Monday Superlatives

It's too hot for sports with pants

July 22, 2019
TOUR Championship - Round One
Stan Badz

This story from ESPN summarizes the nation-wide heat nightmare that struck Major League Baseball on Saturday (and again on Sunday), and includes passages like this one:

Hours before Baltimore played Boston at sweltering Camden Yards, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde pulled aside starting catcher Chance Sisco and issued a stiff directive.

"I told Chance, 'Do not go outside until the game starts,' " Hyde said.

Elsewhere, fans who were brave (stupid?) enough to attend these games were plied with hydration stations and mist machines, with endless warnings from the PA announcers. Almost nobody took batting practice at any of these stadiums. In Chicago, Cubs fans gave a standing ovation to a rogue breeze.

Now, in my opinion? Summer was already pretty terrible when it was the 1990s and I lived in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York where it never got very hot because of the altitude. Today, in North Carolina, in the era of full-on global warming and a heat index that regularly tops triple digits, it is a full-on nightmare just to drive to the YMCA to get a workout that doesn't involve dying of heat exhaustion from attempting a single outdoor jumping jack. A few years ago, I went to two Washington Nationals games in 100-degree weather, and it was impossible, even sitting in the shade, to think of anything but the weather.

I cannot imagine having to play in those conditions day in and day out. There's a weird irony in American sports, where two of the three most prominent summer outdoor sports—golf and baseball—require their players to wear pants, while sports like basketball that are played in cool arenas allow shorts. It probably has something to do with the slower nature of golf and baseball, but as anyone who has ever stood out in extreme heat for 10 minutes understands, you don't have to constantly run around like a tennis player to feel like your body is slowly being drained of its vital fluids. Time and the relentless sun are plenty potent, and that's not even considering poor souls like Chance Sisco, who have to wear full catcher's gear.

Things are only going to get worse in the coming years, and if you wanted more bad news, the humidity is going to increase with the heat. (In fact, we've already seen that phenomenon at tennis' U.S. Open.) If we want to avoid drastic solutions—every golf tournament is played in northern Europe, all our baseball franchises move to Alaska and the Yukon, or we simply stage every baseball game in depressing domes and cancel golf for the summer—we need to let these athletes dress how they want. And if shorts keep them a few degrees cooler, so be it. We've already seen steps in this direction from the PGA Tour, and hey, it sure beats heat stroke and potential death!

The Ugliest Bean Ball of the Year Award: Luke Voit, Yankees

Luke Voit...congratulations?

Amazingly, Voit stayed in the game and even scored a run, and Aaron Boone took him out only because it was an insanely hot day and the Yankees were winning 9-0. Here's a close-up of the ball hitting his face:

Luke Voit: A man who is as tough as his name sounds.

Best Really Bizarre But Kinda Inspiring Manager Rant of the Week: Aaron Boone

Sick of the Yankees yet? Well, I'd apologize, but this angry rant by Aaron Boone to a half-scared, half-puzzled umpire is just classic. And it is ABSOLUTELY NOT SAFE FOR WORK.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Boone later explained that this use of "f***ing savages" meant that his batters were very selective, and if they don't swing, it means the pitch was probably a ball. Which is probably the funniest use of the word "savage" ever ... if simply "not swinging" makes you a savage, then my Little League career just took on a whole new light.

The "This Guy is Still Around...and Still Awesome?" Athlete of the Week: Manny Pacquiao

I'll be honest ... I kinda forgot all about Manny Pacquiao after he lost to Floyd Mayweather in 2015, and that fight came about six years too late anyway. Sure, I vaguely knew he was active in Philippine politics, and I knew he sang (badly, even with AutoTune), but I really didn't know he was still fighting at age 40. And, amazingly, he's still very good!

That knockdown of Keith Thurman was just one highlight of a split-decision victory that ended Thurman's undefeated career and took his WBA Welterweight title. I know we live in the era of really older dudes excelling at every sport (Tiger, Tom Brady, every good tennis player), but even by those standards, this is ridiculous. Is it too crazy to ask Pretty Boy Floyd (now 42) to put his 50-0 record on the line for one last rematch with Pac-man? I bet if we start talking about it now, they can get it organized for 2035.

The Sneaky Great NBA Offseason Move of the Week: Korver to the Bucks

It was a tricky offseason for the Bucks, with no draft picks and very little room to maneuver financially after they signed Khris Middleton to a lucrative five-year deal. But just when it looked like the free-agency fireworks across the league had faded out, the Bucks sneaked in one last coup by signing Kyle Korver to a one-year contract worth just $2.6 million (though they'll get hit with $1.6 million in luxury tax). Korver is one of the best three-point shooters in NBA history (his career 42.9 percent mark puts him ninth on the all-time list), and a team with Middleton and Giannis is the perfect landing spot for the 38-year-old, because he is going to get a lot of open shots. I think this move alone solidifies the Bucks as Eastern Conference favorites, and to celebrate, let's throw it back to the time the Bucks learned exactly what Korver can do ... even in a mask:

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