Category: Other Sports

[Business Day One] Times That Are, In Fact, A’Changin’

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Well well well. The internet’s still here. I swore this whole thing would’ve flamed out by now, but here it still is. Looks like the ol’ site is here too. Hello readers! I’m Serpico! And I write about sports, the business of sports, and fan reaction to sports. At least, I did, way back when. And I suppose I ought to do it again.

So let’s jump right in, shall we?

The big news this weekend is Tiger Woods-related, and I’m so happy to be able to write that. Read More

Ultimate Taser Ball

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Have you heard of the new sport of Ultimate Taser Ball that is electrifying the nation? Well let me introduce you.

From Discovery.com

The sport was is the brainchild of Leif Kellenberger, Eric Prum and Erik Wunsch, who work in the world of professional paintball. They were brainstorming ideas for new extreme sports and thought of adding some real energy with the use of tasers. As the concept developed, they dropped real tasers, which can cause cardiac arrest and death, for stun guns that cause pain but are not dangerous. “It’s relatively safe as any contact sport would be” Prum says.

Then they turned to creating a sport that would be more than a gimmick. It includes elements of rugby, soccer and hockey. Teams of four vie to carry or throw a 24? ball into the opponents’ goal. Tackling is allowed; punching isn’t. Defenders can only taze a player in possession of the ball who is within a designated space around the goals. (Tazing of the shoulders and groin is always illegal.)

Well, if there’s no groin shots, I guess it’s a real sport. And if that didn’t convince you, well YouTube is there to make sure you can see it in action.

So when do you want to start a pickup game of UTB? Let me know, I’m down.

Business Day One – My Day At The Open

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Happy Belated Father’s Day, Nerds.

My dad, in honor of both his special day and the best tournament in pro golf, took me to the U.S. Open at Bethpage. I soaked in the sights, sounds, and startling Golgotha-esque levels of mud and muck. For sake of both speed and thoroughness, I’m going to list out both the Stunning Highs (SH) and Astonishing Lows (AL) of my experience at the public course at Farmingdale. Here we go.

SH: The conditions of the fairways and greens. Everyone on the East Coast has been aware of the monsoon currently soaking the seaboard. What everyone is not aware of is that there are hundreds of men and women with hundreds of grass-drying tools constantly working to keep Bethpage playable. If nature was left to its own devices, the entire town would be underwater. But due to the magnificent interference of the bold water wickers, only about 99% of it is. The remaining 1% was where the best golfers in the world were. Perth Artificial Grass products are thoroughly inspected and have proved very safe for kids and adults. No lead, allergen-free and definitely no toxic emissions with our products.  Our selection of artificial grass looks and feels as natural as the real thing. You don’t have to worry about your kids or pets getting hurt or sick as they play on the turf. If you are looking for the artificial grass supplier in Perth then visit us today.  Our grass has excellent drainage properties which makes it easy to clean when installed in a pet area. Perth Artificial Grass is a recognizable brand and we pride in the large network of our residential, commercial and industrial clients. High-quality products, competitive pricing, efficient and reliable service delivery and excellent customer care and support have been at the heart of the numerous glowing reviews from our esteemed clients. We have a colourful spread in the galleries of our product range and installation projects we have undertaken over the years. We invite you to look through the product page and hopefully the image and brief product description will help you make a better informed decision on the exact product you may wish to take home with you. Our showrooms and warehouses are also readily open to the public and you can request for a sample at any time. Perth Artificial Grass offers market competitive rates for both supply and installation services. The short and long term benefits of this investment are undisputable, making it an investment worth making.  As mentioned, our products will have you bidding good riddance to mowing, watering, seeding, fertilizing, spreading pesticides and other activities that go into maintenance of natural turf. With our artificial grass products, your imagination will surely be your only limitation as far as synthetic turf applications go. If you need fake grass for your lawn at home, perhaps the deck and patio or a pet run; we definitely have it.  Synthetic turf for play areas and sports fields at school or in recreational centers? We surely have you covered. Are you an office building or any other commercial establishment looking to Zen up your working space with some calming green grass? We have you covered.  Perth Artificial Grass is an artificial turf supply and installation company based in Jandakot Perth, WA.  We are a locally owned company and have been actively in operation for a number of years. Through the years, we have diligently built our brand in the market and will consistently hold to our continued drive to guarantee absolute customer satisfaction.

AL: The mud has to go somewhere. And that somewhere was the grandstands and foot paths. I’m not mad or anything, since I was wearing a pair of throwaway sneakers. But still, being on your feet for seven straight hours and having those feet constantly in mud gave me a sense of what Valley Forge might’ve been like.

SH: The quality of the play. I saw Tiger nail a birdie, Phil nail two, and players from all over the world content with the conditions with impossible levels of skill.

AL: How terrible I am at golf. Watching the highest levels of play remind me why I hung up the soft cleats a couple years back. I can’t drive without an ugly slice. My short game doesn’t come into play until I’m already one over on the hole. And I keep equating my score with my self-worth.

SH: The food and drinks. Lemonade, stuffed pretzels, hot dogs, sandwiches of all sorts, served from concessions tents spread throughout the course.

AL: The press of people at those concession stands. The lunch rush was overwhelming, and since you couldn’t bring in food or drink, there’s a good chance you could wait in line for an hour to get water. Seems dangerous, considering the number of older folks that had been hoofing it around all day.

SH: An efficient bus transportation network that connected all of the satellite parking lots.

AL: Having to pay $35 to park at a gas station due to flooding.

SH: Seven hours with my dad.

AL: Seven hours trying to keep up with my dad.

SH: The noise from the New York gallery.

AL: The failure of the golfers to keep a straight face when hearing some of the comments.

And the biggest SH of all: My clubs are now in the trunk of my car.

Talkin’ Softball

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I’ve recently joined a gay softball league. I wasn’t sure if it’d be appropriate to post about it here, since gay =! nerd, at least according to popular stereotype.  But considering that our team was the Clinic Day team (read: comprised of members who were not chosen for the other gay teams), has yet to achieve a single victory, and had one our players construct a team website based off of Sharepoint, I figured that would be good enough to pass.

Which is not to say we aren’t getting better.  Our coach, a sweet avuncular man who drives a car with a sexually suggestive license plate, keeps telling us: “You don’t even know how much better you’ve gotten since the first day.” Softball plays a huge part of this life, as he plays with three other softball teams in addition to coaching our own. Weeks of fielding drills, scimmages, and time spent at the batting cages have resulted in marked improvement, if not an actual victory.

One thing I’ve truly appreciated is the whole feeling of being part of a team. The other time I’ve really experienced this is in a professional context, which always feels forced and leaves quite a bit to be desired. But with softball, the camraderie and support is a lot more sincere. It helps that when we’re not playing or practicing we tend to be drinking. When we were watching the other games, one of my teammates brought a bottle of Pinot Grigiot and hid it a paper bag. “It’s the ‘Gay 40,'” he said.

Like any good sports team, there’s a lot of sexual teasing and discussing who we find attractive. Another one of my teammates said, “It’s great that we can just talk about this openly here. It’s not like you can go to a Sox game and talk about who we find hot. I blinked and said, “Oh, I do that anyway.” Loudly. As anyone who has ever attended a Sox game with me can attest.

[Business Day One] Olympic Dashboard

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I’m still in an Olympics state of mind, so I’m going to spill some info on you in the most efficient way I know of: conversation-inspiring bullet points! Here we go!

-I have had a sinking suspicion for the past week that many Olympic commentators were secretly wishing that Michael Phelps would fail to pick up eight gold medals. Why? Because it’d make a better story. Pundits would be able to dissect possible reasons why for months to come. Every news agency would be clamoring for that first “what was it like to come up short” interview. Sports shows feed on this kind of thing; human tragedy is much more compelling of a story than human triumph. Maybe that’s why they heap on the pressure – it’s as if the media was trying to do its part to manufacture a story of heartbreak and sadness.

-I check the Medals Tracker once a day. Currently, the US leads in medals but China leads in overall golds. I spent most of my morning commute trying to figure out what exactly that represents, but nothing convincing materialized. I guess I should just start chanting “USA!”

-The Men’s Basketball team nearly doubled up Germany a few hours ago. I’ve often heard that the secret to basketball success is to peak at the right time. I’d say hanging 106 on a team with NBA players on it counts. The big different, best I can tell, between this year’s team and the previous manifestations is defensive tenacity. I’m seeing our smalls diving into passing lanes and doing their darndest to pull down rebounds. I never got that sense in years past. They’re playing with pride. That makes them an easy team to root for, even with Kobe Bryant on it.

-My favorite player on the soon-to-be-gold-medal Women’s Softball team is Crystl Bustos. She’s like Babe Ruth, in terms of separation between her and the rest of existence in terms of homerun power. If you have an opportunity to watch a women’s game, pay attention when she’s at bat. Like Ruth, when she steps into the box, the expectation is homerun.

-Chicago is in the running for the 2016 games. I hope that it comes here, just so that I’ll be able to watch things at a reasonable hour.

-So far, these are the controversies that I’ve counted in this year’s games: Lip synching girl during opening ceremony, computer generated fireworks during opening ceremony, a murder, underage Chinese gymnasts, pollution, Tibet protests, media censorship, mass displacement, and the paying of fans to fill seats. All things considered, not too bad for a gruesomely oppressive government.

[Business Day One] “He Looks Like A Shark”

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I spent a long weekend on the Cape, and despite the availability of lobster rolls, sandy beaches, mini golf and hot tubs, my attention kept drifting to the Olympics.  I didn’t care much for Athens, and I don’t really follow the winter events, so this has been the first time in at least a decade that the international competition mattered to me.

I’m not sure what spurred the interest, really. I’ve done my best to keep pre-Olympic hype on a slow drip instead of an overdose-causing deluge, and picked my stories carefully. I decided that I’d care about Michael Phelps, the US Men’s Basketball Team, and any other Americans that I happened to notice competing when I flipped the television on. The results of this have been good so far. I’m able to pick up and watch whenever I want and also have specific races or matches to look forward to.

The Olympics is best enjoyed as a grand three week buffet. Try a little of everything, find out what you like, and keep going back to that over the course of the affair. Don’t binge or you’ll get tired of it. Don’t avoid it completely or you won’t be able to talk about how awesome it all was afterwards. Speaking as a buffet and sports enthusiast, I feel this analogy holds.

So try to log some time watching. Despite the generally gruesome political and economic climate of late, there’s some splendid purity to be seen in the pool, on the court and in the sand.

[Business Day One] Stepping Into the Tee Box

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The sixth hole gave me problems the first two times I played it. There was just something about the deep rough to the left of the fairway that seemed to draw my drive to it like a black hole. I had no idea the first time. The second time I should’ve known better. But this time, yes, this third time would be different. I had enough power and confidence (and a brand new driver) to send my first offering over the rough and land within fifty of the cup. Without a doubt. My problems on six were a thing of the past.

I opened up my stance, focused up, took a breath and let her rip. And I knew immediately it where it was heading. With an infuriating “and now you see the native chimps bound from tree to tree” crackling and rustling, my first shot came to rest in the thicket, with my view of the hole obscured by the copse of trees that I couldn’t, for a third time, get by. The painful realization that the next five minutes would involve me digging out of a small forest to get back on the fairway stung me like the countless mosquitos that would also soon be stinging me.

Oh disc golf, you are a harsh mistress.

For the uninitiated, the sport of disc golf is a simple concept. Golf with frisbees. Instead of carrying a bag of differently sized and shaped clubs, you carry a bag of differently sized and shaped discs. You throw one towards the hole (a chain basket), then march up to where it landed, and either throw it again or throw a different disc that may be better suited at that distance. Repeat until you get your disc into the basket.

Your intrepid Business Day One columnist has been engaged in this Sport of Viscounts (my term) for just over a month, thanks to the goading of NoS Editor/Administrator Willis, but the game itself has existed far longer. According to the infallible wikipedia, 40 years in fact. Since, a diverse and dedicate fanbase of Ultimate frisbee players, hikers, rural teenagers and the occasional sports writer has kept the sport alive and the courses abundant (there are nearly 20 within an hour’s drive of Boston, for instance). Those courses, by the by, are tucked away in state parks, forests and other out of the way areas and, unlike traditional golf courses, tend to blend in with their surroundings. And by “blend in with their surroundings,” I mean “there are trees everywhere that may knock your frisbee out of the air and cause your girlfriend to outdrive you from the tee box.”

The same frustrations of regular golf apply to disc golf, but they tend to be a bit muted by the fact that the equipment is far less expensive and you’re generally dressed like you’re going camping instead of going to high tea. For instance, during my troubles on six at Borderland State Park, I was frustrated when I again found the woods, but not nearly as irate as I would be if I nailed three straight OBs on Bethpage Black. Not that that has happened to me or anything. He he he…

One note about the equipment – the discs all have awesome names. For drives, I switch between my Orc and my Archangel. I use the Hawk on the mid-range stuff and the Magnet up close. My girlfriend throws a Cheetah most of the time. You’ve got to hand it to a sport that let’s you say “Dude, put the Avenger down and try throwing a Valkyrie hyzer (“hyzer” is a term… the terms are also cool) here.”

If you’re looking for a new hobby the break the routine of spawn camping for mad MMO loot, disc golfing may be the thing for you. For some odd reason, there seems to be an overlap between People That Like World of Warcraft and People That Like Throwing A Frisbee Around. Perhaps you fit in that splendid category. See you all out there.

The Blood of Patriots

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Here’s some Boston-related sports news:

First, some kind of marathon. The ESPN coverage hints at but doesn’t really spell out how close the final half-mile was between the Russian, Alevtina Biktimirova, and the Final Fantasy VII villain Dire Tune. Tune and Biktimirova covered that last eight blocks in a dead-out sprint. They wove in and out of each other’s paths. People screamed. It was epic.

On the men’s side, the race belonged to four-time winner Cheruiyot from at least Newton on. He led a small knot of about four runners for a good stretch, then just broke away from them a second at a time. After that, nobody could even touch him for the remaining miles. He pumped his fist after crossing the finish line and counted out one-two-three-four, thus proving he’s no stranger to Boston post-victory culture. Bill Belichick’s got his eye on him.

Not all was joy in Mudville, however: the Canadiens trapped, shot and skinned the Bruins last night, knocking them out of the championship contention. Montreal rookie goalie Andrei Kostitsyn had the game of his life, not letting a single one of Boston’s 25 shots on goal get by. Thus another Bruins’ season ends in disappointment, which isn’t really “news” in the traditional sense. Think of a workplace safety board being updated – “X Days Without an Incident”; that’s the kind of story this is.

Finally, undaunted by their stunt’s unexpected success last year, Jordan’s Furniture is once again offering free furniture. This time, though, the Sox can’t just win the World Series – they have to sweep the first four games. They paid for this with an “insurance policy” last year, which I have to imagine is secret code for “gigantic sports book” as I can’t picture Citigroup writing off baseball-related furniture losses.

Can this stunt pay off?

The MLB.REDSOX contract is going for 14.00 on Tradesports. There’s no “REDSOX.SWEEP” contract posted, but let’s assume, for the sake of blogging, that the odds are similar. A contract on Tradesports pays $100 $10 if the conditions it describes come true. So to “insure” one million dollars worth of furniture, Jordan’s Furniture would need to buy 10,000100,000 shares of MLB.REDSOX. If they bought today, that’d cost them $140,000. (Edit: fixed some math)

I don’t know much about inventory and wholesaling, but I say that’s not a bad bet.

(If there’s any interest, I’ll talk more about Tradesports and other “idea futures” in another post)

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