Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rangers & MLB Opening Day Lagniappe and the Presidential Connection

During Rangers Manager Ron Washington's meeting with the media throng on Thursday, he made a statement that just about anyone who has any sort of passing interest in baseball can agree with.

"Opening day is one of the best days in baseball," he said following the statement with a patented, mile-wide Wash grin.

I've joked all week long that it should be a national holiday.  So many people play hookie from work to attend or just watch games.  A couple of my friends' companies shut down their offices and take their staff to the ballpark to take in the game.  I know two such companies that will be in Arlington, tailgating well before the Rangers 3:05 scheduled first pitch against the Red Sox on Friday.

New Rangers video board
The Rangers record on opening day is 22-28, dating back to 1961 when they were originally the Washington Senators.  President John F. Kennedy threw out the first pitch as the Senators lost to the White Sox in the franchise's first game.  Texas has won their last two opening day games, doing so in dramatic come-from-behind fashion in 2010 against the Blue Jays.

Sure, opening day is fun.  It celebrates all the pomp and circumstance of America's pastime.  In reality, it's more for the fringe fans.  I liken it to New Year's Eve, which I call "amateur night".  It seems like THE game that people who rarely (or never) attend any baseball games make the effort to get to opening day.  I'm not hatin' on it, I'm just sayin'....

I was looking up some information for a story and stumbled across an article in the Atlanic about presidential connections with opening day.  It's an interesting read.  Who knew that William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out the first pitch at a game in Washington in 1910?

And did you know that every president since Taft  has thrown out at least one ceremonial first pitch while in office, except for one?  Can you guess who it is?  That would be....Jimmy Carter.

For the record, President Obama did not throw out a first pitch prior to Thursday's Nationals/Braves game.  A group of three generals and two admirals, each representing a branch of the U.S. military, threw out the first pitch instead.

Who's on Your Rangers 2011 Opening Day 25-Man Roster? Here You Go!

It's finally official:

Arlington, Texas – The Texas Rangers announced several roster moves today in finalizing the club’s 2011 Opening Day 25-man roster.  The Rangers have made the following moves:

  • Purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Dave Bush from Round Rock (AAA).
  • Placed right-handed pitchers Omar Beltre, Scott Feldman, and Brandon Webb on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 22.  The first date any of those players are eligible to be activated is April 6.
  • Placed right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 25.  The first date Hunter is eligible to be activated is April 9.
  • Optioned infielder Chris Davis, outfielder Craig Gentry, and catcher Taylor Teagarden to Round Rock (AAA).
  • Reassigned right-handed pitcher Brett Tomko to Round Rock (AAA).

Below is a listing of the 2011 Opening Day roster:

RH Pitchers (8)
Dave Bush
Neftali Feliz
Colby Lewis
Mark Lowe
Darren O'Day
Alexi Ogando
Pedro Strop
Mason Tobin

LH Pitchers (5)
Matt Harrison
Darren Oliver
C.J. Wilson
Arthur Rhodes
Derek Holland

Catchers (2)
Mike Napoli
Yorvit Torrealba

Infielders (6)
Elvis Andrus
Adrian Beltre
Andres Blanco
Ian Kinsler
Mitch Moreland
Michael Young

Outfielders (4)
Julio Borbon
Nelson Cruz
Josh Hamilton
David Murphy

15-Day Disabled List (4)
RHP Omar Beltre (spine surgery)
RHP Scott Feldman (right knee surgery)
RHP Tommy Hunter (right groin strain)
RHP Brandon Webb (right rotator cuff surgery)

The Rangers have 5 players on an Opening Day roster for the first time: Derek Holland, Mitch Moreland, Alexi Ogando, Pedro Strop, and Mason Tobin.  Tobin is the only member of that group seeking to make his major league debut.  There are also 6 players looking to make their Texas debuts: Adrian Beltre, Dave Bush, Mike Napoli, Arthur Rhodes, Mason Tobin, and Yorvit Torrealba.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rangers Will __________ in 2011...Time to Go on Record

A dinner table discussion Tuesday night turned into a heated debate about just what your Texas Rangers will do this season.  Win the AL West?  Win the American League?  Make a second straight World Series appearance?  Crack the 90 win plateau?  Crack the 80 win plateau?

I won't dive too far into the conversation but the consensus was, because of a variety of reasons, the Rangers will have a hard time repeating the success they had last year.  Or even coming anywhere close to it.  According to bodog.com, the over/under on Rangers wins this year is 86.5.  Everyone at the table took the under.  Way under actually.  Last year the over/under was 83.5.  In comparison, look at some other teams of interest: the Giants 88.5, Yankees 91.5, Phillies 96.5 and Texas opening day opponent, the Red Sox 95.5.

What do you think Texas will do this year?

How many games do they win?

Do they win the AL West?

Do the crack 90 wins?

Share your Rangers 2011 predictions in the comments section.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

University of Houston Basketball: Longing for the Days of Phi Slama Jama

Any time my alma mater, the University of Houston, actually gets some press outside the Houston area, I'm interested.  With this weekend's Final Four being held in the Bayou City's Reliant Stadium and with U of H hosting the festivities, it brings back memories of Phi Slama Jama.

The New York Times asks what the heck has happened to the once storied basketball program.  Quality players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Michael Young avoid U of H like the plague.  Partly because the school abandoned recruiting Houston area athletes.

Author Brett McMurphy notes that "some of the city’s top players who went elsewhere included T. J. Ford and Daniel Gibson (to Texas) and Emeka Okafor and Hasheem Thabeet (to Connecticut)."  He goes on to note that "although Hakeem Olajuwon, of Nigeria, was a key part of Houston’s Final Four runs, 14 of the 25 players from those three seasons were from Houston high schools, including Drexler, Michael Young and Larry Micheaux."


It's been slim pickings for the basketball program since the great Guy V. Lewis strolled the Hofheinz Pavillion rotunda.  "In the 25 seasons since Lewis, the Cougars have had six coaches and no N.C.A.A. tournament victories. Pat Foster reached three N.C.A.A. tournaments before resigning in 1993. Next, Alvin Brooks, Drexler and Ray McCallum combined for nine losing seasons in 11 years."

I can personally attest that U of H isn't attractive to top young recruits, at least when I was there.  It is primarily a commuter school.  As a true freshman, I was in the minority.  I remember reading a statistic that only 22% of students at the school were "traditional students".  Most students, quite frankly, were going back to school for a second time, had flunked out of their previous university or had some life situation that affected them and then required them to postpone a secondary education.

U of H is in Houston's ghetto Third Ward.  It's hard for the school to compete with schools in phenomenal college towns like Austin, Knoxville, even College Station.  There's no "college atmosphere" on campus.  In turn, the alumni community and that sense of giving back that many strong alumni associations have is absent.  I haven't met one U of H alum who has the passion of Texas Ex, A&M graduate or Tennessee Rocky Top freak.

Who knows if this will ever change.  Unfortunately for those few Cougar High alums who would love to see as much, I think they and the athletic department are the only ones who really care.

*Side note: Guy V. Lewis' wife had a tradition of giving Hakeem Olajuwon peppermint candies after games.  Any time they would visit Rockets games, she would gingerly stroll over and hand Olajuwon a piece of candy.  He would graciously accept with a smile on his face that seemed as if he was receiving a valuable gemstone.  It was a rare, sweet moment that few people saw.
Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Reebok RunTones Review

The market for "toning shoes" is as hot as black asphalt in the Texas summer heat.  On a recent trip to Designer Shoe Warehouse, I found an entire half-aisle devoted to all types of toners: Skechers, Reebok, New Balance, etc.

Toning shoes at DSW
Do these shoes really do that much?  I blogged about my first experience with Reebok EasyTones last March.  In short, I like them but I don't think they're going to give you that hot, Kim Kardsashian or Cameron Diaz booty overnight.  I don't believe you'll get cut calves and quads simply by wearing them.

Reebok RunTone
I'm on my second pair of Reebok "toning" shoes, this time the RunTone vs the EasyTone.  I love them but not for the reasons you might think.

Plainly put, I like the cushion that the balance ball pods provide.  I use these shoes for running errands, cardio on machines, lifting weights and taking classes at the gym. The balance pods just feel good on my feet and for the average daily workout I do, they are my new favorite shoe.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Want to Take Weight Off & Keep it Off? Start Logging.

You know you should do it but, let's be honest, it's a little tedious and sometimes time-consuming.  IT is logging your daily food intake.  Study after study shows that individuals who log their daily caloric intake are more successful at losing weight and subsequently maintaining it.  A study by the National Weight Control Registry indicated that people who are successful at keeping weight off for an extended period of time, an average of 66 pounds for five years, monitored their weight and food intake by keeping track of it.

I can personally attest to its effectiveness.  After a tour of small-market tv duty in Guam, followed by working ridiculous hours in Knoxville, I added more than 50 pounds to my once-slender frame.  Logging my daily caloric intake helped me drop 55 pounds in the late 90's and early Naughties and I've kept it off ever since.  (Any of you remember some of my early Cowboys TV days?)

There are a hundred ways to log your food intake.  I've done it off and on for years.  During my size 2 college years, I would write down my food and corresponding calorie intake in my DayRunner.   Currently, I log my daily workouts on my laptop and log my caloric intake online or via an app on my Ipad.

The Wall Street Journal tackles the monotonous task of doing just that and examines four calorie counting websites, 3 paid, 1 free.  It does a good job of looking into the variables of portion sizes and the thoroughness of each site's database.

My Fit Foods Atlantic Salmon: 430 cals
I haven't used any of the sites they recommend but I do have a personal favorite.  I use TheDailyPlate.com, which has been swallowed up by the Livestrong.com network.  I prefer the Daily Plate because it has an excellent database of foods, ranging from prepared food and fast foods to simple, homemade recipes.  I eat a lot of meals from My Fit Foods and it has a ton of those meals in there.  The cool thing is that if a recipe is not in its database, you can add it by building the ingredients list.

The Daily Plate also offers values for individual food products from apples and kale to Clif Bars and smoothies.  It has a "frequently used" meal function that allows you to add meals or foods that you eat a lot without searching for them.  Sometimes you simply have to estimate what you're eating, say the spice cake a colleague brings to work, but there are generally equivalents of anything you might eat.
Monday, March 14, 2011

My New Fave Breakfast Drink....And It's Not Green Juice!

Those of you (and there were many) who cringed at my green juice drinking self will love this purple recipe  It's the best smoothie I've made.  EVER.  And, candidly, I like to think of myself as a smoothie connoisseur.

It's a berry banana smoothie with a twist and the key to its fabulocity is something that Stars center Brad Richards turned me onto drinking:  almond milk.  He told me about almond milk while we were shooting a story on his near-perfect nutrition habits.  I had always seen it in the aisle, as I had been a soy milk girl for a while.  I picked up a carton of it and have been hooked ever since.

I have always made smoothies using orange juice as my liquid base, enjoying the citrus flavor and bit of bite it provides.  The vanilla flavored almond milk by Almond Breeze that I use adds a wonderful, light creaminess and vanilla-y flavor without being too milky or shake-like, something I personally don't enjoy.

Ingredients for my latest smoothie obsession
This smoothie is also the easiest thing in the world to make.  Simply pour eight ounces of Almond Breeze (the brand I personally use) vanilla into a blender.  Add a big handful of frozen mixed berries (I buy a big ole bag from Costco) and 1 medium banana chopped up.  You can frozen bananas or fresh berries, it really doesn't matter.  I typically use a mix of frozen and fresh because I like the consistency of the smoothie when it's frozen.  Some mornings, I get frisky and add chia seeds or some whey protein.
Costco berries
This smoothie has a huge nutritional bang for the buck with all the wonderful antioxidants from the berries and potassium from the banana.  The almost cooler thing is that it doesn't have a ton of calories while being wonderfully satiating.  The almond milk has only 40 calories (w/ no sugar!), the berries contains 70 calories per cup and a medium banana about 100-120.  That's between 210-230 calories!  The chia seeds add 70, the whey protein about 110.  Still a bargain!
Almond Breeze nutrition info
Thursday, March 10, 2011

NFL Player? Don't Buy Bling For Your Ho's, Bro's or the Wife Right Now

This is one of the most amusing stories I've seen in a long time.  While it certainly falls under the "prudent" category, it's just plain funny that the NFL Players Association has to tell its players to "leave the club with your wallet and budget intact."

Here's the skinny:

The story came out a few days ago, but it's worth repeating.  USA Today profiles how the NFLPA has given players a 64-page lockout handbook providing them players with suggestions on how to handle their finances in the event of a lockout.  Many of the tips are ones that some of us recession-affected plebians have already adopted.
  • Cook instead of eat out
  • Save 25% of your annual pay
  • Turn down the heat in your house
Easy stuff.  Simple, common sense advice that all of us can practice.

Then there's the "these guys seriously need to be told to do this?????" tips:
  • Hold off on buying motorized toys and jewelry
  • Reduce the size of your entourage (I once knew a non-NFL player who had a guy named Peanut who was his errand boy but his primary job was to turn on his car, adjust the vehicle to the appropriate temperature and get ho's for hm at the clubs)
  • Say "no" or "not now" to money requests from friends and family
I'm sorry, this is all just makes me giggle.  You have to ask if Dez Bryant will be hosting many more $55,000 dinners during the potential lockout?