Aaron Judge Strikes Again

As a long time Yankee fan, I have seen all the great stars. Mickey Mantle was my hero as a young child, he possessed a rare mixture of ability and humility which was unbelievably appealing. I was a little young for Roger Maris’ 61 homer year but enjoyed his all around skills. Elston Howard, the Yanks first African American player was a joy to watch, he could hit, field and had the perfect temperament for the pioneer that he was.

After the late sixties and early seventies went by with very weak Yankee teams, the team awakened in the late 70’s with Guidry, Nettles, the great Thurman Munson and the “straw that stirred the drink”, Reggie Jackson. All of a sudden it was hip to be a Yankee fan as the great teams of those years captured the city, taking it back from the Mets who had those big years in 69 and 73. The late seventies were all about the Yanks, but alas, they fell back into a long dreadful slump, until reawakened by the great young stars, Jeter, Bernie and Pettitte in the mid nineties and back to the mountaintop they strode. Unfortunately, since 2001 they have only won one World Series in fifteen years.

This brings me to the subject of this piece. Aaron Judge, Chandler bat ready at the plate, his Rawlings glove a sure thing in right field, his Under Armour cleats propelling a huge man with speed and grace and all of a sudden our hopes for Yankee dominance are renewed. He won this year’s Home Run Derby taking easy, comfortable swings, he wows the fans all over the country with his batting practice performances and already has hit over thirty homers, well on his way to hitting fifty. No matter how badly you need to use the bathroom, you can’t leave your seat the inning he bats because you can’t chance missing another Judge highlight. Greater than his talent is his humility and dead on ability to always say the right thing at the right time.

Last night against the Mariners, he hit one of the most impressive homers I have ever seen, nearly out of spacious Safeco field. It was hit so high that the announcers speculated that had the dome been closed, the ball might have hit the roof, certainly something I’ve never seen happen. Does he dance and prance and ceremoniously heave his bat, no he calmly drops it and modestly runs around the bases as did my hero, The Mick. He is also setting a wonderful example for his teammates. Clint Frazier, the newest Yankee hotshot, a guy who is obviously full of piss and vinegar, was interviewed after his walk off homerun and a la Judge modestly accepted his accolades and credited the whole team for the win.

Judge isn’t the only great player on this team, he is joined by Severino, Betances, Chapman and a number of others, but he is already, in his quiet unassuming way, becoming the leader. Bottom line for all you Yankee haters, we are on the precipice of another Yankee dynasty, with Aaron Judge leading the way. You all will be holding it in as he approaches the plate for many Octobers to come.

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Father’s Day and Sports

Father’s Day and sports are inextricably linked. As the day approaches and we look forward to seeing the family, we pray for great weather and plan out the activities.

I have very fond memories of this Day. As a child, assuming our favorite team, the Yankees, were playing at home, we’d pack up a great lunch and go to the stadium. At this point in time, I don’t remember the games or the results, but I do remember enjoying every moment with my brother and dad as we watched the games. I do recall that if the score wasn’t close, we’d leave early and beat the traffic and get home in time for a Father’s Day feast, hot dogs, burgers and steaks on the grill, delicious salads and other side dishes, and, of course, wonderful desserts.

If the Yanks were on the road, it would be a full day of sports. Basketball in the driveway, throwing around the baseball with Dad in the yard, as I grew older and became a runner we’d share a run on the local streets or in bad weather a lift at the local Y. Again a wonderful feast would ensue, although sometimes we’d bring it indoors if the weather was uncooperative. Of course, back before i-phones and netflix and streaming and all the modern day gadgets, we’d have the US Open on tv, a black and white tv early on, and watch Jack and Arnie, maybe Player or Trevino, battle it out.

I’ve been a father for many years and have tried to replicate the Day. Not as easy in our modern day world, the participation in sports has transitioned from the yard or the streets to organized events in all sports. Still do my best to sneak in a run or a catch with my now grown up kids, and always enjoy a wonderful meal. I’m extremely lucky to have my dad alive and viable, so we still top off the Day watching a ballgame or golf. All in all, it’s a wonderful, important day that I will always cherish. Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there!

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The Problem With the NBA

I have been a basketball fan since I was a young child in the mid 1960’s. This past 2016/17 season was the first time in all the years that I basically did not watch one full game.

To begin with, what was the point of watching, anyone who knows anything about the NBA knew that the two teams in the NBA finals would be Cleveland and Golden State. Cleveland with their hometown star, Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, along with some of Lebron’s (the defacto coach and gm of the team) hand picked buddies including Tristan Thompson, was the clear pick in the East. By the way, Thompson, who was signed to an $82 million contract at the insistence of Lebron, can’t throw the ball into the ocean from more than five feet away.

The Golden State deal is even more ridiculous. Kevin Durant choked up a lung in the 2015/16 playoffs, during which his team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, had a 3-1 lead against Golden State but they blew the series in large part due to Durant’s pathetic performance. So what does he do? He joins a team that already set an all time NBA record by winning 73 games, so he could finally win an NBA title, which subsequently he did. After working a long day during the season, I would turn on the late NBA game and lo and behold Golden State would be up by 30 points at halftime with Steph Curry shooting 35 footers, playing with his dangling mouthpiece like a ten year old, shimmying down the court after swishing another bomb. Click, I’d check to see if there was a good old movie on, maybe A Few Good Men or Good Will Hunting, certainly more enjoyable watching them for the 20th time than another Golden State runaway.

The quality of the basketball itself is hideous. Set a pick at the top of the key, let your point guard, be it 5’7″ Isaiah Thomas or 6’9″ Lebron, penetrate and either shoot or pass to someone 30 feet away from the basket who chucks up another 3 pointer. The brilliant Ivy League sabermatricians realized a team is better off shooting 35% from behind the three point line as opposed to shooting 48% from two so bombs away. The mid range jumper has virtually disappeared, the big man post game is a thing of the past, and with the elimination of hand checking, defense itself has disappeared.

This style of basketball is being played at all levels, college, high school and even grade school. Back in the day it was emulating Earl the Pearl spinning to the hoop, or watching the Big O, Oscar Robertson or Walt Clyde Frazier backing down their opponents for another classic 15 foot jumper. Today when I watch grade school kids on the playground, all they do is shoot the ball from as far out as they can manage.

So what can a longtime basketball fan do? Firstly, he can hope that as sports styles are cyclical, at some point basketball will bring back some of the classic skills and strategies that made the sport great. A first move in this regard would be to move the 3 point line back 5 feet so maybe the shooting percentages fall to a point where the two pointer comes back into play. Secondly, he can watch football through January, as there seems to be a game on virtually every night, and then pray for pitchers and catchers to hit the baseball fields in Florida and Arizona. The second option seems like the better choice.

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Choosing the Best Youth Football Shoulder Pads

types of youth football shoulder padsIf you’re concerned about your child’s well-being every time he takes his position on the football field, you are not alone. As many as 87% of parents are worried about injuries in youth sports. A total of 36 million kids play sports each year, and 60% play for teams outside of school. How do you know your child is fully protected?

Like all types of youth football gear, the right shoulder pads are essential to a child’s safety. Here are a few things to think about when looking at types of youth football shoulder pads.

What to Consider When Selecting Football Shoulder Pads

  • Weight: Football is an extremely aerobic sport. The heavier the shoulder pads, the sooner they will tire the player out. You want the pads to be strong, but too much weight will hinder the player’s stamina.
  • Rigidity: Certain parts of the shoulder pads need to be rigid for maximum protection. Football involves a lot of heavy physical contact and protective gear needs to be able to hold up against impact. However, there needs to be enough flexibility in the shoulder pads to allow the player to move with ease.
  • Contact Dispersion: Shoulder pads are designed to absorb the shock of impact during a tackle and they must be able to disperse the energy without hindering the movement of the player.
  • Range of motion: This is particularly important in terms of moving the arms. Without sacrificing protection, shoulder pads must allow the player to be able to throw, catch, and tackle.

How to Get Fitted for Youth Shoulder Pads
Different types of youth football shoulder pads fit differently, but some just fit incorrectly. Follow the tips below for selecting the best fit:

  • The pads should cover the player’s collarbone.
  • The neck opening to allow sufficient room
  • The deltoid padding must extend to the outside edge of the shoulder
  • The scapula must be covered
  • Anterior deltoids need to be completely covered
  • Pads must not slip when the straps are tightened
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  • The player’s should joints need to be fully covered
  • When the player raises his hands, there must be adequate clearance on both sides of the neck roll

Nothing is more important in youth sports than the safety of the players. If you have any questions regarding youth football equipment, please feel free to comment below.

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Equipment Required for Youth Football

types of youth football equipmentAs many as 36 million kids play organized sports every year, and while the primary reason for joining these teams is often health and enjoyment, safety is certainly the number one concern. As many as 87% of parents worry about their children being injured during sports games and practice, which is why the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) and the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) has created specific guidelines to ensure the safety of participating children.

American football can be a particularly dangerous contact sport, so all players are required to wear protective types of youth football gear. All types of youth football equipment — including shoulder, hip, tailbone, thigh, kidney, and knee pads — must meet the standards set by the NFHS and NOCSAE.

Types of Youth Football Gear

  • Helmet: The helmet is arguably the most important piece of equipment for a football player. It protects parts of the head from collision with other players, the ground, and the ball. There are various types of football helmets, which differ in padding structure.
  • Face Mask: The face mask is designed to protect the face from collisions. It is particularly important in protecting the nose. Like the helmet, the face mask comes in a number of styles and will differ depending on the player’s position because different positions pose different risks.
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  • Shoulder Pads: Shoulder pads protect the shoulders, back, and chest. Because of the high-contact nature of the sport, these pads take the most abuse throughout the course of a game.
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  • Hip Pads: The hip and tailbone pad are made out of foam and are held in place by the girdle.
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  • Thigh and Knee Pads: These are worn underneath the pants. The thigh pads protect the quadricep muscles while the knee pads are made of shock-absorbing material to cover the knees.
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  • Mouth Guard: The mouthpiece protects players’ teeth and also prevents concussions resulting from blows to the head.

In the United States, 66% of boys and 52% of girls play organized sports. Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of the participating children, so organized teams are always held to a specific set of standards in order to protect the players from harm. To learn more about the types of youth football equipment, talk to your child’s coach or sports organization.

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