Thursday, July 19, 2018

Throwback Thursday

My brother recently found this picture from when I was 7 and he was 4.

Adorable! What's funny is that these are the current ages of my oldest two boys, The Moose and Pedro Tulo. Hmmm...maybe I should take a picture of them in this exact same pose. (Well, except that their haircuts look better than our haircuts!)

Oh, in case you're wondering, I tend to keep shirts for a long, long time. I can confirm that I no longer have the shirt in this 35+ year-old photo, though I do have a short-sleeve red polo shirt that fits an adult male. Since it appears that I'm still wearing similar clothes to those when I was 7, I guess I should try to find a Dr. Pepper T-shirt and 1979 City of Champions T-shirt.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Le'Veon Bell and 50 Cent

This post combines the Celebrities In Pittsburgh Gear series with the Pittsburgh Athletes with World-Renowned Athletes (PAWRA!) series. Rapper/entrepreneur 50 Cent met Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le'Veon Bell over the weekend.

You can also see 50 wearing a Pirates hat here, possibly inspired by or inspiring the team's 6-game winning streak, with Adam "Pacman" Jones, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Busy weekend for Mr. Cent! I'm sure that you're thinking, Sean, 50 Cent is responsible for In Da Club, one of the biggest hits of the 21st Century, but he is not a world-renowned athlete. I disagree. This video of 50 throwing out the first pitch at a Mets game in 2014 went viral all over the world.

As I wrote: World Renowned!

Photos from 50 Cent's Instagram.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Video: Africa

Toto's 1982 hit Africa is a fantastic song. For some reason, the song had seen a resurgence over the past few years. It seems like some of this may be related to its placement in Stranger Things. Some of it may also be ironic, though I don't understand why. Regardless, Africa is one of the biggest songs of 2018. This tries to explain it:

While I'm terrible at creating titles myself, someone must be able to write a headline that doesn't start with "Local Girl," "Local Man," etc.

Anyway, it appears that Weezer first played Africa live on Jimmy Kimmel Live in June with assistance from Toto's Steve Porcaro.

Rivers Cuomo looks a little unsure playing this song and seems to be reading the lyrics from the computer screen. He looks more comfortable now as Weezer is playing Africa on its tour.

And yes, this song will stay in your head all day (and that's a good thing)!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Zlatan and JuJu

Welcome to a new feature here at Sean's Ramblings called Pittsburgh Athletes with World-Renowned Athletes. It's a working title. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post showing Sidney Crosby pictured with Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon. Today, I'm excited to share Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster with one of the most famous soccer players in the world, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, currently playing for the LA Galaxy.

Zlatan also just lost a bet with some guy named David Beckham.

Stay tuned for my next edition of Pittsburgh Athletes with World-Renowned Athletes (I need a better title!) which will likely feature LeBron James pictured with Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams.

Photo from JuJu's Twitter page.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Rascal Flatts Singer In Hilton Head

I spent the past week on vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and while I may write a post about the trip (or multiple posts since I'm sure you want to hear about two 13-hour drives with three kids and how four year old Pedro Tulo fell asleep at Cracker Barrel), I wanted to highlight one part. Gregg Russell is a Hilton Head legend who has performed for over 40 years. Not to take anything away from Russell's musical ability, but he basically leads a Kids Say the Darndest Things concert. He's had the same lines and jokes for years, and he is a master at working the crowd. People come to see him year after year and across generations and are never disappointed. Here's a sample:

You get the idea. Oh, he used that same Justin Bieber joke when we saw him two years ago. Anyway, as part of his July 4th show, he welcomed three kids to the stage to sing a song. Then, he introduced at least one of the kid's father, who just happened to be the lead singer of Rascal Flatts, Jay DeMarcus. I heard that DeMarcus had a guest appearance in Hilton Head just days before I saw Russell two years ago, so I wasn't stunned to see him return. It was still cool seeing a singer who regularly plays arenas engaging with a much smaller crowd.

Some videos of DeMarcus are below. There is not video of the fireworks after Russell's show ended with Pedro Tulo's commentary (That was red; Those are beautiful).

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Found In My Basement: Sammy Sosa's 63rd Home Run

In September 1998, the sports world centered around Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and the single-season home run record. I lived in San Diego at the time and attended the Cubs-Padres game where Sosa hit #63.

The interesting part of the home run is that Sosa's grand slam basically won the game for the Cubs, the Padres were in the playoff race, and yet, the crowd went crazy. The scoreboard even flashed to celebrate the home run. (The Padres players were not happy about the scoreboard operator essentially rooting against the home team.) Of course, McGwire ended up winning the home run crown, Sosa won the MVP award, and the players never took any, um, unusual substances. The Padres won the National League title, but lost in the World Series. Stupid Yankees.

Blog post/credit to the San Diego Union Tribune.

Please click here for more Found in My Basement blog posts.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

My Life in Pictures: June 2018

The big news in my life is that 9-month old Luigi has discovered how to crawl. This is a game-changer! You can no longer just put him on the floor with some toys, go into the other room to get something, and come back. I mean, you can, but there's a decent change Luigi won't be where he was left. One of Luigi's favorite activities is trying to pet Ziggy. He LOVES Ziggy. While I think Ziggy enjoys the attention, he often seeks higher ground when Luigi is around.

I ride the Metro regularly, but in all my years commuting, I don't recall seeing someone take off their shoes. Why is this happening?

I attended The Moose's first grade performance a few weeks ago and had my phone ready to record his one speaking line. About 10 seconds before his line, my phone informed me that my storage was full, and I missed filming it. Fortunately, another parent from his class filmed it all and sent it out, so I can now watch him say "Someone get a nurse" anytime! Oh, The Moose is Chicken Little with a yellow chicken head in this picture.

Tony Bennett has over 19 Grammys and has had an amazing singing and performing career. I have no idea who Tony Bennette is. Someone at Fairfax Times missed this.

Last is Ziggy sleeping with Pedro Tulo. (Pedro Tulo is in the covers somewhere.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Maria Sharapova and Sidney Crosby

Wimbledon starts in less than a week, and it appears that there may be a new player in the tournament: Sidney Crosby

With apologies to Milos Raonic, Genie Bouchard, and Denis Shapovalov, Crosby would easily be the most-famous Canadian player in the tournament. I have no idea why Sharapova and Crosby are together, but this is pretty cool since Wimbledon is an awesome place to visit.

By the way, if you want to go down a sad path, take a look at some of the comments to this tweet. (I really hope that Sharapova ignores this.)

- Looking gorgeous

- I and you on the beach!

- This is my fifth tweet and you are not responding. Love from Pakistan.

- Don't know if Sid and Maria are dating.. One thing for sure, they both have awesome legs!

Okay, this last one made me chuckle.

Photos from Maria Sharapova's Twitter account.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Bloggers For Hire

Last week, someone I follow on Twitter shared a picture of her being at Primanti's in Pittsburgh. Then, I saw that she and her family visited the Carnegie Science Center. Then I noticed that her tweets included the hashtag #KidsBurgh and discovered that there were others using the same hashtag. Apparently, Visit Pittsburgh invited about a half-dozen mommy bloggers (and one daddy blogger) to Pittsburgh to promote and encourage families to visit my hometown. I'll admit that I'm a bit jealous that I wasn't invited since the group also went to Kennywood, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, and a Pirates game.

Despite having a blog for 13+ years, I understand that I have a limited following. (Thanks to all of you for reading!) I've written several times over the years that if I wanted a bigger audience, I would be better served to have a single topic blog. Maybe I could be a daddy blogger. I've certainly written many posts over the years about my kids and being a dad. However, if anyone has followed the history of parent blogs, you would know how things have changed. Instead of sharing personal stories and anecdotes, parent blogs have turned into constant sponsored posts on a wide variety of products and services. (The Washington Post had an article about this earlier this year.) Besides sharing pictures of their Pittsburgh trip on Twitter and Instagram, you can be sure that the bloggers will write all about their trips on their blogs.

Look, I don't begrudge these bloggers. Some have been able to make blogging a full-time job. If someone wanted to treat me and my family on an all-expenses trip in exchange for a blog post and some tweets, I would jump at the chance. I've had a handful of opportunities over the years to attend events or write about a product, and I've done so. And I'd do it again. And in full disclosure, I'm hoping to be a guest blogger on a different site where I get to attend some cool events in the future. However, I just don't understand how someone can write a blog with all sponsored content. Personally, I like writing about a wide variety of topics. More importantly, though, why would someone read a blog with all sponsored content? (Well, unless there are contests and giveaways.)

Photo by Visit Pittsburgh.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Me and Mark McGrath

You didn't know Sugar Ray lead singer, 3-time Rock and Roll Jeopardy Champion winner, and Celebrity Big Brother contestant Mark McGrath and I are friends, did you? Well, I can prove it since he responded to my tweet after performing at Celebrate Fairfax earlier this month.

I think it's fair to say that we're almost BFFs. Let's set the stage so to speak. The 2018 Celebrate Fairfax festival featured a twin bill of Gin Blossoms and Sugar Ray on Saturday night. Gin Blossoms performed first and played a mix of their classic songs and new ones from a just-released album. Singer Robin Wilson has such a cool voice. After playing for about an hour, Wilson said good night and he and the band left the stage. We thought they were just doing the bit where the band leaves before the encore since they hadn't performed their two biggest songs, Hey Jealousy and Follow You Down. About 30 seconds later, Wilson came back and basically said, no, we're really saying good bye since there are thunderstorms in the area. Stay safe!

We got clarification that there were thunderstorms and it poured not too long after the announcement. (In hindsight, there would have been time for Gin Blossoms to play their last two songs, but you don't mess with safety at an outdoor concert.) After a 2-hour delay and fireworks through heavy rain, Sugar Ray appeared at 10:00. You could tell that the band was appreciative of the folks who stayed, and the people who stayed were excited to see Sugar Ray. Mark (we're on a first-name basis) really knows how to work the crowd. He admits that the band has 3-4 hit songs and is there to play these hits. (His 2013 interview in Rolling Stone shows this attitude.)

Throw in a cover of Blister in the Sun and a few lines of Sublime and you got yourself a show. He also made fun of the Gin Blossoms for leaving the stage for the pending thunderstorm and wanting the lights turned down earlier in their show since it was hot on stage, and then stuck his tongue out at Robin Wilson who was hanging out just off stage. There's definitely comradery there, and Wilson even came on and played the tambourine for a song or two. (Yes, that's Wilson next to the drums.)

(Gin Blossoms also posted McGrath and company playing Every Rose Has Its Thorn during the rain delay. Probably NSFW for a bad word or two in there.)

Every 🌹 Has Its Thorn: RW w/ #SugarRay

A post shared by Gin Blossoms (@ginblossomsaz) on

Oh, a personal highlight was McGrath emphatically stating that he is a LA Kings fan, just a few days after the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup. He got booed and gave props to the Caps, but I appreciate him not pandering to the crowd like Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Amazingly, despite seemingly everyone having their phones out during the show, I couldn't find any videos of the Sugar Ray show on YouTube. Fortunately, Jason captured a few seconds of Fly.

If you have a chance to see Sugar Ray, do it. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Father's Day Message

Pedro Tulo's preschool class created a Mad Libs type of Fathers Day card. Here is what my 4 year old gave me on Sunday:

Ah, to be 28 again where I could sleep in on weekend mornings! I'm also not sure that I'm as tall as a foot unless it's the foot that went into the shoe where the old woman lived.

I understand that my job isn't the easiest to explain, but playing bad girl games is not part of my job description, even under the other duties as assigned category. With that written, if you know of any bad girl games, please send them along as perhaps I could use them for a staff development or teamwork activity.

My favorite part of this is the play with a saw and cut answer. I don't think Pedro Tulo has ever seen me use a saw, and I definitely would not let him use one himself. Does he think we're lumberjacks?

Oh, for future reference, my hair is not blue and pasta is fine though not quite a personal favorite.

I hope you had a nice Fathers Day!

Photo from Idlewild Park via TripAdvisor.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Ultimate 2018 World Cup Preview

Welcome to the greatest World Cup preview you will read long as you're not looking for a breakdown of each individual team. Or any other analysis. Instead, this post contains random information about players and teams. For example, do you want to know what team has the most players with tattoos? I mean, I don't have the answer, but I'd like to know. Watch the 2018 World Cup over the next month, and together, we'll find out. In the meantime, enjoy all the random information you didn't know you wanted to know.

With the United States failing to qualify for the World Cup, many Americans are looking for teams to support. The answer is probably Iceland because they are the smallest country to ever reach the World Cup with a population of about 335,000 (or slightly more than Corpus Christi, Texas and Lexington, Kentucky) and are coached by a dentist. I highly recommend reading this Sports Illustrated article about Iceland and their coach/practicing dentist Heimir Hallgrímsson.

There are other options too. Costa Rica features Rodney Wallace, who grew up in Rockville, Maryland, attended the University of Maryland, and plays for New York FC. Costa Rica and Panama both have 6 players on their rosters that play in the MLS. Then there's Gotoku Sakai who was born in the tiny Japanese village of (double-checks Wikipedia) New York City, so if you want a team with an American-born player, Japan is your pick.

Maybe you want to root for the biggest stars of the sport. Well, this World Cup certainly has star power. Lionel Messi for Argentina, Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal, and Bono for Morocco. You thought Bono was touring with The Edge and company didn't you? Bono can do it all!

Let's take a closer look at some individual players.

- The oldest player in this year's World Cup is Egyptian goalie, Essam El Hadary born on ‎January‎ ‎15‎, ‎1973.

- The youngest player is Australian forward Daniel Arzani born on January 4, 1999. France's Mbappe born on December 20, 1998 and Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi born on November 4, 1998 are close behind.

- The tallest player is 6' 7" Lovre Kalinic of Croatia. Little known fact: Lovre changed his first name from Louvre so that he wouldn't be confused with the world's largest art museum in Paris.

- The shortest player is 5' 5" Yahia Al Shehri of Saudi Arabia.

- Unofficially, the lightest players are Fabian Delph of England and the aforementioned Yahia Al Shehri at 132 pounds.

- Unofficially, the heaviest player is Harry Maguire, Delph's English teammate, at 220 pounds.

- While Saudi Arabia features 9 players from Al-Hilal FC and 7 players from Al-Ahli Saudi FC, Germany has 7 players from Bayern Munich, and Spain's roster includes 6 players from Real Madrid, there is only one country with its entire roster playing in its domestic league: England.

- Speaking of England, I enjoyed mixing the worlds of sports and music together thanks to the marriage of David Beckham and Victoria Beckham of the Spice Girls. It's too bad none of the current players are married to or dating members of Little Mix or One Direction or something.

- Fortunately, Spain is here to fill the void with Gerard Pique and his partner Shakira. Unfortunately, their house got robbed recently.

- The winner for the club team with the most World Cup players in Manchester City with 16. Real Madrid is next with 15. Here are the other top teams:

Man City - 16
Real Madrid - 15
Barcelona - 14
Paris Saint-Germain - 12
Chelsea - 12
Tottenham -12
Manchester United - 11
Juventus - 11
Bayern Munich - 11
Minnesota United - 1 (Francisco Calvo of Costa Rica)

- I added Minnesota United here since the team only started playing in 2017. When I interviewed CEO Chris Wright last summer, he was still President of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx.

- Morocco has a very interesting team composition. The 23-man roster includes a total of only 6 players born in Morocco along with 8 in France, 5 born in the Netherlands, 2 in Spain, 1 in Belgium, and 1 from the soccer hotbed of, um, Montreal, Canada. And that Canadian is Bono. Again, Bono is everywhere!

- Peru is a country of 31.7 million people. Lima, the country's capital and largest city, has about 9 million people. However, of the 23 players on the Peru roster, an amazing 18 were born in Lima. That seems quite disproportionate. Meanwhile, it appears that the city with the second most World Cup players born there is Reykjavík, Iceland with 13.

- Speaking (well writing) about Iceland, everyone on its World Cup roster has a last name ending in N...except for Frederik Schram. How did that guy make the team?

- Everyone on Serbia has a last name ending in "ic" except Aleksandar Kolarov and Antonio Rukavina. New Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jon Bostic fits in perfectly here.

- We interrupt this fascinating look at the World Cup rosters with the all food team.

* Nacho Monreal of Spain
* Ruben Dias of Portugal
* Kahraba (possibly inspired by Carrabba's Italina Grill) of Egypt
* Aziz Bouhaddouz of Morocco. You're probably wondering why I'm including Bouhaddouz. This last name isn't that close to baklava or baba ganoush. Bouhaddouz is here since he plays for the Hamburg, Germany team FC St. Pauli. Hey, you need something to drink down your nachos, Reuben, and Italian food!

Back to your regularly scheduled blog post already in progress.

- Saudi Arabia has three midfielders with the last name Hawsawi: Motaz, Osama, and Omari. That won't be confusing.

- Portugal has three players with the last name of Silva: Andre, Bernardo, and Adrien.

- South Korea has five players named Kim and three named Lee.

- If your name is Jonathan Matías Urretaviscaya da Luz, you have to have a nickname. Good move by this Uruguay player to go by Urreta.

- Urreta's teammate Gastón Silva had a prominent role in Beauty & the Beast.

- The nickname of Denmark's Mathias Jørgensen is Zanka. Apparently, Zanka's nickname is from the movie Cool Runnings, where one of the main characters is named Sanka. You didn't expect a reference to Cool Runnings here, did you?

- Croatia has 5 players born in Yugoslavia. That just looks odd to read since Yugoslavia broke up in the early 90s.

- Belgium features brothers Thorgan & Eden Hazard. Since Belgium has a monarchy, it's possible that if Belgium wins the World Cup, they could become the Dukes of Hazard.

- When not writing the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, the apparently resurrected Sebastian Larsson is on the Swedish national team.

- Willian plays for Brazil while also being part of The Black Eyed Peas and appearing as a hologram during the 2008 CNN election coverage.

- Panama gets the prize for the most multi-sport athletes. Eric Davis is a defender for Panama and was all All-Star outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds. Jose Calderon is fresh off his NBA Finals loss with the Cleveland Cavaliers and future Hall-of-Famer Alex Rodriguez is taking a break from his work as a baseball analyst to play in Russia.

- Tunisia's Saber Khalifa may or may not be related famous Pittsburghers: rapper Wiz Khalifa and Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Sammy Khalifa.

- Despite being in a fairly weak group, the host Russian team isn't expected to go very far in the tournament. Therefore, don't be surprised to Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin as two late additions to the roster since they've both won Stanley Cups in the last three years. Success breeds success or winning begets winning, right?

Enjoy the games!

If you liked this blog post, please follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page for more witty (or not so witty) thoughts.

Photos by Getty Images, The Paris Pass, Shakira's Twitter account, and RussianMachineNeverBreaks

Thursday, June 07, 2018

2018 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Recap

I've written numerous Pittsburgh Pirates, Penguins, and Steelers draft recaps over the years. If this is new to you, please don't expect for in-depth analysis of the draft picks and possible career projections. Check out Pirates Prospects for that. Instead, enjoy a little light-hearted look at hopefully future Pittsburgh Pirates stars.

2nd round - Braxton Ashcraft, P, Robinson HS (TX)

I don't really have anything amusing or thought-provoking to write about Braxton Ashcroft. I just want to type Braxton Ashcraft over and over again. Braxton Ashcraft! Braxton Ashcraft! Braxton Ashcraft!

5th round - Grant Koch, C University of Arkansas
12th round - Zac Susi, C University of Connecticut
27th round - Ryan Haug, C University of Arizona
38th round - Brendt Citta, C University of Kansas

The trend seems to be to go faster and get guys who can shoot the 3, so this may be a calculated decision by the Pirates to zig where other teams zag. The Pirates drafted four college centers all from schools with impressive basketball histories. These four guys hope to match their predecessors like Wilt Chamberlain, Emeka Okafor, Cliff Robinson, Sean Rooks, and Channing Frye. We'll just forget about Hasheem Thabeet.

6th round - Michael Flynn, P University of Arizona

No one, I repeat no one made any references on Twitter to Flynn pleading the 5th, or chanting "Lock Her Up" or the fact that he might go to jail. Seems like a lot of people missed a golden opportunity.

8th Round - Zach Spears, P Miami University (Ohio)

Hit me baby one more time (is hopefully what opposing hitters are unable to do).

15th round - Jonah Davis, OF University of California

I just wanted to include him here as a personal preference. Carry on.

19th round - Will Kobos, P George Washington University

Don't blame me. I voted for Kang. (Not Jung Ho Kang, this Kang.)

31st round - Chase Lambert, SS Pepperdine University

A hard-hitting Lambert in Pittsburgh would be very, very popular.

36th round - Emanuel Andrews, OF Long Beach Poly High School (CA)

Want to feel old? Andrews was born on September 28, 2000. 2000?!?!?!

37th round - Lavoisier Fisher, OF North Gwinnett HS

Should we go with a Searching for Lavoisier Fisher reference or a pass the Lavoisier reference? Tough call.

38th round - Brendt Citta, C University of Kansas

Citta gets listed here twice for one very important reason. Little known fact that his family was the inspiration to one of my favorite 90s songs, Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger.

You can see all of the Pirates draft picks (though without my fun comments) on the Pittsburgh Pirates website.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Congrats Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals are going to win the Stanley Cup. It might happen in game five in Las Vegas on Thursday or back in DC on Monday, but it's going to happen. Teams with a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final are 32-1 with the only one being in 1942. Even with their history of losing 3-1 series leads in earlier playoff rounds, the Caps are going to win their first Stanley Cup. I've resigned myself to this and am actually okay with this. I've lived in Northern Virginia since 2001. Professional sports teams here have had limited postseason success, and this is the first time in the nearly 17 years I've been here where the city is truly excited about one of its teams. Take a look at this picture from outside Capital One Arena for game 4.

How can you get upset at this? There are thousands of people who don't have tickets to the game who just want to be part of the excitement. Many people who have never been hockey fans are totally into the Caps now. I guarantee that youth hockey participation is going to increase over the next few years as a result of this playoff run. I'm actually happy for my friends that are Caps fans who have witnessed so, so, so many failures. (Fortunately, my friends that are Caps fans are pretty rationale people, and aren't the ones saying "F the Pens.") As a Penguins fan, I haven't liked Alex Ovechkin because of his personal (not team) success against Pittsburgh. However, he really is a special player as the best goal-scorer over the last 15 years, and it's been fun seeing him out there blocking shots and playing defense during this Stanley Cup run. You can tell that he really wants to win. Matt Niskanen was great in Pittsburgh, and he capitalized on that with a fantastic contract in DC. If you're a Pens fan and don't want to see Brooks Orpik lift the Cup again, I don't know what's wrong with you. He played the 7th most games in Pens history. Plus he did this:

So congrats to the Caps and to their fans (well, at least the rationale ones) on winning the Cup. I also hope that Tom Wilson isn't able to participate in the victory parade since he's in a Vegas jail for trying to break a slot machine.

(In case you're wondering, yes, my opinion has changed some in the last month. Except on Tom Wilson.)

Photo by Monumental Sports Network.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Friday Video: Sober Up

Today's video is "Sober Up," the very cool song by AJR.

According to something called Clevver, "a dominant media brand for pop-culture Entertainment," the name AJR is based on the first letters of the first name of the three band members, Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met. Although these brothers are from New York, I think they are secretly Steelers fans, and the band name is actually a tribute the founding owner of the organization, Arthur Joseph Rooney Sr.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Why Are Women's Tennis Matches 3 Sets?

Living in the Washington DC area, the Capitals-Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup Final is obviously the biggest story in the sports world. Game one of the NBA finals between Cleveland and Golden State begins on Thursday night. We're also only a few weeks away from the World Cup, and the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates just concluded a testy series. (Start around the 1:45 mark.)

With so much going on, it may be easy to forget that the French Open is occurring in Paris. Rafael Nadal seeks is unprecedented 11th French Open title, and this tournament features Serena Williams' first Grand Slam tournament since she gave birth to a baby girl last year. There are other storylines as well (Is Novak Djokovic 100%? Can Caroline Wozniacki win her second Grand Slam title of the year?), but that's not the point of this post. With the importance of gender equality, I wonder why women's matches continue to be only best-of-three sets while men's matches are best-of-five sets.

Let's look at other professional sports. Women's soccer matches are 90 minutes, the same as their male counterparts. I believe that LPGA major tournaments are four rounds just like the the PGA tournaments, and the number of rounds for a UFC match is the same regardless of gender. While WNBA quarters are 10 minutes compared to 12 minutes in the NBA, that's not a significant difference.

Meanwhile, women's tennis matches continue to be much shorter than men's matches. Why is that? Is it because that's how it's always been done? An argument that women aren't as fit as their male counterparts to be able to play five sets is absurd. I feel like the answer is always money, but why? Going back several years, would you have not watched a Steffi Graf-Monica Seles or a Martina Navratilova-Chris Evert final that was five sets instead of three? Any tennis fans or officials want to give their opinion on this?

Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I'm Stuck

I've written this blog long enough to know that you don't care about my writer's block. Or maybe you do. Or maybe I don't actually have writer's block, but it's easier to write that two-word phrase than to explain that I have a lot of blog ideas right now, but that I actually need to sit down to write it. For example, I plan on writing a preview of the upcoming World Cup, which I promise you will enjoy even if you're not a soccer fan. I have another idea about a post about the current state of pop music. Do you have any interest about hearing how I'm about to give up on my fantasy baseball season and being a fire sale since my team isn't very good? Or how I'm playing against Josh this week in my other league? What about a post about the status of my dislocated wrist? (Spoiler: It's doing well.) Maybe an update about the kids? (Spoiler: They can be exhausting.) Is it worthwhile to share my displeasure that FOX canceled the funny LA to Vegas after its first and only season?

Really, I just need to sit down and write a post. In the meantime, I came across this video from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Besides being quite touching, I'm sharing this video because there's a chance that a friend (who I unfortunately I haven't been in touch with in years) is involved in this video. He was the creative director behind several of the What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas commercials, so I hope he's has something to do with this one too.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The End of a Fantasy Football League?

I've been in several (okay, many) fantasy football leagues over the years, but there's one I've been in for nearly a decade that may not return in 2018. Although he's not the Commissioner, there's one individual who is pretty much the main person since he's the only one that knows everyone in the league. The league wouldn't have started without him. I also like and respect this person very much.

Back in November, he posted this on the league message board:

As a Vietnam Vet, [I have] lost all interest in the NFL until Roger Goodell and the NFL learn and start complying with American Flag protocol. I regret that this will be my last year in Fantasy unless such protocol is enforced. This has nothing to do with my standings but standing up for my beliefs. I am only participating this year so as not to affect the outcome of this years competition.

There were only a few comments, some in support and others sharing thoughts about freedom of speech, the Constitution, and the reason why NFL players kneeled which had nothing to do about disrespecting the flag and the military.

On Wednesday, NFL owners "unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer." I'm trying not to get political here, but the NFL set this policy clearly because of political pressure and it doesn't hurt that the league receives millions of dollars each year from the Department of Defense for all of the pre-game flag displays and activities.

President Trump doubled-down on Thursday agreeing with the policy but then said "You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country."

That's not how this country works. Again, I don't want to be too political here, but this tweet from former NFL QB Sage Rosenfels is perfect.

Now, I'm curious to see if the policy is enough to get the fantasy football league back for another season.

Photo by Getty Images

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Sean's Ramblings Giveaway

It's been way too long since there's been a giveaway at Sean's Ramblings, so I'm really excited about this. You (yes you!) have the opportunity to win a Vremi knife set and a Vremi coffee grinder. We've had the same steak knives for as long as I can remember, so it's nice to have some brand new ones. I really like the colors too. An added bonus of the Vremi knife set is if someone is using the yellow or orange one, you can say, "That's not a knife. This is a knife!" when you're using the red or blue one!

Meanwhile, I'm probably the worst person to give any details about the Vremi coffee grinder since I don't drink coffee. I don't know how to grind coffee, and I have no idea how to use the Keurig in our house. I'll just give the company major credit for having "Bump 'N Grind Coffee Grinder" on the box. That's outstanding!

Please enter to win the knives and coffee grinder by any (or all) of the ways below. This could make a nice Father's Day gift. Good luck!

Win the Vremi Coffee Grinder and Knife Set #16

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ed Sheeran: Pittsburgher

You may have heard about the Irish ice cream shop, Gelati Enniscrone & Ballina, that created a Heinz ketchup-flavored gelato. This flavor is a tribute to singer Ed Sheeran and his upcoming Irish tour. Apparently, Sheeran is a huge fan of Heinz ketchup and even has a tattoo of the ketchup on his upper left arm.

Let's go on a tangent here. I've attended many weddings in which the bride and groom (or their families) create welcome bags for guests coming from out of town and staying at a hotel. In one such wedding,* the bag included your typical snacks and drinks as well as Heinz pickle pins. Who would have Heinz pickle pins other than a Pittsburgher? Getting back to Sheeran, it certainly seems like only someone from Western Pennsylvania with devotion to a Pittsburgh delicacy (maybe not the best term) would get a tattoo to honor such a product. Therefore, even though Sheeran is from the UK, he certainly seems like an honorary Pittsburgher. Now, Visit Pittsburgh should reach out to Sheeran to have him visit the Heinz headquarters.

Here is ketchup gelato:

* And yes the pickle pins were part of the bags at my wedding.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Quick Story

I did not work as a soccer referee at all in the fall since Luigi was born in September, and I was a little busy. Even with three kids, I planned on doing some occasional work as a referee this spring, but then I dislocated my wrist in January. My primary referee assigner contacted me a few weeks ago to see if I could work an adult game during a weekday night, and I feel like I performed pretty well, particularly since it was really the first time I truly ran in about 8 months.

For my birthday, I wanted to ref for only the second time since August. Since my birthday fell on Mother's Day (and again there's that whole three kid thing), I knew that I had only a limited window available. I found an early morning under-9 (probably 2nd and 3rd graders) girls game where I would only be gone about two hours.

It was an easy game to ref with nice players, coaches, and parents. Even the Canadian geese were pleasant enough to leave the field when I shoo-ed them off before the start of the second half.

As I left the field though, a woman called out to me. She didn't say "Ref," she said Pedro Tulo's dad. (Not his actual name.) I think I stopped and turned like Burt Lancaster did in Field Of Dreams (go to 1:35 of this video).

It turns out that the sister of one of Pedro Tulo's preschool classmates played on one of the two teams. I talked with the mom and his classmate for a few minutes including answering the little girl's question of where was Pedro Tulo. I wonder if she'll mention to Pedro Tulo today that she saw me and if Pedro Tulo will have any type of reaction.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Interview With John & Rachael of YaJagoff Podcast

I've been a big fan of John Chamberlin and his Ya Jagoff website for many years now. I even have an entry in his book, Above The Fries though I'm still waiting for my first royalty check. I've also listed to the Ya Jagoff podcast since its inception, enjoying the interviews and keeping up to date with the happenings in Pittsburgh, even though I'm not there to enjoy them.

When I dislocated my wrist in January and wasn't able to type with two hands for about two months, I knew that I wouldn't have the time or ability to write blog posts as often as I'd like. Therefore, I contacted several friends to see if they were interested in writing guest posts or get interviewed (since this meant less typing for me). John and his co-host Rachael Rennebeck graciously accepted my invitation, so enjoy this fun interview about everything you wanted to know about the Ya Jagoff podcast!

The YaJagoff blog was around for many years before the podcast began. How did you decide to start podcasting?

John: The blog started with the first blog post on 1/1/2011. The blog post was about Mother Nature being a Jagoff by having it too warm here for the Winter Classic game. The podcast started, Light Up Night, 2016. We recorded from Dave DiCello’s store. The podcast started because, I had asked for some professional advice from internationally known social media guy, Jason Falls (Louisville, KY but has a Pgh Connection). He suggested starting a podcast.

Over the past year or so, it seems like you are at a different location or event nearly every week. Is there one (or more) places you've been or events that you covered that ranks as the coolest? Any places where you thought to yourself, "Wow, how cool is it that I'm here?"

John: Funny that you ask this question. Seems like each week we say to ourselves, “Wow! THAT was a really cool episode!” For me, the 2018 St. Patrick’s Day parade was a top favorite. I have watched that parade for years and it was total cool to be IN it while podcasting. The interviews that we have been able to do thanks to our sponsor, Total Sports Enterprises have been cool.. current and past Steelers, Penguins… JuJu Smith-Schuster has been a cool interview.

Place: David Highfield’s veranda to get footage we lost from a podcast! We had a production malfunction and had to get his interview again! He was so gracious and accommodating regardless of our mistake and bc I love him!

Event: St. Patrick’s Day parade bc it has always been a family event to attend and we had the opportunity to really be part of it through our own float and with some great interviews scored with the Governor and other iconic Pittsburgh notables.

Between media figures, sports icons, and politicians, it seems like you've talked to almost all every Pittsburgh celebrity. Is there someone that has not been on the podcast who would be your dream guest?

Rachael: Dream guest: Sidney Crosby— I think if we got him we could get him to talk! He’s such an untouchable with signings but an amazing person and I think we would have a blast asking him Pgh questions!

John: Definitely!!! Michael Keaton for me! First person to ever use the word Jagoff in a major movie (I think)

Rachael joined the podcast about midway through the podcast history. How did you/she come to be John's cohost?

John: Rachael had been on the podcast as a guest in the past. We worked together on various projects during the day and it became very clear that we had a chemistry. Plus, she was a former professional reporter so there’s THAT too!

Rachael: Because I said so lol! We worked together from a marketing standpoint and had such great chemistry that we thought it just may work. Plus having a female cohort provides a unique balance...even though I’m not girly!

The two of you have a great rapport. Are you at the point where you can finish each other's _____?

Rachael: Roasted Brussels sprouts when we have time to eat? Yes! ;) and sentences!

John: YES.. oh gawd yes! And thanks so much for recognizing the rapport. That means a ton!

What's next for the podcast? More field trips planned? (Live from Jagr's house in the Czech Republic would be awesome!)

John: Funny.. Rachael is head to the Czech Republic in late June because her 14-year old son is the number 2 ranked dek hockey player in the USA. (Sean's note: I listen to the podcast which is why I knew Rachael was heading to the Czech Republic.) He’s going there to play for team USA. Hopefully she can go in undercover and get an interview! We haven’t been in the studio since May of 2017. We love doing the podcasts on site. Every week is a new field trip.

Rachael: I say a road trip is always a must! Is that an invite for us to come there?! Sure! We hope for more outreach opps with athletes to get to know their personalities and how they relate to Pgh philanthropically. We are so lucky to be in the city of champions!

Final thought:

John: The world of podcasting seems like its growing but also seems saturated at the same time. We hope that the podcast that we deliver is always fresh. The podcast as afforded us so many cool opportunities and chance to meet some great people! We just want to wake up one day just podcast…screw all of the other real-life work! lol

Thanks again to John and Rachael for answering my questions. If you live in Pittsburgh/Western Pennsylvania or just like to hear about what's going on there, I highly recommend listening and subscribing to the Ya Jagoff podcast. The podcast is available to APPLE users on the iTunes and Podcast app., to ANDROID users on Google Play Music, and to ALL users via, Stitcher, or tunein.

(Michael Keaton photo by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Youth Soccer Drama

The Moose (now 7) is now in his fourth season playing soccer for our local community association. While I coached in past seasons, I decided not to this spring due to my busy life (meaning the addition of Luigi) and uncertainty about how my dislocated wrist would heal. Anyway, the way the league works is that teams have one practice a week and a game on the weekend. For the games, teams usually "practice" for about 15-30 minutes and then face an opponent for the remaining 30-45 minutes in 3 versus 3, small-sided games.

A few weeks ago, while The Moose was on his field, the head coach was on a different field and shared this experience.

While coaching (three players) on the furthest field from entrance, a non registered parent volunteer helping the other team, attempted to physically and verbally intimidate me. It has come to my attention, post game, that he had little to no understanding of the USA Soccer/(local organization) rules for the U7 division and that he thought I was belittling the kids on his team. As most of you have been on my team for several seasons, you will note that throughout my years of coaching, I have consistently held the same expectation for myself and for my boys- promote improvement and development, safety and confidence, and above all else, respect. I take my position as a coach extremely seriously as I recognize I am helping mold a new generations character and perception of women.

Because I was vocal about the rules and insistent they be followed, this man aggressively stomped across the field, got inches away my face - while flailing and pointing in my face - spitting everywhere - and yelled "you are pissing me off, coach - you are pissing me off!" What is especially egregious is the fact that this was all done in front of six and seven year old boys. I’m baffled by the thought that anyone would consider the physical intimidation and use of vulgarity towards a woman conducive to the development of boys. There is enough negativity bombarding our children that they shouldn't be susceptible to an added amount during a their morning soccer game.

I reported the incident to (the league) as soon as the game ended and they are in the process of taking disciplinary action. This man's public demonstration of his lack of respect for women, children and a structured family setting is disgusting and unacceptable. In the same way I do not allow our boys to participate in conduct unbecoming, I will not allow myself or my team to be subjected to this kind of potentially dangerous behavior.

As I said to (league directors), if I sound like an alarmist, it’s because I’m alarmed. This is horrible behavior that should not be tolerated, especially in the presence of impressionable children. Moving forward, I would like a written apology and his suspension from all practices and games for the remainder of the season.

I want to take this opportunity to set precedence and ensure this does not happen to any parent, volunteer or (organization) employee in the future. This is supposed to be a fun game where players and parents, alike, can enjoy themselves and grow from positive exchange. I am looking forward to a resolution and am happy to answer any questions at this evening's practice.

Since I was on a different field watching The Moose, making sure Pedro Tulo wasn't running on to the field, and trying to keep Luigi out of the sun, I completely missed this. I talked with the coach about this after the email, and she shared the story with me. As a referee, I've certainly seen awful parent and coaching behavior but not for kids this young. The goal of this league is to teach the game and encourage the kids to have fun. No one keeps score during the games (well, The Moose does), and it's true that everyone seems to want the kids to have fun.

A few days ago, I received an email from the coach:

It is with a heavy heart that I notify you of my resignation as (League) Volunteer Coach for the Spring 2018 season.

I will not be back for the Fall season but instead plan to move forward with another club.

This decision was incredibly difficult to make as I recognize the timing is terrible. However, although unfortunate, I hope my resignation provides a lasting reminder of much needed change within the club.

As I’m sure you are all aware, I love my boys dearly and only wish the very best for them. I leave being wholeheartedly grateful for the experience and time shared with all of you. Thank you for placing your trust in me and for allowing me to bond with your families. I have such beautiful memories of our team and hope our boys will continue to champion through.

At (league contact's) request, if you should have any questions for (organization), please feel free to reach out to him.

What the heck? There's definitely something missing here. Anyway, the assistant coach is now taking over as the head coach and a few other parents volunteered to help out. This is definitely a strange situation though.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Sympathy For the Washington Capitals

Back in 2010 (again, this blog is old), I wrote a post celebrating the fact that the Washington Capitals lost a playoff series. Why am I bringing this up today, 8 years later? Last week, I was featured in a Washington Post article where I said I felt a little sympathy for the Caps (in response to the question of if I feel sympathy for the Caps). Clearly, I've matured over the last 8 years. That's bound to happen when you have kids. Plus, since the 2010 post, the Pens won two more Stanley Cups while the Caps still haven't made it past the second round. That definitely puts things in perspective.

Tuesday night though, I realized that maybe I haven't matured as much as I thought I have thanks to one person: Tom Wilson. Tom Wilson is not the volleyball in Cast Away with Tom Hanks or the neighbor on Home Improvement. This Wilson is a wing for the Washington Capitals and is arguably the dirtiest player in the NHL. I won't go through all of his transgressions, but just in the last two games he delivered head shots to Brian Dumoulin on Sunday, causing him to leave the game, and Zach Aston-Reese on Tuesday resulting in a broken jaw and concussion for Aston-Reese. Wilson also laughed after knocking out Aston-Reese. Good dude, right?

I'm sure Caps fans will bring (and have brought) up former Penguins Matt Cooke and Arron Asham. Cooke, like Wilson, delivered many cheap shots over the years, resulting in significant suspensions and requiring him to change how he played. Asham did this

and after the game apologized and said what he did was classless. Wilson has no remorse, saying that he plays a physical game. Caps coach Barry Trotz is standing by his player.

"Tom is obviously a big body. He’s tremendously strong and he hits hard. My first look at the hit, both guys are bracing for it. It was shoulder-to-shoulder and he just blew through him."

Shoulder to shoulder? Um, no.

Once again, I'm back to eight years ago. I haven't seen any Caps fans say that Wilson did anything wrong. One Caps fan who I'm friends with on Facebook wrote this on Tuesday night:

WOW!!!!!!!! C-A-P-S!!!!! CAPS CAPS CAPS!!!! One of the best games I’ve seen!!!!!

Must be nice to have a player on your team knock out an opponent, not receive a game misconduct or even a penalty, and then help set up the game-winning goal.

If this trip occurred in the second period of a regular season game, this is a penalty. With less than two minutes in the third period of a playoff game, I didn't expect a penalty to be called even though it was one.

On Wednesday evening, the NHL announced that Wilson is suspended for the next three games. Good. Of course, Caps fans aren't happy about this.

As long as Wilson is still on the Caps and the fans continue to unconditionally support him, there is no more sympathy.

Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Recap

The 2018 NFL Draft occurred over the last few days, and I'm here to provide in-depth coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks. And by in-depth, I mean that I provide a meaningful (or meaningless) tidbit about each player, usually based on their name.

Terrell Edmunds, Safety, Virginia Tech

What a name. Think about it. Terrell Edmunds will now be only 4th player in NFL history* named Terrell after Terrell Davis, Terrell Owens, and Terrell Suggs. All three of these Terrells are in the NFL Hall of Famer or will be one day. Actually, based on this history, Edmunds should have been the #1 overall draft pick. Sorry Cleveland Browns fans!

James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

Nate Washington had an underrated career as a Steelers wide receiver. If James Washington matches Nate Washington's stats as a member of the Steelers, well, that would be a disappointment.

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

In cold December games in Pittsburgh, it's quite possible that Rudolph will get a red nose.

Chukwuma Okorafor, OL, Western Michigan

The name Chukwuma Okorafor reminds me of Chukky Okobi, the Steelers back-up center in the late 2000s. Okobi was also a rapper with his songs appearing on his MySpace page. I really wish his MySpace page was still around. It was awesome!

Marcus Allen, S, Penn State

Incredible player, but he's 58 now and making the switch from running back to safety could be tough. I guess he'll bring some veteran leadership as a rookie.

Jaylen Samuels, RB, NC State

Samuels had a now deleted tweet from 2011 where he wrote that the Steelers suck. Hey, we all write dumb tweets when we're young. I mean, I'm sure I wrote a tweet last week that I wish I could take back.

Joshua Frazier, DT Alabama

It's extremely important that Frazier stays on his feet and helps to stop the run since you don't want him to go down.

* This may not be true, but I'm going to say it is since it sounds better for this post. Seems like Terrelle Pryor should have changed the spelling of his name to Terrell.

You can view more of my amazing draft recaps of the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Second Favorite Sports Team

Recently, The Moose (now 7) asked me to name my second favorite baseball team. I replied the San Diego Padres, he said oh, and that was the end of our conversation.

His question got me thinking. Can you have a second favorite professional sports team per sport? Almost ten years ago (man, this blog is old!), I asked who you would choose if you are forced to cheer for a professional football team other than the team you currently support. This is a variation of that question. There is nothing forced here. You probably have favorite NFL, MLB, NHL, and/or NBA teams. That is the team you always want to succeed. In many cases, there is unconditional love and loyalty involved (and the teams know this which is why they sell so much merchandise and can require season ticket holders to purchase personal seat licenses). Anyway, my first question is can you have a second favorite team? This is a team that you want to do well but who you would never support over your favorite team. My example from the 2008 blog post was the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Miami Dolphins. I'm always going to support the Steelers, but I like the Dolphins since they employed Pittsburgh legend Dan Marino as well as two people that went to my high school, Jason Taylor and Lousaka Polite. (Yes, everything comes back to Pittsburgh for me.)

In case you're wondering, the Padres are my second favorite baseball team from my time living in San Diego in the late 90s. I got to watch Tony Gwynn, one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, play regularly and followed the team as they reached the 1998 World Series, including attending a NLCS game against the Atlanta Braves.

Although they are now division rivals with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Columbus Blue Jackets would qualify as my second favorite hockey team. This has more to do with history rather than the current team as I lived in Columbus when the team first came into existence. I saw many games during the team's inaugural season while working as a beer man roaming the upper level. Geoff Sanderson, Ron Tugnutt, and Espen Knutsen for life!

Please note that I'm leaving college sports out of this discussion since there are so many schools and affiliations. For example, I support the University of Pittsburgh teams and remember going to football games at Pitt Stadium as a kid. I also attended graduate school at The Ohio State University, so I root for the Buckeyes. My brother is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island, so I was all in when the Rams were in the men's NCAA basketball tournament last month. (I could go on here about my affiliations with George Mason University, San Diego State University, Duquesne University, and others, but I'm getting off topic.)

So can you have a second favorite professional team, and if so, who are your second (and first) favorite teams?

Photos by the Miami Dolphins and Getty Images.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

You Can't Get A Slice of Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake at 4:31 AM!

Breaking news from the Fairfax County Police Department News website:

DISORDERLY CONDUCT: Fair Oaks Shopping Center (Cheesecake Factory), April 17, 2018, 4:31a.m.

Officers responded to the location for a report of a woman yelling and acting erratically. When officers tried to speak with the woman she continued to yell profanities while trying to enter the business. When officers attempted to arrest the woman, she tried to pull her arms away. The woman also spit on one of the officers. Caroline Wilson, 26, of Fairfax, was charged with assault on law enforcement, disorderly conduct, and drunk in public.

I really, really, really want to know more about this story. For example, how drunk do you have to be to not realize that Cheesecake Factory is closed at 4:31 AM? Did Ms. Wilson want a piece of cheesecake or something else? Maybe Ms. Wilson arrived at Cheesecake Factory when it was open but only decided on what she wanted to order many hours later after searching through the largest menu on the planet.

I will be happy to provide more information about this story as it develops.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Trivia Tuesday: 80s Baseball & The US-Canada Border

We haven't had Trivia Tuesday in a while, but I thought I would try it again. Today's questions are a mix of 1980s baseball trivia and items about the United States-Canada border. Good luck!

1. MLB personnel testifying at the famed 1985 drug trial of Curtis Strong included Dale Berra, Keith Hernandez, Vida Blue, and Kevin Koch. While not a player, Koch provided prominent professional players in Pennsylvania with cocaine while serving as what alliterative avian mascot?

2. The Haskell Free Library and Opera House is unusual in that the Canada-U.S. Border goes through the middle of the building. Name EITHER the Canadian province or the U.S. state that is home to this building. (Sean's Note: I just learned that this place existed and really want to go now.)

3. It is used for veterinary purposes as a hoof antiseptic and suggests that it can be used to treat eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff. But perhaps its most striking application was, in the words of author Mike McKenzie, briefly giving one future Hall of Famer "the ignominious distinction of hitting a game-losing home run" and another future Hall of Famer "a save by giving up a hit into the seats." Name this substance, now addressed in a comment to MLB Rule 3.02(c).

4. If you drive north over the entire length of Interstate 29 beginning in Kansas City, Missouri, you will enter Canada at the Emerson Port of Entry, which is located in what Canadian province?

5. He led the leader in batting average (1980), doubles (1981, 1983), and at bats (1982), but his name rarely evokes those things. Name this longtime left fielder/first baseman who is also not best remembered for being traded from the Chicago Cubs for Mike Brumley and Dennis Eckersley in 1984.

6. The border community of Warroad, Minnesota is perhaps best known for being the hometown of what American hockey player who scored four shootout goals, including the game winning goal, in a game against Russia at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics? This player played his first NHL game in 2008 for the St. Louis Blues, and currently plays for the Washington Capitals.

7. When completed, the Gordie Howe International Bridge will compete with what existing bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario?

8. He was the NL's DH for the first-ever AAA All-Star Game and reportedly the first minor leaguer to be kissed by the famed Morganna the Kissing Bandit. His brief MLB career with the Pirates and Astros was unmemorable, except that he remains, nearly 30 years later, the last left-handed thrower to play an MLB game at catcher. Name this player. (Sean's Note: This player has also been mentioned on this blog several times over the years. Actually, more than one person found my blog because they searched for "[Player Name] married" and discovered Sean's Ramblings.)

9. The only stadium to debut (and open) in the 1980s that remains an active MLB stadium is almost certainly the only stadium in the world that is 1,500 feet shorter than a building adjacent to it. Give either name for this stadium that, between 2008-13, experienced higher fan turnout for the NFL games it hosted than for its resident baseball club.

Please do not use the internet for assistance, and leave your answers in the comments section below.

These questions are from two recent LearnedLeague one-day specials. If you're interested in joining LearnedLeague, I have a referral for next season, so please contact me.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Maserati of SUVs

I'm not a car person. I just want something that is reliable and gets me where I need to go. Because of this, I also tend to ignore car commercials. However, I recently saw this commercial for Levante and it got me thinking. I'm at the point of my life where I own and need to drive an SUV since we have three kids. Maybe I've always wanted a Maserati. Now, I can have the Maserati of SUVs!

Of course, the end of the commercial I saw stated that this SUV starts at around $74K. And that's the point where I'm out. I mean, I draw the line at $72K!