Keith Strudler

Keith Strudler: NY Sports Futility

Dec 4, 2013

Congratulations New York sports fans. You now know what the rest of the world feels like.  Both your basketball teams are awful and retreating towards the NBA lottery. The Jets and the Giants have less offensive production than the Swiss military. And even New York baseball teams, where the Yankees and sometimes the Mets can buy themselves a playoff spot, watched the postseason on their home televisions. In fact, there’s not a single pro team in the New York area with a winning record, even if you include hockey.

Keith Strudler: FSU

Nov 27, 2013

Last weekend, the mighty Florida Gators football team lost, at home, to Georgia Southern. This is notable for several reasons. First, and foremost, Georgia Southern plays in the lower tier FCS Division I subdivision, not the FBS top category like the Gators. This is the first time since the creation of these divisions that Florida has lost to an FCS, or I-AA squad. It also sealed Florida’s first losing record since 1979 and the first season since 1990 without a bowl game. It could inevitably cost Florida coach Will Muschamp his job, and it’s led to considerable unrest amongst the legions of Florida fans, including the big donors that help fund the program.

Keith Strudler: Jump To Pros Differs Among NCAA Sports

Nov 20, 2013

This story should sound familiar. A 17-year old high school senior is a dominant athlete, so good they could play pro right now. Only there’s this college thing that’s looming next fall. And everyone’s talking about which university you’ll compete for to help win a national championship, playing for a scholarship instead of the actual cash a free market might command.

Keith Strudler: The Brave March To Suburbia

Nov 13, 2013

I went to the Summer Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta, as well as the track and field Olympic trials in the same venue. I watched Michael Johnson run, which at that point I assumed was the fastest man there ever could be, and I spent the better part of a week surviving the summer heat of Hotlanta. And I remember thinking, as a track and field fan, that wow, that’s one nice track stadium in the middle of a big city.

Keith Strudler: Hazing, Incognito And The NFL

Nov 6, 2013

When I say the word hazing, you probably think about college, maybe a frat house where pledges are forced to dress up or clean the house or things far more onerous and potentially dangerous. In fact, hazing has gone from something of a tradition to a dirty word, something that keeps college presidents up all night. Once a right of passage, now it’s something of a criminal offense.

Colby Perry/Flickr

The World Series is upon us! The Boston Red Sox are set to face the St. Louis Cardinals in this year’s championship. Game One is tonight at Fenway Park in Boston. 

Keith Strudler: Government Shutdown Halts Sports Too

Oct 2, 2013

For the past several years, the military academies, Army, Navy, Air Force, have been at something of a disadvantage in sports, at least in the context of major Division I football. There’s a whole lot of reasons for that. They’ve got that unseemly burden of training both for football and for war. There’s not a lot of gut majors to work with. And as a recruiting pitch, coaches can promise high school stars guaranteed employment upon graduation, most likely in Iraq. That’s not a great sales pitch for any kid dreaming about a different kind of uniform, namely one with an NFL logo on it.

Keith Strudler: NCAA Investigation At Oklahoma State

Sep 18, 2013

Sex, drugs, and cheating. Sounds a lot like a Tom Wolfe novel, right? Only this story isn’t fiction. This is a story about Oklahoma State football in the decade staring in the late 1990’s, where the marginal football program evolved into a national power that finished consistently in the nation’s top ten. The story is pure non-fiction, in fact, at least as reported by Sports Illustrated over the past several days, after a year of in-depth reporting and interviews with dozens of formers players and coaches and program associates, of which there seem to be way too many. Oklahoma State has already done its best to debunk SI’s reporting as myth, which will be about a simple as disproving the moon landing. Even if reporters overstepped here and there, the narrative is fairly indestructible.

Keith Studler: Tokyo's Olympic Selection

Sep 11, 2013

Everything is relative, I suppose. So if a city has suffered five recessions in the past 15 years, a devastating earthquake and a nuclear emergency, it can still somehow be considered the safe choice. That’s Tokyo, and it was oddly the benign selection to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, chosen over the comparatively risky Madrid and Istanbul, or Constantinople, for all you They Might Be Giants Fans. Madrid has an unemployment rate approaching 25% and a long legacy of doping by top athletes. And Istanbul offers civil unrest and an unfortunate neighbor in Syria.

Keith Strudler: NFL Concussion Settlement

Sep 4, 2013

By almost any reasonable regard, $765 million is a lot of money. It’s the kind of number that would make Powerball ticket sales so crazy you couldn’t leave a 7-11 in under an hour. It’s the working budget of some decent sized companies, and almost enough to fund a presidential run.

Keith Strudler: Battle Of The Sexes

Aug 30, 2013

Before I begin in earnest, I’ll give all the parents with young children a chance to cover their kids ears, because I’m about to discuss one of those universal truths we’re all supposed to believe, like Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy, who by the way has been working overtime at my house lately.

Keith Strudler: A-Rod, The Yankees And The Playoffs

Aug 21, 2013

Perhaps the worst thing that could happen to the New York Yankees right now is that they actually make this year’s playoffs. It’s still a long-shot, with the Yanks some five games back and trailing three teams. But given their torrid pace of late, anything is possible. That may be particularly true if Alex Rodriguez plays like the Alex Rodriguez of old, long before he sat out this entire season recovering from hip surgery. He’s looked good so far, way better than the A-Rod that limped his way through last year’s playoff exit, barely able to hit the ball much less run the bases. This is all assuming A-Rod is allowed to play the rest of the season, which feels like a safe bet given his appeal from a 211 game suspension for his use of performance enhancing drugs.

Keith Strudler: Johnny Football And The NCAA

Aug 7, 2013

One of the first things I learned in a classroom management course was when a kid blatantly breaks the rules, never ask him or her why they did it. You’re not going to like the answer, and the reality is, most kids don’t know why threw a watermelon out a school window. At that age, impulse far overwhelms reasoned action. So as an educator, forget why, and simply deal with the punishment.

Keith Strudler: Baseball's PED Problem

Jul 24, 2013

Last night I sat through a full nine innings of Single-A minor league baseball. Once the sugar high of Cracker Jacks and funnel cake wears off, it can get pretty old, if you plan on actually watching the game. There’s missed balls, botched plays, and everything else that reminds you why they call it the minor league instead of, say, the majors. But on a positive note, three hours and four pretzels later, I can definitively say that not everyone in professional baseball takes drugs. That’s probably news after this week, when major league baseball suspended Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun for the rest of the year without pay for his involvement with the Miami clinic Biogenesis, who apparently gave him enough supply to fill a Duane Reade. And I’m talking about one of the big ones down in the city, where they sell groceries and lawn furniture.

Keith Strudler: Tyson Gay

Jul 17, 2013

If 40 is the new 30, then American sprinter Tyson Gay has a long decade ahead of him. Because at 30, he’s suddenly looking quite old, especially compared to the emergent track stars Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake of Jamaica, who at 26 and 23 make Gay look like at parent at a Taylor Swift show. Gay has certainly aged years in the past several days, when it was revealed that he tested positive for a banned performance enhancing substance. That has forced him to withdraw from next month’s world championships in Moscow, where he would have but faint hopes of topping a field that has since passed him by.

Keith Strudler: MLB All Star Game

Jul 10, 2013

I’ll admit something I probably shouldn’t. I haven’t watched a baseball game start to finish all season. That won’t change until I actually go to a Mets game in a couple of weeks, and then it’s because I don’t really have a choice. Although I could just stand in the Shake Shack line for a few innings.

A few years ago, the athletic shoe company Adidas had this ad slogan that went, “Impossible is nothing.” It always seemed to be worn by people who I doubt adhered to that ethic, but certainly held their favorite athletes to that standard. More to the point, the slogan itself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. For example, I have stared at a 10 foot basketball hoop since I was about five, all with the hope that I might someday grab it on the way down from a windmill dunk. That never happened. The closest I ever got was when we played on seven foot rims at the elementary school.

The main difference between yesterday and today for Aaron Hernandez is that yesterday he spent the night in his own house in Attleboro, Mass, not far from the stadium where he plays tight end for the New England Patriots. And today, he’s in the custody of the Massachusetts State Police, who arrested him in his home this morning in relation to the murder of Oden Lloyd, a 27 year-old semi-professional football player and acquaintance of Hernandez. So quite a difference a day makes.

Keith Strudler: Poor Officiating Hurt Spurs

Jun 19, 2013

I suppose it’s low hanging fruit to write a column criticizing NBA refs. That’s like criticizing the IRS or the DMV. Calling an NBA game correctly is as easy as catching a Cheetah with a bicycle; it’s just not possible. Not with the unbridled speed and athleticism— all inconceivable when the game was created. Today’s professional basketball is lightning fast, fiercely physical, and hard to assess in slow motion, much less full speed. So, just getting most calls right is a herculean task. It’s like keeping most of the kindergarten class quiet during story time.

Keith Strudler: Lebron Vs. History

Jun 13, 2013

In the period of the next several days, the history of basketball may or may not be rewritten. At stake is far more than the next NBA Title, which will go to either the San Antonio Spurs or the Miami Heat. The Spurs hold a 2-1 game lead in the best of seven series and could potentially defeat the favored Heat team before ever having to return to Miami for Games 6 and 7. Or, Miami could rebound and overwhelm the Spurs with superior talent and up-tempo play, taking their second consecutive title and laying the groundwork as the league’s most current dynasty. With that comes the historical directive of one superstar LeBron James, the most dominant player in the league.

Keith Strudler: Championship

May 22, 2013

Today’s word of the day on Sesame Street was champion. I know because I watched it with my three year old Elliot. They talked about what it means to be a champion, at least in the context of life sized muppets and their human friends. As a guest on the show, LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin contested a muppet chicken in a rooster calling contest. And, spoiler alert, Blake won. So he was the champion.

Keith Strudler: Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat

May 15, 2013

I always figured it would take an act of God to get me to root for LeBron James. Really, it took just two words. Chicago Bulls.  Thanks to an awful display of basketball over the past week, I’ve pulled for LeBron’s Miami Heat over the Bulls in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals. Right now with a 3-1 lead in a best of seven series, it’s most likely the Heat can end this tonight so I can start hating LeBron again.

Keith Strudler: Jason Collins

May 1, 2013

Until two days ago, Jason Collins was part of the answer to an obscure trivia question. That is, name the two sets of twins that played center for the Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team. And the answer is Jason and his brother Jarron along with Brook and Robin Lopez. But now Jason Collins is the answer to a less sports wonky trivia question, kind of first row on Jeopardy. The longtime NBA cener will forevermore be known as the first openly gay male on a current roster in a major American professional team sport.

Keith Strudler: NFL Anti-Discrimination Policy

Apr 24, 2013

Kicker Alan Gendreau is hoping to make an NFL roster this year. That’s true for a lot of people right now, with the pro football draft coming Thursday followed by weeks of free agent signings and trades and mini-camps and all the things teams go through to cut down to their game day rosters. Since Gendreau is a kicker, and he sat out last year after finishing his career at Middle Tennessee State, it’s not likely you’ll hear his name on ESPN’s live draft broadcast, even in the late rounds when all but the truest diehards have switched over to The Voice or something. Picking a kicker in the NFL draft is like ordering a diet coke at Serendipity. Just not entirely satisfying.

Keith Strudler: Boston Tragedy

Apr 17, 2013

In 2001, when I was younger and all that goes with that, I was on the US Maccabiah Games triathlon team that would compete in the so-called Jewish Olympics held in Israel every four years. As my friend put it, I wanted to be the world’s fastest Jewish triathlete, something I didn’t do when I competed in the Games four years prior in 1997.

Keith Strudler: Tiger at the Masters

Apr 10, 2013

For the price of one four day pass to the Master’s golf tournament this weekend, you could get a) a year’s tuition at a New York State University, b) a trip for two to Paris c) a motorcycle. This isn’t a multiple choice question. I’m saying you can get all of these for the price of one ticket, which right now is averaging over $13,000 on the secondary market. Of course, the list price is only $200, but you have to have been born into that, since an actual ticket hasn’t been up for sale for decades. So if you want in to Augusta National, you have to scalp your passes like everyone else that isn’t a corporate sponsor.

I am the father of two boys, aged 3 and 5, whom I’m actually quite fond of. That’s despite their, shall we say, unpredictable behavior, which can range from angelic to beyond maddening, and I’m being generous. Like one time when they older decided to cover the younger in shampoo, despite not being in the shower. And when these things happen, you try not to lose your cool, which is like trying not to break 55 on a highway in the desert. Sometimes you even say a few words you might regret, like words you can’t say on public radio but your kids manage to repeat in public at remarkably inopportune moments.

Major League Baseball kicked off the 2013 season this week with near perfect pitching, big hits, and big wins.

The LA Dodger’s Clayton Kershaw pitched a complete shut out in his first outing of the season, not to mention his walk off home run to win the game. The powerhouse New York Yankees, depicted on the cover of the New Yorker as geriatric patients, lost to the rival Boston Red Sox. But, the New York Mets won their opening salvo with a commanding 11 to 2 runs scored over the San Diego Padres.

Keith Strudler: On Rooting for the Bad Guy

Mar 27, 2013

There was an entertaining documentary on ESPN recently about North Carolina State’s unlikely run to an NCAA men’s basketball championship in 1983 where they beat an otherwise unbeatable University of Houston team in the finals. NC State was the ultimate underdog, winning games in the final moments against much deeper competition. And particularly since their coach Jim Valvano’s passing from cancer several years ago, this Wolfpack team has been memorialized as perhaps the most cherished championship team in college basketball history.

Keith Strudler: NCAA Tournament Picks

Mar 20, 2013

Yesterday was a two hour delay in our school district. That’s mainly because we’ve already used up all our snow days, so cancelling the whole day would have cut into spring break, and no one wants that. So in our two hours of free time, my five year old son and I did what most families did, I’m sure. We filled out NCAA tournament brackets. I did mine, and Sloan did his. If Sloan wins, he doesn’t have to put his clothes away for a week. If I win, well, there’s nothing on the table, but I’ll probably feel less guilty when I eat half his Halloween candy next year.