Ben Krimmel - October 25, 2016

The New York Times dispatch from Game 1 in Chicago begins this way:

"Far different from any incident that has ever occurred in the history of baseball was the great moment of the first world's series game between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, which came at Comiskey Park this afternoon during the seventh-inning stretch."

The date was Sept. 5, 1918. The World Series that year - moved from Wrigley Field to the larger Comiskey - was the last Boston won in the 20th century, while the Cubs would suffer their second of seven World Series defeats before a 71-year absence began in 1945. It was also the only Series played entirely in the month of September, as the government had started drafting ballplayers for service in the First World War and ordered the regular season done by Labor Day.

During the seventh inning, the crowd "stood up to take their afternoon yawn ... the band broke forth to the strains of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,' " the Times article writes.

Upon hearing the patriotic song, Red Sox third basemen Fred Thomas, an active-duty serviceman on furlough from the Navy, turned and stood at attention. The rest of the ballplayers and fans joined him.

"First the song was taken up by a few," the Times report notes, "then others joined, and when the... read more »

Ben Krimmel - October 07, 2016

There were tears the night of the Jeffrey Maier game. I was 4.

By the next day at preschool show-and-tell, sadness had turned into anger. I slammed a copy of The Baltimore Sun down and declared injustice. The Yankees would win the 1996 ALCS and on and on.

The next season it was tears, again. Armando Benitez, my favorite pitcher in the Orioles bullpen, gave up the losing home run in the ALCS. Tony Fernandez induced tears.

I didn’t know the Fernandez homer would end the last meaningful game of my childhood. I didn’t know that it would be 14 years in the baseball wilderness of losing season after losing season.

Was it punishment for the sin of forcing Davey Johnson out at the end of that year? Was it Peter Angelos who brought about our banishment to the baseball Land of Nod, to the east of Eden?

My entire baseball career from little league to high school occurred during that period: the wandering years. It is a testament to my father and the power of summer nights with a transistor radio beneath my pillow that I have any interest in baseball.

Fourteen years. One thousand, two hundred seventy-six losses for an average of 27 games out of first place. And manager after manager leading us around, but not out.

The seventh manager of the bunch was different. Buck Showalter brought hints of redemption to Baltimore.

In 2011, his last-place team won a meaningless Game 162 on a walk-off single by Robert Andino that eliminated the Red Sox from the playoff race. The Orioles celebrated like it was them who had... read more »

Ben Krimmel - September 12, 2016

Blair Walsh’s 27-yard field goal somehow went wide and last season ended for the Vikings.

Is there any heartbreak in sports as devastating as an easy game winning field goal going wide left? Maybe when it happens in the playoffs. And at home.

When the sure thing doesn’t happen, sports fans are reminded that having skin in the game comes at a high cost. Why are we doing this to ourselves? Does the joy of winning make up for the total emotional toil of losing? Is fandom completely detrimental to our health?

Vikings fans experienced this. Ask them about the pain that comes when hope is lost as the darkness of the bleak, bleak Minnesota winter starts to rage stronger.

But there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The first crisp day of spring yields hope as the draft approaches. “Next year” is here as sure as Walsh’s kick went wide. So, even as Teddy Bridgewater’s injury halts talk of a Super Bowl run this year, Vikings fans open their new stadium with hope, putting their emotional well-being on the line for another year. NFL football has returned to the people of Minnesota.

But there is also St. Louis, where “next year” never came after the Rams left for the eternal summer of Los Angeles.

In losing the Rams, St. Louis loses the promise of next year—the joy, exhilaration, and hope that every fan feels no matter how awful their team was the year prior. The quintessential American belief that things will soon improve, that the draft picks that showed flashes of brilliance... read more »

Samuel Chi - August 07, 2016

The year is 2016. The United States most likely will elect a female president (RCP Averages say so). But American women, apparently, cannot be trusted to watch sporting events on their own.

NBC thinks so, just ask the the poobahs that run the network's Olympic coverage, past and present.

This is why while the rest of the world watched the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympics live, Americans - on the East Coast - had to wait an extra hour and a half to see it, when the Twitterverse was already lit with tales of Gisele's strut, Brazil's dubious claim to be the first in flight, and the shirtless beefcake flag-bearer from Tonga. It's worse if you were on the West Coast, when your TV coverage didn't even start until the show was already over, but that's a story for another day (or blog).

NBC's tape-delayed coverage hardly is limited to the Opening Ceremony - which the network says is more pageant than sports - but throughout the fortnight. This despite the fact that Rio is only one hour ahead of the U.S. Eastern Time Zone. If you want to watch Michael Phelps swim or Usain Bolt run live on TV, move to Canada, or at least close enough where you can pick up the CBC feed.

Even though the Internet was invented sometime before Al Gore lost the 2000 election, NBC has stuck to this tape-delayed approach since it introduced the "plausibly live"... read more »