WHILE MUCH HAS BEEN GAINED…

Life is rarely black and white, all one thing and not somewhat another. Take for instance high school football.

I say high school football, because in America that is usually the first time we get truly associate ourselves with my school, my team.

So it’s Friday Night Lights, and out on the field are 22 young men exchanging energy in a game of offense against defense and vice versa. On one side of the field a group is watching that interaction and they are cheering, smiling, and clapping, it’s wonderful. On the other side of the field another group watches that same exchange of energy and mutters, clenches their fists, and pouts.

So which is it, a happy thing or a sad thing? Or does it all depend on the bias with which you entered the stadium?

As we prepare for the TCS New York City Marathon in just over a week’s time, we are once again presented with a men’s competition featuring top athletes from East Africa, with American stars Dathan Ritzenhein, Abdi Abdirahman and some talented rookies thrown into the mix for good measure. Continue reading

BASEBALL IS LIKE THE MARATHON

Cardinals v Red Sox 2013    Baseball, in some ways, is like the marathon.  Both sports require the ability to endure a long, grueling task, be it months of training and 26.2 miles of racing, or months of a 162-game season, and the intensity of multiple championship series.  Both sports take from low two-hours to five-hours plus to complete, and taken in small doses or out of context, can seem incomparably boring. Yet when followed closely throughout a season or a race, the drama of each competition builds to Shakespearean levels, until every pitch, every foot strike takes on the weight of the world, and the glory of accomplishment — sometimes even in defeat — can resonate for a lifetime and beyond.

And so as the baseball season begins its annual fall ritual tonight in Boston with the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals taking on host American League king Boston Red Sox, we await the culminating event of the 2012-2013 World Marathon Majors cycle on the first weekend of November at the ING New York City Marathon with equal anticipation.

This year’s Fall Classic promises to be a beauty, as the Cards and the Sox have proven their mettle — both teams completed their seasons with a record of 97 —  65.  Both have excellent pitching, powerful offenses, and legendary support from their iconic fan bases.  We can only hope to witness a level of drama at the ING New York City Marathon November 3rd that will approximate what is expected in Boston and St. Louis – America’s Best Baseball Town. Continue reading

ST. LOUIS VAMPIRES

Maybe they should change their name to the St. Louis Vampires, cause they just won’t die!

This improbable baseball season runs out to its final game tonight for the still-named St. Louis Cardinals as, down by two runs with two outs  and two strikes twice in their last at bats, the Redbirds rose like Nosferatu himself last night beneath the gleaming Gateway Arch to take game six of the 2011 World Series, 10-9, against the decanted Texas Rangers.

St. Louis native David Freese fullfilled every boy’s dream twice in the span of two innings to lead the Cards into game seven in search of their 11th World Series title.  First, just as it seemed the Rangers could begin celebrating the first World Series win in their 51-year franchise history, Freese cooly delivered a two-strike, two-out, two-run, bottom of the ninth triple into right field over the head of Nelson Cruz off the Rangers All-Star closer Neftali Feliz to send the game into extra inings.

Then, as the excitement of the ninth still buzzed through Busch Stadium, Ranger slugger Josh Hamilton drew gasps of despair from the Redbird faithful with a two-run homer in the top of the 10th to seemingly bury the Cards once and for all. But, after coming back from a 10 1/2 game deficit to the Atlanta Braves in late August to take the Wild-Card entry into the playoffs,  Tony LaRussa’s flock took flight again, tying the game in the bottom of the tenth on another two strike, two out run-producing single by Lance Berkman after  Ranger manager Ron Washington had intentionally – and intelligently – walked Card’s slugger-supreme Albert Pujols with first-base open and a runner in scoring position.   Instead of champagne flowing for the Rangers, it was their life blood spilling out onto the lush green lawn.

As if fated, when the Rangers, who had leads all night long – including 7-4 in the seventh off back-to-back jacks by Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz – failed to score in the top of the 11th, Freese finished the blood-letting with a lead-off, walk-off 11th inning blast to dead center field to send the frenzied Redbird fans home in a blood lust.

An epic game six, at first poorly played with numerous run-producing errors by both teams – including a dropped pop-up by Freese, himself – the heroics late turned this one into a fall classic.  A game at least on par with the hallowed game six between the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds of 1975 when Carlton Fisk’s wave-it-fair homer over the Fenway Park green monster in left field lifted the Sox to a 12th inning win – before a devastating loss in game 7 continued the Red Sox winless World Series curse for another 29 years.

Baseball, in some ways, is like marathoning. Both sports take from low 2-hours up to even five hours to complete (last night’s game lasted 4:38), and taken in small doses or out of context, each can seem incomparably boring. Yet when followed closely throughout a season or a race, the drama builds to Shakespearean levels, until every pitch, every footstrike takes on the weight of the world, and the glory of accomplishment can resonate for a lifetime and beyond.

And so the baseball season ends tonight on the last weekend in October, just as the World Marathon Majors season will conclude on the first weekend of November in New York City.  We can only hope to witness a level of drama at the ING New York City Marathon that was been on display in St. Louis – America’s Best Baseball Town – where tonight the Vampires,  I mean Cardinals, hope to draw blood again while the Rangers look to drive a stake through their collective hearts.

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