A couple of days ago, I was talking about the mid-season status of baseball and that provoked an inquiry from a long-term reader of these rants who lives in California and is a huge Dodgers’ fan. He wondered what I thought about the likelihood of a “Freeway World Series” between the Dodgers and the Angels. I told him that at this point of the season that was no more or less likely than a “Freeway World Series” in Northern California between the A’s and the Giants – assuming that there is a freeway of some sort that connects/runs between the two cities. I am sure he was not pleased with my assessment…
I am absolutely confident that there will not be a “Red Line World Series”. For those who have never been to Chicago, the Red Line is the el line that has convenient stops for both US Cellular Field and Wrigley Field. There will be no need for Chicago fans to use that rail line to go to either stadium come October let alone both of them. Consider:
At the All-Star Break, the White Sox were in a dead-heat for last place in the AL Central. Technically, they were .001 better than the Twins, which is hardly an accolade for the team. The Sox were 10.5 games out of first place in the division.
At the All-Star Break, the Cubs were comfortably ensconced in last place in the NL Central. They were 12.5 games out of first place in the division and they were 8.5 games behind the fourth place Pirates at that point.
The Cubs had two players hitting over .292. Brian Schlitter is a pitcher who is 1 for 1 this year. The other player is Arismendy Alcantara who has been to the plate 23 times and collected 9 base hits giving him a batting average of .391.
The Cubs – not surprisingly – rank 27th in MLB in runs scored and 29th in team batting average (.237).
The White Sox are hitting better as a team (.250) but it would only put the Sox 4 games ahead of the Cubs if they were in the same division.
Only two teams have struck out more times than the White Sox. I mentioned in a previous rant that Tyler Flowers had struck out 102 times in 257 at-bats. Well, the Sox also have Adam Dunn in the lineup and he has whiffed 100 times in 263 at-bats.
The Obama Administration started a “Race to the Top” education initiative. The Cubs and the White Sox appear to be in a race to the bottom…
Speaking of racing, – sort of – I noticed that Morgan Shepard was involved in an accident in a recent NASCAR race that took out the driver who was running second late in the race. Normally, that kind of news goes in one eyeball and out the other but what caught my attention was that Shepard was 16 laps down at the time of the collision and he drew the ire of the driver he took out of the race. That is when I learned that Shepard is 72 years old. That was sufficiently surprising that I actually went to Wikipedia to look up his birthday and then did the math; he really is 72 years old and he was out there driving a racecar at more than 160 mph. What could possibly go wrong…?
Moreover, I think the fact that a 72-year old man is able to compete in the same race with men in their 20s and 30s stacks a lot of weight on the side of the argument that says NASCAR drivers are not athletes. Jack Nicklaus is 74 years old; he is arguably the best golfer ever; golf is not the most athletically demanding sport. Nevertheless, Jack Nicklaus cannot – and would not try to – compete against PGA players in their 20s and 30s.
Dwight Perry had this item in the Seattle Times recently:
“What’s a guy to do when his ‘wife’ won’t get off his back?
“Ville Parviainen, with teammate Janette Oksman aboard, covered a grueling 278-yard obstacle course in 1 minute 3.75 seconds last Saturday to capture the 19th Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajarvi, Finland, unseating the five-time defending champions, Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapalainen.”
Wife carrying is a sport that does not take itself too seriously. Here is a link to the sport website where you can learn to become a “Master in Wife Carrying”. You can learn a lot reading some of the entries there. For instance:
The minimum weight for a wife is 49 kilos (about 108 lbs) and if she weighs less than that, she will carry extra weight just as in horseracing.
Regarding the attitude of participants, here is what the website says:
“The wife carrying is composed of humour and hard sport on a fifty-fifty basis.”
Here is what the race is all about:
“The traditional track for the wife carrying consists of sand, forested terrain, a water obstacle and two log hurdles. If your style is “the wife dangling upside down”, you have better to remember that in the water pool the wife’s head is likely to go under the water.”
Here are training tips:
“It is possible to train for the wife carrying competition everywhere in the middle of the daily routines: in the bath, in the super market, in the playground or in the body building centre. The wife carrying is good for your relationship.”
Notwithstanding that final assertion, I do not think I shall suggest this to my long-suffering wife…
Finally, here is another gem from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“From the Sometimes These Items Just Write Themselves file comes word that among those gored (in the thigh) this year was Bill Hillman — co-author of ‘How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona.’ “
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………