Monday, January 30, 2012

1,000 Ways to Sport a Final Destination

(RIP Sarah Burke)

As a lot of you may have heard (or have seen, for that matter), Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke died in a freak accident while training for the Winter X Games. During a practice run, she landed on her head and went into cardiac arrest after performing a trick. She later died from the injury nine days later. Because of these events, people are asking why these things are allowed in the first place; people wonder why it's necessary to take the measures like that and do crazy things in a sport.

Hello? It's a sport. Everything is crazy in a sport.

If you look on the Internet, you can find a handful of cases who died in freak accidents playing sports from football to baseball to lesser mainstream sports such as tennis. Just because these instances are rare doesn't mean they should shut down operations of the sporting art when someone dies.
WE ARE THE 99% ...
...that actually get injured because we actually try to do it right.

Seriously, it's a rehashing of the saying that "it's all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out." If you don't get hurt doing something, you're not feeling that risk of what can happen when you truly do it wrong. If people get seriously injured trying to do a stunt that they aren't 100% ready for, then they are going to get hurt and they're going to know not to act like a stupid idiot ever again. However, there are people out there that do extreme things for a living. They know that there's a possibility that injury may occur but they look past that because they've trained and they've measured the pros and cons of something. Did knowing that I could suffer anything from a broken wrist to a concussion stop me from playing soccer? NO! Even when we COOK DINNER we can get hurt. This has happened before, ladies and gentlemen. Freak accidents have happened! People have even made a[n unnecessarily long] horror movie franchise based on these kinds of things.

I guess what you could say is that where there are accidents, adjustments need to be made. Maybe the halfpipes need to be shorter in height, or maybe more padding needs to be involved. Maybe there has to be different measures that have to be taken if medical personnel cannot be present as soon as an accident occurs. These things might not be necessary in certain aspects, but then can never be too safe. (ha ha ha)

These freak accidents can happen to anyone doing just about anything. It's like that show 1000 Ways to Die but more like 1000 Ways to Hurt Yourself and Ask "How Did I Do That?"

Time for a personal FLASHBACK...

I was an eighth grade cheerleader (feel free to laugh here).
I'll admit it--I was a total boy when I was little. I watched all of the action shows and played all of the sports to boot. However, a few years later, I really wanted to try and "fit in." So there I was, an awkward 13-year old girl trying to become more "girly" in a big way. I was going to join my grade school's cheerleading squad. It was so out of left field that my soccer coach even laughed at me for it (not in a serious way, mind you). We did simple cheers, created a routine, and toward the end of the year, we started learning how to do pyramids and mounts. Since I wasn't exactly a teeny-bopper, I ultimately found myself holding up said teeny-boppers and then learning how to catch them once they fell.
This all changed not too long after.
While doing a routine mount with a group of girls--I was in charge of holding the left foot--I began the lift and felt something pinch really awkwardly in my lower back. I managed to hold her up, but once she was put down, oh dear God, I was hurting. I eventually left the group a few weeks after. As for the pain, that subsided after a few weeks. However, because I played other sports, I would aggravate it in strange ways soon after. It went to a point where I was suffering from back spasms and needed my back to be readjusted. The last time I had a major problem was during a soccer practice; I was sprinting downfield and shifted my hips to face the person I was going after. My lower back flared up so badly that I wasn't able to stand for long periods of time. After having my back readjusted again I was placed on a steroid pack. By that point I left my soccer team and started being dormant in sports. I'd like to think my pain is over after doing yoga for two years and how to lift the right way (thanks, Dad).

Whether it's alpine, swimming, soccer, cheerleading, and just about any other sport that isn't chess, you're putting yourself in danger. You're looking fear and injury in the eye for a good amount of it, and if you're not prepared mentally and physically, it's going to happen. I'm not saying that cases like Sarah Burke were expected due to mental or physical lapse, but the environment needs to be prepared for freak injuries or accidents.

If you don't wanna get hurt, then don't get involved. It's as easy as that. If there are extreme athletes out there that do what they do and get up after being injured, more power to them. These are the kinds of people that love what they do--okay, there might be a scratch or bruise or two, but it's all worth it in the end. This whole thing about staring fear in the face makes me think of The Gambler. Go on, listen to the song. It's a toe-tapper.

Let 'em prepare, and let 'em play. It's the time to play. Ask questions later, O.K.?


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jumping Jacks (Or Apple Jacks...They're Yummy)

"Firstly, I'd like to thank the city of Cleveland for being so welcoming--I've always wanted to be a part of the Indians organization..."
(two years later)
"In my heart I always wanted to play for the New York Yankees..."
(six months later)
"The Oakland A's has a great organization and I'm glad to be a part of that..."
(one year later)
"Ever since I was a little boy, I always wanted to play for the Baltimore Orioles..."
Wait. What.

In my head, I always felt really bad for those guys who would be on the chopping block of a team (regardless of league) every two months or so because they just didn't have the ability to fit anywhere or they were just kind of "in the way" of some midseason trade and had to be let go. There have been so many athletes that have been on more than five teams in a career of ten or eleven years. You kind of wonder whether they kept moving their families with them or just gave up on that concept and said: "Hey guys, I'll be back and forth for about six months--hope you don't mind."

Well, this post is dedicated to the men I like to call Jumping Jacks...this is not to be confused with "Jumpin' Joe" from the film The Babe.

Think of the Jumping Jacks this way: because they're jumping to so many teams, people might not think it's because they're horrible at what they do (that's what being designated for assignment or getting released is for, kids), but it's because they have a sour reputation. Well...there are some instances where both are actually true.

"I present to you...Exhibit A."

Exhibit A: Milton Bradley

Oh yes, the dear Parker Brothers--wait. I knew I was going to get that name wrong again. Currently a free agent, he has played for eight teams since the year two-thousaaaaaaaand. No really, he has. It's not like he was a terrible player the whole time. Click here and see that he was not an abysmal player in the least bit. Unfortunately, this guy had massive bats in his belfry and sought for treatment in the most awkward times possible. For example, when he played for the Cubs, he stated that there was negativity in the organization and said something along the lines of, "no wonder these guys haven't won anything in 100 years." Then he'd apologize for saying something that a ten-year old would say. How sweet.

Here's a nice exception to this rule:

"I present to you...Exhibit B."

Exhibit B: Matt Stairs

Fourteen teams (one of which is in Japan), and the most pinch-hit home runs in Major League history. Awww, sounds like a happy ending, doesn't it? He may have jumped around to more than ten teams in a nearly 20-year career, but those years were productive years. The video above should just be enough proof of that.

If this sounds too journalistically cliched, I'm sorry, but he's sort of like an Apple Jack--he's too sugary to have all of the time but when the time is right, breakfast is just completely awesome with him. Plus, in his role, that's something that is only beneficial every couple of years. Guys like pinch hitters or particular linemen or fourth-line hockey players aren't usually your "franchise guys." They pretty much jump around like it's their job.

These "Jumping Jacks" are all a pawn in the realm of sports. They're like those cards you find in a booster pack that beef up your spellcaster and save them from impending doom--that is, until another good card that fits more efficiently comes your way. You know how people say they were "called" to do certain things in life? Well, these guys might not realize it, but they've answered their call to not be steady men. Oh no, I've spilled the beans.

Here's something you might not think of: it's almost a life lesson that people are going to come and go in your life, and some of them are going to make a lot of awesome memories with you, but you can't hold onto these people forever because they have to make a living on a different path.
[I can't end my post like that...that's so Disney that it makes me want to hurl up the Apple Jacks I actually ate for breakfast this morning...]

Anyway, it's not the most interesting path one can take, but sometimes they're that unknown spice in the spice rack that can really rock your dinner table. Okay, this is getting really bad. I'm ending it here.



Monday, January 2, 2012

The NFL Postseason Slant for 2011-2012 - Featuring Newbies and Some Old Guys.

And just like that, another football season is over. Just when we thought we wouldn't have football this season (we just didn't have a preseason, per se), we had a jam-packed adventure over the past 20 weeks. We saw new teams rise to the occasion, teams that experienced greatness in the past and have finally returned, and some teams that we pretty much expect to be here every year because they just won't go away.

Here is my Slant for the 2012 NFL Playoffs.
(Just note here...I almost typed 2011)

Contender ready? Gladiator ready?


AFC East: New England Patriots (13-3) - No shock here. Tom Brady had a fantastic season and with receivers like Wes Welker in tow, they've only had a few slip-ups on their way to the playoffs. Hopefully there won't be any upsets involving them will occur a la their game against the Jets last year. Thankfully, the choking Jets aren't even involved this year. Coast is clear for these boys. On the other hand, my main concern is the defense. Work on that, and they can work on their championship parade.
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens (12-4) - Oh my, 8-0 at home. It can't get any better than that when it comes to a team with a ferocious defense. I'm not a big fan of Joe Flacco, but he definitely brings it when it's absolutely necessary. The home field advantage is going to be a huge tool for these guys in the playoffs, and that defense...I can't stop talking about them. None of that The Blind Side stuff, of course.
AFC South: Houston Texans (10-6) - Welcome to the show, boys. Every time I think of one of the Texas teams in the playoffs, I think of Hank Hill saying, "An all-Texas Super Bowl...His Will be done." Although that's not the case, it's been an exciting season for these guys. Their defense has been downright nasty, and Arian Foster has been an absolute freight train along with Matt Schaub in the QB pocket. I don't expect the playoff jitters on this squad, but they might have problems if their minds aren't ready for the playoff atmosphere.
AFC West: Denver Broncos (8-8) - Oh, it looks like I was wrong. It seems that Tebow did something to the team that they just happen to win a lot during the fourth quarter. I never said it was a bad thing, it just happens too much. They need to play all four quarters if they actually want to make it past the Wild Card round this postseason.

AFC Wild Card Teams:
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) - Ben's offensive line is going to be the deciding factor in the coming days. After his high ankle sprain, the line has not been able to give him coverage; then again, they haven't been good with that all year. They've been here before, so there are no jitters here, but the stakes are high, and I don't know if they're up to the occasion.
Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) - Wow, look at the AFC North-dominated Conference play here. Andy Dalton has been a godsend for this team. While there isn't anything outstanding about the team as a whole, there are several spark plugs throughout the team that can really make things happen. However, I don't really see them coming out of the first round alive.


NFC East: New York Giants (9-7) - Although they haven't had the strongest of showings as in years past, their defensive line has found their orient in Jason Pierre-Paul among others in the G-Men's line. They should have nice bursts of fun stuff, but they don't look like Super Bowl contenders...yet.
NFC North: Green Bay Packers (15-1) - THIS is what a returning Super Bowl Champion team should look like. Aaron Rodgers is having the best season of his career (then again, how long has he really played? Thanks Favre) and the defense is coming into their own. It would not surprise me if they return to the big dance again. What else can I say? Their play should reflect everything.
NFC South: New Orleans Saints (13-3) - After a season for the ages for Drew Brees, it's been mostly an all-offensive blast from these guys. The defense will have their bursts as well, but when they nap, it's heavy pressure on Brees and company to make sure the passing game is effective. You might see something spectacular unless if they do a Seahawks-sized choke like last year. Trust me.
NFC West: San Francisco 49ers (13-3) - Oh look at this. After the numerous issues the team has had in years past, you'd never think you'd see these guys here anytime soon. In my honest opinion, this is the defense to beat--they've had the best defensive showing among NFC teams this season.

NFC Wild Card Teams:
Detroit Lions (10-6) - Here's another team that has had quite the turnaround this season. Matt Stafford was just what the Lions doctors ordered, as he's delivered a massive offensive sigh of relief for the team. The defense has also been a force to be reckoned with and could be a massive sacking squad if the opposing offensive line looks like a sponge.
Atlanta Falcons (10-6) - This is another team that has flourished on the offensive end as Matt Ryan is being the believable quarterback that he is. These guys have the capability to absolutely shock you when you don't expect it. I don't exactly expect them to make it all that far, but watching them shouldn't be taken lightly.

What a year. These next six weeks should be incredibly exciting. I'm not counting the Pro Bowl...that means absolutely nothing, am I right or am I right?

For playoff predictions, visit during the week!