Narwhal Party

R.I.P. Dave Niehaus, 2010
12/30/2010, 4:08 pm
Filed under: Sports, Words | Tags: , ,

Dave Niehaus passed away in November, at the age of 75. He was the voice of the Seattle Mariners for all 34 years of the existence of the franchise.

Sometimes the most insipid proceedings are made extraordinary in the hands of a skilled storyteller. Dave Niehaus was the voice of the Mariners from the franchise’s first pitch. That voice will never be unraveled from the fabric of Seattle sports. Dave was the Mariners, Dave was baseball.

Here’s a nice montage of some of Dave’s most memorable calls:

And, of course, The Double:

For other Mariners milestone news from 2010, read my post on the retirement of Ken Griffey, Jr., here.


Updike on Williams
09/26/2010, 8:46 am
Filed under: Books, Sports | Tags: , ,

The New York Times has a nice write up on John Updike’s fantastic Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu–his 64-page essay on the final game of Ted Williams. It’s a fast, easy read and includes and essay on the essay, which is heralded for changing the face of sports writing as we know it. From the NYT article:

It’s not too much to say that “Hub Fans” changed sportswriting. Affectionately mocking the tradition of sports clichés (as in the title, which didn’t actually appear in any of Boston’s seven dailies at the time, but easily could have), the essay demonstrated that you could write about baseball, of all things, in a way that was personal, intelligent, even lyrical. Updike compares Williams to Achilles, to a Calder mobile, to Donatello’s David, standing on third base as if the bag were the head of Goliath.


What beckoned was the heroic example of Williams. He wrote: “For me, Williams is the classic ballplayer of the game on a hot August weekday, before a small crowd, when the only thing at stake is the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill.” And reading “Hub Fans,” you even sense at times a hint of self-identification. Williams and Updike were physically alike. They were tall and slender, with exceptional eyesight. (This was literally so for Williams, and metaphorically true for Updike, who, as the essay demonstrates, was an uncanny observer.)

Read the full article here, and buy the book at a real-live book store, if you’d like. Highly recommended.

Book Review
08/07/2010, 2:51 pm
Filed under: Books, Sports, Words | Tags: , , ,

Today, the great Jerry Rice will be inducted into the Professional Football Hall Of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In honor of Rice’s legendary career, I’ve decided to post, in full, my review of the book, Jerry Rice: Touchdown Talent, by J. Edward Evans.

[Written for my fourth grade book report]:

Jerry Lee Rice was born on October 13, 1962 in Starkville, Mississippi. As a boy, Jerry worked as a bricklayer in the summertime. In college, he was so good that they retired his number (88). In the NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach wanted Rice. So 49ers head coach Bill Walsh gave New England an offer that they couldn’t resist. So the 49ers drafted Jerry. Rice wasn’t good right away. In fact, in his rookie year he was terrible! Just a little time and practice made Rice one of the best receivers in the National Football League!

I think this book is very good because it tells all about Jerry Rice’s life. It even has stats in the back. Also great pictures. I’d recommend this book to anybody who likes sports.

But don’t take my word for it.

On Ken Griffey, Jr.
07/13/2010, 11:14 am
Filed under: Sports, Words | Tags: , , , , , ,

[I know that the retirement of Ken Griffey, Jr. is old news, but Nike aired a farewell commercial during the Home Run Derby last night, so I figured now was a good a time as ever for this post]

Ken Griffey, Jr. was seventeen when he signed his first Major League contract with the Seattle Mariners after being drafted in 1987. I was five when he made his debut two years later. But by the time he was the best in the game, I was a budding sports fan and The Kid, already crowned by some as the Greatest Ever, was on my team. And the significance of such a scenario can’t be overstated. Junior was a marketing machine: shoes, t-shirts, posters, a fantastically enjoyable video game, a candy bar, appearances on The Simpsons and The Fresh Prince, hundreds of commercials. And he was Ours. His swing was poetry, and his passion for the game was unparalleled.

The absolute purity of that swing, the recklessness with which he threw himself after fly balls in center field, the constant smile on his face. All aspects integral to the hero that saved baseball in Seattle and got the Mariners the state-of-the-art stadium they play in today. It’s also that reckless abandon that contributed to his several injuries–injuries that prevented him from playing for much of the 2000s. But that willingness to sacrifice his body to make a catch made him a star and exemplified his passion for the game. He broke his wrist to make an incredible catch during the legendary (in Seattle) ’95 season–a catch, I can proudly brag, that I saw in person, from high, high up in the Kingdome bleachers that smelled like peanuts and beer, my glove in hand. He would return later in the season and be a part of the biggest play in the history of the franchise, pushing the Mariners past the Yankees and into the ALCS (known simply as “The Double”).

It’s easy to look back now and talk about what could have been. Had Griffey stayed healthy, he would probably be the all-time home run champion. Without steroids. And the fact that his career has been riddled with injuries is testament to the fact that he had a clean career: Most players who used performance-enhancing drugs did so to stave off time on the disabled list, while building their bulk in the process. Number one on the list (Barry Bonds) is a known steroid user, as are number six (Sammy Sosa) and the still-active number seven (Alex Rodriguez). Griffey retired at number five, all-time. And all the talk of what could have been, where he would be on this list had he never been injured, is fairly tragic, but it’s nothing compared to the sensation of watching the The Greatest in his prime, with all that hope and possibility ahead.

So the announcement of Griffey’s retirement mid-season was truly bittersweet. To have a slower, older Girffey back in Seattle the last year-and-a-half has been both exciting and absolutely frustrating. But for Junior to retire mid-season is only further proof of his passion for the game and respect for the team. He knew it was time to pack it in and give his team another roster spot, so he quietly stepped down. In five years he will be in the Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, and surely there will be a statue in Seattle soon.

Nike has always had fantastic ads and this one is no different. It aired, so appropriately, during the 2010 Home Run Derby:

Finally, here’s a wonderful highlight reel (including the wrist-break and The Double) of The Kid who was destined to be the greatest (played at Safeco Field the day he announced his retirement):

Jocks v. Nerds: Internal Conflict?
02/16/2010, 11:22 am
Filed under: Books, Sports | Tags: , , , , , ,

I came across this WSJ article through The Book Bench, The New Yorker’s book blog. Apparently the growing number of foreign-born NBA players are in many cases, avid readers. Most players fill their time with video games and iPods, but there is an increasing number of players who unwind the old-fashioned way. Clearly this has everything to do with America’s electronic/consumer culture and kids eschewing a full college career for an early trip to the Big Show. It’s good to know that some cultures are still able to instill reading habits, even among the jocks. And even though it was an assignment from Lakers coach Phil Jackson, it warms my heart to think that Pau Gasol is reading 2666 . Here’s the article.

01/19/2010, 7:52 pm
Filed under: Sports, Words | Tags: ,

And the results are in from the senatorial election in MA. Smooth.

01/19/2010, 8:36 am
Filed under: Sports | Tags: ,

Reports are popping up all over the internet that Mariners ace and last year’s runner up for the AL Cy Young award, Felix Hernandez, has indeed signed a multi-year contract extension.

[via Seattle PI Blog]

Is it April yet?