Archive for category Sports

My Take on Curling

How can anyone not be fascinated with Curling?

Whenever it’s on the Olympics I watch it, and I sometimes find myself cheering. If you still can, you might want to watch the Russian women, especially Liudmila Privivkova. I’m not usually into blondes, but holy crap I’d watch her throw rocks all day long, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, how the fuck does one train for Curling? Do you have to lift weights and shit? What do you have to do to get geared up for Curling? I mean, I’m sure you have to practice, but is it like a day of practicing your craft, then off to the gym? Do you study videos of the other teams? Get used to the cold by standing in a fridge? What?

If you’re a sweeper, do you volunteer to sweep people’s kitchens during your “off-season”? Is there an off-season?

Do you think during the Olympics, at some of the surrounding Vancouver bars, the men’s teams would taunt each other?

Great Britain starts off with, “Hey, USA team, you throw like fags, assholes.” We chime back with, “Oh yeah, you’re lucky I need to save my energy for tomorrow Nigel, or I’d literally sweep the floor with your gay British face. Why don’t you brush your teeth every once in a while.” Then Nigel’s teammates have to hold him back. “Save it for the match, old chap.” Or whatever British people say to each other.

That’s how it goes down in my head anyway.

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Andy and the Jets

Let me set the back drop by saying that the lunch special at work this day was beef lasagna. It was a slice of lasagna about as wide as a  floor tile with a dinner roll – how could I resist that? Unfortunately, as I have aged, pasta sometimes sits like a rock in my stomach. It kept churning around like a thick magma and I continued to re-taste it about every 15 minutes – the gift that keeps on giving.

Anyway, my son’s last track practice of the week was at 5:15 that day and when I got home I found out that it was coaches/parents vs. the kids. I was pretty pumped – here was my chance to show my kid that his old man still had the jets. I took him to practice and was ready to run. When I got there I found out there was a shortage of parents so I had to double up and run two legs of a 4x100m relay. Just to remind you all, 100m = about 109 yards. That’s longer than a football field. So I sprinted 218 yards in about a 3 min span. That’s a greater distance than I have sprinted in about the last 15 years combined.

So I am the starter in the first leg and I take off like a bat out of hell – just destroyed the 7th grade girl in the lane next to me by at least 30 yards. I felt pretty good – the old man still had the jets. So I hand off the baton with my team well in first place and am pretty winded but not too horrible. Then I go to get into position to run leg #2. I start off pretty good but about half way through the legs start to get a bit rubbery – I still beat the little snot next to me, but not by as much.

Now I’m pretty winded and need to catch my breath. It takes a little while and I do get my breath back, but something just isn’t right. I really didn’t feel well at all. I tried to walk it off and chatted with some other parents, but I just felt like crap. I decided that maybe it would help if I walked to the car and sat with the AC on for a few minutes. I think deep down, I was a like one of those wounded animals that just needs to find a place to crawl off and die – some place secure and away from the all of the other animals. Anyway, after 5-10 minutes in the car, I become honest with myself and admit that I really just need to puke – that lasagna was not sitting right at all. So I got out of the Santa Fe and walked around to the back of it, out of view of everyone else, and just spewed like Vesuvius. Chucks of beef lasagna everywhere, including stuck in my nose. I walked around to go back in the car and clean myself up when another wave hit and I spewed again. This time was worse, not only because  I could have been spotted, but because when I opened the door, my friggin ice scraper fell out of the door holder and right into ground zero. Dammit!!! Anyway, I found some old Wendy’s napkins (all sprinters consist on Wendy’s) and cleaned myself up and drank some water.

Suddenly, I felt 100% better – as if I had been healed by the touch of God. After a thorough check that I had no incriminating spew on my body or clothes, I went back down to practice and had a nice rest of the day. Of course when practice was over, I had to fess up to the boy as there were those large vomit lakes by the car. He had a good laugh – I let him enjoy his laugh and didn’t mention to him until we got home that that he was sitting on the very Wendy’s napkins I used to clean myself off. The best laugh is the last laugh.

Several of the boy’s friends did tell me how great I looked running – probably just being nice but my ego is taking them at their word. When we got home, I started hitting  my son with the “Your old man’s still got the speed” line to which he replied “To go along with a lot of vomit”. He did finally give me a nice backhanded compliment of “Well, you certainly are fast for someone who looks like you. Fast enough to beat a 7th grade girl. Good job, Dad”. I think I made my point with him – case dismissed.

So although the cost was high – a $5 lunch special I will never get back – I was able to defend the pride of Dads everywhere. And that, my friends, is priceless. Well, I guess the price was actually $5, but who’s counting.

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Big Fan Review

Big FanFor those that don’t know, I’m the Producer of the podcast EaglesFanCast – Views on the Philadelphia Eagles.   I started it two years ago as a way to get my geek on in a niche demographic and explore the world of New Media from the inside.  I had already been consuming podcasts for more than a year, and the whole new media world intrigued me a lot.  I worked with my friend Eric, who I have Eagles Season Tickets with, to build the concept and site ideas, then recruited my friend Todd to be a third co-host.  Todd and I had season tickets together back in the Veterans Stadium days, and he has since relocated to Los Angeles where he started his career and family.  We do the show from an Eagles Fan’s perspective with no script or agenda, and definitely with no professional analysis.  Each week during the season we talk about the team’s ups and downs, as it would be talked about by fans in any pub, with plenty of fan emotion thrown in.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted about the upcoming movie, Big Fan, by those behind the marketing.  They wanted to know if we were interested in a screening of the film, as well as an interview with Writer / Director Robert Siegel.  Mr. Siegel is the acclaimed writer behind 2008′s The Wrestler.  Of course I responded positively, I’m not a fool, and within a couple weeks I received a very nondescript DVD in the mail.

With actor / comedian Patton Oswalt as the star of the movie, as well as the vague description of the movie (paraphrasing: Paul is a huge New York Giants fan, who runs into his hero, a superstar Giants linebacker, then things don’t go as planned), I expected this to be a comedy.  The trailer quickly stifled that suspicion as we see Paul get a beatdown from his hero, the fictional player Quantrell Bishop.

As I unfortunately have not seen The Wrestler yet, I was not familiar with Mr. Siegel’s writing, and this was his directorial debut.  I had no expectations going into this movie.

The pacing of the movie is slow, pretty much matching the life of the main character Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt).  Paul lives with his mother (Marcia Jean Kurtz), works as a fee-taker at a parking garage, has one friend, Sal (played by Kevin Corrigan), and doesn’t enjoy the company of the rest of his family.  Paul’s only passion, at least what we see, is his love of the New York Giants.  His small bedroom is a shrine to the Giants, complete with NFL-branded sheets, and he religiously watches every game.  He is a regular caller, “Paul from Staten Island”, to the local sports talk radio station, and he scripts what he wants to say in those 20 or so on-air seconds for hours in his notepad.  Those calls are robust and filled with fandom, and the radio show loves it.  He and Sal go to each Giants home game, tailgate with the masses, but with no tickets, don’t go in, instead spending the time in the parking lot.  They watch the game on a TV rigged to the car battery, just to be close to where it’s happening and be with other fans.
Paul’s relationships are only superficial.  His mother irritates him, and she is obviously not amused by his “lack of a life,” but he lives with her, so he’s stuck.  His brother Jeff is one of the ambulance-chaser lawyers ready to sue everyone.  We are even treated to the debut of a badly-acted, badly-scripted TV commercial Jeff had made that you and I have all seen on our small screens during the day, or late at night.  From what we are shown, Paul’s friendship with Sal consists of only one thing, the Giants.  They don’t seem to do anything else, and if they do, the conversation only revolves around the Giants.  Sal idolizes Paul’s drive to call in to the nighttime Sports Dogg show (voiced by Scott Ferrall), and praises Paul for hearing him on the radio and his insight.

There are two catalyst players in Paul’s life.  The first is Giants linebacker Quantrell Bishop (played by newcomer Jonathan Hamm) and the other is Sports Dogg caller, and Paul’s on-air nemesis, “Philadelphia Phil”, played by Michael Rappaport.  Philadelphia Phil is a Philly-based Eagles fan, and Giants-hater.  Phil enjoys talking smack and even venturing into the New York airwaves by calling in to the Sports Dogg and making fun of the Giants team and fans, predicting the inevitable Giants downfall, and proclaiming Eagles dominance.  Phil is a believable character, and I know fans that taunt other teams’ fans by joining in on their online forums and sports talk shows.  Phil can be any hardcore sports fan.

Paul’s life changes forever when he and Sal are out grabbing a couple of slices of pizza one night and they see Bishop getting gas in his SUV right there in Staten Island.  Seeing their hero in the flesh, they don’t think twice about following his truck just to see what he’s up to.  Eventually the truck stops in a seedy neighborhood, yet Paul and Sal are naive enough to not realize that one of Bishop’s entourage is involved in buying drugs.  The innocent stalking eventually winds up at a gentleman’s club.  Paul and Sal also go in, and are so awestruck to see Bishop across the room, and trying to figure out how to introduce themselves, they both refuse a dance from one of the performers, with Sal even saying, “I’m on a job” before dismissing her.  No spoilers here, because it can be seen in the trailer, but they eventually work up their courage to approach Bishop, where they let it be known that they followed him from Staten Island.  A coked-up Bishop then beats Paul badly, putting him in the hospital where he wakes up three days later.

The rest of the movie deals with Paul’s misguided idolization of Bishop, who nearly killed him, and the affect on the Giants team, as they lose game after game because of Bishop’s suspension and the distraction to the team.  We see Paul blame almost everyone around him, including himself, for what is happening to the team, yet not the person truly responsible for what has happened, Bishop.  Paul remains an anonymous victim to the fans, and he feigns amnesia so he cannot give testimony to the investigating detective on the case.  Paul’s whole life has collapsed, as the police detective doesn’t believe him, his family is irritated with him, his hero knocked falls from his pedestal, and his team is losing it’s Division lead.   After weeks, and several Giants losses, the case is dropped against Bishop.  Paul’s hell seems to be coming to an end, until he discovers that his brother files a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Bishop, on Paul’s behalf.  Philadelphia Phil, through some simple online forum checking, discovers Paul’s last name, and outs him on the Sports Dogg.  Paul’s anonymous, almost lethargic, life has now gone.

The movie’s climax leads down the NJ Turnpike to Philadelphia, and we see Philadelphia Phil for the first time at the bar where he told Paul on the Sports Dogg where he would be for the big Giants-Eagles game, if Paul wanted to “leave the dark side, and join up with Eagles Nation.”

We see in this movie how the misguided uber-fan places aside the life of ambition and family, and migrates to anything having to do with his one passion.  His life is happy, as the director himself points out in our interview on EaglesFanCast, but that happiness rests solely on the success of his team.  The beatdown does nothing to shake that devotion, and instead forces Paul to lose sight of what really matters in his life.

Big Fan is definitely a movie to see if you are any sports fan, let alone a football fan.  Just about any fan can say they know of someone that takes the success of their team just a little too seriously. This is a window into the person that piles everything on their team, all of their love, their adoration, their respect… unfailingly.  Robert Siegel has penned another great movie, and I definitely recommend people seek it out.

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What Would it Take For You?

I come from the metro-Philly area and a dilemma has befallen our area – Ron Mexico, I mean, Michael Vick.  He has split the fan base with a  little more than a 50% margin against his signing.  Those who call in to sports radio talk shows and claim to “bleed true green” are on board, and call those not on the Vick train “not true fans” and “bandwagon jumpers.”

So as I sit here, the proud owner of several dogs (most have been rescues) over the course of my life, what am I to do?  I got my first dog at age 3 so I’ve been a dog fan longer than an Eagle fan, but I do love football an awful lot…

I’m not against Vick playing for another NFL team – let the Cowgirls have him, it’ll give me that much more reason to hate them.  Let Vick play, just not here,  just not for my team.

Based on these factors, I made a rash decision last week to renounce my fanhood until Mike Vick is no longer on the team.
I admit, I’ve wavered,  I kinda still want to see them do well.   I like #5, DeSean, B-West and most of the Birds and I will miss them this year (next?).  But as someone pointed out on EaglesFanCast, in the comments of the latest post, it’s the name on the front of the jersey we should root for not those on the back.

Thanks for solidifying my resolve – the name on the front of the jersey consistently puts enough talent out there to win, just not win it all.  The name on the front of the jersey let all-time Eagle Brian Dawkins walk away.  The name on the front of the jersey was supposed to stand for character, not the gutter.

I cannot root for an organization that claims to be the gold standard of Professional Football yet owes the city it plays in millions of dollars while libraries are closing, where the coach offers fans no explanations even after we know the truth because he has control issues, where they let a future Hall Of Famer walk away without even a real shot at re-signing, where the blowhard President Joe Banner proclaims to have the most talented roster in football then goes and signs the most notorious player available to add more talent.

What would it take for you to renounce your fanship (or at least put it on hold)?  Michael Vick apparently was my tipping point.  As far I am concerned, while Senor Mexico is in town I will consider myself an Eagles fan in exile.

I don’t expect you to agree, this is a personal choice  about a personal topic, just judge me fairly.  Let me know what you think.

By the way, here is some information on dog fighting on the Humane Society’s site for you to read.

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Camera Eye – A Baseball Story

Max Bishop - Image courtesy of Baseball Historian at www.baseballhistorian.com

Max Bishop - Image courtesy of Baseball Historian at www.baseballhistorian.com

Babe Ruth, “The Sultan of Swat” and Ted Williams, “The Splendid Splinter,” lead the all-time list in many offensive categories. Names such as Mantle, Mays, Musial, and Aaron enter into conversation when Ruth and Williams are mentioned. A man you’ve probably never heard compared to Ruth and Williams is Max “Camera Eye” Bishop. In fact, he may very well be a man you’ve never heard of at all.

Max Bishop was a second baseman in the American League from 1924-35. He played his first ten seasons with the then Philadelphia A’s and his last two with the Boston Red Sox. Hitting 41 lifetime home runs and with only a .271 lifetime average, it almost seems absurd he could be mentioned in the same breath as any of the offensive greats, but the truth is he compares quite favorably.

When it comes to walk percentage for a career, (just think of how a batting average is computed but use walks instead of hits) Max Bishop’s .204 is higher than Babe Ruth’s and just slightly lower than Ted Williams’ .207. An aberration? Far from it.

Looking at the nine seasons in which Bishop played more than 100 games (1925-33), he failed to record 100 walks only twice and even then did not fall very short with 87 and 97. The year he recorded the 97 walks, 1928, was the only season in which he batted over .300 (.316) and the following year the only season in the nine year stretch he failed to achieve an on-base percentage of .400 or more (.398).

Due to his on-base percentage constantly hovering around .400, A’s manager Connie Mack batted Bishop in the leadoff spot. Mack knew Bishop was no threat, but he also knew exactly what he was. He was pressure.

Batting after Bishop in the A’s lineup were the likes of Mickey Cochrane, Jimmy Foxx and Al Simmons, all very big threats. It was difficult enough for opposing pitchers to face any of the three with the bases empty, let alone with a man on. Max Bishop was that man and he set the table often, adding worry to opposing pitchers because they knew that any mistake to one of the big three not only meant one, but at least two runs against. The added pressure only made the big three more effective and in four straight seasons (1928-31) Bishop scored 100 runs or more.

Knowing that Bishop was not passed intentionally or pitched around because he was a home run threat like Ruth (714 home runs) and Williams (521 home runs), his ability to reach first base without swinging becomes even more uncanny. He was also not feared because of his ability to hit doubles and triples, as evidenced by his paltry .366 lifetime slugging average, a far cry from Ruth’s .690 and Williams .634.

Though Bishop may have walked alone to first, he does not walk alone in history. He is tied with Joe Jackson for 16th on the all time on-base percentage list with .423, (below him are Mantle, Musial and DiMaggio). Each of the fifteen players above him in this category had a lifetime average well over .300 (11 averaging .330 or more) and/or over 500 home runs. With 1,153 walks he is tied with Toby Harrah (who recorded almost 3,000 more at bats than Bishop) for 56th place on the all time list for bases on balls.

Bishop still holds the major league record for walks during a double header (18 innings) with 8 (which he did twice) and twice he walked 5 times in one game. Six times in his career he collected more walks than hits and proved to be more than just a “camera eye”, leading the American League in fielding for a second baseman four times.

In my eyes, Bishop should have walked into the Hall of Fame. I cannot tell you why he’s not in it, nor can I tell you how far he traveled on foot during his lifetime. But one thing is certain; because of a “Camera Eye” he walked almost two miles in a major league uniform, taking it 90 feet at a time. If nothing less, Bishop has proven one thing: you can walk tall and carry a big stick… but you don’t have to swing it to make a difference.

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