Wrappers from Packaged Cookies

Meditation, rumination, and consternation

Archive for the category “Sports”

Day 32 – Baseball Haiku #2

Travis Snider Looks Eastward and Weeps

Rajai flails away

At pitches way off the plate

Shame you can’t steal first

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Day 31 – A Baseball Haiku

I was feeling a little silly last night, so I thought I’d play around and try to come up with a haiku. I call this Blue Jays 3-0, None On, None Out

Lawrie two-bagger

Colby Rasmus hit and run

Bautista home run

Day 30 – Horsehide

I don’t understand the “tradition” of throwing back the ball when the opposing team hits a home run. I don’t know where this got its start although, if I were forced to take a guess, I’d say either Boston or Chicago. But you’ve just caught a home run ball at a major league baseball game. Off the bat of a major league baseball player. You’ve either just completed a feat that requires some degree of athleticism, or been extremely lucky, or a combination of the two. To then throw the ball back on the field at the urgings of some meatheads seated around you is inexplicable to me.

First, if security can pick you out of the crowd, and they will, you’re going to be tossed out of the stadium. Second, with only a small amount of effort, you’ll probably be able to find some wide-eyed kid sitting nearby whose month you could absolutely make by tossing the ball to them. Third, in the unlikely event that ball turns out to be the first career homer by the guy who eventually breaks Barry Bonds’ career record, and it’s worth a fortune, you’re going to feel like an utter tool.

Seriously, don’t be that person. Remember what it was like the first time you saw a game live. If you can’t recapture that feeling yourself, help someone else create some early baseball memories.

On an unrelated note, I love good, intelligent writing – writing that advances well-argued positions, writing that makes you think, writing that moves you. I’m always jealous of that kind of talent, but I love finding it. There’s a lot of that writing out there today if you know where to look for it. If you’re a baseball fan, and you don’t already know about Joe Sheehan, you should. Joe’s a booming voice full of logic and passion, ex of Baseball Prospectus and currently found writing for Sports Illustrated, co-hosting a podcast, and publishing a subscription newsletter. It’s in the latter forum where I think Joe particularly shines, unfiltered and unconstrained by word count and publishing deadlines.

Joe stepped away for personal reasons just as the current baseball season was getting geared up. Upon his return, he managed to pull off the difficult feat of writing both obliquely and movingly about the reasons for his absence. Now, a couple of months later, he’s in fine form, dissecting the all-star rosters, Cliff Lee’s win-loss record, the confounding mystery of R.A. Dickey, and the draft over the last month to provide just a few examples. On Saturday, he wrote a phenomenal piece about the latest developments in the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State situation.

I’m in no position to give anyone in the media a bump. But, if I manage to throw just one newsletter subscription his way beyond mine, I’d call that a win. It’s money well spent – check it out at www.joesheehan.com.

Day Four – Second Chances

Losing sucks.

The Toronto Marlies played game three of their Calder Cup finals series tonight. They’re up against a really tough opponent in the Norfolk Admirals – if you’re not familiar with them, this is a team that finished their regular season with 28 straight wins – and they came into tonight down 2-0 in the series.

It was a very, very close game; scoreless through three periods and needed overtime to decide it. Toronto came out strong and played much better than they had in the series so far. But as the game wore on, you could see the balance shift ever so slowly. After being outshot most of the game, Norfolk evened up the count in the third period and then pulled ahead, an advantage they’d never give up. Toronto couldn’t get a sustained rush past the neutral zone. They looked like they were playing not to lose, rather than playing to win. As early as the second period, I said to my fiancée that it felt like the game would come down to one goal, and it wouldn’t be the Marlies scoring it.

In the end, that’s exactly what happened, and it came on a play you could try 100 times in practice without being able to duplicate it. A Norfolk player dumped the puck into the near corner, and Marlies’ goalie Ben Scrivens moved behind the net to corral the rebound for one of his defencemen. But the puck hit a seam on the boards and took a ridiculous bounce on a line directly into the far side of the open net. All anyone could do was stand in disbelief and watch the game end.

Except, there’s this – the play was offside. There was at least one Admirals player in Toronto’s end when the puck was shot in. The linesman raised his arm for the delayed offside call and, as the play developed, there was no way that Norfolk had cleared the zone before the puck crossed the goal line. No way. I’d have bet my first-born child on it – an empty wager in my case, but still…

All the way home, I was seething about the game ending that way – Toronto losing, in overtime, on a goal that shouldn’t have counted. It wouldn’t have been the first time this season that lousy officiating had contributed to a Marlies loss. The AHL has no video replay, awful refs, and more often than not only one referee assigned to each game.

Once I got home, and calmed down, I stopped in at the bar across the street to grab a beer and – this is where you insert the gasp – do a little karaoke. After I got settled, I saw that the bar had LeafsTV on, and they happened to be showing a recap of the game from which I just got home, including the ending.

Damn.

It wasn’t offside?

They cleared the zone in time.

It wasn’t offside.

Down 3-0, the Marlies now have enormous odds to overcome in this series if they want to win the championship. Game three is over. They’ll never get the chance to play it again. Ben Scrivens, so good all throughout the playoffs, will never get a second chance to make that critical save.

I saw the replay. I got a second chance.

Not to try to get all deep here, or to draw a parallel to other, unrelated events in my life, but here’s the thing – you don’t always get a second chance. When you do, take it.

Update – apparently the AHL needs a second chance too. I guess it doesn’t matter that the player cleared the zone – the goal still shouldn’t have counted (h/t to James Mirtle at The Globe and Mail).

The NBA inspires some random thoughts

I’m at the bar for karaoke really early tonight. Every single TV in the place is tuned to the NBA All-Star Game. So, some random thoughts as we join the game in progress…

So, this half-time show, eh? They really have their finger on the pulse of popular culture:

  • Pitbull, starting with a song that’s what, three years old now? Yep, just checked – “I Know You Want Me” was released on February 24, 2009. Happy belated birthday, really awful song. Does he not have a new album out and, if not, what’s he doing opening the half-time entertainment?
  • Chris Brown, who nobody with any taste wants to see anywhere in public, short of his mama and his record company.
  • Ne-Yo, who – nah, I’m not going to hate on Ne-Yo, other than to say I could have done without seeing him since it meant I had to see Pitbull again.

How is it that I never watch the NBA, and yet I know that the guy with the horrifying pink tie interviewing LeBron James on the bench is Craig Sager? Damn you, Twitter; I need to learn to pay less attention to stuff that means nothing to me.

Seriously, Pitbull is this generation’s Ja Rule. If there’s a song released in the last three years that doesn’t include Pitbull, I’d like to know about it. I need more non-Pitbull music in my life.

I stopped watching basketball with any frequency in around 1987, back when they stopped worry about travelling being a thing. So, I don’t know if it’s simply an all-star game non-call or normal practice, but I just saw Kobe Bryant take about six steps without the ball going anywhere near the floor. Does he not know how to bounce it? Is he worried about bruising it?

It’s the fourth quarter and Chris Bosh just checked into the game. I’ll confess that I don’t follow the labour situation in the U.S. all that closely. However, I’m just going to assume that there’s a hospitality industry strike in Orlando, and Dwayne Wade and LeBron brought Bosh along to carry their bags and get their drinks. Because otherwise…

Hey, I wonder if Pitbull’s actually allowed to perform here in Ontario? There’s that ban in place, or was he already a pit bull before that came into force?

There’s somebody wearing number O? Seriously? Starved for attention much? And I thought it was bad when Wayne Gretzky chose the absolute highest number possible back in the day.

It’s 151-149 with 16 seconds left. If this finishes in a tie, please, please, PLEASE tell me that they’re not going into overtime. Couldn’t they just settle the game by bringing Chris Brown back out and having the teams throw balls at his crotch in turn – first time that gets him to cry wins?

Wait, LeBron choked with the game on the line? Wow – I didn’t realize the all-star game was one that mattered.

I can’t tell, because karaoke’s starting and they’ve switched the sound off, but do NBA fans boo David Stern the same way that NHL fans boo Gary Bettman every chance they get? Because I think I’d really enjoy that.

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