Category Archives: Major League Baseball
CORRECTION from the last post: the next FOUR College Football Playoff national championship game sites have been named. It will be Miami, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Houston, in that order, from January 2021-24.
The 2025 and 2026 games will probably go to two of these three sites: Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Detroit. I blacked out earlier and forgot all about the Raiders’ stadium in Nevada (named Allegiant Stadium), which opens either later this year or in 2021. I’ll take a guess and say 2025 goes to Minneapolis since the NFL will want to host Super Bowl LIX in Las Vegas, and 2026 heads to Nevada.
The construction schedule in Vegas is tighter than a pair of skinny jeans. If the stadium cannot be completed on time for the Raiders, they’re screwed. They have the option to play in Oakland for 2020, but would (a) fans attend and (b) the Athletics acquiesce? It may force the Raiders to become tenants in Santa Clara with the 49ers, or else play as many games as possible on the road early in the season.
The NFL could conceivably schedule the Raiders’ first eight games on the road, a game in London or Mexico City, and their bye week within the first 10 weeks, leaving them to play weeks 11-17 in Vegas. It would be highly unusual, but what else can you do? If the NFL were to schedule it that way and the stadium were ready in September, the game sites with the AFC West teams could be flip-flopped.
The College Football Playoff committee says it will let northern cities without climate-controlled stadiums bid, but how many fans would attend if the game were in New Jersey, which would entail the exorbitant costs of traveling to and from New York? Foxborough, where it’s a nightmare to get to and from the stadium, no matter if you’re flying into Boston or Providence? Seattle? Better hope Oregon or Washington has a magical season like LSU just completed, and I can imagine how many residents of the Pacific Northwest would react to legions of invaders from Alabama, South Carolina or elsewhere in the south.
One city which cannot host: Chicago. Soldier Field’s capacity falls a little more than 3,000 seats short of the minimum of 65,000. However, the CFP committee would be wise to grant a waiver if the nation’s third-largest city wants the game.
As the Chiefs prepare for what they hope will be their biggest victory since 11 January 1970, there was some sad news out of the Truman Sports Complex.
Former Royals owner David Glass passed away last week at 84 due to complications from pneumonia. This came only two months after the sale of the Royals from Glass to John Sherman was approved by the other 29 MLB owners.
Glass was named the Royals’ CEO at the end of the 1993 season, a little less than three months following the death of founder Ewing Kauffman. Glass was the representative of the Kauffman trust which owned the team until he bought the majority stake before the 2000 season.
During the 1994 Major League Baseball players’ strike, Glass was one of the hardest of the hard-liners, demanding a salary cap and pleading poverty, claiming small-market Kansas City could not compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and the other big-market teams. Glass’ biggest allies were the White Sox’ Jerry Reinsdorf and the Brewers’ Bud Selig, who had been acting Commissioner since the ouster of Fay Vincent in September 1992. Selig got the full-time gig in 1998.
While Orioles owner Peter Angelos refused to use replacement players during 1995 spring training, Glass endorsed the idea wholeheartedly. Thankfully for Glass, future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor forced the owners to allow the union players back to work before any regular season games were played with scrubs.
Glass, who was once the CEO of Walmart (then known as Wal-Mart), ran the Royals like the discount giant, slashing salaries to the bone in order to pocket large profits from revenue sharing and MLB television rights.
To be blunt, Glass was probably the most hated man in Kansas City for the first decade of the millennium.
The Royals lost 100 or more games four times in five seasons between 2002-06, bottoming out with a 56-106 disaster in 2005. Somehow, Glass and a dying Lamar Hunt convinced Jackson County, Missouri voters to approve almost $500 million in improvements to Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums in April 2006, although a proposed rolling roof was rejected. Hunt did not live to see the improvements to his baby; he died in December 2006.
In June 2006, Glass revoked the press credentials of two reporters who asked questions he deemed too critical. The Baseball Writers Association of America got involved, and Glass was forced to back down.
The questions were asked at Dayton Moore’s opening press conference as the Royals’ general manager.
Glass owed Moore a debt of gratitude, for if not for him, Glass would be as reviled now as he was then.
Moore took advantage of most of the high draft picks the team received for losing and turned them into future standouts Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. Heavy investment in Latin American scouting yielded Salvador Perez, Kelvim Herrera and Yordano Ventura, and a trade with the Brewers sent Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar to Kansas City for Zack Greinke, the 2009 Cy Young Award winner who wore out his welcome one year later.
Glass went from goat to hero in 2014 and 2015.
The 2014 Royals made the franchise’s first postseason appearance since winning the 1985 World Series, sweeping past the Angels and Orioles before losing Game 7 of the World Series to the Giants and Madison Bumgarner’s bionic arm.
One year later, the boastful Royals took advantage of the error-prone Mets and won the World Series in five games. Reportedly more than 800,000 people turned out for the victory celebration two days after the series ended, but I think it was closer to 400,000.
Even though the Royals lost over 100 games in 2018 and ’19, Glass’ legacy was secure. He brought Kansas City from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the mountain in 10 years, allowing Royals fans to look down their noses at title-starved fan bases in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee (UGH), Oakland, Pittsburgh and Queens. Houston and Washington were on that list until the past three seasons.
Glass was Richard Nixon in reverse. Had Nixon announced he would not run for re-election in 1972, he could have gone out a hero for negotiating peace with the Soviet Union, opening trade between the United States and China, and ending the quagmire in Vietnam. Instead, many remember Nixon for one thing only: Watergate.
I’d like to know why Old Chicago serves ranch with its calzones. I noticed this tonight at the Hays restaurant when two ladies ordered them. I was there to play some more trivia. It was packed, as were all other fine dining establishments in Hays.
I don’t like ranch, but people I care about very much (you know who you are) love it. However, it just doesn’t seem right with a dish loaded with pepperoni, sausage, mozzarella cheese and maybe vegetables.
I posted twice today to make up for the previous three days of non-posting. I won’t bore you any further.
You would think I would be watching LSU and Clemson play for college football’s national championship (at least for the highest level).
I am so convinced Clemson will win I am not watching.
The game kicked off at 19:15. I am self-censoring. The TV is off. I have set my devices to do not disturb. I am not checking any sports sites. I think I’ll go to bed really early, considering I rose at 05:00 and have a lot of work to get done tomorrow morning.
The last time I self-censored was the night of the 2016 presidential election. I watched some crap on LMN, then went to bed early. I had no earthly clue who had won what state.
I went to bed convinced Hillary would win, just as almost every major media outlet predicted.
It wasn’t until I came upstairs, where my mother had the TV tuned to Today, when I learned Trump won.
When LSU played Alabama for the BCS national championship in January 2012, I didn’t watch the game, but I made the mistake of looking at Twitter. It was there I learned just how badly LSU was getting its ass kicked by Alabama. Of course, a few jerks had to rub it in.
This season, I purposely did not watch most of the first half in LSU’s game at Alabama and the Peach Bowl vs. Oklahoma. I didn’t see a score until I came upstairs, because my mother was watching. In each of those games, the Bayou Bengals built up a big enough lead, making it okay to watch. Not tonight. It won’t be that easy vs. Clemson.
Tonight, no social media, Nothing. If I want to watch the game, I can watch a replay on ESPN+. Something tells me those wearing orange are going to be much happier tonight than those wearing purple and gold.
More sports woe in Houston.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch for the 2020 season for their roles in Houston’s sign stealing throughout the 2017 postseason, which ended with the Astros defeating the Dodgers in the World Series.
Houston was also fined $5 million, believed to be a record for a major sports league due to an on-field incident. Too bad Roger Goodell doesn’t have the guts to fine the Patriots that much.
Astros owner Jim Crane went one step farther than Manfred, immediately firing Luhnow and Hinch. Houston has a huge hole in the rotation now that Gerrit Cole is in the Bronx, but it still has many strong pieces in Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Corriea and George Springer. The question is who will manage them, and who will step into this mess?
I didn’t mention the Oilers blowing the 35-3 lead in Buffalo in the 1992 playoffs, but I figured you knew about that already. It has been repeated ad nausem following the Texans’ collapse yesterday in Kansas City.
On the other hand, Chiefs fans are convinced more than ever the Super Bowl is their destiny. Mahomes is God. The Titans might as well stay in Nashville. Bring on the 49ers or Packers.
Before the season, a Kansas City Star online poll asked “What would it take for you to consider the Chiefs season a success?”. I don’t remember the exact split, but at least 80 percent said either “get to the Super Bowl” or “win the Super Bowl”. If the Titans win Sunday, mental health professionals will be in high demand in the so-called “Chiefs Kingdom”.
Good night, blogosphere. Hopefully I’m waking up to good news in a few hours…but I have my doubts.
Houston called itself “Clutch City” after the Rockets won back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 (vs. the Knicks, led by Patrick Ewing) and 1995 (vs. the Magic, sweeping an Orlando team led by Shaq).
After the last three months, a more appropriate moniker for Houston is “Choke City”.
It began with the Astros. After winning a franchise record 107 games in the regular season, Houston nearly choked in the American League Division Series vs. the Rays, needing a victory in the winner-take-all Game 5 to advance to the American League Championship Series.
The Astros ousted the Yankees in six to move into the World Series for the second time in three years, where Houston would face the Washington Nationals, who were making their first World Series appearance.
Many experts expected the Astros to win the first two games at Minute Maid Park, then go to the nation’s capital and win two of three there.
Instead, Houston lost the first two games at home. The Astros rallied to win the next three in the District of Columbia to gain the series lead, only to choke it away by losing the sixth and seventh games in Texas. It became the first best-of-seven series in any of the three major sports (MLB, NBA, NHL) which use that format where the road team won every game.
Today, the Texans joined the Astros in Houston sports infamy.
Bill O’Brien’s team built a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter of an AFC divisional playoff in Kansas City.
By halftime, the Chiefs led 28-24, as Patrick Mahomes joined Doug Williams as the only quarterbacks to throw four touchdown passes in one quarter of a playoff game. Williams did it in the second quarter of Super Bowl XXII, when the Redskins turned a 10-0 deficit vs. the Broncos into a 35-10 halftime bulge. Washington won 42-10, and Williams was the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Kansas City won 51-31 and earned the right to host Tennessee in next Sunday’s AFC championship game.
Green Bay held on to defeat Seattle 28-23 in the NFC, sending the Packers to Santa Clara to face the 49ers for the other spot in Super Bowl LIV in Miami (Gardens) Feb. 2.
A team from Houston has not played in the AFC championship game since 1979, when the Oilers lost to the Steelers for the second consecutive year. Bum Phillips’ team was hurt by the officials making a bad call on a pass to Mike Renfro which was ruled incomplete but was in fact a touchdown, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
Even worse, Houston fans have to watch their former team play in its third AFC championship since relocating to the Volunteer State. The Titans defeated the Jaguars in 1999 before losing to the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, but lost to the Raiders in 2002.
Barely an hour after the game ended at ARrowhead, a Houston Chronicle columnist wrote it was time for Texans coach Bill O’Brien to leave, reminding readers of past Houston sports failures. One of them was the famous 1983 NCAA men’s basketball title game, when Jim Valvano’s underdog North Carolina State Wolfpack shocked the mighty Houston Cougars, nicknamed “Phi Slamma Jamma” , when Lorenzo Charles caught Dereck Whittenburg’s airball and slammed it through the net with no time remaining. That Houston team featured two of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, Clyde Drexler and (H)Akeem Olajuwon.
It wasn’t the first time a team from Kansas City stuck it to a team from Houston.
In 1993, the Oilers hosted the Chiefs in an AFC divisional game. Houston entered on an 11-game winning streak, but Kansas City, led by Joe Montana, prevailed 28-20. Following that loss, the Oilers’ fan support plummeted to subterranean depths, and after the 1996 season, they were on their way to Tennessee.
In 2015, the Astros were up 2-1 on the Royals in an American League Division Series and led Game 4 through seven innings. Kansas City rallied to win that game, won Game 5 in Kansas City, and eventually won the World Series. Houston’s 2017 World Series championship took the sting out of the 2015 setback, but the one in 2019 will be hard to forget, no matter if the Astros win another championship or not.
Despite superstars like Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Chris Paul and James Harden playing for the Rockets in recent years, Houston has not played for an NBA championship since 1995. The window is wide open with the Warriors in free fall, but the Rockets will be severely tested by the two Los Angeles teams in the West, and hopefully Milwaukee if they make it to the Finals.
Approximately 26 hours from now, LSU will either have completed its greatest football season ever, or one of its most disappointing. Hopefully it’s the former. However, I would feel much better about this if the opponent were wearing scarlet and gray instead of orange. Something tells me Dabo is the younger, hipper version of LSU’s former coach–the one in Tuscaloosa, not the one in Lawrence–and has a dynasty going in the the South Carolina uplands.
Stupid mouse. Now I have to start over. Actually, I’m the stupid one for not saving my draft.
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Super Bowl IV, when the Chiefs, led by quarterback Len Dawson, running back Mike Garrett and receiver Otis Taylor, “matriculated the ball down the field” well enough to defeat the Vikings 23-7 in the last Super Bowl to match the NFL and AFL. The merger of the leagues was to take effect after this game, per the terms of the 1966 agreement brokered by Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, and NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.
It was fitting the final game involving an AFL team was played in New Orleans. The Big Easy was represented in the U.S. House by Thomas Hale Boggs, who helped the NFL and AFL secure an antitrust exemption to allow for the merger. Louisiana’s junior U.S. Senator, Russell B. Long, son of Huey and nephew of Earl, was the manager of the antitrust exemption in the Senate. The bill was signed by LBJ in October 1966. As a reward, New Orleans was awarded an expansion team, which began play as the Saints in 1967.
Ironically, Hunt nearly moved the Dallas Texans to New Orleans instead of Kansas City in early 1963. There was a slight problem with that idea: segregation.
Tulane Stadium did not allow black patrons to sit in prime seating areas for Green Wave games (nor did any other stadium in the Southeastern Conference at that time). No way that would be kosher for a professional league, especially one which had a large number of black players.
No state of the former confederacy other than Texas had a professional sports franchise until the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966, but Atlanta was fortunate to have a progressive mayor, Ivan Allen, who initiated desegregation in the ATL before the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. New Orleans wasn’t as bad as Birmingham and Montgomery as far as treating blacks as a lower life form, but mayors Chep Morrison and Victor Schiro weren’t rolling out the red carpet, either.
The field at Tulane Stadium in Super Bowl IV was a mud pit. Anyone who has watched highlights of the game (there is an excellent video chronicling the game on YouTube) knows why the NFL required the Saints and Tulane to install artificial turf (Poly-Turf) in March 1971 when the Big Easy was awarded Super Bowl VI, which was played in January 1972.
Super Bowl IV was the first to be played without a week off between the league (later conference) championship games and the finale. This wouldn’t be the case again until January 1983, when the playoffs had to be expanded in the wake of the 1982 players’ strike which reduced the regular season from 16 games to 9. The next time there was only one week scheduled between the conference championships and Super Bowl was the 1990 season.
The off week is a necessity. Players need time to work out ticket arrangements, coaches need extra time to game plan, business managers need time to figure out flights and hotels, and fans need a week off from football, period (the Pro Bowl doesn’t count).
Strangely, there was a week off for the Chiefs and Raiders before the AFL championship game.
In 1969, the AFL held a semifinal playoff round, with the division champions (Jets in the East, Raiders in the West) hosting the runner-up from the opposite division (Chiefs in the West, Oilers in the East).
The AFL’s 1969 regular season ended one week earlier than the NFL’s. The weekend of Dec. 20-21 would have been used for tiebreaker games, but with no tiebreakers needed, the semifinals were held those days, with the Chiefs defeating the Jets 13-6 on Saturday and the Raiders mauling the Oilers 56-7 on Sunday.
While the AFL rested the final weekend of 1969, the NFL held its semifinals. The Vikings edged the Rams 23-20 to win the Western Conference, and the Browns crushed the Cowboys 38-14 to win the East.
The NFL championship game in Minnesota was a 27-7 rout for the Vikings, and it wasn’t that close. Cleveland was probably glad to be going to the AFC after losing 52-14 to the Cowboys in the 1967 semifinals and 34-0 to the Colts in the 1968 NFL championship.
The AFL championship provided much more drama.
Kansas City was seething its last four games to Oakland.
After the Chiefs won 24-10 in Kansas City in 1968 in a game where Hank Stram used the Straight-T formation and passed only three times, the Raiders rolled over the Chiefs twice in Oakland, 38-21 and 41-6, the latter being a playoff for the AFL Western Division title. The Raiders lost the AFL championship to the Jets, who went on to prove Joe Namath prophetic.
In 1969, the Raiders swept the Chiefs, 27-24 in Kansas City and 10-6 in Oakland.
The Raiders, coached by a 33-year old newbie named John Madden, had their suitcases loaded onto buses in the Oakland Coliseum parking lot. If Oakland won, it would immediately head to San Francisco International Airport and fly to New Orleans that night.
Oakland scored in the first quarter to go ahead 7-0, but that was all.
Kansas City’s “Redwood Forest” defense, led by five future Hall of Famers, hled the Raiders the rest of the way, and the Chiefs rallied to win 17-7 for their third AFL championship and second trip to the Super Bowl.
The Vikings were immediately installed as 14-point favorites. Many experts, especially those loyal to the NFL like Sports Illustrated’s Tex Maule and notorious gambler Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, thought the Jets’ victory in Super Bowl III was a fluke. On the other hand, many of the Chiefs on the team in 1969 were on the field in Los Angeles three years prior, and Kansas City’s defense was superior to New York’s.
On the Tuesday prior to the Super Bowl, NBC’s Huntley-Brinkley Report broke news of several NFL players who had ties to a Detroit bookmaker, Donald “Dice Dawson”. The two most prominent names on the list were Namath (no surprise) and Len Dawson (shocking).
Six hours after the report aired, Stram addressed the media and had Len Dawson, no relation to Dice, read a statement. Stram and his quarterback vehemently denied the report. It turned out the reports were false. So much for there not being fake news in 1970.
Namath ran afoul of Rozelle in the summer of 1969 after it was discovered gamblers and mafia members were hanging out at Bachelor’s III, the Manhattan bar Namath owned. Rozelle ordered Namath to divest himself of holdings in Bachelor’s III. Namath initially refused and retired, but one month later, he reversed course and returned to the Jets. I’m guessing Bear Bryant had a lot to do with Namath coming back, much more so than Weeb Ewbank.
The Vikings featured the NFL’s best defense in 1969, led by the “Purple Gang”. Minnesota’s defense had three future Hall of Famers in end Carl Eller, tackle Alan Page and safety Paul Krause, as well as end Jim Marshall, an ironman who played in 282 consecutive games over 19 seasons. How Marshall isn’t in the Hall of Fame is a travesty.
Stram thought he could beat the Vikings with short, quick passes to the sideline with his speedy receivers, Taylor and Frank Pitts. The key was to make sure Eller and Marshall were blocked. To do this, Stram had a running back and/or tight end Fred Arbanas assist his tackles, Jim Tyrer (on Marshall) and Dave Hill (on Eller) chip the ends.
“King Henry” also ran reverses, traps and counters to take advantage of Page’s quickness and keep him off-balance.
On defense, Stram often shifted one of his tackles, Buck Buchanan or Curley Culp (both are in the Hall of Fame), directly over Minnesota’s All-Pro center, Mick Tinglehoff. All NFL teams were running the standard 4-3 defense in 1969, which meant centers could fire out and block a middle linebacker instead of having to deal with a man right on him.
By putting Culp or Buchanan on Tinglehoff, it freed middle linebacker Willie Lanier, another future Hall of Famer, to roam free where needed.
Minnesota’s offense, while effective, was primitive in 1969. With Fran Tarkenton in New York and Chuck Foreman and John Gilliam still years away, the Vikings relied mostly on two straight-ahead runners, Bill Brown and Dave Osborn, and reckless quarterback Joe Kapp, whose wobbly passes were similar to those thrown by Billy Kilmer, the Saints’ starting quarterback at that time.
Stram, at the request of NFL Films President/Executive Producer Ed Sabol and son Steve, agreed to wear a wireless microphone during the game. When the highlights of Super Bowl IV were released in the summer of 1970, it became the gold standard for all future NFL Films productions.
The Chiefs took a 9-0 lead on three Jan Stenerud field goals, then caught a huge break in the second quarter when Charlie West fumbled a kickoff. Kansas City lineman Remi Prudhomme, who played on the same field for LSU in its victory over Syracuse in the 1965 Sugar Bowl, recovered, setting up the Chiefs in the red zone.
With second and goal on the Vikings 6-yard line, Stram famously called for “65 Toss Power Trap”.
In what became one of the most iconic play calls in Super Bowl history, the Chiefs offensive line influenced Page and Eller to their left, and with Marshall sealed off by Tyrer, Garrett ran through a gaping hole to the game’s first touchdown. Kansas City led 16-0, and that was the score at halftime.
The halftime show at Super Bowl IV featured a recreation of the Battle of New Orleans. Bad idea. A couple of the actors portraying soldiers lost fingers, and what was left of the grass on the field was gone.
Minnesota drove to a touchdown by Osborn in the third quarter to make it 16-7, but Kansas City put the game away for good later in the period when Taylor took a short pass at the right sideline, broke an attempted tackle by Viking cornerback Earsell Mackbee, then outran Karl Kassulke the rest of the way to a 46-yard touchdown.
Chiefs 23, Vikings 7 would be the final. Dawson was named Most Valuable Player, and President Nixon called the winning coach and quarterback in the locker room.
Kansas City hasn’t been back to the Super Bowl. The closest the Chiefs have come were AFC championship game losses to the Bills in 1993 and Patriots in 2018. The most crushing playoff loss was on Christmas Day 1971, when a strong Chiefs team lost to the upstart Dolphins in the NFL’s longest game (82 minutes, 40 seconds of playing time) in what turned out to be the final football match at Municipal Stadium.
Minnesota got back to the Super Bowl three times over the next seven seasons, but each game wasn’t close. The Vikings lost 24-7 to the Dolphins in VIII, 16-6 to the Steelers in IX (the last NFL game at Tulane Stadium; my parents were there, if only for a half), and 32-14 to the Raiders in XI. Minnesota lost NFC championship games in 1977, 1987, 1998, 2000 and 2009.
The Vikings’ drought is guaranteed to last another year, thanks to their 27-10 loss to the 49ers yesterday in Santa Clara. Seattle or Green Bay will visit Levi’s Stadium next Sunday to determine the NFC championship.
I’m wondering if older Minnesota fans or players might have had a feeling their team was cursed since the Vikings played on the 50th anniversary of Super Bowl IV.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, have a golden opportunity to end their Super Bowl drought.
If Kansas City defeats Houston this afternoon, it will host Tennessee in the AFC championship.
That’s because the Titans went to Baltimore last night and shocked the Ravens 28-12, ending Baltimore’s 12-game winning streak.
The Ravens had the NFL’s best record, 14-2, thanks in large part to Lamar Jackson’s record-setting season. The former Heisman Trophy winner from Louisville set a league record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season, while also throwing 32 touchdown passes.
Hardly anyone gave the Titans a chance, yet the last team to qualify for the playoffs is now one win away from its first Super Bowl since 1999, when Jeff Fisher’s club lost to the St. Louis Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf.
The Titans knocked out the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs. After downing the Ravens, I’m not so certain the Chiefs or Texans might be looking forward to facing Tennessee. Then again, playing at home beats playing in Baltimore.
For Baltimore sports fans, I rate it as the biggest shocker since the Orioles lost to the Miracle Mets in the 1969 World Series.
In case you don’t know that story, the Orioles won 109 games in the regular season before sweeping the Twins in the first American League Championship Series. Baltimore had three of the American League’s most dominant pitchers in Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Cy Young Award winner Mike Cuellar, along with a powerful lineup featuring Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson.
The Mets didn’t finish above eighth in the National League in any of their first seven seasons. Yet in 1969, Tom Seaver won the Cy Young, Jerry Koosman came of age, and a 22-year old flamethrower from Alvin, Texas named Lynn Nolan Ryan gave the club from Queens a staff just as good as Baltimore’s.
At the plate, the Mets couldn’t match the Orioles, but their outfield may have been the best defensive trio the game has seen: Cleon Jones in left, Tommie Agee in center and Ron Swoboda in right.
The Mets came from as far back as 11 games down in July to overtake the Cubs to win the National League East, then swept Hank Aaron’s Braves in the first National League Championship Game.
Baltimore won the first game of the World Series at home, but lost game two. Nobody in Charm City panicked…yet.
After the Mets blanked the Orioles 5-0 in game three, featuring two spectacular catches by Agee, Baltimore fans began to wonder if this was truly their year.
Swoboda made one of the most spectacular catches in World Series history in game four, robbing Brooks Robinson of an extra base hit which would have given the Orioles the lead. Instead, it was just a sacrifice fly which tied the game. The Mets won in the bottom of the 10th when Baltimore reliever Pete Richert’s throw hit Mets pinch hitter J.C. Martin in the arm, allowing Rod Gasper to score from second.
Baltimore led 3-0 through five innings of game five, but when Mets manager Gil Hodges proved to home plate umpire Lou DiMuro that Jones was hit by McNally by showing DiMuro a speck of shoe polish on the ball, the Orioles knew they were doomed.
Indeed they were.
Series MVP Donn Clendenon followed Jones with a two-run home run. Baltimore’s lead disappeared when Al Weis led off the seventh with a homer, and in the eighth, Swoboda doubled home Jones with what proved to be the Series-winning run. Swoboda later scored an insurance run when Powell booted a two-out grounder by Jerry Grote.
When future Mets manager Dave Johnson flied out to Jones, pandemonium erupted at Shea.
The Orioles got their World Series title in 1970 by defeating the Reds in five, and added another in ’83 with a five-game win over the Phillies. Baltimore lost to the Pirates in seven in both 1971 and ’79.
This habit of post-midnight posts is not a good one. I’ve got to cut this out.
The last 12 hours of my 43rd year got off to a sour start.
Following my fourth marathon day at Buffalo Wild Wings, I stopped at the QuikTrip in Riverside to fuel the Buick so I wouldn’t have to do it tomorrow.
When I arrived, I noticed a white GMC Yukon sitting in front of pump #4 with the pump in the tank. He was blocking one of the four non-ethanol pumps, and of course, I wanted non-ethanol.
After three or four minutes in the store, I pulled out of the lot in front of the store. Yet all the non-ethanol pumps were not available: the Yukon was still there, one was blocked by a guy fixing his car, another was blocked by a car not getting non-ethanol, and another was in use by someone actually buying non-ethanol.
I waited for three minutes for the Yukon. Nothing.
I finally had to go in and ask the clerks at the cash register to see if the Yukon owner was in the store. Sure enough he was. He told me he would move it. He looked pissed off.
First, it is absolutely RUDE to block a gas pump when you’re done. Move on.
Second, it is even more RUDE to block a pump which has non-ethanol or diesel. EVERY pump–20 of them in this case–has the three standard grades of 10% ethanol gas. And while it was busy, there were eight pumps open for the regular gas.
Third, why the hell do people leave their vehicle in front of the pump when they want to go shop in the store? That’s stupid. Why not pull the car to the front of the store so you don’t have as long to walk?
I am to the point where I might just have to take a trip to Tulsa and chew out the bigwigs at QuikTrip. No, I won’t make a special trip–although I could go for Whataburger–but I will send an angry letter. No cursing, no threats, but just my absolute disappointment at the lack of courtesy.
It was a great day at Buffalo Wild Wings. Robb and Theresa stopped by for an hour. Theresa brought me some of her homemade sausage to take back to Russell.
Yet I’m ready to get back to Russell. Got a lot of work to do between now and Wednesday at noon.
I left B-Dubs upset last night. I was hoping Peggy would stop in Kansas City on her way from Des Moines to Paola. She was in Iowa yesterday to watch Caitlyn play, and she was heading to Courtney and Andy’s home to stay before going to Wichita today for the Ottawa-Friends match. I asked her to consider stopping on her way down I-35, but I never heard from her.
When I left B-Dubs, I made a beeline straight for Overland Park and Cheesecake Factory. I got two slices of cheesecake (tiramisu and Godiva–delicious) and a strip steak. The steak was overcooked and thin, so that taught me a lesson–stick to Cheesecake. I would have been better off making a second stop at Outback on the other side of I-435. Oh well.
I felt very guilty that I didn’t go to Wichita and to Ottawa, where Caitlyn was a member of the homecoming court. I was much harder on myself than they were on me. St. Louis bought a lot of goodwill.
Georgia choked today. The third-ranked Bulldogs gagged to a mediocre South Carolina team 20-17 in double overtime in Athens.
I won’t go into how much I hate overtime in college and high school football. If you’ve read the blog you know my stance.
If anyone in the SEC was going to beat Georgia, South Carolina is the LAST team I wanted doing it.
Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp revealed himself as a gigantic douchebag last year when he vigorously defended then-Maryland coach D.J. Durkin, who helped kill Terrapins offensive tackle Jordan McNair with his gross negligence. Muschamp fired back at anyone who dared speak ill of Durkin and called those who did “soft”.
I never liked Muschamp when he coached Florida, although he dragged the Gators into the abyss, so that was good for LSU. The defense of Durkin sealed it.
Muschamp, Jimbo Fisher, Urban Meyer and Kirk Ferentz are four coaches I would never, EVER want any male relative of mine to play for. Nick Saban is a more complicated matter, one I don’t have time to delve into right now, considering its after 2300 and I want to be back in Russell in 12 hours.
LSU didn’t choke, although the Bayou Bengals had me way too nervous. They traded blows with Florida for three quarters before pulling away in the fourth to a 42-28 victory in Baton Rouge. The Bayou Bengals will be fourth or fifth in the polls tomorrow, depending on where Oklahoma is slotted following its 34-27 victory over Texas in the Red River Rivalry. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State will be the top three.
Honestly, why do we need polls before the end of October? Most of the early polls are based upon reputation and nothing more. Same with college basketball, where Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina are automatically ranked in the preseason no matter what.
Missouri beat Ole M(P)iss 38-27. Good. As much as I can’t stand Florida, I totally depise the plantation in Oxford. I wish there would have been more allegations against Hugh Freeze which would have given the SEC reason to expel the Rebels.
Washington won AGAIN in the National League Championship Series. The Nationals take a 2-0 lead back to the banks of the Potomac. The Cardinals had better find an offense NOW or else there will not be another game at Busch Stadium III until April.
The Yankees beat the Astros 7-0 in the first game of the ALCS at Houston. I can see it now….all the east coast media slobbering over the prospect of commuting up and down I-95. People in Philadelphia might not be so excited about the idea.
It wasn’t a good day for Larry. The Cardinals lost again, and the Blues got hammered 6-3 in Montreal. At least Mizzou prevented it from being a total disaster.
Louisiana’s governor’s election is going to a second round. Incumbent John Bel Edwards failed to reach the necessary 50 percent plus one vote to win in the primary. He will now face Eddie Rispone in a runoff.
Rispone is a carbon copy of former governor Mike Foster–an rich old white man financing his own campaign. Foster didn’t do squat in two terms. He was more concerned about hunting and riding his motorcycles.
Louisiana was a total mess under Edwards’ predecessor, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal. Jindal cut state services and higher education to bare bones and the state swam in red ink deeper than the Mississippi River running through Baton Rouge. Jindal neglected the Bayou State to prepare his presidential campaign, which bombed spectacularly thank God.
Edwards–no relation to former four-term governor Edwin Washington Edwards–has put Louisiana back on solid financial footing. Of course, too many sycophant voters see a “D” next to Edwards name an automatically think he’s evil.
Rispone ran disgusting attack ads against both Edwards and Republican U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham, who finished third. I am so glad I’m not in Louisiana to see this crap.
Politics disgusts me. Period. I hate it. I’m sick and freaking tired of the hatred on both sides. Just because someone has an opposite view to yours doesn’t mean he or she is your mortal enemy. The real enemies are in North Korea, Russia, Venezuela and other countries which would destroy the American way of life.
My 43rd year is down to its last 10 hours. By time I reconnect with this blog, I will be into my 44th. Good night.
It has been quite the ride in Kansas City this week. Sleep has been in short supply. Trivia, rain and indigestion haven’t been–the latter is all on me for eating too much.
I’m a happy camper. I got to see everyone I hoped to see on the trip, continued to rid myself of my unsightly body hair and got my hair cut nice and short. I must admit I love Heather cutting my hair and shaving my face with a straight razor at The Gents Place in Leawood. I do feel very bad for Amber, though. Kind of guilty.
I went 36 days without a haircut, the longest I have gone in almost 23 years. It was the longest it has been since I was in high school–it had to be because Brother Martin bans haircuts shorter than a #2 guard, fearing the shorter looks would be suuportive of the Skinheads. I haven’t gone shorter than #1 since 1996.
One of my favorite teachers, Joanne, showed up Wednesday. This time she came with her friend Kelsey. I don’t want to date Joanne; I have too many issues in my life, not to mention the distance, but it is very nice to have someone friendly to see on these trips. There have been too many where I’ve felt completely alone–that happened in late June when Larry was out of town and most of the people I know at Buffalo Wild Wings took vacation.
I told Tina to (again) put Joanne and Kelsey’s tab on mine. Again, they were surprised when their total was zero. Again, the ladies were very grateful. I told Joanne I don’t have a signifcant other, so I like to do nice things for those I care about, which explains the trip to St. Louis three weeks ago.
Joanne was very happy when the Cardinals went on their binge Wednesday in Atlanta. She’s a huge fan. At one point, three-fifths of the National League Central were represented at B-Dubs: Joanne for the Cardinals, Kelsey for the Cubs and me for the Brewers. I wonder if there are any Reds or Pirates fans in Kansas City.
Joanne can’t crack the top five of my favorite teachers, but she has moved into the top 10.
The top six are pretty much set in stone. In no order, they are Peggy, Brenda, Stacie (Dauterive) Seube, Rosemarie (Renz) Huguet, Janine Koenig and Rebecca Hale.
Only two actually taught me: Janine eighth grade science, and Rebecca English during the first semester of 11th grade.
I am blessed that I’ve reconnected with Rebecca. I sent her a Christmas card and we’ve been e-mailing one another ever since. Rebecca is a huge Tulane fan. I tell her I will root for Tulane playing anyone except LSU. She understands and loves me more for it. Rebecca also has a Ph.D in theater from New York University. She was the drama club director at Brother Martin for six years; sadly, she was fired at the end of my senior year. I found out three weeks before my graduation. There was a play that night which I attended; afterwards, she found me and thanked me for showing up to support her. Brings a tear to my eye whenever I think about it.
I have been trying in vain to reach Janine. I have not heard from her in 22 years.
Janine Jacques was a four-year member of the Varsity Quiz Bowl team at Dominican High in /New Orleans. VQB was a popular show from the early 1970s through 1992 pitting high schools against one another in a test of knowledge. It was aired by WYES, New Orlean’s Public Broadcasting System affiliate. For someone to be a member of a VQB team for four years–the last two as captain–was mighty impressive. She graduated a year early from Dominican and went on to earn a degree in biology from LSU. However, she had her eye on another college prior to going to Baton Rouge.
Watch this clip of Janine and Dominican in action on VQB in 1981 and you’ll find out what college it was (HINT: the school in question hired a new basketball coach a few months prior to this show airing. He’s still coaching at the same school).
Rosemarie is the person I have known longer than anyone outside my family (38 years), and Stacie was the beautiful and intelligent young lady I had a crush on in middle school.
Brenda and Peggy need no introduction. Two of the people I’m closest to, and if I lost either, my life would be utterly miserable.
Cailtyn will join the list if she follows in Chelsea’s footsteps. Chelsea is in her first season as volleyball coach at Oakley. The Plainsmen are struggling, but they will benefit from Chelsea’s knowledge of the sport.
I saw Larry today and we played trivia for three hours. I knew absolutely NOBODY working at Zona Rosa, although someone remembered me. I’m still trying to remember her. My memory is slipping.
I haven’t seen Rhonda and Kim, two ladies I met last time. Hopefully it will happen, if not this time, sometime later.
My computer shut down THREE times Wednesday, twice within an hour. Therefore, I decided to disable all startup items to see if I could find the source of the problem.
It turns out that once I did that, I could not use my PIN to log in to Windows. I had no idea what my password was, since I hadn’t used it in over three years. And I wasn’t allowed to change the password.
Therefore, I had to erase the boot drive. That also erased many files on that drive. Lucky for me, many of my files are on cloud drives, and I could download most of the other programs from the Internet. The exception is the one I use to lay out pages for the newspapers. I have to wait until I get back to Russell. Luckily I have the CD to install, or I would have been up the creek.
The computer hasn’t shut down since. What’s strange is it NEVER shuts down randomly in Russell. It might be the power supply I use on the road is bad. I have always used a different power supply on the road so I can leave the one at home plugged in.
This happened at 2300 Wednesday. I was up until 0230 Thursday trying to figure it out. While I was in my conundrum, Howie Kendrick doomed the Dodgers.
I surprised myself by not screaming, not pounding anything and not throwing anything. I knew I had to keep quiet or else there would have been trouble, because other guests would have complained to the front desk.
If it weren’t for the program to lay out pages, I wouldn;’t need the laptop, period. But it is good to have because it frees up my iPad for other things.
LSU hosts Florida tomorrow at 1900. The Bayou Bengals should win. If they don’t, then their playoff hopes are all but finished, because there’s no way I can see them winning in Tuscaloosa in four weeks.
I went to only one LSU-Florida game. It was 2001, the last time Steve Spurrier coached the Gators against the Bayou Bengals. Florida was ranked #1 at the time and won 44-15. It was more memorable for the tributes to the victims of September 11, since it was the first home game since the dastardly attacks. LSU’s band performed “Amazing Grace” at halftime, and there was nary a dry eye in the stadium.
Nick Saban wasn’t too angry after the loss. He was kind of glad, because it showed his team what a dominant team looks like.
LSU bounced back quite well. It lost to Ole Miss and Eli Manning three weeks later, but won its next four to reach the SEC championship game for the first time. From there, the Bayou Bengals shocked Tennessee for their first SEC championship since 1986, then overwhelmed Illinois in the Sugar Bowl 47-34.
Many at LSU, including athletic director Scott Woodward and president F. King Alexander, are not happy the Bayou Bengals and Gators play every year. They do because the SEC assigns each team one permanent cross-division opponent. It was two from 1992 through 2001. Florida and Kentucky were assigned to LSU as the permanents from the East in 1992, since LSU played the Wildcats yearly since 1949 and the Gators every year since 1971.
In 2002, enough schools bitched and moaned, so it was reduced to one permanent opponent from the other side. Kentucky kept Mississippi State, leaving LSU with Florida.
This didn’t change when Missouri and Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012, even though Les Miles and then-athletic director Joe Alleva begged for a change. The obstacle? Nick Saban, who whined and moaned about Alabama losing its yearly game with Tennessee.
Saban is right on so many things. He is dead wrong here. These complaints are also the reason Missouri is in the EAST despite being farther west than every SEC school except A&M and Arkansas.
The SEC was ready to move Auburn to the East and let the Iron Bowl be the permanent cross-division game for both. But Saban’s bitching prevented it from happening.
There’s no rule stating Tennessee and Alabama can’t play a non-conference game in years which they aren’t scheduled to play in conference. Bear Bryant used to schedule non-conference games with Ole Miss for years after the Crimson Tide and Rebels were no longer yearly foes.
In 1972, the SEC adopted a more standardized schedule. Teams would play five opponents every year and rotate one. LSU’s five were Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. This was good because there were long gaps where the Bayou Bengals never played Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. For instance, LSU did not play Georgia from 1953 through 1977.
The SEC needs to (a) adopt a nine-game schedule and (b) discontinue permanent cross-division opponents. It’s ridiculous five teams from the same conference visit a particular stadium once every 12 years. When McNeese State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe visit Tiger Stadium more often in a 12-year period than Vanderbilt or Missouri, there’s a serious problem.
I am hoping hard for a Cardinals-Astros World Series. It would be nice for the Nationals to make it, but I can’t accept the fact that asshole Jeffrey Loria conspired with MLB to make sure the Montreal Expos couldn’t make it. Of course, I’m no Yankees fan, although I don’t have the vitriol towards the Bronx Bombers some have.
What’s silly is so many Royals fans see the Yankees as a rival. Come on.
The Yankees couldn’t care less about the Royals. The only times the Royals really mattered to the Yankees were the four American League Championship Series they played each other between 1976 and 1980, and the Pine Tar Game.
Fact is, the Royals don’t have a rival. The Cardinals have the Cubs. The Athletics once played in Kansas City and many Royals fans think there’s a rivalry, but Oakland is more concerned with the Giants and Angels. The Indians and Tigers have played each other since day one of the American League in 1901. The White Sox have the Cubs. The Twins had the Brewers until Milwaukee moved to the National League in 1998, and the two still play every year.
Besides, with the stupid unbalanced schedule, the Royals don’t play teams outside the AL Central enough for it to truly matter.
I did it again tonight. I used one of my Buffalo Wild Wings $5 discount for another lady. At least this didn’t cost me anything, but I’m far from cheap. I didn’t want to seem over the top by buying everything. I’m just fortunate Joanne didn’t hold it against me in June.
Leaving Sunday. With the computer situation, I have to. Bye for now.
Sorry for not posting for 12 days. Lots of things to write back home. I’ve had added responsibilities, and it has taken up much of my time Mondays and Tuesdays. The rest of the time has been spent with my vices, trivia and online racing.
Ben Roethlisberger’s injury had to send a shudder up the spines of Steelers fans. Many probably remember Terry Bradshaw’s career ended after the 1983 season due to an injured elbow.
Bradshaw played only one half in 1983. It was the next to last game of the regular season vs. the Jets which also happened to be the final football game at Shea Stadium. Bradshaw threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter, but by halftime, Chuck Noll had seen enough and inserted Cliff Stoudt, the man who won two Super Bowl rings without having to set foot on the field.
Pittsburgh won the game against the Jets to clinch the AFC Central, but it was routed in the playoffs 34-10 by the Raiders. In the playoff game, Stoudt’s first pass was intercepted by Lester Haynes and returned for a touchdown. A month later, Stoudt was starting for the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions.
As a side note, Jets fans began rioting in the stands as the game vs. the Steelers neared its end. Leon Hess, the Jets owner, was the least popular man in the Big Apple, especially with Mayor Ed Koch, who took every chance he got to rip Hess and the Jets for not negotiating in good faith with Queens, Koch’s administration and the Mets.
The Jets looked like they would return to New York City with the West Side Stadium, but it was blocked by flaming dipshit James Dolan, owner of the Knicks, Rangers and Madison Square Garden. Instead, the Jets simply partnered with the Giants on what is now Met Life Stadium.
Drew Brees’ thumb injury makes the NFC South race competitive. Hopefully the Saints can tread water with Teddy Bridgewater (or Taysom Hill). It won’t be easy this week in Seattle.
Eli Manning to the bench? I never thought I’d see the day. By going to Daniel Jones, he is avoiding the idiocy demonstrated by Bill Parcells in his first season as Giants coach in 1983, when he thought Scott Brunner was a better option than Phil Simms. What the F**K? It shows even Hall of Fame coaches screw up.
The Brewers are still in the National League wild card chase despite losing Christian Yelich last week to a broken kneecap he suffered when he was hit in a game in Miami. Leave it to the Marlins to F**K things up.
Speaking of MLB, a CBS Sports writer will not use “Indians” when referring to Cleveland. Here we go again with the PC crap. Commissioner Rob Manfred blackmailed the Indians into getting rid of Chief Wahoo, stating the team would not host the All-Star Game until Wahoo was eradicated, and now this.
What is offensive about the word Indians? Come on. People need to stop worrying about things like the names of sports teams.
Global warming is real. For it to be 34 Celsius (93 Fahrenheit) on September 19 in Russell and Hays is absolutely ridiculous. My jeans have not been worn since my trip to Columbia in April for the LSU-Missouri baseball series. If I were still in Louisiana, I could understand. But not now.
The climate change deniers need to explain how Hurricane Dorian reached winds of almost 300 km/h (185 MPH) and didn’t weaken when it hit the Bahamas. Katrina weakened (slightly) from a Category 5 before it struck Louisiana and Mississippi. That may not happen in the future. Look at Hurricane Michael, which was strengthening as hit made landfall in the Florida Panhandle last October.
I want to go back to Buffalo Wild Wings at Shoal Creek very badly. I have a crush on Rita Roberts, the general manager. I haven’t said anything to anyone about it…until yesterday when I mentioned to Crista Rita is cute.
I don’t want to jeopardize my ability to go to that Buffalo Wild Wings, so I’m probably going to keep my feelings to myself.
Speaking of Buffalo Wild Wings, on my last visit there, I met a couple who was going to the Backstreet Boys concert at Sprint Center that night. I told them the Backstreet Boys performed the national anthem before Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001. They were incredulous.
I am still puzzled as to what got into me the last time I was in Kansas City. Talking to Joanne was one thing, because I met her previously. But Rhonda and Kim after Joanne that night, and now the couple that Saturday. Maybe I am a late bloomer.
I woke up at 0318 this morning. There’s a reason. I don’t have time to expound upon it now. I will later. Enjoy your evening.
I was hoping to be headed east on Interstate 70 back to Russell by now.
Instead, I’m marooned at the Golden Q. Cassidy and Jocelyn are lovely to look at and there are a couple of pretty ladies at a table to my right, so it’s not bad.
Three inches of rain drenched Hays between 1830 and 2030. Ash Street, which runs in front of the Golden Q, is under ankle-deep water. The water is above the bottom of my Buick’s tires. I could use a pirogue. I would say New Orleans’ pumps would come in handy right now, but given the problems my native city has had with its pumping stations, I doubt it would help.
I was hoping to leave early tomorrow for Wichita. I have to pick up an Amazon order at the locker in front of QuikTrip at Central and Oliver, buy some more bleu cheese from Dillon’s on Central at Rock, and get my car cleaned of the bugs on the windshield. Since this isn’t time sensitive, I can sleep in and leave later. I’ll probably stay overnight now, either in Wichita or Hutchinson.
I have not watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High today. It was released 13 August 1982 and launched the careers of three of Hollywood’s most recognizable names: Sean Penn (Jeff Spicoli), Judge Reinhold (Brad Hamilton) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Stacy Hamilton). Phoebe Cates, who played the promiscuous Linda Barrett, has largely withdrawn from the public eye since marrying Kevin Kline in 1989 to raise her children.
Bravo Phoebe. As much as I’d love to see you on the screen, you’re doing much better without the limelight.
As for Ms. Lehigh (born Jennifer Leigh Morrow), she’ll be returning for season 3 of Atypcial on Netflix next month, the comedy-drama about the struggles of raising a son on the autistic spectrum. Leigh (Elsa Gardner), Keir Gilchrist (Sam Gardner, the “Atypical” young man), Michael Rapaport (Doug Gardner), Brigette Lundy-Payne (Casey Gardner), Amy Okuda (Dr. Jennifer Sasaki) and Jenna Boyd (Paige Haradway, Sam’s first girlfriend) are all first-rate. The one character I cannot stand is Sam’s best friend, the lecherous Zahid, portrayed by Nik Dodani. Along with Last Chance U, it’s my favorite show on Netflix.
Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of one of sports’ blackest days, as well as the day my life was altered for better or worse.
The black day was the beginning of the Major League Baseball players’ strike. The players walked out due to constant threats by owners to implement a salary cap. The NBA adopted a salary cap for the 1983-84 season, the NFL adopted one starting in 1994, and the NHL would follow suit a decade later after it cancelled the entire 2004-05 season with a lockout.
Thirty-three days after the strike began, Brewers owner Bud Selig, the chairman of the owner’s council and acting commissioner (Fay Vincent was fired by the owners in September 1992 for appearing to be too friendly towards the players), announced the entire 1994 postseason would be cancelled. It was the first time since 1904 there would be no Fall Classic.
The strike finally ended on 2 April 1995 when U.S. District Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor–the same Sonia Sotomayor who now sits on the Supreme Court of the United States–ordered the players back to work under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement which expired 31 December 1993.
Baseball after the strike was disastrous.
Hundreds of players became addicted to steroids. Home run totals went through the roof, with Mark McGwire hitting 70 in 1998, four more than Sammy Sosa. Both later admitted to taking steroids. Barry Bonds, who hit 73 home runs in 2001, also cheated, but he lied about it and would not be man enough to admit it. To me, Roger Maris’ 61 in 1961 is still the legitimate record.
It took the new CBA in August 2002 to finally bring the juicers under control. Sadly, it looks like steroids are back, given another round of ridiculous home run numbers.
A few hours after the last out of the 1994 MLB season was recorded in Oakland, my life changed, thanks to the introduction of three new people into my sphere.
12 August 1994 was LSU football media day. The media covering the Bayou Bengals at the time were looking forward to it as much as they would an IRS audit or a trip to the dentist to fill a cavity.
Hudson “Curley” Hallman was entering his fourth season as the leader of the woebegone LSU football program. In his three previous seasons, Hallman compiled a dreadful 12-21 record, including a 2-9 mark in 1992, the worst ever by an LSU team.
It appeared to get worse in 1993, when LSU started 2-5, including a 58-3 embarrassment by Florida in Tiger Stadium, a game also witnessed by millions on ESPN in an era when having a game televised at 1830 was an honor, not a routine occurrence.
Had a sane man been in charge of the LSU athletic department, Hallman would have been fired within 48 hours of the Bayou Bengals’ 35-17 loss at Kentucky one week after the Florida debacle.
Sadly, Robert Joseph (Joe) Dean was LSU’s athletic director.
Joe Dean was a great basketball player for LSU, where he teamed with Bob Pettit to help the Bayou Bengals reach the Final Four in 1953, LSU’s last trip to the NCAA tournament until 1979. In case you don’t know, Pete Maravich had only one winning season in three years on the LSU varsity, and since the NCAA took only one school per conference to the big dance prior to 1975, the Bayou Bengals had to content themselves with a trip to the 1970 NIT.
Dean was also a tremendous color analyst on basketball broadcasts for over two decades. His trademark phrase “strrrrinnnng music” was repeated by tens of thousands of teenaged boys who one day dreamed of playing for Kentucky, LSU or any other SEC school.
In 1987, Dean was hired to clean up the mess in LSU’s athletic department. LSU hemorrhaged red ink in the early 1980s under the mismanagement of Paul Dietzel, the man who coached LSU to the football national championship in 1958 and groomed his successor, Charles McClendon (Cholly Mac), who led the Bayou Bengals to a 137-59-7 record from 1962-79.
Dietzel was fired by the LSU Board of Supervisors in February 1982 and succeeded by Bob Brodhead, the one-time general manager of the Houston Oilers, and later the business manager of the Miami Dolphins. Brodhead got LSU back on sound financial footing and made several tremendous coaching hires, including Skip Bertman, Sue Gunter and Bill Arnsparger.
Brodhead, however, ran afoul of the NCAA and men’s basketball coach Dale Brown, who led LSU to the Final Four in 1981 and ’86. Brodhead was convicted in April 1986 of wiretapping and sent to federal prison.
Dean inherited new football coach Mike Archer, who went 10-1-1 in 1987 and 8-4 in ’88 , largely with players he inherited from Arnsparger, who was 26-8-2 from 1984-86. When Archer had to play with his own recruits, LSU went down the toilet, going 4-7 in 1989 and 5-6 in ’90.
Dean fired Archer with two games remaining in the 1990 season. His coaching search began and ended in Hattiesburg, where Hallman led Southern Mississippi to a 23-11 record over three seasons and several huge upsets (Florida State, Alabama, Auburn), all away from Hattiesburg.
Actually, Hallman would never haver sniffed 23-11 had not been left a present by his predecessor, Jim Carmody.
That present was an unknown kid from Kiln, 70 miles south of Hattiesburg.
His name: Brett Favre. If you don’t know Favre’s story, stop living like a hermit crab.
Hallman was clearly out of his league in the SEC in 1991, ’92 and ’93. Not only did he come up woefully short against Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M, his LSU teams lost twice each to mediocre teams from Kentucky and Arkansas, was shut out 32-0 by middling Ole Miss, and was humiliated 17-14 at home by a Colorado State team which went 3-9, leading to the firing of Earle Bruce and the hiring of Sonny Lubick.
Nobody should have felt sorry for Hallman, because many of his problems were self-inflicted.
First, he completely closed practice to all media. However, people who provided players with summer jobs were provided unfettered access to practice. Watching football practice bores me to tears sometimes, but the good men who were covering LSU regularly in 1994–Scott Rabalais, Dave Moormann and Sam King (The Advocate), John Reid (Times-Picayune) and Scooter Hobbs (Lake Charles American-Press), not to mention television and radio stations–deserved to have more access than a locked gate. If he had opened practice, maybe those covering the team would have been in his corner and been able to report credibly the team was improving despite the record. With no practice access, the reporters could only go off of what they saw on Saturdays.
Second, his brutally physical practices left the team drained. He basically took the model he was subject to when he played for Bear Bryant disciple Gene Stallings at Texas A&M in the late 1960s and copied it to the letter. Hallman held two-a-days from the start of camp until the start of classes. Actually, he didn’t; sometimes Hallman used THREE-A-DAYS. Yikes. And many of those two-a-days were in full pads. It took LSU firing Hallman and Gerry DiNardo to find a coach who knew having all of those practices in full gear was silly. I wonder how that Nick Saban fellow is doing.
Third, Hallman hired the worst assistants. Period. Of all of his assistants, I would rate only Phil Bennett, George Haffner and Larry Zierlein worthy of being part of a Power Five staff. Maybe Lynn Amedee had been at one time or another, but his two years under Hallman were a complete waste.
Bennett was the only reason Hallman wasn’t totally screwed. The Texas A&M alum was articulate. He could relate to players. He wasn’t afraid to try new things. He always said the right thing to the media. Today, most head coaches don’t allow assistants to talk to the media. Hallman would have been better off shutting up and letting Bennett do all the talking.
Bennett was the defensive coordinator in 1994 when LSU led the SEC in total defense. It’s too bad his only head coaching gig at SMU didn’t turn out well. He certainly deserved much better.
Haffner was Georgia’s offensive coordinator when Herschel Walker ran roughshod over the SEC, but he had zero talent at LSU. Hallman made Haffner the scapegoat for the 1992 season by firing him and hiring Amedee.
Zierlein was a solid offensive line coach and had professional experience in the World League of American Football. His arrival in 1993 helped Kevin Mawae immeasurably before he embarked on a Hall of Fame NFL Career.
As for Hallman’s other assistants.:
- Thielen Smith was a standout for McClendon in the mid-1970s. Too bad Hallman scapegoated him, too, after 1992.
- Mike Bugar was not cut out to be a defensive coordinator in the SEC. He may have done a fine job in Hattiesburg, but matching wits with Steve Spurrier and Phillip Fulmer was a recipe for disaster in Baton Rouge. Bugar mercifully left for Baylor after the 1993 season.
- Pete Fredenburg, who was basically traded for Bugar for 1994 and coached the defensive tackles, was the victim of timing. He came one year too early, because Anthony “Booger” McFarland came along in 1995.
- Lee Fobbs, who coached the defensive ends in 1994, was hired by Hallman to help with recruiting New Orleans, specifically the Catholic League, where his son, Jamaal, was a standout running back for St. Augustine. One year wasn’t enough to evaluate.
- Buddy King, who was Zierlein’s predecessor, had Mawae and little else on the offensive line. He jumped at the chance to join Danny Ford in Arkansas in early 1993.
- Then we have the three stooges. In what universe did Larry Edmonson, Rick Villareal and Steve Buckley qualify to coach in the SEC, other than being with Hallman in Hattiesburg? Buckley never even played college football. He was a cheerleader at USM! At least Edmonson played at Texas A&M.
- The strength and conditioning program was a flat-out joke under Chris Seroka. I wish Seroka could come back to LSU so Tommy Moffitt could kick him in the nuts and show him what real strength and conditioning is.
My dad and I drove to Baton Rouge on a Friday morning. I drove up in casual clothes, but I brought dress clothes just in case. I needed them.
Shortly after arriving in the office, I met the other student assistants: Corey Walsh, Adam Young and Shelby Holmes. Walsh, a Texan, and Young, an Alexandria native, had worked in the sports information office as students for three years, while Holms, who went to McKinley High, less than two miles north of the campus, was entering his second year working with Herb.
Next up, I met Kent Lowe, whom I knew as LSU’s men’s basketball publicity director, having seen his name in Bruce Hunter’s book about the 1988-89 team, Don’t Count Me Out. I also recognized his face, since he was the statistician for LSU football radio broadcasts in 1992 and ’93; his picture was in the game programs with Jim Hawthorne, Doug Moreau, spotter Patrick Wright (also the voice of LSU women’s basketball) and Tom Stevens, the network engineer who tragically passed away in the Tiger Stadium press box prior to LSU’s 2000 game vs. Kentucky.
About 20 minutes after meeting Kent, Bill Franques came into the office. I heard Bill’s voice plenty from LSU baseball broadcasts, both as the public address announcer for home games and Hawthorne’s color analyst for road games.
Little did I know William Paul Franques would hold such a position of importance in my life. There are days I wish I could go back to that morning and call Herb to tell him I would be turning down his offer to work in the athletic department. Lord knows what I’ve done to Bill over the years. I wake up some nights in a very cold sweat thinking about it.
After Hallman, Amedee and Bennett met the media in LSU’s athletic administration building, the media moved to the Carl Maddox Fieldhouse for player interviews.
It was there I met another man who became entangled in my weird world.
It took three-tenths of a second after shaking hands with Dan Borne to realize I had heard his voice plenty as the public address announcer for LSU football and men’s basketball games.
Standing next to Dan was one of my new colleagues in Herb’s office.
Rebecca Borne was three months removed from graduating as the valedictorian of the St. Joseph’s Academy Class of 1994. She scored 34 out of a possible 36 on the ACT test. The only reason she was at LSU and not Yale or Harvard was because of her dad.
I don’t know why the hell Dan still wants to call me a friend. Lord knows I hurt Rebecca, his wife Lisette, his other daughter Elizabeth, and (to a lesser extent), sons Jason and David, more than one human should be allowed to hurt another human.
Rebecca hasn’t talked to me since 2002. She hates me. And I hate myself even more for the hurt I caused her. She made it to New Haven, graduating from Yale Law School in 2006 and starting a family in Connecticut.
LSU was 2-7 when Dean fired Hallman on 15 November 1994. Hallman had the class to finish the season, and the Bayou Bengals defeated Tulane and Arkansas.
I’m sorry, but I’m about to cry. This is painful.
I wish I could put myself in a time machine and go back to the summer of 1971.
Sure, I would not be blogging if it were August 1971. Sure, I would not be playing Buzztime trivia if it were August 1971. The American economy wasn’t in great shape in August 1971, and Nixon made a foolish mistake by taking the United States off the gold standard.
There were good things about 1971, though. The Brady Bunch was on the air. Gas was 30 cents per gallon; even with inflation, that’s $1.90, 45 cents less than what I paid last night when I filled up in Salina.
Major League Baseball was certainly better in 1971.
Hank Aaron hit a career high 47 home runs as he drew closer and closer to Babe Ruth’s record of 714, once thought to be unbreakable. In his final season with the Giants, Willie Mays led San Francisco to the National League West championship in yet another epic battle with the Dodgers. San Francisco lost the National League Championship Series to the Pirates in four games in their last postseason appearance until 1987. The Orioles won their third consecutive American League pennant by sweeping the Athletics in the American League Championship Series. It was the Athletics’ first trip to the postseason since 1931, when they were in Philadelphia and led by legendary Connie Mack.
The 1971 All-Star Game in Detroit was one of the most memorable. Aaron and Johnny Bench staked the National League to an early 3-0 lead with home runs, but Reggie Jackson began the American League comeback by launching a monstrous home run off of a transformer on roof above right center. The pitcher who served it up was Dock Ellis, the same Dock Ellis who threw a no-hitter while allegedly under the influence of LSD (his claim) the previous season.
Ellis, the volatile right-hander from Pittsburgh, was the Naitonal League’s starter. The American League countered with Oakland lefty Vida Blue, who went on to win the AL Cy Young and Most Valuable Player. More importantly, it was the first time there were two black starting pitchers in an All-Star Game.
One of the umpires in the 1971 All-Star Game was Jake O’Donnell, who from 1968-71 officiated both in the American League and NBA. O’Donnell resigned from the AL at the end of 1971 to concentrate on basketball. It was a wise move, for Jake worked the NBA Finals every year from 1972 through 1994. O’Donnell is the only man to officiate All-Star games in two major sports.
Also on the umpiring crew that evening in Detroit were future Hall of Famer Doug Harvey, and Don Denkinger, whose moment of infamy in Kansas City was still a long way off.
Nearly every team still wore flannel uniforms in 1971. Sure, they were hot, but they were beautiful for the most part.
The Athletics had a lovely sleeveless vest which came in white, gray and gold, and those could be worn with gold or green undershirts. The Dodgers debuted a new road top with thin blue and white piping along the shoulders. The Padres had a tan road uniform. The White Sox and Phillies both debuted new uniforms, and both would keep them when they switched to polyester the next season. I thought both sets were downgrades; the White Sox’ royal blue and white set of 1969-70 was downright gorgeous, and the Phillies ditched the classic set they debuted in 1950, when the “Whiz Kids” won the franchise’s only pennant between 1915 and 1980.
Three teams wore polyester that season. The Pirates debuted them in July 1970 when they moved from Forbes Field to Three Rivers Stadium; the Cardinals began 1971 wearing them; and the Orioles gradually switched from flannel to polyester throughout that season, finally ditching flannel for good in the ALCS. Ironically, the 1971 World Series was all polyester, as the Pirates took down the heavily favored Orioles in seven games.
In 1971, the Senators were still in Washington. The Brewers were in the American League West, building healthy rivalries with the Twins and White Sox.
That changed in 1972.
Cheapskate Senators owner Bob Short lied to the American League, claiming he was going broke in the nation’s capital, giving owners a supposed reason to allow the second incarnation of the Senators (the first became the Twins in 1961) to move to Dallas/Fort Worth and become the Texas Rangers. RFK Stadium was not a great facility by any means, but Short traded it for Arlington Stadium, a minor league facility which had no business hosting Major League Baseball. Yet it was the home of the Rangers through 1993.
Dallas/Fort Worth is too big an area for any major sports league to ignore. However, Short was, well, (extremely) short-sighted for deserting the nation’s capital for a dump like Arlington Stadium. Had DFW waited until the American League expanded for 1977, it would have had a stadium which might still be standing, or would have served a team much better than Arlington.
I visited Arlington Stadium a handful of times in my teenage years. I hated the park. Hated it. Those metal bleachers in the outfield were hot enough to fry eggs. Of course, the idiots who expanded the park built bleachers instead of building more decks from foul line to foul line, which would have been better for fans watching the game and the team, since those tickets would have commanded a higher price than bleachers.
The Senators’ shift to DFW prompted AL owners to move the Brewers to the American League East, pissing off the White Sox and Twins, each of whom who lost six games per year against Milwaukee. The Great Lakes trio would not be reunited until 1994 when the American League Central, but that lasted only four seasons, because the Brewers gleefully moved to the National League for 1998.
Speaking of the leagues, another great thing about baseball in 1971: NO DESIGNATED HITTER.
The designated hitter is a pox on baseball. Charlie Finley, you can rot in hell. It is the single worst rule in all of sports. There are many other terrible ones, like the shootout in the NHL and high school football overtime, but the I despise the designated hitter more than any other rule in sports.
Basketball players are not allowed to play only one end of the floor–at least if they want to stay on the court. Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored loads of points during their playing days, but if they didn’t rebound and block shots, they would never have sniffed the Hall of Fame.
Other than the goaltender, hockey players must be good offensively and defensively if they hope to stick in the NHL. Gordie Howe, the NHL’s greatest goal scorer until Wayne Gretzky came along, prided himself as much for his defense as his offense. No opposing winger dared cross Mr. Hockey, or else he would find himself in a world of hurt.
Association football? Same as hockey. Defenders don’t score many goals and forwards don’t play beyond the center line, but a player who is a defensive liability will be on the bench unless he scores goals as frequently as Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.
Players went both ways in the early days of the NFL, and in college until 1964. Many players at small high schools go both ways, and even at some large ones, because coaches would rather have an excellent athlete who may be fatigued rather than a mediocre one who is fresh.
When Mr. Doubleday invented baseball in the 19th century, he intended for the nine players on the field to specialize in a defensive skill AND be able to swing the bat. Some swing the bat better than others. That’s professional sports.
Major League Baseball is the best of the best of the best. The 750 men who populate the 30 MLB rosters are supposed to be the best in the world. Not all of them have to hit .350 with 50 home runs. Heck, Bill Mazeroski and Ozzie Smith, among many others, were mediocre hitters, but so great with their glove they have plaques in Cooperstown.
I can tolerate–not accept–the DH in Little League and high school. However, at those levels, pitchers are often the best hitters, too, so it’s not necessary in those cases. Little League has a much larger problem than the DH. You’ve probably read my rants about this in earlier posts.
In college baseball, the DH should be abolished, especially in Division I. If a young man is good enough to be pitching at the highest level of college baseball, he should be able to stand in the batter’s box up to four times every week if he’s a starting pitcher.
The National League is going to adopt the designated hitter soon. I am deathly afraid of it. When it happens, I will be back on this blog using language not safe for work. You’ve been warned.
When you went to the ballpark in 1971, there were no silly promotional handouts, no dizzy bat races, no scantily clad 20-something women shooting t-shirts out of air-propelled mini-cannons, and no mascots. Umpires still wore their blazers many days. American League umpires wore the balloon chest protector, leading to the Junior Circuit becoming known as a high-strike lead, contrasting to the National League, where the low strike ruled. Games usually lasted two hours, give or take a few minutes. There a few real doubleheaders, where one ticket got you two games, although there were fewer by 1971 than there had been in 1961, and fewer in 1961 than in 1951.
In my opinion, the best thing about baseball in 1971–and the 34 years prior to that–NO FACIAL HAIR!!!!
In 1971, only the Reds had a rule banning facial hair, but the other franchises unofficially followed suit. Many players had mutton chops and other forms of long sideburns which were in vogue in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but not one player in professional baseball sported a mustache and/or beard.
Unfortunately, this came to an end in 1972. The culprit? Charles O. Finley. I hope you are seriously rotting in hell, Mr. Finley. You were a bastard in so many ways.
Cheapskate Charlie, who refused to pay his A’s (from 1972-86, the Oakland franchise was officially known as the A’s) a living wage, somehow came up with an idea to give each player a $300 bonus if he grew a mustache by Father’s Day. Sure enough, every goddamn A’s player grew one.
The A’s, wearing their new polyester uniforms of “kelly green”, “Fort Knox gold” and “wedding gown white”, ended up in the World Series against the clean-shaven Reds in a series termed by the medias as the “hairs” vs. the “squares”. Oakland won in seven games.
I’m glad I wasn’t alive in 1972. I would not have known who to root for. I despise the Reds for Pete Rose, a gambling pedophile who played dirty. I disliked the A’s for the facial hair, not to mention the strong hate I have for Finley, who pulled the Athletics out of Kansas City after the 1967 season because of his avarice.
The plague known as the DH came into being in 1973. That’s one of two reasons why 1973 was a horrid year for the grand old game. The second was the introduction of one George Michael Steinbrenner, who bought the Yankees from CBS for a paltry $10 million. That season was also the last for the original Yankee Stadium and the first for the facility now known as Kauffman Stadium.
In 2019, finding a clean-shaven MLB player is as hard as finding a four-leaf clover. I don’t get it.
Beards in hockey are ubiquitous in the playoffs. I don’t like them. Wayne Gretzky never grew a playoff beard. He was okay, wasn’t he? At least most hockey players shave them. Baseball players aren’t shaving them, and it’s gross.
I’m surprised there isn’t a huge Detroit Lions fan club in western Kansas because of coach Matt Patricia’s disgusting facial hair. People out here could root for the Lions without feeling guilty, since Detroit plays the Broncos and Chiefs only once every four years. The Lions happen to play both this season, and for some reason, Kansas City has to go back to Ford Field. Under the current schedule rotation, Detroit will go 20 years without visiting Arrowhead. Good work, NFL.
1971 also happened to be a wonderful year in other sports.
- The Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA championship in their third season, sweeping the Baltimore Bullets in four games. Of course, having Lew Alcindor, who had already changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar but not yet adopted it on the court, and Oscar Robertson didn’t hurt.
- The NFL in 1971 was fabulous. Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page was the league’s Most Valuable Player. Dallas legend Bob Lilly and the Doomsday Defense powered the Cowboys to their first Super Bowl championship. The Dolphins, who lost Super Bowl VI, won the NFL’s longest game, defeating the Chiefs after seven minutes, 40 seconds of a second overtime period in what was the final NFL game in Kansas City Municipal Stadium.
- College football came down to Big Eight superpowers Nebraska and Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Day in Norman. The Cornhuskers survived 35-31, then steamrolled undefeated Alabama 38-6 in the Orange Bowl to finish the first 13-0 season. That Crimson Tide team switched to the Wishbone offense and also fielded its first black players, John Mitchell and Wilbur Jackson.
- After the previous three Stanley Cup finals series ended in four-game sweeps (sorry Blues), the Canadiens and Black Hawks played a series for the ages. The home team won each of the first six games, with the series returning to Chicago for game seven. In what turned out to be the final game for Montreal legend Jean Beliveau, Montreal silenced Chicago Stadium by winning 3-2 for the first of its six Stanley Cups in the 1970s.
- UCLA won its fifth consecutive college basketball championship, overcoming determined Villanova 68-62 in the final at the Astrodome. Kansas reached the Final Four for the first time since 1957.
- There were 48 NASCAR Grand National races in 1971, many on short tracks. The next year, the schedule was shortened to 31 races, and Winston cigarettes (🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤢🤢🤢🤢🤢🤢🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮) became the sponsor of the top series.
Also in 1971, cigarette advertising on TV and radio was banned following the completion of the Orange Bowl (Nebraska 17, LSU 12) on New Year’s Night.
Too bad H.G. Wells’ vision will never come to light. I’m stuck in this era of beards, tattoos and other things I can’t stand.
I’m not going to apologize for this novella of a post. I needed to say these things.
Maybe Buzztime knew I was blogging about 1971 in baseball. The first question of sports trivia tonight: What award did Ferguson Jenkins win that year? Of course any baseball fan worth his salt knows it was the National League Cy Young.
Today’s trivia adventure comes from the Taco Bell at 1730 Vine Street in Hays, Kansas USA.
That’s right. I am a little under 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) from The Golden Q, where I normally play trivia in Hays. If you read my blog post from last Wednesday, you know The Q is undergoing a massive renovation which has closed its kitchen until next Tuesday, and the air conditioning and televisions are not functioning.
Buzztime updated its app last week. The questions now appear on the screen with the answers. The only drawback is clues are not given for Lunchtime and Countdown, meaning it’s all or nothing, unless lightning strikes and you figure it out in the middle of the question. For Late Shift, the game which runs from 2200 to closing, and others like it, the wrong answers wipe out. The app still cannot handle the hour-long games Tuesday through Saturday meaning if I want to play SIX Wednesday and Thursday at 1930, I have to be somewhere, which means Salina this week.
I had to come to Hays today to get my eyeglasses adjusted. Dr. Jones did it herself. I also had to get the correct case, which wasn’t a big deal.
Nickole Byers in Ellis called me while I was driving to Hays. I called her back and she wanted information on tournaments for the upcoming school year in case we wanted to print programs for them. Therefore, I stopped at Taco Bell to work.
I decided I would see how far away Buzztime could pick up the signal from The Q so I could play.
It worked. I’m about ready to leave to go home because I am dead tired. I didn’t get a lick of sleep last night, and it wasn’t because anything was wrong; for some reason, I couldn’t fall asleep even after taking Seroquel. I think I’ll be in bed very early tonight, because I would like to wake up early tomorrow, go to Wichita to get my car cleaned, then come back to Salina for trivia and a haircut with Amber.
I understand why Wimbledon instituted a tiebreak in the deciding set of matches when the score reaches 12-12. The All-England Lawn Tennis Club does not want marathon matches such as 2010, when John Isner and Nicholas Mahut needed 138 games to decide the fifth set, with Isner prevailing 70-68.
That’s right. ONE HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT games. It took 11 plus hours over three days to complete.
Back to yesterday, when Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer battled for the gentelmen’s singles championship.
Federer choked away two match points in the fifth set. Lo and behold, it got to 12-12.
Djokovic won seven of the 10 points in the tiebreak and won his fifth Wimbledon title and 16th Grand Slam.
Djokovic also won the first and third sets by tiebreak after it was tied 6-6.
The 12-point tiebreak was introduced to Wimbledon in 1972. From 1972-78, the tiebreak was played in all sets EXCEPT the decisive set (third for ladies, fifth for gentlemen) when the score reached 8-8. It was pared down to 6-6 in 1979 and remained that way through 2018.
Through 1970, all sets had to be played out until one player had a two-game advantage. In 1971, an ill-conceived tiebreak was used; it was a maximum of nine points, period, meaning if it were 4-4, it was a sudden death set point.
I’m not a tennis fan. I haven’t followed the sport much since the heyday of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and later, Steffi Graf and Boris Becker.
If it were up to me, I would say no way to tiebreaks in all Grand Slam tournaments, at least in the decisive set. And for the championship match, it would be no tiebreaks, period.
This is akin to the four major golf tournaments eliminating the 18-hole playoff when two or more players were tied after 72 holes.
- The U.S. Open was the last to eliminate the fifth round, going to a two-hole playoff starting in 2017; the last 18-hole playoff was at Torrey Pines in 2008, when Eldrick Woods defeated Roccco Mediate in 19 holes.
- The last 18-hole playoff at The Masters was 1970 when Billy Casper defeated Gene Littler; Augusta National adopted sudden death in 1976, and it was first used in 1979. The Masters uses sudden death for one reason and one reason only: to make sure 60 Minutes is not delayed too long on CBS should the tournament run past 1900 ET (1800 CT). It’s the same reason why NFL games which kick off at 1505 or 1525 CT on CBS have fewer commercials than the 1200 CT kickoffs on CBS or all games on Fox and NBC.
- The Open Championship last held an 18-hole playoff in 1975, when Tom Watson bested Jack Nicklaus at Carnoustie. The 18-hole playoff remained the tiebreak format for the Royal & Ancient through 1985; in 1986, it changed to a three-hole playoff, and later, four holes.
- The PGA Championship eliminated the 18-hole playoff in the 1970s, first using sudden death, then changing to a three-hole playoff in the late 1990s.
Winning a major tournament in tennis and golf is supposed to be among the most difficult tasks in sports. Not to to detract from Djokovic’s thrilling victory on Centre Court, but if there weren’t tiebreaks, would the Serb win? Who knows?
That said, I am on the other side of the fence as far as overtime in gridiron football and hockey.
There should be no overtime, period, in the regular season in those sports. If a team cannot get the job done in 60 minutes, it doesn’t deserve another chance. Better to have ties factor into a record than some convoluted tiebreaker based upon net points in conference games (NFL) or “regulation and overtime wins” (NHL).
Football and hockey are physically draining sports. Bruises, sprains and other injuries are a way of life. Why expose the players to more risk when it’s not necessary?
College and high school football should do away with their stupid version of overtime, which was foisted upon us in 1971 by Brice Durbin, then the Executive Director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, and later Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The “Kansas playoff” is ridiculous. Starting from the 10-yard line slants the playing field so heavily in favor of the offense. Any team which can’t make three yards per play for four plays doesn’t deserve to win. Not allowing the defense to score on an interception or fumble is just as asinine. Why should the team which turned the ball over deserve a chance to stop the team forcing the turnover? If the defender runs 95 yards the other way, then that team deserves to win.
The NCAA version of overtime, also adopted by Missouri, Texas and other states, is little better. The 25 is still too close.
In 1972, my future high school, Brother Martin, played Monroe Neville to a scoreless tie in a state semifinal in New Orleans. At that time, the team which advanced was determined by first downs, and if that was tied, penetrations inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
That didn’t work for the Crusaders and Tigers, who each had nine first downs and one penetration. Louisiana High School Athletic Association director Frank Spruiell suggested the Kansas overtime to break the tie.
The coaches, Martin’s Bobby Conlin and Neville’s Charlie Brown, told Spruiell to jump in the Mississippi River. The Crusaders and Tigers got together four days later in Alexandria and played it over again. Neville won 8-0 and went on to defeat Bossier Airline three days later for the title at Monroe.
To be honest, first downs, penetrations and other statistics such as yardage, third down conversions and time of possessions are more appropriate ways to determine a victor than the Kansas playoff. The Kansas playoff is a crapshoot if there ever was one.
The last time I was in Kansas City, I watched nine innings of a Rays-Twins game in Minneapolis.
I missed the first nine innings driving from Hays to Kansas City.
Eighteen innings? Are you kidding me?
Major League Baseball should do what the Japanese Leagues do and limit games tied after nine to a maximum of three extra innings. If the game is still tied after 12, the statistics count, but the game is thrown out and doesn’t count.
Teams play 162 games a season. What would a few ties hurt? Not a darn thing.
What is the American aversion to draws in sports? There does not have to be a winner in everything.
I’m still at Taco Bell. That’s all for now…at least on the blog.