Bigger than bigger than sports
Brittney Griner has gone from being a queen to a pawn
Brittney Griner’s appeal was denied yesterday in a Russian court. Officially, her nine-year prison sentence stands and she will begin serving it.
When real-life situations happen to athletes that are a cause for concern among their fans, we say “this is bigger than sports.” But what if there’s something much bigger than whatever “this” is?
I’m far from being an expert on geopolitics, but the conventional wisdom seems to indicate that the next move is for the U.S. government to arrange a prisoner swap with Russia (possibly for imprisoned arms dealer Viktor Bout) in order to bring Griner home, as this is ostensibly the best path to freeing her. But this type of negotiation lives outside the legal system; there is no standard procedure or timeline for how it will play out. And while this may be the best path to freedom for Griner, freedom may not be the most likely outcome here.
When faced with a crass, uncomfortable truth about sports, we at Oddball have often commented that the crass, uncomfortable sports truths are a sobering reminder that sports is ultimately a business. I only wish the Griner situation were as small as that.
Thirteen players have ever had a season with 26+ power-play goals scored. Who is the only active player among them? He scored 52 goals that season, the first time somebody reached the 50-goal mark for his club since Jaromír Jágr did it.
Two NBA players have worn #26 this season. They were both traded to their current team last season. Who are they?
Since 1994, the player with the most rushes of 26+ yards did it 74x (and, coincidentally, 26 of those rushes resulted in touchdowns). He also wore #26 for two seasons late in his career, instead of the number he’s best known for, because that number has been unofficially retired by that team for a Hall of Fame cornerback. Who is the running back?
In the DH era, only two players have been caught stealing 26+ times in a season while also logging less than 50 successful steals. One has the same name as an actor/standup comedian who had their own sitcom in the same decade; the other is currently an analyst on the MLB Network. Who are the two players?
Answers from last week’s issue
Every Norris Trophy winner between the 2010-11 and 2019-20 NHL seasons was born in one of three countries. What are the countries?
The three countries are Canada (P.K. Subban, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, Brett Burns, Mark Giordano), Sweden (Nicklas Lidström, Erik Karlsson, Victor Hedman), and Switzerland (Roman Josi).
In the 2010 and 2019 NBA drafts combined, eight players from the University of Kentucky were taken in the first round. Name six of them.
John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson are the droids we were looking for.
Seven quarterbacks were drafted with the first overall pick in the NFL entry drafts between 2010 and 2019. How many of them have thrown a pass this season?
Four of the quarterbacks — Jameis Winston (2015), Jared Goff (2016), Baker Mayfield (2018), and Kyler Murray (2019) — have played this season. The other three — Sam Bradford (2010), Cam Newton (2011), and Andrew Luck (2012) — are retired/not active.
Between the 2010 and 2019 seasons, only two pitchers who led their league in strikeouts (one AL, one NL) weren’t born in the United States. Who are they?
Yu Darvish led the American League in 2013, and Johnny Cueto tied for the National League lead in 2014.
Many thanks to Francisco Liriano for being named his name and to you for being named your name, unless ye name be Ye.
Until next week, be the Ezequiel Carrera you wish to see in the world.