Watching Patrick Corbin go about his business Monday night was impressive. Although the sample size is small, Corbin continues to pitch like an ace. But pitching like an ace doesn't mean you are an ace.
There is a progression that most human beings go through while trying to compete at the highest level our species can produce.
The first-degree or growth spurt typically involves coming to the realization that you belong, that you are capable of competing against the other homo sapiens around you.
The second level of self-realization usually involves being successful against the best our species has to offer.
The third-degree of self-realization is all about dominating the best in the world in order to become one of the best in the world.
I think Patrick Corbin is between the first and second-degree of self-realization. How he deals with this metamorphosis could determine where he'll end up and how quickly he'll reach his destination.
Does he feel like he is entitled to the success he is experiencing or is he encouraged by the results he is getting but knows that success is fleeting? Does he believe he has arrived or does he see himself as deprived? Only Patrick knows what he thinks and how he feels when it's just he and the pillow.
Corbin doesn't need to answer that question now but how he answers that question now will might determine the rest of the season. Through no fault of his own, Corbin has not had a large enough sample size to say he's going to be Clayton Kershaw but based on what we've seen he could be well on his way.
Every week I'm writing something else about Corbin. Too bad the national media haven't figured it out yet. At least MLB Network spent some time on him after the near-shutout of the Rockies.
He's had enough starts that scouts should have found a weakness. It's exciting they haven't. Rockies hitters were walking away in disgust. Angry with themselves as if they had locked their keys in their car. They were frustrated because they can't believe they swung at some of those pitches. It's not your fault Colorado, he's just that good.
He pitches Tuesday. Coors Field is not the place to improve as a pitcher but with the recent outings of McCarthy and Cahill, the pressure isn't on Ian to pitch like an ace. The pressure is to simply keep up with the rest of the rotation.
Really cool of him to come in studio Monday and fill in for Wolf on short notice. I made a joke on Twitter that he just whopped me in an argument and I needed prayers. I don't want to over-react because it was only two people but I was ripped for asking for prayers in light of the tragedies that are happening in Oklahoma. A note to the Twitter politically correct police: If you think so poorly of me that you honestly believe I'm hoping to steal prayers from those directed to tornado victims in order to be a stronger intellectual challenger for Tim, why are you following me anyway? I'm sorry I've earned so little respect from you in the past.
I'm reminded -- after seeing the carnage in Oklahoma -- of what former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said to Wolf and me on our show following the Boston Bombings. He said there are so many good people who want to do so many good things but the best thing to do is to just stay back let the authorities do their job and send money.
We try to think of all these things we would need in destruction like that but the problem is you can't get those things to those people fast enough. However, the Red Cross can. The Red Cross needs two things: money and blood. If you can, try to donate one or the other. I promise I will this week.
We're more than a quarter of the way through the 2013 Major League Baseball season, and we've learned a few things.
We've learned that Mets pitcher Matt Harvey is really good.
We've learned that spending towering piles of money on talent does not pave the way to success. To wit -- the Dodgers and Angels have $358 million committed to their 2013 payrolls and are a combined 34-52. Ouch.
And we've learned that Paul Goldschmidt is the real deal.
The Diamondbacks' 25-year-old first baseman has been arguably the best player in the National League to this point of the season.
Goldschmidt is currently one of two players in the National League in the top ten in home runs, RBI, batting average and on-base percentage.
Oh, you want more? Goldschmidt also leads the league in slugging percentage and OPS (on-base plus slugging). He, along with teammate Gerardo Parra, have the best WAR (Wins above replacement) in all of baseball.
And the Diamondbacks are in first place in the National League West largely because of what the third-year big leaguer has done. It's only 45 games, but Paul Goldschmidt has been the National League Most Valuable Player to this point of the campaign.
Here's a look at Goldschmidt's remarkable 2013 season by the numbers:
Goldschmidt's OPS vs. left-handed pitchers
Goldschmidt's OPS vs. right-handed pitchers
The number of Cy Young Award-winning pitchers Goldschmidt has homered off of this season. (C.C. Sabathia and Clayton Kershaw)
Of Goldschmidt's 12 home runs, eight have either tied the game or given the D-backs a lead.
Arizona's record when Goldschmidt homers.
Goldschmidt's longest homer of the season -- 422 feet off of Atlanta starter Mike Minor at Chase Field May 13.
Average distance of Goldschmidt's 12 home runs this season.
43, 130, .329
Goldschmidt's projected home run, RBI and batting averages for 2013.
The number of players drafted before Goldschmidt in 2009.
The number of first basemen drafted before Goldschmidt in 2009.
Of those 11, only two of the first basemen drafted before Goldschmidt have reached the Majors. (San Francisco's Brandon Belt and Oakland's Nate Freiman)
Let's start with a disclaimer. Namely, my own. As in, here's the Big Red verdict from a campaign that included a nine-game losing streak.
Did the Cardinals need a Pro Bowl quarterback? No. Naturally, every team desires Pro Bowl-caliber play from its QB. But considering the Cardinals featured a stout defense a year ago, an elite QB wasn't an absolute necessity.
Rather, what the Cards really needed was a QB who didn't single-handedly lose the game. Sounds simple. Alas, in truth, not so much.
Instead, if life boils down to wants/needs, the Cards' main priority coming off 2012 revolved around upgrading the QB position so that it's no longer a glaring liability that drains confidence from the rest of the roster.
With this process in mind, Calvisi Consulting has devised its own QB valuation system. If ESPN can create something called the "Total QBR" system, then, effective 2013, we've empowered the pocket protectors in R&D to come strong with their own grading system while adhering to our steadfast rule -- no math.
Follow me here: once upon a time, I wandered up to a diamond counter and learned about the 4 C's. What if we applied those 4 C's to QB's? After all, quarterbacks should be considered the jewels of football, right?
Still with me? Because, truth be told, this is all inspired by recent events, where I had a chance to sit down with Carson Palmer for an extended interview. Did I get to know the Cards new starting QB? Sure. But (like most everything else in life), what do I really know at this point?
Good question. In search of an answer, it's time to employ our "4 C's QB Rating" technique. Instead of carat, cut, color, clarity… we're going with:
• Capability: In addition to his 2012 stats with the Raiders (4K+ passing yards, 22 TD, 14 INT, 61% completion rate), GM Steve Keim says he looked at every pass Palmer has thrown the past three seasons and, based on the film, sees no evidence of deteriorating performance.
• Competitive: If the golf course is any indication, including the Cardinals Charity Golf Tourney where Palmer was none too happy about narrowly losing to a certain Cardinals kicker (1st place finisher Jay Feely), then Palmer still rates as hyper-competitive.
• Cerebral: Playing NFL QB is a thinking man's game. And the first word that a certain future Hall of Fame receiver used to describe his new QB was "cerebral." Enough said.
• Command: Entering his 11th season and with Pro Bowls on his resume, Palmer commands respect in the huddle. And, based on the progress that Palmer reports to date in learning the playbook, he appears to have a real command of the new Bruce Arians offense. Palmer: "I think our scheme fits my style of play very well."
And here's the beauty of applying our 4 C's system on quarterbacks: either you got it or you don't. Think of it as pass/fail for signal callers. No GPAs. No decimal points.
Such was the case for Jeon Jun-woo of the Korean League's Lotte Giants, who fell to the NC Dinos by a score of 6-4 last week. That alone isn't too funny or even Haboob worthy, but the fact that the player thought he hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning was.
Jun-woo was so confident the ball was leaving the yard that he started celebrating, only to see it land in the left fielder's glove.
It was very Willie Mays Hayes-esque, and because we're cool like this, below is a clip from Major League II.
The Arizona Diamondbacks couldn't complete their three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins Sunday, falling 2-1 in South Florida.
But during the course of the game, the team produced one of the best catches in baseball this season.
Leading off the eighth inning, Adeiny Hechavarria tried to bunt against D-backs reliever Josh Collmenter. The Marlins' shortstop popped it up however, and Arizona catcher Miguel Montero made a sliding attempt to catch the ball down the third base line.
It popped out of his glove and off of Collmenter's bare hand. As the pitcher avoided his sliding catcher, he snared the ball with his bare hand.
Unlike Carl Lewis and Roseanne Barr, Canadian singer Alexis Normand has a beautiful voice.
Unfortunately, Normand still managed to secure a spot alongside the infamous duo on the all-time list of worst anthem singers.
Before the 2013 Memorial Cup junior hockey championships between the Halifax Mooseheads and Portland Winterhawks Saturday in Saskatchewan, Normand came on the ice to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and looked to have no problems with the first part of the performance.
However about quarter of the way through, the wheels began to fall off quickly for the Canadian singer, as she delivered a moment that would have made Francis Scott Key roll over in his grave.
Let's not be too hard on Normand, after all she already feels bad enough.
I'm embarrassed and deeply sorry. I wish I'd had more time to learn the American anthem. Thanks so much for the crowd's help! #memorialcup
Full disclosure: I thought the Golden State Warriors would force a Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinals matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. The reasons for this matter little, I was wrong.
But watching the Spurs compete reminded me of who they are and why they're so tough to beat in a seven-game series. You have to be more disciplined than they are; you have to execute the fundamentals of the game better than they do and that's not going to happen very often over the course of seven games.
The culture of the Spurs is what makes them great. They might be the best example of what a team is all about in the NBA. The Nuggets use teamwork to beat you, the Thunder (when Russell Westbrook is healthy) play as a unit and the Miami Heat are capable of beating you a number of ways when their great skill plays as one, but the Spurs seem to play as a team better and more consistently than most.
It all starts with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Even after all these years, this triumvirate has afforded Gregg Popovich a luxury that most coaches typically don't have: they allow themselves to be coached, even screamed at.
Watching Game 6 reminded me of what humility can do for a player and an organization when their best players care more about winning than they do scoring points.
Gregg Popovich screams at everybody. It doesn't matter who you are, Tim Duncan (whom he benched for the last 4:38 of the game), Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker. He screams at them all. And if he screams at these players and gets in their grill (because of their humility), what excuse does Kawai Leonard, Tiago Splitter or Danny Green have if they reject Pop's rebuke?
You want to talk about culture within an organization? Talk about your most respected and best players and how they handle being dressed down in front of thousands/millions of people/viewers?
But that's the culture of the San Antonio Spurs; that's who they are.
It's this dynamic -- where Pop coaches everybody the same -- that makes the Spurs the NBA's version of the New England Patriots. Popovich has the same luxury Bill Belichick has in New England: your best, most respected player(s), allow themselves to be coached. And if it's good enough for Tom Brady, what's your problem rook?
And what does that truth translate into for the Spurs? Unselfish, team-oriented basketball. The Spurs had 27-assists on 33 made baskets; they had 5 players in double figures; and they played the best defense I've seen from them in the post-season so far. Their rotations were near perfect. The Warriors got very few easy baskets and every shot was seemingly contested.
Gregg Popovich owes much of his career to Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Not because of how many points they have scored, not because of the effort they give on the floor, not because of their talent, but because of their humility. These players have been great for a long, long time and their humility has established a culture within the Spurs organization that has set a standard for years.
Enjoy it and appreciate it now; I don't think we'll be seeing this dynamic very often in the years to come.
Please don't hire Kelvin Sampson as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns. He has an excellent basketball mind. He's an excellent basketball teacher. In all honesty, he's actually a good basketball coach.
Sometimes, it's about more than just basketball. On two different occasions as a head coach, he openly disobeyed the rules. Judge all you want whether the stupid rules of the NCAA should apply, but Sampson knew the rule at least once because he had already broken it and then broke it again. There is a clear-cut aversion to authority. With these actions on his character, he shows a pattern that rules don't apply to him. Sampson represents those who take the quick way out and hope it doesn't come back to bite them. The Suns are so bad that there won't be anything close to a quick fix. Anyone who tries short-cuts with this franchise will only set us back.
I know there are no choir boys. I accept almost everyone cheats at the college level, but I don't have to accept them as NBA coaches.
Brian Shaw has played and coached in the league. He's the only person in the world that kept Kobe and Shaq happy together. He's coached under an old veteran with Tex Winter and Phil Jackson as well as the new age Frank Vogel. Shaw is the clear choice as Suns' head coach. I'm pretty sure he won't be and I hate that.