Friday, June 24, 2011

Red Whines: GRUNT! AUGH! Stop It Already!!

(This post may not be suitable for younger folk. I may make references that are not child-friendly.)

You know how whenever you watch tennis, you're always hearing a scream of epic struggle on the top and bottom of the television? When the women play, it sounds like they're screaming something along the lines of "KILLER TENNIS BALL ATTACK!" or "BALL, GET OVER THERE AND FALL IN!" or if you're Maria Sharapova, it's just "AAAAAAAUGH!" Either way, it's practically louder than what you would hear in a newlyweds' bedroom.

Because some of these war-cries are getting louder and louder and way out of hand, the WTA (Women's Tennis Association) is thinking of banning grunting and screaming in professional tennis.

Really? They have to make a rule for that?

It's almost like asking people throwing the shot put or the javelin and telling the people not to exert any noise whatsoever. It's been studied in sports sciences that any vocal action can increase adrenaline or strength or force exerted while playing. Here's proof: the next time you stub your toe or hit your funny bone, swear as loud as possible.  If you do that, your brief stint of stupidity won't hurt that much. It also might pump you up. This is where this post gets really really cheesy--the first thing that comes to mind in describing this is a scene from the anime Dragonball Z. Here, watch it. I must warn you though...there's a boatload of screaming within this six-minute clip. (Fast-forward to about 1:25). From what I've seen as well, I know a lot of martial arts practice grunting and screaming (but not to the extreme extent) when doing patterns or focusing chi while breaking boards and a whole bunch of other crazy stuff.

Grant it, they may simply grunt and scream just to fake-out the opposition, but honestly, you're not supposed to annoy the crowd with it. I feel like there's more exertion in playing tennis than being a lead dancer in a Broadway Musical. Think about it, not only do you have to move around in extreme heat and funky-colored court for a few hours, but with the screaming going on, that's a lot of energy dished out in a particular period of time. That's why tennis players are in such good shape and are beyond conditioned to play a long game such as tennis.

I wouldn't necessarily be against the banning of the Braveheart-style grunting during tournament play, but if you really want to make a reasonable rule, try to water down the amount of grunts and screams, and if there's an excessive amount during the set, call a double fault or something (thank you, Nintendo Tennis, for making me know that reference). I will be perfectly frank, there's no way you're going to completely get rid of the screams, because that's a normal reflex of what people do when they hit something. Sure, it could just get annoying after a while, but you can at least crack down on it lightly enough so that there's no bad blood between the union and it's players.

People, stop making dumb rules. Rules were meant to be broken, you know.

People are just thinking of wanting Sharapova banned just because she screams so much. I doubt that will be happening anytime soon because everyone thinks she's so hot and all.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blood: Thicker Than Water ... Eww, Messy

(Drafted in late February, finally finished exactly four months later.)

Back when I wrote about the sibling rivalry matches between Peyton and Eli Manning, a lot of things have come up in sports about the whole idea of family... Just think about it--ever notice how it isn't just sons upholding the family name anymore, but it's cousins and brothers now? Like the saying says, blood is indeed thicker than water (figuratively and literally). This supposed "blood" is being smeared all around sports, a kind of "sharing of the wealth" from lineage and legends.

Sure, you might have that luck when the child or brother totally sucks and makes the parent (or other sibling) look like total crap, but those are rare cases.

[Note: I'm not including godparents. That's just flat-out silly.]

Anyway, let's look at what the world of sports have to offer us: We've had the Ripkens, the Griffeys, the Mannings, the Hasslebecks, and many more. Even the whole father-son combo has been done and everybody thought that was cute because it was daddy playing ball with his kid and they were wiping the floor with the competition. Of course in baseball, you don't really see that anymore since most of these sons are usually the younger ones in the bunch and don't get out of college until the father retires. In football, there's a really strong chance that you won't ever see it because of the low retirement age in the NFL (unless if you're Brett Favre, then that's nothing). Today, you're more likely to see brothers and cousins going head-to-head.

Right now, you're probably thinking: "Why did you bother writing about something as common as families in sports?" I'd be more than happy to answer that for you. It's not exactly as common as you would think. Sometimes brothers or cousins who play in high school or in college may get dropped by the draft because of the whole "survival of the fittest" complex; that, or the unfortunate brother/cousin will stay in a minor league system and never progress any further. However, there is the rare instance that the clan will stay intact due to their equal amount of skill and credentials.

For example...
Just look at the Super Molina Bros: Jose, Yadier, and Bengie are all catchers in the MLB. How cute is that? I believe they've all won rings too. D'awww, brotherly love right there, folks.
I could care less that this is an outdated photo.

You also have brothers that are quarterbacks on the same team. Sure, the Bengals did do that well, but they have Jordan and Carson Palmer sitting on the bench being brothers!!

Titans safety Michael Griffin and former NFL player Marcus Griffin are identical twins. Mind. Blown.

It's become very commonplace to see a common last name on a jersey with a first initial.  It's also quite difficult for the parents to decide which jerseys to wear on game days. There is also the saying that a family presence will make the player stronger. When there is that much of a connection made, the best is brought out in both players.

However, there might be the sense of pressure that comes about when there is a legacy left in a family. Say for instance that your grandfather and father were professional sportsmen and they're practically expecting you to join the cavalry and continue the dynasty in the family. What if you would much rather be a doctor or something? I guess that's why athletes have like...more than three kids after they come back home from the season.

But hey, you never know, you might actually see the family dynasty explode and stretch into other sports. The great Wayne Gretzky has a son named Trevor that was actually drafted this year by the Chicago Cubs (our of high school, too)!

Families share the wealth in so many ways in sports. They don't just stay in one spot--they like to create and continue a legacy that has lasted for many years.

One last thing--don't just think that it's just the guys--it can be girls too. Hello? Williams sisters? That's what I thought.

Sports is obviously in the genes.
Siblings always provide the best competition. Or joy. Or happiness. Or strength. Or blackmail. Ha.

Take it from sister is a blogger too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Do Not Understand Golf (Completely)

This past Sunday, I went to my sister's house to celebrate Father's Day. Her father-in-law was an avid golfer at one time and was watching the U.S. Open on NBC. While seeing all of the pretty scenery and all of the people watching men take a swipe at a tiny, white, dimpled ball, I had absolutely no idea what was going on.

I mean, I know the idea of pars and bogeys (thank you, Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour), but the whole concept of "playing defensively" and the types of clubs you use and like just boggles my mind. I already know that it takes a lot of skill to drive the ball in a certain fashion, and that you have to take into account the wind and the kind of golf club you use.
It's already known that it's a pastime among retirees and athletes during the offseason, but to be perfectly honest, what does golf do for anybody?

I always saw golf as a sport for rich people. Why? Because not many people could really travel around to see all of the tours that take place in the world. Plus, "rich people fanbases" have proven to be really quiet when the people take shots. You don't see this going on while people are taking shots and celebrating after shooting a birdie:

You know, it would actually be REALLY FUNNY if the Black Hole was at a golf tournament just for the puns.

Anyway, it's a very reserved sport, and to play professionally, you need to have utmost patience and concentration. It's almost like horse racing before the gates open and the guy says: "aaand they're OFF!"

The one thing that I often wonder about is how one gets into the sport without having any lineage to live by. For example, U.S. Open champ Rory McIlroy is from Ireland; he has the wide open spaces and mountain ranges to practice from, and aside from rugby and soccer, there really isn't anything else out there in the land of beer and potatoes. People that I know who played golf in high school made me ask questions, like, "how the heck did you decide to do a sport like this?" It's not like you wake up one morning and go, "hey, I think I might try golfing today," or "golfing is so intense...I wanna do it now." Heck, I could be wrong about that, but a sport like golf takes so many years to master and it's not like you can practice drives in your backyard like you can practice throwing a ball or shooting a puck or something. You need to have money and connections and find places to do stuff like that.

I also noticed that golf is a very 'hit-or-miss' sport; to my knowledge, there really isn't a huge following of it in the United States for it to have scholarship offers or anything. I personally don't know a lot of people my age or people younger than me that follow golf to a particular extent.
What makes the sport different and unique is the types of workouts involved in training for the sport. It's mostly upper-body and hip things because of the momentum and pivoting while taking shots. You don't really need to run anywhere...that's what golf carts are for. Duh. Just kidding. Stances require different leg exercises--so if I were to sit down to figure out how to tone myself to play golf, I'd lift weights and do yoga for the rest of my life--wait, I'm already doing that. Nevermind. Another thing is the time period playing golf. It's like playing Battleship or Risk; it could seriously take forever to play golf depending on the course and how many people are playing. Of course, you could make a tennis match last 11 hours, but that's rare. Golf...could take a while.

Even though there might not be a big enough following among the youth, most people are familiar with the sport and what goes on. The first thing that may come to mind for most people are Tiger Woods and the movie Happy Gilmore when Adam Sandler fights Bob Barker. I also think of the movie Caddyshack, but I'm also a big dork and have useless knowledge of things, so don't mind me here.

In conclusion, I guess golf is more like a cult thing in which you really have to be born wanting to play or being interested in playing. If that's the case, then there's a chance that you'll never be able to understand the psychological warfare that is this sport if you hadn't had it instilled in you in your youth. Yes, I have had a golf club in my hand at some point, but it wasn't to drive was to put the ball under that darn windmill at the mini golf resort. I can't even play Wii Golf right. It's sad. I'm drifting off the topic, so I will end it like this: Golf is a sport for different people. You can't just pick up a club and a ball and start playing. It's a lot of training and math that has to go into it, and unless if you know the sport very well and watch it often, it's not the kind of thing that you could sit down and teach someone in a night--believe me, I'd bet you'd only scratch the surface of the whole idea of golf.

This is why I do not completely understand the sport of golf. The end.

I'm sticking to mini golf.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Red Whines: United May Stand, Divided May Fall

Over the past several days there have been numerous sporting reports announcing that Major League Baseball is currently in talks over realigning the whole league.

First it was just simply extending postseason, and now this? What, was 1994's alignment not good enough for you guys?

Anyway, here's what it would be: There would no longer be divisions; MLB would have an East and a West. Where they would split it, I don't really know. This would be my guess:

Oh my, it's George, the Rampage Gorilla! He disapproves of the realignment! Beware of missing bathtubs!

Anyway, the top five teams from the East and the West would advance to the playoffs, and (I'm assuming) the top team in each region would get some sort of bye because this format looks very similar to the NFL.

I keep getting that thought of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" in my head. Everything right now is working fine. If they were to eliminate divisions and take the top five teams from the east and west, there's a strong chance you may be seeing more than two teams from the current divisions that exist right now appearing in the playoffs (i.e. Red Sox/Yanks/Rays or Phillies/Marlins/Braves). But if this were to happen, the whole concept of "interleague play" would be eliminated; on the other hand, the concept of the designated hitter is then thrown up in the air. What happens to that?

Again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

However, there's the one idea that new alignments would equal newer and/or stronger rivalries. For example, the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers would have a good 'ole Texas showdown without having the American League and National League being a parting factor. Also, the Mets and Yankees would have numerous subway series throughout the season. Fun, right? Okay, I guess that would be pretty cool.

If this really happens, the one thing that would most likely annoy me the most is the postseason format. Sure, there would be that method of 'seeding' like the other major sports have in their respective playoffs, but there would be the problem of the length of the entire season including the playoffs. Usually, the NHL and NBA playoffs last anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 months. Major League Baseball doesn't have that kind of time. Officials have been in a big enough fuss that the World Series is going into November--when it starts getting chilly outside (they were rather lucky last year, but that's besides the point). They've already started the baseball season a week earlier than usual to avoid November baseball this year, why bother running into that problem again?

The conclusion I'm making with the wonderful goof that is Bud Selig is that he wants to change things up in the business and has no real idea on how to go about that without displeasing anyone. He actually plans on retiring after next season, so I would think this is almost his way of making a big bang before he leaves. But lemme say this: this isn't the first time he tried something controversial and it actually worked. He was the driving force in the introduction of the Wild Card and got major heat for that. Now he wants to get rid of it after 17 years of success. Puh-lease.

There could be other ways of avoiding this. Maybe altering the divisions would work and just eliminating the Wild Card would work rather well. For example, there could be an NFL-style division placement having North, East, South, and West instead of East, Central, and West with a Wild Card. It'll freshen things up and people won't complain about any drastic changes.

C'mon, I'm trying to help here. These crazy old guys in the front office won't listen to us precious fans.
Conclusion: The idea of realignment is stupid.


Monday, June 13, 2011

A Fictional Boxing Farce?

WARNING: I might throw some Philly history/reference into this post. It could make a Mets fan or a Cowboys fan possibly puke while reading it. You have been warned.

Yesterday, Mr. Sylvester Stallone spoke during the International Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony to induct the famed fictional boxer Rocky Balboa.

And to think, 35 years and a few odd sequels later, he's in the real Hall.

A lot of people may see this decision to induct the film boxer to be one of three things: a publicity stunt, a monumental move in the boxing world, or an absolutely dumb idea. I'll give my view on each of the three...

Publicity Stunt: Since boxing is nowhere near as big as it once was and that it's been almost completely overshadowed by everything MMA, you would think the International Boxing Federation would go to great lengths to spice things up and regain attention by inducting Balboa. I won't lie, it got my attention once it was announced six months ago.
Monumental Move: Because the concept of boxing is dying in a lot of regions, inducting a well-known figure such as Rocky Balboa could possibly have a chance of revitalizing the product and go, "Albeit fake, this guy is what boxing is all about." Because of what he did in the sport, such as inspiring future boxers and having surprisingly good record (I'm not joking, look it up yourself), the IBF may have found it fair and fit to make Balboa a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame
A Totally Stupid Idea: He's not real. Need I say more? Sure, he fought Carl freakin' Weathers and Mr. T., but does that mean he would be able to win a non-scripted fight? Do you think he would be able to fight a guy like Evander Holyfield in real life? I pity the fool who would even picture that bout.

Since the announcement was made in December, I've been on the fence about the whole idea of inducting a fictional character into a prestigious Hall of Fame. I've juggled the three ideas mentioned above as of late, and I've come to decide that what the IBF did was a sly (no pun intended) move.

I don't care if he's a Kenzo or Italian or anything like that at this point. He's the pure definition of an underdog and what an underdog should be. People associate the city of Philadelphia being the city of bums, the city of trashy people, and a city filled with crime and pompous idiots. The character Rocky sort of erased that and proved that a small seed could be a big tree when given the chance to grow. He showed that not all bad things come out of a life of a "bum." Sure, he had some awkward happenings after being champion (like having a robot in his mansion and then fighting a 'roided Russian'), but he always had that "comeback kid" inside of him. Once he was given the time to shine, he shocked the heck out of everyone.
Not only could he be an inspiration to the underdogs of the world, but he could be an inspiration to the people that no longer think they have the "fight" in them, whether it's physically, mentally, or emotionally. Grant it, he was always portrayed as a knucklehead, but he knew what he was talking about at certain times.

If you follow this link, you'll see what I mean.

But hey, if the IBF thinks they made the right choice, then more power to them. The sport of boxing is heavily lacking nowadays, and inducting Rocky Balboa might have been the right thing to do. Even though he isn't real, he made a huge contribution to the world of boxing, and there really is no denying it. He taught fighters to have heart and to live out your dreams. It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get back up after being knocked down.
As many people are already familiar, the city of Philadelphia does in fact have a statue of Rocky. Although the statue isn't in front of the Art Museum anymore [It's been moved a few times over the past 20-odd years], it's still a tourist attraction and huge icon in the city. Heck, even tourists today still run up the Art Museum steps just because Rocky did it. I have yet to do that (as I have mentioned on Twitter recently), but someday I will...because I want to be a champion in what I do.

All I can say is congratulations to Sly Stallone for creating such a memorable character. 
Yo Adrian, he did it.

Now I wonder if Maggie Fitzgerald from Million Dollar Baby will now be posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame. Uh oh, I just blew the ending for people who never saw the movie. Whoops.

PS - I listened to this song while I was writing this piece. I think it could pump anybody up. Rocky IV had some good 80's workout music.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

AZ's Slant on Sunday -- Jacknifed at Home Plate

Written in Red Whine Fashion...

Oh boy, aren't I being a commoner in this topic? Deal with it. I have a say for it too.

As many people have seen on the news or have watched on ESPN, Giants catcher and 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey was caught in a collision with Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins on May 25th. This resulted in Posey sustaining a broken fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle.

After this collision, players, officials, and even baseball analysts are up in arms and thinking about either banning the concept of home plate challenges or fining players that cause violent collisions at home plate. People are not just claiming the idea of the collision to be completely unnecessary, but that it puts catchers (and oncoming players) in too much danger of serious injury. There have been statistics stating that more damage is done from a baseball player coming full force at a catcher than a linebacker coming full force at a quarterback. The main reason for this is that there is more padding involved, speed and size of the mass, and of course the positioning of the object about to get rocked. Officials want to cut this whole worry out completely.

Firstly, isn't it male human nature to pretty much fight for what you think is yours? That run is yours, you're going to do whatever it takes to earn what you're running for. What are you going to do? Steamroll the little bugger! But then I guess it's all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out in that case. Former catchers are all coming out now and stating their likes and dislikes about home plate collisions. Retirees like color commentator Tim McCarver have stated disgust and the disregard for plays like that. On the other hand, others such as Mike Matheny have seen no problem for the plays, only that they can be easily avoided and not needed to be worried about like it is now. Players like Matheny will state, "I'll forgive, but I won't forget. Just watch your behind next time." They don't believe it would be practical to change the rules. How can you stop a thing like this?

This whole thing about changing the rules is malarky. Are you kidding me? Remember Pete Rose and that famed home plate collision during the 1970 All-Star game? Catcher Ray Fosse had a separated shoulder after that--it didn't end his career, guys--and the game back then was so much rougher and more exposed to injury than today. Yes, Rose got a lot of flack for what he did, but that didn't deliver this whole big stink that it is now. Rose didn't exactly get death threats like Scott Cousins is right now. This recent collision has caused Cousins to get death threats and even harsh comments from Giants general manager Brian Sabean.

From the Associated Press, he stated:
"if I never hear from Cousins again, or he doesn't play another day in the big leagues, I think we'll all be happy."

Lemme get this straight, Mr. Sabean, how old are you? Not even Posey himself said the inappropriate garbage that you did. It's one thing to let your emotions get in the way, but it's another thing to be completely immature and overdo the "protection" of your team. Get real. You're a general manager, and you should know better than to be a pompous idiot. Frankly, I think Bruce Bochy is taking this rather well compared to your remarks. I hope Joe Torre dropkicks you.
Grumble-grumble-grumble-verbal vomit-grumble-grumble...
With that said, should there be rules or fines implicated when it comes to catchers and baserunners in this situation? How could you? I see big collisions like that coming about as accidents, and well...accidents happen. Think about it--if they banned the collisions, the only way the baserunner would be able to challenge the catcher would be through the "slide or surrender" rule which [correct me if I'm wrong here] is mostly incorporated in NCAA baseball/softball. They're adults, and there's no need for the sissy-nanny slide or surrender; this is the major leagues, for cripes' sake. If you have a really big problem with it, plate blockage needs to be evaluated and fixed in order that the catcher has the ability to stand (or crouch) firmly without rolling over joints and being bent in ways that they shouldn't be bent. If you're a baserunner, there should be measures taken to teach the boys not to lower their heads and ram the catcher like they're ruffians. There shouldn't be any of this "forearming the catcher" crapolla like the guys did back in the 70's and 80's. I hate to put it like this, but we people are more "dainty" in this day and age, and we can really describe ourselves in the context of the bull in the china shop.

Boys, let's just play nice, okay?


(Quotes and information researched from

Friday, June 3, 2011

Shaq: The End of an Era

Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Shaquille O'Neal announced his retirement from the NBA. Today, he has made it official. This 7'1" monster who has won many titles and broken many records has finally decided to hang up the super XL jersey and go off into the great beyond of retirement.

I never played the game, but apparently it was pretty cheesy.

Coming from an unorthodox childhood, Shaq played basketball in Newark, New Jersey to stay off the streets. After a major growth spurt and increasing fire in the heart and soul, he was breaking records in high school and college. Although he didn't finish college right away, he later received his degree while still in the NBA. Yes, they didn't call him Dr. Shaq for nothing--although he didn't exactly get his doctorate just yet. You know what? Who cares? He still went back and completed his education.


As you may know, many things can happen in a 19-year career. After being drafted first overall in the '92 draft, he began making a massive impact in his rookie and sophomore seasons. This later resulted in a resurgence in the Orlando Magic franchise--however, O'Neal wouldn't stay there for much longer. Injuries came and injuries went, and he later went to a team that he became a large icon in. For eight years, Shaq became an unstoppable (and at some times controversial) force with the LA Lakers. Once Phil Jackson rose to power, the Lakers had created a dynasty with Shaq and Kobe Bryant at the center of it all. However, more controversies and injuries arose, and the tall guy made a departure that many in LA had been anticipating for quite some time.

I never saw this movie either...and I heard it wasn't very good.

After LA, Shaq went down to South Beach to play with the Miami Heat. With injury-plagued seasons and wayward methods of coaching/pay, he was no longer considered as a money-munching, attention-stealing whackjob. He was starting to be seen as a veteran who was willing to teach and guide up-and-coming stars like Dwayne Wade (and look where he is now, kiddies!). Over the next three to four seasons, Shaq had begun to admit that he wasn't meant to be the star of the team anymore, and his roles with Phoenix, Cleveland, and Boston began to diminish.
After playing basketball internationally, doing numerous television and commercial appearances, and making some inappropriate statements to the media, Shaq has decided to step down from his place in the NBA.

For being a big guy, he can certainly move...
From being a giant center around the paint, a jabbawocky, Ben Stein's partner in crime, a rapper, a believer in Icy Hot, a master of Shaq Fu, a pro wrestler superstar, actor, law enforcement extraordinaire, and an all-around entertainer, many people are currently wondering what made him decide to make a decision such as this.

It's rather easy to figure that out. Although he had set many season records and made more than a dozen All-Star appearances in his career, big and tall guys like him have problems where growth tends to get to you. He had many problems in his toes, his knees, and his tendons in his legs (think Achilles heels). Not only that, but he's 39--which is pretty old in any sport. For a few years he was the oldest guy in the NBA. In his last few years in the NBA, he experienced that Falling Action and Resolution in his career just as it should have been. Sure, many guys wanna come back and see if they get that Rising Action and Climax again, but I'm pretty sure he's not going to do that. He's most likely going to come back as an analyst or on commentary. And in all honesty, a lot of people are almost certain that's going to happen soon enough.

He made the choice at the best time in his career, and we're all going to remember his skill, huge size, his athleticism, and his versatility for many years to come.

However, he still lost to Aaron Carter (who apparently dropped off the face of the planet).

Best of luck in your future endeavors, Shaq.


(Much thanks to Basketball Reference, NBA, and for research purposes.)