The University of South Florida football team won perhaps the biggest game in school history by beating Notre Dame this past weekend. Skip Holtz returned to his roots in South Bend, Ind. where both he and his father, Lou, coached to capture a tremendous victory for the Bulls and for Holtz personally.
Here in Tampa Bay, it has been a privilege to watch the ageless Johnny Damon play for the Rays. Clearly a future Hall of Famer, Damon has had countless clutch hits for his team. Recently, he was hitting .417 with the bases loaded this season before launching a three-run, bases-clearing double that was inches shy of being a grand slam.
Damon has never been outspoken when talking to the media. But you have to believe that he has emerged as a leader in the clubhouse since joining the Rays. In fact, it was reported early in the season when the team was struggling that Damon arranged a team meeting to talk about how the players needed to relax a bit because they were pressing too much at the plate. The team responded and subsequently set a record for going from worst to first in the AL East in such a short period of time. For an athlete at his age to step into a new and unfamiliar clubhouse and take on the role it appears he has is also a testament to how great a player – and human being – Damon really is.
The Rays had Wade Boggs. They had Fred McGriff. Someday, Carl Crawford will likely be in that category of greatness. But it is hard to argue against the fact that Johnny Damon may be the best baseball player to ever don a Rays uniform. He has two World Series rings, one with Boston and the other with New York. If he stays healthy and maintains that natural baseball instinct, wouldn’t it be something if he added a third ring to his hand in Tampa Bay?
This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the 2011 AEJMC conference in St. Louis. Basically these conferences are a gathering of journalists, professors, and others who have some kind of footprint in the journalism and mass communication world. The main reason I attended was to present a research paper I did with a professor over the past year. The paper is called “Why your grandpa is on Facebook: A Survey of Uses and Gratifications of Facebook by Older Adults.” In simple terms, this study looked at why people over age 45 use Facebook. The main two reasons were for entertainment purposes (to play games) and for social interests (viewing others’ profiles).
The main point people should understand is that journalism is not “in trouble” – it’s changing. Whenever change occurs, some people panic. The status quo is no longer so and suddenly things are different. Get used to it, though. Sometimes change is for the better. Even though thousands of journalists have lost their jobs in recent years, other kinds of jobs are beginning to open up for them, especially in online media. Patch.com is a venture that comes to mind. Launched in December 2007, this website consists of hyperlocal pages devoted to news coverage in communities across the country. Each site has its own editor-in-chief along with a slew of freelance reporters. Perhaps many of these individuals once worked for “traditional” news organizations. In my view, Patch has become about as traditional as anything today.
So just remember that journalism is in flux. It may always be that way due to how quickly new technology takes hold. But once this constant change becomes normal, if it hasn’t already, most people will realize what the new definition of journalism really is.
No, that splash sound you just heard isn’t a 250-pound man leaping into a swimming pool. It’s the sound of several Tampa Bay Rays rookies making a splash this season.
2) RHP – Alex Cobb
Most Rays fans had likely never heard of Cobb until he was called up for a start on May 1 due to an injury in the rotation. He was involved in a no-decision in an outing against the Yankees during which he allowed just two runs on three hits. He also struck out nine in a road game against the Mariners. More impressively, he never suffered a loss in his first seven major-league starts – a rare record for a rookie. Cobb has a 2.79 ERA with twice as many strikeouts as walks.
3) OF – Desmond Jennings
In high school, Jennings played baseball as a centerfielder, basketball as a guard and football as a receiver, QB and defensive back. He was a Division I prospect in all three sports (according to Rays beat writer Marc Topkin). These talents seem very similar to former Rays leftfielder Carl Crawford, who is arguably the greatest player in franchise history. He has already made his mark by hitting .354 with two triples, three homers and a solid .708 slugging percentage. Rays TV broadcaster Dewayne Staats has called Jennings a “special player.” He is already living up to that description.
Perhaps the name Robinson just sounds like a good baseball name because of some of the greats who have had it. Although he has only seen action very recently, Chirinos has already put himself in the category of one of Tampa Bay’s most exciting catchers after recording the game-winning hit against Toronto in the 12th inning on Aug. 4. The Venezuela native spent over a decade in the minors before getting an opportunity with the Rays this year. In 13 games, he has a .273 ERA with a homer and six RBI. Rays fans can only hope he’ll provide more offensive production than any catcher they’ve used this year – or maybe ever.
Last night, I was flipping through TV channels and came across an episode of “20/20” on ABC. In terms of journalism, this is one of the best shows on television, along with “Dateline” on NBC and CBS’ long-running “60 Minutes.”
This particular broadcast focused on the subject of progeria, an extremely rare disease that affects children. It involves rapid aging and most kids who are diagnosed with it rarely live to see their teenage years. Barbara Walters did an outstanding job of telling the stories of three young girls with progeria and how the disease has affected their families. She interviewed the girls, their parents, and a few doctors. One striking statistic that stood out is that there are only 16 documented cases of the disease in the United States. Even though it is clearly a condition most people don’t have to deal with, Walters and her producers made it seem important to the viewer.
Can you miagine being in the shoes of a child with progeria? Or a parent with this child? It is hard to even fathom how they must feel knowing their fate is closer than that of their parents. Their health is practically in greater jeopardy than that of most elderly people. One mother commented that she wakes up every day “wondering if this will be the day” she loses her daughter. Just think how difficult it would be having a child in this situation.
Watching this broadcast was somewhat disturbing, but it made me appreciate life more than ever. There are individuals living among us who are in more difficult positions than we will ever be ourselves. To me, these people should be rewarded. I’ve never really bought into the mindset that everyone should live life to the fullest and take risks, probably because I’m a little more cautious than most people. But now I can understand why people feel this way. Life is a precious thing that we should all, at the very least, cherish.
Have you ever paid attention to hotel pillows when traveling? If so, you probably know where this blog post is going.
I have had the opportunity to travel both around the country and internationally. Along the way, I’ve stayed in numerous hotels and motels. There is one thing that the pillows at these homes away from home all seem to have in common. They are lumpy and lame. Right as you plop your head on them, they sink in, almost as if they aren’t even there and your head is propped on the actual bed.
I know it’s kind of an inconsequential complaint, but don’t people want to be comfortable when staying at a hotel? I sure do. Sleeping in a bed other than the one at home is tough enough. Even the higher-end places that charge a fortune and have fancy rooms with all the amenities imaginable still fail to provide comfort for your head. Using these pillows is basically like sleeping on the floor.
I know I can’t be too crazy if there is a Facebook group called “I hate hotel pillows,” can I? I have to believe that this complaint is more prevalent than some may think. The next time I stay at a hotel, I think I will bring a big sign with lyrics similar to those of the holiday tune that goes, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.” It will read, “All I want in my room is a firm pillow.”
Almost every day of the year, something is going on in sports. A baseball game is being played in Cincinnati. A basketball game is tipping off in Los Angeles. A football game is at halftime in Green Bay – with the score knotted at 21.
This Fourth of July marked the 96th annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island in New York. The competition was once again broadcast on ESPN. I often wonder why competitive eating is considered a “sport.” It has been shown on ESPN for years. But so has the Scripps National Spelling Bee. And other non-athletic events. Just because something is broadcast on the home of SportsCenter doesn’t mean it is a sport.
This is the first post of my blog. I plan to use this as a platform for writing about various subjects, probably more about sports than anything. Hence the baseball reference in the title of this post.
I have been a Tampa Bay Rays fan since the team had “devil” in its name. Although I probably shouldn’t be biased toward any team as someone who aspires to be a journalist someday, I am happy to report that the Rays beat the Cincinnati Reds tonight on a walk-off home run by Evan Longoria. The slugger’s batting statistics have been less than stellar since returning from the disabled list, which has been a while now. He recently ditched his batting gloves and decided to hit with flesh on wood. I don’t think I want to know how that would feel. But Longoria put the gloves back on and hit the game-winner, so it’s a good sign that he might be getting back into his normal groove – with the appropriate gear on.