Room for Improvement

When Dan and I got married I was so eager to be a “cool wife” that I memorized every college football coach in the SEC.  I became his party trick. We’d be out to dinner with friends and he would say,

“Kate, who’s the coach of Auburn? Ole Miss? Vandy? Arkansas? Florida? South Carolina? Kentucky?”

I would perk up and shout out names enthusiastically, like a trained seal happily barking for fish out of a bucket.

The amazement of wives everywhere was my raw fish. (Add it to sentences I never thought I’d say.)

I told Dan that once - that I had become his party trick - and with such precious sensitivity he said, “Oh, I’m sorry. Do you not want to do it anymore?” To which I replied,

“Dan, the seal LIKES the fish.”

I assure you I never would have spent the mental energy learning those coaches if I hadn't been interested.  I enjoy sports - a lot - and Dan is no longer surprised (and unfortunately no longer impressed) by the information I absorb.

There is one sport, though, that I just can’t get into:  I don’t like baseball.

Yeah, I said it.

And I don’t think it’s fair to call baseball “America’s pastime” anymore.  America’s pastime is Angry Birds.

(As long as I'm making enemies I'll also say that I don't like hot weather, shrimp, or Jack Johnson - basically summer.)

Seriously, baseball is such a divisive issue.  A lot of people aren't wild about it, but the people who care, care.  Baseball is like cats in that way.  There are cat people, and then there are cat people.  I know some baseball people that are already halfway through the impassioned email they'll be sending me in 5 minutes.  (Kaitlyn, Coffman, Jay, Paul, Kyle, Slade, Jeff, Connie, Danny, angry blogging stranger). *Spoiler Alert:* I’m going to delete them all!

I understand baseball. I've been to MLB games.

I suppose I'm not as "cultured" as you are, and I'm okay with that.  No amount of blather about nostalgia and the glory of the "grand ol' game" is going to change my mind.

But to prove to you that I have sincerely tried my best, that I have expended both time and energy in a last-ditch attempt to find any pleasure whatsoever in baseball, I give you this humble list of suggestions - for people like me.

Nine Ways to Make Baseball More Interesting

1.  Allow players to smack-talk back and forth on the Jumbo-Tron via texting.  You know that after a good one the crowd would make that sound that all the kids in the cafeteria make when someone drops a tray: “oooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

2.  Each dugout can earn up to 2 extra runs for: tobacco/gum/seed spitting contests, and dance-offs.

3.  Put tigers underneath trap doors in the outfield, gladiator-style. Don’t even tell me I’m dark. You’ve read The Hunger Games twice already.

4.  Make all the food free.  See? This sport is better already.

5.  Make baseballs out of the same material as those super bouncy balls. This would probably save the Major League some money too, as they cost 50¢ out of the quarter machines at Wal-Mart.

6.  Put defense in the outfield. Maybe with Nerf guns?

7.  Allow players to tackle one another. Full contact baseball!

8.  For the entire seventh inning, every player has to wear swim flippers, WipeOut-style.  Because this is just funny.

9.  Put a hurdle in front of each base. Imagine how fun the seventh inning would be!

Now THAT, I’d watch.

The Quarterback Project

This is a post in which I systematically rank each NFL quarterback in terms of marry-ability.  I will judge 32 men almost baselessly (how their backsides look in their football pants will be taken into consideration), and determine which man I would like to spend my life with (should Dan ever die in a tragic school bus accident). It's not unlike The Bachelorette.

Back in October, when Bill Simmons picked the Giants to win over the Seahawks in week 5 (good call), he noted this in one of his posts:

Eli Manning's Husband Potential (+10.5) over Every Other NFL Starting QB Last Sunday, we were watching football when Sarah Larimer (Grantland's sports blog editor) was asked the question, "If you could marry one NFL QB, who would it be?" Without blinking, she responded, "Eli!"


We were dumbfounded and immediately demanded an explanation. Sarah quickly spouted out three reasons: he's handsome; he lives in New York (making a long-distance romance more realistic since L.A. to NYC is an easy flight); and most important, she loves that Eli is such a sensitive guy. Apparently, Archie Manning doted on Cooper and Peyton as kids, and poor Eli was left hanging out with his mom and learning how to be sensitive or something (as this 2008 New York Times feature covered). This left us even more dumbfounded, and once Sarah's Eli selection was quickly and vociferously backed up on e-mail by Grantland's Katie Baker, we were practically stupefied.

Forget about the fact that I will never look at Eli Manning again without thinking of him making Sarah a mixtape or standing outside Katie's apartment in the pouring rain holding a boom box over his head and blaring "In Your Eyes" for a second, or that the whole exchange inadvertently gave us a running Eli/Sarah joke for the rest of the season, and really, the rest of the decade. Here's my question to my 18 female readers out there: Do women really dig Eli Manning, or is it just a massive coincidence that our two-person sample size produced this result?  (source)

Dan and I laughed about it; then he turned to me and asked, "Who would you marry?"

My gut reaction was Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons.  Good looking guy, nice nick name (though not as cool as "The Law Firm"), doesn't have a hot head.  Seems unlikely to cheat on me, lives in a big city where it's warm.  Perfect teeth (seriously, they're like dentures; what the heck).

Dan  was not satisfied.  "Did you know Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard?"  "But wouldn't you like to live in Miami?"

It was at this point I decided a more in depth analysis was in order.  And thus, the Quarterback Project was born.

I began by listing all of the starting QBs by division, then defined the parameters of my husband search.

Location: Worth 25% of the final score.  I am operating under the assumption that if I were married to an NFL QB I would have the means to travel at will, so proximity to family and friends will not be taken into consideration. Proximity to the beach, OBVIOUSLY, will be.

Personality: Worth 40% of the final score.  My personality assessment is based on press conferences, interviews, articles, tweets, etc.  Needless to say Jay Cutler isn't going to fare very well in this department.

Sheer, unadulterated physical attractiveness:  25% of the final score.  Points are awarded for how the quarterback looks at present.  Some men have the unfair advantage of being 24 years old.  C'est la vie.

Je ne sais quoi:  10% of the final score.  This accounts for idiosyncrasies and/or "impressions" that turn me on or off for whatever reason.  i.e.  That Andy Dalton could give me red-headed children (turn on); That Tony Romo dated Jessica Simpson (turn off).

First I rated each man's location and physical attractiveness on a scale of 1-5.  One being unfortunate and five being delicious.  Here are the standings after the first round of quasi-baseless judgement.



Why is Miami a 2, you ask?  Because there are too many exotic-looking, voluptuous Puerto-Rican women in bikinis.  I'm Irish; I freckle.  That's why.

Why is Oakland a 5?  Because if I lived in Oakland I would REALLY live on Alameda Island.  That's why.

Why is Green Bay a 3?  Because I was born in WI and it feels like home turf.  And to cite Lydia from Seattle, "being in Wisconsin, you'll never have to worry about people thinking you're fat."  (source) That's wisdom right there.

Front runners: Tony Romo (what?), Alex Smith (what?), Mark Sanchez (that's more like it), Tim Tebow, and Philip Rivers.

Then I assigned points for personality and the intangible " je ne sais quoi" on a similar scale of 1-5.

1 - "You wear your hat backwards (and equally repulsive behavior)." 2 - "Eh." 3 - "You are not famous enough for me to know anything about you." 4 - "I like you." 5 - Exclusively reserved for Tim Tebow.

All four categories were tallied up and weighted, giving each QB a numerical score out of a perfect 50.  This is how it came out; without further ado I give you -


1.  Tim Tebow            45  (Just like him to sneak up from behind with charisma for the win.)

2.  Mark Sanchez      41.5 (UPDATE: Since writing this post it has been brought to my attention [by A LOT of people using very colorful language] that Mark Sanchez is likely to cheat on me with Kim Kardashian or Kate Upton or a 16-year-old, making his ranking obsolete.  Thank you for your input, internet.)

3.  Eli Manning          37.5 Matt Ryan                   37.5 Drew Brees                 37.5 Alex Smith                 37.5  (A tad out of his league, I believe) 7.  Josh Freeman     32.5 Cam Newton              32.5 Carson Palmer          32.5 Matt Hasselbeck      32.5 11. Philip Rivers       32 12. Peyton Manning  30 Colt McCoy                   30 14. Aaron Rodgers     29.5 15. Tony Romo            29 Christian Ponder        29 Blaine Gabbert             29 18. Sam Bradford        28.5 19. Tarvaris Jackson  27.5 20. Rex Grossman       26.5 21. Ryan Fitzpatrick   26 Andy Dalton                  26 23.Michael Vick           25.5  (Worth noting that everyone from this point down has something about them that I find less attractive than having done hard time.) 24. Matt Schaub            24 Kevin Kolb                      24 26. Jay Cutler                 22.5 Tom Brady                      22.5 28. Matt Cassel              21.5 29. Chad Henne             20.5 30. Joe Flacco               19.0 31. Matt Stafford           18.0 32. Ben Roethlisberger 10.0

Surprises:  I can't say that I'm in absolute agreement with the numbers here.  Perhaps this is like the version of quarterback dating - the guys at the top of the list may not be the same ones I'd pick out of a bar, but all things considered we'd be pretty compatible.

If I had gone with my gut I'd have bumped up Brady (whose superiority complex is mitigated by his intelligence, voice, and Ken-doll face), Fitzpatrick, Dalton, Bradford, and Rodgers.  I'd have bumped down Smith, Freeman, Palmer, and Gabbert.

I'm not a Tebow-maniac by any stretch, but neither am I opposed to him being on top.

Notable Pairings:  Jay Cutler and Tom Brady tying for 26th seems particularly fitting.  Cut from the same cloth, these two; they go together like a pair of Uggs.

Apparently Colt McCoy tying with Peyton Manning is hilarious to my husband.  This post is likely the only time their names will be mentioned in the same sentence.

What have we learned?

- One Eli Manning > Two Matt Staffords.

- One Mark Sanchez > Four Ben Roethlisbergers.

- U-Haul All Stars: If Ryan Fitzpatrick were traded from Buffalo to San Diego he would jump from 21st to 7th.  Christian Ponder would move from 15th to 3rd, and Sam Bradford would move from 18th to 7th.

- The NFC South is far and away the most eligible division: all 4 quarterbacks are in the top 10.

- The AFC North is the least attractive division: 3 of the 4 quarterbacks are in the bottom 10.

- Matt Stafford's hair and backwards hat is serious enough offense that it places him in the bottom tier with a meathead sex offender.  Sorry, alleged sex offender.

- When pursuing me in marriage, it's better to be a felon in Philly than to be superior in Massachusetts.

 In conclusion,

Ladies and gentlemen, what needs further consideration?  Who deserves a second glance?  Who deserves to be taken down a peg?  In the event that my husband ever dies in that tragic school bus accident, your input will be invaluable.

Observations from the Devoted Wife of an ESPN Addict (Sports Dopplegangers)

On Superbowl weekend, I thought it fitting to share a few well-thought out, analytical sports posts.  You should watch for me on ESPN's First Take, because I am confident that after Skip Bayless reads these shrewdly discerned observations (which he will), he will be requesting an appearance.  I mean, this is top notch investigative reporting. From the depths of the riches of my sports knowledge, accumulated over years of sitting next to my husband on the couch, I bring you -

Sports Dopplegangers of 2012

Alex Smith, quarterback for the 49ers, bears a striking resemblance to Ryan Gosling (thankfully).  I'm going to pause here and reflect on their likeness. You can go ahead without me.

In his most recent roster photo, Kevin Kolb looks a lot like Kevin Federline.  I'm no analyst, but I'm pretty sure this means he's never going to win a Superbowl.

Rob Jackson was the campus pastor at Liberty University when I attended.  If he and Steve Martin ever had a love child, it would look like Mike Smith, coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

In his spare time, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is a brilliant diagnostician on House. (A widely known resemblance, but it's quite impossible to discuss look-alikes without including it.)

My Uncle Dave might be leading a double life as a poorly dressed, oversized-gray-hoodie-wearing football genius.  (He gave the camera that Belichick scowl all on his own.)

And while we're in Massachusetts, Tom Brady looks like a Ken doll.  Dresses like one, too. #Uggs

Another classic: Chris Bosh looks an Avatar. Especially when he had the dreads.

Oh my gosh, hide your kids.

And finally, Tim Lincecum looks like Snape, the wizard from Harry Potter.


Also, Cher.


The high percentage of NFL dopplegangers obviously reflects the time of year; perhaps by this summer I'll have accumulated some more deep thoughts on basketball and baseball.

Skip, I await your call.

Ladies, watch sports with your man.

Sports Camp Adventure #2: The Best Worst Baseball Game Ever

Thursday night of Sports Camp was our off-night, so we took the kids to a Braves game. First things first; we ate at The Varsity.

What'll I have?  A Frosted Orange, that's what.   It was as glorious as I remembered it.  I might be - no - I am definitely craving one right now.  If I chock it up to pregnancy and bat my eyelashes, do you think Dan would go get one for me?  Yeah, me either.

After our meal, though, my pregnantness reared its ugly head.  In hindsight, it was probably triggered by walking two miles in flat strappy shoes amongst hoards of people.  As I was climbing the stairs to the upper deck, I had a fierce case of déja-vu.

A stadium.  Hot.  Pregnant.

It all came back to me in horrible, horrible flashes.

I was reliving an experience I endured 4 years ago, at the SEC championship when I was 8 months pregnant with Madeline.   The parallels were many and unfortunate.  I made a chart for you.   (Be still my beating heart, a chart!)

SEC Championship 2007

Atlanta Braves Game 2011

The Georgia Dome, downtown Atlanta

Turner Field, downtown Atlanta

Football:  Tennessee v. LSU

Baseball:  Braves v. Mets

8 months pregnant.  (Exactly 2 weeks before I gave birth, little did I know.)

7.5 months pregnant.  Feels like 15 months.

Dumb idea.

Equally dumb idea.

I had been on my feet serving popcorn for 4 hours immediately prior to the game.

I had been on my feet working with kids and teenagers at Sports Camp immediately prior to the game.

We sat in (I climbed to) the nosebleed section – several rows from the top. 

We sat in (I climbed to) the nosebleed section -  several rows from the top.

I was wearing a thick, hot sweater, which it would have been totally inappropriate to remove. 

I was wearing the thinnest, coolest dress I owned in the 95 degree heat, which would have been totally inappropriate to remove.

My feet were so swollen that I had to remove my shoes – touching my bare feet to the floor of the Georgia Dome.  Ew.

My feet were so swollen that when I removed my shoes to touch my feet to the floor of Turner Field (ew, again) I had purple lines across my feet where my straps had dug into my flesh. 

I was surrounded by a group of intoxicated Tennessee college boys.  I stared at their butts all night because I could not stand up due to the altitude of the seats and the top-heavy/over-heated/swollen-foot situation.

I was surrounded by could-pass-for-intoxicated teenagers.  I stared at their butts all night because I could not stand up due to the altitude of the seats and the top-heavy/over-heated/swollen-foot situation. 

I watched one of Dan’s co-workers flirt with him all evening, totally unable to get up, form words, intervene, play my pregnant trump card, etc.  I barely had the energy to breathe.

Nothing like this happened last week.  Making the Braves game slightly more bearable than the SEC championship.  Tomahawk chop!


Now the "attend a sporting event when I'm about to birth a baby" has become a thing.  During my next pregnancy I'd like to go be miserable at the NBA finals.  Are you listening, honey?  I said NEXT PREGNANCY.

I waited until we'd been in our seats for 13 minutes before I turned to Dan and we had this little interaction:

"I need a water."

"Kate, it's like $7 here."

"I SAID I need a water."

"It's still really early in the game."

"I cannot feel my legs.  Don't make me show you my purple sausage toes."

Dan got me a water.  An hour later I turned to him and said,

"I need a lemonade."

"*sigh*  What size?"

I love him.

It was a great game, as far as baseball goes.  What I mean by that is that it was sinfully boring 90% of the time instead of 100% of the time.  There were two home runs, the Braves had a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, and ended up winning in extra innings because the Mets pitcher balked.  Dan had to explain balking to me after the game - and I'm glad I didn't understand it any earlier, because now that I know what it means I think it's a pretty cheap way to win a game.  I'm not saying the Braves didn't deserve it, I'm just saying that once I had all the information, all the hooting, hollering celebration seemed ever-so-slightly excessive.

In all seriousness, it was a good time.  The best worst baseball game I've ever been to.

(It did take extra innings, but our fanatically dancing boys made it on the big screen!  Bravo, bravo.)