Wiki Wednesday #27

4 10 2007

1.) Go to Wikipedia.
2.) Click on “Random article.”
3.) Report on the outcome.

Flint Rasmussen

Flint Rasmussen is perhaps the most famous “rodeo clown” or “rodeo barrelman” in the sport of bullriding.

Long associated with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Rasmussen earned the title of PRCA Clown of the Year for eight consecutive years and won the Coors Man in the Can honors seven times.

Hey, this is someone I know. Well, not personally. But I’ve seen him in the flesh. And if I’d wanted to, I’m sure I could’ve shaken his hand or gotten his autograph. Hmm, why didn’t I? Suddenly, for probably the first time, I sort of regret not being an autograph hound….

Anyway, as you may know, I’m a rodeo fan. Each December, I head off to Las Vegas for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association‘s National Finals Rodeo. And that’s where I’ve seen Rasmussen (you can find his official website here). Now, as I understand it, Rasmussen works Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events instead, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him at some off-the-field event in Vegas this December.

Actually—and, yes, I’m getting a little far afield now—I don’t think the PBR has been particularly good for rodeo. The PBR fetishizes its single event, bull riding, at the expense of the seven other cool rodeo events. (Random “fun” fact: Steer wrestling, a/k/a bulldogging, is my favorite rodeo event.) It may be good for bull riding, but I don’t think it’s good for rodeo.

I also just don’t think all that bull riding provides particularly good spectating. I probably haven’t mentioned this, but about 20 years ago, and for about 20 minutes, I did some sports writing. During that time, I covered a pre-PBR event that consisted solely of bull riding, and there just wasn’t enough variety to sustain my interest. It was a long night (actually two long nights), punctuated only the briefest of moments—seconds, literally—of excitement. I yearned for some variety.

You get variety at an actual rodeo. You get bareback and saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping, calf roping (euphemistically known these days as “tie-down roping,” so you’ll forget a calf’s involved), barrel racing, and bull riding. (And maybe steer roping, too.) That’s a night of entertainment.

But, um, back to Rasmussen. He’s one of the premier rodeo clowns. In modern rodeo, that means he entertains the audience from the barrel (that only occasionally gets used to interfere with a grumpy bull). It’s the bullfighters who typically do more of the nasty business of getting between bulls and the cowboys who find themselves in the dirt.


Philadelphia Phillies 6, Washington Nationals 1

30 09 2007

They did it

For several years in a row, I’ve had tickets for the final game of the season. And I’ve sat through a string of cold, dreary, meaningless games. Today was different. The Phillies and the Mets were tied for first, and the game with the Nationals mattered.

I got to the ballpark in time to stand in an absurdly long line for crab fries before heading out to the outfield (I sat in Section 103, if you’re [inexplicably] keeping track). It was a gorgeous, more-like-summer-than-autumn day. In fact, in the late innings, as the sun found just the right place to get to me, I might’ve gotten too much sun on my face. The ballpark was packed, of course; it was a sea of red and white—and rally towels.

By the time I was in my seat, the Mets—whose game started 25 minutes before the Phillies’—were already way behind. The Phils took an early lead (thanks, primarily, to Jimmy Rollins, who got on base and then stole two bases), and they never trailed. As the game progressed, and especially after the Phillies took a 5-1 lead in the sixth, it started to sink in—with me and everyone else, it seemed—that the Phillies were going to win the Division. “Wow,” I kept hearing people say. And they were right. Wow.

It was an amazing season. The Phillies had a dreadful April, but they recovered and hung tough. During most of the season, I figured the Phillies would finish, inevitably, as they so often do, two or three games out of the Division lead. Indeed, at the beginning of September, the Mets were seemingly a sure-thing to win the NL East, leaving only a possible wild card for the Phillies. As everyone knows, though, the Phillies played like demons in September, and the Mets collapsed in spectacular fashion, becoming the first team to lose a seven-game lead with a mere 17 games to play.

When the game was over, fireworks accompanied the players’ on-field celebration. In the stands, there were high-fives aplenty and at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted cheering. I’ve never been a part of anything like it. Noisy, communal joy. Today’s game absolutely made up for all those dreary, end-of-the-season games.


Philadelphia Phillies 6, Colorado Rockies 5

11 09 2007

Yup, I was there. New Insight about Myself: I may now be too old to cope with extra innings on a work night. When the alarm goes off in five-and-a-half hours, I’m going to be bummed. And grouchy.

But it was a great game. The Phillies fell behind, but Pat Burrell (he of the beautiful, um, bum) tied things up in the seventh inning with a thrilling three-run homer. And then, in the bottom of the tenth inning, Ryan Howard—who had a homer of his own earlier in the game—doubled in Chase Utley for the win. Exciting finish!

The Phils are now just one-and-a-half games behind the Padres in the National League wild-card race.

Blog Day 2007

31 08 2007

Blog Day 2007

In honor of Blog Day 2007, I recommend these five blogs:

1.) The Atheocracy — I’ve just started reading this blog written by Jeffrey W. Haws, an “an irreverent journalist, atheist, political junkie, golfer, outdoors lover, sports fan, beer drinker and movie/music snob, along with many other things.” Yup, The Atheocracy is as spunky as that sounds. Plus, I’m a fan of anyone who thinks Big Thoughts™ about sports, beer, and non-theism. This recent post, which compares coming out as an atheist with coming out as gay, will give you a sense of the blog.

2.) A Delicate Boy — Nels of A Delicate Boy is a gay 30-something rhetoric professor in Connecticut. He blogs about writing, teaching, gay issues, HIV, and, well, life. At the top of the blog right now is a post on Sen. Craig, but—like so much of what Nels writes—it’s a little bit different (and interestingly so) from anything you’re likely to read elsewhere. Whether he’s writing about a city that reminds him of the partner he lost to AIDS, going on an “Artist Date” with himself in Houston, or just mentioning some strange new website he encountered, Nels grabs and keeps my attention.

3.) Little Nuances — Although you surely know me better as a Philadelphia Phillies fan, I still keep up with the Kansas City Royals, the team of my youth. Royal Reflections, a blog by sportswriter Lee Warren, helps me do that. Recently, I realized that Warren also writes Little Nuances, a blog which is, I suppose, about the little things that make life interesting. That may sound a little too precious, but it’s actually pretty interesting. And any blogger who knows who Gilles Muller is has to be good.

4.) Razzi’s Photolog — Razzi is a Belgian photographer. He doesn’t post all that often. When he does, though, the results are memorable. Some of my favorites: “Mies en plis,” “37,2 degrees le matin,” “Grandma’s living room” (NSFW?), and “Women on the run.”

5.) Tennis Served Fresh — As you know, I’m a big fan of tennis. If you are, too, you’ll love this blog, which has a special interest in tennis fashion. With the U.S. Open currently underway, there’s a lot of tennis fashion, including a fashion disaster or two, to consider.

Philadelphia Phillies 3, New York Mets 2

30 08 2007

Mowed Grass
I’m a day late in posting this, because I was just downright exhausted when I got home last night, but I was at the stadium for yesterday’s narrow, exciting win over the Mets. The game ended controversially, with an interference call giving the Phillies their final out and preventing a Mets pinch runner from scoring the tying run from third base.

At the ballpark, I was puzzled. From Section 302, it wasn’t even clear to me that the second base umpire had called interference on Marlon Anderson, the Mets runner. And, of course, there were no TV announcers making everything clear with words and instant replay angles. Plus, from the perspective I had, Anderson’s slide didn’t look all that unusual. On the replays (there’s one accessible on the page I linked above), you can see the case for an interference call, although—in all honesty—it’s probably a call I wouldn’t have made. After all, even if Anderson hadn’t slid toward second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, there just wasn’t a double play to be had on a good throw by Iguchi to first.

I confess that I was also distracted during the play. Sometime during the ninth inning, a fight broke out in my section. It seemed like nothing at first, and then there were a few punches, and then, suddenly, there were a dozen-plus ushers/security guards separating two different groups of angry, drunken jerks. I went to the game with a buddy from work, and neither of us saw the fight coming. Sure, there’s always some tension at the park when the Mets are in town (for one thing, there are always a lot of Mets fans in the park). But there just hadn’t been any particular taunting going back in forth in our section. Some of these guys were getting arrested, I’m sure.

(For all those Philly haters out there, I want to stress that the ballpark isn’t usually like that. Sure, fights break out at Eagles games, but Phillies games are usually not like that. When the Mets are in town, though, the park just feels different.)

By the way, the Phils beat the Mets again today, 11-10, in a crazy game. That’s a four-game sweep of the Mets. Maybe the heat’s getting to me, but I think the Phillies may actually just make a legitimate run for the playoffs this September. Wow.


29 07 2007

I love tennis. I spend a lot of my evenings and weekends in front of the Tennis Channel. I mark the seasons by reference to the French Open and Wimbledon. I know the ad court from the deuce court, and I have strong feelings about whether Andy Roddick or Novak Djokovic is hotter.

But for some reason, I don’t blog much about tennis. I guess I’m afraid that I’d do nothing but tennis blogging if I started. Blogging about one tournament would lead to blogging about the next tournament, and soon I’d be blogging about James Blake’s blisters or Venus Williams’s nail polish. It’s a slippery slope, I tell you.

It’s probably safe to say this much, though. If you’re a tennis fan, you absolutely must be reading Jon Wertheim’s weekly Mailbag column for Each week, Wertheim answers readers’ questions, which are themselves a hoot. For his part, Wertheim is knowledgeable and witty. The Mailbag column never fails to make me smile. Usually more than once.

Take, for instance, this Q&A from a recent Mailbag:

I can’t be the only one who was put off by Rafael Nadal’s constant pulling of his shorts out of his butt crack during the game? Is it forbidden to mention these things?
Claudia Fletcher, Baltimore, MD

• Forbidden? My spellcheck now recognizes the word “wedgie” thanks to the heavy coverage we’ve given this issue. Also, is this the single worst endorsement for Nike of all-time? “Gee, I’m racing out to buy a pair of those pantaloons now that I see that the guy getting PAID to wear them can’t stop tugging at them in discomfort.” It’s like Suzie Chapstick constantly walking around with an oozing cold sore.

That’s classic Wertheim. It’s like Suzie Chapstick constantly walking around with an oozing cold sore. Brilliant! I hope Nike heard that.

P.S. I just remembered that I’ve mentioned Wertheim once before—in one of my 10-Not-So-Famous-People Meme entries. Hmm, it’s probably time to do another of those….


15 07 2007

I headed back out to the ballpark tonight, and the Phillies obliged(?) by finally(?) losing the franchise’s 10,000th game. Fittingly enough, I suppose, it was a blowout: Cardinals 10, Phillies 2.

Yes, the Dubious Distinction, being the first American pro sports franchise to lose so many games in its history, has been reached.

For the record, I was actually rooting for the Phillies to win. I swear! If they’d won tonight, their 10,000th loss surely would’ve happened on the road trip that begins tomorrow…and I wouldn’t have felt bad about missing the, er, landmark game in Los Angeles or San Diego. But since the 10,000th loss happened right here, I’m glad I was in attendance for it. It’s a good story to tell.

The Cardinals’ offense was definitely humming tonight. Albert Pujols homered twice, and four other Cards hit it out of the park. Most of those home runs came off Phillies reliever Brian Sanches, but the game was long past competitive by the time he appeared in seventh inning. Adam Eaton, who started for the Phils but didn’t last five innings, pitched like hell just didn’t have good stuff. Sigh.

I sat out in left field, with the scoreboard over my right shoulder (I’m going to have a crick in my neck tomorrow), in Section 147. I really enjoyed the perspective. I got a real sense of the defense, and I wasn’t as fixated on balls-and-strikes as I sometimes am. And I had a great view of the backsides of outfielders Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell. Sometime soon, I’m going to write a gay man’s guide to baseball, and Burrell’s butt is—naturally enough—going to figure prominently. It’s a shame, by the way, that Burrell’s posterior was the best part of his game tonight, as it is on so many nights. He just doesn’t have good range in the outfield, and more than one of the Cardinals’ early runs seemed attributable to his inadequacies on defense….

It was a gorgeous evening. By the time the game started at 6:05 p.m., the July heat had given way just enough to be pleasant. I felt alive, right down to the tips of my fingers. (No, I don’t know why I wrote that. My fingertips don’t usually feel dead.)

I’m glad I went.  And I’m sorry the Phillies lost.  Really!