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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 .