The Past Year in Sports Passed Us By


2012, a year we at the Casual Sports­man will never forget. Mostly because we paid so little attention we have nothing to remember. What we did notice we’d mostly like to forget. The Tigers being swept in the World Series comes to mind. Though we wish it didn’t.

So we ask ourselves, what was the most compelling sports story of 2012. The Super Bowl? Naw, a rerun of a few years ago. The Olympics? Yawn. The NBA? Snore. The FedEx Cup? What’s that again? Did anything really extra­ordinary happen in 2012?

Only one thing presents itself, Leo Messi scoring 90 goals breaking Gerd Müller’s “world record” of 86 goals in 1972. We put world record in quota­tions because it’s a funny kind of a record, but extraordinary nonetheless.

Soccer season generally goes from early fall through the following spring spanning two calendar years. Unless you’re in the southern hemisphere when that would be all in one year. So the “record” in question is goals in a calendar year rather than in a season. Which means two half seasons of league play, and parts of any other tournaments like the Champions League. Which raises another issue, the goals being counted are for all competitions, not just league goals. Meaning goals Messi scored for both his club team, Barcelona, and the Argentine national team. A bit odd for a record.

All the same, Messi bested Müller the previous “world record” holder. Except Zico scored 89 goals for Flamengo and the Brazilian national team in 1979. Not only that, Godfrey Chitalu scored 107 goals in 1972 for his national team and his club team in the Zambian league.

So then, is there really a “world record” for goals in a calendar year? Can we really compare scoring in the Spanish, Brazilian and Zambian leagues? Plus National team play of South American teams playing in their region to that of African teams in theirs? As well as European club tour­naments to South American club tournaments to African club tourna­ments? This would be like a hockey scoring record including points in the playoffs and in the Olympics. And then comparing a player from the NHL to one playing in the Swedish league.

Seems to us the whole idea there could be a “world record” for goals in all competitions is dubious at best. Whatever you want to call it, Messi’s 90 goals is still something pretty amazing. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a nice video of all 90 goals. But here’s a short video of a nice hat-trick Messi scored against Zaragoza.

Filed 12/23/12

When Four Outs Beat Three


First, a little personal celebration. Tigers sweep Yankees to make the World Series. Yippee! Not that most folks besides Tiger fans care all that much. And likely as not wouldn’t think much of what I have to say about it. So we’ll let it go.

Now down to the business at hand, explaining the intro. When does four outs beat three? How do you get four outs? What’s the point?

Here’s the situation: men on first and third, one out. Batter sends a looping liner to right. Looks like it will fall for a hit, the runners go. The right fielder makes a shoestring catch for the second out. The right fielder throws to first base doubling up the runner, out number three. Meanwhile, the runner on third, who didn’t tag up after the catch, crossed the plate before the third out was made at first. The question, does the run count?

Even though he never tagged up after the catch, the run counts if the runner crossed the plate before the third out was made doubling up the runner from first. To negate the run, the defense must also make an appeal play to third base, doubling up the runner there. This would be a fourth out. Though if they did that, it would cancel the third out at first base, making the fourth out the third out and the third out a non-out.

Perhaps I didn’t explain that very clearly, but that’s the gist of what they call “the fourth out rule.” Though technically it’s only three outs. Not something you see very often, but it does happen. Why this “illegal” run is allowed is a quirk of the rulebook. Baseball has lots of special rules to cover special situations. If you don’t know the rules you can get mighty confused when odd situations pop up.

Here’s an example of such confu­sion popping up on a pop-up called by two different broadcasts of a strange play in a game between the Marlins and the Dodgers. The Marlins announ­cers go through all sorts of gyrations trying to explain the play. Meanwhile the Dodger announcer, Vince Scully, makes the correct call right off the bat. Though Mr. Scully does muddy the waters when he starts going on about the infield fly rule. He should have followed his own advice and “Forget the play” because once runner inter­ference is called, nothing else matters. The runner at first is out, the other runner remains at second, and the batter keeps on batting as if the play never happened.

Filed 10/19/12

While I was Sleeping


Been quite a while since I added anything to The Casual Sportsman. Maybe I should call it the Lackadai­sical Sportsman. Truth is, I haven’t been paying much attention lately. Not to basketball, baseball, hockey, the Olympics, the Lance Armstrong thing, nothing. You can’t say much about what you don’t know. OK, that’s not true, many people have plenty to say about what they don’t know much about. I think that’s the basis of sports talk radio.

I don’t feel I’ve missed much (though how would I know?) except for the incredibly dramatic, Bobby-Thompson-Giants-win-the-pennant!-like finish of the English Premier League season. A moment Man U haters relish.

Man City Wins Title in Added Time

Filed 9/2/12

What We Hate More than Losing


People don’t like losing, but they hate being cheated more. Losing is sadden­ing, being cheated is blood boiling. If you’ve ever listened to sports talk radio you know this first-hand. Or first-ear if there is such a thing.

Fans rather easily come to terms with a loss where their team just got beat. They blame the players and coaching, but they can accept it. The old “You can’t win them all” attitude. Or maybe the old “Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose” philos­ophy. Either way, fans may not like it, but they get over it.

On the other hand, sports fans go ballistic when the officials blow a call that lost their team a game, especially a call that let the opponent cheat and get away with it. The controversy will be bigger news than any other loss. Fans will bitch about it for years. English soccer fans are still bitter about a disallowed goal against Germany in the World Cup some 40 years ago.

You might dismiss such sport con­troversies as a tempest in a tea pot. However the same thing applies to life in general. When a person fails in life or business through their own faulty decisions and efforts, they can accept it with some amount of equanimity. They don’t like it, but in a fair system they figure they had a shot and the failure is largely their own.

But if a person gets a raw deal from the powers that be, they get cheated by a corrupt system, that creates anger. The type of anger that can generate revolt. People who blame themselves are not easily roused, folks who feel victimized are. Rebels appeal to the outrage of being cheated. “Unfair!” is a good rallying cry, “We blew it!” not so much.

Then again, if things are unfair in their advantage... people can be philo­sophical about that, too. Especially if the cheating can be blamed on someone else.

Sports has a bevy of cliches, one being “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” People like to think this is the case. To a degree it might be. But there’s also this quote from Vince Lombardi, “Winning isn’t the most important thing, it’s the only thing.” So then, what happens when the system is so corrupt the only way to win is by cheating? Will people live by the cliche or the quote?

Filed 10/18/11



On March 2, 1962 the Philadelphia Warriors beat the New York Knicks 169-147. While this might sound like a ridiculously high-scoring game, back then not so much as offence and out­score the other team was the name of the game. Of course, the real name of the game was basketball. But I digress.

So the game wasn’t notable for the total points scored, but it did have one incredible distinction. One Warrior player, Wilt Chamberlain, scored 100 points.

This is one of those records they like to say can never be broken. And unless the way the game is played changes, I’d have to agree. Not only did Chamberlain tally a century in a single game, for the season he aver­aged an amazing 50 points per game. Another record unlikely to be broken.

Here’s the kicker, both records were set before there was a three-point shot.

Filed 5/25/11

Packer Super Bowl Win IV


Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers for winning their fourth Super Bowl. Thus the smallest city in the NFL increases their historic best total of NFL championships to thir­teen. I guess you might call Green Bay the biggest small town in America. With apologies to Reno.

Aaron Rogers becomes the third different quarterback to lead the Pack to Super Bowl victory. Previously there was Bart Starr, hall-of-famer, and Bret Favre, shoe-in hall-of-famer. Now we add Rogers who, if he keeps playing as he has the last few seasons, is a likely hall-of-famer.

Contrast that with my hometown team, the Detroit Lions whose Super Bowl record is, well, they’ve never even been to a Super Bowl. Over the time period there’s been a Super Bowl the Motor City Kitties have had Greg Landry, Gary Dannielson, Eric Hipple, Scott Mitchel, Joey Harrington... a completely forgettable lot. Not a single Super Bowl, not a single super quarterback. Think there might be a connection there?

Filed 2/8/11

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