The Magic Of The Masters

If there is one sporting event that brings out the pure sports fan in me, it has to be The Masters. As on of the four major championships on the PGA tour, it is the tournament that marks the beginning of spring and all of the wonderful events that come along with the season. From a very young age, my Dad has always been a huge golf fan. Nicklaus, Palmer and Faldo were all common names and my house and we all knew that Sunday meant that the final round was going to be on the T.V. all day. I couldn’t tell you what half of the golf courses are named or who won each tournament, but my Dad can tell you that Jack Nicklaus shot a six under par 30 on the back nine at the Masters in 1986 to win his 18th major championship.The Clubhouse at the Augusta National Clubhouse

For all of the ladies out there, picture the Augusta National Golf Club like a scene from The Notebook. A huge white clubhouse marks the entrance with hundreds of beautiful flowers surrounding it. The Georgia sun is shining and I’m pretty sure that most of the gentlemen there have southern accents.  I’m sorry Ryan Gosling, but you have nothing compared to this golf course. The course, which was once a plant nursery, has so many natural elements that add to the experience. The stone bridges and pristine fairways have been the back drop to some of the most exciting matches in PGA history. The Nelson Bridge is one of the most iconic scenes on the coursThe Nelson Bridge at Agugstae. Part of “Amen corner,” the stone bridge that takes golfers to the 13th flag. If the scenery isn’t catching your attention and exiting golf is more of your thing, don’t worry, I can talk about that too.

Let’s remember 1960, when the great Arnold Palmer sunk a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th to tie for the lead. Palmer then became only the second player ever to birdie the 18th and secure his green jacket. The 1989 Masters tournament is always the one that sticks out in my mind. My Dad has called this tournament one of his best memories and is able to make Jack Nicklaus sound like a superhero. Nicklaus, who was 46 years old, birdies 9, 10 and 11 and storms from behind. “The shot,” comes on the 15th when he strikes his 4-iron to ultimately eagle the hole. Birdies on the next two holes pushes him to the top of the leaderboard. He secures his 6th green jacket, when many thought he was too old to do so. It is a classic underdog story that normally come from the Masters Tournament. Want to experience the magic for yourself? I have the tournament on VHS and DVD!

Augusta National is a place that will forever hold a lot of memories not only for me, but for sports fans of any age. What sporting event sticks out in your mind as a favorite? I would love to hear about your favorite sports venue!

 

MLB Opening Day 2014 Recap

The Major League Baseball season opened with a bang! 22 teams took to the field, ringing in the spring season with fun and fierce competition. Even though my professors didn’t understanInstagram @MLBd that opening day should be a national holiday, I was able to watch some of the excitement thanks to MLB.com.

The excitement began from the start with not one, but two walk-off home runs. Neil Walker pushed the Pirates past the Cubs and broke the 0-0 stalemate. The other walk-off came from the bat of Nelson Cruz to beat the defending world series champion Boston Red Sox 2-1.

Opening day was also the first time managers had the ability to use the expanded replay technology to challenge calls. MLB officials have ensured managers that this technology would help umpires make difficult calls in a timely manner. Cubs manager Rick Renteria lost the first ever challenge, but later claimed he was still unsure how the system worked. With three other extended replay calls, the feature will sure to play into big game-time decisions throughout the season.

Instagram @MLB

Of course, I can’t finish an opening day post without talking about the Tribe! Cleveland opened in Oakland with Justin Masterson leading the way. Masterson is clearly the standout pitcher in the Indian’s rotation. His opening day resume shows his dominance with 21 innings, 2 runs, 8 hits and 18 strikeouts in his career. The late night game kept Indian’s fans on the edge of their seats, but they were able to get the win 2-0. Of course this is just the beginning of the season, but I can’t help but dream of the Indians in the world series!

Make sure to check out this INFOGRAPHIC for more info, pictures and video from around opening day! Did I miss any exciting plays? Let me know in the comments below!

Twitter: The One Opponent Some Athletes Can’t Beat

Twitter is a great platform for fans of all sports to share their opinion. In the past, the most popular way for fans to share their opinion was calling into sports radio and sharing your opinion with the world. Though Twitter only allows 140 characters, fans are able to share their opinions of each play if they feel like it!

Athletes are also able to use Twitter to communicate their own thoughts and feelings and connect with fans on a daily basis. Some athletes are great and use social media as a tool to share great news and celebrate with fans. Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo has over 25 thousand followers, making him the most followed athlete on Twitter. Other athletes have managed to cause some major public relations disasters for both themselves and their employers.

With so much freedom at the tips of their fingers, some players have grown some pretty large reputations for being the most controversial and outspoken athletes on Twitter.

James Harrison: @jharrison9292

Former linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers and current free agent has quite the twitter finger and loves to speak his mind. Following Super Bowl XLVI, he took a shot at the New England Patriots, who were involved in a cheating allegation earlier in the year. “Told you, cheaters never win!!!!!!!!!” He posted a follow-up post apologizing for the tweet and congratulated the Giants on their win. Though I have a little more sympathy for the former Kent State Golden Flash, he should probably keep some of his comments to himself.

Joey Barton: @Joey7Barton

English soccer player Joey Barton gained attention in the U.S. after going on a long Twitter rant about is 12 game suspension being pushed to 13 games. After striking a opposing player in match, Barton was fined and suspended but was not aware of the extra game. English sports blogs and mainstream media quickly picked up the tweets and Barton quickly became the talk of Twitter.

@Joey7Barton

Barton has not let the backlash from this rant stop him. The midfielder still loves to tweet what ever comes to his mind. Recently, he has picked a fight with the English National Team over the price of the fan jerseys. We will have to see the conversations to come!

Rashard Mendenhall: @R_Mendenhall

Another Pittsburgh Steeler stands out after making one of the most controversial comments on Twitter. The running back posted comments after Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. troops.  His comment stirred a lot of debate a backlash from both fans and the Steelers organization. President Art Rooney II took quickly distanced the organization from Mendenhall’s comments.  “I have not spoken with Rashard so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments. The entire Steelers’ organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon,” Rooney wrote.

The quick-thinking response by the organization was a great move because Mendenhall continued to interact with people responding to his comments. Though the tweet has since been deleted, he made comments doubting the legitimacy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style,” the tweet read. With a Mashable story with 5.2K shares, his comments did not go unnoticed.

Oh, Twitter. The social media platform getting athletes in trouble since 2006. Who is your favorite player to follow? Have they ever let their ego get the best of them? Have any teams let social media turn their organizations upside down? Let me know!

 

 

Cavs Honor Cleveland Great Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Saturday night was a night of celebration at Quicken Loans Arena despite the dismal 107-97 loss to the New York Nicks. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavs big man from 1996-2010, saw his number rise to the rafters as the organization retried his number 11.

Ilgauskas watches as his number rises to the top of Quicken Loans Arena.

Since being drafted in 1996, Z has worked his way onto the floor and into the hearts of Cleveland fans. Suffering from a number of foot injuries early on, he didn’t see much playing time, but the organization stuck with him.

“Thank you Mr. Gund for believing, and never giving up on a skinny Lithuanian kid that spent his first years in Cleveland walking more on crutches than he did on his own 2 feet,” Ilgauskas said in his acceptance speech.

Sticking with Z was clearly a great move, as he went on to become the franchise leader for number of games played, offensive rebounds, total rebounds and blocks.

Reminders of a happier time were displayed throughout the night, recapping moments from the 2007 NBA finals run and the five straight years of playoff games.

“I know deep in my heart that this team will be back competing for a championship, because this city and fans deserve nothing less,” Ilgauskas said.

Members of the core team of players from shall I say, “the glory days”, came to honor a great teammate a friend to many. Daniel Gibson, Anthony Parker and Delonte West all made appearances along with Miami Heat all-star and Akron native Lebron James.

After playing eight seasons together, Ilgauskas explained that not having James there would have been more of a distraction. Ignoring all of the rumors of a possible return to Cleveland, James sat behind the Knick’s bench and participated in all parts of the ceremony.

James’ picture tribute to his teammate explained the bond that the two developed over the years.

LeBron James post honoring IlgauskasScreen Shot 2014-03-09 at 3.50.29 PM March 9, 2014

As a Cleveland fan that had the honor of watching Ilgauskas play over the years, it is great to see the city come together and celebrate. People can say a lot of things about Cleveland fans, and trust me, they do. But, they cannot say the fans are not loyal and passionate. In a sports world of leaving cities for bigger contracts and shiny new endorsement deals, players staying loyal to their city almost brings a tear to your eye.

A twitter feed was projected on the wall throughout the games as fans sent their congratulations and thanks to Ilgauskas using the hashtag “AllForZ.”

Ilgauskas represents an era of Cleveland basketball that has almost been forgotten about. With the current record of 24-40, players are already talking about packing up and leaving. Hopefully, Ilgauskas can inspire them to play to bring the city together, the way number 11 did.

So, thanks “Z,” for literally being the center of Cavs basketball for so many years and brining some excitement back to Cleveland.

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“I loved being part of this city, I loved being part of this community,” Ilgauskas said. “I just hope you feel the same way about me. Thank you for giving me a place I can proudly call home.”

ESPN Asks, What Movie Should Win The #SportsOscar?

Sunday, the stars came out on the red carpet to celebrate the 86th annual Academy Awards. People took to social media discussing best-dressed, best hair, best nails and of course, best picture! As anticipation for the “super bowl” of movies grew, I came across a tweet from ESPN asking followers, “And the Oscar for best sports movie of all time goes to…” Using the hashtag #SportsOscar, fans mentioned the movies they consider to be the best of all time.

@espn

Only three movies have ever won the award for best picture, “Rocky” in 1967, “Chariots of Fire” in 1981 and “Million Dollar Baby” in 2004. With that fact in mind, I began to think of my favorite sports movies of all time and the impact they have made on the world of sports.

1.  Love and Basketball

This movie portrayed the dream life for any female athlete and set the standard for perfection at a high level. Basketball players everywhere began dreaming of not only success on the court, but the ability to find love while doing it. The story of two high school athletes finding their way to the college court while attempting to find themselves keeps the audience glued to the screen. This movie is a great example of how a passion for sports plays into every part of a person’s life. “Love and Basketball” is a iconic sports movie that proves, “all is fair in love and basketball.”

2. Remember The Titians

In the heart of the civil rights area, the true story of a high school football team inspired a generation when “Remember the Titians” was released in in 2000. T.C. Williams High School and headstrong coach Denzel Washington brought together a town ripped apart by racism and put the focus on the football field. Featuring a large cast of characters, “Remember the Titians” became an instant classic heading to the top of the list of football movies. Right from the beginning of the movie, the viewer can tell that the story is about more than just a football team. Grossing more than 30 million in the box office, it is clear that this movie left an impression on a large group of people.

3. The Sandlot

Released in 1993, “The Sandlot” tells the adventures of a group of friends during an epic summer. “Smalls,” the new kid in town, is trying desperately to fit in with the cool kids in the neighborhood. When the baseball playing bunch hits the last ball over the fence, Smalls has no choice but to bring out his step father’s ball. Little did he know, the great Babe Ruth signed the ball and it is now stuck behind the fence with the beast. This movie shows every kids dream summer of running around the neighborhood with friends. From a sports angle, this movie shows how influential sports can be while growing up. Joining a sports team can help kids make friends, stay healthy and learn new skills. This comedy has provided a number of great lines that fans still quote today. Though, I do not believe that playing ball like a girl is a bad thing, “The Sandlot” will continue to provide laughs for kids of all ages.

4. Major League

As a Cleveland fan, it would be embarrassing if I did not include “Major League” in my list of the best sports movies. The 1989 comedy revolves around a misguided group of Cleveland Indians as they look to somehow pull off a winning season. This movie does a great job at portraying all of the hardships that Cleveland fans have to go through before tasting success. Always the underdog, this movie is a comical look at not only Cleveland baseball, but the dynamics that make up a team.

This is just a short list of the sports movies that have a great impact on moviegoers each year. What movies did I miss? Are there any sports movies that should have actually won an academy award this year? Make sure to leave a comment and let me know!

What I Wish I Would Have Known Before Watching Hockey

Growing up in the Cleveland area, I have always been surrounded by football, basketball and baseball. With such an array of options, I can admit that my sports rotation does not include hockey. Doesn’t winter mean basketball season?

Well, to my surprise, in cities like Pittsburgh and New Jersey, wintertime is hockey time! My friends at Kent State tired to explain how intense hockey could get, but I just couldn’t figure it out.

This weekend at the winter olympics, both the men and women’s U.S. hockey teams played in pivotal matches for medals. Like any other American, when it comes to winning medals, I immediately become a fan. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was watching.

So, after my first full week as a hockey fan, there are plenty of things that I wish have known before flipping on my TV.

There are three periods

Unlike basketball that has four quarters, hockey only has three periods. There is no half time or time in-between quarters for coaches and players to communicate, just a long continuous time period.

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Substitutions are confusing

Substitutions are called “line changes,” and these can happen at any time in the game. Players only play around a minute at a time, and then are switched out when another group of players enter the ice. Surprisingly, there are different strategies behind who to put in when and when to make the change.

When a player goes into the penalty box, another player does not get to come in

When players break the rules, they can be sent to the penalty box for a certain amount of time. In basketball, there must be five players on the floor at one time even if a player commits a foul. When this happens, one team will have more players on the ice than the other, and that is allowed! This is actually called a “power play,” and it is one of the most exciting times of the game.

Fighting is allowed, and entertaining!

One player skating over to another player and punching them in the face is allowed! Pushing a playing into the glass or giving them a stiff elbow to the gut it celebrated! I kept waiting for the refs to break up the fights, but they never did. I have come to love the fact that hockey is violent and these players do not mess around. By the first fight I began to see why people love hockey so much.

'Ovechkin Upends Subban'

Canadians are really good at it!

Though the two games that I watched were very exciting, the U.S came up short in both games against Canada. The women lost a heartbreaking gold medal game 3-2 off of an overtime goal for Canada, and the men lost the semi-final game to the Canadians 1-0. This is the fourth straight gold medal for the Canadian men as they continue to assert their dominance, even in the National Hockey League.

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As my first official week as a hockey fan comes to a close, clearly I have a lot to learn about this very exciting game. With the NHL starting back up after the Olympics, I will continue to follow the league and try to learn how people can follow the very tiny puck. If you are in the Cleveland area, check out the minor league Lake Erie Monsters for some live hockey action!

What else should I know? If you are a hockey expert or have a team I should root for, make sure to leave a comment!

5 Heartwarming Stories that Prove The Olympics are Pure Sports Magic

With the kickoff of the 22nd Winter Olympics this past week, the combination of interesting winter sports and world competition has graced the television screens of most Americans. If the extravagant opening ceremony was not magic enough, the magic is clearly shown on the athlete’s faces as they enter the arena for the first time. It is this magic that makes a sports fan’s heart melt. I know that I am still trying to piece my heart back together after watching NBC networks span of coverage this weekend. Find the full TV schedule here.

From the slopes to the ice, here are some heartwarming stories from the opening weekend:

  1. Dufour-Lapoint sisters top the podium in women’s moguls: If winning Olympic gold isn’t enough, having your sister standing next to you winning silver propels the moment into sports history. Justine Dufour-Lapoint, who is just 19-years-old, topped the podium with her older sister Chloe, 22, taking the silver. The pair’s oldest sister was watching from the sidelines after finishing 12th in the same event. A family affair on the slopes made for a day that they will always remember.
  2. Norwegian speed skater become first openly gay athlete to win in Sochi: It is hard to ignore the controversy surrounding Russia’s anit-gay policy. Irene Wurst took gold in the 3,000-meter speed skating event, adding to her already large collection of medals. Though winning a gold is always a great accomplishment, making a political statement is one way to make sure you are remembered forever. In my opinion, the most heartwarming and amazing part of the story is that Wurst did not even want to focus on her sexuality. In an interview in 2010, Wurst said, “I want to talk about ice skating. You are not asking (fellow Dutch speedskater) Sven Kramer about how his relationship is going. So why would you ask me? If I would’ve had a relationship with a guy, you wouldn’t have asked me either.” Pretty amazing stuff. Read the story here.
  3.  15 year-old Russian figure skater taking the ice by storm: Yulia Lipnitskaya lead the Russian team to figure skating gold with a jaw-dropping performance. I still have no idea how a person can spin so fast on one foot, on ice! This Vine video shows the extreme talent from this teenager. The home crowd cheered as she scores came out reveling her near perfect score. At 15, there is no telling what will come next, but personally I don’t know how much faster a person can spin!Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 1.08.09 PM February 10, 2014
  4. The Jamaican bobsled team makes its way to Sochi: The inner 90s kid in me jumped for joy when the Jamaican bobsled team found the funds to make it to the Olympics for the first time in 12 years! A Cool Runnings sequel is bound to be in the works after the two-man bobsled team takes the course. The most heartwarming fact is that the team was able to raise $178,000 from fans all over the world using crowdsourcing sites like Fundly and Causes. This story is a perfect example of how the Olympics are able to bring people together from all over the world to support one another.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cool_Runnings

Will there be a Cool Runnings sequel in Sochi?

5.  Curling is still a sport: Though there is no specific stories coming from the world of curling just yet, this unique sport made the list because of how generic it is. There is no doubt that these athletes have skill, but I think any person watching at home can identify with a curler. It is clear that I will never fly off a mountain on skis or be able to figure skate, but curling, that is something I could accomplish. So keep dreaming of Olympic gold, and start practicing your sweeping skills!

With more Olympic action to come in the following weeks, the mash up of fierce completion and extreme passion will combine for more amazing stories. In the mean time, you can find me practicing my ice skating skills while walking to class.