Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sweeping Up

Historic Sweep

I am deeply grateful to the Rio Olympics for keeping my mind off of the raging dumpster fire that is the 2016 presidential election. Among the reasons we watch any kind of sports, of course, is for the escapism. But we also watch because there is a chance we will see something that has never happened before.

The 100-meter hurdles began as a women's track event at the 1972 Summer Olympics
in Munich (from 1932 through 1968 the Olympic distance for women's hurdles was 80 meters). In the eleven Olympic games held since the distance was increased, no country had ever swept the top three places. Until yesterday.

United States runners Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin made history with their sweep of the event at Olympic Stadium.

L to R: Brianna Rollins (gold), Kristi Castlin (bronze), and Nia Ali (silver)

"I could totally dominate that event if I wanted to!"

Sure you could...except for the fact that you're slow...and can't jump...and you're a guy...

Road Sweep

Last night my beloved Kansas City Royals pulled off a rare feat, sweeping a road series in Detroit. They beat the Tigers 4-1 at Comerica Park to finish their road trip at 5-1, getting their season record back to .500 (60-60) as well.

"I just want a chance to contribute to the team."
Royals starter Yordano Ventura continued the recent string of strong performances by our starting pitchers, holding the Tigers to one run (a solo homer) on just 5 hits in his 6 1/3 innings of work. He struck out seven and issued two walks.

Rookie LHP Matt Strahm picked
up the win (his first in the major leagues) with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, and All-Star Kelvin Herrera needed just 11 pitches to record the save.


The Royals didn't get a hit until All-Star 1B Eric Hosmer doubled in the 7th inning. LF Alex Gordon tied the game with a leadoff home run in the 8th, and Hosmer hit a two-run home run in the 9th to give the Royals the lead for good.

"Nice to see the rook get his first big-league win. So, is Hosmer's slump finally over?"

It would certainly be helpful if it was...having the Twins in town for four games may help that along...

Happy Birthday!

On August 18, 1934 Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico. He was the youngest of seven children in his working-class family, and he showed an affinity for baseball at a young age.

By the time I started paying serious attention to baseball in the early '60s Clemente was already an established star, well on his way to induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I was basically an American League fan, but it was difficult not to admire Clemente's skills when the Pirates played on TV.

A member of the 3,000-Hit Club (he had exactly that number), Clemente won four batting titles, twelve Gold Glove awards, and the National League MVP Award (1966).

Sweeping Change

Commemorative postage stamp issued in 1998

On August 18, 1920 Tennessee
became the 36th state to ratify the
19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women the right to vote everywhere in the country.

I Predict a Photo Finish

From the pen of Henry Payne, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

On August 18, 1969 Erik Francis Schrody was born in Valley Stream, New York.
He would go on to a successful career in music with a unique style blending elements
of blues, R&B, and hip-hop.

Performing under the name Everlast, he signed to the record label run by rap superstar Ice-T when he was 21, but his initial album was a flop. After achieving commercial success with the group House of Pain, he elected to embark on a solo career.

I had begun paying attention to hip-hop music in the mid-1990s because so many of my students were fond of it, but there were only a small handful of artists in that style whom
I genuinely enjoyed (Ice-T himself being foremost among them).

Everlast made a highly favorable impression on me with his 1998 album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, which sold over three million records and featured the haunting "What It's Like." That song did well on the Billboard charts, and its video was played heavily. It still gets regular play on my iTunes playlists.

Everlast won a Grammy Award in 2000, and in 2007 he was asked to write a theme song for the TV show Saving Grace, a program which starred Oscar-winning actress Holly Hunter, one of my favorites.

Today's send-off is the official music video for the full-length version of "Saving Grace," featuring clips and dialogue from the show. Enjoy...

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