April 17, 2014

AROUND THE GORGE | Sun Sports Banter: Read at Your Own Risk

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By EMILY BERMAN and LISA AWAITEY

Welcome to the first edition of Around the Gorge: Sun Sports Banter with Emily and Lisa, where we’ll be providing our color commentary on the last two weeks in the world of professional sports, college sports and hobbies like curling or women’s basketball.

We’re not analysts, just enthusiasts: one step above your average Joe fan and about a hundred notches below the “Put It In My Five Hole, Sidney” girl. In short, save the Moneyball number-crunching for elsewhere, because you’re not going to find any of that here.

This is what you will find in our column: ground-breaking topics like “men in sports,” if we’re feeling feminist, maybe “women in sports,” and if we’re talking about the Olympics there might even be a “babies in sports” discussion, because it’s only two years until we get to breathlessly watch as the Chinese gymnastics team hefts itself out of the cradle and onto the podium.

EB: So, “without further ado,” as only the precociously polite kids say these days, I’m Emily Berman, and my gripping background is that I have persevered as an athlete and sports fan despite being everything your average player is not: short, small, pale and Jewish.

LA: And I’m Lisa Awaitey — former softball player, present full time napper. Now that our painful introductions are over with, let’s get to the sports.

This Week In Baseball: Pitchers Cheat?!? “Shocking” Updates From the MLB

EB: A brief recap: Last Thursday, in the midst of your average Yankees-Red Sox “which team can whine the loudest” contest, broadcasters caught Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda with what appeared to be pine tar on his hands. The Internet and Twittersphere exploded mid-game, while the benches of both teams either didn’t notice, pretended not to notice or were too busy calling each other names to notice. Pineda later called the totally-not-pine-tar substance “dirt,” while Big Papi, speaking with the kind of candor only allowed to a player whose goofy charm distracts from the fact that he could crush you in one batting glove-covered fist, said “everybody uses pine tar” and shrugged it off as “no big deal.”

L.A.: As one of three Red Sox fans (#redsoxnation) from New Jersey (#dirtyjerz), I can turn a blind eye to Pineda’s obvious pine tar use — I mean alleged use. Let’s not forget Jon Lester in Game One of last year’s World Series. We can’t actually call him out on this, I mean… hi kettle, it’s me pot. “Not to take anything away from Bubba Watson, though, whose second Masters win in three years vaulted him into that elite stratosphere of contenders whose accomplishments involve ‘being a recognizable golfer whose name isn’t Tiger or Phil.’”

E.B.: More like, “hi kettle, it’s me pot, meet frying pan.” Pineda was up against Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz, who was called out by a broadcaster last May for possibly-maybe-obviously throwing spitballs. So it was probably wise for the Sox to skip over the whole Pineda issue. The best part of Thursday’s post-game reactions, though, isn’t that people were mad about the pine tar use — they were just mad it was so obvious. The whole situation really sums up baseball’s motto over the last few decades: I don’t always cheat, but when I do, I damn well need to hide it better.

L.A.: I could care less about Pineda, I’m just waiting for the inevitable fall of the Yankees. Pettite and Rivera retired last year, Jeter and Soriano are both as old as dirt, we won’t be seeing A-Roids this season, Tex is on the DL and I can all but guarantee an Ellsbury injury, which means $153 million dollars down the drain. I’m not bitter about our recent losses; it’s a marathon not a relay. The Rays will win the AL East, Sox will take one of the Wildcard spots; I’m not sure if the Yankees can deliver a postseason run in Jeter’s last year. But you can be sure Pine Tar Gate will be old news come October.

This Week in: Irrelevant Sports

L.A.: Golf happened. Or there’s a fannypack and polo shirt convention; the palest guy gets a green jacket. *Possible related news: There’s a shortage of khaki shorts and Patagonia vests in Augusta, Georgia.

E.B.: The Masters would be a whole lot more entertaining if everyone showed up wearing Bill Murray’s PBR golf pants, which are a thing of bizarre, disturbing beauty. On a different note, though, golf is one of those sports that’s notably divided down gender lines in my family. I can only watch golf in five-minute intervals without feeling the need to switch to something more exciting — say, infomercials — while my dad and brother can slobber at the screen for hours to see which rich white guy can spend the most time standing in one spot and grimacing.

L.A.: It’s the sports equivalent of watching paint dry.

E.B.: Not to take anything away from Bubba Watson, though, whose second Masters win in three years vaulted him into that elite stratosphere of contenders whose accomplishments involve “being a recognizable golfer whose name isn’t Tiger or Phil.”

LA: Apparently he owns a shrimping company with some dude named Forrest.

This Week In: The ‘JK, I’m Not Retired!’ Award

E.B.: Previous notable winners include Brett “Needs To Stay Away From Phone Cameras” Favre, Roger “Pinky Swear I Didn’t Do Steroids” Clemens, and, of course, Michael “Joining the Wizards Is a Good Idea” Jordan. This time around it’s aquaboy Michael Phelps who has suddenly announced his return, fueling speculation that he’s gearing up for Rio in 2016, despite being 31 the time that competition rolls around (for those of you keeping track, that’s approximately three times the average age of the Chinese gymnastics team).

LA: For those of you keeping track, that’s approximately the second Chinese gymnastics joke this edition. But, let’s not forget the facts: Michael Phelps IS the most decorated Olympian of all time. Let him swim; he’ll at least bring home a couple of bronzes or something.

This Week In: Dan Snyder Updates

E.B.: There is no actual news here, unless you are blissfully unaware that about three weeks ago Dan Snyder started the “Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation” — aka “OAF” — as a Hail Mary attempt to keep the Redskins’ name and prove that occasionally, under extreme pressure only, he will expend some thought about people not named Dan Snyder. In this case, no news is good news: until the Redskins’ name goes, the Snyder digs stay.

L.A.: Who’s Dan Snyder? Give me a second to google that. Ok, apparently he’s the owner of the Washington Redskins. No one cares about the Redskins after last season.

E.B.: Not as a legitimate football team, maybe. As a D.C. sports fan who has never* lived through a good football season, even so-called savior RGIII lost some major points with me after his handling of the Shanahan situation last season. But it’s Snyder — and his constant toddler-throwing-a-hissy-fit behavior over the Redskins’ name — that’s the real issue at the forefront this offseason.

*Fine, 2012 was alright until RGIII’s leg fell off, and Joe Gibbs 2.0 teams essentially snuck into the playoffs twice. But everything beyond those years falls somewhere between “trainwreck” and “slightly less painful than the 2008 Lions.”

L.A.: Sounds like Dan Snyder should take Intergroup Dialogue.

Questions, concerns, or pissed off about our women’s basketball joke? Send an email to Scott Chiusano at sports-editor@cornellsun.com.