Saturday, May 31, 2008

Give me a break

In a recent column we ran in the Freeman, Jim Litke tells the story of a youth baseball league in the Chicago area that had to stop having their kids wear uniforms with major league baseball names because the company that provided them with the uniforms was not a licensed MLB provider.
I know technically you have to permission from MLB to do that, and I'm all for capitalism in this country, but you've got to be kidding me. I mean where does this stop? If someone from MLB hears of a pick-up game where kids are wearing team jerseys, do the children have to cough up money for the right.
It's just getting ridiculous.
In the case Litke spoke about, the youth league compromised by purchasing official MLB team hats and wore T-shirts with the name of the league with the city the teams were from below it, so in the end, MLB got its way -- and a little extra money for its billion dollar industry.
You guys should be really proud of yourselves.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A break from the mundane

I had the RARE opportunity over the weekend to get away from sports and catch a couple of movies.
I saw the new Indiana Jones flick as well as Iron Man, and I must say as person who was at best a casual fan of the Indiana Jones' movies in the 80s and one who never read the Iron Man comics, I found I really enjoyed both.
I know it's a weird measuring stick, but when I go to a movie, or a play, even a sporting event, I judge the quality of what I'm seeing by what I call the watch factor. More specifically, how many times do I find myself looking at my watch?
Obviously, the more times I'm checking the time, the less I'm enjoying what I'm seeing.
I can tell you I did not look at my watch once during either movie. Both movies were well-paced and entertaining. They were a lot of fun to watch.
So if you're one of those who haven't seen either, I think they're both well worth the two hours of your time.
Let me know what you think.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Good luck and good weather

After sitting through weeks of weather more suitable for the late fall season rather than the spring, I'm so glad to see our area high school playoffs are quickly approaching.
For me, the return of summer around here coincides with league, sectional, regional and state playoffs despite what the calendar or the temperatures outside might suggest.
For those teams or individuals getting set to continue chasing their state championship dreams, I wish you all good luck. And for the rest of us, don't fret. Those sunny, hot, humid days where swimming and ice cream invade our thoughts (or mine at least) are not too far away.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Subway snoozer

Could any two teams being playing any more lethargically than the Yankees and Mets heading into this weekend's 'Subway Series.'
The Mets just lost 3 of 4 games to the last-place Washington Nationals, while the Yankees just lost 3 of 4 to the first place (that's right I said first place) Tampa Bay Rays that knocked the Bombers into last place.
The Mets are treading just above .500, while the Yankees are just below the break-even mark. With such lofty expectations for both teams, one has to wonder how much more time either manager will be allowed to flounder before they're fired.
I bet it won't be too much longer before the sounds of 'Fire Willie' are heard in Queens, while in the Bronx the chorus of 'We want Torre' could be filling Hank Steinbrenner's ears.
It should make for an interesting summer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sweet smell of fun

To all of you theme park fans out there, might I recommend Hershey Park as a pretty cool destination for the whole family.
I had the opportunity to spend this past weekend there and there's plenty there for everybody in the family to enjoy. It was a cool experience with plenty of rides and the smell of chocolate wafting throughout the park certainly doesn't hurt.
For me, it was a great way to get away for a couple of days.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tragic accident

Count me among the many who are tired of listening to those who want to abolish horse racing because of the tragedy that happened at the Kentucky Derby.
For those who don't know, the filly Eight Belles -- in a freak accident -- had to be euthanized when she broke both her front ankles after finishing second in the race. She had already began to slow down when she fell to the dirt. Moments later, she was gone.
Not long after the incident, the blame was wide-spread by some -- from blaming the jockey for not noticing this was about to happen to saying the trainer probably injected Eight Belles with steroids to saying the entire racing industry should be held accountable for what some deem as a barbaric sport.
I will admit I'm not the biggest horse racing fan on the planet. I'll watch the Triple Crown races and I've been to Saratoga a couple of times in my life, but that's about it. And although I'm sure there could be some changes made to try and protect these horses, the fact of the matter is an incident like this is just a part of the sport.
There are dangers in all sports. And don't give me the line about how these horses are mistreated. These horses are bred for racing and -- in just about every case -- are treated better than most humans because of the handome returns they can yield.
What happened last weekend at Churchill Downs was a tragic accident, but to compare horse racing to dog fighting -- which some have said -- is just absurd.
The sport deserves better.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Know the rules

Last week, most papers and broadcast outlets in the country reported on a collegiate softball player who was carried around the bases by a couple of players on the opposing team after she blew out her knee rounding first after hitting a game-winning home run.
In case you missed it, the umpires ruled her teammates and/or coaches could not help her and that if a pinch runner was used, she would only be credited with a single. The opposing first baseman asked -- in the ultimate act of sportsmanship -- if her team could help the opposing girl touch each base.
When told there was nothing in the rule book to prevent it, the first baseman and shortstop carried the girl around, gently lowering her down so she could touch every base with her good leg. It made for a real feel-good story and the video, which recently surfaced, was must-see TV.
But, after hearing about what happened, my first question was "Why is there such a rule in place that would prevent this girl from having help -- or at least a pinch runner -- that could complete the home run trot in her place?"
I got the answer today when I spoke to a pair of VERY knowledgeable softball coaches.
While a coach or a teammate cannot assist the runner, YOU CAN HAVE A PINCH RUNNER ROUND THE BASES FOR A HOME RUN!
The umpires completely blew it and the coaches didn't know enough to correct the mistake. It's a situation that happens far too often when people who should know the rules, don't.
So now I don't know now if I'm prouder of those girls who completed this ultimate act of sportsmanship or more angry at the umpires and coaches for making them have to do it.