Wednesday, February 6, 2013

United States Falls to Honduras 2-1

The final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, known as the Hexagonal round, or Hex for short kicked off today. The United States did not not get off to a good start in the Hex today, Losing on the road 2-1 to Honduras. The US took the lead in the 36th minute on a Clint Dempsey goal, but surrendered the lead just four minutes later on an incredible bicycle kick goal by Juan Carlos Garcia. There was nothing Tim Howard could do to stop that goal. The teams headed into halftime tied 1-1. With 11 minutes to go in the match, The United State's defense broke down  allowing an easy match winner set up an easy winner for Jerry Bengtson on an empty net after Howard had to come off his line. After the game winner  Honduras spent the rest of the match time wasting, in the usual manner most CONCACAF teams do whenever they have a positive result lined up by embellishing "injuries" and taking a long time on free kicks and throw ins.

While today's loss is disappointing, it is certainly not devastating. Road losses in the Hex are expected and there are still nine games remaining before the end of qualifying. There were also a couple of positives to come out of today, first off, Sulani Gulati said that Landon Donovan is not retiring and he was just taking a hiatus. He said that he fully expects Landon to be back on the pitch wearing the Red, White, and Blue soon. Also after starting today, Timmy Chandler is now Cap-Tied to the United States, ending the guessing game of will he stay or will he go. Now in order to qualify, the United States must capitalize on their home fixtures and steal some points on the road. There next match is on March 22, at home, now a must win game for the United States before travelling to Mexico to play in Azteca one of the most difficult places to steal a point. In  order to prevent themselves from falling into a huge hole, making it very difficult to qualify, the United States must get three points against Costa Rica.

The United States full Hex schedule is as follows:

February 6th at Honduras L 2-1
March 22nd vs Costa Rica
March 26th at Mexico
June 7th at Jamaica
June 11th vs Panama
June 18th vs Honduras
September 6th at Costa Rica
September 10th vs Mexico
October 11th vs Jamaica
October 15th at at Panama

The top 3 teams automatically qualify for the 2014 world cup while the fourth place team plays the Oceania champion in a playoff and the winner of that also qualifies for the World Cup. Provided the United States plays like they are capable, they shouldn't have a problem qualifying for the World Cup, although they likely won't win the Hex like they did in 2010 qualifying, they should come in second behind Mexico.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The 10 Greatest Calls In Sports History

Recently, a friend and I got into a conversation about the greatest calls in sports history and I thought it would be good material for a new blog post despite not posting on here in almost a year. With many of the best moments in sports, in addition to remembering the moment, we remember the call that accompanied it. There are multiple calls from great moments that I can recite from memory. So I have decided to compile a list of the greatest calls.

Before we can list what the greatest calls in sports history are, we must figure what exactly makes a call great. To me, the following criteria combine to make a great a call:

  • The moment: The greatest calls of all time need a great moment to go along with it, these usually involve important games ending in dramatic fashion. A groundnut to the second baseman in a random baseball game in June is not going to have a memorable call to go with it, a game winning home run in the world series on the other hand has much more potential to have a great call. 
  • Genuine Excitement: Whats taking place on he field in front of the announcer is exciting; the fans are excited, the players are excited, those watching at home are excited, the announcer should be excited too. Even more importantly  the excitement should be genuine and not artificial. Joe Buck is terrible at this, which is disappointing, because Joe Buck finds himself Calling many of the momentous sporting events. Joe Buck either has no emotion at all or it all seems artificial.  

Joe Buck calling one of the best moments in Super Bowl history. Terrible, just terrible.

  • A Way With Words: The most memorable calls all have a classic line that everyone remembers. The best announcers even in the most intense moments just have a way have a way of saying something brilliant that people remember. 
Without further to do, I present The greatest calls in sports history. 

Honorable Mention: Vin Scully calls Sandy Koufax's Perfect Game, September 9th, 1965. I list this as honorable mention because its different from all of the others, while the others focus on one single moment, this is an entire inning. Vin Scully is without a doubt one of the greatest announcers ever and appears on my list multiple times. This call displays Vin Scully's utter brilliance, it is like listening to Shakespeare, it is poetic. I love how he mentions the time several times throughout the inning, it adds another dimension to this brilliant call.

Sit Back and Listen to Perfect Game Poetry by Vin Scully.

10. Jack Buck calls Ozzie Smith's walk-off home run in 1985 NLCS game 5. Jack Buck delivers a classic one liner in this memorable call.

Go Crazy

9. Howie Rose calls Stephane Matteau's game winning goal in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. Howie Rose is probably my all time favorite announcer. I grew listening to him call Mets games on TV and later on the radio. Known primarily for his work with Mets, his most famous call came with the rangers. Some people might say he is being too much of homer, however I will take this level of excitement and emotion over the bland Joe Buck any day.


Side Note On Howie Rose: For a true display of his brilliance, take a listen to this from May 1st, 2011. The New York Mets were playing the rival Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday Night baseball. During this snippet, Daniel Murphy is at Bat, he hits a foul ball, takes strike 2, and takes ball 2. From the game, that is all that happens, however while this is going on the biggest news story of the year breaks. Howie Rose is able to alert those listening to the death of the most wanted man in the world while simultaneously not missing a beat in the action on the field. (Note this is not part of the countdown just an aside on Howie Rose's brilliance in the booth.)

8. Tom Cheek calls Joe Carter's walk off home run to win the 1993 World Series.  "Touch em all Joe, You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life". A world series ending on a walk off home run deserves an equally impressive call and Tom Cheek does the moment justice. 

Touch em all Joe!

7. Joe Starkey calls "The Play". Probably the single craziest play in the history of sports is paired with an announcer who is fittingly, going crazy. There are laterals, a band on the field, just complete and total chaos unfolding, and through it all a game winning touchdown and The Bears win.

The Band is Out on The Field!

6. Ian Darke calls Landon Donovan's game winning goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup. This has the distinction of being the only call on this list that I was fortunate enough to be able to watch live. I remember sitting on my couch, hopeless as the United States was mere minutes away from elimination and then going absolutely crazy when Landon buried the game winner. One of the greatest moments I ever watched live and Ian Darke serves up a great call to go along with it. 

You Could not write a script like this!

5. Dan Davis calls the "Hail Flutie" Anytime there is a game winning hail mary, it is naturally exciting and the announcer is equally excited. This Call is simple yet great.

He Did It! He Did it!

4. There are two calls coming in at number 4, both from the same play. Vin Scully and Bob Murphy call  the infamous Bill Buckner error from Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.  As a Mets fan, this play holds a special place in my heart. Luckily, we have not one but 2 fantastic calls to remember this great Moment in Mets History.

Vin Scully's Call

Bob Murphy's Call

3. Again, we have two calls of the same play coming in at number 3. Vin Scully (Of Course) and Jack Buck call Kirk Gibson's Home Run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Both of these calls contain memorable lines. Like The Buckner play, both of these calls are great in their own right and memorable.

Jack Buck's Call

Vin Scully's Call

2. Russ Hodges calls "The Shot Heard Round The World". This call is the definition of excitement, I can picture the announcer jumping up and down while excitedly yelling "The Giants Win The Pennant!" over and over. This is one of those sports moments where the call became bigger than the moment itself. The call is what makes this moment live through time.

I'm Not sure, but I think The Giants won the Pennant.

1. Al Michaels calls the Miracle on Ice. It is fitting that the greatest moment in sports history is accompanied by the greatest call in sports history. This has everything, The moment could not be any better, the genuine excitement is definitely there and to bring it all together, the greatest single line from any call ever. So here it is, the greatest call in sports history.

Do you believe in miracles?

So that wraps up my list of the greatest calls in sports history. I wonder what this list will look like 50 years, when there are even more moments to choose from (provided we get rid of Joe Buck calling the World Series, The Super Bowl etc.) and all the great calls get better with age as the folklore surrounding the moment grows even more. I hope you enjoyed my list, even if you disagreed with my order, or exclusion of something. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2012: The Year without A Winter

Sorry for the lack of posting over the past month. In addition to sports, one of my major interests is the weather, this is the reason I am Penn State majoring in meteorology. Enjoy my first non-sports related blog post about the winter, or lack there of, in The United States this year.

For much of the United States, the winter of 2011-2012 was nearly nonexistent. Many places had significantly less snow than normal along with temperatures way above averages for this time of year. After the wint er 2010-2011, this came as welcome change for some parts of the country, particularly the Northeast. Last year cities on the Eastern Seaboard got pounded with major snowstorm after major snowstorm. This included the Boxing Day Blizzard, which dumped up to 30 inches of snow in many areas including New York City (I measured 27 inches in Brooklyn, NY). After this, more massive snowstorm moved through the area, New York City had multiple storms in excess of a foot of snow. There was over a foot of snow on the ground throughout much of the City from December 26th through mid-March. This year I came out to Central Pennsylvania for college and after last winter was expecting the worst.

As we approached winter, a sign came in October that made me think just how bad this winter was going to be, it snowed in late October. After the late October snowstorm, which left 8 inches of snow across Central Pennsylvania, I thought “the worst” that I was already fearing was much worse than originally thought. However as the winter progressed, the worst never came. Throughout winter, the late October snowstorm remained the largest snowfall of the season. There was only one other significant snowfall over the course of the winter which left behind about 6 inches of snow. Temperatures were well above average for most of the winter across much of the Eastern United States. Personally, I only needed to wear my big heavy winter coat around a dozen times or so throughout winter. In New York City, this February had an average temperature of 40.9, the second highest average temperature since records began in 1870 and every day in February except for a mere two days had temperatures above their daily average.

There are many factors that contributed to the warm temperatures and thus the lack of snow. One of these and perhaps the most important is the Arctic Oscillation Index. The Arctic Oscillation Index is a representation of the behavior of Arctic air. Arctic air masses that descend from the North Pole, or from Siberia in a cross polar flow, bring frigid cold temperatures. When these cold and dry air masses come in contact with moisture they can bring heavy snow in addition to the frigid cold temperatures. The Arctic Oscillation Index denotes the behavior of this Arctic air, when the index is positive, the cold air remains at the North Pole. When it is negative, the frigid Arctic air is released from the pole and descends upon the Northern hemisphere. Here is the trend the Arctic Oscillation Index has followed this winter (black) along with its forecast gathered from many different computer models (red).

Aside from the dip below 0 in late January – early February, the index has remained positive for all of winter. That dip along with the peculiar shape the jet stream took on is what caused the massive cold wave that hit Europe in late January – early February, which set record lows all across Europe and even brought snow to the Sahara Desert, for only the second time ever. In order for cold to descend, there needs to be a big dip, a trough, in the Jet Stream. Europe was trapped in deep trough in the Jet Stream for a few weeks. Whereas the Jet Stream over North America remained more stagnant with only small troughs which moved out pretty quickly. The Jet stream acts a boundary between air masses and blocked the Arctic air that descended upon Europe from descending upon North America as well.

The winters of both 2011 and 2012 are both very memorable for people in America, especially the Northeast, and for completely different reasons. The winter of 2011 was one of the snowiest and most tedious winters in recent memory, with multiple storms that brought snow in excess of a foot, as well as “snowmaggedon” which brought up to 30 inches to some spots. Meanwhile 2012 will be remembered as the year without a winter, and record high temperatures. In the first week of January alone, there were 1,500 daily temperature records set across the United States. After the brutal winter of 2011, the nonexistent winter of 2012 was a welcome change.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rest In Peace Joe Paterno

News came out that Joe Paterno has passed away today at age 85. One day Joe Paterno's name will be fully cleared, but the the world lost a truly great man today. Here are some pictures that represent some of the great things that were seen today and throughout his life. (I do not own any of these pictures.)

Joe Paterno began his football career as a quarterback at brown.

Joe Paterno in his early years at Penn State 

Joe Paterno gets carried off the field after winning 1 of his 2 National Championships.

Joe Paterno named sportsman of the year.

Joe Paterno opens the gates onto the field at Beaver Stadium.

Joe Paterno gets carried off the field after his 400th career win.

Joe Paterno was immortalized outside Beaver Stadium.

Joe Paterno leaving Beaver Stadium.

Students, alumni, and fans payed tribute to the fallen Paterno.

Candles were lit at the base of the statue.

Rest In Peace Joe Paterno 1926-2012

Rest In Peace Joe Paterno 1926-2012

God gave Joe Paterno one last Whiteout in Beaver Stadium .

Bear Bryant greets Joe Paterno in Heaven.

Joe Paterno walks through The Gates Of Penn State Heaven.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Joe Paterno Is Still Alive, Media Credibility Dead

At around 8:45 pm on January 21, 2012 CBS reported that Joe Paterno had died, the report even contained an exact time of death. Shortly after CBS reported this, Onward State passed this information onto its followers, most of whom are Penn State students, alumni, and fans. Consequently both Twitter and Facebook exploded with the news of Joe Paterno's death. Within minutes Joe Paterno was the number one trending topic on twitter (two hours later as I write this, it still is). Everyone thought he was dead, for the next twelve minutes anyway.

 At 8:57 pm the first sign of doubt arose on twitter New York times reporter Mark Viera  Tweeted "Dan McGinn, the Paterno family spokesman, at 8:57 p.m. on reports about Joe Paterno's death: "Absolutely not true." This news took longer to spread then the news saying that he was dead. Over the next half hour this story  slowly got noticed. It was passed on by The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC, and many others followed up with this report. This cast doubt upon the story originally laid out by CBS. Most people however still believed he had passed away. Shortly after that, Jay Paterno tweeted "I appreciate the support & prayers. Joe is continuing to fight." and Scott Paterno tweeted "CBS report is wrong - Dad is alive but in serious condition. We continue to ask for your prayers and privacy during this time." Once these tweets spread and reached major outlets and the masses, the rumor was officially debunked. It took some time for this message to get out, but Onward State almost immediately after the Paterno tweets apologized for their error and declared Joe Paterno is still alive. Word spread quickly and about an hour after it came out, the rumor was dead as was CBS’ credibility.

Once word came out Joe was still alive, CBS had an opportunity to apologize and try to redeem themselves, instead they managed to dig their own hole deeper. Once receiving the information that Joe Paterno was alive, Onward State almost immediately swallowed their pride and apologized for their false report, later their editor in chief resigned. Onward State is primarily ran by college students and they showed more maturity and accountability than CBS, a large, trusted, national news station. CBS took a different course of action, their first step was to say there previous story saying Paterno is questionable, despite it already being proven false. Once they finally realized the report was false, CBS could not simply swallow their pride and admit their error, instead they decided to play the blame game. Their next move was to blame Onward State for their misreport, despite the fact CBS reported his “death” before Onward State. CBS has also never revealed its source for their story, yet they blame someone that reported after they did as misinformation from their source. CBS has now stopped trying to blame Onward State, presumably because people saw through their shenanigan. This saga is not over for CBS there is understandably outrage directed at them for such a horrible erroneous report. Heads at CBS should roll for such a horrible display of ethics and journalism. Joe Paterno did not die tonight, but the credibility of CBS along with the fundamentals of journalism did.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Long Brutal Wait Is Almost Over!

In about a month, Pitchers and Catchers will report to Spring Training. The first teams have players arrive on February 18th and the last on February 22nd. The worst portion of the year is almost over, the baseball off-season. The torture is almost over baseball will soon be back, We only have to wait 76 more days until Opening day.

As a baseball fan, I am eagerly waiting opening day so i can watch my favorite sport and my favorite tem, the Mets, again. Also as a Met fan, I hope for the best but I am expecting the worst. The Mets now play in one of if not the toughest division in baseball. The Mets have had a less than stellar off-season. The Mets lost the defending batting champion, Jose Reyes, the spark-plug of the Mets offense. Their acquisitions have not been too impressive either. Many fans (including myself) are calling for the Wilpons to sell the franchise. This will not be a fun year to be Met fan, this year will be filled with low attendance and losses. The one advantage to this is tickets on StubHub will be going for dirt cheap.

Here is the Mets projected opening day lineup:

1. Torres CF
2. Murphy 2B
3. Wright 3B
4. Davis 1B
5. Bay LF
6. Duda RF
7. Thole C
8. Tejada SS
9. Pitcher

The Pitching rotation should look something like:

1. Santana
2. Dickey
3. Neise
4. Pelfrey
5. Gee

This a disappointing team the bench and bullpen still need working out. Definitive players on the bench would be Turner and Satin. Notable relivers include Parnell, Rauch, Acosta, Byrdak, Beato, and Corrasco. It will be a long year for Mets fans, but it does not matter to me. After losing Reyes, I already declared this year a loss for the Mets, I am already looking forward to 2014. Hopefully by then names like Cory Vaughn, Reese Havens, Wilmer Flores, Matt Harvey, etc. will be in the mix and putting up big numbers in Queens. As a baseball fan first, I just want to be able to watch baseball again. Unfortunately, I find it very hard to believe the Mets will finish any better than last in the NL East.

My projected NL east final standings:

1. Philadelphia Phillies 
2. Miami Marlins (WC)
3. Atlanta Braves
4. Washington Nationals
5. New York Mets

It will be a miserable season for the Mets, but I still anxiously await Opening Day, I really miss baseball.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bill O'Brien Hired As Penn State's New Head Coach

Finally, after two months of rumors and names flying around, Penn State has a new coach, Bill O'Brien, the current offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. O'Brien is coming into one of the most unique and challenging coaching situations. The Jerry Sandusky allegations has left a black eye upon the university and the majority of Americans currently have a negative view of the University. Aside from all this, the Penn State Football program will go on, and on the field, might be his biggest challenge. Bill O'Brien is tasked with the tough task of replacing one of the greatest college football coaches ever, the legendary Joe Paterno, and all 409 of his wins. Perhaps most challenging of all is the continuation of the grand experiment, the combination of academics, success, and most importantly honor. 

So far, my overall impression on O'Brien has been positive. He has said all of the right things, but in the long run the performance on the field is what matters. Bill O'Brien was definitely not my first choice to become head coach, that was Tom Bradley. However despite many fans immediately coming out and stating that they did not    like the hire, he will do just fine as coach. These fans like myself, would have preferred someone from Paterno's system, however that era is over. In one of my previous posts I defended Paterno stating his innocence and that he was wrongly fired. Despite Paterno being wrongly fired, Penn State Football must move on, the Paterno era is over. It even appears that Jay Paterno will be on his way out as well. It is a premature end, but it cannot be changed so now we welcome in the O'Brien era.

I believe O'Brien will be a good coach at Penn State. Success will not be immediate, but it will come. The 2012 football season will not be one for Penn States record books, nor will the new recruiting class. 2012 will obviously be a major transition for the Nittany Lions and although they will not contend for a BCS birth it could be one of the most important in the teams history. The team and its new coaching staff needs to put all of this negativity associated with the scandal and move on into the O'Brien era. The Paterno era is prematurely over but the O'Brien era is beginning, let Bill O'Brien's march toward 410 begin. (I don't actually believe he will go on to win that many, in fact I hoe Paterno keeps that record forever .) O'Brien's most important task however is not winning games, it is carrying on the grand experiment and making sure Penn State remains along with BYU as the only schools to win a national championship and never have an NCAA violation.