Not all of the interesting sports stories of the week are splashed across the headlines. That’s why we have “3 Stories You Should Know” — a discussion of the news you might have missed. This week, Bill Littlefield is joined by best-selling author George Vecsey and Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports.
1. The New York Mets (The Mets!) prepare for the playoffs
The New York Mets are in first place in the National League East after making a deadline deal to acquire outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The Metropolitans are riding a seven-game win streak into Friday and have an impressive 18-6 mark in August.
GV: Well, they have unmasked me as the hypocrite I am. I've always railed against teams acquiring useful players late in the season. In the age of free agency, I have hated the salary dump, teams unloading star players. But now, in retirement, I am allowed to root, and I root for the Mets.
And I am enjoying every minute of Yoenis Cespedes, the Cuban-born slugger. This is his fourth team in four major league seasons, and he has sparked spontaneous combustion on the Mets, making two-dozen other players better. Where will he be next year? I have no idea. Did I mention that I love Rent-A-Players?
2. MLB stars say team chemistry matters. But does it really?
Some baseball fans and players believe that chemistry is an integral part of a team's success. In fact, Jake Peavy, a pitcher for the defending champion San Francisco Giants, believes that clubhouse chemistry was the key to the Black and Orange's third World Series title in five seasons. While some people like Peavy believe that chemistry does matter, others like NBC columnist Craig Calcaterra believe the theory is hogwash:
CC: We've seen big stars like C.C. Sabathia, Jake Peavy, even Pedro Martinez either credit team chemistry — good chemistry however defined (and they never define it) — as the reason a team is winning or bad chemistry as a possible explanation for a team not winning. This whole idea of team chemistry and we need some sort of alchemy or whatever it is to describe a winning team just seems ridiculous to me.
3. New Jersey rejects sports betting...again
On Tuesday, a U.S. federal appeals court denied the most recent bid by the State of New Jersey to bring legalized sports betting to casinos and race tracks there. The Garden State was attempting to become the fifth state to legalize sports gambling, but was shot down. The NCAA, NBA, NFL, and MLB all backed the suit to deny New Jersey the ability to legalize sports betting. Last season, people spent over $700 million on fantasy sports. Bill Littlefield says those fantasy games are sports betting:
BL: There's no morality to defend anymore in this area. Illegal betting on sports, $400 billion a year [by] one estimate at least. The NFL supposedly opposes sports betting, but team owners have partner with fantasy sports operations which collect hundreds of millions of dollars from fans betting on the performance of NFL players in fantasy leagues. So it would be better for everybody except the people who are fans of hypocrisy if sports betting joined the state-sponsored lotteries and all the other legal opportunities to gamble.
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This segment aired on August 29, 2015.