Come for the picks, Stay for the lifestyle

Over the last few years, local recreation organizations and High School Associations have seen a dramatic increase in participation rates amongst girls playing sports.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, there are currently more than 3 million girls playing high school basketball in the US. This is a significant increase from the 1.1 million girls who were playing in 2014, just ten years ago.

The number of girls who participate in a high school softball program is over 300 thousand.

In the past several years nearly 173 thousand girls participated in a high school swimming and diving programs.

According to a report, the number of women’s lacrosse teams in the NCAA grew from 238 in 2001 to 483 in 2018, which is nearly a 203% increase in that time. In 2018, the number of female high-school lacrosse players amounted to almost 95 thousand.

In another report the number of participants (aged six years and older) in field hockey amounted to approximately 1.46 million, many of those young girls.

There are many advantages for girls to participate in sports. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls and women who play sports have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and lower levels of depression. They also have a more positive body image and experience higher states of psychological well-being than girls and women who do not play sports.

Girls who participate in sports are better at organizing and time management, skills that are helpful for success later in life. Female athletes are better students and show a stronger commitment to their studies. One study showed exercise improves the academic performance of teenagers, and it particularly benefited girls’ performance in science.

What sport does the girl in your life want to play?

Olivia Pichardo becomes first woman to play a NCAA Division 1 baseball game.

Brown freshman Olivia Pichardo became the first woman to appear in a Division I baseball game when she pinch hit in a 10-1 loss to Bryant last Friday.

The left-handed batting utility player from Queens, New York, went to plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and grounded out to first on the first pitch at Murray Stadium in Providence, Rhode Island.

Pichardo was an outfielder and pitcher on the USA Baseball Women’s National Team that won three of five against Team Canada in its only games last summer. She walked on at Brown in the fall, and coach Grant Achilles told her she earned a roster spot in November.

Pichardo played club ball in the New York area and last year completed an internship in the New York Mets’ amateur scouting department. She played basketball and volleyball at the Garden School before attending Brown.

About a half-dozen women are known to have played baseball at junior colleges or lower-division four-year schools. The NCAA said on its website that Pichardo is one of eight women that is on a collegiate baseball roster this season, but she is the only one playing at the Division 1 level.

Picture courtesy of Brown Athletics

Xam’s Gem(s):

Yankees Money Line -174

USA Money Line -132

Cavaliers Money Line -154

The TCU/Gonzaga game last night in March Madness was everything you wanted in a game to determine who would move on to the Sweet 16. Both teams made clutch shot after clutch shot. Every player on the court gave it their all for all 40 minutes of game time.

However, there was another big reason for fans to pay attention to the scoreboard. The spread coming into the game was Gonzaga -4.5. Bettors had every reason to watch every second of the game. Even when it became apparent that Gonzaga would win, there was still plenty of interest in seeing who would cover the spread. Gonzaga was up 6 with 0.7 seconds left in the game, after Hunter Sallis hit a couple of free throws. Instead of just picking up the ball and letting the clock wind down, Damion Baugh of TCU let the ball roll to mid court, picked it up, and heaved a half court shot that miraculously went in. The shot counted, and TCU lost 84-81, covering the +4.5 spread.

These are the highs and lows of sports betting. Sometimes you get lucky bounces and sometimes you suffer horrifically bad losses. The lesson should the same regardless: these things can happen when you bet on sports. You can’t let this get the better of you, and you try and chase losses or do some other risky things with your bankroll. Losing happens. Granted, it’s very easy to say this without having action on the game, but keep in mind that EVERYONE suffers losses like this. Sometimes, we even win bets like this. The key is to never get too high or too low, and of course to only bet whatever you can afford to lose.

If you stick to those two guiding principles, you’ll find yourself much better off. You’ll be happier and you’ll be able to bounce back from those tough losses quicker.

Xam’s Gem(s):

Japan/Mexico Over 8.5 Runs -106

Penguins Money Line -164

Bulls/76ers Over 225 Points -110

Knicks -8.5 -110

Every year, it seems, we become captivated by college athletes playing basketball. What is it about March, that turns every bracket into a slaughterhouse? Is that we’re all college basketball fanatics? No. Do we know all the teams and strategies employed by all 68 teams, from powerhouses like the Houston Cougars to the scrappy underdogs like the Providence Friars? For most of us, the answer to that is also no.

So what is it, then? For most of us, it’s the realization that for 99.99% of athletes stepping onto that court, that this is it. This is the height of their athletic careers. Kids from all over the world have spent years and years to get to this moment. And we see the emotion that comes with that. Every single bucket is contested. Every 3 point shot is magnified by the eruption from the bench. There’s something to be said for the fact that players on 16th seeded FDU will never, ever forget beating 1st seeded Purdue. No matter where life takes those players and coaches, they’ll all share a memory that lasts a lifetime. That is something that money and fame from the professional leagues can’t buy. It’s unquantifiable.

This is why March Madness is so captivating. Whether you know the sport deeply or not, everyone can relate to the moments these kids are having on the court. We’ve all had moments in a sports league that we will never forget. Moments that seem random or just another day to most, that is forever etched in our hearts and minds. We get to see that on live TV for weeks, every single March. These are kids, after all. But something about March Madness makes us all kids again, even for just a couple moments.

That is why March Madness is so captivating.

There is plenty of good and bad things associated with the World Baseball Classic right now.

The World Baseball Classic is shattering attendance and viewership records. This is undeniably a good thing. It’s bringing attention to players and countries who otherwise wouldn’t be given the time of day. Countries like Cuba have a very rich baseball history, and countries like the Czech Republic qualified for the WBC for the very first time. In fact, everyone on the Czech team have full time day jobs! Expanding the reach of the sport is among the biggest priorities of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Now, onto the bad news: Injuries. MLB’s best closer, Edwin Diaz, is out for the season with a torn patella tendon. Star second baseman Jose Altuve suffered a broken thumb on a hit by pitch and is out 2-3 months. Unfortunately for MLB and its fans, the Astros and Mets are projected to be two of the best teams in the game this year. In fact, the Astros are the odds on favorite of winning the World Series. The question isn’t whether the WBC is fun or exciting. It’s whether or not it’s worth the risk for the height of the sport, MLB, to risk injury to their marquee players on marquee teams. It goes without saying that this has been and will be debated throughout the entire season.

It’s also fair to wonder how teams will perform after their players come back from the WBC. Some players spoke about not going because they didn’t feel like they’d be ready physically to perform in high leverage games like that. Will players be tired after playing in this tournament? It stands to reason that teams that didn’t have as many players go will have an advantage as the season gets underway. Only time will tell just how important or meaningful that advantage is.

If there’s any correlation between MLB teams struggling and the amount of players they had in the WBC, it’ll be fodder for the fans arguing that the WBC shouldn’t be played this time of year. For now, it’s best to go slow when the regular season begins. We have no idea what, if any, impact the WBC will have on the MLB season. That’s what makes this so intriguing.

Xam’s Gem(s):

Nuggets Money Line -132

Lightning Money Line -130

Cuba/USA Over 9.5 Runs -124

Do you have corned beef left over from your Saint Patry’s day celebration??? Make corned beef hash the morning after!  This VERY simple meal is the best morning after a Saint Patty’s day celebration, it has the greasy and protein you need after a day/night of celebrating and add a little carbs to settle your stomach a bit.  I always top with a runny fried egg for final touches, but you can also add avocado, hot sauce, or green onion to make it extra special.  This really is a simple meal and prepared in 20 mins with all the leftovers from the previous night.


Recipe serving 2, but easily multiply to make for larger parties



Xam’s Gem(s):

Duke Money Line -164

USA/Venezuela Over 8.5 Runs -134

Heat Money Line -148