Buddy Up

When I went to religious school as a kid, at a small Jewish temple in my mostly Catholic hometown in upstate New York, Sandy Koufax was a subject worth fighting over. This was in the mid-1980s, nearly 20 years after the famed fastballer won Game 7 of the 1965 World Series for the L.A. Dodgers. Whenever our religious school class was assigned a book report or research project, the boys fought over who would present on Koufax. Since Koufax’s last season was in 1966, it goes without saying that none of us had ever seen him pitch.…

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The U.S. Open

The U.S. Open turns 125 this year and has only become more vigorous after passing the century mark. In its early days, America’s premier tennis tournament offered only one title: the men’s single championship. Now there are five—men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. To help you keep track, here’s a TV schedule, from the official website, which is chock-full of information including regular match updates, analysis and features (A great primer on racket history is, unfortunately, marred by overzealous sponsor, Wilson). The mildly addictive Ball Boy Challenge provides a break. Besides the…

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Where does “love” come from?

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. They think it’s more likely a version of ‘for the love of the game,’ that is, for nothing. The whole tennis scoring system is a bit of an enigma. It seems that the modern rules were formalized by the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1876. They adopted the deuce-advantage scoring system in favor of a first-to-15 game that was also common. The scores 15-30-40…

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Monday Morning M.D.

My friend Gabe was watching the preseason football game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets the other night. Gabe is a Redskins fan, so I asked him about the injury to their star running back, Clinton Portis. A shoulder problem is it? “It’s subluxation,” Gabe replied. Ah, subluxation! I thought. That’s serious. It’ll probably keep him out 3-4 weeks. Of course, I don’t know what subluxation is. But that’s what preseason is for: boning up on your medical jargon. There are a lot of well-documented problems with the NFL’s extended summer preamble. It’s too…

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Premiership Preview

If you already miss the international action of the World Cup, turn your attention to the English Premier League, which promises cosmopolitan action. The Premiership kicks off this Saturday, August 18th. To get ready, take a look at the BBC’s quick team by team preview, and the Guardian’s guide to off-season roster changes. Sky Sports also has a more in-depth breakdown of the 20 clubs. Here as well is a full schedule and a guide to soccer on TV in North America. This year the team to beat is the two-time defending champion, Chelsea. Since Russian tycoon…

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How big is the largest stadium in the U.S. and world these days?

This question, sent to us by Steve in Brooklyn, is more difficult than it might seem. The sporting facilities with the largest capacities are racetracks and speedways. Of those, the Indianapolis Speedway, with an estimated capacity of 250,000, may be the biggest. It tops the worldstadiums.com list, but no one is entirely certain how big Indy is. As for enclosed, field-centered venues, the biggest seems to be North Korea’s Rungnado May Day Stadium. Built in 1989, largely as a Kim Jong-Il vanity project, it has a capacity of 150,000. The Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho (a.k.a. the Maracanã)…

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The Lazy Boys of Summer

When the Philadelphia Phillies traded their All-Star rightfielder, Bobby Abreu, to the Yankees recently, a lot of Phillies fans were relieved to see him go. Although he was the team’s best position player for more than eight seasons, he was never really embraced by the city. He never led the team to the playoffs. The fans blamed him for that. Mostly, though, they thought he was lazy. I’ve always liked Abreu. For one thing, his offensive numbers are incredible. As a Phillie, he had eight straight seasons with 20 or more steals, an on-base percentage of .416…

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The Dope on Doping

Both Tour De France winner Floyd Landis and world record sprinter Justin Gatlin have been accused of artificially tinkering with their testosterone levels. In the 80s and 90s testosterone, which was often injected, was less popular than closely-related, synthetic anabolic steroids. But testosterone seems to be making a resurgence in the form of skin patches and creams. Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone, which aids the development and strength of muscles. It is also said to increase aggressiveness and to reduce recovery time. Some scientists question its effectiveness, especially for the energy boost that Landis had on…

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Has a transgendered Pole ever won an Olympic medal?

Yes. At at least one transgendered Pole, the renowned sprinter Stella Walsh, won gold. Born Stanislawa Walasiewiczowna in Wierchownen, Poland, Walsh emigrated as a child to America where she competed in track and field for her Cleveland high school. During the 30s and 40s, she dominated women’s track and field events breaking world records, taking dozens of collegiate titles and winning Olympic gold at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles while competing for her native Poland. Walsh was shot dead during an attempted robbery attempt in 1981. An autopsy report revealed that the 69-year-old had male sex…

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Ogling Sports Googlers

Are you tired of simply obsessing about sports? Ready to obsess about people obsessing about sports? Let a new Google product act as your accomplice. Named Google Trends, it provides a peek at what teams, players, leagues, and sports others are searching for. The program tracks words and phrases Googled in the past two years. If you enter the phrase google trends, a graph shows a sudden spike of interest last spring when the new Google toy was unveiled. Enter two terms, the site offers a graph comparing their search frequency.These graphs can illustrate the obvious, more…

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