Keith Strudler

Keith Strudler: The Rules Of UFC

2 hours ago

One of the strangest constructs is that of the rules of war. War itself is a barbaric exercise predicated on killing large groups of people. So adding any pretense of restraint or decorum to the practice seems odd to me, even if I know it may be one of the few statutes preventing human extinction. That said, and on that uplifting note, I’d much prefer a world where we need not qualify the ways in which we might assassinate one another.

Keith Strudler: How Fast Is Fast?

Oct 3, 2018

If you’re planning on running the Boston Marathon this year, well, good luck. And I suppose, congratulations. Running Boston isn’t like running other long-distance races, like say New York or Chicago. To run Boston, you have to earn your way in, or qualify. Runners can do that by running another marathon under a certain time barrier, which varies by age group and gender. Obviously, this begs the question, why in the world would someone want to run not just one, but two marathons? I’ll leave that to those with more sanity than I, having run Boston once before – although admittedly not well.

Keith Strudler: Get Your Hands Off My Quarterback

Sep 26, 2018

You can make a pretty compelling argument that football quarterback is the most challenging position in any team sport. I’m sure soccer goalies and starting pitchers may disagree, but it’s hard to imagine any role that requires a greater mix of analysis, athleticism, grooming and composure than QB. The quarterback is central to pretty much every offensive play in football, which can fall apart through either a bad decision or bad execution. And it’s pretty rare to have someone who excels at both. There’s not a lot of Tom Bradys or Russell Wilsons out there. Which is why they’re such critical commodities in the NFL exchange, as evidenced by where they get drafted and how much they get paid.

Keith Strudler: Faster Than Ever

Sep 19, 2018

If you’re one of the many getting ready for a fall marathon, like New York City or Marine Corps, then good luck. Running a marathon is a huge accomplishment, be it your first or 40th. Besides worrying about just finishing, the thing most marathoners worry about, especially veteran ones, is their time. How fast they can run and how long it takes them to finish 26.2 miles. Marathoners tend to obsess over mile split times, energy drinks, gels, the weight of their shoes, the exact temperature at the 20-mile mark – pretty much anything that might take a few minutes, or even seconds off their time. Sometimes it’s to break a well-known barrier – like a four hour or three hour marathon. Sometimes it’s simply to get a personal best, say one minute better than last time. Or if you’re like me and on the back side of a running career, it’s simply not to go too much slower than last time. Whatever it is, pretty much every one that lines up for that fabled distance goes in with an aspirational finish time.

Keith Strudler: Tennis Attire

Sep 12, 2018

My 11-year-old son had an interesting question when we were watching the US Open on television last week. He wanted to know why fans dressed up, which he also noted for golf as well. That’s in stark contrast to pretty much every other sporting event we watch, and certainly any we’ve gone to in person, where un unstained t-shirt might be an upgrade. I said something about a certain code of decorum in tennis, rules of the game and unwritten standards of behavior. Which is why some fans still dress for a day at the Open, or Wimbledon, kind of like they used to for a Broadway show or an airline flight. Tennis, and I suppose golf, are different than most other sports, where fans are largely encouraged to verbally assault opposing athletes with the aid of $10 jumbo beers.

Keith Strudler: The Reality of Esports

Aug 29, 2018

This is really a story within a story probably within another story. Which is not uncommon, even if it is hard to fit in the narrative of a relatively short broadcast, much less a news story. It’s also probably largely unfamiliar to most listeners, assuming most of you aren’t hard core video gamers. For the record, I’m not, and I’d still rather play pinball than on an Xbox.

Keith Strudler: Baseball's Full Count

Aug 22, 2018

There are few more definitive moments in sport than baseball’s strikeout. It’s an example of one individual athlete -- a pitcher -- completely and single-handedly dominating another athlete -- a batter. Unlike a ground out or a pop up, a strikeout doesn’t necessitate any assistance from teammates. That’s because the batter can’t manage to get a single ball into play and finds himself unable to simply make contact to push the ball into fair territory. It’s a feat so domineering that fans sometimes hold up signs with a “K” for each one.

Keith Strudler: A Culture Of Fear

Aug 15, 2018

To be clear, Jordan McNair is not the first nor last player to die playing football, whether from heat exhaustion or collision or some other by product of the violent pastime. Every year, a handful of young athletes – most of them in high school – perish as a result of something that happened on the field of play. And while sport administrators have tried to reduce this number through a variety of preventive measures, to be clear, there is no surefire way to eliminate death from a sport as violent and taxing as American football.

Keith Strudler: Cancelling Flights And Games

Aug 8, 2018

Even in the best of situations, air travel kind of stinks. It’s crowded, uncomfortable, and largely makes most people feel like a character in a George Orwell novel. That’s assuming things run on schedule and according to plan, which, as you know, they often don’t. Which means instead of a five-hour experience, it could mean sleeping on an airport floor after your connecting flight was cancelled. You’re not a veteran traveler until you’ve sprinted to the check-in line of another airline hoping to catch the last seat to a city in the same time zone of where you hope to eventually go.

Keith Strudler: Not Even Close

Aug 1, 2018

If you play sports long enough, you will find yourself on the back end of a lopsided defeat. 

Keith Strudler: Hockey Fights

Jul 25, 2018

There was a point in my distant past where I thought I would go to law school. This period came largely before I got to the heart of college coursework and realized that law school could be unpleasant and lead to unintended consequences- namely then having to be a lawyer. 

Keith Strudler: Judgement Call

Jul 18, 2018

Perhaps the most important moment of Sunday’s World Cup Final between France and Croatia came when the ball wasn’t in play. It didn’t involve the players – not directly at least – or the coaches or the fans. The pivotal moment of the game came 33 minutes into the contest, when referee Nestor Pitana listened intently through an earpiece to someone called the Video Assistant Referee, or VAR – basically some guy who lets the ref know if it’s worth looking in a monitor to review a decision. Like whether something was a goal, or if there was a penalty. They were talking about a play where the ball seemed to hit the hand of Croatian player Ivan Perisic inside their penalty box off a corner kick. The ball flew out of bounds outside of the goal and initially was given to Croatia for a goal kick, ending the imminent scoring threat and continuing what was then a dramatic 1-1 tie game.

Keith Strudler: The Ronaldo Metaphor

Jul 11, 2018

Ronaldo just cost me $50. I’m speaking of Cristiano Ronaldo, the global mega soccer star who’s amongst a handful of soccer idols here in the US. I know this because he’s my 10-year-old Sloan’s favorite player. In soccer camp — and it feels like every day is soccer camp in my house – Sloan dressed up like Ronaldo on dress as your favorite player day. That meant everything from socks to hair style like Ronaldo — which apparently is now a popular men’s do across the globe, kind of like Jennifer Aniston in the 90’s. Of course, it also included a Ronaldo Jersey, the cornerstone of any soccer costume. His jersey was, like all except Ronaldo’s National team jersey from Portugal, a Real Madrid Jersey, where Ronaldo has played for the last nine years as part of La Liga, the premier Spanish Soccer League. This is where we get to the $50. Despite efforts keep him, Real Madrid has released Ronaldo to the Italian club Juventus, which obviously plays in the top Italian League, perhaps a step below their other European counterparts. And when I say released, that was after Juventus agreed to pay around $100 million to Real Madrid, which is still only around 10% of the actual buy-out clause. Which means that now I have to spend another $50 to buy Sloan a Juventus jersey with Ronaldo’s name and number on it, which I’m sure will be available on Amazon before the ink dries on the contract.

Keith Strudler: On Again, Off Again

Jul 4, 2018

So a lot of us have had on again, off again romances. It’s highly imperfect and both temporary and strangely permanent at the same time. It’s comfortable but confusing and, more often than not, leaves one party with hurt feelings.

Keith Strudler: Serena's Rankings

Jun 27, 2018

There are countless differences between men’s and women’s athletics, many of them rooted in historical stereotypes of sport, power, and masculinity, among other things. But there are physiological distinctions as well, some relevant the nature of certain games and other used as a red herring. But one important distinction between men and women, at least when it comes to the extended duration of a sporting career, is the ability to bear children. Now, before I continue, I realize that talking about sport and childbirth is amount to lighting a firecracker in Times Square at rush hour. It’s a tinder box most would rather ignore, if only to avoid the possibility of inadvertently saying something that might offend.

Keith Strudler: Kids And The Cup

Jun 20, 2018

We had the odd occasion last Friday afternoon that everyone in my family was home at once. That was a confluence of summer Fridays, end of sports seasons, and all the other things that tend to happen when the days get longer and hotter. So I was home when my 10-year-old son Sloan returned from school and literally ran through the door as if chased by a lion and started yelling, “Spain vs Portugal is on! Spain vs. Portugal is on!” Then without so much as a simple pleasantry, he turned on the TV and stared at it like it was an apostle. Nice to see you too.

Keith Strudler: The Same Page

Jun 13, 2018

In a marriage, or really any relationship, it’s important to be on the same page. To know what the other person thinks, or what they want to do. For example, when you’re looking to buy a new house, it’s important to know how you define “move in ready,” and to have that definition negotiated before you’re touring homes with a realtor. I may know this from experience.

Keith Strudler: Disinvited

Jun 6, 2018

There is absolutely nothing worse than throwing a party and no one shows up. There's the expense, and all the time wasted. And what are you going to do with all that queso? When you plan a party, you want people to come -- well, like 75% of people to come so you can keep your costs down. That's how people think, at least anyone who's planned a wedding or bar mitzvah or even a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese.

Keith Strudler: Winning In Vegas

May 30, 2018

I spent my early years in the 1970’s in Clearwater, Florida, a suburb or Tampa. At that point, the Bay Area was emerging as major metropolitan, going beyond its reputation as a nice place for mid-westerners to avoid the extravagance of the Florida Gold Coast. Which is how in 1976, Tampa was awarded its first major professional sports franchise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an NFL expansion team that came to the League the same year as the Seattle Seahawks. As an emerging sports fanatic, I fell hard for the Bucs. Which was a shame because, to be clear, they were awful. As in 0-14 the first season and perhaps the worst professional sports franchise of all time awful. They went 0-12 their second season before winning the final two games of the year, including a season ending first ever home win against the then St. Louis Cardinals. I know because I was actually at that game as a seven-year-old, and I still consider it one of the most exciting moments of my life.

Keith Strudler: Houston's Big Comeback

May 23, 2018

The Houston Rockets did something completely unexpected last night against the Golden State Warriors. Down two games to one in a best-of-seven Western Conference Finals series, and trailing by 10 going into the fourth quarter, the Rockets managed an improbable comeback win to tie the series as they head back to Houston for Game Five. Not to get into the weeds, but this changes the entire complexion of the series, which, before 9 p.m. last night most people assumed would end soon and with certainty. That’s because the Warriors beat Houston by 41 in Game Three and made the Rockets look like a high school JV. So, now Golden State has gone from presumptive NBA Champions to a team that has to steal a game on the road to get to the Finals. Such is the nature of the NBA Playoffs, where momentum shifts as often as our White House staff.

Keith Strudler: Gambling On Sports

May 16, 2018

Just to be clear, I do not particularly enjoy betting on sports. There’s a lot of reasons for that, including the fact that once you have money on a game, you tend to worry more about finance than athleticism. Also, I tend to be really risk averse when it comes to money. For me, the anguish of losing $50 is way more pronounced than the joy of winning $100.

Keith Strudler: Kona’s Final Journey

May 9, 2018

I was going to write a commentary about minor league baseball players and a legal dispute over salary structure, which may or may not end up in the Supreme Court. But I didn’t. And then I almost started to write about LeBron James and the Cavs’ sweep of Toronto, and how a title this year would be perhaps the greatest accomplishment of his professional life. But again, I stopped. And that’s because, and apologies for bringing everyone down with me, but my nearly 13-year-old dog Kona is in the final throws of a terminal illness, and as I write, my wife and I are getting ready for Kona’s journey to his final resting place, likely later today. If you’ve ever owned a dog, you know what I mean, and you know it sucks about as bad as anything can. So with all due respect to baseball and LeBron James, I decided that I’d rather give these few minutes to my loyal companion that some athletes I’ve never met. And I decided that instead of taking the week off, I’d let you all know just how amazing a dog Kona was.

Keith Strudler: FIFA Vs. Trump

May 2, 2018

There is perhaps no greater insult and hypocrisy than when FIFA, the institutionally corrupt federation that oversees global soccer, when they insinuate you might lack integrity. But they did just that, and remarkably in this case, they may be right.

Keith Strudler: Trust The Process

Apr 25, 2018

The sexiest construct in NBA basketball right now isn’t what you’d think. It’s not a dunk, or a fast break, even something as essential as offense or defense. It’s not even a star player, like LeBron James or James Harden. The basketball buzz word of the moment is process. As in trust The Process.

Keith Strudler: Less Is More

Apr 18, 2018

Here’s something said by pretty much every employee ever. “I work too much.” Now here’s the follow-up you don’t get. “I’d take less money.”

Keith Strudler: Nothing To Cheer About

Apr 11, 2018

So a few years ago, I was at a wedding in Dallas at one of those mega hotels. The kind of place where if you get on the wrong elevator, you might end up in Fort Worth. And besides the people there for the wedding, the entire rest of the hotel was booked for people competing in a high school cheerleading competition. At one point in an elevator, I was having some small talk with one of the parents, and she looked at me and said, “you’re not here for the cheerleading competition, are you?” There were about 200 ways she’d know that, starting with my somewhat unkempt appearance, which stood in stark contrast to the finely tuned and dressed competitors – and their families. Throughout the course of the weekend, I don’t think I saw a single hair out of place or one mismatched outfit.  As that parent reminded me, cheerleading has a distinct culture.

Keith Strudler: Going Pro

Apr 4, 2018

Now that we’ve crowned a national champion in men’s college basketball, the sport enters its version of what Major League Baseball calls Hot Stove. It’s when a handful of elite college basketball players, a lot of them still in their first year of school, decide whether they are going to enter the NBA draft. For some, it’s a fairly foregone conclusion – like Michael Porter of Missouri or Marvin Bagley of Duke, both fab freshmen who should be drafted in the top five this summer. In fact, the majority of most mock draft boards are made up of what we call one-and-dones, with a few sophomores and upperclassmen thrown in. Honestly, it looks like the roster for an intro college psych class.

Keith Strudler: Sister Jean Heads To San Antonio

Mar 28, 2018

The most recognizable figure in this weekend’s NCAA men’s Final Four may not be a player, especially since star laden Duke lost last week, or a coach, since all but Villanova’s Jay Wright are fairly anonymous. The most famous personality left in the field may be a nun. I’m speaking, of course, of Sister Jean, the 98-year-old team chaplain for Loyola University. 

Keith Strudler: March Sadness

Mar 21, 2018

It goes without saying that this NCAA basketball tournament has been, shall we say, complicated. I’ll refrain from using works like historic or unprecedented, because in sports analysis, we often suffer from recency effect. But if your brackets still look good, you’re either extremely lucky or living in denial.

Keith Strudler: College Basketball On The Brink

Mar 14, 2018

Without belaboring the point, this Thursday and Friday are, technically speaking, the two greatest days of the calendar year. That’s because they are the first two days of the men’s NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament. Which means that over the course of two days, 64 teams will be cut in half through 32 single elimination games. That’s approximately 64 hours of high intensity basketball played between the hours of noon and midnight Thursday and Friday. I’ll spare you any additional math, but needless to say, if you are a college basketball junkie, and I am, this is what heaven looks like. Only in heaven, I pick all 32 games correctly and win my office pool.