Another one of Google’s oddities struck yesterday: well over 500 of you wound up at my site by searching for “obama bracket” or something similar. I posted his 2010 and 2009 picks here in past years, and Google Images has somehow ranked me #2 in its search results for my efforts. So, while it might be too late, I don’t want to be the guy who disappoints 500 more people, so here you go. The 2011 picks from the Prognosticator in Chief:
(Click on the image to see it (a little bit) larger)
Check out this video of the Metrodome in Minneapolis collapsing from INSIDE THE STADIUM:
Thankfully no one was hurt. The Vikings/Giants football game, originally scheduled for today, was moved to tomorrow, and then moved to tomorrow at Fords Field in Detroit, MI. I would imagine that quite a few Vikings games will have to find alternative venues for a while – this does not look like an easy problem to fix.
(Hat tip to Lee Salz, my roving Minneapolis reporter for sending me the link.)
Those who read this blog regularly know that my allegiance lies with baseball, but football is a nice diversion until Spring Training begins. So, yesterday, I’m watching the Steelers-Bills game, which goes into (sudden death) overtime, and the Bills’ receiver, Steve Johnson, does this:
My family, with whom I was watching, all commented that he probably wouldn’t get a very good night’s sleep that night (especially since the Bills eventually went on to lose the game). But today I find out that Mr. Johnson isn’t so much upset at himself, as much as he’s ticked off at the Almighty for making him drop the pass. Here’s his Tweet on the subject:
StevieJohnson13: I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…
On the one hand . . . Wow. I mean, seriously. One wonders if God is most upset about the bad grammar, the idea that Steve Johnson believes that God made him drop the pass, or the fact that Steve Johnson can’t seem to find a way to learn from the whole experience.
On the other hand, we so often see the players thanking God for the game-winning catch, the walk-off homerun, or the last-minute heroics. It’s refreshing, in a pathetic sort of way, to see someone admit that every time God “helps” one team win a game, he also “helps” the other team lose the game. So if he’s going to believe that sort of thing, at least he’s internally consistent…
Another terrific night at Yankee Stadium – father and son. Click here for some memories to throw on the pile. And here is the highlight:
We went to watch batting practice before the game, and got a great spot next to the right-field foul pole. Nick Swisher and Joba Chamberlain, two of the nicest guys on the team, were standing in right field shagging fly balls and then throwing them into the stands. When a ball made its way into the corner and Joba came to retrieve it, he caught my eye. I immediately pointed to my son, Brandon, who was staring wide-eyed at Joba with a big smile on his face. Joba handed me the ball.
This being a year where my kids had to choose who got to go to which game, Brandon was nice enough to call home and tell his big brother, Avery, that Avery could have the ball when he brought it home.
The Yankees won the game and the series, meaning there would be no Game 4. As it turns out, though, it looks like Avery might get a chance to see a playoff game this year after all, as I may have secured a pair of tickets to an ALCS game. My kids and I have a rough life, huh?
So it’s October again in the Greenberg house which, for as long as my kids can remember, means one thing: post-season Yankee baseball.
Last year, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to purchase four tickets to the second game of the American League Division Series (ALDS), which turned out to be one of the greatest baseball games I’ve ever seen live – truly a memory my kids, my wife and I will share forever.
This year, things are a little more complicated. First of all, the Yankees didn’t win their division, which means that the ALDS doesn’t begin in Yankee Stadium as it did last year. Instead, it begins with two games in Minnesota and then returns to Yankee Stadium for games three and four. Since it’s a best of five series, if one team wins three in a row, there won’t be a game four, meaning there would only be one game at Yankee Stadium in the whole series.
The second complicating factor is that I couldn’t get four tickets to a single game this year. Instead, I got two tickets to game three and two tickets to game four (refundable if the game isn’t played). My wife willingly bowed out in deference to the kids, meaning I’m all set to take one kid to the first game and one kid to the second game. If there is a second game. Which is not a guarantee.
Further complicating matters is the concept of a “clinching game.” If the Twins and Yankees split the two games in Minnesota, then there would definitely be two games in Yankee Stadium, but the second one would give someone the opportunity to win the entire series. If it’s the Yankees, that would likely be the more exciting of the two games. If one team wins both games in Minnesota, though, then Game 3 is a potential “clinching game” for one of the teams, but if that team fails to win that game, then Game 4 becomes another potential “clinching game.”
So, when I got home from work today, I presented my 10-year old and my 7-year old with the following challenge: you guys work out between yourselves who goes to which game. If you haven’t decided by Friday afternoon, we’ll flip a coin. Oh, and no fighting.
My wife and I had discussed several scenarios on the phone during the day, but never came close to an arrangement that was as fair and well-reasoned as the one my two kids reached on their own:
Avery (the 10-year old), concluded immediately that they should make the decision tonight, rather than wait until Friday to see how the first two games played out, because if they waited, then they’d both want to go to the same game, and someone would be upset. Brandon (the 7-year old) calmly agreed. Then, they went off on their own, produced the following matrix, and presented it to me with their thinking:
Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Twins Twins Avery Brandon Yankees Yankees Brandon Avery Twins Yankees Brandon Avery Yankees Twins Brandon Avery
The thinking went like this: If they split the two games in Minnesota (rows 3 and 4 of the above matrix), then there are definitely two games, and Avery gets to go to Game 4 (the potential “clinching game”). In return, if the Yankees win both games in Minnesota, then Brandon gets to see the Yankees’ potential clinching game (and possibly the only game played). If the Twins win both games in Minnesota, then Avery gets to see the Twins’ potential clinching game (not as exciting as a Yankee “clinching game”). And, of course, in either of those scenarios, whoever runs the risk of not going at all gets to see the next clinching game (Game 4) if the series goes beyond Game 3.
Then they both signed their names at the bottom of the paper and gave it back to me for safekeeping.
So, to sum up: the next time the United Nations (or perhaps Congress?) needs to settle an argument between opposing interests, they should give my boys a call. But not in October – we’ve got some baseball to watch.
Typically, the first year of a new sports stadium brings large crowds of casual, but curious, fans out to the stadium. In the case of the New York Jets (and, to a lesser extent, the New York Giants, who share the new stadium with them), their decision to require a personal seat license for each season ticket (often running into thousands of dollars in addition to the cost of the seat for next season) has left them with some very angry, lifelong fans and quite a few available seats. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I saw these folks, dressed in New York Jets jerseys, on the streets of New York, handing out fliers to buy tickets to the games.
And to add insult to injury, someone on the street was harassing them about ticket prices, prompting one of them to yell “I am not a Jet! I am not a Jet!” to passersby. I’m sure this is not what the Jets had in mind for a marketing strategy…
Quite a bad week for the New York Yankees. First they lost their voice, then they lost their leader. George Steinbrenner bought a flailing franchise with a rich history and returned it to its former glory. He was a brilliant businessman, a confident leader, a passionate sports fan, and a charitable benefactor.
He was also one mean sonofabitch, who let his passion for winning make him vindictive, and occasionally afoul of the law (he was suspended from baseball twice – and reinstated both times). He changed the game of baseball, changed the Yankees, and even changed The House that Ruth Built. In short, he changed just about everything he touched. Some people hated him for it while it was happening, but the baseball world is mourning him today.
My personal memories of George Steinbrenner, aside from all the “Bronx Zoo” antics of the late 70′s – the arguments, the firing of managers, the controversy-baiting game he played with the New York sportswriters – was how such a tough man could have such a big heart. In 1981, when I was twelve years old, Yankee pitcher Tommy John’s youngest son fell out of the third-story window of their home. He required brain surgery and then lay in a coma for 17 days before making a full recovery. I remember reading that George Steinbrenner paid all of the doctor’s bills, and offered to pay for Travis’ college education when he recovered. In later years, I read similar stories about him spending money to fund drug rehabilitation (for players like Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry) and helping out Jorge Posada’s son, who was diagnosed with craniosynostosis at the age of ten days old. Over the years, he’s setup many charitable foundations, usually to fund scholarships for kids, particularly those who’s parents were police officers or firefighters killed in the line of duty. Thankfully, these charities, along with the New York Yankees, were a family business, and his four children have taken the reins ever since Mr. Steinbrenner’s health began to fail.
Thanks, Boss. Not just for all the championships, but for instilling the Yankees with the consistent expectation of excellence. Many reviled you for this trait, called you cut-throat or mercenary, and accused you of “buying championships.” But as you used to say, “Winning is important. It’s a way of life.” You taught your kids (and me, and eventually my kids) that it is important to set goals and it is okay to be disappointed when you don’t achieve them. Failure teaches lessons; it drives improvement. Trying hard is great, but it should never be the goal. Success should always be the goal. I get the feeling that this will be your legacy in the Bronx. I look forward to many more years of exciting baseball as a result of your tutelage.
A sports icon passed away today – Yankee announcer Bob Sheppard was 99 years old, and was the voice of Yankee Stadium from 1951 until his retirement, due to poor health, in 2007. In that time, he announced more than 4,500 major league baseball games. Anyone under the age of 60 or over the age of 5 who has been to Yankee Stadium has heard (and likely remembers) his voice.
Back in May of 2000 (May 7th, to be exact), my family and I went to Yankee Stadium for a game, and realized when we got there that it was Bob Sheppard day. The Yankees honored Mr. Sheppard with several gifts, brought him out on the field, had him read the lineups, and then gave him the day off. It was the first Yankee game I had ever been to where Bob Sheppard wasn’t the announcer, and it remained the only such game until 2008. At that game, they gave each fan a commemorative pin:
If you click on the image above, you’ll hear a few of Mr. Sheppard’s most common announcements, strung together in a fitting goodbye message . . . to himself.
I also found this YouTube video (from that same day in May of 2000), which features Bob Sheppard announcing the many Yankee greats for which we all remember him best, as well as some recollections by some of those Yankee greats:
Rest in Peace, Mr. Sheppard. And thanks for the many, many memories…
One of the things I love about summertime is getting the kids out to a few baseball games, which is why I have a feeling these next few weeks are going to be remembered for quite some time:
- June 30 – Went with my Dad to see the Yankees play the Mariners at Yankee Stadium. The kids couldn’t come along to this one because they had camp the next morning, and also because we got the tickets from a source other than our usual one and there weren’t enough seats for them. That’s OK, though – I’ve been going to Yankee Stadium with my father for more than 30 years, so it’s good to add yet another memory. Even if the Yankees did lose a yawner that night…
- July 3 – Taking the kids to see the Washington Nationals play the New York Mets in Nationals Park in Washington, DC. A new baseball stadium for all of us (just so happens to be a New York team visiting), plus the latest rookie phenom, Stephen Strasburg, is pitching. And we get to spend a fun afternoon with our friends from Virginia. Should be a great day…
- July 11 – “Family Day” at the Staten Island Yankees. Minor league baseball is fun once in a while, especially with the kids. The game is much more accessible – the players are closer, the stadium is smaller, and the minor league teams tend to involve the fans a lot more (most of them let the kids run around the bases after the game is over, for example). We’ve never seen the Staten Island Yankees play, so this should be a treat. Also, a chance to spend some time with another group of (Yankee-fan) friends.
- July 23 – Yankee Stadium, this time, with the kids. We try to go to about one game per month, the Yankees’ schedule and our kids’ ever-growing schedules permitting. Our last game was May 31st, Avery’s 10th Birthday, so we’re a little overdue this time. But the other games (above) should more than make up for it.
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of streamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come…
OK, by now, just about everyone has seen this image of British goalkeeper, Robert Green, mishandling an easy shot on goal from the U.S. World Cup Soccer team, tying the game at 1-1:
But how many people do you think noticed the advertisement right behind him that cautions, “Stay Alert!”
If only Mr. Green had taken a minute to read the sign, maybe things would have been different… ;-)