Monday, April 29, 2013

If You Let Me Play Sports

This past week, a former classmate posted on Facebook a softball team photo from the summer before my sophomore year in high school. I played summer league softball from 7th to 11th grade. It was competitive, intense, and provided some of the best times I had growing up.

My first organized team was in 5th grade as an intramural basketball player. Mr. Hefner appointed me as one of the team captains. A noble, but unsuccessful effort as we ended the season with no wins. What I remember most was not how bad we were, but how exciting it was to be on a sports team.

My brother and I were very fortunate that our parents fully supported our love to play sports. For some kids, particularly girls, this wasn't always the case. The above picture is from a 1995 Nike ad that provided compelling reasons on why girls should play sports.

Here's the YouTube video (web access only):
Over a decade later, the commercial remains one of Oprah's all-time favorites. Mine too.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pin Gods

image source: Larry Locke Films

About a year ago, I wrote a blog entry about the bowling documentary, "A League of Ordinary Gentleman". While fulfilling my fix of endless bowling videos on YouTube, another documentary that came out 10 years earlier came up on my suggested viewing list. The film's name is "Pin Gods".

Like "A League of Ordinary Gentlemen", the documentary follows 3 bowlers: Anton "Sonny" Pavelchak, Bob Vespi, and Tony Rosamilia. Their ultimate goal is to become the next PBA legend, Walter Ray Williams, who is briefly profiled in this film. Walter Ray was one of the 3 bowlers closely followed in "A League of Ordinary Gentlemen."

What is more evident in "Pin Gods" is how difficult and grinding it is to become even remotely successful on the PBA tour. For me, I found "Pin Gods" to be good viewing but not as good as "League", mostly because I'm a big bowling fan. However, it's not something I can recommend to the casual sports fan.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sweet Caroline

Where it began
I can't begin to knowin'
But then I know
It's growing strong...

For those in Boston, my thoughts are with you.

Music and lyrics by Neil Diamond

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jerry Lucas - NCAA 75th Anniversary March Madness, All-Time Team

image source: News-Herald

Last week, the NCAA celebrated their 75th Anniversary All-Time March Madness Team. An awesome list of legends which include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly Lew Alcindor), Bill Walton, Bill Bradley, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, Michael Jordan, Danny Manning, Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robertson, and Jerry West.

Last but not least is an Ohio State legend, Jerry Lucas. His former Buckeye teammates include Bobby Knight and John Havlicek. Most know Lucas had a successful pro career in the NBA with the Cincinnati Royals, San Francisco Warriors and New York Knicks. Unlike today, where most top-caliber college players leave school early to play in the NBA, this wasn't a career option Lucas thought was available to him.

But what many probably don't know - *of the 150+ schools that recruited him for an athletic scholarship, Lucas enrolled at Ohio State on an academic scholarship (at his insistence). He chose Ohio State because they were the only school to talk to him about academics first. In his 4 years at Ohio State, Lucas earned his bachelor's degree in 3. He spent his senior year of eligibility in post-graduate studies.

Jerry Lucas retired from the NBA in 1974.  In 1996, Lucas was named one of the 50 Greatest NBA Players. Lucas is now a public speaker, educator and memory expert.

*source - Wikipedia

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Cool Hand Luke

image source: Robert Deutsch, USA Today Sports

A little more than a week ago, Luke Hancock, a relatively unknown player transfer from George Mason University got our attention. He ran from the bench to aid his fallen teammate, Kevin Ware. He comforts Kevin which enables Kevin and the Louisville team to regain their composure and win the game against Duke, 85-63, to reach the Final Four.

Two days after the Duke game, "Cool Hand" Luke comes off the bench to score 20 points in their semi-final match against Wichita State. Near the closing seconds of the game, he misses a second free throw attempt and immediately shifts into defensive mode. From the missed shot rebound, he ties up Wichita State's Ron Baker in what many consider a questionable jump ball. Regardless, this enables Louisville to regain possession and win the game, 72-68.

In the championship game against Michigan, Luke shoots an eye popping 5-for-5 from 3-point range. At game's end, he scores 22 points. The first four shots enable Louisville to eliminate a double-digit deficit (the second in as many games) in the first half of the game and defeat Michigan, 82-76. Luke's stats for the entire Final Four tournament, 8-for-10 shots made.'s Eamonn Brennan's blog post in Men's College Basketball Nation writes a great detailed account of Luke's accomplishments in the Final Four.

For me, this year's Final Four was the most exciting series of games I've seen at least 15 years. It started with my alma mater, Ohio State, and their attempt to make to the Final Four for the second consecutive year after making the Elite Eight. Then the emotion of the Louisville-Duke game snagged me hook, line and sinker. Their chemistry and the ability to come-from-behind reminded me so much of my beloved San Francisco Giants, who fought off 6 elimination games to win the 2012 World Series.

Congratulations to Coach Rick Pitino, Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Tim Henderson, Gorgui Dieng, Wayne Blackshear, Chane Behanan, Mike Marra, Stephan Van Treese, Logan Baumann, Jordan Bond, Montrezl Harrell, Zach Price, Michael Balfour, Mike Marra, and Kevin Ware.
Best wishes to Luke's ailing dad, Bill, and the rest of the Hancock family.

And the man we won't forget, Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four Tournament, Luke Hancock. The force was with you.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Luke Hancock - the other Louisville Cardinal we shouldn't forget

image source: USA Today

This past Sunday, many of us watched in horror the injury Louisville Cardinal Kevin Ware sustained after trying to block Duke Blue Devil's Tyler Thornton's 3-point shot attempt. What I saw immediately afterward (see above image) is something I'll remember even more.

Luke Hancock, one of Louisville's team co-captains, consoling Kevin.

Without Luke's presence of mind, I doubt Kevin would have been able to tell his team repeatedly not to worry about him and go win the game. This enables Louisville to regain their composure and go on to defeat Duke, 85-63.

Best wishes to Kevin, Luke and the rest of the Louisville team. It's going to be hard not to root for you.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Baseball Box Scoring

image source: Wikipedia

In less than 12 hours, my team for the past 29 years, the San Francisco Giants (and defending World Series Champions), will visit Chavez Ravine to begin the 2013 season to play longtime arch rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

My interest in baseball began around the age of 7. It took me about 3 to 4 years for me to understand the finer and more nuanced points of the game (balk, double steal, sacrifice fly, past ball, wild pitch, etc.).

This was also the time I became acquainted with box scoring, mostly out of necessity. I'd listen to games on radio and hear an announcer call a 6-4-3 (shortstop-2nd base-1st base) double play. It drove me nuts not to know what that term meant.

For many of you who already follow baseball, the above diagram is nothing new. Those of you that don't, the diagram lists all fielders and their position numbers when a team plays defense. For example, a left fielder catches a fly ball for an out. This would be scored as "F7".  Other scoring examples can be found from this link at

Starting pitchers on 2013 Opening Day - Matt Cain for San Francisco versus Clayton Kershaw for Los Angeles. Time to play ball. Go Giants - BEAT LA.