September 25, 2014

AROUND THE GORGE | Baseball Enters Home Stretch, NFL Kicks It Into High Gear

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By EMILY BERMAN and LISA AWAITEY

It’s been a long month. Not, say, as long as the next few months will feel for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but still, physically and emotionally draining all the same. Between classes, the really ridiculously long walk to classes, and the homework from those classes that you’ve been on time to, like, 75% of the time (it’s not an understatement about that walk, okay?), there’s been plenty to stress over. Which is why we here at Around the Gorge have decided the best solution is to ignore all of the above issues and instead watch sports/read about sports/maybe listen to some podcasts about sports if we’re feeling “enthusiastic,” and then to present brief snippets of the main happenings here. After all, you can always write that essay at three in the morning, but you can only watch the Braves spectacularly self-destruct in real time once.

E.B.: I’m Emily Berman, and my current career aspirations lie somewhere between “become Bill Bryson” and “just don’t live in a box.”

L.A.: And I’m Lisa Awaitey, and I’m just trying to be more successful than my sister.

This Week In: I Went to a Demolition Derby and a Football Game Broke Out

E.B.: Like every week in the twisty-turny NFL, there was the good, the bad, the vaguely interesting and the just plain weird. The Seahawks beat the Broncos in a Super Bowl rematch, although Denver at least appeared to have attended the game this time; Jacksonville took one look at Andrew Luck, shrugged and said “nope”; Kirk Cousins did a notably decent job for Washington, which will have unpredictable effects on RGIII’s struggle between team player and Kardashian-level prima donna; and somehow the Giants beat the Texans, surprising everyone except the overly devoted New York fanbase which will go positively rabid defending its seriously sub-par team.

L.A.: The Oakland Raiders lost, but that’s not really newsworthy. Really, exactly who you think won last week, probably won last week. Um, my fantasy season is going pretty well? There’s not really much to say about football. I’m counting down the weeks until the Superbowl Halftime Show.

E.B.: Many of last week’s stories will carry over into this week: Just how far down the path of self-sabotage will the 49ers go before they remember that, actually kind of recently, they were in the Super Bowl? Can the Jets break their two-game losing streak, or will they free-fall toward a very Jets-like disappointing finish? Do the Eagles deserve to be undefeated, and can someone please beat them already? What exactly will Richard Sherman say next?

This Week In: Homeruns and Heartbreak

E.B.: We’ve done it. We’ve made it. We’ve survived. Alright, so hitting the end of baseball’s 162-game regular season isn’t as impressive as, say, climbing Mount Everest, or making it through fall without turning into 70 percent pumpkin spice mix, but it’s an endurance test all the same. At this point, with only a few games to go and almost all the postseason teams set (although you should never count out a terrific implosion by the A’s), I can say I’m legitimately excited about October ball, and I haven’t been truly, delightfully entertained by baseball since Michael Pineda decided to play “find the illegal substance” with the umpires. All of which is, perhaps, a side effect of rooting for a team that had the playoffs locked down back in March. I’m from D.C.: a playoff berth is basically the equivalent of a unicorn/dragon/griffin/just-name-an-imaginary-creature sighting.

L.A.: I accidently googled “Baseball Playoffs” when researching for this bit. But pat yourself on the back because you’ve made it to the MLB Postseason. We’ve got the Dodgers, Nats, Cardinals, Angels, Orioles and Tigers as guarantees with the Athletics, Royals, Giants and Pirates looking to clinch a spot. Giants and Pirates and Bears OH MY! Sorry. Personally, I’m rooting for the Dodgers, because once upon a time, they were home to Manny Ramirez, former Red Sox outfielder, certified jerk and my favorite player.

E.B.: After the Braves went from 60 to zero in 3.5, the NL wild card race got a tad bit less exciting. But the play-in game should be as tense as ever.

This Week In: Dear NHL, Please Start Soon. Thanks, a Girl Who Needs a Sport With the Proper Amount of Scoring

E.B.: Somewhere along the dark rabbit hole of the internet last week I found myself on NHL.com forlornly clicking through headlines, attempting to cure my hockey withdrawal with news updates. Of course, all of the news ended up being depressing injury updates — “Stepan out 4-6 weeks with broken leg,” “Datsyuk (separated shoulder) out 4-6 weeks” — which did little to help my desperation. Not that I haven’t enjoyed other sports this summer, but between basketball (so, so many baskets per game), baseball (score fluctuates wildly between 1-0 and 13-11) and soccer (oh, the sheer joy when someone, anyone, finally scores), I need hockey’s fast pace and perfect level of scoring like Jordan Staal needs a leg splint (yep, he’s out with a broken leg too).

L.A.: Let’s go Devils?

E.B.: That’s less agonizing than “Let’s Go Caps,” but you’ll hear me chanting it all the way to the inevitably disappointing end (see: D.C. playoffs = mythical creature sighting).

This Week In: More Athlete Shenanigans

E.B.: This week’s reminder of the inherent awfulness of people comes courtesy of FSU quarterback Jameis Winston, he of the striking on-field command and just as striking off-field behavior. After a series of incidents last year ranging from serious to downright bizarre — he was accused of rape, then a few months later accused of shoplifting crab legs — he’s made headlines again after being benched for shouting some seriously NSFW comments about women during a student union meeting. It was also revealed that he possibly tried to pay off the woman who accused him of rape…or maybe she tried to extort money? Whatever exactly is occurring with Winston, his unacceptable off-field behavior is overshadowing what was once a promising football career.

L.A.: On a lighter note, Lolo Jones was a sore loser on Dancing With the Stars. On a heavier note, people still aren’t really talking about the Hope Solo domestic violence issue.

E.B.: That the public seems more concerned about Jones’ early elimination than Solo’s abuse case is an even heavier note. Being a successful athlete doesn’t — or at least, shouldn’t — give you a free pass on these sorts of issues.

Send any issues, concerns or bar mitzvah giftbags to Scooty Scoogz “Eyebrows on Fleek” Chiusano at sports-editor@cornellsun.com