For those who care to look, the infamous Baseball Game with No Fans played earlier this week reflects the discrepancy between two versions of America currently being played out in cities like Baltimore and St. Louis.
Recent tirades by Charles Barkley and Kevin Durant provoke questions about why some NBA players may be so resistant to analytics. The basketball hellscape depicted in Space Jam may have something to do with it.
College lacrosse may seem like merely a competition for financial networking-types, but it also has more generous, less calculating aspects that lead us to places and people we never thought we’d know.
Today’s sports enthusiast is confronted with a seemingly endless debate about the effectiveness of advanced metrics—a debate in which the two sides end up arguing similar, rather mundane, points. Read on.
Martial arts mystique and the denial of reality
The martial arts supply an empowering narrative for those beset by fear, but a distressing vicious circle results as the martial artist goes from fear-sufferer to fear-inducer. Read more.
The Second Leisure Olympics began, appropriately enough, with a blank sign. It had originally been marked with words (white gaffer’s tape on black cotton), but the letters decided they didn’t want to be letters. They didn’t want to be corralled into meaning-making, they didn’t want to pin anything down, they didn’t want to work. So the letters fell off. They relaxed.
Things, of course, went smoothly off the rails after that. We didn’t get to half the sports (Slothathon slumbers on). Our medal ceremony music (10 versions of “Ode to Joy”) sputtered. At some point we ran out of beer. By then, though, we were already doing our best to imitate the ex-letters. We were deep into leisure. And deep into peach-and-plum sangria.
As many of you have noticed, we haven’t published anything new on The Modern Spectator for quite some time. It’s disappointing to say it, but this hiatus may last through the winter, or perhaps longer. There are good reasons for this, including my classes at NYU and writings which will occasionally appear here. For now, the break has given me a chance to look back and review some of the things we’ve done over the past four years. I’ve posted above one of my favorite images, a drawing by my wife, Emily Thompson (Read the accompanying article, a dream-like meditation on tie games by Brian Phillips, who runs the excellent soccer blog, The Run of Play), and have dug into the vaults to feature some other old pieces below. You can also take a look at our archives, where you’ll find my old musings on Zidane, luck, texting, and subluxation. And please drop me a line at austin (at) modernspectator.com.
I finished third overall in ESPN’s World Cup prediction game. I’d like to brag about it — there were more than a million entries, and I finished just one point shy of the $5,000 first prize – but I can’t. It’s not just because I won nothing for my truobles. It’s also because I didn’t try. Before filling out my bracket, I could have consulted statistics, broken down tactics, and carefully considered historic results. Instead, I just went with my first, unconsidered instinct, and vowed not to change a thing. When I did look back at my picks, I was appalled. Uruguay in the semifinals? Holland beating Brazil? Crazy. Read on.
One of the ESPN announcers, Adrian Healey, I think, called the knockout stages of the World Cup the “thunderdome.” When he said this, I imagined Tina Turner playing soccer. I think she’d be good. I suppose it’s the legs.
Two teams enter, only one team leaves.
Come watch with us in Brooklyn.
USA v Ghana, Saturday, 2:30
The Black Horse, 16th St and 5th Ave
Probable locations for Sunday England v Germany, 10:00
The Draft Barn, 3rd ave & 12th st
Soccer can be exhausting, watching soccer that is. If you are foolish (and lucky) enough to try to catch all the games in the World Cup, you have to stare at a television for some six hours a day, day after day, beginning in New York at 7:00 a.m… Read my notes on the sixth day, and by the way, does the Uruguayan goalkeeper look a little like Scott Baio?
One pleasure of the World Cup is indulging in somewhat random allegiances. Four years ago I loved Ecuador because of a shirt someone gave me; I’ve supported Paraguay because of my first experience of coffee; I like Portugal just because I’ve been there. Then there are the old stereotypes that can help you cheer: The Italians are all defense, the Argentines are cheaters, the Germans are robots. And the Brazilians, ah, the Brazilians, they just love to dance. Read more.
10:00 a.m. South Africa v Mexico (watching at Madiba in Ft Green)
2:30 Uruguay v France
We’ll be watching Saturday’s USA-England match at the Bell House in Gowanus.
Time is running out on the pool! We’re using ESPN.com this year. It’s easy to do: just click here (If you don’t have an ESPN account, you have to register, but it’s painless). Then click the teams you think will win. ESPN provides their FIFA ranking to give you some indication who is favored. To join “The Modern Spectator” group, the password is “tms”. Invite your friends, but do it soon. Games begin early Friday morning. There is also an optional money game. Email Austin for details.
Watching the Olympic snowboard half-pipe the other day, I was struck dumb. Not by the ridiculousness of the sport – although it does bring out the fuddy-duddy in me – but by the U.S. uniforms. They are on top, fake flannel and on the bottom, fake denim. The “jeans” have phony fading and phony rips. The whole thing is made of Gore-Tex (which I like to think of as a long lost election result, not as a magical fabric) and was created by Burton so ski bums could imitate urban hipsters imitating cowboys.
It’s not surprising really. Snowboarding is the most derivative of sports, as I discovered a few years ago when I wrote about an event in NY: the rail jam.
The Modern Spectator will return with new writing soon. In the meantime, we’re featuring some of our favorites from the archives on the front page. Enjoy.
The Modern Spectator is temporarily on holiday. Please check back on the weekends for the Gambling Gurus’ NFL picks. And soon we’ll return with more fanciful writing on sports and everything else. Thanks, Austin
Picking Miami to beat his hometown Bills, Brooke writes, “I read that male sports fans experience a measurable drop in testosterone production when their teams lose, but male bettors experience a comparable spike in testosterone production when they win money. “ Call it even. Read more.
The Gambling Gurus are back with their weekly NFL picks. Brooke writes of his beloved Bills, “ So far this year Buffalo has fired their All Pro left tackle, O-Coordinator, starting QB (twice), and finally now their head coach. Next up is the GM. The owner on the other hand stays the same, and he is the guy that hired all these other guys. Perhaps he should fire himself.” Read more.
Stefan is off this week so Brooke goes it alone. Of the Colts – Texans game, he says, “There is a lot being written about Matt Shaub’s season. He is leading the league with 16 TD’s and his yard per completion stat is through the roof. But more importantly he has Houstonians forgetting to ask themselves why they live in an overpriced underconstructed shack in the middle of one of North America’s biggest swamps. This is what professional sports is all about. Replacing the “Why?” with a “Hell yeah.” The bad news is Indy really is really good.” Read on.
When the Yankees jumped ahead of the Phillies on Hideki Matsui’s third RBI hit of the night, I got a text from a friend and Yankee fan, Matthew McKown. It said, “At least it’s Matsui.” I used to love Matsui. Back in 2003 he came to New York with great fanfare. He hit a grand slam in his first game in Yankee Stadium. And he always looked hilarious. He wore the same determined expression on his face at all times. When he sprinted straight and hard for the ball in the outfield, his hat would fly off again and again. Matthew and I attended one of his first games against Seattle when Ichiro and Matsui drew thousands of Japanese fans to the stadium. We loved it.
But in the end Godzilla is not a lovable character. He is a monster who destroys your village without even trying. He is a nuclear bomb, a disaster. So it was last night when the Phillies succumbed to the wrath of Matsui. In a way, I’d rather have been beaten by Teixeira or Posada, someone without special menace and without special charm. Now I’ll never look at Matsui the same.
The Fall Classic is here, an epic matchup between my Phillies and the Bronx billionaires. To get ready I asked an astrologer, a statistician, a Las Vegas oddsmaker, a computer, a former major-league manager and a baseball analyst to predict the outcome of the series. The Phils were underdogs to everyone but Mitch Williams. Read about it in the Wall Street Journal.
Our gambling gurus are sour on this week’s games including the matchup between the hapless Oakland Raiders and the NY Giants. “Jamarcus Russel,” writes Stefan Tornquist, “has a QB rating of 42.8, which you get for doing the post game interview without grabbing Suzie Kolber.” Read the picks.
Tom Brady and Giselle Bundchen are being sued by the paparazzi. Will that curse the golden QB? Brooke says, “You have to love how much shit Brady is taking these days. A little over a calendar year ago he was as close to being the perfect Homos Americanus as possible. He was mack daddy to one hottie’s baby, and engaged to and even more hot hottie, being feted by stars and politicians alike, and, most importantly for some, he was the grand poo-baa of NFL QB’s. Who wouldn’t have changed places with him? And then pop goes his knee, pop goes a pistol at his wedding, pop goes his defense and pop goes his perfect timing. In comes the young gun and talk of the league Matt Ryan ready to send the Pats to a 1-2 start (Oh So Close To 0-3.). Brady digs deep this week, but I don’t think it will be enough to cover. “ Read the rest of the picks.
Kristin Armstrong, the reigning Olympic champion in the individual time trial, won her second world championship in the sport, and will go down in history as one of the best cyclists named “Armstrong.”
We can’t help but be impressed with Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open after taking more than two years of maternity leave from professional tennis. Over on the Rumpus, our friend Brian Schwartz asks:
“Is there something special in Belgian culture that might help a woman return to form and come back an even better tennis player than she was before taking time off and having a baby? Does the combination of excellent chocolate and fruity beer somehow prepare one to undergo the amazing transformation of pregnancy and childbirth, then win a Grand Slam tournament?”
It always bothers me when the tennis commentators call Juan Martin Del Potro by the nickname, “DelPo.” It makes him sound more like a regional utility company than an outstanding Argetninian tennis player with long limbs and fluid powerful strokes. But whatever you call him, the 20-year-old has toppled the seemingly invincible Roger Federer at the US Open. Hats off to Del Potro, el rey de Queens.
Eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus lost, 2-6, 3-6, in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon to Serena Williams, the second seed. Check Wimbledon scores at the official site, and read Austin Kelley’s story about British tennis in the Wall Street Journal.
The Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose, who won this year’s Rookie of the Year award, was the first overall pick in last year’s draft. So were about 16 other former winners. What winner was the most underestimated at draft time?
I wrote about the Final Four in the Wall Street Journal today. Read it here.
Just before the NCAA tournament began, my friend Kevin Konty told me emphatically, “I am going to win the Modern Spectator basketball pool.” Kevin is a bit of a statistical whiz, so I didn’t know how to take it, but I told him, “confidence doesn’t mean much when it comes to March Madness.” Kevin was hit pretty hard in the first round, and he never recovered. He finished higher than me, but that ain’t saying much.
My girlfriend, Emily, and I both picked the ninth-seeded Siena Saints to beat The Ohio State University in last night’s first round game. It wasn’t because of any special knowledge about Siena: we weren’t counting on their dominance on the glass; we weren’t predicting that their guards would match up well against the Buckeyes backcourt; we didn’t think badly of the Big Ten. But we’re planning to get married in Siena, Italy, and that was reason enough. Siena was for us. Read on.
Thanks to all of you who joined The Modern Spectator NCAA Pool. We have about 80 competitors this year, vying for the official Leisure Olympics badminton set and the Spec t-shirts. Good luck.
I’ve taken a look at your entries and ran them through my analog supercomputer (my notepad) to track trendy picks. Then I realized the real computer had done it for me already (Check here).The most popular team is, not surprisingly, the number one overall seed, Louisville. Nineteen of you think the Cardinals will cut down the nets n a few weeks. UNC is second with 16 supporters (although they are the most popular final four pick), followed by Pitt with 15. UConn (6) is the least fashionable number-one. Memphis (5) and Duke (4) were the hot 2-seeds for Spectators.
Special recognition always goes to those of you who take long shots all the way. I particularly like Jonathan Durham’s picks. Eleventh-seeded VCU is his champion, and they are joined in the final four by LSU, USC, and Cal. Jonathan clearly likes three-letter combinations.
You can find brackets, results, and standings here.
Siena barged into the NCAA tournament last night by beating Niagra in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference final. Will they survive the first round? You decide. Our annual FREENCAA pool will be like last year’s. Stay tuned.
About a dozen armed men attacked a convoy in Pakistan carrying the Sri Lanka cricket team to Lahore. Six policemen and a driver were killed, and many others were wounded. The BBC tells the story of one man’s escape and asks, who did it?
Revelers outside Moscow celebrate Maslenitsa, or Pancake Week, by fist fighting. The fist fighting “game,” a tourism website tells us, “dates back to the times when our ancestors fought their enemies with fists.” Maslenitsa marks the end of winter and the beginning of Lent in Russian Orthodox tradition.
Each week our gambling gurus, Brooke Costello and Stefan Tornquist bet on the NFL. Ahead of the final game of the year, Brooke gives advice to the exotic dancers of the greater Tampa Bay area, while Stefan contemplates the Colts. Along the way, they make Super Bowl picks.
Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald already has 419 yards receiving this post season, a playoff record. Along the way he had some great outings: a three-touchdown half, a 166-yard game, and a 152-yard game, but those numbers won’t break any new records in the Super Bowl. Who has the most receiving yards in the big game and how many?
Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild and Ian White of the Toronto Maple Leafs got in a bit of a tussle during the second period of last night’s game. The Wild scored four goals during that middle frame, and beat the Leafs, 6-1.
A few years ago you couldn’t open a magazine without reading that Roger Federer was a a god. He wasn’t only the best tennis player ever to have lived; he was reinventing the game as poetry, as free-form improvisatory beauty. He was the Satchmo of sport. More recently, the Federer bandwagon has flagged, perhaps because of the rise of Rafa Nadal (Federer isn’t number one anymore) or that weird bout of mono, or just the news cycle’s endless churning. Roger doesn’t get the respect he used to. British bookmakers even picked Andy Murray as a favorite in the Australian Open. But Murray is out, and Federer is in. And if Roger wins the tournament, he will, at age 27, tie Pete Sampras’s record for the most Grand Slam singles titles ever. Time to revisit those magazine paeans, by David Foster Wallace and Nick Paumgarten.
David Beckham scored his first goal for AC Milan this weekend in a 4-1 rout of Bologna. Rumors are swirling that Milan will try to make his loan from MLS permanent ad they make a run for the Italian title. We like this photo because no matter how popular Beck is, and no matter how much he says the “right” things about being a good teammate and family man and such, there is something unmistakably lonely about him. Poor David.
With all the youngsters in this year’s NHL All-Star game, Alex Ovechkin and Sid the Kid are starting to look like a pair of old geezers. The West will feature two 20-year-olds, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, in its starting lineup (part of the 3-Blackhawk starting squad), They aren’t, though, the youngest ever to play in an All Star game. Who was?
New Orleans Hornets guard Rasual Butler drives to the basket against the New York Knickerbockers. The Knicks, though, pulled off a big upset down in the Big Easy, winning the game, 101-95. Moving the ball well, the Knicks had 30 assists in the game. David Lee had 24 points.
Each week our gambling gurus Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello bet on the NFL. This week they ask if receiving MVP votes are a guaranteed curse and if Philip Rivers (left) can surprise a few people and charge into the SuperBowl.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook turned a screen pass into a 71-yard touchdown, helping the Eagles beat the Vikings, 26-14. They face the Giants next Sunday. Baltimore also beat Miami. Look back at our gurus’ predictions.
Titans at Colts (+3, 38)
ST: Neither team has anything to play for in this year’s version of the ‘Not the Face’ Bowl. These guys just want to get out of the game intact. I’d be shocked if Bob Sanders plays a down, or if Peyton sees much time (do the Colts have a backup quarterback?). The Titans are a team of equals as opposed to the Colts star chamber, so if I had to bet, and I don’t, I’d play the Titans.
B: My wife Justine and I just got back from Christmas in Austin TX. It’s a strange experience for a Buffalo guy to open presents on a sunny 72 degree morning. A few days before Christmas my in-laws and Justine and I all went to Luling and Lockhart; two small towns known for having he best BBQ in Texas. Our favorite was Smitty’s. The walls are coated with Post Oak wood smoke and the ribs, brisket, and hot links never need sauce. I’ll take the Titans and an Over. More.
Manchester United won the World Cup! Or maybe we should say, they won a World Cup. It wasn’t the same as the World Cup—you know, the one with national teams, the thousands of gallons of official Budweiser and a billion temporary soccer fans. Instead, on Sunday, United beat Equador’s LDU Quito in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, a fairly new and haphazard competition that supposedly crowns the best club team in the world. Read on at ESPN.
Woop woop woop woop. Phoenix Coyotes’ Ed Jovanovski and Edmonton Oilers’ Ales Hemsky suddenly realize they’re on ICE! The Oilers scored two in the final period to win, 4-2. Ales Hemsky, by the way, is an awesome hockey name.
I heard Dierdorf praising the sit-com “Two and a Half Men” a few weeks ago in the middle of a game. It happened during a network cross-sell moment—the kind I rarely notice anymore—when NFL announcers are forced to mention other programs on their home channel.
Each week Brooke Costello & Stefan Tornquist bet on the NFL.
Buff at Jets (-8, 41)
ST: Brooke and I nursed our hangovers by drinking away our Sunday watching his beloved Bills play their way out of contention against a surprisingly consistent Miami team. Fortunately, we weren’t drinking every time the Bills screwed up. This is a team that’s gone round the bend and it’s hard to see them coming out of their stupor. Tease the Jets and the Over.
B: OMG!!!! WTF!!!!!! NLMAO!!!!! Losman’s starting!!!! Take the Under!
Lindsey Vonn, last year’s overall World Cup skiing champion and owner of a pet cow, has started the 2009 season off well, winning the downhill in Lake Louise last Friday and winning her first slalom race ever. Vonn has jumped to first in the overall standings again.
Eagles at Giants (-7, 43.5)
ST: One of these weeks the Giants will relax I suppose and let us down in spread town. This ain’t the week. These teams don’t like each other and the Giants are such an all-round team that I like the G-men to cover, especially if you make it easy on them by teasing the points with the Ravens, my other ATS crush.
B: Justice dictates that the Giants will breeze through the playoffs and then play a highly overmatched foe that they beat in the regular season in the Super Bowl. That foe will be hyper focused and incredibly well prepared and pull off the most recent upset of the century. This team will probably be the Steelers. But until that February game the Giants will not lose a game that counts, which should mean that they start resting guys after the night game next week in Dallas, but through a quirk in the schedule the Gints play the NFC Central leading Vikes and the NFC South leading Panthers the last two weeks of the regular season. I don’t think anybody in the Gints organization wants to hand a future playoff foe a cheap win. All of this is a long winded way of saying take the Gints and the Under separately.
An enormous new water park opened in Hungary with water slides, a wave pool, and of course a replica Angkor temple. There was ceremonial sychnronized swimming to kick things off. You know we love synchronized swimming.
Russia’s Albert Demtschenko crashed during his first run at a Luge World Cup race in Austria. Demtschenko finished third overall in last year’s World Cup, losing out to Armin “Il Cannibale” Zöggeler, an Italian who has won the overall title seven times.
Spectator contributor Brian Schwartz sent in this photo of Frankie Hejduk holding up the MLS trophy. We’ve always loved Hejduk’s crazy style on and off the field, even if we’ve cursed him during his stints on the national team for lacking skill.
More importantly, as Brian asks, “what’s up with those square, biscuit-shaped medals MLS bestowed on the champs?”
DJs, like curators, are collectors, so when Grandmaster Flash and other hip-hop luminaries met up with some officials from the Smithsonian, there was some serious collecting to discuss. Read about it in The Village Voice
I’m compiling an oral history of the Leisure Olympics, so please send me your thoughts and feelings about the afternoon of mild, but hard-fought, competition and not-so-mild punch. Did you experience the glory of victory, the ennui of defeat, or the agony of alcohol?
I have begun writing a weekly soccer column at ESPN the Magazine’s website. My first installment was published today to coincide with the Champions League final:
Sports memoirs can make for dull reading, so it was refreshing to learn that the new autobiography of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, released in France last week, was spicy enough to provoke an investigation by the English Football Association. The FA is annoyed by Drogba’s admission that he picked up yellow cards on purpose so that he would be suspended for certain games. Read the rest at ESPN the Magazine.
What’s cooler a Kansas Jayhawk or a Memphis Tiger? A Jayhawk is apparently a fictional bird, a cross between a blue jay (bastard!) and a sparrow hawk. The term goes back to the 1850s and gets mixed up with the Civil War and cattle rustling. The fantastic avian fella has given rise to some pretty great drawings including this one, above left, from 1912 and some others here.
The Memphis Tiger nickname is not quite as interesting (It comes from some kids back in 1914 yelling, “We fight like Tigers”). But they’ve got a real tiger, above right, and a rap video. “Winnin’ baby. Yeah, that’s Coach Cal’s game.”
It’s a historic, revolutionary year in the NCAA tournament! Never before has it happened! The Final Four is all number-one seeds! Ugh.
Rooting for all favorites seems a bit like rooting for China against Tibet, so I’m going to continue to keep this Davidson Wildcats image up in honor of the tourney’s best underdogs, the insurgent Tibetan monks of college basketball who were crushed by the Maoist nationalist oppressors, the Kansas Jayhawks. Well, maybe the comparison is a stretch. Maybe it’s just sour grapes. I had Georgetown. Click for revised pool standings.
Sadly, no one picked the Davidson Wildcats, who shocked the badgers of Wisconsin (By the way, do badgers look anything like that mascot?) I would have given out a T-shirt for that alone. Still, five of you (Laura Kelley, Josh Dean, “Our Own” Mike Stevens, Emily Thompson, David Gendelman) got all seven of the other Elite Eight picks right. Congrats. As for the rest of you, don’t despair. There are still a lot of points left on the table, including 15 for the national champion. It’s anyone’s game. Check your progress.
Reader Yonatan Freedman asks, “If a batter hits a very high foul ball, and a fielder walks well into the stands and waits there to catch the foul ball and then catches it, is the batter out or is it just a foul ball?”Click here for the answer.
The Modern Spectator is hosting a free March Madness contest. All you have to do is download one of the Excel brackets on this website, fill it out, and email it to us by Thursday at noon. Or just send us your picks on a pdf or in the text of an email (Here is a printable bracket). The winner will get a TMS T-shirt and a toy break-away basketball hoop. The first and second runners-up will get T-shirts as well. For rules and more, click here.
Americans Bode Miller and Lindsay Vonn were the overall World Cup winners this year, so we wondered how many times both winners have come from the same country and from what mountainous nation do the best skiers hail? Click here.
Enzo asks, “Have you noticed every NFL QB has a round neon green sticker on the back of their helmet this year? What is this? Is it a hole so God can see in?” Not quite, but the green dot, in a way has a long history. Click here to read all about it.
The Boston Celtics did it again. They beat the New Jersey Nets and extended their unbeaten streak to seven games. It was an ‘ugly’ 91-69 win, but the team had six players in double figures. Larry Bird, who played on a Celtics squad two decades ago that started 6-0, thinks the new kids in beantown have “good chemistry.” They still have a long way to go before they can claim the record as the NBA’s winningest team at the start of a season. Bird didn’t do it either. Which two teams share that record? Click here to find out.
In case you didn’t hear this weekend’s big soccer news, Argentina won its 6th U-20 World Cup (for players under 20 yrs old) by beating the Czech Republic 2-1 in Toronto. Take a look back at my live commentary of the game on the The New York Times excellent Goal blog. Atlético Madrid striker Sergio Agüero scored his 6th goal in the tournament and earned the Golden Boot, but I was most impressed by Maxi Moralez, who plays for Racing in Argentina. Maxi had his head wrapped in bandages for part of the game, and it seemed to give him superpowers as he roamed all over the pitch dictating the play. Incidentally, David Beckham is not mentioned in the commentary.
Our colleagues at the NY Times will be covering the major US soccer matches this summer, beginning with the defense of the Gold Cup. Read Austin Kelley’s preview of the US-El Salvador match. and Jeff Z. Klein’s preview of the tournament.
Whenever I bet on horses, I lose. I have tried different techniques. I’ve been the educated bettor. I’ve lost. I’ve been the spiritual bettor. I’ve tried numerology. I’ve tried whimsy. I’ve tried rhyme. No luck.
We have moved to a new web hosting company, and we seem to be up and running again. It was touch and go for a while. We thought we lost five and a half months of The Modern Spectator. Luckily, the interenet is absurdly exhaustive, and some server somehwere saved us from extinction… We hope.
Please let us know if you encounter any errors or dead links on the site. And thanks again for your patience.
Sidney Crosby became the youngest Art Ross trophy winner in history when he finished this season with the most points in the NHL. But 19-year-old Sid the Kid was well behind Vincent Lecavalier in the race for the Maurice Richard trophy, given to the top goal scorer each year. Who was the youngest to ever win this title?
John Thompson and Patrick Ewing have led Georgetown back to the Final Four. Of course, this is Patrick Ewing Jr. (I love that his jersey says “Ewing Jr.”) and John Thompson III, the sons of the great Georgetown player and coach. The new Ewing has only a bit role, but he did his bit, and UNC fell apart in the closing minutes. Georgetown will play the Ohio State University, and Florida will play UCLA in a rematch of last year’s final. Gators, Bruins, Hoyas, and Buckeyes—that’s a pretty weird bunch of mascots. Check how you’re doing in the pool.
If you look up “March Madness” in the DSM-IV, the manual of psychiatric disorders, you’ll find the basic symptoms: last-second shots, big comebacks, torn-up brackets. The Sweet Sixteen had all of these. The only team to win by double digits was Carolina, and USC was killing them until the Tarheels went on a tear and USC coach Tim Floyd lost his cool. But the DSM-IV also lists big upsets as essential indicators of this seasonal mania. These were markedly absent. The Ducks of Oregon, a 3-seed, are the biggest underdogs of the last eight. Go Ducks. Check how you’re doing in the pool.
Just a few minutes left. Games tip off at 12:20, and we’re accepting emails until then. Filling out a bracket is free and easy and requires no real skill.
Download our Excel bracket, fill it out, and email it back to us by Thursday at noon. The winner will receive a limited-edition Wilson NCAA basketball and a Modern Spectator T-shirt. The second and third place finishers get T-shirts as well.
Two American businessmen George Gillett and Tom Hicks just bought Liverpool, the most successful franchise in the history of English football, for $343 million.
Tom in Florida wrote us to ask whether this is the most expensive sports transaction. Click here to find out.
The world famous downhill race at the Hahnenkamm in Austria was canceled this year due to global warming. Skiers are still trying to race down slushy hills and make the best of a diminished World Cup season. Americans Julia Mancuso and Bode Miller are both in podium position with only a few races left. Check in on the Alpine action.
The MLS salary cap was changed specifically to allow the league to sign aging heartthrob David Beckham, who will join the LA Galaxy this summer and make a reported $250 million over 5 years. Call Landon Donovan’s agent, quick!
I had come to Northeast England for one reason: to finally see my favorite football club, Newcastle United, play live. Their next home game was the following day against Chelsea. And it was sold out. Read on.
Ah, it seems like only a decade ago that Vinny was leading the University of Miami Hurricanes. Vinny, who was recently called up by the Patriots, is 43 years old. He played for the Jets, the Cowboys, the Jets again, and now the Pats in his middle age. Read more.
The Scarlet Knights’ upset of heavily favored Louisville last week didn’t stun those familiar with college football’s roots. The school after all won the first college game ever played, beating instate rival Princeton in 1869.Read more.
While the Modern Spectator has total respect for Chamberlain on the court if less so in more intimate spaces, “the Stilt” is no Mats Wermelin.
In a 1974 regional boys’ tournament in Sweden, this 13-year-old phenom scored every single point of the game—all 272.
The idea of running 26.2 miles may make most of us nauseous. But 37,000 people disagree. They will be parading through New York to show us how wrong we are. The least we could do is rouse ourselves, grab a couple bear claws and a coffee, and cheer on these fools. Here’s a quick primer.
Already a sport prone to steep in itself, baseball knows no greater temptation for self-mythologizing than the World Series. From this nostalgia hothouse past performances are fertilized, pruned, and re-presented as titled performances like the catch,the wave, or simply Buckner.Read more.
Usually freak baseball stats or stories begin something like this: Born in County Cork, Ireland in 1859, Tony Mullane was baseball’s earliest switch pitcher, meaning he could pitch either right- or left-handed. And indeed this story begins that way as well, but notice the modifier: Mullane was the earliest not the only switch pitcher. Read more.
If there was one thing that might have made Cowboys’ wide receiver Terrell Owens sympathetic, it was the notion that behind the smirky veneer he was so conflicted as to be suicidal. And here we are, maybe. Read more
For most of its life, the NFL was the Wild West as far as numbers were concerned. A 300 lb. tackle could wear number 3. Quarterbacks could sport a 60. Then came Rule 5, Section 3, Article 3c. Read more.
The Washington Redskins are worth $1.4 billion, according to Forbes, which has been tracking the value of teams for eight years. While most of the headlines, and public indignation, have focused on players’ ballooning salaries, team owners have had a great run. More.
Between practice and play, the U.S. Open runs through six tons of tennis balls, or roughly 70,000 balls. Wilson, who supplies the “optic yellow” balls to the tournament, estimates that they need 3,900 pounds of rubber and 700 square yards of felt to make their annual shipment to Forest Hills. Read more.
It’s a tie, at least since the modern World Series began in 1903. The Cardinals and the Athletics have each won nine times. But the Cardinals have the semantic edge. In 1886 they won a championship called the “World Series.” Read more.
In tennis, as in all things, love is shrouded in mystery. Some claim that it was derived from the French for egg, “l’oeuf,” since an egg resembles zero. Lexographers at Oxford University Press disagree. Read on.
The English Premier League kicks off Saturday, August 18th. If you already miss the international action of the World Cup, turn your attention to this cosmopilitan “football” league. The Omnivore takes you through the upcoming season.
In the midst of all the to-do about drugs in sports, the Omnivore takes a look at some of the options out there for today’s performance enhancers. Should you take testosterone, The Clear, or EPO? And if you’re caught, what’s your excuse?
Sports were invented in Cincinnati in 1869. That year player-manager Harry Wright assembled the first professional baseball club, the Red Stockings, and matched them against the top teams in the nation…. Read more.
On the forefront of baseball acoustics is physicist Daniel Russell who is looking at how sound helps create a sweet spot on bats. This week’s Omnivore gets scientific with the sounds of the game. More.
We’ve gotten a late start on the Tour de France here at the Spectator. To catch up, we’re providing a compendium of cycling links, beginning with a Tour primer and a look at the 21 individual stages.More.