Fantasy Sports Don’t Mean a Thing Without That Ring

From Columbia News Service. (Archived here)

When Ben Roethlisberger won his second Super Bowl in 2009, he won more than the right to touch the shiny Vince Lombardi trophy for a few moments before handing it off to someone else. He won a 14-karat gold ring that weighed 3.7 ounces, had 63 diamonds in it and was so large that his surname easily fit across the side of it. Its value is well in excess of $5,000.

When Mark Orlando won his fantasy football league in 2009, he won more than a trophy he had to return the following season. He won a stainless steel ring with the outline of a football on its face and nine cubic zirconia stones in it. Its value is approximately $50.

Both rings glitter and dazzle. Both rings are so bulky that they make lifting your hand a difficult task. And both rings are deeply treasured by their owners.

(more…)

If “Tessie” is Playing, the Red Sox Won

My first story for Columbia News Service. It was about how sports teams play certain songs when they win games. (Archived here)

Sports and rituals go hand in hand. Some players refuse to change their socks when they’re on hot streaks; others refuse to shave. Michael Jordan always wore his college shorts underneath his NBA uniform, Wade Boggs always dined on chicken, and former Detroit Tiger Mark Fidrych ate the dirt on the mound whenever he pitched.

Teams are no different. The Red Sox play “Sweet Caroline” during the eighth inning at every home game. For the Yankees, it’s “New York, New York” after every game, win or lose.

Some teams have taken it a step further and have rituals only for when they win.

(more…)

Philip Rivers Grants Wish

From the Archives: In honor of my least favorite quarterback in the NFL, I thought I’d recycle this article I wrote for a sports humor website a couple of years ago. I was inspired to write it after Philip Rivers taunted a bunch of Indy fans during the 2008 NFL Playoffs. Since the Colts and Chargers are the top two seeds in the AFC, maybe history will repeat itself this year?

Eight-year old Timmy McCormick was suffering from cancer and was told he had about year to live. He was in terrible pain and could barely muster the energy to get out of bed, let alone go outside to play with his friends. The only time he spent out of bed was to go to the bathroom to throw up, a side-effect of his chemotherapy. Timmy was depressed and in low spirits. He had lost all of his hair. He had no friends to play with. He had almost no shot at survival. Timmy did not have much to live for and both he and his family knew it.

The only time he seemed to be able to forget his pain and be happy was when he watched his beloved San Diego Chargers play football. His parents signed him up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Timmy, a loyal San Diego Chargers fan, only had one wish. He wanted to spend a day with the quarterback of the Chargers – his idol, Drew Brees.

Unfortunately, because of a long waiting list, as well as a backlog of wishes, Brees had signed with New Orleans by the time that Timmy’s wish request was processed. Timmy, still wanted to hang out with San Diego’s quarterback. So he readily agreed when the Make-A-Wish Foundation offered to send Philip Rivers. The Chargers quarterback met up with Timmy a few weeks ago in order to fulfill the boy’s wish. He came to Timmy’s house and gave Timmy some autographed balls, helmets, and jerseys. He also posed for some pictures with Timmy and threw the ball around with him in the backyard. However, what started as a joyous meeting between a young boy and his football role model quickly turned sour.

(more…)

Bike Polo: No Horses, No Rules

People often think of polo as a refined sport played by wealthy men on horseback. What happens when you replace the horses with bicycles, you throw out a lot of the rules, and you add some WWE-style showmanship? You get bike polo – a fast-paced and anarchic sport that’s gaining a cult following in the United States. Victor Li reports.

Thanks to Ellen London (Columbia J-School ’10) for the host intro.

UPDATE (3/18/10): There is a pic of me in action at the Hardcourt Bike Polo website. There’s a comment under it about me needing to get off the decaf, which I found to be pretty funny. If s/he only knew how much coffee I went through on any given day…

Doctor K is In.

BRONX, NEW YORK – It’s Saturday, October 3 and Modell’s Sporting Goods store is having its grand reopening in Bay Plaza in the Bronx. There’s a long line out the front door as scores of people are waiting to get in, but they aren’t necessarily here for the free giveaways, special promotions, and big sales. Instead, many of them have braved the pouring rain for one reason only: to meet one of their baseball heroes.

“I came to meet Doc Gooden and get this ball signed,” said Rafael Rodriguez of the Bronx. “And not only that, to thank him for all he’s done for the Yankees. He’s been a great inspiration for these young kids.”

(more…)