The Play by Play
Last week one of baseball’s greatest rivalries (think back to the Yankees suck t-shirts or the come from behind Sox’ 2004 ALCS victory) was reignited when a bench-clearing brawl broke out between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Boston’s pitcher Joe Kelly purposefully hit Yankee batter Tyler Austin as payback for what Kelly thought was a dangerous spike-up slide in which Austin clipped the leg of Boston’s second baseman. Punches were thrown and both athletes, along with Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, were ejected. While most players did very little, running out onto the field more as a show of support than anything else, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton did what they could to break it up, before things got even further out of hand. Set to face of sixteen more times this season, I have a feeling this bad blood is only just beginning to boil.
Have you ever noticed the music that plays when a baseball player walks up to bat? For decades, as a means of exciting fans and energizing players, we’ve had what’s called the “at bat” or “walk-up” song. It all began with Nancy Faust, the organist for the Chicago White Socks back in 1970, who would play each player’s home state song as they approached the plate. Nowadays, the athletes choose their own song and the selections run the genre gambit. Some pay tribute to the movie Major League by playing “Wild Thing.” Others choose songs from their home country or songs they feel define who they are. A few choose a song simply because they like it. And still others might select a song out of interest and then keep it for good luck, as was the case with Yoenis Cespedes, of the New York Mets. For a short period of time, after hitting a walk-off home run during the first game he played the song, every time Yoenis walked up to bat “Circle of Life” blared over the speakers. Fans even started holding up lions in tribute to this magical song selection. Check out a few of the other favorite at-bat songs over the years. Now that you’ve heard a few, the most important question is, what song would you choose?
The Faces and Facts
Featured Female: Desiree Linden (Runner): The first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years. Linden felt less than 100% as the race commenced and almost opted out of the race. In the end, she chose to run and actually offered her services to her American teammates, slowing down when Shalane Flanagan (the winner of the NYC Marathon) used the bathroom, in order to then help her catch up. In the end, Linden finished a full four minutes ahead of the second place runner, American Sarah Sellers.
Donovan Mitchell (Basketball): Is up for the award of Rookie of the Year and not so subtly throwing shade at the only other real contender, Ben Simmons. Mitchell has sported two different hoodies that call into question whether Simmons is technically a rookie and therefore qualified to win the award (Simmons was drafted in 2016 but sat out the entire 2016-2017 season). Tune in on June 25th to see who takes home the trophy.
Minnesota Timberwolves (Basketball): The basketball team clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. To put that into perspective….the last time the Wolves were in the postseason Shrek 2 was the top movie in the box office and Usher’s “Yeah” held the #1 spot on the Billboard charts. This was 2 years before Twitter launched and 3 years from the first iPhone release. Friends and Frasier were both in their final season and Facebook existed only within the walls of Harvard. That was a LONG time ago! They are playing the Houston Rockets, who have a 1-0 lead in the series.
Andre Ingram (Basketball): A 32 year old basketball player who made his NBA debut in the Lakers final home game of the season. Graduating from American University in 2007, Ingram spent the past decade playing on LA’s D (minor) League team. While most would have quit well before, Ingram continued to put in the work and after 10 years, it paid off. During what he thought was the average exit interview at the end of the season, he learned, from Magic Johnson himself, he was finally going to suit up. When subbed into the game, he scored 19 points (the 4th most by any Laker in his debut game), to the delight of the fans and his teammates, and could hear M-V-P chants from the stands.
The Midweek Rundown
Both the NBA and NHL have entered postseason play. Here’s a brief overview of how the playoffs are structured, so that you can cheer your team on to victory fully knowing why one team is matched up with another or how many games are left to be played. We’ll cover NBA this week and NHL the following, so stay tuned.
The NBA Playoffs: Based on how the teams perform during the regular season, the top 8 in the league’s Eastern and Western Conferences advance to the playoffs. Each of the teams are ranked based on their overall record, with the best team in each conference earning the number 1 seed. In the first round, the number 1 team plays the number 8, 2 plays 7 and so forth, with the higher seed hosting the first two games (and then the 5th and 7th, if needed). Each round (also referred to as a series) is a best of seven, meaning that the first to win 4 games moves on to the next round, of which there are four. The playoffs start with the conference quarterfinals, with the winning teams advancing to the conference semi-finals and then the conference finals. The winner of the Eastern Conference plays the winner of the Western Conference in the NBA finals.
Now that you’ve gotten a quick refresher on how the basketball playoffs work, check out the the NBA Playoff Schedule to find a game or two that fits in your busy schedule. It will give you a chance to show off your new knowledge.