If There’s Any Justice In The World

If the Seattle Mariner magic continues this weekend and they close out the season with a sweep of the “Los Angeles” Angels and make the playoffs, all will be forgiven and forgotten by each and every Specific Northwesterner: Jeff Bezos, the endemic, the unprecedented heat and wild fires, the traffic nightmares, the fractured politics, the Seahawk’s defense, the antiquated airport, the creeping wetness and darkness.

92-70. See it. Believe it.

Postscript: 91-71?

Meet Kidd G

My morning reading included this New York Times profile of Kidd G., a 17-year-old from a small Georgia town who built an audience as a rapper on TikTok and SoundCloud before pivoting to country music.

Still processing these sentences:

“Before committing himself to making music, most of Kidd G’s attention was devoted to sports, particularly baseball and fishing. (He received two college scholarship offers for fishing.)” 

Wut?

 

Say What?

So confusing. Start with the headline, “Seattle Mariners’ Kyle Lewis awarded American League Rookie of the Year in unanimous vote.”

If that’s not disorienting enough, fast forward to this gem:

“The Georgia native is the beginning of what could be a formidable young outfield in Seattle. Jarred Kelenic, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Mets, and Julio Rodriguez are ranked among baseball’s top prospects.”

Have the words “formidable” and “the Seattle Mariners” ever appeared in the same sentence?

I hereby declare these strange times.

Elite Level Arm

That’s what scouts concluded after watching me play little league in Louisville, KY and Talmadge, OH.

Of course, they also said my hitting was so bad I was a serious liability to whichever team I played for. I resembled that!

So it’s really no surprise I made the greatest throw of all time. It happened twenty years ago when the Byrnes family was daytripping at Paradise on Mount Rainier. Despite it being mid-summer, as always, snow was aplenty at Paradise. Both daughts excitedly hurried ahead while I prepared a perfect, baseball size, snowball. When Eldest was WAY, WAY above and in front of me on the long mountain pathway, I took dead aim and unleashed my howitzer. The snowball landed right between her seven year old shoulder blades.

The Good Wife was horrified with herself. How could she have picked me to spend her life with. I was torn between worry about whether Eldest was okay and amazement at my incredible accuracy. Okay, I was mostly amazed.

Yesterday, back at the exact place of the crime, The Good Wife was a Good Sport and agreed to re-enact the historic moment with me. I planned to share the vid with you, but WordPress isn’t cooperating.

So all I have to share is the second greatest throw of all time.

 

 

Pandemic Ponderings

  • I’m worried about one of the humble blog’s most faithful readers, MZ, who is the Seattle Mariners #1 fan. I hope she is doing okay without beisbol. Then again, as a Mariner fan, she’s proven to be extremely tough, so she’ll probably be fine.
  • Sigh. Tomorrow would be the men’s NCAA national championship basketball game between the surprise of the tournament, the UCLA Bruins, and Dayton.
  • If the Royal and Ancient really follows through on cancelling the The Open Championship, MZ and all of the humble blog’s loyalists should begin worrying about me. Why go on living?
  • The key to surviving our lockdown is going to bed with a clean kitchen. If I keep waking to a clean kitchen, I could do this for a very long time. Then again, I’m an introvert and I’ve been cutting my own hair for decades.
  • How much $ have I saved cutting my hair over the decades? Where is that $?
  • ESPN is considering televising a game of H-O-R-S-E. They are almost having as hard a time with this pandemic as the Trump administration.
  • After considerable thought, I’ve decided not to wear a mask and instead just pop the malaria pills I have leftover from my last trip to Africa.
  • To young scientists just getting going, epidemiology is sexy.
  • Pray for my soul. I will not be going to church on-line.

 

 

 

 

In Praise of Kenshin Sugawara

Dan Gartland of Sports Illustrated:
     “The Japanese high school baseball championships (known colloquially as Koshien, after the stadium where they take place) are unlike anything in sports on this side of the Pacific. Crowds pack the nearly 50,000 seats in the stadium and people watch on national TV as 56 teams from around the country compete over the course of 15 days to be crowned champs. Daisuke Matsuzaka once threw a 17-inning complete game, because the tournament is such a big deal.
    The stakes are incredibly high. The vast majority of these kids will never have an athletic moment as important as this. And yet, one player in a game on Sunday passed up a free base. Kennobu Sugawara from Tokuei Hanasaki was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning of his team’s game against Akashi Shoten. But rather than take first base, he admitted that he leaned in to the pitch. Sugawara bowed to the pitcher, then to the opponents’ dugout, and stepped back in the box. Then he blasted a homer.” 

For the life of me, I don’t see any leaning, it looks like he just maintains his stance. Regardless, big props for refusing the free base and then going deep.

Monday Assorted Links

1. A Spanish-English high school proves learning in two languages can boost graduation rates.

“Muñiz Academy teachers, 65 percent of whom are Latino, strive to create an environment that celebrates their students’ heritage and allows them to embrace this piece of their identities. For some students, that fills an aching need.”

“She gives her students opportunities to discuss their cultural and linguistic insecurities openly, helping students find their place in the world as they work toward Spanish fluency. This identity support contributes to one of the more intangible benefits of the Muñiz Academy, but one that parents most appreciate.”

2. Jennifer Egan: By the Book.

My writing students often want an “improved vocabulary” or “deeper thinking” secret sauce. Egan provides it in this glorious interview excerpt:

“I’ve become hooked on audiobooks — fiction and nonfiction — so nowadays I read pretty much all the time. Only a really good book can stand up to audio, though; anything less is almost intolerable. I listen while walking, waiting for the subway, gardening, composting, cooking, and doing laundry, and with my noise-canceling headphones, I’m as tuned out as my teenage sons! I use an iPad to read books that aren’t available in physical form and for long research papers and transcripts. Then I’m usually reading a couple of physical books: nonfiction for the gym, and fiction for all other times. I like to read (and write) lying down, and despite strenuous effort I often fall asleep at some point, so what I read and write ends up becoming weirdly entwined with my dreams.”

3. Cost of contact in sports is estimated at over 600,000 injuries a year.

“. . . the television production people on the sideline walk. . . around with parabolic microphones. . . . They are catering to their audience. The audience wants to hear heads crack.”

Count me out.

4. The downside of baseball’s data revolution—long games, less action.

Baseball has never been more beset by inaction. Games this season saw an average gap of 3 minutes, 48 seconds between balls in play, an all-time high. There were more pitcher substitutions than ever, the most time between pitches on record and longer games than ever.

5. Today’s tax cuts are tomorrow’s tax increases.

“Anytime you hear a news report on the Trump ‘tax cut,’ substitute the phrase ‘tax shift.'”

6. Bob Corker says Trump’s Recklessness Threatens ‘World War III’.

“In a 25-minute conversation, Mr. Corker, speaking carefully and purposefully, seemed to almost find cathartic satisfaction by portraying Mr. Trump in terms that most senior Republicans use only in private.”

Here’s hoping others have the courage of their convictions.

Weekend Reading Recommendations

Missouri Man Continues Goal to Finish 5K Run Each Month in 2015.

First pitch-ers are skewing older.

• Seymour Hersh’s, The Killing of Osama bin Laden. 10,000 words.

Seymour Hersh on his critics. Lots of f-bombs.

Why You Should Really Start Doing More Things Alone.

The best bike pump in todo el mundo.

Youth Fitness Should Trump Athletic Competition

“Combined participation in the four most-popular U.S. team sports—basketball, soccer, baseball and football—fell among boys and girls aged 6 through 17 by roughly 4% from 2008 to 2012.” [Wall Street Journal]

Docs and others are worried because “It is much more likely that someone who is active in their childhood is going to remain active into their adulthood.”

Forgotten in this discussion is the fact that there are lots of ways to be active. When it comes to youth, we focus far too narrowly on athletic competition at the expense of fitness.

One common theory for the decline is that social networking, videogames and other technology are drawing children away from sports. And of course football faces a more specific challenge, “growing concern that concussions and other contact injuries can cause lasting physical damage.” The Journal speculates on other causes including increasing costs of participation to excessive pressure on kids in youth sports to cuts in school physical-education programs.

I was intrigued by one student’s story in the article:

Fifteen-year-old Jessica Cronin is the daughter of a former three-sport high-school athlete. But Jessica doesn’t participate in high-school sports, choosing to spend her time outside of class volunteering in her community and going to her temple youth group each Wednesday. “I considered doing track, but it takes up so much time,” said Ms. Cronin, a sophomore at Bethlehem Central High School in Delmar, N.Y.

Since most fifteen year-olds can run 6-7 miles in an hour, I suspect Jessica prefers her community service and youth group activities because they’re based on cooperation more than competition. Most young athletes don’t care about winning as much as their coaches. They’re not anti-competition per se, they just can’t relate to, and therefore resent, many of their coaches “win at all costs” approach.

That’s why a lot of young people gravitate to alternative sports like ultimate frisbee and alternative activities like skateboarding.

Survey youth basketball, soccer, baseball and football coaches about what’s most important to them and their athletes long-term health probably won’t make the list. Too many youth coaches are fixated on scoreboards and win-loss records. School principals, athletic directors, and parents aren’t doing enough to train, hire, and reward coaches who think about team sports as a context for healthier living.

Switching from a competitive team sport orientation to a fitness one should start with wider, better lit roads with generous sidewalks so that most young people can walk, bike, blade, skateboard, or run to and from school. Next physical education classes should emphasize life long activities including walking, running, yoga, swimming, and related activities. Students should be encouraged to compete against their younger selves to walk, run, cycle, and swim farther faster.

When fitness trumps athletic competition physical education classes and team sport practices will be more fun than video games. There should be little to no standing around. I have fond memories of some high school water polo practices where our conditioning consisted of a crazy obstacle course that culminated with a celebratory jump off the three meter board. We improved on the coach’s design by firing balls at one another mid-air. Granted a nose was broken and that was in the Pleistocene Era before the first lawyer emerged from the primordial ooze. Practices would be shorter because the emphasis would be on quality of activity more than quantity.

Who is with me?