Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A bit of sports-politics trivia (how often does that happen?)...

In the category of people must have too much time on their hands if they came up with this statistic, but also in the category of weird but interesting:

In 18 out of the last 19 presidential elections, when the Redskins have won their final home game prior to the election, the incumbent has held the White House. The one exception to the Redskins Rule was 2004, when the Green Bay Packers beat the Redskins, but John Kerry still went on to lose to President Bush. This year the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Washington Redskins in a blowout, portending a possible Obama landslide.

From About.com: Political Humor

If you're voting for Obama, this is a pretty sweet statistic.

If you're voting for McCain, you can tell yourself that maybe the last presidential election spelled the end of the Redskins Rule.

And if you're simply a Giants fan, you can just be happy that the Redskins loss, whether you're voting for Obama or McCain, widens the Giants lead in the NFC East.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cross-genre post: Ryan Howard v. Ryan Howard

Last night on television, we had two chances to watch Ryan Howard: Ryan Howard the temp on NBC's The Office, and Ryan Howard the first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, who were playing Game 2 in the World Series.

I don't know that it's ever been confirmed, but the rumor is that Ryan Howard the temp is actually named in honor of Ryan Howard the baseball player. He's currently tearing it up on the major league level (the baseball player, that is), but before he was called up in September 2004, he was tearing it up on the minor league level for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. The Office premiered six months later in March 2005 with character that had supposedly been named after a local sports hero before way before he was on his way to being a sports hero on the national stage. Why, you ask? Oh, because The Office is set in none other than Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Ryan Howard (the baseball player) has gone on since then to be named Rookie of the Year (2005) and Most Valuable Player (2006) for the Phillies. Ryan Howard (the temp) has gone on to a job at corporate in New York where the power went to his head, he was arrested for fraud, and he now finds himself back in Scranton as, yet again, a temp and as, yet again, the subject of boss Michael Scott's somewhat disturbing mancrush.

We wish continued success to Ryan Howard (the baseball player) and better luck and decision making to Ryan Howard (the temp, who could take a page out of the other Ryan Howard's book) in the future.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The little team that could

Last night, the Tampa Bay Rays made it into the World Series. And all I have to say about that is, thank God! I'm starting to think they let the Red Sox push them to a Game 7 just to up the excitement and anticipation factor. And can I just say, as someone who was really rooting for the Rays to kick reigning champion Boston to the curb, that it's almost as stressful to be an antifan, wanting a particular team to lose, as it is to be a fan and wanting a particular team to win.

I know lots of people were hoping for a Dodgers-Red Sox series, mostly because L.A. vs. Boston would have brought great ratings. (And it's all about the ratings and making money, right?) But the Rays surprised everyone and not only climbed their way to first place in the AL East but held on. And now this team, which had never won more than 70 games in a season, is headed to the World Series. I'm not a Rays fan, but it's the kind of underdog story I can root for.

And in honor of their achievement, here are today's Sports Crushes of the Day:

Evan Longoria, 3rd base

Matt Garza, pitcher

Rocco Baldelli, right field

Who wouldn't want to watch these guys play?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quick note on Giants-Browns game

Will not mention how appalled I was at how terrible the Giants played, like they had completely forgotten who they are: man up, G-men!

Would like to say, however, that I was almost more appalled at how many penalties the Browns racked up. Even I know that a professional football team should not be getting a false start penalty on every single play. How hard is it to wait for the snap? Isn't it something you have ALL WEEK to practice and doesn't it involve little more than memorization and counting? It's not even counting to five! Three year olds can do it!

That being said, I would also like to ask if there is anyone out there that can explain to me what in the heck a "brown" is? I thought a team mascot like the University of Minnesota Gophers was pretty embarrassing (are gophers really striking fear into the hearts of anyone?), but at least I know what a gopher is. Abstract ideas and/or colors seem even less threatening and wondering what it could possibly be was kinda (though probably thankfully this week) distracting me from watching the actual game...

Titans v. Titans?

The last two games the New York Jets played, I have been thoroughly confused, waiting for the team to come out onto the field, only to be reminded that the team is already on the field. They're just in different jerseys.

The Jets wear green and white. Before they were the Jets, they were the New York Titans, and they wore blue and gold. After a couple of losses this season, the team played in these retro jerseys and won. Perhaps superstitious, they wore those jerseys again this weekend, and again they won.

My brother has a theory that the Jets finally decided that the Jets...well, suck. And since the Tennessee Titans are 5-0 so far this season, the Jets decided that since the Titans are winners, they, too, would become (again) the Titans. My brother thinks the Jets should take it a step further and just call themselves the Tennessee Titans. They wouldn't even have to move from the Meadowlands. They could be a Tennessee team playing in New Jersey.

After all, they're already a New York team playing in New Jersey.

It would definitely make the Week 12 game against the actual, honest-to-God though not original old school Titans an interesting one...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday night musings...

Does it seem somewhat fitting and fair that as the Boston Red Sox replace the New York Yankees as the baseball powerhouse of the East, that the New York Giants are on the road to replacing the New England Patriots as the football powerhouse of the East? Knock on wood, don't wanna jinx it...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Baseball postseason continues...

...tonight, with the Dodgers v. the Phillies. It's interesting that this makes Joe Torre's 13th consecutive postseason appearance, although his previous 12 were with the Yankees. Since he's here, and the Yankees are not, I guess there's some logic to the assumption that he was not responsible for the Yanks' poor postseason performances of the past few years. Shall we try to find somebody else to hold responsible? Steinbrenners? Upper management? Maybe some of the players themselves? Anybody?

Another thought about another new Dodger face this season - is it true that if the Dodgers and Red Sox end up playing each other in the World Series, that Manny Ramirez, who played for both teams this season, will get a ring no matter what the outcome?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fans are born in all sorts of ways

Today when I was driving home from lunch I heard Evan Roberts on WFAN (that's the sports radio network I listen to) talking about how he used to go to Orioles games with his ex-girlfriend and how she was a huge Red Sox fan because she thought Jason Varitek was cute, and he called that a garbage reason for being a fan.

Welcome to our world, Evan Roberts!

(By the way, I mostly enjoy listening to him on the radio, but I found it funny to hear someone in the real world, in the real sports-related world, address something I've talk about, that being the thing that is a huge reason girls become sports fans...)

Unlike young boys, young girls can't watch Mariano Rivera pitch and think, "He's a great athlete...I want to be just like him when I grow up." Well, they can, but eventually they realize that our professional sports prospects are extremely limited compared to our male counterparts.

We might not have the chance to like the teams our fathers liked if our fathers were more likely to take our brothers to sporting events or talk to them about the teams their own fathers liked growing up.

A lot of women see professional sports as just another way that men refuse to grow up and continue to act like boys...and since most of us have to deal with the "boys" in our own lives, we don't necessarily have time to devote to those who get paid millions to act that way.

That being said...I had a mother who played sports. My parents let both my brothers and my sister and me play sports. We would always watch the World Series together. Our professional athletic options are constantly expanding (albeit at a snails pace). And sometimes we just enjoy the excitement of a game well-played.

Personally, I tend to pay more attention to a team once they start doing well. But good-looking guys with great bodies in form-fitting uniforms? What girl wouldn't at least be tempted to watch that? (Hello, Joe Mauer!) How many guys watched beach volleyball during the Olympics because of the skimpy uniforms? Quite a few, I bet. It's not about how you're drawn in. It's about the fact that you are. You come for the cute guy, you stay for the game, and you actually end up learning about the sport.

Fans are born in all sorts of ways.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Well, that's the way the cookie crumbles...

I am getting no baseball love this season. Twins are out. Red Sox are up. Cubs are down. It's hard to care at this point. I guess instead of rooting for a team, I could always root against a team...which, of course, would be the Red Sox. Sometimes it's just as fun if not moreso to see a team lose than to see a team win (like, I don't know which was better about the last Super Bowl, that the Giants won or that the Patriots lost). Anyway, like I said, I'm kinda over baseball for this season, but I guess if I had to pick a World Series match-up I might watch, it would have to be the Cubs v. the Rays. Underdog versus underdog? Win-win!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sports fans: what are we identifying with?

So, my dad is perturbed that fans root for a team, no matter who's on it. Like, if all the players from the Red Sox were to switch places with all the players from the Yankees for one game, New Yorkers would still root for the Yankees. It is an interesting question, though. As a sports fan, what are we identifying with?

I'm no psychologist, but I think there are several reasons we root for a team, no matter how different the face of it may be from one year to the next. One is that so many players are traded so often, teams are always being broken up and rebuilt, that if you root for the players, you could end up rooting for every team in the league. Logistically, that's just stupid.

I know people from my town who are diehard Green Bay Packers fans, and a girl my age who swears by the Dallas Cowboys. People like winning teams, or they like tradition, or they like the teams their fathers (or mothers) like. For me, though, it comes down to the fact that I root for the New York Yankees because I am a New Yorker. I'm not rooting for Derek Jeter to win. I'm rooting for me to win, for New York to win. When I cheer for Jorge Posada, I'm cheering for myself - he's just my representative on the field. So, the players can change and always be different, but they're all out there making sure New York and I win.

Of course, that's not to say that I don't identify with players as well. When Andy Pettitte was with the Houston Astros, I rooted for him to win his games (not too hard to do as the Astros and Yankees are in two different leagues), but having essentially grown up with someone like Derek Jeter, I think I would still root for him even if he went to another team. And for reasons I can't explain, I root for players, like Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, which makes me root for the Twins as a team, even though I have no substantial reason to identify with him.

I do have an interest identification process, though, that seems to be extremely less discerning that most other peoples. Like, I can root for any New York team, simply because they are from New York. Whenever the Buffalo Bills were in the Super Bowl, I could cheer for them, because I'm told Buffalo is technically in New York (though as a Long Islander, I have trouble considering anything north of Westchester New York - sorry! You're all just part of a different world!). I spent four years living in DC, so I feel okay supporting DC teams, which apparently extends to nearby Baltimore as well, as when the Ravens played the Giants in the Super Bowl, I figured I won no matter which team won (see how it comes back to me winning again?) It's this whole hierarchy of teams I root for. Like when my favorite team gets knocked out (like the Yankees), I have a backup (the Mets). But they got knocked out, so now I'm choosing which team I best identify with - do I feel any connection to the Dodgers because of Joe Torre being their manager and my brother living out there? Not really. Same case with the Chicago teams, since I technically went to Loyola in Chicago with tons of kids from Chicago when I studied abroad in Rome. And yet, I do identify with the Twins, because of Mauer as well as one of my best friends living outside Minneapolis. I can find reasons for identification, but apparently I can't force it.

Anyway, these are the things I think about. It's an interesting subject. But maybe I'm really misusing the word "interesting" here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baseball postseason - still worth watching?

Well, there are no New York teams to root for. I kinda don't know what to do about that. This has never happened to me before. But I have some options, ones I usually keep in my back pocket just in case that can now come to the forefront.

Boston - I will never root for. That's my diehard Yankeeism coming through. Sorry. Plus, even though they're in by wildcard, they're still favorites and recent World Series winners and in a scenario without my team to root for, I'd rather root for the underdog.

Tampa Bay - are they really an underdog if they've been on top of the division all season long? I'd say, yes. They're just the most recent in a string of feel-good sports team stories. So I could definitely dig that.

Angels - Well, one of my favorite sports movies is Angels in the Outfield. And I used that to root for them when they won the World Series in 2002.

American League Central - we're still waiting to find out if it'll be the White Sox or the Twins. I'm gunning for the Twins. Anybody who reads this blog knows that I am a huge Joe Mauer fan and I like the Twins as a team. If they make it to the postseason, I may have to root for them to win the whole thing.

Phillies - In deference to my Mets fan friends and being a New Yorker, I cannot in good faith root for the Phillies.

Brewers - since they won the Wild Card over the Mets, that leaves them out, too.

Dodgers - Manny Ramirez, con. Joe Torre, pro. I like Joe. And my brother lives in LA, both things that could help me identify with this team.

Cubs - After the Red Sox, White Sox, and Angels, the Cubs are now next in line to be overdue a World Series victory. I can get behind that. If that doesn't scream underdog, I don't know what does.

Good news for Jets fans, bad news for Mets fans

So, the Jets are even going into next week's bye week (no game) after a win against the Arizona Cardinals yesterday. I thought the game was kinda sloppy, with a lot of turnovers. But if you can pull out a win anyway, then I guess I can't really complain.

The Mets' postseason hopes came down to the last game of the season yesterday. As a sports fan, sometimes I think that's the way it should be, with all teams at the same competitive level, with the excitement of will-they-won't-they lasting until the very end. No major blowouts, being so much better than everybody else. No limping to the finish line, playing games that nobody's watching because they don't mean anything. My heart really can't take that kind of excitement, though, unless my team ends up winning. And yesterday, the Mets did not. A huge disappointment, but I think the writing had been on the wall with their utter lack of a bullpen. You can't blow leads and blow games over and over again and then expect to lock up a postseason berth and make everything all better in the final game. It doesn't work that way. The good news? Maybe last season will no longer be looked at as one of the biggest collapses in sports history. Maybe now it'll just be looked at as the Mets pulling a Mets. (Sorry, Dania!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tomorrow is another day

Well, the bumpy road that was this season for the Yankees is finally over. The Red Sox finally put them out of their misery, clinching a playoff berth last night with a win. Since the Sox would've had to lose every game for the rest of the season in order for the Yankees to make it to October, last night just made official what we've all known for weeks, if not months.

I'm strangely okay with it. I think it's because I actually wasn't all that invested in the Yankees this season. Does that make me a fairweather fan? Maybe it was a survival technique? Maybe the past few years of early October exits had prepared me well for this, my first Yankee season with no postseason.

Anyway, it reminds me of the year the Yankees lost in the playoffs to the Red Sox. What year was that, 2004? What made that particularly awful was that it was the first time ever a team had come back from a 0-3 deficit to win four games in a row to make it to the next round. Oh, and that it was the Red Sox who won, and the Yankees who lost. I was so devastated that night that I called out of work sick the next day so I could wallow in misery in my pajamas without dealing with anybody. Maybe I was a crazy person. Maybe I was a true fan. Maybe I was just being a drama queen.

No dramatics this year. It was what it was. Football is here to give me something to cheer for and for us Yankee fans, like Scarlett O'Hara always said, "Tomorrow is another day." I'll be there next spring, ready for a new beginning.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Time to say goodbye: 21 September 2008

I didn't think I'd get emotional at the final game played at Yankee Stadium, seeing as how terrible the season has been and how anticlimactic the season has become, but I did.

I'm sorry, I can't help it...I'm a girl!

I'm a sucker for sentimentality. And I'm a slave to my hormones. I probably would have cried had circus clowns come out onto the field and thrown pies in players' faces, but as it was, everything felt like it had come full circle, and I wasn't even around for the beginning - the fact that the Yankees won, Johnny Damon and Jose Molina hitting homers, one of my all-time favorite Yankees and one of the remaining members of that Yankee dream team of 1995-2000, Andy Pettitte, getting the win, the great Mariano Rivera recording the last out, and Derek Jeter, who rightfully will be remembered by future generations along with Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jackson, etc. etc. as one of the Yankee greats, as the very last Yankee to come to bat in this stadium.

I think what put me over the edge, however, was his speech following the game, surrounded by his teammates, thanking the fans, and then all the fans being saluted by those players. They have played mediocre at best this year. They have let me down time and time again this year. But I was misty-eyed last night and I'm misty-eyed right now as I write this and I'm not ashamed to say it. I hate endings. But every ending leads to a new beginning, which is something Yankeedom needs right now. So, to new beginnings and fond memories!

Oh my God, I'm such a girl...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

No more reasons to watch

Jeter got his 1,270 hit at Yankee Stadium in the first inning tonight, putting him in first place for hits at YS...congrats to him. He's a phenomenal athlete and definitely a future Hall of Famer. I can understand not putting this hit off till Sunday - that's cutting it a little close, since this record will not carry over to the new stadium, but he could've at least waited till the end of tonight's game so there was still something to look forward to.

Boo, D.J., for that! I still love you, though!

One last reason to watch

Well, for the first time in as long as I can remember, as this baseball season draws to a slow and painful close, there is little to cheer about when it comes to the Yankees.

There is, however, one last reason to keep watching.

Derek Jeter is currently tied with Lou Gehrig for the most hits at Yankee Stadium. I think he tied it up sometime last week. There are about two weeks left in the season but only a week left before the final game at Yankee Stadium. Only a week but only one hit to go. So for any Yankee or Derek Jeter fans out there, till that happens at least, there's still a bit of excitement left in watching the Yankees play. This record won't carry over to the next stadium, so Jeter will either be tied for the best or he will be the best when it comes to that. So, enjoy that, and hope that with the new stadium will come a new attitude and desire to play well and win from this team.

With the Yankees out of postseason play and the Mets coming dangerously close to validating their fans' paranoia about their ability to make it to the playoffs without another huge collapse, all I can say is that after Jeter gets his next hit, I will truly be ready for some football...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A partial sports mystery...

...and this is the question, half about baseball, that I pose to you...

If your last name is Longoria, is it a rule that your name has to start with, or be, "Eva"?

Or, perhaps, television actress Eva Longoria has a male baseball-playing alter ego who moonlights as Tampa Bay Ray Evan Longoria when not starring on Desperate Housewives.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The state of my Yankee fandom...

...is such that I totally forgot there was even a game on last night. How sad is it when this girl not only would rather play The Sims 2 on her computer, staring at a poster of the players from the 1998 World Series championship team, but that the game didn't even register on her radar? But really, that 1998 team was awesome. As is The Sims 2. And I would have been so angry if I had stayed up to watch the 10:00 game in Anaheim only to see this All-Star lineup lose 12-1 to the Angels. Is this what happens when superstar athletes are guaranteed to make millions whether they win or lose? Is my not caring just catching up to their not caring?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Serena, Brett, Tom Brady, oh my!

Congrats to Serena Williams for winning the women's U.S. Open yesterday. Women athletes don't get a lot of play, but those Williams sisters do a hell of a job representin'...

Brett Favre looked pretty good in the Jets' win yesterday over the Miami Dolphins (and it was still a little sad to see Chad Pennington in a Dolphins' jersey!). But he threw a couple of great passes, including one 50+ yard one for a touchdown, so maybe his addition to the team will be a good thing - I'm a little less nervous for them than I was. And I also mean he "looked pretty good" in that even pushing 40, he's still pretty easy on the eyes!

Tom Brady left the Patriots' game yesterday with a knee injury that could end his season. Nobody wants to see anybody get injured, and definitely not injured so badly that they have to sit out an entire season, but as a New York sports fan, if somebody had to suffer that injury, I can't think of anyone better for us than Tom Brady. For anyone unfamiliar with football heartthrobs, er, quarterbacks, Brady is the father of Bridget Moynihan's son and is currently dating Gisele Bundchen. He's also the guy the Giants beat to win the Super Bowl last year. The road to the Super Bowl will probably be easier for everyone (sans the Patriots) without him in the game, but I'd like to wish him a speedy and complete recovery anyway.

And I'd like to end this entry by saying that I have a new favorite commercial, an Oreos commercial featuring the Williams sisters and the Manning brothers, which is just hilarious. "Well, my brother and I would like to announce that it's on like Donkey Kong!" That will never get old. I'll admit up front that I love pretty much any commercial that Peyton Manning is in, they always crack me up, but Serena, Venus, and Eli do a great job too...


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Giants-Redskins season opener

Wow...Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress are on fire tonight. I think some people question Manning's ability to lead this team, but so far, this opening drive the Giants are putting together is pretty exciting and the entire team looks like, well, they look like a team. And Manning just scored a touchdown. Looks good to me.

Sports mish-mash

Quick note: In the Williams' sisters match-up at the U.S. Open, it was Serena who emerged victorious.

Last night's Yankee game made use of MLB's new instant replay to determine whether or not A-Rod had hit a home run (he did). I'm all for the umps being able to review plays to figure out the right call to make - I feel like in this season especially, there have been too many instances of bad calls being made. Sometimes it goes too quick or you don't have the right angle to make the call, but for everyone viewing at home, the replay shows it clear enough. While homeruns have been an issue this season as well, I don't know if that's the reason I would have instated the instant replay. I would love for it to be used on an any questionable call. You don't win or lose games on one bad call, and for every bad call that goes against you, you usually get one at another time that goes in your favor, but it can definitely shift the momentum of a game and thus contribute to wins or losses. Anyway, I don't really know how it fits into the flow of a baseball game, unlike in football, where timeouts get called and plays stop all the time. But I guess we'll find out.

And for all of you who have given up hope on your baseball team extending it's play into October or who have just become bored, you can now jump ship to another sport - football is starting again (doesn't it seem like just yesterday that the Giants won the Super Bowl? No, that's just me? I'm the only one who can't let go? You can blame this sucky Yankee season for that...) The NFL season kicks off tonight with the Giants versus the Redskins. I guess this means summer really is over...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Michael Phelps to host SNL premiere

Old news, I know, but you never know who may have missed it. Michael Phelps will be hosting the Saturday Night Live season premiere on September 13. Now, the funny on SNL has been spotty at best the past couple of seasons, but there are still cast members worth watching (Amy Poehler, Darrell Hammond) and they still have funny skits - I recommend watching this show on DVR because then you can skip all the lame parts (which some weeks includes everything except Weekend Update). Anyway, I think it's probably worth it to check out Phelps on the premiere. He's not an actor, nor is he a comedian, but you don't have to be either to have good timing, to be able to read the cue cards in a not-so-obvious manner, and to be a good enough sport to go all out in making fun of yourself. I've seen Academy Award winning actors fail fantastically at their hosting duties on this show, but one of my most favorite episodes and hosting jobs of the past few years was neither a comedian nor an actor but an (you guessed it!) athlete. You may have heard of him? A certain Mr. Peyton Manning? So I'm giving Phelps the benefit of the doubt. And even if he tanks (and most hosts on SNL the past few years have), I'll still love him.

Bizarro world in the land of pro baseball

As the MLB season draws to a close, I'm left wondering if fell asleep in the U.S. and woke up in Oz or some other weird world, because everything seems upside down and turned around. Neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox are in first place in the American League East? Tampa Bay could come away with that honor? And the Yankees, for the first time since I started watching them, probably won't even make it to the post season?!? (Thank God, so far anyway, for the Mets!) Yankee pitching has become so decimated and unreliable that Carl Pavano - CARL PAVANO! - of all people has become someone who not only pitches well but is winning games for them?!? Can someone please explain to me how all of this is happening?

U.S. Open, putting the focus on female athletes

So, I haven't been talking about the U.S. Open, which is going on right now (and in Flushing Meadows, not too far from my home, either) because I don't watch tennis. Personally, I find it rather boring, and that's possibly because I don't understand the game. I don't know the rules and so I don't know what I'm watching. Unfortunately, I don't have the desire the learn.

But interested in a sport where female athletes shine? Tennis is one of those games. From an original female great, Billie Jean King, to Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles, Steffi Graf, many others, and the current sister powerhouse combo of Venus and Serena Williams, this is a sport that happens every year (unlike the Olympics) where women are more than on top of their game. Apparently, at this current competition, the Williams sisters are on a collision course, set to meet Wednesday night in a quarterfinal matchup. As these are two of the best female athletes currently competing in sports, this should be quite a match. Exciting enough for me to watch? Probably not. It's not my cup of tea. But it might be yours.

The U.S. Open ends September 7, and can be watched on TV on CBS and USA.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

In honor of my birthday today...

...let's take a look at some of the athletes (pretty awesome athletes, I might add) who are lucky enough to call August 24th their birthday, too:
Inge de Bruijn (1973) - Dutch swimmer and four time Olympic champion. She made her debut at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and retired from competitive swimming in 2007.

Reggie Miller (1965) - spent his 18 year NBA career with the Indiana Pacers, and a player who played a key role in the Knicks-Pacers Eastern Conference playoff rivalry of the 1990s, back when I was a Knicks fan. I loved to hate Reggie Miller in those years.

Cal Ripken Jr. (1960) - spent his entire MLB career (1981-2001) with the Baltimore Orioles, was a 19 time All-Star, is a Hall of Famer and considered one of the best shortstops to ever play the game. He played in a record 2,632 straight games spanning 16 seasons (which seems like an almost impossible feat, considering how easy it is to get injured and how even a minor injury can sideline a player for one day, which would be enough to break that streak).

Vince McMahon (1945) - since we haven't decided whether or not the WWE qualifies as a sport, we're just gonna go ahead and include McMahon on this list. Chairman of the WWE and one of the campiest villains that people (my boyfriend included) love to hate. Wrestling may be more soap opera than sport, but the physicality of it is real and so McMahon will manage to squeak by onto this list.

In side notes: today was the closing ceremony of the Olympics and last night, the Redeem Team beat Spain for the gold medal. I didn't watch it, but my dad did, and he said the Americans, these professional Americans who get paid millions of dollars whether they win or lose, were jumping up and down and as excited as any Olympians have ever been to win gold, which just goes to show that even athletes who have sold out and who are in it for the money started out because they love the game, and that deep down, that love of the game is still inside them.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Women's basketball takes gold

The American women beat Australian to win the gold medal in basketball this morning, their fourth straight golden win. Kudos to them for keeping pace with the men's team, which goes for gold against Spain tonight (this morning?) at 2 a.m. - seriously, they couldn't schedule this for a more convenient time? All the major events "just happened" to fall into primetime U.S. scheduling but men's basketball, in the gold medal game, featuring some of the biggest superstars in the NBA, going for a redemption win no less, falls in the middle of a night. On a Saturday. Bizarre. Although now that I think about it, most bars outside New York close at 2 a.m., so maybe everybody who's out partying tonight will be not only awake but home in time to catch the game.

Just another bizarre note on the MLB front: Carl Pavano is pitching for the Yankees tonight. Pavano, who hasn't pitched at the major league level since April of last year. Pavano, who is totally cute but which still doesn't make up for how spectacular a failure he's been for the team. Right now the Yankees are winning, though, thanks to a Giambi home run, but it's kind of confusing, because they're playing in Baltimore and everyone was cheering to hit (Baltimore is so close to New York that you can find a ton of Yankee fans at Oriole home games - random fact, my very first Yankee game was at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Go figure.)

Anyway, congratulations to the American women's basketball team, and good luck to the men tonight.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

108 wins and counting...

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won Olympic gold in beach volleyball for the United States without losing a single game or dropping a single match. For someone who refused to even take part in a beach volleyball league for fun this summer, I enjoyed watching these two play, as I have in the past. They make it look so easy. Meanwhile, I'm thinking how much I would hate getting sand in my mouth if I had to lunge for the ball. But even more impressive, they've won 108 consecutive matches. May-Treanor and Walsh are relentless and they admit that they are competitive to a fault, but how many other athletes/teams, amateur or professional, can claim a streak that long?

This, I think, should definitely be classified as a "go, girl!" moment...


The American women's soccer team won the gold medal, beating Brazil in overtime. I'll admit I didn't watch any of their games this time around (women's soccer is still Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain to me), but American women continue to dominate in this sport, making it only more sad that the professional women's soccer league wasn't able to sustain itself stateside - where are all the female soccer fans? All the little girls who want to grow up to be professional athletes and superstars?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A question about men and sports

This is something that impresses me, confounds me, and annoys me.

I have noticed something about men who are sports fans. Men who don't follow sports don't count. But a guy who is totally into sports, whether it's one sport or many, seems to have this extra space in his brain for an endless amount of stats. Maybe this is the space women use to know how to do laundry or wash dishes. Maybe this is the space women use to place some kind of importance on personal hygiene, like taking regular showers and brushing our hair when we get out of bed in the morning. Maybe this is the space women use for common sense. It's a scientific mystery.

But here it is: without fail, a male sports fan seems to be able to spit out at a moment's notice the batting average and on base percentage of his favorite player. Not only that, he can tell you how many times his favorite team has come behind to win this season, how many players they've left stranded, how many games they've won when leading in the eighth inning, and every pitcher's ERA. Not only that, but they can give you these same stats on not just their favorite players and teams, but on their opponents as well. Not only that, but they can give you all these stats for players and teams from 30 years ago. And they look at you as if you have two heads when you say that not only do you not know who won the Cy Young Award for the National League in 1969, but unless he's putting that award to good use by pitching your team into the World Series this year, you couldn't care less who the winner was (Tom Seaver for the NY Mets, by the way, which I had to look up).

As someone who knows Jason Giambi is a power hitter but couldn't tell you his batting average this season, and as someone who knows that Goose Gossage made it into the baseball Hall of Fame this year but couldn't tell you why beyond the fact that he was a pitcher, I do find this ability of male sports fans impressive. But at the same time, I can't help but think that if they channeled all this collective brain space and power into something useful and productive, that the human race might have already cured cancer and achieved world peace.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gymnastics update and Olympic gripe

Shawn Johnson finally won gold, on the balance beam, after collecting a bunch of silvers. Good for her. She may only be 4'9" but she looks tougher than many bouncers I've seen. I wouldn't wanna run into her in a dark alley. Unless she was there protecting me.

Anyway, my gripe. Maybe it's just with the Olympic commentators, and anybody who knows me knows I have issues with sports commentators in general (just stop saying inane, stupid things! Silence can be golden!)...the things they say when someone who maybe was the favorite to win gold, "only" wins silver. Or anybody who fails to capture a gold, but "only" comes in second or third. They make it sound like that athlete was a complete failure. Like everything they worked for their whole lives and especially the last four years broke down at the last second and was all for naught.

Really? Sure, maybe Shawn Johnson wasn't the absolute best in the all-around gymnastics competition. Maybe Dara Torres came up a little short to beat everybody else in swimming. But being second best in your particular sport out of everybody in the entire world (that's a lot of people, in case you didn't know)? Not too shabby.

Instead of focusing on how "disappointing" it must be to have gold elude an athlete, why not congratulate them on their achievement of coming out on top (while we're at it, how about congratulating all the Olympic athletes, even the non-medal contenders/winners, for their HUGE accomplishment on making their respective Olympic teams in the first place)? It's not about giving props to everybody for any slight thing in order to make them feel good about themselves. It's about recognizing and celebrating real achievement. As someone who probably falls into the bottom half of the human population when it comes to athletic prowess, coming in 2 our of 6.6 billion isn't the end of the world.

Not to keep beating a dead horse...

...but just wanted to point out another thing that made Michael Phelps' accomplishment so amazing. Not only did he have to win eight medals to break Mark Spitz's record, he had only signed up for eight events.

No wiggle room there.

Not only would he have to win eight golds, he'd have to do it in every single race he was swimming. As we all know now, after watching Aqua Man swim, that monumental task seems like it should have been a foregone conclusion, but it must have been a daunting goal a week ago, even for the best athlete.

And Phelps just might be the best athlete.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

And history was made

Oh. My. God. I can't breathe. The American team just won gold in the men's medley relay and I don't think I took a single breath while Michael Phelps and Jason Lezak swam their legs. Jeez Louise. My heart is still racing. That was the most stressful 3 minutes ever. Well, maybe not ever. But that was almost too much for me to take.

Michael Phelps just made history, winning his eighth gold medal in a single Games, toppling Mark Spitz's seven golds record set in Munich back in 1972. That was amazing. It's moments like these, when I almost can't even watch because of how stressful it is (and that's just watching in my living room - this is why I'm not the Olympic swimmer...), when my heart is racing, when Michael Phelps is hugging Aaron Piersol and his mom is cheering on Jason Lezak and crying in the stands, that make me love sports.

And just wanted to add how much I love the Olympic Visa commercials with Morgan Freeman's narration. First, cuz I'm a sucker for sentimental crap. But also because, though they focus on American Olympians, the tag is "Go world." I think that sums up what makes the Olympics so special.

Women's medley relay

The Americans came in second. That's three silver medals for Dara Torres. Not too shabby for a woman who is old enough to be the mother to, like, three-quarters of these athletes. They got beat by the Australians. Those Australians swim like they're born in water.

More Olympics happenings...

41 year old Dara Torres, the oldest person to make it on the American swim team, just won the silver in what looked like the 100m free. She's racing again in about 15 minutes in the women's relay medley. And then, most excitingly, Michael Phelps swims in the men's relay medley for what would be a record-breaking eighth gold medal. I missed his seventh gold, but talk about a nail biter! I was freaking out for him just watching the highlights today, even though he already nailed it. What an athlete. He's just an amazing, gifted athlete and how awesome to see him so excited after that win. He seems like such a dorky goofball. I love it. I hope he gets that eighth gold tonight...

And congrats to Nastia Luikin and Shawn Johnson from the American women's gymnastics team, who came in first and second respectively in the overall competition. Apparently, Nastia is only the third American woman to win gold in that event. And as someone who has never mastered the cartwheel, who can barely do a somersault, and who can't keep her balance on solid ground much less on a balance beam, I am in awe of what these girls can do with their bodies. How they flip and jump and contort and launch themselves into the air, I'll never know.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Michael Phelps, still on track...

Last night, Michael Phelps (who, more and more, I am convinced is absolutely part fish) won two more gold medals. This not only keeps him on track for eight golds to beat the record of seven golds won in a single Olympics, but puts him at the very top of all time Olympic athletes as having the won the most gold medals ever. All this, from a 23 year old kid. The worst and best part is how easy he makes it all look - he makes it look effortless!

And congratulations to the US women's gymnastics team and men's gymnastics team, who both medaled, silver and bronze respectively...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic highlights from the opening weekend

They're calling it the most exciting race ever, and I'm not entirely sure they're wrong. Swimming is one of the Olympic events I enjoy watching. Michael Phelps is a favorite of mine. But watching the US men's 4x100 relay team come from behind to not only win, not only smash the world record to win, but to beat the French, who were trash talking the Americans beforehand, by .08 seconds...it was pretty amazing. If you missed it, you can watch the video on the NBC Olympic web site, or follow the link below:


That feeling you get in your stomach as you realize, oh my God, this team actually has a chance, they might actually do it...that excitement? That's sports at its best.

Also at its best? Watching Brendan Hansen, who came in 4th (and is incredibly cute) in the 100m breaststroke, sincerely congratulate Japan's Kitajima, who not only came in first but broke Hansen's record.

Other upcoming competitions to watch: the men and women's basketball teams; men's soccer; Michael Phelp's quest to break a record by winning 8 gold medals in one Olympics (2 down, 6 to go...I don't think I'll love him any less though if he doesn't make it); women's gymnastics, who are struggling but hanging in there.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Summer Olympics 2008

Today is the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games. If you want to get technical, that ship already sailed, as Beijing is 12 hours ahead of New York, I think. But the ceremony was taped and will air tonight on NBC at 7:30 pm EST.

My brother, like many people, is very much into the pageantry and spectacle of the opening and closing ceremonies. I kinda like to see the interesting ways they decide to light the official torch with the relay torch. One year they shot the flame into it with a bow and arrow. That was pretty cool. But I prefer the sports. I just love rooting for my team.

Running is obviously a big one - I remember watching Michael Johnson, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Flo Jo...

Gymnastics is huge - watching Kerri Strug land on a twisted ankle and not fall down in order to win gold for the women's team was pretty frickin' awesome. Paul Hamm was a big name I remember watching last time who was pretty impressive.

I'm kinda into swimming the past couple games - Dara Torres is a huge story this year. She's 41 years old, is in her fifth Olympic games I think, and is supposed to be phenomenal. I'd like to watch her race. Michael Phelps and Aussie Ian Thorpe, who went head to head in the games last year, race again this year. were fun to watch - Phelps is amazing. And a cutie ;)...keep an eye on him this year.

And for those of you who aren't really into all those "Olympic sports," there's also "regular" sports like soccer and basketball. The US women's soccer team lost their first game to Norway but are still considered medal contenders. The US men's basketball team is star-studded for all you NBA fans, from Dwayne Wade to LeBron James to Kobe Bryant. All on the same team. Sounds fun.

There's a lot of controversy over the Games being held in China. China is a controversial country. I don't agree with their politics and practices concerning the Sudan, concerning Tibet, concerning their own people. But I also don't agree with those people who are protesting and boycotting the Olympics. I support our athletes. They trained their whole lives for this and when an American excels, I feel proud to be an American, even though I did nothing. And I am proud to see people from every nation engaged in a competition of national pride that doesn't involve deadly weapons. And I am proud when an American and someone from China and someone from Russia can stand on a podium together and acknowledge each other as people, people who excel in and love the same things, the same sports, the same spirit of competition and excellence, not as an American and someone from China and someone from Russia, but just as people.

Okay, enough of that. For all things Olympic - times, schedules, results - check out http://www.nbcolympics.com/

Thursday, August 7, 2008

There's something about Brett Favre

So, Brett Favre, who had supposedly retired from the Green Bay Packers after last season (and to be more specific, after the Packers were knocked out of the playoffs by the New York Giants on the way to their underdog Super Bowl victory...I really need to get all those games on DVD so I can rewatch that playoff run. When current sports glory evades my teams, I over-revel in past glories...), was traded to the New York Jets late last night, early this morning.

For anyone who doesn't know Brett Favre from football, you might know him from his itty bitty but pivotal role in "There's Something About Mary."
I like Favre. He seems like a good guy. I like the Jets. They practice on a nearby field at Hofstra University and my dad and grandfather used to take us to watch them. My sister's friend from junior high and high school, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, plays (played?) with them. My dad and brother are diehard fans. And as much as Chad Pennington totally deserves a spot as a Crush of the Day here, he always seemed to be injured or not coming through the way top calibur quarterbacks do for their team.

But here's my problem with the deal, and it's the same problem I have with many of the trades made by the Yankees (speaking of which, I go to Australia for two weeks and there were so many deals and trades made by the Bombers while I was gone that I come back to a team I don't even recognize! Not sure how I feel yet about all that...)...the Yanks always go for the quick fix. And for them, the quick fix is signing an expensive, aging superstar for what will probably turn out to be a year or less, whose best days are pretty much behind them. Am I saying that this is the case with Favre? Not necessarily. But he's 38, which is practically ancient in the sports world. And he did retire. And how long do we expect him to stay in New York? And how many up and coming young guns with promising careers ahead of them will the team have to pass over because they spent all their money on him? I don't know the answers to those questions. Maybe I'm worried about nothing. And I use "worried" losely because I'm still not a total football convert (you can tell what sports I actually love by which sports I watch all season, not just during the playoffs or postseason), and because I might decide to become a Giants fan, not a Jets fan (sorry, Dad!)

Anyway, in honor of whatever contributions Chad Pennington did make to the team while he was here, here's this edition of Sports Crushes of the Day:

Chad Pennington, quarterback, New York Jets - he didn't always win me over on the field, but he was always fun to look at.

Mark Texeira, first base, Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim - loved him on the Texas Rangers, loved him on the Atlanta Braves, love him on the Angels even though he's beating up on my beloved Yankees. He's just an awesome player to watch play.
Justin Christian, outfield, New York Yankees - this kid is normally a bench player, but he totally earned his last two starts in outfield this week. He has been tearing it up on the field offensively, hitting balls, getting on base, stealing bases like a bona fide thief, and manufacturing runs. Could he be this season's Melky Cabrera or Robinson Cano or Joba Chamberlain, another edition to the Yankees' New Guard?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Australian sports: and I thought American sports could be confusing...

So I recently returned from a sojourn to the Land Down Under. It was a business trip, so I spent most of my time working, but I did have some down time in which to take in a bit of the local culture, including Australian sports.

First important thing to note: I was staying in a rather posh hotel in a rather posh room. I thought I'd have more of a tv channel selection and definitely more of a variety, so I'm going to assume what I did get were the channels deemed most of a priority for Aussies - of the twelve or so channels on my telly, three or four were constantly showing either Australian football or rugby. To be honest, I really can't tell the difference between the two, but either or both was always available for my viewing pleasure.

Now, I admit that I only just recently began to understand the rudimentary rules behind American football, so it's not a longshot to say that I found both Australian football and rugby beyond bewildering. Most important note, which most people are probably aware of, is these sports seem just as rough and tumble and full of pounding contact as American football, only the players are running around in nothing more than rugby jerseys and shorts. Score one for the Aussies in terms of physical toughness. Or sado-masochism. Take your pick.

But seriously. American football may be difficult for me to understand, but at the very least I can follow that there are plays, with a clear beginning and an end. One team has the ball, they either pass it or run it, the other team tries to stop them, play continues if the offense succeeds, or they switch sides if the defense is successful. The sports I was watching on television in Sydney had tossing forward and backward, had kicking, had people knocking each other down and then play continuing as if the defense had not been successful. In fact, there were no individual "plays" I could identify. It was kinda like watching American football, 2 years ago, all over again for me.

Some of the guys I was traveling with kinda got into the Aussie sports thing while we were there, or tried to anyway - they attempted to go to a local rugby match, but it ended up not being able to fit into their schedule, and a couple of them invested in a rugby ball to toss around in their own American-style version of the sport, which was basically just touch football with a rugby ball instead of a pigskin...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Subway Series

So, this weekend the Mets and Yankees are playing a four game Subway Series, always exciting stuff here in New York. Nothing divides people and causes more bickering than declaring your allegiance as a fan of one team or the other. Lord knows how my best friend and I are still so close, what with her being a diehard Mets fan and me one of the Yanks. Avoiding each other as much as possible this weekend will probably help. Also, I'm one of the more laidback Yankee fans out there. I support all New York teams. Plus, it helps that my team is just better than hers. :)

Anyway, today they play a doubleheader - the first game is all tied up at 1 at Yankee Stadium right now, and tonight they'll take the series back to Shea for another game tonight and two more over the weekend. I really want the Yanks to win. The Mets kind of embarrassed them in this past spring's Subway Series. Right now, though, Mike Pelfrey is pitching for the Mets, which is leaving me torn, because Pelfrey is today's Crush of the Day:

I discovered this new crush when I went to Shea and saw him pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks recently. He took a 3-0 game all the way into the ninth inning and even got a hit (something most pitchers, even National League pitchers, have trouble doing). He did a great job. And he's 6'7" (I've been known to like my men ridiculously tall). Plus, look how adorable! Anyway, I want the Yanks to win but I hate to see Pelfrey lose. These are the dilemmas I face as a female sports fan. I doubt these kinds of thoughts ever enter the minds of my male counterparts, which is why us girls have to stick together!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Germany advances

Well, the German soccer team is the first one to move on to the Euro 2008 semifinals, beating Portugal (sorry, Nice Guy Rich!) 3-2 yesterday.

I tried to find a video clip that could really highlight how awesome Germany's first goal was, from the way the ball was brought up the field, being passed back and forth, to the way it was fed perfectly to Schweinsteiger, and all at lightning speed! It was beyond impressive. Anyway, this is the best I could come up with so far, and it's not even great because they slowed it down so much for the breakdown, but I'll keep looking.


Also, we have a new sports crush:

Michael Ballack, captain of the German soccer team. Don't know much else about him yet but he got the winning goal in the game against Portugal as well as in Germany's win over Austria. I'm going to be keeping an eye on this one for the rest of the tournament, I think...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good bye, Willie Randolph

Well, it was only a matter of time. The New York Mets fired manager Willie Randolph, along with most of his coaching staff, last night after a 9-6 win over the Angels in Anaheim. The executioner's axe had been raised for quite a while. During spring training, all the comments (in New York, at least) had been that the Mets, on paper, had the best team in baseball. They were the team to beat.

Well, apparently, every other team got the memo, because after last night's victory, the Mets were a game under .500 and sitting toward the bottom of the National League's Eastern division.

I'm sorry to see Willie go. He seemed like a nice guy...which doesn't necessarily translate to good manager. He was at the helm during the Mets' fantastic run last year...culminating in their historic collapse at the end of the season. I think it's a little too simplistic to lay all the blame at the manager's feet when a team is underperforming or just playing terrible ball, but I also think sometimes when a team is in a rut, things have to be shaken up. And just as the leader will get the praise for victory, they'll get the blame with defeat.

I don't think there's any good way to get fired, but I'm sure there was a better way than the way Mets management handled Willie's case last night. Good luck to him in his future endeavors, and I guess we'll find out soon enough if his leaving will turn things around for the Mets.

Best athlete ever?

Is it possible that Tiger Woods is the best athlete ever? He captured his 14th major victory during the U.S. Open on Monday. Does golf even count as a sport?

Yay, Germany!

After Germany's victory over Austria yesterday in soccer, I am definitely getting in touch with my German roots and cheering for this team. Next up: Portugal. Now, it's kind of hard to watch these matches because they're playing in Europe, and are thus on TV in the States at all sorts of weird hours. Today's match between France and Italy (yay, Italy!...not Italian, but besides America, it is the only other country I've ever lived in) is at 2:45 pm Eastern time. So if you're not near a television but you have access to the Internet at work (and the time and/or sneakiness to check the game out), you can watch the gamecast on ESPN.com (check out soccer, Euro 2008). The live blogging commentary is hilarious.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The brothers Manning and some sports updates

The NBA Finals will be going to at least a Game 6, as the Lakers beat the Celtics last night. Fortunately for all you Boston fans, the next two games (if a Game 7 is needed) are back in Boston, and while homecourt advantage sometimes seems kinda arbitrary and not really, well, real, apparently Boston has a phenomenal record at home, so hopefully they'll be able to close this series out and send the Losers, I mean Lakers, back home.

There's a big European men's soccer tournament going on right now, Uefa Euro 2008. I think the first round is almost over, with 2 out of 4 teams from each group advancing and with some possible surprise early exits - 6th ranked Czech Republic, 7th ranked France, 8th ranked Greece, and most disappointingly for a good friend of mine if it happens, 3rd ranked Italy. Another friend of mine is excited to see his favorite team, Portugal, advance, and as everyone seems to be lining up behind whatever team is representing the land of their forefathers, I guess I might as well start rooting for Germany.

Anyway, enough about sports updates...let's talk about the real reason you're reading this entry: the brothers Manning, both Super Bowl champs. If you have read some of my earlier blogs, you already know that both Peyton and Eli are currently two of my top sports crushes, which is why I nearly died of a heart attack when I saw them both out at the Maritime Hotel in New York City Saturday night.

Now, New York is not L.A. when it comes to running into celebrities, but there are celebrities in New York, though of the more low-key, not-being-hounded-by-the-paparrazzi variety, and if you go there enough, you're bound to run into one. Once I passed right next to Molly Shannon walking on the street. Another time I ran into Liev Schrieber coming out of his apartment building. The point is, it happens, and I always liked to think that I would be cool, I would be calm, I would be collected. I would be too sophisticated to faint or shriek or act in any way to painted me as a super girly girl or a celebrity-crazed groupie stalker. I would be so casual and nonchalant that said celebrity would notice and think to themselves, "Look how unaffected she is. That's awesome. I want to be friends with her." I know. I look normal on the outside, but inside, I am mentally deranged.

Where was I? Right. Grace under pressure and all that crap. I was at the Maritime bar with four girlfriends from Jersey and four guy friends from Vancouver and it was the guys, of course, being guys, who noticed the Mannings eating dinner. And being huge sports fans and apparently Colt fans, actually walked over to the Mannings and said hello. And then used the fact that they had come all the way from the flippin' West Coast to guilt Peyton into taking a picture with them. All while I stood there, mouth agape in awe and shock, unable to do anything but keep saying, "Oh my God, those are the Mannings!" and giggle like a school girl. I practically swooned. Yep, that's me - cool as a cucumber. I can't imagine why more celebrities don't want to hang out with me. In my defense, these were two of my top sports crushes sitting two feet away from me, in person. I acted the same way I would've acted around any normal hot guy I had a crush on. Love makes me tongue-tied and silly. Don't tell Peyton and Eli's wives. Who were sitting right there at the table with them.

The long and short of it is, I was totally psyched to run into the Manning brothers. I was totally disappointed in myself for how much of a girly girl I turned into. I am now totally psyched for football to start again. I'm not in that picture with Peyton Manning, but gosh darn it, I'm the one who took it!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Three down, 1 to go...

As I've stated before, I've long given up on basketball, due to the dreadful, dismal state of my New York Knicks. But I've actually caught the last two NBA Finals games between the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics and for a moment, I was transported to 1994, when I used to love watching this game. It was a strange and bittersweet feeling...

In any case, I hate the LA Lakers. Why? Probably no rational reason. I have an inherent inability, I think, to root for any overhyped, overpowering team that's on top (except for my Yankees). Which has been the Lakers, but is not the Lakers, since the Celtics, from what I can discern, have had an incredibly awesome season and I don't think came into these Finals as the underdogs. But then there's Kobe Bryant, who I loathe. He may be the greatest basketball player of the 21st century so far, but he's a despicable human being. And Phil Jackson annoys me to no end, simply because he used to coach teams that used to beat the Knicks. Told ya. Nothing rationale.

So I'm rooting for the Celtics. My best friend would say it's because I'm Irish, and maybe she's right. I'm not really a fan of any Boston team (Red Sox? Patriots?) but the Celtics don't bother me. And coming back last night from such a large deficit to beat LA on the Laker's home court just makes me kinda like them all the more. They're up now 3 games to 1.

Game 5 is in LA on Sunday, on ABC at 9.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A show for girls who like sports about a girl who likes sports

The show is "My Boys" on TBS and actually, even if you don't like sports, you should check it out. The main character is a girl, PJ, who is a sports writer in Chicago on the Cubs beat - she's all about baseball and stats and sports and poker and she has a girly girl best friend from college but mostly her circle consists of her brother and a group of guy friends (hence, the title).

Every episode in the first season revolves around some kind of sports (mostly baseball) metaphor for life and the situations PJ and her friends find themselves in, but sports aside, the show just feels real - PJ isn't a stereotype...she'd rather play poker or watch the game at the local sports bar, but she'll get dressed up for a date and fawn over her college crush and she's far from perfect, making mistakes and pissing people off. On top of that, the guys in her circle are some of the most real guys I've ever seen on tv, in their interactions with each other and with women. And the way they all banter and argue and tease and have inside jokes and try to act cool with those outside their circle but aren't afraid to let loose their inner dorks around their best friends, you really believe these people have been friends for years. Add to that a close, positive non-dysfunctional brother-sister relationship, and there's so much material here that you could forget this show is sports-centric (if you wanted to - sometimes my agenda is not to push sports but to push quality television shows).

The first season wasn't perfect, but what first season ever is? The second season premieres tonight on TBS at 9:30 p.m. Check it out!

Monday, June 9, 2008

No such thing as a sure thing...

...in sports and in life. Anybody who follows horse racing knows that Big Brown was considered a shoo-in to win the Triple Crown - Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes - at Belmont on Saturday, which hasn't been done since Affirmed did it in 1978. Even those rooting against him seemed resigned that he'd get it done.

Well, he's not the first horse I've watched try in the past couple years (I only watch the Belmont Stakes, cuz it's a local sport, and I only watch when there's a Triple Crown contender), and he's not the first to have failed. Anyone who watched saw he had nothing at the end of that race and not only did he not win, but he came in dead last. The horse that was guaranteed to win came in behind everybody else, even the underdogs (underhorses?)

So that's the sports life lesson today, though I haven't decided yet if it's a pessimistic or hopeful life lesson yet...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Only in metereology and baseball...

...can you be successful only part of the time and not be considered a failure...

How often are weathermen (sorry, metereologists!) right? Half the time? 75 percent of the time? Am I giving them too much credit? Do you know how often I've heard that we're going to be hit by a huge winter storm and to expect lots of snow and ice...only for it to be a downpour with a little bit of slush? If a weatherman (sorry, metereologist!) tells you it's going to rain and it's sunny instead, he or she doesn't get fired. And they get to be on tv! Some are probably local celebrities! If they have a really good gig on say The Today Show or Good Morning, America, they might be considered bona fide celebrities! For doing their job well, some of the time.

If I got 25 percent of the information wrong in my job, I'm pretty sure I would be fired. And possibly sued for libel.

Now, to baseball. I'm sure this applies to other sports as well, but I'm going to use batting average as my example for today. When Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins won the American League batting title in 2006, his batting average was .347. That's a little more than 1/3. That means, the best hitter in the American League was hitting once every 3 at bats. And probably got a raise for it. I think any batting average above .300 is considered doing well. That's less than 1/3. So, Joe Mauer or Derek Jeter or A-Rod or whoever is doing his job (getting hits) less than 1/3 of the time and not only not being fired, but being applauded for it. Oh, and making a couple million bucks for it as well.

This is information they should really tell you early on, before you make all your important life decisions like what to do for the rest of your life. Don't go to college for writing because you love it, unless you also love living with your parents till you're 30 because you'll be too broke to move out! Study metereology because you won't actually have to study! And keep playing Little League! And make sure you're born a boy!

Oh well. I guess I can't be a baseball player...but I can still always be a weather girl (sorry, metereologist!)

Monday, June 2, 2008

A strong, manly man named...Boof?

Athletes, like anyone else with ambition and drive, want to stand out and be noticed and probably a litle bit feared. One way to be recognized is simply by having a unique, memorable name. My question is, is it possible to take that tactic too far? Silly names - given, nick, or otherwise - is an art of intimidation I am not familiar with. The names of the following athletes? Willing to bet they're striking fear into the hearts of no one...

Boof Bonser - starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. Birth name John Paul, which is a somewhat boring but perfectly respectable name. Boof sounds like something you'd name a cocker spaniel puppy. Or something you use to wash with in the shower.

Coco Crisp - birthname Covelli Loyce, outfielder for the Boston Red Sox. Or breakfast cereal? We're not really sure...

Chipper Jones - thirdbaseman for the Atlanta Braves. Birth name, Larry Wayne. I'm thinking Chipper is not a respectable nickname for any boy over the age of five. Or maybe anyone.

Milton Bradley - that's his actual name, and he's an outfielder for the Texas Rangers. Or he makes a lot of boardgames?

Joba Chamberlain - born Justin Louis, pitcher for the New York Yankees. His niece couldn't pronounce his name and so called him "Joba." Not sure that's a good enough reason to legally change your name to something so silly...and spelling it "Joba" doesn't change the fact that when you say it out loud, it's still "Jabba," as in "Jabba the Hutt." But Joba gets a pass. First, because I am a Yankee fan. And second, because he's so frickin' good that despite his name, he actually does kinda strike fear into the hearts of his opponents.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Favorite movies about sports, part II

1. A League of Their Own (1992) - There's no crying in baseball! How could I forget this movie based on the true story of the women who played professional baseball while the menfolk were off fighting in World War II? Lori Petty is annoying beyond belief as little sister Kit, but Geena Davis is awesome as farm girl phenom Dottie, Jon Lovitz is hilarious in his small role...Tom Hanks and Davis play brilliantly off each other, Madonna works it, and even Rosie O'Donnell is more funny and less annoying. I laughed, I most definitely cried (poor Betty Spaghetti's husband!), and who doesn't love seeing girls who can tear up the field as well as the boys can?

2. Any Given Sunday (1999) - a football movie that I liked before I decided I liked football. I remember this movie because it was the last one I saw in the theater with my mom. This movie is when I, and probably others, discovered that, hey, Jamie Foxx isn't just a comedian - this kid can act! Cameron Diaz annoys me and was just okay, but Al Pacino rocked the hell outta his game of inches speech, Dennis Quaid is always good, and John C. McGinley had a small but funny role that made me laugh before I realized how much he could make me laugh (as Dr. Cox on Scrubs)...and ladies, there is some full frontal (male) nudity in the Sharks' lockerroom...just sayin'!

Olympic torch atop Mount Everest

Today the Olympic torch, making its way around the world toward Beijing, was carried to the summit of Mount Everest by a team made up of Chinese and Tibetan climbers. This is a huge technological feat, requiring a special high-altitude flame and an amazing amount of teamwork (always a requirement to reach the top of the world). So let's acknowledge that.

But let's also acknowledge that publicity stunts involving dangerous mountains push people to take unnecessary risks, putting their own lives and the lives of their fellow climbers in danger. Let's also not sweep aside the fact that this climb was part publicity for China and the Olympics, part showcasing the Chinese and Tibetan people as friendly fellow countrymen, when really there is a lot of anger, resentment, and controversy over China's Communist rule over the Tibetan people.

The Olympics, like all sporting arenas, have been tainted by the scandal of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, but I think it still provides a forum for countries that may ordinarily be at odds to achieve a temporary detente, to exert themselves and their national pride in a peaceful manner, and for the world to see what we all have in common rather than the things that make us different.

Opening ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Games are August 8.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Final Season at Yankee Stadium: Yanks v. Tigers, April 29

It was cold, we were one row from the top of the stadium, the Yankees lost (thanks in no small part to a monster home run by former Yank Gary Sheffield and starting pitcher Phil Hughes still not being able to figure out that he's supposed to be able to throw a ball better than I can...what gives?!?)...but since I don't know if I'll get there again this season, it was nice to be in that stadium one last time...

Fantasy baseball league...it's killin' me!

Okay, so after getting off to a horrendous start to the season with all five of my fantasy baseball teams (much like the Yankees' season so far), I finally figured out how to fiddle with my lineups, dropping players who weren't performing well (or at all), bolstering my bench based on how many points players had, and basically just padding my team with whatever Diamondbacks were available in my teams' leagues. Not an Arizona or even really a National League fan, but that team is off to a phenomenal start. So far it seems to be working, as most of my teams are racking up more points than their rivals since I made the changes (only this week). I don't think I have a prayer of winning this thing, but I'd like to avoid the humiliation of all five of my teams coming in last place in their leagues.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mets vs. Braves at Shea Stadium April 25

My best friend Dania, who is a huge Mets fan, was able to get us free tickets to the Mets game at Shea - even though I'm a Yankees fan, I'm also a New York fan, and this is the Mets' last season at Shea, which is actually kinda sad...although from what I could see of the new stadium with the stupid new name (Citifield? Really? Am not a fan of the corporate naming of stadiums...), it's going to be pretty sweet.

Anyway, the Mets lost and didn't play all that great, but it was still fun...I love the atmosphere of actually being at a sporting event - the camaraderie, the cheering, the possibility of catching a ball, the smell of hotdogs, the taste of beer, seeing David Wright (or insert your sports crush of choice here) in person...it's all good. And usually my friends and I are frugal fans, sitting in the nosebleed section, but Dania actually scored us decent seats on the mezzanine level (and when everyone left in the 8th inning cuz the Mets were losing, we moved up to the first row on our level). It would've been even better if the Mets had won, but it was a good time, and I'm glad I got to be at Shea at least one last time before the Mets move.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ode to Friday Night Lights, the best tv show about sports that's not about sports

Ok, so Friday Night Lights the tv show is based on the movie of the same name, which I have never seen, so I don't know how they compare. The show revolves around the Panthers, the high school football team in smalltown Dillon, Texas.

Now, I am Long Island, born and raised. My brothers played high school football, I went to my high school football games, but I know there are parts of this country where everything is high school football, where the players are local celebrities and where whole towns turn out to watch 16 and 17 year olds play football on Friday nights. I don't understand this culture, I think for the most part it seems a little silly to me, and yet I love Friday Night Lights the show.

I didn't watch it the first season, but Matt Roush at TVGuide (with whom I often agree on what shows are worth watching) kept raving about it, so I caught up with it over the summer on NBC.com. And am I so glad I did, because this is easily the best show on television that nobody is watching!

High school football is a big part of the show; if you watch the show, you're gonna watch a game or two being played. But Friday Night Lights is more than football - it is a study on small town America, it is a study on society and values and family, it is a study on people. These people are real - they do real things and react in a real way and have real emotions. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Coach Eric Taylor and his wife Tami are so believable as a married couple - you believe they have problems but you believe they love each other enough to work through them. As someone who has a boyfriend who had a serious accident and has been in the hospital for a long time and is learning to walk again, Jason Street's story of dealing with paralysis, and its effect on his girlfriend Lyla and his best friend Tim is especially poignant and meaningful (and realistic) to me. And you just can't help but root for them, and root for Matt Saracen to gain confidence and do well, and for Tim and for Smash Williams to make better choices and pull it together. Friday Night Lights is just well written and well acted, which is so much more than so much of the crap on television today.

It's second season had some problems in the beginning, finding it's feet and figuring out where it was going, and they were given a shortened episode order which sucked, but the good news is, the show, despite terrible ratings, has been picked up for a third season (yay!), which will premiere first on DirectTV and which will come to NBC during the midseason next year. So, so excited for that. If you've never watched it, this means you have plenty of time to catch up - both the first and second seasons are available to watch on NBC.com, and both seasons are also out on DVD (second season came out yesterday!)

Favorite movies about sports

If you enjoy watching any of these sport-themed movies, you may just want to try watching (or in some cases, maybe playing!) the actual sport providing the backdrop for said movie...just don't expect to have Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a coach or to actually see angels in the outfield...though I guess never say never!

1. Angels in the Outfield (1994) - Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a foster kid who just wants a family and when his deadbeat dad (played by sexy Dermot Mulroney!) promises him they can live together when the Angels (a terrible team) win the pennant, Gordon-Levitt starts seeing angels who help the team play better and help them believe in themselves. I cry every frickin' time. And this is a frickin' children's movie. Good grief. Christopher Lloyd, Danny Glover, Tony Danza, Adrien Brody, and Matthew McConaughey are also in it. I'm reminded of this movie now every time Angel Pagan hits for the Mets because the fans in the stands flap their arms (like wings), the signal Gordon-Levitt uses in the movie to help manager Glover whenever he sees an angel. I think I'm gonna cry right now...

2. Little Giants (1994) - I am a sucker for these kids' sports flicks! And I was 15 when both of these movies came out!...anyway, this movie is awesome. Rick Moranis and Ed O'Neill are brothers. O'Neill, a former Heisman Trophy winner, coaches the town's peewee football team and only picks the good kids, except for his niece and Moranis' daughter, Becky aka Icebox, who is the best player of them all. So Moranis starts his own ragtag misfit team to play O'Neill's team to see which one will represent their town in the league. So many of the gags crack me up. Look for a young Devon Sawa playing Junior. Kids who just want to play football because they love football - this movie is definitely another tearjerker for me...

3. Remember the Titans (2000) - based on the true story of a southern high school football team that in its first year of being racially integrated was led to an undefeated season by its black coach, played by Denzel Washington. By learning to respect each other and understand each other and be a team, the team helps the school and town to do the same. Blah blah blah. Makes me cry every time. Will Patton, Ethan Suplee, Donald Faison, Kip Pardue, Hayden Panettiere, Kate Bosworth, and Ryan Gosling are among the star-studded cast.

4. Major League (1989) - I love frat boy comedies and I love physical comedy, and I love stories about misfits who are a complete mess and have to come together as a team. Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Rene Russo, Wesley Snipes, and Dennis Haysbert are among the cast. I also enjoy the 1994 follow-up.

5. The Replacements (2000) - when the pro football players go on strike, the has-beens and never-weres get a chance to take centerstage. Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman headline this movie, but Orlando Jones, Jon Favreau, and Rhys Ifans steal the movie with their hilarious antics. Oh, as do the scab cheerleaders (aka strippers). Also, if you're a fan of NBC's "The Office," look for David Denman (Roy) playing a deaf player.

6. Bend It Like Beckham (2002) - girls, this is a sports movie for girls about girls who play sports! Soccer, to be exact. Jess Bhamra comes from a strict Sikh family that won't let her play "football" (the movie takes place in England). David Beckham is her hero and she's really very good so she sneaks around to join a team where she befriends Keira Knightley and Jonathan Rhys Meyers is her coach. It doesn't make me cry (although it does make me sad that Jess and the other girls aspire to play pro soccer in the US, which no longer has a women's league), it does make me laugh, I did fall in love with Rhys Meyers, but it's just a fun, feel-good, sports movie about girls for girls...watch it!

I'll update this list as I think of more...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Something in the air today...

It's so beautifully gorgeous out today that it must be making everyone around here think: BASEBALL!!

I got invited to not one, but two baseball games today - New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium this Friday, and New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium next Tuesday. Of course, said yes to both, and am now very excited. You may not be able to see the game as well as when you watch it on tv, but there is nothing like the atmosphere inside a sporting arena...

Extreme sports - mountain climbing

I am obsessed with mountain climbing. Not actually doing it, of course, but reading about it and watching it and learning about it and trying to figure out what it is that drives a man or woman to the tops of the world, usually over and over again.

In general, I've enjoyed various accounts of climbers in Alaska, the Colorado Rockies, the Andes, and K2, but in particular, I am obsessed with Mount Everest. I can't even explain it, but as an avid reader, I have pretty much put aside any kind of fiction to devour everything I can get my hands on about Mount Everest (usually first person accounts by those who have climbed it). I would say in the past 3 or 4 years my collection has grown from 0 to maybe 10 or so.

I think it's because in part, I admire these men and women who have the drive, ambition, and talent to overcome so many obstacles to climb these mountains. But mostly I think it's because I still can't wrap my head around the fact that they sacrifice their savings, their families, and in many cases their lives chasing these dreams. Is it bravery or is it stupidity? I don't think I've decided yet.

Other aspects that intrigue me: true mountaineering vs. tourism mountaineering; the irresponsibility of many people allowing others (or themselves) to climb mountains like Everest without the necessary knowledge or skills; how the extreme nature of climbing mountains like Everest brings out,especially in times of disaster, the selfish and animalistic parts of human nature, but also the heroic and self-sacrificing aspects. The 1996 Everest disaster and the 2006 death of David Sharp and rescue of Lincoln Hall in particular really make me think about these things.

The first three books I read on mountain climbing and still my favorites are: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston; Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer; and Touching the Void by Joe Simpson. Recommend them to anyone. Well written and really make my emotions dance between lamenting the stupidity and being overwhelmed by the bravery and triumph of the human will.

My interest is not just limited to books about mountain climbing - have also enjoyed the Imax movie Everest and Discovery Channel's Everest series Beyond the Limit.

Sometimes people who know about this weird obsession of mine ask me when I plan to climb Mount Everest - pretty much never. I would definitely be one of those people who died. I walk into walls and trip over my feet and have mental blocks at sea level...but I would like to trek to Everest Base Camp someday, just to see it once in person.

My personal mountaineering hero: Ed Viesturs. Look him up!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008


Buh-bye Devils! Rangers on to the next round...

Buh-bye Isiah! It's been real...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All or nothing

Alex Rodriguez actually proved me wrong this inning, but 95 percent of the time, it's all or nothing with him. I think he irritates a lot of baseball fans (including a lot of Yankee fans) because when he's striking out 4 times in one game or hitting into double plays, it's hard to justify or wrap your head around the obscene amount of money he gets paid. When he's on fire, it can still be irritating to think about the fact that he's making more money than probably the entire populations of some nations, but at least he's winning games. I think he's the youngest player ever to reach 500 homeruns. He's well on pace to break the homerun record. But if he's not hitting homeruns, he's driving me nuts. When we're down and it's two outs, bottom of the ninth, he is not the man I want coming up to the plate (that would be Derek Jeter). Even if there's only one out, I'd rather see anyone but him. Because if he's not hitting home runs, he's getting out (I breathe a sigh of relief if he only strikes out, because it means at least he didn't get two outs with a double play)...

And then there are innings like the bottom of the 8th tonight when he actually does something normal and productive, which is always nice.

On and on and on

Jeez louise, Yankee-Red Sox games go on forever! You can, almost without fail, count on a game that starts at 7 pm to go to 11:30 pm, midnight...I think it's because both teams are so patient at the plate, waiting for their pitch to hit. And as a diehard Yankee fan, I thoroughly enjoy the New York-Boston rivalry, but when I'm trying to get to bed early so I'm not dead on my feet at work in the morning, it's rough.

Monday, April 14, 2008

New York wins

My mom was an Islanders fan, so maybe she's not too thrilled that the Rangers are up 2 games to 1 against the Devils, but I take New York wins where I can get them...considering the sorry start to the season the Yankees are having. Reminiscent of last year's horrific start which turned out not so bad (playoffs were made, although we all know how well that turned out), so maybe things will eventually turn around...but their losses are killing me in my MLB fantasy league!!

I think what I'm trying to say is...go Rangers!

(And after spending the weekend in Minnesota and getting to watch the bar crowd break out in excited cheers after the Wild won one of their games, let's say go Wild, too!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A quick NHL note

I, myself, know nothing about hockey. I am not a hockey fan. I've been to one hockey game, the NYPD vs. FDNY game at Nassau Coliseum, but I was with my boyfriend, who we have all learned preferred tailgating at a sporting event to actually watching the sporting event, so we missed the first half of the game. And I watched the second half through a beer haze. I know the Rangers won the Stanley Cup the year the Knicks lost in the NBA Finals. I know the Islanders play at the Coliseum. That's the extent of my hockey knowledge.

But there's a New York hockey team in the playoffs and apparently, my mother was a hockey fan. I never knew that. And I know my dad told me what team she rooted for, but I don't think about hockey so much that I've forgotten whether she was for the Rangers or the Islanders. Anyway, this post is for her.

NY Rangers vs. NJ Devils tonight, first game in the first round of the playoffs. Ranger fans are probably stoked. I hear on WFAN that Islander fans, who are vehemently anti-Rangers, are rooting for the Devils. So if they have sports bars in heaven (and Lord, I hope they do!), my mom is gonna be rooting for one of those teams. I'm a New York gal first and foremost, so though I won't be watching the game, I'm for the Rangers all the way at this point...

Wearing the cleats in the relationship

You're watching the baseball game, you're excited that the Yankees just won (or lost, if you live outside New York or are a Mets fan), you want to talk about it with someone...you know your girlfriends couldn't care less, so you think, 'Hey, my boyfriend's a guy, he'll want to recap the awesomeness that just occurred,' but somehow, the blank look of total disinterest on his face at the mere mention of the words "ninth inning rally" makes your girlfriends look like uberfans.

Welcome to my world.

I am not a jock, and my boyfriend is not an artsy, poetic, intellectual, touchy-feely metrosexual type (no offense to those men who are - my boyfriend just isn't one of you), and yet somehow, I am the sports fanatic...I wear the cleats in our relationship.

The boyfriend is not not athletic. He played basketball and swam competitively in school, and actually really loved playing lacrosse. He enjoys watching Notre Dame college football. He's a WWE aficionado (which, as I've stated in another entry, I'm not sure qualifies him as a sports fan). He's loves going to the gym and working out. And he's been to more sporting events than I have, but that's mostly for the tailgating aspect and he sometimes doesn't even make it inside the sporting arena.

All his friends are diehard NY Giants and Mets fans, and they all spent a lot of time hanging out in a bar that is usually showing sporting events on its seven tvs...but while six of those tvs are tuned to Monday Night Football, the boyfriend managed to persuade the bar's owner to set aside one of those tvs so he could watch his WWE Monday Night Raw.

It doesn't bother me. Maybe a little, when I want to gush about how well the Yankees are playing and he just rolls his eyes at me (brat!), but even after more than 2 years with him, I'm still trying to wrap my head around how someone who works out, who has an active, athletic job, who's such a frickin' guys guy doesn't find a single sport on the face of the planet remotely interesting.

There are times I've given in and watched wrestling with him, and to be honest, not only have I learned a lot about it but I've grown to even enjoy it (though the fact that I can rattle off 10 wrestlers without even thinking - Batista, John Cena, Randy Orton, the Undertaker, Edge, Shawn Michaels, Jeff and Matt Hardy, Umaga, the Big Show - slightly disturbs me and is just a tad embarrassing). The boyfriend is fair and trades off with me, letting me make him watch baseball every now and then too, though I'm not sure how much time he spends watching it and how much time he spends sleeping through it.

But I'll never forget the day we were just lying there watching a Yankee game and he said to me, "Chien-Ming Wang is pitching, huh? He's doing pretty good today." The boyfriend had expressed an opinion about sports (and even not only recognized a player but knew his name!)...it was one of my proudest moments with the boyfriend, and I realized that day that there might be hope for him as a sports fan yet.