Memorial Day!

Memorial Day is this coming Monday.  What does Memorial Day mean to you?  It is an official holiday that honors our military members that have died in battle.  Memorial Day has a very long history, but surprisingly it has not been an official US Holiday as long as you would think.  The day has meaning for many reasons some being the unofficial start of summer, school being finished or finishing soon, family gatherings, parades, and of course the intended purpose of honoring our fallen.

Memorial Day might have started right after the Civil War.  It is thought that many towns across the country would gather and decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. This led to Gen. Logan calling for a Nationwide day of remembrance to be called Decoration Day.  The date was to be May 30th of every year and it started in 1868.  By 1890, all of the northern states had adopted this date.  The south had other ways to honor their fallen.  The Holiday was only to honor those fallen in the Civil War, but that changed after WWI.  It was changed to honor the fallen from any war the US has had or been in.

The U.S. government decided in 1968 to have 4 federal holidays fall on a Monday.  This would mean that Memorial Day would move from its traditional day of May 30th to the last Monday of May.  This is where the name was changed from Decoration Day to the now common name of Memorial Day.  Some things have not changed over the years.  To this day many towns and cities have parades and celebrations to honor the fallen.  It is also a time for many to gather at cemeteries and memorials to honor their own fallen or just the fallen in general.  That is certainly a great idea as our freedoms are based on the shoulders of our fallen soldiers over the years.

Memorial Day also has a few other unofficial titles.  Many consider it the start of Summer.  This means that an estimated 35-40 million people will be traveling over 50 miles to celebrate the long weekend.  That is a ton of cars on the road and that does not count the ones that are traveling shorter distances. It is safe to say the roads will be packed and it also the deadliest weekend for travelers.  Some of that is just plain statistics and some of it is the feeling of safety since the weather is nicer.  People tend to pay less attention when the road conditions are better.

Clearly Memorial Day is meant to celebrate our soldiers that have died in battle.  They deserve that in every way as they have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.  I would like to think that Memorial Day can be about much more though.  It is a time of remembrance but can also be used to celebrate the living.  The fallen have left a legacy of some sort, so why would those people not celebrate life to honor the dead.  I think it is a great time for families to gather and enjoy each other’s company.  Life is short, live it to the fullest!

 

—Victor Mandalawi

 

“Unwritten Rules”

The other day I happened to see some highlights of the Braves vs. Blue Jays game.  Jose Bautista hit a no doubt about it home run and threw his bat while staring at the pitcher.  That is a big time rule breaker.  You probably have heard about the unwritten rules of baseball and that is one of them. I also think it is not necessarily good sportsmanship, but who am I?  Since the Braves feel like they were wronged they had to clear the benches and “talk” about it.  Of course the Braves had to get Bautista back and they hit him in the leg in the next game.  Everyone knew it was coming, including Bautista. He took the pitch in the leg and ran down to first without anyone saying anything.  Does it make any sense?  Not to some, but clearly all of the players and coaches get it.  It made me think about some of the other “unwritten rules of baseball”.

If you are a baseball fan, at some point you have been watching as a no-hitter is taking place.  At some point as the game progresses you can’t talk about the no-hitter.  You will jinx him!  I would argue that it does not make any sense.  Why would you not just keep with the same routine as you normally would?  If the pitcher likes to be left alone, then leave him alone.  If the pitcher speaks to his teammates between innings, then stick with the same routine.  I would think ignoring him would do more harm than good.

Here is another rule that is basically doubled up.  If you are winning by a large margin, you do not steal bases.  You also can not steal bases if you are losing by a large margin.  There are quite a few more unwritten rules in this article.  A lot of them deal with sportsmanship.  Like don’t stare at your homers, not showing up your fielders, and the stealing of bases when you are winning big.  You also see ones that just make baseball sense like stay off the mound, stay out of the batters box during warm ups, and take a strike when you are behind late in a game.  Of course there are a few that make absolutely no sense to me like not rubbing the mark when you get hit by a pitch, not stepping in front of the batter on your way to the plate, and not having a power hitter bunt.

As I mentioned previously, some of these make sense and some do not.  I would also think that alot is based on perception.  If the other team think you are a jerk, you may not get as much slack as someone else.  Here is another really great article covering the unwritten rules of baseball, but with this one you are getting commentary from players and managers.  It certainly helps clear up any question you may have.  It helps you get in the mind of why certain things happen.  It also points out that the rules have been around for 100 years and will be around many more.

 

 

Halfway to a Champ!

Approximately one month ago I wrote about the start of the NBA playoffs.  At this time, we are almost halfway through the playoffs.  3 of the 4 semifinal participants are set and possibly after tonight all 4 will be set.  So far there have not been any real surprises or major upsets.  A best of 7 series is really designed for the better team to win.  Occasionally, you can have a really bad match-up against a team and the lower seeded team can beat you.  However, when you get to the semifinal round, I think any team can win. Your team has to be pretty good to get that far.  Just because there have not been any upsets does not mean there have been great stories to follow.

In the first round series with the Bulls and Celtics, the 8th seeded Bulls won the first two games of the series on the road.  In most series that would be considered a commanding lead.  The Bulls point guard, Rajon Rondo, was injured in Game 2 and had to sit out the rest of the series.  He is not alone in thinking that if he did not get hurt, the Bulls would have continued to win and most likely win the series. After he went out the Bulls did not come close to winning another game and the higher seeded team prevailed.  The Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors both won their series in a sweep, no surprise there.  The higher seeded Wizards and Raptors also advanced in the Eastern Conference.  The Western Conference had the Rockets and Spurs advance as well.  There was one minor upset in the West.  The Utah Jazz beat the Clippers in a game 7.  Ending the Clippers season and bringing up an interesting summer for them, but that is a topic for another day!

The second round has had a little more drama and suspense.  It was again no surprise that the Cavs and Warriors advanced, but maybe a little that they swept their series again.  When you sweep a team, you can give your team a much needed rest at this time of the year.  I am sure both teams will enjoy their rest.  The other 2 series had a little more drama.  The Spurs are playing the Rockets and the series would have been very competitive.  The Spurs then managed to lose their point guard for the season, a big blow for sure.  I would not have been surprised if they ended up losing the series because of that, but they went the other way. They were more than competitive with the Rockets and they were even able to close out the Rockets with another major injury keeping Leonard out.  The Celtics are in a tight series with the Wizards.  They could end it tonight with a win, if not, they will have to play a game 7 in Boston on Monday. I would count on it as each home team has won.

It seems that we are still on track for the collision course we are all looking for!  It would be the third straight  time the Cavs and Warriors meet in the Finals, with this one breaking the tie.  It is yet to be seen if anyone can knock them off in the semi-finals.  The Spurs have major injury concerns and are a heavy underdog, but I would never count out a Popovich coached team.  I do not think the Cavs will be challenged in their next series.  LeBron is rolling and will be a tough out.  We should have a winner in another month!

The Derby!

“The most exciting two minutes in sports” is coming tomorrow.  How do you feel about The Kentucky Derby or horse racing in general? I am not necessarily a big horse racing fan, but I do pay attention while the Kentucky Derby is on.  It has become quite the main stream event now with people throwing “Derby” parties.  Those parties might happen to include wagering, special drinks, special food, and people tend to dress a little differently than they normally would. The Derby does usually signify something for me, it certainly means warmth is coming.

The 143rd running of the Derby is tomorrow at roughly 6:30pm ET.  It has rained recently in Louisville and it is supposed to rain on race day.  That will create a very muddy track.  When the track is muddy it creates a scenario where “anything” can happen.  Meaning that the favorites are losing their edge based on the surface.  What do some of the experts think will happen if the track is wet? I certainly do not have enough knowledge to make any sort of a prediction!

Have you ever heard of a mint julep?  It is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. The race is held in Kentucky so it certainly makes sense to use bourbon in the official drink.  I am not a real fan of the drink and drink approximately .5 a year.  I try one every year at a party and get halfway through and have to toss it.  There are plenty of other popular drinks for Derby parties besides mint juleps.  If you are at a Derby party, you will most likely see some food as well.  You can see hot dogs and hamburgers, but you will also see other Derby/Kentucky themed items like these.  Most of those foods are pretty good, but again I have them once a year for the most part.  The bottom line to a Derby party is to have good company and you will end up just fine!

Are you into fashion?  If so, the Derby is a great time for you.  You will see ladies wearing hats like these. I personally think these hats are ridiculous and quite over priced.  I also only see them during Derby weekend.  What sense does it make? Well, I might be alone in thinking this.  If there are articles about the fashion and hats someone has to like it.  How about this popular store having a derby section? Clearly I am alone!

You certainly do not need to be a fan of horse racing to watch the Derby.  It might be the only race of the year that you do watch.  A lot of the parties, food, drinks, and fashion might be a little silly but they are clearly good for the Derby.  It helps keep a spotlight on the “sport of kings”.  It also gives family and friends a reason to get together.  Personally, that is all that matters, have some fun and enjoy your life!

–Victor Mandalawi