The American Cool

A look at the style icons, brands, and attitudes that define the American man

Archive for the 'sports' Category

It’s Almost Kentucky Derby Time

Friday 6 May 2011 @ 12:57 pm

kentucky derby by ralph steadman

The 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is tomorrow. That means mint juleps, crazy hats, and of course some of the finest horse racing in the world. This year’s favorite is Dialed In, at 4 to 1 odds and with a very favorable 8th post from the rail. Famed jockey Calvin Borel didn’t get a mount until late and will be riding 30 to 1 longshot Twice The Appeal (who, oddly enough, has twice the appeal now that he’s being ridden by Borel) on the 3rd post and will be trying not to get squeezed to the inside. My pick is going to be Stay Thirsty, a horse with all the class and style of a Dos Equis commercial. He’ll pay well if he wins, at 30 to 1 odds.

The Kentucky Derby is as much about tradition and pageantry as it is about horse racing. The uber-rich party and hob-knob with the blue collar horse racing fans, and everybody gets drunk. Whether you lose 50 bucks tomorrow or cash out for a cool million, it’s bound to be a fun time. Here’s Kentucky-native Hunter S. Thompson’s take on the derby, from an article published in the short-lived Rolling Stone spin-off Scanlan’s Magazine. This was the first time Thompson and his famous British illustrator Ralph Steadman worked together. Thompson’s writing and Steadman’s art are now so associated with one another it’s hard to imagine one by itself.

Tagged as: hunter s thompson, kentucky derby, ralph steadman

Why Andre Ethier Can Never Be The Next Joe DiMaggio

Wednesday 4 May 2011 @ 12:32 am

Last night, Los Angeles Dodger Andre Ethier collected a hit for the 28th consecutive game. That marks the halfway point to Joe DiMaggio’s unattainable record of 56. It’s fitting that a Dodger is chasing this record, as they’ve historically been the National League rivals to DiMaggio’s Yankees.

No matter what Ethier does, and chances are incredibly slim that he even approaches the record, he will never be what DiMaggio was. Joltin’ Joe was one of the last golden boys of American sports. Mickey Mantle was too much of a partier, Muhammad Ali was too outspoken, and Barry Bonds was too pumped full of unnatural substances. DiMaggio was the man who succeeded in sports, was loved by the media, and got the girl everyone wanted.

DiMaggio has been gone for twelve years now, but even decades before that he had us all asking “where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?” The line, taken from a Simon & Garfunkel song, symbolized the loss of innocence in the American spirit and the crushing of our ideals. The fairytale marriage had failed, his ex-wife eventually took her own life, and all we were left with was the memory of a record that not even Andre Ethier can ever take away.

Tagged as: andre ethier, baseball, joe dimaggio, los angeles dodgers

The Always Quotable Muhammad Ali

Saturday 30 April 2011 @ 4:44 pm

Frazier is so ugly that he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wild Life.

I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I’m in a world of my own.

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

“You lose nothing when fighting for a cause … In my mind the losers are those who don’t have a cause they care about.”

Tagged as: boxing, muhammad ali, quotes

The Brady Bunch Reminds Me Of Vintage Surfing

Saturday 30 April 2011 @ 4:44 am

I was watching an old episode of The Brady Bunch today (I guess that’s redundant, as all episodes have been “old” for the past 30 years), and I was reminded of how popular surfing became in the 1960’s. Even before the emergence of the hippies in California, young people were flocking to the Cali shores to see if they could hang ten.

Here’s a video of the 1966 World Surfing Contest. Note the incredible babe at about 4:15 in. I hope I don’t ruin anything by reminding you that this woman from the 1960’s is now in her sixties.

Tagged as: surfing, the brady bunch, video, vintage

Happy Patriots’ Day – Enjoying Morning Sports In Boston

Monday 18 April 2011 @ 10:14 am

carl yastrzemski

Carl Yastrzemski

Patriots’ Day is a special day in Boston and in the world of sports. Officially, the day marks the recognized anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the start of the American Revolution. To those who are in Boston on the occasion in the middle of April each year, Patriots’ Day means the Boston Marathon and Red Sox baseball in the morning. This is the only game in the Red Sox schedule that starts at 11:00am each year.

Since 1968, the Red Sox have celebrated this special day for New England with the only baseball game on the official schedule that starts before noon. The timing of the game means the runners from the marathon start to filter through Kenmore Square during the 5th or 6th inning. The Boston Marathon used to start a little later in the morning, so the runners would be coming through Kenmore Square at about the same time Red Sox game was ending.

There’s something special about sports being played in the morning, especially in New England. I realize that these games probably don’t get the same viewer share on NESN because lots of people are at work, but it also reminds us of how sports used to be in America, before the proliferation of massive stadium lights and the television sets that made night games so much more profitable.

Tagged as: boston, carl yastrzemski, marathon, patriots day, schedule, starting time

A Tradition Unlike Any Other – The Masters

Thursday 7 April 2011 @ 7:10 pm

I’ll be the first to admit I am not a huge fan of golf. The game is frustrating to play and at times boring to watch. Even a non-fan like myself can appreciate the history and tradition behind The Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club each year. Augusta National is one of the most exclusive golf clubs in the entire country. In fact, they’re so exclusive they’ve been sued for discrimination.

Even many billionaires would find they’d have trouble joining as a member, because you’ve got to be wealthy, have an impeccable reputation, and you’ve got to play a decent game of golf. Those who don’t take the game with the utmost seriousness will probably never have the chance to play a round at Augusta.

This year’s Masters starts today, and I feel like this event is really the true mark of the start of spring. March 21st is often cold and rainy, but by the time the Masters rolls around we all get to tune in and see the perfectly manicured greens and fairways down in Georgia and we know that with some hard work our own lawns can perhaps be close to that color in just a month or so.

You may have already seen the commercials for the new Tiger Woods video game from EA Sports. This year’s version, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2012 The Masters,
is dedicated to the Masters, because for the first time ever players will be able to play on the virtual version of the Augusta National course. This is as close as anyone reading this is going to get to playing on the most sacred land in golf.

Tagged as: augusta national, golf, pga tour 2012, sports, the masters, tiger woods, video game

Made in America – Horween Leather

Wednesday 23 February 2011 @ 3:07 pm

I first learned about Horween leather when I was playing college baseball. Rawlings made some of their Heart of the Hide gloves with Horween leather, and they always seemed to be a lot nicer than any of the other top-of-the-line gloves at the time, including the A2000 series from Wilson.

I didn’t know what Horween was at the time, but now I know it’s the name of a small company that operates in Chicago. They have a special tanning process that’s coveted not only by sporting goods manufacturers (they make those footballs that get seen by hundreds of millions of people during the Super Bowl), but also makes a great leather for luxury clothing. They’ve been in business for over 100 years, and let’s hope they make it another 100.

Tagged as: baseball glove, chicago, football, horween, leather, rawlings

Shoeless Joe Jackson – The Forgotten Legend

Saturday 12 February 2011 @ 4:47 pm

Jackson late in his life (circa 1950)

Most people only know of Shoeless Joe Jackson from the movie Field of Dreams. It’s a great movie, and Ray Liotta plays the part well (minus the fact that Liotta has the weird combination of being a lefty thrower and righty hitter, the exact opposite of the real Shoeless Joe), but Joe Jackson was far more complicated than the people who have played him on the big screen. Even in Eight Men Out, where Jackson is portrayed as a man with million dollar athletic ability and a five cent brain, the complete picture of the man known as Shoeless Joe is missing.

The truth of the matter is this: Shoeless Joe accepted money to throw a World Series in which his team was the heavy favorite. It doesn’t appear that he played any differently, but that may have been because everyone else in on the plot was playing their role (almost) perfectly, and there was never any need for Jackson to join in on the poor play. I don’t know if that makes him a disloyal schemer or a loyal teammate (to the guys who weren’t in on it).

“Loafers and Socks” Joe slowly passing the time, banned from America’s national pastime

Joe Jackson was not just a good baseball player, he was one of the all-time greats. He had 74 extra-base hits in the season before he was banned for life for his part in what would be known as the Black Sox scandal. That was 1920, several years before the spitball was officially banned and the dead ball era came to an end. Jackson was 30 years old and probably had another decade left in his career, but it was not to be. He died in Greenville, South Carolina in 1951.

Tagged as: baseball, biography, joe jackson, life, profile, shoeless joe jackson

Phil Mahre – Great American Skier

Tuesday 1 February 2011 @ 7:25 pm

As much of the country gets an unwelcome amount of snow dumped on them, it’s a good day to stay indoors, drink some hot cocoa and whiskey, and look back at some of the all-time great American skiers. One of the first names that comes to mind is Phil Mahre, who was a tour de force on the ski circuits from 1976 through 1984. His twin brother Steve was also a world-class skier, and the two were the face of the U.S. Ski Team during that time.

Born in the state of Washington, the Mahre siblings (9 in all) literally grew up at a ski resort, where their father was the manager. He was being offered sponsorship deals at the age of 12, and by the age of 18 he had made his World Cup debut. He would end up winning the overall World Cup title in 1981, 1982, and 1983, although he would only take home one Olympic gold medal in his career, thanks in large part to curly-haired Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark.

The 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo were perhaps the high water mark of Phil’s entire life. Not only did he take home the gold in the slalom, but his brother took the silver. While being interviewed after the race, a reporter informed Phil that his wife Holly had given birth to a boy an hour before.

Tagged as: american, olympics, phil mahre, sarajevo, skier, skiing, sports

ESPN Sports Century – Another Look Back

Friday 28 January 2011 @ 10:37 pm

Watching that IBM video from yesterday reminded me of another great compilation piece featuring footage from the 20th century. In 1999, ESPN made a video they called “Sports Century”, which basically summed up American sports from the previous 100 years. It remained by far the greatest production in the network’s history until they started their superb “30 for 30″ documentary series two years ago.

Tagged as: espn, sports century, video

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