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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Temper Temper: Tantrums of Spring

Summer is here!  With another season in the rear view mirror, it's time to take a look back at the best sports tantrums of Spring.

1.  Take That!  Richard Pitino expressed his frustrations with his Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball team by abusing a chair and the floor in his own gym.  This clip isn't on the list because it's the most extreme tantrum you'll ever see.  No, this clip stands out because it actually worked.  The tantrum sparked a comeback by the Golden Gophers in this game and inspired them on to an NIT championship.

2.  Redbird Gets the Bird.  Only two days into the season, the fans in Cincinnati were in midsummer form.  On April 3, 2014, Matt Adams, first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, lunged into the stands to try to catch a foul ball.  The Reds fan snagged the ball before Adams could get to it.  That was all well and good.  The stands are the fans territory.  Adams showed his frustration by giving the fan a little shove.  Not so fine.  But, the real tantrum here comes from the fan and his friends.  First, they taunt Adams.  Then the lady fan unleashes a torrent of expletives.  The entire encounter wraps up with a spirited display of the middle finger.

3.  Argghh ....  A Pirates Life.  Baseball has a lot of sacred rules.  Most of them unwritten.  One of those rules is "thou shalt not flip your bat ... especially if the ball doesn't leave the park."  Carlos Gomez of the Brewers committed that sacrilege in an April game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Garrett Cole, the pitcher who gave up the triple, approached Gomez to express his displeasure over this breach of baseball etiquette.  Then it was on.  Baseball fights usually resemble the junior prom ... a lot of talk and very little action.  But, this fight gives us knockdowns and haymakers.

4.  Short Track, Shorter Tempers.  No one really seems to know what sparked this altercation between Casey Mears and Marcus Ambrose after NASCAR's Richmond night race on April 27, 2014.  But, we all know what ended it: a short right hook by Ambrose.  Ambrose is widely regarded as one of the most mellow guys in NASCAR, but when Mears put his hands on him after the race, the Aussie let him have it.  Both men were fined and put on probation.  In other words, NASCAR agreed with the fans.  This was good entertainment.

5.  Lend Me Your Ear.  This incident involves the glorious combination of teammates fighting and body parts being bitten off.  This gem comes to us from the Dodgers' farm system.  On May 20, 2014, the Triple A Albequercue Isotopes were playing a road game in Salt Lake City when hostilities broke out between Miguel Olivo and Alex Guerrero.  The first skirmish takes place during a pitching change in the bottom of the seventh inning.  Olivo, the catcher, was angry with his shortstop for failing to tag out a baserunner who stole second.  Olivo was so angry that he had to be restrained from assaulting Guerrero.  After the inning, the Olivo continued the hostilities in the dugout.  As Guerrero was preparing an at bat, Olivo decked his teammate and knocked him to the ground.  Teammates broke up the scuffle, but when they did, part of Guerrero's ear was in Olivo's mouth.  Not good.  Or as they say in Guerrero's native Cuba, "No bueno."  Guerrero is a top prospect in the Dodgers' organization.  The injury required plastic surgery and sidelined Guererro for over a month.  Unfortunately, since this was a Triple A game, there is not excellent video.  This was the best I could find, but the musical accompaniment is pretty good.

6.  Straight from the Horse's Mouth.  The guy ranting in this video is not actually a horse ... more like a horse's you-know-what.  On June 7, 2014, California Chrome had a chance to make history at the Belmont Stakes.  Steve Coburn's colt would have been the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.  Chrome came up short in the race, but Coburn did not come up short in this rant.  Not even his wife Carol can stop him once he gets rolling.  Coburn did apologize a few days later, but  not before his "this is the coward's way out" earned him a place next to "I'm a man, I'm forty" in the annals of sports rants.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cooking with Banshee: Party Time Lemonade

Summer is just a few weeks away, and the weather is starting to heat up.  Nothing is more refreshing on a hot day than a cold glass of homemade lemonade.  This drink is not the kind of thing you can buy from a stand run by the neighbor's kids.  This is lemonade with an adult twist.

Party Time Lemonade

2 1/4 cups sugar
5 cups water, divided
Zest of one lemon
1 3/4 cups lemon juice
1 1/2 cups light rum

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, lemon zest and 1 cup of water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the sugar is fully dissolved.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the remaining water and the lemon juice.  Transfer to a pitcher.  Refrigerate.  When the mixture is cool, add the rum and stir.  Serve in a glass with ice.  Enjoy!

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

The 2014 World Cup: Why You Should Watch

The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins this week.  For the next month, the eyes of the international sporting community will be focused squarely on twelve stadiums in Brazil.  Although soccer's popularity in America has grown exponentially in the last twenty years, many of the biggest sports fans in this country will barely give the tournament a passing glance.  I'm here to tell you why all Americans should pay attention to what's happening on the pitch in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup.

1.  Excellence is Excellent.  Whether you are a sports fan or not, there is something inherently noble about human beings doing an activity at a world class level.  I am not an expert in music, but I can appreciate an evening with the New York Symphony at the Lincoln Center.  I am certainly no art critic, but my trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art was one of my most memorable field trips.  The World Cup presents a similar display of excellence.  During the World Cup, we have an opportunity to watch the world's greatest players compete in the world's most popular sport.

Banshee and sister at Lincoln Center
2.  Cultural Awareness.  If you are one of those people who feels the need to post something on Facebook every day about America's inferiority to other cultures, then the World Cup is must see TV. This is a month-long celebration of a game that is dominated by nations that do not win world wars.  If you are one of those people who finishes every Facebook post with a pic of an eagle carrying a gun and the words "cause it's 'Merica" then you need to pay attention, too.  Aside from the Olympics, this is one of the rare occasions when chanting "USA-USA-USA" is actually relevant.  If, however, you are part of the vast majority of people who fall somewhere in between these extremes, then you should pay attention because the World Cup a big world event.  Imagine if the SEC only played college football once every four years.  Well, that's what the World Cup is for the rest of the world.  If something is this important to the rest of the world then it is certainly worthy of at least casual attention from the American sporting public.

3.  U.S. on the Rise.  Despite head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's attempts to keep expectations down, there is reason for American optimism heading into the 2014 World Cup.  Heading into the 2006 World Cup, the United States was ranked #31 in the world.  In 2010, the U.S. was ranked #18 and made it into the knockout portion of the tournament.  This year, the United States heads into the World Cup with a very respectable ranking of #13 in the world.  The U.S. has a tough draw in the group stage.  Only the top two teams in each group advance to the knockout portion of the tournament.  Unfortunately for the United States, Germany and Portugal, both top five teams in the world, are in the same group as the Americans.  The fourth team in the group is Ghana.  Ghana is not ranked in the top thirty worldwide, but Ghana is the team that eliminated the U.S. from the 2010 World Cup.  Nonetheless, we are Americans.  If FIFA ranked the armies heading into the American Revolution, the colonial army would have been ranked far worse than #13 in the world, and that turned out pretty well.

4.  Football Season is Three Months Away.  I know the dedicated soccer fans reading this are thinking, "Here comes the typical American chauvinist who needs to take a swipe at the beautiful game."  I am a chauvinist American, but I mean this in the most respectful sense.  There are only so many hours in a day.  During American football season, I spend no less than eighteen hours per week watching football.  I also have a full time job.  If the World Cup was in the fall, I would be hard pressed to carve out time to watch futbol, but the tournament is happening in the middle of the summer.  If you love competition, then the World Cup is a fabulous place for you to focus your attention during June and July.

5.  Countries Playing Countries.  There are very few things in sports that are more intriguing than countries competing against other countries.  I love golf, but the Ryder Cup is the best event because I get to watch my favorite players drape themselves in the American flag as they take to the links.  And, when the Winter Olympics roll around, I will watch hours of curling.  I do not watch curling because I understand the strategy of sweeping.  I watch it because there are flags next to the scores.  The World Cup is far more exciting than Olympic curling.  Anyone who watched Landon Donovan defeat Algeria in 2010 with last-minute heroics can attest to that.  Like hockey, due to the nature of the scoring, most of the games are close at the end.  Raw emotion is on display amongst the players and the fans when nations compete on the pitch.  It is riveting theater.

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