Category Archives: Sports

Baseball With Fakename

The title of this post should be your first clue to the fact that this will be Off.  You know, as in “not quite getting it”.  But I got more than you might think.

I had about convinced myself to watch the final game of the World Series last night, but when the time came, I just couldn’t work up enough interest.  The network blocked out 7:30 10:00 P.M. for the game, so around 10:00, I finally paid attention and said, well at least I’ll tune in and find out who won.  Au contraire.  They were in the 6th inning.  (I said, How many innings are there supposed to be anyway? I forgot. )

One of the requirements of watching sports is that you have to be for one team and against the other.  So I chose the team I was for using the same logical process that real sports fans do.  Namely, I hate Texas.  I hate the geography of Texas.  I hate its climate (although lately I’m feeling sorry for them because of the drought.  I fear they are in for another dust bowl.) I hate their politics and bullying ways.  I don’t much like George W. Bush, and I dislike Rick Perry even more.

Then there is St. Louis.  I actually lived there once for three weeks–it was a work thing–and flatly refused to go back.  I absolutely hated it.  But it had its charms.  The Gateway Arch and the park around it.  The old Courthouse where the Dred Scott decision was handed down.  The Eads Bridge.  It had history and familiarity on its side, so I had to pick St. Louis.  I hate it, but I hate Texas more.

This leads me to a (brief) discussion of men and sports:  it seems to me that they funnel a lot of emotional energy and passion into sports, which could be better spent elsewhere.  But that’s the way it works.  My wishing it were different will not make one whit of a difference.  But men can’t help it–it’s the way their brains work. 

Back to the World Series.  So when I tuned into the game in the sixth inning, it was only seconds before the pitcher for the Texas Rangers hit the Cardinals’ batter with the ball. Holy Shit!  The batter was not an idiot, so he tried his best to avoid it, but how fast is that ball going?  100 miles an hour?  The ball still hit him on the hip, and I bet he isn’t feeling that well today.  Assuming he can walk.  But when I saw that, I said, These guys (the Rangers) are about to beat themselves. 

Here’s why this was so bad–when it happened, the bases were loaded, so it was an automatic run for the Cards. 

My prediction was right on the money.  In the sixth inning, the Rangers still had time to come back, but I knew they wouldn’t.  You could see it in their faces.  They were feeling hopeless.  This morning I read that Nolan Ryan walked off the field refusing to comment.  I don’t blame him.  His team gave up. 

So what I would say is…that’s his fault.  There is something wrong with the organization.  Not with the players.  They are amazingly talented.  It’s Fakenames’s theory of management–you can’t beat the hell out of people mentally, and expect them to shine and have confidence.  On the other hand, some days you just lose anyway.

March Madness

I just can’t tell you how low on the totem pole sports figures into my world view.  However, because I live in Tallahassee, I’m required by law to care about whether or not Florida State wins or loses.  I’m just kidding about that “required by law” thing.  But from a social standpoint, it’s good to at least ACT like you care.  So I do. 

I’m pretty sure that my indifference is perfectly obvious.  On the other hand, I do follow them, so I guess I get a pass many times for not being passionate about it.

That said, I tried to find the game between FSU and VCU on TV last night and could not, and this morning I was glad I didn’t.  VCU 72, FSU 71?  Oh No!  I hated that!  I was glad I didn’t see it.  That may be why I hate sports.  I can’t bear the dashing of hopes part. 

May the best man/team win.  In sports, that simply does not happen. There is just a moment in time where it’s over.  Regardless of who is best, the buzzer has sounded.  Who deserves it and who doesn’t is immaterial.  Maybe in life too.  Maybe it’s luck.  In a fair world, FSU should have won.  But to trot out a cliche, life is not fair.  Maybe that is the attraction for some people. 

I don’t need that vicarious sitting-on-the-edge of my seat feeling.  My real life feels that way already. It’s scary and disapponting enough without help.

Fakename Disses Cleveland

Make that 26% of Cleveland.  That’s the number of households who tuned in to watch Lebron James’ announcement of his choice of team, according to the Nielsen ratings.  Nationwide, it was only 7.3%. 

On second thought, make that 13% of Cleveland.  Let’s assume that half the people in those households didn’t give a rat’s ass about basketball, the Cavaliers, or Lebron James, but didn’t have control of the remote.  Fakename will refrain from making any generalizations about the sex of the person likeliest to have  had control of the remote. 

Probably you are sick to death already of hearing about Lebron James, but Fakename believes she brings a unique perspective to the issue; that is, the perspective of someone who has no idea what she’s talking about when it comes to sports.  In her defense, she has at least once attended games/matches in just about everything you can name, either at the high school, college, or professional level.  She has a rudimentary understanding of the rules of most sports (Get ball.  Keep ball.  Use ball to score “points”.)

In spite of this, Fakename, is a student of social behavior.   And her advice is:  Cleveland, get OVER yourselves.   

Here in the South, we have a saying, roughly: You gotta go home with (or dance with) the one what brung you to the dance.  You probably have a similar saying,  perhaps with different grammar involved.   The principle involved is clearly defined in the Urban Dictionary.  In any case, the respectful behavior is only expected to continue for the duration of the event.  And Cleveland, Fakename is sorry to tell you, but the dance is over. 

One person Fakename saw on TV said, “It isn’t that he did it, it’s the WAY he did it.  It was like breaking up with your girlfriend on national TV.  You just don’t DO that.”  Actually no, it isn’t like that at all. 

Can we just cover a few of the facts?  First, Lebron James is a professional athlete.  He wants to win championships.  That’s what professional athletes want to do.  All of them.  Second, Lebron James is 25 years old.  Think about that for a minute.  He is at the peak of his physical ability.  How much longer does he have?  10 years?  He’s played for Cleveland his entire career so far–seven years.  Now think about that for a minute.  He’s been playing for Cleveland since he was 18 years old.  And…it just ain’t happened. 

Try to put yourself in his place.  Okay, that might be a little hard.  Fakename would have to clone herself two times over to fit herself and both clones into one of his shoes.  But if you were the best basketball player in the world and could play on any team you wanted, what would you do?  Fakename is reminded of Archie Manning, who spent ten of his 13 years in the NFL playing for the most dreadful of teams–the New Orleans Saints, at that time.  He was widely viewed as loyal.  There may have been other reasons.  He loved the area.  And maybe it was just more comfortable to be the big fish in a small pond. 

Finally, Fakename kind of likes Lebron James, because he seems pretty mature and soft-spoken for a guy who could have turned into Dennis Rodman. 

Naturally, Fakename has a difficult time grasping how a person can allow so much of their identity to get wrapped up in a sports team, let alone a single player on that team.  Whatever percentage it was of you, Cleveland, that was burning basketball jerseys, you don’t need to just get over yourselves–you need a therapist.

Big Day In Tallahassee

First, Bobby Bowden retired as head coach of the Florida State football team after 34 years.  It was kind of sad. 

Second, the newspaper announced that former City Commissioner Alan Katz, who was  the chairman of the Obama campaign for…the state of Florida?  Or some such important position…is about to be named Ambassador to Portugal. 

Fakename does not live within the city limits of Tallahassee, but does follow city government in any case, and she asks the following question:  Wouldn’t an ambassador be required to be diplomatic? 

Shortest Fakename blog ever.

What Sex Are You?

You’re a man, you say?  Well step right up and prove it.  No, no, keep your pants on, because visual evidence is not going to do it.  I need to see a report from your geneticist, your endocrinologist, and your psychologist.  Of course, as far as I know, men have never had to prove they’re men (except in the usual ways, one of which is being combative).  No, in real life, it’s women who have to prove they are women. 

Let’s say that you are (allegedly) a man, and you are in a footrace with another “man”, whom you secretly suspect is a woman.  You win.  Do you then say, I demand to know if my opponent was really a man?  Of course not.  You say, “I won!  Case closed!”  But what if “she” wins?  Do you then say, I demand to know if she is really a woman, because if she is, that gave her an unfair advantage?  Of course not–because that scenario would never happen.  Male runners will always outrun female runners, unless the male trips over his shoelace.  And that will never happen either, because that’s why God invented Velcro. 

In real life, it’s women who complain when they are beaten by men who are “pretending” to be women.  Which really would be an unfair advantage (see above, re:  “Male runners will always outrun…”).  But what if she isn’t pretending? 

The occasion for this topic is a blip of a snippet of a story I heard on NPR yesterday, concerning an 18 year-old South African woman named Caster Semenya, who on Thursday of this week won a gold medal in the 800 meters in the world championships in Berlin.  Some of her competitors complain that she is really a man, but it’s unclear whether it was them or someone involved in the specimen collection process for the anti-doping tests who officially raised the question of her gender.  (They watch you pee.  In person.  Naked–at least the peeing parts.)  So the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) is now investigating her gender.  Which it turns out is not as simple as it used to be.  It used to be that if you were found to have a Y chromosome, you were male, end of sentence.  As I said, it turns out not to be that simple. 

I will now refer you to two pieces I read today in the New York Times.  The first is an essay written by one Alice Dreger, “Professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University”, entitled “Where’s the Rulebook for Sex Verification?”  See it here.  In case you aren’t interested in reading the whole thing, I’ll quote an important paragraph:

“A little biology: On the Y chromosome, a gene called SRY usually makes a fetus grow as a male. It turns out, though, that SRY can show up on an X, turning an XX fetus essentially male. And if the SRY gene does not work on the Y, the fetus develops essentially female.

Even an XY fetus with a functioning SRY can essentially develop female. In the case of Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, the ability of cells to “hear” the masculinizing hormones known as androgens is lacking. That means the genitals and the rest of the external body look female-typical, except that these women lack body hair (which depends on androgen-sensitivity).”

Did you get that?  Yeah, me too. 

Now we turn to the second article, which is more factual, but first, let’s take a look at Ms. Semenya.  (So far I haven’t seen any jokes made about this, so let me be the first to say that it’s unfortunate that her last name begins with the word “semen”.)


The second article is “Gold Is Awarded Amid Dispute Over Runner’s Sex”.  See it  here.  There are a couple of quotes from this article that struck me.  Here is one: 

“Chuene and some South African athletes suggested that there might be an anti-African bias at work. “The question I ask is if this were a European person, would these questions be raised?” said Ruben Ramolefi, a track athlete for South Africa. “It seems there’s hypocrisy behind it.””

Oh no.  Not THAT again.  Fellow blogger and now close friend Nick Hardy and I have extensively discussed the issue of looking for racism.  You are guaranteed to always find it.  The same holds for sexism.  If you start with the premise that it’s there somewhere, everything you see and hear will confirm for you that it explains everything.  That’s why I posted the picture first.  This woman (?) could have purple skin with pink polka dots and she would still look like a man.

But she thinks of herself as a woman, her family thinks of her as a woman, so who is to say?  What fascinates me about this that the professionals–the geneticists, the endocrinologists, the psychologists, and in her case, the gynecologists–may say whatever they will, but this is not a medical or scientific problem.  It’s a philosophical problem. 

I close with another quote from the second article: 

“We can get quite philosophical here — what does it mean to be male or female?” said Dr. Richard Auchus, a specialist in disorders of sexual differentiation at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

“For 99 percent of the population it’s easy to determine,” he added. “But one percent of the population have conditions that make it not so straightforward.”

Be glad that you are in the 99%.  Or are you?  Prove it.  Oh wait.  Isn’t this where we started?

Fakename Does Basketball

So now we are down to the Elite Eight, and I’m trying to decide who I want to win to get to the Final Four.  More importantly, the issue is predicting who will win it all.  That’s a tough decision, because…I really don’t give a damn.  But I’ll pick anyway, and I’ll use a strategy similar to the one I use when picking the winners of horse races. 

In the case of horse racing, I choose the horse by the name.  For example, one of Fakesister’s former horses was named Non-Stop Cash.  If he had been racing, I would have picked him.  Fakesister and I once attended a real live horse race in New Orleans, and we both used that strategy with great success.  During that event, we were introduced to the concept of the “racing sheet”.  A racing sheet gives you all the stats of each horse:  how many times it’s run, against whom, how many wins and in how much time.

As you can see, there are many parallels here to basketball.   Those in the know make predictions based on a team’s schedule, what conference it’s in, who it played, how many wins and by how much.  And my observation is:  you would do just as well picking a team by its name.  Therefore, if I were picking by name alone, I would pick UConn, because they have the coolest name by far.   However, in the case of basketball, I throw in other criteria:  geography and personal preference. 

For instance, I graduated from the University of Memphis, so they were my favorites.  I grew up in North Carolina, so I guess I could kind of root for UNC.  I lived in Iowa for a couple of years and really liked it;  unfortunately no Iowa teams seem to have been involved since I started paying attention.  Why don’t they allow write-in candidates in sports? 

Little known fact:  Fakename played basketball in junior high.  Thank God there is no video of that.  I really only did it because my mother was a huge basketball fan, and played on the girl’s team in her high school.  She had only three wishes for me:  play basketball, speak French, and play the piano.  I am so fortunate to have been saved from the basketball thing, and it happened through no fault of my own and had nothing to do with my skill or lack of it.  It had to do with the fact that my teammates shot up to 5’10” or so, while I hung around at 5’3″.  Love ya, Fakename, but so long…it’s been good to know ya. 

Now let me spend just a moment talking about men and sports.  Somehow, every man I’ve ever been remotely attracted to is a big sports fan.  Why is that?  I mean, why is it that I’ve never had a relationship with…a poet, for example?  We would probably have a lot more to talk about.  This is one of life’s great mysteries…along with why men are so wigged out about sports in the first place. 

In conclusion, I think you really can’t pick winners in either basketball or horse racing using numbers.  The fastest horse in history may stumble on a clod of dirt in a particular race, and lose.  Go UConn.

Fakename On Golf

My post yesterday about fishing mentioned that I think it’s the fourth most boring activity a person can choose to be engaged in.  The top three all involve golf. 

Specifically, in first place is watching golf on TV.  Given the option of watching golf on TV or watching paint dry, I’ll pick the paint.  Here’s a synopsis of TV golf:  Golfer hits ball. (Look at that stance!  Behold that grip!)  Here comes my favorite part:  Ball is airborne.  Camera pans up to the sky to follow the ball.  Look!  It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  No–it’s the sky.  The monotony of which is broken, if you’re lucky, by the tops of some tall trees on either side of the screen.  What you will not see is the ball, unless you really are Superman and have X-ray vision.  And anyway, I don’t care if the ball has been painted Day-Glo orange so that it stands out against your view of the sky, devoid of any reference as to where it came from or where it’s going, watching a ball sail through the sky is meaningless. 

Thankfully, just before you’re ready to slit your wrists to get some kind of mental stimulation, the camera returns to the ground.  Where you can observe the next step in the process.  The golfers and their caddies walking to where the ball fell.  The crowd trudges after them.  Movement!  The excitement is almost too much to take.  Hand me a Valium. 

In second place on my list was watching golf in person.  The difference between watching golf on TV and watching it in person is that you’re there in person.  You can at least be one of the trudgers. 

In third place on the boredom scale was actually playing golf, and I thoroughly covered my experience with that in my post on fishing.  But I have a lot more to say about playing golf. 

I happen to be employed in the business world, and started as one of the few female managers at my level in my particular industry.  My industry involves widget management.  My company doesn’t own or manufacture widgets, we just manage them and their use by others.  Thus, we report to widget owners.  And nothing used to impress a widget owner more than the ability to play (and pay for) a game of golf.

Every boss I’ve ever had in this business (16 years now) has been a man, a fact I don’t begrudge in the least.  It’s the way of the world.  If I worked as hard as most of them do, I might be there myself.  With a few exceptions (whom I survived), they have been extraordinary people.  But to a man, they have all played golf and been good at it.  Their biggest challenge was how to play the widget owner and let him win without being obvious. 

The point is that playing golf was practically a requirement for advancement in business management, and it’s quite amazing that they let me into the management club.  But during the course of this 16 years, a shift has taken place.  More and more of the widget owners are female, and they don’t play golf either.  When I want to bond with my female widget owners, we go to lunch, or to the movies.  Finally, the playing field has leveled quite a bit. 

The fact is that playing golf, until Tiger Woods, had deteriorated into an activity for old, fat, slow, white guys who needed an excuse to go drinking and talk trash about women in the middle of the day.  Okay, that still happens.  It just isn’t considered to be the socially acceptable, almost imperative, activity it once was. 

It seems that golf courses are suffering now.  For one thing, corporations are withdrawing their memberships as a belt-tightening measure.  For another, it’s an environmental issue.  The amount of water it takes to sustain greens in the desert, somewhere like Palm Springs, is crazy.

I never like to see anything die off completely, whether it’s an animal, a native language, a way of life, or even a sport.  But if we lose golf, I can’t say I would miss it much.  I bet Tiger Woods would be good at tennis.

Fakename On Fishing

Frankly, Fakename is not well-qualified to discuss this subject.  (Shhh.  Fakename can hear some of you out there snorting, “That never stopped her before.”)

I, Fakename, have never done much fishing.  That’s because I consider it to be the fourth most boring sport or sports-related activity on the planet.  In first place is watching golf on TV.  In second place is watching golf in person.  In third place is actually playing golf. 

In the Don’t Knock It Until You’ve Tried It category, let me emphasize that I have played golf.  In college I was required to take at least four semesters of physical education to get a degree.  One semester was a required course of basic exercise and fitness, and then you had three electives.  One of mine was golf.  My grade was a C.  This was either because I religiously showed up for class each and every time, or because the instructor was on drugs. 

In the same category (Don’t Knock It, etc.), I’ve also fished.  Several times, in fact.  I think it would take two hands to count all of them. 

My favorite fishing experience was the time that 5 or 6 of my girlfriends and I chartered a boat for a half-day and went deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico just off Destin, Florida.  A lot of advance planning and preparation was required for this breathtaking experience.  First, lose 10 pounds so you can fit into your cute new swimsuit.  Remember to bring a sun visor and the family-size bottle of sunscreen.  As I remember it, the experience involved reading a lot of back issues of Cosmo while drinking copious amounts of beer starting at about 9:00 A.M.  Your job is to lie on your lounge chair, peek over the top of your Cosmo from time to time, and squeak if the fishing rod in front of you twitches.  At that point, the beefy Mate rushes out and reels in the fish for you. 

But I’ve tried fishing the regular way too.  I liked the part about catching a fish.  It’s the part about waiting to catch a fish that I have trouble with.  You have to have a sort of Zen personality to fish.  (Zen:  the ability to do and think of nothing until you die of old age.  Synonym:  Fishing.)

My second favorite fishing experience was when I once caught a Northern Pike in Canada.  I was fishing alone from the bank of an island in the St. Lawrence River.  It was the biggest fish I had ever seen in my life, and I single-handedly wrestled it ashore.  It was a foot long!  Imagine my disappointment when I found out it was a mere baby, and I should have thrown it back.  Of course by the time I found that out, it was dead, and we had to eat it. 

I was reminded of that experience today by a great article in the New York Times about ice-fishing–truly one of those activities you have to ask yourself, why would humans do this if they didn’t have to?  And not just ice-fishing, but ice-fishing with spears.  In the UP of Michigan, the lower limit of Pike you can take is 24 inches. 

Now spearfishing seems to be a bit more of a fair fight to me, kind of like bow-hunting for deer, and the article says that spearfishing is more like hunting than fishing.  But the Catch-And-Release proponents are critical of spearfishing because they’ve shown that spearfishers actually take bigger fish.  (My first thought:  catch and release?  Fishing is already boring enough.  Without the reward of at least being able to eat the thing, what’s the point?)  Now you would think that catching the biggest fish is the point.  That’s what all fishing competitions reward.  But it turns out that scientists think there are some problems with that. 

First, there is the mercury issue.  Big fish eat little fish.  Big fish absorb the mercury from the little fish, not counting the mercury they are already absorbing themselves. 

Second, you’re eliminating the oldest and smartest of the fish, so you’re dumbing down the gene pool of fish.  For fishing fans, it probably won’t be as much fun to catch a stupid fish. 

Third, you’re interfering with natural selection, so that fish will eventually become smaller.  What a future.  Catching tiny, dumb, and mercury-poisoned minnows. 

But for a more heartening  story (and to see how humans who are apparently perfectly sane spend their time), see the NY Times story.  Don’t forget the sunscreen.

Live Football Blog

Shhh.  Don’t tell anybody, but I don’t like sports.  It isn’t that I hate sports, I’m just not interested.  However, today, I’m watching my obligatory semi-annual football game.  (Semi-annual:  at least one college game, plus the Superbowl.)

I do have to at least pretend, to an extent, because I live in Tallahassee.  I think that if you live here and admit you aren’t interested in football, they make you move somewhere else.  So today I’m watching the Florida/Florida State game.  It’s pouring down rain, and that can’t be good, especially for the team that’s worse–namely, Florida State.  Florida State may be counting on the weather being a problem for Florida. On the other hand, if the weather was better, Florida State could be losing faster. 

Still, the thing I do like about sports is the human dimension.  (Shhh, don’t tell anybody.) You have a guy like Tim Tebow playing, Heisman Trophy winner and seemingly all-around nice guy.  Watching him makes me think of back in the day when I used to love watching Joe Montana.  Not quite the same…watching Montana was like watching ballet.  Tebow is more of a power player.  On the FSU side, you have Myron Rolle.  A handsome but big scary-looking guy who last week was named a Rhodes scholar.  All you people with negative attitudes about athletes…go eat dirt. 

Now so far it seems to me that one of the announcers is highly prejudiced toward Florida.  That’s fine, but don’t be so obvious.  I don’t know if it was him who said it or not, but so far, the best quote of the first half was referring to the Florida RB Demps:  “He’s faster than a rabbit in love.”

Stay tuned for observations from the second half.