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Wherever I Wind Up
Author: R.A. Dickey
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If the line is “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, then Seattle is truly a tale of two cities. Whereas the glow from the Seahawks’ Superbowl win still envelops the city, the Mariners have nearly exhausted any goodwill from their fanbase.
70 wins. The Seattle Mariners have averaged 70 wins over the last five years. They have been long-term cellar-dwellers in the AL West until the arrival of the Houston Astros. What’s worse is that the despair of losing has at times given way to the absurd.
- Outfielder Eric Byrnes’ failed squeeze attempt was amongst the strangest at bats ever by a Seattle Mariner. So embarrassed, Byrnes sped away on his bike through the clubhouse hallway and past a group of reporters and general manager Jack Zduriencik.
- Richie Sexson, who was unfortunately the last to know that his career was over, tried to spark the team by charging the mound on a pitch that was OUTSIDE.
- When shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt wasn’t displaying a lack of discipline at the plate, he was ignoring his own outfielders calls on plays in the field. Let’s just say that his horrific collision with outfielder Endy Chavez was the worst, but not the only example of his defensive recklessness.
- The wife of outfielder Carlos Peguero was charged after defrauding Felix Hernandez’s wife.
But it wasn’t just the players that were sucked into the bipolar vortex. A long line of managers have sacrificed a good measure of their physical and mental health for the team.
- Mike Hargrove thought so much of his lot that he quit during an eight game winning streak,
- His mild-mannered replacement John Mclaren was, well not so mild-mannered after months of losing. His public meltdown at a post-game presser was an instant classic.
- Chone Figgins took to actually fighting with manager Don Wakamatsu in the dugout.
- Poor Eric Wedge was subject not only to terrible play, but also suffered a stroke during the season!
During the most recent offseason, Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker penned an eye-opening piece that pointed to wide-spread dysfunction in the Mariners’ front office. The team of GM Jack Zduriencik, President Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln appear to be so flawed that players, managers and coaches are at a competitive disadvantage.
Even when opportunity presents itself, it is unclear that the Mariners are capable of capitalizing. The team signed a new television deal that will provide far more financial flexibility. Not that money was ever the biggest problem, remember they were the first team to lose 100 games with a $100 million roster. Their biggest offseason acquisition was ex-Yankee Robinson Cano (31 years old) to a 10 year deal that is sure to create problems at its tail end. On its face, it is a bad deal, bit the Mariners needed legitimacy and had to overpay to get it. They needed a veteran position player who could lead the youngsters and a bat in the middle of their order. Cano fits the bill, at least for the near future. For Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio and Jeff Kent, their WAR fell off a cliff between the ages of 34-35, so it is unlikely that Cano will be helping much at age 40.
Then there was the curious case of Randy Wolf. Brought in this spring to compete with Scott Baker to provide veteran depth as the fifth starter, Wolf won the spot, or so it appeared. With Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker due back by May, the team asked Wolf to sign a waiver that would allow the team to release him after 45 days. Wolf balked, contending that the two parties had not agreed to such an arrangement at the beginning of spring training. The move was curious considering: 1) Wolf would only make $1 million as their fifth starter and; 2) the Mariners will have at least three rookies in the starting rotation and will likely need someone to eat innings late in the season. Instead, Wolf left and the Mariners signed 34 year old Chris Young to a $1.25 million contract
Still, the fortunes of this team rest on its youth. The Mariners have committed to this rebuild but have yet to see any payoff. Entire coherts have yielded surprisingly little. Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Michael Saunders and Jesus Montero represented the first wave of talent, with only Seager developing into an everyday player.
Then a second wave of Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Mike Zunino and Abraham Almonte was brought in late last year making the Mariners a very young team indeed. The most alarming fact is that the players in Seattle’s system rarely develop. Is this a consequence of poor talent evaluation or poor coaching? It is difficult to say, but with two cohorts of young players without any breakout performances, the likelihood is that player development throughout the system could stand for some improvement.
All the same, there do exist some glimmers of hope.
Justin Smoak has always possessed an above average eye at the plate while providing steller defense at first. However, Smoak has struggled when he presses to much elevating his strikeout totals. Last year Smoak seemed to turn the corner at the plate, hitting for decent average, but lacking enough power for first base (only 6 homeruns by July). New manager Lloyd McClendon has wisely encouraged him to hit more doubles, which should allow him to play to his strengths. Could 30 homeruns be within reach for Smoak this year? If so, a switching hitting first baseman with power and a good glove will be of great value.
For all the turmoil that Dustin Ackley has been through, it appears that he is settling in to his major league role. Ackley and Seager came up together after being drafted in 2009. After their first offseason, Seager gained considerable weight, while Ackley remained quite light. Seager immediately showed much more authority at the plate, while Ackley started adopting a slap-hitting approach. Losing his confidence, Ackley bottomed out last year when Wedge questioned his aggressiveness and demoted him to AAA. Note: my favorite Ackley picture below after going down two strikes on balls he couldn’t hit (and were outside). This year, Ackley looks like he has gained some weight and is swinging much more aggressively to all fields.
Shortstop Brad Miller (24) and catcher Mike Zunino (23) have both looked good early this spring. Gaining consistency will be their challenge in 2014, but they have both flashed a level of genuine talent at the big league level.
James Paxton is expected to hold a starting spot throughout the season. He excelled during his call up last September and continued that success early this year. As the graph below illustrates, Paxton was able to vary the speed of his pitches very well. He stuck out nine over seven innings and looked like he belongs.
The success of the team in the spring will also depend on the pitching staff. The starting rotation needs to find a way to bridge to May when the regulars return. The bullpen may be strained until then, so depth right down to AAA will be a more pressing issue. There is a pathway to success, but the margin of error is vanishingly small for this fragile team. We’ll see if McClendon can install enough belief in these players to weather the storm.
I was never one of those people who grew up wanting to be a lawyer. I guess you could say I kind of fell into it in a really round about way.
I did my undergrad in environmental biology. I have always loved being outdoors and studying and learning about wildlife. I focused my undergrad on the more global picture.
After the third year of my undergrad, I spent a summer at the Bamfield Marine Station on Vancouver Island where I fell in love with the West Coast and marine biology. I thought for sure I would continue on and do a masters in the area. After my undergrad, however, I got a job with the University of Alberta doing forest research in northern Alberta where I also fell in love with the boreal forest. I spent two summers and one fall at a research camp an hour and half away from the nearest town and the rest of my time in a lab at the University of Alberta and the Canadian Forest Services.
I had always considered doing a masters but I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on. I was looking for something that would give me the broader picture. That’s when I kinda fell into law.
A friend of mine mentioned that I might be good at law because I was quite argumentative. I thought about it because I thought it would be a useful degree and would give me a fuller understanding of environmental issues.
I wrote my LSAT on a whim and applied to the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia (mainly because all the deadlines for the other law schools had passed but also because I had moved to B.C. and really didn’t want to leave). My advice would be to apply sooner than later because law schools start accepting students before the deadline for applications. If you wait until the deadline, like I did, many spots have already been offered and you may end up on a waiting list. The deadline for applications for the University of Victoria is the beginning of February but a friend of mine applied early and was offered a spot in December.
I chose UVic partly because of the location but also because I had heard they had a really good program and in particular a good environmental law program and co-op program. I was happy with my choice but honestly I think it is the only law school that would have been suitable for me so I am a bit biased.
UVic is a very progressive school and really fosters a non-competitive atmosphere as much as that is possible in law school (all exams and assignments are written under code names and students are not ranked). I was quite involved in the Environmental Law Clinic which is the only one of its kind in Canada and provides great opportunities for students to be involved in local environmental issues.
I had also hoped on getting into the co-op program. Unfortunately, being the fair institution that UVic is, the co-op program is a lottery system where all interested students submit their names and the school randomly draws the first 30 or so to be in the program. I was number 72 out of 75- there was no way I was getting in. My word of advice would be not to choose UVic for this reason alone.
In summary, UVic law school is a great choice for someone who is looking for not quite a mainstream law school. If you are wanting a law school heavy on the corporate commercial law, the warm fuzzy feeling at UVic may not be for you. One should also bear in mind that the City of Victoria is rather small and I know many in my law class that itched to get back to a bigger City. I personally loved the place because there are tons of outdoor activities to do but again I am biased.
Crews battle boat fire on Lake Union, near Gasworks Park. It turns out that the fire started when hot cooking oil spilled when the wake of a speeding boat rocked the vessel. Damages from the fire were estimated at $250,000.
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the Seattle Sounders FC hosted the Colorado Rapids.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-vS3wxGLEY&context=C473dc1cADvjVQa1PpcFPRj-SMp-AH1Se_LeQjVncJCeUUUs2SQpg=[/youtube] [gallery columns="2"]
Photos from Sounders FC game against the Colorado Rapids.
Brian Mullan was booed every time he touched the ball. After one hard tackle, the Sounders reacted strongly with Fredy Montero challenging the man who broke Steve Zakuani’s leg. For most of the game, both defenses outclassed the offensive attackers. In fact it was defender Zach Scott who headed in a corner to give the Sounders the win. Read the postgame comments in the Seattle Times game summary.
When I decided that I was going to start looking for grad school positions, I was in the beginning of my third year of undergrad (I like to have things organized well in advance!) I decided that I wanted to attend the University of Calgary for several reasons. I was doing my undergrad in Edmonton, and I had heard lots of great things about the UofC. I’m a big time skier, and Calgary is really close to several great ski hills. And lastly, my boyfriend was going to go there. (We are now broken up, but I’m really happy to be at the U of C) I had told him that I would only go to the U of C if I found a really cool lab there that I was totally pumped about. I did, so here I am.
Initially, I started to look at the zoology department, but I quickly realized that the strong point of the U of C is actually in the medical research area, and totally not in the biology department. In my undergrad I took many zoology courses, but also many neuroscience courses. So, naturally I started to look at the neuroscience department too. I talked to some different profs at my home university about the people that I was thinking about in Calgary. It helped me narrow down the search a bit. They had a good idea of which labs would be better “carreer” moves than others. Finally, I contacted four potential supervisors in the early spring of my third year to let them know that I was interested in their labs for grad school. I read a few of their papers so that I would be familiar with what they were doing in their lab. That summer, I had the opportunity to attend the Society for Developmental Biology conference which was held at the U of C. I arranged to meet with the four profs while I was there for the conference.
At the poster sessions, I got the chance to talk with a bunch of grad students about the labs that I was interested in. Not only did I talk to grad students from the labs that I was interested in, but I also chatted with students from other labs. The students from other labs gave me some great information that I probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, about the dynamics within the labs themselves, not only about the supervisor, but also the other students in the lab. It gave me a good idea of which labs sounded more fun, or productive or positive. Chatting with the grad students in the lab gave me an idea if I would fit in with the lab in addition to the scoop on the supervisor. I think that talking about your potential supervisor is super important. You need to know what youï¿½re getting yourself into. What is the supervisor like? Are they going to drive you like a workhorse? Are they around to talk to? Are they a good teacher? That kind of information is crucial because you’re going to have to be here for a few years, so it had better be a situation that you can enjoy. Finally, I met up with the profs. I knew immediately, whose lab I wanted to be a part of. The prof who I was most interested in asked me to send her the names of three references, my transcripts and my CV (academic resume). After doing so, she contacted the references and then wrote to me saying that she would be happy to offer me a position in her lab. Yahoo!
In the Faculty of Medicine at the U of C, there are no TAships. The students either get their own grants, or the profs pays them a stipend. My supervisor said that she could pay me, but I ended up getting a CIHR grant so I don’t have to worry (for now at least). Even though there are no TA ships here in the department, I do want to TA, because I think that teaching is important, a skill that a grad student should try to develop. I don’t know if I will get the opportunity to TA at all, but time will tell.
Based on accounts that I’ve heard from other grad students, I seem to have had an easy time securing a position. I’m not sure if that is a result of the field that I’m in, or not. During my undergrad, I worked in a lab for my last two years. That gave me some serious research experience as well as a great reference letter, and even a paper that will be out soon. I was really involved in a biology student group, as well as athletics. This kind of well-roundedness probably helped. As for my grades in undergrad, I had pretty much discounted ever getting a big scholarship, since my first three years were good (but certainly not great). But, I was wrong! So, don’t give up on it!
In summary, I would suggest that you start early. Ask lots of questions from the prof, other grad students, and even other faculty members. And don’t be afraid. I remember when I was first writing the emails to the profs, I was SO nervous. But, I did it, and now here I am in a really cool lab in a school really close to mountains!
Many recent high-profile cases of post-concussion syndrome have demonstrated that athletes from a wide variety of sports are vulnerable to injury. If superstars such as Sidney Crosby, Justin Morneau and Chris Paul can be sidelined with head injuries, any of us can. Indeed, important questions remain about the risks at the minor league level and the best way to protect young athletes. One recent effort is called the “Impact Indicator”. When embedded into a hockey helmet, the indicator flashes when an athlete has been hit with enough force to potentially cause a concussion. When a threshold is crosses, a green light changes to red.
Q. While the idea makes some sense, one wonders if players will be out to “light” other players up rather than focusing on just finishing a check.
UPDATE: Here is a response from the company, BattleSmart concerning the above question.
“This is a very positive question and addresses a long time concern in the sport.
Unfortunately that behaviour is already going on today and has been for a long time and is often encouraged by coaches and players – only it often cannot be determined who is doing this intentional and aggressive hitting
We need to address that behaviour and encourage all officials and coaches and players that this kind of behaviour and play will not be permitted or tolerated.
The Impact indicator will actually serve to help identify the players / teams who do this.”
|Pitch Type||Avg Speed||Avg H-Break||Avg V-Break||Count|
|Pitch Type||Avg Speed||Avg H-Break||Avg V-Break||Count|
Atlanta 1996 Summer games. Kerri Strug and Shannon Miller were part of the gold medal gymnastic team. Donovan Bailey set a new world record in the 100m and Michael Johnson won gold medals in 200m and 400m.
Lighting of cauldron
Lighting of cauldron
Athens 2004 summer games. The US 4x200m swimming team of Natalie Coughlin, Carly Piper, Dana Vollmer and Kaitlin Sandeno won gold. Swimmer Michael Phelps won 6 gold and 2 bronze. Gymnist Carly Patterson took the all-around gymnastics gold medal.
Lighting of cauldron
Beijing 2008 summer games. Michael Phelps wins 8 gold medals. Team USA wins basketball gold. Gymnasts Nastia Liukin, and Shawn Johnson were gymnastic stars. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt shattered the 100m and 200m world records in stunning fashion.
|1||China||51||21||28||100||2||United States||36||38||36||110||3||Russia||23||21||29||73||4||Great Britain||19||13||15||47||5||Germany||16||10||15||41|
Lighting of cauldron
Team USA has made a drama-filled run to finals of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. Their never-give-up approach has resonated with the American public as a team that represents the nation’s spirit and values. The team includes newly minted stars such as Abby Wambach , Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo who have led team USA at times through pure strength of will. The play of the US side has been uneven throughout much of 2011 and the World Cup, but the determination and will of the players has brought them to the final game. An ongoing challenge has been to find the perfect roster combinations and strategies to maximize the production of this collection of uber-talented individuals. The intense challenges presented on the march to the final game have forged the players into a true team. The question that remains will the players be able to keep to their team game on the big stage when nerves become a factor.
On paper, Team USA looks to have a distinct advantage. Five American players are taller than Japan’s tallest. Forward Abby Wambach (5 ft 11 in) has scored 49 of her 121 career goals via the header and will be a handful for the Japanese defense. As recently as May, the US handily defeated Japan in a pair of tune-up games (both 2-0 scores). In contrast to the rich history of the US women’s soccer program, Japan is swimming in the deep end for the first time. Smart money, it would seem, should be heavily on the American side.
But what of these Japanese women who have made a magical run of their own? The Nadeshiko, as the team is known, play a technically astute style of play, with crisp passing and flowing movement on both offense and defense. Consistent support to the ball is a consequence of their team-oriented style of play. The fact that the Japanese have dispatched of two more physically imposing teams in Germany and Sweden should alert the American side to the potential dangers that await Sunday. Japan’s quick attacks can slice through an occasionally loose American defense. In addition, the Japanese team is playing to lift the spirits of a nation in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
The Nadeshiko have taken their place among a growing number of Japan’s recent national team successes. In 2006 and 2009, the men’s baseball team faced many teams with bigger hitters and harder-throwing pitchers. The Japanese team, however, won on the strength of an airtight defense built on consistent technical excellence not commonly seen in western teams. The team was led by one star, Ichiro Suzuki, but was otherwise constructed of lower-profile players with little experience against MLB competition. In 2008, the women’s softball team upset the heavily favored US team. Again, the American side had a perceived edge in strength, size and star power, but it was the Japanese that played a clean game and won a close 3-1 final game.
Like their baseball and softball counterparts, the Nadeshiko are most assuredly a product of Japanese sporting culture. Robert Whiting has written extensively about the concept of “Wa”, a Japanese principle of peace or group harmony. Japanese teams strive to combine preparation and practice with discipline and concentration. The end result are Japanese teams that promote team play and national spirit. Playing for the success of their team and nation has been a perfect storm that has led to a memorable Cinderella run.
Given all of this, other scholars such as William Kelly (Yale University) warn of the “Whiting problem”, or the tendency to simplify American vs. Japanese teams as finesse vs. power, manger-centered vs. player-centered, and team harmony vs. individual pride. However, it appears clear that to some degree, these two teams are a product of their nation’s cultural identity. Just another layer to make this clash all the more memorable.
My “road to grad school” can best be described as the scenic route. I started out at the University of Calgary – straight out of high school and took as many different courses as I could. I was trying to figure out exactly what it was that I wanted to do, so I took everything from math and chemistry, to physical anthropology, astronomy, and even english and computer science. I am happy to report that this time of aimless wandering was not without its uses as I figured out fairly quickly that the hard sciences were not where I was destined to be. Beyond this epiphany, I was still unsure of where I wanted to go with my career, so I took a few more random courses and then decided that I wanted to become a teacher. I had a lot of experience working with kids, and figured that it was the only thing that really appealed to me (and where else do people end up who don’t want to do hard sciences; either with an English or Sociology degree and no job, or as a teacher.)
This change in career paths meant that I needed to take a variety of different courses in order to fulfill the requirements necessary to gain admission into the Faculty of Education. Those different courses turned out to be in Community Rehabilitation, which focuses on providing services for people with disabilities. I figured I would get a degree in Community Rehabilitation and then move on to finish my degree in Education. Unfortunately, the University of Calgary had recently changed their Education degree, and the people I knew in the program were not very happy with it. This news was a little disturbing, so I made the next major decision in my academic career; I applied to the University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge for admission into their respective Faculty’s of Education.
Eventually I found my way down to the University of Lethbridge, one of the strongest Education programs in Western Canada. I was in pre-education meaning that I had to choose a teachable subject and then attempt to gain admission into the faculty after a couple of years. Using courses from Calgary, I decided the easiest way would be to try for a B.A. Kinesiology. Little did I know that this was one of the toughest ways to get into the program as it was one of the most competitive areas. If I had gotten a degree in French, I would have had few problems getting in, but it was virtually impossible going through Kinesiology.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s all well and good that your undergrad was a mess, but where does grad school come in? Well it was in Lethbridge that I started taking history of sport and sociology of sport classes with a professor who made the subject sound much more interesting than it actually is. After going to him a few times to get some writing pointers, he eventually asked if I wanted to help him with some hockey research that he was doing. He also informed me that the position was supposed to be available to students that were considering going on to do graduate work, and that I should think about it. The idea of graduate work had never crossed my mind before then, so I said I would consider it. That was good enough to get me the job, so I started going out to hockey rinks around Southern Alberta to watch and document various social aspects of the game.
I continued helping this Professor with his research for the next year with the thought of graduate school floating around the back of my mind. During this time it was becoming clear to me that my chances of gaining entrance into education in Lethbridge were virtually zero. With this realization, it was a fairly easy decision when this Professor told me that he was moving to the University of Ottawa and wanted me to come and do graduate work under him. I was once again changing paths, although this would be the final time during my undergraduate career. I finished up my B.A. Kinesiology at the University of Lethbridge and applied for graduate school at the University of Ottawa and Queen’s University. I chose the University of Ottawa for obvious reasons, the Professor that I had worked with was there. I chose Queen’s University because there was a professor that I was interested in working with there, although it was merely a backup plan. My other backup plan was to work with a professor at the University of Calgary who I had come to know through roundtable discussions held between the University of Lethbridge, University of Calgary, and the University of Alberta.
The application process was very simple. I got a couple of reference letters from two professors, wrote a two page blurb about why I wanted to go to grad school, got a copy of my transcripts, and then submitted a writing sample and paid the admission fee. I got into both schools, but chose the University of Ottawa.
There were a few key learning experiences that came at various times throughout my journey. One of the first ones came when I was at the University of Calgary and talked to friends that were already in the education program. It was by talking to them that I found out how poor the program was, and ultimately chose a different school. Use your friends and contacts to find out how student friendly the program is. Are there relevant courses to your degree? Are the top professors teaching, or only doing research?
The second learning experience came at the University of Lethbridge when I found out how difficult it is to gain admission into the Faculty of Education through Kinesiology. Do your research and find out the admission procedures to determine how likely it is that you will get in. This will also help determine how many schools you need to apply to.
The third learning experience was engaging in the research process for the first time. If it is possible, I highly recommend not only getting involved in research, but to also get to know your professors. I recognize the difficultly that getting involved in research poses in the social sciences, but find out what type of research professors are doing and go talk to them. Most professors are very open about talking to students about their research, especially if the students are genuinely interested in learning.
The fourth learning experience came once I arrived in Ottawa and found out that there was only one other Sociology student entering the Human Kinetics Master’s program in my year. It is important to ensure that there are going to be enough people in your program that you can discuss, debate, and analyze among yourselves. This is one of the best ways of learning and improving your ideas, so make sure there is a large enough group of students.
The fifth learning experience came later in my first year as I realized how lucky I was that I got along with my Professor. Try to get to know your professor before you get to the school. If you don’t get along with your supervisor, it will be a long two years.
Well that pretty well covers my own experience with grad school. The only other word of advice that I can offer is to take a wide variety of courses in your undergrad. Take some sciences, some social sciences, and some humanities. Broaden your idea of what knowledge is, for there are far too many researchers who only believe in the knowledge of their own fields. Knowledge is important whether it comes from the sciences, social sciences, or humanities. They are all intertwined and interconnected; one area of knowledge is invariably informed by the other two. With that said, good luck in your own journey towards knowledge, learning, and the future.