Thursday, July 31, 2014

How Do We Track the Dominant Team Championship Belt? (Part 2)

On Wednesday, we retroactively passed out the Dominant Team Championship Belt from 1921-70. Click here for Part 1, which also outlines the criteria we're using to select each titleholder.

I'm excited for Part 2 because, despite the relative lack of dynasties compared to Part 1, the Belt was shared more evenly among the four major sports during this later period. Giddyup!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Do We Track the Dominant Team Championship Belt? (Part 1)

Over at Grantland, they've posted a bunch of features about the "Championship Belt" holders in various fields. Those articles basically determined who mattered most over the years in various areas of sports and pop culture. Two of my favorite editions in the series were Bill Simmons' Action Hero Championship Belt and Bill Barnwell's Pitching Championship Belt.

I've decided to apply* the idea of the Championship Belt to outline the most dominant sports teams in history. Which teams in the four major American sports have held most of the national spotlight, and for how long? I wanted to examine that question for two reasons:
1) I love the Championship Belt gimmick and its ties to pro boxing and wrestling.
2) I'm all for any list that will prominently feature a bunch of Yankees teams.

*By apply, I actually mean steal, but that's just semantics.

Some of our most dominant teams, like the 1970s Steelers and the Bulls of the '90s, have more staying power than others, such as the early-'80s Islanders. Still, each of those teams held the Championship Belt for a few years.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How Unintended Are Certain Song Associations?

Kerry and I were driving home on Thursday after a great week in Chicago. At some point in Ohio, as amber waves of grain extended in each direction, the song "Goodbye Stranger" came on the radio. While the opening chords played, I asked Kerry, "Is this the 'Goodbye Toby' song?" I was referring, of course, to the classic scene from The Office in which Michael bids farewell to his least-favorite H.R. rep through a mean-spirited parody.

"Goodbye Stranger" was written by the English band Supertramp in 1979, about three decades before the English version of The Office made its way to the U.S. I find it interesting that my main association with the song is through that classic episode and scene.

I decided to assemble a list of songs that have associations completely unintended by their creators. In other words, when you hear certain songs, do you think of something completely removed from the song itself?

Before we get to my list, here are some of the major reasons for many of our song associations.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How Depressing Did This Yankees Season Just Get?

I've raved about Masahiro Tanaka a few times on this blog and many more times in drunken discussions of the merits of his splitter. This morning brought news that he'll miss at least six weeks with a partially torn UCL, a.k.a. The Power Pitcher's Worst Nightmare. If he can't rehab the injury, he might need Tommy John surgery in this season that has been described as the one Tommy John took. Really crappy news.

So, barring a miracle, the Yankees' season is over. They're missing 4/5 of their starting rotation, and the 1/5 that is still pitching happens to be their oldest starter (Hiroki Kuroda, 39). Their offense, meanwhile, ranks in the bottom third in the majors in park- and league-adjusted performance. Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran have been huge disappointments, their starting middle infielders should be scooting around in wheelchairs, and a position loaded with league-wide talent (third base) has once again become a black hole for the Yanks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Can We Define "Crunchies"?

This is one of my first posts as a food critic, but I promise that every foodie should read this.

Last summer, we met our buddy Joe in a bar and he was wearing a Marino's T-shirt. My wife, a Midwesterner, had no idea what product the shirt was advertising, and we had to explain that Marino's is only the best commercial Italian ice company in the world.*

*Luigi's sucks, hence the nickname "Loogies."

Naturally, once we began discussing Marino's, we reflexively described the key ingredient in the Italian ices: crunchies. The mere mention of the crispy, syrupy bottom layer of the ices made me salivate. "Crunchies are ahh-mazing," I told Kerry through a thick layer of drool. My friends were equally complimentary of crunchies, if not quite as disgusting about it.

Each of us detailed a strategy for maximizing crunchies:
Me: "Flip the Italian ice as soon as possible to catch the crunchies before they melt."
Joe: "No, allow some of the ice to melt, then mix the crunchies with that melty part to take advatage of all the syrup."
Girl Joe Was Hitting On: "Crunchies are sooooo good..." (Okay, so hers wasn't really a strategy.)

We even discovered that someone has created a Facebook page honoring the miraculous crunchies.