Spending all day – every day – immersed in sports is a bit like working at Pizza Hut and eating nothing but pizza. If one is unburdened by such matters as personal health and waistline size, pizza is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, too much of a wonderful thing is likely to leave one no longer believing the wonderful thing to be all that wonderful.
Sports are really, really great. However, the more time you spend reading and writing about a topic, the greater the chance that its ugliness will be realized. This is why our focus often becomes embittered by all of the negative aspects present in sports. We forget why sports are so great to begin with. And so, that’s where The Week In Sports Happiness comes into play.
Every week, I’ll present the ten things that are making me happy from the world of sports. It might be a particular article, it could be a winning streak, it may even be an animated GIF. No matter what, it’s from sports, it made me feel good inside, and I hope it does the same for you.
Without further ado, sports the good:
1. Hitting Home Runs By Request
Todd Frazier is perhaps best known as the guy who hit a no-handed home run last year.
Or the guy who saved another human being’s life while at dinner.
Or the guy who probably should have been given more plate appearances during the NLDS over Scott Rolen last year.
Frazier, who has gotten off to a phenomenal start this season after an excellent rookie campaign, is now gaining notoriety for delivering on a promise to Ted Kremer.
An enormous fan of the Cincinnati Reds, Kremer was born with Down syndrome. Last summer, Kremer spent a game as the team’s honorary bat boy after his parents won a silent auction at a fundraiser. The Reds loved his enthusiasm for baseball, and have invited him back for several special occasions.
Acting as a bat boy once again this past week, Kremer asked the team for three things: 1) 11 runs; 2) 11 strikeouts for free pizza; and 3) a Todd Frazier home run.
All three wishes were granted in Cincinnati’s 11-1 win over the Miami Marlins last Thursday night, but the most dramatic was Frazier’s home run.
If the entire baseball season was to be played out, and this was the greatest thing to have happened, I’d be entirely content with that.
Does no one clean things anymore? Seriously, it’s so dusty in here right now.
En route to capturing their 20th Premiership title, Manchester United benefited from a first half hat trick by Dutch striker Robin Van Persie in their clinching victory over Aston Villa on Monday.
This was his second goal:
As impressive as that volley was, it pales in comparison to the joy that this tweet brings:
Poor Ravi Visvesvara Prasad, destined to always live in the shadow of the other RVP.
3. Roy Hibbert’s Honesty
It’s easy to like Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers. He’s a fantastic defender who logs a ton of minutes for a fun team to watch. He’s personable in interviews, and he even makes cameo appearances on critically adored sitcoms.
What I like about Roy Hibbert is his tactical awareness, or perhaps, his ability to articulate an understanding of his own limitations. In a recent interview with Grantland’s Zach Lowe – who also deserves credit for drawing this kind or response out of the player – Hibbert is plainly truthful in talking about how he’s used in the Pacers offense.
I’m not the fastest guy. I need to roll out of screens a lot quicker. To tell you the truth, when we get in a pick-and-roll, I just try to make sure I get George Hill or Paul George — get them open. I know more than likely they are going to hit the shot. I’m just not the fastest guy rolling off screens, like an Amar’e Stoudemire or anybody like that.
I love this kind of honest insight into any sport.
I also love this:
4. A Record In Any Language
What you’re seeing below is Jamaican cricketer Chris Gayle scoring the fastest century in the history of professional cricket.
I’m not really sure what all of this means:
The West Indian battered the Pune Warriors bowling attack with a century that included seven dot balls, four singles, eight fours and 11 sixes for the home side at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. By the end of his innings he had amassed 17 sixes and 13 fours as Bangalore recorded a total of 263 for five, the highest innings total in a Twenty20 match.
But just by watching Gayle’s performance, it’s easy to recognize something happening that one seldom sees on a cricket field. To make cricket fans roll their eyes, it’s like watching Major League Baseball batting practice.
5. World War Zito
The Barry Zito Renaissance is a wonderful thing. Sure, it’s unlikely to last, but enjoying fleeting moments is what makes life worth living. No part of the left-handed soft tosser’s revival is more thrilling to see than his daring to go up in the zone with an 83 miles per hour fastball that represents the most oh-no-he-di’n't moment that baseball is able to offer.
Climbing the ladder like Zito does here is the type of strategy more often employed by pitchers able to reach, oh, let’s say, the high eighties with their fastball velocity.
6. The Half-Time Show In Oklahoma City
The best part about the Oklahoma City Thunder’s half-time show for their NBA post-season series opener against the Houston Rockets was that it was entertaining. The worst part was that it proved a troupe of trained dogs could be more entertaining than a game of playoff basketball.
The Thunder and Rockets must have felt like the headliners at a Nirvana concert in the late eighties.
7. Toothless Expressions Of Shock
Typically, using the term “toothless expressions of shock” would be meant to infer a false reaction to something ordinary that was treated as though it was the most appalling thing in the world by someone eager to prove to others that they’re easily offended and therefore morally superior.
This time though, I’m referring to Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders:
Skates are just boots with knives, man. Boots with knives.
8. A Simple Response
Last week, Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, who emerged as a Major League Baseball star with the Boston Red Sox, was asked about the Boston Marathon bombings. After a measured response in which he expressed some honest fears about crowd interactions at a baseball game, Papelbon went on to share his concerns over gun control.
Obama wants to take our guns from us and everything.
In one person’s eagerness to chastise Papelbon for his ridiculous stance, Michael Piel failed to recognize exactly which pitcher on the Phillies staff made the comments about Obama taking guns away. Reliever Jon Pettibone took the case of mistaken identity in stride.
Stick to myopic takes on issues calling for nuance, geez.
9. Tommy Lasorda’s Exuberant Joy At Conducting A Ceremonial Face Off
Tommy Lasorda is so thrilled to be able to drop the puck at Thursday night’s Columbus Blue Jackets/Los Angeles Kings game in Los Angeles that, presumably, due to the excitement of the moment, the old homophobe completely dismisses the hand of Blue Jackets captain Jack Johnson.
10. The Pulled Pork Parfait At Miller Park In Milwaukee
The Pulled Pork Parfait at Miller Park in Milwaukee consists of layers of pulled pork separated by swirls of mashed potatoes. That’s probably all you need to know about it, but I’ll go to the trouble of informing you that the pulled pork parfait has its own Twitter account and Facebook page as well.