Sunday, June 25, 2006

Road Trip Postlude

posted by BiCoastal Bias

Now that the ballpark road trip is over, I thought I’d comment on the state of the fans of the various home teams.  After each game, I made sure to listen to a little local sports talk on the radio.  And what did I find?  No surprises, sports junkies are the same no matter where you look.

I already commented some on the situation with New York Mets fans right now.  The Mets are one of two contenders for the National League pennant.  The talent gap in the senior circuit is pretty significant; it looks like New York and St. Louis have their NLCS bids locked up and it’s only June.  But Mets fans just can’t quite believe it.  They want to get excited, but something inside them keeps telling them that an 11 game lead doesn’t really mean anything.  They’ve been burned by the Braves so many times that they won’t believe Atlanta is dead until someone brings them the Tomahawk Chop on a platter.

In Philadelphia, with their team sliding inexplicably downward, fans are turning inward.  On one call-in show after the game, a woman complained that her fellow Philly fans just weren’t loud enough to drown out the Yankee-faithful.  This is such a fallacy that fans and even players seem to buy into when times get rough.  First of all, Philadelphia fans have no control over how many New York bandwagoners get tickets to the game; so when players complain about lack of support in their home stadium, what can they really blame other than their own performance?  When your team is not even threatening to score, there’s really nothing for you to make noise about, other than shouting “Sucks!” after every “Der-ek Jee-ter” chant . . . and that’s an obvious sign of desperation.

The Baltimore sporting scene features the disgruntled types.  Remember the guy from Major League 2 who became the permanent heckler of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn?  This is what your typical Oriole fan has become.  Their post-game callers were ripping into Miguel Tejada; I had thought Tejada was one of the most liked players in the game, but I stand corrected.  (Nonetheless, ESPN thinks he could get traded to Anaheim, a move that would make me quite happy.  I’d still take this guy on my squad in a heartbeat.)

What I loved about each of these revelations is that my hometown fans and I have fit each of these categories at some point in our team’s history.  No matter how unhappy you are, you aren’t the first, and you aren’t alone.  

Friday, June 23, 2006

Day3: Marlins 8 Orioles 5

posted by BiCoastal Bias

My final stop: a pilgrimage to Camden Yards.  Oriole Park is the original of the retro-stadiums we’ve become so used to.  In my opinion, if Camden Yards hadn’t been built, the beloved Fenway Park might have been torn down by now.  Before this Baltimore gem, the trend was to build ballparks in wide open spaces with perfectly symmetrical outfields.  Camden Yards made it cool to play baseball in the city, with an out-of-town scoreboard as a taller outfield wall.  Before Camden, Fenway was an old and busted park that couldn’t hold more than 30,000; suddenly it’s vintage, and therefore worth preserving even at the cost of outlandish ticket prices.  What visionaries live in Baltimore.

Tonight’s game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Florida Marlins was actually the most exciting of my three game tour, however it definitely contained the least energy.  I’m not sure if the actual attendance of less than 20,000 was a sign of the Orioles’ despair, or a statement on the lack of interest in interleague play.  I’ll take it as both.  Seriously, interleague play was completely lost its novelty.  It makes the All-Star game so much less significant, and it’s starting to feel like exhibition games in the middle of the season.  My solution is to cut interleague play down to two series a season.  You can leave one series against the geographical rival (Mets vs. Yankees, Dodgers vs. Angels), and then add one more series that rotates around the league.  That would give it some real spark, it you only had one series against a given team every 15 years!

But I digress.  I’ve got to tip my hat to the O’s fans that do show up, because they are die-hard.  I first got the feeling during the national anthem, when everyone yells to emphasize the “O” in “O say does that star spangled banner yet wave.”  Later, I watched as a man shouted down two little kids waving a Marlins flag, and I knew for sure that they take their floundering team pretty seriously.

We had a 1-1 tie going into the bottom of the eighth, when the Orioles blew it up with 4 runs.  I walked out to the outfield, to watch the last inning from the unique Camden Yards standing room seats, only to watch the O’s give up 4 themselves to send the game into extra innings.  Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins hit the game winner in the tenth, when Williams, apparently attempting to intentionally walk Cabrera, threw a lob over the plate that even I could have whacked for a single.  I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a play quite like that, no one in the stadium was all that clear as to what they had just seen; a pretty rough night to be an Orioles fan.  

It’s quite strange what makes these two teams what they are.  The Orioles have enough offense that I would expect them to be a much more competitive team.  Before tonight, I had only heard of three of the Marlins starters, and yet they’ve rattled off a 9 game winning streak.  What is sending these teams in opposite directions?  I don’t have the answer, but perhaps that’s what makes baseball interesting.

Groundhog's Day in June

posted by MoneyMouth

The World Cup is still going on and after the finish of today’s games we’ll be heading into the round of 16. From Saturday on out we’ll be seeing single elimination games (that means no more draws) that promise to be even more exciting and emotional, at least from the world’s perspective. Unfortunately for the United States, we’ll be welcoming home our players as this fiesta begins.

After last Saturday’s unbelievable tie against Italy, the U.S. still had classifying for the bracket in their sites. First and foremost, they had to win against Ghana. From there, it was up to Italy to dismiss Czech Republic. I could almost taste the impending victory. After the way the U.S. played against Italy when they were down 10 players to 9 for almost the entire second half, it looked like Ghana would be an easy match. So I of course made sure to set my alarm early yesterday in order to watch the United States in their do-or-die match against Ghana. Things looked good as Italy took an early lead over Czech Republic. But like I said, the U.S. had to win no matter what. Instead of witnessing a victory and the advancement into the next round, I witnessed a match in which the United States didn’t do and only died. Final score: Ghana 2, U.S. 1.

After last World Cup’s quarterfinal finish it seemed the like U.S. would be able to ride high into this World Cup. And, in fact, they entered ranked 5th in the world by FIFA only to placed in the arguably the toughest group of the cup and consequently leave without a win. Even worse is what this means for the future of soccer in the United States for at least the next four years.

I know the Frappe has already made several comments about the state of soccer in the U.S. and how it will never progress to the level of any of our other major sports no matter how much our youth might be playing this sport. I am mostly in agreement with such statements. However, I do feel that if the U.S. team can ever finish in at least the semifinals of a World Cup we might begin to see a serious change in our attitudes toward such a game. But when the U.S. soccer team can only manage to score one goal in 270+ minutes of World Cup play (the other goal which came against Italy came off an Italian’s foot), then we will continue to see soccer pushed to the back of everyone’s mind.

Thus, the U.S. team’s inability to classify is similar to when the Punxsatawney groundhog sees his shadow—it means winter will be extended for six more weeks. In this case, soccer is going to face four more years of unpopularity and mockery in the United States. It’s just a fact. Until the U.S. can put together a legitimate contender, no one will even know what the letters MLS stands for. Sorry soccer fanatics; maybe next time.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Day 2: Yankees 5 Phillies 0

posted by BiCoastal Bias

Phillies versus Yankees.  This is one of those rare interleague matchups that makes perfect sense, (tomorrow I will be bashing interleague play while watching Florida against Baltimore, so enjoy this while it lasts).  With Philadelphia being about an hour from New York, this game pitted the oh-so cocky Yankee fans head-to-head with the super obnoxious fans of Philly.  

The new Citizen’s Bank Ballpark is a great place to watch a game; and this place was rocking tonight.  While walking around during pregame activities, one could just feel the energy.  Three Phillies fans entertained themselves by seeking out every Giambi-jersey-wearing male, pointing, and chanting “Stare-roids” for precisely three counts before moving onto the next victim.  

Ironically, this was the game all of the Mets fans around me at Shea Stadium kept talking about the night before.  The guy next to me mentioned several times, “I hate to do it, but we gotta root for the Yankees right now, we need their help against the Phillies.”  This is a clear case of Mets-paranoia.  The Mets are the best team in the N.L. right now, and the way the entire east is playing, they’ve got more to worry about from the Marlins than the Phillies.  That being said, I know what it’s like to be a fan of the other team in a metropolitan area, and how damaged you can get once you’ve experienced a few mid-season collapses.

Back to Philadelphia, the only down side of this night was that I had to watch the Yankees dominate someone.  The most interesting part of the evening turned out to be the crowd.  For a while, we had various battles of “Let’s go Yankees / Let’s go Phillies” cheers.  But once New York had staked a 5-0 lead, “Let’s go Philliles” degenerated into “Yankees suck!”  And one beer-bellied dude near me got extremely clever and started chanting “Let’s go Boston,” a team ahead of New York in the standings, not to mention up 9-2 on the Nationals at the moment.  

The guy with the gut represents an extremely pivotal moment in MLB history, which you are reading first on the Frappe.  For a long time, “Yankees suck” has been the rallying cry of Red Sox fans in any situation.  However, tonight, a crossover was made, so that anyone who hates the Yankees must also be rooting for Boston.  Let me spell this out for you, mathematician style:  Before tonight, being a Red Sox fan directly implied hating the Yankees, but not vice versa.  Starting now, hating the Yankees also implies cheering for the Red Sox.

I haven’t worked out all of the implications of this.  I know that plenty of west coast fans actually hate both teams, so who knows which side they will fall on once this trend becomes national.  It’s history in the making, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Day 1: Mets 9 Reds 2

posted by BiCoastal Bias

There are some things you just can’t know until you’ve been there. For instance, I had no idea that Mr. Met was such a Big Brother figure. Walking around Shea Stadium, one is affronted with constant signage stating “Mr. Met says do this,” or “Mr. Met says do that.” “Mr. Met says stay in your seat . . . Mr. Met says beware of batted balls . . . Mr. Met says war is peace.”

On the other hand, Mr. Met is quite the community figure, finding time to read to children, hand out T-shirts, and sing the seventh inning stretch. Who knew this guy was such a philanthropist?

The real Mets, however, have a legitimate championship hopeful on the field. Even with Cliff Floyd out, and David Wright in a mini-slump, they’re lineup is still looking like the National League All Star team. The pitcher Steve Trachsel got in the action as well, belting a solid homer to left. Jose Reyes, Paul Loduca, Carlos Delgado, and Wright will all make the squad, with Beltran given an outside shot. You couldn’t ask for more from their defense, either.

Even the old timer Jose Valentin was out to impress last night. With a six-run lead, he rounded third with his sites set on an inside the park homerun. Sure he got thrown out pretty handily at the plate, but I appreciated it nonetheless. You’re a crowd-pleaser Valentin, and I dig that about you.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Pregame Warning

posted by BiCoastal Bias

You Frappers are in for a special treat.  At the Sports Frappe’s fiscal meeting last week, (we have those directly following our production meetings) we came to the conclusion that we have a lot of unused money in our first half budget.  

Then the old timer Intrinsic Bent stood up, and told us this story about how he had always dreamed of growing his hair long, buying a VW bug, and taking a road trip to each of the country’s major league ballparks.  After he sat down, and the rest of us cleared the mist that had formed in our eyes, we decided that we just didn’t have a big enough surplus to pay for the VW bug, the gasoline, or the hair extensions.  

So instead, the Sports Frappe is sending me, the BiCoastal Bias, on a mini-tour.  I’ll be spending Tuesday night at Shea Stadium, Wednesday night in Philadelphia, and Thursday night at Camden Yards.  And I’ll be blogging about all of it.  

Stay tuned, Frappers . . .

Friday, June 16, 2006

Just Go With It.

posted by BiCoastal Bias

Let me start by saying that watching the World Cup does not make you a soccer fan. The BiCoastal Bias has made it clear in the past that a soccer fan he is not, (cf. This Un-American Sport, and A Helmet Bill?)

But even I've got to watch this tournament, (yes I switched from third person to first person there, I learned that from Rickey Henderson, stay with me). Watching the World Cup is a cultural experience. For whatever reason, this event is even enough to stop wars in some countries, and that wins it some major points in my book.

And if you just can't handle it, think of this way. Argentina just beat Serbia & Montenegro 6-0. Yes, they scored a touchdown. You're watching international football. They punt the ball on first down alot. Just go with it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Like Kissing Grandma With Her Teeth Out

posted by IntrinsicBent

In the past few weeks, you’ve benefited by posts from your favorite Sports Frappe journalists from locales such as Massachusetts, Virginia, Las Vegas, and Southern California.  

We even had correspondents as far as Guatemala.  In part so you Soccer Moms could get your World Cup fix.  There’s no limit to the ends we’ll go for our faithful FrappHeads.

Against our better judgement, MoneyMouth gave you soccer honks your equal time via a nuts and bolts soccer primer, and how are we rewarded?

You give us ties!?!

There is no way a “sport” ends with a tie…………and then earns you a point in the process.  Especially an event that’s touted as being for the whole world and by the way……..only occurs every 4 years.

First, it was Trinidad & Tobago Versus Sweden that gave us double donuts.  Three countries cannot produce even one goal?

Then France Versus – Switzerland produced double nil.  At least it’s progress for France.  I guess you don’t worry about surrendering when you take on a neutral country. France wins!

This opens that canned question that pops up from time to time which goes, “So what constitutes being a sport?”

I think actually having someone score is in the top 3 requirements.

Domino Tournaments are going to be airing soon, and frankly have a better shot at getting me to tune in.  If someone mixes in a mullet, that’s a bonus right there.

Americans need action and scoring.  And yes, I’m still talking about sports here, so try to stay on track with me.

This was proven with the other international low scoring “sport”, NHL hockey.  Their version of the playoffs has been beaten in the ratings by lower level non sports programming one of which was a certain Mr. Spongebob Squarepants.

I’ll have a crabby patty and a large diet coke, please.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What Do You Get The Person That Has Everything?

posted by IntrinsicBent

So many ways to go with this one. The Frappe is all about good taste and decorum. Be warned that the subject matter and events are graphically tasteless. This mainly due to the hilarity of the lack of maturity involved.

Much goes on in clubhouses of professional sports teams. Some sordid, some ridiculous, some funny. It’s a bonding thing with guys. Ladies when the guys get together for what we term fun, many times it’s not an intellect based event. You know, the hand in the warm water trick on your buddy that’s sleeping, bragging about what a great breakfast you make in the campground to anyone that will listen, etc. The list goes on forever, but if I divulge more I risk losing my Dude Card.

Baseball seems to have a high rate of practical jokes, probably because the vast number of games played in a season and the length of the games themselves. You’ve seen the guy cluelessly wearing the bubble gum bubble on his hat gag, the hot foot trick, and the pie in the face during the interview, to name a few.

Baltimore Oriole (a fierce mascot, but I digress) Kevin Millar kicked it up a notch. And I don’t think he was trying to be funny. Boston Manager Terry Francona definitely didn’t get a chuckle out of it.

Seems when Ex BoSox Millar was in Minnesota playing the Twins, he left a special “gift” for his ex-Skipper Francona in the visiting manager’s office since he was due in next.

The gift was a nice bag of dog poop.

“It said, Here’s to Francona”, the Skipper recounted. “I opened it, reached in, I didn’t realize what it was. I just called him back and said, “Any chance you had of ever coming back here just went right down the toilet with that bag.”

The Sport Frappe’s question to Millar is, Couldn’t you find a way to light the bag on fire first?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The World Cup: Some Words of Wisdom

posted by MoneyMouth

My baby birds;
While you may have been nervous that I would not return with instructions and some words of wisdom concerning the World Cup, I have been thinking about how best to send you out into this new world as well equipped fans. With the Cup starting tomorrow (first game is Germany vs. Costa Rica) we have no time to waste. So grab your pen and notebook and let’s get to this.

1. The Basic Format

Look, I’m not going to try to play it up: soccer is not that hard to figure out. You get the ball, you pass it around without using your hands, and you try to score. Of course, there are things like off-sides which some people will never understand, but other than that, it’s not that hard to comprehend. Just remember, in soccer they play two halves of 45 minutes each. At the end of regulation, stoppage time is sometimes added so don’t panic when the refs don’t call the game immediately. Also, remember that there is a good deal of acting involved. Soccer players take falls more often than Vlade Divac used to take flops. Most of the time, the penalty is deserved despite the dramatics. Keep an eye out for how quickly the player usually gets up once the penalty is awarded.

2. How to Watch

Pace yourself. A soccer game is not exactly a high scoring game to begin with, so if you are yelling and screaming with excitement in the first 4 minutes you are going to wear yourself out. I suggest watching the game with some friends to keep it from getting too tedious. Then, when the ball is found in opposing territory, that is, within shooting range, start to get a little excited. This would be the appropriate time for a yell or two. Trust me: It will give you something to look forward to, which brings me to the last point:

3. The Goal

Treat the goal as a rarity. That means celebrate and then celebrate some more. After your mini-gala event, take a break, get a soda from the fridge, and relax. The next goal will probably not be for a while, so savor this one as best you can.

I think that about covers it. While I realize most of these games are mid-day in the States, do your best to keep up on what the U.S. is doing. These boys deserve our support.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

NBA with Mullets

posted by BiCoastal Bias

Word around the office cooler yesterday was that Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals received less viewer ship than NCAA softball airing at the same time on ESPN 2.  My response?  “I’m a writer for the most cutting edge sports blog on the web, and I didn’t even know the Finals had started.”

Walk up to someone on the street and ask them if they’re going to watch tonight’s NHL finals game between Edmonton and Carolina, and you’re guaranteed to get one, if not both of the following responses:

  1. Isn’t it June?

  2. There’s a hockey team in Carolina?

Seriously, hockey is a great sport, I’ve got no problem with it.  But as soon as the NHL decided to become the mullet wearing competitor of the NBA, they killed it.  They’ve over expanded, both in teams and schedule.

They aren’t the fourth big sport, and they shouldn’t try to be.  They ought to stay closer to their roots, cities in which kids can actually play ice hockey for at least a month out of the year, and keep the schedule limited to the months in which one associates winter sports.  

That being said, I’ll try to take time to watch game 2 tonight.  And come to think of it, “The NBA with mullets!” would make an amazing marketing strategy . . .

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sparring With Jim Lampley

posted by IntrinsicBent

Let me start out by saying that I’ve always liked Jim Lampley. I’ve followed him when he had a daily sports radio show. I’ve watched him locally when he was the sports dude on a SoCal television station. He’s very good calling boxing bouts on HBO. I usually enjoy him when he subs in on a national sports talk radio show……………….until today.

Dude needs to read this post about being in the Old Skool, yet retaining your ability to stay open to new things.

I’m minding my own business listening to sports talk radio when I hear Lamps respond to a fax he’d received. The gist of the fax was questioning Lampley on how he felt about UFC’s ever increasing Pay-Per-View receipts.

What’s the UFC you ask? Sigh…………………..go here and get caught up. We’ll wait if you make it fast.

Jim played himself when he said he didn’t know what the PPV numbers for Ultimate Fighting Championship were, and then went on to comment erroneously on not only that portion of the issue, but on other facets of the UFC as well.

He said silly things like:

  1. The UFC is barfighting – Wrong bro. It’s mixed martial arts featuring many disciplines including grappling, boxing, muy thai, ju jitsu, etc.

  2. UFC fights consist of a bunch of eye gouging. Wrong again Bucko. Eye gouges are illegal.

  3. UFC PPV numbers are light years away from approaching boxing PPV numbers. You started out the convo by stating you didn’t know what the numbers were. Did you Google it while you were making uninformed comments?

  4. Boxing was much more athletic, and boxers were in better shape than MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighters. That’s like saying that you expend the same amount of energy whether you are sitting in a recliner or sitting in a recliner while doing situps with the assistance of the lever, and swinging into a handstand. (That’s a sport I’m inventing. Don’t tell anyone. Call it a Sports Frappe exclusive.)

  5. He actually said that if you put a UFC fighter against a boxer but limited them to boxing, that the boxer would win. That’s another good one. If you put that same boxer up against a donut maker in a donut making contest, the donut maker would win. How dumb is that? Anyone but me remember Mohammed Ali’s mixed rules bout with Antonio Inoki that ended in a draw?

Lamps ended his monologue by stating that boxing had a 120 year old history behind it. He’s got me on that one. It does have a 120 year history of scandal, fractured ruling bodies, unsavory characters, and cheating as a foundation. I won’t even go into the whole ear biting era.

Boxing is a watered down sport short on heroes. The heavyweight division is void of talent and intrigue unless you count 40+ year olds clinging to their sport almost as tight as they do their opponents.

UFC is a fresh, multifaceted sport that is on the rise. I told you almost a year go that this was the way it was going. If you didn’t get on board last time, get in before you miss anything else. The last two Pay Per View events have been awesome, and this year’s Ultimate Fighter Season has been the best one yet.

Mr. Lampley, I suggest you stop sounding like our Sports Frappe intern Knowledge Droppings and mix in some soundly researched sports takes. Your air grasping statements only serve to show that you haven’t checked in with the sport in quite a few years. I get it, boxing is your meal ticket. Hang on tight and hope that another De La Hoya fight will return the sport to it’s former shine.

One last thing Lamps, they also now wear non-leather helmets in football.

Just trying to help. Again.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Futbol Mundial

posted by MoneyMouth

As the newly promoted international correspondent to the Frappe, I find it in my job description to inform you of what is happening outside our nation’s borders and that includes more than Toronto, Canada. While most of the nation is either waiting for the NBA Finals or their favorite baseball team to pull themselves out of the crapper, it may come as a surprise to you that the majority of the world is could care less about what Shaq is doing and more about what Rhonaldino is doing after practice. That’s because we’re four days away from one of the biggest sporting events in the world: The World Cup.

That’s right, soccer is here and it’s going to make its home in Germany for the next month whether you like it or not. From June 8th to July 9th, 32 countries will battle it out in an attempt to be crowned the champions of the world. But before you decide to simply write this event off and go back to researching how long Albert Pujols might be on the DL, let’s try and talk this one over. I’m not asking for your entire month. All I’m asking for is three little games, and then you can decide what you want do to do.

What you need to know is that the United States not only has a team competing in the World Cup, they have a pretty good team at that. Last World Cup, the U.S. made it to the quarterfinals. Unfortunately for them this time around they got stuck in arguably the most difficult group to start the tournament. You see, the tournament starts in groups of four and the top 2 teams from each group advances to the bracket. For the U.S., that means playing Italy who always can put together a competitive team, Ghana who are the underdogs to watch in this tournament, and a very, very good Czech Republic team. That’s three guaranteed games. If you miss those, you might miss our entire participation in the tournament and you wouldn’t want to do that. Missing the United States play in the World Cup would be like missing your son or daughter in their first school play: embarrassing.

So here’s the deal: check them out. Their first game is against Czech Republic at 12:00pm Est. on June 12th. Despite your perceptions of soccer, it won’t be that bad. And don’t worry, I’ll feed you baby birds. I’m not going to abandon you in the wake of a new experience. I’ll be sure to give you a little coaching before you dive head first into this bad boy. And who knows, you might just have a little fun while you’re at it.