Thursday, November 19, 2015

Richard Lee Ranger (1923-2015)

I have been remarkably fortunate to reach my thirties with three living grandparents, especially when all of them were born before things like penicillin, television, and the Great Depression. And I have been even more fortunate to have them all be an integral part of my life for all of that time. Which I suppose is what makes it so difficult to, for the second time in a little over two months, lose one of them. My grandfather and namesake (one of them - I'm named after both grandfathers) lived a fairly remarkable life over ninety-two years.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Team Endless Sports

Many of you may be aware that after a two-and-a-half-year absence from coaching, I returned to the sidelines this spring, coaching ninth and tenth-grade boys for a non-profit organization called Team Endless Sports that is based in District Heights, Maryland (just southeast of DC on Pennsylvania Avenue). I had decided, way back in mid-February in the depths of winter,* that I wanted to coach again, and more specifically that I wanted to coach basketball, which I still believe I know the best of any sport. And (with absolutely no offense intended to the dozens and dozens of wonderful young women that I worked with at NCS and Holy Child) I wanted to return to coaching boys.

*Though it has just twenty-eight days, February really is the longest month, isn't it?

Monday, November 2, 2015


Ninety-nine percent of the time, this is what happens when we follow sports. This is what happens when we spend so much attention on a group of young and middle-aged men playing a funny, somewhat slow-paced game on roughly two and a half acres of quirkily shaped grass and dirt in what are basically pajamas. It doesn't even have to be baseball; it can be any sport. Every season ends sadly for twenty-nine of thirty teams, or thirty-one of thirty-two in football. But to get so close, to blow three leads with four, five, and three outs to go stings just a little bit more.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hot Stove Outlook: Washington Nationals

Okay, Nationals fans, what conclusions can we draw from this season's massive disappointment? The Nats were supposed to win 100 (or more) games, but instead scuffled around at .500 and finished a distant second in the National League East. To add insult to injury, their last regularly scheduled home game featured a mid-season trade acquisition attempting to throttle their 22-year-old MVP. Lots of questions surround Washington this winter, especially after Washington Post reporter Barry Svrluga wrote a three-part expose on the season, culminating with an absolute torching of (now former) manager Matt Williams. Why don't we take a look at some of them?

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.