The ESPN test

I have a relative who used to work for ESPN in a pretty high profile position. Let’s just say there were times I’d be away from home and I’d glance up at a television screen and, “Wow. My relative is on ‘Sportscenter.'”

In all our conversations about getting a job and working at ESPN, the subject of an entry test never came up.

But today, I see on Deadspin that ESPN tests its new employees. If you’re thinking about working there some day, here’s what you have to answer in 45 minutes. Think fast!

Fenway at 100

I’ve written enough times that I’m a fan of the New York Yankees. So, cause and effect, I automatically hate the Boston Red Sox. It’s just what Yankee fans do.

Here’s how bad it is. I was standing in line today waiting to take a tour of the Rose Garden at the White House (That’s a separate post to come later), and a girl walked by in a T-shirt that said: “I only kiss Red Sox fans.”

Now, it never crosses my mind to kiss women on the street, but I REALLY wanted to get her attention to say, “Hey, I’m a Red Sox fan.”

Not to get a kiss. Just to get the kiss and then say: “I was lying. I’m really a Yankees fan. Red Sox suck!”

But I didn’t. Which is sort of a mark against me, because a true Yankee fan would have gone out of his way to be a jerk and done that.

Anyway, now I’m going to further erode my Yankee credentials by saying this.

Happy birthday, Fenway Park!

The home of the Boston Red Sox turned 100 years old yesterday. In this age of new high-tech ballparks specially designed to include as many luxury suites as possible, there’s something admirable about a baseball field that has lasted 100 years and served a loyal (though obnoxious) fan base.

The best seats I’ve ever had at any Major League Baseball game were at Fenway Park. I was in Boston about 17 or 18 years ago to visit a friend who worked at the Boston Globe. She had to work one night, and since I was with my 3-year-old son, I decided to take him to a baseball game.

We arrived at Fenway somewhere around the beginning of the second inning. I hadn’t ordered tickets in advance, so I went to the ticket booth and asked for two. There was no line and no one was behind me, so the woman in the booth asked where I wanted to sit, and I didn’t have any idea, because I’d never been there before. Then she says:

“If you’re willing to pay a little more money, I can give you two really good seats.”

“How much?”

“$25 a piece.”

(Remember when $25 was a lot of money to see a baseball game.)

So I bought the tickets, took my son by the hand and headed in. We got to the designated section on the first level. Behind home plate. Awesome! Then the usher escorted us to our seats, and I realized we were getting closer and closer to the field. Second row directly behind the catcher. It was one of those experiences when you realize your seat is better than anything you could have seen on television. Watching a fast ball come in from that angle is nothing like looking at a big screen television and watching a fast ball arrive.

I don’t remember who the Sox were playing that night. I think it was the Texas Rangers because I remember Jose Canseco was in right field. When the game was over, we went back to my friend’s house and watched SportsCenter. And when the Sox highlights came up, there we were, my son and I, right behind home plate. I’m sure that during the game, someone saw my son bust my lip, when, in a bit of 3-year-old craziness, he lurched back and drove his head into my mouth.

I don’t think he remembers that night. But that was one of my favorite MLB memories. And it took place with the hated Red Sox.

Here’s a little history of Fenway from the Chicago Sun Times and MLB:

The Red Sox won the opener on April 20, 1912, 7-6 in 11 innings over the New York Highlanders (who would soon change their name to the Yankees). Boston went on to win the ‘12 World Series and three more in that decade, but then embarked on an 86-year title drought in which the ballpark became the franchise’s biggest star.

“This ballpark has created as many memories for people in this area and around the world as any venue in the world,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said before the ceremony. “The park here has at least a life of its own. A magic to it. It’s the baseball land of Oz. People dream about this place.”

Doomed for the wrecking ball before the current owners bought the team in 2002, Fenway now has seats above the Green Monster and an HD video screen — not to mention lights above the upper decks and black and Latin players in the field — all unimaginable when it opened the same week the Titanic sank.

But you want to know the best part of the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park?

The Sox and the Yanks wore replica uniforms to match the ones the teams wore 100 years ago. And when the game was over the score was 6-2.

THE YANKEES WIN! THHHHUUUUUUHHHHH YANKEES WIN!

Little League World Series: 42,000 for a kid’s game

A team from LaGrange, Ky., and a team from Clinton County, Pa., met in the first round of the Little League World Series last night in Williamsport, Pa. It was an amazingly close game with two exciting plays at the plate by the Kentucky catcher, stopping what should have been two easy runs. And the Kentucky pitcher struck out 12 and hit a home run.

Kentucky won 1-0.

Pennsylvania vs. Kentucky: attendance 41,848

But here’s the exciting part. The crowd totaled just under 42,000 (41,848), breaking an attendance record for an LLWS game. And those records were set twice for championship games in 1989 and 1990.

Now the fact that the Pennsylvania team came from less than 30 miles away from Williamsport probably accounted for a big local contingent, but let’s face it: 42,000 for a first-round Little League game is astounding.

I took my son to the Little League World Series twice when he was just about the age of the players. We were living in New Jersey and the drive was about three hours. The most impressive thing about the event is that the games are free. You can just walk into the complex and watch any game being played. And there are tons of concession stands, so it’s got all the atmosphere of a big league game, and none of the expense.

Even so, there are major league teams that can’t draw 42,000 to a game. As a baseball fan stuck with watching the Washington Nationals, I don’t think I’ve been to a game this season where the attendance topped 32,000. But then, the Nationals suck. As I write this, just before midnight, their record is 59-63, but they’re kicking the butts of the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth inning of a rain delayed game, so they’ll be 60-64 by the time I finish this post. (Attendance: 37,841, mostly Philly fans from what I saw on the metro heading home around game time. I live four blocks from the ballpark.)

Major League Baseball has done everything it can to screw up its product. No, not scandals over steroid abuse. Its crime is greed: charging astronomical prices for a decent seat to see a bad team; food stands that require a second mortgage if you want to eat at the stadium; beer sales to obnoxious drunks who scare families from the ballpark; keeping playoffs to night games for network money so kids aren’t able to see their favorite teams win a championship. Do these idiots realize we’re in a recession, and a family can’t spend a hundred bucks to see a team that’s going nowhere?

And even though I’m a Yankee fan, there is something wrong when it’s a given that my team is ALWAYS going to be in the playoffs, while other teams owned by people who are just as rich as the Steinbrenners can only manage to give the fans a sub-.500 team year in and year out. (Case in point, the Nationals.)

Yeah, I hear the “But the Yankees have all that TV revenue and buy all the great players.” No, they have smart baseball people, and smart people do exist at other  teams. Read Michael Lewis’s “Moneyball.” Or if you can’t read, go to the Brad Pitt movie when it comes out next month.

The fans are there if the teams really want to give them something they want to see: 42,000 at a Little League game is proof of that.

UPDATE: It turns out that the attendance of 41,848 at Friday night’s Pennsylvania vs. Kentucky game in the Little League World Series exceeded the attendance of all but three major league games that same night.

Yankee’s Jeter joins 3,000 club

It’s pretty hard to believe that with all its World Series wins and all the players it has in baseball’s Hall of Fame, the New York Yankees never had a player who got 3,000 hits. Until yesterday.

Derek Jeter’s 3,000 career hit was a home run, which was pretty impressive when you consider that he’s not a home run hitter.

The guy’s been with one club his whole career. That’s unusual, too. The Yankees won tge World Series in 1996, the year Jeter was named Rookie of the Year.

He’s been a lock for the Hall of Fame for a while. Cooperstown might as well get the bust ready and make space for another Yankee (as long as he doesn’t pull a Pete Rose, a Barry Bonds or more recently a Roger Clemens).

Bean ball

As a New York Yankees fan, I feel it’s my duty to post this very troubling video. It is so disturbing, I can’t use an image here. I just have to simply use words to describe it. The video shows a Boston Red Sox fan driving his child to tears. (Though my son points out that under similar circumstances, I would have done the same to him.)

A WARNING TO YANKEE FANS: This video contains disturbing images of torture and abuse.

TO RED SOX FANS: This is responsible parenting.