Category: Sports

The Price of Virtuosity

Not long ago we had the pleasure of hearing (and watching) the young soloist Hillary Hahn play the Mendelssohn violin concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, at the Hollywood Bowl. She was sublime. The notoriously difficult music, which is hard even to hum accurately, came through her fingers with supreme grace, as though her body were...

Athletic Noise

If you’re a betting man, someone who likes to play the odds, chances are you would wager against the proposition that a professional athlete will say something insightful, useful, enlightening, touching, or even partially intelligent in a post-game interview. Sure, million-to-one longshots occasionally pull through, but is it really worth spending a lifetime of ESPN...

The Sadness of Zidane

In the waning moments of the final overtime period of the World Cup Final, a sporting event that is said to be watched by 1 billion people around our planet, Zenidine Zidane ended his illustrious football career. Earlier in the game, he scored a penalty kick goal for France, the team he captains. Now, with...

Eleven Reasons to Love the World Cup

11) Soccer, or “football” as the rest of the world calls it, is truly “the beautiful game.” 10) The entire globe — with possibly the exception of America — caring about something other than oil, money, and religion. 9) The unfamiliar national songs sung, con gusto, in the stands. 8) The uniform colors. 7) The...

The Foul-Mouthed Umpire Redeemed

Yesterday’s paper carried a column by the sportswriter Bill Plaschke about Bruce Froemming, an MLB umpire closing in on the all-time record for most games officiated. Plaschke’s gimmick is to write one sentence paragraphs, as though he were being paid by the inch. Not the word. He’s also well known for essaying sentimental stories that...

Why There’s Value in the Underdog

Last night, the University of Florida won the men’s collegiate basketball championship, beating UCLA, 73-57. The Florida Gators were the favored squad, and, as usual in this type of spectacle, most of the money on the contest was bet on the favorite, the team that’s perceived as stronger than the other one. Everybody loves a winner...

Judging Athletics

Let us consider the absurdity of judged sports now, before the inevitable scandal sure to arise sometime before the current installment of the Olympic Games have concluded, before nationalist passions and hometown prejudices cloud the discussion, and before headline writers ask “Was She Robbed?” Let cool heads prevail. Diving, gymnastics, and figure skating are athletic...

Department of Trivial Inquiry: Eye-Blacking

Seeing some of the BCS Championship game last night, between USC and Texas, reminded me that there’s almost always betting value in the underdog. It also raised a not very important issue: What the hell is with the eye blacking? When I was a lad, football players painted black stripes below their eyes, on the...

Betting

Betting on the stock market is not illegal. Indeed, it’s a venerated pastime, and those who are good at it are celebrated on magazine covers and given honorary doctorates. What these luminaries do, though, is essentially what good sports bettors do: Find an undervalued team (in this case, a company) and bet on it with...

Golf Abides

A couple of days after watching Jack Nicklaus play his last round of competitive major championship golf , we got a letter from an 83-year-old woman we’d met on a golf course. She reminded us that her regular foursome, composed of friends from high school, met every week to hack it around. “We really love...