Monday, August 30, 2010

Aroldis Chapman-ia


For those of you who are wondering, yes, I'm going to watch his first Major League pitch tomorrow night. Get pumped, fans.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Concussions – Destruction of the Past, Present, and Future

For those of you who were wondering, this is my final “project” before my fall semester begins and I will not be as productive as I have been over the past three months. I hope that this entry stirs your interest as much as it has mine. As I have written previously, I had played organized sports for about fifteen years, and it’s been a huge drive as to what I want to do in the future. However, I noticed that there has been a lot of controversy in organized sports over the past several years, especially when it comes to student-athletes and injury. Today, I’m going to talk about a fresh subject: the brain. I’m also going to talk about the bad things that can be done to the brain, and the future effects that may become of these bad things.
The brain: the center of our nervous system; a center that holds billions and billions of neurons and makes countless synaptic connections each and every day. Our brain is required to make movements, make decisions, and make our difficult lives livable each day. What do you think would happen if something happened to these three-pound ridges of muscle? Would you realize it yourself? Some people might, some other people may not, depending on the severity of the massive effect casted upon the brain. The effects could be from drugs or alcohol, or the main subject of my entry—blunt force or whiplash. While increasing knowledge creates ridges in the brain, negative effects severely age the brain and make it deteriorate, robbing the individual of memories, motor skills, and figuratively, their “minds.”
Due to the extreme increase in competitive injuries and judgments in caring for them, bad results are coming to light, and they are coming to light in individuals as young as preteen years. High school student-athletes are often misdiagnosed, rushed in recovery, and are more susceptible to further brain injury and more concussions. Not only are student-athletes in danger, but professional athletes are also at risk for long-term damage, and we will mention cases for this later on in the entry. When it comes to sports-related concussions, lack of awareness and safety for the young and old is turning into a threat for their futures, as well as the futures of the loved ones around them.
When the brain experiences a concussion, it literally moves around inside your head after a huge blow when it clearly should not. Symptoms may include confusion, clumsiness, slurred speech, fatigue, nausea, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light and sound, among others ( As a person who has once suffered a mild concussion before, I can tell you that it is definitely one of the worst experiences you could ever have. You seriously have no idea what’s going on, and since everyone thought I was alright (I had a soccer ball kicked at my head and it knocked me for a loop) after taking a ball to the head, I kept on playing. When concussions occur in cases such as young children or student-athletes, nobody really knows how to treat someone after experiencing a brain injury unless if they are, well, a doctor. Some make the big mistake in carrying on normal activity the next day as if nothing had ever happened. In reality, the brain is still confused and will take longer to recover unless if the individual rests for a few days. Going to class and doing other activities is not the best idea for someone who has just suffered a brain injury. Nevertheless, life should continue normally after a full recovery, which usually takes up to a week in younger individuals.
However, concussions can often become more common if one is not careful. In heavy contact sports such as soccer, football, and basketball, athletes may often be rushed to recovery due to the high competitive atmosphere in the game itself. Coaches and other higher officials may see the symptoms as “fake” or just “excuses” to not continue play. This lapse in judgment proves to be poisonous for the person in question, as it could determine their mental and emotional status not just now, but in the near future as well. Not just this, but many of the athletes do not fully understand the consequences of constant brain injury and eventual “recovery” from the constant trauma.
Here’s a photo of a healthy brain, and next to it is a photo of a damaged brain.

The right side looks all scabbed-looking, right? Imagine that all over your brain, making it misshaped and decayed. This discoloration represents broken functions, broken memories, and broken emotions.
While watching the news a few months ago, I finally realized how bad this ongoing issue can be. The video packaged presented a college student who had showed signs of mental deficiency and has showed signs of a decrease in reaction time. She was the victim of several concussions that she sustained while playing sports in high school and also in college. After many hits, she can no longer play sports, and her brain and well-being will never be the same. Another young man who played football in high school had also suffered a concussion while practicing, but players and coaches thought nothing of it and believed that the young man was faking his injury. After suffering three concussions in total, he no longer plays sports, but is now studying neuroscience and the long-term effects of concussions (June 1, 2010). To see intelligence and talent be extinguished by misjudgment and malpractice is a complete disgrace and incredibly painful to watch, especially if you have a friend or loved one going through this experience.
The long-term effects of multiple concussions and the views of the brain after years of trauma are absolutely staggering. Over the past several years, brains of dead professional athletes (most of them ex-NFL players) have been viewed and studied in order to study the effects of numerous brain injury. The effects, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), can cause mental and emotional disorders and can even present symptoms and long-term deterioration characterized by Lou Gehrig’s disease. To support this claim, a source from the Associated Press states: “Dr. Ann McKee [Boston University] said she found toxic proteins in the spinal cords of three athletes who had suffered head injuries and were later diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS. Those same proteins have been found in the brains of athletes with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease linked to head injuries that causes cognitive decline, abnormal behavior and dementia” (August 17, 2010). These individuals’ lives are ultimately compared to a massive implosion just waiting to happen. Remember that Rachel Leigh Cook PSA from the 90’s? That’s basically what happens when someone falls apart like this. It’s as if a poison is spreading not just through one person, but to loved ones as well.
Concussions are a very dangerous thing, and they could very easily corrupt someone’s future in their prospective careers. However, with proper treatment, further injury could be avoided and more successful recoveries could be achieved. Seeing a person robbed of emotion, mental capacity, and movements can be very painful to witness. It’s a shame that we’re not made of steel, isn’t it? Retired athletes have gone to the verge of insanity and suicide in their older ages (as in their forties and fifties, literally) because their brains are no longer capable of self-control, and for what? For fame? For their coaches and the team? One thing I’ve learned in the past few months is to be a little selfish sometimes; to not always put others’ needs before your own well-being. In an era of competition, selfishness is thrown on the back burner. The things you do for love and fame, right? It shouldn’t always be like that. We need to learn about what can happen to our bodies when we aren’t careful and what the consequences can be. Safety first.
Thank you for your time in reading this.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

AZ's Slant on Sunday - 8/15-8/22

Hoot hoot hoot hoot hoot hoot (<--Link for epic background music) Hello, and welcome to the first series of AZ's Slant on Sunday. This won't be a weekly thing--it'll be more bi-weekly than anything--since I have other things in life that come before this blog. In short, this will be more of a thing where I can recap stuff that I can't really go into detail about and might be a little fun to poke at while I have the chance to. These points will be short and sweet--just like, not me. I'm fun-sized. Not short. Without any further ado, this is AZ's FIRST Slant on Sunday!
(Events not in any particular order)

Brett Favre Makes [Another] Comeback - See previous blog entry on my opinion of it all.

Who Wins at the New Meadowlands? - The Giants win, and Manning pulls it off in blading fashion. I don't like football but I thought the game was actually pretty fun to watch.
[But in retrospect, something else really had my attention that night, and it isn't considered a legitimate sport--coughcoughSummerSlamcoughcoughRandyOrtoncoughcoughBryanDanielsoncoughcoughcough]

Tebow and Roethelisberger Show Promising QB Starts - Too bad one of them isn't starting in that position in the first couple of weeks of the regular season. Oops.

Team USA vs. The World - The USA is obviously winning. Big shocker.

Jayson Williams' Misdemeanor Sentence is... - [drum roll] One additional year in the slammer! (crowd cheers) Now you have more of a dark, damp place where you will be met with a flashy orange jumpsuit, more exercise equipment that you can shake a tailfeather at, and many sweaty, friendly jailbirds awaiting your welcome! The actual retail value is more absolute stupidity on your part!
(Side Note: If you don't like the theme I put for this, shame on you. Bob Barker is boss.)

Absolutely nothing. No bull.

K-Rod Chronicles - Okay, so first he takes a swipe at his father-in-law near the Mets clubhouse, and then he gets escorted out of the building by police, next he gets suspended by the Mets organization for two games, then has to be subjected to counseling, and then notices a problem in his thumb ligament--where he has to get surgery on it and miss the rest of the season. Did I mention that he's currently on the DQ salary list too? I would keep shoveling for you, K-Rod, but you've already made enough of a hee-haw out of yourself. You just made the New York Mets sound like a really, really bad soap opera that needs to get canceled because it's so bad.

Lou Piniella Steps Down...for Good - I'll probably be writing a small, humorous poem about this jolly man. But for now, in short, Godspeed, Big Lou.

The Rocket is Imploding - He's making a bigger hee-haw of himself than K-Rod. Need I explain why? Okay--Clemens clearly took performance enhancing drugs during his tenure in MLB and keeps digging himself in a hole about the whole thing. Why don't we all point fingers at people, Rog? Prolonging the full admittance of your stupidity is really doing you in, man.

There are some, but I don't think American readers really care. I'll try again soon enough.

Controversy Lurks in the 2010 PGA Championship - I know jack squat about professional golfers, but there was a lot of commotion about the disqualification of Dustin Johnson during the final putts in the tournament. For the first time, I didn't have to hear about Tiger Woods being amazing and Phil Mickelson doing it all for his ill wife. I was pretty shocked. I sort of know certain shots and calls made during the game (Thank you, Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour) and hearing what happened to this poor guy was absolutely ridiculous. Golf fans, I feel bad for you since the golf gods excreted on your sport a little bit this past week.

Serena Sits Out on US Open - After a glass incident and some surgery, she won't be able to hold her title as the favorite of this year's US Open. Hey, what doesn't kill her will make her stronger, right? Although this also means she won't be defending the doubles title with Venus in the near future, this is probably a blessing in disguise for her in some way. Sure, she's upset she can't do it, but maybe something else will open up for her in the coming months.

And that, my friends, is the conclusion of the first Slant on Sunday. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think. If it isn't great, let me know, and I'll try and fix things up or just delete the post altogether. If it's good, again, let me know and I'll see what else I can do to spice this mini-column up.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Two Peas in a Pod

Made in dedication to the hero-and-sidekick antics coming from the offensive side of the Cincinnati Bengals.

TO and Ocho: This one's for you, bruddas.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Father Time – The Chronicles of Brett Favre

FUN FACT: Every time I think of the “Father Time” being, I think of the cartoon “Histeria!” and I have no idea why.

But, aside from cartoons from my childhood past, we’re here to talk about this man:

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a blog dedicated to Brett Favre, the man that has been spreading his joy and talents in the NFL since 1991—almost as long as I’ve been alive. Good. Gravy. After talking of retirement countless times, he’s back…again. This time, he won’t be gracing his presence on a different team—he’ll be spending his year with the Minnesota Vikings. The man will be 41 in October, and you don’t really see any guys continuing their football careers into their forties unless if they’re kickers. Bad idea? Well, I’m not him, so I can’t really answer this question for you. I just hope his offensive line holds long enough that he doesn’t get speared and snap in two on the field a la Joe Theismann’s leg.
After being the lord and savior of the Green Bay Packers (FUN FACT: He was with Atlanta before he became infamous in yellow and green) for so many years, everybody thought that he was going to go out as a cheese head. Well, that never happened. He was traded to the Jets, and every football fan that bought Madden NFL 2009 that year was probably angry because he was shown in the Packers uniform instead. During the 2009-2010 season, he went to Minnesota to begin mingling with the Purple People Eaters. Oh, and he went to the playoffs with them too. Now we’re in present day, and we’re still wondering how Favre is still ticking and throwing touchdown passes like he’s still in his mid-20’s. What is it, dude? Wheaties? Steroids? Another quarterback dressed in an aged Brett Favre costume? I don’t get it! Maybe he’s more than what we think he is. Maybe he’s The Natural in football form, and he’s just this big kid who is thankful that he’s still able to do what he loves to do and still be able to do it well.
Of course there are pros and cons and lovers and haters of this subject. Many people believe that he’s well overstayed his welcome in the NFL, others believe that as long as this guy doesn’t show any signs of decline that he should stick around, and team rivals just wish that he would stay the heck away after announcing three times that he’s retiring. He’s already stowed away franchise and league records such as being the “Iron Man” of the NFL, and is the first active grandfather to play in the game.
My view? If he wants to play, let him play. He showed last year that he still has some gas left in the tank and showed that he can still muscle out of a measly little ankle injury. But for the joy of the haters of Brett Favre that read this, he’ll get what’s coming to him through the force of some defensive lines, right? Ha ha. But let’s be practical here—even though he still might have those ankle problems and that he’s a little older now, there may be a huge chance that he’s not going to have a 100% recovery, and that may or may not have an effect on his mindset and his morale. But alas, if you’re a Vikings fan, you need to have a lot of faith in the rest of the team. One can’t rely on just a quarterback, right? But at any rate, Favre’s going to want to go out with a bang (hopefully not literally), and if he wants it in the form of a 20-year career ending in a Super Bowl ring, then let him try it. It won’t be easy of course, but if he wants to give it a shot, let him have it.
I figured I’d also get some outside opinions on this as well. Hey John Madden, what do you think?
“BRETT FAVRE!! Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod he’s going to throw for 5,000 yards this season in union with 80 touchdown passes! This guy is the GOD of the National Football League. Get him in the Hall of Fame as soon as he officially retires for the fifth time! Wouldn’t that be considered a record too?? He’s just going to make such a BOOM! HUGE impact!” (Disclaimer: He never said this.)
[Five minutes later: Wait, guys. I’ve been bamboozled. I accidentally got Frank Caliendo impersonating John Madden instead of the real guy. But I remind you, he never really said this.]
In conclusion, the wonder that is Brett Favre is still going to be on television even after all these years. I guess maybe he wanted to make guys like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair jealous that he can still perform well after all these years without having to be gushing blood from the head every five minutes and get put over by young guys. But that whole thing is another day and another opinionated blog post. Until then, GO LONG!

Friday, August 13, 2010

What REALLY happened to Chipper Jones

(Now with photo scripting action!)

[August 10, 2010 - One hour before the first pitch...]

"Hey, Chipper! I know that there are a lot of quirks and superstitions in the game of baseball. Can superstitions and curses heavily affect good teams like ours?"

"Now rookie, you know that superstitions are only superstitions, and there's no such thing as curses, no matter what those Cubs fans say."

"B-but Chipper! Friday the 13th is coming up! Aren't bad things supposed to happen or something?"

"You know what, kid? You're pretty funny. If you keep thinking that way, you're gonna mess yourself up."

(During the sixth inning...)


[After the game...]

"I seriously can't believe he just f(BEEP)ed with the baseball gods."


Hope your Friday the 13th didn't suck. :-)


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

All About a Haircut??

I was reading about Tim Tebow's new haircut and how it's causing this huge stir.

(Click for a clearer picture.)

I see nothing wrong with it! It's completely original!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Taking the Fun Out of the Game

It doesn't matter whether you win or lose--it's how you play the game.

Games are meant be fun.

It's all fun and games until someone pokes an eye--
oh wait.

You have obviously heard these sayings throughout your life, whether you've played sports in your youth or have watched your children play sports. How would you feel if you weren't allowed to play because you weren't good enough to help win games? How would you feel if you just watched your child sit on the sidelines because he or she "wasn't keeping up" with the rest of the team? What happened to the learning experience? What happened to the kind of competition? Most of all, what happened to the fun??

It really isn't right for anyone to be subjected to that form of humiliation and that feeling that you busted your hind parts for no good reason. Of course everyone likes to win, but wouldn't you like to give everyone a fair chance to feel like a winner?

When I started playing for recreational teams a little under 15 years ago (Good God, I am getting old), I had been on softball, soccer, and basketball teams that consisted of girls that were really athletic, girls that didn't play the sport exceptionally well, girls that really didn't care about what you thought of their play, and girls that just played the sport because they loved to and wanted to be like their favorite athlete. Now, I don't know if this change has occurred in other regions as well, but within the past five years or so, I've noticed that things become a little more...say, serious and more competitive than usual. Yeah, I understand that recreational teams are molding together and combining teams, but things have gotten a little more ridiculous. Rec teams as young as U-10 are initiating tryouts to get on the team and have their version of "fun." Wait a second, what just happened? These kids are in high school already? Oh no. Oh no no no no no. Isn't that still the learning stage, where there still might be hope for the kids who don't quite get the gist of the game yet? Time out, folks.

I couldn't tell you how many teams I wouldn't make if I was subjected to try out for them. Oh my heavens, let me be the first to tell you: I absolutely sucked at basketball, and at the age in which I played, I really didn't want someone to tell me that I wasn't good enough; I wanted to realize that for myself (which I did, thank the Lord). Despite my faults, I was still put in the game, and I did everything I possibly could to help out the team and I had fun with it. Sure, I wasn't the fastest runner and I didn't have the best shot, but I tried.
You can't expect a child to be born to do something. Shoot, they might not even like it after a while, but you (either as a coach or a parent) shouldn't tell a child that they are terrible at a sport. They should grasp the realization that they either might not be at a high enough level yet or they just won't ever be able to compete at a high enough level and then tell you.
Kids play sports with their best friends for many years and not a lot of them care how good they are, but when they come across a new change and are subjected to trying out, bad things will happen, and the kids and parents won't be very happy with it.

Let's play a game of scenarios:
Scenario #1: You are a 14-year old male that has been playing baseball with your traveling recreational team since you were seven. You're somewhat considered a "late bloomer" because you haven't begun your growth spurt and have a wiry frame. Due to family constraints, your old coach "retired" from coaching your team, and a man who has coached winning teams in another neighborhood has taken the main role. He loves coaching what he calls "elite teams," and will be holding tryouts for your team at a later date. You were given a phone call as to when the date would be, but your best friend whom you've played with for five years never received a phone call despite signing up and paying money to join the team. However, you attend tryouts anyway. Many of the boys that were trying out along with you were brought over from the new coach's other team, and many of them looked very strong and very serious, while you were a very talented, athletic, and heart-filled player. After a long grueling week in which you gave your all, you receive a phone call telling you that you did not make the team. Why? Was it because you were too short? Was it because you weren't in favor with the new coach? Was it because you didn't fit the new standard for teenage athletes? How do you feel?

Scenario #2: Your daughter has played soccer for 10 years with a recreational team, and over the years your daughter's team has undergone a change in head coach, as well as recruitments of new girls from other clubs that all go to the same school, ironically enough. Your daughter has a larger frame, and looks intimidating on the field, but she is not the best runner and does not play on a high school team like the other girls do. As the competition rises, your daughter only plays about 5-10 minutes on the field each game, and is then left to sit on the sidelines and cheer her team on. Aside from this time, she could be at home doing schoolwork and participating in other clubs. The next season, she gets hurt, and after realizing that she would not have the time to participate in other clubs that she enjoys in school, she quits the team. After this event, you hear that two girls that your daughter played with last year signed up and never received phone calls for practice times, and three more girls are recruited in their place. How do you feel?

In my view, this is a very painful reality for many kids and parents, and it's incredibly unfair for the children who are learning how to play a sport they love. However, regardless of how much heart they play with, they might not be considered "good enough" for the team, and they'll never understand what it means to have fun with something that they love to do. Youth sports in this day and age are taken way too seriously, and it seems as if the learning experience is completely ignored--you need the natural talent to succeed. That's not what fun is all about.

What do you think?


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Now Playing - THE 2010 NFL SEASON

In the words of Joey Styles: "OH MY GOD!"

(You're welcome, male readers.)

Ah, so after six long months, the sport apparently more American than hot dogs, apple pie, and the elephant and donkey is about ready to come alive. I don't think any football fan can be happier at this point. There have been many ups and downs, new additions, and new hope from rookies since the Pro Bowl in February.

However, I've been reading lately that there has been a lot of drama in almost every training camp across the country. From things to numerous injuries to stars and rookies alike to "chickfights" and disagreements between rookies and the pros. Will this season be worth waiting for? Most likely. If so, there are going to be some massive problems and ongoing injuries. But see, this is the NFL--everything seems to turn out right in the end for some unknown reason. It's like high school theater all over again. Take it from me. I did theater in high school and you can't even imagine the problems the cast went through; whether it was fighting over how the double-casting fared out, which nights people got, and who was being a snitch and what have you. Sports are like soap operas for men, so why not have a little drama thrown into the mix to get the men talking? Okay, women might talk about it too, but the guys won't let them into their fantasy talks and their Sunday football rituals and their beer. It just happens to be like that every year.

Coming from a person who doesn't necessarily "worship" American football and just watches it because it's one of the only things on television on Sunday afternoons, it's like we're back in the stone ages or something when men sit on the one side of the couch with the big dive in the cushion they call "their spot" while in a "thinker" pose with a beer in hand while the women are either making dinner, snacks for the men in the "football sanctuary" or "man cave," or stuck watching the big game in the kitchen. Then again, this might not be the case in every home. Humor me, I'm picking at a stereotype and doing a tribal dance around it with a kazoo in my hand.

A long while ago, I was reading random columns throughout the Internet, and I stumbled across the statistic that in reality, you're only watching about 11-12 minutes of actual playing time out of the full 60-minute regulation game. The rest of the time is for consulting plays and running the clock out for the sake of running the clock out to screw the other team over. I've had countless arguments with people (all of them guys, in case if you were wondering) saying that football is all strategy, strength, and speed. Okay, they might be right on that, and it might be a game that's so strenuous guys can only really play that hard once a week. I just can't see how people have been going so crazy over the sport since it's inception in 1869 (Wikipedia knows all) and seeing the kinds of injuries these men go through and how it affects their futures outside of the sport. [Side Note: I'll actually be covering that on a future blog, so stay tuned for that.]

Since the school year will be approaching for me soon, I'll be home a lot more often on Sundays, so this year I'm going to try and follow football a little more and act like I care about it a little more. Maybe I'm missing out on something.

Now I feel like playing some Tecmo Superbowl for the NES. Oakland Raiders vs New England Patriots, anyone? (Har har har)

Oh, let's not forget that I'm not going to be missing out on La Liga or the remaining MLS games. They make Sundays fun too.