The Great Rivera Remembered

I can’t say how many times I’ve seen Mariano Rivera pitch.

That might seem obvious. Why would anyone keep track of something so trivial? But in a way, it’s surprising, too. For one thing, I have a minor obsession with lists. More or less everything on this website is a list of one sort or another: a list of stadiums, a list of books, various lists of accomplishments. For another thing, I have a major obsession with Mariano Rivera. To put it simply, he was (and is) my favorite player. Of course, choosing a favorite player is an important moment in the life of any young sports fan. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in feeling a special connection with the man I chose, even though we have never met. And I didn’t just pick any old favorite player. This was the great Rivera, the greatest closer who ever lived, who will ever live. This was a noble man who spoke softly, smiled, and then sawed your bat in half with devastating cut fastball after devastating cut fastball. The phrase “role model” is used far too often in sports, but Mariano is a superb one, in every sense.

Continue reading

RE: Charles P. Pierce’s Defense of Ryan Braun

As a reader, I have a strange relationship with the sportswriting of Charles P. Pierce. When reading his essays, I often find myself agreeing with his thesis, but disagreeing with the statements he uses to support it. I nod along with the headline, but then become increasingly annoyed—and occasionally incensed—as I move through the piece. In a way, that’s a testament to Pierce’s intelligence and originality. He’s a free thinker in a sportswriting world too often dominated by cliches and groupthink. But Pierce also seems to gravitate toward contrarian arguments, even if they play a little loose with reality.

I ran into this problem with Pierce’s recent essay in support of Ryan Braun, who had his 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs overturned on appeal. Pierce’s defense of Braun is not based on the urine-handling details of the NL MVP’s specific case. Instead, Pierce argues that the entire effort to rid baseball of performance-enhancing drugs “has been legally questionable, morally incoherent, and recklessly dependent on collateral damage to make its point.”

Continue reading

Robbie Cano saves exhibition baseball

There’s been a good bit of talk (read: whining) lately about what has become of baseball’s All-Star festivities. On his podcast last week, Sports Illustrated senior writer (and my sports writing idol) Joe Posnanski and special guest Michael Schur (the artist formerly known as Ken Tremendous) bemoaned what they see as a laundry list of problems with the game.

As you may know, it all goes back to 2002, when the All-Star game ended in a 7-7 tie because both teams ran out of players after 11 innings. That caused commissioner Bud Selig a great deal of embarrassment, especially because the game was played in his hometown of Milwaukee.

As a result, Major League Baseball has spent the past decade or so continuously tinkering with the All-Star format and selection process. The biggest change is that, in an effort to add meaning to the game, the winning league now receives home field advantage in the World Series. This has resulted in a number of bizarre contradictions: Continue reading

Feelings: Fifth Amendment, birthdays, Tiger

I have always been confused by the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The language of the amendment is clear enough. It simply states that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” This is, obviously, the basis for the phrase “plead the Fifth,” which is pervasive on television courtroom dramas.

But here’s my problem: When a person invokes his right not to incriminate himself, it seems to me that he is admitting his guilt.

The amendment says you don’t have to testify against yourself. But it doesn’t, at least not explicitly, allow you to withhold testimony in any other situation. You can’t refuse to testify for yourself; you have no right against self-exoneration. Thus, it seemed to me, a person can only invoke the Fifth Amendment if they did something wrong, something, um,  incriminating.

Continue reading

Resolving to cut the fat

My father once told me the following joke. A man is at the doctor’s office and asks his physician, “Doc, if I never drink, never smoke, and never chase women, will I live forever?”

“No,” the doctor replies, “but it will sure feel that way.”

***

Other than my two most obvious skills — breaking promises about this website and annoying my wife — the thing in life I think I’m best at is setting goals.

Continue reading

Why I should be on every MLB team’s payroll

As you may have heard through email, text message or Facebook status, I’ve managed to procure a full-time job, which I start Monday. Obviously, this is wonderful news, but I’m not sure what it means for this blog. Unfortunately, there is a reasonable chance I will have less time to spend working on the site than I already do.

But I’ve been making empty promises about the blog for quite a while and I have a whole list of half-finished posts, so my goal is to end my unemployment with a bang. If all goes according to plan, which it rarely does, this post will be followed by several others in the next few days. Good luck to me.

***

As you may have learned in the previous two posts in this series, I am one of the most powerful good luck charms in sports history. In 2009, I went to five Yankees games, and they won them all. This past season, I went to 10 Knicks games, and they managed to go 5-5 in those contests, despite going 24-48 in games I didn’t attend, a .333 winning percentage.

This year, I wanted to use the baseball season as a sort of luck experiment. I wanted to determine just how lucky I really am.

Continue reading

Feelings: Big threes, Chiefs, mice, facial hair

Every now and then, at random moments throughout my days, I have an idea, sometimes even a decent one. On occasion, I have an opinion that feels original or a feeling that seems unique. For my whole life up to now, I have never really done anything with these small ideas, and I have always regretted letting my thoughts go to waste.

So, I’m starting something new. When I have a thought that seems interesting, I’m going to write it down. And then, maybe once a week, maybe less often knowing me, I’m going to combine those ideas into a post for the site. This is the first of those posts.

***

It seems to me that “Big Three” is the weakest nickname in all of sports, quite possibly in all of the world.

Continue reading