May Theme

Wow, I can’t believe that May is already here. Finals are just around the corner (Monday and Tuesday for me) and that’s just crazy to me that I’m already nearly finished with my first year of college. So I’m off to a late start for the month of May and I contemplated not doing a theme at all. But then I realized that sticking to one theme for the whole theme has helped me become a lot more organized and consistent with my blog posts so I might as well continue doing them. So this month I’m going to talk about underdogs: the washed up, those that have all the odds against them, and just those that you can’t help but root for and be inspired by. Some of these underdogs don’t ALWAYS win, but you always want them to due to the fact that they never give up. Some other words to describe them and just general words to think about this month are: outcasts, misfits, freaks, geeks, weirdos, round pegs in square holes, rebels, and dreamers. Basically the best way to sum up this month is this quote from Apple,

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

So this is the quote that helped me come up with this theme because it’s a quote that I come back to fairly often. Underdogs seem to have the whole world against theme but somehow they manage to find something or someone to believe in and they find a way to reach some level of success. Some of the things I’ll be talking about this month include: Broadway musicals, Disney movies, books about the world being against you, movies about finding a way to overcome, and also a few rad playlists, one of which will definitely be for those of you studying for finals. Plus there will be many more things that are going to be a surprise so stay with me this month!

Sidenote: Since I’m a day late getting started, I’ll also put my first post that should have been today sometime later on in the day so I don’t get too behind with my posts.

Best Longform Sports Stories

1. Mike Tyson

I love this story about Mike Tyson. Sports Illustrated uncovers all of Mike Tyson’s boxing success- beginning to end. He even mentions some of his later work, like his brief appearance in the movie The Hangover. I think he does a great job at really digging deeper into all of these decisions made by Tyson and just respecting what a good boxer he is. It’s definitely something sports fans should read.

2. Watching Rocky II With Muhammad Ali

This is Roger Ebert’s interesting encounter with watching Rocky movies with the greatest boxer of all time. Muhammad Ali is hilarious throughout Ebert’s story, at one point he relates to Rocky’s opponent Apollo. Apollo is the heavyweight champion who is taunting Rocky in the ring. I think Ali has a great sense of humor and I love this story.

3. Young, Gifted, and Homeless

I love how this article talks about some famous successful athletes who have openly talked about their past with homelessness. Sports Illustrated asks, “Well it’s great that these guys who are now successful are talking about it, but what about the kids living through it now?” They explore a high school boy who sees sports as an escape from his life of being homeless. And he’s not alone, the article also discusses the fact that this is an issue that’s only gotten worse over the years. It’s interesting to see things from their points of view.

4. The One And Only

This is a rather depressing story about Dan Marino and how he never won a Super Bowl. His one and only chance of winning one was against Joe Montana and the 49’ers. The Dolphins seemed to be on top but the 49’ers came back in the second half and pretty much blew Miami out. It was devastating to Marino and it still haunts him to this day. He figured he’d get a chance to go back considering he was still young at the time, but he never did. I just thought it was really interesting how such a successful quarterback considers himself not the best because he never won a Super Bowl.

5. Following Terry Fox

I’ve already talked about Terry Fox- a Canadian who ran across Canada on one leg raising money for the Cancer Foundation. However, this is a more recent article that shows the impact that this one man had on millions of people. The documentary began to touch on the reaction from the people who began paying attention to what Fox was doing, but it failed to really go in depth and tell the stories of people that Terry touched. Even after he died, his legacy continued to live on and it’s still doing just that even today. You’ll definitely be inspired after reading this.

6. The Man In The Van

Easily the best baseball profile I’ve read so far during this early start to the official season. The opening line of the story says it all, “The future of the Toronto Blue Jays wakes up in a 1978 Volkswagen camper behind the dumpsters at a Wal-mart and wonders if he has anything to eat.” It really paints a picture of how Daniel Norris is receiving so much hype about what he does on the field but off the field he likes living the life of a minimalist. It isn’t a dramatic story but it’s a fascinating one that really kept me interested in his story.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates Updates

So I’m already getting a little bored/not sure what direction to go in with this theme. So I figured I’d just stick to talking about what I know best, sports! Okay, I don’t know as much as I would like to but it’s something I enjoy talking about and there’s a lot of news to uncover in it. So right now, I’m going to talk a little about the Pittsburgh Pirates. The organization was fairly respected back when Barry Bonds was on the team. But it gradually went down over the years and didn’t show any signs of hope until a hot prospect from Florida named Andrew McCutchen began playing for the Pirates and they really ended up building the team around him. He’s definitely a star and this season, he’s started out as good as ever, except Saturday night he set himself out of the game in the 9th inning due to a knee injury. However, he’s shown that his knee is better and has started since that night. McCutchen has previously started out pretty much every season ready to go and hasn’t in general been setback by injuries. Fingers crossed that this lucky trend continues.

We all know the potential that McCutchen shows and has shown these past 7 seasons, there are also other players on the Pirates team that should also be singled out. The Pirates have one of the best outfields in the MLB right now. One of those spots obviously belongs to Andrew McCutchen but younger players Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco take the other two spots. Marte is one impressive player and has showed tremendous growth as he enters his third full season of playing in the big leagues. He has a ridiculously high number of home runs and steals, plus his on base percentage is also good. Polanco was one of the best minor league players and moving him up to the big leagues was a smart move to say the least. He’s still getting his footing in the big leagues but that doesn’t say he isn’t impressive, he certainly is and he probably has the most room left to grow out of these three guys.

Josh Harrison is one of my personal favorite players besides McCutchen. Harrison has never been a big all-star or a guy who’s received a lot of hype. He’s a player who worked his way out of the minors gradually. I remember him a couple of seasons ago only being in the game when he was a pinch runner during the games. He’s come miles since those days. However, he still has been thrown around to practically every position out there on the field, which goes to show you how adaptable and talented Josh is. He’s just a quality hitter who has the ability to sneak up when you least expect it and get a home run out of you. He’s certainly a big time threat and I love how humble he is.

There are many other players that I want to talk about. I’m just going to mention some other key players including: Pedro Alvarez, Jordy Mercer, and Neil Walker. These are all guys that are okay and pretty good infielders (Alvarez is the one who notably has some crazy random errors every now and then) who are even better hitters. Walker and Mercer aren’t known for being as powerful as Alvarez (nicknamed El Toro because he’s so strong and awesome) but they are still solid players that the Pirates depend on. The Pirates are still working out the whole catcher situation since losing one of the best catchers around Russell Martin.

I haven’t gotten the chance to touch on all of the starting, relief pitchers, and closing pitchers that I really want to. So I’m just going to save a whole post to talk about that situation. But this is what I’ve come up with so far so I hope that gives you an introduction to the Pirates that you may (probably not) want to know in case you end up watching a game or something like that. But anyway, I’ll shut up now but thank you for reading my rambles!

Why I Love The Fierce Five

When the Olympics was happening a few years ago, I was the same age as the gymnasts on USA’s team. I was blown away by the talent level of girls that are my age. Basically, the whole time the Olympics was going on, I was watching the gymnastics coverage every chance I got. Looking back on it now, I wonder what drew me to this sport that I don’t typically have much interest in.

My answer is that during this time period, I just found it suddenly fun to watch. I’ve always been interested in watching swimming during the Olympics, largely due to the attractive swimmers. But I never found the gymnasts all that relatable. These five girls were definitely girls I could relate to. For the most part, they were just normal girls, giddy to be in London. They were starstruck over some of the star athletes, and definitely over the big celebrities who tweeted about them. They all had big and awesome personalities that seemed really down to earth.

At the end of the day, I think the Fierce Five really changed my perspective on gymnasts in general. I always knew that they worked hard to get where they are, but watching them made me realize all that the girls had to give up to get on the Olympic team. Gabby had to move away from her family in order to train with a more serious and professional coach. None of the other girls had easy rides to the team either, they all had to work their way up the ladder in an extremely short amount of time.

The world of gymnastics is a competitive and cruel one. It’s really a sport that takes a toll on your body and wears you down. Why else would only those between the ages of 16-19 (sometimes about 20) be able to compete? Now I’m just rambling, but my point is, these girls really showed my generation that we can all make something of ourselves. Your age isn’t something that defines you, you’re never too young to do anything so go after your dreams no matter what!

Muhammad Ali Quotes

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Arguably the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali was never shy. In fact, he was positive that he was the greatest long before anyone else paid any attention to his skills. We could all take some notes from Ali when we’re feeling a little low on our self-confidence. Here are some quotes to provide you with some motivation.

1. “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

2. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

3. “It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”

4. “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

5. “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.”

6. “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

7. “Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.”

8. “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

9. “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

10. “A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

10 Best Baseball Movies

If you can’t already tell based on my posts so far this month, I really love baseball. It’s one of my favorite sports and I also enjoy all movies about the sport. These are my personal favorite movies that are about the game I love so much.

1. The Sandlot

This movie shows the sport in the most innocent and honest way. It’s just a group of young boys who love baseball. They play the sport just for fun in a sandlot. Only one of the boys is actually any good at the sport. Like most movies about baseball, it’s about so much more than just that. We get to watch these boys come of age and interact with each other. It’s such an uplifting and timeless movie.

2. Field Of Dreams

This is a classic movie about Ray, a farmer in Iowa who begins hearing a voice whisper to him, “If you build it, they will come.” He then sees a vision of a baseball diamond and builds a baseball field by plowing under his corn. The famous deceased baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson begins showing up, and only Ray can see him. He soon realizes this is happening because of his father, whom idolized Jackson. His father has previously passed away and didn’t really have a good relationship with his son. All in all, the movie focuses a lot on our dreams (obviously) and that sometimes you just have to put your trust into another person, even when you don’t know what the outcome might be.

3. The Natural

Roy Dobbs was an upcoming star pitcher who was full of potential. One night, a woman lures him into her hotel room and shoots him. After that, Dobbs goes off the grid for 16 years. He starts to play the game again sixteen years later, at the age of 35. He was considered “The best that never was,” and he tries to prove that name wrong. This movie is just one of those feel good movies that you can’t help but love. It’s extremely inspirational and you can’t help but love the charm of Robert Redford.

4. A League Of Their Own

A powerful tale about women playing baseball while the men are away in the war. It’s interesting that something that takes place decades before is still relevant to us today. The movie has an all star cast, which only makes the story more intriguing. Tom Hanks stars as their drunk washed up manager, even Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna make appearances as two other players on the team. The movie never gets old.

5. Bad News Bears

Bad news bears 1976 movie poster.jpg

Walter Matthau plays a former minor league player who’s now an alcoholic who cleans swimming pools. He gets recruited to coach the least athletic players in the league, one of them just so happens to be his son. This movie is a classic because of the acting and the story is original and hilarious. Tatum O’Neal is amazing in this movie, her performance alone is worth tuning in to this one. Be sure to stay clear of the Billy Bob Thornton remake, the original is obviously better.

6. Bull Durham

Another movie starring Kevin Costner but this is one of the most beloved sports movies of all time. It tells the story of an older and mature player being asked to mentor the big upcoming star pitcher. I think the big reason why so many people love this movie is because it’s a lot about life and love, not just baseball. It’s a classic and timeless story that never gets old.

7. Bang The Drum Slowly

Bang The Drum Slowly stars a young and unknown Robert DeNiro. Two years after this movie, he won an Oscar for his role in The Godfather Part II. We all know what a great actor he is but it is pretty awesome to see his early work. He plays the role of Bruce, an uneducated catcher who finds out he has a terminal illness. The movie focuses on his relationship with his pitcher. It’s the baseball version of “Brian’s Song” except even better. It’s not overly cheesy, it’s just a naturally emotional story.

8. The Rookie

Dennis Quaid stars as Jim Morris, who is a real person and was briefly but notably in the major leagues for one season. Morris was supposed to be an incredible major league player. A shoulder injury shatters that dream and he hangs it up and makes a family. Slowly, he makes his way up throughout the movie until he finally reaches the major league. This is an uplifting movie that shows that dreams can come true no matter what age you are.

9. Moneyball

This is the true story of Billy Beane, the manager of the Oakland Athletic’s. This movie has become so popular in the past few years because it gives some insight into the operations behind professional baseball. Basically, Beane gets help from Peter Brand, a young graduate from Yale who has a degree in economics and has unique ideas about the values of players. Working with a limited budget, the two figure out their roster by taking these players that nobody wants and discovering those players strengths.

10. 42

This recent film looks at the life of the classic baseball player Jackie Robinson. There were many African American players who were good enough to play in the major leagues, who were around before and the same time as Robinson. However, Branch Rickey singled out Jackie because he believed he had the guts not to fight back. It’s a really compelling classic story that we all know but it’s beautiful to watch this come to life.

 

Best Sports To Play With Others

Playing outside with your friends is a lot of what my childhood consisted of. It can be so much fun to still relive that fun every now and then and play those games with your friends! I’m a firm believer that you’re never too old for any of these outdoor games.

1. Kickball

Playing kickball outside was one of my favorite things in elementary school. I was by far the least athletic but it’s still fun to play a game with all your closest friends.

2. Four Square

This game isn’t physical so it was perfect for my awkward and non athletic self. It was such a fun game to play while on the playground in elementary school and middle school. What I love about four square is that you’re never too old to play it.

3. Jumping rope

This isn’t a sport but it’s definitely a workout. This was one of my favorite activities on the playground because it was one of the only ones I was actually good at. Jumping rope is also the most fun when you do it with other people. Double dutch is by far more challenging but it’s also just a fun way to get involved with your friends and do something productive.

4. Basketball

Playing pickup games of basketball with your friends is one of the best bonding activities in my book. I think this one is so great because you never grow out of it. There are guys that are still forty years old and they play pickup games with their buddies as a way to get some exercise and also some interaction with your best friends. It’s fun because there’s not a bunch of rules, you just play the game you love with little interruptions.

5. Ultimate Frisbee

Some people might automatically think this is lame but it’s also an active sport that involves lots of movement. I think it’s a fun use of your time. Plus you do have to be at least a little bit coordinated and athletic. But if you’re not, that’s not a big deal. The game was meant for all people and this is one that I personally think is one that everyone should play once or twice every once in awhile with their friends.