Today’s must-read links from around the Internet.
Your days of organized sports are most likely behind you. (Save for an office softball league walk-on or two.)
But that doesn’t mean you can’t relive the glory with a few hours of roundball, pigskin or doubles squash every so often. And with ballparks, courts and fields everywhere alive with the spirit of summer, there’s no better time than now to get out there and mix it up a little this weekend.
Nadal, Federer, Murray: all great tennis players who’ve been battling it out for the title of Wimbledon Champion over the past week, with varying results. (Chin up, guys.) And all preceded by the oft-forgotten Romanian tennis boss, Ilie Năstase.
Though his luck at the All England Club wasn’t that great, either.
In fact, although he was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991, Năstase never won that title himself. But that’s not to say he’s without his share of accomplishments. So to give the man his due, we’d like to bestow upon him Kempt Icon status, our own highest titular honor.
America’s Pastime returns to regular season play this weekend, so in our countdown to opening day, we’re proclaiming it Baseball Week here on Kempt.
There’s nothing like a bona fide baseball legend—especially one who managed to do it during his own lifetime…
As NCAA basketball finishes up conference play and begins barreling toward March Madness, we’ve been noticing a few less suits and a few more polo shirts barking from the sidelines this season. And even a few coaches going for the tie-less suit look. And it’s got us longing for the era of dapper sidelines.
The one John Wooden coached in.
Coach Wooden is not only iconic because of his storied tenure at UCLA, his championship streaks, his best-selling pyramid of success aphorisms—he was also, quite literally, an icon for the well-dressed man of a bygone era: always in a gray or navy suit, a tie and thick-rimmed glasses (with the occasional net draped around his shoulders or his arms sternly crossed). It was the same no-nonsense approach that he took to every task. Sure, maybe the tie widths veered a bit Anchorman-ish in the ’70s, but he still kept that uniform intact. Until he gained a penchant for bolo ties in his later life—a move we might borrow for our octogenarian days.
“The way I figured it, I was even with baseball and baseball with me. The game had done much for me, and I had done much for it.”
That three-hour headache you got yesterday had nothing to do with an ill-fitting Halloween costume or the vertical hold on your television. Rather, the culprits were these 1934 Pittsburgh Steelers throwback uniforms black and yellow stripes, block letters and knee-high bumblebee socks. At times we weren’t sure whether we’d tuned in to a football game or a WWF tag-team bout from 1985.
Everyone knows why teams dust off vintage uniforms: to sell more merchandise. Everyone also knows that the average NFL club is worth $1.14 billion. Which is why we’re respectfully begging NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, for that matter) to put an end to this nonsense.
While we’re at it, that’s enough pink for one season, no?
Last week, our colleagues at UrbanDaddy SF turned us on to a curious summer sport from 1940s Brazil called “Frescobol” and a group of gents trying to introduce it to America by way of handsome reclaimed wood paddles and selvage denim park blankets—under the label Merriment Hardware.
And, naturally, when news of any relatively unknown summer pastime comes along, we’re intrigued—especially when the sun-flecked beaches of the Southern Hemisphere are involved. So we had the guys give us a few pointers on how the game is played—all you need is a sunny patch of land (park, beach, vineyard, et cetera), a willing partner (who may or may not be wearing a bikini) and these paddles.
An ungodly amount of ink has been spilled over Olympic style on and off the podium already—especially at the expense of US swimmer Ryan Lochte. (We’re inclined to give the guy a break—we should be rooting for our countrymen, not tearing them down.) But we couldn’t resist mentioning the gloriously tie-dyed 1992 Lithuanian Olympic basketball team, dubbed “The Other Dream Team.” Yes, that really is officially sponsored tie-dyed gear. Yes ,those are fanny packs. And yes, those are bronze medals they’re collecting in Barcelona—sharing the same podium as our fabled champs. The story is the stuff of legend (and a Sundance-darling film). A rag-tag bunch of athletes from a country only two years removed from the iron grip of the Soviet Union who were in danger of not even going to the Olympics until The Grateful Dead swooped in with a last-minute sponsorship (which should explain the tie-dye and dunking skeleton on their warm-ups) and who, against all odds, won a seemingly unattainable medal—uplifting a small, wayward nation in the process. This is exactly why we watch the Olympics every four years.
The 2012 Summer Games are finally here—which is also good news for the weekend warriors of the world.
Every four years, a new crop of high-tech sports gear is unveiled after spending the past four years in the lab. Luckily, most of it is made available to the public for any rec-league or interoffice battles happening on basketball courts, running tracks, archery ranges and badminton fields across this country. So we rounded up the best of the new stuff for your competitive–edge-advancing needs.
Last month we counted down the 10 Greatest Thespian-Athlete Performances of All Time. Some liked the list, others felt we overstated Alex Karras’s impact on Webster. But only one Kempt reader, Gary Oldman, felt it necessary to shoot a video response entitled “Actors Against Acting Athletes” and broadcast it on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “Who the hell told you you could act, the director on your commercial?” he screamed, awkwardly clutching a basketball.
To be clear: we’re big fans of Mr. Oldman’s work. But it strikes us as uninformed at best to label every professional athlete’s foray onto the big screen as “sucking”—particularly before watching Novak Djokovic’s filmic debut in Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables 2 later this year. If Djokovic’s acting chops are anything like his impersonation of John McEnroe, Mr. Oldman may very well have some fierce competition when it comes time to reprise the role of Russian extremist Ivan Korshunov in Air Force Two.
Have you been following Euro 2012? The European soccer tournament taking place in Poland and Ukraine right now (and airing like crazy on ESPN and ESPN2)? If you haven’t, here’s what you missed: Spain embarrassed Ireland, underwear model/Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo scored a couple of nice goals, and Adidas ran a lot of commercials.
And now that the tourney has reached its eight-team knockout stage (aka Act Two), here’s a semi-in-depth look at what you can expect in the coming days.
Every time some new tennis hotshot goes on a major winning streak, Rod Laver’s name gets bandied about. It’s for good reason, of course. He is the only man still living to have completed the Grand Slam—winning all four major tennis tournaments in the same year. And he’s done it twice. It’s really an impressive stat, seeing as the recent technological advancements in sports have led to the shattering of just about every other record in the books—and the tennis world has had since 1969 to catch up.
The latest contender was Novak Djokovic. The kid was on a tear, but ultimately met his demise on Monday, one game short of the Grand Slam, on the clay courts of Roland Garros—reaffirming that Rod Laver is in a class of his own. In addition to his contributions to tennis, he also gave us one of the more timeless summer shoes in existence (his eponymous Adidas). They’re most commonly found in all-white with a grass-green sole—which is how Rod dressed almost exclusively. We’d like to take a moment to give the man his due with five iconic photos of Mr. Laver.
Euro 2012—the European soccer tournament that starts today—is a big f**king deal, as Joe Biden would say. It’s basically the World Cup of Europe, and many soccer aficionados actually prefer it to the World Cup because it clears out some of the soccer riffraff from Africa, Asia and the Americas (yes, the US is still soccer riffraff at this point). Plus, all your European pals are going to be talking about it for the next month, and it’s just a fun thing to watch at the pubs.
Lawrence Berra was nicknamed “Yogi” by Bobby Hofman, who thought Berra resembled a Hindu yogi—solemnly seated with arms and legs crossed—after losing a game.
When Kansas City Athletics owner Charlie Finley saw Jim Hunter pitch for the first time in 1965, he knew he’d signed a legend. The only problem, according to Finley, was the name—“Jim Hunter” didn’t sell tickets. The next morning, Finley called Hunter into his office and informed him that his name was now “Catfish.” Jim was understandably confused, and while the conversation was not recorded, we’re almost positive his response was, “Um… why’s that?”
That’s because baseball players, like all professional athletes, are first and foremost entertainers—and entertainers aren’t named “Jim.” Unfortunately, guys like Charlie Finley are a bit of a dying breed. The perfect nickname used to be steeped in lore, metaphorically connected to athletic prowess, an inside-out joke that made children of all ages—particularly the nickname-ee—grin. Now, it seems, the “-Rod” generation simply resorts to hyphenated pig latin of sorts.
As Hunter left the office, he asked his new owner what he should say if and when people asked about the origin of his new nickname. Finley replied, “You came back from the river on your 10th birthday having caught six catfish and handed them to your old man. Sell it. Goodbye.” On that note, we now present the very best nicknames in sports…
We learned a lot about quitting this month, and from the unlikeliest of duos: Kerry Wood, the beloved 11-year veteran relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, and Bobcat Goldthwait, the beloved live-action Muppet from the Police Academy septology and a smattering of 1980s Cusack indies.
Like Velcro and thermal-papered fax machines, Goldthwait served his purpose and then had no purpose. So he quit. “I have been a game-show host, a talking puppet, and a Happy Meal toy,” he writes. “Being the man’s dancing monkey is fucking horrible.” Now, 30 years later, he has written and directed perhaps the best farce since The Naked Gun.
The legendary Russian theater director Constantin Stanislavski knew a bullshit actor when he saw one. Before entering his studio for the first time, performers were required to answer the following question: “Did you come here to serve art, and to make sacrifices for its sake, or to exploit your own personal ends?”
This seems like as good a barometer as any for measuring the acting prowess of professional athletes.
If Stanislavski were to sift through all the car dealership commercials, deodorant ads and soft-core porn films featuring ballplayers (as we have done for the past 48 hours), we’re confident that these 10 performances would rise to the top. That’s assuming, of course, he pressed on despite stumbling upon this Wilt Chamberlain commercial for laxatives.
Golf, it has been said, is 90% mental. The other 10%: choosing your shirt wisely…
Enter adidas Golf and their new FASHION PERFORMANCE gear, a handsome selection of polo shirts, shoes and pants that are so dapper, you’ll already be dressed for the 20th hole (the 19th hole is so 2011).
The good news, beyond sharp looks: these threads are still designed with the game-enhancing technology you’ve come to expect from adidas. For a good idea of what the stuff looks like in action, check out PGA Tour pro Jason Day.
Consider us your sartorial caddie.
Just in time for golf season, adidas Golf is ushering in a new kind of golf gear with FASHION PERFORMANCE. They’re rolling out big-time polos with the wizardry you need on the course and a sharp-enough look to hold their own even after you’ve left the clubhouse.
And in the amazing-golfers-who-decided-this-was-the-best-gear-around department, there’s PGA Tour professional Jason Day, currently birdieing his way through the Tour wearing FASHION PERFORMANCE this year. Check out the goods here, just in time for your birdieing season.
By now, you know the shape of American baseball. There are the sluggers, the DH arguments, the sabermetrics partisans, the steroids, the astroturf. Of course, the game is beautiful enough to overcome all that, but for a few seasons now, I’ve been thinking it might be nice to see the game from a different angle, maybe even a different continent.
And so, perhaps inevitably, I started watching Japanese baseball…
Most sports enthusiasts will tell you that the reason we don’t have player-coaches these days has to do with salary caps, collective bargaining agreements and growing complexities of the game. In our estimation, though, the reason is much simpler:
Now that the dust has settled on Sunday’s Ravens-Patriots game, it’s time we took a closer look at its lexical legacy—the word “cundiff.”
Thanks to Billy Cundiff’s game-losing missed kick from just 32 yards out, the surname has taken on a life of its own, a brand-new word with unique meaning: inexplicably failing at a routine task, with catastrophic consequences.
Suddenly, we’re hearing it everywhere—not surprising, since it happens all the time. And to show how useful the new piece of vocab truly is, we’ve put together a few prime examples after the jump…
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