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Big flies

In honor of the Homerun Derby, some of my favorite homeruns (and homerun calls) of all time. Enjoy:

Draws are a drag

I’ve been trying to warm up to soccer.

Really, I have been.

But stoppage time aside (which will be the subject of a later blog rant, I’m sure), draws really hurt my interest in the beautiful game. Yes, I understand there are subtle nuances to a well-played, 0-0 game. And yes, I know that a hard-earned point in the World Cup (in group play) can go a long way.

Still, I can’t stand draws. They go against the nature of sport. The NBA resolves its ties. The NFL usually does. The NHL does, at least in the playoffs. Professional tennis does as well, even if it takes three days. And America’s pastime never has ties, either…well, except for the occasional All-Star Game.

Do you think this guy would have tolerated a draw?

The reason these leagues don’t have ties (or try not to) is because they go against the natural, human drama of sport. Modern sport, of course, largely stems from the ancient Greek and Roman athletic traditions. Do you think the original Olympic Games would have crowned a tie-er? Do you think a Roman gladiator could have nicked a lion on the ear and called it a day?

No.

The beauty of sport is the dichotomy between winning and losing. The pure euphoria of victory and the utter heartbreak of defeat (Minnesota sports fans should be very familiar with that).

And perhaps the most rewarding thing, as an athlete or fan, is recovering from defeat and climbing to the top. Victory is that much sweeter when you know how much anguish went into getting there.

So, I simply ask that one of the biggest sporting events in the world, one that comes but once every four years, goes away from ties. I understand friendly matches, or league matches, ending in a draw. But on the world’s stage, after working so hard for the moment, players and fans alike deserve more than a tie.

Hey, it would at least make a Roman gladiator proud.

My trip to St. Pete

I recently got back from sunny St. Petersburg, FLA. Yes, it’s a lovely, tropical area, but I wasn’t there on vacation. Instead, I was there to improve my reporting craft: I attended the 2010 Society of Professional Journalists Reporters Institute. The event is designed to give young journalists (like me) a chance to learn from some of the best in the industry while also meeting and networking with peers. It was a blast, and if you’re interested in learning more about the young reporters who went, see below (from a post I contributed to the SPJ’s First Draft blog):

As you may know, SPJ’s Reporters Institute recently wrapped up. The institute gave 3o-some young journalists a chance to learn from some of the industry’s best, as well as from each other. I will be posting an entry soon that will recap each of the sessions and, hopefully, give you some good tips. However, in the meantime, I encourage you to get in touch with any and all of us. Like you, the group is young and passionate about journalism.

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=125571107462698&ref=ts (you won’t be able to join, but you can definitely get in touch with young journos in your area)

On Twitter: http://twitter.com/journalistnate/spj-reporters-institute

And to prove we’re not scary people:

Attendees of the 2010 SPJ Reporters Institute (yours truly is back row, fourth from left, in the blue shirt. Meet me at http://twitter.com/mrosemn)

Plus, here’s a longer recap of what I learned (also from a post to First Draft).

Time to trade Ricky

The Minnesota Timberwolves should trade Ricky Rubio. Now.

The Wolves shouldn't wait on trading Ricky Rubio (Photo credit: Getty Images)

In in the interest of blog brevity, I’ll get right to my points. They’re good, so they won’t need much explaining:

  • His value is up — Even though his numbers weren’t overwhelming, he did lead his team to the Euroleague championship recently. And by most accounts, he is getting stronger and improving his game while overseas.
  • The Wolves might get the No. 1 pick — Doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, but that pick almost certainly means the team lands John Wall, the consensus best player in the draft (I should note that I prefer Evan Turner. But that’s another thought for another post). If the Wolves end up with Wall, I do not see him meshing with Rubio. They’re both immensely talented, but they both need the ball in their hands and neither shoots that well. In other words, I don’t see either being an “off ball” player.
  • He’s not going to play in Minnesota anyways — Of course this is simply a prediction, but if it comes trues, all other thoughts on the subject are moot. If Rubio continues to turn down an opportunity to play in Minnesota (as he did very pointedly after last year’s draft), the Timberwolves will obviously have gotten nothing for their pick. Or in other words, Will Avery.

There. I’ve said all I have to say.

Give it back, A-Rod?

The tale of Brian Cushing — the young linebacker who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug this off-season, not long after being named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year — raises a number of interesting questions. What did he test positive for? Why was he using that substance? And why have other rookies (Julius Peppers and Shawne Merriman come to mind) kept R.O.Y. awards on their shelves after similar incidents?

If Brian Cushing (above) loses his award, should Alex Rodriguez (below) lose his?

But the question I want to focus on here is the potential can of worms opened up in other sports, chief among those being baseball. America’s pastime, of course, has been tainted by performance-enhancing drugs, with the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens holding awards and gaudy stats amid clouds of suspicion. So, does the Cushing incident set a precedent for taking the awards back? The NCAA issues similar punishment (see “1997 Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball”) during academic scandals, wiping out any record that a season ever existed.

Baseball too has dabbled in rewriting the record books — Roger Maris lived with that nasty asterisk for years. The argument, of course, is to make sure future generations know (or, in the NCAA’s case, don’t know) the indiscretions of a given team or player, whether founded or not.

This approach, however, does more harm than good, especially in today’s media age where EVERY record is stored in a million different forms. Want to take back A-Rod’s MVP trophies? Go ahead, but the video of him being honored (plus the blogs, and Web stories, and audio, and T-shirts…) all still exist. Memories fade, but they don’t disappear. Want to strip Cushing of his award? Go for it, but people will still remember what he won…and how the second guy in line got his trophy.

Instead, let these guys keep their awards. But don’t let them (or the sport-fan public) forget the clouds of suspicion. Future generations SHOULD know that A-Rod hit 800 HRs and won multiple MVP awards. But they should also know that he admitted to using PEDs at least once and likely used them more often than that. It’s part of the record, of the story of sports. Yes, this generation of athletes is far from spotless. But Ty Cobb was a racist, Jordan a gambler and Mantle a womanizer. Just goes to show that every generation has its fair share of black spots. Instead of trying to cover them up by rewriting the books, let the record speak for itself — now and forever.

Photo credits: Cushing (TexAlley.com); Rodriguez (Reuters)

I believe Steve Young is still yapping, but I’ll jump right in:

*Ryan Matthews will be Offensive ROY. Should be the feature back on a good team right away.

My pick for Offensive ROY: Ryan Matthews

*Along those lines, Derrick Morgan will be Defensive ROY. Another talented, polished player stepping into a good team who will use him right away.

*Gerald McCoy was the best dressed player I saw. Big man with a stylish suit and nice specs.

*Colt McCoy will be the best QB from this draft. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

*Speaking of QBs, Tim Tebow will be a bust, making his hour-long interview with Jeremy Schaap that much more of a waste of time.

My pick for Defensive ROY: Derrick Morgan

*Trading down (see: Patriots, Dolphins, Vikings) can be a good idea. Unless you’re the Denver Broncos. Then it’s just a puzzling idea.

*Kyle Wilson and/or Dez Bryant will be the biggest value pick, long-term.

*I think Jimmy Clausen ends up with the Cleveland Browns at 38.

*I like having the draft on a Thursday in prime-time. I dislike ESPN showing the players’ reactions 10 minutes before the pick is made.

*I’m looking forward to rounds 2-7.

HOF Names

A Twitter pal (@jvomhofjr) and I were talking NFL Draft the other day, and the subject of Colt McCoy came up. We disagreed on his professional outlook (personally, I think he will be the best QB from the 2010 Draft when the dust settles), but we did agree on a point he made: Colt McCoy is a Hall-of-Fame-caliber name. It’s just cool, and perfect for a gunslinging QB.

The thought of HOF Names got me thinking, and on that note, here is a quick list of some of my other favorites. Please, please, please offer your own in the comments section…I’d love to see ones I missed!

In no particular order:

Spud Webb: Did the lilliputian leaper not simply look like a Spud Webb?

Coco Crisp: OK, it’s sorta a nickname. But just give the guy credit for having the last name Crisp.

John Rocker: Again, a case of a guy fitting his name.

Mookie Blaylock: I always wanted to be a Mookie growing up.

God Shammgod: If we were to rank this list, this name has to win, right? God Shammgod? Wonderful.

Thou shalt not find a better sports name than his (or is it His?)


Dick Butkus: He was so tough and cool, that he actually pulled this name off.

World B. Free (with honorable mention to He Hate Me): No, not given names. But creativity counts in my book.

Usain Bolt: Because he’s fast.

Mark Buehrle: Because he is in fact burly.

Yogi Berra: Bonus points for Yogi-isms.

I’m getting verklempt, so please discuss amongst yourselves.

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