Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

A mall with a baseball field in the middle

April 17, 2009

It’s unclear whether Yankee Stadium wants to be a ballpark with killer amenities or a mall with a baseball field in the middle. The inside of the stadium is freakishly loyal to its predecessor, like twins who look identical but are actually fraternal. The differences are ornamental, and because of its classic look, the initial thought is: Really, $1.5 billion? And you didn’t reinvent the baseball stadium like Camden Yards in 1993? The toilet seats are definitely gold-plated, right?

One trip around the concourse, and suddenly the cost makes more sense. It is a sea of goods, the free market through a Yankee kaleidoscope, a study in old-fashioned gluttony. It is a cheesesteak line 50 people deep, and a beer garden serving 14 sudsy favorites, and pink foam fingers next to pink hats with flowers alongside pink hats with glitter-covered NY logos.

Jeff Passan


What ESPN cares about

April 16, 2009

“I truly believe ESPN only cares about promoting the Red Sox and Yankees and Mets – and nobody else.”

Heath Bell, San Diego Padres closer

British football in the ’80s

April 15, 2009

To attend a match in that time was not the sanitised theme park that many Premier League clubs now aspire to. Fans who chose the terraces sometimes had to be prepared to stand for hours before games so as to make sure they got in. Access to toilet facilities were limited on big-match days, giving rise to many a story about fans feeling the warm, wet and deeply unpleasant sensation of being urinated on. When goals were scored or in other moments of high excitement, fans found themselves catapulted forward and back, up and down, steep and often decaying terraces. You would rarely end a match where you started to watch it. Take a look at videos of games from the era and view the swelling sea of humanity as a goal goes in. You don’t get that at the Emirates for your £65. It looked dangerous. It felt dangerous. It eventually proved deadly.

Another facet of the era was the fencing in of supporters. Hooliganism’s growth in the early 1970s had led clubs to construct high and forbidding fences, caging fans in to prevent them from storming the pitch. As a result, fans were often given a poor view of the games, having to watch the action through tiny grids of metal. Should an emergency occur, they were penned in to face their fate as panic set in.

John Brewin

Today, of course, is the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, a dark day in the history of British football when 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death in Sheffield.

Online overkill – week of April 6

April 11, 2009

Good, bad, unnerving and tragic, these are some of the topics that made frequent appearances in my RSS feed this week.

The Palin family circus. File under: stories that should be left to the tabloids and Jerry Springer.

Nick Adenhart. The Angels pitcher and three others were killed by a drunk driver in an accident shortly after the rookie pitched six shutout innings. Utterly senseless and sympathetically commented on in just about every corner of the Web I frequent this week.

Everybody poops trailer. A clever take on the massively popular trailer for a real film adaptation of a popular children’s book. I don’t know about you, but it hasn’t gotten old for me yet.

Billy Bob’s Interview. There’s really only one word to describe this: asshole.

Arrgh. Like I’ve said before: non-Disney pirates really aren’t very cool.

A senseless end to a rapid maturation

April 10, 2009

At 22, he was growing so fast. And now he is gone in an instant — the victim of some idiot on a Southern California street.

The alleged perpetrator of the hit-and-run drunken-driving crime that killed Nick (Adenhart) coincidentally was 22, too. But that is a young fellow going nowhere. The opposite of Nick, a perfect name for the kid who beat time.

A 14th-round draft choice, Nick came along so fast he was starting the third game of the season for the Angels, heavy favorites in the American League West. Nick was one of the youngest pitchers in the major leagues. At 22 and a rookie, he threw six shutout innings Thursday night, only hours before he was killed on the road in nearby Fullerton, Calif., the victim of a senseless crime. (A senseless crime that led to the arrest of that 22-year-old from Riverside, Calif., who plowed into Nick’s car, killing three innocent victims, critically injuring a fourth and bringing untold heartache to all those who knew and loved the victims.)

Jon Heyman

MJ’s curveball, 15 years later

April 8, 2009

It was Tom Cruise doing dinner theater, Chris Rock performing at open-mike night and Justin Timberlake singing in the church choir. And yet it was none of those things, because when Michael Jordan announced in February 1994, just weeks before his 31st birthday, that he would attempt a career as a baseball player, it was a move so unheard of, so controversial, so odd, there was almost nothing with which to compare it. The greatest basketball player who ever lived, and one of the most famous people on the planet, was opting for a completely different outlet for his competitive fire.

Ted Keith

We have a winner

April 7, 2009

Nothing like backing into a championship.

In a field where no one picked North Carolina to win it all, kingmatthew76 won even in defeat last night as he finished on top of the annual Bracket-Breaker Challenge.

King Matthew, aka Matt Stone, finished with 577 points, but wasn’t exactly burning up the New York Times brackets. His top finish in our little challenge was good enough for 8,627 in the overall scheme of things.

Congratulations, King Matthew.

It’s only one game, but…

April 7, 2009

How cool was it to see the Pirates put up a four-spot in the ninth to win and CC “$161 million” Sabathia get lit up by the Orioles on Opening Day yesterday?

It might be the only day of a long 162-game season that the Pirates have more wins than the gold-plated to-hell-with-the-recession Yankees, but it’s still without a doubt a best-case scenario start to the season for Yankee haters everywhere.

Online overkill – week of March 30

April 4, 2009

Good, bad, annoying or overhyped, these are the items that set my RSS reader on fire this week.

John Calipari. Living in Kentucky, you’d think a different JC had shown up this week to replace the Messiah from two years ago who was tarred, feathered and run out of town by the most obnoxious college basketball fans in America.

Lance Stephenson. Haven’t you heard? He’s born ready. For way too much media hype. This New Republic article cuts through a lot of the crap.

Glenn Beck admits he’s wrong. Whatever. What are Rush and Sean up to these days?

C Me Dance trailer. Boy, does this movie look awesome or what? I stayed away the first five times it popped up in my RSS feed, but I sure am glad I finally took the time to watch it.

Sarah Palin calling for a Senate re-election. As annoying as the liberal hatred of her can be, she deserves it for advocating that a guy she previously said should drop out of the race get a do-over in a race he lost fair and square.  An blog appropriately called the move a “new frontier in sore loserdom.”

The hug heard round the world. The first-lady hugged the Queen of England.  Awesome. I hug my wife every day when I get home from work.

College basketball oligarchy

April 3, 2009

The dynastic UCLA period that ended that weekend had not been good for the tournament. The Bruins even managed to win two championships in the Sidney Wicks-Steve Patterson interregnum between the lordly reigns of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. There was a sense, always, of forgone conclusion to the proceedings. Once UCLA finally lost, though, and its 1975 championship notwithstanding, the tournament cracked wide open. The next five champions were, in order, Indiana, Marquette, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Louisville. There wasn’t another repeat winner until Duke went back to back in 1991 and 1992. Why, then, did this year’s tournament—which has been one of the most boring on record with one, count it, memorable game, the Villanova-Pittsburgh East Regional final—seem to have about it the musty, fusty aroma of those days when UCLA won it every year? Because instead of UCLA winning it every year, there are now between five and nine UCLAs that can win it every year. It’s just as sterile and dynastic as it used to be.

Charles Pierce