One Mo for the Road

I have been a sports fan for as long as I remember, the result of having a dad that wasn’t quite sure what to do with a daughter. Having grown up with five brothers, helping raise a little girl was not exactly in his wheelhouse. So he talked to me about sports and taught me how to play baseball, hockey, football and soccer (the latter he actually learned so he could pinch hit when my team needed another coach).  I was the only five year old girl I knew that could throw a spiral. I was totally amenable to being a tomboy and it gave my dad and I something to bond over.

However, with all this sports talk going on in my household, I was pretty late in declaring an allegiance for any professional teams. Growing up, I don’t remember there being a lot of sports on the television, but that could have been because we had one TV at the time and a mini-pop culture guru who tended to monopolize what we watched. I actually had no idea what teams my mom and dad rooted for; I think I was in college when I discovered that my father was a Steelers and Dodgers fan. The fact that he didn’t like local teams may have also contributed to the lack of games on at home; these were the days before NFL ticket and the MLB package, so if your team wasn’t from the area you didn’t get to see them much. My parents were pretty hands off in the indoctrination department; much like politics and religion, my brother and I were free to make our own choices. They distilled in me a love of sports, but not an affinity for any one team. This is why no one in my immediate family roots for the same team in anything. We all found our own paths (ironically, it turns out that most of my family hates the Yankees. You can’t predict baseball.)

After dismissing baseball as boring when I was younger, I fell in love with the game completely when I was in college. Being a native New Yorker, I gravitated toward the Yankees. This was the mid-nineties, which turned out to be a pretty good time to be getting on the Yankee bandwagon, as they would win 4 World Series in five years. I fell in love with the team and all the players from that era and completely threw myself into the sport and my fandom.

The timing of my drinking of the Yankees’ Kool-Aid also meant that I have a deep connection to Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. Dubbed “the Core Four,” these players have played almost their entire careers with the Yankees (we like to forget about Andy’s little diversion in Houston).  We came into baseball together and I’ve spent my entire adult life watching them play. In a weird way, even though I’ve never met any of them, I sort of feel like they are family. We’ve spent 162 games together for almost 20 years; that’s more time than I’ve spent with people that are actually related to me.

But all good things must eventually come to an end; there is a natural decline in athleticism as you get older and as great as these guys are they were not immune to the ravages of time. Posada retired last year, setting in motion the realization that sometime soon, I would be watching the Yankees without these guys. I had been spoiled by their long tenure with the team, but this was the beginning of the end. Mariano Rivera announced that he was retiring at the end of the season, which was not unexpected, but a day I was dreading. When Mo was injured last year, I lamented the fact that he might not get to do his farewell tour and be honored by all of baseball for the great player and man that he was. While his retirement will be a huge loss for the Yankees – and for me – I’m glad that he had the chance to receive all the adulation that he deserved. Every team in baseball honored Rivera when the Yankees came to town; even the arch rival Red Sox sang Mo’s praises and the Fenway Faithful gave him a rousing standing ovation. It was beautiful to watch.

I knew that the Yankees would do something special for Rivera to honor his retirement, so when it was announced that his ceremony was going to be September 22, I had to be there. The Yankees may not be able to do a bobblehead giveaway, but they can do pageantry with the best of them. They’ve had a lot of practice. Since this was the day after my birthday, some friends were even kind enough to get me a ticket as a gift (shout out to Jen and Duff for their thoughtfulness and generosity!). I didn’t know if I was emotionally prepared to start saying goodbye, but at least I was lucky enough to be a part of it. Considering I bawled Opening Day when he was announced, the likelihood of me holding it together was nil. The day became even MORE emotional when Andy Pettitte announced that he was also retiring, making Sunday his last ever start at the Stadium. The Core Four were suddenly almost gone, with Jeter being the last man standing and the only member returning for the 2014 season (hopefully).

Arriving at the Stadium on Sunday, we weren’t really sure what to expect. There were a lot of rumors floating around – would they retire Mo’s number? Would Metallica show up to play Mo’s entrance music? Would there be any special guests? – but there weren’t a lot of concrete details. The fact that Monument Park was closed prior to the game was a clue that something was going on, but what that actually would be was still a mystery.

When we arrived at our seats, we immediately noticed that a stage had been set up in center field, all but confirming the attendance of Metallica. As a Metallica fan, that was an exciting development; I hadn’t let myself get excited for the possibility, since I didn’t want to be disappointed. I do not handle disappointment well.

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It was really nice to look around the Stadium and see so many people wearing the #42. Mo is pretty beloved, so it wasn’t surprising, but to see thousands of people united in their adulation of one man was really something to behold. I actually felt a little guilty that I was wearing my Paul O’Neill jersey. Even the grounds crew sported t-shirts in honor of Mo.

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The ceremony began and the Yankees immediately brought out the big guns – Jackie Robinson’s widow Rachel and their daughter Sharon. The number #42 had been retired throughout baseball to honor Robinson; the players that currently wore #42 were grandfathered in, so they could continue to wear it. Rivera is the last player to ever wear the number, an honor that he takes quite seriously. The Robinson Family has always been very supportive of Mo and his part in carrying Jackie’s legacy, so it was nice to see them be a part of Mo’s big day. The Yankees unveiled a new tribute to Robinson, apart from the Yankee retired numbers, to give him a special recognition.

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They did this so that they could then retire #42 for Rivera as well; he was added to the list of Yankee greats like Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio and Berra. It’s unusual to retire a number while the player is technically still active, so I was skeptical that this was actually going to happen Sunday. If anything, I figured that the Yankees would do it at a later date just to milk this and have another special day at the Stadium. Once the number was unveiled, the Stadium burst into the longest and loudest chant that I have ever heard, playoff games included. The yells of “Mar-i-an-o (clap-clap-clap,clap,clap)” reverberated through a stadium that is not known for its acoustics. Every single person must have been yelling at the top of their lungs; I was clapping so hard that my hands actually started to ache. Rivera looked completely overwhelmed by this – the longer it went on, the more he just stood there beaming, but also slightly awed by the response. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of some spectacular moments at Yankee Stadium (both old and new), but I’ve never seen something as special as this. I had tears streaming down my face, but I’m sure I was not the only person. It was simply amazing.

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The show wasn’t over, however. Everyone wanted to be a part of Mo’s special day, so many of his former teammates came back to be part of the celebration. It was kind of like a mini-Old Timers’ Day; out came Jeff Nelson, John Wettland, David Cone, Hideki Matsui, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill (!), Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada. They all returned to pay tribute to a great baseball player and a great man. Former manager Joe Torre also returned, which prompted my second crying jag of the day. Torre gets me every time – he doesn’t come back to the Stadium very often, so when he makes an appearance it is a big deal for me.

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I had barely composed myself from the Torre appearance when Metallica took the stage to play Enter Sandman as Mo walked from the bullpen to the dais. That kind of snapped me out of my melancholy for a bit, since there is no crying in heavy metal. I’m always happy to see Metallica, though the sound quality of their performance was obviously more concerned with how it would play on TV than how it would sound live. The music was kind of muted and wasn’t hooked into the PA; it was kind of weird to see Metallica rocking out without much sound.

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It turned out to be kind of a moot point, since as soon as Mariano stepped out on the field, no one cared about Metallica anymore. All eyes were on #42 as he strolled out; it was a bit odd to see him take such a leisurely pace after years of watching him run out. He earned the right to stroll out if he wanted to; he is, after all, almost a retiree.

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Rivera was then showered with gifts from the San Francisco Giants (that afternoon’s opponent), Metallica and the Yankees. Rivera then took the microphone to give a speech, thanking his family, his teammates and the fans for their support. I teared up a bit again when he said that he wished that George Steinbrenner was alive to be a part of the day; it was a nice tribute to the former owner.

And with that, the festivities came to a close. Now it was time to actually play baseball, which seemed a little anticlimactic after all that. Had it not been the last time I would see Pettitte pitch, I don’t know that I would have cared about the game at all at that point. I was emotionally exhausted – as apparently were the Yankees as they weren’t exactly setting the world on fire with their offense.

The late start of the game – the ceremony ran almost an hour – and sitting in the sun kind of threw off my sense of time, so when manager Joe Girardi came out to remove Andy Pettitte from the game I was totally unprepared for it. The stadium once again erupted to honor Pettitte for all his years, prompting me once again to get misty eyed as I said goodbye to another one of my favorites. I’m still hoping that the Yankees do something small to honor Pettitte – he already retired once, so anything for him will be more subdued – since he is a big part of the Yankees’ success. It won’t be the same without him.

 

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Rivera came in the game in the 8th inning and reminded us why he is so celebrated. Sadly, the rest of the Yankees couldn’t do their part and the team lost. It was a depressing reminder that with Andy and Mo leaving, the Yankees are going to have some problems. When it is the bottom of the 9th and you need a run, seeing Reynolds, Ryan and Murphy coming up to bat doesn’t instill a lot of confidence.

Regardless, it was an epic day that I am so thankful I got to be a part of. I’m actually going down to the Stadium Thursday for the last home game, just on the off chance that it will be the last time that Rivera ever pitches at home. The Yankees are pretty much out of the playoffs at this point, but I’m just not ready to say goodbye yet. If I can squeeze out a little more time with Rivera, I’m going to take it. Thank you, Andrew Eugene Pettitte and Mariano Rivera for all the wonderful memories. You will be missed.

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You can watch the entire pregame ceremony here.

 

Heather’s Emmy Diary

I generally hate the Emmys; of all the awards shows, they are the one that I think most consistently get the winners wrong. Emmy voters tend to reward the same people over and over and often celebrate the one person in the category that you were surprised was nominated to begin with (Jon Cryer, anyone?). I can never forgive an institution that failed to recognize The Wire. But I do enjoy Neil Patrick Harris a great deal and think that he is a tremendous host. He’s made the Tonys a great award show to watch, even if you don’t know much about Broadway shows. So it was the affection I have for NPH that got me to tune in, not the actual awards. I kept a running diary of my thoughts as the ceremony unfolded.

Here we go……

  • Supercuts – I approve
  • Is this the first time that Baba Booey  got a shout out during the Emmys?

 

  • Yay – Kimmel is getting involved.
  • FALLON!
  • BIG ovation for Conan. Nice to see all the late night hosts playing nice.
  • Very enjoyable House of Cards spoof.
  •  Tina and Amy – fantastic. Give them the Golden Globes again.

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  • Hey – they gave their popcorn to Matt Damon.

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  • Great stage entrance – I assume that was in homage to Jennifer Lawrence.

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  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in Comedy – Mayim Bialik is my pick. But holy hell there are a LOT of nominees in this category.
  • Whoa – Merritt Wever for Nusrse Jackie. The only show I don’t watch regularly. It’s nice to see Edie Falco so proud of her co-star.
  • Her speech was succinct.

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  • Ooohh… I like Malin Akerman’s dress. LL Cool J is a handsome man, but enough with these hats already.

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  • I like these comedy writer nominees bits. I’m guessing Tina Fey will win since this was the last season of 30 Rock. Emmy voters love to recognize that stuff.
  • Rural Janitor? Did these idiots mean Rural Juror?
  • Ha! Tina: “No one said you could talk.”

 

  • NPH getting a little saucy with that Thailand joke.
  • Ugh – the Deschanel sisters. Not a fan.

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  • Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series – I’ve got Tony Hale. All the Modern Family cast will cancel each other out. Plus he’s great on Veep.
  • I was right – Buster Bluth is an Emmy winner! Hooray.
  • Robin Williams’ tribute to Jonathan Winters. This could go either way; he really just can’t contain himself sometimes even with the best intentions.
  • I don’t know how I feel about these individuals memorials. This seems more like a popularity contest than usual. Plus all this time dwelling on death is kind of downer for an awards ceremony.

 

  • OMG – Jon Hamm is gorgeous even with a beard. I normally wouldn’t consider myself a beard person, but between this and Joe Manganiello, I may have to reconsider.

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  • Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series – no idea. This could go many different ways.
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Can’t argue with that. Big night for Veep – and I love Tony Hale coming up with her. They accept in character. Outstanding!

 

  • Margo Martindale and Will Arnett  – two people trapped in a really terrible CBS comedy. They don’t even get to present real awards – just the awards that were already given out.
  • What is Melissa Leo wearing? I’m not even sure if all of those colors go together.

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  • Best directing in a comedy series goes to Gail Manciso for Modern Family. Ugh – the Modern Family obsession at the Emmys continues. But interesting that she is only the second woman to ever win .
  • “Happiest night of her life” – I wonder how her husband and kids feel about that.
  • I love “Blurred Lines” as much as the next person, but I don’t know that it should get mentioned in an Emmy acceptance speech.
  • They are playing people off very quickly – not a fan.
  • Sofía Vergara looks amazing as usual.

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  • Best actor in a comedy series – I’ve got Jim Parsons (Louis C.K. should win, but Emmy voters are conservative and predictable)
  • Yup – I was right. I like Parsons and his portrayal of Sheldon, but I think the character is getting too cartoony.
  • Carl Reiners with the Jean Stapleton memorial – I loved her as Edith Bunker.
  • He’s getting emotional, which is making me emotional.

 

  • This is a terrible transition. You shouldn’t do a promo after a memorial – especially with an older gentleman like Bob Newhart. That’s just tacky.
  • Michael Douglas and Matt Damon , here to introduce a Liberace tribute by Elton John.
  • This is fine and all, but they really should use this time to let award winners speak, not to honor a guy who died 25 years ago just because he happened to be the subject of an HBO movie (which only showed on HBO because theaters wouldn’t distribute it)
  • Plus – I’m kind of over Elton John. I’m fast forwarding through this.

 

  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini-series – I hope it is Elizabeth Moss for Top of the Lake.
  • Blah – Laura Linney. I’m sure she was fine, but Moss deserved this.
  • No Jason Segal in this HIMYM bit? I call shenanigans.
  • There he is – um…he looks kind of terrible. Is he sick? Something is off here.
  • This is cute, but this is going on a little long.
  • Ha – “The Ryan Seacrest Center for Excessive Hosting.”

 

  • Connie Britton – Love her. She has the best hair on television.
  • They should have given her better material – their patter was particularly awful.
  • Outstanding writing in a drama series – this has to be Breaking Bad, no?
  • I guess no – Homeland wins.
  • Awww….the guy who won passed away and his widow is accepting his award. This is touching and also means that the speech will probably be pretty short.
  • Yup – simple and short.
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – I don’t want to pick between Christina Hendricks and Anna Gunn, which may be moot since I’m guessing this goes to Maggie Smith.
  • Hot damn! Anna Gunn won! So deserved. I like her dress a lot too.

 

  • Umm orchestra – I don’t suggest playing this woman off – Cranston may get all Heisenberg on you.
  • OK – I have a real beef with this Corey Monteith tribute. I am sad that he died and I liked him a lot, but he in no way accomplished enough to deserve this kind of prominenece. The other people had a lifetime of work and created seminal characters – Glee is kind of a stupid show and Monteith’s acting career was just beginning. His death was shocking, but this is not appropriate.

 

  • Song and dance time with NPH
  • That was impressive tumbling.
  • Again – this is all fine and good, but the time should go to winners.
  • Nathan FIllion – I’m suddenly OK with this number.

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  • Best reality show – Yawn.
  • The Voice wins – hooray I guess.
  • How far away were The Voice team sitting that it took them that log to get to the stage?
  • Diahann Carroll and Kerry Washington – did all presenters have head shots when they came out? I didn’t notice them before.
  • Whoa – BURN on Lloyd Nolan, who Carroll apparently didn’t think was very attractive. That’s cold, woman.
  • Kerry Washington looks a little nervous. Perhaps Carroll is a wild card.
  • Supporting Actor in a drama series – love a lot of people in this category, but got to go with Aaron Paul.
  • Bobby Canavale? That, right there, is some bullsh*t. No offense to Mr. Cannavale, who I do like, but you cannot compare anything on Boardwalk Empire to the genius of Breaking Bad. Terrible, terrible choice.
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series – I’m so thrown by the winner of the last category that I now have NO idea who wins this. Should be Cranston (or my man Hamm) but I have lost my faith in Emmy voters.
  • JEFF DANIELS??!?!???! WTF EMMY VOTERS? Newsroom is a terrible show and while I got no beef with Daniels, this is an outrage. I literally threw the remote across the room.
  • Seriously – is this some kind of joke? Are these the bizarro awards? When do they give out the real Emmys?
  • Maybe this award show is really Kimmel’s greatest prank ever.
  • This YouTube video sums up how I feel right now:

 

  • Wait – what is happening? Are we doing a memorial to JFK now? Nothing would surprise me at this point.
  • I forgot that JFK, Jr. spent his third birthday at his father’s funeral. That really makes my own crappy birthday not look so bad.
  • Now we’re talking about The Beatles – what year is this?
  • Carrie Underwood singing “Yesterday” – this whole segment is a hodgepodge, a mess and a waste of my time.
  • More Fallon – this is an improvement.
  • The moving microphone – not a new bit, but still amusing.

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  • Lead actress in a Drama – I’m guessing Claire Danes.
  • Whew – the Emmys have gotten back on script. Not who I would have picked (again – got to love Elizabeth Moss), but this makes sense.
  • Nice tribute by Danes to the deceased Homeland writer.
  • It is weird to see Emilia Clarke with her dark hair. I’m used to Khalessi being a blonde. I can’t even begin to imagine Dean Norris with hair.

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  • Best guest actor and actress in a drama series – these were actually already awarded, but I have no idea who won. I’m surprised that Burt Cooper is considered a guest role on Mad Men. No idea on the actors, but Margo Martindale was epic on The Americans.
  • Wrong again – Carrie Preston for The Good Wife (a show that I admittedly do not watch). She’s also on True Blood, so this is kind of a surprise as she isn’t that amazing on that show. But good on her, I guess.
  • Well these people got something right – a standing ovation for first time Emmy winner Bob Newhart. Well deserved.

 

  • Best writing in a variety series – oh man, these are all my babies.
  • Colbert beats Stewart! This usually goes the other way.
  • Michael J. Fox with a tribute to the creator of Family Ties, Gary Goldberg.
  • Outstanding choreography? That’s a thing on TV?
  • That’s nice – they finally get to be on the real broadcast. That’s the equivalent to getting to sit at the grown-up table.

 

  • Those hands coming out of that wall was kind of creepy. It also reminded me of a game on The Price is Right.

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  • The How I Met Your Mother ladies look nice.

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  • Whoa – The Colbert Report wins again for best variety series. Poor John Oliver will never get to host again.
  • Stephen Colbert gives a nice tribute to his mom who passed away this year.
  • Oh man – Edie Falco with the James Gandolfini tribute. This breaks my heart.
  • Edie tearing up = me bawling.

 

  • Who did Anna Faris’ makeup? She looks terrible.

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  • These CBS promos within the ceremony are tacky.
  • Outstanding Writing in a Mini-series – I have no idea who will win, but man did I hate Parade’s End. Critics raved about it, but even with Benedict Cumberbatch I couldn’t get through it. So boring.
  • I really like Kaley Cuoco’s dress.

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  • This was a weird little moment

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  • And now the normal In Memorium segment. Too much focus on death this year. And I hate that the Emmys allow you to hear the applause for each person.
  • I’ll admit – I am half paying attention at this point.
  • Wait – was Kevin Spacey hitting the camera a bit or not? I’m having a hard time figuring out what is planned and what isn’t. I think that’s a problem.

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  • Steven Sorderbergh does not look anything like I thought he did.
  • Best lead actor in a mini-series – has to be Michael Douglas.
  • Who knew Douglas was so funny?

 

  • I’m assuming Outstanding Mini-series will be Behind the Candelabra. It really was so well done.
  • Will Ferrell? What does he have to do with TV? I’m not complaining – he’s hilarious – but seems like an odd choice.
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A family affair – Ferrell brought his three kids on stage with him

  • Best comedy series – Modern Family will win because the Emmy voters are drones.
  • Best drama series – this category is STACKED. It hurts me to choose, but I’m going with Breaking Bad.
  • Yeah! They won the Emmy, bitch!
  • Why am I just finding out that Vince Gilligan’s partner’s name is Holly? This seems like important info.
  • That’s it? It’s over? No wrap up? That was abrupt.

In all honesty, this award show kind of stunk. It was far too depressing and they wasted too much time on stuff that no one cares about, to the detriment of the winners. Neil Patrick Harris gave it his best shot, but there wasn’t much he could do to turn around this sinking ship.  This was boring and there were too many awards where the wrong person won. All the dwelling on death was morbid; this Tweet summed the night up perfectly:

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Boo to the Emmys – you wasted my Sunday night and forced me to not watch Breaking Bad. Shame on you!

A compete list of the 2013 Emmy winners can be found here.

Talk like a Pirate Day

Ahoy mateys! Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. There are a ton of weird “holidays” out there – Ferris Wheel Day (February 14th), National Doughnut Day (first Friday in June), Groundhog Day – but this one is by far my favorite, even if I don’t really participate, since it is just so ridiculous that it is genius. Plus who doesn’t like pirates (obviously excluding those who they are pirating)? Before vampires, werewolves and zombies became popular, pirates were the popular thing. I’m guilty of getting in on this trend; I used to have a miniature cannon on my desk at work and would occasionally launch plastic cannon balls at people who came into my office and annoyed me. Yup – these are the same people that just promoted me. I must not have “shot” the wrong people.

Talk Like a Pirate Day is the brainchild of two friends, who thought it was funny to talk to each other using the lingo of the raiders of the sea. The holiday didn’t really take off until the pair lobbied humorist Dave Barry to write about it in one of his columns, which he did in 2002. That increased media attention and the rise of the Internet helped spread the word that September 19th was the day to talk like a pirate. The significance of September 19th? It’s the birthday of the ex-wife of one of the founders. I’d be flattered if I were her. That is far better than any of my exes have done for me.

In honor of today, I thought I’d take a look at pirates in pop culture. There have been plenty of memorable pirates over the years in books, television and films, but these are among my favorites:

  • Captain Jack SparrowPirates of the Caribbean franchise

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The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are responsible for the recent resurgence in the popularity of pirates. Though the quality of these movies deteriorated quickly, Depp’s Captain Jack is probably the first pirate that most people think of thanks to his interesting take on the character. He’s so popular that they actually changed the ride to include his replica at Disney World that inspired the movie. The similarity was uncanny – and a little creepy.

  • Dread Pirate RobertsThe Princess Bride

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When Princess Buttercup is captured by Dread Pirate Roberts, she assumes the worst because of his reputation of leaving no one alive. In reality, it is the identity that her true love Wesley has assumed to come save her. Man I love this movie.

 

  • Pirate CaptainThe Pirates! Band of Misfits

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This animated film was nominated for an Oscar last year and that honor was well deserved. It was a very cute film and perhaps the least intimidating pirates to ever sail the seas. Voiced by Hugh Grant, Pirate Captain wants nothing more than to win the Pirate of the Year award. Who doesn’t want to be recognized at their job?

  • One-Eyed WillieThe Goonies

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The legend of One-Eyed Willie looms larger over The Goonies than the actual man, who is long dead by the time he finally turns up in the film. But the lure of his gold is what gives the kids hope that they can save their town and leads them on the greatest adventure of their lives.

  • Long John SilverTreasure Island

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I have never actually read Treasure Island, despite the fact that it is a classic. But I am a big fan of the hush puppies served at Long John Silvers, the restaurant, so the chain’s namesake has to make the list.

  • Captain HookPeter Pan

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Captain Hook is probably my second favorite character with a hook hand (Buster Bluth on Arrested Development is my first). I’ve always found Peter Pan kind of annoying, so I have some sympathy for his arch nemesis. I’d be pretty ticked off if someone cut my hand off.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers – NFL

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Lots of sports teams have embraced pirate inspired names – the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Oakland Raiders – but none have embraced the pirate imagery quite like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They have a huge pirate ship that shoots cannons off after the team scores, for goodness sake. That is commitment! I adopted them as my playoff team in 2007 (the Bills, obviously, were not in contention) simply because of their stadium. Other teams should take note and commit to the theme more; I was very disappointed that there wasn’t more pirate related items when I went to visit Pittsburgh this summer. Seemed like a missed opportunity.

Enjoy Talk Like a Pirate Day, you landlubbers. I’m going to try to work a little pirate terminology into my day, even if that means telling my co-workers to walk the plank. Sadly, I don’t think they would think anything was amiss if I did so. They are kind of used to my pop culture references by now.