Week of March 20, 2020

Back to Running 

If you want to know why people actually run, then read this article. In a week when gyms and spin classes, and yoga studios are closed, people are going back to the roads. Natalie and I have seen it, and I’m guessing you have, too. Runners. A lot of runners.  

While I urge anyone even a little bit interested in running to read the entire story (it’s short), Talya Minsberg calls out running as an odd side effect of the world stopping: 

It’s the perfect sport for a pandemic. All you need is a pair of shoes and a six-foot buffer from the next person. (Some New York City paths, however, have gotten crowded with runners and walkers, making social distancing even there a challenge.) [PAL: the same can be said for Lake Merritt here in Oakland]

…The newest runners are easy to spot, falling into one of three camps: overexcited, overstriding or overly dramatic about the hill up ahead. But a transformation comes quickly. A few blocks later and it’s easy to see the release on the faces of runners who have found their new outlet.

Last Saturday, I was a little over halfway through my training for a marathon in Vancouver. Every run had a mileage, a pace, a small part in a plan to run a race in a certain amount of time. This week, the runs have no set distance or pace. I’ve taken different routes. There’s nothing to hurry back for – no meet-up or reservation. Each run is self-contained. The goal is to find that meditative sweet spot when the mind shuts off and the only acknowledgement is the sound of footfalls synced with my breath. Breath in for three steps through the nose, breath out three steps through a loose jaw. 

I’d much rather be training for a race and going out to dinner with friends, and going to the office to work, and having dinner with Natalie’s mom and dad, and flying to see my family; but I’m really thankful for the each mile of each day this week. I need the mental break and physical burn. 

As a regular runner, you become addicted to the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other because when you’re running hard, that’s all you can think about. The lactic acid building in your legs doesn’t care about your work calendar or your school assignment or etiquette for video conference calls or the state of the pandemic today.  Just get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Get to the next mile, to the next repetition, to the next tree, to the next breath.

To all runners out there this week, you’ll be getting the nod from me. Hope to see you out there. – PAL 

Source: “Running From Coronavirus: A Back-to-Basics Exercise Boom”, Talya Minsberg, The New York Times (03/19/20)

Moon Golf: That’s Deep 

This is a strange story, and I loved it. Read it twice. In 1971, Alan Shepard hit three golf balls from the lunar surface. While his explanation was that it was “a form of scientific outreach,” the real reason was because Alan Shepard loved to play golf and thought it would be cool to hit a golf ball on the moon. 

But Graham MacAree makes a pretty interesting observation in his story. Perhaps no two pursuits better sum up the success and downfall of man better than exploration and domestication. The moon is the high-water mark of human exploration. As for golf…I mean, is there anything more domesticated than a 6-iron?  Sheppard was staring at a new frontier* while golfing. 

Golf is an expression of mastery, of a hostile world rendered submissive. Those verdant greens and carefully placed trees invoke a nature that’s been twisted into parody for our own amusement. Humans have been fighting against the rest of the world since the dawn of our species (and been rather too successful, might I add), and golf is perhaps the most brutal expression of our need to tame the environment.

Perhaps the idea of domesticating (and destroying) the moon is particularly interesting this week. Brilliant observation on MacAree’s part. – PAL 

Source: Alan Shepard Once Played Moon Golf”, Graham MacAree, SB Nation (03/19/20) 

*A new frontier to everyone on earth but a few guys named Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins.

This Week’s Best from Posnanski’s Top 100

No. 12, Honus Wagner, showing you why the best players don’t always make the best coaches:

His most famous quote is simply: “There ain’t much to being a ballplayer if you’re a ballplayer.”

So true.

But the funny part is that while Vaughan undoubtedly learned so much from Wagner by simply being around the great man, Honus was not what you might call a demonstrative or vivid teacher. Yes, Wagner worked with Vaughan for hours on the field, but when someone asked Vaughan how it was progressing, he smiled.

“I’m not sure,” Vaughan said. “When I asked Mr. Wagner what to do, he said, ‘You just run in fast, grab the ball and throw it to first base ahead of the runner.’ But he didn’t tell me how.”

Source: The Baseball 100: No. 12, Honus Wagner,” Joe Posnanski, The Athletic (03/18/2020)

Checking in on the Players from Jackie Robinson West Little League

Way back in 2014, the year we started this blog, Jackie Robinson West Little League from the Southside of Chicago made a run to the Little League World Series championship game. Their run sparked a lot of interest, because they played with a lot of joy, and a lot of flair, and yes because they showed that baseball is not dead with today’s African-American youth.

Well, those kids are all entering adulthood now, and at least a couple of them are prospects. This article checks in on the shortstop on that team, Ed Howard, nicknamed Silk by broadcaster and Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, is a senior in high school and is expected to be drafted in the first round of the MLB draft…if its held. The article is an interesting look at how much work went into Ed’s game from the time he was a little kid.

But it got me wondering…what about Tre Hondras? Trey is the player featured in our logo at the top of the page. He made it because of his hilarious response to ESPN about what he does to relax before a game:

Still funny.

So I looked him up. Turns out Tre is a pretty good player himself, and is headed to Michigan in the fall to play ball. Good job, Tre! -TOB

Source: “Six Years After Jackie Robinson West, Ed Howard is a Surefire MLB Prospect,” James Fegan, The Athletic (03/19/2020)

A Much Needed Dose of Kruk and Kuip

I need them back! -TOB

Lockdown Dailies Overview

A distraction – I sure as hell need one. I can’t go down the pandemic wormhole every day. There are no sporting events to argue over or to celebrate. We need to do it ourselves, so TOB and I are sharing a short post daily. Don’t care how goofy the topic (the goofier the better), and we’re asking our readers to join the conversation.  

Possible topics to include (readers, please email us at 123sportslist@gmail.com or hit us up on the socials to add your suggestions or request from the current list)

  • Greatest game you ever played in
  • Your favorite cleats growing up
  • Glove Rules: What you need to know before you put on someone else’s baseball glove 
  • What is the earliest level of baseball can coaches wear full uniform w/o ridicule?
  • Sport you wished you hadn’t quit (or had quit earlier)
  • Sport you never played but think you could’ve been pretty good at
  • Greatest spectating memories
  • Ever been ejected? Do tell. 
  • Worst mistake you ever made in competition
  • Analyzing TOB’s LL stats from Tahoe (altitude)
  • Best youth field you ever played on
  • Best youth althlete you ever competed against/with (not how they turned out,but at the time)
  • Cal – how do we make them not suck?
  • Why Augustana should not go D1…but if they do can I claim D1 status (asking for a friend)?

Video of the Week: 

Tweet of the Week:

Song of the Week: Haim – “The Steps”

Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or:

Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

Twitter: @123sportsdigest


Instagram: @123__sports

I’m telling you that baby could be the star of a show called Babies I Don’t Care About. 

-Deangelo Vickers

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