Today I Learned…

…that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals will meet in Tampa on Feburary 1st in Super Bowl XLIII.  While the Steelers will be going for their sixth Super Bowl title (which would give them more than any other team) and second in four years, the Cardinals will play in the first Super Bowl in franchise history and have not won a championship in 61 years — the second longest such streak in North American professional sports (behind, duh, the Cubs).

I’m a little sad that the Baltimore Ravens didn’t win yesterday, because if the Cardinals had beaten them in the Super Bowl, I believe they would have become the first team in NFL history to beat four other teams with bird mascots in a single season, as they already beat the Eagles, Falcons, and Seahawks this season.  That would have been kind of funny.

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Today I Learned…

…that former Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina (I refuse to acknowledge his most recent team) has announced his retirement after 18 seasons in the majors.  At the time of his retirement, his 270 wins ranked him second among active right-handers, behind only Greg Maddux.

I always really liked Mussina, despite his traitorous nature.  I find it remarkably satisfying that after leaving Baltimore in order to win a championship, a certain pinstriped team could not get it done with him.  Mussina will be a borderline Hall of Famer, but I’m not sure he’ll make it in.

Today I Learned…

…that diminutive Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who is almost certainly shorter than yours truly, won the American League MVP award today.

Pedroia was the 2007 Rookie of the Year, and also won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards this year along with being voted an All-Star Game starter.  He beat out Twins first baseman Justin Morneau and teammate Kevin Youkilis (also a first baseman) to win the award.  He joins an elite list of Boston legends to win the award: Mo Vaughn, Roger Clemens, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Carl Yastrzemski, Jackie Jensen, Ted Williams (twice), and Jimmie Foxx.

He tied Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki for the Major League lead in hits (213), lost the batting title to Minnesota’s Joe Mauer by just four points, led the majors in doubles (54), and led the American League in runs (118) and multi-hit games (61).  He finished with a batting line of .326/.376/.423.

Today I Learned…

…about Eri Yoshida, a 16-year-old Japanese schoolgirl who was just drafted by a professional baseball team in a new independent league in Japan.  She throws a sidearm knuckleball (which must be murder to try to hit) and hopes to emulate current Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield.

She didn’t allow a hit in an inning against male batters earlier this month in a tryout, which led her to be one of 33 players picked in the draft.

Today I Learned…

…that the final British monarch to also be an emperor was George VI (thanks Spam!)

…that the largest US state capital to not have a franchise in one of the four major American sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) is Austin, TX.

…that ET used a Speak ‘n’ Spell made by Texas Instruments to “phone home” (nailed the final question!).

…that Team “Mounting Sexual Theoretics” was the final 3rd place team to bring home a prize at Rulloff’s trivia!  $15!

Today I Learned…

…that Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon has thrown more scoreless postseason innings to begin a career than any other pitcher in history.  The scoreless ninth he pitched last night in Boston’s ALCS Game 1 win over Tampa Bay got him to 20 2/3 innings, passing Joe Niekro’s 20.

Today I Learned…

…that Jacoby Ellsbury hit the first three-RBI single in baseball postseason history.  In the second inning, Boston’s rookie leadoff hitter comes to bat with the bases loaded and two outs.  On a full count, he hits what seems to be an easy flare out to shallow center field.  Los Angeles shortstop Erick Aybar (who would later have the game-winning RBI in the 12th inning), second baseman Howie Kendrick, and center fielder Torii Hunter all converge on the ball, but each of them stops short and the ball falls between them.  All three baserunners score after running on the pitch, while Ellsbury is stopped at first because the ball is hit so shallow.

Special bonus Ruloff’s Trivia wrap-up!

…The only state which broke the rule against having a living person on its state quarter is Ohio, featuring Neil Armstrong.

…”The Incredibles” is the only Pixar movie to receive a rating other than G from the MPAA.

…The only movie to win both Best Picture at the Oscars and Best Kiss at the MTV Video Music Awards is “Shakespeare in Love.”