One of the great things about spring training isn’t just that baseball is back, but that it marks the return of many players who lost all or most of last season to injury. Like our shadow player below. Can you guess who this is?
In 1988, I started my public career as a sports geek by standing up in front of my entire elementary school and correctly volunteering that the summer Olympics would be held in Seoul, South Korea. For this feat, I won an official US Swim Team swim cap.
Barely old enough to be one of my babysitters, Janet Evans went to Seoul and won three gold medals.
Now I’m all grown up (I’m actually older than my parents were in ’88) and looking forward to a summer of geeking out about the London Olympics all over the Internet. Janet Evans hasn’t changed much either: at 40, she’s qualified for this summer’s US Olympic Trials after an unprecedented 14 year hiatus from swimming.
The Mariners’ pitchers and catchers reported last weekend (I guess they need lots of extra practice), almost everyone else reports this weekend — baseball is almost back but we’re still a few weeks from even exhibition game play. Never fear, I have the perfect book for those of you who need a real-game-action-fix now: The Baseball Codes by Jason Turbow with Michael Duca. (The book was released in 2010 so I’m a bit behind. Blame my brother who “meant” to get me this as a present last year, then never got around to sending it to me. He did get me two books this year, of which this was one.) Most baseball fans know of the existence of most of these rules, but few realize how far some players go to enforce them — nor how saturated the day-to-day business of the major leagues is with the business of teaching, following, enforcing, and (as sometimes proves necessary) breaking these unwritten codes.
I had planned to spend this week’s post reviewing an awesome book on baseball I received for Christmas (I will post it next week right before pitches & catchers report – yay!). However, I live in New York City, and there is one sports story everyone is talking about this week. No, not the Giants. The Knicks. More specifically, Jeremy Lin.
You don’t have to live here very long to learn that, although New Yorkers like football (especially if one of the teams is winning), this city truly lives for baseball in the spring and summer and basketball in the winter. And while the Yankees have to split the city with the Mets, the Knicks (for one more season, at least) are in many ways the only sports team the entire city can get behind. Unfortunately, as long as I’ve been here, they’ve also been mediocre at best, or flat out terrible at worst.
The majority of us Ladies may still be licking our wounds from disappointing playoff losses to either the Giants or Patriots* (not Maggie, obviously) but that doesn’t mean we’re not watching the game! Lady Bee has a yummy treat for you all tomorrow, so we’re getting a head start on our Super Bowl preview. Our thoughts and picks after the jump**.
*Or didn’t even make the playoffs because of losses to both. Hi, my name is Games Mistress and I’m a Jets fan.
** Are they bringing one of these foam pit things when the Super Bowl is in New York? Because I might have to reconsider my no-way-in-hell stance about going out to the Meadowlands that week.
I’m currently homebound with day two of the dreaded “flu-like symptoms.” I’ve reached the point where I physically still feel terrible but mentally I’m bored and over it and would just like some entertainment that is no more challenging than pressing buttons on my laptop. (And also allows for frequent nap breaks.)
To that end, here’s some of what I’ve been looking at today:
With the notable exceptions of Maggie and Mr. Buffalita (a Giants fan), last weekend’s football games were not particularly fun for the Ladies. After experiencing a bar full of Saints fans taking a metaphorical knife to the gut, I found myself in a philosophical discussion with my boyfriend about what type of loss was worse, as a fan: a heartbreaking last minute loss like the Saints to the 49ers, or a thorough stomping such as the one the Broncos received from the Patriots? Some thoughts, including suggestions on how to soothe the wounded sports fan soul, after the jump.
There were a lot of sports-themed gifts given in my family this year. I received a set of Cardinals pens and my first official Jets shirt (right at the time when I was most mortified to be a Jets fan, but that’s another story), my boyfriend received a few Saints items, and a lot of orange changed hands among the 3/5 of my immediate family who attended Oklahoma State.
But, as often happens, it was only this week that I discovered a few awesome sports related items that I really wish I’d known about in early December.
Your TV, radio and internets are being bombarded with Year In Review posts and specials as I type this. Well, guess what? It’s no different here at Ladies… We took a few moments this week to reflect on our favourite memories of this past year. Some will be hilariously obvious, others may surprise you. All of them will make you warm and fuzzy, like a delicious flute of champagne.
Guess who finally made it to the NBA?
I waited to post this next ACoH because I didn’t want to adversely affect his last game (shouldn’t have worried) or his Heisman chances (turned out to be a non-factor), or his school’s BCS championship game chances (ditto) and I think we’re far enough away from the Fiesta Bowl that any jinxing will wear off by then. Thus, I present for your enjoyment Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
I seem to have crazy football jinx powers lately (did you see last week’s Saints game?), everything baseball related just reminds me of You-Know-Who and the Team He Is No Longer On (I figure after Chrismas I’ll be over it. Maybe.), and I have done most of my favorite basketball players in previous years. A hockey ACoH it is, then!
Today: Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard
Today’s ACoH selection was inspired by the last two weeks of New Orleans Saints games and my boyfriend’s growing mancrush on tight end Jimmy Graham. Since becoming the starter last year, Jimmy has become one of the Saints’ biggest offensive weapons — and this year, he has become one of the best tight ends in the entire league.
OK, y’all. I try not to be too much of a homer for ACoH, but surely I am allowed one Cardinal — especially this year. So, I hereby appoint as Day 3 ACoH your 2011 World Series MVP, David Freese.
My tree is up, the big tree down in Rockefeller Center has been lit, it is Christmastime here in the city (and everywhere else), and thus, it is also once again time for the Ladies… Advent Calendar of Hotness!
Today’s ACoH is Houston Texans running back Arian Foster.
Somewhere in the middle of the ninth inning last night, I realized I was clutching a sofa cushion to my chest and rocking back and forth. Then Freese tripled with two outs and two strikes and I threw back my head and cackled.
It was about then that I realized baseball had succeeded in driving me mad.
“You’re watching?” my friend Susan asked.
“I’m watching,” I said. “I had to stop knitting because I’m too nervous. We’re going to win the World Series!”
“I’m so happy for you,” she said. “Even if the Tigers are going to lose.” (At the time, Susan lived in Michigan and knew a lot of Tigers fans.)
Susan was one of the first people I met at college, and the very first girl friend I ever had who cared about baseball. When we arrived at college in 1998, my Cardinals were inching excruciatingly slowly towards the end of a decade long funk that happened to coincide with my entire baseball fandom to that point. Susan’s team, in the AL, was better, winning their division twice in three years, albeit only to get swept out of the first round by the Yankees both times.
You see where this is going. Susan grew up a Rangers fan.
Over the years our friendship has continued, our love of baseball always on the periphery. St. Louis improved, Texas declined, St. Louis declined, Texas improved — in fact in the entirety of our friendship, this is the first year the Cardinals and the Rangers both made the playoffs, much less the World Series. We graduated college, moved East (Susan then moved South, and North, and South again). We went to old Yankee Stadium and CitiField together. We went to Europe together (where, disappointingly, we were a few weeks too late to attend a German professional baseball game). I was rooting hard for the Rangers during last year’s run, and delighted in their first playoff series win almost as much as she did.
It’s not that I don’t want to win the World Series. If the Cardinals somehow put two more wins into their pile of improbable, backs-against-the-wall victories they’ve been accruing for the last two months I will be ecstatic; if they lose, there will be a weekend of moping in my near future. But I will also make that call on the phone, and I will be happy to do it. If you can’t celebrate a World Series with your best friend, what’s the point?
Good luck, Susan. Good luck, Rangers. Go Cards!
(Will that work for a You Tube title, or do I need more exclamation points?)
As I type this Wednesday evening, the ALCS is just getting under way after a two hour delayed start; it remains to be seen how an impending storm will effect the NLCS. Meanwhile, an unexpected 24 hour “suspension” of my evening plans has forced me to scramble for a post idea a day early. Remembering an old baseball video we had growing up that featured (I think) Robin Yount and Paul Molitor goofing around during a rain delay, I hit YouTube hoping to find a clip. Either no one shares my appreciation for Robin Yount, belly padded with towels, pretending to hit a Molitor “air pitch” for a home run on top of a rain soaked tarp (complete with face first slide into home), or MLB’s license police have been really earning their pay, for I came up with nothing. Fortunately, though, I found other rain delay antics to enjoy. But first, we have to get that tarp on the field!
As I may have mentioned once or twice before, I don’t have cable, and though my boyfriend has been happy (or at least pretends he’s happy) to let me watch the Cardinals games on his TV, for many of the other games I’ve been listening to the radio feeds through MLB.com. It’s been quite some time since I’ve listened to baseball on the radio on a regular basis, and even longer since I listened to any baseball on the radio that involved non-Cardinals announcers. It’s quite instructive. Some things I’ve learned:
Let’s just put aside the fact that I had an actual rooting interest last night — everything that happened in baseball over the last 24 hours makes my brain scream this song:
As someone who has spent the last two weeks watching the Cardinals wait until the last inning to win or lose what seemed like 95% of their games, one of the most surreal things about last night was that St. Louis was the only team that got their game settled right out of the gate, batting around in the first inning and scoring five runs before recording a single out. Which left me free to enjoy the one day MLB.tv subscription I paid 3.99 for Tuesday night as a mostly impartial fan (possibly the best 4 bucks I’ve ever spent, even if I couldn’t get the Rays-Yankees because of blackout restrictions, and had to switch to the Phillies-Braves radio feeds for the latter innings because of too much traffic on the video feed (and my crappy bandwidth). At one point, I had three GTalk conversations going and was on the phone to my parents; 99.5 % of the discussion revolved around baseball (I did manage to discuss Christmas arrangements with my folks. I’m not totally obsessed.)
(Subtitle: Probably I’m Overreacting, Since They’ve Certainly Blown Plenty of Other Games This Season, And Anyway If They Make The Playoffs We’ll Never Get Rid of La Russa and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.)
- That the AL Wildcard has suddenly gotten triply interesting.
- That Jeffrey Loria used to own a team with an iconic “M” logo and still thought this was a good idea.
- That somehow, all you have to do is become a Bengal to act like a Bengal. (Yes, that’s two different stories.)
- That safeties are awesome. And even more awesome when it’s a rookie’s first NFL sack (h/t TheJetsBlog)
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go stare at Rafa in his underwear. I find it clears the mind.
I am rooting for Clayton Kershaw these days. And no, it’s not just because he’s on my fantasy team. He happens to have just slid past Johnny Cueto for the NL ERA title — although it’s a slim enough margin that a bad inning could knock him right back into second. I still bear Cueto a grudge for kicking Jason LaRue in the face and ending his career last season, so I would prefer he not win anything for quite some time. Of course, at the moment Cueto’s on the disabled list and hasn’t yet pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, so it may become Kershaw’s anyway. Karma’s a bitch, Johnny.
Baseball’s regular season is winding down, but there’s plenty of other things to root for:
Brad Smith may be new to the Buffalo Bills this season, but he just had to get in on Buffalita’s Bachelorette Party. Lady Bee put Part 1 on her post for a reason, people: we are not done with the revelry.
Ryan Miller of Buffalita’s beloved Sabres also wanted to, ahem, pay his respects. Knowing Buff works in the music biz, he decided on a theme outfit:
What with the liveblogging early this week, and an unexpected trip out of town this weekend, I’ve barely had time to catch my breath. Here’s a couple of quick, fun pictures before I get up and resume packing.
The US Women are in the World Cup final, and Abby Wambach has another beautiful header goal. The Final is Sunday right when I’ll be heading back from my trip, but I’ll be with them in spirit.
Sorry, lovely readers, but my brain heard there was a three day weekend coming and decided to take off early. Please to enjoy this sampling of Jo-Wilifried Tsonga, surprise Wimbeldon semifinalist after his upset of Federer yesterday. Jo-Wilifried has previously appeared on Ladies… when I was desperate for a third French athlete to fill out the “three French men” in my Twelve Days of Christmas post a couple years ago; now he gets a post all to himself. You will not be disappointed.
As excited as the Ladies get for baseball’s All-Star festivities, we tend to ignore the Celebrity Softball game. I may have to at least DVR it, however, now that Chris Pratt (Parks and Rec, Everwood) has been announced as one of the celebrities. Chris is in the Moneyball movie as one of the A’s prospects, so he’s presumably had at least some movie prep coaching. If he brings MouseRat to sing the national anthem, I’ll even watch it live.
Game 7 is on! The Cup’s here, Games Mistress and Lady Bee are here, all that’s left is for you to join us by clicking here.
I wanted to watch Game 4 of the Stanley Cup last night, but couldn’t, because it was on Versus, which I don’t have. (NBC opted for Celebrity Minute To Win It, with Steve-O and some other guy from Jackass. If that’s a bigger ratings draw than the Stanley Cup, the NHL still has a lot of work to do.)
I believe I have made my displeasure about playoff games being on cable channels known before, but I still find it ridiculous. So since I’m battling some serious writer’s block, here are other things which I am finding ridiculous today.
We’ve been very team-sport oriented around here lately (though not without reason), so I thought I’d take a moment to skip across the Atlantic and check in on the French Open, which begins semifinal play on Friday (NBC just informed me that they will have live coverage Friday morning, for those of you who have summer work schedules.)
Despite the fact that no one has been paying attention, some interesting storylines are developing at Roland Garros. Chaos has broken out in the women’s draw, where the top seeds remaining are last year’s champ Francesca Schiavione (the 5 seed), and a rejuvenated Maria Sharapova (the 7 seed). The men’s draw has been by-the-numbers, with the top four seeds winding up in the semifinals. This does not, however, mean these matchups are lacking in excitement — or pictures.