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The Early Favorites in '07

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I can't tell you who's going to win this year's World Series. But next season, Texas Rangers fans should feel good about their chances, despite this year's pedestrian 80-82 record. You see, the Rangers just fired manager Buck Showalter. And when Buck leaves, he's often replaced by wild success.

+Buck was succeeded by Joe Torre as manager of the Yankees in 1996. Unimpressed with the choice, the New York Post ran the headline "Clueless Joe." To spite the Post, Torre and the Yanks went on to win the 1996 World Series, their first since 1978, and three more in the next four seasons.

+Showalter went on to manage the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1998-2000, turning a 65 win team his first season into a 100-game winner in 1999. The D-Backs slipped to 85-77 in 2000, and the Buck stopped there. First-year manager Bob Brenly took the 2001 Diamondbacks to the World Series, where they beat the Yankees in seven games.

+From 2001 to 2003, Showalter was a popular studio analyst for ESPN's Baseball Tonight. He left in 2003 to manage the Texas Rangers. Baseball Tonight won a Sports Emmy that year.

+At The Borgata in Atlantic City in 2005, Showalter walked away from a slot machine he'd been working for a good half-hour. I stepped in just as he left, pulled the lever and won $10,000. OK, this one didn't happen. But you get the point. Keep your heads up, Rangers fans.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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