The Golden Pitch

There is an esoteric term in the glossary used by persnickety baseball fans like myself called the golden pitch. It refers to a pitch on which either team can win the World Series if a certain hit or out is recorded. For example, with two outs and runners on second and third bases and the home team down by one run in the bottom of the 9th, almost any base hit wins the game and any out loses the game for the home team. As such, it must take place in Game 7 of the World Series, in the 9th inning or later, with the home team behind by three runs or fewer and at least one runner on base. Until 2016, it had happened on only seven occasions, most recently just two years before, in 2014. Continue reading

How I Got Hooked on Magic

On a recent trip to Australia and New Zealand, I had a nostalgic moment that made me recall my entry into the world of Magic. As my flight from Sydney to Christchurch was taking off, I popped open the Kindle app on my iPad looking for something to read. The trip was around 3 hours and, unlike the 15-hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, I wasn’t tired. I happened upon a book I’d downloaded probably a year ago and been excited about when I bought it, but somehow hadn’t gotten around to reading. It’s called So Do You Wear a Cape? and, as a longtime Magic player, I was engrossed in it immediately. Its author, Titus Chalk, is about my age and discovered Magic around the same time I did. Coincidentally, he had just moved to New Zealand and happened upon it when—like me—he was unable to ingratiate himself into any of several cliques at school and finally gravitated toward the nerds, who introduced him to this peculiar new game. Continue reading

The Hypocritical Hall of Fame Electorate

In 1965, the Astrodome opened to the public in Houston. The world had never seen a stadium like it before, leading some to call it the Eighth Wonder of the World. Houston’s fledgling baseball team, the Colt ’45s, was renamed the Astros. Although they finished 9th with a poor record of 65–97, attendance was quite high as people came from all around to see the Astrodome. Judge Roy Hofheinz’s vision of major-league baseball in Houston was fully realized.

Fifty years later, there will finally be a plaque in Cooperstown with an Astros cap as Craig Biggio was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Continue reading

A Picky Eater Goes Abroad

Perhaps it’s just all those movies I’ve seen in which outlandish caricatures of people from other countries engage in huffy, exaggerated outbursts whenever a foreigner—usually an American, natch—commits a cultural faux pas, but I can’t stand the idea of doing so myself. Before I travel to another country, I do some homework. I research cultural differences and look for red flags of behavior that’s considered normal in America but would be unacceptable there. I try to speak the language. I make every effort to not attract any more attention than necessary. The idea of perpetuating the stereotype of the unworldly American tourist who doesn’t bother to learn the language or customs of the country he’s visiting, and expects all the locals to speak English and cater to him, is mortifying to me. The vast majority of visitors from other countries I have encountered in America seem to have done their due diligence when coming here, and most of them have learned quite a bit of English—which I find rather impressive, given how complex English is—so I figure it’s the least I can do. Continue reading

On Being Stubborn

A couple years ago, we switched TV providers in part because we weren’t able to watch the Rangers on a regular basis with our previous provider. Before we went with that option, my wife looked into MLB.TV to see if we would be able to get the Rangers games that way. I’m pretty sure she looked online for information about the service, but I envision her experience as a conversation that might have gone something like this: Continue reading

Numbers are Ruining Sports

Wait, no, they aren’t. At least, not in the way a lot of purists are saying. If numbers are ruining in sports in any way, it’s because some people think you should ignore them completely and focus on the game itself, and some others that think that, because numbers don’t lie, you should never deviate from what they tell you. And like any highly contentious subject, you can’t expect to convert most of those fundamentally entrenched on either side.

The truth is, not surprisingly, that both qualitative and quantitative data are essential. Continue reading

Facebook is Taking Over Our Lives

Before you ask, no, I’m not going to quit Facebook. As I’ll point out shortly, that wouldn’t fix this problem.

Lots of people spend way too much time on Facebook. For better and for worse, it’s the most popular social network on the internet, and the #2 most popular website overall (as of May 10th, 2011), behind only Google. While I won’t bother to find sources for my conjecture (because, really, it would take longer than I care to spend researching it), I’m pretty sure Facebook has changed many lives—again, both for better and for worse. Continue reading