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She's Got Game: The Woman's Guide to Loving Sports (or Just How to Fake It!)

She's Got Game: The Woman's Guide to Loving Sports (or Just How to Fake It!)

by Melissa Malamut

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Does baseball boggle your mind? Is football completely confusing?

She's Got Game is the perfect resource for women who have it all together but just don't understand the rules—when it comes to professional and college sports, that is.

You're the kind of woman who can adapt to every situation. You know just what to wear and what to say. Nothing flusters you—except going to a game. Sporting events raise so many questions. What is March Madness all about? What on earth is a pop fly? If they just had the fourth down, then why is it the first down now and not the fifth? What's a down anyway? What do I wear? Will I wipe out if I wear heels? Should I wear makeup? And how do you say that player's name?

Don't you wish you had a smart girlfriend who could explain it all without making you feel like an idiot? One who could tell you what's going on, what to wear to the game, and even when it's a good time to go to the ladies' room or get another beer? Now you do. Melissa Malamut brings a lifelong love of sports, a girly-girl's sensibility, and insight from fashion editors, friends and her own experiences to She's Got Game. The ultimate guide to enjoying yourself (and looking smart) at any sporting event, She's Got Game, is packed with all the rules and history of the games, personal anecdotes, and do's and don'ts. In this incredibly well-researched and engaging book, Melissa gives you everything you need to feel at ease and fall in love with sports.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312598969
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/08/2010
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 8.26(w) x 5.68(h) x 0.95(d)

About the Author

MELISSA MALAMUT has worked in PR for the NHL and the PGA of America. She was Editor-in-Chief of Touchdown Illustrated magazine and a researcher for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Books. She held a weekly sports beat for Tribune newspapers while simultaneously working as a beauty editor for an upstart fashion magazine. Malamut has been writing sports, beauty, fashion and lifestyle pieces for 10 years.

Read an Excerpt

She's Got Game

The Woman's Guide to Loving Sports (or Just How to Fake It!)

By Melissa Malamut

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2010 Melissa Malamut
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9649-5


The Best White After Labor Day (Home Whites): Major League Baseball (MLB)

It was a chilly April morning when I was in the fifth grade that I first realized I was sports spoiled. Just a few hours into the school day there was a knock at the classroom door and my father walked in and interrupted our English lesson. My classmates turned to me and asked, "Are you going to the doctor?" and "Are you in trouble?"

Most parents would take their kids out of school for only those kinds of reasons. My family, however, was a bit different.

"No," I said. "I'm going to Opening Day."

* * *

The smell of the grass still gets me just as excited as it did when I was that wide-eyed fifth-grader heading to the ballpark with my father. The feeling I get when I walk into a ballpark, any ballpark, is magical. I just feel at peace. If I ever won the lottery I'd take a summerlong trip to see every professional park in the country.

My passion for baseball is so extreme that on two separate occasions while I was sitting in the stands teaching a friend about the game, a stranger turned to me and asked if I worked for the team.

Every ballpark around the country is different. Some are right in the middle of the city, built into the landscape among the skyscrapers and condos. Some are in more rural areas with huge parking lots and lots of space. Some are old, some are new, and some are new but built to look old.

Because of this, the experience of attending a game is different in every city. Some parks have lots of fanfare and are surrounded by bars, restaurants, and fans that fill the streets before the game. Others are in more suburban areas with lots of cars in big parking lots where people tailgate and play catch.

Because baseball has so much rich history, the fans are very particular and educated about the game. Most take what happens on the field personally, as if their family members were playing the game. This is the same game, same team most likely, that their parents watched, and their parents' parents. And although it is just a game, to the men and women who spend their hard-earned paychecks to go watch it, it is more than a game. To some of us, it's a connection with loved ones who have passed away, a place where childhood memories come back to life, and a brief escape back to a time when things were easy and carefree.

The Game

Three basics to keep in mind before game time:

1. There is no time clock in baseball.

2. Unlike in most other major sports, once a player is taken out of the game (for any reason), he is out for the rest of the game.

3. The batting order (lineup), which is the sequence that the players will bat in, is brought to the umpires before the game starts. This order is done strategically. Usually a speedy player bats first and the power hitter (home run hitter) bats fourth. This way the bases may be full of runners for the possible home run.

Batting Practice

Before the game begins, the players take batting practice in order to warm up. The ballpark will usually let fans in to see batting practice, although it's always important to check in advance. Watching batting practice is basically just watching the hitters take practice swings and most likely hitting balls out to the outfield or even out of the ballpark. It's also an opportunity for fans to get into the front rows even if their tickets for the actual game are all the way in the back. These seats are commonly referred to as nosebleeds, located so far away or so high up that a nosebleed could theoretically occur from altitude.

Ceremonial First Pitch

It is long-established tradition at most games to have a ceremonial first pitch. A lucky person or lucky people get to stand on the pitcher's mound and throw a pitch to home plate. In the past, some first pitches were thrown from the stands — by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Most recently, President Barack Obama threw out the first pitch (from the mound) at the 2009 All-Star Game, the first president to do so at the All-Star Game since Gerald Ford in 1976.

This pitch in no way counts toward any part of the game; it's just a fun pregame activity and tradition in most parts. Many presidents, politicians, dignitaries, military personnel, former ballplayers, athletes from other sports, celebrities, contest winners, children, sponsors, and others have had the opportunity to take part in this pregame ritual.

Please Rise and Remove Your Caps

Before the game starts it's customary at all ballparks to sing the national anthem. For the girlie girl who chooses to wear a baseball cap as a cute accessory, be advised that you will have to remove it for the national anthem. So wearing a cap to cover a bad-hair day is not a good idea.

Immediately After the National Anthem

"Play ball!" The phrase is heard from the loudspeakers and from most fans. Sometimes it's just an ump saying the phrase; other times it will be a child or contest winner. It officially marks the beginning of the game.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: The Seventh-Inning Stretch

The time between the halves of the seventh inning is what is known as the "seventh-inning stretch." It's traditionally a time to stand and stretch your legs. At all stadiums the fans sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." The song's lyrics were jotted on scrap paper in 1908 by songwriter Jack Norworth while riding a train to Manhattan. The chorus and part that's sung at the ballparks is:

Take me out to the ball game;
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks,
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
at the old ball game.

I have always sung the fifth line as "So let's root ..." instead of the proper "Let me root ...," which means I've been singing it wrong for decades. Also, at Marlins games in Miami the concessions at one time did not provide Cracker Jacks, instead, they offered Crunch 'n Munch (this was also the case at one time with the New York Yankees). We substituted the latter into the song ("Buy me some peanuts and Crunch 'n Munch"), usually gaining much laughter from the crowd.

There are a few urban legends out there about who or what really created the seventh-inning stretch, because it was not a part of the baseball rule book. One of the most widely circulated is the popular story of William Howard Taft, the twenty-seventh president of the United States. He was growing restless at a ball game, and his six-foot-two, 300 -pound body could no longer sit comfortably. By the middle of the seventh inning he couldn't take it anymore and stood up to stretch his aching legs. The patrons in the ballpark all stood up out of respect for the president, and the seventh-inning stretch was born.

Another story, less romantic but possibly more accurate, is that in 2003 historians found a note dated 1869 from Harry Wright of baseball's first pro team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. It describes fan behavior at the ballpark. He wrote, "The spectators all arise between halves of the seventh inning, extend their legs and arms and sometimes walk about. In so doing they enjoy the relief afforded by relaxation from a long posture upon hard benches." This makes it seem that it was the fans who actually started the tradition, merely out of necessity to keep circulation flowing in their legs!

The song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was a Top 10 hit in 1908. For years it was spontaneously sung by fans at ballparks during the games, but it wasn't until the 1980s that the whole country got into the act. Famed Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray began leading the crowd at Wrigley Field in the tune during the seventh-inning stretch in the early 1980s. (He started the tradition with the Chicago White Sox a few years earlier.) The Cubs played on cable television, which at that time was a relatively new technology. For the first time, baseball fans could see a team from another city because the games were broadcast throughout the country. This helped make the ritual national, and soon after, other teams adopted the tradition.

Quick Tip

The two oldest ballparks still in use today are Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, which opened in 1912, and Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, built in 1914. These two parks are considered the cathedrals of baseball, and the rich history of each club is deeply embedded in its city's history and culture. Both parks offer tours during non–game days and in the off-season. No trip to Boston or Chicago is complete without visiting these storied landmarks.

The Season

Spring Training

Players report to spring training in mid-February and stay through late March for practices, exhibition games, and work-outs, and to get reacclimated to the game after the off-season. Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson, who is fifth all-time in wins, says that there are two major reasons for camp: to get in top physical condition for the long season ahead, and to drill the fundamentals of the game into the players' heads. Anderson also says that it's a learning process and a way for a manager to see what a player can do. "I never cared if we won a single game during spring training," Anderson says. "My whole focus was on preparation for the regular season."

Spring training is entertaining and highly enjoyable with lots of fanfare. The players are accessible, and the ballparks are much smaller than during the regular season, so the atmosphere is filled with smiling kids with painted faces running around and showing off the latest autograph on their jersey or glove. Typically spring training draws crowds of people from the North who escape the cold winter and travel to warmer climates to see their team get ready for the season.

All MLB teams attend spring training in either Florida, known as the Grapefruit League, or Arizona, nicknamed the Cactus League. Because both of these destinations are filled with transplants from the North, spring training can be the only time these fans get to see the team they grew up with, so games can get crowded. Teams that train in Florida play other teams training in the state, and Arizona-training teams play one another. Teams that train in Arizona do not play teams that train in Florida during spring training.

There are many different kinds of spring training games. Besides regular games against other teams training in the area, some teams will play a college or two, so the University of Miami may take on the Florida Marlins, or the University of Michigan may battle the New York Mets. There are also split-squads games, where the team is scheduled to play two games against two different teams on the same day. The ball club splits its roster into two teams and plays both games that day, usually at the same time. Some ball clubs will take on minor league teams, and others will play intrasquad games, where members of the same team play one another.

To Some People, DH is a Four-Letter Word: The Designated-Hitter Rule

I thought it was important to bring up this highly controversial rule very early, not only to get it out of the way but to minimize the confusion and questions that will arise when reading this chapter. The designated-hitter (DH) rule is like math, meaning that there's no point in asking why. It just is.

The DH is a roster player who only bats. The spot is for big power hitters who usually lead the team in home runs. The DH replaces the pitcher in the batting order.

Baseball purists believe that there should be no DH, and for good reason: Use of the DH eliminates strategic complexities. Without a DH, managers have to make hard decisions like taking out a pitcher to get a better bat. The game was originally played without a DH, and the pitchers always batted. Declining ticket sales in the early 1970s had owners searching for ways to boost profits. They reasoned that a game with more hitting and home runs would be more interesting to fans. In 1973 the leagues were given the option to adopt the DH rule. Only the American League said yes.

The National League still plays without a DH. Generally pitchers will bat last in the lineup because they aren't very good hitters. There are some exceptions to the rule, most notably Babe Ruth, who was one of the best ballplayers of all time.

There's no clear answer to why pitchers are usually poor hitters, but it makes sense since pitchers spend all their time practicing pitching, there's little or no time for hitting. Another explanation is that power pitchers use their leg strength to throw, usually resulting in a lack of upper-body strength. Also, if an organization has a young pitcher coming up in the system, would it really want to risk that prospect getting hit by a 95-mph fastball? I think not.

When a pitcher is at bat with runners on base, his goal is merely to move the runners over. That's called playing small ball. Small ball is done by bunting, hitting a sacrifice fly, or intentionally grounding out. The batter sacrifices himself for the good of the team. Small ball is intentional and systematic. It's not just the pitcher who does this. Every guy on an NL team at one point takes one for the team.

The National League plays a lot of small ball, and most NL teams seem to be made up of scrappier guys who are fast and light on their feet. It also makes the NL, in my opinion, a far more difficult league in which to be a manager. When a manager wants to pinch-hit for a better bat, he has to look at bringing in a different pitcher.

In the American League, on the other hand, the pitcher does not bat, and a DH is in the lineup for every game. The DH spot in the lineup cannot change during the game; the player can, but the batting order remains the same. The DH does not play the field; his only purpose is to bat. Some DHs are experienced at field positions, but they rarely play them. The DH rule also gives older players the chance to extend their career by allowing them to continue playing even after their body is too beat up to play the field.

It doesn't seem fair, but that's just the way it is.

Quick Tip

For spring training, flip-flops, shorts, and tank tops are what everyone will be wearing. Most people are on vacation or retired, so comfortable and casual is the way to go.

Check out your team's Web site for location information.

The major league season is an exhausting 162 games, played from early spring through sometimes late fall. In 1997 the major leagues started interleague play. Up until 1997, teams never played teams from the other league in games that counted (they did play in the All-Star Game and sometimes in spring training) until the World Series, where the winner of the NL plays the winner of the AL. Now they play interleague games for a special few weeks during the season, usually around June. When the teams are in an AL park, the DH rule is implemented; in an NL park, it isn't. So when the AL team is the visitor in an NL park, the AL pitchers have to bat. It's sometimes quite comical to see the AL pitchers take an at bat. This rule is also in effect for the All-Star Game and World Series play.

The All-Star break is the midway point in the season. The fans choose the All-Star players by ballot at the ballpark or online. The managers of the All-Star teams are the two managers of the World Series teams from the previous season, the winners of the AL and NL pennants. The managers choose the pitchers. Pitchers tend to pitch only an inning or two because this is not a regular-season game and teams don't want to tire out their pitchers. The game could see more than six pitchers on each team.

The winning league of the All-Star Game gets homefield advantage in the World Series. This rule was adopted starting with the 2003 season because of the infamous 7–7 tie in eleven innings at the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee. The teams ended up running out of pitchers. Commissioner Bud Selig had no choice but to call the game a draw, amid a sea of boos from the crowd.


Excerpted from She's Got Game by Melissa Malamut. Copyright © 2010 Melissa Malamut. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Girlie Girl's Guide to the Games xi

1 The Best White After Labor Day (Home Whites): Major League Baseball (MLB) 1

The Game 3

The Season 9

The Teams 14

Game Structure 17

Balls and Strikes 23

Chicks Dig the Long Ball: Hitting 27

Baserunning 32

Playing the Field 38

Pitching 42

History, Drama, Curses, and Legends 51

Who to Know in History: The Best of the Best 71

Stitches and Seams: Baseball Fashion 78

Do the Math 90

The Girlie Girl's Baseball Glossary 93

2 The Monday-Morning Quarterback Versus the Football Widow: The National Football League (NFL) 98

The Game 99

The Season 101

The Experience 105

Inside the Huddle 109

Basics to Know 118

Points 119

Overheard: Penalties 121

History 123

Drama: NFL Rivals 125

Historic NFL Games and Moments 127

The Best and Most Talked-About Players in History 133

NFL Draft Basics 136

The Other Leagues 138

Football Fashion and Fandom 139

The Girlie Girl's Football Glossary 145

3 The NBA Has a Dress Code; Why Shouldn't You? The National Basketball Association (NBA) 149

The Game 152

Offense 163

Defense 165

History of the Game 168

Decades and Dynasties: What to Know 175

Who to Know in History 176

Who to Know Now: Future Legends 180

Courtside Chic 181

The Girlie Girl's Basketball Glossary 188

4 Hockey and Heels: The National Hockey League (NHL) 194

The Game 196

The Skaters 203

Basic Rules to Know 205

Points and Standings 209

History and Drama 210

The NHL 213

The Miracle on Ice 217

Who to Know in History 218

NHL Trophies: End-of-the-Season Awards 222

Fashion and Fandom 223

The Girlie Girl's Hockey Glossary 225

5 College Football and College Basketball 228

College Football 228

College Football Versus the NFL 232

Divisions and Conferences 233

The BCS 236

The Polls 237

The Other Bowls 237

The Season 239

The Heisman Trophy 240

History of College Football 243

The Programs 244

Rivals and Drama 245

College Football Legends 249

College Football Traditions and Lore 251

Tailgating: College Football Edition 255

Fashion 257

College Basketball 259

College Basketball Versus the NBA 261

March Madness 262

Rivals 268

College Basketball Coaching Legends 270

The Game Experience 272

6 The World's Games 274

Tennis 275

The Game 275

The Grand Slams 280

Noteworthy Retired Players 281

Who to Know Now 284

Going to a Tennis Match 286

Tennis Terms to Know 289

Golf 290

The Course 291

Par 292

The Majors 293

Who to Know 294

Going to a Golf Tournament 296

Golf Terms to Know 299

Major League Soccer (MLS) 300

Nascar 301

7 Quick Guide: The Girlie Girl's Cheat Sheet for Information on the Fly 305

Acknowledgments 321

References and Suggested Reading 323

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