim knows his boat has a lot of holes that need to filled before it starts to sink. As much as I lay out some facts to make my points logical, this is as simple as I smell something fishy.