In Which Baseball Drives Me Actually Insane

Guys! He needs to wear that tonight!

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.

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On Friendships and World Series

Five years ago today, I was sitting in front of my TV when my phone rang.

“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!

Ladies… Linkups: Busy Sports Week Edition

St. Louis Cardinals Chris Carpenter

Hockey season is in full swing, I’m 6-and-0 in the Ladies… Fantasy Football League (what the @#$!), the World Series begins Wednesday and in the NBA…yeaaaah, anyway, it’s a busy sports week here at Ladies… I promise I’ll return to some NHL Hotness Profiles soon, but in the meantime, enjoy these stories written by other people:

  • Too soon to talk about an undefeated season for the Pack! Too soon! [ESPN]
  • Carson Palmer, welcome to the Raiders. [Yahoo! Sports]
  • Phil Kessel is your first NHL Star of the Week. Be afraid. Be very afraid. [Puck Daddy]
  • Some thoughts about the horrific accident that claimed the life of Dan Wheldon. [NBC Sports]
  • The Rangers return to the Big Dance. [MLB.com]
  • And your Game 1 starter for the Cards is… [StLToday.com]

Finally, I have to tell you I came thisclose to buying these tonight, until I realized that I probably wouldn’t receive them in time for Hallowe’en. Are they not awesome? If only I could hop into my invisible jet and pick them up myself in Pennsylvania.

Super Rain Delay Video Extravaganza (FUNNY!!!!)

(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!

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Keep it classy, Boston.

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Francona at his last news conference with the Sox: classy to the end.

Like any true Yankee fan, I quietly snickered when the Red Sox essentially pissed away the month of September, playing crummy ball and falling out of playoff contention. It’s nice to have a little ammo for the next time someone makes a snide comment about the Yankees “buying championships”. Yes, because Carl Crawford came so cheap.

Then I read this feature today by Bob Hohler and…honestly, Sox fans, I don’t know why you haven’t taken the pitchforks and torches down Yawkey Way. Lackey, Beckett, Ortiz…I could go down the list of selfish bums but why bother. It will only make you angrier. And far be it for me to comment on selfish ball players (*cough*Rafael Soriano*cough*)

Selfish athletes can be found throughout the league, and baseball history is full of douchebag moves by douchebag owners and managers. This situation is, for the most part, no different. But…this crap about Terry Francona popping pills? REPREHENSIBLE. The man brought your organization two World Championships, slayed a supposed 86-year-old demon, dealt with effing Manny and this is how you thank him for his time in Boston? Dragging Francona’s personal issues out in public when the real problem is that you have $15 million pitchers who don’t have the decency and maturity to put down that bucket of KFC in the locker room and go support their teammates and stand by their manager when he obviously needed them most? Real classy, Henry, Werner and Co. Here’s a tip: when a staff member is dealing with personal issues – say, a crumbling marriage – try support and empathy you a-holes.

Here’s how awful this is to Sox fans: one good friend of mine is shunning the team he has supported his entire life on account of this.

And now that Theo heading to Chicago, this is likely Ben Cherington’s mess to clean up. Thankfully, he has a bright spot in Dustin Pedroia, who still cares…until he has an opportunity to leave town. Could you blame him?

Red Sox fans, you have given me hell over the years, but you don’t deserve this. Watching a team choke in September is bad enough, but that’s baseball. Watching the smearing of a beloved manager’s name is simply disgusting. And for that, I feel terrible for you guys.

Random Things I’ve Learned By Listening to Playoff Baseball on the Radio

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:

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Happy Fan Time

The Milwaukee Brewers open the NLDS at home this weekend, with games 1 and 2 on Saturday and Sunday. The #7 Wisconsin Badgers open Big Ten play Saturday night against newbies Nebraska and the defending National Champion Green Bay Packers take on Denver on Sunday.

Unless you live in Boston or New York, you’ve probably never experience the Happy Fan Dance that I’ve practically mastered in the past few days.

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Every. Game. Counts. (A Regular Season Wrap Up and Playoff Preview)

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.)

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Hump Day (Retired) Hottie: Mike Modano

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On a day when everyone voiced their displeasure over Facebook’s new changes, NHL unrestricted free agent Mike Modano used the platform to announce his retirement after 21 seasons. Obviously, sports reporters had little trouble finding his update in the new-style news feed.

Drafted by Minnesota in the 1988 NHL Draft, Modano spent most of his season with the (North) Stars in Minnesota and Dallas, where he won his only Stanley Cup in 1999. The seven-time All Star finished his career last year with the Detroit Red Wings, but was limited to just 15 points over 40 games on account of injuries. He was just one game shy of having played 1,500 NHL games.

Modano leaves behind an amazing legacy as the all-time top scoring U.S.-born player in goals and assists (561 and 813 respectively) and as a silver medalist for Team USA in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. I always admired him for his quiet leadership and the fact that he chose to play for as long as he did in a non-traditional hockey market like Dallas.

Join me after the jump for a little tribute to Mike, complete with a musical salute from a band that also decided to “retire” today.

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How I Learned To Get Off My Arse and Love Running

Bee's Sneakers

The running shoes that guided me through my first 5K and many others. Enjoy retirement, smelly Zoom Vomero+ 4s! (Photo: Bee)

17 months ago, my sister bought me the sneakers pictured above as an early birthday gift. This all stemmed from a conversation we had about how I always wanted to run the CBCF Run for the Cure and tried to learn to run but never quite got past a couple of tries. She thought it might have been the shoes, so she treated me to those pricey Zoom Vomeros.

I took them for a trial 1K run in a subdivision near my place during an unusually warm April afternoon…and thought I was going to die. I wasn’t sure what possessed me to agree to this commitment: I was never considered athletic or even remotely coordinated. I was the classic Last Kid Picked On The Team and never played sports in high school or college. I even have a distinct memory of one of the snobby girls in 9th Grade making fun of how I ran around the bases in softball during phys ed. So knowing all of this, how did I ever expect to run a 5K?

17 months later, with a number of 5Ks under my belt, I am aiming for my first 10K. 2010 Bee’s head just exploded after reading that.

With the Terry Fox Run coming up this Sunday across Canada (shameless plug to sponsor me can be found here), I thought I’d share with you, dear readers, some advice on how I got over that hump and turned those best intentions into action and water blisters. These tips may not be for everyone, but they worked for me. And if they work for even one of you, then my purpose for this post will have been fulfilled. Just don’t blame me for your occasional spending sprees on cute workout gear. Continue reading

You Watch Sports Like A Girl!

As a female sports fan, you often get challenged about your fandom. Sometimes, people try to make you “prove it” by asking you trivia questions. Or, like the NFL, MLB or NHL, they assume that you’re only in it for the rhinestones and pink jerseys. People assume whatever you’re saying can’t be right, that your stats are wrong or that you just in it for the cute boys, fun mascots or jersey colors.

Follow the jump for more…

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Buffalita’s Bachelorette Party Part 3!

Forget the pinstripes, its time to bring in the other boys from New York to wish Buffalita a happy day.

Jose Reyes has gotten an early start on the strip routine.

Prelude to David Wright and Jose Reyes wrestling? We can only hope.

There’s something wholesomely appealing about Chris Capuano. Don’t you kind of want to see him go bad?

Ok, I was looking for some things for Buffalita to take with on her honeymoon, but apparently the Mets aren’t popular enough for that, so its back to the pinstripes for bedroom and beach gear.

But it’s not just baseball or football cuties that want to wish Buffalita a happy bachelorette. The Sabres want in on the act.

Derek Roy is left brooding at the loss of Buffalita from the market.

Shaone Morrisonn and his dog Hazel wish Buffalita and future-Mr-Buffalita luck in their future life together.

Finally, though he’s not the bachelorette type beefcake, we would be remiss if we didn’t have American Hero Ryan Miller here to send Buffalita off right.

Buffalita’s Bachelorette Pt. 2 (With Poll!)

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:

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Welcome to Buffalita’s Bachelorette! (Part 1)

Never mind Kate and William, or those rumours about Brangelina finally tying the knot. The Wedding We Care About here at Ladies… is that of our own Buffalita, who will be exchanging vows with the soon-to-be Mr. Buffalita next weekend.

Unfortunately, time, money and geography prevents us Ladies… from throwing her a proper bachelorette party, complete with wine, taco dip and game of washers (WHAT! A game of washers was completely acceptable at my baby shower! Maritimers know how to party, yo!)

So instead, we’re sending our best wishes in true Ladies… fashion with this series of posts dedicated to the Best Bride-to-be in NY State. Who needs a male *ahem* exotic dancer when you can run a series of photos of handsome athletes instead? (Besides, it eliminates that messy tipping…)

Let this song set the mood and join us after the jump to see who I picked for Part 1 of Buff’s Bachelorette.

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Careful with that sword, Tomas.

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What the what?! (Photo: iSport.cz)

Maybe next week, I won’t be settling into a new job while dealing with our annual family-wide summer barfing flu. See, I have just about enough time to tell you where the Stanley Cup is. It’s in the Czech Republic, chilling with David Krejci and Carolina’s new Hurricane Tomas Kaberle. I dunno – isn’t hanging with your former team’s Stanley Cup kind of like showing up on WCW Monday Nitro with the WWF Intercontinental Championship belt in your hand? But I digress.

So Kaberle brought the Cup to his hometown of Kladno, where he was presented a shield with the town’s coat of arms and a sword because “as the modern defender must be able to even attack”. Heh. And those guys in the Hello Piggy overalls? Are an actual band!

Somehow, all of this weirdness makes me appreciate Tomas Kaberle a little more. Glad to see the guy had some fun with this, since it’s hard to imagine he’ll have an opportunity like this again. NHL.com has some movies and more on their Summer with Stanley 2011 blog. Of course, not to be outdone, Zdeno Chara has rented a freaking castle for his day with the Cup on Friday in Slovakia. I’m guessing normal structures in his home country simply cannot accommodate a man of that kind of towering stature. That, or he’s planning a hell of a kegger.

Eye Candy Break!

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.

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Stop making me care about interleague!

Yankees

See, outside of October, this is just weird. (Photo: Reuters)

I know I’m supposed to let go my puritan ways and appreciate the “fun” and “excitement” that is interleague baseball. Yet after 14 years of interleague, I still find it weird. Not fascinatingly weird. Just uncomfortably weird. Is it just me?

My reasons are painfully obvious, but here they are for the record. Continue reading

Hit and Run: Things Which Are Ridiculous

 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.
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Ladies… Links: Something To Read So You Can Ignore Don Cherry

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The Bruins Saturday night in Vancouver. Boston will try to get back into the Stanley Cup Final series tonight with Game 3 at home. (Photo: Getty Images)

Just a quick hit to give you something to read between periods tonight.

Know how I always talk about the East Coast’s love for all things Boston? Here’s an article from the Globe and Mail that backs up my point, but only to a certain extent. See, what I got out of this was a) Bruins fans in the Maritimes consist of old guys who are missing their own teeth and b) the Maritimes consist solely of Nova Scotia…oh, wait, they threw PEI a bone. So this story drove me crazy all day. Yeah, I know it’s customary for Canadians in my part of the country to kvetch about how the rest of Canada views us. When national publications talk East Coast, they’re really just talking about Halifax (so we think). And the national CBC is even worse, as when they talk about the East, it seems to end at the Quebec border. Grrr.

So here’s a footnote to that Globe article. New Brunswick is home to two Bruins greats: Don Sweeney, who spent the better part of 15 seasons with Boston, and Willie O’Ree, who broke the NHL colour barrier. For the record, I know far more Bruins fans out here than actual Canucks fans (apologies to those cheering them on because they’re the last Canadian team standing).

And many of them are women.

Here’s something to make you smile, speaking of Boston: one kid honouring his uncle’s memory with an assist from the Red Sox. I can’t hate on them when they agree to do stuff like this.

This is from a few days ago, but Star Wars fans will enjoy this tale from our pal Andrew Bucholtz at Sporting Madness.

And now back to some seriousness: keep Nathan Horton in your thoughts, OK? God, I hate seeing anyone being carried off on a stretcher.

Ladies…Mixtape: Your 2011 Stanley Cup Final Mix

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Tim Thomas gets my vote for Playoff Beard of the Year. (Photo: Getty Images)

Hope you had an enjoyable holiday weekend! Let’s get this part out of the way first: CALLED IT!

Talk about a region that is simply torn when it comes to hockey loyalty. On the one hand, this part of Canada is crawling with longtime Bruins fans, thrilled to see the team in the Final for the first time in over two decades (it’s another geographic thing. See Red Sox, Boston.) On the other hand, a Canadian team is thisclose once again to hoisting the Cup, and that means the bandwagon is making room. Vancouver fans have waited nearly as long to get back to the Final: 1994, to be exact.

I’m also torn. It’s the Great Battle of My Hockey Boyfriends: Kesler vs. Thomas! And I realize I am crushing on two American-born players. Whatevs. This is going to be a fun series. It all begins Wednesday (here‘s the sched. Being on Atlantic time, I am grateful for all the 8pm Eastern starts. No need for me to mainline coffee the following morning unless we get subjected to OT.)

To celebrate, I pulled together a playlist featuring great bands from both great cities. So put some beers on ice, dig out your fave retro sweater and crank up the laptop speaker after the jump.

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Mr. Monday: Kevin Durant

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Since it’s been all of five months since we did a post on Kevin Durant, we thought it was time for another montage of the Thunder’s forward. Never mind, of course, that he led Oklahoma City to a Game 7 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday with a stellar postseason offensive performance (39 points!) The team will return to the West final for the first time in 15 years when they were the celebrated Seattle (Super)Sonics. It won’t be an easy task, mind you: they’re facing the Mavs. But aren’t you glad to see a West final that doesn’t include Kobe for a change?

More Durant deliciousness and your Monday music fix after the jump.

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Vacation Hangover Links

I’ve been back from my vacation in New Orleans* for about 48 hours now, and I’m not entirely adjusted, so please enjoy these links.  Somehow they are all about baseball, but that wasn’t intentional.

*The picture above was taken on my vacation.  That’s New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams 2nd from left, with the GM and President of the franchise, appearing at Jazzfest. I was a little disappointed that no players appeared with them, but Monty Williams is quite nice looking in person.

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Overtime Heroes

NHLRound Two of the PLAYOFFS THAT SEEM TO NEVER END is well underway (and might I add that I am proud that I was 5 for 8 in my playoff picks?) Several series kept us at the edge of our seats by going the distance to Game 7. And let’s not forget the games that spilled into overtime (yes, please take your regular season shootout and shove it, NHL!) Here’s a look at a few guys that seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Always remember: good things happen when you go to the net.

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Hit & Run: Quick as a Bunny Edition

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For those of you who observed Easter this weekend, we hope you had a wonderful time with family and friends and avoided eating your weight in ham and chocolate (um, unlike me.) Here’s a quick look at what you may have missed over your three-or-four day weekend.

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Mr. Mondays (yes, we have three!)

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See? The Red Sox still remember how to smile. (AP Photo)

It’s the Monday of a four-day work week for me. Don’t those Mondays seem like the very longest of Mondays? Ugh. And for that reason, I wish I had this post up for you sooner. Forgive me. How about I make it up to you with not one, but three Mr. Mondays!

Let’s start with a belated Happy Patriots’ Day to the good residents of my geographical neighbours in Maine, and further on in Massachusetts. The Red Sox celebrated the day by beating up on the Toronto Blue Jays 9-1. It was like the War of 1812 except, um, not really. At all.

But hey, how about Jed Lowrie who had four hits including a two-run homer! I haven’t done the research, but at .516/.545/.774, is it safe to say that Jed is off to his Best Start Ever? It’s just a shame he’s Scutaro’s backup. The win is Boston’s third in a row, so maybe we’re finally seeing the team we were warned about all along.

See who else made our Monday after the jump.

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It’s the 2011 NHL Playoffs, you guys!

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It’s a glorious time of year! (Unless you’re a Leafs fan or Cory Clouston.) It’s time for our quick and dirty preview of the first round of the NHL Playoffs. Here are the matchups that begin Wednesday:

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Ladies… Linkups: With Added Opening Weekend Smugness (just a little)

Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins battling the Huskies' Kelly Faris (Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

How can a weekend recovering from the flu be your best weekend ever? When you spend it on the couch with your hubby diamond surfing through the MLB Extra Innings free preview. Yankees game only on at 5? Let’s see how the Pirates are doing in Chicago! Painful to watch? Let’s see how Melky Cabrera looks in baby blues! Wait, can we go back to Texas again? Because that was awesome.

Honestly, I’d get nothing done if I had the baseball package for my dish.

Anyway, it’s another busy Monday. Here are some quick links to get you through the day:

Tonight: UConn. Butler. No, none of us picked these guys in the Championship. But kudos to unofficial winner CuteSports! [NCAA]

Tomorrow night, Notre Dame faces Texas A&M for the women’s basketball title. Skylar Diggins had 28 points last night as her Fightin’ Irish downed the Connecticut Huskies 72-63, ending their run for a third straight championship. [ESPN]

When is a story about pants awesome? When they are these pants! Yes, the Norwegians are BACK! By the way, Canada is 3-and-0 at the Men’s World Curling Championship in Regina. [Globe and Mail]

You guys, Aramis Ramirez needs a hug. [Onion Sports Network]

Guess who’s first in the AL East as of this afternoon? The Orioles! Guess who’s last? Here’s a hint. I’m told THEY’RE THE BEST TEAM ON PAPER!! [It's early.]

Move away from the panic button and have an excellent week!

Friday Fellow: John Daly

We haven’t done a Friday Fellow in quite some time, so I thought I’d post someone really awesome today: John Daly.

Yes, really. I know baseball season just started, and college basketball is wrapping up, but it just seems right to feature him today.

What’s not to like?  He lives his life in the fast lane, and is not afraid to compete in outfits most people wouldn’t dare wear out in public. I find that sort of sartorial bravery incredibly attractive.  So let’s explore the many hot angles of John Daly …

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Hit and Run: With Spring in our Step

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Here's Marquette, whose victory over Syracuse last night made me cry. (Photo: Getty Images)

It’s Monday. How are your brackets looking? Like hell? Thought so.

First of all, a warm welcome to our special guest Ladies… Bracket Brawl participants: Melissa_thistle, Courknee35, Big10Bias and fellow Canuck/friend of the blog Andrew Bucholtz (you will go read his blog The 55-Yard Line now, won’t you?) Our current leader isn’t in our Ladies… group – due to technical difficulties, we had to create another group on ESPN.com so one gal could get her picks in. That gal is Buffalita, leading the pack with 460 points and picking Ohio State to win it all. CuteSports and Raven round out the Top 3 at 440 and 430 points respectively. Any hopes I had of repeating last year’s surprise success have been flushed down the proverbial toilet. I blame Butler.

Best of luck heading into Thursday! Sweet Sixteen will be hopefully be sweet for some of you.

So what else is going on? Continue reading