MLB predictions sure to be wrong (2017 edition)

Spring is in the air, summer is quickly approaching, and Major League Baseball’s Opening Day was a roaring success. The Baltimore Orioles, my favorite team, won in extras; The Arizona Diamondbacks, my favorite National League team (and hometown heroes), came back in the bottom of the ninth to win in dramatic fashion. Unfortunately, the betting man in me has them both missing the playoffs.

My NBA predictions turned out to be pretty accurate (I’ll have a follow-up once the playoffs start). I surprisingly don’t have as high of hopes for America’s Pastime because so much can happen over the entire season.

Here are a few predictions sure to be wrong.

Continue reading “MLB predictions sure to be wrong (2017 edition)”

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Ep. 14: Author Daniel Magariel talks sports

The podcast is back for Episode 14 (while 13 was technically over at Writer’s Bone, which is why you won’t find it in my iTunes feed).

In his debut novel One of the Boys, Daniel Magariel uses his personal history to write from the perspective of a young boy who starts a new life with his brother and father. Everything is perfect in the eyes of the preteen, but events slowly turn heartbreaking when the father’s addictions and violence begin to rise to the surface. The novel carries a lot of emotional weight in a brief space — less than 200 deeply-affecting pages. Continue reading “Ep. 14: Author Daniel Magariel talks sports”

30 podcasts from 2016 you need to subscribe to

Podcasts are trendier than ever now. Which is a grand thing to say. There’s a lot out there – some top notch, some not so much – and trying to find the right one for you is tricky. Here are 30 I listen to that I suggest to a lot of people I meet. Most of them are the “mainstream” ones, because I haven’t done much of a deep dive. Chances are you’ve listened to most of these if you love podcasts, but if you haven’t listened to much, you should definitely check some out.

Continue reading “30 podcasts from 2016 you need to subscribe to”

What’s in a name? Bad team names according to ‘Bleacher Report’

If you know me, you know that I am a fanatic when it comes to sport team names, logos, jerseys, et al. My friend Abe and I were talking about some teams recently and we did what any person in today’s culture does: google the topic. That’s when I discovered Bleacher Report’s reports on team names.

There were at least four articles from 2010 – 2012:

June 10, 2010: “The Top 20 Team Names That Need To Change Today”

September 17, 2010: “The Top 10 Worst Team Names in Professional Sports”

January 30, 2011: “The 20 Worst Team Names in Professional Sports”

December 13, 2012: “The Worst Team Names in Sports Today”

First, I want to complain that a site would re-write the same article a minimum of four times in three years to get page hits. That’s why I won’t link to them. If you really want to see their opinions, Google the articles. But I decided the topic was interesting, so I looked at the stats of the articles.

Over the four lists (that are all slideshows, no less), there were 50+ names listed. Some were obscure colleges (like Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes) while others were overseas sport teams (a rugby and cricket team were listed). I decided to focus on the team names that appeared on either three or all four of the lists. Surprisingly, no team named after Native Americans made more than two of the lists.

First, the three teams on all four lists:

Nashville Predators
Nashville Predators (NHL)
One list said the name reminded them of men in soggy dreadlocks a la Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger while another thought the name reminded them of To Catch a Predator. In reality the name came after a logo was created. In 1997, the team president unveiled a logo that was inspired by the fact that a sabertooth tiger skull was unearthed in Nashville in 1971. At least there is a tie to the city. Fans were to vote on a name based off of the logo. Their choices were: Ice Tigers, Fury, and Attack. The president added his own submission to the vote, Predators, which ended up winning. I’m not a fan of the team name, but I don’t think it’s terrible. The other choices were awful and at least Predators is generic in the sense that it covers all vicious animals.

Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards (NBA)
They were the Bullets from 1963 – 1997 before the team president decided to change the name because of the violent undertone the name gave. A fan vote took place with the following names as finalists: DragonsExpressStallionsSea Dogs, and eventual winner, Wizards. All of those are god-awful terrible. Generic mid-1990s names. Express could have garnered some support if it focused on a rail system… Only thing is that there is no substantial rail system in America. I admit, this name needs to change. Back to the Bullets? Maybe. Or it should follow the political trend of the Capitals and Nationals. Maybe the Senators?

Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz (NBA)
The New Orleans Jazz moved to Utah in 1979 and never changed their name. It’s as simple as that. And it’s as stupid as it sounds. But what exactly is Utah known for? The Great Salt Lake (Lakers is already a team name) and the Church of the Latter Day Saints. So, the Utah Saints? Yes. Get an entire church behind your sports team and sell out every home game and insane amounts of merchandise.

Here’s a few that were on three of the four:

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic (NBA)
When an expansion team was announced the Orlando Sentinel held, you guessed it, a contest. Heat, Tropics, Juice, Magic. Out of those the Heat and Magic make the most sense/aren’t amazingly bad. So, it was a toss-up between the two and Magic won out because of the ties to DisneyWorld. One list says that the tie to magic and Disney is okay, but that they should become the Wizards, so that Washington is forced to come up with a new name. This is the same site that complains about the whole Charlotte/New Orleans fiasco (who exactly are the Hornets, Bobcats, and Pelicans?)… Makes sense they’d want to confuse us even more.

Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild (NHL)
One of the best team names: Minnesota North Stars. Unforetunatly, when they relocated to Dallas, the Stars name still made sense. “The stars at night, are big and bright DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS.” So when the state was rewarded a new team, they couldn’t return to the North Stars moniker. Some possible names were: Blue Ox, Freeze, Northern Lights, Voyageurs, White Bears, and Wild. Out of those, I really like the Northern Lights. It’s bad, but good. But I also like the Wild. It invokes the idea that of the Minnesota wilderness the same way the Lakers basketball team referenced the 10,000 lakes the state has. I know the logo gets a lot of smack talk, but I like the combination of the wilderness background inside some sort of wild animal head.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (MLB)
Originally Los Angeles Angels, from the English version of the Spanish-language city, which is pretty cool One of the lists says that no team name should have a religious connotation, which is stupid because that’s not what the team name was meant to be. They became the California Angels when they moved 40 miles south to Anaheim, and eventually the Anaheim Angels. However, to get back into the LA media market, they wanted to become the Los Angeles Angels once more. However, the city of Anaheim had a clause in their contract with the team that the city name had to be a part of the team name (similar to why the Phoenix Coyotes are becoming the Arizona Coyotes because the City of Glendale has a name clause). So the most complicated team name came into existence. The Angles isn’t a bad moniker. But the city indicator is a mess. [Interesting note: there are no official logos with a city indicator and both jerseys just say Angels.]

 

A brief guide to reading baseball

Reading Baseball
America’s Pastime has been emblazoned in ink on the page for almost as long as it has been a sport. While there are some great pieces of fiction ranging from the classic The Natural to the modern hit The Art of Fielding, the most beautiful way to read baseball is in the non-fiction form. Here’s an alphabetical list mixed with some titles I love or some that have been recommended to me. (Note: books written by big name stars like Tony LaRussa or Pete Rose have been left off this list.) Continue reading “A brief guide to reading baseball”