Well hola ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to another Life, Love… Sport (Damn Disease Edition). Once again I seem to have gotten sick. This time it’s laryngitis and apparently I’m not allowed to talk. But those who know me know that’s not gonna stop me. In this week’s column, baseball will be featured, as well as a little bit of basketball of the professional type with all its hubbub.

I will, for the first time in modern LLS history, discuss soccer! Not the pathetic American kind with names like the New England Revolution, but more of the awesome British kind with names like Everton FC Toffees (Honestly, with a nickname like Toffees, how could you go wrong? On the other hand, what kind of a mascot would that be? Sometimes I wonder). Also, maybe a word or two about the free agency flurry in the NFL, but not too much about football because, frankly, I’m a bit burnt out. Let’s go kids, mind the gap!

I’ll be hot-damned if it isn’t baseball time again on ESPN. Can you believe that the World Wide Leader broadcast a whole show in Disney World about meeting random athletes on roller coaster rides and people actually watched? I watched. What did we learn from this shameless self-promotion by Disney? Almost nothing. After all, it’s still only the beginning of March and there is still a lot of time before Opening Day. You want to know what happens to people before Opening Day? Injuries. And what comes from injuries? Desperate teams doing crazy things and talking themselves into stupid situations like “Sure Roger Clemens is facing off against the U.S. government, and sure he was terrible in his half-season trial with the Yankees, but gosh, we just lost our top four pitchers in a freak mini-golf accident and we need warm bodies on the team.”

An update on the Boston Red Sox (Who did you expect, the Pirates? Stupid Pittsburgh). Everything is still going smoothly in camp except for a brief flare-up by the best damn closer in the game. The Pap-smear, a.k.a. Papelbon was very vocal about getting his contract renewed for a paltry 450 grand.

Now granted, the good folks here at LLS usually take the players’ side in the debate about salary, but let’s play a little game called “Wait a year.” Dear Papelbon, please wait a year. As long as you don’t fall off the face of the Earth or pull a Tom Cruise, you’re gonna get paid. That is all I have to say about that.

And now, a historic first for LLS, a whole paragraph (or two!) about soccer. What is the world coming to? Actually, the reason that soccer is such a big deal now is because football is on a relative hiatus (Thank you, Jesus!).

As you already know, LLS has chosen Everton FC as the Premiership team to support. And we dove head first into our new obsession, even watching a UEFA Cup game on the tube (British for TV) the day before last. This soccer obsession is really fantastic. We just learned that a Nigerian striker named Yakubu is the star of the Everton team. Only in soccer can people take just one name and other people are fine with it. If Tom Brady just dropped his first name, there would be hell to pay in the towns of New England. Americans value their first names because they give them a sense of conformity with others.

Before being a supporter of the Everton club, LLS marveled at how grown men could cry when their team lost a soccer game. After all, the only soccer in America is the lame MLS, with its 10 fans. But European soccer is a bit different. Players can make statements that can directly influence how the rest of the team plays the following day. Players can praise or shoot down their fans and people pay attention.

And the European media has the best way of describing situations. Just go to cnn.com and bbc.com and revel in the differences. It’s great.

Final Fact: The largest attendance for a soccer match ever was 199,854 people – Brazil vs. Uruguay in the World Cup at the Maracana Municipal Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, July 1950.

Maystrovsky’s column appears weekly. Maystrovsky is a member of the class of 2009.

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