The 2013 NFL season has arrived!  Players and coaches reported to training camps all over the country.  The teams get together, start getting to know each other again, play catch and practice.  What makes this the best news of the week is that it means the kickoff to the season is just around the corner.  In the past, ladies may have dreaded this time of year because, traditionally, you lose your man as he becomes infatuated with football.  Not this year!  I will provide you a guideline to football so you can appreciate the game, its players and your obsessed man.

1.  The kickoff to the 2013 season is Thursday, September 5 on NBC, Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos.  Some might say this is a preview of the AFC Conference match up to determine the AFC team in the 2013 Super Bowl.  It will be interesting to see how the Ravens defense fills the gigantic shoes of recently retired Ray Lewis.  Denver fans will be looking to Peyton Manning to exploit its holes.  Click here to see the rest of the Week 1 schedule.

2.  NFL jerseys are on sale now.  Is your man’s birthday soon?  Or, a ‘let’s celebrate the start of a fun NFL season together’ gift?  They also come in women’s sizes with cute, tighter cuts so you can still feel sexy while rooting on your man’s team at the bar or in the bedroom…have you heard that the NFL mesh jersey is the new lingerie?

This leads me to the final discussion point for this post:

3.  Fantasy football leagues are starting to develop.  Girls, if you learn that your man’s fantasy league needs a team (because all leagues need an even number of teams) go for it!  Most leagues are managed by a computer based program which makes it so easy.  Being involved will keep you invested in the games each week and if you beat your man, there is nothing better than bragging rights. Regardless, Fantasy Football drafts are usually scheduled on Labor Day weekend.  Please do not make any plans without first checking with your man to avoid disappointment.

Hopefully this is a start to turning around your football feelings this season.

Walk off

The most storied rivalry in baseball is the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.  ESPN presented the final game in the series between these two teams on Sunday night and it was a thriller.  It was an emotional see saw of a game with several lead changes and extra innings.  It finally ended with a walk off home run in the bottom of the 11th.

There is nothing more exciting than to end the game in a walk off situation.  This can only be done by the home team because the home team has the last offensive opportunity.  This means that if the home team scores during their at bat, from the 9th inning or beyond, they have ‘walked off.’  It can be a home run or any type of run batted in (RBI).  The bottom line is that the home team has won the game.

In recent years, a tradition surrounding walk offs has been embraced by every major league team.  After the hit and the win is official, the entire team runs from the dugout and meets the hitter, the hero, on the field.  If it was a home run, the team encircles home plate and waits for the hitter to round the bases.  As he approaches the plate, his teammates ready themselves to pounce on him in boyish celebration.  If it was a base hit, the same thing happens, just some where else on the field.

As a project manager, I know what it is like to save the day now and again, but no one runs up to me with high fives and slaps on the back.   Last night I watched my Red Sox win the game with a walk off home run.  If I could have, I would have run onto the field to join the party. Instead, I sat on my couch at 1:15 AM with a silly grin on my face.

Game on!

Baseball is back for the second half starting tonight.  And the schedule rewards its fans by giving us rivalry weekend.  Most games are between clubs in the same division so if the win-loss record is close, we may see movement in first, second, third place teams.  Remember to visit the MLB standings page to check out the Games Back (GB) column for your favorite team.

Previously, I mentioned the Wild Card Games Back (WCGB) column and promised to explain it later.  Now is a good time because it is going to come into play sooner rather than later.  Also, it may take a few posts to understand.

In baseball, each league, American and National, has a Wild Card standing.  As we discussed in the Fever Pitch post on June 27, the top team in each division, East, Central and West, makes the playoffs.  The Wild Card team is the team with the best record after the winners of the divisions are announced and it does not matter which division the Wild Card team hails from.  This means that at least one division per league has two teams making the playoffs.  This could get really exciting because of the rivalries that exist between the clubs in each division.

Baseball tracks Wild Card Games Back for us so we do not have to worry about the calculation.  Phew!  You’ll want to keep your eyes on the WCGB column if your team is not in first place within their division because I am saying there is still a chance.  Post season play really makes buying your team’s T-shirt worth it.  Please don’t buy the pink one, though.

This week is an anomaly in sports.  Tonight is the baseball All Star Game, which a sports fanatic will watch just because it is a game but tomorrow night has no sporting event, no game, no draft.  This is a perfect opportunity to ask your man out on a date and he has no sporting event excuse.  But, this all star break represents the beginning of the second half of the baseball season.  The focus is going to be on wins and losses, breaking records like home runs, Runs Batted In (RBIs), saves and trades of players between teams.  In other words, there will be a lot of occasions to chat with your man in the upcoming weeks and months.

In the meantime, enjoy your dinner and a movie tomorrow night.

 

I think that even though a lady may have never watched sports before, she has heard of an All Star Game. For good and bad, each sport hosts its own all star game. Each sport makes it an event to entice fans to pay attention. Baseball succeeds all other sports in this by creating tension and drama. First, there is the Home Run Derby the night before the game. Granted, each other sport has a skills competition too but the Home Run Derby happens on a night when no other sport is playing so it always gets all the attention.  Plus, if you remember, we have previously discussed the importance and the excitement of the long ball (home run). This fantastic event is like no other and a girl will be amazed, alongside her man, in no time. If you have the chance to watch it this year, please do. You won’t be sorry.

Second, the All Star Game marks the end of the first half of the season. At this point each team and individual player will be judged on his performance thus far. If you are doing well, the analysts will just double your numbers hoping you’ll break a record by the end of the season. And so the fans watch, praying the ‘all star break’ did not prevent the streak to continue. I will continue to let you if history will be made this year.

Finally, a rule has been implemented that states the winner of the All Star Game, National League v American League, will have home field advantage during the World Series. This has become so important because the majority if the teams that have home field advantage have won the World Series title.  This fairly new rule makes the baseball All Star Game more important than any other; it makes the outcome of the game significant.

Still your man may not watch the game but he will certainly want to know the outcome so be sure to pay attention Tuesday night.

Dear Abby

So I took my own advice and brought my boyfriend to the Arizona Diamondbacks game. His bestfriend is with us. Getting along with your man’s friends is important but that is a topic for a different blog. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that anything historic will be happening at this game but it is nice to get out and enjoy a little time together. I will update later if anything worth discussing occurs.

No hitter!

Last night was very exciting for baseball because one of those major league achievements I discussed in yesterday’s post actually happened!  A no-hitter.  Homer Bailey with the Cincinnati Reds threw a no-hit game against the World Champions San Francisco Giants.  This means that the Giants were unable to record any base hits against this one pitcher during any of the 9 innings they were at bat.  This is Homer Bailey’s second no-hitter of his career but only the 281st no-hitter of all time.

There was only one black mark on the night for Bailey and that came in the 7th inning when he walked one batter.  If not for this walk, he could have thrown a perfect game which means no hits, no walks.  Essentially, no men on base for 9 innings.  There have only been 23 perfect games thrown all time!

To prove how exciting this is, radio announcers of other teams start talking about it and the TV stations, start airing live look-ins to the game.  When the no-hitter is final, the pitcher’s teammates get so excited, they jump around on the field and the pitcher’s mound.  There are handshakes from coaches and management staff.  I am sure that even the other team, the one that just got beat, feels a sense of delight for the pitcher’s accomplishment.

It is one of my dreams to see a no-hitter as a fan, in the stands; where the tension grows with each batter and then releases with the out.  I better start going to more games to increase my chances to be a part of history.

In my previous post, I mentioned that baseball is strongly linked to statistics.  In fact, the numbers may be what makes the game so fascinating to some.  When you watch and listen to a game you will notice the announcers constantly reference past players’ achievements and compare the current players’ performances.  There are really some major accomplishments and every year, baseball fans watch and analyze.  Of course, as today’s players get closer to breaking this or that record, the news gets bigger and anyone is sure to hear about it on ESPN or FOX Sports.  For example, when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were going head to head for the home run record in 1998, my mother was giving me game by game updates even though I was also watching closely.  But the excitement is contagious.  That is why I want to give you girls a few numbers that may interest you enough to pay attention and check for the numbers yourselves.

For me, as a girl, the most exciting play in today’s game is the home run especially when I am watching the game live.  The current single season home run record is held by Barry Bonds set in 2001 at 73.  To prove that hitting a home run is not as simple as ESPN makes it look, check it out:  the average hitter is at bat between 500 and 600 times in a season and yet a major league ball player, a great hitter, only hits 73 home runs in that many chances.

Currently, there is a player with the Baltimore Orioles, Chris Davis, that has hit 31 home runs so far this season.  This is a first-half of the season record for the Orioles already and there is still a week left.  I realize that this means if we expect him to do just as good in the second half of the season, it is still does not break the record but it is going to be close.  We’ll watch this very exciting player together.

I do not mean to keep harping on Boston sports, even though I am from there and follow my home teams more than any other, but there have been so many sports stories coming out of there that I cannot ignore them.  Even the Boston Celtics have made it into the headlines this week.

First, the coach, Doc Rivers, was TRADED to the LA Clippers.  This was big news because trading a coach is virtually unheard of but Danny Ainge, the Celtics General Manager, somehow pulled it off.  Doc was with the Celtics for 9 years and we had pretty consistent success.  Now, we need to say goodbye to two additional key cogs in the Celtics engine, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.  These players were two-thirds of the Boston Big Three Party (play on Boston Tea Party) who won the city an NBA championship in 2008.  They have been traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

Paul Pierce has been with the Celtics since 1998 and that is saying something in today’s business of sports.  I really wish him well with his new team.

In the sports world, this is called the end of an era.  Ladies, the Boston Celtics have broken up and I am sad.

Back to baseball… because it is America’s pastime there are numerous sites that you can search that will tell you the rules of the game, name the equipment used and reference the acronyms that make up the stats books.  My goal is to get you interested in your man’s team, or your own team, so you want to start learning the rules of the game and everything that comes with it.  My first recommendation, after you learn your man’s team name, is to visit the MLB standings page.  Find where they are in the standings list and take note.  You can easily begin a discussion with your husband, boyfriend, father, brother, uncle, et al, using the information you glean from this page.

Let me walk you through it.  First, you’ll have a breakdown of the different teams by league and division.  There are two leagues that make up the whole of  Major League Baseball, the American and National Leagues.  Each year, the best team from each of these leagues will play in the World Series to determine the Major League Baseball Champion.  Each league has three divisions:  East, Central and West.  The team is placed in their division primarily based on location.  The teams in the division play each other 19 times throughout the season which creates some great and historic rivalries between the teams and players (see, the drama can be found everywhere).

Now, the top team in each division makes it to the playoffs.  This is based on the record of the team.  If you have more wins, you are at the top of the list.  So, the first 3 columns are pretty self-explanatory:  W for win, L for loss and PCT is the percentage of wins.  Baseball depends on its statistics so they make up a stat even where there does not need to be one.  This might be why your man sounds like he is speaking another language when he is play-arguing his point as to why so-and-so is the best third baseman of all time (Mike Schmidt).

The next column is GB which stands for Games Back.  This stat becomes VERY important towards the end of the regular season because if your team is not in the division lead, they are X number of games back of the lead and if they do not catch up and pass the leader, they do not make into the playoffs.  Devastating if it is close.  If it is not close, then thank goodness for football!

I am going to skip over WCGB because it is not important right now but I’ll tell you it stands for Wild Card Games Back.  That is a conversation for a different day.

The rest is, again, pretty self-explanatory:  the record for the team’s last 10 games (L10), the streak of the team (STRK), the team’s home and away record (HOME) and (ROAD), the last game results and the next game on the schedule.

Finding out where your team is in the standings is very important, especially after the all-star break which is coming up in mid-July, so get into the habit of visiting the standings page.  Knowing the next game on the schedule and where that team sits in the standings compared to your man’s team could make for some excited chatter between you two.  Especially if you pick a different, rival team to follow.  Hint, hint…