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!

Top Sports Documentaries

These are some of my favorite sports documentaries of all time. I’ve tried to include many different sports in this list but I’m sure I left some out so let me know if I forgot any of your favorites!

1. Undefeated

This documentary won an Oscar for Best Documentary and it’s not hard to see why. It follows an inner city high school in Memphis that’s run by a volunteer coach. The stories of these individual players is so touching and interesting. It just gives audiences a lot of insight into the struggles that these kids have to deal with. This is a documentary that’s pretty impossible not to cry over.

2. Baseball

One of the best documentaries about baseball and an extremely long one at that. It’s a very in depth look at the history of baseball. It makes sure to stick as close to the dates and important decades in the sport as possible. As a whole, it’s just a fun documentary that teaches you a lot about all of the players and dates that are significant for baseball.

3. The Endless Summer

A timeless documentary that changed the direction of surfing documentaries right around. It takes a unique first person point of view that had a way of making audiences feel that they were actually apart of the story. Bruce Brown’s approach to filming and narrating in this feature in general was something that we hadn’t yet seen. He also showed that the theory “less is more” can be a relevant one when used by the right filmmaker.

4. Hoop Dreams

This is a long one but it’s far from boring, the length is perfect for you to get involved in the lives of these two high school basketball players who have dreams of playing in the NBA. That plot sounds like a simple one, what basketball player doesn’t have that dream? But as you take a closer look, you realize the racial and economic challenges that these two African American boys have to deal with. It becomes a lot more about their lives outside of the sport and that’s what keeps you at the edge of your seat the entire time.

5. 30 for 30: Fab Five

ESPN 30 for 30 films never disappoint. They always manage to tell such fascinating stories from various points of view. This one in particular revealed a lot about how these underprivileged boys were given the opportunity to play basketball at Michigan. At the time, they came off as being “cocky” and “punks” but this gives us more insight as four of the boys (Chris Webber didn’t want to be apart of it) were interviewed as well as other coaches and reporters around during this time. I gained a lot of respect for them after watching this and seeing how much they truly changed culture and what people thought about them.

6. 30 for 30: Into The Wind

30 for 30 isn’t typically known for being so emotional and heartbreaking. Most of the time, just the facts are being presented and it isn’t exactly tear jerking. However, this story about Terry Fox is bound to make even the hardest of hearts shed a few tears. Canadian Terry Fox was a big runner when his leg was amputated at the age of 19 because of cancer. In 1980, he ends up running across Canada on one leg. His relentless work ethic and pure love for running is so heartwarming and inspiring.

7. We Could Be King

An inspiring look at two Philadelphia rival schools being forced to combine their football programs due to budget cuts. The horrors that these kids go through is really emotional. One of the boys Dontae is a big guy who is extremely sensitive and it breaks your heart when the boy struggles with reading out loud. The coach himself is also an inspiration, he began helping these boys after his close friend was murdered. He wanted to help these boys get away from the realities of their lives and focus on the sport they all love.

8. The Battered Bastards Of Baseball

The Portland Mavericks were an independent team owned by Bing Russell, father of actor Kurt Russell who also did some acting himself. The movie is hilarious but also touching to see these underdogs rise to the top in such hilarious fashion. The people interviewed including Kurt Russell, a batboy, players, coaches, Kurt’s mom, and many more give us new dimensions to the story.

 

My Favorite Things: Sports Edition

So guys, these are a few of my favorite things as far as it goes with sports. Feel free to comment on my favorite teams, athletes, sports, etc.

Sport to watch: Football, baseball, and basketball.

Sport to play: Basketball

Baseball team: Pittsburgh Pirates

College basketball team: WVU

College football team: WVU

NFL team: I don’t really have any one team that I love. I just like watching any team in general.

NBA team: Cavaliers

Active NFL player and why: J.J. Watt, Brandon Marshall of the Bears, and Russell Wilson. I love J.J. because he seems so down to earth and even though he’s crazy rich, he acts like a normal guy and doesn’t think he’s better than anyone else, he’s also hilarious. Brandon Marshall because he’s open about his struggles with mental illness and I respect that a lot. Wilson because he was really underestimated when he first became the quarterback for Seattle but he managed to get his team to back to back Super Bowls at such a young age. He’s also crazy humble.

NFL player of all time: Lawrence Taylor, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Jim Brown. I think each of these guys made history with their methods of playing football and they will go down in history for that reason.

MLB player and why: Andrew McCutchen because he has such an awesome personality and attitude about life. The guy is always smiling and you have to respect the way he just turned around the Pirates organization in such a positive way.

MLB player of all time and why: Babe Ruth obviously and I love Sandy Koufax too. Ruth made a crazy impact on the game of baseball in such an intense and awesome way. Koufax had an unconditional way of pitching that was dominant and earned the respect of the world.

NBA player and why: LeBron James and Jeremy Lin. James has done so much for his hometown and I really respect his attitude and passions. Lin came out of nowhere to become a respectable NBA player.

NBA player of all time: Jerry West, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson. I’m biased about Jerry West since he’s from West Virginia and I’ve done reports on him before. But he’s a very down to earth and humble guy. Jordan and Magic are both classic players for what they were able to do. Jordan is obviously the best basketball player of all time because he paved the way for so many other players.

I think my list of favorites is a rather basic one but I put a lot of thought into it also. I think it’s important to have players and teams to follow and look up to as they play the sport that you love. So I hope that you learned hopefully a little more about the athletes and teams that I look up to the most.

Spotlight On: Tim Riggins

Him in that football uniform...

I talk about Friday Night Lights a lot. It’s one of my favorite shows of all time. I think what I love so much about it is how incredibly complex every single character on the show is. They all have more to them than what meets the eye, and that fact is very true when it comes to Tim Riggins. Riggins starts out the show as being this ragged looking guy who doesn’t get along with his teammates and doesn’t care about much at all besides booze and girls. We then learn more about how he lives with his older brother Billy and doesn’t have any parents around that truly care about him. He’s a solid football player but it’s also pretty obvious that his football days won’t go beyond the high school level.

Tim definitely isn’t the most charming of the Friday Night Lights boys. Matt Saracen, the quiet guy with a crush on the coaches daughter who also takes care of his Grandma full time, takes the most charming award by far. But there’s something about Riggins that appeals to audiences. He’s honest and he doesn’t care what people think about him. He does his own thing and people are into that. He becomes a much more likable and charming guy as the series progresses.

Some of the other characters may lose their charm, but Riggins simply becomes more relatable and charming. At one point, he is staying with the Taylor family as he gets back on his feet. He and Julie end up going to a party together and Julie winds up getting drunk. Tim takes her home and takes care of her but Eric walks in and sees them together and automatically assumes that Tim is taking advantage of her and kicks him out of his house. This is obviously a lowpoint but it also shows the more caring side of Tim. He doesn’t defend his actions although he wasn’t in the wrong in this situation. Instead, he handles the punishment that he doesn’t deserve which shows his maturity.

Even though I enjoy his moments of rebellion in terms of entertainment purposes, his more sensitive caring side is who he is. When he and his brother get caught for the chop shop Billy started in order to provide for his family, Tim takes full responsibility for it. Despite the fact Tim just got thrown into the whole thing, he knew that he owed his older brother. Billy had a family to provide for and he couldn’t go to jail so Tim, without any hesitance, went to jail without his brother knowing anything about it.

All of these examples prove that Riggins is a character who isn’t just attractive, he also has a good heart who does what he has to for the people that he loves. I can’t help but love his drunk and just flat out hilarious moments just as much as his others. This proves that he’s a multidimensional character which is really explored throughout the series. As Tim would say, “Texas forever.”

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!

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.

Sports Fashion In Movies

Okay stay with me here, it may seem weird to get any type of inspiration from characters in movies about sports. However, if you want a little bit of a sporty look, these can be some cool suggestions to take notes from! I tried to make this gender neutral. Basically, it’s more about the comfort that these characters provide then looking super fashionable.

Dottie Hinson from A League Of Their Own

Dottie from A League Of Their Own has an effortless tomboy look that is pretty chic and awesome. She also has really great hair that you probably wouldn’t want to have today when playing softball or whatever sport you play, since you’re bound to get that gorgeous hair extremely dirty. But hey, it’d look just as great pulled back as well. I love the uniforms that they wear in this movie although they are definitely more than a little bit outdated. I still think they look beyond cool.

Lizzie Bradbury from Wimbledon

Kirsten Dunst also has perfect hair in this movie. Her character has a fairly simple style as a tennis player. But again, her hair looks awesome and I really love her skirt. Plus, her scarf in the first picture also proves that the character herself has a great sense of style. You can look athletic on the court, and be a fashionista off the court and I love that fact.

Missy Pantone from Bring It On!

Okay, so this one is on a more goth route than the other two for sure. But I thought it’d be best to represent a lot of different styles and this is certainly mixing the list up quite a bit so why not? I picked to talk about Missy because I already talked about one character played by Kirsten Dunst so I figured this was the best choice. Plus I dig how different Missy is from other characters. She auditions for the squad in the outfit that can be seen here in the first picture. Then she has a transformation in a sense, and becomes a cheerleader. However, she doesn’t become preppy by any means. She still keeps her attitude throughout the movie which is great to watch. And I love the personal addition she adds to her style. Missy is definitely the coolest cheerleader in movie history.

Best Sports Blogs

For those that love sports, it can be important to find the right sports blogs to keep up with and get the latest news stories. Most of us already have our favorite websites already discovered, but here are some other suggestions. These may be ones you already know so in that case, just ignore me! I just thought it’d be a good topic to discuss here and share some of the sites that I get a lot of my personal sports coverage from. If you can think of any other blogs I missed, be sure to let me know!

Bleacher Report

This is a good tool for having some of the best and most unique lists that focus on some of the hottest topics and players in every sport. It also has specific news and you can add your favorite teams and get the latest updates sent straight to your phone so you never miss out on any stories.

Grantland

Probably my personal favorite because it manages to talk about the latest news in sports but it also has pop culture news too. I think it does a great job at being well rounded and not being strictly sports. So if you’re a person that likes hearing stories and interviews about the latest movies and TV shows, definitely check this one out if you aren’t already. I find myself constantly checking this website because it’s such a great source.

SB Nation

This is another one that does a good job at focusing on particular sports and you can pick your favorites. It also has specific blogs for different teams which I find really cool and helpful. This is definitely a good source and it also has scores which is always a good source if you’re on the go and can’t watch a game.

ESPN

Okay this one is super obvious. However, it’s also essential when you’re talking about websites that cover sports. This is the obvious source for the latest scores and news going on in the sports world. Sometimes it can be annoying when certain stories that you want to read are for ESPN Insider users only. That’s why you should also take advantage of some of these other blogs that cover pretty much the same information except maybe with just slighter different points of view.

What Makes A Good Athlete

What makes a good athlete? Well, that right there is the million dollar question. I don’t really have one simple and straight forward answer to that question. Here are some qualities that I personally believe are important. Take my opinion with a grain of salt. What I think may not be similar to what others say at all.

1. Team player

A good athlete makes choices based on the good of his whole team. They do whatever needs to be done with little to no complaints.

2. Being a leader

If you want to be a star athlete, you need to have the gift of leading. This is one of those things that you pretty much have or you don’t have it. Yes, you can work on becoming a stronger leader. But you have that natural talent of leading, you just become more mature with time.

3. Dedicated

You need to be beyond dedicated to your sport. You want to get continually better. You also desire playing your sport of choice pretty much all the time. You can’t just play it sometimes, there has to be a high level of dedication to it.

4. You have to love it

This is basically a given, if you don’t love something, you’re probably not going to be very good at it. This is mostly due to the fact that you will most likely dread playing the sport so loving it is a big factor in how good you will potentially be.

5. You have to balance fun and serious

Having fun with your sport of choice is important. If you take the sport too seriously, it becomes less of something that you look forward to. However, you have to take your sport seriously and not as if it’s completely a joke. So there’s got to be a balance which can be a hard thing to do. But I think if you take all of those above qualities, then you also will have some ability to balance both fun and serious.