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Baseball’s Geriatric Backdrop

October 18th, 2016 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

I watched the Dodgers’ National League Championship Series game with the Cubs that ended early this morning, and I was struck by two things I saw in the crowd.

–Even this late in the season (but not at all that late on a Los Angeles night), Dodgers fans are going to leave early in an attempt to beat traffic. (This has been going on forever. Go look at the Kirk Gibson home run from Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, and notice all the empty seats.)

–The fans TV viewers are most likely to see appear to be old. In some cases, seriously old. Larry-King-old. Which doesn’t exactly help baseball’s reputation as a sport for geriatrics.

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The Paris Sports Bar

October 17th, 2016 · No Comments · English Premier League, Football, soccer, tourism, Travel

Paris has just about everything … but when it comes to the, OK, less-than-highbrow concept of the sports bar … well, they don’t do it often and often don’t to it well.

All these years later, we finally seem to have found a competent sports bar that is a sports bar in a way that Americans or Britons might recognize.

And the occasion?

A pairing of old English rivals Liverpool and Manchester United in a rare Monday night match. Which we do not get in the friend’s apartment where we are staying.

So after some diligent research (by someone not me), a solution was found. And yielded the sort of cross-border, cross-culture crowd that the Premier League probably would be proud to know two of its teams lured into a bar on a cool October night.

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Kershaw Will Always Have October 16, 2016

October 16th, 2016 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Most Los Angeles Dodgers fans were well aware that the man typically referred to as the greatest pitcher in the game — Clayton Kershaw — had not been able to translate his regular-season successes.

Those led to three Cy Young awards (2011, 2013, 2014), given to the man considered the best pitcher in his league.

But then there was the issue of Kershaw and the playoffs, where he had struggled mightily.

Until tonight.

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Paris: Where You Can Leave Your Heart … and Your Wallet

October 15th, 2016 · No Comments · Barcelona, Paris, tourism, Travel

I had been in Paris barely 10 minutes today when I had my pocket picked.

Arrived from the south of the country on the fast train into Gare de Lyon, made my way downstairs to the Metro’s 1 line, got into a jammed car just as the doors were about to close … and then made an unintentional contribution to the city’s criminal underclass.

I have been through this once before, in a situation quite a bit like this one. Which is one reason I am angrier with myself than the last time … but not as angry as I am at the sleazeballs who perpetrated the theft.

It annoys me to write about it, but maybe others can learn from my carelessness.

Let’s start with some basic rules for avoiding incidents like this, particularly on subway trains and the like, in a big city, in a place known for pickpockets.

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Thanks Owed to Cleveland Indians

October 14th, 2016 · No Comments · Baseball, NBA, NFL

The Cleveland Indians have been not-winning things for a long time.

No World Series championships since 1948. Last appeared in a World Series in 1997 and lost Game 7 in excruciating fashion.

But we must thank them for an important something already this October:

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The Wee-Hours Game 5 … and Paying $25 to MLB

October 13th, 2016 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

I assumed I would be asleep when the Dodgers and Washington Nationals completed Game 5 — as well as their National Division Series.

The game began at 8:08 p.m. (EDT), and three-plus hours had elapsed by the time I woke in France, at about 5:15 a.m. (Friday morning).

As I was booting up the laptop I was guessing at a final score — 7-1 Nationals?

It was Dodgers 4-1 … but in the top of the seventh inning.

I had joined the 66-minute seventh inning of what would be a 4-hour-and-32-minute game.

Both the game and the seventh inning could be considered classics of managerial chess matches. (Another ESPN employee, Tim Kurkjian, called it “a ridiculously great” game.)

If you had all day (or all night) to see it unfold.

The time in Washington when this one finally ended, with “closer” Clayton Kershaw striking out Wilmer Difo with runners at first and second, was 12:40 a.m.

Thirteen pitchers threw 323 pitches. The Dodgers used three starting pitchers (Rich Hill, Julio Urias, Kershaw), employed set-up man Joe Blanton in the third and closer Kenley Jansen in the seventh and ace Kershaw in the ninth. The Nationals used seven pitchers, six of them working in the seventh, when the Dodgers scored four runs. The Nationals used 21 of 25 players and had no position players left on the bench, when Difo hit.

It led to a second-guesser’s free-for-all. My biggest question would be why Dusty Baker lifted starter Max Scherzer, who may win the Cy Young Award, after Joc Pederson homered on the first pitch of the seventh, tying the game at 1-1.


Hard to imagine that many fans on the east coast of the U.S. saw the end, on a school night.

At least they know what to expect, going forward.

The first five games (at least) of the National League Championship Series (Dodgers versus Cubs), are scheduled for 8:08 starts, same as tonight’s game.

That would be Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and maybe the following mornings, too. (Times for Games 6 and 7 are not yet set.)

And, yes, I will now purchase the MLB overseas playoffs package.

If I am unlikely to see any of the starts … odds are decent I will be able to see some of the finishes.



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Holding Off on That MLB Package

October 12th, 2016 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

The Dodgers’ victory in Game 4 was semi-clutch. Can’t really call it a clutch performance, because they blew that three-run lead in the seventh inning.

(They won on a hit batter, a pinch single and Chase Utley’s ground ball that was a foot out of reach for the second baseman.)

And semi-clutch is not enough to get me to commit to the $25 MLB package so I can see Game 5 — from the south of France.


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When World Cup Dreams Begin to Fade

October 11th, 2016 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Fifa, Football, soccer, UAE, World Cup

Aside, perhaps, from the return of oil to $100 a barrel, the United Arab Emirates would like nothing more than to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

The UAE played in the 1990 World Cup, a remarkable achievement at the time, given the country had not existed 20 years earlier.

But they have not been back, and people have noticed. If I learned one thing in six years in the UAE it is this: It is a country that competes in several sports but really cares only for soccer.

Which brings us to the current situation in the Asian Football Confederation, which is conducting qualifying for Russia 2018.

This was thought to be the UAE’s great chance to get back to the biggest single-sport event on the planet, but things are not going as well as they might, and the notion that the “golden generation” might fail … is depressing.

The latest?

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When You Didn’t See What You’ve Seen

October 10th, 2016 · 1 Comment · Abu Dhabi, Dubai, The National

Going back to the Abu Dhabi days here.

In the UAE, daily English-language journalism is, 95 percent of the time, not dissimilar from English-language journalism in the U.S. or Britain. Timely, fact-based, well-sourced.

But then there is that 5 percent when things get a bit squirrely, and you didn’t really see what you saw — at least for purposes of publication.

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Holding Up on That $25 Dodgers Investment

October 9th, 2016 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

The TV package I have here in southern France gives me a lot of sports stuff, but Major League Baseball is not part of the menu. Team handball nearly 24/7. Lots of tennis. Every English Premier League match, every Champions League match. (I actually watch some of those.)

No baseball. This is France, after all, and the idea of a stick-and-ball sport does not seem to have occurred to them.

But there is a solution: MLB is offering live game access to all postseason games, including to people living outside the United States … for $25.

With the Dodgers in the playoffs, and my current status as a gentleman of leisure meaning I can watch games at odd hours, I am considering this.

But I am waiting for the Dodgers to do just a bit more than they have so far, which includes a 5-2 defeat in Game 2 in Washington today after No. 2 starter Rich Hill was staked to an early 2-0 lead.

In short, I do not trust the Dodgers to do anything heroic in the postseason — pretty much nothing since 1988 — and I am not going to plunk down that $25 until they give me some hint of being “clutch”.

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