With Fall right around the corner, it’s the return of Schultz’s Shots (I know you’re excited). We’ll rundown the swishes, bricks, and air balls every Monday.
Swish: Larry Bird's aggressiveness
I joked on Saturday morning that waking up to find out Gerald Green had been traded was a real “Christmas in July” moment. Even though Miles Plumlee and a future first-rounder were added to sweeten the pot, it’s tough not to chalk up the Pacers' deal for Luis Scola as a win. Parting with a future #1, and punting another in Plumlee isn’t ideal, but the Pacers didn’t exactly pay a King’s ransom for the veteran forward. Green, a huge disappointment last season, was dropped completely out of the first rotation by mid-January. The Pacers may have had high hopes for Plumlee, but he was a guy that scored just thirteen NBA points during his rookie year. The 2014 pick is Lottery protected, and will likely be somewhere in the mid-to-late 20s. Meanwhile, the Pacers get a player back in Scola who would likely start for half of the teams in the NBA. The Blue and Gold now have a second unit that consists of C.J. Watson, Danny Granger (if healthy), Chris Copeland, Scola, and Ian Mahinmi. That's a clear upgrade from last year's Augustin-Young-Green-Hansbrough grouping. Indiana doesn't have the best bench in the league by any stretch, but it at least appears to be a competent one. After years of patiently piecing this team together, Larry Bird is pushing his chips into the pot for 2013-14.
Brick: The Johnny Manziel coverage
We’ve been peppered all offseason with Johnny Football stories. “Johnny Manziel tipped less than 20% at dinner!” "Johnny Manziel had a Tebow jersey on!" “Johnny Manziel drank a beer!” The latest? Johnny Manziel was kicked out of a University of Texas frat party. I’m so over it. Nothing that Manziel has done this summer warrants calling him a ‘bad’ guy. Immature kid? Dumb kid? Sure, but that’s hardly a reason to tear him down completely. Although Manziel’s transgressions aren’t that serious, I’m also tired of the “he’s just an ordinary college kid!” crowd coming to his defense. Manziel is not just a college kid. He’s the first ever freshman Heisman-winner, and is the best quarterback in the nation’s best football conference in a football-crazed state. There is nothing ordinary about that. Comparing Manziel’s actions to what you did in your eight semesters at Ball State is apples and oranges. While he shouldn’t get a free pass for every mistake, we need to stop overreacting to each nontroversy that he’s involved in.
Air Ball: Brickyard 400
Nineteen years after the first race drew a packed house, the interest in the Brickyard 400 has waned significantly. I enjoy the novelty of the country's most popular racing circuit on the world's greatest race track. However, outside of being the lone Sprint Cup event held at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedwday, what does this race have? IndyCar fans don't like it because, well, it isn’t the 500. The cars are slower, there’s far less in-race action, and the history/traditions of the 400 pale in comparison the race held here in May. NASCAR fans don't like it because you can only see a small fraction of the track, the banking doesn't allow passing, the restarts are bland, and the 400 laps are generally incident free. Getting those fans located in the Midwest to come to Indy more than once is a challenge considering there are far more entertaining Cup races held in nearby Michigan, Kentucky, and Chicago. Sunday was perhaps the sleepiest outing in the event's twenty-race history, with one on-track pass for the lead, three cautions (zero wrecks), and no action whatsoever. Tony Stewart may vehemently defend his home track, but he’s in the minority as most of the drivers know they put on a poor show at Indy. The ideas for improving the Brickyard 400 that some have suggested – i.e. putting up lights - are all temporary fixes rather than long-term solutions. As Neal Taflinger of the IndyStar tweeted:
If yesterday's race, even with pristine, unseasonably cool weather, can't match last year's 80k mark, then there's no telling how low the free-falling attendance figures will go.