Tuesday, June 29, 2010

America No Longer has A Pastime

In the early 20th century it was no doubt that baseball reigned supreme. People flocked to players like Babe Ruth and Joe Demagio. The players were clean, and the game was too. Flash forward to today; corked bats and steroids have tarnished the game, and it seems that football has become the sport of this century. But I for one think that Americans are not the kind of people to settle for one single sport to be the "National Pastime." Instead I feel America has the "Triple Crown" of pastimes if you will. This core group is made up of football, baseball, and hockey. There is no doubt that people flock to NASCAR, and every 5th grader plays soccer, but the before mentioned three catch the hearts of Americans like no others can do.

1.) Baseball- Many people feel like baseball has fallen out of relevence since it's peak in the 20th century, and to a certain extent their right. Player juicing themselves up paired with a federal investigation didn't really make for the greatest PR. But there's something about getting to the park early for some BP, filling out your program as the game goes on, and singing during the seventh inning stretch that just screams nostalgia. Baseball is more than a game of shear athleticism, it also requires thought and fenes. More than that, baseball has been bread into each American since it's creation. So no matter if it is the most popular of the triphecta of American Pastimes, but it does best represent our American heritage.

2.) Football- Representing the new era of sports. Sure you had Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swan, and the like last century, but this new century has meant football's gaining of star power. Tom Brady and Payton Manning are more superstars then they are pure athletes, Terrel Owens and Chad Ochocinco more entertainers then they are wideouts. Players have gone from making pennies on the dollar compared to their baseball playing counterparts in the 50's to blowing Americas long held pastime dollar-for-dollar in the payroll section. The full on in your face contact of football caught America's attention in the 70's and continued to grow into the multi-gazilion dollar money making machine it is today. This is hands down the hansom older brother in the family that is our Trio of Pastimes.

3.) Hockey- Canada's hidden secret made it's way to America in the early 20th century, though not really becoming popular until the 70's. Names like Gretzky and Lemuiex gave the game the excitement and fan base it needed to propel itself into the big time in the 2000's. Now names like Crosby, Malkin, and Ovechkin keep things moving up for the NHL. The one thing that binds everyone together around hockey is one simple thing, the fights. People love to see two mean drop the gloves and just duke it out on the ice. Yes between hockey fights, hat tricks, and Lemuiex's five for Austin, magical moments on the ice excite us in a way no other sport can.

America is a country that doesn't need to settle for one sport to provide them with all the excitement they want, because they have three sports to effect them in different ways. You have baseball which employs thought, fenes and nostalgia, hockey which gives us our dosage of devastating body checks and hockey fights, and football with it's higher then life superstar sports figures and fingertip passes. These three core components of America's sporting lineage should be held on a pedastool and hailed as Americas Trifecta of the sporting world.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Plea to Pirates Fans Everywhere

The Pittsburgh Pirates recently celebrated the anniversary of the 1960 World Series win over the New York Yankees. The Pirates marked the occasion by adding another loss to their streak. They did eventually win, ending something around a 13 game loosing streak. Last night the Pirates lost 3-2 to the Oakland Athletics, marking their 14th straight rode loss. While the score was a far cry from the 12-4 debacle they had the night before, a loss is a loss. So staring in the face of what surely will be another (18th) loosing season, why should anyone have faith in this team?

The sad truth is that in the sport of baseball, as most of you know, there is no salary cap. Because of this lack of a cap teams like the Yankies and Red Soxs can afford to buy talent. I mean New York's salary matches that of a developing country. Teams like Pittsburgh however, cannot afford to spend money on big names and thus are forced to scout out hot rookie talent.

A problem is caused there when your scouting team sucks. Since the drafting of Barry Bonds (who at the time was as skinny as a twig, wonder why?) the Pirates have failed to draft any real talent. The only contradiction to that statement was the drafting of catcher Jason Kendall. The only problem with Kendall was the fact that after a certain amount of time he just stopped caring about his team, which was ever so apparently doomed to failure. As of late rookies like Garret Jones (who is in his first full season in the majors) and Andrew McCutchen (Also in his first full season) along with call ups Jose Tabata, Brad Lincoln, and Pedro Alvarez have but a new vibe to the team. Local boy Neil Walker shows promise at second base. The youth is there, the talent is growing, but a few pieces of the puzzle are missing.

While youth is a good thing, it has it's problems. With any rookie comes rookie mistakes, when you have solid starters to play around and make up for those mistakes it evens out, but when you have a team full of rookies you have a team full of rookie mistakes. The trade of Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, and Tony Sanchez basically wiped any experience from the team. The Pirates have stated that they will spend money on bringing in experience and talent when the time comes. I for one say that time is this off season. What we have is a powder geg of talent that needs a spark of experience to egnite it.

In short my message to the few true Pirates fans out there is this: See what they do this off season, if they make good draft picks and spend money on at least some experienced players to guide this young talent we have there may be some hope for the future of this team. On a side not let me mention the fact that it took like 80 years for the Red Sox to break the curse of the Bambino, and the Phillies lost 18 straight seasons before coming back to win the pennent. Keep the faith Pirate fans, keep the faith.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

USA Loss Not too Important

Now I must say soccer (or football for you Europeans) has a place in my heart being as how I've represented my school's soccer team valiantly on the field, but truth be told, I hate watching soccer...... and I think America agrees. The news stories leading up to the USA/Guanna match was that Americans were gaining interest in the sport as they rooted team USA on. But here's the sad truth for all you football fanatics: Soccer will never be anything more than a sport played by school kids in the good old USA. To back that up I have a few valid points.

1.) So what America backed it's own team? During the Olympics you can find everyday Americans watching the USA ping pong team play, does that mean ping pong will sweep America by storm? the answer is the same as it is for soccer, NO.

2.) Soccer is filled with babies, and America hates cry babies. While watching team USA play, and any other team for that matter, I saw grown men cry like babies to the referee whenever they got bumped into. On play sticks out in my mind. It was the last game in the qualifying round and USA was playing some country I've seldom heard of. One of our guys went for a ball that the opponent was bobbling when the other guy just fell over. He grimaced in pain as if the cleat had cut his main artery. But when the replay came on in slow motion you could clearly see he was never even touched. Now bad calls happen in any sport, but I saw at least ten calls in that game alone with contact being non-apparent. Americans love a contact sport, that's why American Football has surpassed Baseball as Americas pastime. Soccer is far from a contact sport. Heck, I'd say Rugby has a better chance of catching on in America than soccer.

3.) There's no star power. If you ask the average American to name a soccer player, nine times out of ten the answer will be "David Beckham," ask them to name another and the answer will probably be "Uhhhhh." Ask an average American to name a Hockey, Baseball, or Football player and they'll have endless answers. The simple fact is that no one knows who plays the sport. The only player I really even remember from team USA is goalie Tim Howard. If Fut ball or Football or Soccer or whatever they want to call the sport wants to match the relevance of the WNBA, they need to build a little star power.

America and Europe have always had different ideals, and that's more than true when it comes to sports. Americans like an aggressive, in your face game like football and hockey. The Euros however seem to settle with a bunch of whiny grown men kicking a ball around an oversize field. America already has two passive aggressive sports (Basketball, which has spread around the world, and Baseball, big in Asia and South America at least.) So soccer fans keep hoping and praying, but I don't think soccer's coming here anywhere soon.