Last night, those Red Sox beards came through once again, with the Sox taking a 3-2 lead over St. Louis in the World Series. There’s no telling what role the beards that first showed up during spring training have played in getting the hirsute Sox to the World Series, but Fenway park isn’t the only place where people turn to superstition to swing the odds in their favor. And as it turns out, superstition might play a role in success.
Mike Napoli’s three-run double in the first inning of last night’s World Series opener put the Red Sox on the path for an 8 to 1 drubbing of the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. The cardinals committed three costly errors and lost star right fielder Carlos Beltran who injured himself running into Fenway’s unusually low right field wall -- while making a spectacular catch, that robbed David Ortiz of a grand slam. That is just one of the quirks of Fenway, the old-school ball park that throbbed with sox fans last night. It’s one of few remaining fields in the nation that isn’t named for a bank, or a drink. Fenway has a personality--and a history--today’s sox fans sit in the same spot where even more raucous fans sat in in 1912, when Fenway Park opened its doors.
Glenn Stout tells the story of the idiosyncratic park’s construction, christening and enduring charm in the book “Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ball Park, A Championship Season, and Fenway’s Remarkable First Year”. We spoke to him last year when the book came out...and pulled it from the archives today…a great day to celebrate Fenway Park .
Forty-eight years ago writer George Plimpton infiltrated pro-football when he joined the Detroit Lions as a backup quarterback. Plimpton chronicled the experience in his 1965 book Paper Lion. Writer Stefan Fatsis followed in Plimpton’s cleated footsteps when he wrangled his way into the Denver Bronco’s training camp as place kicker in 2008. I spoke with Stefan in 2010 about his short but entertaining tenure in the NFL and his book about the experience called A Few Seconds of Panic.
Stefan Fatsis is a sports writer, a frequent contributor on NPR’s all things considered and a panelist on Slate’s sports podcast, “Hang Up and Listen.”
The Red Sox squeaked by the Tigers last night in Detroit, putting them one game closer to the World Series. Although Boston and Detroit are two of the oldest franchises in Major League Baseball, this is the first time they’ve faced each other in the playoffs. That could be due to the post season absence of one team Sox fans – and apparently the rest of the country -- love to hate… the New York Yankees. …this is only the second season in 19 years that the Bronx Bombers failed to make the playoffs. What are baseball fans today without their favorite targets of scorn? Brian Costa can help. He’s national baseball writer for the Wall Street Journal and creator of the “Major League Baseball Hate-Ability Index” – a tool for identifying which team to root against during this year’s baseball playoffs and the World Series
Banish the bridge game, and shove off the shuffleboard… competitive table tennis for seniors is the subject of the new film “Ping Pong”, which airs tonight on PBS’s POV series.
The film shows the arch rivalries and individual motivations of the traditional sports drama, ramped up by the presence of cancer, dementia, and the physical deterioration at the end of life. The film’s producer is Anson Hartford, and he joins us to talk about it.
Our exploration of Aesthletics reminded us of some of our other favorite bizarre sports. From the safe, if not always tame, World Beard and Moustache Competition to the surprisingly dangerous Outhouse Races, strange sports are everywhere. These are not the weirdest sports, by far, but they top our list as most memorable and well organized.
You’ve heard of whiffle-ball… how about whiffle-hurling? Class-conscious kickball? Imaginary soccer? These absurd-sounding games are among the growing number of highly conceptualized art-sports invented by artists and shown on YouTube, and other online video sites. Brooklyn-based artist Tom Russotti is founder of the Institute for Aesthletics… yes, that’s athletics and aesthetics rolled into one. The institute combines sports, participatory art and conceptual social activities. Tom’s games have been invented, played, performed, and experimented with at museums, schools, and arts organizations all over the world.
The NFL preseason kicks off thisSunday in Canton, Ohio, when the Cowboys take on the dolphins at the annual hall of fame game. The game gives fans the first opportunity in months to get together, warm up the couch, and bust out the beer and snacks. Sabra hummus is making a play to sit alongside chicken wings, nachos and salsa in the billion-plus dollar football food market. And it’s got a big backer. Sabra hummus is now the official dip of the NFL.
I was deep in western New York for the July fourth holiday. We had loads of fun and the weather was mostly great. The one sour note was not being able to find Wimbledon on the available television channels…we searched for Wimbledon and found live coverage of the Tour de France. In addition to having no interest in watching the race, I realized that I had no idea how to watch the Tour de France. I’m not alone, apparently because each year when the spotlight turns again to spandex, millions of Americans shrug and say “meh!”
Our favorite content of the week, neatly packaged for your audio pleasure. On this show, the secret science behind sports fan-dom, dogs audition for a starring role in a New Hampshire play, Cryonics is (maybe) reborn, New Hampshire prospectors pan for gold, and Baz Lurhmann talks about a new album of 20's-style jazz covers of songs by Beyonce, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and other pop stars.
I’m am not qualified to make a list of the Top 5 most memorable sports failures, which is why I asked Eric Simons to help me create a list of moments he felt fit the bill. To say that he waffled about what moments to include is an understatement; sports fans are notoriously opinionated when it comes to moments that define heartbreak. I took his suggestions and then sprinkled in a few that I grew up hearing about. Without further ado I present to you: “5 Moments in Sports That Will (Maybe) Break Your Heart”. We encourage you to disagree and submit your own.
If you’re a New England sports fan of a certain age, chances are you can describe exactly what happened during game 6 of the 1986 World Series when Bill Buckner missed a roller at first.
That error allowed the Mets a winning run and further cemented the “Curse of the Bambino” in the minds of Red Sox fans…many of those same fans still get weepy when thinking of 2004 – when the Sox finally reversed the curse and won the World Series.
Along with the thrill comes the agony …just ask any Bruins fan who watched Boston’s 2 - 1 lead in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals squandered by two Blackhawk goals in the last 76 seconds of the game.
We spoke to science writer and Radiolab contributor Eric Simons before the Bruins crushing defeat. Eric’s latest book “The Secret Lives of Sports Fans,” is his attempt to figure out the science and psychology of sports fans…and it begins with a play-by-play of heartbreak.
Battle of the Nations is an international event held annually since 2009 – this year in the medieval walled city of Aigues-Mortes in the south of France. About five-hundred men from twenty-two countries competed in what is part historic re-enactment, and part full contact sport. Wearing full medieval armor and using blunted period weaponry, participants hack, slash, and wrestle opponents to the ground in events ranging from one-on-on, to dueling groups of twenty-one each. Our next guest, Jaye Brooks was there – he’s executive officer for team USA and the Armored Combat League, and he came in at 10th place in the one-on-one competition.