The Even-Numbered Magic Continues: Notes on the 2014 World Series, by Chuck Strom

Ryan Vogelsong

It has been fashionable among San Francisco Giants fans, myself included, to talk about the magic of even-numbered years, as if deep playoff runs were somehow ordained by the ones digit of the annual Christian calendar. Up to now, I had not taken the idea seriously even while repeating it, but with . . . → Read More: The Even-Numbered Magic Continues: Notes on the 2014 World Series, by Chuck Strom

Time Again For October Baseball, by Chuck Strom

National Anthem

When I grew up, the prospect of seeing the San Francisco Giants play in October seemed outside the scope of reality. In 1971, at the tail end of the Mays-McCovey era, they lost the National League Championship Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates in four games. I was eight years old at the . . . → Read More: Time Again For October Baseball, by Chuck Strom

Great Piece in Grantland

Charles Pierce is one of the best sportswriters in the business today. He was at PNC Park last night, and he is also right on the money on the NFL.

– Chuck Strom

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/baseball-playoffs-mlb-roger-goodells/

The Smiths – Frankly, Mr. Shankly, by Knute Rimkus

I’m reading a book right now, Red or Dead, a fictionalized biography of Bill Shankly, the maniacal manager of the Liverpool football team who made it a dynasty in the English soccer league in the ’70s. I believe the Smiths were slamming him in the song “Frankly, Mr. Shankly.” Being from Manchester, which has . . . → Read More: The Smiths – Frankly, Mr. Shankly, by Knute Rimkus

A Die Hard Vikings Fan’s Take on Adrian Peterson, by Mark Erickson

I was born and raised in Minnesota, and despite having lived more than half my life in Illinois, I still bleed purple. In my childhood, the Minnesota Vikings absolutely dominated their division throughout the 1970s. Bud Grant, Alan Page, “Benchwarmer” Bob Lurtsema, Chuck Foreman, and Sir Francis Tarkenton were household names. Tommy Kramer, Anthony . . . → Read More: A Die Hard Vikings Fan’s Take on Adrian Peterson, by Mark Erickson

The Temple of NASCAR, by Chuck Strom

Earnhardt’s #3

When I tell people that I visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC, they often say, “I didn’t know you were a fan.” Sometimes, they ask why I went there at all. Part of their skepticism, perhaps, comes from knowing that I don’t follow NASCAR, and I usually care little . . . → Read More: The Temple of NASCAR, by Chuck Strom

A Triple A Baseball Team, A Major League Ballpark, by Chuck Strom

Charlotte, NC has the triple-A baseball farm team for the Chicago White Sox, the Charlotte Knights. This year they opened BB&T Ballpark, and it was one of the priority items on my list to visit on my tour of the East Coast. Rather than explain too much, I will let my pictures speak for . . . → Read More: A Triple A Baseball Team, A Major League Ballpark, by Chuck Strom

Where were you when you first heard about the homecoming? by Claude Iosso

I was at work, preoccupied with the World Cup, not the next destination for King James and his cadre of close friends, the LeBrontourage. I am glad he’s going back to Cleveland and that that poor city has a chance at sports glory, but I realized that I don’t like players deciding where next . . . → Read More: Where were you when you first heard about the homecoming? by Claude Iosso

I love you. I hate you‏. By Claude Iosso

Rihanna tweeted this photo of her with Mario Goetze claiming it to be a selfie. With parts of both of her lovely arms/hands in the field of view, she clearly could not have taken this herself.

The World Cup final between Germany and Argentina delivered much. The world’s best player on the biggest stage. . . . → Read More: I love you. I hate you‏. By Claude Iosso

The Loneliness of the Middle Distance Runner, by Claude Iosso

Neymar in contention no more

Pity Brazil, for the historic pasting by Germany and  for the weight that was slowly crushing them throughout the tournament. They were a middling bunch asked by a desperate nation to sprint past cheetahs.

According to the brackets I’ve collected, most people figured Germany could take Brazil . . . → Read More: The Loneliness of the Middle Distance Runner, by Claude Iosso

What about the goals?‏ by Claude Iosso

Angel DiMaria – Reuters Photo

Yes, the Group of 16 games were all stemwinders, packed with drama to the end as scrappy underdogs repulsed the big boys time and again. The U.S. got the script too, pushing Belgium to extra time with a Herculean effort by goalkeeper Tim Howard. But I’m not satisfied. I . . . → Read More: What about the goals?‏ by Claude Iosso

King of the Ticos‏, by Claude Iosso

Bryan Ruiz

Let me introduce you to my favorite hero of the World Cup so far — Bryan Ruiz, the cheerful captain of Costa Rica — who seems bent on proving nice guys can finish first.

I had never heard of the sprightly midfielder before June. Fulham has been loaning him to Dutch club . . . → Read More: King of the Ticos‏, by Claude Iosso

Lucky little fish, by Claude Iosso

Neymar

So I had Chile beating Brazil. It didn’t happen. The weight of 75 years of history and a poor nation’s passion for futbol finally crushed the lusty lads in red. Still, my skepticism about Brazil was confirmed. Neymar is awfully good, maybe even great, but his teammates are just good. Many start for . . . → Read More: Lucky little fish, by Claude Iosso

Another Year, Another No-No, by Chuck Strom

Tim Lincecum on Opening Day

For those of you who don’t follow baseball, I am happy to report that San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum pitched his second career no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. At 112 pitches and only one base-runner allowed, this no-hitter was a model of decorum compared to . . . → Read More: Another Year, Another No-No, by Chuck Strom

Don’t draw too much from this draw, by Claude Iosso

Michael Bradley, hot

Sure, it’s too bad the U.S. soccer team gave up a last-second goal to drop into a 2-2 tie with Portugal, but it’s not a major disaster. The Yanks’ chances of advancing to the knockout rounds of the World Cup are still pretty good, and they’ve played well enough so far . . . → Read More: Don’t draw too much from this draw, by Claude Iosso

Another girl, another planet, by Claude Iosso

If it seems like Hope Solo’s from another planet, it’s because she is. People shake their heads at the nutty antics of the United States and Seattle Reign goalkeeper, but it’s not easy being the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia.

It’s boundary issues really. If you were told to go to . . . → Read More: Another girl, another planet, by Claude Iosso

Mon Dieu! Serious contenders already emerging, by Claude Iosso

Karim Benzema

Midway through the group stage of the World Cup in Brazil, the genuine contenders — and the hapless pretenders — are already emerging. Germany, Holland and France have all looked fearsome in the early going while Spain is suddenly yesterday’s news and England is doomed by a leaky defense. Argentina and Brazil, . . . → Read More: Mon Dieu! Serious contenders already emerging, by Claude Iosso

The passing of an all-time great team, by Claude Iosso

“How did you go bankrupt?”

“Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

I think this quote from Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” summarizes Spain’s swift demise in the World Cup. They were flattened by the Netherlands and Chile, unable to hoard the ball with their trademark stylish passing and too old and slow to keep up . . . → Read More: The passing of an all-time great team, by Claude Iosso

Heroes and Comics Night at AT&T Park, By Chuck Strom

Stan Lee is 91 Years Young

Just over a week ago was Heroes and Comics Night at AT&T Park. The highlight of the evening’s pregame festivities was the appearance of Stan Lee, creator of Spiderman and most of the rest of the superheroes of Marvel Comics. Ninety-one years young, he came out to the . . . → Read More: Heroes and Comics Night at AT&T Park, By Chuck Strom

Happy Birthday at the Ballpark, by Chuck Strom

Madison Bumgarner

My daughter Jillian turned 16 just over a week ago. The day coincided with the San Francisco Giants’ first Orange Friday game of 2014, complete with a fireworks show afterward, so we naturally decided to go to AT&T Park to celebrate. The Giants had started the season reasonably well, winning six of . . . → Read More: Happy Birthday at the Ballpark, by Chuck Strom