Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Is Tim Tebow's Wife A Pirates Fan?

Tim Tebow is not very popular in Pittsburgh. He led the Denver Broncos to an unlikely victory against the Steelers in a January 2012 playoff game. I'm not going to dwell on that game or the fact that Ryan Clark and Maurkice Pouncey didn't play and the entire Steelers defensive line got hurt during the game. Instead, I'm going to focus on this picture of Tebow and his wife, Demi-Leigh Tebow.

Apparently, the Tebows hosted a Celebrity Gala and Golf Tournament over the weekend at TPC Sawgrass in Florida. Demi-Leigh is a former Miss South Africa and Miss Universe titleholder. I mention this since I don't believe she has any ties to Pittsburgh. I mean, I guess it's possible that the Tebows have a home or vacation in Pittsburgh, but I feel like I would have heard about that. So why does it appear that Demi-Leigh wore a Pirates hat at the event? Maybe this is some type of play by the Tebows to buy the Pirates from Bob Nutting. Maybe she's a big fan of Gift Ngoepe, a South African native and the first African-born player in MLB history who played 28 games on the Pirates in 2017. Or maybe she forgot a hat, and the pro shop had a sale on Pirates hats. Whatever the reason, the baseball season starts this week so Let's Go Bucs! 

Photo from Demi-Leigh Tebow's Instagram account.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

My Ray Bourque Hot Take

I’m going to be a sports blogger today. Specifically, I’m going to be a hockey blogger. After a multiple-year hiatus (stupid Covid), the hockey road trip returned this year with a stop in Denver to see the Colorado Avalanche. I’ll probably have multiple posts about the trip over the next few weeks. Today, I want to write about this.

Pictured are retired numbers of Colorado Avalanche players. The one that jumped out to me is #77 Ray Bourque. Bourque is one of the greatest defensemen in the history of the National Hockey League. He played nearly his entire career in Boston and was traded to Colorado to give him a chance of achieving a Stanley Cup championship. Even though he was at the end of his career, the trade was a really big deal. I think most Bruins fans are and were disappointed that Bourque didn’t play his entire career in Boston, but are and were happy that he won a title. 

Bourque played 14 regular season games for the Avalanche in 2000 after being traded from Boston tallying 8 goals and 6 assists. He then played 13 playoff games as the Avalanche lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Dallas Stars in the conference finals. The next season, Bourque played 80 regular season games and helped lead the team to the title with 4 goals and 6 assists in 21 playoff games. Overall, Bourque played 93 regular season games and 34 playoff games in Colorado. So my question is why is his number retired?

I understand that Bourque is a Hall-of-Famer and helped lead the team to a Stanley Cup title. However, this was not the team’s first championship and his tenure was less than a year and a half. Since I’m a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, my comparison to Bourque is Bryan Trottier, who won 4 Stanley Cups and a Hart Trophy as league MVP during his Hall-of-Fame tenure on the New York Islanders. Trottier joined the Penguins at the age of 34 before the 1990-1991 season and played 115 regular games with 20 goals and 37 assists over two seasons (and played another 41 games in the 1993-1994 season). More importantly, Trottier played 44 playoff games in the 90-91 and 91-92 seasons with a combined 7 goals and 7 assists and earned two more Stanley Cup titles. With players like Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, and Jaromir Jagr among others, Trottier wasn't close to being the team's top star, but he brought leadership and experience to the Penguins like Bourque did to the Avalanche. The difference is that it's likely that the Penguins organization probably never considered retiring Trottier's number. (The fact that the Penguins have only retired two numbers could be a topic for a completely separate post.)

Two other thoughts from the game. First, defenseman Cale Makar scored the game-winning goal in overtime. Even though he's only in his fourth season, he's done significantly more on the ice in Colorado than Bourque. Retire his number now!

Second, Peter Forsberg, another player who (deservedly) has his number retired was in attendance. He could easily pass as a social studies teacher or history or psychology professor now!   

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

An MTV Station Showing Music Videos

There was a free preview of several television stations last week including HDNET Movies, Sony Movies, and the Smithsonian Channel. There really wasn't anything on any of these channels worth watching or recording, but I decided to check out the station MTV Live. This station had a novel concept. It showed music videos.

For those of you under 25 (who am I kidding? No one under 25 is reading this!), MTV, short for Music Television, launched in 1981 and played music videos. The station added other shows over the years and pretty much abandoned showing videos. VH1, or Video Hits 1, emerged a few years after MTV and still played videos after MTV stopped, but they also chose other programming over videos. (RIP VH1's Top 20 Video Countdown). So I was excited to see a station showing music videos again.

Over about 30 minutes or so, I saw videos by Taylor Swift, several K-Pop bands, and other bands/artists I've never heard of. There was a new video by Limp Bizkit that wasn't terrible. Please don't consider that last sentence an endorsement. There was also this cool looking video by Julian Lennon, WHO is ROLLING like STONES as the son of a famous British musician. (See what I did there?)

I checked out the station the next night and saw some of the same videos again. And commercials. I quickly realized that MTV made the right decision not airing music videos anymore. While I still think there is value to a video countdown show, few people are going to sit and watch random videos with commercials breaks as long as YouTube is around. Or just about anything else airing or streaming.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

The Tennis "GOATS"

My friend Josh of Josh's World and I collaborated on this post about the best modern male tennis players. This all stemmed from Novak Djokovic winning his 10th Australian Open and his 22nd Grand Slam and Cory Giger, the Penn State University beat writer for DKPIttsburghSports, to post this tweet:

While I'll give Cory the benefit of the doubt that he means the best men's player, it's the last sentence that bothered both me and Josh. Is Djokovic the GOAT? Maybe. Probably. To unilaterally declare him the GOAT and write that it's silly to deny this is in my opinion, silly. Rod Laver won all four Grand Slams in a single year twice, but since he's before our time, I guess that means he's automatically out of the conversation. I mean, it's absolutely silly to consider anyone from the 60s better than modern-day players. I'm sure that's why people say that Bryan Reynolds is better than Willie Mays. What about Rafael Nadal? He has the same amount of Grand Slams as Djokovic, but what makes Nadal unique is that he's a clay-court specialist. Clay-court specialists aren't supposed to win 8 other Grand Slam events. Nadal is also the younger player in the Open Era to win all four majors and has two gold medals, one from the 2008 Olympics in singles and a second from the 2016 Olympics in doubles. On the topic of doubles, Nadal has 11 career ATP doubles titles while Djokovic has just one more doubles titles than Cory. Oh, Djokovic is 30-29 all time against Nadal. Yeah, that's clearly one-sided and makes him the GOAT, right? Why don't we get really silly here and say that Carlos Alcaraz is the GOAT since he's undefeated against Novak? Sure, it's only one win, but Djokovic has never won against arguably the best young player in the world.  But who is the GOAT? Josh and I decided to settle this debate once and for all. Naturally there are caveats. As I wrote, Rod Laver won all four Grand Slams in the same year, twice. He played in the 1960s. Tennis was a totally different sport then. If you sent Jack Sock (currently ranked #141) back to that era, he probably dominates. Players now are just bigger, stronger, faster than back then. Plus the equipment is incredibly better. That means we have to break this into time periods. We are looking at the top ten greatest players of the modern era. We did not have a specific year, but it felt like John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, and Björn Borg were the last players from the pre-modern era (also it may be fun to do that top ten list sometime). Sean’s Note: I just want to share my objection that McEnroe and Conners aren’t on this list for being considered a different era!
Honorable Mention There are three players who are so close to being in the top ten, but they just did not have the resume. -Goran Ivanišević-He won one Grand Slam, while being runner-up three times. He played evenly with many players in the top ten, minus Pete Sampras. He has also been Djokovic's coach since 2019. -Andy Roddick-Another guy who just played during the wrong time. One Grand Slam, five time runner-up. He just never fared well against Roger Federer (3-21), but at least he had a winning record against Djokovic (5-4). -Michael Chang--The youngest to ever win a Grand Slam. He was 17 years 3 months when he won the French Open. Chang was runner-up three times, and like the other two, he just could not win against the other guys on the list.  #10 - Boris Becker

Josh: Boris Becker is probably the guy most fans hated back in the day. It was always nice to root against him when he faced off against Agassi or Sampras. He probably helped kick off the youth movement that ushered in a few of the other guys on this list. He had a powerful serve, and always seemed to be everywhere on the court.
#9: Jim Courier

Sean: I remember hearing a story about a US Olympic athlete being at the opening ceremonies right by the Dream Team. He was going to share his amazement at being next to legendary basketball players like Jordan and Bird to another Olympian, only to discover that that Olympian was Jim Courier. This story might be completely made up and I don’t know who it was, but it’s still fun. #8: Andy Murray

Sean: Andy Murray is fascinating. If he played 10 years earlier, he might have 8+ Grand Slams. Instead, he seemingly could never beat Djokovic, Federer, or Nadal in a big match. He also hasn’t been able to stay healthier than his compatriots. He’s exactly one week older than Djokovic and one year younger than Nadal, but he seems much older and doesn’t come close to threatening to win a Grand Slam. #7: Stefan Edberg

Josh: The only think I remember about Stefan Edberg is that he did not have the hardest serve, and that he played an older style with more spin. But he was athletic and managed to be all over the court after he served.
#6: Ivan Lendl 
Josh: Much to Sean’s chagrin, I made a decision to include Lendl and a few others, but cut off McEnroe, Conners, and Borg. My weird cutoff was players born after 1960. Lendl played against those guys, and he had a great record against them, and then was still good against the guys after him. Probably why he is called the “Father of Modern Tennis.” 
#5: Andre Agassi
Josh: Andre Agassi was my favorite back in the day. My uncle is the one who got me into tennis, and he was an Agassi fan. Oddly enough, my parents also loved Andre Agassi. I felt like back then that it was a fairly even match between him and Pete Sampras, but looking at the stats, it is clear that I was fooling myself back then. #4: Pete Sampras

Sean: Sampras was my favorite. While Agassi was flashy and exciting, I gravitated to Sampras who just went out there and won. Josh: I think you can figure out who the top three are, and honestly, I think you can make an argument for any of them to be number one. 

#3 Rafael Nadal

Josh: I have always loved watching Nadal play. I think it is the fact that he wears gym shorts and cut-off shirts, while Roger would be rocking a sweater polo. I also love how dominant he is on clay. He has won the French Open four times without losing a set. He is 112-3 there, so impressive. Sean: Nadal is my favorite of the top 3. I would put him at #1 just because I like him more than Federer and a lot more than Djokovic. #2: Roger Federer
Josh: There was a period of time where I barely watched any tennis, I would say it was when Agassi and Sampras were waning in their careers. The only event I watched each year was Wimbledon, and I remember seeing the rise of Federer, and after he won five in a row, I just assumed he was the best in the world. A few years later I started watching more and realized the men’s circuit was at another level.  #1: Novak Djokovic

Sean: I think Djokovic is a jerk. He got disqualified from the US Open for hitting a linesperson with a ball. I know it was an accident, but that’s not going to happen to anyone else on this list. He got deported from Australia for breaching the country’s border rules. He called out Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles after their open mental health challenges during the Tokyo Olympics, and then had his own meltdown throwing and breaking a racket in the bronze medal match (which he lost). Yes, he’s the best ever, but I don’t have to like him. Josh: Djokovic has a winning record against Nadal and Federer. He can win on any surface. In 2021, he even beat Nadal at the French Open, something that seemed almost impossible. Sean is correct, Novak is a jerk, but this is not a list of top ten nicest guys in tennis, Sean's final note: Josh really did the heavy lifting on this post. He did significant research looking at head-to-head match-ups, career titles, and made the rankings. (There's data to show his work if you really want to see it.) Josh also got all of the pictures (free photos via wikicommons) and put together all of the graphics. I really just shared the introduction and added occasional thoughts.

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Ramblings Round-Up

I usually call these posts "Random Ramblings," but I thought I would mix things up a little today. 

* Earlier this year, we took the kids to see Newsies Jr. at our local middle school. The kids really liked the live performance and the show. Since that time, we have watched both the 1992 Newsies movie (starring Christian Bale) and the Broadway theater performance of Newsies (starring fellow Ithaca College graduate Jeremy Jordan) on Disney+. I mention all of this because I want to take the kids to more live theater and shows. So over the weekend, I took The Moose and Pedro Tulo to the Kennedy Center to see the world-premier of The Mortification of Fovea Munson. It's a musical based on the book of the same name about a pre-teen who works in her parents' cadaver lab. It's a very cute and sweet (and funny) show. 

* I need to take a recertification class and pass a test each year to be a soccer referee. Since COVID began, everything is online. There are certainly benefits to this format. You can break up the learning modules and test over days or weeks and take them at your convenience. The drawback is that I was used to taking a 5-6 hour class every year in December and being done. Without the structured and set class, I only just earned my recertification, so I was ineligible to work any games until now. 

* The focus of the referee class this year was on the behavior of coaches. There is little tolerance for any referee abuse or questioning of calls from coaches or team officials. One warning and then cards come out. I also found it amusing that the US Soccer Federation regularly included a slide showing former national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann seemingly complaining.

* In honor of having a Kohl's credit card for 23 years, the store sent me a $5 coupon and 30% coupon. Will I receive a gold watch for 25 years?

* We receive a weekly report about The Moose's online activities. While he generally spends much of his time on YouTube and ESPN, last week, he visited Redfin multiple times. I had no idea he was in the housing market as a 6th grader!

* Our cat Ziggy now throws up every 2-3 days. He definitely didn't do this when he was younger. While I should probably contact the vet about this, do you find this concerning?

* Finally, The Moose was all in for the women's college basketball conference tournament games last weekend. Because of this, please join the Sean's Ramblings Group Women's NCAA Tournament group on ESPN, and I'll probably create an Oscars pool just for fun too.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Pinewood Derby

When I was in Cub Scouts, I only remember participating in the Pinewood Derby once. I was in a head-to-head race against a kid a grade behind me. I lost. To this day, I’m convinced that he either pushed his car or started early which would have led to a disqualification or at least a do-over.* It did not. He was declared the winner, and I never really thought about the Pinewood Derby again…until several months ago.

When Pedro Tulo joined Cub Scouts this school year, the Pinewood Derby was listed as one of the featured activities. At a late fall pack meeting, we received a box containing the car. And by car, I mean a block of wood, four tires, and four nails. What was I supposed to do with this?

I have no recollection of making a car as a kid, and I had no idea how to make a car as an adult. There is a wood shop at the local Scouts camp, but we weren’t available during any of the open time slots. Fortunately, the dad of another scout had some equipment, so we went over to their house. We spent at least an hour essentially cutting the block of wood in half and then sanding down the rough edges. So now we had half a block of wood, four tires, and four nails.

I bought a weight specifically used for Pinewood Derby cars, and we screwed it into the top of the wood. I learned that the key to doing well in the Pinewood Derby is to have a car as close as possible to 5 ounces, so we just painted the weight hoping that it would blend in. 

Then, we (well, I) managed to get on the wheels. The night before the race, we took the car to the test track and early check-in. The car weighed 4.95 ounces and successfully crossed the finish line every time. This was a huge win. Not a huge win is that I realized in the middle of writing this post that I don't have a final picture of the car. We were unable to participate in the race itself due to a prior engagement/celebration, so the den leader currently has Pedro Tulo's car. With the exception of a few more stickers and some more paint, this is close to the final version.

I have a video of the race, but I feel like I'd need consent by the dozen or so scouts/parents in it in order to share it. You're definitely not missing the most exciting 7-second video in history. Here's a still shot though.

Pedro Tulo's car won! (Assuming that you don't count the other car not pictured that finished before his car.) While I'm glad that I was able to spend time with Pedro Tulo building the car, and I think he enjoyed the experience (especially going shopping for stickers), like the overnight campout, this is another Cub Scout activity that is certainly out of my comfort zone.

* While it's quite possible that the Pinewood Derby race track in 2023 is the same as it was when I was I kid, I don't remember an automatic start. I feel like we were supposed to just let the car go at the same time, and that's why I think I lost from the other kid cheating. Now, you just put your car in position, and someone essentially flips the switch to start.