Posts Tagged ‘Baseball’

An apology to Cal Ripken, Jr.

ripken 2Cal Ripken Jr. is one of the nicest, and best, people in baseball history. His major accomplishment, setting legendary Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive games played, proves his work ethic and dedication to the game.

Although he’d never want to admit it I get a lot of my negativity from my Dad. When Ripken set the record in 1996 my Dad wrote it off. “Eh, his record doesn’t count,” he’d say. “Did he play during the strike?” Instead of acknowledging Ripken’s amazing feat he didn’t see it as an accomplishment because of the previous year’s baseball strike. But the strike had nothing to do with Ripken and doesn’t at all diminish the dedication it takes to play so many games in a row.

My oldest nephew’s name is Cal. Although his parents deny it I know it was inspired by Cal Ripken Jr., one of my former brother-in-laws heroes. I’d always try to get him going by making fun of Ripken: “You know, his streak doesn’t count because of the strike, right?” It never worked. He’d just shake his head.

Today I watched most of MLB Network’s “My Most Memorable Game” series with Ripken talking about the game he broke Gehrig’s record. Watching it I was finally able to understand why he is so highly regarded in baseball. He has a great attitude and an obvious love for the game. He’s also very humble. He nearly cried several times when he talked about how much his Dad, Orioles’ legend Ripken Sr., meant to him.

Ripken is a good example of some of the most important lessons in life: persistence, perseverance, and love and respect for what you do. As a guy who usually can’t even make it to work on time his dedication is inspiring. It’s finally time that I give Cal Ripken Jr. his due.

And Ron, you done good naming your son after such a great man.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.

Erik Ritland Sports Ramble, 10/14/12

In this issue…

1. Baseball v. Football Why the baseball playoffs are infinitely more interesting than any regular season week in the NFL.
2. Baseball Playoff Recap Surprising teams, shocking comebacks, and historic games.
3. NFL Week 6 Preview

The Baseball Playoffs > Another Boring Week in the NFL
The best TV not enough people are watching

At noon central time today millions of rubes across America will tune in to watch “their team” play football. Some people’s team is the Cleveland Browns; others the Buffalo Bills. People will watch dull football games with abysmal teams or tune in to games that are completely lopsided and still somehow muster up the excitement to, like, yell at their TVs and sweat until their facepaint comes off.

It’s not that I don’t get it. Football, for many reasons, is mainstream America’s favorite sport. It’s “fast paced.” There’s lots of HITTING AND SMASHING! Millions of dollars have gone into successful advertising campaigns. The NFL has successfully manipulated TV on every level, radio on most levels, and has saturated the internet. That and, y’know, it’s a fun game and everything. I get it.

But what I don’t get is people who are such sheep that they pedestalize football and everything about it while always talking down to baseball or calling it boring. Maybe it isn’t baseball that is boring; maybe it’s the individual that doesn’t have the patience to understand the intricacies of baseball in our fast food, easy answer, zero attention span culture that are boring. Truthfully, football is often pretty boring, too. Most of the game is handoffs that don’t go anywhere, short completions, punts, field goals, and undramatic incompletions.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of both football and baseball. It’s just sad that so many Americans and mainstream sports fans have missed some of the best baseball in decades this week yet they’ll dutifully watch, say, the Chiefs play the Buccaneers today and think it’s great, even if the score is 35-3 Tampa Bay (which it probably will be).

There’s something to be said about being well-rounded. For example, being well-rounded is the opposite of being one-dimensional. Being well-rounded is good. Being one-dimensional is bad. A well-rounded person gains all sorts of unique, wide-ranging experiences and enjoys a variety of things. A one-dimensional person only likes particular things, is picky, and is stuck in their ways.

I’m not saying that all football fans are one-dimensional or that all baseball fans are well-rounded. There are all kinds on each side. It’s just important to be well-rounded either way.

MLB Playoff Recap

Where to start? Well, the underdog won in both of the wild-card games, the Cardinals knocking off the Braves and the Orioles beating last years AL champion and highly touted Texas Rangers. Of the four league division series that followed each of them came down to the very end, going the full five games. The favorite Cincinnati Reds took a quick two game lead on the often haphazard seeming San Francisco Giants who then surprisingly won the next three games to take the series. While the Tigers and Yankees were both heavy favorites their opponents, the Cinderella A’s and Orioles respectively, gave them a tough fight. Although it’s sad that their seasons came to an end watching them stay competitive and have heart to the end was inspiring.

The Cardinals celebrate coming back from a 6-0 deficit to defeat the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS.

Then there was the most improbable series in every way: the Cardinals and Nationals. Nobody picked the Cardinals to beat the Braves; fewer picked them to beat the Nationals. But they were able to pull it off by combining (mostly) solid pitching with timely hitting. Most exciting was game 5. The Nationals took an early 6-0 lead before the Cardinals started chipping away. Soon it was 6-3. Then 6-4. 6-5 turned into 7-5 going into the bottom of the 9th. St. Louis then improbably scored 4 runs off of Nationals’ star closer Drew Storen to take the game and the series. The look of dejection on the faces of the Nationals, especially Jason Werth, was almost pitiable. It was the 6th elimination game in a row that the Cardinals have won, tying their own record.

There were plenty of games in each series that were historic. On the same night that the A’s scored three runs off Jose Valverde in the bottom of the 9th to force a game five in that series Raul Ibanez hit both the game-tying and game-winning home run in their game against the Orioles. Then the next night the Orioles won dramatically in extra innings. Many games were decided by two runs or less, there were dominant pitching performances from legends CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander, memorable relief appearances by the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn and the Giants’ Tim Lincecum, and more October magic from Mr. Octobino Delmon Young.

All in all the playoffs have been everything a baseball fan could want and more. I don’t expect the rest of the baseball postseason to disappoint.

NFL Week 6 Preview

Surprisingly almost every game in the NFL should be worth watching this week. The Vikings try to keep their run going, the Packers try to stay contenders against the undefeated Texans, Romo and Flacco will face off in the never-lived-up-to-expectations bowl, Peyton Manning takes on Philip Rivers, the 49ers host the Giants, my Lions attempt to take out the lucky Philadelphia Eagles, and hopefully Andrew Luck and the Colts can beat the obnoxious Jets.

Quickly now, here are my picks:

Minnesota at Washington I’m going to continue picking against the Vikings until they lose. Hopefully I’m their good luck charm.
Green Bay at Houston The Packers know what’s on the line here. Bold prediction: if the Packers lose they will not make the playoffs.
St. Louis at Miami Who would have thought, at the beginning of the season, that this would be a good game by two competitive teams? Miami’s at home but the Rams are a slightly stronger team.
New England at Seattle This pick is probably more wishful thinking than steeped in reality but Seattle is one of my favorite Cinderella teams. The crowd in Seattle will get in to it, the Seattle defense will keep Brady running, and perhaps they’ll pull it out.

The rest…
Dallas at Baltimore
NY Giants at San Francisco
Denver at San Diego
Oakland at Atlanta
Cincinnati at Cleveland
Indianapolis at NY Jets
Detroit at Philadelphia
Kansas City at Tampa Bay
Buffalo at Arizona

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Baseball vs. Football

The best TV not enough people are watching

At noon central time today millions across America will watch “their team” play football. For some that’s the Cleveland Browns; for others, the Buffalo Bills. People will watch dull football games with bad teams or that are completely lopsided and still somehow muster up the excitement to yell at their TVs.

It’s not that I don’t get it. Football is, fittingly, mainstream America’s favorite sport. It’s “fast paced.” There’s lots of HITTING AND SMASHING! Millions of dollars have gone into successful advertising campaigns. The NFL has successfully manipulated TV on every level, radio on most levels, and has saturated the internet. That and, y’know, it’s a fun game and everything. I get it.

But what I don’t get is people who are such sheep that they pedestalize football and everything about it while always talking down baseball or calling it boring. Maybe it isn’t baseball that is boring, though. Maybe it’s the individuals that don’t have the patience to understand the intricacies of baseball in our fast food, easy answer, zero attention span culture that are boring. Truthfully, football is often pretty boring, too. Most of the game is handoffs that don’t go anywhere, short completions, punts, field goals, and undramatic incompletions.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of both football and baseball. It’s just sad that so many Americans and mainstream sports fans are missing some of the best baseball in decades yet they’ll dutifully watch, say, the Chiefs play the Buccaneers today and think it’s great, even if the score is 35-3 Tampa Bay (which it probably will be).

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.

Sports Ramble, 9/28/12

In this issue…
Amid this Fallout Saturation Why I’m sick of hearing and talking about football.
In the News Tsuyoshi Nishioka says goodbye, R.A. Dickey improves his Cy Young resume, and the MLB playoff chase “heats up.”
Football Picks Despite being sick of writing about football I still have to give the people what they want…

Amid This Fallout Saturation
Only 5 months until pitchers and catchers report.

This guy would not agree with my analysis.

As the weeks season rolls on I’m more and more tempted to not have a football blog. Talk about an over-saturated market, man. I’m actually weary of football, at the moment at least. This week I even found it difficult to get myself to listen to the sports talk shows I steal all my takes from.

That football is so huge in Minnesota makes the entire new stadium debate seem so stupid now. It is intuitive that a fan base so large and so rabid generates a lot of money. That it interests so many people is not a small deal, except to people who don’t care about it and want to selfishly assume their dislike onto everyone else. As if what they do in their free time is any less superfluous.

The enormity of football makes it pretty tiresome though, too. There are many diehards who would strongly disagree with me but it’s just overkill – especially if you actively consume sports media. There is nothing like it in any other sport. The total domination of football doesn’t abate all season. The baseball postseason and opening of the NBA and NHL seasons are either shoved to the side or ignored completely.

What makes this even more ridiculous is that the sports media is even over-saturated with NFL coverage throughout the football off-season. Combines, OTAs, training camps, the draft…the media exploits each for as much coverage as they can get, most of it completely pointless. Yet it’s always important enough to interrupt the seasons of all the other lesser sports.

There is no remedy to this situation. As long as football is the biggest sport in America this over-the-top coverage won’t end anytime soon. I just hope I have the patience to continue writing about it as long as the thou-…hun-…few people who want to read my football takes exist.

In the News
So long, it’s been good to know ya In 2010 the Minnesota Twins spent a bunch of money for the rights to sign Japanese batting champion and Gold Glove infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Things never worked out very well for poor T-Nish, as he simply wasn’t talented enough for the big leagues in America. He floundered at the plate and looked like a damn fool in the field. This week Nishioka announced that he is giving back the $3 million dollars the Twins owe him next year and heading back to Japan. That he was noble enough to do that is impressive. It also helps the Twins get out of an extreme jam, as they were on the books for over $8 million dollars for awful players that had little chance to make the team (they also owe hapless starting pitcher Nick Blackburn over $5 million dollars next season).

– Cy Young, anyone? This week my boy R.A. Dickey won his 20th game of the year. It’s the first time a Met has won 20 games in over 20 years and the first time a knuckleballer has done so since 1980. In the victory Dickey threw over 120 pitches through 7 2/3 innings, allowed only 3 runs, and struck out a career-tying best 13 batters. He now leads the National League in almost every pitching category and is second in the categories he’s not leading in. A Cy Young award would be the perfect way to cap off a career year for the eccentric knuckleballer.

– Baseball roundup In a perfect situation – and all this could happen – the Baltimore Orioles would beat the Yankees for the AL East title, the Oakland A’s would beat the Rangers for the AL West, the Chicago White Sox would beat the Tigers for the AL central, and the Angels and Rays would win the Wild Card . That way the A’s, the Orioles, and White Sox, all good guy underdogs, would avoid the stupid one-game Wild Card, and the Rangers and Yankees would not even make the playoffs. How crazy would that be? It probably won’t happen though. Either way that entire situation is intriguing, as eight strong teams are fighting for playoff spots to last games of the season. I’ll be sad if the Orioles and A’s don’t make it at least. The NL race is not nearly as interesting, as the Nationals, Reds, and Giants have each clinched their playoff spots and the Braves and Cardinals have a comfortable 3.5 game lead over the floundering Dodgers.

NFL Week 4 Preview

3 games

New Orleans at Green Bay It’s tough to say who this game is more important for. In order to stay relevant the Saints have to win this game. But if the Packers lose, again, at home even, their playoff hopes will diminish and a lot of people will jump off their bandwagon. As always I hope that the Saints lose. I’m pretty sure they will, too. The Packers are fired up after last Monday, they’re at Lambeau, and Rodgers is due to have a breakout game. Green Bay 31, New Orleans 20

Minnesota at Detroit This game is hard to predict. The Lions haven’t yet played to their potential and are coming off a demoralizing loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Vikings, however, are exceeding their potential and still riding high after their upset of the 49ers last Sunday. But which Vikings team will show up, the one that lost to the sad-looking Indianapolis Colts or the one that got everything right in their victory over San Fransisco? Last weeks win felt like a fluke, to be honest, so I’m going to go with the former. Lions 24, Vikings 10

San Francisco at NY Jets The only thing I like more than a Saints loss is a Jets loss. After last weeks embarrassing loss to the Vikings the 49ers will surely come prepared to New York. I suspect that Harbaugh isn’t stupid enough to waste any time “preparing” for the three snaps worthless Tim Tebow will take. San Francisco 27, Jets 20

The Rest

Carolina at Atlanta
New England at Buffalo
San Diego at Kansas City
Seattle at St. Louis
Tennessee at Houston
Cincinnati at Jacksonville
Miami at Arizona
Oakland at Denver
Washington at Tampa Bay
NY Giants at Philadelphia

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics are cataloged regularly at Ramblin’ On. You can reach him via email here.

 

Amid this Fallout Saturation

Only 5 months until pitchers and catchers report.

This guy would probably not agree with my analysis.

I’m more tempted all the time to not have a football blog. Talk about an over-saturated market, man. I’m actually weary of football, at the moment at least. I even found it difficult to get myself to listen to the sports talk shows I steal all my takes from.

The debate about whether or not to build a new stadium for the Vikings seems sort of stupid as the season is happening. A fan base this large and dedicated obviously generates a lot of money. That it interests so many people is not a small deal, except to people who don’t care about it and want to selfishly assume their dislike onto everyone else. As if what they do in their free time is any less superfluous.

The enormity of football makes it pretty tiresome though. Diehards will disagree but it’s totally overkill. Especially if you actively consume sports media. The total domination of football coverage doesn’t subside all season. The baseball postseason and opening of the NBA and NHL seasons are either shoved to the side or ignored completely.

Even more ridiculous is that the sports media is over-saturated with NFL coverage even throughout the off-season. Combines, OTAs, training camps, the draft…the media exploits each for as much coverage as they can get, most of it completely pointless. Yet it’s always important enough to interrupt the seasons of all the other sports.

There is no remedy to this situation. As long as football is the biggest sport in America this over-the-top coverage won’t end anytime soon. I just hope I have the patience to continue writing about it as long as the thou-…hun-…few people who want to read my football takes exist.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.