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Bo Knows Baseball Position Numbers, Do You?

bojackson

Bo knows…he’s awesome. Still.

I admit, I never liked baseball growing up. I didn’t play, and we didn’t have a team, except for the double-A “Memphis Chicks,” short for the region’s native Chickasaw Indians, and no one ever thought to be offended.

I also found the game to be as exciting as milk. (Even the “South Park” kids hated it for stealing their summer.) The three most memorable things I recall were:

Bo Jackson living in the apartment next door to my sister while he played for us en route to becoming one of America’s all-time greatest athletes

—The “Medicine Man” mascot—a white dude in a loincloth and buffalo horns (again, no one was offended, and I kinda think we should have been?) and

Looks like I wasn't the only one excited to meet The Chicken.

I wasn’t the only one excited to meet The Chicken.

—Meeting the San Diego Chicken when he (she? Aren’t chickens girls?) visited our ballpark. He was a lot shorter than I expected.

Baseball was also confusing to a seven-year-old word nerd. A “hit” only counted if a player hit the ball and reached base—but the way I saw it, guys hit the ball—like made contact with the bat—all the time. And didn’t the word “strike” also mean “to hit?” (Hell, the games wouldn’t have been so interminable if they played my way.)

Who’d-a thunk then that I would eventually wind up working for a baseball team, handling their public relations and keeping score—a skill that I have found not only fairly easy once you get the hang of it, but literally a game-changer for me. Because once I understood the positions, it was logical.

baseball positionsImagine you are standing behind the batter’s box, like the umpire, facing the field. The players are numbered in a sort of backwards question mark order:

1—Pitcher
2—Catcher
3—First baseman
4—Second baseman
5—Third baseman
6—Shortstop
7—Left fielder
8—Center fielder
9—Right fielder

Once you have that down, the game, specifically defensive plays and outs, are not only easy to spot, but fun to record. It’s pretty obvious on offense when you see a player single (1B) to first base or hit a home run (HR). But to understand the announcer when he says “a 6-4-3 double play” or “F8!” is more satisfying because you understand the numbers, and those numbers translate into images in your scorebook. If you think baseball is all math and stats, remember there is a lovely visual component to it as well.

Baseball (softball too) became fascinating to me when I realized on a scorecard you can see patterns develop right before your eyes—kind of like a photo in a darkroom, or knitting a sweater—but with men in tight pants. For example, marking this in your scorebook column…

F-7, ♦, L5, 6-3

 …isn’t some maddening Morse code, it’s simply:

  • a flyout to left (out #1)
  • a 2-run homer (you color in the diamond for home runs – my favorite part, as long as it’s my team)
  • a line drive out to the third baseman (out #2), and
  • an out from the shortstop (position 6) to the first baseman (position 3, thus three outs, and the half-inning is over with one run scored).

When you process a game visually, noted by your own hand, it is imprinted in your memory. Plays happen fast, but when you’ve recorded them, they are yours forever. My friend Bob has a scorebook he kept with his dad in the ‘60s, and he remembers each game, right down to the weather that day. These are some of his most cherished memories, not of just baseball but his now departed father.

SCORECARD-yankees-20080921-640

The Yankees scored seven runs in this 2008 game against the Orioles. (James Teresco, Creative Commons)

I will get into the basics of scoring in a later post. But for now, scoring keeps your head in the game (handy for parents whose children are in weekend-long tournaments) and makes statistics and trends easier to follow. And unlike other sports’ box scores, just columns of numbers, you can “see” an entire baseball game’s progression just based on a series of numbers and symbols—sort of like Neo in “The Matrix” when he finally understands everything in binary code, 10010110101.

There are many tutorials on the interwebs about how to score a baseball game (here is just one), and any paper game program or scorebook will also have a key. But even if you are just watching (or, OK, still bored off your butt waiting for little Timmy’s turn), maybe now you will follow along a little more because just like Bo knows, now you now who is who too.

PS–Don’t forget to enter our sports short essay contest! Free entry, great prizes! Deadline August 31!

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Sports Numbers You Need to Know

Simply the best.

Simply the best.

So in honor of Derek Jeter’s historic sendoff last night, I thought I would compile a quick list of these sports stats and numbers you often hear in bar conversations, on Sports Center, and even in rap songs (scroll to :46 for a Jay-Z reference to #5).

So here is a baker’s dozen (and just a FEW–bear with me, I’m writing this on a coaster), so please feel free to comment with other biggies.

I’m listing the numbers first for a little quiz fun, then scroll down for the answers.

Let’s go!

1 — 2

2 — 12th Man

3 — 60 feet, 6 inches

4 — 23

5 — Game 6

6 — 42

7 — 17-0

8 — 158.3

9 — 100

10 — 99

11 — 2,131

12 — 18

13 — Oh let’s go for the baker’s dozen: 1,098. Now you may scroll….

**********************************************************************

1 — Derek “Captain” Jeter, Yankees shortstop for 20 years, retiring after 2014.

2 — Slogan (with a super cool history) of Texas A&M and Seattle football (and a host of others), meaning the crowd’s noise and support as the additional team member to the 11 on the field.

3 — Distance from professional pitcher mound to home plate.

4 — Michael Jordan’s jersey number.

5 — Famous 1998 NBA Finals game between the Bulls and the Jazz; Bulls won 87–86, their sixth NBA Championship in eight years. It was also the final game with the Bulls for Jordan and coach Phil Jackson. It earned the highest TV ratings of an NBA game of all time. Jordan hit a jump shot with 5.6 seconds left to put the Bulls on top for good 87–86.

6 — Jackie Robinson’s jersey number – first African-American to play in Major League baseball.

7 — Final 1972 record of the Miami Dolphins, still the only fully undefeated NFL season.

8 — A “perfect” passer rating for a quarterback’s game. Stat is calculated using a player’s passing attempts, completions, yards, TDs and interceptions. NFL rates QBs from 0 to 158.3. College football uses a different formula and ranks from -731.6 to 1261.6. (Shrug.)

9 — Number of points Wilt Chamberlain scored in a single game in an NBA win over the Philadelphia Warriors, 169-147, on March 2, 1962. (Another key number: 20,000, the number of women he claims to have bedded.)

10 — Wayne Gretzky’s jersey number, the first ever to be retired league-wide by the NHL.

11 — Number of consecutive games played by the Oriole’s Cal Ripken to surpass Lou Gehrig’s 56-year-old record (2,130).

12 — Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 career major championships.

13 — Number of all-time wins by Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, before retiring in 2012 due to dementia. She is the only coach in NCAA history, and one of three college coaches overall, with at least 1,000 victories.

A League of Her Own

You should see what she can do in a swimsuit.

You should see what she can do in a swimsuit.

So it was just announced a really hot girl is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. So what?

Turns out the “hot” girl is 13-year-old baseball sensation Mo’ne Davis, pitcher (and infielder, and outfielder…) for the Philadelphia Taney Dragons Little League team. Last week, she recorded the first ever complete game shutout by a girl in Little League World Series history (4-0 vs. Nashville). And Sunday, she hit a single against the Pearland, Texas team to become only the sixth girl to record a hit in the Little League World Series and help the Dragons to the win.

Her success has drawn praise from the likes of Michelle Obama, Kevin Durant and Lil Wayne. Now she will become the first Little Leaguer—girl or boy—to grace the cover of the famous sports magazine.

We doubt it will be the last. The 5-4, 111-pound phenom hopes to play basketball for the national champion Connecticut Huskies someday. Let’s hope they…yes, “show her the Mo’ne.”

(Insert trombone playing wohn-wohhhnnn here.)

Catch Mo’ne again Wednesday against Las Vegas—the one game standing in the way of the Dragons’ U.S. Championship game.

Tim Lincecum: All Right, All Right, All Riiiiight!

Mitch Kramer before, and...nope pretty much still the same.

Mitch Kramer before, and…nope pretty much still the same.

OK with the U.S. men’s soccer loss/win/advance/happy-headscratcher to Germany Thursday, I meant to see if people agreed with me here on something earlier in the week.

In college, each year my sorority glommed on to one movie and watched it all year. “Pretty Woman” was freshman year, “Boomerang” sophomore year, “Grease 2” for some godforsaken reason was junior year.

Then senior year, the whole campus went apesh*t over a little independent comedy with a bunch of no-namers like Ben Affleck, Jason London and some ugly dude named Matthew McConaughey. The real star of “Dazed and Confused” was pint-sized pitcher Mitch Kramer, trying to win his game while dodging roving bands of rabid seniors seeking to paddle incoming freshmen.

(In between a little beer and weed at “the moon tower” of course.)

Funny thing is today, San Francisco pitcher Tim Lincecum, who threw his second career no-hitter—both against San Diego, a record—this week, looks just like Mitch. That is one dope doppelganger. Do you agree?

High Five Headlines: They Are the World, They Are the Winners

Last week saw a foreign invasion as we watched two major sports taken by players born beyond U.S. borders, and another sport with no Americans playing at all (yet). Your High Five Headlines from the best stories last week…

I didn't realize my 6th grade solar system was part of the World Cup.

Even my 6th grade solar system is going to the World Cup.

1) German Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Men’s Golf Open on Sunday. Although none of the “big” names like Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson finished near the top, and Tiger Woods sat out the tourney with back issues, there was still excitement watching the 29-year-old winner lead start to finish. Zach Johnson also sunk a hole-in-one on the famous “Pinehurst (N.C.) No. 2” course’s ninth hole.

But the most excitement may lie with the pro ladies, who this weekend will play their Open at Pinehurst. It’s the first time the men and women have played two Opens consecutively on the same course—and not an easy one. Pinehurst No. 2 is one of the world’s most famous and difficult venues and the site of more single golf championships than other American course.

Better yet, this nod to the women, despite concerns over a second tournament so soon harming the greens, and well, money—the Women’s Open loses $4-5 million while the men’s Open is responsible for more than 90% of the USGA revenue—some of golf’s most influential fellas, like former USGA executive director David Fay, were behind the idea and the decision (thanks guys!). Look for Natalie Elbis (sort of the pin-up girl of golf) and 17-year-old sensation Lydia Ko to tee off on Thursday.

2) San Antonio gave a butt-whoopin’ clinic at home Sunday night, taking down the two-time champion Miami Heat for the 2014 NBA title, 104-87. It was the Spurs’ fifth championship, and a Father’s Day gift for Tim Duncan,38, who has played his entire career with the organization. He wandered the floor in disbelief, carrying his son and daughter as other Spurs like Manu Ginobili (Argentina) and Tony Parker (France) celebrated a team that claims players from seven foreign countries.

Meanwhile, know who Lebron James is? Now how about Kawhi Leonard? No? You will now. The quiet, multi-talented, awww-shucks team-player seemed stunned when awarded the MVP trophy James claimed last year, thanking the “guys behind him” for the “surreal” experience.

Ronaldo. Yup.

Ronaldo. Yup.


3) The World Cup continues today with, let’s face it, probably the only soccer game most of us will watch in four years, the U.S. vs. Ghana at 6 p.m. ET. I won’t pretend I can expound on soccer much, but perhaps the biggest storyline thus far is The Netherlands’ upset of reigning champion Spain, 5-1. And four of Holland’s goals came in the second half. Spain defeated Holland for the title four years ago—will revenge come this year?

A few other items to watch for:

  • Ronaldo. One word: Injured. (and Gorgeous. OK, two words.) How will the world’s best player fare? Not well, hopes America; Portugal is in our group.
  • Lionel Messi, the world’s other best player, scored a goal to help Argentina to a 2-1 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina. Look for him in the 173 Gatorade soccer commercials currently running.
  • World Cup Crowds: The costumes are genius, the team spirit electrifying, and maybe even more entertaining than the games.

4) Scottish tennis champion Andy Murray lost at the Aegon Championships after 19 unbeaten matches on grass. However, his loss has raised eyebrows not just because grass is his favorite surface, but he has a new coach, Amelie Mauresmo.

(Who happens to be a woman.) Yes, the French former Wimbledon champ herself was hired personally by Murray after his previous coach, legend Ivan Lendl, became weary of the travel. Naturally her presence is being heavily scrutinized. But it must be said Lendl was a notorious grump and an inexperienced coach—who then led Murray to the 2012 Olympic and 2013 Wimbledon titles.

5) Finally, Father’s Day was especially lucky for the dad below, who caught a baseball bare-handed, while holding his baby in the other hand, at the San Francisco-Colorado game.

Omaha! Omaha! (The Actual Omaha), and Bo Knows Throws

HOTTY TODDY! (Actually pretty much a hotty all the way around)

HOTTY TODDY! (Pretty much a hotty all the way ’round, we think.)

So yesterday when we discussed the ridonculous amount of major sporting events going on the next few weeks, my guy friends reminded me that I left out an event: The College World Series (or what annual host city Omaha, Nebraska calls “The Best 10 Days of the Year. Or at All, Ever, Really. I Mean, We’re Freaking OMAHA.”)

Beginning Saturday, yes, the finest college baseball teams (even though school ended, like, three weeks ago) will meet in the Midwest to determine who will be the biggest diamond studs.

I’m in the Ole Miss camp myself, because they are the SEC, and also because my Mississippi relatives will disown me if I don’t pull for the Rebels. But no matter who you go to bat for, this field of dreams is worth watching.

Also, while many agreed that Yoenis Cespedes’ 300-foot throw to home the other night was truly one of the best baseball throws ever, I heard many other suggestions to top it. Too many to name actually, but the one that stood out most was Bo Jackson (also an SEC college player, Auburn) in 1989 when he threw out the Mariners’ Harold Reynolds–not a slow man–at home, flat-footed from the warning track. 

The entire Jackson highlight reel below is only-Bo-Knows how awesome, but see “The Throw” at around 1:32.

Catlike Reflexes. (No, REALLY.)

I almost skipped this video clip because it sounded too good to be true. I was WRONG! Watch as the Rays’ Evan Longoria literally saves this reporter from, well, probably not reporting or even knowing her own name anymore. Watch his left hand as an errant baseball comes flying…