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This Sunday, Sept. 14, marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of Francis Scott Key's poem, "The Defence of Fort McHenry" — better known today as "The Star-Spangled Banner."

And is any national anthem so identified with sports as ours?

The association is probably because the song is played before every baseball game, and baseball games are legion. It is even responsible for that oldest of sports jokes: "What are the last two words of the national anthem? Play ball!"

Along with the U.S. Open in tennis, early September means baseball's pennant race is in full swing ... and no sports term has become a more maddening cliche than baseball's "walk-off."

At first it was applied only to a walk-off home run — that is, when the home team would win in the last inning with a homer — game's over, so it's a walk-off, because there's no need to run. Then there became walk-off triples, doubles, singles, sacrifice flies — even walk-off walks with the bases loaded. It's creeping walk-offism.

In boxing, it's not often that the first fight of the night gets a lot of attention. But at Longshoreman's Hall in San Francisco last month, the fans, the announcers, even the viewers watching the broadcast on FOX Sports One were all captivated by the boxer in the blue corner.

"Tonight he makes his professional debut and joins us from Beijing, China," chimed the announcer. "Here is The Great Wall: Taishan!"

No doubt some of the autograph seekers leaning across the fence straining for the baseball players' attention were in it for the money.

I suppose a baseball signed by the right person is worth something. Others were collectors working to complete their sets.

But most of us clumped up along the side of the dugout were fans — and our motives were of an entirely different nature.

Well, to be accurate, I wasn't begging for autographs. My kids were. I was there as a chaperone.

usatoday.com

Ohio State officials have confirmed that quarterback Braxton Miller will miss the 2014 season after re-injuring his throwing shoulder. The two-time Big Ten player of the year, left practice in pain Monday after making a throw. 

Golf tournament officials have announced the launch of ticket sales for the U.S. Senior Open Championship, which will take place at Scioto Country Club in Upper Arlington in August 2016. 

When Jason Taylor played professional football, his name struck terror into opposing quarterbacks. Now that he's retired, that name may soon adorn a plaque in the Hall of Fame.

For a reason why, look to seasons like the one Taylor had in 2006, when he was playing defensive end for the Miami Dolphins. He was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year that season, racking up 13.5 sacks, recovering two fumbles and even returning two interceptions — quite a feat for a lineman.

If there's one rule in American sports that is universally despised, it is the National Basketball Association's stipulation that a player cannot be drafted out of high school, but must put in an extra year playing somewhere — invariably at college. It makes a sham of both education and teamwork, and when the best kids are picked up, the policy is properly ridiculed as "one-and-done."

The NCAA has reached a settlement with former athletes that provides $75 million for medical monitoring and research into head injuries. The settlement also calls for a change in the way schools handle head trauma.

As USA Today explains, the NCAA currently requires that member schools only have a concussion management plan. The settlement would require schools to make changes to their policies and "institute return-to-play guidelines."

When a runner's heart stops during a marathon, it gets a lot of press — even though it's actually a pretty rare event. A more common killer among runners, and a condition that needs more prevention efforts, is heatstroke, according to a study by Israeli researchers.

Tony La Russa's tenure as manager of the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals is legendary. La Russa, who on Sunday will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, won a total of 2,728 games — more than any Major League Baseball manager in the past 60 years.

And when he hung up his jersey for good after the Cardinals made a historic late-season run in 2011, La Russa became the first manager to retire immediately after winning a world championship.

Anybody who possesses a scintilla of good taste (and/or decency) is against the Washington football team using its longtime nickname. I don't have to scrounge for Brownie points by getting all indignant about it.

The one person who is most adamant about keeping the name is Daniel Snyder, who owns the Washington football franchise, and who appears to be either especially stubborn, or insensitive or both.

The obscene nickname is, of course, Redskins, and increasingly it's been suggested that we in the media should stop saying or writing it.

As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

What It Takes To Be A Champion

Jul 21, 2014

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Olympic motto is faster, higher, stronger. And year after year, athletes seem to live up to those words, but how?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

DAVID EPSTEIN: We definitely are better. Although, it sort of depends how you look at the question because in some ways, we might not be as much better as we like to believe.

SIMON: David Epstein writes about sports science. He spoke to Guy Raz at the Ted Radio Hour.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

When America entered the Great War in 1917 — a war that began 100 years ago this summer — Major League Baseball faced a special problem: It had a hefty German heritage. Its best-known team, the New York Giants under John McGraw, was even sometimes called "McGraw's Prussians" for its tough, fighting spirit. Obviously, just as sauerkraut became "liberty cabbage," that had to go, too.

The world of e-sports was rattled this past week when an organization vying to become its governing body drew anger for organizing gender-divided tournaments.

Why is it that Europeans don't pay as much attention to time in sports as we do?

You American novices to soccer, who climbed on the World Cup bandwagon this summer –– you must have been completely baffled by how soccer has a thing called "stoppage time." That means that the game goes on after regulation time is up for an undisclosed period that only the referee knows.

The U.S. men's soccer team has finished second in its World Cup group, after a 1-0 loss to Germany on Thursday. The Americans will advance after Portugal beat Ghana 2-1.

"This is a huge, huge step, and now we can't wait until round of 16," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said afterward, according to ESPN. "Everyone said we had no chance. We took the chance and move on. And now we really want to prove a point."

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

I'm Audie Cornish, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Now it's time for the weekly visit to the Barbershop, where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shapeup this week are writer Jimi Izrael, with us from Cleveland. Hey there, Jimi.

JIMI IZRAEL: Hey A.C.. What took you so long, sister?

(LAUGHTER)

IZRAEL: I'm sorry, go ahead with your intro. Go with your intro, my bad. Go ahead.

In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s first appearance in Major League Baseball, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown opened a new exhibit this week, “Babe Ruth, His Life and Legend.” The Hall of Fame is also celebrating its 75th Anniversary. Bill Littlefield has more on the story...

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