Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Peewee Player Is a Player

Presley Smith, the twelve year old Left Fielder for the Pearland East (Texas) All Stars Little League team was not daunted by a tough question by a sports reporter. 

 ESPN's Jay Crawford threw a verbal fastball at the five foot tall Little Leaguer from suburban Houston, asking if he had the ability to go deep despite his diminutive stature.  Presley Smith confidently replied about being "five foot tall of pure dynamite.  Then Presley Smith showed off his bicep and speculated "I'm pretty sure that I can-- I just got to get good contact on the ball." 

Perhaps Presley Smith can credit his confidence and understanding his role from his manager (and father) Don Smith, who had been a coach for the Pearland team which lost the U.S. Championship game in the 2010 Little League World Series in 2010.  Manager Smith observed  "The 2010 team a little more power probably, probably was a little more physically mature. These boys play much bigger than they are. "

Presley was also given good advice from his older brother Hunter, who had also played for the 2010 Pearland team who suggested:  "to go out there and play baseball. Don't worry about the fans; just play some baseball with all your friends."  Alas, since Hunter Smith is a wide receiver for the Pearland High School football team, his practice schedule precludes seeing all of his kid brothers games in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. 

Presley Smith seems to have taken the advice from his Coach/Father and brother to heart.  Presley's answer shows understanding of his role for the team.  But the factoid listed on the TV chyron indicates that he's just one of the boys, as his favorite hobby is "talking to girls".  It seems that this peewee player is really a player.

But in the final standings this year , Pearland East placed fourth in the US division of the Little League Championship.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

President Obama Sizing Up Competition

When President Obama dismissed all-Qaeda linked militants (i.e. ISIS) as "jayvee", his Administration could not imagine that eight months later POTUS would be ordering limited airstrikes against the jihadist terror group in Iraq.  White House spokesman Josh Ernest tried some fancy moves to distract from an uneasy question about this foreign policy flip-flop.

Perhaps President Obama would now choose another favorite sports analogy that the terror group is "punching above their weight". 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Admiring the Inner Strength of David Wilson

David Wilson is a 23 year old running back who was a first round draft choice by the New York Giants in 2012. Wilson's dream from the age of eight was to play in the NFL.  Wilson lived that dream for 21 games over two seasons, but had been plagued with a neck injury .

During the first week of the NFL preseason, as Wilson was attempting a comeback from neck surgery, he  ran into the back of one of his teammates during scrimmage. Afterwards, his spinal doctor diagnosed Wilson with diffuse cervical stenosis.  Since Wilson had a disc removed from his spine after his October 2013 injury, the running back was advised not to play football anymore, as doing so would put himself at risk for serious spinal injuries.

After his player received such bad news from the doctors, New York Giants Head Coach  Tom Coughlin was surprised that Wilson still had a smile on his face, but Wilson refused to be pulled down into a state of melancholy. Coughlin marveled that: "There’s a lot to be said about his inner strength right now." 

As David Wilson processed his situation, he remarked: 

“I’m thankful that I can literally walk away from the game and that I am healthy and capable of doing the same things I have done all my life, except play football. I always try to find the positive in everything. I prayed this morning before I went to see [the doctors] that they would tell me what God would tell me. He put His answer in them to relay to me.”

David Wilson's poise of facing such devastating vocational news with good cheer and hope is admirable. Wilson's faith puts his trust in God, which is a lesson worth remembering and emulating. 

h/t: New York Post

Monday, August 4, 2014

Jimmy Dugan on Adversity

As moving as "A League of Their Own" (1992)  is on the silver screen, it is a somewhat fantastic depiction of the All-American Girls Baseball League.  All of the characters in the film were fictional.  Moreover, the Rockville Peaches did not play for the 1943 championship as it was a series between the Racine Bells and the Kenosha Comets.  

Still, these sticky wicket of fact do not detract from the greater truths portrayed in the movie. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

World Class Gymnast Natalia Godunko Auctions Gold Medal to Aid Ukrainian Army

[L] Natalia Godunko performing Rhythmic Gymnastics  [R] Gold Medal being auctioned for Ukrainian Army

Natalia Godunka, a 29 year old world class Rhythmic Gymnast from Ukraine, decided to auction her team Gold Medal from the 2001 World Championships in Madrid to support the Ukrainian army in the War of the Donbass (Eastern Ukraine).

To get an idea of the caliber of athlete Godonko is, witness her frenetic but flawless ribbon performance at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

Godunka boyfriend, musician Sasha Polozhynsky, announced the auction of the medal on Facebook.  Plozhynsky regrets that Godunka put the medal up for auction but since it has been bid upon, he hopes that it will raise more money and inspire others to also help fund the cause. 

In one day, the auction had garnered bids had garnered bids up to $843 US.   The auction runs until August 10th, 2014.

During the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia  a couple of Ukrainian athletes protested violence at the Euromaiden protests in Kiev by Russian backed paramilitaries  by not showing up to their events.

Godunko sacrificing her gold medal  to support her country's army to inspire shared sacrifice to forestall Finlandization of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin's expansionistic incursions using  non-linear warfare.

Many celebrities will spout off about causes about which they know little or that lending their support comes at no cost.  It is admirable that Ukrainian athletes like Natalia Godunko as well as Olg and Bohdana Matsohski are willing to personally sacrifice for their country and their freedom. 

h/t: Ukrainian Pravda 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Competitive Bog Snorkeling?

Recently, dozens of swimmers braved the murky waters in Peatlands Park, Dungannon, County Armagh, for the 10th annual Northern Ireland Bog Snorkeling Championship.

Bog snorkeling?   What in the wild, wild world of sports is that?  Bog snorkeling is a sport dreamt up at a pub (naturally) in 1976 by Gordon Green and other regulars at the Neuadd Arms Hotel (which now also boasts of a brewery) near Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales.  Bog snorkelers must complete two consecutive lengths of a 60 foot water filled trench cut through a peat bog, in the shortest time possible.  Competitors must wear flippers and a snorkel but to make things more interesting, they can not use conventional swimming strokes.  Most competitors also wear a wet suit, but that attire is optional.

The first Bog Snorkeling World Championship was held in Wales in 1985.  There are other Bog Snorkeling events held in Wales, Sweden, Australia and Ireland.  The current Bog Snorkeling world record holder is 19 year old Dinika Maguire who traversed the course in 83 seconds.  When asked about her love for the sport, Maguire admits: "I'm mad".

Bog snorkeling is not just a crazy sport.  The Northern Irish Environmental Agency held the competition on International Bog Day (the fourth Sunday in July) to raise awareness of the importance of bogs. Now only 9 percent of lowland raised bogs and 14 percent of upland blanket bogs still exist, for peat's sake. 

For those interested in competing in the 29th Annual  Bog Snorkeling World Championships, it  will be held at the Waen Rhydd bog near Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. Lonely Planet recommends the event as one of the 50 Must Do things around the world in 2014.   Just don't drink the water.