Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jamie Moyer and the Phillies

We were in Seattle this weekend. Well, part of the week, too. Wednesday night we went to the Palace Kitchen, one of our favorite restaurants that happens to have a nice central bar area and a TV, to watch the end of game 1. The bar was full, as it often is there, but a very nice woman let us know when she was about to finish up so we could have her place. In the course of talking to her about the game, which she was also watching, she asked, "Do you think they [the Phillies] will let Jamie pitch?"

"He's scheduled for game three," I said.

"I hope he does well," she said. "I'm rooting for the Phillies because of him."

I thought that was interesting. Then the next person I mentioned the Series to also said they were hoping Moyer did well. I knew Moyer'd pitched for Seattle in his prime, but I didn't know he was such a beloved local figure. It turns out he still has all his charities operating in the Seattle area. It turns out he left on very good terms, unlike some other stars (A-Rod is one whose name is always spoken with some scorn). It turns out that Seattle has very little to cheer for in the sports world right now. The Seahawks were 1-5 until this weekend, when they beat up on a weak Niners team. The Sonics are gone, "replaced" in the NBA fashion by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Mariners finished in last place this year.

Jamie Moyer is the kind of athlete who's on a first-name basis with the city. Joe Posnanski has more on how amazing his performance this year has been from a purely baseball standpoint, but you have to have talked to a few people in Seattle to realize what his performance means to them, even for another team.

"I just want him to get a World Series appearance," the front desk clerk at our hotel said. "A win would be great, but just a couple good innings..."

Moyer had been lit up in the postseason. First the Brewers, then the Dodgers, teed off on his slow curves. The chances of him surviving more than a couple innings against the power-slugging Rays did not look good.

"I just hope he digs in and finds one more quality start," said one of my Seattle co-workers.

He did that, and more. The only thing he (and Seattle) could've hoped for would have been to get the W he deserved. But he pitched over six strong innings for his team, gave up only three runs, and helped lift the Phillies to a victory.

He's an inspiration, not only to Seattle, but also to me. You may have heard that he's 45. I think he's one of the few active baseball players who's older than I am. Sometime in the next couple years, there won't be any. So I'm holding on to this one, to the guy older than I am who pitched in the World Series and led his team to a 2-1 lead.

(I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Phillies are now up 3-1, but Jamie didn't really have anything to do with that, unless he was giving Joe Blanton a pep talk.)

The point of this all? Jamie Moyer is a pretty awesome guy all around. He kind of embodies what I love about the Phillies this year: apart from Jimmy Rollins, they aren't really a flashy bunch. They feel like the kind of guys who just play baseball for the heck of it, even J-Roll. They have fun, but they're smart and articulate (listen to Ryan Howard talk post-game sometime). They're the kind of team, in other words, that could've been tailor-made for Jamie Moyer to join.

Let's hope he gets a ring out of it, for the sake of two sports-hungry cities.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Football Is A Mental Game

Sometimes I want to slap football players.

Anquan Boldin says he has no relationship with his coach. "I'm a football player. That's about it."

Uh... yeah, so suck it up and play football. Stop whining.

And then, Chris Henry on maybe never playing in the NFL again: "To have that taken away from you, that can be really hard. That would have been a tough thing to go through. I kind of went through that. I was scared at one point that I wouldn't have the opportunity to be back on the field."

Gee, maybe you should have thought of that before you went out and GOT ARRESTED FIVE TIMES.

It hasn't escaped notice that these are both wide receivers, the most insecure position in football.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Olympics

OK, I was trying to do something else and tried to login to Google and wondered why I had a gmail account. Then I saw this link. OH, yeah.

I love the Olympics.
I love the scandals (underage gymnasts! overdoped cyclists!)
I love the sports you never see during the year--at least, you don't see them now that ESPN has baseball and Wide World of Sports is off the air.

I have had only one "Olympic Moment" so far, and that was the predictable "US Swim Team Relay comes from behind to win!" I am a little annoyed that experienced sports guys are talking about it like they are idiots. Chris Collinsworth was on last night comparing the other guys to the Packers and Phelps to Favre, saying the other guys were (in essence) jealous and annoyed with Phelps because they said they hadn't been thinking of his 8 medals, they had been focused on winning their one medal. I guess my advantage is that I have never done anything ever so I KNOW that I don't know what they are feeling, so I listen to what they tell me and base my opinions on that, not how I might have felt when Kenny Anderson was a bigger star than I.

I do get a bit tired of hearing about Phelps, but I guess they figure you need someone to root for or you won't tune in tomorrow. But the thing is that every person who is at those games is living a dream, fulfilling a long and grueling quest (sometimes it was just the quest for citizenship, like in the case of the Georgian Women's Beach Volleyball team, but it was effort nonetheless). Each person is enough of a story--and once they get past the stridency of Misty May and Phelps and all, to their credit, they do often communicate those stories.

oops... running out of time...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Racing into the Past

I've been watching Formula One racing on a regular basis for the first time since college. Back in those days Michael Schumacher was driving for Benetton and I cheered for him because 1) he was German, an 2) he had a pretty cool looking car. The racing this season has been far more engaging than I remember from back in those days, with three or four teams consistently contending for the podium finishes each week. This week's German Grand Prix though leaves me feeling a bit nostalgic. The Hockenheim track used to be among my favorites. It was over 4 miles long with most of the track sprinting through the woods on long straightaways. It was perhaps the closest thing F1 had to flat-out oval racing, with a few chicanes thrown in to keep the speeds from getting too outrageous. In the late 90s though, the F1 powers that be threatened to leave Hockenheim unless the track was shortened. As a result, the portion of the track that gave Hockenheim its character--the high speed straights through the forests--were snipped out all together, leaving it a boring, unimaginative shell of it's former self.

Through the magic of TV, today was the first time I had a chance to see the track in its current state and I find myself torn emotionally. Part of me wishes that they'd kept the wooded portion of the old layout intact, even if F1 refused to race the full layout. They got the shorter track they wanted in a re-design. The 'full' track could have been used for sports car races and motorcycles, much in the same way that the 20+km Nürburgring Nordschlief is still used for 24 hour races and public access but is ignored by modern F1 (with rare exception) in favor of a shorter, less interesting track. Instead, they plowed under most of the racecourse at Hockenheim. That's where the other part of me is happy. Had they sold off the now unused land in order to make room for more commercial development it would have been a tragedy, but at least for now that's not the plan. Instead, the Germans are allowing nature to reclaim the former straightaways. It's a sad, but beautiful thing. These days we so often see forests turn to sub divisions and rolling plains turn into strip malls. It's so rare that we see transformation go the other way.



Sunday, February 3, 2008

Wow.

HE CAUGHT IT WITH HIS HEAD!

That was all I could keep chanting after David Tyree made a ... a... 'circus catch' just doesn't do it justice. No words that I can think of really do it justice. All I can say is that it will almost certainly unseat Dwight Clark's as the most clutch catch in NFL Playoff history. It was one of those catches that would be up for an ESPY even if it occurred in the third quarter of a regular season blow-out.

It was destined to happen though. You could just feel it. It was the same feeling earlier this season when the Patriots eeked by the Ravens. It was that game, you'll recall, where the Ravens held a late game lead and had seemingly stopped the Patriots on 4th down to secure a victory, only to have they play nullified by a time out that their coaches had called just before the ball was snapped. Another 4th down stop was negated by a false start (one of the very few times a false start was beneficial to the offense), and a foolish Defensive Holding penalty kept New England's drive alive. It all added up to what Tony Kornheiser called a 'tragic inevitability'. New England was destined to win that game, and they did.

The same thing unfolded tonight. After Randy Moss put the Patriots up with just over 2 and a half minutes to play, the Giants seemed to get those little breaks... the fourth down conversion... Asante Samuel's feet coming down out of bounds with what would have been a game sealing interception... And then, that... play. I'm sure someone will have a patented nickname for it by tomorrow... 'The Play' is a LITTLE too grandiose, as is 'The Miracle', but whatever they call it... 'it' happened. Even though the Giants were still 25 yards out, it was inevitable that they would win. It was just a matter of how.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Take This Lei and...


Wow. Go to http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/index today and look at the map associated with the poll about whether you'd vote Roger Clemens into the Hall of Fame. Maybe it's early in the day, but there are five states that vote "no": New Hampshire, West Virginia, Utah, Nebraska, and Hawaii (Wyoming is split 50-50). What an odd assortment of states. Hawaii voted 100% no (as of the time of this posting). What did Roger ever do to the Hawaiians?