Thursday, December 22, 2016

How Effective Was Mr. Turner's Teaching?

Who's the coolest fictional teacher ever? Is it Jack Black's Dewey Finn, with his devil-may care attitude and his rock-n'-roll? Or maybe it's Ms. Frizzle, who takes her students on some fantastic field trips aboard the Magic School Bus. Some people -- probably those who've actually seen the movie -- might even argue for Cameron Diaz or Jason Segel in Bad Teacher.

To me, though, the answer is easy: Jonathan Turner. Mr. Turner wore many hats on Boy Meets World during his three seasons on the show. He was a wisecracking subordinate to George Feeny, a mentor to Shawn Hunter, and a bedfellow to dozens of hot women. Most of all, though, he was the coolest teacher ever.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

How Many Jokes Has Jason Pierre-Paul Handed to Us?

My wife produced the quote of the year today, about this photo of JPP in Thursday's New York Post:

Kerry: "Is he flashing a gang sign?"

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

How Much Should We Appreciate Roger Angell?

In the barrage of Cubs stories after their historic World Series win -- covering everything from the 108-year-old who died soon after the Game 7 victory to absurd parade crowd estimates -- the source of my favorite article was unsurprising. Ninety-six-year-old Roger Angell's story "At Last" should be recopied onto beautiful parchment paper in the style of medieval scribes as a way for future sports fans to learn about one of the greatest games in baseball history.

Just as former Cub Moises Alou* came from a long line of big leaguers, Angell was born into a writing family. His mother was a New Yorker editor and writer from 1925-60, and his stepfather was the famous author E.B. White. Like Alou, Angell surely owes some of his success to his genes but most of it to tremendous work ethic and decades of experience.

*Insert Steve Bartman joke here.

Regardless of how hard I worked, I'm sure I could never replicate even 1/1,000th of Angell's performance in print. However, that doesn't stop me from appreciating the crap out of the legendary writer's annual World Series wrap. Here, then, are the 10 best things about that story:

Monday, November 7, 2016

How Do You Lose a Writing Contest? (I Just Learned How)

A few days ago, The Writing Cooperative published a story I sent them about writing in my classroom. Sure, the article was an entry in a contest that someone else won, but still. As Michelangelo would say, I've gotta keep practicing. Anyways, thanks to those guys for publishing my work!

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Monday, October 24, 2016

How Cute Are These Aspects of Baseball?

During my men's softball game last week, I had an interesting conversation with a spectator that led me to think about the lovely nuances of baseball. A lady who was watching (one of our opponents' WAGs, no doubt) asked why someone on our team got his glove brought to him each inning. I explained that it's a courtesy players provide for a teammate who's been left on base or made the last out. It's a very standard custom on the diamond, for sure. "Oh, that's really cute," she said to me and her friend.

Which ... I guess it is kind of cute. I wouldn't normally use that term refer to anything done by tubby middle-age softball players. But, yeah ... bringing a glove to a teammate is kind of cute.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

How Does My Classroom Look?

Oh, hey. Sorry I've been scarce, but it's been tough to write since we've only been getting one or two Jewish holidays off each week.

The new school year is already hitting Month 2. If you're at all interested in public education, urban education, or how you could use basketball sneakers to teach kids, you can check out a video of my classroom here:

Ugh, it's horrible hearing yourself talk, isn't it?

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

How Idiotic Is This Football-Crazed Zealot?

In the September 19 issue of Sports Illustrated, Kalyn Kahler wrote an interesting story about increased youth participation in flag football. Toward the end of the story, Kahler reached a member of the knuckle-dragger community for comment:

Stephen Piercy, a Fort Mill tackle coach who recently joined the program, said he isn't concerned about the safety because of the many precautions in place. "Football is as safe a sport as I believe there is," Piercy said.

Monday, August 29, 2016

How Can We Determine the Yankees' MVP?

'Tis the season for the MVP arguments to begin. Should a closer really be considered for the MVP? Can someone other than Francisco Lindor be considered the MVP of the Indians? Is Mike Trout really gonna get shafted again, by voters and even his own manager? September always provides plenty of fodder for such discussions.

The smell of the MVP aroma in the late-summer air got me thinking about who has been the most valuable Yankee this season. It's tempting to call Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman the team MVP because of the substantial trade hauls both guys brought back. After all, it was extremely valuable how both players helped situate the team for sustained contention over the next decade. Either of those guys would be a terrific choice if the Yanks had pulled a Flashman and completely surrendered after their busy trade deadline. But the team has gone 15-10 in August and still has an outside shot at playoff contention. So let's give the MVP to someone who's helped keep the squad watchable deep into the season.

So who has been the most valuable Yankee this season? You can look at it from a few different angles:

Friday, August 19, 2016

How Boring Were These Olympic Events?

These Olympics, like all the ones before it, have boasted their share of awe-inspiring displays of athleticism, the burnishing of legacies, wild photo finishes, and heartwarming moments that might make even the most ruthless competitor tear up a bit. In Rio, all of that great stuff happened despite widespread corruption and protest, a messy "armed robbery" case, an embarrassing sex "scandal", and much else to make cynics roll their eyes at the very idea of the "Olympic spirit."

You know what else has been mixed in with all that goodness and badness? A healthy dose of dullness.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How Did Sterling Call Gary Sanchez's First Homer?

Yankees catcher-of-the-future Gary Sanchez blasted his first career home run, a back-waller to center field at Fenway on Wednesday night. Here's how John Sterling called what we hope will be the first of many for Sanchez:
When the Yanks called up Sanchez earlier in the season, here's what I predicted:

Monday, August 8, 2016

How Much Is a YETI Worth?

This blog has been pretty slow during these dog days of summer, due to the combination of moving* and vacation.

*Oh, moving... There's a great Louis CK joke about the law against murder being the number one thing preventing murder. Well, with all the obstacles and idiots I had to deal with while moving, that joke definitely applied to me. Big-time.

One of our recent trips was our second-annual jaunt to the Jersey Shore, which is in many ways a week-long commercial for YETI coolers. Last year, each day I timed the first utterance of the word "YETI" and it usually happened within five minutes of sitting down on the beach. This year, the YETI craze reached new heights.

Monday, August 1, 2016

How Can We Compare the Recent Yankees Trades to Action Movies?

Well, the Yanks finally did it. They enacted the fie sale that many of us have been waiting for, so much so that their recent transaction page looks like a description of Chicago circa 1871.

Chapman! Miller! Beltran! Nova! Burn this baby down! 

For months, I was Nervous Pervis every time Miller entered a game or Beltran came to the plate, for fear that precious trade value might disappear with a serious injury. Basically, I gave this Yankees team a Ray Guy-level punt at some point in June and I was just worried that the organization's Tampa contingent wouldn't do the same until it was too late.

Now, it's a little depressing that rebuilding is officially underway in the Bronx, but I'll be dreaming about the Yankees offering half of Greenwich Village to Manny Machado and the entire Upper West Side to Bryce Harper at the end of 2017. In honor of the front office's major activity of the past week, here are five action movie comparisons to help us put those transactions into perspective:

Friday, June 24, 2016

How Entertaining Is This 2001 Internet Field Trip?

In the months leading up to the launch of the site The Ringer, we heard over and over how Bill Simmons' newest project would be very different from the dearly-beloved-yet-deceased Grantland. Secretly, though, most of us hoped for Grantland 2.0. After all, Simmons was bringing back much of the old gang, a la Fleetwood Mac in 2013. So why couldn't the new site be very similar to Grantland?

The Ringer has been very enjoyable so far, and one of the site's distinguishing features has been its technology coverage. While that isn't exactly my area of expertise (here's my much-maligned cell phone...
"Now with texting capabilities!"
), I have enjoyed many of the site's tech articles so far. My favorite was Alyssa Bereznak's funny retrospective about AOL's painfully dated paperback guide to the internet. Just more than a decade later, it's fun to look back and poke fun at the Neanderthal-esque way people used the Web. If I traveled back in time, with the scant present-day tech knowledge I've accrued, I could run Silicon Valley in the late 1990s. Anyways, I think I can add to Bereznak's noticings.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

How Nervy Is My Father?

My mom often says that my dad is the "second-nerviest person alive" behind only his sister, my aunt Beth Ann.

If you want to know what I mean by nervy, here's a revealing story: Broke as hell, my dad went to Lake Placid for the 1980 Olympics. No, he wasn't there to see Karin Enke-Kania of East Germany speed-skate. He was in the Adirondacks to watch our country's cute little upstarts play hockey against the best international competition.

Unfortunately, Olympic hockey is a marquee event, and tickets weren't cheap. That was especially true when the U.S. team reached the semifinals against the mighty Soviets. So my dad was hosed, right? He probably just watched the game in a bar on Main Street? Not so fast. Like he had done so many times before, he activated his well-honed nerviness and seized control of the situation. As I understand the story, he was in a bar before the game. Tickets were nowhere to be found, but there was a television crew there having a drink. At some point, one of the members of that crew left his "ABC"-emblazoned jacket on a barstool. My dad claims that the guy had left the bar and forgotten his coat. My skeptical side tells me that the guy probably just went to the bathroom. Either way, my dad grabbed the jacket, flashed his ID at the press entrance of the hockey arena, and he and his friends attended the freakin' Miracle on Ice as faux media members. On the nervy scale, that's right up there with the Soviet coach's infamous decision to remove star goalie Vladislav Tretiak from the game.

In honor of my dad on Father's Day, here's a short list of some of the other nervy things he's done throughout the years:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How Much Gratitude Do I Owe to 'Goosebumps'?

The original title of this piece was going to be "How Did Goosebumps Help Make Me the Man I Am Today?" However, there were a few problems with that title. First, I have trouble even considering myself a full-grown man, unless it's just an excuse to say the word man like Christopher Walken does in Wedding Crashers. Second, "the man I am today" implies that I'm somebody important. I'm not -- I'm just a well-meaning dude who teaches snot-nosed children their ABC's. (And sometimes teaches them what the '90s were.)

But I am someone (a man, I guess) who likes to read a lot. And that all started with Goosebumps, R.L. Stine's wildly popular horror series. Here, then, are the 10 ways that Goosebumps profoundly affected my life:

Thursday, June 9, 2016

How Harmful Was John Sterling's Call for Chris Parmelee?

The other day, I predicted that John Sterling would treat Yankees fans to a Chris Parmelee dinger call inspired by New York's Italian community. Instead, when Parmelee homered twice on Wednesday to power the Yanks in their third straight win, Sterling went with a lame, simple rhyme instead.

(Sterling call at 0:18 mark of video.)

Parm does harm? Not great, Jawn. I know Parmelee isn't a household name, but at least put some effort into the call.

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

How Will Sterling Call Chris Parmelee's Home Runs?

The Yankees' first-base situation has been one of the worst in the league this season, and it didn't get any better when they called up Chris Parmelee to replace the injured Mark Teixeira on Saturday. But even if he and Rob Refsnyder will combine to play a crappier first base than Bertram from The Sandlot, Parmelee provides tons of potential for John Sterling. Here's my prediction for the play-by-play man's newest home run call:

Mamma mia! The Yankees are having Parm tonight!

They'll appreciate the call up on Arthur Avenue and way out in Howard Beach.

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Saturday, June 4, 2016

How Unfortunate Has the Yankees Offense Been?

On Friday night, the Yankees offense got what felt like a deluge of hits in big spots. Rob Refsnyder, Aaron Hicks, and Jacoby Ellsbury all came up with important hits in a levee-breaking seventh inning that put the team ahead for good, despite a rare off-night from the bullpen. The mood on Yankees Twitter mirrored my own feelings: Finally. It's about time we got some clutch hits.

Via Newsday
It's all fine and dandy to concede that clutchness almost certainly can't be a team-wide skill, but it sure has felt like this year's Yankees have shrunk in big spots more than Costanza in the Hamptons.

But I'd guess that most fans feel that their team is either totally clutch or totally unclutch. It's in our nature to attach more weight to important events and remember them longer. I doubt that many people think, My team has displayed markedly average ability in clutch situations this year. To remove the impact of my own biases, I figured I'd see what some stats have to say about the Yankees' clutchness/luck on offense through about one-third of the season. Has the team cowered in big moments, or is the offense just bad across the board? Have a look:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

How Could L.A. Think It's the Best Sports City?

Former Grantlander Dave Schilling has been writing some really great stuff over at The Guardian, including his intelligent takedown of Michael Wilbon's nonsensical why-black-people-hate-analytics rubbish from earlier in the week. With that being said, on Thursday, Schilling argued that Los Angeles might have overtaken cities like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia as the best sports city in the country. Since the title of the piece specifically calls out the Big Apple ("Tremble before us, New York"), let's deconstruct Schilling's article point-by-dubious-point to show that he must have smoked some of Johnny Drama's L.A. medicinal marijuana before writing.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

How Valuable Were 2003's Young Baseball Stars?

Remember 2003? Hilary Duff was a huge multi-platform star, "Freedom Fries" were all the rage, Lance Armstrong was still a demigod to many fans, and people still believed Iraq had stockpiles of WMDs. And, of course, Shawn Green and Kevin Millwood were two of the 10 best young players in baseball. Wait, hold up. What was that last one?!

Friday, May 13, 2016

How Will Sterling Call Gary Sanchez's Dingers?

The Yankees called catching prospect Gary Sanchez up from Triple-A for this weekend's series against the White Sox. In his short cup of coffee last September, Sanchez went hitless and, therefore, homerless. So, of course, we have to predict John Sterling's home run call for the 23-year-old. I have a weird hunch that Sterling will go extra-corny with this one:

"Gary, Gary, quite contrary ... What makes your garden grow?"

How Much Have the '90s Aged?

A few years ago, I posted a list of things that have changed and stayed the same since the '90s. Well, here's a question one of my eighth-grade students asked the other day:

"Hey, have you guys ever watched that show 'Nine-Zero-Two-One-Zero'?"

They also watch Girl Meets World but don't know about Boy Meets World. Terrible. Now I understand just how Clint Eastwood felt in Gran Torino.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How Upset Am I (Still) That I Missed Gooden's No-Hitter?

Most of you have probably heard of FOMO -- Fear of Missing Out. Well, as a result of something that happened 20 years ago this week, I suffer from a chronic, recurring case of DAMN -- Depression About Missing a No-hitter. I had a ticket to Dwight Gooden's no-hitter, and I missed it. I was ten years old, it was my best chance to catch such a feat in person, and I might as well have been an H.G. Wells character. DAMN is right.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How Will Sterling Call Ben Gamel's Homers?

Outfielder Ben Gamel has played several games for the Yankees so far, recording his first big league hit on Monday night. He's yet to club a home run, though. When he does, here's my prediction for John Sterling's call:

"A GAM slam for Ben!"

Sunday, May 8, 2016

How Well Did I Predict Sterling's Home Run Call for Aaron Hicks?

Unlike with Starlin Castro, whose John Sterling home run call I pretty much nailed, I was about half-right on Sterling's call for Aaron Hicks. Here's what I predicted back in February:

"Home run for Hicks ... Aaron makes like Hank and hammers one!"

Thursday, April 28, 2016

How Much Hope Should We Have for the Yankees Offense?

On Twitter over the past few days, I've seen the Yankees offense compared to a dumpster fire and Lloyd Christmas throwing up in his mouth. Both of those metaphors work right now, as the team has scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball this season. After a couple offensive outbursts in the first series of the season against Houston, the bats have looked mostly anemic. Specifically, the left-side infielders have combined to hit like the long-brimmed version of Smalls, the bench-warmers have played like bench-warmers, and Alex Rodriguez has looked every bit the 14,701-day-old he is.

Didi Gregorius has a .238/.246/.365 line. (Photo via
Sure, it's a small sample size of just 20 games so far, but it's not as small of a sample size when you add all of the players' at-bats together. Then it starts getting a lot more worrisome. Or does it?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How Often Do You Sneak Into Better Seats?

On the MLB season preview edition of The Poscast, sportswriter Joe Posnanski and comedy writer Michael Schur got me very excited for April baseball with their thoughtful, funny banter about the best parts of major league ballparks. However, they also discussed a fact that made me think a little less of each of them.

They're middle-aged rabid baseball fans. So how many times would you guess they've sneaked into better seats at a game? It's gotta be in the dozens, right? Or maybe they've even sneaked into better seats hundreds of times? Sure, Posnanski's been going to games with a press pass for years, but he grew up attending half-full Indians games during a dismal time for the team. And Schur, as a rabid Red Sox fan, has surely sneaked down from the cheap seats at Fenway on a decent number of occasions. Right?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How Funny Was This 'Jeopardy' Mistake?

Every once in a while, Jeopardy pleases the hardball-loving folks on the Internet with a baseball-related clue or category. For instance, Yogi Berra came up in a Final Jeopardy clue a couple weeks ago, to the delight of fans all over.

Well, today, I have a real treat for lovers of Jeopardy and baseball.

In an episode at the end of February, a contestant named Suzy Law got an answer hilariously wrong. Well, it was hilarious to me as a diehard baseball fan, at least. The category was "Hard-throwing Pitchers" and the question was pretty straightforward.

Easy, right? Well, Suzy... Suzy... I guess I'll just let you watch how Suzy answered.


Friday, April 8, 2016

How Misguided Was the Guinness Marketing Department?

A few months ago, Guinness first aired a commercial for the company's Blonde American Lager. This particular beer (and its ad, which is linked above) is intended to celebrate the contributions of Irish immigrants in America.

However, Guinness might have miscalculated with one of the images used in the 30-second spot. At the 0:04 mark of the commercial, we see a famous Jacob Riis photo called "Bandit's Roost." I think that Guinness intended to highlight the tough living conditions the Irish experienced in the New York City tenements of the nineteenth century. However, as the photo's title suggests, many of the subjects in the image were bandits -- criminals and felons.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How Well Did I Predict John Sterling's Homer Call for Starlin Castro?

Please allow me to take a bow. Right before spring training, Kavanaugh and I predicted how we thought John Sterling would call home runs for this season's newest Yankees. Here's what I guessed for second baseman Starlin Castro:

"Starlin is New York's new darlin'!"

As easy (and probable) as it would be for Sterling to use a pun on "Star" (e.g., "Castro's got star power!"), I think he'll go the rhyming route.

Well, in the second inning of Wednesday night's game against the Astros, Castro blasted a dinger to left and Sterling delivered this call: "He is Darlin' Starlin."

Sunday, April 3, 2016

How Will These Yankees Defy Their Projections (For Better or for Worse)?

Last season during spring training, I posted two separate stories about which Yankees would outperform their preseason projections and which ones would underperform. This year, let's tackle both in one long post.

So what qualifies you to do this again? you might ask. Were your predictions better than those of the projection systems last year?

Well, yes and no -- quite literally! I correctly predicted the performance of both Yankees pitchers (Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances) I examined while incorrectly forecasting the performances of a pair of position players (Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley). I correctly guessed one strong season relative to projections (Betances) and one weak season (Tanaka). On the other hand, I totally messed up in terms of Teixeira (much better/healthier than I expected) and Headley (much worse). So I went two-for-four -- like I said, yes and no.

I probably would have done just as well last year if I had just flipped a coin for a few Yankees. Still, my predictions were a little better than many others, including anyone who prophesied the Marlins to win the World Series and everyone who thought the Nationals would treat the National League like General Sherman treated Georgia.

Which is all a long way of saying that you can't stop me from doing this again. So, which Yankees will preform better than their projections and which will do worse? On to the predictions!

Monday, March 28, 2016

How Would John Sterling's Drunken Home Run Calls Sound?

At the beginning of Spring Training, I enlisted our old friend Kavanaugh's help in guessing John Sterling's new home run calls. At the end of his e-mail, he said this:

"You know, it would also be fun guessing how he'd call HRs for all the Yankees if Susan slipped some Jameson into his coffee up in the booth, and he all of a sudden got really inappropriate."

Yes! Here's what happened when we went through the whole lineup and imagined Sterling's boozed-up home run call for each guy. Sorry it got a little (a lot?) off-color at times:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How Scared Should Mets Fans Be?

Hi Mets fans,

I don't mean to be an a-hole or anything, but I'm just gonna leave these here for a while:

Hey, at least this week's Sports Illustrated cover photographer changed the position of Isringhausen and Harvey a little bit. So, actually, false alarm. Nothing to worry about here.

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Follow Francis Tolan on Twitter @frantweet

Monday, March 21, 2016

How Many MLB Players "Put Butts in the Seats"?

A few weeks ago, as we watched a rare Knicks win at the Garden, my dad wondered aloud why tickets for remaining Knicks games are still fetching exorbitant prices on StubHub. Why would people pay so much to watch such a team that feels like it's trapped in a Chinua Achebe novel? Of course, there are a few well-documented reasons for this phenomenon. First, the Garden remains a place to be in New York, and the market won't depress Knicks prices like it would for other horrible teams. Second, people will pay high premiums to see stars visit any NBA arena. For those reasons, a good seat to the Cavs-Knicks matchup at the end of March is still about as hot a ticket as a backstage pass for Hamilton on Broadway.

By my count, there are 19 NBA teams* that have at least one star that people in other cities will consistently come to the arena to watch.

*Those teams and players: Chicago (Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose); Cleveland (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving); Dallas (Dirk Nowitzki); Detroit (Andre Drummond); Golden State (Stephen Curry); Houston (James Harden); Los Angeles Clippers (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan); Los Angeles Lakers (Kobe Bryant); Miami (Dwyane Wade); Milwaukee (Giannis Antetokounmpo); Minnesota (Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns); New Orleans (Anthony Davis); New York (Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony); Oklahoma City (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook); Portland (Damian Lillard); Sacramento (DeMarcus Cousins); San Antonio (Kawhi Leonard); Toronto (Kyle Lowry); Washington (John Wall).

You might quibble with one or two of those guys, or add a few of your own, but most of those players do indeed "put butts in the seats." 

Since there are only 10 guys on the court at once in a basketball game, and stars have the ball in their hands for much of each game, NBA stars put more butts in the seats than MLB luminaries do. However, I thought it would be interesting to take a trip around pro baseball and decide which players I'd go out of my way to see. Do 19 baseball teams have at least one of those guys?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

How Can We Compare MLB and NBA Teams?

Every year around this time, baseball writers churn out stories about the beauty of Spring Training or the storylines to watch as MLB teams enter camp. Since most of the former type of article could just be recycled each spring, and most of the latter will end up being much ado about nothing, I'm going in a different direction here. Let's compare baseball teams to something totally unrelated to baseball, just as I did last year when I found a Simpsons character that resembles each big-league mascot.

This time around, we're going to swing around the league and compare each MLB team to an NBA team. The idea was spurred by a recent Effectively Wild podcast, when host Ben Lindbergh answered a listener e-mail by saying that the Cardinals are the "Baseball Spurs." A couple years ago, I compared the Spurs to the Yankees, and Bill Simmons often remarks that his Patriots are very Spurs-like. I'll run through Lindbergh's reasons for likening the Spurs to the Cardinals when I get to the Cards' spot on the list.

I figured I might be the right man to blow out the MLB-NBA team comparison since those are my two favorite leagues. The only rule I used was that each MLB team had to be matched with one and only one NBA team. Here we go. As always...

Friday, February 26, 2016

How Will John Sterling Call Home Runs for Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks?

When Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs published the site's crowdsourced rankings of MLB's radio broadcast teams in 2012, the Yankees' duo of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman came in dead last.

No skin off my back, though, because people seem to love reading about Sterling. Some of How Blank's most popular posts have been the ones detailing what Cistulli calls Sterling's "belabored trademark calls." Belabored or not, the thought of some new Sterling home run calls this season has me giddy.

The Yankees have added two new hitters who figure to play a lot and hit at least a few dingers. So I enlisted the help of our estranged blog-buddy Brian Kavanaugh to try to predict how Sterling will call home runs for new second baseman Starlin Castro and outfield import Aaron Hicks. Kavanaugh -- one of the punniest dudes I know -- didn't disappoint, sending a bunch of possibilities for each player. I've also included my prediction for each new guy.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

How Sorianesque Is Starlin Castro?

This summer, Yankees fans will ride a roller coaster of emotions every time they watch a talented middle infielder from the Dominican Republic, a player who has proven he can rake but couldn't quite cut it as a big-league shortstop. He will probably hit for a high average, but he'll drive us crazy by swinging at pitches in the dirt far too often. His bat speed will wow us, but his on-base percentage will vex us. He's got great speed, yet he doesn't provide as much value on the bases as you'd think.

Who did that paragraph just describe? If you said Starlin Castro, you'd be correct. You'd also be correct if you thought you'd traveled back in time 15 years to watch Alfonso Soriano.

Friday, February 12, 2016

How Stereotypical Is This Irish Candy?

Since I've been trafficking in mildly offensive -- and, I think, pretty funny -- stereotypes on this blog lately, I figured I'd share a story about my neighborhood. I live in a Bronx area called Woodlawn, one of the last true Irish hamlets in New York City. Woodlawn's Wikipedia page boasts "a large variety of Irish and non-Irish restaurants and diners, two Irish gift shops, The Aisling Irish Community Center, an Irish Butcher Shop..." And, of course, "many Irish pubs."

Saturday, January 30, 2016

How Enduring Is This France Joke?

This week's Sports Illustrated features Ben Reiter's story about Rudy Gobert* and the proliferation of good French players in the NBA. Reiter argued that Gobert and his countrymen are changing stereotypes about "soft" French basketball players.

Friday, January 29, 2016

"How Come You Don't Write As Much Anymore?"

In the past few months, a couple people have asked me that question: "How come you don't write as much anymore?" Sure, it was only two people, but that's what I said -- a couple.

Reason one for my weak output, of course, was the arrival of our baby Sean last April. I'm too busy hanging out with my new best friend, roughhousing, and reading him books to write anything -- although I did find time to write about some of those crappy books.

The second reason you haven't seen me pondering as many of the universe's least pertinent questions here at How Blank is that I got a new job. In addition to my teaching gig with the New York City Bureaucracy of Education (Excuse me, Board of Education. Oh wait, Department of Education. There it is.), I'm now writing lesson plans for the Website NUSKOOL. The mission of the site is engaging kids in schoolwork through pop culture, sports, and other interesting avenues.

Monday, January 25, 2016

How Flawed Are These Baby Books?: An Illustrated Guide

I've written before about some of the absurd products on which new parents waste their money. Buying gizmos like the Shampoo Rinser, Wipe Warmer, and Pacifier Wipes is the equivalent of flushing your money down the Boon Potty Bench Training Toilet. With that being said, I don't mind spending some scratch on baby books. Some of them (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, anything written by Dr. Seuss) are pretty much unimpeachable. But we're not here to talk about the good ones.

Here's the thing: The authors of many baby books are getting away with murder. Just because your primary audience consists of people who diarrhea themselves daily doesn't mean your books should abandon any hint of common sense.

To show you what I mean, here are the top eight instances of baby books insulting your (and your child's) intelligence: