A-Rod and Scrabble

I don’t really want to think or talk about A-Rod. The whole thing
sucks, and if it’s true that he used steroids even once, then I think
HE sucks. Will I still root for him? I’m not sure. I need to wait and
see how it all plays out, but most likely he and I are done. It’s sad.
And I’m done talking about it.

What I really want to talk about is my last trip to the New York
City Scrabble club. I’d mentioned in a comment last week that I was
going to blog about it, so here goes…

I went with my friend Leon Feingold, who’s not only a former minor league pitcher and a competitive eater
(and a whole bunch of other cool/wacky things), but he also loves
Scrabble. He and I have played about half a dozen times, and although
he still hasn’t beaten me, I once beat him by just ONE point…so yeah, he’s good. He’d
never been to the NYC club, so I made sure to let him know that he was
in for a real challenge. As a result, he spent ten minutes studying a
word list before Round One. Here he is (in the white sweater):


For all you people who’ve read Word Freak and/or watched Word Wars,
the guy sitting at the table in the photo above (organizing yellow
score slips in order to determine the match-ups) is former world
champion and current club leader Joel Sherman.

Leon had a choice of playing in the beginner or expert division. He
chose the latter, and although he didn’t end up winning any games, he
held his own against some top players.

As for me…
I had a surprisingly good night. In my first game, I played two bingos–MINTIER
for 63pts and OUTSpEND for 77–en route to a 17-point win over a good
player named Phil Polsky. Final score: 384 to 367. Here’s the board
(with the unplayed tiles sitting along the bottom edge):


Leon was still playing when my game ended so I wandered over and took a
photo. Look closely and you can see that he has seven letters of an
eight-letter word on his rack:


Unfortunately he had no place to play it.

My second game was also a success. I faced against another solid player
named Judy Kass and squeaked out a 27-point win, 389 to 362. I only
played one bingo–SWANKER for 94pts–but it swung the momentum in my
favor because my opponent challenged and ended up losing her next turn.
Here’s the final board:


Round Three was a disaster. I got CREAMED by one of the top-rated women
in the world. Her name is Lynn Cushman. She played two bingos–TRACHEID
for 78pts and DEMOTES for 93–and beat me by 146 points. Ouch! So much
for my cumulative point spread. Final score: 431 to 285. I had both
blanks and still didn’t manage to play a bingo. It was such a miserable
performance on my part that I was too embarrassed to take a photo of
the board.

The good news is that in Round Four…


…I beat a guy named Andrew Friedman by 126 points, so I ended up
feeling a little bit better about myself. The final score was 429 to
303, and I played two bingos, one of which was worth 107 points! The
word was JESTING; the jay was on a double letter score, the whole word
was doubled, and the ess hooked onto the end of DEAFEN. Not bad. But
I’ll admit that it was all very lucky. My other bingo was HIDEOUtS
(lowercase tee because it was a blank) for 66pts. Here’s the board:


Here’s my final score slip…


…and here I am with Leon (as Joel accidentally lunged in front of the camera while cleaning up):


Good times.

Thanks for indulging me while I blog about non-baseball happenings…


  1. baseballexperiences

    Seems like a good day. Overall, do you think you have more fun while relaxing and thinking in playing scrabble, or running and chasing baseballs? A-FRAUD is the eastcoast B*rry B*nds. What fool.

  2. puckcollector@optonline.net

    do you have to be a member of the club to play there, or can anyone just show up

  3. jobajr26

    A-Rod is a complete bonehead. He threw away his entire career for stupid steroids. Gahd, I don’t even care, I never liked him : )

  4. nycautographcollector

    sounds like a nice time with a good friend doing something you can both enjoy…i love scrabble, but im really not great at it, just enjoy playing and learning some new words that arent vulgar hehe…3-1 isnt bad at all, especially since you were playing some very tough opponents…id be happy to go 3-1 against anyone at my same skill level.

    the whole thing with arod to me is just whatever at this point. we’ve seen so many players at this point testing for them, that it just doesnt surprise me at all when someone gets busted. its unfortunate, because i think for the most part that people overlook the use of them, thinking that players can only do certain things because they use them…in my own opinion, yes i think it is a cheat to the game, and yes i think its unfair to the players who have not taken them to play with the players who have, but my point is is that steroids do not hit the baseball for you, they dont help your hand-eye, they dont swing the bat for you, they dont allow you to know what pitch is coming, they dont make you faster, they dont make you a better fielder, they dont catch the ball for you, they dont help you making a quick decision on whether you should go for a double or a triple, and so forth, you get my point…

    i know plenty of people are going to sit here, read this and say “is this guy nuts? what a moron!” but thats just how i feel about it…im not saying steriods should be legal, im not saying they should be allowed to be taken, im saying that people who are uneducated on why players take steroids need to quiet down because there are so many nuts out there who think bonds would have only hit 300 home runs if it werent for steriods, and roger clemens would have only had 150 wins if it werent for their abuse of steroids. would their numbers be the same, of course not, but they wouldnt be cut in half…bonds would probably still have 700 HRs and clemens would still have easily 300 wins…

    I dont care that arod used steroids, i really dont. i dont care that bonds or clemens most likely did. i dont care who probably did or who was tested positive. so many players were using them that its so unfair that we just pick out the best of that group and really dont care that anyone else did. in other words, if barry bonds didnt use steriods hed be much more like endy chavez…and if arod didnt use them hed be another rey ordonez, and roger clemens would have been just as good as armando reynoso. NO NO NO the point is that these guys are the best of the best of their era, THE STEROID ERA. yes its a mess, its a shame that this happened, but with contracts out of control, and with Bud Selig not really giving a care in the world for 6 years about the problem, players weren’t worried about the future consequences and problems.

    in this whole situation the thing that people should be most concerned about is the fact that he was then tipped off about upcoming tests. we know players used roids. so the MLB started testing, but what is the point of testing if they were telling they players in advance about tests? doesnt that defeat the whole purpose of testing? it sure does. thats what im more concerned and upset about in this whole situation.

    if arod was the only player using steriods, and he hit 80 homers a year and drove in 200 runs id be upset, but the man was a star for 8 years before 03 and for 5 years after that. its sad that he of all people used them, and denied ever using them (lucky for him it was in court) but its not like he was the only one, just as the mitchell report states. its sad that such high profile athletes use them, in all sports, whether its arod or bonds or a class A player, but at this point i just dont care anymore. it had its time and now we need to just go on and accept that players used them and that now if they do they get caught.

    but the thing that i find to be the saddest of all, is that jose canseco was right, and we all thought he was a moron just out for his 10 (more) minutes of fame, and just like bud selig did we turned our backs on it and made believe it wasnt actually there when clearly it was an overwhelming problem

  5. stlfan

    Pretty nice night. At least you got some revenge on that last one. Sorry to bring up A-fraud but he is so dumb to have done that. Why would you be that stupid. I mean seriously.

    And another thing. Do you think Albert Pujols takes steroids? I hope to God not. Have a nice night.

  6. txfilmmkr

    I need to get in a good Scrabble club, but there aren’t any that I know of in Houston. I think my local Mensa chapter has one, but it’s too far away to go to regularly. At least I’ve got my wife hooked on it now and we usually play a few games a week now. I have to admit that I’ve found myself sandbagging because if I beat her too much I’m afraid she’ll quit wanting to play.

  7. mlbtribefan

    Whether you continue to like A-Rod or not is up to you. The real issue is that whether we like it or not, there was no punishment for steroids in 2003. Why was his name still leaked? It only should tarnish his image IF HE WAS STILL USING THEM after 2003 for which they yet have proof. What I don’t like is the fact that they single him out and not the other 100+ names that were supposed to be left as a matter of confidentiality.
    Take care,
    Aaron http://mlbtribefan.mlblogs.com

  8. padreleigh

    Hi Zack…

    I think it’s really great that two, grown men can get together and spend some quality time playing scrabble. Good times indeed. Sorry about the A-rod quandry we all now face. There is just nothing we can do. There is not going to be a penalty. His records will still count ala Barry Bonds. No one is even sure it’s true, etc. Just a big pile of poo. To top it off he’s going to play for the Dominican Republic in the WBC instead of the USA like last time. I don’t have to like or respect him anymore. I didn’t really like him in the first place. What I can do is still go for his game home runs since they will continue to count. I think that is what you should do. There is a chance at 600 this year. Well, that’s my two cents. Cliff Floyd joins the Padres! Can’t wait to hit RF for BP!! Cliff Floyd, Adrian Gonzalez, Brian Giles, Jody Gerut, and even Wil Venable. RF BP should be GOOD this year. See you soon TC. I’ll be in AZ on the morning of March 1st. Peoria?


  9. padreleigh

    Hi Zack…

    Just thought about something else. Back in 2004 the Padres made a big deal about getting the first homer in PETCO Park. I THINK Marquis Grissom or someone else on the Giants hit the first one. Then, Mark Loretta hit one the next day for the Padres and they brought the guy that got it up to the TV booth and he got tickets to the owners suite for another game etc. You New Yorkers have TWO chances to be the first ones to get a ball at Yankee Stadium and CitiField. I’m sure you have some devious plans to be in the mix.


  10. puckcollector@optonline.net

    well at least arod admitted it and apologized. and joneli, another thing to add to what you wrote is that while arod was on steroids, he was FACING pitchers on steroids

  11. puckcollector@optonline.net

    oh and arod hit 156 homers between 01 and 03, so if arod hits more than 918 homers, he has the record

  12. padreleigh

    Very good point about the 918 homers Puckcollector. I’m also glad that he admitted it. Of course, it was AFTER he got caught, but at least he manned up.


  13. puckcollector@optonline.net

    and 918 is very possible for him to reach. if he hits 40 over the next ten years? and you have to think he still would have hit atleast 30 a year from 01-03. and that was his prime, but you could see a jump in his #’s.

    but ill be REALLY pissed if it is found out that hes been using it longer. i mean why did he stop in ’03? certainly not the testing B/C you could take something undetectable. and i wonder who sold the roids to him

  14. arksls@yahoo.com

    According to A-rod, he used about 6 years ago. I’d have real issues if it was more recent. We only hear about the guys with the great stats. What about all the guys who used banned substances but never became key players, had good numbers, etc. What if John Doe used banned drugs from day one for the last five years but has been sent up and down between the majors and the minors because he’s never really been able to produce?? I bet the only real impact PEDs have is on a player’s reputation.

  15. rickymcentire@yahoo.com

    way to go with the scrabble zack! my situation on a-rod is that i knew it. i always suspected him since he started getting heavier.

  16. goislanders4

    a-rod on steroids….. this explains why he can hit 40 homers and drive in 120 rbi’s a year, yet he faulters in the clutch. the steroids got him the numbers, but thats all. they couldn’t help in the clutch.

  17. ssweene1

    I think its just getting to the point where people need to get over the steroid thing. Baseball isn’t a religion, its an entertainment sport. I understand people being outraged, but if 104 people tested positive, that means at least 200 more just didn’t get caught. It is becoming quite apparent that no one ‘had an edge’ because of the culture of the game then, and EVERYONE was enhancing. To say the stats don’t matter for those players is ever MORE ridiculous. No one took away stats from pitchers who had an advantage before they lowered the mound. No one is taking away hitting stats because people used to put NAILS in to their bats. No one has taken away Reggie Jackson stats, even though he has admitted to amphetemine abuse all through the 70s. And to claim ethics is even worse. No one talks about Ty Cobb being a bitter racist who lynched African American people. No one talks about Mickey Mantle showing up to the ball park STILL DRUNK. No one talks about the people who beat their wifes, who steal. who do other moral bankrupt things, so lets get some perspective. He did it, he admitting it after the fact, he has tested clean since they implemented the rules and has STILL demolished pitching.

  18. .

    Zack! Here’s my schedule for this upcoming season. We are getting closer and closer everyday. I understand you don’t have a schedule for any season but I missed you all last year and there’s gotta be hope this year! All these games without an * are at Citi Field, the game with one * is at Yankee Stadium, and the game with two **’s is at Fenway. 4/3 vs. Red Sox, 4/28 vs. Marlins, 5/12 vs. Braves, 5/22 vs. Red Sox**, 5/25 vs. Nationals, 6/12 vs. Yankees*, 6/19 vs. Rays, 6/23 vs. Cardinals, 6/26 vs. Yankees, 7/28 vs. Rockies, 8/3 vs. Diamondbacks, 9/8 vs. Marlins, 9/22 vs. Braves, 10/4 vs. Astros. Almost every game is on Tuesday, with the exception of big rivals and I know you love weekday games. I seriously can’t wait for this season. I’m pumped. What about you? Peace MY DOOD!!!!!!

    – Donnie

  19. gobuccos25

    Hey Zack,

    Did you know you’re on one of the MLB network commercials? I’m sick today and was flipping around and noticed a maybe 1 second clip of you after you caught the Damon HR at Yankee Stadium. It was an ad for the 2008 silver sluggers show. Ill see if I can dig up the ad for you, but I’m not any good at it. Hope you’re well, and Go Bucs.

  20. gobuccos25

    My bad, hadn’t noticed that someone had already pointed it out in the last articles comments.

  21. zackhample

    Good question, but I can’t compare it. They’re two totally different passions/pursuits, and while I’m doing either one, I’m thoroughly happy.

    Anyone can show up. It’s free for first-timers and $15 every time you show up after that. (That money goes toward refreshments and rent, with a little left over for prizes.)

    Pretty much.

    Whoa, you should have your own sports column. Interesting thoughts. Can’t say I agree with everything, but thanks for speaking your mine nonetheless.

    Thanks. I hope Pujols is clean, and I’ll assume he is (for now), but one really has to wonder.

    Different Joel Sherman.

    You gotta spot her 100 points each game, or only play with six tiles on your rack while she can still have seven. Help her learn all the 2-letter words. She can do it in half an hour. There are only 100 or so, and many of them are common words she’d know anyway. Once she knows those, her scores will start shooting up.

    Well said.

    You should’ve put the word “grown” in quotes. In height? Yes. In maturity? Well…I’ll only question my own. But thanks. You’re going to clean up in RF this season.

    Good points.


    Yeah, that’s how to become rich: develop a drug that makes you produce in the clutch. Jeter was just born with it in his bloodstream.

    Nails? Wait…what? I never heard about that.

    Cool to see all those dates laid out, but I still have no idea when I’m gonna be everywhere. Dodger Stadium on May 18th. That’s all I can tell you at this point.

    You’re very welcome.

    I did know it, but only because other people like you were nice enough to let me know. I really appreciate it, and I hope you get better soon.

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