SPORTS TALK: A championship banner reveal…what could go wrong?

by James McCarthy- April 8, 2018

You ever see the movie Finding Dory? I have because I have kids.

The ending of the movie is pretty tame but try and get your hands on the Swedish version and you will snort your morning coffee when you see the final frame. I’m not giving any hints nor will I ruin the fun for you. It’s worth it and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hanley Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox did his best Babe Ruth impression on April 2 and made a young fan very happy. photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Anyway, on to other things which were worth the wait, especially in Houston:

It’s only a banner

Major League Baseball’s 2018 season is off and running and with it came the Houston Astros being able to celebrate their World Series triumph last November.

As is the custom, the reigning champs unveil their championship banner as soon as they can host their first home game and the Astros did just that in front of a sold-out and noisy home crowd on April 2. Didn’t go as planned, though.

Once the announcement was made by the team’s public address announcer, everything was supposed to go into motion with the fireworks and grand unveiling. The curtain covering the banner didn’t co-operate as it didn’t unhinge itself at first, setting off a cacophony of scrambling with one person running up a ladder to try and get the banner and someone or some people below it with leaf blowers trying to blow it off.

I kid you not – this was probably one of the funniest and most embarrassing things that could have happened. Some of the Astros players, notably Justin Verlander, couldn’t hold back the giggles as they watched from the first base line. Yeah, I snickered a bit as well. Thankfully, the dastardly curtain was whipped off and the crowd burst into cheers, some of which I think was for the crew that helped get the banner uncovered.

But if you look close at the video, you would have noticed a banner which poked fun at the 2017 Super Bowl, which reminded people that the Atlanta Falcons held down a 28-3 lead against the New England Patriots before blowing it big time and losing. Reminders, reminders.

What’s the big deal?

Some people think there are these unwritten rules in sports that need to be followed. Chance Sisco of the Baltimore Orioles apparently broke one of those rules on March 31.

The Orioles were playing the Minnesota Twins that day and were losing 7-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning. Sisco came up with one out and everyone at Camden Yards that day thought the Orioles would simply play out the string and try again tomorrow.

Sisco, though, laid a bunt down the third base line with the Twins infield playing the shift and easily reached first on a bunt single. Smart play, I say, and more players should be doing it. If the defence is going to play you that way, play them right back. Besides, I’d want to at least try and win the game. That’s why you play. Can’t do it if you don’t have runners on base and a seven-run deficit has been overturned more than once in Major League Baseball history.

Some of the Twins didn’t like it – pitcher Jose Berrios told reporters that what Sisco did wasn’t good for baseball. Whine me another one, Jose. The Twins acted like a bunch of punks who got outsmarted by the pipsqueak.

Simple solution: don’t play the shift then. Sisco simply took advantage of the Twins’ setup and exploited it. Hell, I’d do it, too. As I said, if they were going to play the shift, play it back on them. And if the Orioles had come back to win – which they didn’t – Sisco would have been the catalyst.

Babe Ruth would be proud

Remember that time when Babe Ruth promised to hit a home run for Johnny Sylvester in 1926? I don’t but it was a great story and it apparently spurred Sylvester on to a full recovery from what was ailing him in a hospital bed.

Hanley Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox just became the new Babe Ruth when he promised a young fan in Miami his jersey if he hit a home run against the Marlins on April 3. You knew it was going to happen because things like that always have a way of playing themselves out.

The look on the young fan’s face is priceless and once again shows that yes, there is still plenty of good in professional sports.

And finally …

Good Idea: Nah, I can’t do this.

I’m just going to dive right into this (pun firmly intended) because it needs to be named and shamed. In fact, this one needs to be put in lights and given its own sign like the one in Hollywood.

It’s from a few weeks ago – March 20 to be exact and I couldn’t get to it because I was busy making the Arctic Winter Games look good with the help of Cody Punter, Paul Bickford and Dylan Short – but it’s still worth derision.

Our flopper this time is Jean Meneses, a striker who plays for the Universidad de Concepcion soccer team in Chile. They were playing Colo-Colo in a game that day. Meneses had the ball in the Colo-Colo penalty area and fell. Not from anything that touched him. He just fell. And was awarded a penalty. And then scored the winning goal on the ensuing spot kick.

Now, as bad as that was, Meneses wasn’t even embarrassed by it. No, he actually said the following in a post-match interview:
One has to take advantage of the fact that attackers cannot be touched inside the penalty area. So I played with a little bit of vividness and let myself fall.”

The next time someone tells me soccer players are unfairly maligned because of diving, I will point to this quote and tell them to get stuffed.

Until next time, folks …

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