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Monday, April 27, 2009

Everyday Athletes: Jason on Tennis

Welcome to the fifth edition of the "Everyday Athlete" series where we will interview rec athletes about their favorite sports. The athletes interviewed participate in a variety of sports, across a wide spectrum of skill levels and are located all over the country. None of the athletes interviewed are professionals and mainly compete in their sports or events at nights or on the weekends. It is the purpose of this series to show that anyone can get out, play sports and keep sporting, regardless of age, athletic ability, or life activities.

If you would like to be the subject of an upcoming "Everyday Athlete" segment, please feel free to Contact Us.

1. NAME: Jason

2. LOCATION: Miami, FL



5. IF YOU HAVE BEEN PLAYING SINCE YOU WERE A YOUTH, DO YOU HAVE MORE FUN NOW OR BACK THEN? WHY? I have much more fun now because as a teenager I took tennis way too seriously. I was really hard on myself when I played poorly. Now that my free time is limited, I truly appreciate every opportunity I get to play.


7. HOW MANY TIMES A WEEK (OR MONTH) DO YOU PLAY? 3-4 times a month

8. WHAT GOT YOU STARTED PLAYING TENNIS? My parents enrolled me in pee-wee tennis and I loved it.

9. WHAT KEEPS YOU PLAYING? The pure love of the game and the health benefits.

10. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT ON THE COURT? As a teenager-going undefeated in league play with my doubles partner (1993). As an adult-staying injury-free, relatively.

11. HAVE YOU PLAYED WITH OR AGAINST ANYONE FAMOUS? WHO? AND WHO WON THE GAME? I played (NBA Player) Michael Redd twice in high school. I beat him in doubles play my soph. year, and lost a heartbreaker to him in singles 2 years later.

12. ANY GOOD INJURY STORIES? None, knock-on-wood…

13. DO YOU PLAY IN AN ORGANIZED LEAGUE OR GENERALLY PLAY PICK UP? I play with friends and my fiancé.

14. APPROXIMATELY HOW MUCH DOES IT COST YOU PER YEAR TO PLAY TENNIS? Less than $100. The courts are free, the balls are cheap, and I buy a new racket once every 5-7 years.



17. WHAT ABOUT ADULTS LOOKING FOR A NEW SPORT? WHY? It's great for adults because the basics are somewhat easy to grasp I addition to the health benefits.

18. ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE JUST STARTING TO PLAY? Be patient. Don't worry about hitting with power and accuracy until you have learned good form and proper hitting techniques.

19. ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ADD? No matter what sport you choose, have fun!!!

Thanks for the interview jason! And remember, if you would like to be a feature of an "Everyday Athlete" segment, Contact Us.

Keep sporting!
- Who's In First

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Detour: Vegas, Baby, VEGAS

In a few hours I will hop on a plane, fly over the Rockies and land in a converted desert known to all as Sin City.

The purpose of the trip is to send a friend off into fatherhood in style. Kinda like a bachelor party, this weekend will be filled with jabs at the father-to-be and making him rethink his decision to bring a child into this world.

We will try and keep him up till the wee hours of the night and wake him up early…. all practice for the impending life change.

But the trip won't just be just about the baby bachelor. No. It will also be about 15-20 guys having fun as well. And when you think of fun and Vegas, you think of gambling.

Having been in Vegas less than a month ago to watch and bet on the first weekend of the college basketball tournament, I am pretty fresh on the idea of all games of chance. I am, however, not that big of a table game gambler. Sure I will sit down and pray for an Ace followed by a Jack. I will also roll the bones when with a group (although I am not sure how to win at that game, even though everyone says it gives me the best odds.)

But for my money (literally), sports gambling gives me the biggest thrill. It changes up everything. Instead of winning and losing, which can sometimes be decided in the first 5 minutes of a game (ahem, NCAA basketball championship game), you get the "pleasure" of having to sweat out an entire game, grunting or cheering based on every free throw made or missed. Every pop fly that finds a glove or the other side of the fence. Every pass either caught by the offense or by the defense.

To me sports gambling provides that thrill, and for an extended period of time.

Say you have $50. If you sat down at a Black Jack table at 10pm on the Strip on a Saturday, you would be hard pressed to find a table for under $15/hand. If luck doesn't go your way, your $50 is gone in three hands, or roughly 5 minutes.

Take that same $50 and bet it on a game. You now have 2+ hours to enjoy seeing your money either double or dwindle.

So for the same $50 you get 115 more minutes of exposure on sports than you do at a table game.

Now there are drawbacks to this. First off, you can only win what you put in (minus the "Juice"). If you win your sports bet, you come out with a profit of $45, so your initial $50 brings you up to $95.

At a table game, your $50 can net you all sorts of money. If you hit black jack on all three of those $15 hands you played for those initial 5 minutes, your $50 is now worth $117.50. If you are playing craps or any other of the odds games, you can double, triple or more each of your bets.

The other drawback is that sports betting ends for the night the moment of the final tip-off, kickoff or first pitch of the night… which is generally around 7 p.m. Vegas time. That leaves you a long evening as a wall flower if you decide that table games aren't your thing.

So if you feel like gambling into the wee hours of the night, you will have to find yourself sitting at a black jack table, or throwing dice down the felt, and may come out profitably because of it. But if you are looking for me, just ask a casino worker where the sports book is and you will find me with pencil and betting sheet in hand, crunching numbers and trying to out think the Vegas brains.

What are your favorite games in Vegas? Post a comment below.

Keep sporting!
- Who's In First

Note: Who's In First does not condone gambling and would recommend that anyone with a gambling problem should seek professional help. If you are going to gamble, make sure you stay within what your budget will allow. This post was written for fun with the intent of discussing various casino-style games and should not be taken as a recommendation or as advice on how, what or when to gamble. Any projected wins or losses were hypothetical and used for the sole purpose of conveying a point. Thanks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brushes With Fame

This past weekend I had the pleasure to help clean up George Washington High School in Denver as part of a community clean up day (organized by my wife). Cleaning up this historic public high school came with the obvious benefits and satisfaction, but, to me, the greatest thrill I received wasn't in helping to re-paint the counselor's offices, speaking to the students or in seeing all 18 bathrooms get a complete make-over.

Nope. Instead my personal highlight was peering into the gym where Chauncey Billups used to play high school hoops, seeing his back-to-back state championship trophies and gazing upon his retired jersey dangling from the trophy case between the state championship trophies.

Coming from a smaller high school in Ohio, the rundown of notable alumni on my former high school's Wikipedia page boasts a proud list of the richest man in Ohio, the 1972 Miss America pageant winner, a current actor in a popular television sitcom and a TV weatherman broadcasting out of Honolulu ("It will be a high of 82 with a slight chance of rain". Repeat.).

To the best of my knowledge the biggest athletic accomplishment from an alumnus of my alma mater was Brent Johnson who suited up for the hometown Ohio State Buckeyes in the early 90's. We never had an NBA, MLB or NFL player, much less a former NBA Finals MVP, wear Royal Blue and white with Lions embroidered across the front.

I have also never played in an organized game, that I know of, with a future or past professional athlete. Sure in college I would watch the basketball team take over the rec center floor during their offseason, and a few of those guys are now getting paid to play, but I haven't ever been in an actual league with someone like that.

The closest I have ever gotten to seeing an NBA player well before their prime was when the neighboring high school came into our gym when I was in 10th grade and were guided by future NBA player Samaki Walker. It wasn't a fun game to watch from our perspective, but had I not had a rooting interest in one of the two teams I would have been able to comprehend the talent I was witnessing.

So that is it in terms of my brushes with future NBA players: a blow out suffered by my high school and a 10-year old jersey hanging in a trophy case.

Have you ever had a brush with a future professional athlete? If so, post a comment below.

Keep sorting!
- Who's In First

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Everyday Athlete: Erika on Triathlons

Welcome to the fourth edition of the "Everyday Athlete" series where we will interview rec athletes about their favorite sports. The athletes interviewed participate in a variety of sports, across a wide spectrum of skill levels and are located all over the country. None of the athletes interviewed are professionals and mainly compete in their sports or events at nights or on the weekends. It is the purpose of this series to show that anyone can get out, play sports and keep sporting, regardless of age, athletic ability, or life activities.

If you would like to be the subject of an upcoming "Everyday Athlete" segment, please feel free to Contact Us.

1. NAME: Erika

2. LOCATION: Chicago



5. WHAT MADE YOU START DOING TRIATHLONS? I used to be a competitive swimmer in college and wanted to get back into competitions. There weren't a lot of options for swim races but there's a ton of triathlons here in the Chicago area.

6. WHY DO PARTICIPATE IN TRIATHLONS? I feel it's a new challenge I hadn't done before and I like to see how I can push my body. There are a few things I feel I need to do before I die and an Iron Man is one of them, I am slowly working towards it.

7. TO GET A SENSE OF TRIATHLON TRIANING, HOW DO YOU SPLIT UP YOUR TRAINING BETWEEN THE BIKE, SWIM AND RUN? Since I am a really strong swimmer I focus mostly on my biking and my run. I usually hop in the pool once a week and try and get in 2-3 miles. I try to run two days a week and bike two days a week. Right now I am running about 4 miles a week but in spring summer I up my run and bike and by high point I am running a total of 10 miles, 5 miles every other day and biking 15-20 miles at least two days a week for a total of 30 – 40 miles a week.


9. WHAT IS THE BEST EXPERIENCE YOU HAVE HAD IN A TRIATHLON? Crossing the finish line on my first one.

10. WHAT IS THE WORST EXPERIENCE YOU HAVE HAD IN A TRIATHLON? I was in a bad car accident and I pushed myself to get into a race too soon. I didn't know I had torn my lungs in the accident and the whole race hurt terribly. I almost couldn't finish the leg of the race and had to walk a bunch.

11. ANY GOOD INJURIES? Not from a triathlon.

12. BESIDES TRIATHLONS, DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN ANY ORGANIZED RUNNING EVENTS (5Ks, "Fun Runs", Marathons, etc)? IF SO, WHICH WERE YOUR FAVORITES? WHY? Yes, I do the Shamrock Shuffle and the Wrigley Run, they are both 5k's and are fun events I participate in with friends.


14. BESIDES TRIATHLONS, DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN ANY ORGANIZED SWIMMING EVENTS? IF SO, WHICH WERE YOUR FAVORITES? WHY? No, since college I have not participated in pure swimming event, there are just not a lot of options here in Chicago to race.

15. DO YOU LISTEN TO AN IPOD OR MP3 PLAYER WHILE YOU RUN OR BIKE? WHAT DO YOU GENERALLY LISTEN TO (books, talk radio, music radio, melodic music, "pump me up" music, other)? If I am biking outside I am on Lakeshore Drive and do not listen to an iPod because it's too crowded and you need to hear people coming up behind you. Biking indoors and always running I do listen to an iPod, depending on my mood it's either heavy metal like Metallica, Anthrax, and AC/DC or Hip Hop Rap like 2PAC, Biggie, Outcast and Eazy E.

16. IN THE WINTER HOW DO YOU TRAIN FOR A TRIATHLON? I belong to a large gym here in Chicago where I work out. I run on the treadmill and swim in the pool at the club and take Spin Classes. In the winter I feel this is enough for me but once it gets warm out is when I really put the time into training.

17. WHAT DO YOU DO TO PREPARE MENTALY FOR A TRIATHLON? Not much really, I do exactly what I did when I swam in college. Eat a lot of pasta the day before and then a few hours before the race start stretching and getting myself pumped up, almost to the point of anger and listen to AC/DC Back in Black and Thunderstruck as loud as possible.

18. WHAT TYPE OF DIET DO YOU REGIMENT YOURSELF TO WHILE TRAINING? None really, I just stay away from fast food and drink a ton of water.

19. DO YOU WORKOUT ALONGSIDE TRAINING, OR DO YOU JUST RUN, BIKE AND SWIM? WHY/WHY NOT? I do workout along side training the winter time. I typically take a bunch of different classes at the gym that do interval training.

20. ANY ADVICE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO GET INTO TRIATHLONS? You should just try it; there are all types of people who do them from the experienced athlete to the mom of 4 who just wants to try one. I have seen all shapes, sizes and ages compete so as long as you have the dedication you can complete one.

Thanks for the interview Erika! And remember, if you would like to be a feature of an "Everyday Athlete" segment, Contact Us.

Keep sporting!
- Who's In First

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away

We have previously discussed the difficulty most managers have in getting people to attend their optional practices. So what should you do when you have a scheduled practice that most people can attend, that suddenly has to be canceled because of inclement weather?

I had such a situation arise this past weekend, and learned more about what NOT to do, than what to do, so hopefully my learning curve can benefit the other managers out there trying to plan a practice.

About a month ago I sent an email to the team telling them to mark their calendars for Sunday, April 19. On that date we would all get together, hit a few balls from in the batting cages and then go out to the diamond to field some grounders and shag some fly balls. I used the techniques from my April 7 blog posting (What are we talking about? Practice?) and got a good number of people to commit. Because the practice was scheduled so far in advance, it gave everyone time to readjust their schedules and to set expectations for their wives, girlfriends and friends that they would be unavailable during mid-afternoon that day. Those that already had plans had notified me in advance, and so I knew to expect approximately half the squad. Not a great showing, but not horrible. Actually it was about what I thought would show as I first tried to figure out when to practice.

We also decided to head to our bar sponsor after practice to hang out and see if the bar was interested in sponsoring us for another year. It was all set in stone. Everyone was amped… softball and some drinks in the nice spring sunshine.

Then Denver got hit by a freak late spring storm. Some of the outlying areas got up to 4 feet of some and many communities were without power for some time. Knowing that the storm was coming, I sent out an email to the team telling them that the practice portion was cancelled but that we should still meet up at the bar to try and secure that valuable sponsorship. Another call to action from the team, and this one had a financial impact on them, since the sponsorship would negate any need to pay for the league by the team.

Besides anything else, we are a tight knit group and I figure most of us almost enjoy hanging out more than the actual softball portion. Routinely we will show up early to chat and more often than not you will find us out long after the last out has been recorded on the field. So having the team meet-up for a drink sounded perfect.

And as is par for the course in Denver, although we got 4 feet of snow on Thursday-Saturday, it was in the mid 60s on Sunday and beautiful outside. Our sponsor has a patio outside and was perfect for seeing some of the guys I had seen only once or twice since last season.

So I get to the bar at the set time and look around, but don’t see anyone I know. I sit down and start watching the local MLB team throw the opening pitch of the third game in their series in LA and wait on the guys to show. Being obnoxious early to everything, I have become accustomed to having to wait for people to show up for things, or for things to begin, so I sat down, ordered a drink and waited.

By the time the second inning was over, having seen the local team surrender 3 runs in just over an hour, but not having seen any of my teammates I decided to give up hope, so I paid for my drink and headed out the door.

On the drive home I contemplated what I did wrong, and why nobody showed up. The first thought that crossed my mind was that softball was the great equalizer. Wives, girlfriends and plans can mold around softball but a day at a bar, not close to anyone’s home, is tough to fit into a schedule.

Secondly, there wasn’t a big enough draw to bring the guys out. In a previous email I had noted that if the bar didn’t sponsor us then we had a back up plan in place to cover our entry fees. So not showing up didn’t cost the guys anything, as their bases were already covered.

Lastly, it is possible that maybe I was wrong, and people really do come out for the softball aspect more than the social aspect. Maybe I was the only one who weigh them equally, or maybe the team figures that we will be able to hang out 25 times this summer, over two seasons, and that one more may tip the scales.

So what will I do next time a practice is threatened because of practice?

First off, I will look for a more athletic alternative. Whether it is securing some time in an indoor batting cage or finding an open gym where we can scoop grounders, moving the practice inside will be my first option.

If that doesn’t work out, or if it is a last minute cancellation, I will need to follow up with the confirmed Yay’s to make sure they are still on board with the alternative plan. This is something I didn’t do yesterday and ended up sulking on a bar stool by myself because of it.

Lastly, I could just cancel the practice. Sometimes it is more work trying to figure out last minute alternatives and to get a hold of everyone in time to notate the change, that canceling, either via a quick email or text message to the entire team, might be the best option.

Have you ever been in this situation? Place a comment below with what have you done?

Keep sporting!
- Who’s In First

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Detour: NBA Awards and Predictions

I didn’t grow up as an ardent follower of the NBA, since college sports were what was in my backyard. But when I moved to my first NBA city 8+ years ago, I realized why everyone thought it was FANtastic.

During those lean Nugget years, a group of 10 of us went in on season tickets, sat 10 rows off the court and each spent less than $75 TOTAL for the right to 4 pairs of tickets. In an age where there are seats at the new Yankee Stadium that run Wall Street broker $2500/seat, we would EACH receive 8 tickets, 10 rows off the court, for $75.

That was the year before Melo came to Denver and the Nuggs won 17 games that season. That June they drafted Melo and jacked the season price up to $1000 for the same seats. So our cost increased to $100 for the same 8 seats. Still we were glad to pay.

Denver won 43 games that year and made the playoffs, with us having the right to purchase playoff tix, which we gladly did.

Well, they wised up and when our account rep called us before the 2004-05 season he informed us that the price for our season tickets would be $4500, an increase of 450% over what we paid the previous year and a 600% increase over our first year.

So needless to say we disbanded our troupe of season ticket holders and have more recently picked single games to go to.

Even though I’m not sitting courtside anymore, I have still been following the NBA, and below are my 2008-09 NBA post season awards and predictions on the upcoming NBA playoffs.

MVP: DeWayne Wade, Miami Heat (second place). Instead of boring you with why LeBron should be the MVP, I will state my case for why DeWayne wade should come in second over Kobe or CP3. Wade led the league in scoring with a 30.2 average. He also averaged 7.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds. In any other year, those stats result in unanimous MVP voting.

Rookie: Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls. In a stellar showing by first year players, Derrick Rose narrowly edges out NJ Net big man Brook Lopez for the Rookie of the Year award. Averaging 16.8/3.9/6.2, Rose led the Bulls to an 8 game improvement and playoff birth against the Boston Celtics.

Coach: George Karl, Denver Nuggets. One may argue this is a homer pick, but the Nuggets were predicted to finish below .500 by most pundits and finish out of the playoffs for the first time in Melo’s career. What Karl was able to do instead was instill a winning (and defensive) attitude to the squad and propel them to the second best record in the league.

Now for the playoff predictions:

Cleveland over Detroit in 5 – Reason: League MVP
Miami over Atlanta in 6 – Reason: Who’s In First (2nd place) MVP
Orlando over Philly in 4 – Reason: Next year’s MVP
Boston over Chicago in 7 – Reason: Without KG, this actually may end up as an upset

Cleveland over Miami in 6 – Reason: Home court rules
Orlando over Boston in 5 – Reason: Superman

Cleveland over Orlando in 7 – Reason: Howard can win a few games, but not in Cleveland

LA over Utah in 5 – Reason: Good series, in the end LA has too much depth
Portland over Houston in 6 – Reason: Houston’s D is stifling, but who scores for them?
Dallas over San Antonio in 7 – Reason: No Manu. No Texas toast
Denver over NO in 5 – Reason: JR Smith

LA over Portland in 5 – Reason: Kobe is prime
Denver over Dallas in 6 – Reason: Shut down Dirk. Shut down the Mavs

LA over Denver in 6 – Reason: Better team wins

LA over Cavs in 7 – Reason: Kobe won’t let the Lakers lose

So there you have it! I will post a follow up after the champion has been crowned to see how I did.

How do you think I did? Post a comment below.

Keep sporting!
-Who’s In First

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Recreational Athletes Blog Carnival - April 16, 2009

Who's In First is proud to be a part to be hosting a Blog Carnival for recreational athletes. Every other Thursday you will find link to some of the best blog postings by and for recreational athletes.
If you want to be a part of the next carnival, please make sure to submit your blog posting in the recreational athletes category over at Blog Carnival . If approved, you will see it here in two Thursdays. All submissions must be made by Noon on Monday of that week for inclusion into that week's carnival. If you submit after the deadline, your posting will be eligible for the following carnival. So keep those submissions coming to get publicity for your blog.

John presents Welcome to Sports Fan #4! posted at Sports Fan Four , saying, "The debut of a new sports blog from a former high school & college football player and current sports fan and recreational athlete!"

Gal Josefsberg presents Is Improvement Necessary? posted at 60 IN 3 , saying, "I have multiple hobbies, from running and weights to soccer and hiking. The one thing I keep struggling with is, should I try and improve? I have no desire to become a pro, I'm just having fun. So is improvement a goal worth striving for?"

James Cress presents Odds and Ends posted at Braves Bawl , saying, "Come check out Braves Bawl. The Braves Bawl is the site for great Braves news and the latest thoughts and opinions. I also have links for fantasy sports and other sports news as well. Take a look!!!"

Brian Gray presents Sports on Every Level: Final Four Possibilities posted at Sports on Every Level .

jim presents Boules Family of Sports: Pétanque and Boule Lyonnaise posted at Bocce Ball King .

Peter Jones presents Colorado Backcountry Days: Telemark Video on Classic Colorado Backcountry posted at Rocky Mountain Raider: Telemark Skiing, Bouldering, and Trail Running in Colorado .

Edmond Barre presents Beer Pong Equipment | Tennis and Tennis Equipment posted at Beer Pong Equipment , saying, "When many athletes are done with their exercise, they like a bit of group fun. Beer pong will test your athletic skills, especially after things get a bit jolly!"

Peter OBrien presents Golf Swing Help - The Address posted at Golf Swing Help , saying, "As we move through the address position section I want you to wrap your head around the idea that we are going to construct a building. The building is four to six feet tall and not very wide. Of course I am referring to the human body. The first place you would start is the foundation, so let"

Peter OBrien presents Golf Swing Help - The Down Swing posted at Golf Swing Help , saying, "As the right arm begins to unfold and the left hip moves one or two inches towards the target before it begins to turn out of the way, the downswing is in full swing mode. In other words the game is on. No holding back, no stopping and no bailing out. There is no turning back."

Peter OBrien presents Golf Swing Help - The First Move posted at Golf Swing Help , saying, "The Secret of the Golf Swing is the First Move DownNow you are ready to start the downswing. You have arrived safely at the top and now you need to return to the bottom in one piece. When you are ready to start the downswing, the very first move is for the right arm to begin to"

Peter OBrien presents Golf Swing Help - From Impact To Finish posted at Golf Swing Help , saying, "The one thing you have to keep in mind is from the top of the backswing to the finish is a non-stop fluid motion. When the golf club starts down there is no slowing down or stopping of the club head. Many things take place during the downswing and they all have to be in sync with one another to make for solid impact."

Peter OBrien presents Golf Swing Help - The Top of The Backswing posted at Golf Swing Help , saying, "As the golf club leaves the 9:00 position, it has to continue on the arc until you reach the top of the backswing. There are a number of moving parts that must be in place during this journey. First and foremost the right shoulder must continue to turn."

Peter OBrien presents Golf Swing Help - The Take Away posted at Golf Swing Help , saying, "The Take AwayStanding to the HandleAs you address the golf ball there are some critical parts of the setup that must be in place before you start the backswing."

FitJerk presents Powerful Plyometrics Training That Will Knock Your Socks Off! posted at FlawlessFitness , saying, "An effective Plyometrics routine will increase jump power, boost you aerobic performance and provide an excellent fat-burning workout"

Erika Collin presents 100 Best Twitter Feeds for College Sports Fanatics posted at Rated Colleges .

NAOMI presents OXFORD & CAMBRIDGE BOAT RACE posted at Diary From England .

Steve Faber presents Belly Fat Loser » Adjustable Dumbbells – A Breakthrough in Building Muscle and Losing Fat posted at Belly Fat Loser .

Tristan presents Bodybuilding Nutrition Guide For Beginners posted at Body And Fitness Blog , saying, "A beginners guide to nutrition for those looking to start weight training."

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of recreational athletes using our carnival submission form . Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page .

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

David vs Goliath

Our double digit lead had evaporated to a mere point with 2-minutes remaining on the clock. They were the number one seeded team. Undefeated and cruising through the league. We were tied for last, having only one win which came against the other 1-win team (who beat us earlier in the season.) Needless to say the odds were stacked against us.

A crucial three we hit 15 minutes earlier tied the game at 28 going into half, but we had been there before.

Despite our awful 1-8 record we were never down by more than 3 at any intermission. We had held the lead several times at break and on a few other occasions had matched our opponent’s score after the first 20 minutes. So being in the game at this stage wasn’t new to us.

In our previous 9 games we simply got outplayed down the stretch. Once we were within 3 at the 2-minute mark, only to find ourselves on the wrong end of a 14 point blowout. We had held leads both early and late in the second half, but ultimately our fatigue got the best of us and we found a way to lose.

This night felt different though. We had our full squad of 7 guys show up, so there were subs available to give us breathers when we got winded. Also our shots were falling at a staggering pace. Three after three kept swishing the net. And when we tried to go inside, we had a man in the middle who was irritating the opposition with make after make.

So everything seemed to be heading our way… until the ghosts of our previous games started to come out.

We missed a few easy, uncontested baskets on offense. Defensively we were allowing them to drive the lane and get good looks at the basket. It all seemed to fall apart and it would have been easy for us to call it a day; to tell ourselves that we gave it our all, and that we held close to the undefeated Goliaths of our league. We could have looked across the court and seen an impenetrable force. But instead we looked across the court, like the NY Giants looked across the Super Bowl field two years ago, and saw a team with a weakness instead of an unbeatable juggernaut.

The team we were playing must have seen our more diminutive size and our outwardly unathletic look and decided to scrap the outside shot for a more interior style of play. Their game plan was evident from the start that they would pass once or twice, look for a gap and try and drive the lane.

It worked well for them at the outset of the game, as they jumped to an early 9-point lead. Our three point shooting kept us in the game and when we called our first timeout we were down by a score of 21-12, with all of our points coming from long distance.

Inside our huddle we discussed a need to compact the middle, challenge every drive and fundamentally box out and grab all misses. And while the other team was good at taking it to the hole, they did have some troubles getting their layups to fall through the net when we were in their face.

We, on the other hand, we red hot from the perimeter. One of our guys couldn’t miss and was able to get enough good looks that we had that one point lead with two minutes left.

It was apparent in those waning moments what we needed to do. Our man in the middle was going to become The Man. The next several times down the court our only goal was to find an opening and get the ball inside.

Our big guy got triple teamed and hacked and probably bruised and scratched, but he persisted to take the ball up strong and make the layup or get fouled trying. The free throw line became his second home.

Meanwhile, as the clock was ticking down second by second, the other team was getting more and more frustrated. They thought they should be beating us, by a lot, and the fact that they weren’t was causing them major frustration. All of which played into our hands.

A few errant shots and a charge later we had the ball, up one with 2-minutes left. Scrambling around we kept finding an open guy who would inevitably make a clutch shot. The two teams traded baskets for a few possessions until the tides turned to our favor and we successfully had a defensive stop and finally got up by more than one possession.

This again made them rush and again they missed a crucial shot.

Finally with 15 seconds left, down 6 they missed a three point attempt that we secured and then they called off the horses and allowed the clock tick down to 0:00.

So did we win the championship? Did we come in first or even second?

Not quite, but what we did do is finish the season with a good taste in our mouth, making us amped for the next season.

Keep sporting!
- Who’s In First

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Everyday Athlete: Brian on Ultimate Frisbee

Welcome to the third edition of the "Everyday Athlete" series where we will interview rec athletes about their favorite sports. The athletes interviewed participate in a variety of sports, across a wide spectrum of skill levels and are located all over the country. None of the athletes interviewed are professionals and mainly compete in their sports or events at nights or on the weekends. It is the purpose of this series to show that anyone can get out, play sports and keep sporting, regardless of age, athletic ability, or life activities.

If you would like to be the subject of an upcoming "Everyday Athlete" segment, please feel free to Contact Us.

1. NAME: Brian

2. LOCATION: Washington DC (Arlington, VA)



5. IF YOU HAVE BEEN PLAYING SINCE YOU WERE A YOUTH, DO YOU HAVE MORE FUN NOW OR BACK THEN? WHY? More fun now because of playing at a higher skill and competition level.


7. HOW MANY TIMES A WEEK (OR MONTH) DO YOU PLAY? Once or twice a week.


9. WHAT KEEPS YOU PLAYING? I love the challenge of the game and competition. Plus, it keeps me in great shape.

10. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT ON THE FIELD? Threw the winning score in a league game last summer.




14. IF YOU PLAY WITH AN ORGANIZED TEAM, HOW DID YOU FIND THE TEAM YOU ARE ON? DID YOU KNOW OTHERS ON THE TEAM WHEN YOU STARTED? Play on team with co-workers. Found out about team through players at pick-up.



17. ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE JUST STARTING TO PLAY? The more you play the better you get so play often and year round if possible. Play pickup first and ask lots of questions from experienced players to learn strategy and skill.

Thanks for the interview Brian! And remember, if you would like to be a feature of an "Everyday Athlete" segment, Contact Us.

Keep sporting!
- Who's In First

Monday, April 13, 2009

Setting Goals: Softball Edition

Setting goals has long been considered one of the best ways to push yourself and have some accountability for your work. Whether it is personal finance goals, familial goals or professional goals, goal setting is great way to work your way towards what you desire to achieve or accomplish.

So why stop with just those buckets? Why not set athletic goals for yourself or your team?

And since your softball season is probably just about to get underway, now is a perfect time to set these goals. As with any set of goals, it isn’t enough to just create the goals, but you have to review them as well to ensure you are sticking to them. To that point, after creating your goals, print them out and put them in your bat bag, if you have one, or in another spot where you will be reminded of them before each game.

Also, set realistic and attainable goals, but make sure they will push you. If you led your team in home runs last season, you won’t want to set a goal to just lead your team in home runs again, but rather you will want to hit 5 more home runs than you did last year. Likewise, if your team won the championship for the past several years, setting a goal of first place may not be enough, how about an undefeated season, or a season in which you win every game by 6 or more runs.

To get you started, I have included some goals that you may want to jot down or try to reach. But since each goal should be meaningful to each individual, feel free to customize or modify the list to your particular situation.

As with the list below, it is a good idea to have three buckets of goals: Team Goals, Individual Batting Goals and Individual Fielding Goals.

  • STANDINGS. Since each team is different, for some this goal may be to win the championship, while for others it may be to not finish in last place. Maybe you want to strive to finish in the upper half of your division.
  • WIN STREAKS. If winning three games in a row would be considered an accomplishment, set a goal to do that. If going undefeated is a goal, write it down. Maybe you just don’t want to LOSE two games in a row.
  • PERFECT GAME. What if you hit safely each at bat in a particular game? Would you consider that an accomplishment? The mark it down. Maybe you wan to hit safely in two straight games?
  • CYCLE. Every hit for the cycle? Can you? Of course you can if you set a goal to do so.
  • PERSONAL BESTS. How many home runs did you hit last year? How many doubles? How may triples? If you know, or can roughly guess, set a goal to eclipse that stat this year.
  • JOE DIMAGGIO. Set a goal to hit safely in every game this season. Too easy? How about two hits in every game. How about an RBI in each game?
  • DOUBLE PLAY. Are you an infielder? Can you turn two? Set a goal to do so. If that is too easy, try and turn one every other game, or every game.
  • ASSIST. If you are an outfielder, what about setting a goal to record an outfield assist?
  • FUNDAMENTALS. If you have been criticized about your fundamentals (throwing to the wrong base from the outfield, not knowing how many are on and throwing to first when you could have gotten the lead runner) try and become more of a thinking on defense. Set a goal to always know where to go, and given the chance, go there.
  • ERRORS. Are you known for your five-hole? Try and set a goal not to commit an error in two consecutive games, or maybe for an entire season.

So those are just some of the goals you can set for yourself for this season. Modify them as you see fit, but remember that if you do create a list to review it before every game in order to keep yourself honest.

Keep sporting!
- Who’s In First

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Detour: Saving Brain Cells

Like most kids, and probably most of you, I could name every player on every team in every sport as I was growing up. You name it, I knew it. A lot of my knowledge came from collecting sports cards for the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL, but a lot also had to do with my reading of the sports section of the Columbus Dispatch every morning before school.

When I got home from school I went straight to the local baseball card store and would talk about the players and read Beckett price guides until my stomach told me it was time to go home for dinner.

That was double digit years ago. Since then I have realized that, while sports are still my priority, I need to curtail my knowledge to things that really, really interest me and allow my brain to consume information that can help me in facets of my life, other than winning a bar bet centered around a random sports fact.

So, I have recently (within the past 5 or so years) began to parse some sports out of my life, or at least parse some information about sports out of my life.

It used to be that I could name a good majority of players on the PGA Tour. And if not a good majority, I could have probably been able to name at least 50 or so names of guys on tour. Now when I am listening to ESPN Radio, or reading blog postings, covering the Masters, I really only can follow when words like “Tiger,” “Phil,” or Vijay” are used. I would now be hard pressed to come up with 10 guys on tour, much less 50 that I used to be able to rattle off.

Likewise, I decided that I needn’t spend any more energy on the NHL and was given a golden opportunity to sever my ties when they took the 2004-2005 season off. Again, I used to be a HUGE hockey fan, beginning with the Hull and Oates line the St Louis Blues would trot out in the late 80s. For years I pay attention, and follow the NHL, knowing past Conn Smythe winners and could name the previous 10 years Stanley Cup winners. Now, I have no idea who won the Stanley Cup last year, and was only recently told that the local hockey team here in Denver not only isn’t still in the hunt for the Cup every year, but this year’s team is in dead last in the conference. Where have you gone Sakic, Forsberg and Foote?

This is not to say that I have stopped following, watching and reading about sports. It is simply to say that I am more selective now with my knowledge intake than I was in the past. I can still rattle off the hometowns, and for the most part, high schools of everyone on the Mizzou basketball team, but I would be hard pressed to name you the middle reliever, much less the closer, for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

So maybe it is maturity (although my wife would contend that claim) or maybe I just so many other things going on in my life, but for some reason I am completely fine not knowing some of the trivial things I have known in the past. It no longer bothers me that I may not win that bar trivia contest and will lose out on the free beer I would have easily chugged in my younger days.

And you know what? I am fine with that.

Keep sporting!
- Who’s In First

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mizzou: National Rec League Basketball Champions!

A quick props out to my alma mater, the University of Missouri, for winning the 2009 rec basketball championship with a 54-48 victory of the University of Georgia in the championship game: http://nirsa.imtrackonline.com/im/client/home/bracket/1

(h/t to Mizzou Rah! for the find)

Keep sporting!
- Who's In First

Comparing Teams Across Different Leagues

I was listening to Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN yesterday and they were discussing the legacy of North Carolina Tar Heel Tyler Hansborough.

Te topic raged on whether or not Psycho T deserved to be listed among the all time greatest Tar Heels.

Despite being the ACC, and consequently UNC, all time leader in points and rebounds, Golic was arguing that he doesn’t deserve to be listed in the same breath as Jordan an some of the others who have donned on Carolina blue. His whole argument is that stats do not make the player and there are more important things that contribute to the greatness of someone’s legacy than just what is listed in a box score.

He brought up the fact that Emmitt Smith holds the record for most rushing yards in the history of the NFL, but nobody would consider him the greatest RB of all time. He also spoke about Brett Favre and how he has thrown for more yards and touchdowns than any NFL QB, but Golic would consider Joe Montana to be the greatest QB the NFL has ever seen.

This is a great argument for rec athletes. Generally during rec games stats, such as yards and points are not kept. Sometimes they are kept individually, sometimes a team will compound stats over a season or the life of the team, and sometime a league will keep stats. I will bet though, that you cannot find anywhere, be it on the web or someplace else, a place where re stats are debated across different leagues, and even less so across different leagues in different cities, states or regions.

So then, how can a rec athlete be compared to their peers? The answer would be in wins, losses and championships.

If you talk to your friend who plays in a softball leagues 3 states over, you will probably ask one of two questions:
1) Who are you playing?
2) What is your record?

The guy can throw out all the stats in the world about how many HRs he has hit, or what his batting average is, but in reality, it is impossible to compare your league to his based on those numbers. For starters, his home run fence may be 50 feet closer than yours. His league may not use flight restricted balls. His league may not have a cap on the number of home runs a player or team can hit. All those factors contribute to stats that cannot be compared to each other.

What can be compared, though, is wins, losses and championship. It may be true that his home run fence is closer than yours, and balls that are brought in by outfielders in your league would go yard in his league. But it isn’t true that his fence is 50 feet closer than that of the team he is playing against. Within a league, all the rules are the same. So these disproportions can be mitigated by looking at how your friend has contributed to his team’s success vs how you have done.

So when you guys are talking and he is bragging about how he hits home runs whenever he feels the urge, yet his team is 1-10, you can feel good that while you haven’t actually hit one over the fence, your contributions have helped your team to vault into first place in your league.

So to answer Mike and Mike’s debate, from a rec athlete point of view, you need to look past the stats you can read about in box scores, and look at what contributions you, or whomever you are debating about, has made to the team.

Keep sporting!
- Who's In First

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Guest Post: Projecting the Masters by Sliv

My calling was to become a golf beat writer for ESPN or Sports Illustrated or the Associated Press. How I wound up in public relations for the insurance industry, I'll never know. Anyway, you all benefit from the twists of fate that brought me to where I am, because IT'S MASTERS WEEK and here's my annual set of predictions.

1. The Impact of ESPN - ESPN has the first two rounds of the tournament this year and I'm not sure what to make of it. This is The Masters, not a college football Saturday in Ann Arbor, Gainesville or South Bend. Note to ESPN - for the sake of all of us, please give Chris Berman the week off. Just because they let you play in the Pebble Beach pro-am and you can finally make a full turn because you lost 100 pounds on the Jenny Craig program doesn't mean you know what you're talking about. Let Mike Tirico and Andy North take the lead and keep out of the way. Thank you.

2. The Shark Returns - By virtue of his top 5 finish in last year's British Open, Greg Norman returns to Augusta for the first time in nearly a decade. It's a nice story, and it's been reported that he's been practicing a ton to get his game in order. I say there is no way he makes the cut. I also say that we'll be subjected to a thousand replays of his epic 1996 collapse (and Nick Faldo will reference it from the broadcast booth, to which, Norman will respond, "Sure, 1996 hurt, but at least I didn't blow the Ryder Cup last year, Nicky boy!" Well, maybe not, but that would be fun to see).

It's cool that he had a nice week at the Open last year, but the Open is known for random players making an impact (hello Ben Curtis & Todd Hamilton!). Now, Norman isn't random, but since he's more executive than player these days, it was surely a random surprise that he did well at Birkdale. And here's the "not a surprise" element of that week last August: he built a lead going into Sunday and blew it. So the more things change (age, a huge divorce settlement, Chris Evert) the more things stay the same (also see his great performance through 3 rounds in Houston and his 81 on Sunday). Sorry Greg, no green jacket (or weekend rounds) for you.

3. Speaking of the Shark - His daughter is dating Sergio Garcia. Not sure if the Norman choke karma runs across generations to impact a daughter's boyfriend, but we'll see. I have some thoughts on this that will be disclosed in the last piece of this e-mail, when I give my prediction on the winner.

4. Padraig Slamington - If Padraig Harrington wins this week, it'll be his 3rd major in a row, with the US Open at Bethpage being the last step in his version of the Tiger Slam (four in a row, across two seasons). Personally, I love to watch Paddy play, but I don't think he's the guy this week (and he won't win the US Open either). Not a high ball / soft landing player, which is a must at Augusta. Don't get me wrong - his short game is amazing, but bump & runs don't win The Masters (unless, of course, your name is Larry Mize and you're about to hit the most famous chip in Masters history to beat - you guessed it - Greg Norman in a playoff. But that's another story).

5. Favorites - Every year there are a handful of players people lump into the "favorites" category. Taking the top 5 players out of it (Tiger, Phil, Sergio, Vijay, Ogilvy), here are a few of the "other" favorites: Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Camilo Villegas, Anthony Kim. Note that last year I picked Paul Casey as one of my top 5 favorites and he shot 78 on Sunday (from the lead) to blow it. So, I'm watching the Shell Houston Open yesterday and Casey wins it, which essentially disqualifies him from winning this week (I think Mickelson won the Masters after winning the previous tourney a few years ago, but for the most part, you win the week before and you might contend, but you won't win the one that counts).

Chances for the other "favorites" - none. Rose has game and maybe he grabs an early lead, but he won't win. Furyk & Els - their time has come and gone. Sure, they can win on any given week, but they haven't won the jacket by now, and I just don't see any major changes to their games that would mean they have something "new" to bring to the table.

Villegas & Kim - too young, not enough experience at Augusta. It'll be a learning experience for them, not a trip to Butler Cabin for the green jacket ceremony. I'll say one of them makes the cut (Villegas) and one of them misses (Kim).

6. Sleepers - Luke Donald, Fred Couples, Tim Clark. I wrote that list of sleepers before Freddie contended in Houston. After watching him play, I'm tempted to take him off this list. He rarely has back-to-back good tournaments these days, and I just don't see him holding up over a long grind. I'll keep him on here for sentimentality's sake, but I don't expect him to be within sniffing distance on Sunday.

For some reason, I see Luke Donald making a big run. He's coming back from injuries (like Tiger) and has started to put some solid rounds together (like Tiger).

As for Tim Clark, he did beat Tiger in the Match Play, and he always seems to be in the mix at Augusta. I'll take him as my #1 sleeper. Won't win, but he'll be right there all week long.

7. The Kid - Watch Rory McIlroy play, if he makes the telecast. The kid is 19 years old and has mega-game. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if he's oblivious to the Masters pressure and waltzes through the week to finish in the top 10. Or, he could shoot 88 on those greens and miss the cut. My money's on the former.

8. Tiger Woods - Oh boy, Tiger. I'm sure there wasn't anyone happier than the group of CBS Sports executives when Tiger won at Bay Hill two weeks ago. Tiger will be in the mix big-time. He'll be there from the start, but something will be slightly off, which means he'll finish 2 shots back on Sunday.

Tiger has never gone 4 consecutive years without winning at Augusta, and I'm really tempted to pick him this year, but something tells me it's another player's time (more on that in a moment). What scares me, though, is that Tiger's clutch performance on the back 9 at Bay Hill means he's once again doing the things that make him Tiger Woods. The guy is the best clutch putter in the history of the game, no questions asked. But it's his driving that that's the issue. It's still too inconsistent, and at the "new Augusta," you have to put the ball in the right places off the tee. I see too many errant drives in his future, and that will ultimately be the difference this year. But guess what - Tiger will shake it off and win the US Open at Bethpage this summer by 5 shots.

9. Phil "I Have Man Boobs" Mickelson - Phil, you're fun to watch, but I just can't pick you this year. Maybe some other time, but after watching you play horribly in Houston, I can't see how you rebound to all-world status in less than a week's time. Yes, it was that bad. And what makes it worse is that you've won twice this year, and you're supposed to be peaking as you head to Georgia. Instead, you played your worst two rounds of the year. Tune up or no tune up, you can't be happy with that, and it's clear that you're still struggling with approach. Conservative wins majors. Go for broke might pan out every once and a while (and make you insanely popular) but it won't win you the jacket this year. No worries, Phil. You have a zillion dollars, 10 houses, endorsement deals out the wazoo and a really good looking family to go home to. It could be worse, right?

10. Predictions - So, it's time for my official prediction. This is the year a huge talent finally wins his first jacket, and his first major. It's also a year in which his mentor and idol - Seve Ballesteros - is fighting cancer, and seems to be on the mend. Seve's fight will serve as inspiration, and Sergio Garcia will win the Masters (stop laughing, it's going to happen). Sergio learned a lot last year - most importantly he finally figured out how to be patient, and how to win or lose with grace and professionalism.

It's his time, and when he wins, he will give a very emotional speech on Sunday, citing Seve as the reason he won this year.

Winning score -10, 278.

So that's it, my friends. Enjoy the greatest golf tournament in the world!


Andy Silver is a Director of Public Relations and 6-handicap golfer based in Denver, CO. This is his first contribution to the Who's In First Blog. If you would like to get in touch with Andy, feel free to Contact Us and we will pass along the information. Also, you can read more about Andy and his golf passion in one of our Everyday Athlete segments.

Keep sporting!
- Who's In First

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What are we talking about? Practice?

It’s funny, isn’t it? You can get 95% turnout for every game of your regular season and 100% turnout for your post-season tournament, but how many people show when you try and schedule a pre-season practice?

That’s what I thought!

People will inevitably drop everything on their calendars to make a game or match, but when you try and schedule a practice, even in the same time slot as your games, all of a sudden people have dinner plans, have to work late or have a special date that cannot be moved.

It isn’t clichĂ© to say that practice makes perfect. It may be that your basketball team wants to get together to practice a few plays that they will run during the season. Or maybe your softball team hasn’t fielded a grounder or caught a fly ball in months. Maybe you just want the team to mesh, take some swings or make some shots.

Whatever your reasoning behind calling practice, it is aggravating when you get less than 50% attendance.

So here are some techniques you can use to get better participation for your obligatory (i.e. optional) practices.

Use your power as a manager to get them to come.
1. Threaten to drop people who don’t show in the line-up, or bench them for the first game. Maybe they won’t start or won’t play in the first game. Maybe they will have to buy the first round after the game, or bring beverages or oranges to the game. Whatever the threat you think will have the most impact, use it.

2. Conversely, reward those who show. Whether you buy the first round at the batting cages or allow those who show up to choose their position, you can also take a positive stance to get your players to show.

Since you probably know your players well, you might know which technique will be better received by your teammates. So in your communication, either via a e-mail or over the phone, select the tone you think will have the greatest impact and use it.

But in the end, remember that sometimes things do come up. And since we are playing rec sports, and aren’t doing this for a living, don’t hold a grudge on anyone who doesn’t show. You can enforce rules and those that miss can suffer, but limit any “punishment” to one or two games and then let it pass.

Keep sporting!
- Who’s In First

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Recreational Athletes Blog Carnival - April 2, 2009

Who's In First is proud to be a part to be hosting a Blog Carnival for recreational athletes. Every other Thursday you will find link to some of the best blog postings by and for recreational athletes.
If you want to be a part of the next carnival, please make sure to submit your blog posting in the recreational athletes category over at Blog Carnival . If approved, you will see it here in two Thursdays. All submissions must be made by Noon on Monday of that week for inclusion into that week's carnival. If you submit after the deadline, your posting will be eligible for the following carnival. So keep those submissions coming to get publicity for your blog.

Wayne Cross presents My First Scuba Diving Vacation posted at First Scuba Diving Vacation , saying, "Everybody who dives has to have a first diving experience. Mine was about twenty years ago of the Big Island of Hawaii with a group of my friends. None of us were certified. How could we be, since it was our first time? If we had been certified, at least we could have said we had previously dived to the bottom of some community pool back on the mainland."

Talk Prom Dresses presents Celebrity Dresses - Fashion Forecast 2009 posted at Prom Dresses , saying, "As we have all seen, the fashion trends this year are all over the place."

The Understudy Fashionista presents Alexander McQueen posted at The Understudy Fashionista - fashion from the wings , saying, "The Understudy Fashionista - fashion from the wings. Picks from Paris Fashion Week. Vive la diff�rence!"

Caterina Christakos presents Bodybuilders Self Hypnosis posted at Trance You Out .

jim presents Do I Need A Beach Bocce Ball Set? posted at Bocce Ball King .

Jay Green presents Remote Computer Maintenance: RCM posted at Remote Computer Maintenance , saying, "Save Money"

jim presents Bocce Ball Sizes - 80mm to 115mm posted at Bocce Ball King .

NAOMI presents OXFORD & CAMBRIDGE BOAT RACE posted at Diary From England .

Ozone presents Online Poker Computer Security posted at Online Poker Strategy , saying, "Learn how to keep your online poker account secure from hackers."

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of recreational athletes using our carnival submission form . Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page .