All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘sports’

Sports Villains

I’m pretty tired of everyone “villainizing” sports stars that don’t deserve it. I understand that everything is supposed to be much more exciting with “good guys” and “bad guys,” and I sort of agree with that. It’s just that people are constantly barking up the wrong tree. I’m not a LeBron James fan, but I don’t get why he has been so demonized. He took a pay cut to go to a team where he thought he could win championships. I thought this is what athletes were supposed to do–chase your legacy instead of a paycheck (I’m talking to you, Albert Pujols). And somehow, even after doing this, he still has the stigma of “Damn that LeBron just playing for money when everyone else is playing to save the dolphins.” How did this happen?

That being said, I don’t ever root for the Miami Heat, but it’s not because of some hatred for LeBron James. It’s because you’re not supposed to root for teams that don’t know what it is like to be the underdog. New York Yankees. New England Patriots. Roger Federer a couple years back.

Now the same thing is happening with Tim Tebow but for different reasons. In reference to Tebow’s recent playoff win, Charles Barkley said, “the national nightmare continues.” Can someone explain to me how this is a national nightmare? You’ve got a nice kid who displays more class than almost anyone in sports. All of the experts said he wasn’t going to be able to compete at the professional level, and now he’s having success against all odds. Isn’t this the kind of story that makes sports great? This is like a sports movie with a happy ending.. only it’s a true story! A national nightmare? Why don’t people say that when Ray Lewis wins?

I could go on for quite a bit more with this theme, but I see no need to. I’ve made my point.

Zenyatta

Remember last year when I made a post about Zenyatta and the Breeders’ Cup Classic? This was the come-from-behind victory that had me screaming and my five month old crying as a result. Before the race, everyone thought her owners were crazy for racing her in the main race instead of the Ladies’ Classic. Well, this horse was considered slightly “over the hill” a year ago, but she’s continued racing and she is still undefeated. 19-0 heading into the Breeders’ Cup Classic this weekend (the wiki page is inaccurate, as it still says 14-0). If she wins the Breeders Cup two years in a row and goes to 20-0, she will easily be one of the top 5 race horses of all time.

I am so excited for this! I love it when there is a good mare or filly. Horse racing is the ultimate hurry up and wait event, but for some reason I don’t mind the pomp and circumstance. I just leave it on the tv for hours leading up to the race.

For more information on what is probably the premier horse racing event worldwide (November 5&6, 2010), one may visit the official website.

Saturday Morning

Well, I’ve done some productive things this morning. I made a few (back-dated) posts on this blog and edited a bunch of vacation photos. I also finally got around to listening to the new album by The Books. I bought tickets to see them at the 9:30 Club next month, so I figure I should bone up on their newest stuff. [I never thought I'd say this about any band, but] their newest album might be their best. Impossible to say after just one listen.

Well, vacation is now a week behind us. I’m not so sure I care about vacations anymore. I don’t have a job to get away from, which was a weird feeling when we were there. It’s like I pack up every single one of my normal responsibilities and take them wherever we go. Stephen is in a very shy stage, so no one could really take care of him except me and Jaime. Then, in the few hours that Stephen was napping, I felt like I had to cram everything I could into that time (shopping for trinkets, swimming, sucking at Wii). Everyone was talking about how relaxing the trip was, meanwhile I was dying a little each day. It was very nice to spend some time with the family, though. Stephen was almost used to them by about Wednesday. He eventually would walk up to my brothers and ask to be held. I will continue to go on vacations, of course, but I just have lowered expectations now. It’s just a different version of being at home. It’s like, “welcome to being a grown-up,” I guess. Nothing will ever compare to our Sandals vacation/honeymoon.

I don’t care about baseball, but Albert Pujols is on the verge of something very great. He has been quietly building a Hall-of-Fame career for nine seasons now. For batters, winning the “Triple Crown” means having the highest batting average for a season in addition to the most homeruns and RBI’s. This has not been done since 1967. Most power hitters do not have high batting averages. Anyway, Pujols is dangerously close to the triple crown right now. The thing that makes this interesting is that Pujols has never been suspected of using steroids, and his career does not have the tell-tale signs of steroid use (nagging muscle injuries, major changes in physique, wildly differing statistic from season-to-season).

We got home six days ago, and we finally started cleaning the house this morning. We hadn’t even moved the suitcases upstairs since we walked in and plunked them on the living room floor.

I have been messing around with Audio Mastering software. I do not have “golden ears” as it were. It seems that Steve has a better idea of frequencies than I do (which is kind of embarrassing because I’m the producer of our duo). Between the two of us, we’re going to have a good-sounding album before long. This album is five years in the making and we have all the tracks laid out, but they sound like they are being played through a tin can. I’m getting really excited. Part of the problem is that I have to clean up our first recordings which are horrible quality. (Our first recordings, the microphone was just placed on a shelf.. no mic stand).

Even the best laid plans..

One of the [many] abandoned homes in my neighborhood just had a buyer. It’s the townhouse next to me that has been unoccupied for about six months. It’s an investment property for the new owner, and he is just doing repairs in an attempt to rent it out. I have befriended the owner. In an act of pity, he lent me his pressure washer. I cleaned the back of the hosue, and was going to do the front on Saturday, but the guy came back to collect his pressure washer on Friday night. That was just the first of my plans to be thwarted this weekend.

Saturday night we were supposed to attend a drive in movie with Martha & Eric. We arrived at the prescribed location (we were even on time) to find that most of the viewing area was roped off and cars were not permitted to park there. Most people brought lawn chairs and set them up in the parking lot. We did not have anything like this, as we were planning to watch the movie from our car. We basically just walked around for ten minutes and left. Stephen walked very far without ever putting his hands down or stopping to rest. Maybe 1/8 of a mile to the snow cone stand and the same distance back to the car. We instead came home and watched Frost Gaint, which was everything we’d hoped.

Yesterday was the Men’s final for the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in DC. I had two tickets that I got for my birthday from S&S, and the tickets said 12 noon. We didn’t bother to check the details until yesterday morning, when we found out that the doubles final was at noon, and the singles final was “no earlier than 3pm,” depending on how long the doubles match went. So we changed our babysitting plans and planned to get to the stadium at 3pm. After the world’s longest drive-though line at McDonald’s, we ended up getting to our seats about about 3:20pm, but the match started ten minutes late so we only missed the first two games. Turned out to be a complete trouncing, with the no-name, often-injured underdog winning in straight sets.

It was hotter than hell and there we no clouds. Being up in those bleachers makes you feel like you’re right next to the sun. There are some aspects that are more impressive when you watch live, but I think I’m done with witnessing live sports. It’s too much of a gamble regarding the weather, traffic, and the players. This year, two nobodies made it to the finals; there was no way to predict that when the tickets were purchased more than three months ago.

We did manage to go grocery shopping on Saturday.

Tonight is the first of our “band practices.” If all goes well, Fat Man After Dark is going to do an audio interview with my band on Thursday. More on that later, hopefully.

Ad Nauseum

Sports media is the worst.

Roger Federer lost in the quarterfinals at both the French Open and Wimbledon this year. There has literally been hours and hours of talk about the “decline” of Roger Federer. He’ll never reach number 1 ranking again, blah blah.

Look… he’ll be 29 years old this August, and he already holds virtually every major Tennis record. In the three major tournaments so far this year, he a) won the Australian Open b) got to Quarterfinals at French Open, and c) got to Quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

He is having a great year–probably the second-best season among all male tennis players this year–but since it is not perfection, it is the biggest story in Tennis. I think it’s partially due to the fact that there are a bunch of nobodies left in the tournament, particularly on the women’s side. They (like me) having nothing else to talk about.

Give it a rest, guys.

Barry Sanders (Jr.)

When I was a kid, it was guaranteed that Barry Sanders (Sr.) would show up in the NFL highlight footage… every week.. without question.

You know that kid in the old neighborhood that was just too good at sports for the rest of you? Maybe he was a little bit older or maybe he was just really athletic. This is the kid that didn’t need any help when he had the ball because he was just so much better/faster than everyone. Well, that’s how Barry Sanders was to NFL defenders. Bo Jackson famously said “When I grow up, I want to run just like [Barry Sanders].” (Bo Jackson was, of course, older than Barry Sanders).

Highlight videos:

1988 College highlights (poor quality video)
NFL highlights and interviews (excellent compilation. my favorite is at 1:59 vs the Cowboys)

I could go on forever about the guy. He had the most prolific ten-year span of any NFL running back and he played for an awful team with no supporting cast. He never once taunted/celebrated despite his endless string of phenomenal touchdown runs. He set 35 NCAA records in his only season as a starter in college–a season in which he AVERAGED over 238 rushing yards per game and nearly 300 all-purpose yards per game. His only season in NCAA football is widely considered the greatest accomplishment for any single player in the history of collegiate sports (for instance, his 1988 season was the only college athlete’s campaign to rank in ESPN.com’s “End of the Century” list covering all sports). A lot of people like to speak in hyperbole regarding sports and/or athletes, but in all honesty, Barry Sanders did things with his body that most athletes simply can’t do. His ability to start/stop was so refined that he could fake out entire defenses with no blockers in front of him. He is also credited with “inventing” the spin move that nearly all running backs use today.

Anyway, I said all that to say this: Barry Sanders Jr. is coming up through the ranks in highschool football, and he seems to be a chip off the old block. Short stature with a low center of gravity and extremely muscular legs. He also seems to have the same reactionary style that his father did. Don’t worry about blocking schemes and all that, just run. React to the defense. He certainly has the same knack for making defenders look like idiots.

Amazing touchdown run (freshman) – I count 6 guys who fall while trying to tackle him
3 TD runs in state final (freshman)
Another sweet touchdown run (sophomore) – in this game, Barry Jr. scored three times in the first 13 minutes
67 yard punt return for touchdown (sophomore)
An interview with Barry Jr.

This kid might be good enough to get me to actually watch NCAA football someday.

Some Unrelated Items

Stephen figured out how to scroll down a webpage today. On this laptop, you can scroll by dragging down with two fingers on the touchpad (like a mac). So he dragged his hand across the touchpad and the web site moved. Well, this made him extremely happy, so I started guiding him, showing him how to scroll up and down. Everything was going well–it was a cute little moment–until he snatched my left Shift key in one motion. He completely removed it and was chewing on it within a second. He also removed my left Ctrl a few days ago. Fortunately, a replacement keyboard is about 11 bucks for this laptop.

We went hiking yesterday with Russ and his sister. I didn’t attempt any time-consuming landscape photos, but I did get some shots of Stephen playing on the path up the mountain. He is on the ground playing with a little stick and there is a huge, distant landscape behind him. Some cute stuff. I can’t get them off my camera until I fix/rebuild my computer, though. Also, when I got home and looked through the photos, I realized that every shot was under-exposed by 2 stops. My camera had switched to some “custom” setting that automatically adjusts exposure time to be 2 stops too dark. So instead of getting a proper exposure at 1/500s, it was shooting everything in 1/2000s. Pretty pissed about that. I had to reset all settings to factory default to clear the “custom function.”

Apparently a lot of people are going to be here tomorrow afternoon. Tonight and tomorrow morning we have to clean, clean, clean. I am trying to set up Jaime’s old desktop computer with Ubuntu to replace Eric’s dying computer. Lots of other people are coming over to play SNES and eat pizza.

A good article on Usain Bolt. There is a lot of hype in sports. Among still-active athletes, we are supposed to believe that:

These are just claims that I have heard mentioned directly. People like to indirectly claim things about LeBron James too, but I have never heard of anyone coming out and challenging Michael Jordan’s “greatest ever” status directly.

Is it really possible that all the greatest athletes in history are alive and active right now? Doubtful. Usain Bolt, however, is not hype. All “what if” discussions aside, he is the fastest man in history. And he doesn’t even care.

Some good music-related youtube vids.

Skip James – Crow Jane
Roscoe Holcomb – Little Birdie and Graveyard Blues
Bluegrass Jam in Brookline 2
Leadbelly – Only footage to survive of the legendary Leadbelly
Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs – need I say more?

Winter Olympics

I’m sorry folks, but I just can not get into the Winter Olympics. I should preface this [rant] by saying I grew up outside of Atlanta, so ice and snow are quite foreign to me. It was rare that I even met someone who had ever been skiing (water skiing doesn’t count).

The Winter Games feature far too many competitions that are either a) boring, b) not sports or c) determined by judges.

Am I really supposed to believe that bobsledders are brilliant athletes because they lean into turns to shave 0.02 seconds off their time? It’s like having a competition to see who can get down the playground slide the fastest. What’s next? Log flume races? A roller coaster competition?

Then there’s curling, another non-sport. Look, if you can excel at something while elderly or inebriated, it is not a sport (that goes for you too, Bowling). I understand that it is a game of millimeters and it requires precision and whatnot, but so does Billiards. Billiards has not made it to the summer games because the summer games are full of real sports and do not need all of this filler to draw fans.

Then there is the biathlon, which is the equivalent of the marathon race in the Summer Olympics, except with firearms(?). Involving firearms in an athletic competition is like NASCAR–the car/gun does all the work! I’ve heard the argument that race car drivers are athletes because they “have to train a lot” and “go on a special diet.” You know who else has to go on a special diet? Supermodels! Marksmen can’t even claim that. I’m sure there is at least one severely overweight, unathletic marksman in the world.

But, at least the above events are not decided by judges.

If you win something because you received the highest score(s) from a panel of judges, you do not deserve a medal; you deserve a blue ribbon. And up next on the winter games, the science fair qualifying event! I realize that the summer Olympics has its share of events determined by judges (diving, gymnastics), but the Winter Olympics seems to have a lot more of these events. Figure skating and gymnastics fall under the same category for me. It’s a high-end dance competition determined by judges. I don’t care what anyone says, judges are biased (and they can be paid off). If you have a difficult routine, and you don’t make any mistakes, who is to judge who actually won the competition? Does it really come down to who pointed their toes? Up next here on NBC, it’s Ice Dancing With the Stars–Olympic Edition! I’m Tom Bergeron; don’t touch that dial.. I’m not disparaging the competitors in this case (because gymnasts, snowboarders, aerial skiers, and divers are all athletes, unlike curlers), but I don’t think an Olympic competition should be decided by judges.

Why is it that snowboarding has made it into the Winter Olympics, but skateboarding has not made it into the Summer Games? Again, it is because the Summer Olympics does not need all of this filler to draw viewers/interest. They can afford to be “choosy” when it comes to allowing new sports. Don’t get me wrong, I think Shaun White is nothing short of a badass. I think he would win no matter how the competition was set up.

If you run a 100m footrace, then you have a chance of breaking the world record, but if you ride down the super halfpipe on a snowboard while doing flips, you can only win for that day. There is no universal standard you can hold someone up to. You can’t call Guinness after receiving a high score on a judged event, because you haven’t really accomplished anything definite.

So here’s what the Winter Olympics have that I’ll watch: speed skating, hockey, and the different ski races. Pretty sad list.

Kurt Warner Retires

If you believe what he just said in his press conference, Kurt Warner has officially retired (See, Favre? That’s how it’s done! None of this wishy-washy retiring business). His is one of the greatest and most improbable stories in NFL history, to say the least.

After playing in college, he was not drafted by an NFL team. He then tried out for the Green Bay Packers in 1994 but did not make the team. He (now-famously) stocked shelves at a grocery store for $5.50/hr until he signed with an AFL team in 1995. He was eventually signed as a third-string quarterback to the St. Louis Rams in 1998. Teammate’s injuries forced the coach to use Kurt Warner as a “temporary” starting quarterback. In his first four games as a starting quarterback in the NFL, Warner threw a total of 14 touchdowns. He led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory that same year, throwing for 414 yards in the big game (still the most ever in a Super Bowl game). He received league MVP as well as Super Bowl MVP awards in the same season. He had a few more good seasons–including a second Super Bowl appearance–followed by a couple of shaky seasons, and the Rams released Warner in 2004.

He immediately signed a two-year deal with the Giants. After starting the 2004 season with a 5-4 record, the Giants benched Warner in favor of the rookie Eli Manning, who finished the remainder of the season with a 1-6 record. Warner signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2005 and had two tumultuous years in which he was benched and replaced with untested quarterbacks several times. In 2008, the Kurt Warner of old was back. He made all his former teams and coaches look silly for benching (or releasing) him in the past. With the exception of losing the Super Bowl, his 2008 postseason was the best on record. He set the yardage record and tied the postseason touchdown record. The 2009 season saw him break more records and reach career milestones (such as reaching 200 career touchdowns). He had a playoff game with 5 passing touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers but was nearly shut out by the New Orleans Saints the following week. After enduring several sacks and a brutal block-from-behind following an interception, Warner left the game for a time. The Cardinals suffered a 31-point defeat to end the season (and Warner’s career).

Now the talk has shifted to “does Kurt Warner deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?” Some rankings and records in favor of Warner:

  • Career pass yards in Super Bowls: 1,156 (1st)
  • He owns all three of the highest yardage performances in Super Bowl history.
  • Pass yards in a single postseason: 1,147 (1st)
  • Career MVP awards: 2 (T-3rd)
  • Career Pass Yards Per Game: 258.8 (2nd)
  • Career completion percentage: 65.4% (2nd)
  • Pass Touchdowns in a single postseason: 11 (T-1st, Joe Montana)
  • Highest completion percentage in a single regular-season game: 92.3% (1st)
  • Consecutive 300+ yard passing games: 6 (T-1st)
  • Number of games to reach 30,000 total yards: 114 (T-1st, Dan Marino)

The common arguments against him are his refusal to rush for yards and his tendency to be very streaky (in both the negative and positive aspects of the word), but the general feeling has shifted and most experts now believe he belongs in the NFL Hall of Fame.

Bye, Kurt. Now who will be my wife’s fantasy quarterback?

NFL Shows Lack of Parity, Favre Shows Lack of Judgment

Wow. Way to go, NFL. Worst playoffs ever. There were so many blowouts and boring games, I don’t even know where to begin. Despite there being some upsets along the way, the two teams with the best records made it through to the Superbowl. How boring. We could have predicted three months ago that these would be the two teams that made it to the Superbowl, and we would have been right. Where’s the drama? Where is this “parity in the NFL” that we hear so much about?

The playoffs ended on a pretty deflating note last night. Brett Favre, after coming out of retirement again and exceeding everyone’s expectations, proved he is still Brett Favre (and that is not a good thing). With his team in field goal range, he decided to make a risky throw on 3rd & 15 that was intercepted. Keep in mind that it was a tie game with fifteen seconds left in the 4th quarter. The reckless gunslinger had to take one more shot–had to throw away yet another season trying to be a hero. All he had to do was hold onto the ball and run a couple of open yards and the Vikings would have been able to kick a field goal and win the game in the final seconds. Instead the Saints marched down the field in overtime and won the game 31-28 because Favre had to try to win the game all by himself. It was all too similar to the NFC championship game in the 2007 season, where Favre was an interception machine and single-handedly lost the game for his team.

What a letdown.

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