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Nats Win! (And Their Fans, Too)

Nats fans are already aware of the buzz about all those empty seats behind home plate. The Post's Paul Farhi, among others, wrote about it, noting that the seats in the "Presidential" section cost between $300 and $400. And any Nats fan who has watched a televised game can attest that the expanse of empty red seats directly behind home plate looks beyond pathetic. It's an insult to those of us who love baseball, to Washingtonians who want to support this new team, to fans who show up for games with bins of homemade cookies and proceed to consume massive quantities of beer and cheer those muppet presidents at the top of her lungs. (Okay, so I am talking about Rachel here -- I don't know anyone else who bakes cookies to bring to a baseball game. This is why Rachel is great.)

You get the point. This is crazy. We need people in those seats.

I am a wacky, idealistic, naive, daughter-of-hippies dreamer. Still, hear me out: Rather than solving the problem by merely lowering the cost of those tickets, or marketing them better, what about donating the unused seats to people who would really appreciate the experience -- patients at a children's hospital, maybe, or inner-city kids who have never been to a baseball game?

Surely there is something wonderful that can be done with those spaces rather than leaving them bare, which creates a false impression that the team has no fans and an accurate impression that the people who priced those tickets are possibly sniffing glue. Can't someone ask the execs who own some of those seats whether they plan to use 'em? And tell them that if they're not, they'll be donated to a good cause? People love donating to a good cause. Even high-society "Presidential" section ticket-holders.

This way, everyone wins. Maybe even the Nationals.

-- Caitlin Gibson

By Editor  |  May 14, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
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Next: Across the Great Divide



Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 6:21 AM | Report abuse

Wow? Now for the coffee. I think that Cassandra is making some.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 6:22 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

I forgot to leave the boodle with my handle. CP, I need coffee badly if you read my comments in the other kit. I am heading to the kitchen now. I'm frosting the cake, and drinking the coffee. I'll fax you some.

Posted by: cassandra s | May 14, 2008 6:34 AM | Report abuse


That's a wonderful idea. And just think, the kids would love it! Perhaps someone will read your idea here, and move on it. If not, you should write a letter. I would love to sign it, on the computer, of course.

Posted by: cassandra s | May 14, 2008 6:38 AM | Report abuse

After the great superhero Boodle yesterday, we get baseball today? Sorry Caitlin, I'm already developing a favorite.

My company is having an Orioles game picnic later this year, I'm also having to pass on chances for the Orioles-Yankees game because my niece will be in town.

For a guy that doesn't like baseball I'm having a lot of tickets thrown my way.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 6:41 AM | Report abuse

That was so much fun I had to boodleskate in slomo.

Let's see,
BallBreaker, thanks for the National Geographic article tip

bc, will you have an army?

The Grand Mechanic of Quant(um)
Had ten thousand ferm(i)en
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.
On the way up they were up
On the way down they were down
And when they were all halfway up
Some were up and some were down

ComicGeekTim, remember that Beast is a medical doctor as well, and I think he's good at maths too (?), so I rather wanted to be like him (BeastlyGirl?).

CP inspired me in another direction (love that song!), but I don't want to blind with science...appears kinda anti-enlightenment, ya know? But wouldn't it be great to have the powers of a science muse? Astronomers have Urania; I will dream of being Coria for biochemists tonight.

Posted by: RepostGirl | May 14, 2008 7:11 AM | Report abuse

The next time I go to a baseball game, I want a seat. That didn't happen at the last one, and Mr. T took me home early.

Morning, Cassandra! It's rather cool here, blackberry winter I suppose. I'm ready for consistently warm weather.

We had a great time at the garden yesterday. It's wonderful what can be done when the money and the labor is available to design and keep a garden up. The orchid house is fabulous, but it was full of elementary aged children with journals, doing a project, so we didn't get to see as much as we would have otherwise. I don't mind having to go back.

Posted by: slyness | May 14, 2008 7:16 AM | Report abuse

DNA-girl, we can both be in the pantheon of muses. Me Rhetorica, You Coria.

But, I really need this power: Sock-O. Socks magically mate themselves at all points when they are off the feet. How can one average but deeply beloved boy-man slough off so many socks? Thank God we are beyond the matchi-ness that CPDots tried to achieve.

DNA-girl, since you are visual, check out this cartoon. Heather really needs Sock-O to arrive and do her stuff.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Faxing CP a sockful of sock centromeres

Posted by: DNAGirl | May 14, 2008 7:39 AM | Report abuse

I'm amazed the Nats haven't already worked out a seat filling ticket give-away scheme. It may also surprise management to learn that there are still people who could afford to spend $300-400 on a seat at a baseball game but choose not to because it's stupid. (Not baseball, the price.)

Hugs to Wilbrod and Rainforest, both dealing with troubles.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 14, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Caitlin - that is a very clever idea. I really like it. And the neat thing is that it needn't be an all or nothing concept. Much like the "reserved" section of fancy restaurants, like, you know, Chuck E Cheese, the number of seats dedicated to worthy guests could expand and contract as needed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Centromeres! Egad, D-Girl, I think you did it. Shall we apply for a patent?

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

A letter in the Post today also suggests that service peeps should get those seats. YES!

Sorry for Wbrod and Rainforest: faxing you fortitude, funds, etc. Apply as needed. Top off with a dollop of whipped fun. I find this works.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 7:50 AM | Report abuse

CP - My son always lounges around with one sock. Oh, he starts off with two, but somewhere between the refrigerator and what used to be *my* comfy chair, he sheds one as if it were a spurious vestigial limb. This missing sock shows up in random places, like in the sports section of the newspaper.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

DNA girl, yes, of course I can have an Army. I loved that poetic casting, thank you! [yes, I sang it, too]

CP, your Lost Sock problem will be a worthy challenge for Sock-O. I wrote a few items about Dimesnion of Lost Socks in my 10thcircle blog some time back (oy, two years ago now...):


For those who've never read them before; enjoy.

I think giving away Nats tickets to folks who wouldn't otherwise be able to go is a good idea, Caitlin, and IIRC the Washington NFL franchise does so from time to time. There are a *lot* more MLB games, let's get some folks out there!

Maybe one of us with a little extra time could contact the Nats' front office with Caitlin's idea, and see what they can do...
Ya never know if ya don't ask.

Also, shouldn't we have a Nats' BPH this year...?

Gotta run, I have a busy day ahead of me.


Posted by: bc | May 14, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse

There are very few things in life that are not improved with home-made cookies.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Rolling on the floor laughing like a banshee! RotFLlaB

BC, can the Hadron Collider help us with the sock problem?

For years, CPDots made sock puppets and sock animals and sock creatures....I am talking lots of them! Apparently, the Dots do not want to take over the NeverEndingSockSource and sink them into value-added, charming sock creatures. Whimsy: the first charm lost on the road to adulthood. Make that time for whimsy.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

One other piece of visual silliness about socks:

About baseball and tube socks (so I can be on-kit before I bike off to the day) -- a lonely tube sock with a ball placed in the two, then tied off makes a grand doggy toy. They will go through wash well, but I recommend hanging them out to dry since they will tumble loudly in the drying. If you hang them out to dry, a doggie may sit and stare at the clothesline, hoping that the sock-ball toy will clamber down to play.

Of course, if you do this, the other sock's mate will appear. I cannot be responsible for this variation of Murphy's law.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Got an all-day meeting on stuff that does not impact or interest me in the least. I wish for the superpower of holding my head upright and my eyes open, while the rest of me is fast asleep. Somebody, please, fax me some no-doze.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | May 14, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

My boss is wanting to know the origin of this quote:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO, What a Ride!"

She thought it was from Scent of A Woman, but Al Pacino says Hoo Hah, not Woo Hoo. I need an authoritative source.

And Don, that was my problem yesterday. I was buried in the basement of the Metro Center Marriott listening to boring seminars with no wi-fi connection. I did manage to write two future blog posts.

The key is to look busy while doing something else. I knew one guy that when he was bored in a meeting, he would try to write down all fifty states. It's harder than is sounds, takes a good deal of time, and you look very serious doing it.

One of the blog entries I wrote while bored is about how you can get into all sorts of places, like the set of "This Week With George Snuffleupagus" as long as you look like you belong.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Baseball is a surprisingly complex game. I mean, at first glance it is naught but a bunch of guys standing around in their jammies scratchin' and spittin'. But upon closer examination it becomes clear that baseball is a brilliantly salient exposition of the power of contingency. The effect of a given action is tightly bound to pre-existing conditions. For example, a home run can score anything from 1 to 4 runs depending on the configuration of the runners. When combined with the other elements of the game - such as the unique nature of the different ballparks - one gets a nearly infinite number of possible permutations. These subtleties are what can make the sport so interesting to many.

Now, I came late in my appreciation of the game. I was raised in an area lacking professional baseball until I was well into high school. In fact, it wasn't until I read an appreciation of the game by Stephen J Gould, who pointed out the relationship between baseball and Natural History that I finally "got" baseball.

Of course, compared to, say, my wife, who was reared on the game, I am just a fair-weather fan. When I see the Nationals win, my tendency is to spend several days savoring the experience before I bother watching again. Whereas my wife will, to my mind, ruin a perfectly good win by watching the Nats the *very next day* when they will invariably lose. Talk about a buzz kill.

I guess that's my only complaint about baseball. There are just too many games.

Unless, of course, one factors in cookies.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse


The lost socks posts are classics. Thanks for the blast from the past.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Along the lines of sock it to 'em, sock it to 'em:

Last weekend, voters improved four bond measures to expand Riverwalk by building a 13-mile linear park along the river's banks (75 percent voter approval), to address the shortage of amateur and youth sports fields (72 percent), transform the underutilized Municipal Auditorium into a performing arts center (65 percent), and improve the AT&T Center, Freeman Coliseum and rodeo grounds (57 percent).

The "gotcha" is that the money to pay for these civic improvements will not come from local taxpayers but from the referendums' provision that the "tourist tax" be extended so that tourists and business travelers will pay for them.

It's a neat trick it you can pull it off--shifting the economic burden to those who don't even live here.

Little known is that the San Antonio Spurs spent more than $500,000 on the campaign.

Posted by: Loomis | May 14, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

RD's secret identity has been revealed. He is secretly George Will.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

yello - such vile accusations are beneath your dignity.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I think the Nationals should adopt a three-step policy on empty seats.

(1) Season-ticket and boxholder/premium seatholders should be contacted directly and also contacted through a high-visibility advertising/PSA campaign, which has the following theme: If you aren't coming to a particular game, please call the box office and tell them. The box office will then hold these seats aside, and they will be immediately donated to various charitiable groups who may show up at the gate: handicapped kids, wounded veterans, kids in foster care, etc. (make the category as broad as possible).

(2) Institute what I call the One-Inning Rule: At the end of the first inning, any vacant seat becomes up for grabs by people already in the park. The ushers should stand at the entrances of those select areas, and allow fans to fill in open seats in an orderly manner (to prevent a stampede.

(3) In the Golden Age of baseball, many stadiums (I refuse to use "stadia") threw open their doors for free to anybody after the seventh inning. I like that policy, and would advocate moving it downward to the fifth inning. In actuality, it coosts the park nothing, generates good will, and in fact creates additional revenue from the food/souvenirs those extra people might buy.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Addendum to (1) above: the people/companies that do call the box office and donate unused seats will be publicly recognized and thanked on the scoreboard during the game.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Caitlin and Rachel,

How many women are there on the Nats team? I'm curious.

In 1868 in Peterboro, New York, two women's clubs played one of the first recorded baseball games between female teams. Peterboro was a small upstate village about 75 miles from Seneca Falls, where the women's suffrage movement was gaining momentum. The illustration above appeared soon after the game in a New York newspaper called It's The Day's Doings, and is now reproduced on the cover of the Play Ball! baseball scorebook. It's The Day's Doings in 1868 also published a quaint (and unfortunately sexist) account of that early game, which read as follows:

And as you young women know, Peterboro, was far more important a place historically--beyond its proximity (noted above) to Seneca Falls.

Posted by: Loomis | May 14, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

regards a Nats BPH.

Next week is T-Shirt Tuesday (5/20). First 10,000 recieve a free shirt. We play the Phillies. Also a full moon that night.

Next Friday (5/23) there will be fireworks. Playing the Brewers.

Posted by: omni | May 14, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

A little digging on the quote turned up this:

It seems the original quote's from a motorcycle racer and was reused in a Nissan ad; I can say after searching that there are a huge number of folks on the Net that use variations of that from the Top Gear forums to an adoption site in CA to the Martha Stewart forums to the Bristol Mummies site.

As to the actual topic, I like the idea of distributing seats to those who could enjoy them, but I can't say I care much for baseball myself. This might be because my skull seems to be a magnet for fly balls. (BTW, this is not a super power anyone would want)

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | May 14, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

holy cow 9/10

I know nothing about basketball. At least I thought I didn't.

Posted by: omni | May 14, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

> How many women are there on the Nats team? I'm curious.

Or mentally deficient. Duh!

Posted by: CC | May 14, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the tip, Centerville mom. A little further googling traces it back to the February 1982 issue of Cycle magazine, which predates a real internet archive. It may be lost forever in apocrypha unless I can find the actual back issue.

There is also an enormous irony about the alleged quotee that only Boodlers that know me IRL would even get.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

CC, that's just Loomis trying to be cute. She effing well knows the answer as well as you and I do. She's just grinding her usual ax and being condescending into the bargain. The answer is exactly the same number as are on the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, on the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ohio Buckeyes' football team, and about a thousand other pro as well as mataeur sports teams. The moment a woman can either throw or hit a 96-mph fastball, I'm certain someone will sign her. And she d@mn well knows that, too.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

'Mudge, I think you've figured it out. Probably someone with an orchestra's ticket office could design a program for the Nats in 15 minutes.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 14, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I like Mudge's ideas as well. The only problem I can see is that these suggestions would impose additional administrative burdens (read money) on the Nats owners, which they will doubtless resist.

All of which begs the question if Washington DC has sufficient interest in baseball for any of this to matter. And a winning team would sure help.

And yet, again, like a moth to a flame, I keep going back to the cookies.

Is it lunchtime yet?

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Curmudgeon!

Not that there's anything wrong with feminist statements, but I don't understand attempting to make them by writing condescending remarks to our guest (women) kitters.

Posted by: CC | May 14, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

The seat giveaway is a brilliant idea, I just don't see it happening. In a true frictionless marketplace, these seats would be sold by reverse auction on a will-call basis.

The real deal killer for giving away the premium seats to charity groups will be the resentment from the people that did bother to spend the $300 for the seats sitting next to the unwashed rabble from the local Boys and Girls Club. Not that I think it's a bad idea, it's just the cynic in me coming through.

A great idea would be to place every seat unsold by noon that day at the front desk of Walter Reed Hospital. It's the least we could do.

Speaking of empty hollow gestures, Dubya has given up golf to support the troops. Maybe he's finally seen Fahrenheit 9/11. Some softballs are just too low hanging to swing at.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Not sure I buy the administrative burden cost when balanced against the costs of having the stadium look empty on TV (can't help when selling advertising) and as Mudge pointed out the increased revenue from concession sales. I'm all for cookies though.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 14, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

10/10 on the basketball quiz, proving its worthlessness as a test of knowledge.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Baseball, superpowers and snakes. Homemade cookies. I love Caitlin and Rachel! [No offense intended, Joel, and I'm looking forward to your return (and more pictures from Down Under).] I think giving away tickets to charity attendees (soldiers, kids, etc.) knowing they will otherwise be unused, is a great idea. As Dave says, some arts organizations already know how to do this. It needn't cost the Nats much, even administratively, and it would generate a lot of goodwill in the community. It would also look great on TV. People would say, "Boy! Those Nats may not be able to win much, but they sure are a great team!"

Don't worry about resentment, yellojkt. The people sitting in the $300 seats didn't actually pay for them. They are beneficiaries of the generosity of the corporate owners. If those guys attend, they're sitting in an air-conditioned box somewhere above the field, sipping whiskey instead of beer.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 14, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I appreciate the sentiment among boodlers to give tickets to service peeps, and agree that it should be done. However, while I do not know the Nats' record on that count I can say pro sports teams in general are very generous when it comes to giving tickets to military folks. Frostdottir has yet to pay to see a professional baseball game, and in 3 seasons has seen more NFL games from the deck of the pirate ship at Raymond James than most folks will get to see in the nosebleed section in a lifetime. All Busch owned theme parks also allow any active duty service member and their ID card holding family members spend one full day in any of their theme parks each year. (They've been doing this since '03 at least) The best part about the Busch theme park deal is that it is good for any day a park is open and the service member does not have to be present so that family members can go when it's convenient and not have to work around fluid deployment schedules.

I should add that Frostdottir has been able to pick up a lot of baseball tickets because they aren't exactly in high demand among soldiers and thus many are left to go to dependents.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 14, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I was out cleaning up storm debris. It began raining and at 4 a.m. it began to rain. Picked up, at long last, 3/4 of an inch.

While I was sweeping, a thought came to me. A little research ought to dig up the date that one of the first women's baseball games was played, in America, in Peterboro, New York.

Why not hold an event on that date at the Nats stadium in D.C. to commemorate the milestone? Two women's teams playing each other. Perhaps they'd play the first three innings in bloomers, as was the fashion that conventions at the time, 1868, dictated be worn. Present some history of women's baseball, such as the story of the Blondes and Brunettes. Invites some Senators--a Boxer, a Feinstein, a Mulkulski, a Clinton--and some female House members. Laura Bush. Perhaps mother-daughter deals on admission--or father-daughter deals. Rachel can bake cookies. Make sure to fill up those empty seats. Invite Madonna and Tom Hanks--given their movie roles about women's baseball.

One-hundred-and-fifty-year anniversaries don't come along every day. You heard it here first.

Posted by: Loomis | May 14, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Invite Rosie O'Donnell, too.

Posted by: Loomis | May 14, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

10/10 on the quiz too.

And if the nats don't give the tickets away,couldn't some big DC corporation buy them up and then give them away.What is the biggest corporation in DC? Hmmm would that be the federal goverment? I would much rather see them buy them,give them away, then spend $30,000 on a toilet!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 14, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse


That is why these seats are going empty. The people willing to pay three Benjamins for the game don't actually want to watch it. They are all on the club level noshing on lobster tails and drinking single malt scotch. Bad, bad market research on the part of the Nats.

I say give away all the tickets to a different charity everynight. They can sell them as a fundraiser or treat their patrons.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Geena Davis and Lori Petty get left off the invite list?

Posted by: Gomer | May 14, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

GWE, I don't thuink any govt. agency (federal, state, or local) should be buying up sports tickets and donating them to anybody; I don't want them using my tax money that way.

Second, I don't agree that a team's management should re-sell unused seats. As a matter of law, I believe those tickets are properly owned by those who already paid for them, and I don't think Mnmgmt cal legally, morally, or honestly re-sell them *without permission to do so,* at least until the event is underway. (If you buy tickets to a play or musical, they hold the tickets for a certain period at the "will call" window. If you don't shiow, they re-sell them--but that's because you weren't charged for them in the first place (or maybe there's a penalty fee.)

The vast majority of those prime seats and boxes are bought by private corporations, which get to write them off on their taxes. So those seats are already bought and paid for, and even worse, included in somebody's tax write-off as an entertainment expense. XYZ Corp. will write-off those tickets no matter what. That's why I propose that those people call the box office and "release" the seats charitably.

As some of you have pointed out, I think such a plan's goodwill and (perhaps marghinally) increased revenue would more than pay for itself.

And just for the record:

"Ladies Vintage Base Ball

"Lady DiamondsNot content to sit and watch their boyfriends and husbands have all the fun, for over a decade women have been part of the vintage base ball phenomenon. The Ohio Village Diamonds were the first such club, but they have now been joined by clubs such as the Lady Clodbusters, the Lady Locks, the Hens, and others.

Research on 19th and 20th century womens' baseball is still growing, but it has been documented that like their modern counterparts, a few ladies from earlier times were not content to sit and watch the boys play.

In the novel Northanger Abbey, completed in 1803 but not published until 1818, Jane Austen's character Catherine is described as follows "...It was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books..."

Enlightened ladies of the 1860s did understand the need for exercise, and baseball found a place in a few locales. However, most Americans considered it too rough and tumble for young ladies, and by the mid-1870s, inappropriate. Etiquette books of the 1870s and 1880s from the likes of Professor Thomas E. Hill suggested croquet parties and fishing excursions as suitable activities for women. According to the Vassar College website:

Vassar College Resolutes, 1866 ]]The first documented mention of women playing baseball anywhere in the United States was in a letter from Vassar student Annie Glidden to her brother on April 20, 1866. "They are getting up various clubs now for outdoor exercise. They have a floral society, boat clubs, and baseball. I belong to one of the latter, and enjoy it hugely, I can assure you."

A history of the Resolutes and period base ball at Vassar was published in the July-August 1994 issue of American Heritage. Titled "The Girls of Summer" by Gene Smith, the 1876 Resolutes pictured here were, in fact, one of the last two clubs at Vassar. In Annie Glidden's day, the game was considered good for the mind. Base ball's popularity peaked in 1875 at Vassar. However, Smith writes, "But increasingly the baseball clubs were also seen as vulgar." Public pressure against girls playing base ball killed off the game at Vassar shortly after the June 1876 photo was taken.

However, times changed. In the 1890s, the novelty of barnstorming ladies "Bloomer Girls" teams attracted attention. These clubs usually had a few (typically 1-3) male players and would play against men's clubs. Perhaps the most successful female player and ultimately team owner was Maud Nelson. Born April 27, 1911 in Italy in 1881 to the name, Clementina Brida, Nelson became the premier female pitcher of latter 19th and early 20th century. She played on the Boston Bloomers and the Star Bloomers before joining forces with her husband, John Olson, owner of the Cherokee Indian Base Ball Club in 1908. In 1911, Nelson created the Western Bloomer Girls club which was a huge success. After two years, she sold the Western Bloomer Girls to her partner and went on to create another ladies club--a pattern she would repeat several times.

Western Bloomer GirlsLadies base ball would thrive until the Great Depression when many clubs (both male and female) folded in hard times. In addition, the game of softball was starting to take hold in the 1930s and women stopped playing base ball for the most part. The last gasp of air for ladies base ball was the The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, 1943-1954 which was, of course, the inspiration for the movie, A League of Their Own.

For more information, visit the web feature "The Girls of Summer" in the Exploratorium's website "Science of Baseball" section.


Austen-loving Boodle members: Please note the great Jane Austen reference in there!!!!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, for summer, I will write about baseball bloomers and other costume aspects of the great game.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Just deleted a downer post about seat prices, the popularity of women's sports, and arithmetic.

Finally summer up here!

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 14, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

But Mudge, I thought part of Caitlin's plan was that the corporate ticket owners would call, say they weren't using the tickets, and give permission to release the seats, garnering great publicity in the process. The Nats wouldn't re-sell the tickets, they'd give them away. Or even, someone from the Nats could routinely call the ticket owners before game time and ask for permission to release the seats for charitable purposes. That way the corporate moguls wouldn't even have to have a minion call - they'd just have to answer the phone.

Thanks for the women's baseball information. "The game was considered good for the mind." Very good indeed!

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 14, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The cricket playing scene was definitely in one of the recent PBS/BBC marathon adaptations.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure all those seats are spoken for. In the original article, the Nats spokesman refused to divulge any sales info. These may all be lost revenue. Tickets, like hotel rooms and airplane seats, are perishable commodities.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, Ivansmom, about Caitlin's plan. But somebody else suggested reselling them.

I don't think it matters very much at all, but the reference to "baseball" in Austen was almost certainly a reference to an early variant of baseball called "Rounders." Baseball as we know it today developed out of Rounders as well as Cricket, and wasn't really formalized until Alexander Cartwright's work in 1845. So references to anything before 1845 refer to very early variants we wouldn't much recognize as "baseball" today.

Rounders dates back to the Austen and pre-Austen era, though it wasn't actually codified until 1884, long after American baseball was codified-- and when Rounders finally *was* codified, it took a lot of existing baseball terms and retroactively applied some of them to Rounders. Rounders itself derives from a game called Stoolball, which used milkmaids' milking stool as wickets. That game dates back to the 14th century.

While I'd agree that the history of Rounders and Stoolball are "true" and "accurate," I don't put much stock in them. For me, modern baseball as we know it today was pretty much developed by Cartwright in 1845. Yes, it had antecedents, but so does everything. It's like saying the automobile was invented by Roman chariot-makers. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

The interplay of the social and the physical in sports and the history of sports is fascinating. I'm puzzling over the gender issue at the highest levels of amateur and professional sports. Since we're talking about people at the very edge of their populations' bell curve of physical ability, it makes sense that in sports where height, size, and upper body strength convey a significant advantage (like in throwing/hitting that fastball), if women are to have opportunities at these high levels of competition, they need their own leagues. Of course, if there's the occasional woman who can make it in the male leagues, I hope she gets the opportunity. (I don't think it would be quite as straightforward as Mudge suggests, since there would be earlier battles to fight to get the experience and training to throw/hit that ball, e.g., getting permission to join the high school baseball team rather than the softball team. But I basically agree with his point.)

But what about sports where height, size, and upper body strength aren't as decisive? Are there any? I'm thinking about marathon racing. And biking. Maybe speed skating? Are there real gender-based differences in stamina and lower body strength? Is height a benefit? How much does stride length matter? The top male marathoners do tend to beat the top female marathoners, as far as I'm aware (and yes, of course those women are beating the vast majority of men; I'm talking about the Olympic champions and such). As far as potential physical ability, are the genders' bell curves really offset there, or is it a social/historical issue that's playing into the athletes' (self-)selection and traing? And if it's social/historical, should those competitions be made coed at all levels, so as not to perpetuate the idea that the genders are necessarily unequal at this endeavor?

I don't know. That's why I've got all these questions. I don't even know how deeply I want to get into the issue today. But the questions came to mind, so I figured I'd throw them out.

Posted by: bia | May 14, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

SCC: training

Why did I even bother to preview?

Posted by: bia | May 14, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

yeah mudge - i totally forgot about softball... which is getting ever more popular (i'm in the league at work - tho i'm pretty much just there cuz you hafta have a min number of women)
from wiki:
In the Women's World Championships the United States is the most dominant team, having won all three Olympic tournaments and the past six World Championships. The current Junior Women's World Champion is the United States.

not too shabby!

Posted by: mo | May 14, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

bia - personally, i don't have a problem with gender based sports on the pro level - i mean physically there are just some things that men and women do differently. (male water ballet? ugh!) and there are plenty of co-ed sports. as for height, weight, etc... have you seen the female chinese speed skating team? they are short but they could beat the pants off of prolly most men! they have thigh muscles of steel! in those cases i think it's conditioning... but i'm as confused as you - professional sports always baffles my mind as i am the least athletic person i know!

Posted by: mo | May 14, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

bia - I wanted to thank you personally for using the phrase "offset bell curve."

If only more people did.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, women and men compete together in many equestrian sports where it is experience and skill that make the difference. And I always like it that they acknowledge that the horse is an athlete too.

Posted by: Yoki | May 14, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

yoki - i think most sports that use experience and skill and not strictly brute strength are co-ed - also, what about locker rooms and certain accroutement that women have that make some co-ed sports - um... questionable.

i also like that they acknowledge the horse as well...

Posted by: mo | May 14, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

personally i'd rather NOT be tackled by a 350 lb linebacker and though i love me some jeter - i would rather not have one of his fastballs aimed at my noggin!

Posted by: mo | May 14, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Years ago I very briefly dated a runner. (Insert fast woman joke here.) She felt that despite all the improvements in training and decreased self selection, women runners would always have problems with injuries because of their hip structure.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

bia, Title IX legislation, which has been around since 1972, pretty much guarantees women equal access to any sport they want up through the college years. (Granted there are some inequities; still Title IX exists and tries to do its job.)

However, as you suggest, there is nothing whatsoever that can legislate how people behave in the free market/free world and post-college environment. Whether the XYZ Company summer league team is coed or not is, I suppose, up to XYZ to decide (and nowadays, no reasdonale organization would remotely think of discriminating).

The issue of whether girls/women should be able to play on the *same* teams as boys/men is slightly more complicated. Where physical ability (of whatever kind) is widely disparate, what is the point? What is the point of "allowing" a woman to play professional men's football? She'd literally get killed. (There is the theoretical possibility, I suppose, that somewhere, somehow, there may be a female who has the physical size, strength, and training to play, but that is purely theoretical. And if such a woman existed and could qualify on merits alone, I'd say fine; let her play.) I (and many other people) really don't give a d@mn what the gender is of the athlete I'm watching; I just want to watch a good game.

Some sports have equivalent men's and women's teams: gymnastics, skiing, skating, track and field, tennis, etc. (Loomis will no doubt object strenuously that prize money and publicity, coaching, yadda yadda, are unequal, and to the limited extent she may be right I tend to agree -- but that's not quite what is under discussion.)

Also, there are plenty of amateur sports leagues that *do* have coed competition: bowling teams, company softball teams, etc. So it isn't accurate to claim women are being excluded from anything, not in this day and age.

I spent 17 years umpiring Little League baseball/softball, and 12 years as a board member. I probably spent 40% of my career umpiring girls rather than boys. Our league (and almost every Little League, by charter law) allows girls to play on the same teams as boys. All three of my daughters played softball, and my youngest played baseball on a boys' team until she was 12. At thirteen, she switched to softball because she was no longer able to compete with the guys (she's very short -- though feistier, even, than Loomis). In my 17 years, I have seen probably a dozen girls competing on a boys' team (one was so good she pitched on a championship team, and won, though she was the anomaly).

In Waldorf, our "senior" girls softball teams (age 16-18) have won no less than FIVE, count 'em, FIVE international World Series (out of six World Series finals we entered), four of them consecutively. That is a record unmatched in any sport, anywhere in the world, for a youth sport. Not even the notoriously good Taiwanese boys' teams have done that. So I am not a person who will brook much bullcrap about inequality to female athletes. Notwithstanding whatever may have happened in the past, in this day and age the opprotunity and access are out there for anyone to take. And if there is some obstacle, there are plenty of men and women out there who will fight to remove it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

very good point mudge! i was the only girl on the t-ball team for two years when i was around 7ish...

Posted by: mo | May 14, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

This article from the NYTimes Sunday magazine and is relevant to this discussion; it's about girls and young women who play sports and the increasing number of injuries they are suffering--they are incurring injuries at a significantly higher rate than their male counterparts, and the article explores some explanations for that phenomenon.

Long article but if you are ready for even more, here's a Q&A with the author:

Posted by: kbertocci | May 14, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I see no reason a talented and appropriately built female placekicker shouldn't be on an NFL team.

There are likely several women out there with more talent than the past few placekickers the Redskins have signed.

Posted by: TBG | May 14, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

In high school I briefly dated a girl that was catcher for the softball team. She was way more the athlete than I could ever be, but she destroyed her knees which ended her playing career. She went on to coach a youth team which I thought was great.

I also suspect she played for the other team as well:

She had pictures of all the early 80s era Dallas Cowboy stars on her bedroom wall, while I had maps of the world. We did share a common love for Kris Kristofferson.

Don't know why I bring it up vis-a-vis this topic, but I anytime I hear about softball, I think back on her fondly.

Women's pro leagues have never fared well. The WNBA was heavily subsidized and never reached a break even point. I suspect it is up there with soccer and curling as sports that will never quite catch on with the public. And if you can't sell beer commercials the sport will stay obscure.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Alohagirl plays in a boys little league baseball team. At this age (9), she is one of the most talented kids in her division and can keep up with the best of the boys. She's got the best fielding and decision making skills I've ever seen in the infield. However, being that she is petite and small boned, it's very likely that she will have to switch to softball before too long as the boys will get bigger and stronger as they get older. Alohagirl just won't be able to compete physically. As much as this bums her out, she knows that she'll kick butt in softball having had the years of experience playing baseball. I realize that gender equity in sports is not exactly equitable but given the physical differences between a female body and that of a male I can see why that is so. Still, I think we, as a society, spend way too much money and attention on professional male athletes than female ones.

9/10 on the basketball quiz. Yeah, that was just too easy if I scored that well.

Posted by: Aloha | May 14, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Responding to bia's 12:40PM: Bicycling and running are pretty much pure-performance sports. Athletic performance is based almost entirely on the athlete's own ability, not a team situation, no gate-keepers to keep them out for irrelevant reasons. In general, women's times in these activities are slower than men for the same distance, comparing women at the absolute top level against men at the absolute top level. I suspect that men do better in any sport that includes a substantial element of strength, which powers the speed component of cycling and running. Men have different muscle attachments, different skeletal structures, and different composition of muscle fibers. "Somewhat different," in all categories, but "somewhat different" means everything in top-level performance. Women are very good in endurance -- I have yet to meet a man who could get through 20 hours of labor. Endurance sports, however, are a bummer to watch. Active, vigorous sports will tend to favor strength, because they favor rapid action. I hypothesize. In constructing a sport in which men and women can compete equally, you would need to balance the benefits of skill, strength, and endurance. Competitive distance-walking, perhaps (not speed-walking). How do things stand in long-distance swimming?

Posted by: PlainTim | May 14, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Canadian kids have been using frozen cow flops as hockey pucks for generations but I doubt many would have gone out for Stoolball.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 14, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Stoolball must have sounded a lot different too.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 14, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

kbert - that article made me cringe - i blew out both of my ACL's as well and have had 3 knee surgeries... definetly not fun and very painful... but i wasn't in competitive sports - i was a dancer - who are notorious for scads and scads of injuries generally causing them to end their career in their early 20's... i was pretty much down for the count by 16-17... i was too young to get my 1st blown acl repaired b/c of a growth space in my knee and it was just too risky that it was cause further damage (which it did b/c true to my nature i didn't listen to the doctor and kept dancing and blew out my meniscus and part of the cartlidge)

Posted by: mo | May 14, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Another fine post on the obit blog, Post Mortem, today, about a recent gathering of obituary writers.

The blog post links to an interesting article written by the blogger on advance obits that contains the excellent line, "a series of mischievous-minded London obituary editors."

Post Mortem...

(Check out the previous post, too, about Matt Schudel's lucky curbside conversation.)

Posted by: TBG | May 14, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

English Channel Swimming seems to be fairly gender unbiased, but the men still have the edge. Some excerpts from the Wikipedia article:

In July 1972, Lynne Cox became the youngest person to swim the English Channel at age fifteen, breaking both the men's and women's records. She swam the channel again in 1973, setting a new record time of nine hours and thirty-six minutes.

# The fastest ever verified swim of the channel was by Petar Stoychev on 24 August 2007. He crossed the channel in 6 hours 57 minutes and 50 seconds.

# The fastest verified female channel swimmer is Yvetta Hlaváčová in 2006. She crossed the channel in 7 hours 25 minutes and 15 seconds.

# The fastest verified two way channel swimmer is Philip Rush in 1987. He crossed the channel (England/France/England) in 16 hours 10 mins.

# The fastest verified female two way channel swimmer is Susie Maroney in 1991. She crossed the channel (England/France/England) in 17 hours 14 mins.

Maybe we need to come up with sports that emphasize attention to detail rather than physical strength. Perhaps competitive knitting.

And that gets back to the age-old definition of what's a sport. In my mind, anything requiring a judge is not a sport.

Not sports: Figure skating, diving, body building.

Sports: Golf, NASCAR, darts.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I suspect Stoolball had a number of problems, both playerwise and spectatorwise, that pretty much doomed its existence.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Yeah... stoolball was pretty much wiped out right away.

Posted by: TBG | May 14, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

yello, I think Hemingway said something about real sports being mountain climbing, auto racing, and bullfighting, with everything else just a game.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 14, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

do they still play stoolball in mianus?

Posted by: mo | May 14, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Now we know why the umpire used to stand behind the pitcher.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 14, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

mo - Let's not go there....

Hey - all this cross gender sport talk has suddenly made me realize that Hillary Clinton is morphing into Rocky Balboa. You know, she just wants to go the distance.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

yello, I have to disagree with your definition of what is a sport. I'm fine with skating and diving as sports; I'm too crazy about darts as true sport, but I'll let that one go. To me both NASCAR (and any other kind of car racing) as well as America's Cup sailing are NOT true sports for a variety of reasons. The main one is that both NASCAR and AC are so overwhelmingly dependant on the equipment that the actual role played by the human driver or human sailor are relegated to the back seat. There's just no way to tell who is the better athlete, Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhart Jr. There's no way to tell whose team is "better": Dennis Connor's team or the Aussies or Kiwis. We know who has the better boat or better car on any given day, and we can reasonably assume a certain amount of athletic skill (or reflexes, in the case of car racing).

My other objection to calling them sports is that for me, a sport has to have a certain amount of accessibility, especially to kids. When you are 14, there's no way you can go out and play NASCAR or play AC sailing. bc and others would object that kids can start out in go-karts and 1/4 midget racing, and that's true--but it still comes back to the equipment dominating the sport, not the human. And in those examples, they require a tremendous level of parental syupport and participation -- and money. The average poor kid in a single-parent situation isn't going to have the resources and support necessary to do 1/4 midget racing. Most of what I'd consider "true" sports can be started by small groups of kids, often acting without any or very little parental support. Kids can play touch football, play hockey on a frozen pond, play stickball or baseball or simply have a catch and throw fly balls to each other virtually anywhere at any time.

I'm not saying I "object" to NASCAR or other racing (bc knows I like Formula One racing) or high-tech sailing (actually I think I do object to it); I just think they should be labeled as "sports." I don't have a better word for them, I just don't see them as "sports." I certainly don't object to darts, but I can't see anydifference between darts and playing a pinball machine, which can be fun and highly competitive -- but it ain't a sport.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

The last time I linked to my Hillary-as-Rocky photoshop I got several complaints about the need for a sports bra on him/her.

You've been warned.

And it's a shame that the great sport of foxy boxing has gone the way of jello-wrestling.

Posted by: Mo MoDo | May 14, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

euw! yuck to that link. How unflattering.

I agree with Caitlin on the seat issue... same goes for theatre tickets and symphony... too many empty good seats. VERY annoying!!!!

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 14, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

We've been trying to have those darts wanker's funding pulled for years, no one will listen.
Don't get me started on the drunken shuffleboard louts.

Dominion Crokinole Federation.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 14, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I should have known those dart wankers would get you fired up, Boko.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

My older sister was complaining that now that her sons are out on their own, they don't like to do anything anymore. She said, "I gave them every opportunity... we did stuff all the time.. skiing, snorkeling, sailing, tennis!"

My little sister pointed out, "Yeah... but they can't afford to do those things anymore."

Posted by: TBG | May 14, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Weingarten has made a persuasive argument that that true sports can't be determined by judges.

But your argument Mudge, if I follow, is a bit different. You are asserting that a sport must be rooted in innate athleticism and a certain degree of accessibility. And I agree that your point is valid. I just find it hard to determine where, exactly, to draw the line. I mean, is Competitive Hot Dog Eating, which requires both a certain perverse degree of athleticism and is clearly accessible, a sport?

Posted by: RD Paoduk | May 14, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'd like to propose the Perspiration Exception to your sports definition. If performing an activity at a reasonable level for a long enough period of time doesn't make you sweat, it isn't a sport. Therefore, darts is not a sport.

Please note, this definition goes in one direction only. Sweating in itself doesn't make it a sport (otherwise, lawn-mowing would count); absence of sweat precludes sport.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 14, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"20 hours of labor" ha! Slackers, rank slackers. Kurosawachick spent 39 hours in the on deck circle. Started the festivities on Thursday night and delivered Saturday afternoon. I married a wonderful woman, although there was a point during the actual delivery when she seemed bent on pulling my head clean off. Fortunately for me she was a little tired by that time and I survived.

Posted by: K:LOTD | May 14, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

No, I don't think so at all, Padouk. Not even close. (As you point out, the "athleticism" involved is perverse.)

I can understand Weingarten's point to a limited degree where the judging has a high degree of idiosyncracy and unexplainable, subjective judgement involved, as in skating or diving, etc. (I have never understood how they judge diving. On Wide World of Sports it takes me three slo-mo re-runs before I see that, oh, yeah, Sally's ankles weren't touching.) Nevertheless, there's no doubt that a lot of judged sports such as skaiting, diving, gymnastics, etc., take a very, very high degree of skill, training and innate athleticism, and that's exactly what I *want* to see in a sport or in an athlete. So nit-picking the scoring may be valid, but it is ultimately irrelevant. My next problem would be how do you differentiate between a "judge" in a sport like diving and an umpire in a sport like baseball or a referee in football? In umpiring, the average home plate umpire makes approximately 300 judgement calls a game. A good many are fairly "easy" to make, insofar as any bonehead can call a strike when it's down the middle of the plate. So is baseball not a legitimate sport to Weingarten because the umps blows three calls a game (which is what EVERY umpire who ever lived does on an average day). Is football not a sport because a lot of the judging is subjective? Tennis because of the line judge? Basketball because of the refs calling fouls or charging? (They virtually never call "walking with the ball" anymore.) At a certain point Weingarten's argument breaks down into meaninglessness: "nothing" is a sport except maybe chess and the dart wankers. And so the argument becomes absurd.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I have to say as I skimmed up the boodle, that my glimpse of the word Stoolball really made me cringe, big time.

The hubby has been dealing with a rotator cuff problem for several weeks and getting physical therapy twice a week. He mentioned a few weeks ago that he has been astonished at the number of teenage girls getting PT. Interesting article, kbertocci.

mo - very scary pic of HRC/Rocky mutant. Ewwww!

Posted by: Kim | May 14, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your concern 'Mudge. It just upsets me because it's so senseless. Whipping needle sharp projectiles around crowded bars is not my idea of sport. That's the kind of "sportsman" who shoots bears down at the dump.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 14, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

So 'mudge, if the need for expensive equipment is the disqualifier, where do bicycling, sculling, and polo fit in? Maybe it needs to go back to the Greek Olympian ideal of competing naked.

Most things where the winner is determined by a stop watch, a tape measure, or a ball and a score are considered sports. All the fighting is always around the margins.

I picked car racing and darts as examples of the outliers of my definition. There are several sports where the consumption of calories exceeds the expenditure. This would include bowling and beer league softball.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

After sober contemplation (my second favorite kind), here's the best clear-cut definition of "sport" that I can come up with:

If I have even the remotest hope of being good at an activity, it probably ain't a sport.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Judges award a score. Referees enforce rules. Big difference. You don't need an umpire for sandlot baseball. You absolutely must have a judge for parallel bar gymnastics (or worse, floor exercises with ribbon waving). Not a Weingartian sport.

No fire-arms or archery based sports would meet the no sweat test except for maybe the winter biathalon.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

just for the record kim - i didn't post that clinton pic - it was mo modo.. who is a very different creature all together...

sculling/rowing is DEFINETLY a sport! you know how hard it is? and if the sweat differental figures in than whoa doggies!

Posted by: mo | May 14, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong, I'm a responsible dart owner. My English crafted, titanium shafted beauties are safely stored in their embossed leather case along with their Canadian flag flytes.

If you want to raise a sweat during a darts match bet the rent.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 14, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I'll buy your argument to a limited degree, Raysmom, but I don't think divers or ski-jumpers ever sweat. I think the problem is that however we define a sport, there is always going to be a reasonable exception to it. I would agree that a sport ought to have a certain amount of inherent physicality, and that training and practice and a certain amount of conditioning and coordination are important hallmarks, along with a certain amount of mental component: determination, guts, bravery (in some cases), "heart," killer instinct (when necessary), competitiveness, etc.

When we watch sports, we are almost always looking for behavior on the mental side of the game as well as just the physical; even on some as shallow as "personality." (I don't care a whit how good John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were; I hated both of those sunsab!tches. And I don't give a rat's a$$ "which side" Martina Martilova played for, to use yello's odious expression; I liked watching her play and win.) So yes, there is admittedly a very subjective aspect to all of this, and yes, YMMV.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Is competitive body building a sport? It's bathed in sweat. How about the World Series of Poker? Billiards? Golf? Kite fighting? Paintball? Orienteering? Arm wrestling? Thumb wrestling? Wrestling with your conscience? Really really intense tickling?

Posted by: kurosawaguy | May 14, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

How about chess? Or cheerleading?

Posted by: kbertocci | May 14, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Okay, here it is, the ultimate sport- wrestling with a cheerleader.

Actually, I think our local sport of choice is bad driving. We're #5 and moving up.

I love the comments: "Maryland drivers are the worst!" "Virginia drivers are the worst!" Poor D.C. drivers get no love. Personally I keep a sharp lookout for diplomatic plates because they are in fact the worst.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | May 14, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Here's a link to sports federations recognized by the IOC:

Bowling? Dance? Powerboating?

Posted by: Raysmom | May 14, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Odious expression? I thought I was being rather delicate. My cousin (who is a mere wisp of a lass) mentioned a few years back that she had joined a rugby team. I thought nothing of it until later she got a weekend job tending bar at Richmond's finest (and perhaps only) all-women bar. But I have a coworker that also plays rugby and her boyfriend would kick my butt if I made any overly broad assumptions.

And where does our discussion of gender equitability put Renee Richards and the entire East German women's swimming team?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

yello, your distinction between a judge awarding a score and a referee enforcing rules is somewhat persuasive. However, I disagree that judged events aren't legitimate sports (per Weingarten). And I think the subjectivity is higher in refereed sports than Weingarten would allow.

On the question of money, I think the main difference is the massive amount of money involved in building a NASCAR or an AC boat is several magnitudes higher than for a polo pony. Bicycles and sculls are relatively inexpensive compared to NASCAR and AC, though admittedly expensive. In sculling though, the boats are extremely similar if not virtually identical, and it is pretty clearly the caliber of the team and its conditioning that prevails; I don't think anyone ever said "Today you had a good boat" to the Harvard crew. And in polo, although a horse is quite expensive, there are a couple dozen out there on the field, and one assumes a certain degree of equality among them; it is still mainly the skill of the riders that determines the outcome. But yes, these kinds of sports do have "accessibility" problems, and I doubt that there's any such thing as backyard pickup polo match.

There are just so many things wrong with NASCAR that I have some disdain for it. Ditto AC racing.

Boko, I don't think something is a sport if you can do it while at the same time not losing a drop of beer in a mug in your free hand. But I do admire your patriotism in having Maple Leaf flytes. And I know *you* aren't a wanker.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Bandy? There's a sport that makes curling look main stream. And pelote looks suspiciously like what they play at the jai-alai fronton.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Two points:

I have a family story/interest in Pittsfield, which prompted me to meet Jim Bouton when he was in town promoting his latest book before my trip to Connecticut--and Pittsfield, Mass.--in May 2004.

This from the web, from the Society for American Baseball Research, that show that America's baseball origins are earlier than Curmudgeon suggests:,c,739,34,0

SABR member John Thorn's discovery of a 213-year-old document believed to be the earliest written reference to baseball has got people talking.

In an announcement that has been widely reported in the media, Pittsfield, Massachusetts city officials released an authenticated document revealing that a 1791 bylaw was created there to protect the windows of a new meeting house by prohibiting anyone from playing baseball within 80 yards of the building.

According to Thorn, who is also part of SABR's Nineteenth-Century Research Committee, this document makes it clear to him that not only was baseball played in 1791 Pittsfield, it was rampant enough to have an ordinance against it.

Thorn, with the assistance of Ball Four author Jim Bouton and others were able to uncover this document. They hope this effort will stress the importance of preserving Pittsfield's rich baseball legacy that includes Waconah Park. Efforts made by Bouton and others to preserve this legacy are illustrated in Bouton's latest literary work: Foul Ball: My Life and Hard Times Trying to Save an Old Ballpark.

In a discussion on SABR-L, SABR's members-only listserv, Thorn reiterated that the actual assertion, clearly articulated at the press conference, is that the 'Pittsfield Prohibition' is North America's first recorded mention of a game called "baseball" (not base or barres or prisoners' base or other games that more resembled tag than baseball; the other Pittsfield-prohibited bat-and ball games, wicket, cricket, and bat-ball, are distinct games and not baseball). In his comments Thorn added, "Of course we knew about Jane Austen and Mary Lepell and John Newbery, and in an interview last night with the BBC I was confronted with the old assertion that baseball of course was a British game deriving from rounders. While I was obliged to be polite, I am no longer sure that baseball may not have preceded rounders as well as cricket, and that stool ball is the mother of all English-based bat and ball games."

To help understand where the 1791 Pittsfield document stands in the development of the game, here is a timeline put together by John Thorn and Thomas R. Heitz: ...

Second, Annie Glidden's baseball at Vassar wasn't sanctioned by the school.

It's pretty clear that baseball was not a sanctioned activity because then-President Raymond declined to mention it in his first annual report to the trustees, although he mentioned several other "sports." (Ummm - gardening?) So the likelihood is that the radical idea of "getting up" a baseball club came from the girls themselves, in defiance of the societal norms that placed the sport firmly on male turf.

LL: To revisit the Peterboro story for the sake of accuracy about women's baseball, I would have to rely on a San Antonio Library branch loan and get from our central library downtown Stauffer's book, "The Black Hearts of Men."

Posted by: Loomis | May 14, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

In really-intense-tickling there are only winners.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Unless someone loses bladder control.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 14, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

For kbertocci:

Bought the book "The Birth of the Chess Queen" at the used bookstore this week. You can guess the reason, plus it looked like a great read.

I see NPR did a progam on it. I did learn in my browsing that Sancho the Fat's grandmother, Queen Toda of Pamplona, used Arab physicians in Spain to put him on a strict diet. Unfortunately, despite the weight loss, the moniker stuck.

All Things Considered, May 27, 2004

May 27, 2004 · A new book looks at the history of chess -- specifically, the evolution of a now-crucial piece: the queen. When the game of chess came to Europe from the Middle East, there was no piece representing a queen. When the icon emerged around the year 1000, it was the weakest piece on the board.

But by the time Queen Isabel of Spain became more powerful than her husband in the 1400s, the chess queen's power was unmatched. NPR's Robert Siegel [who was caught in the quake in Chengdu, China] talks with Marilyn Yalom, author of Birth of the Chess Queen.

Posted by: Loomis | May 14, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Kbert - thanks for posting that link to the NYT article. I read the whole thing and now I'm thinking we have to really stay on top of Alohagirl's sports so that she doesn't blow out her joints before she's 12. Baseball probably isn't as risky as soccer or basketball but with the sliding, pitching and catching, there's enough to do some damage. She plays baskeball in the fall in a boys' league and we've already seen her make some risky moves because she's so flexible and fast. I worried that she'd hurt her knee or ankle and know that it's a great possibility the more she plays basketball.

Posted by: Aloha | May 14, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh my YK, in my world the intense-tickler and the intended-ticklee-ed are all losing!!!!!!!

Memo to all: DO NOT TICKLE CP. Repeat. Do NOT TICKLE CP. I will swing and swipe and harm.

Help. My skin is crawling. Let's talking competitive knitting instead. Or sailor knot making.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt - I have always believed that quote came from "The Notebooks of Lazarus Long" (mid 1970's) by Robert A. Heinlein. Your boss's version is, I think, a paraphrase of a paraphrase. Trouble is I have not been able to find the original on the Internet and I cannot find my copy of the book.

Said book (paperback, actually) contains one of my favorite quotes:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

And: "Get a shot off fast. This upsets him long enough to let you make your second shot perfect."

Last: "Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark."


Posted by: DLD | May 14, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Chess is not a sport. I love chess, but it ain't no sport no how.

I recognize the gymnastic phsyicality of cheerleading but I don't think it is a sport, because it isn't inherently competitive. (Yes, there are competitions, and that's fine. But they are bogus and artifical competitions. "Normal" cheerleading is done without competition.) It also suffers because it exists only as an adjunct to some other sport; it doesn't exist "by itself." I have no objection to it (in fact I'm a big fan, though perhaps for somewhat prurient reasons); it just isn't a sport.

I have mixed feelings about body-building. I personally don't like it and don't see the attraction. But I recognize the training and dedication it requires. I think maybe it is a sport-with-a-footnote.

Renee Richards is indeed problematic. So are the East Germans, though in exactly the same way that Barry Bonds is problematic.

Poker is not a sport. I dunno about pool/billiards, though I like them (and practice them occasionally; perhaps it is the only sport I can still do; that and sail.)

I don't think wrestling with a cheerleader is a sport. For me, if you gotta wrestle with them, it kinda takes a lot of the fun out of it. And I don't like the scoring system, considering major variations between genders. I also like to think the participants aren't competing, but rather both are working toward the same or similar sets of goals. Speed is definitely NOT a factor (or at least, a desireable one), and finishing way ahead of your "opponent" just isn't classy (in fact, in my book, one ought to defer to the, um, opponent, on that score.) No, I think to be done properly, it should be done much more like wine-tasting: to be done slowly, carefully, expertly, and to be savored, lingered over, and appreciated. But hell, do it your way, if you insist. Just don't be a bore and yell "Scorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre!" at the end of it. (I agree that it can wind up being extremely expensive, however.)

No, wine-tasting isn't a sport.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Aloha -- a female basketball player wrote a paper for me on trying to help girls adopt a wider stance to create a straighter line between hips to knees.....might help on the edges with some injuries.

Also, athletes can have a biomechanical gait analysis by sports-med podiatrists. One dot had this done for a couple of reasons, but principally for ballet conditioning. BTW: ballet is quite a sport, actually.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Addendum: sports require that bodies be in some sort of motion.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Loomis, Loomis, Loomis. You soooooooooo miss the point, and your methodology is getting tiresome. No one cares that you met Jim Bouton. I met Jim Bouton, too--and STan Lopata, Willie Jones, and Richie Ashburn--and Jack Sanford right across the street from my elementary school. And I have a baseball signed by Willie Mays AND Josh Gibson. So effing what?

No one disputes that something called "baseball" existed earlier than 1845; I myself pointed that out with the Jane Austen reference, if you'd been paying any attention to other people's posts instead of playing your own unique brand of gamesmanship/oneupsmanship.

"Second, Annie Glidden's baseball at Vassar wasn't sanctioned by the school." Yes. Fine. And?????? Which is a polite way of asking "So fording what?"

Ande you completely miss the point in the evidence that you yourself offered: "While I was obliged to be polite, I am no longer sure that baseball may not have preceded rounders as well as cricket, and that stool ball is the mother of all English-based bat and ball games."

The key phrase is that Thorn says "I am no longer sure..." That means he is speculating. It means he is, in fact, not sure about it. Maybe baseball was the same as rounders; maybe it was different. Or a little different. Or a lot different. We already know the word "baseball" -- as well as "base ball," two words -- existed well before 1845. The question is, exactly what sort of game was that word describing. It may have (and probably did) have different meanings as well as different rules in different places. So what? That's already been well established, and you've contributed nothing to the discussion but smoke.

Discuss whatever you like, Loomis, but do not attempt to argue baseball with me. I will not only clean your clock, I will oil its mainspring and adjust the calendar so it shows the correct month and day, for once. I will even get the sweep second hand to work.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Interestingly enough (or not) TBG's and my mutual hair stylist have had this conversation. It centered around how much of the stuff ESPN airs really is sports. Consensus was: Poker, no; Spelling Bee, absolutely not; auto racing, no but it's still fun to watch.

As TBG can attest, this was probably one of the tamer discussions we've had.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 14, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

For those who might be interested, there are old-time (1800s) baseball leagues out there. I have a friend who plays on the Rochester (Michigan) Grangers -- Google them to find the web site. They wear uniforms suitable to the period, play by the rules from that time and catch the balls *with no mitts or gloves* -- now, that's *real* baseball, folks. He even wrote a song for the team, for which I dutifully got the copyright registration.

It's all very cool.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 14, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Conversing with said hair stylist: most definitely a sport.


Posted by: TBG | May 14, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

This is an interesting conversation about sports. Not being athletic or sports-minded, I only have one thing to say. I am for sports and competitive contests because they beat the heck out of waging war. The more competitive and violent instincts are channeled into sports, the better life is for all of us.

Personally, I indulged in a favorite sporting activity this afternoon. I went and played with baby boys. One of them even spit up on me and I didn't mind.

Posted by: slyness | May 14, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I can attest from experience that in matters of History those who oppose Mudge will end up with the cleanest clocks out there. Plus some really nicely repaired little red wagons.

And talking about things that may or may not be a sport, didja hear? Edwards just endorsed Obama. Now I know that his delegates are not *required* to go for Obama, but I imagine many will be.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

well - i'm off to my non-sporting event beer league softball game (tho it's actually quite a workout - we take it pretty seriously and don't really drink the beer till after)

Posted by: mo | May 14, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Edwards endorses Obama.

Posted by: TBG | May 14, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Mudge! Word.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Okay, here we go, the definitive analysis of defining "sport," synthesized from previous Boodlers' posts. It's about where the activity falls on three completely separable dimensions: athleticism, competition, and objectivity. The easy cases of sports are highly athletic, naturally competitive, and objective. Two people run a race, and the one who gets to the finish line first wins. Yeah, that's a sport. The easy cases on the not-sport side fall on the opposite end of at least one of the dimensions. Lots of things are competitive and objective but not athletic: chess, poker, etc. Others are highly athletic but only sometimes competitive, and then through highly subjective judging: cheerleading, dance. Where the boundary between "sport" and "not sport" falls along each of the dimensions is an individual judgment -- that's why the issue never dies as a subject of discussion.

Posted by: bia | May 14, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

bia - that was excellent. You synthesized and summarized brilliantly.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I'll make it easier on you all:

The site even has a vocabulary table for the old time terms for various base ball (as they put it) terminology.

On other fronts, I'm not surprised that Edwards endorsed Obama. I've been an Edwards backer for a long time. He'd still make a good president. Timing is everything, alas.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 14, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, RD. *blushing*

Posted by: bia | May 14, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget the dimension of 'quality!" Oops, no, that's Zen and the Art of Mortocycle Malfeasance.

I meant, a sport is athletic, and it is either a competition or a game. This disqualifies trapeze exhibitions, chess, etc. However, a cheerleading competition would be a sport, as would a trapeze competition. Marginally. But I'm no sportsman, so what do I know? I know Papa was wrong; mountain climbing is no sport.

"The Three Stigmata of Arthur Gordon Pym." This has nothing to do with this, it's just some nonsense for Tim.

Posted by: Jumper | May 14, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

CP - where does that expression "word" as approval come from? I have seen it a few places now. It it some hot new hipster lingo? Or does it have deep literary or parliamentary antecedents of which I am characteristically ignorant?

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

My questions about "word" are:

1) How is it related to its '80's incarnation?

2) What about "word up"?

Posted by: bia | May 14, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

"Word" is a shortened version of "Word up" as immortalized by Cameo, a group that did more for the codpiece than the Joel Schumacher Batman movies. It means "most certainly, my good fellow."

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Possibly Little Known Fact:

ESPN stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. By that definition, all those items mentioned by TBG are perfectly legitimate.

When I see cheerleading on ESPN, that is my clue that real sports are being broadcast somewhere else.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Why does anybody even bother to read Loomis. 9 of 10 posts are copyright violations. The rest are just her misinformed opinions. Boring stupid ones at that. Or boring genealogy reports no cares about.

Another question: for Loomis, why don't you just find another blog to pester?

You know you rhyme with itch! You know where the B goes.

Posted by: cranky to the extreme | May 14, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

The Korn cover of "Word Up" features some rather disturbing human-canine hybrids:

View at your own risk.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Never go toe-to-toe with the umpire. You'll just get thrown out of the game if you try.

By the way, I was on a softball championship team umpteen years ago as a gnomelet, hardly the star, but I rarely got thrown out when running bases and had a decent batting average, and I could field.

Okay, in college, I take a softball class, figure it'll be easy. It's a COED softball class, so I wind up playing next to some guys.

Nothing morally wrong with that, except one has a chest around a yard-wide from armpit to armpit and is the only guy I've ever seen who could frickin' THROW a home run-- and does so for fielding practice. I got nervous fielding those balls.

And then there's the jerk who thinks he's good at softball, throws hard but has no sense of aim. It was dangerous to field his ball whenever covering a base because you really didn't know where the ball would go when he let go-- often face, skull, over shoulder, and you'd have to hustle for your own safety.

I started thinking maybe people really should wear batting helmets all the time, not just at bat with guys like him on the loose, trying to do shotputting instead of a decent throw TO another player.

Girls and boys don't vary that much in athletic ability growing up-- in fact, girls often overtake boys in some aspects in peri-puberty, and I never felt uncomfortable doing pick-up coed softball games through my teens.

But at 20+ the genders have very different physical ability and injury risk.

Even a 5 feet 11 woman is much lighter built and more suspectible to head injury from a hard-aimed baseball than an equalivent guy is, and most women playing softball aren't that tall.

There's nothing wrong with segregated competition to allow people to truly enjoy and compete against individuals of similar abilities.

The great thing now is that women have a lot of their own sports they can play, they don't have to be 6 feet 3 and have bulging muscles just in order to make the team. The downside is that because of funding, a lot of guys don't get to play the lesser college sports.

By the way, table tennis IS a sport-- an causal player may not sweat, but at elite levels, a table tennis player may run up to 3 miles during the match, all back and forth in a box of around 6x6 feet.

That's hell on the joints-- not as bad as real tennis-- any sport that involves running on concrete should be banned, in my opinion.

However, because of the light ball, and the need for precision bounces, it is possible for women and men to play a TT game together. (Even if the ball gets slammed into your face at 120 mph, it's not going to kill you.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 14, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Raysmom instead of TBG

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

cranky to the extreme - I read Loomis's posts because I feel a moral imperative to defend those she attacks and because it is the nature of the blog to challenge false statements. Also, now and then, she says something worth thinking about.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

cranky: Word up!

Posted by: Larry Blackmon | May 14, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

C2daE, that looked like real anger. Not attractive.
Minus 10 points, I think.

Boodling is a sport, isn't it?

Posted by: DNA Girl | May 14, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

So "word" comes from "word up," a phrase made popular during the 80s? I'm so embarrassed. I mean, I remember the 80s.

Or at least I thought I did.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Back in eighth grade I had an english teacher who loved baseball. Once Spring arrived He'd take us all out to the field twice a month to play ball. After about the fourth or fifth game he commented to me "I noticed you always get on base." I replied "Yeah, but nobody ever hits me in. And I'm still always picked last or second to it." Yeah, all the girls got picked before me...Yeah, stupid team captains would always pick their friends first, pretty girls second and smaller geeky boys last. stoopid idjits! And then wouldn't put the solid players (me always getting to first) before their solid home runners.

Every time on base somebody following me up would try to hit it out of the 'park', and fly out, or strike out. It was really annoying.

RDP, I'm also in the Cranky camp...If no one reads Loomis, is she really here?

I only know that that too many of us respond to the nonsense. Query: Do you also read all the obvious copy/paste posts?

What is a sport post coming up...

Posted by: omni | May 14, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm back.

Is peeing in hundred plus temps in the desert to see who can pee the farthest a sportå I mean your sweating...It's competitive.

Like they'll ever show that on ESPN. Maybe the Playboy channel...

Somebody call Hef, STAT!

Posted by: omnibad | May 14, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

BallBuster's superhero costume:

Posted by: Stan Lee | May 14, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for clearing that up, yello. I was wondering...

Posted by: TBG | May 14, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse


sportå should be sports (don't know how that happened

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

"She hit us with the hot." I love it DNA Girl... thanks!

Posted by: TBG | May 14, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Omni - I hear you.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 7:31 PM | Report abuse

That's BallBreaker to you, Stan. Get it right.

Posted by: Jack Kirby | May 14, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Dang yello I thought it stood for
Every Sport Plus Nailbiting.

Slam Dunk Mudge!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 14, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Vassar archives:

1866, June

The Vassariana, the first students' magazine, was published. The clubs listed were the Floral Society, the Laurel Base Ball Club, the Abenakis Base Ball Club and the Light Croquet Club.

From my earlier post:
It's pretty clear that baseball was not a sanctioned activity because then-President Raymond declined to mention it in his first annual report to the trustees, although he mentioned several other "sports." (John H. Raymond was President and Hannah W. Lyman, Lady Principal.)

LL: So, it appears that President John Raymond was the real fuddy-dud.

Posted by: Loomis | May 14, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Omni, I was that way with football. I tended to get picked pretty much dead last because my body type bore a strong resemblence to Olive Oyl. Only the smart jocks (few, oh so few) realized that my stride was pretty darn good and that I could catch anything thrown remotely near me -- they would pick me right after they picked their buddies. (As I got older, there would always be some jerk who would suggest teams be shirts and skins. Total Ahzweepays.)
RD, that's why I skim those posts.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 14, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Pretty amazing that women had the nerve to play baseball back in the mid- to late 1860s. If you look at the time period...

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony traveled to Kansas in 1867 to fight for universal suffrage. The all-male voters were going to the polls to decide whether to give suffrage to African-Americans and women. Male abolitionists wanted to win the vote for black males. The male voters ultimately rejected suffrage for both blacks and women. The outcome for the two women social reformers is that they started a newspaper in 1868 called "The Revolution."

In 1870, Stanton visited Utah, shortly after the territory gave women the right to vote.

I don't think it was particularly easy at tthat time for women to step up to the baseball plate at Vassar. Given that Stanton's cousin was three-time (I think)presidential candidate Gerrit Smith, perhaps that made the game at Peterboro mre palatable or acceptable?

Posted by: Loomis | May 14, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

I was the opposite regards catching a football because no one in my neighborhood could throw one very well. What I excelled at was taking 'em down. Years of playing what was called (politically incorrectly) 'Smear the Queer' I was adept and avoiding the tackle, AND making the tackle. I carried that home made wrapped up, tied up, hand towel more than any of the other kids in the neighborhood almost combined. My nickname back in Indy: Speedy.

A few years later I perfected my ability to spiral, but by that time the bigger kid were even bigger. No more football for me.

The most fun I had with a football was when I talked to a friend about a test. We would stand perfectly upright moving neither foot. throw our best spiral straight to 'the numbers'. Then step back and do it again. I was better at first, but he caught on fast. We got to where we could stand quite a distance apart (the length of my yard and my neighbor's) and hit the spot consistently over and over again.

But I conveyed this hand coordination into being not only the best ball passer on the block (I was still the best tackler) but also towards being the best frisbee thrower par none.

Friends Hated my double skip on black top (I was consistent in getting it to where they were, even if they ran to where they thought it was going to). I won't even mention my triple skip...ooops, too late.

I even managed too master the double skip on dry grass.

Try that at home, homies

Word Up...

Posted by: LiT | May 14, 2008 8:24 PM | Report abuse

That wasn't me.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 14, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

by ball passer, I'm mean to a stationary catcher I was the best. Never had practice hitting a moving one. But I'm positive I could handle the swinging tire swing.

Posted by: omnibad | May 14, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

anon posters
handle stealers

what's goin' on

Posted by: omni | May 14, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh, jeez...ball passer, forget I wrote that.

You know I tried several times to get that 'hit me with hot' comic to load, but everything that wouldn't load on the visible page wouldn't show when I paged down. It was annoying.

Light bulb. I copied the image to iPhoto. voila. That's a Super Power.

Suddenly I'm thinking of JLo.

Posted by: omni | May 14, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Sorry LiT the 8:24 was me. was supposed to be addressed to you.

I think that's the first time I used another boodler's handle, even tho' it be abbreviated.

It's this keyboard It tell you. It looks almost just like any other. but it is a mac keyboard, and so all the shortcuts are different, and I find my fingers going places...OK I'll stop there

Posted by: omniOops | May 14, 2008 8:52 PM | Report abuse

I recognize the tone of cranky, (I mean the snark to the nth degree), but I don't believe this person would post anonymously


Unless there is sock poppet Super Power ( I don't mean you yello, just someone else may have

I always understood 'word up' to be syn with 'true dat', but a part of me always thought of a 'truth to power' aspect.

Don't know were I got that (nothing on wiki about the 'truth..' part)

I know, I know,,,wiki???

Posted by: omniOops | May 14, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Frisbee is one of the few sports where certain substances can be considered performance enhancing. A couple of years ago an Olympic snowboarder tested positive for THC. Why that merited discipline I don't know. If I was the competition I would make sure his bong stayed full.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of sorta sports, is anyone here going to take part in the Post Hunt? I wish I could, but hope to live vicariously through others. I am proud to say I did get all three of the video clues, although I had to cheat a bit by considering the possible answers. The fourth stymied me completely.

By the way, that lovely young lady in the first video has quite a nice stage presence.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

By "video clues," I am referring to this virtual practice hunt:

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

That would be a Canadian snowboarder - and Olympic champion - he kept the medal on a technicality - no prohibition to THC in the snowboarders rules.

He was from Whistler - nuff said.

I did notice a shop by my hair salon downtown with some quite large bongs in the window (it was a surf, snowboarding store) make me smile as I walked by. In my teen years a similar store was in that area - the area had not yet been yuppified though.

Posted by: dmd | May 14, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

"Word" was out there as a sort of "amen" or "I agree" before Word Up.

Korn has a Word Up version that is very rockish-good. I hear there is a country cover version by a German band, but I am afraid to even think about some Bavarian-tinged twang of hip-hop/late R&B slang.

Back to the economics text...Does the area under the curve represent aggregate welfare or disaggregate crabbiness? Is the Marginal Disutility diminishing or increasing? Would you like to simply erase some points on the crabbiness curve? If yes, support your answer with Aristotle and prepared to offer either the cap and trade tool against crabbiness or simply apply a tax at the incidence of crabbiness....

Posted by: College Parkian | May 14, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

You guys just gotta read Dana Milbank's column. With all due respect to Weingarten and Joel and some others, it may be the single funniest thing I've ever read in the Post. Milbank uses a running Monty Python skit to compare to the death of the Hillary campaign. I think I hurt myself laughing.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

yello, you have me laughing, Yeah give me a booster shot, er I mean hit, fill my damn bong already.

RDP, I gave up one the first, being so new at it, but still totally guessed it correctly, then tried harder

but the dice one was flawed..unless I missed something.

Seeing a four means the hidden side can't be a three. The top side can 1,2,5,6. What is in the video that I missed.

Posted by: omniOops | May 14, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

CP - you are making me flash back to my class in macro economics (or was it micro?) where they tried to teach us stuff without using calculus - thus making it a dozen times more difficult. I remember opportunity costs and something about diminishing marginal advantages or something. I don't recall mention of any major English literary figures.

But, you know, my mind is going.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

No, omni, you got it right. The question is the *sum* of the tops of the dice. And the only sum that shows up as a possible answer is three.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

The only two English literary figures I can think of who have an economic tie-in are Nicholas Nickelby and Miss Moneypenny.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - I agree that the Milbank piece was brutally funny. And kind of sad. The idea of Hillary faking it for the cameras is absurdly poignant.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 14, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I know, Padouk. And the piece is also a good example of character assassination by simply reporting objectively the observable facts. The Monty Python pieces are'nt even stricyly necessary. Strip them away and the piece is still devastating. One almost feels sorry for the victim of it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 14, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

RD -- I am being silly but also serious. My professor has encouraged me to write papers (three short ones) that use literati critiques of economic thinking. Aristotle works fine; Chaucer provided me a great line or two; but Dickens is quite on-point, especially concerning aspect of industrialization. Wendell Berry works does Robert Frost....and even a dash of Mary Oliver.

However, I must also be prepared to draw the splendid curves and contemplate areas under these curves. RD, there IS NO calculus, since most economists do not deal in empirical rigor....they deal in thought experiments, which are worthy. HOWEVER, they do not always think carefully on what is theoretical and what is empirical...WORD for physicists.

Back to studying....lovely to break on the hours....

Posted by: College Curvian | May 14, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

The first two questions on the test quiz were easy. The third was hard. The final problem was impossible. My brain just doesn't work that way.

I'm watching Part 3 of VH1's Sex: The Revolution. It seems that sex was discovered sometime in late 50s. And then it got lost somewhere. Maybe it'll turn up again eventually.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 14, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

The Milbank piece was great. The "bring out your dead" bit from the Holy Grail also would have worked well.

"You're not fooling anyone"

re: economics. I remember something about IS/LM curves. The remainder went Bloop! along with linear algebra and the iambic pentameter.

*faxing CP some inelastic demand"

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 14, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry I can add little to todays disscussion but I am deeply worried at the state of western civilisation.

I just saw a usually sharp tv host wearing a silver suit, white shirt and tie, and (oh please help me) white dress shoes.

I am having a severe case of flashback to Herb Tarlek and am convinced I lived through this horrendous sight only because the suit was not plaid.

On the sports front, there was a world speed knitting competition. It was held at the Mall of America in March and a lady I am aquainted with via blogs came in third place.

Posted by: dr | May 14, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

A plug for women in endurance sports-
Although they have a women's division for the Blackwater Ultramarathon (135 miles form Death Valley to the Portals at Mt. Whitney) women have beaten the men. In '03 Pam Reed was 1st and Monica Schulz was 3rd with Dean Karnazes (probably the most famous of the ultra runners) 2nd. The men's record for the race is quite a bit faster than the women's, however, speed is necessary but not sufficient to win. The women tend to really shine when the weather is bad. I haven't been following swimming much lately, but in 2001 Briley Bergen set new U.S. women's records in the 5, 15, 20 and 25 kilometer swim ALL of which were faster than the men's records. She finished the 25k swim 27 minutes faster than the men's record. Frostdottir was 11 at the time and would do the open water swim portion of biathlons with Mr. F who would do the run. I will never forget the time Mr. F finished 5th in the 5k run and she actually picked up 2 places in the 700 meter swim. Of course I was also looking for social services as the life guards struggled to get their kayaks in the ocean off Oahu. Worst wind I've ever seen in Kailua.

I agree with Mudge, the opportunities are there for women and girls, no need to refight the battles to let women play-we won.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 14, 2008 11:42 PM | Report abuse

I stopped by to be sure that the Edwards endorsement had been announced here on the A-blog, and found that TBG was right on it, no surprise. But she didn't mention the secondary news, that ELIZABETH Edwards is still backing Hillary. Way to promote unity, there, Mr. and Mrs. E!

And speaking of getting along, let's try to keep the crankiness under control, shall we? It may be weeks before our fearless leader returns and it's up to us to maintain standards in the meantime...

"We do have standards; they're low but we have them."


Hugs, all, and peace out.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 14, 2008 11:46 PM | Report abuse

SoC, there always will be a demand for condoms, erasers and office supplies. Rubbery things are just necessary.

Re, sports. Hunting moose is a hardcore sport if you doing it right, back in the woods in a canoe and all that. Should a hunter kill a moose by breaking a shoulder and splitting its heart in two in a grassy flat meadow by the side of the road the moose will run 100 yards and plunged in a brambled-infested 100ft deep gulley. The same shot in a moose standing 50 yards offshore in lake will kill the moose instantly. One lucky soul will have a Northern Quebec October swim to remember. The other guys will remember the hike home with the qurters. This is the way moose go, they make it difficult. So on average, it' a sport followed by forced labour.

Stepping out of a jeep, taking a shot on the hood of the vehicle, letting the guide dealing with the unpleasentness of the carcass and heading for the nearest country club is not.

Loomis still here?

Posted by: shrieking denizen | May 15, 2008 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Been a busy day for me, haven't had a chance to post until now:

CenterevilleMom, I've heard various versions of crossing the finish line all used up for 25 years - good to hear where it came from.

Mudge, your opinions about auto racing are fine - I'm laughing about them, personally. I've staggered out of a race car cockpit with barely enough strength to stand, my suit soaked from my own sweat from spending hours in a 130 deg. F. seat, essentially playing chess on a roller coaster with only one short (just a couple of minutes) break in four hours, one mistake at 150 mph away from a big impact with a barrier. Somehow I lost 7 lb. in a couple of hours *no exertion* - how does that keep happening to me? I must be in terrible shape!

I'd posit that driving race cars, motorcycles, bicycles, etc. are indeed sports - and far more difficult than they look on TV, and has subtlties that many people who've never driven a done those things competitively for themselves may never appreciate, simply because they have no firsthand experience. I might as well blog about being pregnant and delivering a child from my womb - I haven't done that myself - though I've seen it up close.

On a side note, this is a good year indeed to compare Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon since they're both driving for Rick Hendrick's team and have equipment built in the same shops...

Equipment matters in most sports though in some cases - competitive swimming, motorsports, cycling, and even golf - good equipment can make a big difference. And in racing's case, a driver and team need to be able to make adjustments to tune for track conditions during the course of the event. Think of a golfer choosing to go to a lower club in hot dry weather, a tennis player asking to have a racket restrung to a different tension to tune for better control during a match, or a baseball pitcher throwing more breaking stuff during the heat of a sunny day, because there isn'a a lot of humidity in the air to hang a lot of off-speed pitches. Top level atheletes adapt to conditions, to gain that last bit of advantage...

More later, I'm hitting the sack now...


Posted by: bc | May 15, 2008 12:13 AM | Report abuse

SCC please add ' where appropriate.

(between others says 1000km man)

Posted by: shrieking denizen | May 15, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse

College Parkian, I first became aware of the term in Mc Hammer's "Pray" around 1990.

That's word, I pray. Word= gospel truth.

(And before you ask, MC Hammer ain't Christian in his work, but this song is a nice homage to gospel.)

"Word up" by Cameo was done in 1986. However, I don't think it has the same meaning of "truth".

"What's the word" is in the lyrics, meaning (What's the news, word on the street).

Lyrics only here.

(The video involves red codpieces so view at your own risk.)

Good NYTimes article. Boffo author.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 15, 2008 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Bc, not being a good driver, I can remember the first time I drove a curvy country road at night, and an SUV on the highway all too well.

Your description sounds like how I felt, only much worse (no air conditioning?)

Anybody who's crazy enough to drive a curve at 150 mph is definitely displaying a high level of eye-hand coordination, not to mention foot control, driving at high speeds for long periods of time does take upper body strength and stamina to hold the wheel steady... something I was acutely aware of when driving a SUV that didn't have an adjustable steering wheel.

(I envy those who can lean back while driving-- I couldn't, and my back was killing me within 10 minutes.)

However, Mudge does have a point that equipment-intensive sports are expensive and not accessible for children to play.

The same goes for equestrian sports unless you're lucky enough to afford horses.

But let's not be absurd... the only equipment-free sport would be running-- without shoes or relay batons.

And even then, appropriate clothes kind of help, if only because of decency laws.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 15, 2008 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, sorry, but Milbank just wasn't that funny. Monty Python is funny, however. There are a few more contests and Michigan and Florida's voters to be made whole in some way. Will Hillary win? Maybe not, but she's not in the same position Huckabee was, posting single digits. The MMM has been calling this for months. Not helpful, and good for Elizabeth Edwards!

I agreed with this, however, although the last graph might have been a little strong, I know what she's talking about.

Posted by: dbG | May 15, 2008 3:41 AM | Report abuse

until it all falls apart

Posted by: omniOops | May 15, 2008 4:48 AM | Report abuse

was the word 'sum' in the video? I don't remember it in the text. But still, to say there were only two possibilities for the first die in the solution text is wrong, cause there were four possibilities.

Posted by: omni | May 15, 2008 4:55 AM | Report abuse

frosti, you say 'we won'. I take that to mean us all. that's they way i see it. not just women and girls, but men and boys too.

yeah, that battle is won, and over, but there are still those who fight it


Posted by: omni | May 15, 2008 5:06 AM | Report abuse

Is the IROC series still around? I think the goal of that was to have identically equipped cars so that only driving skill was a factor.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 15, 2008 5:29 AM | Report abuse

happy International Conscientious Objectors' Day

and Peace Officers Memorial Day

And on topic: 1941 - Baseball player Joe DiMaggio starts his record-breaking 56-game hitting streak.

Posted by: omni | May 15, 2008 5:29 AM | Report abuse

IROC (International Race of Champions) couldn't find sponsors in 2007 and went on hiatus. Last word is, it is up for auction (tools and equipment, etc.).

on this day in 1252 Pope Innocent IV authorizes the torture of heretics.

Innocent Bush

again *sigh*

Posted by: omni | May 15, 2008 5:37 AM | Report abuse

oops, meant to start that post with:

Sorry yello, did I wake you?

Mornin to cassandra and Mudge, who I'm sure will be here shortly. Prolly during my commute.

And Scotty. *I still haven't mastered the Grover waves, but still waving*

Posted by: omni | May 15, 2008 5:41 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Not a lot to report on today. Nothing in the op-eds, unless you want to read about 45 years worth of Novak columns, which is pretty much 45 years of me ignoring him.

'Morning, omni. C'mon, Scotty and Cassandra, rise and shine.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 15, 2008 6:08 AM | Report abuse

I'm up between 5 and 6 every morning. I just often lurk until I'm on company time. I had the IROC thought yesterday but it poofed out of my sieve-like brain until bc's racers-are-athletes diatribe.

I went out for my semi-daily one-mile run-walk and am now waiting for my turn in the shower. I'll probably blog until then.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 15, 2008 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Up early to catch my plane to Calgary (via MSP.. Hi Frosti!). I'll see you all on the other side.

Posted by: TBG | May 15, 2008 6:38 AM | Report abuse

New kit.

Enjoy the Western Canucki BPH, TBG.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 15, 2008 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Just to be on the safe side,

New kit!

Posted by: slyness | May 15, 2008 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Knitting Orchestra?

Weaving a Tapestry of Sound:

Posted by: omni | May 15, 2008 7:31 AM | Report abuse

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