Archive for April, 2015

Baseball 101

April 25, 2015

All my life, I’ve been obsessed with sports. While I’ve also dabbled in reading and music, I always come back to athletic competition. As a kid I was always doing something sports related; whether that meant running the pick and roll with my dad on our backyard hoop, playing one person baseball games in the backyard or even organizing my baseball cards into “teams” to compete with one another, I had a one track mind. With that in mind, sometimes I take it for granted that sports were such a big part of my life and I assume that everyone is as nerdy and sports fluent as I am. The other characteristic I’ve had most of my life is a desire to include and educate others; whether they wanted it or not.
Baseball is a relatively simple sport, but some of the finer points are a bit more complicated. So in order to help anyone who is new to the game, let’s dive right in with the basics. (more…)


What’s in a name? The Negro League Player of the Week

April 22, 2015

I’m a very outspoken supporter of modern athletes. Fans of past players may take exception to the facts, but players today are stronger, faster and generally more skilled up and down the roster in any given league. This isn’t a knock on players of the past; any logical thought leads one to see that players in 50 years will be proportionately better as well. While the players are more skilled than their predecessors, one area where players of the past can more than keep up is in the quality of their nicknames. While there are a few decent nicknames in modern sports (My personal favorite is “White Mamba” for Brian Scalabrine), it seems as though players are too concerned with their image and brand to truly embrace a unique nickname or persona. 
Players in the first half of the century had no such worries, and consequently, had some of the best monikers of all time. “The Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams”, “Hammerin” Hank Aaron and “Say Hey” Willie Mays to name a few, some of my favorite players also happen to have some of my favorite nicknames. While some of the names make sense; Leroy Paige earned his nickname, Satchel, when he was a young boy carrying bags (and satchels) at railroad stations for passengers and William Drake got the nickname “Plunk” thanks to his reputation for pitching high and inside, others carry more mysterious back stories. My personal favorite: Floyd “Jelly Roll” Gardner. I’m not sure what a guy has to do to get the nickname “Jelly Roll”, but I don’t imagine it’s based on his slim waistline or speedy base running. While we may never recreate the glory days of cheesy nicknames, thankfully we have the internet and other written records to keep them alive in our hearts.

This week’s Negro League Player of the Week is Theodore Roosevelt “Double Duty” Radcliffe. (more…)

I love this game

April 17, 2015

It’s playoff time!

It’s amazing how memories can stick in our brains. My first memory in life is a hazy one of burying our dog Bo in the backyard in California. I don’t remember much about it, but I can remember being sad and hearing crickets. I’ve confirmed that this event did occur, so I’m not completely crazy, but the existence of the alleged crickets has yet to be verified.  While the memory of Bo is far from clear, my first sports memories are in HD quality. The first one is being devastated because the White Sox had lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 ALCS. My dad told me then and again in 2003, “Don’t love this team, they’ll break your heart.” The other memory that stands out is more of a series of events. From 1991-1993 I was lucky enough to experience the Chicago Bulls winning 3 straight championships, and since we didn’t have a TV at this time, this meant that I was lucky enough to watch the games with my dad at Flakey Jake’s; a local bar and restaurant in Tacoma. The first 2 title runs are a little fuzzy, but I’ll always remember the 3rd. Going up against a juggernaut of a Phoenix team that had Barkley, Majerle, Ceballos and KJ, this was the one series in the title runs where I felt the Bulls didn’t have the clear edge in talent. What they did have was the best player on the planet. Jordan absolutely took over the series, averaging 41 points per game in over 45 minutes per game, including 55 points in a triple overtime thriller. The champs asserted their will over the length of the series, which culminated in token 3 point shooting white guy, John Paxson nailing the clinching jumper in the closing seconds of Game 6. . Between the video games in the lobby, spending time with my Dad and watching my favorite team cement their dynasty, this is one of my favorite sports memories of all time. The potential for these iconic moments and great memories is a big part of what makes the NBA playoffs so special to me. A lot of people don’t care much for NBA basketball, citing a lack of effort, thuggishness by players or even boredom with  the game itself. I won’t worry about that too much, because as much as I wish everyone would enjoy basketball as much as I do, if you don’t like something, no argument from me is going to change your mind.
While there are 16 teams in the playoffs, it’s widely assumed that there are 3 legitimate contenders to go along with 3 more teams that could make  run if things break the right way.
My official pick is Warriors over Cavs in 6, and while I’m excited for the playoff debuts of ‘The Brow’, ‘Greek Freak’ and Coach Brad Stevens, I’ll focus more on the contenders and what to expect from them.

Shadow Ball

April 16, 2015

There are very few things about which baseball fans can ever agree. We argue over who has the best uniforms , the merits of the DH rule and even which condiments to put on your hot dog at the ball park. (My opinions in order :Chicago Cubs home whites with blue socks, yes to the DH, and traditional yellow mustard). One of the things that makes following sports great is the debates that come from our passion. I’ve always believed that if you don’t feel strongly enough about something to argue for it, you must not really care that much.

With that being said, one thing that cannot be disputed is the impact Jackie Robinson had on baseball and society as a whole. (more…)

Don’t call it a comeback…

April 6, 2015

The best and worst thing about baseball is the obsession with traditions. Being obsessed with these things plays a big part in the reluctance of the baseball community to adapt or change with the times. Whenever a technological advance comes along, baseball is always slow to embrace it. Whether it’s the use of social media, instant replay or even 100 percent online voting for the All-Star game, things like “revolutionary” or “cutting edge” do not come quickly to mind. With that being said, one of my favorite things about baseball is the abundance of history and traditions. We are able to reasonably compare modern players with their predecessors (other than black players of course). We can marvel at Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak, Walter Johnson’s 110 shutouts, Ted Williams’ .406 season and Brian Wilson’s beard. More importantly, we can enjoy the personal traditions that we have. Every year for as long as I can recall, my dad and I would pick the records for all the teams along with the major award winners. I can’t remember any time that I’ve ever gotten the majority of my picks right, but I can definitely remember all the times we talked about our picks and commiserated over our failures.
My other favorite tradition is a more recent one, but one that I enjoy nonetheless. I used to be obsessed with prospects in every sport. I wanted to see what the new, shiny toy was capable of, and because it was new, clearly it was better than what was already there. As I’ve gotten slightly older, I’ve learned to appreciate guys who are on their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th chances. This led me to pick a few of my favorite 2nd chancers coming into this season: (more…)

Hippity Hoppity, Baseball’s on it’s way!

April 4, 2015

It’s been well documented that I love sports. I often make the joke about how each season is my favorite one. While it is a fun joke for me, there’s also quite a bit of truth in it. Each individual season brings some components that I enjoy. Football season signals the beginning of fall and floods my brain with fond memories of high school and college; old friends, family time and even the crunching of leaves and smell of apple and pumpkin. Winter brings about the basketball season and during the summer, all my focus is on White Sox baseball and occasionally the Olympics or World Cup. With all that being said, the beginning of spring is my favorite of them all. In both the real world and sports world, Spring contains the largest number of enjoyable things. The freshness of the flowers and trees, the excitement of March Madness, melting of snow and the eternal optimism of the MLB season. Ernie Harwell captured it perfectly every spring. (more…)