Tag: sports

2013 Major League Baseball Championship Game 1: Cardinals @ Red Sox

Yup.  That’s what Harry Frazee traded the Bambino for.

Now at 90+ minutes that’s a little bit long even for a World Series game where they’ll dust the plate after every pitch so that everyone gets their TV time so I’m in the market for some kind of short and snappy YouTube vignette to symbolize the BoSox.  You know, something like this-

The story behind the Rally Squirrel is this-

Rally Squirrel is the name given to an American gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) which appeared on the field and ran across home plate at Busch Stadium during a 2011 National League Division Series (NLDS) Major League Baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals on October 5, 2011. The squirrel captured American media attention, and was adopted as an unofficial mascot by the Cardinals and the populace of St. Louis. The Cardinals would go on to win the 2011 World Series.

On October 4, a gray squirrel appeared in the outfield during Game 3 of the Phillies-Cardinals National League Division Series, causing an interruption in play.

During the fifth inning of Game 4 on October 5, a squirrel again appeared on the field. Play was not interrupted, but the squirrel caused considerable confusion, running across home plate as Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt was delivering a pitch to Skip Schumaker. The squirrel then jumped into the stands. Umpire Ángel Hernández called the pitch a ball; Oswalt and Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel argued, unsuccessfully, that Oswalt had been distracted by the squirrel and that “no pitch” should be called. Manuel later avowed that, if he had a firearm, he would have shot the obstreperous rodent. Some commentators speculated that the October 4 and October 5 squirrels were the same animal, but this was not proven.

Now I’ll not be rooting for the Sox much I think, though I really have nothing against them except that the game they play is not Baseball but some kind of weenie contest where Pitchers hide in the dugout instead of standing at the plate and their at bats are given to overpaid has beens who are no longer good enough to take the field.  Connecticut has always been a battleground between those who hate the Yankees with the burning white hot passion of a thousand suns and people who like their Baseball easy and are willing to let someone else bankroll it.  Of course there is no arguing with the results- 25% of all Championships in the last hundred years or so.

The Cardinal program is kind of like the Senior League version of that.

St Louis Cardinals: the nicest fans in baseball?

David Lengel, The Guardian

Tuesday 22 October 2013 11.41 EDT

Maybe it’s best for them to stay in groups whilst away from St Louis, because Cardinals fans are under unprecedented fire lately. Why? For being Cardinals fans. What’s the perception driving detractors of St Louis’ fans? That they’re a sickly-sweet group of do-gooding polite Midwesterners that refuse to get upset with their own players even when they suck. That sometimes, they even have the nerve to applaud the opposition! (See this blog on Deadspin and this on Bloomberg). This hatred is exacerbated when the Cards crush you season after season of course, to the tune of 19 pennants and 11 World Series titles. Yes, outsiders are starting to notice such dominating play, and the Yankees, long the premier public enemy for baseball fans, may soon have company.

Some selected stories for your attention-

Red Sox vs Cardinals: an old time World Series with a new spin

Harry J Enten, The Guardian

Wednesday 23 October 2013 08.55 EDT

(I)t hasn’t been since 1999 in which the teams with the leagues’ best records competed against each other in the World Series. For an old-time baseball fan like my father, who can’t quite figure out what a wild card is exactly, this World Series offers a respite to those who believe the regular season should count for a lot more than it currently does.

Second, it is fitting that such a series would take place in Boston and St. Louis. Both teams played in their respective leagues and respective cities when the American League was founded in 1901. Only 16 of the now 30 major league franchises were actually in existence 112 years ago.

The percentage dips even lower when you consider teams that were playing in the cities they do now. Only four American League teams – the Indians, Red Sox, Tigers, and White Sox – and five National League teams – the Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Phillies, and Pirates – were in their current cities when the current Major League alignment came into existence.

(I)t wasn’t until the 1920s when the Yankees began their run of World Series victories. One could argue that the Boston Red Sox were the American League team of the first quarter of the 20th century. The Yankees weren’t even the best team in New York, as that honor fell to the National League New York Giants.

This World Series promises to reset the dial to a non-Yankee ruled world. Both the Cardinals and Red Sox have won two World Series in this century, tied with the Yankees. The winning team will have won the most World Series in the 21st century and ever so slightly knock the Yankees back.

Red Sox 2013 have many parallels to 2004 World Series winners

Hunter Felt, The Guardian

Monday 21 October 2013 12.00 EDT

It could be argued that no team had ever had an unlikelier road to the World Series than the 2004 Red Sox, to the point where the World Series itself ended up being entirely anticlimactic. The 2004 St Louis Cardinals, who had won 105 games in the regular season and had, in Albert Pujols, the Greatest Player In Baseball Not Named Barry Bonds, barely put up a fight during the four-game sweep. The Cardinals were just on the wrong side of history. When asked if St Louis would have done better in the World Series if they had home field advantage, which the wild card winning Red Sox only held because the American League had won that year’s all-star game, manager Tony La Russa would sarcastically offer that maybe his team would have actually won a single game.

Boston Red Sox vs St Louis Cardinals: position by position guide

David Lengel, The Guardian

Tuesday 22 October 2013 14.45 EDT

Overall prediction

I learned my lesson last time after picking against St Louis in the past… Cardinals in seven games.

A Rematch Red All Over (Except the Green Monster)

By TYLER KEPNER, The New York Times

Published: October 22, 2013

THEY LOVE L.A. This World Series matchup very well would not have happened without the local cable contracts in Southern California. The Angels, flush with cash from a deal with Fox, showered $240 million on the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols after the 2011 season. The Cardinals chose Michael Wacha with their compensatory draft pick, and they parceled out the savings from Pujols’s rejection to re-sign Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright and sign Carlos Beltran. Seeking stars for their new TV deal, the Dodgers bailed out the Red Sox in August 2012 by trading for Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, three stars with sinkhole contracts who had grown miserable in Boston. With more than $260 million off their books in one deal, the Red Sox reset their roster by signing seven free agents (Ryan Dempster, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, David Ross, Koji Uehara and Shane Victorino) without committing more than $39 million to any of them.

RUNNING GAME Only three teams stole more bases than the Red Sox, who succeeded on 123 of 142 attempts in the regular season. They just kept running through the playoffs, swiping 11 bases in 13 attempts. But Yadier Molina is probably the best in the majors at shutting down the running game. Opponents attempted just three steals (two successfully) in the playoffs off Molina.

STYLISH BIRDS As they seek another World Series victory, the Cardinals have already claimed one crown this year: Uni Watch ranked their uniforms first among all teams in baseball, the N.F.L., the N.B.A. and the N.H.L. “M.L.B.’s best-looking team looks even better this season,” wrote Paul Lukas, “thanks to the addition of that great retro-style alternate jersey.” The Cardinals wear the alternate “St. Louis” jerseys on home Saturdays, which means they should wear them for Game 3. The best-dressed of all is the veteran reliever Randy Choate, who wears old-style striped stirrups to accentuate the Cardinals’ classic look.

Up Close, Fenway’s Green Monster Not So Green


Published: October 23, 2013 at 10:31 AM ET

Up close, Fenway Park’s famous left-field Wall is pocked with thousands of dents and white scuff marks left from decades of doubles that banged off of its facade. Some of the spots are so well-defined that you can even make out the red stitches from the baseball, the Rawlings logo or the Major League Baseball insignia left behind on the green background.

“All those dents out there, you can’t help but realize who put them there. That’s history,” Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes said Tuesday on workout day for the World Series. “I come to work every single day in a museum. It’s not a baseball field, it’s a museum.”

Fenway itself is 101 years old, but the 37-foot Wall was added in 1934, first painted green in 1947 and rebuilt in 1976, when it was covered in a hard plastic that is repainted before opening day every spring. Dubbed the Green Monster because, just 310 feet from home plate down the line, it’s a scary sight for pitchers, it runs from the left-field grandstands to the 379-foot mark in left-center.

And, every couple of inches, there is a ding or a streak from a ball that bounced off it. It could be a Red Sox batter or an opponent. Maybe it was in batting practice, or maybe in a game. Some were fly balls that would have been caught in another park, and others would have been home runs elsewhere turned into a Fenway single or double.

What impresses you most about Fenway is how small it is (some would say intimate, but let’s call a spade (♠) a card symbol that looks like a shovel if you turn it upside down).  Thus the ‘Green Monster’.  The other side is a street and without the height it’s just too damn easy to knock one out of the park.  The only intimidation is in your mind as a batter and as a fielder you get used to playing it like a jai-lai backstop.

The Great God Citgo looms over all and even by drunken triangulation with the Pru(dential Tower) gives you a rough idea if you’re puking above or below Kenmore Square or are even on the right side of the Charles.

Thanks for holding my hair.

And finally-

24-0 and Pitching in Japan’s World Series

By DAVID WALDSTEIN, The New York Times

Published: October 23, 2013

Unless the typhoon season disrupts the schedule of the Nippon Series, Masahiro Tanaka will take the ball for the Pacific League’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Game 1 Saturday night, looking to continue one of the most remarkable runs by a pitcher in professional baseball, and doing it in a region desperate for positive events in the years after a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

So far, nothing has been able to disrupt Tanaka, who finished the regular season 24-0 with a 1.27 earned run average and a save, then was 1-0 with a shutout and a save in the playoffs after Rakuten won its first Pacific League title. In the regular season he faced 822 batters and gave up only 6 home runs. Incredibly, his performance came in a season marked by a juiced ball controversy: Wladimir Balentien of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows hit 60 home runs to shatter Sadaharu Oh’s cherished record of 55 homers, set in 1964.

According to Jim Small, Major League Baseball’s vice president for Asia, the success of Japanese players in the United States, combined with the popularity in Japan of the World Baseball Classic, has brought a more open, international approach to their game, and Balentien, who is from Curaçao, was generally embraced for his feat.

“I think there was genuine excitement and happiness here (at least from Swallows fans) to see him break the record,” Small wrote in an e-mail message. “Japan has changed a lot in the last 10 years.”

Small, who has lived in Japan for 10 years, also said the success that Tanaka has brought to Rakuten is measured in more than just his unblemished record. Rakuten plays in Sendai, a city devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that damaged their stadium. The area has not recovered fully, but its underdog team, led by Tanaka, is looking to overthrow the popular and mighty Yomiuri Giants of the Central League in the Nippon Series.

“You have to put what he did in context because of what that team did,” Small said in the e-mail. “It was their first league title and has absolutely galvanized that region. Tens of thousands of people are still in shelters and more than 100,000 had to leave the area to find work elsewhere. It is a seriously depressed area. Tanaka and the Eagles have given people there so much to be happy about. It is truly amazing.”

“World” Series is kind of a misnomer.  I prefer ‘Major League Baseball Championship’ or ‘Fall Classic’.

The Matchups-

  • Wednesday 10/23 Game One: Jon Lester (15 – 8, 3.75 ERA L) vs Adam Wainwright (19 – 9, 2.94 ERA R)
  • Thursday 10/24 Game Two: John Lackey (10 – 13, 3.52 ERA R) vs Michael Wacha (4 – 1, 2.78 ERA R)
  • Saturday 10/26 Game Three: Joe Kelly (10 – 5, 2.69 ERA R) vs Clay Buchholz (12 – 1, 1.74 ERA R)
  • Sunday 10/27 Game Four: Lance Lynn (15 – 10, 3.97 ERA R) vs Jake Peavy (12 – 5, 4.17 ERA R)

Jon Lester is 2 – 1 in the post-season 16 hits and 5 runs in 16 and a 3rd innings pitched for an ERA of 2.33.  Adam Wainwright is also 2 – 1 with 17 hits and 4 runs in 23 innings pitched for an ERA of 1.57.  Advantage, St. Louis.

The 34th America’s Cup

History of the Cup

The Auld Mug (or more formally the “Royal Yacht Squadron £100 Cup”) was originally contested in 1851 between the America and 15 yachts of the Royal Yacht Squadron in a race around the Isle of Wight.

It is the oldest continually contested championship and the Cup was held by the New York Yacht Club from 1851 to 1983 (also a record).

After the defeat of Liberty by Australia 2 it’s bounced around a considerable bit between Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland (interesting because they have no sea coast, see Canadian challengers between 1870 and 1881), and of course the US.

Fast Boats

…for Ellison, the 2013 America’s Cup wasn’t about the race, per se. It was about disruptive innovation. It was about turning yachting into a sport for the masses. As Ellison put it, he was going to reinvent the America’s Cup for “the Facebook generation, not the Flintstones generation.”

The boats are fast.  Really fast. and can hit speeds of 50+ mph regularly.  They are literally faster than the wind and run just as fast upwind as down.

There are two principle reasons for this.  First, and most important is the semi-rigid airfoil they call a wing-sail.  Because this uses aero-dynamic lift to generate power instead of just being pushed along, it’s almost equally good whatever the wind direction and can generate more lift (power) than the air speed.

The second is hydrofoils.  These lift the hull out of the water to reduce drag, the boats are literally flying.  They also use hydro-dynamic effects to control other aspects of boat behavior which allows previously impossible maneuvers like turning on a dime.  If improperly trimmed they can also cause a boat to pitchpole, capsizing end over end instead of sideways like you’re used to.  It was a pitchpole that caused the death of Andrew Simpson.

The Races were also modified to be noticably shorter, sailing 2 a day with a firm 40 minute time limit per race.  The course was shortened too, 5 legs- a Reach from inshore to the first mark, a Downwind leg to the second mark, an Upwind leg to the third mark, another Downwind leg to the fourth mark, and a reach to the Finish Line.

The Regatta

Team Oracle started the Regatta with a 2 Race penalty for cheating during the preliminaries on the 45 foot scale boats, meaning they had to win 11 Races before Emirates New Zealand won 9.  This is quite a penalty, the harshest ever given in America’s Cup.  Just what did they do to deserve this?

They used bags of lead pellets to change the trim and that’s about as cheating as it gets.

There was also a monetary fine (cost of doing business).  Of more import were the crew sanctions.  Team Oracle lost wing trimmer Dirk de Ridder (considered Spithill’s right-hand man) who was deemed the instigator of the plot.  Also boat builder Andrew Walker and Bryce Ruthenberg, rigger, who carried it out.  Matt Mitchell, a grinder, was suspended for four races.

Oracle did not start competition well, dropping 2 the first day only one of which was close and in the subsequent 3 races spliting 1 – 2 with the All Backs.

With perfect 20/20 hindsight most commentators point at the postponement called after Race 5 and the replacement of John Kostecki with Ben Ainslie at Team Oracle Tactician as the critical moment, and say that also was the day the modifications were made to make Oracle a faster boat.  Let’s remember that at the time the Regatta stood only 4 – -1 in favor of Emirates New Zealand and they went on to score 4 more victories in the next 6 races to put the margin at 8 – 1 going into Race 12.  It’s easy to forget that All Blacks were leading the Race 12 that wasn’t by a considerable margin before high winds forced its cancellation, and the abandoned Race 13 where they were a mile ahead.

I, on the other hand, think the pivotal turning point was the 5 day set of delays and postponements before Race 14 at the end of which the match stood at 8 – 3.

This is also when most people lost interest in the contest, thinking it a sure loss.

Another more important day was Sept. 16, when the All Blacks were still leading 7 – 1 and Team Oracle was struggling with finding the proper settings for the boat.  That was a “reserve day”, scheduled to allow catching up on previous postponements.  The All Blacks had the option of forcing a race day but declined use it.  This gave Oracle more time to find the right adjustments to tune the boat.

Future Developments

Larry Ellison’s oft stated goal is to turn America’s Cup yacht Racing into Formula One for boats.  He wants to create a “World Series” of yacht racing similar to what he attempted this defense with a series of regattas at various important and well known racing ports using smaller, cheaper, and more rigidly formula boats to train crews and build interest.

If you saw any of the support racing you know it can be interesting, especially the “free for all” races where you have many boats racing at once instead of just two match racing.  Kind of like Turn Left in the water (Holy chunks of flaming twisted metal Batman!).

And of course there will be TV.

Larry Ellison’s Amazing Victory and Huge Failure

By Jonathan Mahler, Bloomberg News

Sep 25, 2013 6:13 PM ET

New Zealand would probably have won the cup several days ago, were it not for the 40-minute time limit that Ellison imposed on the races. (Imagine, say, the results of the New York City Marathon being decalred invalid because it was an unexpectedly windy day and the race times weren’t fast enough.)

Ellison did this for the purposes of making the cup more TV-friendly. In fact, for Ellison, the 2013 America’s Cup wasn’t about the race, per se. It was about disruptive innovation. It was about turning yachting into a sport for the masses. As Ellison put it, he was going to reinvent the America’s Cup for “the Facebook generation, not the Flintstones generation.”

Toward that end, Ellison added helicopter-mounted cameras and microphones on the boats. He even hired the guy who brought the virtual first-down line to the NFL’s broadcasts and the glowing hockey puck to the NHL’s.

At the end of the day, though, in trying to make the America’s Cup a TV spectacle, Ellison made it anything but. Sure, the boats look cool and go fast, but they are way too expensive to build and maintain for the costs to be offset by advertising. What’s more, the event was supposed to be over days ago but was delayed several times by weather conditions. One day it was too much wind, another day too little for these finicky, high-performance craft. How, exactly, do you create a TV spectacle around an event whose timing you can’t predict? (Even Wimbledon was forced to add a retractable roof!)

NBC Gets More Than It Expected


Published: September 25, 2013

NBC got a great deal: it paid nothing for the Cup races – the America’s Cup Event Authority bought time on NBC and NBCSN and sold advertising to its sponsors – and used the race production that was hosted by the Cup. But NBC also got lucky, televising a remarkable comeback.

NBC and its cable network, NBCSN, showed 13 days of racing starting on Sept. 7. NBC averaged 1.05 million viewers on the first two days; through the next 10, including Tuesday, NBCSN averaged about 165,000 viewers – about twice what it usually attracts from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.

Put into context, the America’s Cup races attracted more viewers for NBC Sports Group than for Major League Soccer games (111,000) but fewer than it received for its live Tour de France coverage (287,000) or its Formula One races (203,000 to date).

The America’s Cup was once a much stronger draw. The event became a late-night sensation in 1987 from Fremantle, Australia. In the final race, when Stars and Stripes defeated Kookaburra III, nearly 1.9 million television households watched on ESPN.

So I don’t think there’s any need for Mr. Ellison to get unduly pessimistic about his prospects.

There are rumors that the race will move from San Francisco to Lanai, the Hawaiian island Ellison recently purchased.  That’s a Billionaire (#8 worldwide) joke folks.  Lanai is too remote for the crowds Ellison craves, and why would h want to stink it up with crowds and media, not to mention the time zone problem (races would start around 10 pm ET).

Another frequent complaint is that there aren’t enough Americans in the America’s Cup.  You hear this most strongly from the Kiwis who have indicated that they might not mount a challenge next cycle and have complained for years that all their best talent is hired away.  There is a possibility that there may be some kind of “nationality quota” in the near future.

The next challenger of record for the Cup is set to be the Hamilton Island Yacht Club from Queensland, Australia.  As challenger of record they will negotiate with the defending Golden Gate Yacht Club (actually Larry Ellison) about the rules for the next round.  Don’t pretend they have a lot of influence though, the New York Yacht sat on the Auld Mug from 1920 to 1930 and again from 1937 to 1958 because they didn’t like the cut of the challenger’s jib.

After the racing there was a lot of talk about changing the formula.  I don’t think the AC72s are uniquely dangerous or expensive.  A big rap against them is that when you’re foiling and dip your bow you can easily get an end over end crash.  This is unusual for a boat, but falling off your foils is almost always pilot error.  Likewise, the formula is so different and so new this time around that everything is incredibly expensive.

I think that if you keep the formula the same you reduce the learning curve and standardize the parts making them cheaper.  The costliest things at the moment are research and development, and training.  Now that potential rivals have had a change to see and learn from the mistakes of these prototypes I think that you can expect the next roud to be faster, safer, and cheaper so that more teams can participate.


2013 America’s Cup Official Site

Below the fold you will find a sampling of stories from Bloomberg News, Bloomberg News Video, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The San Jose Mercury; as well as complete OFFICIAL Video coverage of all Races, Postponements, and Press Conferences with a short summary of each Race’s action and the reason for delays and postponements.

NCAA Profits Off Athletes, Even Injured Ones

During the recent madness of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Louisville Cardinals’ player Kevin Ware fractured his lower leg during the game. The injury, caught on camera, was so gruesome that most news outlets refused to show the film or pictures. Fortunately for Ware, the injury, a fractured tibia that required surgery to repair, will most likely not end his college basketball career. He’s lucky, so far. Others have not fared so well, despite the fact that both the NCAA and the schools that are members make millions off these athletes, as well as, from the merchandise and advertising.

A 2009 New York Times article raised concerns about the inadequacy of health insurance for college athletes that the National Collegiate Athletic Association required.

But the association never established clear standards for that coverage when it introduced the rule four years ago, leaving colleges to decide for themselves. While some colleges accept considerable responsibility for medical claims, many others assume almost none, according to a review of public documents from a cross section of universities and interviews with current and former athletes, trainers, administrators and N.C.A.A. officials. [..]

Many students, whether athletes or not, have medical insurance through their parents. But these plans often exclude varsity sports injuries, limit out-of-state treatment or do not cover much of the bill. Some colleges buy secondary policies to fill the gaps, although even these plans have holes. And only players hurt badly enough to require extensive care can turn to the N.C.A.A. for coverage. Its catastrophic insurance carries a $75,000 deductible, which will increase to $90,000 next year.

The absence of mandated coverage for athletes has prompted calls for change.

That was four years ago and it seems little has changed. While the athletes play for free and risk injury that could end not only their playing but their college ambitions as well, since many are on athletic scholarship dependent on their participation. Dave Zirin, at The Nation, recounts what happened in the aftermath of Ware’s injury and the reaction of the NCAA and the university:

On Wednesday we learned that Adidas, in conjunction with the University of Louisville athletic department, will be selling a $24.99 t-shirt with Kevin Ware’s number 5 and the slogan “Rise to the Occasion” emblazoned across the back. His team will also be wearing warm-ups with Ware’s name, number and the slogan “All In.” (This tragically is not a tribute to Chris Hayes.)

You almost have to tip your cap: no non-profit does buccaneer profiteering quite like the NCAA. What other institution would see a tibia snap through a 20-year-old’s skin on national television and see dollar signs? In accordance with their rules aimed at preserving the sanctity of amateurism, not one dime from these shirts will go to Kevin Ware or his family. Not one dime will go toward Kevin Ware’s medical bills if his rehab ends up beneath the $90,000 deductible necessary to access the NCAA’s catastrophic injury medical coverage. Not one dime will go towards rehab he may need later in life.

Kevin Ware was returned to the unversity accompanied by hi s coach and has been declared well enough to attend the “Final Four.” Meanwhile, university officials were mum on what will happen to his scholarship in the fall if rehab doesn’t go well over the summer.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes addressed the question of NCAA athletes as uncompensated employees of the NCAA and the “fat profits” the NCAA makes off not just the games but the individuals after they leave the team.

If you happen to be among the millions of people who watched the NCAA tournament Sunday, you watched as Louisville Cardinals sophomore guard Kevin Ware broke his leg during an awkward fall after a routine move: an injury so gruesome it left players in tears, and more than a few people feeling sick to their stomachs.

People who saw it in real-time howled involuntarily. Everyone in the stadium was affected. Social media blew up.

Right away, people wanted to know if Ware’s leg was going to be OK, and if he was ever going to play basketball again. But they also wanted to know-I wanted to know-if Ware isn’t going to play basketball again because of this injury, is he going to be able to go back to Louisville next year, and is he going to have a scholarship?

If Ware isn’t going to have a scholarship, what’s going to happen to him? And in any case, who is going to pay his medical bills? Is he covered for this? And most profoundly and urgently, why isn’t Kevin Ware being paid for his labor? [..]

It was gruesome on a visceral level, because of the severity of the injury, but it was also gruesome because while all of us were enjoying the game, all the people making money off of it, including the advertisers, and athletic directors, and apparel companies, had to reckon for a brief instant with the fact that this kid, now in agony, was on the job making their programs possible.

Chris noted an article in The Atlantic by Taylor Branch; it is long but a must read that tell os the scandalous mess that is the NCAA and college sports.

The 137th Westminster Kennel Club Show: Day One

Paden doesn’t seem to care about anything, except he does. You just can never tell what it’s going to be. Let me tell you about your friend Paden. A long time ago, me, Paden, Tyree, and a couple of other fellas did a lot of riding together. On business, and business was pretty good. We moved around a lot, the way you have to in that line of work. Somewhere along the way, we picked up this dog. One of us took to feeding it, so it followed us everywhere. Well, one day we’re leaving this little Missouri town, in kind of a hurry with a bunch of the locals hot on our tail. Somehow this dog got tied up with Tyree’s horse. Tyree went flyin’. Well, Tyree was pretty mad when he got up, and, being Tyree, he shot the dog. Didn’t kill him, though. The next thing you know, Paden’s down off his horse, and he’s holdin’ this dog, sayin’ we should go on without him. I thought he was kidding, except he wasn’t. Tyree was ready to plug ’em both – all this with the posse ridin’ down on us. I thought we were pals after all that riding we did together. All of a sudden he’s worried about some mutt. Well, we did like he asked. We left him, and he went to jail for a dog. You want to hear the funny part? Paden didn’t even like that damn dog.

It evened out in the end. They locked me up; the dog sprung me.

Tonight’s event is the first of 2 days of judging.  It is broadcast live on CNBC starting at 8 pm with a repeat at 11 pm immediately following and again at 8 am on USA.  Tomorrow’s Groups which will be folowed by Best In Show on USA at 8 pm with a repeat at 8 am Wednesday.

Some links-

The Group Finals tonight are-

Afghan Hound Borzoi Otterhound
American English Coonhound Dachshund (Longhaired) Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeen
American Foxhound Dachshund (Smooth) Pharaoh Hound
Basenji Dachshund (Wirehaired) Plott
Basset Hound English Foxhound Redbone Coonhound
Beagle, 13 In. Greyhound Rhodesian Ridgeback
Beagle, 15 In. Harrier Saluki
Black and Tan Coonhound Ibizan Hound Scottish Deerhound
Bloodhound Irish Wolfhound * Treeing Walker Coonhound
Bluetick Coonhound Norwegian Elkhound Whippet
Affenpinscher Havanese Pomeranian
Brussels Griffon Italian Greyhound Poodle (Toy)
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Japanese Chin Pug
Chihuahua (Long Coat) Maltese Shih Tzu
Chihuahua (Smooth Coat) Manchester Terrier (Toy) Silky Terrier
Chinese Crested Miniature Pinscher Toy Fox Terrier
English Toy Spaniel (B&PC) Papillon Yorkshire Terrier
English Toy Spaniel (KC&R) Pekingese
American Eskimo Dog Finnish Spitz Poodle (Standard)
Bichons Frise French Bulldog Schipperke
Boston Terrier Keeshond Shiba Inu
Bulldog Lhasa Apso Tibetan Spaniel
Chinese Shar-Pei Löwchen Tibetan Terrier
Chow Chow Norwegian Lundehund Xoloitzcuintli
Dalmatian Poodle (Miniature)
Australian Cattle Dog Briard Norwegian Buhund
Australian Shepherd Canaan Dog Old English Sheepdog
Bearded Collie Cardigan Welsh Corgi Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Beauceron Collie (Rough) Polish Lowland Sheepdog
Belgian Malinois Collie (Smooth) Puli
Belgian Sheepdog * Entlebucher Mountain Dog Pyrenean Shepherd
Belgian Tervuren * Finnish Lapphund Shetland Sheepdog
Border Collie German Shepherd Dog Swedish Vallhund
Bouviers des Flandres Icelandic Sheepdog

2012 World Series- Tigers at Giants, Game 1

Bottom Line First

Much as I hate to admit it, I think the Tigers will beat the Giants despite-

The Inherent Senior League Advantage

With all the great players playing ball right now, how well do you think you would do against today’s pitchers?

Well, I figure against today’s pitchers I’d only probably hit about .290.

.290? Well that’s amazing, because you batted over .400 a… a whole bunch of times. Now tell us all, we’d all like to know, why do you think you’d only hit .290?

Well, I’m 72 fucking years old you ignorant son of a bitch.

Now I’m over 120 years old (mid 30s in 1923, do the math) so I got to see Ty Cobb play and “sadistic, slashing, swashbuckling despot who waged war in the guise of sport” is the way he described himself (I also agree with Al Stump about the less redeeming aspects of his character, revisionists are simply using contrarian posing and novelty to peddle their publications when they are not being willfully disingenuous to advance an agenda).

Back in the day (before 1973 so not all that long ago) there was no such thing as a ‘Designated Hitter’.  Strategically the very best things that can be said about it are that it eats up a roster position better used for a younger and more talented player to extend the career of a popular has been, and that it ‘saves’ your highly paid prima donna pitchers from the indignity of batting practice and injury.

Tactically it means that in any game you play in a Senior League Stadium you-

a) Have to bat a Pitcher for a likely out due to sheer lack of practice if nothing else (and still expose him to injury).

b) Have to field a player who, if he was any good at all any more, would still have a real job instead of riding the bench because he’s too hopelessly unco-ordinated and clumsy even for right field.

So you’re effectively ruining 2 positions out of the 9 in your line up, a 22% waste.

Does this ever work to your advantage?  No.  A Senior League Manager can point at any random player on his bench and reasonably expect him to be a better batter than his Pitcher (though not always, Babe Ruth could hit too).  Problem solved!

“ek,” you say, “why then are you picking the Junior League to win?”

Rotation, rotation, rotation

Are you getting dizzy yet?

Not that these couldn’t change mind you, but this is the way the match ups are setting up

Tigers Giants
Wednesday Verlander (17 – 8, 2.64 ERA) Zito (15 – 8, 4.15 ERA)
Thursday Fister (10 – 10, 3.45 ERA) Bumgarner (16 – 11, 3.37 ERA)
Saturday Sanchez (4 – 6, 3.74 ERA) Vogelsong (14 – 9, 3.37 ERA)
Sunday Scherzer (6 – 7, 3.74 ERA) Cain (16 – 5, 2.79 ERA)
*Monday Verlander (17 – 8, 2.64 ERA) Zito (15 – 8, 4.15 ERA)
*Wednesday Fister (10 – 10, 3.45 ERA) Bumgarner (16 – 11, 3.37 ERA)
*Thursday Verlander? (17 – 8, 2.64 ERA) Vogelsong (14 – 9, 3.37 ERA)

* == if needed.

I would pitch Verlander on 4 days rest, theoretically he could go 3 for a critical game.  He’s been throwing 130 pitch 8 inning outings in the post season and the man is an unstoppable winning machine.  The Giants have no one that even compares (spare me the whining about Cain, he’s looked good the last 2 games but was distinctly ordinary before that).

Bumgarner has been hopeless and there is no reason to expect a change.  Vogelson is probably a Giants victory.  Scherzer beats Cain twice on Sundays.

My natural sympathies are with the Seniors.  There is nothing unworthy about the Giants, you can find reasons they should win, but on paper the Tigers are superior and superior enough that they should be able to overcome their disadvantages.  Cabrera could start hitting like a Triple Crown winner for example.

So now I’m committed on paper.  Enjoy the World Series.

All games played on Faux.

2012 NL Championship Series- Cardinals at Giants, Game 6

I’ll be kicking of tonight’s Game 6 of the National League Championship. ek hornbeck has been traveling this weekend and without internet access (hmmm, no cell phone either). While, I don’t quite have the same panache and mastery of my erstwhile friend, I will do my best using my limited knowledge of the “Great American Pastime” to inform and entertain you. My Pop used to take me to Yankee home games back in the 50’s, and with ek hornbeck’s expertise much of what Pop taught me about the basics of the game is coming back to me now.

We expected this series to be over Friday night, after the 8 – 3 blow out to the Cardinals on Thursday. The Giants fooled us and pulled off a 5 zip win that was pitched mostly by Barry Zito who was  left off the postseason roster when the Giants won the World Series in 2010. According to the New York Times sports writer, Tyler Kepner, if the Giants win the “pennant”, Zito will pitch Game 1 of the World Series against Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. However, the next two games are “must wins” for the Giants, as the Cardinals lead the series with 3 wins.

Tonight the pitching battle will be between the Giant’s right-handed, Ryan Vogelsong and the Cardinal’s right-handed, Chris Carpenter. This is Kepner’s analysis of the series so far:

The series has yielded few trends and little tension. The eventual winning team has never trailed at the end of any inning. Three games have been decided by at least five runs, somewhat obscuring the stellar work of both bullpens.

“We feel confident in our stuff,” said the Cardinals’ closer, Jason Motte, with good reason. Motte and his primary setup men – Mitchell Boggs, Edward Mujica and Trevor Rosenthal – have allowed one run in 111/3 innings.

That run came off Boggs in the eighth inning of Game 5, when Pablo Sandoval hooked a homer down the right-field line. Sandoval also homered in the ninth inning of Game 4, making him the only player in the series with more than one home run.

Sandoval is 13 for 42 (.310) in the postseason, and his fans should be out in force at AT&T Park, wearing Panda hats. Like Zito, he has rediscovered a star that had dimmed two years ago. A late-season slump that stretched into the 2010 playoffs put Sandoval on the bench for four of the Giants’ five World Series games. [..]

The Cardinals have done a better job containing Buster Posey, the N.L. batting champion and the favorite for the M.V.P. award. Posey has managed just three singles in 18 at-bats this series, while his St. Louis counterpart, Yadier Molina, leads the Cardinals’ regulars with a .350 average.

Posey and Molina were behind the plate at the end of the last two World Series, and the pedigrees of the teams they guide may be the real story of this N.L.C.S. The Cardinals seem to thrive on brinkmanship, coming one strike from elimination in each of their last two postseason series, only to prevail in the end. The Giants won three elimination games on the road to win their division series.

But one game at a time, tonight’s game could go either way.

So in honor of the Giant’s home stadium advantage, don’t stop believing.

Senior League Games will be carried on Faux.

“Who’s on First”

This classic baseball routine by the comedy team Bud Abbot and Lou Costello from their 1945 movie, “The Naughty Nineties” was also a regular part of their stage routine. Appropriately the team they’re talking about is from St. Louis. And, Abbott is the skinny guy.

Who’s on First

2012 NL Championship Series- Giants at Cardinals, Game 5

So the Yankees are done and the Grrrs wait until Wednesday to travel.  My Dad the Tigers fan shakes his head and says that it’s all well and good except that the Senior League is going to crush the upstart Juniors because they suck this season.  I agree but contend it’s for not-so-subtle structural reasons I’ll elaborate for you later, suffice it to say I strongly suspect I’ve been written out of the will.  My pinstriped Mom mimes in that charades way that she’s never talking to me again and she wants my ceremonial ‘The Next’ Lorelai ableskiver pan back because I’m a disgrace to the Gilmore name.  Baseball fever.  Catch it.

I imagine that my Left Coast readers will feel the same way after I sadly inform them the Giants have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

Now personally I have no horse in this race except for my always inappropriate (raw dripping animal skin, it’s the new black) but funny to me Rally Squirrel video.


It’s not so much that they’re losing games, it’s that their offense is getting shut down by Cardinals pitching where Cardinals offense is just beating up their pitchers and that’s not going to change.  If Wainwright (Wainwright!) can put them away with Beltran benched (and I’ll admit straight up that Lincecum is an interesting story but a problematic pitcher) what the heck are they going to do tonight when they send Zito (15 – 8, 4.15 ERA) up against Lynn (18 – 7, 3.78 ERA)?  Put up the same 5 relievers (Kontos, Mijares, Mota, Affeldt, and Lopez) who allowed 4 runs after Lincecum sat?  That’s still a 4 – 2 Cardinals victory.

The good news is if they win tonight the Giants go back to AT&T Park and they’ll have Vogelsong and Cain facing Carpenter and Lohse.  Hypothetically in their favor for Game 6, not so much for Game 7.  You have to feel the Cards will be looking to close out so things don’t get that far.  They could use the rest to set up their rotation (which is otherwise pretty screwed) and I could sure use it to get ready for the World Series.

Not that my material will improve.  Like Slushy Dogs it will never get any better.

Senior League Games are carried on Faux.

America’s Cup 2012: San Francisco Regatta

The America’s Cup is the world’s oldest trophy dating back to 1851:

America's cup 1851In 1851 a radical looking schooner ghosted out of the afternoon mist and swiftly sailed past the Royal Yacht stationed in the Solent, between the Isle of Wight and the south coast of England, on an afternoon when Queen Victoria was watching a sailing race.

As the schooner, named America, passed the Royal Yacht in first position, and saluted by dipping its ensign three times, Queen Victoria asked one of her attendants to tell her who was in second place.

”Your Majesty, there is no second,” came the reply. That phrase, just four words, is still the best description of the America’s Cup, and how it represents the singular pursuit of excellence. [..]

Thus was born the America’s Cup, named after the winning schooner America, as opposed to the country.

The America’s Cup is without a doubt the most difficult trophy in sport to win. In the more than 150 years since that first race off England, only four nations have won what is often called the “oldest trophy in international sport.” For some perspective, consider that there had been nine contests for the America’s Cup before the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896.

Gone now are the stately yachts, replace by carbon fiber catamarans that cruise the race course at speeds exceeding 30 knots, unimagined in 1851.

The race format has been changed to three different stages:

  • The America’s Cup World Series at international venues, of which today’s race is part;
  • The Louis Vitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, is used as the selection series to determine who will race the Defender in the America’s Cup Finals;
  • The 34th America’s Cup which brings the competition back to the United States for the first time in 18 years.
  • Today’s race in San Francisco is the final of the regatta that began on October 2nd. Saturday’s race was a hair raising event that saw one of these giant catamarans capsize, righted by the crew and going on to win.

    Oracle Team USA Spithill took a lot of speed into the first mark when both bows went into the water. The boat stopped and nose dived into the San Francisco Bay. All crew were safe. The Oracle Team USA’s support team quickly pulled the boat back up and got it back ready to race.

    ‘We broke most of the frames in the top of the wing, so we’ll repair them tonight,’ Spithill said. ‘But, that’s the beauty of these boats – they’re very, very strong. You can continue racing even if you do have broken frames.’

    The final is being broadcast live on NBC but if you don’t have TV, you can watch it here at Stars Hollow, Live;

    The full replays of this week’s regatta can be viewed here.

    Overcoming The Odds

    Age, heart conditions, and traumatic events were no deterrents to achieving their goals of reaching this Summer’s Olympics games in London and for some it has earned them gold.

    Swimmer Dana Vollmer overcame a heart condition to win Olympic Gold and set a couple of world records

    Dana Vollmer, 2012 OlympicsAt the age of 15, already an elite swimmer, Ms. Vollmer, from Granbury, Tex., was taken to a local doctor after experiencing dizzy spells while training. Doctors discovered she had an abnormal heartbeat and set up a procedure to correct it. But they then discovered she had a genetic cardiac electrical disorder called long QT syndrome, which could lead at any moment to sudden cardiac arrest.

    The diagnosis was sobering. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, each year about 2,000 people under the age of 25 die of sudden cardiac arrest in the United States, most because of long QT syndrome and other electrical and structural defects in the heart. While sudden cardiac arrest can strike those who are sedentary, the risk is up to three times as great in competitive athletes.

    Such diagnoses have derailed the ambitions of many young athletes. But Ms. Vollmer and her family decided against what may have been a career-ending decision to implant a defibrillator in her heart, and instead chose – with the approval of her doctors – to allow her to continue training as long as an external defibrillator was always within reach.

    In 2004 in Athens at the age of 16, Dana won her first Olympic gold in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay event. Dana didn’t qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing but has since returned, renewed and refreshed overcoming her physical problems and the psychological effects that were holding her back. Monday night, she not only won the gold in the 100 meter butterfly, she did it in won in 55.98 seconds, breaking the world record. Then on Wednesday night at the Olympic Aquatic Centre, Dana Vollmer swam the second leg of the 4×200 freestyle relay, along with Missy Franklin, Shannon Vreeland, and Allison Schmitt on the last leg, the U. S. swim team won the Olympic gold medal and setting an Olympic record. The U. S. women’s team hadn’t won a swimming relay eight years at the Olympics.

    Overcoming the psychological trauma of being sexual assaulted by her coach when she was 13 years old, Kayla Harrison won the first gold medal in judo for the United States.

    Kayla Harrison, 2012 OlympicsIn November 2007, a man pleaded guilty in a federal court in Dayton, Ohio, to illicit sexual conduct involving a 13-year-old girl. He was a judo coach, and the girl was a student he had trained closely and brought to international tournaments. Her name was given in court papers simply as “K.H.” or “the victim.” [..]

    Harrison is simply the best on the team. It helps that she is also good-natured. And that she has a story she is not afraid to tell, a story that is jarring even for a sports press that can be nearly unhinged in its pursuit of the next inspirational tale.

    The questions she fielded at the end of her match, about what she was thinking on the podium, about what the medal means to her, about how this compares to her own struggles, could be wince-inducing in their coy inquiries into such a painful topic.

    But she answered them all with the same composure she had just used against her opponents on the mat.

    “It’s no secret,” she began, after a long pause, when a reporter asked her to name the worst moment she had to face in her career, “that I was sexually abused by my former coach. And that was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to overcome.”

    Harrison has told her story before, first to USA Today only days after the indictment of Jerry Sandusky came down and the front pages were full of news about Penn State, sexual abuse and coaches who exploit their authority.

    She said she felt it necessary to speak out so that others in her position could take heart.

    Kayla is not a “victim”, she is a hero and a champion.

    And for us for us seniors, who think that our time is over to be Olympic competitors  there is Equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan the London Olympics oldest athlete:

    Hiroshi Hoketsu, 2012 OlympicsThe crowd did not go wild for Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan as he rode Whisper out on to the sand of the Greenwich Park equestrian arena at one o’clock on Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t a question of bad manners; more a question of consideration.

    A stadium-sized roar to acknowledge the arrival of the Games’ oldest competitor – a ramrod-straight and dapper man of 71 – would have frightened the mare and probably embarrassed her rider.

    Hoketsu, after all, had not travelled from his home in Germany to fly the flag for older athletes, nor had he come to court the sympathy vote.

    He had come to London, as he went to his first games in Tokyo in 1964, and to Beijing four years ago, to compete and, hopefully, to win.

    And beneath a bright sky that turned Whisper’s brown coat a dark gold, that is what he tried his best to do. [..]

    His white-gloved hands keeping her on a tight rein, Whisper executed a neat diagonal cross of the arena before pausing and reversing neatly to one corner. Seven minutes later, after she had appeared to jog on the spot, skip and goose-step her way around the arena, Whisper came to a stop in front of the judges. As the first drops of rain began to fall from a greying sky, the crowd burst into applause and Hoketsu raised his hat in acknowledgement.

    And with that, the oldest Olympian rode out of the arena, to finish 17th out of 24.

    When he was asked about his performance and  if he would compete in Rio in four years, he blamed any errors on himself and said that competing was in doubt because of his partner Whisper’s age. He also lamented how the Olympics have changed since he started competing 48 years ago:

    “The Olympic Games itself has changed a little bit,” he said. “At that time, participation was of more importance to everybody. But now I think medals are much more important, not only for athletes but also even for politics.

    We salute all the champions at the Olympics.

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