“I want to draw your attention to the membrane or scrim…”

August 8, 2008

Thinking about these Olympics here: It’ll be interesting to see how strongly NBC edits their coverage of the events. I’m not too hopeful. Not broadcasting the Opening Ceremony live was a patently strange call. Live sporting events are shown live all the time (granted, this wasn’t exactly “sports,” but that wasn’t NBC’s point). The Aussie Open is on at 3:30am–but not the Olympics? Anecdotally, it sounds like folks in other nations at least got the option of the live show. I mean, they’re going to re-broadcast it 11 times anyway…

The point carries over into the sports. NBC seems to think their job is to pick what’s worth watching. Lots of simultaneous events, sure, we know… how about just outsourcing to MS- and CNBC? Turn cameras on, let us do our thing–that’s the ticket.

Horn me

August 7, 2008

Around the Horn is obviously a lesser imitator of PTI—but how much lesser? Let’s rank the participants:

Bob Ryan (Encyclopedic knowledge of basketball. Knows what he doesn’t know. Gets that the competitive premise of the show is a joke. Self-deprecating.)

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Tim Cowlishaw (Likes NASCAR too much, but is dead right about most things. Doesn’t try to win the show or curry favor with Tony.)

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Jackie MacMullan (A true sports believer. New England accent unfakeable and a boon to credibility.)

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Bill Plaschke (Smart, but excitability gets in the way. Blood-pressure concerns.)

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J.A. Adande (Looks slightly sick to his stomach whenever he stops talking, which seems like evidence of blowhardiness.)

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Michael Smith (Not overly incisive.)

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Gene Wojciechowski (Doesn’t seem to get the format. “Are we supposed to try to win?”)

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Kevin Blackistone (Usually either makes an inane point or hijacks what Tony has just said.)

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Jay Mariotti (Brash tone. Tactless competitor. Jumps in when its not his turn as a way of adding to point totals. Kisses up to Tony. Cares deeply about winning the game.)

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Woody Paige (His thing is supposed to be that he’s goofy but funny. Or maybe goofy but knowledgeable. He’s just goofy.)

From Dale to Dick

July 25, 2008

Whilst watching a little Dale Jr. this afternoon on “NASCAR Now” (a program I’m new to), had the thought that it’s funny how certain sports incessantly refer to the main object of that sport. Drivers are constantly mentioning their “racecar” (Brad Daugherty: “Now this racecar has more …. [tuned out] …. than any racecar in the history of the sport”). John Madden doesn’t let you forget that it’s a “football” they’re playing with. And Dick Vitale is eerily concerned about ensuring you “protect the basssk’ball.”

So why the longhand? Why not just say car? Or ball? I promise, we will understand what you’re referencing.

"He didn't protect the basssk'ball!"

"He didn't protect the basssk'ball!"

And an aside on “NASCAR Now”: Funny how the interviews take place in various garages. I mean, I guess tennis players get interviewed on tennis courts, so drivers of cars should get interviewed in… garages. But it is funny. Because they’re garages.

Shockey and all…

July 21, 2008

I’ll interrupt the Joust’s general moratorium on offseason NFL blowharding (which is insufferable even when Pacman Jones isn’t involved), for a brief Philadelphian remark on Jeremy Shockey’s trade to the Saints. Others can comment on the football merits of the deal. I’m mainly intrigued by how a Resident Bad Dude will appear in the uniform of America’s Second-Favorite Team.

"I enjoy my hair!"

"I enjoy my hair!"

Shockey was pure NFC East, and for Eagles fans, was pure Giant. His petulance and general tatooey-ness were affirming for the rivals. They made the Eagle belief–that Giant culture is tasteless but Eagle culture is “passionate”–seem reasonable. You could even say he looked a bit like an uncommonly fit Eagles fan. And so he sort of prevented that Eagles fan from having to look in the mirror. The jerk was a Giant: of course he was.

Readings: Bloom, Castro test limits of their element

July 18, 2008

Any time the New Yorker refers to Harold Bloom as ‘H-Bloo’ is a good time. Apparently His Yaleness doesn’t dig A-Rod’s low Avg. w/ RISP, either.

way more M.V.P.-er

H-Bloo: way more of an M.V.P.-er

The full NYT recap of the ASG features Clint being Clint and Terry being Terry. C-Hurd: “We were told the game would find a way to finish itself. I’m good with that. That’s communication. Black and white. Plain and simple.”
T-Franc: “[J.D. Drew] might have been a little more of an M.V.P.-er if we went a couple more innings. He might have pitched.”

It seems Fidel Castro is aggrieved by the end of Olympic baseball. Highlight: AP calls his essay “brief but confusing.” Ah, senility. It can express itself so concisely.

What is Richie Sexson’s relationship to this bat?

July 17, 2008

And speaking of projectile lumber: Deadspin, through the Florida Sun-Sentinel, has up a great little slideshow of fans reactions’ to imminent bat shards. Is there any way the dude in the plaid shirt isn’t faking this response?

ASG quotables, courtesy the men of ‘Around the Horn’

July 16, 2008

“I will remember that game as a memorable evening.” —Jay Mariotti, stumblingly

“Why re-create the look when you’ve got the look right there?” —Tim Cowlishaw on Yankee Stadiums, shrewdly

Assorted All-Star Game bullet-points

July 16, 2008

(Jotted as the Midsummer game became oddly classic):

-It’s sort of fun, but always kind of stomach-churning, to see the aging Hall of Famers get trotted out there. These can roughly be divided into those who live in Florida now, and those who don’t.

-I don’t understand how “the greatest collection of baseball’s all-stars ever assembled on one field” amounts to a “first for Yankee Stadium,” as the pregame script claimed. What is the metric for all-star field-assemblage? Later, fans are asked to vote on the “Bank of America greatest moment in Yankee Stadium history,” which sounds like it’s slightly different from the regular greatest moment.

-For once, they weren’t saying “Yooouk,” they were saying “boooo.” But you had to figure it was frustrating for them to try to articulate that. (McCarver and Buck spoke to this issue.) Maybe there should be a backup heckle-word for when the guy’s name contains an “oo” sound. Like “naaaaaaa,” maybe, or “iiiiiiiicky.”

-A B-2 bomber used for the pregame flyover, instead of the trademark fighter jets? Seemed very shady and Cold War-ish. Isn’t the point of those that you can’t detect them?

-Does A-Rod always wear white shoes with the home uniform? I feel like he doesn’t (see left). Anyway, I like them. Very Oakland A. Very post-Memorial Day. Jeter, by contrast, was already shod in after-Labor Day black. That guy just lives and breathes fall baseball.

-Loved Ken Rosenthal’s Cliff Lee anecdote conflating baseball with (multiple forms of) hunting: apparently Lee supplemented his off-season workouts by doing pull-ups while off shootin’ deer (strung up his own bar between trees), and doing crunches while out shootin’ ducks. What a clever way to kill time between shotgun blasts.

-Strange entertainment when Yogi joined Joe and Tim in the booth in the top of the 3rd. I always expect him to speak entirely in Yogi-isms, and am kind of confused when he communicates normally. Also, loopy interjections from McCarver: “Have you ever not had any fun??” And, “you’re a treasure, my friend!”

-Ichiro’s throwing out of Pujols in the bottom of the fourth struck me as uniquely sharp defense, as All-Star Games go (NB: this before the game became about defense). He read an away-field corner perfectly, which no-one does; he even seemed to let the momentum of the ball flow into his throwing motion; and then instead of gunning it in high, he delivered a low one-hop that laid the ball in for the tag. Worth noting, however, that Pujols was clearly safe on the replay. (Ugly strikeout for Ichi in the 5th, though; that whole running-before-you-hit-it thing looks pretty terrible when you don’t hit it at all.)

-I’m not entirely comfortable with McCarver referring to the changeup as “the pitch of the islands,” re Edinson Volquez. I mean, I guess if he’s citing the Wall Street Journal. I guess. It’s really about the phrasing.

-Impressive stuff from Ryan Dempster, striking out the side in the 9th. Recall his chaotic turn as the Cubs closer last year—and that against the NL Central. It seemed fairly obvious, to this viewer anyway, that he’d be the goat. But the man defied his narrative.

-As McCarver implied, you can easily surmise that the key double play in the top of the 10th—Kinsler to Young to Morneau—wouldn’t have been turned if the 2B and SS didn’t play on the same team. Young caught a side flip in stride and barely got Uggla at first, preventing the go-ahead run from scoring. No same team = lead in 10th for NL.

-The bottom of the 10th was about as entertaining a little stretch of ASG baseball as I can recall. Pitching and hitting nerves come up all the time in the ASG, but true defensive nerves, as displayed by Dan Uggla, he of the 2 straight errors on the heels of his offensive double-play, seem rarer. His throw to the plate for out #1 was seriously tight and overthought (ditto, later, his prevent-defense on Sizemore’s grounder in the 12th). An engaging drama that worked out, briefly, for the NL.

-That McLouth-to-Martin gamesaver in the 11th really did appear to be as excellent as it… appeared. There was so much drop on McLouth’s ball; for Martin to remain still while it fell in (instead of reaching for it), then field it cleanly, was pretty coolheaded. The 12th-inning pick on Guzman’s throw (a foul, it turned out) was probably even better. Guy’s good.

-Tragically, my DVR cut out in the bottom of the 13th, at approximately the time the All-Star Game became an interesting thing to be watching—this despite my projecting into the four sitcoms scheduled in the postgame period (a Cheers, two Friendses, and a Seinfeld). It’s been happening a lot lately, and at the cruelest times; the Wimbledon epic cut off about four games from the end. Seemed like a 6-hour recording would have it covered, but alas… Anyway, the incident rules out notes from the final innings of the eventual 15er. But by way of summation: a game about defense, a game about making or not making plays, and therefore, precisely because that’s what we don’t expect from it, an ASG that was weirdly good.

Beginnings and middles

April 11, 2008

There is no apparent way to begin a blog, and anyway they say you’re supposed to start things in the middle. So I’m launching this sports blog at the most ‘middle’ moment I could find in all sports: the travel day after the MLB All-Star Game. Doesn’t get more centrist than that.

Parry and Joust will cover modern sports and modern sports culture. I’m calling it a modern athletics blog, mostly because that makes it sound different. Its biases and interests will make themselves obvious, but by way of a rough starting summary:

baseball > Philadelphia Phillies > MLB > tennis (grass and clay courts) > Philadelphia Eagles > Boston Red Sox > Tour de France > tennis (all surfaces) > Olympics (track & field; swimming) > Olympics (all events) > NFL > Philadelphia 76ers > PGA Tour > Bay Area sports (general) > NCAA basketball

Specific distastes include televised college football (live, there’s no argument), NFL analysts speaking out of season, and Tim McCarver pedantry. Speaking of which, find my first (well, second) post below (well, above).

–Ted W.