Your morning roundup for Aug. 12, the day after a 15-year-old app developer would have been better off leaving well enough alone. Photo via AP. Got any stories or photos for us? Tip your editors.
What we watched: Well, we definitely didn't watch any of the five NFL preseason games on offer last night. Yes, yes ... we love football. Yes, yes ... we're glad it's back after all of the posturing that consumed nearly all of the offseason but that cost fans nothing except the spectacle of whoever was supposed to play in last week's Hall of Fame game.
These games are glorified tryouts; they are opportunities for starters to stretch their legs against someone other than teammates and for depth-chart hopefuls to make an impression for a coach and his staff whose plans are known only to them. Most of us know this. And while it might seem ridiculously redundant to point any of that out, it was still amusing to scroll through my Twitter feed last night to discover fan reactions that would make one think the fate of a given team's entire season was at stake. Calm down. The time for you to panic over how much your team really sucks is coming soon enough.
Cool: "An analysis of all 68 full-time Major League umpires' strike-three calls reveals 68 unique styles, running the gamut from Gary Darling's subtle fist pump to Tom Hallion's violent, Mike Tyson-esque punchout. … Among the 68 current umpires, 59 (86.8%) typically employ one of two straightforward approaches for calling strike three, punching either straight ahead toward the pitcher or out toward the side. But within that framework, each ump adds his own touches. As a result, perceptive fans can identify the umpire working the plate by his strike-three call." [Wall Street Journal, with complete list here]
Go read Harvey Araton on Chris Mullin: "This was during Mullin's senior year, 1984-85, at the old Capital Centre in Landover, Md. Mullin was being harassed by one of Coach John Thompson's intense chasers — Carnesecca was tempted to say it was David Wingate — and he had the ball out front, about 15 to 16 feet from the basket. Having given up his dribble, Mullin showed ball and rose up on his toes, giving every indication that he was about to release a jumper. Only he didn't, settling back on his heels, allowing the defender to sail past him before leaning into the shot and draining it. No basket. The referee whistled him for what in the Brooklyn schoolyards would be called up and down — officially traveling. Mullin was flabbergasted. He pleaded with the ref and demonstrated what he'd done — on his toes, never off his feet. ‘What the heck,' said Carnesecca, 86 and unwilling to challenge his blood pressure for something that happened more than a quarter-century ago. ‘That's why they put erasers on pencils.'" [New York Times]
USC rather enjoys having LA football to itself, thank you: "The Coliseum is home to USC football and the school's lease gives the Trojans veto power over the NFL returning to the stadium, which is across the street from the campus and once hosted the Rams, Raiders and Chargers franchises. City Councilman Bernard C. Parks, whose district includes the Coliseum, said that a USC administrator told him that the school intends to exercise the veto unless it receives a new ‘master lease' that would give the private university near-total control of the publicly owned stadium." [Los Angeles Times]
Your Lemur With An Umbrella Interlude:
What came first, the arrest or the release? The arrest? Oh.: "Former Royals pitcher Kyle Davies was arrested early Tuesday morning by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department in nearby Tampa on a charge of disorderly intoxication. 'I embarrassed myself and my family,' Davies said. 'I made a foolish mistake. I'll learn from it, and I'll get past it.' The arrest came one day before the Royals asked release waivers on Davies to clear space on their 40-man roster for catcher Salvador Perez, whose contract they subsequently purchased from Class AAA Omaha. 'We knew nothing about the arrest,' general manager Dayton Moore said. 'I only learned about it (Thursday) afternoon.' Teams generally do not release players after such incidents, because doing so typically prompts a grievance through the players' association." [Kansas City Star]
The WWE needs John Cena more than you think: "The problem, though, isn't storytelling; it's economics. Wrestling's conventional wisdom states that bad guys don't sell merchandise. From T-shirts to watches to koozies to plastic coffee mugs, Cena's merchandise earnings bring in millions of dollars a year - money that WWE seems loathe to abandon, especially in the current financial climate. According to WWE's quarterly stockholder report [...], consumer products brought in $56 million in the first half of this year, and Cena gear - calculatedly released in a new primary color every six months or so to maximize the take from (younger) viewers' (parents') wallets - must make up a healthy portion of that figure." [Grantland/Dead Wrestler of the Week Archive]
Merch: Managing editor Tom Scocca and contributing editor Drew Magary have both written books. You can buy Scocca's Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future here, and Magary's The Postmortal here. Now do it.
You're all obsessed with fantasy football, apparently: "'Our industry had never been in a recession," says Paul Charchian, president of the FSTA. ‘We've proved very resilient. And since the lockout ended, it's been a flood.' Charchian says that this year, about 19 percent of males in the U.S. and 8 percent of females over age 12 will play fantasy sports. The average league will collect $70 from each of its dozen or so players, and cash prizes are usually distributed to the top three finishers. The mean average age of players nowadays is 41, and about 5.4 million of those who play this year will be women, many of whom will watch more games on TV than they otherwise would have in order to track their fantasy players — one reason the TV audience for NFL games is at record levels." [Hollywood Reporter]