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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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Get to Know Your NFL Coaches! (While You Still Can)

orange

Not football. But still totally binge-worthy.

Do you ever get completely obsessed with something that’s a major timesuck but it’s so fascinating you can’t help yourself? Like bingewatching Netflix. Or working out. (Not.)

This is what happened when I started to do a quick update on the latest NFL coaching hirings/firings. Because a head coach’s demeanor and philosophy are critical components of an entire team’s success, and they often have some or all power over policies and decision-making, it’s helpful to know who leads and where.

But as I researched, I realized these guys are really fascinating. For example, one grew up in a rival team’s city. Some played pro in Canada but most didn’t play pro at all. One preferred lacrosse, and another was drafted for pro baseball. One sold roofing supplies. Another was an Eagle Scout. Two have suffered the loss of a child.

Soooo, here is the latest list of head coaches, along with some interesting factoids. Read on to learn a little more about these (usually) heroes at the helm…

(* indicates new for 2015 season, # indicates still vying for this year’s title).

Arizona Cardinals: Bruce Arians. Named 2012 AP Coach of the Year as an interim coach for Indianapolis when he took over for head coach Chuck Pagano, who had been diagnosed with leukemia. Arians himself is a prostate cancer survivor.

Atlanta Falcons: Vacant

Baltimore Ravens: John Harbaugh. Brother of Jim Harbaugh, who was just released from the San Francisco 49ers and hired by his alma mater, the University of Michigan as the highest-paid college coach ever. John and Jim played one another in Super Bowl XLVII (the one where Beyonce allegedly caused a power outage).

*Buffalo Bills: Rex Ryan. Fired by the New York Jets, Ryan merely moved upstate one week later. Known for being gregarious and having teams with defensive prowess. Son of former Philadelphia and Arizona head coach Buddy Ryan, and fraternal twin of New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Uses color-coded playbooks to help with his dyslexia and underwent lap-band surgery in 2010 to combat obesity.

Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera. Of Puerto Rican/Mexican heritage, he is the fourth Latino to be an NFL head coach (following New Orleans’ Tom Fears, Oakland/Seattle’s Tom Flores and New Orleans/Indianapolis’ Jim E. Mora).

Chicago Bears: Vacant, possibly former Denver coach John Fox

Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis. He is the second-longest tenured coach (2003) behind New England’s Bill Belichick. Holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in athletic administration from Idaho State. Member of Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl XXX team that lost to Dallas.

Cleveland Browns: Mike Pettine. Finished his first season as the Browns’ coach 7-9 despite (or because of?) having Heisman winner “Johnny Football” Manziel for his rookie season. Brian Hoyer, however, was named the starting quarterback.

Dallas Cowboys: Jason Garrett. Despite losing on a controversial call in the playoffs to Green Bay, Garrett was just signed to a five-year contract extension for $30 million. Attended Princeton and Columbia for undergrad.

Denver Broncos: Vacant

Detroit Lions: Jim Caldwell. Hired in 2014, he is the first African-American coach for Detroit, finishing 11-5 regular season. In 2009, became head coach of Indianapolis and led team to a 14-2 record and a Super Bowl appearance (loss to New Orleans). His 14 wins are a NFL record for the best start by a rookie head coach.

#Green Bay Packers: Mike McCarthy. Began his career in hometown of Pittsburgh at University of Pittsburgh, working part-time on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Father was a Pittsburgh policeman, firefighter and bar owner. One of five children. Has led Packers to top-10 finishes in scoring for seven straight seasons (2007-13), joining New England as the only other team to do so. Became the first Packers coach since Vince Lombardi to lead the team to a championship game in his second season (2007).

Houston Texans: Bill O’Brien. A risk-taker, took reins in 2014 of the NFL’s worst team, finishing with winning 9-7 record after coaching two winning seasons at Penn State, on NCAA probation after the Sandusky/Paterno child sexual assault scandal. Named 2013 college coach of the year.

#Indianapolis Colts: Chuck Pagano. Known for ability in the secondary and to stop opposing pass attack. Named Colts head coach in January 2012, then was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia in September. Relinquished coaching duties to Bruce Arians but is now in remission. Players and even two cheerleaders shaved their heads as part of the CHUCKSTRONG campaign. Brother of San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Gus Bradley. Real name is Paul. Youngest of six kids. Played college ball at North Dakota State and was member of 1988 Division II Football Championship team. Earned his bachelor’s and master’s there. Spokesperson for the Ashley Furniture HomeStores Hope to Dream program which provides beds to underprivileged children.

Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid. Attended BYU and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Coached Philadelphia for 14 years and was fired at end of 2012 season. Next hired by the Chiefs, received a standing ovation when Kansas City played at Philadelphia the following season. (Chiefs won 26-16). Like Bill O’Brien, Reid inherited a godawful team and led it to a 9-0 start, a tie for best start in franchise history. Lost his oldest son Garrett to a heroin overdose in 2012.

Miami Dolphins: Joe Philbin. Only played one year of college football (Washington & Jefferson College). Previously spent nine years on Green Bay staff. During his four years as offensive coordinator, Packers offense ranked in NFL top 10 for points scored and total yards. Father of six children, lost son Michael, 21, to drowning in 2012.

Minnesota Vikings: Mike Zimmer. In high school in Peoria, Illinois, earned all-conference honors in football, baseball, and wrestling. Ended 2014, his first season with the Vikings, 7-9, the best record for a first year head coach in the franchise since 1992. Son Adam is the current Vikings linebackers coach.

#New England Patriots: Bill Belichick. Longest-tenured active NFL coach. His three Super Bowls are more than any other active coach. Father Steve was an assistant football coach at the Naval Academy. Lacrosse was his favorite sport as a teen athlete. Fined $500,000 for his alleged role in filming an opposing team’s defensive signals (“Spygate”), the largest ever levied on a coach in NFL history.

New Orleans Saints: Sean Payton. Suspended entire 2012 season for alleged knowledge of “bounty” scandal in which players were paid by coaching staff to injure opponents. Played semi-pro football for the Chicago Bruisers and Pittsburgh Gladiators arena teams and the Leicester Panthers of the UK Budweiser National League. As member of New York Giants staff, landed on September 11, 2001 at the gate next to United Airlines Flight 93, which was later hijacked and crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

New York Giants: Tom Coughlin. Set Waterloo, NY High School’s single season touchdown record at 19, which still stands. Inaugural head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1995-2002. Led team to two AFC championship games. Known as a stern disciplinarian and for meticulous attention to detail.

*New York Jets: Todd Bowles. Former player for eight seasons, primarily the Washington Redskins, and started in Super Bowl XXII. In his most recent job as Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator, he led the top-ranked run defense in the league in his first year. Played college ball at Temple under head coach Bruce Arians, also the Cardinals head coach.

*Oakland Raiders: Jack Del Rio. Hired January 14 to replace the fired Dennis Allen and interim coach Tony Sparano. Coached Jacksonville from 2003-11 without winning a division championship, the longest tenure of any coach. Standout in football and baseball for University of Southern California. Voted MVP of 1985 Rose Bowl. Batted .340 as college catcher with future MLB stars Randy Johnson and Mark McGwire. Drafted by Toronto Blue Jays but did not sign.

Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly. Known for uptempo spread offense. Rumored to stay on top of his players’ nutrition, even changing menus for meals to healthy options. Previously led University of Oregon into becoming perennial powerhouse. One of only three current NFL coaches who hold either the title or powers of a general manager, along with New England’s Bill Belichick and Seattle’s Pete Carroll.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Tomlin. First African-American coach in Steelers history. At age 42, he is the second-youngest head coach in the NFL (San Diego’s Mike McCoy is the youngest). In 2009 he became the youngest NFL coach ever to win a Super Bowl. Specializes in defense. Majored in biology at William & Mary, where he was a standout wide receiver/tight end.

San Diego Chargers: Mike McCoy. Born just two weeks after the Steelers’ Tomlin, McCoy (April 1, 1972) is the youngest NFL head coach and second-youngest head coach in all major American pro sports. Played QB at Long Beach State until school discontinued its program. He transferred to Utah as a backup, but threw a game-winning pass in the final minute of the 1994 Freedom Bowl for a win over Arizona. Played two years in the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampeders.

*San Francisco 49ers: Jim Tomsula. Promoted from defensive line coach after Jim Harbaugh’s departure. Previously coached NFL Europe’s Rhein Fire to a 6-4 record in 2006. Was named 49ers’ interim head coach in 2010 after Mike Singletary was fired. Won first and only game 38-7 over Arizona. Began his career as a strength and conditioning coach at Catawba College (NC) in 1989.

#Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll. Current Super Bowl title holder. Of Irish and Croatian descent. When he couldn’t play pro level, he sold roofing materials in the Bay Area. Holds a master’s in physical education. Successful coach at University of Southern California (USC) until Heisman winner Reggie Bush and others were found to have accepted gifts from agents and the school was sanctioned heavily by the NCAA. Carroll then departed for Seattle under suspicion. Known for being positive “players’ coach.”

St. Louis Rams: Jeff Fisher. The longtime Tennessee Titans coach was famous for his “mullet.” Played for the USC Trojans 1978 national championship team. Son Brandon is assistant for the Detroit Lions. With Titans, reached Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000 but with no time left fell one yard short of at least tying in a 23-16 loss to the Rams, where he would next coach. In 2014 earned acclaim, and some criticism, for drafting Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player. Sam was eventually cut.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lovie Smith. Highly respected African-American coach spent most of his career as head coach at Chicago, but began at Tampa Bay under Tony Dungy. Eventually in Super Bowl XLI, Smith became the first African-American head coach in the event followed just hours later by…Tony Dungy, now with Indianapolis. It was also the first Super Bowl with two black head coaches. Smith is named for his great aunt, Lavana.

Tennessee Titans: Ken Whisenhunt. Former Arizona head coach from 2077-12. An offensive specialist. Earned degree in civil engineering from Georgia Tech. Eagle Scout. So good at golf (65) contemplated playing professionally. In 2012 guided Cardinals to the first 4-0 start since 1974; then endured a nine-game losing streak. Titans finished 2-14 this year.

Washington Redskins: Jay Gruden. Younger brother of former Tampa Bay coach and Super Bowl winner Jon Gruden. Other brother James is a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic. First stint as a head coach. Known as a quarterbacks expert, though this was the position where the Redskins struggled most in 2014, Gruden’s first season. Four-year starter at QB for Louisville. Played in European and Arena Leagues, named MVP as QB for AFL’s Tampa Bay Storm in 1992.

The 8 Worst Sports Losing Streaks

Soy un perdedor. I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?

Soy NOT un perdedor. No loser here, you don’t need to kill me after all, ktxbye.

Despite having to re-start the game when the 76ers began playing in the wrong direction, Philadelphia managed to escape tying a dubious record Wednesday, winning their first game of the NBA season 85-77 over Minnesota, putting them at 1-17.

To lose 18 would have tied the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets for the worst start to a season in league history—and would have put the 76ers well on their way to last season’s streak of 26 straight losses, a tie with the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.

So what other loveable losers are out there? Here are a few of more of sports’ streaks so sad, “Beck” might sing about them:

  • NFL: Tampa Bay, 26 games, 1976-77
  • MLB (modern day): Baltimore Orioles, 21 games, 1988
  • WNBA: Tulsa Shock, 20 games, 2011
  • NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins, 18, 2004 (Washington and San Jose are a close second, tied with 17)
  • MLS: New York Red Bulls, 12 games, 1999
  • NCAA Division I Football: (FBS) Northwestern, 34 games, 1979-82; (FCS) Prairie View A&M, 80 games,1989-98
  • NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball: Towson, 41 games, 2011-12
  • NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball: 58 games, Long Island, 1986-89

There, now don’t you feel better about yourself?

Down in a Blaaaaze of Glory? #FreeUAB

OK, these guys bounced back--here's hoping UAB can too.

OK, these guys bounced back–here’s hoping UAB can too.

Did you have an older sibling who was better at you than everything, and never let you forget it?

That must be kind of how it is for the second tier sports teams out there – you know, the overly hyphenated, the ones with a region in the title (Southeast Missouri Central at St. Louis University etc.), the ones named for Hogwarts-like mascots (go Gryffindors!) or Colonial silversmiths. The kinds of schools that would appear in a Key and Peele skit while the major state teams get all the glory.

Or take the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers football team. In a state where the Tuscaloosa team is number one, whenever someone mentions “Alabama football” or even “UAB” people still have to stop and think “Huh? Where? Aren’t y’all some kinda dragon or something?”

Truth is, the school has nearly 20,000 students in a historic city that is a hard-won bastion of civil rights progress. The football team, at 6-6, is eligible to be invited to a bowl in this post-season.

But on Tuesday, it all came to an end. The UAB football program is being revoked due to the scientific research from a team of “Office Space” Bobs stating “the numbers just don’t add up” and that “football just isn’t sustainable.”

I’m not from Birmingham, but my family is, so I feel an affinity there. I also played “non-revenue” sports for a Division III college. They didn’t pay me a dime in scholarships. And I loved Every. Single. Minute. Sports made me what I am today.

Which is why I feel so badly for these players—no matter how feasible the research behind the numbers around crucial spending that just can’t be done without more revenue, my heart goes out to them, especially the freshmen and other players across the country punished for circumstances beyond their control. There is nothing like walking through an airport terminal in your school travel uniform, feeling the pride, getting the stares, even the occasional autograph from an eager kid. It didn’t matter if 6 people came to our games; the memories light up my heart to this day.

(And the meal per diem wasn’t bad either!)

Usually such a sanction is because of cheating or someone’s bonehead crime/mistake (Penn State and Jerry Sandusky, Jameis Winston, etc.). But this, so far, appears to be simply a numbers game as the big conferences like the Big 5 (the Southeastern Conference, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pacific-12) grow bigger, and smaller conference’s like UAB’s Conference-USA grasp at straws.

I guess I should be happy that it’s not women’s programs being unilaterally cut here. At least they have Title IX to protect them; these guys, as one passionate player tearfully decried at the announcement, came from all over the country, thousands of miles, expecting to play. What now? For their scholarships? Their futures?

The announcement also affects all those tangentially related to the football program—cheerleaders, band members and so on. In other words, this is the first time since 1995 a Division I football team has been shut down—what will happen next remains to be seen. I just hope UAB at least gets to finish their season in a bowl. #FreeUAB.

 

 

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.

Good Guys Do Finish First. Even if Overshadowed by the Worst.

Beamer, Benz or Bentley? Mazda.

Beamer, Benz or Bentley? Mazda.

So this week the Baltimore Ravens finally released Ray Rice for literally knocking the flipflops off his fiancée in a casino elevator (and TMZ became a reputable news outlet).

This after months of other NFL suspensions for pot, PED’s, and a little Percocet promenade by a team owner. NOT to mention Roger Goodell et. al. imposing sentences for these infractions that would give you whiplash (2 games-4 games-6 games-8, what don’t fans appreciate? Arbitrary penalties, that’s what.)

So for some relief, I asked my Facebook friends to tell me their favorite football players—no, any athletes—who demonstrate the good, honest, charitable side of sports–and just human nature. And they delivered (pro wrestlers! Woot!).

By the way, I’m focusing only on the fellas here, not because women athletes don’t have legal issues (Hope Solo, come on, honey), but it’s the gentlemen who have dominated the police blotters of late.

So here, in no order, are just a FEW gallant guys who are using their athletics platform (or just plain old good hearts) to make the world a place of shiny, happy people holding hands, not punching women with them:

Grapplers Giving Back
The longtime WWE favorite “Mankind,” Mick Foley, now donates hours lobbying against sexual assault with the group RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). John Cena has granted more than 400 “wishes” for the Arizona Make-A-Wish Foundation, making him the current record holder.

Stop or I’ll Shaq!
Countless NBA players have or support charities—James, Jordan, Battier… But as the kid of a homicide detective, I find it quite touching that Shaquille O’Neal has applied to become a reserve police officer in Doral, Florida—a job he did once before in Miami 2005. That’s 7-1, 325 pounds of serving and protecting.

Feel-Good Football Players
I’ve written before about St. Louis’ Scott Wells and his three adopted Ugandan children. Now I have to give a nod to my Redskins, particularly Darrell Green, whose name was mentioned a LOT today. Not only an amazing athlete and Hall of Famer—maybe the best the nation’s capital has ever seen—but a true philanthropist, founding or supporting children’s charitable organizations, September 11 relief, education efforts and numerous boards and councils.

That said, I find running back Alfred Morris pretty awesome just for driving, still, his 1991 Mazda 626 that he bought for $2 from his pastor. OK it’s been fully restored, but it’s nice to see a player keepin’ it real.

Many friends like Holly Peterson Linder and Michelle Burstion Young pointed out not just one player but the entire Bengals organization not only for keeping defensive lineman Devon Still on the practice squad after being cut, but donating all proceeds from the sales of his jersey to pediatric cancer research. His daughter Leah is in Stage 4 with a 50-50 chance of survival. The good news is at this time his jersey is the highest selling Bengals jersey ever.

Don’t Mess With Widows
As for hockey, a classic name came up today. Mark Messier has served on a number of boards, including the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, and the Tomorrow’s Children Fund, as well as helped bring more ice rinks to the city. The NHL created the Mark Messier Leadership Award in his honor.

But most important, says my friend H. Paul Brandes, “Leading the Rangers to their only Stanley Cup in my lifetime should be considered a charitable act in and of itself.”

Children’s Home…Runs
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw received rousing votes today from Vin Scully cousin Patti Shea and others, and it’s easy to see why. He and wife Ellen raised money to build an orphanage in Zambia and he recently hosted a massive ping pong tournament on the field of Dodger stadium as an ongoing part of “Kershaw’s Challenge.” He has already received the Roberto Clemente Award and the Branch Rickey Award for his humanitarian work – Cy Young is probably next, for, you know, like garden variety pitching and stuff.

The Phillies’ Chase Utley and wife Jennifer work closely with animal causes like the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and encourage people to adopt pets, not buy.

The Rays’ Evan Longoria is a downright superhero here when he saves a reporter from a stray ball.

I also still love how the Mets’ Daniel Murphy missed opening day this year for the birth of his son, despite some announcers’….different (dumbass) views of paternity leave and C-sections.

And finally, my friend Jeff Jackson sums it up: “Real athletes don’t tell everyone the good things they do, they just do it! Derek Jeter!”

Yes indeed, Shortstop, Number 2, Derek Jeter. Number 2.

PS – some of the honorable mentions today: Tiger Woods; Ole Miss’ Deterrian Shackelford; Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf; Brandon Marshall; Russell Wilson; Warrick Dunn; Caron Butler; Andrew Luck; Mary Lou Retton; Joe Torre; Albert Pujols; Serena Williams; Ryan Zimmermann; Ted Williams; Stan Musial; Mario Lemieux; Jacob Tamme; Brett Keisel; Kenny Perry; Vincent Lacavalier; Brooks Laich; Nicklas Backstrom; and duh…OVIE!

Friday Night Writes

adsSaw this poem on Facebook, passed along by Ladies Room fan and friend Patrick McClure, and it really captures all the old excitement of Friday night high school football. It’s about the Danville (Kentucky) High School Admirals–a real inspiration to anyone who is or was an athlete (or hoped to be!) or has a kid on the field. Thanks, Pat!

 

THE GHOSTS IN BLUE
There’s a town in Central Kentucky where Friday night is King
Little Boys grow up dreaming of wearing that champions Ring
Sometimes people marvel at the great things they do
But there’s a secret on that field known by just the few
They’re not the biggest or strongest and in numbers they are few
But when the odds are the longest, each one has the strength of two.

For every boy you see playing, you are really seeing two
Cause next to every Admiral plays a ghost that’s dressed in Blue

They may be in the stands tonight, they may be miles away
Some you may see every day, some God has called to play;
Some give their all to help you go that extra mile,
Some just read the paper and quietly, proudly, smile.

So know that in victory, and even a loss or two
Those smiles and tears you’ll always share with those ghosts in blue.

There’s nothing like tradition to show a team the way,
You’ll always know you’re not alone when you need to make that play
When all seems lost and it’s up to you
Just turn and look beside you, at the ghost that’s dressed in blue.

Don’t kid yourself by thinking that titles make you strong
An Admiral’s strength comes from years before of making that Third and long;
Lining up and competing in places they don’t belong;
And beating teams with high ranking, making their winters long.

So cheer for the blue and white and let those victories ring,
Look at your mates tonight, and know just this one thing:

The greatest trophy you can win, when your playing days are through,
Is that when the next battle is raging,
YOU WILL BE THEIR GHOST IN BLUE

— Bill Ruth- Class of 1971

Do you have an inspirational piece of writing about sports–poems, quotes, stories? Let us know!