Why Sports Fans Should Care About the New Hampshire Primary

As a New Hampshire native, I love the presidential primary season. For a few fleeting basic cable moments, my home state is relevant. When else do you hear about Dixville Notch? I bypassed college/NBA hoops last night to soak in as much political punditry as possible. How “news” networks like CNN, MSNBC, and Fox managed to fill as much airtime as they did, see Al Sharpton,  is totally beyond human comprehension especially when the results were all but etched in stone immediately after the polls closed.

Now as sports fans, we may or may not care about the New Hampshire Primary or politics in general. But, as a sports fan, wouldn’t you like to know what teams/sports the Republican candidates are rooting for? Here’s a list of the remaining Republican candidates for president, including Rick Perry, with their favorites teams, listed in order of finish in the 2012 New Hampshire Primary.

Mitt Romey, 39.4% – Other than his intense passion for the Olympic Games, Romney is a founding member of Pink Hat Nation. PHN as you know refers to the cavalcade of carbetbagging non-entities that flocked to Fenway Park during the Red Sox recent decade long renaissance. As an aside, I can’t wait to see what the Sons of Sam Horn end up doing now that Bobby Valentine is in the clubhouse, here to put an end to any and all fried chicken consumption.

Ron Paul, 22.8% – Unfortunately for our resident Constitution expert, Paul can’t support any team that has received public financing for a new stadium.

Jon, or is it John, Hunstman, 16.8% – Probably the Chicago White Sox or really any team that President Obama supports. (Zing!!!!! How’s that for a little inside political baseball?)

Newt Gingrich, 9.4% – The biggest sports fan of the bunch. Being from Georgia, by law Newt has to root for the Dawgs, even though he attended much smaller Emory University in Atlanta. But, if personal relationships are any indication of sports loyalty, I bet he’s willing to switch allegiances based on the hott, with a double t, team of the moment.

Rick Santorum, 9.3% – Santorum went to Penn St. which, if you think about, has absolutely nothing to do with the recent Sandusky scandal.

Rick Perry, 0.7% – 0.7%. Really? Are you sure we can still call Perry an actual candidate? Here are the three teams that Rick Perry roots for 1) Dallas Cowboys 2) Texas Longhorns 3) ___________.

view of UNH vs UMaine hockey at Fenway Park courtesy of @julierobenhymer

Monday Musings: Why I Don’t Gamble Edition

I spent my early Sunday afternoon not watching football at the Brooklyn Flea Market. Why you ask would I subject myself to such obvious distraction? Well, as it turns out, the flea market isn’t just peddling second hand wares, it was also a gathering for some of the boroughs finest food carts. I will look back on this day and remember the pastries from Dough and fish tacos from El Diablo Taco Truck. Both were much more satisfying than the first half of New York Jets vs Jacksonville Jaguars.

A Quick Trip Around the Bases

1B – To say Joe Mauer had a disappointing season would be a gross understatement. Mauer, who the Twins deactivated for the remainder of the season after coming down with a case of the midwestern pneumonia, ends his season with a .287 average adding 3 HR and 30 RBI over 82 games. I don’t think this is what Twins fans had in mind when Minnesota signed the home grown catcher to a unprecedented 8 year $184 million contract in 2010. With EJ Manuel hobbled, maybe it’s not too late for Mauer to quarterback the Florida State Seminoles after all.

2B – Why would Prince Fielder decide that now is the time to share with us that he is “probably” in his last year with the Milwaukee Brewers? The Brew Crew are inches away from capturing the NL Central title so now is obviously not the best time for their star first baseman to weigh in on eventual free agency. Also, why make this announcement on TBS? I thought the superstation only ran reruns of NCIS and King of Queens.

3B – Ozzie Guillen for Logan Morrison? Sure, why can’t you try and trade a manager for a player? Makes sense for all parties involved. Marlins get the manager of their dreams just in time to “fill” their new stadium while the White Sox get a young outfielder who will bring along his twitter followers. What could possibly go wrong with this scenario?

HR – Oh, and just in case you thought I forgot, the Red Sox are now only two games in front of the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL Wild Card. But who’s keeping track anyway?

Extra Bases – Sunday was a perfect example of why I don’t gamble on individual football games. I’m part of a weekly pool where we pick winners for every game based on the spread. It’s a fairly low stakes pool, with not much more on the line than some bragging rights with my dad and his coworkers. Yesterday was one of those days where I picked a lot of winners, but those teams managed to cover the spread on only a handful of occasions. The dagger for my day had to be when Dallas, favored by 3.5, completed a pass to rarely used Jesse Holley who carried the ball all the way down to the San Fran 1 yard line before being caught from behind by a 49ers defensive back. Another yard and the Cowboys win and cover. However, rather than run the risk of fumbling on the goal line, Dallas decides to kick the game winning field goal on first down and I, along with thousands of others, lose out. This is why I don’t bet on football on individual football games.

view from Fenway Park courtesy of @MichaelDola

 

 

 

 

 

What If Every MLB Ballpark Had a Seat Dedicated to Ted Williams?

My brother in law went to Fenway Park for a Red Sox/Royals game last Tuesday night and little did he know that his ticket for the evening assured him a spot in a very exclusive, historic club. And no, he was not about to become the first completely sober adult over the last decade to sit in the bleachers. Actually, he sat in section 42, row 37, seat 21 otherwise known as the Ted Williams seat, site of the longest home run ever hit in Fenway Park.

When I think of Ted Williams I think extraordinarily high batting average not a 502 foot prodigious home run. I had all but forgotten that Williams hit 521 career home runs, tying him for 18th place on the all time list alongside Willie McCovey and Frank Thomas. Perhaps my favorite Williams story revolves around his uber-analytical approach to hitting. Not only did he write a book titled “The Science of Hitting”, but he would apparently rehearse his swing while playing left field. That must have been some sight to see for the Fenway faithful, the Splendid Splinter taking dry swings in the outfield as the pitcher begins his delivery. I wonder if his routine/singular focus ever led to a crucial fielding error. If so, who on the Red Sox was going to challenge Williams to get his head out of his ass and play better defense? He’s Ted Williams. Hall of Famer, arguably the greatest hitter of all time. If anyone gets a free pass for taking their glove off during the game it would have been #9.

The Ted Williams seat in the Fenway Park bleachers is painted bright red to make it stand out amongst the surrounding sea of dark green. Which leads me to the all important question, how many MLB ballparks commemorate long and/or historic home runs? Besides Fenway, we have Camden Yards/Eutaw Street, AT&T Park/McCovey Cove, and PNC Park/Allegheny River. I’m sure there are many more out there but these select few are the most recognizable to me. It would be nice to catalog all of this information so that one day baseball fans can go to Minute Maid Park in Houston and point to the spot of Chris Burke’s famous walkoff in the 2005 NLDS.

Finally, one thing my brother in law did say about his night in the Ted Williams seat is that Red Sox fans were constantly asking him to stand up so that they could take a picture of this historic spot. He didn’t mind the trouble but would have appreciated a few beers for the effort. Maybe next time.

Shadowboxing with Kevin Gregg and David Ortiz

VMS reader Jimmy M. sends us this pic from last night’s Red Sox/Orioles game at Fenway Park. Full stadium on hand, as expected, to see Boston bludgeon the O’s by a final score of 10-3. But all anybody is talking about today is the “fight” between Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Baltimore pitcher Kevin Gregg. As Jimmy points out, the 8th inning provided and interesting series of events to have to explain to his 8 year old son Tommy. To be fair, what transpired between Gregg and Papi was a little a little confusing to even the most seasoned of baseball eyes.

As far as I can tell, the Baltimore Orioles are upset because they are playing like horse manure, having fallen a total of 16 games behind the steamrolling Sox. Papi has been walking his way down to first base since his days as David Arias so I’m not so sure why Gregg was so compelled to scold Ortiz on this particular occasion. On the other hand, Ortiz has no business overreacting to being pitched inside. That’s where you go to get him out. Everyone knows this yet nobody executes this strategy properly – see New York Yankees.

In the end, the only way Baltimore exacts any sort of revenge against Ortiz is to win the next two games vs the Red Sox before heading into the break. Even still, they would remain well behind Boston in the standings with very little cause for optimism over the remainder of the 2011 MLB season.

 

Monday Morning Musings

Here’s your weekly wrap of all the big baseball news with an additional pinch of culture and irreverence.

Hey Tulo, Transformers II was a terrible terrible movie.

Something about Troy Tulowitzki has always bothered me. After watching Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps I realized the reason: he looks just like Shia LaBeouf and I can’t stand Shia LaBeouf. With Shia, my feelings are based on perception more than anything personal as he has always struck me as a smug, precocious mangenue who seems to land choice roles in sequels – Wall Street 2 and Indiana Jones 4 – which aren’t even close to as good as the original. For Tulo however I really had no idea how good of a baseball player he was until I watched him tear up the Mets this past week. He can flat out mash! Of course it helps that the Mets pen is filled with a bunch of has-beens who, for some odd reason, continued to pitch to Tulowitzki even with first base open. Questionable indeed.

view from Coors Field courtesy of @shalek

Achy Joints or Potential China Syndrome?

What exactly is “bilateral weakness”? Here I was thinking it referred to something really really serious like perhaps one of the many problems facing the Fukushimi Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan or maybe something to do with Democrats and Republicans waiting until the 11th hour to pass the federal budget. But, as it turns out, bilateral weakness is an actual medical condition, serious enough, that has forced Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer to the 15 day DL. The bigger issue facing Mauer, and the Twins, is when will they come to the joint (no pun intended) decision to move the all star out from behind the plate to a different position like say OF or 1B? Clock is ticking and the more time Mauer spends on the shelf with bilateral weakness the more imminent a change of position becomes.

view from Tropicana Field courtesy of @stormytpa

Cleveland and Kansas City prepare to play first meaningful series……ever.

First place in the AL Central is at stake when the Cleveland Indians open a four game series tonight against the Kansas City Royals. In the words of Chris Tucker: “do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”. I have to hand it to the Tribe, they completely dismantled my Baltimore Orioles this past weekend and I’m starting to think two things: A) Cleveland – with the likes of Carlos Santana, Travis Hafner, and a healthy Grady Sizemore – has a pretty adequate lineup and B) the Orioles are only as good as their young starting pitching staff and so far this season they have been inconsistent to say the least. Still love Zach Britton, even after he got roughed up by the Indians, and hope Brian Matusz to return from injury sometime soon.

view from Progressive Field courtesy of @mukherjee7

Too Early for Flapjacks?

Here come the Red Sox. I knew as soon as I started bashing Boston on twitter last week that it would come back to bite me right in the derriere but I had no idea it would be this soon. The Sox enter today’s Patriots Day matinee winner of 2 in a row and their starting pitching is the reason for the small turnaround. I should have waited to anger the baseball gods until after the first Sox/O’s series of the season. When will I learn?

view from Fenway Park courtesy of @IamJroc