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.