A couple weeks ago, Sports Illustrated had their annual Summer Double Issue, where among other features is a list of "25 Summer Essentials." The problem with their list was that it was essentially wrong. Only 4 of these so-called "things you absolutely must do" are close to this category. Since this website is such a reactionary, it decided to correct their list like a middle-school English teacher. Here goes:
First off, let the blog begin with what was correct on the list. These suggestions need no correction, even Sports Illustrated couldn't miss these. Number one: Adam Duerson suggested 5 books, among them Wilt, 1962. All of these suggestions were pretty reasonable, so that's a keeper. An additional keeper is Franz Lidz's recommendation of miniature golf. While this blog can't vouch for the specific location Lidz brings up, any time one can putts around in the summer is A-OK with this site. A third decent suggestion is that of Jack McCallum, who sends prospective road-trippers to Bull's BBQ at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park. This blog has never been there, but baseball and BBQ is almost as unbeatable as the combination of bacon and chicken. The last worthy suggestion comes from Kelli Anderson, recommending Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, CA. This site was in Stockton in March, and didn't travel specifically to the ballpark. However, given how great the weather was, coupled with the fact that minor league baseball will not let you down, this website concurs with Ms. Anderson.
Now, on to the corrections.
1. Green Bay Packers training camp. On the surface, one might ask: "This website likes the Packers, what's the deal, yo?" And one would be right. However, having been to multiple NFL Training Camps, this website knows that the Packers' is sub-optimal. The problem is that it is too well-attended. When this blog attends a training camp, it wants to be one of only a few in attendance. This makes for much better autograph seeking, as well as more "up close and personal" episodes with players. When this blog met the late, great Sam Mills at Saints training camp, Mills pretended to be someone else, then said "No, no. You see, half of what I say, don't listen to. The other half, don't believe." Moments like that are absolutely priceless, and with the Packers you just get to be part of a scrum of 30 people clammoring for the 4th-string wide receiver's autograph.
2. U.S. Rowing Championship. Bo-ring. This has little potential for maritime disaster, which is the only exciting water-based activity. This site recommends instead travelling to any college basketball arena. If you need a specific one, go to the Wells Fargo Arena at Arizona State. The great thing about visiting these arenas in summer is that they are usually open to the public. If they aren't "officially" open, inevitably there is some construction crew inside, so you can sneak in and check out trophy cases, walk on to the floor, and admire the stadium architecture. Pretty cool stuff.
3. Over The Line Softball, San Diego. This isn't even real softball, but rather some hybrid beach variety. Having played outfield in a softball league, this blog can assure you that this is not something you want to mess with. Long distance running and sand are a poor combo. This site would instead suggest Kickball. Nobody's kicking that thing past shallow center anyway, so running is limited, but the likelihood of drilling a baserunner with the ball is high. A solid way to spend a summer evening and hyperextend one's knee.
4. Listening to Major League Baseball on XM Radio. This site will grant that SI was close on this one, but at XM's prices, this blog will take a pass. Instead, Pun City's recommendation is Listening to Major League Baseball on free radio. You see, any idiot with a crystal radio can listen to all of his or her local team's games Free Of Charge! Realistically, one should be rooting for the home team anyway, so do that.
5. Horse Racing at Del Mar, CA. Insert horse byproduct joke here. Then insert horse's ass joke here. A much cheaper and more worthy endeavor would be heading down to Jordan's Big Ten Pub and checking out some sports on one of their many TVs (Phonograph highly recommends bringing your own universal remote to control the nearest TV), and dining on their excellent bar food. Half a good time ordering 0.5 orders of nachos for the better value.
6. Connecticut Golf Land Batting Cage, Vernon, CT. Hack-neyed idea. Even if you can catch up to those suckers, grooving batting cage swings against the machine is dull. And given the crummy machine timing, you are either very rushed or waiting 20 seconds for the next pitch. Not a good simulation. A good simulation, of course, is Fast Pitch. This obviously is because, even on the lousiest fast pitch backstop, there is a drawing of a catcher (or strike zone) and batter. You can see what it's like to drill a cartoon at 68 mph, and there is a deep satisfaction after you throw your arm out to break 80, then know you left it all on the mound.
7. Mountain Biking in Whistler, British Columbia. Can they suggest something with less potential elbow trauma? How about just watching the Boom Boom Huck Jam. This way, you can watch the bloody knees instead of having to treat them. Plus, these guys are pros, and this website can't think of a better Huck Jam.
8. Fishing in Island Park, ID. Don't get this site started on how much fishing sucks. Waking up early, getting sunburn from the reflection, and being marooned on the water for hours is off-putting. A much more productive use of time would be Lawn Darts. Nothing like a forbidden game to get the juices flowing (sometimes outside of the skin). Play against your enemy or in high winds for an additional element of danger.
9. Grass Court Tennis at Newport, RI. This site is a huge tennis fan, and would love to play on grass courts, but 30 dollars per player per hour is unreasonable. A better suggestion would be free courts, the more "ghetto," the better. Hartford, WI has an AstroTurf court which is an apt simulation of grass, once again free of charge.
10. Some Old Dude Throwing Fast-Pitch Softball. What? This blog thinks Adam Duerson was just copying the 1970 Double Issue's answers on this one. A better suggestion would be playing Bocce, a game of Curling-like proportions. As well as pacing off distance like you're a serf.
11. Watching NASCAR in Bristol, TN. Woof. This site probably lost all of its readers with the mere mention of NASCAR. A better idea is playing Bean Bag Toss, or Cornhole as it is sometimes called. A large amount of competition and yelling at your partner.
12. Watching Bad News Bears. This site has heard mixed reviews on the movie, which is probably a Bad Santa-Hardball mix. Either way, probably not worth risking it when there's the tried and true Madison Mallards Summer Baseball Movies. After Mallards home games, fans can watch classic baseball movies like Bull Durham and Field of Dreams on the scoreboard. You know you're getting a good movie, and it's back on the big screen.
13. National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, Hayward, WI. No 4.5 story muskie can save this place. If you're going to go to a Hall of Fame, do it right and go to Cooperstown, NY for the best Hall of Fame there is, the Baseball Hall of Fame.
14. Pickup Basketball in Houston, TX. Not a bad idea, but the level of competition rules out almost everyone. As a substitute, this site suggests H-O-R-S-E, against anyone, especially if it is a recurring rivalry. An awesome time to break out that behind-the-hoop shot.
15. Louisiana State Balloon Championships, Baton Rouge, LA. Watching hot air balloons is so overrated. Beyond the age of 7, you've seen all the balloons you need to see. What you haven't seen is all of the random, sometimes-sports-related Weblogs. But the best one of these is certainly www.puncity.blogspot.com. Check this site out religiously, this blog wouldn't recommend any other. In fact, Hey, Wait A Minute!.....
16. Sorry, some self-promoter got ahold of the keyboard. SI suggests heading to Woody's Golf Range in Herndon, VA. No matter what point system you put on a driving range, it's still golf, and golf is dull. Plus frustrating. Now, when you hit a good drive, you get....nothing! A much more satisfying target-based game is 200. So go do that, and actually get a little exercise.
17. 500 Mile Bike Race Through Iowa. Right. This blog could give you an earful on how becoming a stalker would beat this, but it won't. Instead, it will suggest Dodgeball as an alternative. Nothing beats dodgeball, man.
18. Whitewater Rafting in California. No thanks, this blog is rapidly becoming annoyed with the amount of effort this one would take. Instead, this site will guide you to the sport of Urban Kayaking. This activity was popularized by Dave England, and is an awesome way to toot one's own horn.
19. Golfing In Littleton, CO. Enough with the golf already. A good walk spoiled. A much better alternative is Tailgating At Miller Park, or anywhere it's allowed. (Not US Cellular Field in Chicago, jerks). Pretty awesome when you can pack away 3 pounds of meat, then 5 beers so that you aren't even tempted to pay ballpark prices once you're in.
20. Ultimate Frisbee. Frisbees are for dogs. This sport does not include said dogs. The blog is going to go ahead and suggest a spirited game of Crazy Eights on a patio or terrace. Doesn't require as much skill as Texas Hold Them, but an excellent way to wile away the time and perhaps have a few beverages.
21. Falmouth Road Race in Massachusetts. 7.1 miles of pain. This site suggests....anything else. You can bring back the rejected suggestions. Pop-A-Shot basketball at O'Malley's. Skipping stones. Purchasing a squash racket. Pumping your bikes tires up. Organizing an office Jeopardy pool. Whatever. Running in the heat simply for the sake of running has to be the single most horrible thing one could do, so just pick something else and put it out there.
So there you have it. This summer, you can live like a champ.