Sports


Solving Problems

My favorite thing to do lately is get high and solve the world’s problems. Here are a few of my latest ideas.

* (Okay, this one is old and I wasn’t high at the time, but I really like it.) I want someone to invent giant, industrial-grade contact paper that you can stick to plaster walls. Then you take a hammer to the plaster to break it into pieces, which will stick to the contact paper so it can be removed. Exposed brick without the mess!

* The Olympic campus in Sochi, which faces an uncertain future, could be donated to a new university. The University of Sochi could use my cat, Xochitl, who is fat but lovely, as a mascot. The Sochi Xochitls!

Xochitl

* You’ve probably heard about the stray dogs in Sochi. (I’m not going to link a story because it’ll make me cry.) The good news is people like silver medalist Gus Kenworthy are trying to help. Check this out.

My idea is that Russia could give each Olympian a dog to take home. Of course, not all Olympians would want a dog, but if even a few of them did, it would save a few dogs.

* In the alternative and if the University of Sochi doesn’t work out, use one of those multimillion-dollar arenas as an animal shelter for all the dogs and offer vacation packages so Sochi could become a tourist destination for people who want to volunteer at Russian animal shelters, some of who might actually exist.

If you have a problem you’d like me to solve while high, send an email to aniccata at aniccata dot com and I’ll give it a shot!


Olympic boxing is the shit.

This is an old-ass post from 4 years ago, written during the last summer Olympics. I’m rerunning it in an effort to let you know that Olympic boxing is the shit. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to get in the habit of reposting old shit.)
_______
I have a confession.

First, let me tell you that I love the Olympics. I’d watch them all day every day if I could. I’m not crazy about synchronized diving or gymnastics, but I haven’t found one Olympic sport I just won’t watch.

What’s crazy, though, is the surprising realization that I really like a sport I thought I hated.

I feel weird saying this, but holy crap:

My name is Tracy and I love boxing.

There. I feel better.

I thought I hated — or at the very least didn’t like — boxing. I’ll admit that I stereotyped. I thought of boxing as big giant crazy Mike Tyson guys, women in bikinis who have no purpose other than to look sexy and hold a sign, and some weird Vegas cigar-smoking-steak-eating manly man vibe. And like any time you generalize and dismiss something, I was wrong.

I started watching boxing when nothing else was on, because I’m a sucker for the Olympics and I’ll watch anything. The first cool thing is that I was able to, with approximately 99% accuracy, predict who would win any given match (which is cool because, as I’ve mentioned, I’m terrible at predicting anything). The second cool thing is that, and this is so weird, boxing is freaking AWESOME.

For the last couple days, I’ve been trying to figure out why I like boxing so much. I’m not sure, but I have a few ideas.

Boxing is kind of pure and certain, like math. When I was younger, I was very touchy-feely and into things like literature and psychology, where you talk about themes and feelings and there often is no “right” answer. I also used to like figure skating and gymnastics.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate things like math, where there is a right answer and no time for bullshit or speculation, while losing patience in the kinds of touchy-feely things I liked when I was younger. I don’t want to talk about feelings and I don’t give a shit about what some judges think about the artistic expression in that triple toe loop. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with those things, but they just don’t appeal to me any more.

Don’t get me wrong — boxing isn’t definite or completely objective by any means. It’s scored by humans. If you don’t know how it works, here’s an explanation from the about.com boxing site, written by Andrew Eisele, which says it better than I can:

The boxers are paired off at random for the Olympic Games, without regard to ranking. They fight in a single-elimination tournament, with the winner advancing to the next round and the loser dropping out of the competition. Winning boxers progress through the preliminary rounds to the quarterfinals and semifinals. The two semifinals winners fight for the gold and silver medals, while both losing semifinalists receive bronze medals.

Bouts consists of a total of four rounds. Each round is two minutes in length with a one-minute interval between each round.

Contests are won by knockout or on points.

A point is awarded for a scoring hit with marked part of the glove on the opponent’s head (side or front) or body (above the belt).

A panel of five judges decides which hits are scoring hits.

Judges each have two buttons before them, one for each boxer, and they press the appropriate button when they believe a boxer delivers a scoring hit.

An electronic scoring system registers a point whenever three or more judges press the button for one boxer within a second of each other. No point is awarded for a hit unless three of the five judges agree.

When two boxers trade blows in a flurry of infighting, where no full-force punches can land, the judges wait until the end of the exchange and award a point to the boxer who got the better of it.

At the end of the bout, when each judge’s points have been totaled, the boxer awarded the most points by a majority of the judges is declared the winner.

I don’t find the subjective element of boxing (scoring) to outweigh the objective element (punching the other guy) the way I find the subjective element of, say, gymnastics, to outweigh the athletic part (for me — I know they have elaborate guidelines and it’s probably not as subjective as I think it is, but I find it annoying).

I also appreciate the simplicity of the sport — there are two guys trying to hit each other. There’s no fancy equipment or much of anything other than gloves, muscle, sweat, and will. I fucking love that. It just seems so pure and elemental. I didn’t know I was into that sort of thing, to be honest. But I guess I am.

I’m still learning about the weight classes. “Light flyweight” (106 pounds) is the lightest classification in the Olympics (I guess a light fly weighs less than a feather?). 106 pounds. That’s tiny! I do like the little guys better than the super heavyweights. I’m not sure why — maybe it’s just that they seem to rely more on speed and craft than power, which I find more interesting to watch. Most of the matches I’ve seen have been smaller guys.

Have you heard about U.S. boxer Rau’shee Warren? He lost (and was eliminated) because he was down by one point but because of the crowd noise, he thought he was up by one point, so he stopped throwing punches at the end of the match. It’s nuts. He was just on TV talking about it, and he really has an awesome attitude despite what happened. He showed up to support his teammate and gave him props for working hard. It’s really cool that, in the face of amazing disappointment, he comes out to do an interview and cheer for his buddy.

The other day, I saw the guy who lost the match hug and then carry the guy who just beat him back to his corner (and the winner — I don’t remember his name — was just adorable, with bright dyed-red hair and the interviewer at the end asked him [through his coach/interpreter] if he’d heard of Dennis Rodman but he hadn’t and it was too cute). The sportsmanship in boxing is pretty amazing. And I’m really impressed by the fact that these guys can be out there, trying to beat the crap out of each other and then, at the end, hug and it’s over, because it’s just a game. I like that. That’s kind of a lesson all of us, myself included, could use in everyday life, you know? Boxing has the potential to make us better people, and I guess that’s what I love most about any sport.


Going to a Game Alone

Last Wednesday, I went to the White Sox/Rockies game alone.

That’s kind of weird, right? As it turns out, not really. I actually had a pretty awesome time.

I don’t usually go to sporting events by myself, but last week, it just made sense. It was a few days before my spending fast went into effect. It was my favorite team (that doesn’t come to town often) in the world. I knew seeing the White Sox from our mediocre guys-night-out seats on Tuesday wouldn’t be enough. I was ready for a night out without the kid, and I’m more into sports than traditional girls’ night out stuff. I was more interested in seeing my team than socializing. So what the hell?

TJ Hoochmandzadeh

If all else fails, dress up like TJ Hoochmandzadeh.

The good news is that, because I was buying only one ticket, I got an awesome seat at almost the last minute, at face value. (For Rockies games, you can now see available seats when you’re buying online. There were a few great single seats left; two seats together were in less-awesome locations.)

I rolled up to the game during the first inning. I didn’t plan to be late (that’s just, apparently, how I roll) but that ended up being a good thing because I didn’t have to worry about entertaining myself before the game started (honestly, all the pre-game crap bores me). I found my super-awesome seat (Section 135, Row 15, Seat 3) and had a great time with a bunch of strangers. My team even won!

Here are my tips for solo game attendance:

  • If you’re cool, chance are other people will be cool. This applies especially if you’re like me and you come representing the visiting team. I was lucky and had a seat near other White Sox fans. (They came from New Mexico just to see the Sox!) It was like having instant game friends — we were high-fiving each other and carrying on like the big giant dorks we are as if we’d known each other for years. We all laughed when Rockies fans made fun of us and I fist bumped Rockies dude who fist bumped everybody when the Rockies did something good and even a Cubs fan on the way out (he was all, “Hey! There’s a Sox fan!”).
  • Drink beer if you want. Don’t drink beer if you don’t want. Do whatever you’d normally do but probably don’t get shitfaced.
  • Don’t count on listening to the game on headphones. I’d hoped to totally dork out by listening to the White Sox radio broadcast on the MLB app, but the broadcast lagged way behind the live action — the count would be 1 ball and 2 strikes, and the radio broadcast had the guy just coming to the plate. It was too annoying so I gave up. A local radio broadcast might be more timely.
  • If it makes you feel more comfortable, have something to do in addition to watching the game. I was too excited to worry about feeling awkward, but I also kept busy by taking tons of pictures. You could keep score (I don’t even know how to do that), try to Shazam everybody’s walk-up music, or provide witty and insightful Twitter updates.
  • My theory is that the better the seat, the less likely you are to feel weird. It’s much easier to pay close attention to the game if you have a good seat. That means you’ll be able to pay close attention to the game and so will everybody around you. In my experience, you’re less likely to be around a big group of people getting wasted when you’re in the good seats (that said, those can be fun, too — it’s just a different scene).
  • Realize you’re not the only one. I did it and had fun! And I’m not the only White Sox fan to go to the game by myself. (Another tip: If you’re looking for other fans of an out-of-market team, check message boards. I didn’t think to do this ahead of time but if I had, I could’ve met even more White Sox fans who came in just for the games.)
  • Have fun and remember nobody is as worried about how you look as you are!
Sox vs. Rockies

non-zoomed view from my seat


Rerun: I Love the White Sox

Music: We were listening to the top 25 songs on Hype Machine earlier and it was pretty sweet. I’m especially digging this Evil Woman remix right now.
_______
I’m feeling exceptionally lazy today, so here is a post from 2009 wherein I admit something terribly embarrassing and discuss my love for the Chicago White Sox. (They’re coming to Denver this year! This means I’ll get to see them live, in person, for the first time ever! If you’re an enthusiastic White Sox fan in Denver and plan to go to one or more of the games, email me, because you’re my people and I’d like to meet you!)
_______
I’m going to admit something right now that I should’ve admitted a long time ago and will make me lose whatever credibility I might have had with sports fans. Are you ready?

I was a bandwagon White Sox fan.

I know! You should stop reading this right now and never visit my site again. Seriously, that’s how lame this is and how bad I feel about it.

The truth is that I never liked baseball. I’ve mentioned this before, but my grandma (we called her Nana) was a Cubs fan. She always had Cubs games on TV at her house, and I thought they were the most boring thing in the world. I remember getting yelled at for changing the channel a few times.

I’ve told the story before about how basketball was my gateway drug and I started with the Boston Celtics (no idea why, and please forgive me) and the DePaul Blue Demons (when Tyrone Corbin was there). I later added football and the occasional tennis or Olympic stuff, but never, ever baseball.

Until 2005. I don’t even remember why I started watching the playoffs that year because at that point, I had probably never watched an entire baseball game in my life. Baseball was boring! But in 2005, I realized that it wasn’t boring at all.

In my defense, I’ll say that I watched and cheered for the White Sox from the beginning of the playoffs that year. I knew nothing about the sport and had no idea if they had a chance. There was just something about them that made me want to watch baseball, something that despite all my exposure to the sport had never happened before.

my boyfriend

I didn’t take this picture.

I picked up on a few things right away. I really, really like pitching. I love the pitcher/catcher dynamic and I love the mental part of the game. Baseball probably seems boring because so much of the good stuff is pretty subtle — stuff like the movement of a pitch is nothing like a good quarterback sack or big interception. It’s quiet and beautiful, really, and I never took the time to notice that before.

Oh and, of course, I really, really like Jon Garland.

So I was hooked. With each game, I got more and more into it. When the White Sox swept the defending champion Boston Red Sox (a team I knew enough to hate even then), I was thrilled. The series against the Los Angeles Angels [“of Anaheim” intentionally omitted] was crazy, with the Angels (a team I like) winning one game and then getting Pierzynskied, and complete games from Mark Buehrle, my boyfriend Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia, and Jose Contreras. Then came the Astros, a team I strongly dislike for no identifiable reason, and the Sox swept them. The playoffs were almost perfect for the White Sox. It was absolutely amazing.

The 2005 playoffs probably were the best experience I will ever have as a baseball fan, and I guess it kind of sucks that I had to use that up so early in my relationship with baseball (although I suppose it sucks a lot less than loving a team that never wins for your entire life). I don’t know whether the White Sox will win another World Series in my lifetime. If they do, I don’t know if it will be as magical as 2005. I mean, seriously, not to repeat myself, but it was really freaking amazing.

So yeah, if I were into cheesy metaphors I might say something about how the White Sox “swept me off my feet” (I really, really hate that phrase) and I fell madly in love with them. Because that’s really what happened. My relationship with the White Sox started out hot and steamy. We didn’t grow up together and become friends first, falling in love only after I spent years wearing their oversized sweatshirts and drinking lemonade or pilfered Old Style in the sunshine at Comiskey. Does that make my love for them less valid? I don’t know, but I’m going to stop writing shit that sounds like Sex and the City for sports fans right now.

Even though I really shouldn’t be, I’m a little ashamed of becoming a White Sox fan the year they won the World Series. Because I want to make up for that, I’ve vowed to be the most loyal and dedicated White Sox fan I can be for the rest of my life. Sure, I’ll follow and cheer for the Rockies because I live in Denver, but the White Sox will always be my #1 team. Always. I’ll always wear White Sox gear, shell out $$$ for MLB Extra Innings, get White Sox text updates, and watch every one of their games I can, which is almost all of them. I hope my kid will be a White Sox fan one day, after he’s born, of course (although believe me, I wish I could get him hooked up with in-womb audio of Sox broadcasts — you’re never too young to listen to Hawk Harrelson, after all).

What inspired this sordid confessional? Well, this afternoon, Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. It just so happened that I was at home for lunch when the game was in the sixth inning, and I got a text message saying that Mark Buehrle had a perfect game going. I turned on the TV and watched the rest of that game on the edge of my seat, screaming at the TV, cheering, clapping, Tweeting (I’m addicted to that shit), and, yes, unfortunately, at some points actually jumping up and down. The amazing (there’s that word again, sorry) pitching and the magic (Holy crap, did you see that catch by Dewayne Wise? I will never talk shit about Dewayne Wise again for the rest of my life. That shit was bananas!) brought me back to 2005 and those electric days I had with my new love, the Chicago White Sox. This is what baseball is all about. This is why I love baseball.

You’ll notice that, way back at the beginning of this post, I didn’t admit that I “am” a bandwagon White Sox fan — I intentionally used past tense. I hope I’m allowed to move past my questionable beginnings and take my place as a legitimate fan. I’m going to be one for a long, long time.

I mean, holy crap.

P.S. Yes, I do make fun of Cubs fans. I can’t help it.