BatBlog

11 Feb 2009

Keeping Fit

Filed under: Fledermaus, sport — maguffyn @ 12:22 UTC

I have a passionate dislike of gyms and fitness centres in general. But put me on a field, a pool or a court and tell me to run around after a ball, a disc or a shuttle and I will keep going all day. Which tends to result in a mismatch between my aspiration to play and the actual fitness level I possess.

As often as possible I try to simply incorporate a better lifestyle; so I walk or cycle to work (not across the ocean, obviously, that would just be silly) whatever the weather and use the stairs instead of an elevator for anything up to 5 storeys etc etc. But there is also nothing like a little incentive to make you more enthusiastic about actually doing something about it, and the Fitness Challenge is really good for that.

The premise is simple: In each 24 hour period starting at midnight you have to do 100 situps and 20 pressups (pushups). You get 1 day off a week and just keep going as long as possible. It is great and I have attempted to convince many people to get involved. Sure, normally I have had more than a couple of beers when I try to convince them so I may not be the most persuasive advocate at the time; hence this approach.

Oh, and the final cool thing about it: You are doing a ‘worthy’ thing and most of the $15 it costs to join goes to charity. Well there is nothing like a little cash involvement to keep you  committed. Anway, sign up for it by sending an e-mail to thefitnesschallenge@gmail.com and tell Fred that you know me.

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23 Oct 2008

Why I am a fan of the Chicago Cubs

Filed under: Fledermaus, sport, Travel — Tags: , — maguffyn @ 20:40 UTC

Sport plays a significant role in my life: I will play it, watch it and talk about it until long after the cows have come home. But how did someone from England fall hook, line and sinker for the Chicago Cubs? I can trace it all back to a single letter that was published in The International Herald Tribune in 1990 (I think). I kept the letter and read it from time to time to remind me of the power and beauty of words. So, with all rights reserved to Stuart Silverstein of Los Angeles I reprint it here

Ballplayers who lose with panache

It was gratifying to see your coverage (July 11) of the baseball All Star Game. However, the assertion that former President Ronald Reagan, a guest commentator for the broadcast, once “did radio commentaries for the Chicago Cubs before going onto greater things in Hollywood and Washington” is, if cute and facile, also inaccurate.

The Chicago Cubs hold a peculiar yet warm place in the American psyche. They lose with regularity and panache. The last time they went to the World Series was in 1945, when most of the better players listened from bases in the South Pacific during the war against Japan.

Play is in a 75-year-old “bandbox” ballpark, with one of the smallest seating capacities in the Major Leagues. But Wrigley Field- note it is a field– has brick walls covered with ivy. It has real grass. It did not have lights until last year and still hosts most games in the afternoon.

It is also in the centre of the city, and there is not enough parking. An order of nuns pays most of its expenses by parking cars on its grounds, with habited sisters directing fans to slots with the assurance of the most experienced traffic cops. The cost? “Whatever you want to give, dear. Enjoy the game.”

Wrigley Field’s crowd noise is distinctly higher pitched than other; there is less drunkenness and rowdyism, and more families enjoy going to games. Foreign fans encounter culture shock. There is no electronic message to tell spectators when to cheer; balls sometimes get trapped in the ivy. In the Sixties a ball went into the ivy, and when the pursuing outfielder shook it two fell out.

The wall also has pointless little nooks and crannies which cause balls to bounce crazily away from fielders. The dimensions are cosy; when the wind is blowing out, so do the baseballs.

The club represents not only Chicago, but also the Midwest, where a fierce historical rivalry between the Cubs and St Louis Cardinals has split families and divided friends. Roand Reagan covered Cubs games for a small Iowa radio station by reading the action from the wire.

It may seem silly or, at least misguided, to append such lofty sentiments to a business engaged in the baseball trade, but then sentiment has little to do with reason. The Cubs are 113 years old. Wrigley Field was two months old when Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated at Sarajevo. Two world wars and innumerable social and political upheavals have occurred since. But the game goes on. Are Hollywood and Washington “greater things”? I doubt it

I read this whilst shooting a seismic survey in what I guess to be July 1990. The following year I flew to Chicago to see the Cubs play. I didn’t have any tickets or anywhere to stay or even any ideas of the rules of baseball. I landed on a Friday and asked the cab driver when the Cubs were playing his reply that “they’re on the road for a week” was a perfect example of the complete and utter lack of planning to my trip.

But a week later I saw the Cubs play, in Wrigely Field. And I became more than ever before lost in the support of a team that will almost certainly bring me more disappointment than joy. My support of the Cubs has outlasted 2 careers and 1 marriage. It has survived living on 2 continents, evolved from scrabbling around in the small print of a newspaper to find the box score to following detailed ball by ball coverage on the internet. But through all of that, the Cubs have still not gone to the World Series, despite coming incredibly close on at least 1 occasion. So why do I still follow them? I guess we just all live in hope- either that or I am the ultimate incurable romantic

14 Feb 2008

Philosophy of Sport

Filed under: Fledermaus, sport — maguffyn @ 22:36 UTC

I have played a lot of sport in my life. Most of it pretty badly and with more enthusiasm than ability, but I like to think that at least in a couple of sports I have done pretty well (Hint: The way to win a national championship is to pick a sport that not many other people play. The way to win national championships in two sports is to pick two sports that not many people play.You get the picture). I have also formed some of the longest lasting and deepest friendships with people on, around or after playing sport. And being someone who will talk ad nauseum about just about anything, needless to say many of my conversations revolve around sport (Stand up the Friday Sports Club) and as is my want, I have done some thinking about this too.

All my sporting idols are people who (appear) to play the game for the love of it, with more talent in their left toenail than the rest of us have in our entire bodies and who have a certain style, grace and panache for what they do. My heroes include Jean Baptiste Lafond,  RameshKrishnan and many others. OK, so many of our heroes come from our youth (What is it they say? “The older I get, the better I used to be”- maybe that also applies to our minds eye of sporting ability) but I see a trend in sports today (at least top level sport) that confirms the belief that the magic is disappearing and it is all becoming a business.

Take for example a quote from the current coach of the Wales national rugby team: “when you take the field, it’s  about performing at your optimum. It’s about trying to be error-free.” Now I absolutely agree with the first part- no point turning up to play if you are hungover (the days of cricketers being so drunk that they forget to bring a bat with them seem to be long gone), but using “trying to be error free” as a mantra? Surely you should be encouraging people to ‘out perform the opposition’, ‘be inventive’, ‘do what you do best’ etc etc

The same line is spouted time after time by NHL hockey  players: “We need to work harder”, “we need to pull together” etc. You never hear anything along the lines of “we need to practice our skills so that next time the opposition won’t know what to do”. And I think that is a shame.

I could go on (and on) with this, but I’ll leave it there for now. I think I might return to this later

07 Nov 2007

Just when you’re thinking things over

Filed under: IT, sport — Tags: , , — maguffyn @ 18:48 UTC

The world is not black and white- it is much more beautiful than that.

Which unfortunately means that for many questions there is no single answer. Like a simple one: Which aggregator do you use?

My choice has been between Yahoo and Netvibes (though there are many more): Netvibes looks cool, Yahoo is the “safe” choice. And here comes the problem: The basic feeds that people want (Reuters, BBC, The Register etc) are available to all aggregators because they use RSS/ATOM. But the really cool feeds lock you into a particular aggregator.

And here is my rant (and a particular example): I want to display sports scores from my favourite teams all aroung the world- NHL (Calgary Flames), MLB (Chicago Cubs), NFL (da Bears), NCAAF (Michigan), Premier League (Arsenal), Premiership Rugby (Gloucester), County cricket (Kent), Italian Serie A (Sampdoria) etc etc. This functionality exists in both aggregators, except it doesn’t.

Yahoo used to provide me with all the north american scores and some of the european ones, but their most recent revamp has removed all the feeds from north america (it still recognises that I have selected some teams, it just won’t display the scores). I guess they assume that because I (now) live in the UK I must have lost all interest in sport outside of Europe. Netvibes is reliant on RSS feeds available to it and the only one I can find only supports the north american scores.

So, I can get most of my scores (still not all) but only by looking in two places. Surely this is what the net was supposed to solve? We live in a distributed world, so how do we provide the information to support the inhabitants of this world?

Because we aren’t doing it right now. Well, not properly anyway.

(BTW I still don’t know which aggregator is best)

15 Oct 2007

Battle of the Sports

Filed under: sport — Tags: , — maguffyn @ 13:47 UTC

Another contribution the eternal pub debate of which is better:

Football or Rugby

(I’ll work on turning the links into better table in the meantime, for now click on the links)

Me? I’ve been a rugby man since I can’t remember, even choosing which school to go to based upon the sport that they played. But then so did my brother too. Madness, who says it isn’t hereditary. At which point I offer an apology to my kids.

26 Sep 2007

The greatest

Filed under: sport — Tags: — maguffyn @ 14:37 UTC

Wanted to upload this for further discussion by anyone interested: A list of classic moments in sport that are numbered, but in no particular order

  1. Mike Powell vs Carl Lewis in Tokyo in 1991. The only man to jump further than Bob Beamon (and they’d still win by a foot today)
  2. The Baa-Baas when they still played for fun, could get out meaningful teams and had the beating of world class opposition (1973 vs All Blacks, obviously top of the list)
  3. Arsenal, right here, right now (sorry, couldn’t resist that one)
  4. Daley Thomson in LA 1984. And Seb too (Í’ll never forget the emotion on Seb’s face after winning the 1500). Throw in the 3 World records in 41 days in 1981 for good measure
  5. Derek Redmond, Barcelona 1992: Never was there a truer expression of what it means to compete (and finish) and why we need support.
  6. One Day World Cup Final with Clive Lloyd (1975) Windies at their best, intimidation and guile. Sir Viv coming into his own etc
  7. The fights that were used for When We Were Kings (Rumble in the Jungle, Manila etc)
  8. The sequence of fights with british middleweights in the early 90’s (Benn, Eubank etc) resulting in the horrific injuries to Gerald McClellan and Michael Watson. If there are more scary examples of the price you pay to be a boxer, I really don’t want to know.
  9. Speaking of which: the Hagler/ Hearns/ Ray Leonard/ Duran sequence
  10. MacEnroe in the Wimbeldon 1983 (or 4?) when he destroyed Connors in the final. And to add to some tennis I’d throw in 2007 Men’s final too. That was pretty special.
  11. Ryder 1985, in particular Sam Torrance on the final day
  12. The Ashes 2005. Bloody marvellous

Like I say, all and any comments welcome

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