If you have ever dreamed of playing big-league baseball, chances are the dream started to fade sometime in high school.
It gradually becomes clear: You won't be starting in Game 7 of the World Series, and tipping your cap after hitting a walk-off homer. So at some point you go from player to fan — watching others chase greatness on the diamond.
But not every baseball dreamer is willing to give up so early. And in Bradenton, Fla., there's a place that lies somewhere between the Little League field and Yankee Stadium.
Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, has persuaded his owners and the players to add an extra wild-card team to the playoffs, so now five teams per league will qualify.
Not only is this terrific for the fans, but Selig also wisely managed to make it so that the wild-card teams engage in a one-game showdown for the privilege of being the team that joins the three division winners in the battle for the league championship.
I have just the old-fashioned word for this newfangled development: nifty.
Hundreds gathered in Flint, Mich., Tuesday, to celebrate the return home of Olympian Claressa Shields. At 17, Shields became the first U.S. woman ever — and the only American this summer — to win a gold medal in boxing.
In a rare moment of joy, Flint greeted the high school student with a marching band and a motorcycle escort.
On Monday, a woman from Belarus was stripped of her gold medal in the shot put because she failed a doping test. A hammer thrower, also from Belarus, was sent home before competing due to suspicions of doping in the 2004 games. Melissa Black talks with T.J. Quinn, an ESPN investigative reporter, about the state of drug testing in sports, and how long samples can be kept for later testing when technology improves.
As a kid, Nancy Hogshead-Makar wanted to be the best swimmer in the world. At 14, she got her wish when she was ranked number one in the world for 200-meter butterfly at age 14. Four years later, she was part of U.S. team that boycotted the Moscow Olympics, and at 22, she swam in five Olympic finals at the 1984 Los Angeles games, winning three gold medals and one silver medal.
"I knew that the 1984 Olympics were really going to be my swan song," she tells NPR's Lynn Neary. She retired after those games and went to finish out a year and a half at Duke University.
It's time to extinguish The Torch, and end NPR's three-week marathon of Olympic coverage. From the London Games' opening ceremony through 302 medal events, these Summer Olympics have fed fans a rich diet of history and spectacle. I only wish I'd been able to eat it all — but part of the Olympics' allure is that its smorgasbord is over-stuffed with intense competition.
It's nearly time to extinguish The Torch, and end NPR's little marathon of Olympic coverage. Before we do, we must note that the games have now become the most-watched television event in U.S. history, with a total of 219.4 viewers over 17 days of coverage.
Those high ratings push the London Games past Beijing 2008, which held the previous record of 215 million viewers. The number seems to include only NBC's TV audience, not mobile or online.