April 25, 2010 - 11:54 PM
I know I have a tendency to discuss the weather, but I ‘m really quite fascinated by thinking about climatology. But there's something I've been noticing recently as the seasons change and the sun begins to shine for more than an hour at a time. Sunshine makes everyone happier and that's a scientific fact. Psychologically we feel better, plus the sun vitamin, Vitamin D, is created in your body after exposure to ultra-violet rays. Yadda-yadda-yadda. Plus, I think we're all in agreement that it's very difficult not to smile whilst walking in sunshine unless, of course, you forgot your sunglasses.
But I've also noticed that the amount of sunshine is directly related to how much time you spend with your neighbors. No scientific tests or evidence really exists to provide any scientific support of this theory, at least not to my knowledge, but there certainly is a strong point to be made for it in Eugene.
It's simple logic, really. More people will be outside if the weather is nice, and if everyone is outside then everyone sees their neighbors because they live next door, and seeing someone more often than not elicits acknowledgement. The only way to throw a wrench in the plans would be a lack of friendliness, and even the coldest of hearts can't help but smile when it's sunny in Oregon.
Last week we just sat outside on our deck and watched our neighbors race their wheelchairs they bought at Goodwill down the alleyway. Cam jammed on the guitar with neighbor James yesterday afternoon. We didn't even know he played until yesterday when he playing on his balcony. Also, I introduced myself to our side-yard neighbors that Saturday night. I couldn't help myself anymore after watching them jump on their giant trampoline all afternoon. I was so jealous!
It may just be my ecologically minded brain, because I always think in cycles and try to find connections between people and the environment. But I might be onto something here. If only I studied environmental science and not environmental policy, blast.
April 24, 2010 - 8:32 PM
Today - Saturday, April 24, 2010 - was a full day dedicated to baseball. Well, to be honest, the morning was dedicated more for catching up on sleep and throwing together a decent breakfast with whatever we have left in our fridge, but the afternoon and night was dedicated to baseball, I swear.
This afternoon, Winston, Kevin, Steven, Ross and I headed to Grand Slam USA at the Valley River Center Mall for a few rounds in the batting cages. You know, to get ready for intramural softball playoffs. Oddly enough, we wondered why the other half of our team, who shall renamed nameless, are the ones that need the practice. We guys just want an excuse to hit something with a club.
It was a good session, I'd say. We had a few cobwebs to shake off, but we all felt pretty good about ourselves as we wailed on slow pitch softballs while on either side little leaguers were being shut down by fast pitch hardballs. Going to a batting cage to hit softballs instead of baseball was a new experience for me. It was strange because I was one of those kids on the fast pitch machine not so long ago, and my uncle or a friend's dad would be hitting softballs, but times change I guess.
The afternoon was really a big, stereotypical high school flashback: hitting in the batting cages, hanging around a mall on a Saturday, and then having lunch at Red Robin, afterwards. Bottomless Freckled Lemonades, a Santa Fe Burger and endless steak cut fries - can't do much better than that.
After our late lunch, we headed back to campus for the Duck's baseball game against USC. I was excited for two reasons. First, I hadn't been to PK Park since its construction in the off-season. Second, my kindergarten pal - Chris McCaffrey - is a relief pitcher in the Trojan's bullpen, but I wasn't sure if he would on the traveling team. Alas, he wasn't there. I forgot that he had surgery in late winter and was taking the season off, but PK Park still looked good.
The Ducks lost in extra innings after scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game at four runs apiece. It was a thriller, but we only had enough for second place. The stage is set for a rubber match on Sunday afternoon. I've heard rumors of free pints of ice cream. I might have to make an appearance.
The new stadium is sweet! PK Park, named after former athletic director Pat Kilkenny as opposed to Nike co-founder/chairman and well-known University of Oregon mega-donor, Phil Knight (or Penny Knight, Phil's wife, for that matter). Plus, the baseball team is, dare I say, good this year. We own a 26-13 record after today's defeat, and we slipped into the NCAA rankings at the beginning of this week at #18. Not too shabby for our second season after taking a 26 year hiatus. The same thing happened last year though. We'll see if Coach Horton can finish the season as well as he started.
April 18, 2010 - 9:45 PM
Adding to the growing list of reasons why I love spring term at UO, the intramural softball season has begun and this year I am proud to coach our team. Team Go Team GO. Yes, the name is slightly confusing, not by design. We just want to be able to cheer, "Go...Team Go Team Go!" It may be childish, but it makes us laugh.
Last year, under the name Team Lincecum, we made it to the semi-finals where we lost in heartbreaking fashion in extra innings. We played our first game of 2010 last Tuesday and, let me tell you, this season picked up with the same high intensity level that last season left off.
To begin, we barely had enough people show up on time to play. The rule is that game time is forfeit time, and you need at least six players to start. Well, we only had five players by 7 o'clock - and our equipment man, Steven, was late with gloves and bats - but out of the grace of their hearts the other team decided to wait the extra five minutes for the rest of my team to show rather than force us to forfeit.
We started the game with only two outfielders and no catcher, but slowly everyone trickled in to fill their positions. At the end of the fourth inning, we were losing 5-2 and the umpire warned us that this would likely be the last inning because we were losing daylight.
We were the home team, so we pitched through the top of the fifth inning and had the top of the order coming up to the plate in the bottom half. If we were going to make our late inning push, it needed to happen now.
Kevin led off with a double. Emma popped out to third. I singled into centerfield, and then Kelsey grounded out. We had runners on second and third base with two outs, Steven at the plate and still down three runs. Like any true champion, Steven rips a ball into left field for a two run double, which left the game in Tracy's hands.
This is where strategy came into play. I should point out that I'm a fairly competitive person by nature, and I love baseball. I mean, I really LOVE baseball. I played since I was in Kindergarten on "George's Giants" tee-ball team. My senior project in high school was an in-depth comparison between major league baseball in the 1920s and 2000s, specifically analyzing Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds. And I road-tripped for two months around the nation visiting major league ballparks in the summer of 2007.
Back to the point though, I realize that we're in the least competitive, co-ed intramural softball league, but that doesn't mean I won't do everything within my power and knowledge of the game to win. I noticed the opposing pitcher was struggling to find the strike zone in the later innings, so I told Tracy to "take a strike," which means that you don't swing until after they pitch one strike to you for those of you wanting to know some of the more advanced baseball terminology.
Low and behold, it worked like a charm. Tracy walked, which left us with Steven on second base, Tracy on first and freshman, rookie-sensation Trey Norris - Cam's younger brother - coming up to the plate. Trey already has a solo, inside the park homerun earlier in the game and he was looking to finish the job. The smart thing to do would have been to walk him to preserve the lead, but Trey was probably going to swing at anything close anyways, so it probably didn't matter.
Trey laced a double up the middle, Steven scored and we had a tie game with the winning run on third base. Leslie, following in her roommate's steps, walked in the same "take a strike fashion" and Winston followed up with a liner that went right through the shortstops legs.
Chalk one in the victory column for Team Go Team GO.
Today, we had afternoon practice to shake off some of the cobwebs. We went over the fundamentals groundballs, fly balls and batting practice - so everyone was on the same page, too. We should be ready to go for next Tuesday's game. I'll let you know how it goes.
April 17, 2010 - 7:13 PM
Today, my friends and I experienced nearly a century's worth of Oregon sporting history as we watched Oregon Men's Track & Field compete against UCLA in the classic Oregon-UCLA Dual Meet at Historic Hayward Field and then we toured the construction of the new Matthew Knight Arena.
The track meet was slightly less spectacular than last weeks, I will say. Ashton Eaton doubled up to win both the 100 & 200 Meter Dash, again. Mac Fleet and AJ Acosta finished 1-2 in the 1500 Meter Run, and we didn't even put our best runners out there. No Andy Wheating. No Matt Centrowitz. No Cyrus Hostetler. It's not that we didn't take the meet seriously; it's just that we have bigger things to worry about. We ended the afternoon winning with 92 points to UCLA's 71. But the reason I bring it up is because history was made on the Hammer Field, sort of.
First of all, Jordan Stray and Scott Penny set personal bestswith throws of 66.28 meters and 60.11 meters respectively. For Jordan, that throw puts him at around 12th in the NCAA. For Scott, that was the first time he broke the 60-meter mark and he's sitting on the bubble for qualifying for NCAA Regional Championship, but he still has plenty of time to better that mark before the end of the season. The real story, however, was that of my roommate Cam Norris who finished wish a final throw of 1.39 meters (4'7"). And, no, that's not a typo. Let's put this into context.
Right now Cam is a little bit under the weather because he has mononucleosis - i.e. mono. As some of you might know, mono pretty much sucks all energy from your body to the point where waking up in the morning and stumbling to the couch is a difficult task. Needless to say, it doesn't help your performance in the hammer throw.
But because UCLA did not enter any throwers in the Hammer Throw, Oregon decided to enter Cam into the field where he was guaranteed a third place finish and one point for overall team score. For his first and only thrown, Cam stepped into the circle lifted the hammer, stretched his right arm outwards and gentled placed the ball as far as his wingspan allowed. With a puzzled look on his face, the referee measured the mark at 1.39 meters as Cam trudged back the bench amongst scattered chuckles from the spectators. He scratched his next five throws, and by the look on his face, I don't think he could have picked up the hammer one more time.
The announcer actually said over the megaphone, "Ladies and gentlemen, don't be alarmed, that is not an error on the Hammer Throw scoreboard. Cam Norris finished in third place with short but legal throw of four feet and seven inches, which is good enough for third place." Cam took a victory lap around Hayward to celebrate the first points he scored for the team in any competition, and he will go down as the shortest throw in Oregon Track & Field history to still score. The beginning of an illustrious career, I'm sure.
After the meet, Leslie and I headed to the final open house of the Matthew Knight Arena construction site. Knight Arena is set to open for the first Pac-10 conference game of 2011, next year. And it's going to be AWESOME! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves, but I will say that I'm stoked. It might even persuade me to watch a game or two next season, despite this year's lackluster performance.
It should have a total capacity of around 12,500 seats, with state-of-the-art everything thanks to good ol' Uncle Phil. Not to mention it's directly adjacent to the residence halls on campus. Word to the wise, if you're planning on living in the residence halls next year, try to get into either Bean or Hamilton and you'll be within earshot of every basketball game. On second thought, actually, you might want to steer clear of those halls for that same reason.
(Left to right) Cam, Scott and Jordan take their victory lap. Forthe record, Jordan said he would toss his "Victory Lap" T-Shirt to me in the stands and, let's just say, I'm still waiting.
The Men's 110M Hurdles
Matthew Knight Arena from the north.
The new and improved "Pit."
April 10, 2010 - 6:10 PM
The sun was shining on Historic Hayward Field this afternoon at the Pepsi Team Invitation as our Men's and Women's Track & Field teams both emerged with decisive victorious over a field of worthy adversaries.
The Ducks women, ranked second in the nation, finished with 212 points, ahead of first-ranked Texas A&M (179.5), Missouri (141) and Washington (129.5). Our distance runners showed up to play as usual today. Jordan Hasay, Nicole Blood and Mattie Bridgom swept the women's 5000 Meter. Blood and Alex Kosinski finished 2nd and 3rd in the 1500 Meter and Anne Kesselring finished 1st in the 800 Meter.
But, the women's sprinters took back the spotlight as Amber Purvis set school records in both the 100 Meter and 200 Meter dash. To give you a sense of the enormity of those numbers, Purvis previously set both records at the 2009 Pepsi Invitational . . . . as a FRESHMAN! Talk about talent. Plus, she did it today in the face of Texas A&M, who's known for their sprinters. Our team for the 4x100 Meter Relay - White, Purvis, Baker & Youngblood - set a school record at 44.13 seconds, and it would have been a new meet record if Texas A&M's team - Adeoti, Lucas, Duncan & Mayo - didn't put up a 43.89 second mark to beat it.
The Oregon Men's team, ranked third in the nation, was equally dominating in their performance. Ranked third in the nation, they scored 186 points which was good enough to beat second-ranked Texas A&M (151), Washington (132), Illinois (109) and Missouri (103).
Ashton Eaton, fresh off his World Record setting performance in the Indoor Heptathalon, won the Men's Long Jump, 110 Meter Hurdles and was a quarter of the Men's 4x400 Meter Relay team Eaton, Thompson, Ackley & Barlow - that finished second behind Texas A&M.
Head coach Vin Lananna summed up the day nicely saying, "We try to pick the best suited people to get the job done. Amber Purvis was great today. Also freshman Jordan Hasay and Mac Fleet stood out. And of course our Ashton Eaton, who scored 45 points."
Then again, Ashton might have captured the Oregon spirit a little better. "We thought we would win," Eaton said, "Maybe not dominate, but win."
The real story, at least for my roommates and me, happened on the hammer field. Remember, our roommate, Cam, as well as two good friends, Jordan Stray and Scott Penny throw the hammer for the team and they all had stellar days. Jordan won the Hammer Throw overall with a mark of 65.13 meters. On a side note, though, his first throw of the day (64.01 meters) would also have beaten the entire field. The victory was made even sweeter because today is Jordan's 21st birthday.
Scott finished in 6th with a throw of 57.79 meters and Cam finished just behind him in 7th with 54.96 meters. Cam actually beat his personal best mark with every throw. His goal for the meet was to reach 55.0 meters. Only four centimeters away! But he still had a great day, and he's only a few feet away from qualifying for the NCAA Regional Championships. I'll keep you all posted on that one.
Feels good to be back at Hayward Field.
Jordan won the Men's Hammer Throw with a mark of 65.13 meters