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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Follow Francis Tolan on Twitter @frantweets

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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Follow Francis Tolan on Twitter @frantweet

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: