Saturday, May 31, 2008

Are Pigs Flying?

Florida Baseball is still on fire! The Marlins and Devil Rays are serious contenders and we are almost to June. I like it.

When I went to college in the Sunshine State I found the place to be chock-full of baseball fans. However, most were Braves or Yankees fans. Being spoiled by having a home team with a tradition as I was growing up with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I found this puzzling. Sure, 75% of the people I met in Tampa were from other places, but the even the natives didn’t appreciate the Devil Rays. Most of them really hated their stadium as well. I was told that it was mostly due to the roof. To me, in a place that had severe thunderstorms nearly every afternoon in the summer, the roof made sense.

Then I became very close to someone who played baseball their entire lives in the area. Growing up, they didn’t have a team but were in love with the sport. He grew up rooting for Dodgers, Yankees, and Cubs players before finally actually playing in the farm systems of the Yankees and Cubs. Being that Florida is the sunny place it is, it is inundated with spring facilities and minor league teams for some of the biggest in baseball. Like California and Texas, it is also a breeding ground for some of the best athletes in professional sports.

At any rate, I understood a bit of the reluctance to accept the Rays. Going to a game at the Trop is actually quite fun if you ask me. Since the team didn’t have a gigantic following, it was relatively easy to get nice seats for a nice price. I never had a bad time there. I was probably more of a fan than many locals. The Rays were easy to like as far as I was concerned and never posed a threat to my Dodgers. And no, if the Dodgers came for an inter-league game I did not go to the stadium in my Dodgers jersey. I especially wouldn’t do that in the Rays’ stadium since they had a hard time getting home fans already. Why add insult to injury?

What really baffled me was the Marlins low attendance numbers. Here was a team that was not that far removed from winning a World Series and Floridians outright refused to support them. I never did figure that out.

Here we are in the 2008 season and both teams are doing well. What is especially interesting is that the beginning of the season had the Marlins at the lowest total salary in baseball. The Devil Rays didn’t have an enormous budget either. As I write this, the Marlins are at .566 with a 30-23 record and just a half game back from the Phillies. Even more impressive, the Rays are at .600, 33-22, and a full game ahead of the Red Sox. They’ve won 7 of their last 10 games and have swept teams like the Angels earlier in the season.

Maybe Florida baseball will start to get the respect it deserves. In a sports-loving state like Florida, it should.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Definition of Sport?

If you go to you’ll find several definitions of “sport” including:

• an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, etc.
• to amuse oneself with some pleasant pastime or recreation
• to engage in some open-air or athletic pastime or sport
• to pass (time) in amusement or sport
• to amuse (esp. oneself)

The American Heritage Dictionary has several meanings as well which include:

• Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively or a particular form of this activity.
• An activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively.

These definitions assert that there are many activities that qualify as sport. I tend to agree. In my personal definition, sport can be anything from hiking to snowboarding to football to wakeboarding to power walking to tennis to…you get the point. Wherever there is a competitive spirit, athletic ability, strategy, and many other descriptors I am not listing here, there is likely sport. For crying out loud, sports networks have televised poker, spelling bees, and dog shows. The point is - there is sport where you least expect it. There is also sport where you may not realize it.

Sports media often creates stories with the premise of something not being a sport and then inviting commentary and debate on the issue. Most of us have heard the played out arguments for NASCAR being a sport or not. In addition, when I was listening to sports radio yesterday morning I was presented with such a story. One of the personalities on the Dan Patrick Show on 570 KLAC claimed that MMA is not a sport.

MMA is not a sport?

If you’ve been by this site over the last few months you’ve seen my interviews with Lauren Feldman and Debi Purcell. These athletes are both MMA competitors. Each has a killer training routine, competitive matches, and countless hours invested in their craft. I’d venture to say that they are convinced that MMA is a sport. So am I.

Certain mainstream sports reporters claim that it is a hard sport to understand and get used to. I’ve heard people say that about soccer, football, and baseball as well. Where boxing was “king” in decades past, MMA has become the competitive fighting event for the next generation. This is no surprise considering all sports have been taken to a higher level. Sports are meant to evolve and stay interesting just like anything else. What is wrong with introducing new sports to the mix? Think back 20 years ago or so and skateboarding was not considered a sport either.

Dan Patrick also went so far as to assert that the big names fade away into nothingness and never do anything. Interesting. I still hear big names in MMA. Like any other sport, those who flourish eventually age and retire. The younger generation comes in to follow. Randy Couture is now 44 years old. How many professional athletes still compete at 44? Brett Favre just retired at 38. Sounds like a normal retirement age for an athlete to me in both cases.

Do you think MMA is brutal? What about boxing? There is plenty of blood in boxing and it is even in the Olympics. MMA combines boxing and martial arts disciplines in order to take competitive fighting to the next level. There is much technique involved - sort of like a human chess match is the analogy.

What started this debate on the radio yesterday? Kimbo Slice. Is he a gimmick? Probably. Is he weakening MMA as a viable sport? Probably not. Recall Mike Tyson. The sport of boxing still exists in spite of his character and farce. The fact that MMA is getting more mainstream attention shows that it is popular and people are interested. The fact that there are gimmicky personalities does not make it less of a sport. If I’m not mistaken, there are flashy personalities in just about every sport.

How do you feel about the MMA? Do you think it is a sport?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Where Do I Start...

I really don’t know where to start today. I know that Penguins fans have stopped holding their collective breath since the team finally scored in the series with the Red Wings. The Pens came out on top in Game 3 by a score of 3-2. Sidney Crosby scored the first two goals for the Pens and carried them to a 9-0 home playoff record this year.

The Celtics have taken a lead in the series against the Pistons 3-2 with the win in Game 5 106-102. The hype of a Lakers-Celtics final is getting extremely loud now.

The Dodgers are making me mad enough to scream. With a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th against the Cubs, pitcher Takashi Saito walked two batters. The Cubs capitalized and tied the score. The game went into the 10th where the Cubs prevailed. Although Derek Lowe pitched seven shutout innings it ended up being meaningless in the end. The Cubs swept the Dodgers. Great.

Which reminds me…did you hear the one about the minor league baseball player that was traded for bats? Yes, bats! Bummer. Read the whole story here.

I haven’t been keeping up with The French Open and really need to spend more time on tennis in general. The U.S. men seem to be faring well on the clay.

Today in Sports History

1922 - US Supreme Court rules that organized baseball is a sport and not a business. This means that it is not subject to the antitrust laws that govern the business world.

1980 – Larry Bird is named NBA Rookie of the Year, beating out Magic Johnson.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - May 28, 2008

The NHL Stanley Cup Finals are down to the Pittsburg Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings with the latter ahead two games to none. In fact, the Pens have been completely shut out and haven’t scored a goal yet in the series. I haven’t been giving this sport nearly enough attention so check out Bringing Hockey Back where hockey is given the justice it deserves.

I thought I was going to pass out watching the Lakers game last night. I was on LA Ball Talk’s live blog for the game with a bunch of other Lakers fans. Of course we are all biased, but we came to the conclusion that there is a home court advantage with the refs. Oh, and that call at the end that was a no call was a good no call. The analysts at the end of the game even agreed. By the way, I highly recommend participating in the live blog events on the LA Ball Talk site. Many other independent bloggers show up and there isn’t silly personal bashing between participants.

So far in the NFL this week: Former Buccaneer Michael Pittman has signed with the Broncos. This move was made as insurance to cover Travis Henry since his injury has clouded his future. The Jets picked up Musa Smith to help them out with their running game. Smith has spent the last 5 seasons with the Ravens. In San Francisco, undrafted rookie free-agent Ezra Butler out of Nevada has been waived in light of an arrest for marijuana possession. It is truly sad that another young, promising athlete has taken the wrong path.

Tiger Woods held a press conference today to talk about his knee rehab. He explained that he wasn’t 100% with his game to play over the weekend, basically too rusty. Tiger is set on making his reappearance into the PGA at the U.S. Open June 9-15 at the Torrey Pines course in San Diego.

Today in Sports History

1957 - The National League approves the moves of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants to the California, provided both clubs make their request before October 1 and move at the same time. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Anger Management

As I was returning from the golf driving range yesterday I heard the ESPN radio guys John Seibel and Orestes Destrade discussing the Danica Patrick outburst over the weekend. The discussion brought up an interesting point about fighting in sports. Does fighting belong in sports? Well, short of MMA and Boxing, probably not. One listener made an interesting point – fighting is not allowed in regular society so why should athletes be held to a different standard? Orestes noted that fights are a part of baseball, period. John Seibel echoed this, stating that his high school coach basically said the same. He told of a team discussion where the coach instructed the boys that they were never allowed to run out to the mound. But, if he asked them to do so, they better run out to the mound. This coach was basically informing high school boys that there are certain instances where violence is fine.

This also begs the question about the “fighting tradition” in the NHL. Should fights be allowed in some sports and not others? Where is it acceptable? Is it acceptable?

Over the years, there have been several instances of tempers flaring in the sports world. Some just in baseball have been:

George Brett and the Pine Tar Incident: On July 24, 1983, George Brett completely lost his cool when his home run was called back due to the amount of pine tar he had on his bat. At the time, only 18 inches of the bat was allowed to be covered and his apparently had more than that. In the end, baseball’s powers that be ruled that the bat should have been removed and not the home run so the tantrum was totally unnecessary. Brett even noted that he should have kept his cool.

Pedro Martinez vs. Don Zimmer: In Game 3 of the ALCS in 2003, Martinez threw a pitch near the head of Karim Garcia. The ump gave Garcia 1st, saying the ball hit him in the back. Garcia then ran to second base with Alfonso Soriano at bat and ran into Todd Walker, 2nd baseman. The two pushed each other a few times and the benches ended up clearing. Don Zimmer approached Martinez and Pedro simply pushed him over. Certainly Zimmer’s age made him easy to bully (72). This one was on SportsCenter highlights for weeks.

Of course there have been many more. Personally, I’ve found that keeping a cool head is the way to go. If you can bite your tongue and hold your temper there are usually no regrets and nothing that follows you around forever. Letting the other person yell themselves out has worked rather well in many situations.

Would Danica have tried to actually fight the other driver had she not been stopped? Was she just going to tell him off? No one will know for sure since it didn’t play out.

What do you think about fighting in sports other than MMA and Boxing?

Monday, May 26, 2008

5 Questions With An Agility Trainer

South Coast Agility Training (SCAT) is a dog agility training group in Southern California. They welcome members of all levels and host competitions throughout the year. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Estelle Robinson, VP and AKC Trial Chairperson of SCAT, who competes with her Papillon, Razr. In addition to dog agility, Estelle and her family are very involved in the world of sports. Her children actively play basketball, lacrosse, softball, and volleyball. I caught the group at a recent halftime show of a Southern California Breakers game and Estelle was kind enough to answer five questions:

1. How did you get into agility training? How long have you been involved? What awards/honors/accomplishments have you won?

I started training dogs when I was 12. I didn't have a dog of my own so I would train the neighbor’s dogs in the recreation dept. classes. These were just obedience classes. I rescued an Australian Shepherd from the pound about seven years ago. Australian Shepherds are very high energy and need a job to do or they will be destructive (in other words, find their own job). I enrolled in an agility class with the recreation department. I was hooked. I knew I wanted to get involved in this sport. It took a few years to understand the relationship between me and my dogs and how I would communicate how we would "dance" around the agility course with my dance partner. I'm on my third agility dog now. I am working on a MACH, or Master of Agility Championship, title with my Papillon, Razr. He has earned his Novice title, Open (or intermediate) title, and his Excellent (or advanced) title. Once you reach this level with your dog you compete with other Excellent level dogs to earn points and qualifying legs towards your MACH. Dogs can continue to earn multiple MACHs in their careers which are notated by MACH 1, MACH 2, etc.

2. Are there certain breeds of dog that are better suited for this type of activity? Are there any breeds that should not be involved in competitions?

I don't know if I would say that there are dogs that are better suited for this sport because the object is to have fun excelling in different games with your dog. The bond created when working this intensely with your dog is like no other. There are dogs that are more competitive in the sport mostly because of their physical build and their mental drive. These tend to be Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Shelties, Jack Russells, Papillons, and those types of dogs. But really, the sky's the limit and many breeds are involved. No breed is excluded from agility. Everyone should have a chance to play, right? (smile)

3. Is this something the animals truly enjoy? How can one be sure that involving their dog in this won't be exploiting or otherwise harming them?

If you sat in my car with my dog and me as we turned the corner to go to our agility class, you would know how much he likes to participate! Wow, the songs he starts singing! He howls, cries, and wines as he dances around in anticipation of getting out of the car and playing. He can hardly wait for his release word to get out of the car and he shivers in anticipation as I put the leash on. I don't think you could ever say they are exploited when they enjoy the teamwork so much. This is truly a team sport. It couldn't be done if either partner wasn't enthralled. This sport is done off leash. So the dog is continuously choosing to do the sport. Unfortunately, like any athlete, the dogs and handlers sometimes get injured. It's just a matter of fact when your in any sport. I think I can honestly say that most handlers spend more time trying to cross train, strengthen, and warm-up their dogs more than themselves. I see more injured handlers than I do dogs.

4. Is there a special diet that a dog must be on to be a competitor? What other requirements exist for a dog to be able to take part in agility training and competition?

Well, anybody is going to perform better if they eat healthy and aren't overweight. There is no magical diet. Any healthy dog can train in agility. Organizations have different requirements for registration. For example, some will register mixed breeds and some will only register the breeds they recognize (like AKC).

5. How long has SCAT been around? How can someone in the area get involved with SCAT? What events are upcoming?

I know SCAT has been together at least 10+ years. SCAT is an agility club that allows members to practice and be involved in the sport at their own pace. Membership is a bargain at $20 a year. SCAT is completely run by volunteers. To become a member you must first take a beginning agility class. This could be through your local Parks and Recreation Department or through a trainer. When your dog is able to perform the agility obstacles safely, you can apply for membership. We have a trial all weekend on June 14-15, August 9-10, and October 11-12 at TeWinkle Park in Costa Mesa.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Sports Wrap - May 25, 2008

Can the Lakers beat the Spurs at home? We’ll find out tonight! Go Lakers!

Plenty of baseball happens today all over the country. The New York Yankees continue to be the only team in their division that is under .500 and the Rays are still just a few games behind the Red Sox in second place. The Marlins are still doing rather well in their division also, a full game ahead of the Braves. Here in Southern California the Angels top their division while the Dodgers tail the Diamondbacks by 3.5 games. There is quite a bit of college baseball today also. USC visits Washington State, UCLA is at Cal, and Stanford is at Washington. And yes, there are more than Pac-10 games happening. Check here for your favorite division.

Only one MLS game occurs today – the Chicago Fire visit the New York Red Bulls. Chicago is currently third in the Eastern Division while New York is 5th.

In PGA Tour play today, the BMW PGA Championship has already finished. Miguel Angel Jimenez won in a play-off over Oliver Wilson. Phil Mickelson is in the lead at the Crowne Plaza Invitational and Bernhard Langer is on top at the PGA Seniors event.

Today in Sports History

1922 – Babe Ruth throws dirt on an umpire and goes after a heckler in the stands. He later said he didn’t mean to hit the ump but was serious about going after the fan. The fracas cost him a fine of $200 and he was suspended for a day.

1974 – Houston Astros SS Miguel Tejada was born in the Dominican Republic.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

We All Get Excited About The Lakers!

During Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals when the Lakers were down by 20 to the Spurs I thought I was going to be very ill. Fortunately, the team came back and managed to pull it out. Whew! Needless to say, I was a bit worried about the game last night prior to the start. Sure, everyone had assumed that they broke the spirit of the Spurs with the comeback, but I was still pessimistic.

I stand corrected! Happily! With the 101-71 victory last night, the whole town was doing silly dances the way you see Ronny Turiaf doing on the side. Yeah, the team is full of interesting personalities, isn’t it?

So, are the Spurs done? I sure hope so, being the biased Lakers fan that I am. The trash talking has commenced around the blogs with the usual hatred for my home team. All I have say is GO LAKERS!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Three Day Weekend Sports

Can you smell that? The traditional start of summer – Memorial Day weekend! Most have a long weekend that starts as soon as they knock off today. Unfortunately, we won’t have the warm sunshiny weather we are used to here in Southern California according to the weather forecasts. We’ll see…

So what are you going to do? Why not get out of the house and engage in some activity yourself? Did you know that you can skate or bike for about 16 miles every Saturday morning starting at the Huntington Pier? The Saturday FunRoll begins at 10:30 and meets just north of the Pier unless it is raining or wet on the path. While you’re in Huntington Beach check out the Surfing Museum.

The Muscle Beach International Classic runs over the weekend in Venice. This event features bodybuilders of all levels and age groups. Venice is an exceptional place to visit overall during Memorial Day Weekend since there will be people from all over, boardwalk vendors, and interesting street performers. (Well, that isn't exclusive to this holiday - it will just be in larger amounts.)

Travel inland and take part in the 2nd Annual Gator Run at the Rancho Santa Susana Community Park in Simi Valley. There is also an entire 3-day festival taking place that this run is a part of. On Monday, you can go south and do the Laguna Hills Half Marathon. This has a kids run and expo as well.

Don’t forget, Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals is tonight with the Lakers vs. Spurs. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers have got it together for real after the near-loss earlier this week.

The Dodgers are home all weekend with the visiting St. Louis Cardinals. This is a great weekend for baseball…as long as it doesn’t rain…

In golf this weekend the 2008 Senior PGA Championship is underway at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY. The Crowne Plaza Invitational is also in the midst of competition at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, TX. Johnson Wagner is atop the leaderboard at the end of Thursday’s play. The BMW PGA Championship is also happening at the Wentworth Club in England. Paul McGinley is on top here with a score of 7 under.

UFC 84 in Las Vegas is on Saturday with matches pitting Tito Ortiz v. Lyoto Machida, Wanderlei Silva v. Keith Jardine, and many others. Spike TV has been showing the countdown to the event, complete with fighter back stories. Also on Saturday is the NAGA Chicago Grappling Tournament in Chicago and IKF’s Kickboxing Fight Night 2 in England.

How are you going to spend the weekend? Participating, watching, or both?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is Your Better Better?

Have you seen those commercials where athletes are cleverly trash-talking about their skills with that catchy tune (List of Demands by Saul Williams)? You know, there’s LaDainian Tomlinson, Diana Taurasi, and many others? Now there is a promotion out that is looking for you to show why your better is better. Why am I telling you this? I know there are some of you out there that occasionally stop by here that have some amazing athletic skills. Go here and check out the rules for this contest. All you have to do is upload a video of your better, spread it around the internet, and become one of the top 100 entries. The contest has a grand prize, prize for most viral, and prize for most creative video. Check it out!

Speaking of better, the Los Angeles Lakers almost forgot where their better game was last night against the Spurs. Down as much as 20 points in the 3rd quarter, they came back to take game one in the Western Conference Finals 89-85. Game two is in Los Angeles on Friday.

In case you missed it, the Champions League Final was amazing! Talk about bringing the better! With the score tied 1-1 at the end of extra time, the match against Manchester United and Chelsea would be decided by penalty kicks. The first set looked bleak for Man U when Cristiano Ronaldo’s attempt was blocked. The team got a second shot when the last attempt by Chelsea was also blocked and a fresh round of kicks was started. In that second round, Chelsea’s second miss sealed the deal for Man U.

Today in Sports History

1991 – NFL owners vote to add two more teams to the league in 1994

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - May 21, 2008

Today’s biggest event has to be the Champions League Final in Moscow, pitting Manchester United vs. Chelsea. The game will actually be televised on ESPN2 here in the states as well.

Oh, and if you haven’t taken advantage of it yet, May is PGA Free Lesson Month. To participate, simply click on the hotlink in the last sentence, put in your zip code on the page, and find a pro in your area. This is a great way to test out an instructor or get a quick tune up on an issue with your swing. The lessons are ten minutes long and for all player levels. Speaking of golf, I finally watched the Annika Sorenstam on David Letterman bit. I thought it was pretty funny…I still can’t believe this is the last season she’ll be on tour. I am glad that she’s going to work to better the game and the lives of others through her foundation. The Annika Foundation’s web page states the mission is to:

• Enrich the quality of life through the development of sports and physical fitness programs
• Provide resources that encourage participation and provide access to sports and physical fitness programs AND/OR to provide access and increase youth participation in the game of golf
• Help aspiring junior golfers realize their potential by providing resources, new playing opportunities and experiences

She also looks for talent in her home country and encourages girls to play golf.

The NFL could be headed for some interesting years ahead. The vote by the owners this week paves the way for a salary cap-less 2010 season and a possible lockout the next. In addition, there is talk of making the pre-season shorter and adding a 17th game to the regular season.

Oh, and the Yankees are still in last place in their division while Boston and Tampa Bay are jockeying for the top. Excuse me a moment whilst I laugh hysterically…

Today in Sports History

1952 – The Dodgers score 15 runs in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds, curing a hitting slump the team had been in. The final score was 19-1.

1966 – Muhammad Ali defeats Henry Cooper in six rounds by TKO for the heavyweight title.

1997 – Roger Clemens won his 200th game while pitching as a Toronto Blue Jay vs. the New York Yankees. He struck out 12 batters, reaching his 71st game to strike 10 or more batters out.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sports Betting

Sports betting has permeated the news again recently with new revelations in the Tim Donaghy case and with professional tennis. The Dan Patrick show asked yesterday why the NBA referee Donaghy betting scandal had been pushed under the rug so quickly. Why isn’t Arlen Specter looking into this? They even pointed out that the New England Patriots “Spygate” case has received far more press. It’s true. It is really quite amazing how quickly the NBA scandal went away from the main news. Here was a guy that fed every conspiracy theorist’s wildest dreams – the games really were fixed. Apparently, there are more games that could be in question due to new revelations according to the Pardon the Interruption radio show. Now that the playoffs are here, some questionable calls are certainly in the minds of fans as another possible scandal. Can you blame anyone now? How can the NBA refs be trusted?

The truth is that Donaghy is facing a very steep prison sentence and hefty fine. In addition, he and his wife are publicly fighting over property and custody of their children. In addition, she has requested a restraining order be placed on him. A friend of the ex-ref and a professional gambler are also facing jail time in connection with the scandal. You really can’t blame the NBA for trying to bury and run away from this as quickly as possible to try and keep the integrity of the league. Perhaps all scandal should be dealt with in the same manner – find those who are guilty, punish, and move on. The problem lies in when there does not seem to be a punishment fitting the crime or when someone has a particular fancy for the events.

Now professional tennis is having betting issues to mar its integrity. There are now 45 matches that are in question. An independent panel released a 66 page report (sound familiar?) about findings that examined about 73 matches in the last 5 years. A match with player Nikolay Davydenko started the entire investigation. A betting website brought attention to him when they seemed to have insider information about a particular match.

Unfortunately, greed and trying to get a big payday for minimal effort is a part of life. These events do not only happen in sports, but wherever there is money to be made. With the internet and more coverage of everything, more indignities are brought to light. There is more scrutiny from more sources and more individuals crying foul at the first hint of impropriety. This is not an excuse, merely an observation. It is definitely a good thing that it is much harder to get away with these acts.

Monday, May 19, 2008

5 Questions With Fred Roggin

One of my first interviews of the “5 questions” genre was with Fred Roggin, sports reporter for KNBC in Los Angeles and regular on the Steve Mason Show on 710 ESPN Radio. Fred also has a show called "The Challenge" in the fall and has made many other appearances around the sports world over the years. This is definitely one of my favorites as Fred was quite gracious and got back to me very quickly. Even better, he answered my questions very honestly and was very pleasant to deal with.

This originally ran on the People Jam website a few months back. Again, it was one of my favorites so I thought it was worth another read:

1. What do you think the single most significant event in sports has been in the recent memory?

Magic Johnson's revelation he had AIDS. This affected everyone, not just the sports audience. It focused more attention on a subject that had been taboo. It dispelled myths and gave people reason for hope.

2. I know you cover Los Angeles teams but hail from Detroit originally – what teams are you a fan of? Can you stay “unbiased” with a favorite? How unbiased do you have to be?

I've been waiting for the Lions to win something since 1957. You're trained to be unbiased when talking to a broad based audience. It used to be, you report it and the audience will make up it's own mind. Things have changed and in sports it's alright and at times necessary to offer perspective given the facts are available 24 hours a day online or on cable. Local sportscasts remain relevant when you focus on local events and offer perspective. Which local teams to I root for? All of them because it's good for business when the local teams win.

3. What do you think it will take for Major League Baseball to recover from the Mitchell Report? Does it seem like there have been more scandals in sports lately? (Mitchell Report, the latest tennis betting scandal, Patriots cheating, NBA referees) Or are athletes and professional sports just under more scrutiny?

There have been more scandals because more have brought to light. More media means more scrutiny. Baseball will recover because at the end of the day people go to sporting events to be entertained. As the old saying goes, this too shall pass.

4. What would it take for more women to be viable sports reporters/broadcasters? I understand that sports are a “guy’s thing”, but can a sports-obsessed woman be readable and believable to men? What can a female do to be taken seriously as a sports authority?

The politically correct thing to say is, times have changed and women have the same chance. The truth is, times have changed and women have more of a chance. There's no question many women know more about sports than a lot of men but when you're dealing with a predominantly male audience it can tough to break thru. I've always believed that the best people succeed. If a woman is the best and can hang in there, she will succeed.

5. If you ever need a day off, can I cover for you?

If I get a day off, I'll let you know.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Sports Wrap - May 18, 2008

Another Sunday is upon us and with that some more to show that there is sports life without NFL games on this day. Of course, you can always watch the NFL Network for your fix. It is starting to get a bit more interesting since training camps have started. The lineup today also has replays of games from last year like the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants, and Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers. The replay shows are only 90 minutes and they cut out unnecessary pieces and add in parts of the press conference in another screen.

In the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics face off in game 7 of the series. The home team has won most of the games in the playoffs so far, although Detroit and Los Angeles have been able to go against the grain. Can Cleveland do the same?

The Los Angeles Galaxy travel to face FC Dallas today in Major League Soccer. Both clubs go into the match at 7-2 for the season, although Dallas has a better record in the division.

An interesting tidbit of news was on the Yahoo! homepage this morning. A mother didn’t show up for her shift at the concessions stand for her son’s little league game. The league suspended her son for two games. She’s obviously upset but I’m sure the parents that spend the time to volunteer for the league aren’t feeling bad for her. Sure, the child shouldn’t be punished for a parent’s actions but they should also have a solid example of responsibility. I’m sure the child will recall in the future that when he doesn’t live up to his commitments he is not the only one that suffers.

Today in Sports History

1929 – In the first game of a double-header, the Dodgers beat the Phillies 20-16. They lost the second 8-6 for a total of 50 runs for the day.

1942 – New York City stops night baseball for the remainder of WWII.

1971 – Montreal Canadiens capture Lord Stanley’s Cup by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 4 games over three.

1977 – Juventus wins 6th UEFA Cup in Bilbao, Spain. They had been unsuccessful on two previous attempts.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Remarkable Athletes

While perusing the recent news, I came across stories of two remarkable athletes that deserved more attention. First up is Jamie Nared, a twelve-year-old basketball player in Oregon. At 6’ tall, Jamie has amazing skill and maturity that is admired by many. Scoring 30 points in a game is a common occurrence for this budding star that comes from a basketball pedigree. Jamie’s father played for Maryland in college and older sister Jackie has been a leading scorer at Westview High School in Beaverton, Oregon. Jackie will follow in her father’s footsteps and attend Maryland on a basketball scholarship.

Jamie made headlines when she was recently kicked out of her basketball league. Although her coach claims that she is one of the most gifted players he has ever seen, he is unable to allow her to play. Jamie has played for the last year in an all-boys league. A Spokesperson for The Hoop claims that having her play is breaking the rules. The league is only open to boys and there were complaints from parents and other players that they did not want to be in a coed league. Everyone opposing her presence claims that it has nothing to do with the fact that she is one of the best players on the court. In fact, they adamantly and fervently state that it is only because of the rule. I bet.

Another remarkable athlete is Oscar Pistorius from South Africa. Born without fibulas, both legs were amputated below the knees when he was only eleven months old. He took up running when he was a teen, made possible by special prosthetics.

Earlier this year, he was denied the chance to try out for the Olympics because of the prosthetic legs. It was ruled that they gave him too much of an advantage. After appeals, he was granted the opportunity to try out for the Olympic team. Oscar already holds the Paralympic world record for the 400-meter event with a time of 46.56 and needs to make 45.55 to qualify for Olympic competition. Regardless of the outcome, he plans on participating in the Paralympic Games in Beijing this year.

Today in Sports History

1972 - Tottenham Hotspur win the first UEFA Cup. The Spurs defeated the Wolverhampton Wanderers in the match. Both teams have rich tradition and history and the Spurs had won the Football League Cup in the previous year and many FA Cups as well.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Running and Triathlon Season

The weather is warming up and running/triathlon season is now in full force. There are a number of events around Southern California in May and June especially. A comprehensive listing can be found at LAS&F Magazine for upcoming events. You can also stop by a Top to Top store or other runners source for literature and other information on triathlons and marathons. For example, tomorrow has:

The Bakersfield Triathlon starts at 9:00 am has a 1.5K triangular swim at Lake Ming, 40K bike, and 15K run. This event also has a kids course, short course, and team events.

The Palos Verdes Marathon, ½ Marathon, and 5K run at 5:30 am includes a Race Expo, entertainment, and many prizes.

Sunday is the Playa del Run #2 in Santa Monica at 9:00 am with a 1000m swim and 5K run. You can participate in one or both events.

Also on Sunday is the XTERRA West Championship at Vail Lake Resort in Temecula that starts at 8:00 am. There is a 20,000 pro purse and several other pro and amateur events. The triathlons are a 750m swim, 15K mountain bike, and 5K run; a 1.5K swim, 30K mountain bike, 10K run; and a 3K run, 15K mountain bike, and 5K run.

Sunday also has the L.A. Tri Series #2 in San Dimas. This also has two events: a 1K swim, 40K bike, and 10K run or a 300m swim, 13.5K bike, and 4K run.

Next Saturday, May 24th is the 30th Annual Tough Topanga 10k in cooperation with the State of California Parks and Recreations. This event also focuses on the recent decision by Governor Schwarzenegger to close over 40 state parks in California. You can find more information here about saving this park from the proposed budget cut.

Saturday, May 31 is the Family of Schools 5K Fun Run/Walk that starts and ends on the Loyola Marymount campus.

Also on May 31 is the Admiral’s Cup Triathlon in Pt. Mugu. The ocean swim, flat bike, and run course consist of a 400m swim, 9 mile bike, and 3 mile run.

And those are just events for the remainder of this month. As I mentioned, June is also full of marathon and triathlon events all over Southern California. I’m trying to get into decent shape to enter the event in Long Beach in October. I’m not really a runner, but a brisk walker. In school, when I did participate in track or swimming I was a sprinter that was very fast for a short distance. Even though I cannot keep that for long, I can walk or float/swim at a slow pace for nearly endless amounts of time. My goal is to enter and finish a short marathon. I know I won’t be exceptionally fast, but training and participating will be very worthwhile.

Some other resources for marathons and running I have found are:

Why not try one yourself? There are many different levels and some that you can take children on as well. No time like the present to get in shape!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

For the Love of Football

If you’ve stopped by here in the past you’ve probably noticed IWFL coverage, particularly of the Southern California Breakers. Yesterday, Fat Louie’s Women’s Sports Blog pointed to a recent New York Times piece about the league. Finally, more coverage!

The article focuses on two of the women’s professional football leagues, the IWFL and the NWFA. (Mostly the IWFL New York Sharks) The NWFA was founded in 2000 by Catherine Masters, a lifelong athlete and sports lover. She ranked in table tennis and full-size tennis in the past and has worked in sports for decades. In 2000, she started the National Women’s Football Association with two teams in the South. Since then the league has expanded and has almost 40 clubs.

The IWFL was also founded in 2000 by a group of women and is the larger of the two. There are teams across the country and more expansions every year. While it would be ideal to have both leagues merge and become one, it doesn’t seem like this prospect could be a reality. It’s too bad, since there is always strength in numbers and more progress with unity. The IWFL is a non-profit organization and state on their website:

IWFL Mission
Enable women to play tackle football by supporting the member owners of the IWFL with a stable organization that can draw on and combine the resources of the IWFL to promote the women athletes who play football.

IWFL Vision
To create and promote a full tackle women's football league focused on creating a positive, safe and fun environment for the women who play football and a fun experience for the families coming out to watch them. The IWFL is a Women's Tackle Football league allowing all women the opportunity to play tackle football. The IWFL also allows women and men alike the opportunity to coach, manage and even own a sports team in order to further this opportunity for women athletes.

The IWFL is a nonprofit organization here solely for the success of the sport of women's tackle football. Our focus is on providing opportunities for women to play this great American sport while providing exciting and progressive entertainment for the public. This league was started with player safety, community service, honesty, and integrity in mind.

Of course, there are more struggles for players than whether or not these two leagues merge. The Times quotes the IWFL New York Sharks president, Andra Douglas, as saying:

“What we’d like is to earn a living at this,” she said. “Boys and men have no idea how lucky they are to have this just handed to them. It breaks my heart.”

Players in the league pay to play and teams sometimes find few sponsors. Some areas try for franchises and cannot get the players or capital to get off the ground. However, there are those who are working hard to get the word out. Women’s Football Talk covers both leagues and hosts a live radio show every Sunday at 3:00 pm PST. This is a comprehensive site and show that is in touch with what is going on in the leagues. The hosts interview coaches, players, and others that are involved in women’s football every week.

More young girls have the dream of playing football than anyone realizes. The excitement, camaraderie, and discipline…

If you’ve missed any Breakers articles they are listed here:

Breakers Report
Amanda Garcia (OL/DL) interview
Coach Bartley interview
Home Opener
Capo Valley “Home Opener”

The quality photos of the Breakers at the top of this post were provided by Eddie Perlas. Thank you Eddie!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - May, 14 2008

So the Orlando Magic’s season ended last night in Game 5 against the Detroit Pistons. The Hornets also won last night which gives them a 3-2 lead over the Spurs. The Los Angeles Lakers play at home tonight in their Game 5 against the Utah Jazz. This is not an elimination situation since both teams are tied with two wins. Lakers fans hope that Kobe Bryant is 100% after injuring himself on Sunday…and that everyone else is ready to dominate again.

The whole thing about the New England Patriots is becoming like nails on a chalkboard…

This Saturday, the Vans Pro-Tec Pool Party is happening in Orange, Ca. Legends like Steve Caballero, Holly Lyons, and Bucky Lasek are on the list of confirmed riders. The weather is supposed to be great this weekend so this should be awesome! If you’d rather be at the beach (and who wouldn’t) then check out the Huntington Beach Duck-A-Thon Event or up the coast in Santa Monica on the pier for the NBA Nation mobile “playground” that allows fans to compete for some big prizes. There’s also a yoga and fitness event at the Santa Monica Loews Hotel.

The Tampa Bay Rays won…again…against the Yankees. This is their 6th straight victory and 11th straight home win. The Rays are right up there with the Arizona Diamondbacks for tops in the league. Meanwhile the Dodgers stink…again…great…

The golf world was shocked with the announcement of the retirement of Annika Sorenstam. She noted that she wanted to leave golf on her terms. She has accomplished much in her time with on tour and will be sorely missed. Congratulations on defining your career your way, Annika!

Also retiring is the #1 ranked player in women's tennis, Justine Henin. She has withdrawn from the Italian Open this week, noting fatigue as the culprit. Henin is a mere 25 years old.

Bike and Surf California kicks off tomorrow, May 15th. Two surfers, Mike Conway and Dr. Scott Paynton, are headed down the coast of the Golden State in order to raise awareness about environmental issues that affect our coast and will raise some money for the American Cancer Society while they’re at it. Starting in Fort Bragg, they’ll take two weeks and finish in Santa Barbara

Today in Sports History

1997 – Baseball’s Executive Committee removes George Steinbrenner from his seat in it's ruling body.

1990 – Pitcher Fernando Valenzuela hits a home run and so does opposing pitcher of the Montreal Expos, Kevin Gross. This is the only the 46th time that opposing pitchers hit a home run in a game.

1972 – Willie Mays hits a home run – his first as a member of the New York Mets in a game against the San Francisco Giants.

1874 – Harvard and McGill face off in what is recognized as the first exhibition of North American-style football. Harvard won 3-0.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Piping in About O.J. Mayo and the Rays

Another college athlete and another scandal is upon us. Did O.J. Mayo take gifts when he knew it was wrong? Is the guy who spoke up just bitter? Either way, the interesting take here is that if there was inappropriate gift-giving, USC will be the one to suffer while Mayo goes largely unscathed. The university would forfeit games and titles that were gained during the time Mayo was on the roster and/or face other fines and penalties. Is this the right thing to do if the school was not aware? On the other hand, if the school and player were aware, why is only one party truly punished?

This story has also renewed the “one and done” debate. Should college freshman be allowed to play only one season and then get into the NBA draft? Not everyone has the maturity to handle this fast track to pay dirt and the phenomenon seems to be happening more frequently. There are many ways to look at “one and done”. For example, if someone truly has the ability to play in the NBA, why wait? What if this guy is being completely hampered by the demands of being a college athlete and just cannot make the grades? Even if he is strong academically, should he risk a future paycheck staying in college where he could get hurt? On the other hand, what happens if this kid gets injured in the pros and has “nothing to fall back on”? He could be a total bust in the NBA, never living up to his potential. There are just too many unknowns and variables.

In a completely unrelated story – have you watched the Tampa Bay Devil Rays lately? (I know, it’s just Rays – you’ll catch me saying Los Angeles Raiders and Los Angeles Rams every so often also.) Yeah, they don’t quite get the coverage they deserve on SportsCenter in spite of handing it to the Yankees 7-1 with Pettitte pitching and sweeping the Angels. Last night's win makes 10 in a row at home for the team. If you notice the overall standings in Major League Baseball, the Florida Marlins have the best record in the MLB along with the Cubs and Diamondbacks and the Rays are in 4th! Are pigs flying or is it just early in the season? Only time will tell…

Monday, May 12, 2008

5 Questions With You – The Results

Last month I decided to interview you, the readers. First, you should know that I really appreciate the fact that you stop in and take the time to read my spot on the Internet. I absolutely love when I get comments and emails, so keep them coming! With that, I wanted to know even more about you. Who is reading my posts? Thank you all for your answers, even the more colorful ones. In the interest of preserving my G-rating, those will be our little private communications. Here are three of your responses so far:

First up is Lindsay from That Mutt: A Dog Blog. She’s been a guest on this site in the past and so graciously volunteered again:

1. What sports can you absolutely not live without?
I can't live without rugby. I also can't live without running.

2. What athlete has inspired you the most?
I admire female athletes who have made a difference in their sport for future generations, such as Roberta Gibb. Gibb snuck into the 1966 Boston Marathon when women were not allowed in the race. She finished with an unofficial time of 3:21.25.

3. Do you play any sports? If so, which? If not, what would you like to try?

I ran with a marathon training group last winter. Other than that, I can't wait until I am on a rugby team again, but I have to wait until I move to an area that has a team. I want to try surfing and adventure racing.

4. What do sports mean to you? What do they add to your life?
I am a competitive person, but not many people realize that about me. Through sports I'm able to compete, even if I'm just secretly racing against the guy next to me on a treadmill. But I always have a goal in mind. Right now I'm preparing for a half marathon. I also want to break my fastest mile time. These goals help keep me motivated to work out and stay in shape. Yet, I'm competing with myself at the same time. It really keeps me in a better mood. I am not a pleasant person to be around if I haven't worked out.

5. Other than sports, what are other things you enjoy?

Writing, reading, hanging out with my boyfriend and my dog. I love traveling and backpacking, making fun of my cat and playing games.

Next up is Jen. She asked that she only be identified as such.

1. What sports can you absolutely not live without?
Golf and surfing! Oh yeah, and baseball. And basketball. I really just can’t live without sports, period.

2. What athlete has inspired you the most?
Billie Jean King! She not only spoke up for women in sports, she also proved that women can successfully compete against men.

3. Do you play any sports? If so, which? If not, what would you like to try?
I golf and surf every chance there is. I would like to play in a softball league again also but have not had the opportunity. One of these days, I’m going to take up sailing as well so that I can be in a regatta!

4. What do sports mean to you? What do they add to your life?

Sports add the cherry to my sundae. I know that sounds corny, but I just can’t imagine life without baseball on the television and golf clubs in the trunk. Sports for me are relaxing and heart-pumping all at once. I surf several times a week throughout the year and I also couldn’t imagine if this was not part of my life. Surfing gives me a rush and serenity and helps keep me in top shape.

5. Other than sports, what are other things you enjoy?
You mean there is something else? Actually I enjoy a good book, Chinese food, and good hair days.

Finally, Bob was kind enough to respond to my interrogation. Bob is a surfer that gets interrupted by his work at a major studio in the area.

1. What sports can you absolutely not live without?

Surfing, Dodgers baseball, and soccer.

2. What athlete has inspired you the most?
I would have to say Magic Johnson. To announce to the world that you have HIV at a time when it was largely misunderstood was remarkable.

3. Do you play any sports? If so, which? If not, what would you like to try?

I surf, surf, and surf. I wish there was more time to surf.

4. What do sports mean to you? What do they add to your life?
Sports are basically an escape. Whether I am at a Dodgers game or out in the water, I am transformed from daily life. For that period of time there are no deadlines, phones, emails, or anything else in my way. Without sports, I’d probably go insane.

5. Other than sports, what are other things you enjoy?
I’m a pretty big movie buff – sports and action flicks mostly. The films you list on your site are also among my favorite and I can’t wait for the new Indiana Jones!

If you missed the first post, check it out here. If you still want to add your two cents, shoot me an email and I’ll post more from you, the audience on another Monday. Thanks to everyone that responded!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday Breakers Wrap - May 11, 2008

Last night the Southern California Breakers hosted the New Mexico Menace at the Capo Valley High field. The Breakers came into the game 1-2 and ready to win again. Coach Bartley said that he felt sorry for the other teams from this point on. The team really found their groove in the road win against Tucson and will show no mercy according to the coach. He was absolutely correct. The Breakers slaughtered the Menace, 48-0.

The air was quite festive here and it was obvious that the team was happy to be on their rightful home field. This was the first of the season as the “home opener” was played on a borrowed field. Fans were treated to plenty of extracurricular action on the sideline, courtesy of Leslie Lynn and James Leone, World Champion Gunslingers. In fact, since Coach Bartley was forbidden to wear a hat to games any longer, Mr. Leone graciously threw a cap on the ground when he saw frustration on the team leader’s face.

The Menace had the first possession and were unable to capitalize. The Breakers’ defense handily showed their opponent what was to come for the rest of the evening. On the Breakers’ subsequent possession, key runs made by #28 Vanessa Santillan (RB) and #87 Suzanne “Q” Linn (FB) paved the way for a touchdown by #97 Amanda Garcia (OL). The defense continued to bring the pain, including #53 Tutu Armstrong (LB). Armstrong’s knee injury suffered during the home opener didn't look like it was slowing her down one bit. She mentioned that it feels very good and she’s able to do almost everything she wants.

In the second quarter, the dominance continued. Santillan basically ran a clinic on how to play running back as she racked up the yards and the TDs. Just before the two minute warning, #7 Lori Schnaider (QB) managed to evade what looked like would be a sure sack and completed a long pass on 4th and long to #81 Elaine Iba (WR). In spite of this, the Breakers couldn’t capitalize, but had another chance with 18 seconds left on the clock. Again, no score, but the tone had been established. The women were truly a cohesive unit and ran through the Menace defense like a buzzsaw.

The festive atmosphere continued into halftime, where attendees were treated to the South Coast Agility Team dog club from Costa Mesa. SCAT has dogs of all shapes and sizes and welcomes all to join in the fun. You can find out how to become part of the group on their website here. They engage in training and competitions throughout the year and have events for every dog.

The third quarter was a continuation of the Breakers’ synergy. The team drove down the field on the first possession of the half, resulting in another Santillan touchdown. The two point conversion was no good as it was intercepted by the Menace. On the resulting New Mexico offensive effort, key stops by Linn and Armstrong ended the possession scoreless. Later in the 3rd, #43 Priscilla Gardner (DL) blocked a Menace punt, which was quickly picked up by #84 Cindy Zimmerle (DL) for a Breakers TD. Santiallan caught the pass on the resulting two-point try. With 2:43 left in the 3rd, Linn intercepted a pass from the Menace and put the Breakers into scoring position again. On the first offensive play after, a pass interference call further moved the team into the red zone. Santillan was then stopped at the 1-yard line and then a penalty moved the Breakers back to the six. Undaunted, Santillan juked the Menace defender out of her shoes and scored the touchdown. The two-point conversion try after worked, with #35 Dorothy DeLeon (WR) making the catch.

Even in the final quarter the Breakers didn’t slow down. First, a long pass that would have put the Menace in scoring position was broken up by #40 Brenda Cash (DB). The Breakers continued to show no mercy with long runs and a touchdown by Linn. Later in the 4th, the Menace turned the ball over to #99 Hailey Hernandez (DL). Schnaider later scored on a quarterback sneak for the Breakers. Although the last Menace possession came close, the Breakers D was able to preserve the shutout.

It was an action-packed game where the team worked as a single, cohesive unit. Coach Bartley noted at the end of the game that they had stuck to their guns and got the work done needed to win. Everyone was certainly high from the feeling that a 48-0 score can give.

Next up: The Breakers are on the road next Saturday at the Redding Rage with a bye week following. The next home game is on the Capo Valley field against the California Quake on May 31st.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

5 Controversies in 5 Months

We are just into the 5th month of 2008 and there are plenty of sports controversies to talk about for the year so far. From videotaped spying to jerseys causing a big ruckus, there's plenty of buzz about misconduct, miscues, and otherwise odd behavior. Controversies are sometimes contrived with a tongue-in-cheek flavor; however they mostly have a dark or ill-fated nature. Here are five of the most talked about so far:

1. Patriots, lies, and videotape: The New England Patriots have caused quite a stir with the whole “Spygate” controversy. Although this started last year, the recent acquisition of more evidence has brought this back into the forefront. Depending on where you live you are either undaunted by the allegations or now have fuel for the fire. It is apparent that Bill Belichick has done this for his entire tenure as the head coach. Some believe that there is much more to the team’s “dynasty” and this only scratches the surface. Are there more secrets to the Patriots success? How is it that they get so many seemingly money-loving players to work for a fraction of their usual pay? Is everyone just jealous? Only time will tell.

2. The Roger Clemens saga: After being named in the Mitchell Report last year, Clemens continues to cement his place as the poster boy for all that is wrong in professional sports. Allegations come out of the woodwork to add to his woes with reported extra-martial affairs, inappropriate relations with minors, and whatever other character flaw you can come up with. Did he just make the wrong people mad? Is he a real jerk that deserves all of this?

3. The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry: A Red Sox fan got a job at the new Yankee stadium construction site and promptly buried a David Ortiz jersey in the concrete. The news coverage this received made it seem like someone had conspired to assassinate the president. Fortunately, it ended up in a very positive way when the offending article of clothing was auctioned off for charity. Unfortunately, the rivalry turned very ugly in a completely unrelated incident. One Yankees fan allegedly ran down and killed a Red Sox fan. The events leading up to the unfortunate tryst reportedly included a lot of trash talking and fist hurling. Matthew Beaudoin was only 29 when he was struck by a car and killed in a rivalry-gone-very wrong confrontation. This has further polarized fans on both sides. Some believe the Sox should memorialize the man who lost his life while others claim this would only reward bad behavior. Bottom line – no one deserves to die for something like this. When everyone around is a sports fan, this should be something that unifies and brings people together. There is never a reason to take the situation to the level of violence.

4. Ocho-stinko: NFL star Chad Johnson won’t stop complaining. He wants a trade and will embarrass everyone, including himself, to get it. He’s gone on nearly every sports show to make his case, starting at the beginning of the year. The Bengals have stuck by their guns and said they will not give in. The entire mess has become a highly-publicized spitting contest between Johnson and the team. On one hand, a player has a right to be on a productive franchise and have a successful career that they control. On the other hand, teams cannot give in to every prima donna that thinks they are better than the system.

5. Heisman runner-up to run out of town: 1999 Heisman Trophy runner-up Joe Hamilton took an assistant coaching position with the esteemed Georgia Tech football team. He then drove on campus and hit another vehicle, took off, and was later arrested for the hit and a DUI. Just two weeks after securing the position, he tenders his resignation.

Of course, there are actually many more than five so far this year. Other blips of varying size on the sports controversy radar have occurred like Matt Leinart and the party photos, LeBron James is a bad tipper, John Daly is a party Viking, a David Beckham jersey can ruin friendships, the Rocky statue in Philly is actually a Pens fan, a day of boating turns ugly, the NFL network won’t stop covering the draft, Barry Bonds remains unsigned and refuses to retire, and mascots cause lawsuits.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sports Less Covered

On Wednesday I shared a blurb and video link about Gabby Sanchez, high school pitching phenom. Gabby was so kind to share her online athletic profile link with me. It turns out that there’s much more to this young lady than just baseball. Also involved in cross country and basketball, her dream is to be a pitcher in the MLB. Being a lefty, she has a decent shot at it. I wish her all the best in fulfilling that dream!

I recently wrote about lawn bowling for another site and then, lo and behold, there is a lawn bowling piece on the cover of a local So Cal paper this week and on their web page. The Beach Reporter features the Hermosa Beach Lawn Bowling Club and talks about the origin and facts about the sport. In fact, the Club is hosting an open house tomorrow from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at 861 Valley Drive in Hermosa Beach. They’re giving free lessons and have snacks! Sounds like a fun thing to try! There is a lot more to this sport than meets the eye. It’s played all over the world and the U.S. is one of the only places that it is played by the older crowd. Apparently, champions of lawn bowling in other countries are mostly in their 20s or 30s.

Speaking of less-covered sports – did you know that the shuttle in badminton can travel up to 200 mph? Ouch! You could lose an eye! In fact, this sport has been in the Olympics since 1992 and will be played at the 2008 Summer Games.

If you haven’t figured out what to do tomorrow night and you are in the area, come to the Southern California Breakers’ game at the Capistrano Valley High School field in Mission Viejo. The New Mexico Menace are in town to face the Breakers. Fresh off a bye week, the team will be looking to bring a win for the home crowd.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Traditions and Rituals in Sports

Traditions and rituals are everywhere in sports. You know when you go to a particular stadium or sports town and you hear someone say something like “this is what we do here”. For example, there are a few at Chavez Ravine that have been going on for as long as I can remember. One being that the wave always starts in the Pavilion. Sure, I bet someone has a story about one particular game they were attending and some other section started it. Trust me, the Pavilion starting it is the norm. Yeah, I know – the wave isn’t so popular with a lot of fans. I’m not touting its pros or cons, just stating a fact about what fans usually start it up at the Ravine.

Another tradition for Dodgers fans that has emerged happens when they win a game. We all stand there at the end of the game and sing “I Love L.A.” by Randy Newman while the words flash across the scoreboard. While this is definitely not one of my favorite songs, I always welcome it at the stadium. Rollin’ down Imperial Highway…

Athletes have fun traditions, or rituals, as well. Have you ever seen Nomar Garciaparra at bat?

Although I grew up in Los Angeles, I went to college in Florida and discovered the sports traditions of the Tampa Bay area. At Raymond James Stadium, where the Buccaneers play, firing the cannons from the pirate ship when the Bucs get in the red zone or score is a very cool tradition. The only damper put on it was when former QB Brad Johnson asked them not to fire them so many times. Now we get one shot when they’re inside the 20 and one for every point scored. I say since Brad is gone they should bring back the excessive firing!

The Detroit Red Wings NHL team has an interesting tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice. Apparently, this originated in 1952 when the finals were 8 games long. I’ve seen people smuggle beach balls to throw around a stadium, but an octopus?

I found others putting their favorite/required traditions and rituals online also. listed the worst tradition in sports to be “referee discretion”. I think they might have a case there. I know that the Orlando Magic are likely in agreement that this is a bad tradition, especially when it includes the use of archaic rules.

I’ve met fans that have to wear their lucky jersey/socks/underwear/etc. for certain games. Growing up in my house, the tradition when watching sports was to walk away from the television while the game was on. At least that was my father’s favorite. He was convinced that if the Dodgers/Rams/Raiders/Lakers started to fall behind, they would continue to lose if he kept watching. If he walked away and they scored and got ahead, he would say, “See, I told you!” This behavior would only be reinforced if they fell out of the lead while he was in the room.

What are some of your favorite sports traditions/rituals?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wild World of Wednesday - May 7, 2008

In spite of my complaints yesterday, I found some fun stories today about sports that made me smile. Besides that, there is so much going on this week! May is a great sports month with NBA and NHL playoffs, the MLB season getting in full gear, and action sports are happening everywhere!

The best story so far this week has to be that of high school freshman Gabby Sanchez. She pitches and beat out fifteen boys to make the cut on her junior varsity high school baseball team. Gabby has never played softball, but has played baseball since she was four years old. I’ve heard many say that if a woman was to play Major League Baseball, it would be a pitcher. Go Gabby go!

Another fun story is that of Brett Favre’s retirement. Sort of. David Whitthoft stopped wearing his Favre jersey after 1,561 days. Of course, plenty of mature people commented on this but if you ignore that the story is funny. Why is it newsworthy? Because it isn’t someone going to jail, doing drugs, or otherwise causing controversy. This is just a quip about a young boy that was an avid sports fan and someone found him to write a story about it. There are far more ridiculous stories in the news nowadays…

The “worst kept secret in the NBA” was finally announced yesterday. Kobe Bryant is officially, really the league MVP for 2007-08. There is plenty of chatter about this in the blogosphere and mainstream media. Many Angelinos have a love-hate relationship with Kobe. He is admirable on the court but causes controversy when off.

Hey, did you notice that David Beckham is scoring more? Really, he is! I’ve seen several highlights lately. In fact, he was named the MLS Player of the Week! Keep it up Becks!

Speaking of Player of the Week, Los Angeles Dodgers OF Matt Kemp nabbed the MLB NL title for his 11 RBI week! Is there hope for the Dodgers? They’ve won 10 of their last 11 games...

And while we are in Los Angeles, the Lakers play game 2 in their series against the Utah Jazz. New Orleans plays the Spurs in San Antonio and the Magic host the Pistons in game 3. The Celtics won a close one against the Cavaliers last night. Ah, the NBA playoffs…what a great time of year…

And the NHL playoffs continue as well with only 4 teams remaining.

Today in Sports History:

1959 – The first Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball attendance record at the Coliseum was set with 93,103 fans in attendance for Roy Campanella Night. Sandy Kofax pitched a 6-2 win against the New York Yankees. Not until this year (2008) did the worldwide record for one baseball game's attendance fall when the Dodgers returned to the Coliseum to celebrate their 50th year in Los Angeles.

1972 – Los Angeles Lakers defeat the New York Nicks for the NBA title 4 games to 1.

1982 – A federal jury rules that the NFL violates antitrust laws by preventing the Oakland Raiders NFL team from moving to Los Angeles.