Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vick to wear mini Beebe helmet on injured right hand

Philadelphia--In an effort to protect his injured right hand, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will wear a miniature Don Beebe helmet during this week's home game against the San Francisco 49ers. Vick nearly broke his hand in Sunday's game against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. The helmet was custom made by Don Beebe's Helmets for Tots, Inc. for Vick and will allow the Virgina native to grip a football (for snaps from center) through carefully positioned holes in the crown of the protective device. "It feels so good that I may wear a Don Beebe helmet on both of my hands," said a grinning Vick at a NovaCare news conference earlier today. "The grip-ability is awesome."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Will the single shell coxswain soon be joining the dinosaurs?

The shouts from the middle of the slow moving river glide over the water startling the Canada geese fertilizing the lush parkland that lines the iconic waterway. "Stroke. Push right. Left side, give a rest. What'ya say now right side?"

The coxswain is often described as the steering wheel of competitive rowing. Since the late 1800's this usually small, frail-looking outsider (often shunned by most of society) sits at the back of the narrow shell and valiantly attempts to get the individual rowers to work as a single unit.

"My job is to make many ... become one," said John Sedinski, a 4'11", 87-pound coxswain from Andover, MA, eating the second half of an Uncle Ben's rice cake he had saved from a lunch earlier in the week. "I steer, I guide, I yell ... I do everything but row."

The coxswain has climbed aboard every quad, double, single and eight scull race since 1871. Yes, that's correct, a coxswain also sits aboard a single-rower scull.

Sadly, and somewhat surprisingly, the United States Rowing Administration (USRA) has proposed eliminating the coxswain from single shells in an effort to save money, make the event faster, and, they emphatically claim, to "lighten the load of totally unneeded baggage."

"If their job is to make a team into one cohesive unit, then why are coxswains needed for single rowers? It seems unnecessary and ludicrous. I realize this is a difficult economy and we would be reducing the number of coxswain jobs significantly but this is the right move," said Diane Chalmers, a USRA official.

The news hit many rowing communities across the country very hard. Philadelphia relies on the rowing industry to provide thousands of jobs and the city is home to 70 percent of the sports coxswains.

"What am I supposed to do?" yelled Harry Clinton, 41, a professional coxswain based in Philadelphia. "All I know are single sculls. That's my life. My coxswain career probably has five good years remaining and that's too short of a time to learn double or eight rower sculls. What the hell am I supposed to do? What in God's name will I do with my life?"

"I'm a single rower and I would be lost without a coxswain," said Barbara Martinelli of South Philadelphia. "I can't seem to get in sync or steer the shell without one. Plus, we always have great conversations and they offer great advice ... about any aspect of life."

"It is a sad day but I will be joining the rally on Kelly Drive," said Burt Thomas, a longtime single rower on the Schuylkill River. "Hopefully we can influence the USRA's decision."

Thomas is referring to Saturday's Coxswain Rally near Boat House Row on Kelly Drive. If hundreds of rowing jobs are to be saved, this gathering may be the determining factor.

"I'm asking everyone to come out and support the cause. Together we can do this. Let's go! Also, there will be free t-shirts and hot dogs. We're working on free drinks as we speak."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Report: More than half of Brewers players dabble unsuccessfully in home brewing

St. Louis--Ryan Braun turned red with embarrassment when a local St Louis reporter asked the All-star outfielder if he brewed his own beer. The Mission Hills, CA native was unmistakeably caught off guard, hesitated a bit before finally confirming that, yes, he did brew beer in his suburban Milwaukee home. "I do brew but it's really a shoddy set up that I got going on. I play for the Brewers and I am completely ashamed of my brewing apparatus (pictured above). I use an old Igloo cooler for the fermentation process. Hey, the important part is that I have a blast doing it," said Braun. A recent report by Saint Louis University (another big brewing city) showed that nearly 56% of Brewers players are involved in home brewing in some capacity. "It's fascinating," said Dr Carol Von Hahn, head of the sociology department at this university in the Gateway to the West. "Brewers players are, in real life, brewers. They make beer. Albert Pujols can't be a Cardinal in real life and fly all around the country, but the Brewers are actually brewers. I was floored. I mean, I got teary-eyed. Foget the fact that most were horrible at it." The study was made possible by a generous grant from Professional Athletes That Home Brew (PATHB).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Small Pennsylvania town convinced that lone British resident is voice behind Geico's Gecko

Lumberton City, PA--Residents of this sleepy, tucked-away town in, ironically, Pennsylvania coal country have been buzzing over a new arrival for the past several months. Lloyd Howerton, 47, and his family of four relocated to this Allegheny Mountain village from Cherry Hill, NJ for the civil engineer's rapidly advancing career.

The community has warmly welcomed the family with visits, handcrafted pies and social invitations; however, there are quite a few suspicious souls that make their home here.

The majority of the town (yes, a poll was administered by the mayor) is unconvinced that Howerton is a civil engineer. In fact, they strongly believe that the Crowton, England native is the voice behind the gecko of the Geico Insurance television ads.

"The other day I intentionally bumped into him on the street while I was holding a toasted muffin with butter and jam. I tried to get him to say what it was I was holding so I could compare the accent to the tv commercial," said Don Wilson, 71, a retired coal miner. "When I asked, 'Look at what I'm holding, what do they call this in your country?" he just laughed off the question. It was an uncomfortable kind of laugh. Something's not right."

"He claims he's an engineer or something," said Debra Chambers, 59, of Hoit Street. "I mean, I feel like the accent is a perfect match. I know he's the voice, but I don't want to just come right out and accuse him of it. Ya know?"

"Oh, he's the voice," said Donna Billingsly of Cameron Street. "He's the voice. He's no civil whatchamacallit. He's the gecko guy. I can't say it any more plainer."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Concussed Utley recovering slowly, remembers being hit by pitch but has 'no recollection of hitting .262 this season'

Chase Utley sat quietly behind a tabletop podium responding to queries from a small gathering of local press members seeking information on his playing status after suffering a concussion last week. ".262? Who's hitting .262 this season?" barked a usually soft-spoken Utley at a confused reporter who had asked the second baseman for thoughts on his struggles at the plate this season. "Yeah, I'm hitting .262, that's a good one. We got a prankster in the press room everybody." After being hit on the helmet by a pitch on Wednesday night against the Braves, the dazed player trotted down to third base--instead of first base--then asked third base coach Juan Samuel why he was coaching first base. "He was totally out of it," said Samuel, trying to hold back a smile. "I mean, my man's cranium was whacked. He even took a lead off of third toward second. We had a saying in the Dominican Repulic after a player suffered a concussion: your cerebellum ain't quite right."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Brewers would love to forget inaugural season when they were known as the Fermentationers

Milwaukee, WI--Jake O'Neil, the original owner of the Brewers, can (sort of) laugh about it today when asked to reflect on the club's name during its inaugural season in 1970. "Brewers seemed too obvious and generic to me at the time," said O'Neil, 102, in between breaths assisted from a nearby oxygen tank. "I was looking to pay respect to Milwaukee's dependency on the beer industry when choosing a name. I guess I got a little too clever when I picked the Fermentationers. I smile now, but it's still a little embarrassing." That's correct, the Brewers were not always the Brewers. After the franchise failed miserably in Seattle for one season, the club moved to Wisconsin's largest city and became the Fermentationers. The public outcry was so enormous and filled with such vitriol that halfway through the year O'Neil vowed to change the name before the start of the 1971 season. "We settled on Brewers," he said. "I guess that's better than Hoppers, my second choice in 1970."