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 (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... 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.