Friday, September 30, 2011

Angels and Demons

There's the guys you love to love. Then there's the guys you love to hate.

And then there's Brett Favre.

Anyhoo, watching the Cowboys/Redskins game on Monday night inspired me to take a look at some of the most beloved and hated figures in sports (you know, because technically I should "hate" all Cowboys as a Redskins fan, but I love Jason Witten with a fire of a thousand suns).

I mean, seriously. Adorable.

So here we go (in no particular order):



The kooky southern boy is practically the face of the NFL. And, judging by his numerous endorsement ads, the face of TV sponsorship. His dynamic personality and killer arm are a winning combo. It's just unfortunate that he's spending the 2011 season on the bench recovering from neck surgery.


I mean, the man is called "The Great One". He's pretty much the best hockey player EVER. The scene in New York when he retired from the sport is one that the masses will always remember. And let's be real....when you can overcome being Canadian, you know you're adored.


Mr. Redskin is a personal fav of mine (as evidenced by the jersey hanging in my closet and the bobble head on my shelf). Darrell Green's easy smile and benevolent nature has kept him beloved in the D.C. area, but his work ethic and skills on the football field was always respected.


Uhh....he's Michael Freaking Jordan. Need I say more?


While not baseball's most gifted player, the Iron Man proved his dedication by playing in a record setting 2,632 consecutive games....all with the Baltimore Orioles. The night Ripken played in game 2,131 and broke Lou Gehrig's record has been voted by fans the most memorable moment in MLB history.


Dale Jr., as he is affectionately known, reaps the benefit of being the son of deceased racing legend Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Racing has always been a contentious and somewhat market-specific sport, but Dale Jr. has crossed all pop culture boundaries. If you've made it onto an America's Next Top Model shoot, you're totally in.

Honorable Mentions: Apolo Anton Ohno, Mary Lou Retton, Joe Montana, John Elway, Jack Nicklaus and Derek Jeter



As one sport's writer put it, John Rocker just looks like a slime ball. Plus, when your gross antics and racist rants about New Yorkers drive you out of baseball, you probably deserve to be on this list.


Oh Kobe. He's kinda like the anti-Jordan. There's so many reasons to hate him, but it's perhaps the fact that he's so contrived and so.... Kobe-centric.....that make most people cringe when watching him.


Although Mike's had a bit of a comeback, thanks to his cameos in the Hangover movie franchise, it's still hard to forgive his past transgressions. Namely, serving prison time for rape and biting off Evander Holyfield's ear.


"Prime Time" is the man that was more in love with his own fame than his dedication to his craft. And when he decided to join the Dallas Cowboys' arch enemy Washington Redskins, neither team's fans were particularly thrilled.


Barry Bonds....Home Run King, steroid poster boy. His conviction of perjury in the BALCO investigation didn't win him any accolades, as evident by the thousands of boos Bonds would receive at the end of his career.

And finally....



Yeah, when America is certain you killed your ex-wife, you're pretty much no one's favorite person.

Honorable Mentions: Jay Cutler, Kyle Busch, Peter Angelos, Michael Vick, Ray Lewis, and LeBron James

So sports fans, tell you agree with my list? Do you have anyone else you think is most loved or most hated? Let me know!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Racing for the Cure....

It's no secret that I'm having a long-time love affair with horse racing. Ours is an epic and everlasting relationship. In fact, we pull a Heidi Klum/Seal and renew our vows every first Saturday in May.

With all famous love stories, however, there are powers threatening to come between us. Those of you that follow the sport are aware that for years now, financial woes have taken its toll on Thoroughbred racing. Tracks of all sizes are feeling the heat, including the famous Arlington Park in Chicago and the Aqueduct in New York (home to the Belmont, the third leg of the Triple Crown).

Enter the Racino.

The Racino is a combination track/casino that relies on slot machines and table games to bolster track revenue. Unfortunately, as ESPN's Bill Finley surmised, the racing part is the "neglected, red-headed step child" that track goers will be lucky to even find through the whistles and bells of the casino.

As someone who lives close to a "racino", I wholeheartedly concur that it takes eons to figure out where the track entrance even is. Or, you know, a bathroom.

The thing is, a lot of tracks don't want to consider adding slot machines or other forms of gambling (or the state in which they're located are a bunch of fuddy duddies and refuse to legalize slots). So if your name isn't Churchill Downs, chances are your track is pretty much in the muck and mire (or closed).

So what's the cure for the tragedy befalling horse racing in the US? Well....some tracks, like Canterbury park in Minnesota, are holding extreme races in between their regular thoroughbred fare. And by extreme racing, I mean ostriches (ostrii?) and camels.

Best Thing Ever?

Which, no lie, makes me think horse racing is just turning into a live action version of Swiss Family Robinson. On land.

Am I right?

All jokes aside (and there are many, many, MANY), the reasoning behind these extreme races is the hope that the spectacle that caused us to fall in love with horse racing will bring back some old faithfuls, as well as introduce a whole new generation to the sport.

Perhaps Finley had it right when he said "racing isn't fun anymore". Maybe a few camels and ostriches will help save one of America's oldest and most dear spectating events.

So, racing you, like I, really want to go see an ostrich race? Do you think the outcome looks bleak for American racetracks? Will racino become a new part of your vocabulary? Let me know!

Images provided by sportsonista, images.publicradio, hybridredneck, and jimhillmedia.

Friday, September 23, 2011

On the Road for Game Day....

So....I'm super excited that for the first time ever, ESPN's Game Day will be headed to my alma mater for the WVU/LSU matchup tomorrow night (8 pm on ABC, if anyone is interested).

I lurrrrrrrrrrveee me some Game Day. Kirk Herbstreit? Be still my heart! Lee Corso? Straigh up wack job, yet it's always fun to see who he's going to pick at the end (I'm guessing that, unfortunately, we'll see him don a Tiger head). And Chris Fowler is the sanity glue that holds them together.

Speaking of the Game day crew....did ya'll happen to catch this picture of America's sweetheart Erin Andrews donning a WVU uni? She's got taste, that one.

Yes, I know the pic might be fake or old. But it's still awesome.

I DO think she's a little biased ...I mean, we all remember the time she kissed Pat White during a post-game interview, right?

Anyhoo, in honor of Game Day being in Motown, I thought I'd take my love of college ball on the road as well. I'm guesting (for the first time ever) over at What She Said today. I'm thrilled that the very witty Kristin asked me to share my passion for football with her readers, though I hope that her VT fans won't hate too much on my WVU roots.

So go check out my post, and then be prepared to tune in to ESPN on Saturday at 10 am.

Cause...duh, it's Game Day!

Image provided by wemustignitethiscouch.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rugby World Cup........What the Ruck?!?

On Sunday evening I was informed of a request to write a blog post on the World Rugby Championships, which are currently happening in New Zealand. And since I'm nothing if not accommodating to those of you who actually read my blog, I decided I'd honor said request and give the topic of rugby a go.

OK, show of hands. Who actually knew that this was going on? And...that's what I thought.

I like to think of myself as a pretty astute sports fan. I can follow along with most athletic events, and could probably successfully coach some. But as I consulted my trusty guidebook (aka Google) on the sport of rugby, I'm not gonna lie: I was confused.

No, more than confused. I was as lost as that show that used to be on ABC.

In my quick perusal in-depth analytical reading, I determined the following:

  • Rugby Union rules dictate you can't advance the ball forward by passing. 
  • A scrum is a more violent version of a hockey face-off.
  • There's such a thing as a maul and a ruck, both of which read as vaguely the same occurrence where a player who has the ball is about the become a divot in the ground. 
  • A line-out is just a fancy term for "out-of-bounds".
  • And, my personal favorite, there's an actual position called a "hooker".

How much would it suck to just be the player known as "second row"?

Also? There's a Rugby League as well, which has different rules. Why, I ask you, why?

 When I was told that the US's victory over Russia on September 15 was the first in a super long time (since 2003), and only the third EVER in World Cup competition, I wasn't surprised. I mean, seriously....the field isn't even measured in yards or feet. Americans don't do the metric system, folks. It's like stacking the deck against us.

Plus? Americans are a vain people. I know we play American football and hockey, but rugby is just a blood bath waiting to happen. And no one wants to go walking around like this on a day-to-day basis. No one.

What? Do I have something on my face?

So when the cup championship finally concludes, I probably won't be any more in tune with the inner workings of rugby. I won't be able to tell you all the scandals and upsets and crazy plays that have happened. I definitely won't be able to accurately measure the field. But thanks to the request of one reader, I will be able to say that I know that, while neither Vladimir Putin or Hillary Clinton showed up at the Russia/USA match, Miss Russia 2011 was there in full force with her Vodka Conglomerate Sugar Daddy.

And that's all that really matters.

Images provided by theonlinepetextbook, en.wikipedia, and sportsdigitalcontent.


Special shout-out to Kendall at This is Not that Blog, who kindly humored me with her attempt at my quiz on Friday. The rest of you? You suck.

But I still love you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

No Place Like Home

You know what I love about Fun Fridays? I can do whatever I want.

Yes, I know it's my blog and I can do whatever I want all the time, but it's double-triple true on Fun Fridays.

So, I figured....what's more fun that basically putting NO effort into this post and making you, the reader, do all the work? Ummm, nothing!

Ergo, I've composed a little trivia quiz for you. It's like my own version of Sporcle, whose praises I've already sung. You think you know sports? How about sports venues? They say there's no place like home, so see if you can recognize some of the most famous stadiums, ball parks, and arenas in the country. Leave your answers in a comment, and I'll give a special shout out to whoever gets the most right next week.

Seriously, take the quiz. If nothing else, it will give you something to procrastinate during your Friday work day.

Ok? GO!!!!!

Think you can get all 21? Hit me up and let me know your guesses! (hint, some parks may not be around anymore)

Images provided by riveraveblues, andrewclem, wikimedia, horschgallery, ballparksofbaseball, 1.bp.blogspot, tennis-pronostics, ageorg12.files, 4.bp.blogspot, football.ballparks, nittanywhiteout, fightingirishgameday,, cdn0.sbnation, beussery, insidesocal, arizonatribe, cdn0.sbnation, football.ballparks, imjustsharing, and baseball-statistics.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Something's Brewing....

By now you've probably seen Brad Pitt's handsome face plastered in the Moneyball trailer, the film version of the 2003 Michael Lewis book.

The irony, people have said, is that Lewis's sabermetric concepts- a supposed equalizer for small market teams-  have been rendered useless by the fact that, well, rich teams can figure out the system, too.

The easy conclusion to make would be that small-market teams, barring a few single season exceptions here and there, are ultimately destined to fail. In this sport, money buys championships. If you don't have it, you don't win. Period.

Enter 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.

Prince Fielder hopes to be King of the World (Series)
The Brewers, once consistent basement dwellers, are now primed to make the playoffs for the second time in four seasons. Not only that, the likely NL Central champs can possibly go deep into the post season, led by potential league MVP Prince Fielder.

Bonus? The Brewers look to be in good shape for next season, too.

So what's the deal? Are the media darling Brewers just another fluke, or are they proof that a small-market team really CAN compete long-term with the big boys?

Commish Bud Selig certainly hopes so. He's tried to stake his career on the equalization of the sport.

Although, let's be's exclusion from anti-trust laws pretty much make equalization a null and void concept.

If Milwaukee has, in fact, figured out a way to beat the system of the haves/have nots, what will be their fate should the league decide to adopt a hard slotting draft system?

As it stands now, teams like the Brewers, Pirates, Marlins, Rays, etc can offer far and beyond what the league determines to be a slot price for draftees. This allows them to snatch up talent such as a Joe Mauer, Jeff Smardzija, and 2011 second-round pick Josh Bell (who said he wouldn't sign because he wanted to go play at Texas) who might otherwise decide to take their athletic abilities to the far-higher paying NFL and NBA. A hard slot might not only cost big talent prospects to other sports, but would allow teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies to stockpile money and snatch them up in late rounds.

Don't fear, though, baseball fans. Such a matter, sure to be discussed with the next CBA, is no cause for lockout concern. In fact, as one writer eloquently put it, "almost two decades of labor peace would put Selig on the Nobel shortlist if baseball weren't, you know, just a game."

So for right now, hats off to the Brewers who have become more than just schedule fillers and Miller Park. They may be small market, but for the near future, it looks like they're gonna be big-time players.

Sound off MLB fanatics. Will the Brewers be able to continue their recent success? Do small-market teams ever stand a real chance of longevity? Is Brad Pitt believable as a MLB GM? Hit me up and let me know!

Image provided by 2.bp.blogspot.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Football Fashion Police....Part 2

I don't know how many of you caught the plethora of college football games this weekend, but the headline wasn't Heisman hopefuls, National Championship contenders, or even conference re-alignment.

No, it was uniforms.

Specifically, Maryland uniforms.

Much has been written, said, and tweeted about the new unis worn by the Terps during Monday's game against Miami (even LeBron James got into the act by tweeting "Ewwww"). But don't fear, aren't the only offenders. Here's the fall 2011 look at the few do's, but mostly don'ts, of football fashion:

DO KEEP MODERN CLASSIC. The Oklahoma University Nike Pro Combat uniforms have yet to debut this year, but they're a beauty. Although the missing "OU" symbol on the helmet threw me for a loop, I love the clean lines and simple white. I'd definitely Sooner see these than some other of the impending atrocities (you see what I did there? Sooner? I crack myself up).

DON'T GO TOO BRIGHT.  Yes, Georgia Bulldogs, I'm talking to you. None of us have to worry about the lights going out with those garish red unis you were sporting against Boise St. I just hope UGA didn't mistake any of you for a fire hydrant and let loose.

DO PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS. In the battle between Georgia and Boise St., the Broncos won both the game AND the fashion contest. The ombre effect of the undersleeves is pretty sweet, but the fact that their gloves make a Bronco head takes the cake. If only the Blue Field was as stylish.....

DON'T CARRY OVER REAL LIFE TO THE FOOTBALL FIELD. Look, I'm all about the military. They work hard to keep us safe and secure. But Army, really? No need for fatigues and cammo on the grid iron. It's just bad.

DO BE INSPIRED BY SUPER HEROES. I know I might be in the minority, but I simply j'adore the newest Oregon ensemble. The black top with shiny black feathers is reminiscent of the Dark Knight's crime fighting suit. Plus? The collar has KEVLAR. That's right, those suckers are bullet proof. Who knew Eugene was such a dangerous place to live???

DON'T START PUSHING BAD FASHION ON HIGH SCHOOLERS. I get that Nike has started to have competition in this whole "creative uniforms" market, so they need to keep things fresh and revolutionary, but don't punish the children! Look what happens when they branched out to Olive Branch High's like a Lifetime special.

and finally,

DON'T DO ANYTHING THAT MARYLAND DID. Seriously. Under Armour, if you're trying to compete with Nike, this is really not the way to do it. I thought the Turtle Shell patterned helmets donned during warm-ups were horrible enough. And then the team re-entered the playing field with what can only be described as a seizure waiting to happen. No disrespect to the Maryland flag, but OMG.

So my fashion-conscious sports fans....any thoughts? Did you hate or love the Maryland unis? Do you think there's any other team out there that deserves to be on the list? Let me know!!!!

Images provided by friendsoftheprogram, d.yimg, solecollector, urbangrounds, cdn1.sbnation, craigjoe, mediabistro, espn.go, and larrybrownsports.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mother Nature....the Head Referee

I've sat through plenty of inclement weather in my time as a sports fan. I've sat through games where the sun was so hot I thought I was going to incinerate. I've sat through temperatures so cold and snowy that I turned blue. I've sat through sleet, wind, and rain. But never have I ever been evacuated.

Until Sunday.

Apparently Mother Nature didn't get the memo that this weekend was the start of college football.

Horrible storms plagued several games, causing evacuations at Iowa/Tennessee Tech, Notre Dame/South Florida, Michigan/Western Michigan, and WVU/Marshall. And, in the case of the two latter games, Mother Nature ended up being the game decider.

Fans evacuate stadiums all over the country
According to NCAA rules, if for some reason a game cannot be continued due to circumstances beyond the referees control, the schools playing have four options:

  1. Resume the game later- This usually doesn't work out because with the new 11 game schedule, schools rarely have off-days at the same time. Plus, it seems a little unfair to fans who will probably not be able to attend once more.
  2. Terminate the game with the determined final score
  3. Forfeit of the game or
  4. Declaration of a no-contest (as far as I can tell, the difference between 3-4 is that both teams must be present for a forfeit to occur. Otherwise it's considered a no-contest).

Because both the Michigan/Western Michigan and the WVU/Marshall game reached the conclusion of 3 quarters, officials from both schools were able to legally terminate the game with the score standing as is (34-13, WVU).

Clearly, I understand that the rules are in place for the safety of everyone involved. Let me assure you that being stuck on a staircase in a stadium just as a massive lightning strike and monsoon hits is not pleasant. Likewise, multiple delays are cause for concern for the players, who are suffering fatigue, hunger, and other issues that may harm them physically.

Waiting out the storm delays included seeking shelter in the Caperton Practice Facility and huddling under a beam in the concourse.

It seems unfair, though, that the losing team has to give up a whole quarter in order to come back. If it had been last year's WVU/Marshall game, for instance, WVU would have ended up with a loss. Instead, the Mountaineers rallied late in the fourth and won in OT.

One thing I can say is this: Real fans, no matter what the weather, don't leave until the game is officially called. This Sports-O-Nista stayed until the bitter end, experiencing a wave around the stadium and the traditional singing of Country Roads.

Thank you ESPN for catching me in my wet, poncho-clad glory.

So sports fans, the next time Mother Nature decides to call a game, remember: don't run to your cars, don't gripe about the weather. Stick it out. You might just end up on Sports Center the next day.


Have any of you experienced an evacuation at a sporting event? What's the worst weather you can remember sitting through? Do you think it's fair to call a game after three quarters? Hit me up and let me know!

mages provided by mlive, articles.wsbt, thegazette, Tessa Lind, and the Sports-O-Nista.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Most Wonderful Time of the Year....part deux

Do you remember that Staples commercial where the father is super excited because the kids are going back to school, and accentuating his joy we hear Andy Williams crooning "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" in the background?

Yeah, the start of college football is kinda like that for me.

No, there's no joy ride on a shopping cart, or a song and dance involved.

Ok, so we do tend to throw a football around that says "Let's Go Mountaineers" and then plays the fight song, to which we then dance around while assuming the Heisman pose. But that's totally acceptable, right? And this has been on the kitchen chalkboard in the 'rents homestead for the last two weeks:

Yes, it really IS the most wonderful time of the year.

You know, after the Kentucky Derby, which I already said was the most wonderful time of the year. I'm confusing like that.

The beginning of college football is the beginning of possibilities. Sure, there's a preseason poll that tells you who looks good on paper, but we all know that can change in a heartbeat.

Remember the 2007-08 season which began week 1 with the first ever I-AA victory (Appalachian St) over a ranked team (#5 Michigan). This started a continuous line of upsets like unranked South Carolina over #11 Georgia in week 2, #3 Oklahoma and #4 Florida St. losing to unranked opponents in week five, USC being beat in week six by a Stanford team that would finish below .500, any team ranked #2 losing every other week, and yes, even my WVU Mountaineers losing an almost guaranteed lock in the National Championship to a 4-7 Pittsburgh Panthers team. At home.

And that was just one season.

I don't even have to like a team to happily sit and watch them play. For instance, last night's UNLV vs. Wisconsin game? Couldn't care less about either! But was it on my tv? You betcha.

The beginning of college football is also about comraderie. No one's lost yet, so everyone's still happy.

"You going to the game on Saturday???"

"Sure am! Got my ticket and my hotel room and my cornhole board all set!"

Come the first week of....say....November, the conversation might sound a little more like this:

"Hey, you going to the game on Saturday? I'm trying to sell my tickets. It's going to be freezing, and I don't want to go watch us suck."

Everyone wants to know the scoop: are we going to be good? Are we going to win the conference? Are we going to a BCS game? Will we win a National Title?

There's a buzz in the air, and no, I'm not talking about the sound of those annoying yellow jackets starting to come out of hiding.

Let us also not forget about the return of College Game Day, a weekly Forde Yard Dash column (my fav), College Football Live, the ramblings of Lou Holtz, the pretty faces of Jesse Palmer and Kirk Herbstreit (or Erin Andrews, if you're a dude), and the declaration that "this is the year Notre Dame gets back to its glory".

OK, I don't really look forward to that last one, but tradition makes me happy!

Wisconsin and UNLV get the first Thursday night ESPN game of the 2011 season

So, College Football fans that the scandalous off-season is over, are you as excited as I am to see some action taking place on the field? Who will win? Who will lose? Do you think we'll ever have a season like 2007-08 again? Hit me up and let me know!!!!

Images provided by the Sports-O-Nista.

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