Category Archives: Uncategorized

Faster, Higher, STRONGER

The games of the 31st Olympiad came to an end Sunday in Rio. There was celebration that the games turned out to provide us with thrilling competition. There was celebration that there were fewer illnesses than anticipated in the water, that there were fewer crime incidents outside the games than expected, and that there was no massive outbreak of the Zika virus. And there was celebration that Ryan Lochte had gone home.

Lochte actually came out with a “revised” version of his story on the same day that the White House announced their $400 million payment to Iran was “leverage” and not ransom, and the same day the Clinton Foundation announced they would not accept contributions from foreign governments or interests should Mrs. Clinton become president as that would be a conflict of interest (go ahead and snicker). Perhaps Lochte felt the timing of his statement might help his story get lost behind those of the White House and Clinton Foundation. No such luck. This story couldn’t go away fast enough for Lochte – kind of like his final kick in the 200m Individual Medley. Through a post on social media, Lochte said he should have been more “careful and candid.” I wonder if Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton were thinking the same thing.

Lochte’s antics took attention away from some truly great moments in Rio: Michael Phelps owning the pool; a tale of two Simones – Biles owning the floor, Manuel shattering a barrier in the pool; a sweep in the women’s 110m hurdles; the dominant women’s rowing team, and so many more memorable moments.

Yet, undoubtedly, the finest moment of the games had nothing to do with medals, but everything to do with mettle.

By now, most everyone has seen the dramatic images of U.S. 5,000 meter runner Abbey D’Agostino tipping and falling over New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin, who had fallen in front of her, during their qualifying heat. As you probably know, Abbey got up, and helped a distraught Hamblin up, then encouraged her to finish the race. “Get up,” she said. “We have to finish this.”

If you don’t know the rest of the story, there was a slight problem. As she started to run, D’Agostino realized her right knee wasn’t cooperating. Unknowingly, she had torn her ACL and meniscus, and strained her MCL. She collapsed in pain. But it wasn’t over.

Athletics - Olympics: Day 11

D’Agostino got up and hobbled around the track and 17 minutes and 10 seconds later, she FINISHED THE RACE. At the finish line, she was met with a wheelchair, and an awestruck Hamblin.

Olympic athletes prepare for a lifetime for one brief moment to reach for the ultimate crown. It seems that Abbey D’Agostino had prepared for a lifetime for her moment, just the way it unfolded.

“Although my actions were instinctual at that moment, the only way I can and have rationalized it is that God prepared my heart to respond that way,” she said in the aftermath. “This whole time here He’s made it clear to me that my experience in Rio was going to be about more than my race performance – and as soon as Nikki got up I knew that was it.”

Pure gold.

Said Hamblin afterward, “I’m never going to forget that moment.”

Neither will I.

 

 

Seeing isn’t necessarily believing…

Have you seen what’s going on in sports these days?  Hard to believe, eh?

Maybe I’m old. (Yeah, I’m old.)  Maybe I’m tired.  (I don’t think so.  Not really.)  I think I’m just fed up.  I just may be done with professional sports.  Sane lives matter.

Terrorists are slaughtering people all around the world lately more often than the MLB has rainouts.  It seems like a toss up as to which of those two events is more important to our society.  Sure, ISIS is killing people; but a rainout throws a billion dollars worth of rotator cuffs completely out of sync – in some cases by +/-20 hours!!!  Can you imagine those potential repercussions?!?!

In between the horrific events of San Bernardino, Orlando and Dallas the NBA nearly made me want to shoot MYSELF.  Call me crazy but, if the most recent NBA Championship Series is knotted at two games apiece, my money is on Draymond Green suiting up ‘business as usual’ for Game 5.  Yes, on some level, I’m telling you I do not completely trust the League. This feeling is not a new one for me.  It goes way back.

Additionally, the league announced its new salary cap.  Can you really tell me there’s a salary cap and, in the same paragraph, inform me that a contract for $100,000,000 (minus 2 or 3 bucks) went to a guy named HASSAN WHITESIDE???  Dozens of equally insane contracts were signed during this feeding frenzy of fat owners.  The straw that broke the Pelican’s back was the one that, due to the retrograde amnesia I’ve suffered since hearing the story…passing out…hitting my head and waking up hours later, is the one about the player who signed a contract that will pay him more next season than ALL KINDERGARTEN TEACHERS IN THE COUNTRY…COMBINED!

Yeah, sane lives matter.  I’m afraid if I continue to be preoccupied with all of this nonsense I WON’T HAVE ONE.

 

A Simple Game of Pitch and Catch… or Catch and Pitch

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Erik Kratz.

The journeyman major leaguer is now the answer to a baseball trivia question.

Ten days ago, Kratz became the first player since 1879 to pitch AND catch for two different major league teams in a single season.

On June 21, the Pirates catcher tossed a scoreless inning after being forced into relief in Pittsburgh’s 15-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants. He allowed two hits, but finished the inning unscathed, and even struck out Brandon Belt. Two months earlier, Kratz took the mound for the Houston Astros to finish out an 11-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners.  In that one,  he allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits. The Astros. The Astros released him in late May, and after a brief stop with the Angels, Kratz was on to Pittsburgh where he made baseball history. Anyone who is the first to do something in 137 years is, well, pretty cool, don’t you think?

usat-erik-kratz-pirates    Erik_Kratz_on_June_15,_2016

Baseball is chock full of Erik Kratzes. Nondescript players by most accounts who end up as historical footnotes. And, perhaps, like cerebral catchers who end up as big league managers (See Mike Scioscia, Mike Matheny, Bruce Bochy, Kevin Cash, John Gibbons, etal).

The moral of the story? If your son wants to be a big leaguer, tell him to be a catcher.

 

 

Beating the Odds

“I don’t believe what I’ve just seen.” – Jack Buck, calling Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series
“…The impossible has happened…” – Vin Scully, making the same call.

One of the things we love about sports is that it gives us a chance to witness the improbable, the seemingly impossible. The underdog overcoming all odds to take down the giant. The comeback from a seeming insurmountable deficit to win. The seemingly defeated opponent getting up one more time to fight back. The competitor wrought wtih exhaustion, finding the strength to cross the finish line. It’s why we watch.

The College World Series begins today. Along with traditional powers like Miami, Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma State, the 8 team field includes UC Santa Barbara, making their first ever appearance in the series. But, it’s how the Gauchos got to Omaha that makes sports great.

Last Sunday, UCSB trailed the nation’s #2 ranked Louisville Cardinals, 3-0 in the bottom of the 9th inning. On the mound to close it out for Louisville was their star closer, Zack Burdi, who earlier in the week had been the 1st round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox. Not great odds, right? Right. In fact, Louisville was 47-0 during the season when leading after 8 innings.

Burdi struggled with his control, and UCSB loaded the bases with one out. Up to the plate stepped  freshman catcher, Sam Cohen. Yeah, that Sam Cohen. The guy with all of 26 at bats during the entire season. So, what happens? The freshman blasts a two-strike, walk-off grand slam. Just like that, UCSB is making travel plans for Omaha.

https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=sam+cohen+grand+slam&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-002

David and Goliath stuff at it’s best.

Only in sports. And the reason we watch.

UCSB

Heir Jordan

We have learned over the past 2 months that Jordan Spieth is human.

What a relief.

spieth

His 18th place finish at the Byron Nelson, followed by his final round defeat at the Masters have the media asking what is wrong with him. Speculation centers around what the media calls his “collapse” at Augusta, creating emotional fragility that has led to his less than stellar play of late. Can we just give the kid a break?

Why is it that we demand our up-and-coming athletes be “the next _______” (Tiger, Michael, Emmitt Smith, you fill in the blank). Perhaps our desire to elevate people to hero status, or proclaim them as “the greatest” is due in part to the dichotomy that exists in our post-modern culture that minimizes the thought of God, yet desperately seeks someone to worship.

Why can’t we just enjoy the performances and appreciate the athletic gifting? I mean, do we really want or need another Tiger Woods?

From all appearances, Spieth is a good human being, who respects people, is kind and generous, gracious to the media, and loves his family. A model to be admired? Yes. A talent to be appreciated? Absolutely. A player to root for? Of course. An idol to be worshiped? Even Spieth would say he is uncomfortable with that.

He’s 22 for crying out loud. Maybe we can be satisfied with watching him play for the next 15 years and just enjoy the ride.

 

Big Hit

Last night, baseball witnessed it’s version of Halley’s Comet.

New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon hit his first career home run, at age 42.  He turned on a James Shields fastball and deposited it over the left field wall, to become the oldest player in history to hit his first career home run, just 3 weeks shy of turning 43.  Coming into the game, the round mound of the mound sported a microscopic .089 lifetime batting average over his 19 seasons.

He surpassed Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, whose first homer came at age 40. He’s only the third Met to homer after turning 40, joining Willie Mays and Julio Franco, baseball’s Methuselah who was 48 when he homered.

Said Colon, “I don’t even know how to explain it.”

Mets’ play-by-play man told the television audience, “The impossible has happened!”

When asked about it, opposing San Diego Padres’ manager, said, “Certain things leave you speechless.”

The crowd went nuts, then watched the portly pitcher take 30-seconds to haul his 283 pounds (or so he is generously listed) around the bases.

The entire scene was definitely one for the ages.

http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/news/bartolo-colon-home-run-video-mets-new-york-padres-petco-park/11ffmoasde0wc15jrokmw04m0l

 

Rare Arr-ieta

With the eyes of the sports world on the NFL Draft on Thursday, few paid attention to Jake Arrieta’s win over the Milwaukee Brewers. It was his 16th straight. After tossing a no-hitter in his previous start, this one seemed to draw a collective yawn. He gave up 1 run in 5 innings. Such are the expectations that Arrieta have produced.jake

The reigning N.L. Cy Young winner has had what is now one of the most remarkable pitching stretches in history. Since June 21 of last year, Arrieta has made 25 starts. He is 21-1 with an 0.88 ERA, giving up just 18 earned runs during that stretch. In 183 innings, he has allowed 94 hits. He’s also thrown 2 no-hitters – something just 31 other pitchers in history have done. Only Bob Gibson’s performance in 1968 when he posted a 1.12 ERA compares with Arrieta’s run during the last 100 years.

While hitters today are less discerning and swing at more offerings out of the strike zone, and there are more of them due to the number of teams, none of that takes away from what the Cubs right-hander has done. All this from a guy that the Baltimore Orioles gave up on after he had gone 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA in 4 seasons.

So appreciate it for what it is. We are witnessing one of the truly great performances in the history of the game.