Archive for category Sports

Best baseball movies? Here’s my starting nine

Baseball returns this week, so let’s wrap up the preseason with a look at my picks for the best baseball movies:

A League of Their Own
Gena Davis and Tom Hanks star in this terrific movie about the Women’s Professional Baseball League.

Bull Durham
Minor league catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Kostner) tries to keep his shot at the “show” alive, while also mentoring a young pitching prospect (Tim Robbins) and trying to win the heart of the team’s biggest fan, played by Susan Sarandon.

Damn Yankees
A middle-aged fan makes a deal with the devil (Roy Walston) and becomes a major league star in this popular 1958 musical. Who said there’s no singing in baseball?

Eight Men Out
Based on the infamous Black Sox scandal that ended the careers of Shoeless Joe Jackson and his teammates on the 1919 White Sox.

Before he was Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman played Jackie Robinson, the Dodger great who broke the color barrier. An important move, and at times, difficult to watch the abuse Robinson experienced.

Major League
Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger lead the hapless Clevelend Indians from last place to first. Silly fun.

A brilliant retelling of the 1961 season, when Yankee teammates Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) and Roger Maris (Barry Pepper), chased Babe Ruth’s single season home run record (60) amid near-constant media pressure. Directed by die-hard fan Billy Crysal. The DVD’s extras are worth a watch, too.

The Natural
Robert Redford plays slugger Roy Hobbs, an aging ballplayer with a mysterious past.

The Rookie
High school coach Dennis Quaid promises his players that he’ll tryout  (again) for the majors if the team can turn things around. Based on the true story of Jim Morris.

That’s my list — what’s on yours? Field of Dreams? The Sandlot? Moneyball?


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Test your Super Bowl knowledge

SB50_LogoAfter 5 months of action, we’ve finally reached Super Bowl week. While the Broncos and Panthers go through final preparations, let’s take a short quiz to test your knowledge of the big game.

Questions (answers below)

  1. Which city is hosting this year’s Super Bowl?
  2. Who won the first two Super Bowls?
  3. Player on the winning teams of the first 11 Super Bowls earned $15,000. What did the Patriots players earn after winning Super Bowl 49 last year?     a) $97,000  b) $150,000   c) $237,000
  4. This brash, young quarterback promised a Super Bowl III victory, and then delivered the upset.
  5. Name one of the three teams that have appeared in the most Super Bowls (8).
  6. Phil Simms was the first Super Bowl MVP to tell the world, “I’m going to ____.”
  7. This former contestant on Dancing with the Stars holds the record for most Super Bowl touchdowns. Name him. Hint: all touchdowns came on pass receptions.
  8. Pittsburgh holds the record for most Super Bowl victories. How many times have the Steelers won the big game?
  9. Of 49 games, how many Super Bowls have been decided by 3 points or less?
  10. Which of this year’s two teams, Carolina and Denver, has a better record in the Super Bowl?

Bonus question – 3 points
Walter Iooss will be at his 50th Super Bowl this year. Who is he?
Hint: he does what I would want to be doing.




  1. This year’s Super Bowl is in Santa Clara , California. Give yourself a point if you responded San Francisco or the Bay Area.
  2. The Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II.
  3. The Patriots players earned $97,000 for winning the Super Bowl 49.
  4. Joe Namath promised and delivered a victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl II.
  5. The Patriots, Steelers, and Cowboys have appeared in eight Super Bowls.
  6. Phil Simms was the first MVP to say “I’m going to Disney World.”
  7. Jerry Rice scored 8 Super Bowl touchdowns.
  8. The Steelers have won the Super Bowl six times, followed by San Francisco and Dallas with five victories
  9. Eight Super Bowls have been decided by 3 points or less.
  10. Denver. The Broncos have won twice in seven games, Carolina is winless in one game.

Bonus answer:
Walter Iooss is a Sports Illustrated photographer.

1-4       You watch for the commercials
5-7       All Pro
8 – 10   MVP

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Super Bowl lesson: Social Media magnifies mistakes

I was watching morning-after news coverage of the Super Bowl and was struck by the second guessing of both the coaching and commercials. Seahawks fans are upset that the team elected to pass on their ill-fated final possession — an interception ultimately sealed the victory for the Patriots.

Others are angry at a Nationwide Insurance spot, in which a young boy spoke of the things he’ll never do because he was killed in an accident.

Whether you agree or disagree with either of these decisions, what’s interesting is the tide of negative comments on social media:

  • “Too bad I don’t have #Nationwide insurance….so I could cancel it after that commercial.”
  • “Seriously, who with @Nationwide’s PR/Marketing team thought a commercial during the #SuperBowl about kids dying was an idea worth $4.5M?”
  • “That @Nationwide Commercial makes me want to call Geico”

Twitter also chimed in on the Seahawks choice to attempt a pass, targeting Seattle coach Pete Carroll, generally considered one of the best in the game:

  •  “Worst call in NFL History. Pete Carroll will never recover from this … Horrible! Horrible! Horrible!”
  •  “Pete Carroll just made the biggest screw-up in Super Bowl history.”
  •  “This was the mother of all screwups.”

Two lessons here. First, everyone has an opinion, and social media gives them a platform to share —good or bad. While these tweets (or posts) may not represent any more frustration than you’d hear at the water cooler, when combined, they create a wave of public opinion that reaches farther and wider than anything previously available to the everyday person.

Secondly, because of the potential of “bad press” in the social media world, the consequences of errors are greater. While people may not mean any ill intent by posting video of a news anchor accidentally dropping an F-bomb during a newscast, the potential damage is far beyond what existed in days past.

Your turn. Does social media magnify issues, or is it a valuable way for the public to be heard?

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Play Ball! Test your baseball knowledge with a quiz

Pedroia_Tag_8671 - Copy_50percentThe 2014 Major League Baseball season opens this week, and to celebrate its arrival, here’s a little trivia. Answers are  below.

  1. The first one’s easy: Who won the World Series last year?
  2. In the television show Seinfeld, what was Jerry’s favorite team?
  3. What was Babe Ruth’s primary position when he played for the Red Sox?
  4. With a runner on first and one out, the batter hits a pop up to the shortstop. But before the fielder catches the pop, the umpire calls the batter out. Why?
  5. What is a southpaw?
  6. Which team did the Mighty Casey play for?
  7. These three brothers all played professionally: Joe, Dominic, and Vince. What was their last name? Hint: the best known one played for the Yankees.
  8. Name the last person to have a batting average over .400.
  9. In the play/movie Damn Yankees, what does the lead character do in order to play for his beloved Washington Senators?
  10. What is the claim to fame of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance, of the Chicago Cubs in the early 1900s?
  11. This uniform number has been retired across baseball. What is the number and who wore it? Hint, the number was the title of a 2013 movie about that player.
  12. Name the two Major League Baseball teams with nicknames that do not end in “s.”
  13. What is the distance between the bases?
  14. Which team has the highest payroll in baseball?
  15. The Cy Young Award is given to the best ___ in each league.
  16. The popular movie series “Major League” is about a hapless team of misfits that unite and win the pennant. Name the team.
  17. The 2014 season really began earlier this month when the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks played two games in this faraway land. Name it.
  18. Speaking of the Dodgers … what is a Dodger?
  19. What is a “can of corn?”
  20. Shoeless Joe Jackson and other deceased players return from the beyond to play ball in a field built at the site of an old cornfield in this 1989 movie.


  1. The Boston Red Sox won the 2013 World Series.
  2. Like the real-life Seinfeld, Jerry was a Mets fan.
  3. Babe Ruth was a pitcher with the Red Sox, and a very good one.
  4. The batter is called out because of the Infield Fly Rule. It prevents the fielder from intentionally dropping the ball and turning a double play (the runner would be staying on first because of the pop-up, thus being an easy out).
  5. A southpaw is someone who throws left-handed.
  6. In the poem written by Ernest Thayer, The Mighty (albeit overrated ) Casey  played for the Mudville nine.
  7. Joe, Dominic, and Vince DiMaggio all played in the majors.
  8. Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941.
  9. In Damn Yankees, Joe Hardy makes a deal with the devil to play for the Washington Senators.
  10. The three Cubs ability to turn a double play was immortalized in a poem, “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon.” Written by a New York Giants fan during a game, it begins: “These are the saddest of possible words: Tinkers to Evers to Chance …”
  11. The number 42, worn by Jackie Robinson, has been retired across Major League Baseball.
  12. The Red Sox and White Sox are the only teams with nicknames that do not end with an “s.”
  13. The bases are 90 feet apart.
  14. The Los Angeles Dodgers have the highest payroll in baseball at $235 million, followed by the Yankees ($204 million) and Philadelphia Phillies ($180 million).
  15. The Cy Young Award is given to the best pitcher in each league.
  16. The “Major League” movie series portrays fictional players of the Cleveland Indians.
  17. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks played the first two games of the season in Australia. The Dodgers won both.
  18. The name Dodgers dates back to the team’s days in Brooklyn, when it was called the “Trolley Dodgers,” a tribute to the many trolley cars throughout the borough. The name was eventually shortened to Dodgers.
  19. A can of corn is an easy-to-catch fly ball.
  20. Shoeless Joe Jackson and others returned from beyond to play in Field of Dreams.

16-20   MVP
11-15    All Star
6-10    Prospect
0-5      Bench warmer

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Celebrate the Red Sox with some trivia


In honor of the Red Sox World Series victory, let’s test your knowledge of the Beantown nine. Answers are below.

  1. Jimmy Fallon played a Red Sox fanatic in this 2005 movie, which also starred Drew Barrymore.
  2. How tall is the Green Monster, the left field wall at Fenway Park?
  3. What was Babe Ruth’s primary position during his time in a Red Sox uniform?
  4. Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912, but was pushed off the front page by what event?
  5. Which New York Yankee hit the game-winning home run in the 1978 playoff game at Fenway Park? Extra credit if you know his nickname.
  6. In his book The Teammates, author David Halberstam writes about the lifelong friendship between Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, and which other Red Sox legend?
  7. True or false: Ted Williams crash landed a plane during the Korean War.
  8. Name the Red Sox centerfielder who won both the Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player Award in 1975.
  9. This former manager led the Red Sox to the 1967 World Series, and later won two World Series in Oakland.
  10. How many World Series have the Red Sox won?
  11. The manual scoreboard at Fenway has a series of dots and dashes — Morse Code. What does it spell?
  12. In days gone by, Fenway Park sported only one advertisement. What was it?
  13. Speaking of signs, what is the famous corporate sign, located in nearby Kenmore Square, that is often associated with Fenway Park.
  14. Who is considered the greatest clutch-hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox?
  15. Let’s end with an easy one…what is the unofficial theme song of Red Sox Nation?


  1. Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore starred in Fever Pitch.
  2. The Green Monster is 37 feet tall.
  3. Babe Ruth was a pitcher, and a darn good one.
  4. The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912,  five days before Fenway Park opened.
  5. Bucky Dent homered off Mike Torrez to win the one-game playoff game. He’s known in Boston as Bucky “Bleeping” Dent.
  6. Johnny Pesky is the fourth teammate in Halberstam’s book. The four are immortalized in a statue outside of Fenway.
  7. True. Captain Ted Williams served in both WWI and Korea. During the latter, his plane was hit by enemy fire. He considered ejecting, but feared it would destroy his kneecaps.
  8. Fred Lynn became the first player named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season, 1975.
  9. Dick Williams managed the “Impossible Dream” season of 1967, and won World Series with the Athletics in 1972-74.
  10. The Sox have won 8 World Series titles: 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004, 2007, and 2013.
  11. The Morse Code on the scoreboard is TAY and JRY, the initials of former owners Thomas A. Yawkey and his wife, Jean R. Yawkey. See photo, below.
  12. The lone advertisement at Fenway was the Jimmy Fund.
  13. The CITGO sign, a landmark in Boston, is located just blocks from Fenway.
  14. World Series MVP David Ortiz.
  15. Sweet Caroline is played in the 8th inning of every home game.Scoreboard

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Best sports movies? Here’s my list

The NFL is in full swing. Baseball playoffs are underway. Hockey and basketball are just around the corner. To celebrate this sports lovers utopia, here’s my list of best sports movies, in no particular order:

Yankee uberfan Billy Crystal chronicles the relationship between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle as the two chased Babe Ruth’s single season home run record in 1961. Make sure you watch “the making of” special feature.

Remember the Titans
When a high district begins to desegregate, football unites students and townspeople.

Will Smith gives a stellar performance as The Greatest, Muhammad Ali.

Major League
Charlie Sheen leads a team of misfits to the pennant.

Gene Hackman coaches a small town basketball team to the Indiana state championship.

The Natural
An aging baseball player finally gets his chance.

Eight Men Out
Eight members of the 1919 White Sox — the best team in baseball — were banned for throwing the World Series.

The Replacements
The football version of Major League, as Keanu Reeves leads a rag tag group of players across the picket line.

A League of Their Own
With Major League Baseball’s best fighting the war, Geena Davis leads a group of women onto the diamond.

Dangerfield, Murray. Need I say more?

That’s my list. What’s on yours?

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7 ways that sports make a difference

What’s happening to professional athletes? Long gone are the days when stars like the late Yankee Joe DiMaggio protected his reputation like security guards at the U.S. Mint.

The sports world has always had its share of problem players, although the numbers seem to be increasing, particularly in the NFL, which has seen dozens of players arrested during the off-season.

Nevertheless, sports play an important role in our society, and we should focus on the benefits, not the bad apples.

All together now
It sounds cliché, but playing a sport really does teach kids what it means to be a team player, something that will serve them well in their work careers.

Where are you going?
Competitive sports are all about setting team and individual goals — making the team, hitting .300, placing at regionals, winning the league championship, etc. — and working toward those targets.

See you tomorrow
It takes discipline to run, swim laps, or practice putting every day. And the more you practice, the better you become — teaching athletes that hard work pays off.

Good sports
More than ever, amateur sports are teaching kids to win gracefully and lose with dignity. They’ll all face a life full of successes and failures, and the lessons they learn on the sports field will teach them how to deal with each.

Character building
While the news is full of examples of athletes behaving badly, you’ll also see positive stories:

  • Players who visit hospitalized children
  • Athletes volunteering in the community
  • Coaches giving a kid with a disability a chance to play in a real game

Good coaches teach more than sports skills; they teach life lessons.

Howdy, neighbor
Following a local teams builds a sense of community. Whether it’s a Friday night football game or a Tuesday afternoon field hockey match, a sporting event is a great opportunity to meet new people and connect with friends.

Lifelong friends
Joining a team gives kids, particularly shy ones, a chance to make friends. Wearing the same uniform immediately offers something in common, and sharing  a goal (see above) builds bonds.

Your turn. What did you learn by playing a sport?


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Get ready for Super Bowl XLVII with some trivia

Bring out the salsa and chips because it’s Super Bowl week.

Last year, a record 111.3 million people tuned in for the big game and its equally popular commercials. While this year’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens may struggle to top the ratings generated by last year’s matchup between the larger market New York Giants and New England Patriots, the telecast is certain to be a powerhouse for both the NFL and its advertisers.

Some interesting facts about Super Bowl XLVII:

  • This is the first time two brothers have served as head coaches: San Francisco‘s Jim Harbaugh and the Raven’s John Harbaugh.
  • The 49ers are making their 6th appearance (5 wins), while the Ravens are at the big dance for the 2nd time (1 win).
  • At last check, there were a handful of tickets available, with prices ranging from $1,900 to $12,516 each. Tickets for the first Super Bowl, in 1967, sold for $12.
  • New Orleans is hosting the event for the 10th time.
  • Cost of a Super Bowl commercial is $3.7 million. Sponsors range from Anheuser-Busch (4 and 1/2 minutes) to Wonderful Pistachios (one 30-second ad).
  • The season is getting longer. The first Super Bowl, in 1967, was played on January 15. Super Bowl XXXVIII, in 2004, was the first to move into February.
  • Longer season, yes, but it’s worth the extra hours. Members of last year’s winners, the NY Giants, earned $88,000 for the victory. The losing New England Patriots settled for $44,000.
  • Former Rams’ and Cardinals’ quarterback Kurt Warner holds the top three spots for most passing yards in a Super Bowl.
  • There’s some debate about the economic impact of the Super Bowl on the host city, but according to the NFL, the value is about $500 million.

Who’s going to win? That’s one fact I don’t have.


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