Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015 MLB Awards

With the 2015 major league baseball season concluding this weekend, it is time to hand out some awards, including several categories invented for this express purpose. We will highlight surprises, disappointments, fielders, hitters, top rookies, and all of the usual awards except things like Manager of the Year, which I have no real use for. So strap yourselves in and prepare to read many, many words as we wait for playoff games to start next week. Let's start in the field, shall we?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Choke Job

The Washington Nationals' train wreck of a season came to a practical end on Saturday night when the Mets officially eliminated them from the playoffs with a 10-2 win in Cincinnati, but that apparently wasn't enough for them; on Sunday, in full view of a paid attendance of 28,661, recently acquired closer Jonathan Papelbon decided to pick a fight with presumptive National League MVP Bryce Harper* after a routine fly ball, grabbing Harper by the throat shortly after he returned to the dugout and slamming him into the wall before several players and coaches jumped in to separate them. The moment perfectly encapsulated what has gone wrong with this season for the Nationals, as both Joe Posnanski and Mark Zuckerman have explained.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Margaret Carnahan Keeler (1925-2015)

I write mostly about sports here in this space, and one of the primary virtues that we extol in all of our athletes, no matter what level, is toughness, specifically players who come through when they're hurt. Sandy Koufax pitching until his arm practically fell off. Kirk Gibson hitting one of the most famous home runs in World Series history on one leg, limping around the bases while pumping his fist. Ronnie Lott getting a fingertip amputated so he wouldn't miss any time. Willis Reed walking out of the tunnel with a torn thigh muscle and igniting the Garden in Game 7. These are all indelible moments in sports history. But toughness obviously doesn't just apply to sports, it applies to ordinary people who don't see their names in the paper or on the internet. And the toughest person I have ever known was my grandmother, Margaret "Peggy" Keeler.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Greatest Athlete I Ever Knew

The greatest athlete I ever knew was something of a diva. She was barely coachable. She would frequently pretend not to hear you and go off to do her own thing. She was incredibly fast and stronger than she looked, and she could run all day long without tiring (or swim, for that matter). She was smarter than many people gave her credit for. She was pretty and knew it, with her golden-brown hair and big ears. And she had a weakness for mushroom stems and belly rubs. The greatest athlete I ever knew was Mocha, our chocolate lab/"Chesapeake Bay" retriever.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Decay of the College Game

About three weeks ago, in my NCAA Tournament preview, I promised that I would write something about the malaise of college basketball as compared to the NBA. Several of my similarly basketball-crazy friends have more or less stopped watching college basketball because for them it isn't very entertaining anymore, and to that end they are right. But why is that? We are experiencing probably the deepest talent pool in NBA history, and yet the college game is full of rockfights in the fifties and low sixties. Most NBA players still come from the American college ranks, and even if they only stay a year or two, they should still theoretically be making the game better with their presence. Where have we gone wrong? (Although the recent tournament, which by and large was full of exciting, good basketball, provides some hope.)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

And Then There Were Four

After an exciting first day of the tournament that saw two three-seeds get upended early in the day, including many people's sleeper Final Four team in Iowa State (Baylor took a much less surprising pratfall), this year's NCAA tournament has gradually settled into a chalky affair (with the exception of the East regional, which lost its top two seeds) that in all likelihood will lead to the first undefeated season in almost forty years. And so the world turns. Some notes from the first two weekends:

Monday, March 16, 2015

March Madness 2015

The best time of the year is here! College basketball may be suffering from a few seasons of a much less interesting product and also from an incredibly entertaining NBA that is enjoying a heyday like they did in the eighties, but that's a topic for a later post (hopefully as part of a tournament wrap-up). Today, we're not here to nitpick the college game's many obvious flaws or their possible solutions; we're here to revel in the release yesterday of this year's 68-team bracket and spend the better part of the next two days poring over matchups or mascots (if that's your style) for the office pools that involve roughly $9 BILLION of people's money. Before we dive into the various regions, let's ask a few more general questions, starting with the most obvious.