Monday, February 4, 2013

Turn of Events

For a class I was asked to write about why I love sports, and to include a moment that made me realize it. Seems like an easy assignment right?

One panic attack later I found out that I was nervous with overbearing expectation to write why I love what I love. Favorite sports moment was like asking what my favorite breath of air was. Would I pick 2004 Red Sox? Any of the dazzling Alabama championships? The millions of amazing highlights I've seen along the way?

It even surprised me what I finally chose to write about. Because if this was like choosing between what breath of air was my favorite, I chose the moment that was the equivalent of being sucker punched to the chest and had no air left.

Because after that, my next deep breath seemed pretty sweet.

I have one dirty baseball that sits quietly on my desk. When I touch it, I do so carefully- in order not to rub too much of the game off its slightly browned and tarnished skin. It’s the only ball I’ve had the fortune of catching at a major league baseball game.

The odds of catching one are already rare. This one is not from a batting practice; it is not from a player who tossed it up mercifully to the closest begging fan. No, this ball saw the game. And it saw one of the most interesting games in baseball history, one of several games that happened to all fall on one moonlit night. This ball belongs to September 28th, 2011. Game 162, where everything fell apart.

That night I was lucky enough to get tickets to Phillies v. Braves, and they were good seats too. Like most annoying fans of my first true love, I wore my Red Sox jersey into Turner Field. Its important to note that I am a Red Sox fan, complete with a side of my family who drops their ah’s and comes from the wrong side of Worcestah tracks. But living in Alabama for school I learned bits and pieces of Braves culture, and it would be fate that I had this experience at Turner Field, watching the Braves lose in person, and my Sox lose on the Around the League scoreboard that showed victory and defeat by simply runs, outs and innings.

That night was a must win ball game for the Atlanta Braves. It was also a must win game for my Red Sox facing the Orioles in Baltimore.

Also in the American League East, the Yankees were facing the Tampa Bay Rays, who had become the biggest thorn in the Red Sox side this side of 2004. No matter the outcome, the Yankees had already clinched. With a win, and a Red Sox loss, the Rays could go to the playoffs, but also even up a score to two teams at once by pulling off what is rarely said in baseball- “the upset”.

The beginning was slow and so much of this night started to indicate it would be a night like the rest.

By the bottom of the third, the Braves were winning 3 -1. Not a comfortable lead, but the energy was chugging through all of Turner field. In Florida, those awful Yankees were at it again, by the top of the fifth they had gotten off six runs.  The game in Baltimore seemed to fly by. In the eighth, the Sox were winning, but barely, 3-2.

Little did I know baseball had another plan.

The crack of a bat meeting ball broke my focus on the Red Sox score. It was a forgettable fifth inning Philly foul ball into the section above me. The ball claimed no owner there and in a bounce of fate it fell to my feet. I clutched it in awe, nothing like this had happened to me before. But nothing about this night had really happened before.

In the bottom of the sixth the Indian chant roared to the back drop of the night and fans were on their feet because they sensed another Braves run. But on a slide to home, Uggla was tagged out, retiring the side and the air was sucked out of Turner Field. To make matters worse, in the top of the ninth Chase Utley gave a sacrifice fly that tied the game.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the eighth in Tampa, a Yankee pitching breakdown lead to a base jam, followed by a hit batter that turned into a 7-2 game. Nothing to be alarmed about, especially when you’re reading simple numbers light up on a scoreboard thousands of miles away. But then it was 3-7, then all the sudden 6-7. Oh my gosh, I thought, “they’re pulling a Red Sox.”

For some reason the Red Sox score wasn’t changing and they were perpetually stuck in the eighth inning. My phone had died, so I was dependent on that unchanging score board till I too was stuck in the eighth inning of a one-point lead. Ie: baseball purgatory.

In Atlanta another purgatory was unfolding and we lived out by out, as extra innings became inevitable. But when the others were stuck in stalemates, Tampa Bay bats came alive and in the bottom of the ninth a home run teased the foul pole to stay fair and tie the game.

Soon, I overheard a rain delay in Baltimore was the reason I didn’t see a change. I learned that before the tarps went out, Dustin Pedrioa rallied the troops in an effort to create distance between the pugnacious Orioles. Yet, with the rain, another x factor came to support a turn of events.

Watching the Braves, we didn’t know when it would end, until, suddenly in the 13th, a Braves’ error lead to a 4-3 final, ending Atlanta’s season. 

When the rain stopped, the game in Maryland resumed and in the bottom of the ninth it was tied and soon it was decided by a clear winner. Before that F illuminated next to the Boston/Baltimore score, I knew. When it did show up I debated if it should represent final or fail, and I wrestled with which one was worse. Sure enough, the sox lose by a familiar score, 4-3.

But Red Sox nation wasn’t out of it yet. We frustratingly had to rely on the Yankees to win in order to stay alive past this up-to-the-wire Judgment Day.  They were torturously tied 7-7 in the bottom of the 12th when a Tampa batter hit a hard ball to left field. I had stayed glued to that scoreboard in Atlanta but once I saw 8 and an F, the coffin was officially nailed shut. The season was dead after being dragged out to its last possible breath. 

I started writing this about the 2004 Red Sox beating the Yankees and going on to win the World Series. That was what made me fall in love with baseball, and with it, sports. But that’s an overused fairy tale.
So I started writing about this day, this night as a whole. To me this night was about loss and demise- until I saw Rays fans “we believe” signs later and I realized that for others, it was a night where even more people fell in love with this game that is so much more than a game.

When we look at wins and losses in sports, we attribute them to several tangible factors of production. In essence what I witnessed were several teams that didn’t produce as many runs as their opponent and in the process ran out of time and chances.

Scoreboards will tell you that. They break down the moments of a game into numbers and quantities. But the game will tell you that even when you want to define it by what you see, it is impossible because of all the things you don’t see.

In the end, the rain does come, the comeback does stun even the most talented, and in the end the breakdown was so perfect, the goal was slipping away and in a matter of hours on that one night, everything we thought we knew slipped away and I couldn’t help but smile. Smile for the Orioles, for the Rays, and for those damn Yankees.

“As you know baseball is a very difficult game,” Theo Epstein once said. “As soon as you’re convinced you’ve got the right answer, that’s when it humbles you and you realize you didn’t know as much about the game as you thought.”

Baseball is my favorite metaphor to life. One this night, we had been humbled because the game was bigger than us. And on this night I remembered why I fell in love in the first place; because the diamond is a place of possibility even if it’s not always in your favor… and its up to you to have faith in that.

Epstein went on to say, “I think you’re either born with a love of baseball or you’re not.”

For those who were born to love it, we are sometimes granted the gift of remembering why we do.

And so, my ball sits. Imperfections where it slammed into, first, the top deck, then bounced to me. From the pitchers hand to the baseball lover’s desk, it was the sport’s will. And it sits as a reminder.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Saying Good Bye to a Great Year

Believe it or not having a sports blog is not the only thing that I do... (see lack of consistent posts). I also work at a local TV station whose main fan-base is at the heart of Alabama Football pride. No, its not the University of Alabama students that make up the core of our viewers, it's locals who lived and grew old in T-town, even before it was title town.

Their 'Roll Tides' are thick with Bama southern accents, and whole hearted goodness. Their phone calls sometimes make me huff when I am busy on deadline and they just want to talk Bama football. But when I calm down and realize the big picture, I realize I just want to talk Bama football too. And so, we do. Two strangers, laughing about how easy Eddie Lacey spins around opponents, how glad we are Julio is doing well with the Falcons, that we scream "Juuullliiooooo" at the TV just like when we did when he was wearing our jersey. We talk about Nick Saban, how he is a mastermind and we're 'real glad' he's here at Alabama, "the place where he belongs."

When time comes knocking back at the door of reality, these kind strangers usually notice the anxiety in my voice as I glanee at the clock and know I have to get back to work. They say, "alright then, sorry to bother you young lady, just wanted someone to talk to. Roll Tide." I say roll tide back because its as simple as, 'good bye for now', and we hang up. I go on to the hustle and bustle of my work day, they continue on to what ever solitude I envision they have, calling TV stations for company and college football.

No matter who you are, there is nothing like the love of football, like there is here at Alabama. This year I was given the assignment to put together the greatest moments of this past season. I was initially given 3 minutes to capture it all. As you can see, I didn't quite contain it in 3 minutes- but who could? I know there are literally a thousand other ways this video could go. It just scratches the surface of what this past year was. It really only highlights four games, but as I worked it wasn't about the number of games shown. I started seeing the drama of the close calls we had. The passion we were left with at the end, because at the end, we knew we were not lucky, but blessed to be heading to the National Championship. This video doesn't show Stanford's missed field goal, Colin Klien's interceptions, Oregon's stunned defeat- teams that some said, couldn't handle the pressure of being number one. It doesn't show Alabama fans screaming in the streets because we lived to see another day. It does not show one second of the National Championship.

After the 'ship Nick Saban said, "Georgia was, what? 5 yards from being here. We have to get a lot better."

This year's win, the second in a row, was the most like Bama I had ever seen. At least the Bama I had come to know. It was full of story lines, because its true what they say, at Alabama we live football. We lived it in dominating wins where fans had to try to stay humble from. After each 30 point difference in the final score fans still said, "but Missouri could still get us." We lived it when we were tested, and we lived it when our players passion to prove they belonged rang true in important moments to our season. We even lived it when we lost, it sounds arrogant, but when our perfection was blemished. Even though we are privileged football school, it was clear our team knew that nothing is ever given to you, that you play every day as if it was the beginning of time, and every team is fresh with possibility. We played till the very end like we were on a quest for perfection, but what separated us from the rest is that we knew it was impossible to arrive at perfection, but that the battle to be must be fought anyway.

And that is why we win. And that is why I had so much fun putting this video together. Take a look, celebrate, and feedback is always welcome.

Roll Tide,


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Curse the SEC

I love Tuesdays. In the news world it is usually the most boring day of the week. Now, being as my Monday and Tuesdays are more like Saturdays and Sundays, I had nothing better to do last Tuesday than listen to some good music, clean my room- and discover. The cover.

With voodoo dolls and a "Curse the SEC" proclamation, ESPN magazine's college football preview is asking, "can someone please take down college football's most dominant conference?"

Less than a month till kick off, and this is what finally does it. And by "it" I mean this gets the blood pumping, the adrenaline flowing and I realize ladies and gentleman- it's here. Every reason why I love college football is right here.

After several rants, in my head, on social media and once more in my head, I realized I couldn't be happier that ESPN did this. Curse the SEC? Well, you can certainly try. In fact I wouldn't be a part of the SEC if I didn't chuckle at this. For years the SEC has already faced the brunt of anti-SECism. But now, instead of being confined to just conversations, back of the internet blogs and young 20-something frat guys bickering in bars or Skip Bayless needlessly speaking when he takes a break from Tebow- this sentiment has gone "mainstream" finally gracing the cover of ESPN Magazine. AND- my favorite- it's complete with the statement at the bottom "We're talking to you, Trojans"... 

Gag me now.

ESPN officially does not care about transparency.

Every year, fans and media go off intangibles to try to define a season ahead. But without hesitation, before the first whistle even blew I already bet that USC will not make it to a National Championship this year. Sorry to disappoint, ESPN, or any of the other college football fans who are insulted by my confidence. A confidence that has only a little to do with where I come from and everything to do with going against what Alabama Football's fearless leader believes. (I'm sorry Nick Saban, my distaste for Lane Kiffin was overpowering).

We don't know who will get hurt in the season, we don't know who is going to pull a jackass moment and get caught with drugs [at the time of this writing Tyrone Mathieu had not been dismissed- but it goes to show you], DUI's or heaven forbid another sex scandal. Or for those of you who like the glass half-full mentality, we don't know if a break-out star will just unleash come November. We just don't know.

Right now, all we have is that the SEC still has the top two teams in preseason rankings, but Nick Saban will tell you why that doesn't matter worth a shit.

"All these predictions that you all make, they hijack the game,"he said the morning of UA's 2012 Fan Day.

Yes, Saban was talking to the media and maybe for the love of the lord ESPN is taking notes. Especially when he added, "All anybody worries about in college football is the BCS, who's going to be in the final game. We have a lot of great games.... Michigan is going to be a great game, The Arkansas game, Tennessee game, LSU, Auburn. I could go through every game on our schedule and say how exciting a game this is going to be."

Which brings me to my next point.

Time and time again, despite intangibles, there are things we can count on to impact seasons in their entirety. Defense wins championships, and strength of schedule still significantly matters in a system where hundreds of schools are competing for one prize. If you don't compete against the best, then what makes you feel like you deserve to be the best?

And that's why the SEC still gets the win in my mind. Depth is at one of its greatest strengths at Alabama this year. At LSU? Well, their returners are potent with talent that has already taken them through a strong season last year. And they're hungry.

Alabama has a strong pulse of energy to be defined as anything but complacent, and even after winning a National Championship last year, the tone of the season rests on who-ever steps up in leadership positions and reminds them they are not the team of the past and Tuscaloosa wants to make history in 2013. It also rests on the return of a more mature QB, and an O-line that haunts nightmares. (If I had a nickel for every time I heard, "Good lord Fluker's huge" at Fan day...)

There goes some of the reasons people hate SEC fans, and if you're one of those haters, please I beg you just try to finish reading (although I know finishing is hard for some of you). Welp, probably lost a few readers there, but in all seriousness I realize I am a lucky son of a you-know-what to go to school where I go to school, when I go to school. (Roll Tide) I also realize what its like to be on the other side of this argument of passion. I am a Red Sox fan and yes, the Yankees a lot of time are just better. But keep your Alabama, Yankee comparisons to purely win-loss comparison. (Class and respect are things the Yankees don't have and Alabama and the SEC does).

Each conference is full of teams that can boast characteristics making their place to play football, "the best". Ralphie's run on the field is still a source of pride for CU fans- as it should be, and hook em horns (gah it hurts to type) will always be a hand gesture embodying the Texas spirit. There are traditions that make ESPNU's "Never Graduate" hit home at every college campus and the SEC is no different. Yet, every college football fan that comes to an SEC game at Alabama makes the same comment. "I've never seen anything like this." And its usually followed by deeply appreciated moments of silence as the person takes in as much as they can from the scene.

And thats why, when I heard what ESPN Soccernet's Susie Schaaf posted in her blog, I couldn't help but apply it to the SEC.

"Mia san Mia. It's a Bavarian phrase used by Bayern that translates as "We are who we are". It's somewhat akin to the Manc phrase I've seen on banners this year, "Not arrogant. Just better." We are two, insanely proud, universally loved by their fans - and hated by everyone else, clubs with long, storied traditions."

Don't get jealous, get even, and to do that you're going to need a lot more than a pass spread offense with a less than moral-driven coach and a California quarterback.

I'm not saying there won't be a time when the SEC isn't on top. But that time isn't now, and if you ask any serious fan in Dixie, they'll tell you they hope to never see the day when the SEC is overtaken. But the beautiful thing I hope I can speak on behalf of all SEC fans in saying, is when that time does come, if an opponent meets an SEC team on the gridiron, the only way we will accept defeat is to a worthy opponent whose performance is as respectful as ours, both to the game, to the fans and to the legacy of college football which is so proudly protected under southern skies.

Until then, we're not arrogant. Just better, and its literally a fact.

When you produce running backs in a time honored brotherhood whose unspoken traits are consistently; perseverance, physicality, pugnacious fervor to take something head on, and the undeniably SEC will to never be denied....

When your stadium erupts when linebacker's names come across the jumbotron...

When your fans have nothing else to live and breathe for than football- or so it seems every Saturday....

When being a part of your program, even as a fan isn't all glitz but sometimes its a craziness you must accept. When you have fans who show up to a public practice over 72 hours early and camp out for the chance to be first in the stadium for the past five Fan Days...

When your schools never rush the field after a win, because winning is what you came to do and acting like you've never won before says more than the score does... and that's when the southerners say, "Oh bless their heart, they're rushin the field."

When ladies wear dresses, pearls and full make up and curls, and the men wear slacks, polos or even suits to games like its time to go to church. Because football is a religion that doesn't discriminate based on anything but color of jersey and because the respect for this game is more than just cheering, its a tradition that stems from something much bigger than seeing one year in the winner's circle.

You might find my prose dripping with everything that makes the SEC despicable to you. But when your school does all that I just mentioned, then you may know what it means to be in the SEC and what it feels like to have a mantra that is often mistaken for arrogance. To have fans who are often mistaken for elitists. What you are really seeing is a pride that comes from respecting what sacrifice is, and while every team this season comes from adversity, has it's troubles, and makes it's compromises no matter their conference- SEC teams are filling their fall camps with the mentality that nothing is born out of being good, but everything is born in the sacrifice to be great.

Here's what I say to all SEC fans insulted by the lack of professional journalism ESPN showed in their recent magazine cover. Targets on SEC backs are not new and ESPN's love affair with the Trojans isn't either. So why am I so happy about this cover? Because any smart college football fan knows, never piss off an SEC team.

The SEC welcomes the chance every year to be denied. Because in those challenges that threaten to dethrone them, the conference proves time and time again just why they belong on top.

Thanks for the fuel ESPN. Let the season begin, and we'll show you what being a part of the SEC is all about- and it has nothing to do with cursing the opponent and everything to do with a shut-up and play grit that has carried this conference to dominance for six straight years.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Learning a Gentleman’s Sport in a World Full of Hypocrites

By; Sarah Chovnick

When Sarah Chovnick left the University of Alabama she knew a few things for sure; 1.) She loved sports and 2.) “Roll Tide” was the best phrase ever uttered. As a recent graduate she set off on a new journey in a world she was less than used to. But in just a bit, she found the essence of a little game called golf. 

Welcome to another take on Rule 71. 

Tiger, Rory, Phil. Those are the ‘currents’ we all know. Their likeness is trade-worthy in words over the water cooler or coffee machines in the break room. Then there is Jack and Arnold and those of the sort. Everyone with the least bit of sports knowledge knows them, even if some know them for having a similar name to a famous actor or the fact that they trade-marked epic iced tea concoctions.
            For the average Joe who turns on SportsCenter every now and again to see how their home team did in the big game, those are the only ones they need to know. And if you yourself are sitting there thinking, “she is talking about golfers, right?” then you would be correct. I am talking about golf, the gentleman’s sport. 
            But the vast majority of vaguely knowledgeable sports fans would have no idea who Luke Donald or Lee Westwood are. For those of you who are saying, “No, Sarah. And why should I care?”, I say to you they are the number 1 and number 3 ranked golfers in the world, respectably.
I would be lying if I said that as of a month ago I knew any more than these simple truths. If you had asked me, “Sarah, what do you know about golf?” my answer would have been as follows. Tiger was good, then he cheated on his wife and he hasn’t won much since. Rory, that dorky little curly head kid, has a pretty cool accent and I didn’t know who he was until a year ago. And some dude named Bubba, who is, unfortunately, a Georgia Bulldog, just won the coveted green jacket from Augusta. Roll Tide. And that was my answer…even when I applied for a job at the Golf Channel. 
How I ended up doning a NBCUniversal Employee badge is still somewhat of a mystery to me. But I can honestly say my knowledge of the gentleman’s sport has drastically increased in a small amount of time.
Little background information and shameless plug inserted here… Golf Channel is a 24-hour network dedicated solely to, what else, golf. A morning news talk show kicks off the day and a SportsCenter-esque news show titled Golf Central in the evening, padded out by various original programming and tournament coverage. The channel, part of the NBC Sports family, provides up to date information about everything and anything golf related. Okay, schpeil over.
Bottom line, I was as clueless as the next one about the sport. Sports, sure, I knew. Quiz me on anything college football and NFL related and I could school you. But golf, I was out of my element. While I was driving down to Orlando I thought to myself, what have I gotten myself into? Sure I can learn it quickly, but who knows if I will even enjoy it.
Not only have I learned so much more about the sport, and know exactly who Westwood and Donald are- but also who Dustin Johnson is, and, why it was a huge stepping stone for him when he won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis a handful of weekends after coming off an injury. Then it was onto the U.S. Open, which he failed to excel. I can also tell you that Shanshan Feng won the Wegman’s LPGA Championship as the first female Chinese golfer in history. And I can also tell you that I now fully enjoy the game of golf.
Watching Tiger at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio was not only exciting for spectators of the sport, but those who work in it as well. Not only did he tie Jack Nicklaus for the second most career wins, but he also did so in champion fashion- fully equipped with the made-for-T.V. fist-pump with an excited crowd in the background, happy to cheer on golf’s version of Michael Jordan who was finally back in the winner’s circle.

Golf has this way of roping a viewer in to watching for hours on a sport they aren’t entirely sure of the rules-and maybe that’s the beauty of it. There are no refs to argue with on a blind call or politics over who should really deserve the number one ranking. Golf is about numbers. Money won, strokes made, putts missed, birdies, bogeys, and the occasional eagle. 18, the number of holes played every day. 72, the typical par for a championship golf course. And in case you were ever wondering, 336 is the average amount of dimples on a regulation size golf ball (Thank me later when you win trivia because you know this fun-fact).
Golf is about distance measured between tee and green. It’s about wind, rain, dryness, temperature, and technicality. It’s a concentration sport, not an athletic one. It’s about comebacks and legacies. It’s about unsung hometown heroes that rise above all odds and snag the trophy when they entered Sunday 6 strokes behind. It’s about the game, not about the fame.
And that’s why I have learned to love it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Art of Goodbye

Seeing Youk go was watching a piece of nostalgia walking away with that bald head and ballerina batting stance. But let's face it, he's not the first to go. And he's not the last

            Every bride looks beautiful, but she was elegant and angelic. Her dad walked his baby girl down the isle with a face that revealed his secret; that he would break down at any time. A tear finally rolled down his cheek as he kissed her good bye. Hearts broke as she clutched to him for one last embrace, the way things were.
            At the reception I asked him what he thought about it all.
            “Just another day,” he said and looked out to his daughter.
            And it was.
            They would hug again. He would tell her he loved her and she would always be his little girl but in one tear was a moment of purity that said potently, “life is precious and the time is fleeting.”
            On my way home I sat in a quiet airport gate, scrolling through the news that Kevin Youkilis, the Greek God of Walks had been traded.
            “Red Sox acquire INF/OF Brent Lilibridge and RHP Zach Stewart from White Sox in exchange for Youk”
            “After 9 years in Boston, Youk is changing the color of his sox”
            I read the tweets and Facebook statuses over and over. Finally I read, “Kevin Youkilis is honored on field with standing ovation after being removed from game”. Another tweet described how bellows of “Youkkkkk!” soared through the Fenway air. Something it wouldn’t do the same way ever again.
            Sitting on the hot tarmac in Pittsburgh I felt the goosebumps from imagining the sight and sound of what that good bye must have meant miles away in Boston. 
            Before then, as I went through the security checkpoint, two young teenage girls hugged each other discretely on the side of a gift shop. Their shoulders rose and fell with their sobs. Over that unmistakable human sound of weeping, I heard the delicate words, “good bye”.
            How na├»ve, that they thought a good thing wouldn’t come to an end.
             Even though that was true, strangers turned away because no one was strong enough to deny it was hard not to want to cry right along with them.
            No, there’s no crying in baseball. But at the very moment Youk was saying good bye to the Boston Red Sox, I was at an airport- the very place where the inevitability of life is comings and goings. And even when that’s recognized, you still can’t help but fight back the tears when touches of emotion pops into the patterns of redundancy and you remember just why you’re sad to go.
            Life returns. The girl’s tears stopped halfway through security. Youk will get walks, he will bat and play in a different uniform ( and be 1 and 4 in his first attempt). More will come and more will go. That’s why it’s so important to stop and appreciate the power of goodbye and all it teaches in being grateful for good memories.
            I read another tweet, while I sit paused in the place that is all about good byes. “David Ortiz is now the last remaining member of the 2004 team.”
            Now those were some good memories.
As a player you might never know how you will be received in Fenway for the first time you're not one of them. But inside, I think you know if you'll be accepted among the greatest crowd of all. 

It's been fun, wish you the best.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Greatest Gift

2011 was a tough year for me both inside and out of the baseball diamond. So would you think bad memories of a spring tornado and a fall losing record would taint the greatest love of my life?
This off-season was a test in my search for a new sense of normalcy and as the year anniversary to a public and private disaster comes closer, yes, baseball comes to rescue me again.

            Some of you will read this and say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, stop bringing it up.” Some of you will shake your head trying to get the awful taste of September memory out of your mouth because you only just got it out.
            So let me save you the torture of the long drawn out blow to your chest: I mention the Red Sox disasterdly September swoon of apocalyptic proportions that history will never forget and neither can we.
            Okay, maybe I dramatized it but only in true Red Sox angst.
            No, the real story here is not Jonathon Papelbon’s departure, its not necessarily about the fried chicken and beer. It’s about appreciating the here and now, something we forget to do until it’s gone. Not everyone has a tornado that teaches us that but that’s why we all have a gift called baseball.
Game 162, 2011
            I remember being in Atlanta, in the fifth inning I smiled up at the MLB scoreboard. The Sox were winning, the Braves were ok and the Rays were down seven runs. That’s when I looked up at that gorgeous full fall moon. 
            Momentum has gathered all it could from 161 games of the past. So, now when it switches, it’s drastic. We humans are always surprised when momentum changes, so thank God baseball is there to show us why it does.
            Baseball gives us so many lessons. 
            Few things are simple, even though sometimes they are disguised as such.
            A simple out- there’s no such thing. That’s why you never count them… but most of the time it’s just too easy to.
            6,5,4 away… 3,2,1 away
            Because what isn’t attainable in baseball remains just that in baseball- oh thank you for being the perfect metaphor for life.
            Each year, baseball’s characters, whether they be organizational entities or individuals that make them, they all go through something. Something heroic, something disastrous, something sad, something joyful, or something so utterly human like winning and losing.
            There are no perfect records in baseball because there are no perfect records in life and yet we still strive for it and that’s what makes us so human, and the game so beautiful. 
    Opening day reminds me that I’m alive. Opportunity is a blank canvas begging to be painted and those pitches in October are so far away, but you know they’ll be there, waiting in that fall moonlight- even if you’ll be watching with a heavy heart watching someone else’s team. At least its still baseball, and I’ll still smile in those crisp October nights, because the culmination took what felt like a lifetime to get there.
            But I won’t lie, I’m not thinking past April for my Sox. No sir. I won’t take the lessons of last September for granted, and so for Boston the pressure is off in that regard. We are literally playing for our dignity this year.
            Oh baseball, thank you for being the perfect metaphor for life.
Game 162, September 28, 2011
            Someone on TV called this day the greatest day of baseball.
            Yeah. Try telling that to the Red Sox fan sitting in Turner Field watching the final seconds of demise tick away effortlessly in the perfect storyline of a speeding train whose inevitability is a fiery crash. It’s that feeling, but in seconds, it’s that in 161 games, it’s that in one pitch, in one rain delay, one out, and one game where one Red Sox fan sits in a different city at a different game watching the league scoreboard lights flash an ‘F’ next to a losing score.
            Final nail in the coffin and I am not sure if I want the F to stand for final or fail, because to me it is both.

            Oh baseball, thank you for being the perfect metaphor to life. And Opening Day, thank you for bringing us back from the dead. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Shut Up about the Hair Already!

This Super Bowl Sunday, ESPN reporter Ashley Fox tried her best to sound like she knew something about football, and writing- but she failed at both. I won’t put you through the torture of having to read the whole thing but one early comment she made, quite generally and without supporting facts what so ever, was about Eli Manning finally proving he was better than Tom Brady. LORD. Here we go again.
            Stop with the QB whose better! When I look at the greatest quarterbacks of history I don’t just look at one game. In fact I pride my criteria of great athletes to be their consistency and long term effects on a team that respects him and flourishes under him.
            Also, lets preface this by saying, I respect Eli Manning. I respect him for bringing his team to where they are, and for pulling off a season that’s inconsistency forced them to pull off feats. Each quarterback has different weapons both around him and within him. Being a good quarterback is about what you've done and what you continue to do. (Usually consistently Eli) 
            Here’s what Ashley said,
It all circled back to a relatively innocent comment from the usually innocuous Eli Manning, who in an August radio interview with Michael Kay said he considered himself "in that class" of elite quarterbacks with Tom Brady.

It was blasphemous then. And now?
Well, once and for all, Manning can prove it. End the debate. Silence the critics. Beat the best quarterback of this generation, the one with the three Super Bowl rings and the uber-hot wife and the great hair, in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday and there will be no question, no caveat, not anymore.”

Whoa, “great hair”?
 I’m a Patriots fan, but I called him the greasy Latino the entire time he tried to channel Fabio through his unbrushed oily mess of hair. That’s cute Ashley, but come on, your insulting your own intelligence. Because you know as well as I do that doesn’t silence the critics, it just wakes them up even more.
            This game can sure help Eli Manning’s case for being one of the best, but it doesn’t automatically trump Tom Brady, because, HELLOOOO, Tom Brady has a head start on that whole passing record, Super Bowl MVP thing. But what would I know, I’m not trying to force irrelevant storylines down sports fans throats like some four letter channel owned by ABC.

Oh and hey, despite everything, happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone! And go Pats! 
I guess it doesn't look too bad