What I love about sports.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011, 10:49 | Category : College, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL
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For the record, I never once said I hate sports. This was always meant as a two-part article: what bothers me about sports, and what I love about sports. Sports has been my hobby and passion for as long as I can remember, so here is what I love about sports…

The underdog: I love watching the VCUs and Butlers of the world. Experts have had Butler losing every game during the last two NCAA tournaments and both years they defied the odds and made it to the championship game. I love watching David take down Goliath. It doesn’t apply as much to professional sports, but you still have the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates of the world representing out there. I wish I could have been alive during the Miracle on Ice.

The ultimate sports scene

The little guy: This is for the guys who should not have made it as far as they have. This list includes J.J Barea, David Eckstein (5’7 shortstop for the World Series winning Cardinals), Doug Flutie, and Nate Robinson (even though he is crazy athletic). I am probably partial here because I’m a little guy, but I love seeing guys succeed who don’t seem to possess anything special.

Childhood heroes: There are definitely better heroes for people to have than athletes, but there is an absolute bond between a child who is first beginning to follow sports and his or her first favorite player(s). My favorite athletes growing up were Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. I followed their every move and tried to play baseball exactly like they did. My eyes would light up every time I saw them on TV. I was extremely fortunate that they both played for the Astros their entire careers. There will never be another athlete that approaches such an iconic status for me. Sorry about getting sentimental there, I just miss them…

Being at a game: There are times I would rather watch a game at home because you can see more details of the game from the TV. But you can’t beat the atmosphere of an exciting sporting event. Screaming at the top of your lungs with 60,000 other strangers is quite a unique experience.

The Olympics: I love rooting like crazy for athletes I have never heard of in sports I only watch twice a decade just because they sport the red, white, and blue. It is the perfect blend of athletic competition and national pride.

Watching your team succeed after years of failure: Bandwagon fans are excluded here. The Pittsburgh Pirates are competing for first place for the first time in 20 years. They have been the definition of a horrible sports franchise during that entire drought. Now that they are competing, I’m sure their true fans are just having the time of their lives. It’s tough to support a horrible franchise, but watching them finally succeed somehow makes you feel like you accomplished something as a fan. Sometimes it is only one special year (Arizona Cardinals), but it makes all the losing worth it. Yankee fans are missing out.

This is Eckstein. He's a shortstop, not a bat boy

The announcers: I love it when announcers get excited during one of those special moments. Al Michael’s absolutely nailed the Miracle on Ice. I don’t like it when announcers unnecessarily praise athletes, but I do like it when they bring energy to a game.

The game itself: Storylines write themselves in sports. You really never know what is going to happen. Watching your favorite team makes you nervous and tense, and you love it. You can even watch a game between two teams that you have absolutely no interest, and after a few minutes, you are all of a sudden invested and rooting like crazy for one team. Something special can happen at any game. It is a pleasure watching a guy score 40 points or a running back gain 200 yards. I even consider Federer effortlessly play a grueling match or a perfect Phil Mickleson golf swing to be artistic. It is easy to dislike athletes these days, but their abilities captivate us in awe. The event itself is, and always will be, a joy to watch.

What I dislike about sports

Tuesday, 19 July 2011, 12:15 | Category : College, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL
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No caption needed

Obviously, I’m a huge sports fan. It’s something that I look forward to every day. The results of my favorite teams often determine my mood for that day…or week. But there are some things that bother me about sports. Here is the short list but feel free to add more. I’ll also write about what I love about sports later.

Money: Athletes make way too much money. It drives me nuts. I hate seeing doctors, engineers, or any profession for that matter, where they have to suffer and work their way through years of school to make a living while professional athletes make millions and millions playing a game for only a portion of the year. I know that the athletes also work really hard to get where they are, but most of them wouldn’t be there if they weren’t fortunate enough to have naturally freakish bodies. NBA and NFL football players are often drafted and given millions because of their potential (or in other words, crazy athletic bodies) and nothing else. Kawhai Leonard was just drafted in the first round of the NBA draft because he has big hands. Some players compare themselves to slaves. LeBron complained this year about having to play basketball on Christmas. Poor guy. Players hold out in free agency because they don’t think they are getting the right offers even though they are being offered well above 8 digits a year. They must feel so slighted. Players (like Carmelo) demand trades because they aren’t happy with their situation. No one forced you to sign that multi-million dollar CONTRACT!

Exposure: Athletes get way too much exposure. What athletes say off the court is often front page news. We have become obsessed with information. LeBron could say anything and it would be all over blogs around the world. Every reporter is looking for trade rumors and organizational gossip. Sports has become too much of a soap opera at times. I don’t care who LeBron invites to his birthday party (okay so I may have read that article, but I didn’t want to!). I wrote this (a long time ago) before some high school kid announced live on ESPN where he is going to play college football. I can’t remember his name…nor should I.

Player interviews: This is the media’s fault for over-analyzing every little thing athletes say. Players are afraid to say anything during interviews and they are, for the most part, a complete waste of time. Most players (especially in the NBA and NFL) can barely formulate sentences and have absolutely no emotion during interviews. Every one of them says their team needs to execute, they will do what ever it takes to win, and they don’t care about individual awards. One of the reasons Jimmer Fredette became so popular is because he showed some personality during his interviews, but even he said the same thing everyone else does. I know you can’t just do away with player interviews, but they usually make me cringe.

Egotism: I’m nervous about the future when my seven year old kid asks me why I am rooting for that guy with the hideous tattoos who always looks angry, and then tries to act like him. A lot of these guys don’t care about the fans, yet I am always defending and rooting for them like they are my best friends. I also hate how much chest pounding, dancing, and staring down of opponents there is in sports. Do your job and sit down without looking like you’ve never done it before. Cornerbacks in football are the worst with that.

Commentators: It is starting to bother me a little bit how much the announcers gush over players. Any time they say that player has a good “presence of mind”, it’s a little too much. Yes that player does have an incredible presence of mind to be able to turn around, grab the ball, and still realize what sport he is playing. I’m looking at you Gus Johnson.

Fans: You should never be allowed to say “we” when referring to your favorite professional team. It can only slide if you went to the college you are talking about. However, I hear way too many people say “we are going to

Just one example of a not so smart fan

destroy you!” when referring to a game like Yankees v. Orioles. I didn’t realize you were on that team. I wish I could have chosen to like the Yankees like you did. Also, have you ever taken the time to read the reader’s comments at the end of a sports article? Those things are just full of anger and get a little too personal. “How dare you support the team I don’t like! We are going to destroy you guys! Expletive!” You’d think they were talking about a team made up of their mother, wife, children, and dog. I’d say sports shouldn’t mean very much but after BYU lost to Utah in football I was depressed for two weeks.

There are a couple of other things like late East Coast starting times of major sporting events, how often the race card is played in every sport, Title IX, and poker on ESPN that I won’t dwell on right now.

Travel Log: Seattle

Sunday, 22 May 2011, 21:48 | Category : MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL
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Earlier this spring, I spent some time visiting family in the Bay Area.  While site seeing, I drove by six different arenas, stadiums, and/or fields for teams from the four major sports but didn’t stop by to see any of them.  It wasn’t until it was too late that I realized the opportunity I unthinkingly passed up.  So when my wife and I decided to make a trip to Seattle I made sure not to make the same mistake.

Getting into Seattle, we went straight to Safeco Field for a tour.  It was just my wife, me, and another couple on the tour so we got special attention.  It was an hour and a half of a really neat behind-the-scenes look of Safeco Field, and it was only  nine bucks a pop so I strongly recommend you look into a tour of a stadium sometime.  We went into the visitor’s clubhouse and locker room, on the field, into the dugout, the special restaurant and bar for the high rollers, press room, press box, and private suits.

Some of these guys have degrees in groundskeeping.

As if A-Rod doesn't get paid enough, he gets two lockers as well. I know baseball players are really superstitous so I really hope we didn't do anything to throw him off for the series in Seattle this week.

The adjacent room has a keg of beer and other goodies in it. At the union requires that players get $100 per diem. Life must be rough.

Ichiro is very particular about his bats that he has a special holder so they never touch the ground.

Looks like I showed up for the wrong press conference.

 

You might recognize the guy third from the left in the back row.

The tour was great.  I wish the Mariners would’ve been playing while we were in town.  However, the next morning we ate breakfast next to players from Kansas City SC, the MLS team in Pike Place Market.  The next best thing.

That's Quest Arena in the background where the Seahawks and Sounders play.

I made Key Arena, which housed the SuperSonics, my first stop for NBA arenas.

It’s now my goal to visit every arena and stadium from every team in the four major sports (we’ll see if my wife is on board with that).  However, it would make it much easier if teams would stop relocating.

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