Is Baseball Still America’s Pastime?

Photo is courtesy of http://www.totalprosports.com/

 

Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

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I’ve heard a lot of radio hosts (read Colin Cowherd) talk about how baseball is no longer America’s pastime, claiming that football has taken hold of the country’s focus.  Given the strong presence of the NFL and college football in our everyday lives, it’s awfully hard to disagree with that claim.  But if everything were based upon looks alone, you would think that there are only about 20,000 Tribe fans in Ohio, they’re all over 50, and they all live in Mansfield.  (Come on people…you’re allowed to laugh at that one)

Let’s examine this concept of America’s pastime for a moment.  According to Merriam-Webster, a pastime is something that amuses and serves to make time pass agreeably.  Baseball certainly still fills that role very well for many a sports fan in this country.  At the same time, for several reasons, baseball is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Now let’s look at the definition of a national pastime.  Wikipedia (yes, yes…I know) claims that a national pastime is a sport or game that is considered to be an intrinsic part of the culture of a nation.  Baseball is certainly still very much a large symbol of American culture and history.  Think about it, even the smallest of towns in this country have at least one baseball field, where little leaguers play the same game that their heroes play on television.

For something to be given the distinction of America’s pastime, I think a certain extra expectation comes along with the title.  In this discussion we are looking for the singular defining pastime of this country and whether or not baseball still has that market cornered.

Personally, I don’t feel like baseball really corners the market any longer.  However, that is not to say that it doesn’t still claim a large piece of the pie.  It just seems to me that other sports have stepped up to claim their own corners of the market, professional football included.

It seems to me that three major sports are vying for the crown of America’s pastime.  Major League Baseball, NCAA Football, and the National Football League all seem to claim somewhat equal shares of America’s attention right now.  Baseball isn’t as lost on American culture as it seems and pro football isn’t quite as dominant as ESPN would have you to believe.  College football seems to be the biggest right now, but it seems to be somewhat of a dark horse.

My opinion is certainly not an expert one.  I want to know what you all have to say on the subject.  What sport do you think is America’s pastime?  State your case in the comments section below.  Best ones will appear in a later post, and possibly in a future podcast.

[polldaddy poll=7317698]

“Bold” Predictions For Cub’s Second Half

Photo by David Banks/Getty Images/http://bleacherreport.com

Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Follow us on Twitter! @OS_Report

It seems like just yesterday that pitchers and catchers were reporting to spring training. All the nerds were gearing up for their fantasy baseball season…then we blinked and the season is half over.   Baseball has the longest season but seems to pass by us faster than any other sport.  The NBA plays half as many games, but every year I find myself praying for the talk radio guys to shut up about the playoffs.

Anyhow, at the time I wrote this post, the Cubs had a record of 42-51, were 15 games out of first in the NL Central, and had a winning percentage of .452 (these numbers could all be better or worse by the time this baby posts).  However, they are not the worst team in baseball, or even the worst team in their division.  The Milwaukee Brewers currently stand at last place in the NL Central with a record of 38-56.  The Houston Astros are the worst in baseball with a record of 33-61.

The Cubs are in the middle of a painful rebuilding process that is being “masterminded” by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.  It looks to be a rough second half for the north siders, but there will be some bright spots.  That said, here are some “bold” predictions for the rest of the Cubs’ season.

  • The Cubs will finish above .500 for the season.  This may be the bravest prediction on this list, but it could very well happen.  The Cubs were 6-4 in the ten games before the All Star Break and there’s no reason why they can’t keep that momentum going.  The only pitcher they stand to lose is Matt Garza, so the rest of the rotation should be okay.  The offense is beginning to produce a little more consistently as well.  Finishing above .500 will indeed be a team effort, but they can pull it off.

 

  • Matt Garza will be traded before the trade deadline.  Realistically, this trade will probably happen before the weekend is out.  The Texas Rangers have been in deep discussions with the Cubs to make this trade happen.  It’s only a matter of time before Garza is heading to Arlington.

 

  • Alfonso Soriano will be a Cub for the rest of the season.  Soriano is playing well, but his big contract will stay in Chicago.  If I’m wrong, I’ll be shocked.  More on him a little later…

 

  • Nate Schierholtz will be traded by the deadline.  In reality, I’m really sticking my neck out on this prediction.  Yes the Cubs are a little thin in the outfield right now and Schierholtz has been slumping a bit lately, but the Cubs can build effectively by trading him because his contract has another year on it.  That extra year really drives up the asking price for a player who is producing like he has been this season.

 

  • Kevin Gregg will be traded.  As shocked as I have been by Gregg’s success this year, I will be more shocked if he is still a Cub by season’s end, or even by the trade deadline.  Teams that are making playoff runs need closers and teams that are trying to quietly end a rough season do not.  End of story.

 

  • Alfonso Soriano will hit over 40 home runs by the end of the season.  Right now, Soriano has 19 dingers on the year, so I don’t think that beating his first half total by two is that big of a stretch.  Every Cub fan should be rooting for this to happen because every home run he hits makes him that much more attractive to AL teams looking for a DH for next season.

There you have it, my “bold” predictions for the remainder of the Cubs’ season.  So sit back, relax, and let’s see if any of them actually happen.

Brad Stevens has Jumped Ship!

Photo by  Darren McCollester/Getty Images/http://bleacherreport.com Written by: Neil Brown (@downtowneil)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

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By now this is old news to everyone, unless you’ve been living in China or under a rock. Or possibly even under a rock in China. But I needed a couple of weeks to cool down, otherwise this post would've probably sounded more like a death threat than my anger towards people for wanting more money.

Here’s my big gripe, is there no loyalty in sports anymore? I know the fans are still loyal as ever, if not more so.  I’m an Indians and Browns fan, so I’ve felt my share of heartbreak in my 23 years on Earth. I could run down the list of the ways that Cleveland sports didn’t even take me to dinner, but yet still had their way with me, but that’s for another post.

At this point it seems like players and coaches alike have no problem leaving behind everything for the big paycheck. There are no more Joe Paternos and only a few Cal Ripkins left. Just this past April, Stevens signed a 12 year contract extension to remain at Butler through the 2021-2022 seasons. Three months later, the dollar signs caught up to him and he’s headed to Bean Town.

He’s not the only turn coat we’ve seen this year though. Chip Kelly, the beloved coach of my Oregon Ducks, was going to leave Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles, then announced he was going to stay in Eugene. A few weeks later though, he caught the itch and had a “change of heart” and took Philly up on the offer to be their new head coach.

He is set to run one of the most exciting offenses in the NFL with Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy running all over the field in what I’m assuming will be an “Annexation of Puerto Rico” style of game. Hey it was successful for Danny O’Shea and his Little Giants, so why not give it a shot?

I don’t like Derek Jeter at all and I hate the Yankees more than Brett Favre hates retiring, but I respect Jeter tremendously because he has stuck with the team that brought him up through the minor league ranks. Maybe it was the five World Series rings and millions of dollars the Yankees have thrown at him, but it still doesn’t change the fact that you don’t see that type of loyalty out of many professional athletes nowadays.

Look, all I’m really trying to say in this rambling, piss-fueled fire of a rant is this question; how do professional athletes expect fans of their team to be loyal when the athletes themselves are rarely loyal? How can I be expected to spend my hard earned money on a ticket, beer and hotdog to come watch you get PAID to play a game? Why even buy a jersey of your favorite player anymore? Chances are he’ll be gone next season and you’ll be “that guy” wearing around a Tim Couch or Grady Sizemore jersey.

Respect your fans and the legacy of your organization, and don’t just follow the dollar signs.

Panic Enhancing Drugs in Baseball

Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon SMI/http://mlb.si.com/ Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Edited by: Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)

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For about the last month, the black cloud of the Biogenesis/PED scandal has been hovering over the game of baseball. Over the last two weeks, the cloud has become even darker as the scrutiny increased on Ryan Braun and Major League Baseball had a one-on-one meeting with Alex Rodriguez. Throughout all of that shame and hardship, there has been a tiny ray of hope.

 

First baseman for the Baltimore Orioles and top vote-getter for this year's All-Star game, Chris Davis, has so far set the baseball world on fire. At the All-Star break, Davis ranks in the Top 10 in many of baseball's offensive categories and above all else, he leads the league with 37 home runs. Most people would receive praise for these accomplishments, but Davis has been questioned for his statistics and many fans and media members have raised an eyebrow to his outstanding home run total.  While his spike in numbers may have the “experts” questioning his career year, it is in no way Davis’ fault for receiving the scrutiny that he has.

 

The one thing that performance-enhancing drugs has done to the game is caution players from being too good.  Due to the outrageous home run totals that Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez have put up while later being connected to PED’s, it has put a damper on the rest of baseball.  As soon as a player starts smoking the ball out of and around the ballpark, especially one that isn’t yet a “big name”, people instantly become skeptical.  Some may say that 37 home runs and 93 RBI’s are not common numbers for a man with a common name.  Even though Davis’ numbers are a bit inflated, the sweet-swinging lefty still recorded 33 home runs and 85 RBI’s in 2012.  Don’t get me wrong, I can understand why people are skeptical of what Davis has been able to do in the first half, but it looks a little sad that just because the kid is having a good year, people assume that it can’t be natural.

 

Maybe I am crazy and Davis will be the next name linked to performance-enhancing drugs, but there is no need to point the finger just yet. Davis has announced to the public and the media many times that he is in no way using any sort of PED’s.  I have always been a guy that trusts people, but after the golden boy of baseball, Alex Rodriguez, lied to all of us on many occasions, it has been hard to let our guard down again.  Trust me folks, I’m not saying that Davis is the next Rodriguez, but until he gives us reasonable doubt, Davis should be congratulated for his accomplishments and not questioned.

 

As I mentioned in a previous post, you all know that I believe Major League Baseball should either make PED’s 100% legal for a level playing field, or install a two strike policy before banning them from the game.  Both of those options may never come true but since everything surrounding Biogenesis and PED’s is still under investigation, let’s take this time as baseball fans to embrace Chris Davis for what he has done for the game, and not for what we think he has done.

Cubs Win!...Nope, It’s Just The Trade Deadline

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images/http://espn.go.com

 

Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Follow us on Twitter! @OS_Report

Well Cubs fans, we’ve entered that wonderful time of the year when we realize just how far away we are from a World Series.  Every year we ship off players that are performing above expectations, receive cheaper players that attempt to fill gaps, and are told that this is all part of the long process of rebuilding that will lead to a ring.  This all sounds great until one looks at the Cubs’ roster.

One look at Chicago’s active roster will tell you two things:  1) The cupboard is looking mighty bare when it comes to trade-worthy pieces and 2) this team looks to be a long way from any sort of success.

So far, the Cubs have done a couple good things.  They traded away Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger (I know, who?) to the Orioles and got back a couple solid pieces of…something…in return.  Two guys you’ve never heard of for two other guys you’ve never heard of…sounds like a typical Cubs trade to me.

The other move the Cubs made was actually a great move.  Scratch that…it was an awesome move!  Somehow, the Cubs convinced the Los Angeles Dodgers to trade for Carlos Marmol!  This move surprised me because I was amazed that anybody would go near this guy!  I was even more amazed that they were willing to give back anybody in a trade.  As my brother put it during our July 4th cookout, “Even if all they got in return for him was a bucket of baseballs, the Cubs came out on top in that deal.”  Think about it, a reliever that can’t throw strikes is not typically a trade target as the trade deadline approaches.  All the same, the only headache the Cubs faithful have left to deal with is the one they have after a day at Wrigley.  Apparently it takes a lot of beer to make this team watchable.

So we’ve cleared some no-names and a problem child from our team, but now what do we do as the July 31 trade deadline inches closer and closer?  I will give you my list of four players that the Cubs should trade immediately.  (Yes, this list looks very similar to many other lists out there.  This is not because I’m a copy-cat…it’s because the Cubs literally have four players left to trade.)

  1.  Alfonso Soriano – I know, we have this discussion every season.  He’s a big contract, he’s old, he’s slow, and he doesn’t do much at the plate or in the field…so get rid of him already!  For once, the guy is actually on a bit of a hot streak!  Of all the years we’ve talked about trading him, this year seems to be the most likely situation.  All that’s left for Team Epstein is to find a team that will give up the right players and convince Soriano to waive his no-trade clause.  No pressure right?  However, I do have one reservation with this trade.  Soriano represents a very small veteran presence in the Cubs’ clubhouse right now.  I know that $18 million is a lot to pay for presence, but he may be the leader that this young team needs until Castro and Rizzo can fill that role.  My final verdict…make the trade.
  2. Matt Garza – This one is simple.  He’s pitching well, he’s healthy (at least for the next five minutes), and teams always need one more starter they can get on the cheap as they stock up for playoff time.  I saw on MLB Trade Rumors’ Twitter page that the Cubs and Garza have been discussing a contract extension.  This is a horrible idea.  His price tag is too high for him to be injured as much as he is.  Trade him, and let another team worry about his health.
  3. Nate Schierholtz – This guy has another year left on his contract after this season, making him more attractive to other teams since he’s playing so well right now.  It also means that teams will have to give up more to get his services.  This guy could be a pivotal trade deadline piece for the Cubs.  They need to just take their time and get the right players in return since they have him under contract for another season.  Expect to see him in another uniform by August 1.
  4. Last but not least we have good old Kevin Gregg – I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the guy is doing pretty well at this point!  For once, he’s actually pitching well enough to be traded instead of pitching badly enough to be released.  If the Cubs can get a decent return for him, they should do so immediately.

There is one issue when it comes to all of this trade deadline talk and I hinted at it above.  If the Cubs manage to trade all of these players, their cupboard is officially empty of trade-worthy pieces.  Part of this building process involves getting pieces in return that improve your team for the future.  As it stands, Travis Wood and Anthony Rizzo seem to be the only players that have blossomed into anything permanent for the Epstein Regime.  My concern is simply this:  once we run out of currency to use in the trade market, how will we keep building?  Are we really to believe that a World Series title is to come from a depleted farm system and a bevy of international signings?  Surely this can’t be the bright future that Tom Ricketts had in mind when he hired Theo Epstein.  One thing is for sure, this July may be the most delicate month in recent history for the Cubs.

Should Yasiel Puig be an All-Star?

Photo is by Mike Stobe/Getty Images/ http://mlb.si.com Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Edited by: Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)

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We are less than two weeks away from this year’s MLB All-Star Game and surprisingly enough, Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles and his league leading 33 home runs are not the topic of discussion.  For the last few weeks, all you have been able to hear about from the world of baseball is if the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie phenomenon, Yasiel Puig, was going to make the National League All-Star team.  As both leagues revealed their line-ups yesterday, Puig was left off of the roster…. for now.  Puig will join his teammate, Adrian Gonzalez, Ian Desmond of the Nationals, Freddie Freeman of the Braves and Hunter Pence of the Giants in a fan vote for the final NL spot that will be chosen this coming Thursday.  Whether you feel that he deserves a spot on the roster or not after only 32 games this season, I personally believe that not only has he done enough to earn his spot, but also will now be an All-Star without question.

The consensus that I am hearing from the major league players is that it would be “a joke” if Puig was selected as an All-Star.  After a sample size of only 32 games at this point, I totally understand.  There are plenty of other guy’s in the National League that have busted their butt all season long and just because some young buck comes up in June and starts raking the ball, doesn’t mean that he is an All-Star.  That is where you would be wrong.  If there were a player that was that deserving of a roster spot, than his numbers would’ve easily earned it.  Since Puig has hit .409 with 8 home runs and 19 RBI’s in just over a month of play and his debut numbers compare to a guy named Joe DiMaggio, then he has earned the opportunity just as much as any other guy.  Puig may receive many All-Star spots to come, but if you look strictly at the numbers and the 19-13 record that he has helped the Dodgers earn since joining the team, then the rookie is unquestionably an All-Star.

Puig may have not been named an All-Star in the initial voting, but now that it is up to the fans, there is no doubt in my mind that we will see the young Dodger in New York.  The players may not want to see him in the All-Star Game, but baseball fans sure do.  Puig received over 850,000 write-in votes from the fans, and that wasn’t by accident.  Baseball fans love when a young guy is promoted from the minors and sets the baseball world on fire.  It is safe to say that we haven’t seen many rookies do what Puig has done, but because of his jump on the scene, this rookie will receive many votes from all baseball fans.  He is a fan favorite for what he has been able to do on the field and also because he is in the conversation with Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado as the future of baseball.  If the choice would’ve been up to the players or coaches, then he may have not made it, but now that his fate is in the hands of the fans, expected Puig to be an All-Star.

I may not make many major league baseball players happy with this blog, but to me, there is no debate.  Whether Puig makes the All-Star team or not, we all know, including the players and coaches, that the Dodgers’ rookie is an All-Star either way.

On a side note, we would like to congratulate Alex Shields on winning the ‘Our Sports Report’ Sports Movie Line contest with his submission of the famous “Just a bit outside” Harry Doyle line from the movie, Major League! Congratulations Alex and if you could just email your address to curt740@gmail.com, we will have your $10 Subway Gift Card in the mail here soon! Keep checking out ‘Our Sports Report’ for future contests for your chance to be a winner!

How To Properly Divorce Your Sports Team

Photo is courtesy of http://www.seanpennsego.com

 

Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Follow us on Twitter! @OS_Report

Fandom is a complicated thing.  For any number of reasons, we attach ourselves to a group of people that get paid to play a sport.  Geography, sentimentality, family history, peer pressure, and good old-fashioned television viewing access can have an impact on what teams we root for.

Often, over the course of a long season, our team’s performance can cause our devotion to waiver.  We begin casting lustful eyes at the uniforms and stadiums of other teams and then we start to daydream about what the thrill of victory must feel like for these lucky fans.  If nothing else, we know that as fans, we can be a mighty fickle bunch.

As our feelings begin to shift towards another team, we seem to guilt ourselves for not being true to our teams.  You’d think we were married to them or something!  There’s no certificate of fandom on file down at city hall, so why does this always feel so dirty?  Surely there must be some way to separate ourselves from our teams if they have hurt us too many times.  Surely there must be some sort of etiquette for situations just like this.  Well, at least by the end of this post, there will be.

For starters, we typically choose our sports teams based on geography, family history, and television.  We will develop our team leaving etiquette on those three factors.

Rule #1 – Geography – If you are living in the same area in which you were born and you initially chose that team from an early age, you may not leave that team until you move to a new team’s vicinity.  This rule has been the bane of many an Ohioan’s existence for years, as many of them chose “The Tribe” when they were too young to know any better.

Rule #2 – Geography Part 2 – If you, for whatever reason, are a fan of a team from another geographical area and you feel you can no longer support that team, you must choose the team from the market you currently live in.  In my case, having violated Rule #1 by ditching the Indians to become a Cubs fan, my only recourse is to switch to one of the Ohio teams if my relationship with the Cubs begins to sour.  Since I live north of I-70, I must root for the Indians.  People must exercise caution here, because often times, like in my case, switching teams take you from one ugly wife to another.  (To clear myself of any metaphorical bleed over, my actual wife is beautiful!)

Rule #3 – Family History – If your family roots for a particular team, it behooves you to do the same.  Failure to do so may result in shame, exile, and forfeiture of any inheritance to which you may have otherwise been entitled.  However, if your family seems to root for many different teams (as mine did…hence why I am a Cubs fan) you may choose your own team from the selection that your family has established.  Going outside that list may carry the above consequences.

Rule #4 – Family History Part 2 – If your family roots for multiple teams, you may switch between any team on that list as you see fit, provided you own at least one hat of the team to which you are switching.

Rule #5 – Television Availability – You may choose from any of the teams that receive consistent television coverage in your area.  Not ESPN coverage once a week, but a dedicated local channel that picks up a majority of the season’s games.

Rule #6 – Relocation – If your team moves from your area…you are free.  They left you, so find the proverbial hotter girl and go to town!

This is obviously a limited list.  What other rules can you think of for choosing a team?  Let us know.  We may have to make an official rule poster that we can frame and hang in the Podcast studio for all to see.

Another No-No belongs to Homer

Photo by Jeff Swinger/The Cincinnati Enquirer/http://www.usatoday.com Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Edited by: Neil Brown (@downtowneil) & Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)

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If you happened to be watching baseball or surfing the world of social media last night, you quickly realized that history took place in Cincinnati, Ohio.  For the second time in his career, Cincinnati Reds pitcher, Homer Bailey, threw his second career no-hitter as he defeated the San Francisco Giants, 3-0. He threw the last no-no of 2012 (September 28th at Pittsburgh) and now the first of 2013.  Not only do I congratulate Bailey on joining the rare club of two no-hitters, but I also am a man that admits when he is wrong.

For the last few years, I have made it public knowledge that I essentially thought that Homer Bailey was crap.  His first two seasons up in Cincinnati were far from excellent and he spent more time on the bus heading back to Louisville then he did on the pitchers mound.  It wouldn’t have been an issue if it was just one season, but this started to become a common theme with the righty.  The Reds gave Bailey chance after chance and with every good outing he seemed to follow it up with four bad ones.  When I used to host a sports radio show at Otterbein University, I always let people know my displeasure for Homer Bailey.  I’m not even a Reds fan and his horrific pitching bothered me so much that I continuously ranted about it on the airwaves.  It was two seasons ago that I claimed that the best decision for the Cincinnati Reds was to cut Homer Bailey and let him become another organization’s headache.  Once again folks, I was dead wrong.

Over the last season and a half, Bailey has been nothing fantastic going 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA in 2012 and is currently 5-6 with a 3.57 ERA in 2013.  Those numbers may not be spectacular but what Homer has now shown us is that he is no longer just a fluke. There will always be guys like Dallas Braden, Bud Smith and Philip Humber that will have their particular ‘stuff’ working that day, along with a little help from the baseball gods.  Until last night, I would’ve put Bailey in that category as well, but not anymore.  After he pulled the rabbit out of the hat for the second time, he joined the likes of Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan, Justin Verlander and Randy Johnson.  Homer Bailey may never be an ace, but at the ripe age of 27, he has joined a group of baseball’s elite and is no longer an ‘average’ pitcher.

We here at ‘Our Sports Report’ would like to congratulate Homer Bailey for his second career no-hitter, and I would like to personally admit that I was wrong about him.  Bailey has proven that not only does he deserve a spot in Cincinnati, but a place in baseball history.

You Told Me Your Finger Was A Gun! The 'Our Sports Report' Sports Movie Line Contest!

Photo is courtesy of filmlandempire.com Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Ladies and gentlemen, it's high time that we here at 'Our Sports Report' gave away some more free stuff!  Do you agree?  I thought you might.

This week's contest focuses on our favorite lines from sports movies.  There are the obvious inspirational ones such as "If you build it, he will come." or "Go the distance."  But few of us remember the funny ones like "You told me your finger was a gun!"  Well, those obscure, funny sports movie quotes are the ones we want to discuss this week.  There are many great ones out there and I know that you great folks out there won't let us down!

In the comments section of this post, give us some of your favorite funny sports movie lines.  If you feel like going with a very obscure entry, give us a little context to help us know what in the world you're talking about.

Just like our last contest, the best entry receives a $10 Subway gift card!  All entries must be submitted by Friday (July 5) and the winner will be announced on next Sunday's post.

So fire away folks, make us laugh!

The Navin Field Grounds Crew

Photo is courtesy of Google Maps/http://nowdig.com

 

Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

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Although there is no longer a stadium, there still sits a baseball field at the corner of Michigan and Trumble in Detroit, MI.  The sights and smells of Old Tiger Stadium have long since vanished from “The Corner”, but there is still baseball being played on the same field where Ty Cobb earned his reputation as the fiercest player in baseball.  Some of my first memories of Major League Baseball happened on this very baseball diamond, and thanks to a few “law abiding” citizens known as the Navin Field Grounds Crew, those memories still have a place to call home.

Since 2010, Tiger Stadium enthusiasts and several Corktown residents have been mowing the grass, picking up trash, weeding the infield, and playing baseball on the same diamond that their heroes played on for nearly a century.  What they’re doing is technically illegal, since the city of Detroit owns the land.  But that fact has not deterred these fine people from their task of preserving baseball history.

You see, most of these people grew up with the Tigers.  Seeing this field die before their eyes is every bit as hard as losing a family member.  And so, for spiritual healing, the Navin Field Grounds Crew meets every Sunday morning with Ernie Harwell’s voice echoing Detroit scripture in their heads.

“For, lo, the winter is past,

The rain is over and gone;

The flowers appear on the earth,

The time of the singing of birds is come;

And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”

Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Thank you to the Navin Field Grounds Crew for keeping part of my childhood alive.  I only hope that I can join you some Sunday morning and get my hands dirty right along with you.  Until then, keep up the good work, the place looks beautiful.

 

By the way folks, don’t forget to register for the 2014 Our Sports Report Wiffle Ball Summer Classic that takes place on July 5 in beautiful (and warm) Fredericktown, OH! There are some great prizes up for grabs (cash, gift cards, etc.) and there will be lots of great ballpark food to be had by all (and it’ll be cheap…unlike actual ballpark fare). It’s only $20 for a 2-3 man team, so sign up today! Information can be found on the blog and also on Facebook. You can also email us at oursportsreport@gmail.com with any questions you might have! See you then!

One & Wimble-Done

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images/ http://www.cbsnews.com Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Edited by: Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)

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It was just two weeks ago that we were talking about the greatness of Rafael Nadal.  Nadal had just won his eighth French Open and the discussion of him being one of the greatest tennis players of all time was back up for debate.  The Spaniard was riding high in the tennis world. That is, until today.  Earlier today, Nadal lost to Steve Darcis from Belgium in straight sets during the first round of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships.  All of the greats will lose from time to time, but for Nadal, there is a pattern that is beginning to form.

From 2005-2010, young Rafael was taking the tennis world by storm. He won five of the six French Opens, an Australian Open in 2009, two Wimbledon’s in ’08 and ’10, a U.S. Open in 2010. He even capped off his legacy with an Olympic Gold Medal at the 2008 Summer Games.  Between Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, they were, and still are, the kings of the sport.  The one thing with Nadal is that, since 2010, he hasn’t been able to close it out at most of the Grand Slams.  He has been in the finals at some, but besides the French Open, Nadal hasn’t been able to finish. I hate to say it, but at the ripe age of 27, I believe that Rafael Nadal is turning into somewhat of a specialist.

Before you call for me to be tarred and feathered in a public square, let me explain.  It has now been three years since Nadal was relevant at any Grand Slam event, besides the French Open. That is due to the fact that for most of his career, Nadal has been almost untouchable when he plays on a clay court.  For those of you that haven’t made the connection yet, the French Open has a clay surface. Stick with me here.  Since 2005, Nadal has won 8 out of the 9 possible French Opens, which has without a doubt made him the king of the clay.  He is still very young, but the way that I look at it, Rafael Nadal is the Ray Allen of professional tennis.

For the early part of his career with Milwaukee, Seattle and a few years in Boston, Ray Allen could do it all.  He could shoot, dunk, dribble-drive, play the pick & roll and was one of the premier players in the NBA.  Now for about the last 3-4 years, Allen has been known for just his 3-point shooting ability.  I am not taking anything away from Ray, but shooting from the perimeter, is really all he is good for anymore.  The same can be said for Nadal and the clay surface.  For the last few years, he hasn’t been able to do much on a regular surface or, at any other Grand Slam for that matter. But when it comes to his bread and butter, the Captain of Clay gets unleashed almost every time.

I may have lost my mind for saying that 27 year-old Rafael Nadal is only relevant on a clay court nowadays, but I let the facts speak for themselves.  Nadal may still be fairly young, and to his credit, he has won on non-clay surfaces before. But just remember, it isn’t always what you have done, but more of what you have done for me lately.