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Sports commentary: Dribs and drabs

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Comments on a few varied topics

By Mike Forster

 

Here are a couple of items for your consideration.  I wanted to share them, but I couldn't stretch any of them into a full column's length.

Consider it housecleaning for the old noggin.

 

While I must confess to having never heard of Diana Nyad prior to last week, I am startled by her accomplishments.

The only things I find I have in common with the long-distance swimmer are that we are both beyond halftime in the great game of life and that neither of us uses a shark cage when doing our respective things.

C'mon!  This lady is 64 years old.  At that point in life, shouldn't she be winning accolades for her peach preserves or her quilt entry at the county fair?

Instead, she's swimming, nonstop, from Cuba to the Florida Keys.

I'm more than a decade younger than this woman.  Here's what she did that I couldn't begin to approach.  First, she swam 102 miles.  That's the equivalent of swimming from the offices of the Bedford Bulletin to JMU, in Harrisonburg.  I doubt that I could swim a complete mile.  That's the equivalent of swimming from the offices of the Bedford Bulletin to the Bedford Ruby Tuesday.  (I suspect swimming to Ruby Tuesday for one of its pretzel burgers and fries would defeat the purpose.)

Second, in order to complete this task, Nyad had to swim for two solid days.  Never mind physically exerting yourself the entire time, just staying awake for 48 hours is pretty darn impressive.  I know that there is no way I could keep my eyes open for that stretch of time.  In my defense, however, Nyad was not subjected to Chicago Cubs baseball during that stretch.

Throughout all of this, Nyad was subjected to jellyfish stings, the sun's burning rays, nausea from taking in saltwater and the threat of sharks.

If she isn't Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, something is amiss.

 

*****

It appears that the National League representatives in the playoffs will be the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers.

On the one hand, I don't much like that lineup since my Cubbies are absent from it.

On the other hand, I like it from a traditionalist point of view.  All five of those teams were part of the original eight members of the National League (although the Braves played in Boston when the league was founded).

The other three members were the Phillies, Cubs and New York/San Fran Giants.

My golden years of fandom ran from 1966, when I first became aware of the game, until 1982, when Uncle Sam shipped me off to Germany (in the days before on-demand video and the MLB Channel).

During that span of 17 years, the Dodgers, Cards, Pirates and Reds won the National League pennant a total of 14 times.  In other words, I grew up becoming used to seeing those teams in the World Series.  Not the Diamondbacks or the Rockies or the Padres.

World Series nostalgia is nice.  My memories of Wrigley Field are also nice.  It seems a shame the two never crossed paths (nor are they likely to any time soon).

*****

A couple of months ago, I wrote a column about the Norfolk Tides and their Salute to Pork Challenge.

In a chitlin, er nutshell, the challenge is to consume four smoked sausages, four BBQ sandwiches, a dozen pork wings and a mess o' bacon, chili and cheese tater tots.

The wife's sister works with a fellow who took up the gauntlet.  This fellow is renowned for his grievous and ghastly gastronomic gallantry:  He's put down a half-dozen Whoppers at lunchtime.

But even this fastidious feaster of foodstuffs was no match for the challenge.  Two things did him in:  He paced himself too slowly, allowing his stomach time to tell his brain that enough was enough.

And he left the mound o' tater tots until the end.  After working his way through the opening meats, the tots took on an uncanny resemblance to Mount McKinley.

Alas, 'twas the cheesy, bacony tots that landed Rex Arios's name and photo on the Tides' Wall of Shame.

*****

Last weekend's game was the first non-sellout for Virginia Tech since 1998.  

Don't worry, Tech fans, that's not a sign of future doom for the Hokie program.

Rather, it is a reflection of a fan base that still has some refinement in its tastes.  Sorry, but booking Western Carolina virtually ensured that Lane Stadium would go unfilled.

In fact, the only way Tech could have sold out that game was by topping Alabama the weekend before.  Of course, all the seats would have been bought out by media types.