Sounding the National Pasttime

Since baseball’s beginnings, sound has been important. Outfielders listen for a sharp crack or a dull thunk to help them get a jump on the ball. Coaches listen to how a fastball hits a catcher’s mitt to see if a pitcher has his best stuff. Recently, science has begun to explain how players use their hearing to do what they do. For example, a centerfielder cannot visually tell the difference of a bloop over second base and a blast to the warning track. Instead he listens. On the forefront of baseball acoustics is Dr. Daniel Russell, a…

Continue reading

 World Cup-ology

Everyone from financial analysts to geographers has weighed in on the 2006 World Cup. Some offer small insights related to their particular disciplines, others elaborate predictions based on rigorous, though admittedly non-sports related, analysis. All seem driven by a deep desire to shoehorn their professional expertise into some aspect of the tournament. The investment banking giant Goldman Sachs offers one of the better options with its annual report ‘The World Cup and Economics.’ The 57-page report offers an economic overview of each nation with a team in the tournament along with some soccer analysis. Additional soccer commentary…

Continue reading

Who caught the highest pop up ever?

If you asked catcher Joe Sprinz he would likely admit he wasn’t too excited after winning the honor in 1939. As a publicity stunt for the defunct minor league San Francisco Seals team, Sprinz caught a ball let loose from a blimp floating 800 feet above. The force of the ball slammed his mitt back into his face smashing at least four teeth and breaking his jaw, according to an account of the feat. Sprinz’s catch came a year after a couple of players managed to hang onto baseballs dropped 700 feet from a Cleveland skyscraper. A…

Continue reading

T.O.: My Hero

Recently Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens claimed he was misquoted in his new autobiography, ‘T.O.’ The controversy surrounded the phrase “nothing short of heroic,” which was used in the book to describe T.O.‘s comeback from injury before the 2005 Superbowl. T.O. said that he would not have used that phrase, and that his co-author (who is also his agent’s brother) Jason Rosenhaus must have written that hyperbolic nonsense (a claim T.O. later qualified and re-qualified). But let’s not judge the book (which is excerpted on AOL) by one phrase. ‘T.O.’ is a compelling little tale that jumps…

Continue reading

Need to know the difference between bocce and petanque?

Need to know the difference between bocce and petanque? Ask The Modern Spectator research staff. What World Cup Team Has the Most Foreign Born Players? Of Algeria’s 23 players, 17 were born in France. I discuss borders and the French in The Wall Street Journal. What is the world’s worst soccer team? by Austin Kelley I compiled the worst records in World Cup qualifying over on WSJ. Who was the lowest draft pick to become NBA’s Rookie of the Year? The Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose, who won this year’s Rookie of the Year award, was the first overall pick in…

Continue reading

The British Open

Floyd Landis may be returning to America after winning the Tour de France, but the Omnivore remains in Europe this week to take a belated look at the British Open. Launched with eight players in 1860, the Open is steeped in golf history like no other major tournament. What other championship has run through two trophies? That’s right. Before the Claret Jug trophy was introduced in 1873, tournament champions won the right to wear the “Challenge Belt.” Here’s an overview of Royal Liverpool’s Holylake course. Built in 1869 on the racecourse of the Liverpool Hunt Club, the…

Continue reading

The Tour de France

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. MSNBC also has a nice slide show running through some highlights and capturing bits of the Tour seldom seen—sometimes for good reason. There are two main storylines so far. The first is the blood-doping scandal that sent some of the top contenders fleeing their Strasbourg hotels before the Tour’s July 1st start. Next, the apparent man to beat this Tour,…

Continue reading

Two Footballers in Search of an Author

At the World Cup Newletter, we put together a play based on Zidane’s head-butt. At the risk of beating a dead horse (We wouldn’t even beat a live horse), here is a roundup of our dramatic farce. Broadway here we come. First there was a basic Beckett-like production: ACT 1 Scene 1 (Lights up on an empty stage. MARCO MATERAZZI is standing in the middle. He wears the blue Italian national football kit and Puma cleats. He is in his early 30s, but he could be any age. He has long, silly sideburns, big eyes, and a…

Continue reading

Why do American footballers need protection when rugby types go pad free?

Because of a power grab by the Executive Branch, or something like that. In 1905, 18 men died from football-related injuries. At the time the sport was largely a collegiate past time. Despite the academic setting play was brutal, with gang tackles and the random haymaker. After the rash of footballer deaths, President Theodore Roosevelt summoned representatives from Yale, Harvard and Princeton to the White House. The meeting led to the formation of the American Football Rules Committee. Aside from banning all gang tackling, the committee introduced the forward pass and doubled the yardage required for first…

Continue reading