Today in sports: The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are slow, slow, slow, Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic are enemies from way back, baseball's rookie hazing standards are on the decline, and Obama's speech won't preempt the Super Bowl champs.
- The supercontinent of Pangea could reform in the amount of time it takes the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees to play a nine-inning baseball game. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the teams' nine-inning games in 2011 have had an average length of 205 minutes, while the average American League game clocks in at 169.7 minutes. Even Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira--who has been known to call time, step out of the batter's box, sigh, exhale, sigh again, adjust his batting gloves, stare at his third base coach for several seconds and tap some dirt off his shoes before stepping back up to the plate--can't take it. "It’s brutal,” Teixeira confessed to The New York Times before last night's game. “I can’t stand playing a nine-inning game in four hours. It’s not baseball. I don’t even know how to describe it. If I was a fan, why would I want to come watch people sitting around and talking back and forth, going to the mound, 2-0 sliders in the dirt? Four-hour games can’t be fun for a fan, either.” [The New York Times]
- Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic are two of the greatest tennis players in the world. They also apparently hate each other. One tennis source tells Page Six that Jankovic and her mother, who's also her manager, were "hostile to Maria when they were training together in Florida" as kids at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. Tennis reporter Matthew Cronin says that "Sharapova doesn’t like how Jankovic frequently makes excuses when she loses and doesn’t give enough credit to her foes." Jankovic, meanwhile, is on record that their Tennis Academy days were typified by "fighting, competing against each other we were doing anything to win." Sharapova's agent, for what it's worth insists there are "no problems" between the two. [Page Six]
- Back when baseball was baseball and clubhouse pranksters were clubhouse pranksters, veterans kept rookies in-line with mysterious hazing techniques like the hotfoot, the soda water treatment, and the sour cake routine. Now they just make rookie relief pitchers carry candy and gum out to the bullpen in a pink Dora the Explorer or Hello Kitty backpack. The New York Times works hard to suggest that forcing relief pitchers to wear "schoolgirl backpacks — gaudy in color, utterly unmanly" adds levity to a stuffy old game, but it seems lame, and more than a little homophobic. The most depressing part is that the spirit of the old bullpen oker endures, but is being self-censored. According to the Times, former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman "bought a motorized cooler for the rookie to ride to the bullpen" but got rid of it after one game. We just thought it was too over the top,” explains Hoffman said. “We didn’t need to bring that much attention to ourselves.” This raises two questions: first, what is a motorized cooler? And second, why would anyone in possession of one willingly give it up. Motorized coolers don't grow on trees. [The New York Times]
- The White House is insisting that President Obama's jobs speech before a joint session of Congress next Thursday won't interrupt the NFL's season-opener between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, now that the president's start time has been moved up from 8 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., a full hour before the scheduled kickoff. But as NPR notes, he'll still be going up against Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum and Maroon 5, all of whom are performing on NBC's pregame show starting at 7:30. At this point, writes Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio "it remains unclear whether NBC will preempt the pregame coverage for the purposes of covering the speech, and whether the pregame coverage will be exported to another NBC/Comcast channel." [NPR and Pro Football Talk]