Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bo knows, but do they know Bo?

Bo knows.

I was all of three years old when Bo Jackson's iconic ad aired during the 1989 MLB All-Star Game and when Bo retired from baseball in 1994 I was eight. While I never got to watch Bo live, by the time I graduated high school I was very familiar with his work. I had seen the man run 91 yards for a touchdown before apparently exiting the stadium...

... and scale a wall Spiderman-style like it was no big deal.

Today I came to grips with the reality that, much like myself at their age, kids today don't know Bo.

I was impressed with the way young Mr. LaRoche handled himself throughout this chat. He seemed very interested and engaged with everything Bo was saying and he very coolly let Bo know that touching the brim of his hat was not OK.
I don't care how many All-Star teams you were on, if you touch my hat again I'm going to have to pound on you a little bit.

I was also very impressed that Bo, while detailing some of his incredible accolades, humbly declined to mention he's without a doubt the most powerful video game character of all time.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

No shortage of school spirit in Southern Madison county

Anyone who has attended an area high school sporting event has likely heard a pregame request to refrain from any negative cheers or comments fall on deaf ears attached to heads with large mouths.
In my travels this winter I've heard spectators yell at coaches and referees, not to mention players on the team they're supposedly cheering on.
My personal favorite is the parent that yells "shoot it!" every time their child touches the ball. As picture above shows, players know when to shoot the ball.
However, the student sections at Tuesday's Section III Class D girls basketball playoff game between Hamilton and Madison showed that it's not all bad news. Hamilton's Green Mile (decked in black, naturally) was out in full force, packing one section of the bleachers while several Madison students made the 6.7 mile trip to fill a section next to it.

The Green Mile in action. Black is the new green.
The showing continues a trend I've seen this winter at these small schools. The loudest gym I've been in this winter was Morrisville-Eaton's for a girls basketball game against the rival Emerald Knights. Madison's gym was almost overflowing during the final game of its Christmas tournament against rival Stockbridge Valley and the Blue Devils also played in front of a packed house on a Wednesday night against Otselic Valley a few weeks ago.
It's the effort that counts.
It's always great to see students come out and cheer their classmates on and its even better when its done in the right way. Now, was there a lot of noise and a premature shot clock countdown or two on Tuesday night? Sure, but I don't find any fault with a little gamesmanship. Spectators have been trying to disrupt free throw shooters for as long as there has been spectators and free throws. 
For the most part, students from both sides actively cheered for their team while avoiding any personal shots at players, coaches and referees.
School spirit and sportsmanship at its finest.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

5 best in-park reactions to Yoenis Cespedes' incredible throw

The video of the incredible throw Yoenis Cespedes made to retire Howie Kendrick at the plate on Tuesday really needs no introduction. If you haven't seen it yet, basically Cespedes bobbles the ball, scoops it up and throws it over 300 feet directly into the catchers glove for an out, preserving a tie game in the eighth inning.

Now, if you're like me, you will watch this clip again and again and again and again. And eventually, you'll start to truly appreciate the fan reactions to the play.

Here are my top five.

5. Pitcher Luke Gregorson and catcher Derek Norris (0:27)
Aren't you glad he's on our team?
At first glance it looks like just another "ho, hum, Yoenis just made another throw that shouldn't be humanly possible" reaction. However, you can see Gregorson mouth "that's unbelievable" and you know their both marveling at just how far he threw this ball here.

4. Tie - Safe. Safe. guy and kids holding hands (0:57)

The kid on the left is the only one who knows what's coming.
 You really need to watch this one to fully appreciate the leap from ecstasy to agony. On one hand you've got two kids holding hands, giddily jumping up and down with the knowledge that their beloved Angels are about to take a 2-1 lead in this game. The child on the left sees that dream shattered and breaks it to the friend on the right.

Meanwhile, the follicly challenged gentleman next to them doesn't want to believe Cespedes can do what he does. He visibly struggles to contain his excitement at the play at the plate, twice gestures and says "safe" before Kendrick gets called out at the plate and he loses it.

Actually, watch all the people behind the plate. They're priceless.

3. The first base umpire (1:12)
Bringing the fist-pump A game.

On a play like this, you need the emphatic fist pump to determine Kendrick was out. John Trumpane does not disappoint.

2. Yoenis Cespedes (0:20)
Sorry bro.
That look on Cespedes face says just one thing: If I keep doing stuff like this, they're going to realize I'm not human.

1. The mustachioed man (1:38)
If your mustache doesn't look like this, you need to try harder.
Seriously, look at that mustache. That guy hasn't shown emotion since the mustache was just a little peach fuzz tickling his upper lip. He reacts exactly how you you'd expect him to react.
Bonus Cespedes:

In case you missed it, Cespedes misplayed another ball into an out with his rocket arm on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

5 things this sports fan is thankful for

By Kyle Mennig 

This Thanksgiving, as with most Thanksgivings, I find myself looking back and reflecting on all the positive aspects of my life I've seen over the past year. Of course, there's the usual family, friends, job, etc. that I'm thankful for, but what has the sports world given me? 

It's been a year of ups and downs (Derrick Rose is cleared to play...he's not ready...he's finally back...he's out again) to say the least. However, (take it from a Mets fan) there's always something to look back fondly on.

1. NFL Sunday Ticket

This season, I took the plunge. Well, kind of. I bought a special anniversary edition of Madden 25 (because nothing screams fun like having a 12-year-old kick your butt online and have him taunt you throughout the experience), mainly for the fact that it came with 17 weeks of NFL Sunday Ticket Max. Basically, the package allows online streaming of every NFL game that isn't on TV.

It's been great, being able to watch any game I want (along with the fantasy footballer's dream, RedZone). But perhaps the biggest reason I'm thankful for it is directly tied to No. 2 on this list.

2. Matthew Stafford

Hurry, hurry! You guys are going to want to see this!
For much of his career, I had never really had a strong opinion on the Lions QB. I never really loved him, never hated him. He was just a pretty good quarterback on a sometimes good team.

That all changed in Week 8.

I'm a firm believer that you either love or hate the Dallas Cowboys and I firmly fall into the second category. When Stafford scored his sneaky game-winning TD (that I was watching through NFL Sunday Ticket), well, my heart grew three sizes in his favor that day.

3. The Miami Heat

Ugh. I know, I know. I feel as dirty writing it as you do reading it.

I'm not the biggest fan of them winning another NBA title. However, their photobomb game is impossible to argue with.


4. Matt Harvey

Oh Matt Harvey. Where to begin? For a few short months this summer, you gave Mets fans hope. Every fifth day was a must-see event on par with a holiday with wishes of "Happy Harvey Day!" littering my Twitter feed. And although it was brutally ripped away, it was all worth the pain (well for me at least, not sure if Matt would agree).

And while you won't be back on the mound until 2015, we'll always have the streets of New York.


5. There's always next year

The rallying cry for fans around the world, aside from the lucky few who get to leave it behind for at least one fleeting moment.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jensine Falu-Montes scores touchdown for Webster Schroeder

On a Friday night in the fall, its not too hard to find a football player scoring his first career touchdown.

A football player scoring her first touchdown, on the other hand, is a little more rare.

But that's just what Jensine Falu-Montes did for Webster-Schroeder out in Section V.

That video's incredible for several reasons. First, it's great to see that team support her the way it does. Every one of those players was ecstatic to see their teammate score, something I unfortunately don't think you could say would happen on every team.

What I love most, though, is her father's pure, unbridled joy as she crosses the goal line. Hearing Falu-Montes' parents tell the story of how they basically dared their daughter to play football and listening to him howl after she scores is incredible.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tampa Bay Rays pull off hidden ball trick against Los Angeles Dodgers

By Kyle Mennig

For the most part, yesterday was humming along as just another day at the office. I had just returned from Gravity Fest in Munnsville and was working with Sean down in New Haven on laying out our pages for Sunday's Dispatch.

As I often do, I had a baseball game on TV. Usually it's a Mets game, but with Terry Collins and company in Arizona playing later that evening I went with FOX's game of the week between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays.

To be fully honest, I wasn't paying much attention to the game. That is, until the fourth inning. I kind of noticed there was some confusion about a play involving Juan Uribe. Still only half-listening, I quickly snapped to full attention when I heard those three magic words: hidden ball trick.

Oh the hidden ball trick (or as Gob Bluth would prefer, illusion). Baseball fans often talk about the rarity of hitting for the cycle or pitching a perfect game, but there may be nothing as rare as the hidden ball trick. It does for baseball fans what a good set of twins does for Dwight Schrute.

Isn't it magnificent?! Why do we love this play so much? It's incredibly rare and there's something about seeing professional athletes pull of Little League plays that's hard to beat.

But perhaps the best part of the play is Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach. Perhaps he should have been more keen to his surroundings, but watching him catch Evan Longoria staring intently at Uribe's foot and moving in for a closer look himself is absolutely priceless.

Fortunately, this tale has a happy ending for Uribe and the boys in Dodger blue. L.A. won 5-0 and Uribe's teammates helped make sure he'll never fall victim to the hidden ball trick again.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Defending the mess... er, Mets' celebration

By Kyle Mennig 
Sunday afternoon Kirk Nieuwenhuis gave many a Mets fans (and their fathers - mine included) a fantastic Fathers Day, blasting a three-run home run to give the boys from Queens a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

As many baseball fans already know, you might as well change Citi Field's name to Mudville, because there has been little to no joy to be found this season (or many others this century). The Mets "improved" to 21-39 with the victory, prompting this little gem from Bob Costas.

Sure, the celebration was a little over-the-top (are they spanking him?). But the decline of Western civilization? Reign it in a little Costas. Matthew Callan's piece over at Amazin' Avenue does a great job summing up why Costas' outrage is so ridiculous and considers that it's likely a result of Costas' career in decline that led to his little joke.

But there's a little more. For the Mets, a four-run game qualifies as an offensive explosion, much less a four-run inning. For me, the celebration is an exhale, coming with it the thought that maybe it will get better even though I know it most likely won't. But why not bask in that moment of hope that has been all too brief this year?

Also, take a look at MLB's walk-off page. Nearly every thumbnail on the page features a team mobbing players at home plate, celebrating the most exciting way to win a game. The Cardinals, the Marlins, the Indians, the Braves all celebrate in similar fashion so why should the Mets be any different Costas. Why should New York's "other" team have to solemnly walk off the field to ponder their fate as potential cellar-dwellers?

The remark was a little different than his other holier-than-thou moments in recent years (gun control, end zone celebrations) in that it was more of an off-hand quip than a planned soap-box session. Still, taking morality lessons from a guy who uttered the following line is a little hard for me to stomach.

You're Excited? Feel These Nipples!

Bob, you want to talk about the decline of Western civilization? Let's start with that little gem and move forward from there.