Archive for the 'Sports' Category

A New Life?

So, it appears that I have entered a new phase in my life. Yes, my wife recently had a baby, and now I’m a father and things are great and all that, but that’s not what I mean.

I no longer watch the Red Sox or really pay much attention to Major League Baseball.

Phew, it feels good just to admit it.

Lately, when I get done with work, I just don’t feel like settling in for 3.5 hours of baseball. In the past, I would miss games here and there but would comfort myself with the idea that there would always be one the next night. My finger never really drifted very far from the pulse of the Red Sox season. When I wasn’t watching games, I was reading about the team or baseball history, managing my fantasy teams, and generally paying attention.

Then, the other day, my brother said to me, “I think this Saltalamacchia kid is going to turn out to be a great pickup for the Sox.”

I looked at him for a second. “What?”

“Saltalamacchia – that catcher from Texas with the crazy long name. The Sox traded for him the other day.” He looked surprised to have to tell me, and I can’t really blame him.

After all, I was the little brother he used to call to settle baseball trivia bets. I was the little brother who knew Kiko Garcia hit .199 in 1980 – heck, I was the little brother who remembered that Kiko Garcia was an infielder for the Orioles. I pretty much knew (and still know) who won the World Series every year in baseball history.

Before this year, there is little doubt that I would have launched into 15 minutes of opinion about the trade, including thoughts about why Saltalamacchia struggled in Texas and my calculated but firm opinion about the catcher’s future in Boston. Instead, I just looked at my brother blankly.

That wasn’t the only example, either. I was at a restaurant the other night and the Sox were on TV, playing the Tigers. My wife asked me, “How are the Tigers this year?” I thought about it, reaching into the depths of my brain, but came up empty. After a few seconds of furrowing my brow (which probably looked as if I was experiencing gassy discomfort), I had to admit that I had no idea.

It’s a weird feeling. When I sit down to relax after work, I tend to watch a recorded show on the DVR, or pop in a DVD, or even just take some time to read. We’ve been grilling and taking walks with the baby and the dog. It’s been nice.

I still pay attention from a high level. I happened to be watching this week, at a friend’s house, when Mike Lowell (a favorite of mine) came up to the plate to a tremendous ovation and launched the first pitch over the Monster. I still got goose bumps. I can still talk generally about the injuries and how the team has really overachieved this year.

But, I don’t miss the long games. I don’t miss watching hitters step out of the batter’s box to perform unnecessary rituals while the pitchers walk a lap around the mound. I don’t miss becoming enraged when the latest middle relief “solution” blows a lead. Baseball just isn’t a central part of Summer 2010 for me, and I’m not sure that I miss it.

If the Sox make a run at the playoffs, I’m sure I will make time for them, but at this point they just aren’t winning the face-offs against my other entertainment options. Bill Simmons wrote about something similar this week on ESPN.com, and one of his points was that maybe it’s just not as important for Red Sox fans since we won in 2004 and 2007.

That might be it for me. Or, just maybe, it’s that now I have a life.

Sports Tim 06 Aug 2010 2 Comments

Steinbrenner

As a dedicated Red Sox fan, even I have to admit that things were more fun when Big George was running things in New York. He was a great villain, and helped to spark the rivalry that has helped to grow Red Sox Nation to its current status of pink hat glory (Note: I am not against the pink hats in any way).

Losing The Boss is a loss to the sport. One of my Yankee friends thinks that Steinbrenner is among the top 5 most important people in the history of professional baseball (he includes Babe Ruth and Kenesaw Mountain Landis on that list), but I think he’s a little overwhelmed by the moment (and influenced by his blind love of all things Yankee).

I think that history will show George as one of a group of colorful owners – including Bill Veeck and Charlie Finley – and that his drive to win and willingness to spend ruthlessly helped to shape the game we have today, for good or for ill. I will never forget 2003, when the Yankees traded for Alex Rodriguez after the Red Sox had failed in a similar effort and Steinbrenner said something to the effect of, “It’s too bad that the Red Sox were not willing to go the extra mile for their fans.” That jab hit home to the problem that all Red Sox fans had with the rivalry – the Yankees would go out and sign the big players and the Red Sox would unveil tired, broken down warhorses like Jack Clark and Andre Dawson as their marquee acquisitions.

George Steinbrenner was many things – from what I have read he was arrogant, petty, and could be incredibly difficult to work for – but he was never boring. Baseball was more exciting with him, and he will be missed.

Sports Tim 14 Jul 2010 No Comments

All Star Observations (and Lou Brock’s Hair!)

My brother and my sister have a standing $5 bet on the All-Star game. I’m not sure when they started the bet, but for the first number of years, through the 1970’s and 80’s, my sister would have to pay when the AL team fell short. Year after year, she would dutifully hand over a five spot to my grinning brother. Things are a bit different these days. The American League hasn’t lost since 1996, and my sister has come to count on that money as a steady form of income.

I don’t bet on the game, but I am a fan of the American League in the All Star Game – probably because of my Red Sox loyalties. Lately, with the success of both the Red Sox and the American League, I might be considered a frontrunner, but the amount of losing both did throughout my childhood makes me feel like a longsuffering fan rewarded.

This past Tuesday was this year’s installment of the All Star Game, and I jotted down some thoughts about it:

- The pre-game activities were actually entertaining. Seeing guys like Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, and Bob Gibson is a thrill for me, because I am a baseball buff. I think that Stan Musial is one of the most underrated all-time greats in baseball history.

But, I don’t think that I can just watch Lou Brock walk around in 2009 with a helmet-like jheri curl and not mention it. I did an old fashioned double-take when I saw him on the screen. Wow. That thing was just awesome. I wonder if he’s trying out for a role in Coming to America II?

- Speaking of appearances, country singer Sara Evans sang “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch. At least, I think it was Sara Evans – there is a strong possibility that it could have been a traffic cone with a great voice. The guys from “How I Met Your Mother” need to break out that Intervention banner and have a conversation with her about the spray tan. Step away from the orange.

- My traditional complaint about Major League Baseball is that the games start too late. It was the case once again last night. The pre-game started at 8pm EDT and got finished somewhere around 8:45pm. The game went quickly – there were many one-pitch at-bats and several times the announcers emphasized how quickly things were going and said things like, “…We’re in the seventh inning ALREADY.”

Yet, despite all of that, the game still ended at about 11:20pm EDT. On a Tuesday night. Honestly, the pregame stuff couldn’t have started at 7pm, or even 7:30pm? Or, if that’s too early because west coast adults are still at work, then how about having the game on a Sunday? Start it at 7pm eastern, and everyone can watch it. Kids will grow up and remember watching the All Star game, instead of how they went to bed in the 5th inning. Having an event during the weekend works for the NFL, it works for the Masters, it works for college football, and it works for NASCAR. Maybe it’s that the powers that be at MLB don’t want to be as successful as the NFL? It’s frustrating.

- There are good things and bad things about the fact that the All Star Game now determines home field advantage in the World Series. The good thing is that the players might try harder (which continues to make this by far the best All Star Game of the professional sports). The bad thing is that it takes away some things that would be good for the game, even if they are not strategically the best idea.

For example, Tim Wakefield made his first All Star Game at age 42. He is well regarded around the league as a nice guy who does quite a bit of charity work, but he doesn’t get into the game. Really? Never mind how fun it might be to see other catchers chase his knuckleball around, it is a travesty that he wasn’t allowed to pitch. Instead, Mark Buehrle of the White Sox got to pitch an inning – and Buehrle started the All Star Game in 2005. Come on.

Next, Victor Martinez of the Indians was intentionally walked. Some kid in Cleveland stays up and finally gets to see Martinez bat with the go ahead run on third base, and the pitcher throws four wide ones. That’s awful. We’re watching the game for the player competition. Even if it means that my brother loses his chance at five bucks, there should be no intentional walks in the All Star Game.

Sports Tim 15 Jul 2009 No Comments

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