Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt spent the 2013-2014 season proving he's one of the best football players on the planet. With 59 tackles, including 20.5 sacks, he made it clear he's one of the NFL's best.

However, what he did at Houston Astros batting practice proves he can do much more than rush opposing passers. It's just another stop on his busy offseason, which is set to end Friday as he reports for training camp.

The Astros invited Watt in to hit a few balls during batting practice, and he made the most of it.


If you think about it, all Watt has to do is make contact with that ball and it will fly. Those arms can handle the long ball.

Still, it takes some talent to clobber a ball that far. Could he be the next two-sport athlete? Who knows.

He does have a decent swing, though. Texans fans, breathe easy: Watt said he still prefers hitting people over baseballs.

Watt also had the chance to meet Mike Trout, arguably the game's best hitter. To summarize: Not a terrible offseason for J.J. Watt.

Sidney Crosby is superstitious when it comes to preparing for games.

From refusing to walk past the visitors' locker room, the mandatory 5 p.m. peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, or playing soccer earlier in the day, Crosby takes a strict approach to preparation.

However, Crosby's sister, Taylor, has revealed yet another new superstition. Her brother now refuses to see or speak with his sister and mother before games.

This routine developed as Crosby dealt with a variety of injuries over the past few seasons. He says it can be traced back to seeing and talking to his family.

At a Champions for Change event in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the Crosbys grew up, Taylor Crosby went into detail about her brother's new routine.

The first time it happened, according to Taylor, was when Sidney separated his shoulder after seeing his sister before the game. He didn't think much of it at the time, until a few more injuries followed the same pattern.

There was the time Crosby tried calling his mother before a game. He broke his foot that night -- the curse had struck again.

Another time, Crosby let his sister see him on his birthday weekend and they met before the game. Guess what happened? Another broken foot.

He made an effort not to see his family before games, but still ran into his sister before the 2011 Winter Classic. He suffered the concussion that kept him out most of the season in that game.

Coincidental as it seems, Crosby isn't willing to take any chances. After all of the on-ice problems he's dealt with, foregoing a little family time is a worthy sacrifice for the NHL star.

But if he sticks to his guns on this rule, he might have a hard time explaining the next injury that strikes.

Gilbert Arenas may be gone from the NBA, but he refuses to be forgotten. At the Orange County Fair in California, Arenas stepped up to the bent rims of a basketball-shooting game, took aim, and fired.

And he scored. And then he scored many more times.

In fact, if you Agent Zero's word for it, he won so many prizes at the carnival game that he was banned from the Orange County Fair.


That's a whole lot of stuffed animal.

Easily the most exciting part of Arenas' Instagram post is this small throwaway line -- "I screamed #hibachi" -- which was a throwback for anyone who enjoyed the wild, sometimes crazy antics Arenas was known for when he ranked among the NBA's best scorers.

Orange County Fair hasn't said whether Arenas was actually banned, or if he's exaggerating. More likely is that he was welcome to stay at the fair but was banned from playing the basketball carnival game any further.

A business has to make money, after all. Gilbert Arenas wasn't letting that happen.

Galen Rupp is at the pinnacle of his career. Fresh off a record-setting run in the 10,000 meters last month, the long-distance runner is looking ahead to the 2016 Olympics and his shot to improve on the silver medal he earned in 2012. Rupp talks about that record-setting run and other foot-related fetishes in an exclusive with ThePostGame.

This text will be replaced

Frank Kaminsky is having a heck of a year. After leading Wisconsin to the NCAA championship game, he went to Charlotte as the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft. His boss, Hornets owner Michael Jordan, knows a thing or two about succeeding on the court -- and his one-on-one game is the stuff of legend. Frank the Tank has youth, but he's not sure how much that would matter in a matchup with His Airness.

This text will be replaced

Jamie O'Brien is a stuntman, so it's not supposed to be surprising to see him attempt something considered so dangerous.

Nevertheless, stop and marvel at this latest act. O'Brien literally lit himself on fire and proceeded to surf at the reef in Teahupo'o, on the southwestern coast of Tahiti.

The stunt was also recorded for his original series, "Who Is Job 5.0."

O'Brien headed out early in the morning to attempt the crazy stunt, paddling toward the reef in the dark. O'Brien told Red Bull it was far from an impromptu adventure, especially given the preparation that went into the stunt.

He flew out to California to test his idea and his anxiety started to creep in.

"I remember on the plane thinking it was so out of the box," O'Brien told Red Bull. "What was I doing flying to California to light myself on fire? Riley's crew members were telling me how some folks panic, and you never know how you'll react.

People think they’ll be fine then they get lit on fire and they lose it. I was like, 'God, I hope that doesn't happen to me.' All the anticipation and worry of whether you'll get burned, the build-up was like ... beyond ... I can't even put it into words."


A video posted by Jamie O'Brien (@whoisjob) on

On the day of the run, O'Brien donned 15 extra pounds of wet suits and thermal gear. On a practice run the day before, the flames had burned through a few layers of his wetsuit and singed his eyebrow.

Thankfully, O'Brien completed his stunt without any hiccups.

"I caught the best wave of my life today," he said. "It was a dream wave, and I was on fire. It was the biggest adrenaline rush of my life. Everything went super smooth."

The U.S. won the Women's World Cup in Canada, and the momentum has carried to the box office as many players return to their professional clubs in the National Women's Soccer League.

Houston, in particular, is poised to see an explosion in fan interest. An average of 4,500 fans go to see the Houston Dash play. But the Dash -- whose national team players include Morgan Brian, Lauren Klingenberg and newly minted American hero Carli Lloyd -- are expecting about 15,000 fans for this weekend's game against Chicago.

That would be a record for the club. And that's far from the only club enjoying the momentum of the 2015 World Cup. Seattle is expecting attendance around 5,500 for its next game, up from its typical 3,000.

In Portland, where the Thorns lead the NWSL with average attendance of about 13,000 , the team's owner believes the next home match will be a sellout crowd of 21,000 -- the largest mark in NWSL history.

And that Portland game? It's on a Wednesday night.

Even better, the sales are extending beyond the next match, which serves as a homecoming for national team players.

"[Fans are] buying three packs, buying it in droves," Seattle Reign marketing director Brandon Kolp told USA Today. "We anticipated to see a spike for people wanting to see [the players] right after they came back, but we're seeing [more sales]."

That's obviously great news for the NWSL, and for women's soccer in general. Whether those teams can maintain that momentum far into the future is another question. The NWSL is the fourth professional women's league to give it a try in the United States, and its three predecessors failed to stick.

Even more surprising, the WUSA, which debuted in 2001 on the heels of America's 1999 World Cup victory, actually saw significantly higher attendance than the NWSL.

The WUSA had an average of 8,000 fans in its first season. The NWSL in 2014 managed barely half that, with 4,100 fans attending the average match.

The WUSA, meanwhile, saw declining attendance in 2002 and 2003 before folding after three professional seasons.

The NWSL needs an opposite trend: They need to continue building attendance to a point where the league can remain viable for years to come, and that means using the current World Cup momentum to entrench soccer enthusiasts as long-term fans.

The NWSL club owners are well aware that fan interest may fade after the buzz of the World Cup wears off. But Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson sees other reasons to be optimistic -- and those encouraging signs weren't present during the days of the WUSA.

"It's a different scenario this time around in the NWSL with first of all, the (TV) numbers in the World Cup were staggering at an entirely different level," Paulson told USA Today. "And more so it's not just about people tuning in for an event and seeing a U.S. victory. It's a soccer nation understanding the game in a way they haven't before.

"Ultimately, the onus is on the clubs and leagues to provide a great fan experience so people want to come back and it's not just a curiosity to see the players you've been watching in Canada."

You could say that baseball is popular in some parts of Finland, but that would only be partially true.

First of all, they call it pesäpallo. And second of all, pesäpallo is totally insane.

As profiled by Brian Costa for The Wall Street Journal, Finland's version of baseball has some notable differences in how its American ancestor functions.

There's no pitcher's mound, for one -- pitchers stand next to the batters and toss the ball vertically. The baseball diamond has a zigzag shape. And all the downtime between pitches? That doesn't exist.

"If you dropped acid and decided to go make baseball," said an MLB scout based in Norway, "this is what you would end up with."

Despite clearly evolving from American baseball, pesäpallo -- which is most popular in rural communities throughout Finland -- has done plenty to distinguish itself as its own sport. Action is never-ending, since batters hit almost every pitch into play. Nobody can call for time between plays.

There are no breaks to switch out pitchers because there is no such thing as a reliever. The same pitcher throws an entire game, and pitches every single game for a team.

Then there are some of the more bizarre aspects of the game. Managers communicate to their team with signals that look like peacock feathers, according to the WSJ, and designated hitters are group into threes -- and oh yeah, those DHs are called "jokers."

Then there's the outfield -- beyond the zig-zag infield, the pesäpallo outfield is sand like the infield, and it's rectangular -- and way, way bigger than a traditional baseball outfield.

The field is so huge that one professional player wore a pedometer to track his movement. In a regulation game, he clocked 10.5 kilometers.

And if you think it's a niche thing, you're wrong. Pesäpallo is quickly becoming the national pastime in Finland.

Said the head of the Finnish Baseball Association to the WSJ: "Some people think pesäpallo is a cancer, because it takes the best athletes from other sports."

Nobody's going to challenge James Harrison to a game of "Who's Crazier?" The Steelers linebacker, famed for his brutal hits and a general willingness to turn his body into a battering ram, is taking his offseason training seriously.

But Harrison's recent workouts take the phrase, "Can you take the heat?" to a whole new level. According to video posted to his Instagram page, the linebacker recently treated himself to a workout in Arizona amid 136-degree air temperature.

Even more shocking, a reading of the artificial turf's temperature registered it at a blistering 189.5 degrees Fahrenheit.


Field temp 189.5, temp 6ft above the field 136...... Grooving on Sunday Arizona heat

A video posted by James Harrison (@jhharrison92) on

Crazy numbers, indeed. And the 37-year-old did the workout while wearing sweats and possibly a weight vest underneath. Those numbers seem far too extreme for a human to be safely working out, and that might have been the case, but some context is needed.

First of all, the artificial turf temperature reading was likely accurate -- it's very possible for turf to reach a temperature well above the air temperature, according to Turfgrass Producers International.

That's one of the downsides of playing on artificial turfs in high heat. But the rubber and synthetic materials in the turf are also poor conductors of heat, so that 189 degrees isn't radiating from the ground and reaching Harrison.

Even so, 136 degrees is an extreme temperature itself -- too extreme for exercise, many would say. The true effect of that heat depends on a number of factors, including wind speed and humidity -- drier air doesn't conduct heat as well as humid air, so in an Arizona climate, that high temperature isn't quite the problem it would be in, say, Florida.

So it's very possible Harrison was working out in the conditions he presents. How long that workout lasted is a different manner. And as for whether it was safe? Well, James Harrison hasn't made a career out of living cautiously.

Brett Favre was never known for his humility, nor has he been very graceful about accepting the effects of middle age. Even though he's been long-retired and has generally stayed away from the game, the future Hall of Famer isn't shy about discussing his own physical talents.

Let's make one thing clear: Favre hasn't suggested he could come in and quarterback a playoff team. But at the shallowest position in the NFL, where there aren't even enough competent starters to go around to every team in the league, Favre thinks he could contribute something.

He discussed this scenario in an interview with Sports Illustrated for its upcoming "Where are they now?" issue.

"I think I could play," Favre said. "As far as throwing. Of course, we're not trying to start some he's-coming-out-of-retirement deal.

"Do I think I could play and lead a team? Look, no. But I could play. I could make all the throws I made before, I just couldn't throw it near as far, but that never matters anyway."

Favre is 45 now, and he hasn't played in the NFL for more than four years. His final season, in 2011, was injury-plagued and sub-par, serving as strong evidence that his playing days were over.

At the same time, he was never Blaine Gabbert bad. He just was bad by Favre's standards. And when you come to associate someone with greatness, it's hard to see them when that shine of greatness wears off.

Syndicate content