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The Olympic sham

Posted by keithosaunders on August 4, 2016

Is there a more bullshit sporting event than the Olympics? What a joke. The networks package idiotic sports that nobody gives a rats ass about into a barrage of human interest, kumbaya dreck. Nobody cares about track and field. NOBODY. Ooh! Who won the 400 meter swimming party? WHO CARES!
 
I’ll tell you how you know the Olympics are a sham. We send NBA athletes. That’s right, next week you can tune in to a great prime time basketball event: USA v Luxembourg.
 
If you are a fan of the Dream Team going back to the original I have no respect for you. Zilch. You’re the kind of person that would spike a volleyball onto the head of a 5 year old and follow it up with a fist pump and a Howard Dean-esque scream. You’re probably a Trump fan but you could just as easily be for Hillary. They’re both Olympic-worthy.
Come to think of it there *is* a more bullshit sporting event than the Olympics. It’s called The Winter Olympics.
 

Posted in basketball, sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Durant to the Warriors

Posted by keithosaunders on July 4, 2016

Maybe the Warriors can get LeBron too. Why stop at Kevin Durant? All the stars should congeal on one team which will save us the time of having to watch regular season games. We’ll tune in during June for the Dream Team exhibition Finals while the one per centers enjoy their corporate luxury suites.

I’m just about at the end of my rope with sports which has turned into a corporate, joyless cesspool full of overpriced arenas, arrogant, over-paid athletes, and tedious replay reviews. The only thing that keeps me going is inertia – I’ve been watching practically my entire life and old habits are difficult to break.  That, and I’d like to see the Mets win one more time.

The toughest thing will be what to talk about in social situations and on gigs.  I’m going to have to come up with an entire new set of topics.  Comic books anyone?  How about basket weaving instead of basketball.

Posted in basketball, sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

1958

Posted by keithosaunders on January 14, 2016

In the meantime I’ve read a great book – The Glory Game –  by former NY Giants running back, Frank Gifford about the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Giants and the Colts.  This was the game that is considered to have put the NFL on the map on its way to sports supremacy.

Now talk about salaries:  Most of these players were earning less than $10,000 a year – well less.  Many of the players couldn’t afford their own apartments, doubling up in dorm like rooms in a Bronx Hotel a few blocks up from Yankee Stadium where they played their home games.

They played 12 game seasons. The league was divided into two conferences consisting of six teams.  There were no playoffs!  In 1958 the Giants finished in a tie with the Cleveland Browns so they, in fact, did have to play a playoff game which they won on a last second field goal by Pat Summerall.  (yes, that Pat Summerall)

My father, who recently passed away, went to the Championship game with my Uncle Herb. It was played on December 28th at Yankee Stadium.  They didn’t have tickets — they decided on the spur of the moment to go.  Imagine a world in which you can take a subway to a stadium where a championship game is being played, walk up to the box office, and buy a ticket.  That’s what they did.  They probably paid $5.00.  (incidentally, my best friend, who lives in the Bronx, tells of doing the same thing for the 1976 World Series between the Yankees and Reds)

The Giants started off shaky with sloppy offense and porous defense.  Gifford, never known as a good ball handler, fumbled twice and as a result the Giants found themselves down 14-3 at the half.  In the second half the Giants turned it around and took the lead 17-14.  A late Giant drive stalled out at their own 40 and with 4th and inches and 2:30 to go in the game coach Jim Lee Howell elected to punt. A first down would have put effectively put the game away for the Giants.

After a punt the Colts took over on their own 14 and that’s all Unitas needed.  He proceeded to engineer one of the great drives in NFL history, picking apart the tired New York defense.  The drive ended in a 20 yard field goal as the clock expired in regulation forcing the very first overtime game in NFL history.  No NFL game to that point had ever gone overtime.    Don’t forget, up until the 1980s if a regular season game ended in a tie it was over.  There was no sudden death overtime — there were ties.  So when the clock ran out the players didn’t know what they were supposed to do!

The Giants won the coin toss and elected to receive.  Don Maynard, who would later go on to win a Superbowl with the Jets, muffed the kickoff return but recovered his own fumble.  Regardless, the Giants went 3 and out and punted.  The Colts took over on their own 20 and once again Unitas put together an epic drive culminating in a Alan Ameche touchdown.

Some people consider this the greatest game ever played.  All I know is that my Dad was there and that I have the program to prove it.

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Posted in football, sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Dodgers v Giants: A feel good taping story

Posted by keithosaunders on September 1, 2015

For years my buddy in the Bronx and I have traded taping foible stories.  What is a taping foible?  That’s when you set your DVR, or in the old days, VCR to record the game and something goes horribly wrong.  The most common thing is to learn of the score either by accident or having it told to you by a random person.  In the old days it was actually difficult to program VCRs.  The taping landscape was fraught with danger.

Today I have a taping story with a happy ending. I had the night off (I’m a musician and gig most every night)  so I decided to watch the Dodgers/Giants game. Since I also wanted to watch this horror show I’m into called The Strain I decided to tape the game and watch it on delay.  I set it up to tape 2 hours extra. I use the word ‘taping’ in the generic sense.  I recorded on a DVR.

By the time I got to the game it was about 90 minutes old.  It was a slow moving game with deliberate pitchers and lots of pitching changes. In other words, it was a normal paced ballgame. The game went extra innings but since 9 innings took 3 hours and 40 minutes there was only 80 minutes left on the timer.  By the 12th inning there was only 20 minutes of taping time left and was 40 minutes behind real time!  I was rooting for a broo-ha-ha so I could get in some serious fast forward action but it was not to be.  I began forwarding between every pitch all the while sweating bullets.
Finally it was zero hour but I still had 1 minute of tape to get through.  The tape ran out with Justin Turner up representing the winning run.  I was sure that the one minute gap was going to do me in and that I would miss a Turner walkoff homer but the taping Gods were with me. I only missed a single.  Or a walk. Or a hit by pitch. I don’t know because I missed it.
I watched the final 2 innings in real time, every once in a while hitting the fast forward button on the remote by mistake.    A great pennant race game and a happy taping ending!
VCR

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Throw it back

Posted by keithosaunders on August 13, 2015

throw it back

For years the bleacher bums at Wrigley Field have had the quirky habit of throwing the opposing teams home run balls back onto the field.  When I first learned of this I thought it was a badass thing to do.  It was original and funny too.  In the past 15-20 years, however, fans of other teams have adopted this habit until now it has become de rigueur.  It’s a trope and a tired one at that.

If I was ever lucky enough to catch a home run ball the last thing I’d want to do is throw it away.  How often do these nimrods who mindlessly shout ‘throw it back!’ think this happens?  Allow me to offer a hint:  Almost never!

It’s one thing for the Cubs fans to do this.  I can stomach it from them since it’s their long-standing tradition.  But for a Cardinals or a Brewers fan to do it?  Well that’s bush league.

If I was sitting in the bleachers in Busch Stadium (no pun intended) and I caught Kris Bryant’s home run do you think I would throw it back?  Hell no!   Not only would I keep it, I’d have it bronzed and would brag about it until the day I died.

Imitation is not always a form of flattery.  in this case it’s a form of sheep-like stupidity.  Not for nothing, the Cubs are known as lovable losers.  Is this the kind of tradition you want to imitate?

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Getting it right…wrong.

Posted by keithosaunders on August 10, 2015

umps

The worst thing that’s happened to sports in the past decade is the proliferation of instant replay. Nothing makes me reach for the remote faster than the sight of a zebra going under the hood for a 3+ minute booth review.

In the case of baseball it is an abomination.  There’s nothing like taking a slow game and slowing it down.  Every single close play at first base is reviewed.  Every single play!  It’s gotten to the point where I feel embarrassed for the umps.  Why do they even bother to make a call when they know it’s going to confirmed or overturned by some slacker in a N.Y. bunker.  Safe, out, who cares?  Let the boys in New York decide. (by the way, where can I apply for that gig? I’d like to sit around in my underwear all night eating pretzels while staring at half a dozen MLB feeds.)

Don’t give me this tripe about ‘getting the call right.’ Are the umps not skilled professionals?  For a hundred years the umps ‘got it right’ well over 90% of the time. Improbable though it is, the game has not only survived but thrived.

Do people even want umps, because if folks are souless enough to trumpet the ‘we have the technology to get it right’ argument then they are tacitly admitting that umpires are an anachronism.  Let the fucking quest tech robots call the balls and strikes and your little bunker boys can review every damn play of the game.

Oh yeah, and enjoy your 5 hour April Mariners/Rangers games.

Posted in baseball, sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The dog days of February

Posted by keithosaunders on February 29, 2012

There’s no doubt about it — February is the most brutal sports watching month of the year.  After the Superbowl, which after all only takes up one evening, there is nothing but mid-season NBA and NHL games, meaningless college basketball games, and scattered baseball arbitration news.  Sure there was the Ryan Braun intrigue, which was about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Then there was the Jeremy Lin sensation, which was actually kind of fun, but then came the All Star break, killing any accrued basketball-watching momentum.

Did I mention the NHL All Star game and the Pro Bowl?  No?

Here is what the KNBR sports talk radio drive-time hosts have been talking about for the past two days:

Yesterday I was treated to an in-depth analysis of the NFL Combine workouts, where I learned about the inevitability of ESPN televising the event in future years.  You see, it wasn’t a question of if, but when.  Be still my beating heart…

Today I was held rapt (or was it hostage?) with NASCAR extra, as I learned that Danica Patrik’s tour debut consisted of four crashes.  Four!

February, you are a cruel wench.

Danica Patrick

 

Oh Manica!

Posted in sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

What’s the deal with hockey?

Posted by keithosaunders on May 28, 2011

Watching a hockey game is like sitting in on a meeting of a secret society that you are not a member of.  You can decipher the gist of what is going on, but you have no idea how the details work, or how they are implemented.

Every few years I’ll go on a playoff hockey watching jag.  This has been one of those years.  I watched a lot of our local San Jose Sharks, who went deep into the playoffs, but were eliminated earlier this week by the Vancouver Canucks.

First of all, let me say that hockey is an amazing sport to watch.  How these guys are able to make pin point passes on skates at break neck speed while being pursued by 250 pound gorillas is beyond me.  And they still have time to fight!

Hockey is a non-linear sport.  Viewing it on television, you never know who is on the rink at any given time.  Think about it — they’re constantly changing lines.  You are at the mercy of the announcers to let know who is on the rink.  In baseball there’s a set lineup — you know where everyone is at every moment of the game.  Sure, in football and basketball there are in-game substitutions, but they occur during breaks in the action.  Hockey players are change on the fly.

How do they know when to change?  The announcers won’t tell me.  They must know — half of them are former players.  I think they don’t want us non-hockey people to be in their exclusive club. 

You have the three-man lines, as wellas the two defencemen.  Do the defencemen work in tandem as pairs, or are they separate entities?  Do they see more ice time than the forwards?  How do they know when to get off the ice? 

These are mere quibbles.  Hockey is a great sport, albeit a perplexing one.  And they have one of the great traditions in sport, in which the players line up after the conclusion of a playoff series and shake hands.  I watched the victorious Boston Bruins shake hands with the Tampa Lightning after tonight’s game 7.  The players appeared to have genuine affection and respect for one another.   Good job out of them.

Posted in sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Taping’s finest hour

Posted by keithosaunders on April 21, 2011

 This is a great time of year for sports — the baseball season is in full swing and the NBA and NHL playoffs have begun.  The overlap can be overwhelming, but thanks to the miracle of the DVR, taping multiple ongoing events is a reality, making it possible for the sports fan to live the dream.  Of course, even with modern technology all it takes is for one caveman to spoil your evening by divulging the score of a taped event.  There are numerous other pitfalls to avoid as well.  Here then is a recounting of one of my most successful taping days:  This past Sunday, the 17th, in the year of our sports god 2011.

 
I had a gig, but wanted to see game two of Rangers/Captitals, and Knicks/Celtics, as well as catch the end of Rockies/Cubs.  As long as I was already taping the Knicks, I figured I may as well set the DVR to record the second half of the NBA doubleheader, Nuggets/Thunder.  The baseball Giants were playing, but I knew they would be on the TV at the bar I was gigging at, so I opted not to record their game.

When I started the car, I turned on the Giants game on the radio to hear the 9th inning — they were leading the Diamondbaks 5-4 at the time.  The first thing out of Jon Miller’s mouth was,  “It’s over in Colorado….”   Quick as a cat, I whipped my hand to the radio and turned off the volume, avoiding hearing the score.  I then (carefully) changed the station. 
 
As predicted, the Giants game was being shown on the TV at the bar.  It was an extra inning game and I was thinking, “good, let it go 20 innings and they’ll never change it to the Knicks)  BUT…by the first break the game had ended and the Knicks was on one TV, and Sportscenter was on the other.  Fortunately I live in a town where people don’t give a rats ass about any teams other than the locals, so I was in little danger of anyone commenting on the games.  What’s more, this fellow ex-New Yorker sax player came in.  He had also taped the Knicks and he warned me not to tell him anything.  Me, spoil a taped event?!  Did he realize who he was talking to?
 
At one point I accidentally looked at the TV showing Sportscenter  and of course the Rockies/Cubs highlights were on, but miraculously I didn’t see the score.
 
The rest of the night passed without incident and I arrived home to savor my spoils.  I stayed up late watching everything except for the second half of the Denver game, but I finished watching it the following day at lunch without knowing the ending. 

And that’s how you record multiple events.

Posted in sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Play card baseball

Posted by keithosaunders on March 19, 2011

Back in 1945 my Dad served in the army during WW Deuce — the big one.  He was on a transport ship going overseas to Japan when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The war was over and he ended up serving in the occupation.

On his way back to the States somebody in his platoon came down with hepatitis and the entire company had to be quarantined for a week before being allowed into the general populace.  Dad had a lot of time to kill, and he ended up inventing a card football game.  It was a pretty cool game, not only for its simplicity, but for its proximity to a real football game.  He had it all figured out — passes, running, interceptions, fumbles, and kickoff returns. 

A few years later he showed the game to my uncle, who was friends with the publisher of Esquire magazine, and the game ended up being written about in one of the issues.  It was impossible to copyright the game because anybody could play it — all you needed was a deck of cards and some free time.

He subsequently invented card baseball and card basketball.  He even invented a card boxing game but that one was a little silly.  All you needed was four cards of the same color to come up in a row and it was a knockout.  That was the entire game!  Still, we would make him play and announce match after match, and his faux-boxing announcing had us in hysterics. 

When I was around 12 years old he showed all of the games to me and I was instantly hooked.  I would spend a day or two scheduling an entire football season.  I followed the same system as the NFL — 14 game seasons (at that time) and you play the teams in your division twice.  I made a schedule for each team in the NFL and I would play every single game, plus the playoffs and Super Bowl.  The games took about 20 minutes to play so I could knock off the entire week’s worth of games over the span of three or four days. 

With baseball and basketball there were too many games to play every team, so I would pick a team — the Dodgers with baseball, and the Lakers for basketball — and I would make a schedule for them.  These were also patterned on the real life NBA or MLB schedules. 

I’d be in my room by myself, flipping those cards, announcing the game out loud in the style of Vin Scully or Chick Hearn.  I was out of my mind, but I had a ball.  It became part of my routine and I kept playing year after year. 

I played those card sports games well into my adulthood, finally giving them up around the time I moved back to Manhattan from Brooklyn in 1987.  I don’t remember making a conscious decision to stop — I gradually petered out.  I suppose I finally became an adult, or at least a semblance of one. 

Last week I downloaded an iphone app called 9 inning Pro Baseball.  The game allows you to pitch, field, and hit, and the app enables you to play entire seasons.  Ironically I seem to be stuck with the Yankees as my team since I am unable to figure out how to switch to another team.  Otherwise I would be the Mets.   

It’s a fun game, but right now I’m terrible at it.  I can pitch OK, but I can’t hit worth a lick.  My team must lead the league in strikeouts and men left on base.  Hopefully there is a learning curve and I will improve enough to make the season interesting, but right now I’m floundering at 2-7.  On the bright side, at least the Yankees will not make the playoffs.  Hopefully life will imitate fantasy this season.   

Dad

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