Category Archives: Major League Baseball
The DH: baseball’s dumbest idea
Today marked the 50th anniversary of one of sports’ darkest days.
Two words: DESIGNATED HTITER. 😡😡😡😡😡😡
Four days after Mark James Robert Essex killed three policeman and four civilians at the Downtown Howard Johnson’s hotel in New Orleans and three days before Super Bowl VII, the 12 owners of the American League adopted what was known then as the “designated pinch hitter”. The word pinch was soon eliminated, and the letters DH became baseball’s shame.
The drive to adopt the DH was spearheaded by that lovable owner of the Oakland A’s, Charles Oscar Finley. He prevailed upon his Junior Circuit brethren to give it a try, as the American League had fallen behind the National in terms of offense and attendance.
In 1972, National League teams scored 824 more runs than their American League counterparts. Nine of 12 NL teams drew more than one million fans, while only three did so in the AL.
Finley tried to get the AL to adopt a designated pinch runner rule, but thankfully it was rejected. Despite this, the A’s signed the infamous Herb Washington in 1974, who is most remembered for getting picked off in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the 1974 World Series by the Dodgers’ ace reliever, Mike Marshall.
The NL did not adopt the DH, although Cardinals general manager Bing Devine begged and pleaded with his colleagues to do so. Fortunately, old-liners like the Dodgers’ Peter O’Malley, the Giants’ Horace Stoneham and the Reds’ Bob Howsam pushed back. Pitchers would continue to bat in the Senior Circuit.
At first, the DH was to be a three-year experiment. Following the 1975 season, the AL could revert to the rules it had played under from its formation in 1901 through 1972, or it could keep the DH permanently. The NL could adopt the DH at any time if it so desired.
By the end of 1975, baseball had too many other problems to worry about the DH. Arbitrator Peter Seitz issued his famous ruling in the case involving pitchers Andy Messersmith of the Dodgers and Dave McNally, the former Oriole ace who was exiled to the Expos after playing out his option in Baltimore. He ruled the reserve clause to be an illegal restraint of trade, and free agency had arrived in Major League Baseball.
The DH stayed in the AL. The NL did not adopt, until it almost did in August 1980.
John Claiborne, who succeeded Devine as Cardinals GM, tried again to get his fellow NL owners to adopt the DH. It was first believed the DH would take effect for 1982, but Claiborne insisted he could convince commissioner Bowie Kuhn to force its implementation in 1981.
He had support from the Braves’ Ted Turner, the Padres’ Ray Kroc and the Mets’ Nelson Doubleday, who took over ownership of the franchise earlier in the year from the estate of Joan Payson.
O’Malley and Bob Lurie, who bought the Giants from Stoneham in 1975 and kept the team from moving to Toronto (one year before the Blue Jays began play in the AL), led the opposition. The Reds, the oldest professional sports team in North America, remained opposed, as did the Cubs and Expos.
It would come down to the Astros, Phillies and Pirates.
John McMullen, who bought the Houston team in 1979, declined to vote, leaving it up to the Pennsylvania teams, which had possibly the most bitter rivalry in the sport in the late 1970s.
Pirates GM Harding “Pete” Peterson was told by ownership to follow the lead of the team to the east on the Turnpike.
Problem was, Phillies GM Bill Giles, son of former NL president Warren Giles, could not reach owner Ruly Carpenter on 13 August, the day the issue came to a vote.
The final tally: five nays, four yeas, three abstentions. No DH in the NL.
When he found out Claiborne led the push for the DH, Cardinal owner Gussie Busch was furious. Claiborne was fired, and new manager Whitey Herzog was given double duty.
The DH was not used in the World Series until 1976, and even then, it was only used in even-numbered years.
After the All-Missouri World Series of 1985, Kuhn’s successor, Peter Ueberroth, made a change.
The DH would be used every year in the World Series, but only the AL team’s park.
This format was also used when regular season interleague play began in 1997.
The fact that AL pitchers now had to bat sometimes when they weren’t used to it was a sore point for owners in the Junior Circuit. They demanded commissioners Bud Selig and Rob Manfred force the DH upon the NL.
The drumbeat got loudest in 2008, when Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang suffered a season-ending foot injury while running the bases in Houston. Hank Steinbrenner, son of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, was furious, fuming the NL needed to join the modern age.
The commissioner’s office did not have the power to force the DH upon the NL, nor did it have the power to eliminate it in the AL. That would have to be collectively bargained in the basic agreement between the owners and the MLB Players Association.
The DH came to the NL full-time during the pandemic-shortened season of 2020. It did not remain in 2021, but when the owners and players hammered out a new basic agreement to end the 2022 lockout, the DH was in the NL to stay.
I have always hated the DH. I will never like it.
Baseball is a game of specialization, but hitting is one thing which was universal to all positions prior to the scourge of the DH.
Today, specialization has spread across baseball like horse manure. It stinks.
And now players who spent nearly all of their careers as a DH are in the Hall of Fame: Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz, Frank Thomas and Harold Baines, who shouldn’t be in the Hall, period. Thomas played first base before the White Sox made him a part-time player, but Martinez and Ortiz barely played the field. Big Papi was a larger-than-life figure in Beantown, but does it mean he deserves his plaque in Cooperstown? I think not.
Sure, the DH allowed my Brewers (before I was born, thankfully) to bring in Hank Aaron as a museum piece for two seasons, and extended Carl Yastrzemski’s career in Boston a few years, but both would have made the Hall of Fame had they never taken a single at-bat as a DH.Reggie Jackson considered the DH an affront. He wanted to be a complete baseball player, and to Mr. October, it meant playing in the field as well as hitting. Sure, he would DH occasionally to give his arm and legs a rest, but he was an outfielder first and foremost.
Same with George Brett and Robin Yount. Both switched positions later in their careers to stay in the field.
I won’t stop watching MLB. Doesn’t mean I have to like players who can only do one thing earning $40 million a year.
Useless info about my birth date, matey!
My 46th birthday was pretty fantastic. The Cheesecake Factory is always great, and I had a slice of their latest concoction, the Basque cheesecake, with fresh berries and a burnt top. Delicious. I’m still sad it no longer has the Kahlua cheesecake, my favorite, but I still have Tiramisu, Cinnabon and now Basque. I’ll live.
I knew for a long time two of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ most important games in franchise history occurred Oct. 13. Until today, I didn’t know there was a third.
The two I knew of were:
–Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, when Bill Mazerowski hit the single most important home run in MLB history to give Pittsburgh a 10-9 victory over the Yankees. The Pirates prevailed despite being outscored 55-27 and out-hit 91-60 by the Bronx Bombers in the series. New York won games two and six at Forbes Field 16-3 and 10-0, and also won game three 10-0 in the Bronx. Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson, who set a then-World Series record with 12 hits, was the series Most Valuable Player. The Yankees fired manager Casey Stengel a few days later.
–Game 4 of the 1971 World Series, the first postseason night game in MLB history. The game drew such high ratings that Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered all future weekday games in the World Series be played at night. By 1985, Kuhn’s successor, Peter Ueberroth, determined all World Series games would be played at night. Prior to 1971, all World Series games started at 1 p.m. local time (except Sunday games in Baltimore, which had to start at 2 p.m. due to a municipal ordinance, one which played a part in the Colts leaving for Indianapolis in March 1984). Before 1967, Daylight Savings Time was not uniformly observed, meaning games in New York started at 11 a.m. in cities like New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City and Little Rock.
Today, I found out the first World Series ended 13 October 1983, when the Boston Pilgrims wrapped up the championship in eight games vs. the Pirates. The Pilgrims are now the Red Sox.
The Pirates also played in the World Series on 13 October 1979, losing game four 9-6 to the Orioles at Three Rivers Stadium. Pittsburgh was pushed to the brink trailing 3-1, but the Pirates rallied to win game five at home, then the last two at Baltimore.
The Pirates have not played a game as late as 13 October since they blew the seventh game of the National League Championship Series in Atlanta on 14 October 1992 (the Pirates won game six the previous night). It’s a shame how far this once-proud franchise has fallen.
FYI, the 1960 World Series was the last to wrap up on 13 October. There hasn’t been a World Series game played on my birthday since 13 October 1984, when the Tigers defeated the Padres 4-1 in game four at Detroit. The Tigers won it the next night, winning 8-4 on the strength of Kirk Gibson’s three-run homer off of Goose Gossage in the eighth inning.
The winner of the first MLB game of my lifetime? I’m currently in a hotel approximately 16 kilometers (10 miles) north of that team’s stadium.
Yes, the Kansas City Royals stayed alive in the 1976 American League Championship Series with a 7-4 victory in game four at Yankee Stadium. First pitch was about five hours after I was born.
The next night, Kansas City was in agony following Chris Chambliss’ home run off of Mark LIttel on the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth, giving the Yankees a 7-6 victory and their first AL pennant in 12 years.
Speaking of baseball, the first notable person I knew of who was born 13 October was Eddie Mathews, the slugging third baseman for the Milwaukee Braves.
Mathews hit 512 home runs during his Hall of Fame career, which began in 1952, the Braves’ last season in Boston. He led the NL in home runs, clouting 47 in 1953 and 46 in 1959. Mathews, Hank Aaron and Joe Adcock formed one of the most feared slugging trios in MLB history. Had they played in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, their fame would have been enormous.
After Mathews, I soon found out I was born exactly 51 years after Lady Margaret Thatcher, the one and only Iron Lady of the United Kingdom, in my opinion the second greatest UK female behind Queen Elizabeth II.
Preceding my birth on 13 October were legendary NFL receiver Jerry Rice (1962), U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington (1958), actress Kate Walsh (1967), singers Sammy Hagar (1947) and Marie Osmond (1959), jockey Pat Day (1952) and figure skater Nancy Kerrigan (1969).
Those with the bad fortune of being born 13 October after me include NBA standouts Paul Pierce (1977) and Jermaine O’Neal (1978), singer Ashanti (1980), Olympic gold medal swimmer Ian Thorpe (1982), Tiffany Trump, The Donald’s only child with Marla Maples (1993) and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) (1989).
AOC was born on my 13th birthday, which was Friday the 13th. Apparently, she isn’t as cursed as me.
That’s all for the first day of year 47. Time to sleep.
Countdown to a championship…or a choke
In approximately 10 hours, give or take, the Milwaukee Bucks will either be (a) National Basketball Association champions for the first time in 50 years, or (b) getting ready to fly to Phoenix for a seventh game vs. the Suns on their home court.
The Bucks haven’t been in this position since Mother’s Day 1974.
That was the date of the seventh game of the 1974 championship series, with the Bucks hosting the Celtics at the MECCA, the franchise’s first home.
The series didn’t lack for star power. Milwaukee had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson and Bob Dandridge, plus original Buck John McGlocklin. Boston featured Dave Cowens, JoJo White, future Bucks coach Don Nelson and the ageless John Havlicek.
At this time, the Bucks were in the Western Conference, where they remained until the Mavericks came into the NBA in the 1980-81 season.
Boston won 68 games during the 1972-73 season, one shy of the record set by the Lakers two years prior, but choked in the Eastern Conference finals, losing in five to the Knicks, who went on to defeat the Lakers for their second title in four seasons.
Milwaukee won 66 games in 1970-71, its third season. The Bucks had little trouble in the playoffs, ousting the Warriors and Lakers in five apiece, then sweeping the Baltimore Bullets to set the record for shortest time from first game to championship.
Through the first six games in 1974, Milwaukee and Boston alternated wins, with the Celtics claiming the odd-numbered games and the Bucks the evens.
In the sixth game, Milwaukee kept its season alive when Kareem arched a 12-foot sky hook from the right baseline over reserve Boston center Hank Finkel, forced into action in the second overtime when Hall of Famer Dave Cowens fouled out. The Bucks prevailed 102-101.
Little did anyone know the Bucks would not win another game in the NBA championship series for 47 years and two months.
In what myself and Bill Franques call the Mother’s Day Meltdown, the Celtics won the deciding game 102-87.
Boston won titles in 1976, ‘81, ‘84, ‘86 and 2008 to go along with the 11 it won in 13 seasons from 1957-69.
Milwaukee took a nosedive the two seasons following, thanks to Oscar’s retirement and the trade of Kareem to the Lakers. The Bucks moved to the Eastern Conference with Dallas’ entrance and were a consistent playoff team, but were thwarted by the 76ers and Celtics, eliminated by one or the other every year from 1981 through ‘87.
By the mid-1990s, the Bucks were as wretched as the Clippers, Nuggets and other perennial losers. There was one brief moment of glory, a run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001, but for 25 years, basketball in Milwaukee was a distant third to the Packers and Brewers, and sometimes behind the Wisconsin Badgers as well.
Things got so bad for Milwaukee that new NBA commissioner Adam Silver gave the Bucks an ultimatum: build a new arena or lose your team. The good people of Wisconsin got the message, the Fiserv Forum was built, and now the Bucks are one win away from the title.
Speaking of the Brewers, I’m reminded of them as the Bucks prepare for what could be their championship moment.
In the 1982 World Series, Milwaukee held a 3-2 advantage over St. Louis after taking two of three at County Stadium. The Brewers, powered by Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, had proven they could win at Busch Stadium, as evidenced by their 10-0 rout in the first game.
October 19, 1982 was supposed to be the night Harvey’s Wallbangers were coronated as Milwaukee’s first baseball champion since the 1957 Braves.
Instead, the Cardinals crushed the Brewers 13-1, then won the next night 6-3.
Milwaukee did not return to the postseason until 2008, ten years after it moved from the American League to the National. The Brewers reached the NLCS in 2011 and ‘18, but have yet to get back to the final round. If the Brewers can find some offense to go along with their pitching, 2021 might be the year.
The Bucks need to take care of business tonight. No goofing off. No taking the chance on a game seven on an enemy court. Get it done.
The good news is the Suns’ history in this situation is not promising.
In its two previous appearances in the final round, Phoenix lost game six and the series, to the Celtics in 1976 and the Bulls in ‘93. The 1976 series featured the famous triple-overtime game five, voted by many experts as the greatest in NBA history.
Both of those games were in Arizona, so you have to hope the chances are even better of it happening in Wisconsin.
I guess I’ll be tuning in to the NBA tonight. If the Bucks lose, I definitely will NOT watch game seven. It would be too gut-wrenching.
Let them (LSU and Mizzou) play! MORE!
LSU and Missouri have been together in the Southeastern Conference since 2012.
Yesterday was the first time the Bayou Bengals visited Columbia, and only the second time the purple Tigers and black Tigers faced off as conference opponents.
Blame one man. He resides in Tuscaloosa.
Nicholas Lou Saban, the head football coach at the University of Alabama, believes the world would stop spinning on its axis if the Crimson Tide did not play Tennessee every year.
Alabama and Tennessee have a rivalry which dates to 1901, less than two months after President William McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo. The Tide and Volunteers have played every year since 1930 except 1943, when neither school fielded a team during the height of World War II.
General Robert Neyland wanted Tennessee to play Alabama every year, knowing if the Volunteers defeated the Tide, Tennessee would be the undisputed king of southern football.
Bear Bryant, who played on a broken leg when Alabama won 25-0 in 1935 at Birmingham, considered Tennessee a bigger rival than Auburn. It was his trainer, Jim Goostree, who began the tradition of handing out victory cigars to players and coaches following victory in the series. Tennessee soon copied the tradition.
It is a vile and disgusting tradition. The Birmingham News’ website, AL.com, posts hundreds of photos of players and fans smoking cigars after a Crimson Tide victory over the Volunteers. They are glorifying a product which has killed tens of millions of Americans (although cigars have killed fewer than cigarettes). Memo to the women who smoke cigars: it doesn’t make you prettier. It makes you repulsive.
Nick Saban loves the cigars, given he once chain-smoked cigarettes. Unlike Bryant, he had the guts to give them up, but he still chews Red Man.
Alabama fans shouldn’t be lighting up cigars anyway. Tennessee is as impotent against Alabama these days as I am with the disgusting little thing between my legs. No reason to bother.
No wonder Saban wants to keep Tennessee on Alabama’s schedule permanently. He beats them all the time.
On the other hand, the world will not end if the Crimson Tide and Volunteers don’t play every year.
Conference realignment has cost us Maryland-Virginia, Maryland-North Carolina, Penn State-Pittsburgh, Nebraska-Oklahoma, Nebraska-Colorado, Nebraska-Missouri, Missouri-Kansas, Missouri-Oklahoma, Colorado-Oklahoma, Texas A&M-Baylor, Texas A&M-TCU, Texas A&M-Texas Tech, Arkansas-Texas, and the biggest of all, Texas-Texas A&M.
LSU and Tulane haven’t played since 2009. That sucks. Tulane bears some of the blame for demanding every other game be played in New Orleans, but LSU has a point by not wanting to give up a home game and play in a stadium which seats 30,000. Tulane blundered massively by leaving the SEC in 1966, but it could make up somewhat for it by playing every year in Baton Rouge and accepting a generous check from LSU. It really angers me LSU will play McNeese, Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, and now Southern and Grambling, but not Tulane.
Even within conferences, some rivalries aren’t played every year.
When the SEC split into divisions in 1992, it ended the yearly battle between Auburn and Tennessee. In 2002, Auburn’s yearly rivalry with Florida ended. LSU and Kentucky played every year from 1949 through 2001, but now don’t see each other but once every five or six years. Alabama and Georgia once played every year, but haven’t since Vince Dooley’s early days in Athens. LSU and Alabama was NOT a yearly rivalry until 1964. LSU and Auburn rarely played until they were thrown into the SEC West together. Same with Tennessee vs. Florida and Georgia in the East; Tennessee played Ole Miss every year before divisions.
The ACC stupidly divided the four North Carolina schools. This means North Carolina and Wake Forest don’t play every year, nor do Duke and North Carolina State. Last year, the Tar Heels and Demon Deacons played a game which didn’t count in the ACC standings just to play. Clemson also doesn’t play Duke, North Carolina and Virginia every year, while NC State and Wake Forest don’t see Virginia every year.
Before Nebraska and Colorado left the Big 12, it stranded Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with the Texas schools, and refused to have even one cross-division rivalry which was played every year.
In the Big Ten, the Little Brown Jug isn’t contested between Minnesota and Michigan every year. Same with Illibuck, the turtle contested by Ohio State and Illinois. Fortunately, Iowa and Minnesota still battle every year for Floyd of Rosedale, the bronze pig which is bar none the best trophy in college sports.
Anyone who can read a map knows Missouri is farther west than 11 of the other 13 SEC schools. Only Arkansas and Texas A&M are west of Columbia.
Yet the SEC refused to consider moving one team out of the West to let the Big 12 expatriates join the same division.
Then-Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs repeatedly said he would gladly move to the East to allow Mizzou into the West, yet then-SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and league presidents refused.
The biggest reason was Saban’s bellyaching about the cherished Alabama-Tennessee rivalry. Such bellyaching was not as loud from Knoxville, although I’m certain some Volunteer fans want their team to play the Crimson Tide, even with the yearly slaughter.
If Auburn was moved to the East, the Tigers of the Plains would become the Crimson Tide’s permanent cross-division football opponent, meaning they couldn’t play the Volunteers every year. Tennessee probably would have picked up Mizzou or A&M as its permanent West rival.
There is no rule stating Alabama and Tennessee cannot play a game which wouldn’t count in the SEC standings. Bear Bryant did this vs. Ole Miss near the end of his tenure. Has nobody thought of this? I’m not just talking about the Crimson Tide and Volunteers. Everyone in the SEC could do this. It would be an easy way to schedule the required non-conference game vs. a Power Five team.
The above ideas are good, but definitely not the best.
I realize Tuscaloosa is farther west than Nashville, home to Vanderbilt. However, the SEC could fudge its geography just a little bit and make it all right.
Swap Mizzou and Vandy for Alabama and Auburn. There, problem solved. Alabama would have Auburn and Tennessee as division opponents, and playing Georgia and Florida would more than make up for not playing LSU every year.
Tennessee-Vanderbilt would become the lone cross-division game to be played every year, the same way Indiana-Purdue is the only one in the Big Ten. This would get teams into each stadium more frequently.
Your blogger would be pumped to see LSU and Mizzou play every year in football, baseball and softball, meaning the Bayou Bengals would be in Columbia every other year for those sports instead of once in a blue moon.
It just makes too much damned sense, so it will never happen.
Then again, Missouri sports teams have a history of being geographically misaligned.
The Cardinals played in the National League EAST from 1969-93, even though it was farther west than Atlanta and Cincinnati, which were in the West.
The Cardinals and Cubs raised holy hell when the National League wanted to align geographically when the two-divisiion format was approved for 1969. Both were afraid of (a) 27 games per year in California, which meant late start times for television, and (b) not playing in New York. NL president Bill Giles gave the Cardinals and Cubs what they wanted, giving the big “F YOU” to the Braves and Reds, which faced longer trips to California and later start times for their fans, since Atlanta and Cincinnati are on Eastern time.
Giles didn’t have the balls AL president Joe Cronin did. He told the White Sox flat out they were going into the West, and if they didn’t like it, tough shit. The Sox’ owners at the time wanted to be in the East, citing tradition, as five of the other six old-line AL teams were in that division (the exception was the second Senators franchise, the one which became the Rangers in 1972). The White Sox tried again to move to the East when the Senators’ relocation was approved, but the Brewers, who were originally the Seattle Pilots, were moved from West to East, trading places with the Senators/Rangers.
The AL should not have moved the Brewers. It short-circuited rivalries with the White Sox and Twins, and since the Cowboys were in the NFC East, and the Cardinals and Cubs were in the NL East, it wouldn’t have been too bad to keep the Rangers in the AL East.
Speaking of teams from Dallas and St. Louis, it was totally asinine the Cowboys and football Cardinals were in the NFC East. Those cities aren’t east of anything, except San Francisco and Los Angeles in the NFC.
Pete Rozelle wimped out when the AFL and NFL merged. Rather than unilaterally imposing an alignment on NFC owners, he allowed secretary Thelma Ekjer to blindly pick an alignment out of a vase. And wouldn’t you know, the only one with the Cowboys and Cardinals in the NFC East was picked.
Let’s see..the Cowboys in the East and the Falcons in the West. Brilliant.
Rozelle should have put the Cowboys in the West, then added either the Cardinals or Saints (probably the latter, since it would have preserved a Dallas-New Orleans rivalry, one Cowboys’ president Tex Schramm loved). The other should have gone into the Central with the Vikings, Bears and Packers, and the Lions would go into the East with the Falcons, Redskins, Eagles and Giants.
When the Rams moved to St. Louis, there was no problem for me with them staying in the West, although it would have been an ideal time to realign the NFC, with the 49ers, Rams, Cardinals, Cowboys and Saints in the West; the Falcons, Panthers, Redskins, Giants and Eagles in the East; and the Central staying the way it was. At the time, the AFC was too convoluted to try to redo the East and Central (the West was great the way it was).
I’m not giving up my hope LSU and Mizzou are more than occasional rivals. Sometimes the world actually works the way it should.
Until then, I’ll start saving up for tickets when the Bayou Bengals return to Columbia in 2023. And for LSU’s trip to Lexington next year.
Father’s Day without baseball: un-American
Ah, Father’s Day. An observance I will never be a part of. I’m not going to be a father, which is not a bad thing. I would not want to pass my defective DNA to anyone. That would be grossly unfair.
This is my dad’s first Father’s Day without his father, who passed away 11 March at 97. He hasn’t said a word about it. I probably thought of it before he did.
For the first time since 1981, there will be no Major League Baseball on Father’s Day. The reason there wasn’t Father’s Day baseball 39 years ago was because the MLB Players Association went on strike 12 June and stayed out through the end of July, although games did not resume until 9 August with the All-Star Game in Cleveland.
Seven hundred twelve games were wiped out by the strike, which foisted upon us the comically bad split season, which cost the Cardinals and Reds, the teams with the best overall records
Ironically, Father’s Day in 1981 was also 21 June. Two other Father’s Days falling on 21 June produced MLB history.
In 1964, the Phillies’ Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game against the Mets at Shea Stadium. Bunning, a father of six, struck out 10 in the first National League perfect game since 1880 and the first regular season perfect game since 1922, when Charles Robertson authored one for the Tigers.
Of course, in between Robertson and Bunning, Don Larsen of the Yankees notched the most famous perfect game of all in the 1956 World Series vs. the Dodgers. It should also be noted Harvey Haddix pitched 12 1/3 perfect innings for the Pirates at Milwaukee in 1959, only to lose to the Braves.
The day after the game, Bunning was the New York Times‘ “Man in the News”, a rare honor for an athlete. On the same page as that item was a cigar advertisement with Phillies’ manager Gene Mauch, who has been described as the most successful manager to never appear in the World Series.
Philadelphia was a lead-pipe cinch for the World Series until the infamous “Phold”.
The Phillies led the National League (there were no divisions until 1969) by 6 1/2 games with 12 to play, only to lose 10 in a row (four to the Reds, three apiece to the Braves and Cardinals) and see their pennant dreams vanish. Mauch was widely blamed for pitching Bunning and left-hander Chris Short constantly on two days’ rest, simply because he didn’t trust anyone else on his staff. The only pitchers who could have possibly survived that workload are knuckleball specialists (Wilbur Wood, Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, Tim Wakefield), and even then it would be dicey.
Hours after Bunning’s perfect game, something much more sinister took place in the piney woods of east Mississippi.
Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan, led by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price and trigger man Alton Wayne Roberts, who was dishonorably discharged from the Marines. It wasn’t until 4 August that the bodies were found in an earthen dam.
Six year’s after Bunning’s pitching gem, Cesar Gutierrez had his day in the sun.
The Venezuelan went 7-for-7 in the second game of a doubleheader at Cleveland. Gutierrez was 5-for-5 through nine innings, added an infield single in the 10th, then singled again in the 12th after Mickey Stanley put Detroit ahead 9-8 on a one-out solo home run.
Two players have gone 7-for-7 in nine innings: Brooklyn’s Wilbert Robinson in 1892 and Pittsburgh’s Rennie Stennett in 1975.
Sadly, Gutierrez was out of MLB after the 1971 season, and passed away in 2005 at 62. He only played in 190 games, but on one shining Sunday, he proved why sports are the greatest reality show of all.
I found out today that Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter (Birney), who portrayed parents Steve and Elyse Keaton on “Family Ties”, were born on 21 June 1947. No wonder they had such chemistry on the TV show. They share a birthday with Bernie Kopell (Dr. Adam Bricker on “The Love Boat”, 87), Ron Ely (“Tarzan”, 82) and Chris Pratt (41).
Unfortunately for Gross, Baxter, Kopell, Ely and Pratt, Jussie Smollett was born 21 June 1982. UGH.
Happy 50th, Apollo 13
Fifty years ago last night, the humdrum of what appeared to be another routine Apollo mission to the moon was forever changed by five words spoken by Commander Jim Lovell.
“Houston, we have a problem”.
And so began the saga of Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert. There was no way they would follow in the footsteps of Apollo 11’s Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, nor Apollo 12’s Bean, Conrad and Gordon. Apollo 11 went to the moon in July 1969, with Armstrong and Aldrin setting foot on its surface on 20 July. Four months later, Apollo 12 took the same path.
As an aside, it would be Dick Gordon’s last space flight; twenty-six months later, he became the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the New Orleans Saints. Gordon was obviously smarter than the man who hired him, Saints owner John Mecom, and the head coach Gordon was inheriting, J.D. Roberts, but Gordon was in over his head against the likes of Jim Finks in Minnesota, Carroll Rosenbloom with the Rams, Al Davis in Oakland, the Rooney sin Pittsburgh, and Donald Francis Shula in south Florida.
Enough football. Back to Lovell, Haise and Swigert. Landing on the moon was out of the question; the new question was simply if they would live or die.
The first three and half months of the 1970s were carrying on the same deadly legacy as the last few months of the 1960s.
Following Apollo 11, ]Hurricane Camille bulldozed much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast the same weekend as Woodstock, killing 256 over five states. Three and half months later came the infamous Altamont Free Concert in northern California, where 18-year old druggie Meredith Hunter was stabbed by Hell’s Angel Alan Passarro, the latter claiming self-defense because he and his fellow Angels were scared the former would attack Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones during their performance.
Less than six days before Apollo 13 lifted off, four members of the California Highway Patrol were shot to death by snipers near Los Angeles. And three weeks after Lovell radioed the Johnson Space Center, four students died at Kent State (fortunately for football fans from coast to coast, one of them was not Nick Saban, then a freshman on the Golden Flashes football team).
The launch of Apollo 13 on 11 April was covered by the three networks, but other than updates from Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, and Howard K. Smith and Frank Reynolds, there was no special coverage. The night of Lovell’s transmission, the networks were in regular programming (“Here’s Lucy” on CBS; “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” on NBC and a horrendous TV movie on ABC), but Cronkite, Brinkley and Reynolds scurried back to their anchor chairs and updated the viewing public.
The mayday came after an explosion occurred in a liquid oxygen tank on board the command module. It turns out the tank was seriously damaged when it was dropped in preparation for Apollo 10. The tank for Apollo 10 was replaced, and the damaged tank was repaired and placed aboard Apollo 13.
It should not have been. It should have simply been disposed of. However, in 1969 and ’70, the cost of simply replacing the tank may have been too prohibitive to not to try and salvage it.
The damaged tank could only handle 28 volts, compared to 65 volts if the tank were in optimal condition. When temperatures spiked to approximately 185 degrees Celsius (365 degrees Fahrenheit), the internal wiring in the tank melted. When Swigert flipped a switch to stir the cryogenic tanks, the defective one exploded.
Lovell, Haise and Swigert were now on their own, more than 320,000 kilometers (200,000 miles) from earth. Mission Control was rendered useless.
The only hope was to use the lunar module, which Lovell and Haise would have used to land on the moon while Swigert circled above in the service module (the same way Collins did for Armstrong and Aldrin during Apollo 11, and Gordon for Bean and Conrad during Apollo 12), to fly back to earth.
Lovell had to figure out how to guide the lunar module with the service module attached, a totally different animal compared to what he and Haise would have experieneced landing on the moon.
As the trio neared earth on 17 April, they moved back into the damaged service module to prepare for splashdown. Originally, it was believed it would splash down in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Australia, but the trajectory was improved and it splashed at the original destination in the south Pacific.
I learned about Apollo 13 in sixth grade science. Two years later, an episode of ABC’s “The Wonder Years” featured the Apollo 13 crisis as a central plot point. Norma Arnold (Alley Mills) is up late after husband Jack (Dan Lauria) and children Karen (Olivia d’Abo), Wayne (Jason Hervey) and Kevin (Fred Savage) had gone to bed. Just as Kevin walks into the kitchen where Norma is watching television, and Frank Reynolds pops onto the screen with a “special report”. Later in the week, Kevin enters a church and finds Norma praying for the astronauts. The astronauts’ safe return also seemingly eases any tension between Norma and Jack. Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) sat out this episode.
The three men aboard Apollo 13 never returned to space. The Apollo program ended in December 1972, and it would be over eight years before the first space shuttle launch in 1981.
Lovell, still alive and well at 92, retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy shortly after Apollo 13. His book “Lost Moon” served as the script for the 1995 blockbuster film “Apollo 13”, with Tom Hanks portraying Lovell.
I know of a few people who are not enamored with Lovell.
In August 1999, Lovell was as guest of the Chicago Cubs during a nationally televised game vs. the Houston Astros. Lovell harshly criticized a group of umpires who lost their jobs when they followed Richie Phillips’ dreadful strategy to resign the previous month. The interview, conducted by ESPN announcers John Miller and Joe Morgan, was seen by millions from coast to coast.
Two of the umpires working that night’s game, the infamous Eric Gregg and Paul Nauert, lost their jobs three and a half weeks later. Jerry Crawford, the crew chief for that night’s game, didn’t lose his job, but he was Richie Phillips’ best friend, and I’m certain he won’t shed a tear when Lovell finally slips the surly bonds of this earth and touches the face of God, as Ronald Reagan once put it.
Haise, still alive at 86, was scheduled to fly on Apollo 19, but his number didn’t come up, since Apollo 17 was the last. He was recruited for the space shuttle program, but he got tired of the delays.
Swigert turned to politics in the late 1970s after leaving NASA. His first run for office failed, as he lost the 1978 Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat from Colorado to U.S. Rep. Bill Armstrong, who went on to win the general election and serve two terms.
In early 1982, Swigert announced he would run for U.S. Representative from Colorado’s 6th district, a seat which the Centennial State gained from reapportionment following the 1980 census.
Before Swigert could worry about winning in November, he had to beat cancer, which manifested itself in a tumor in his right nasal passage. He finished radiation treatment in June 1982, but two months later, cancer came back in his bone marrow.
Swigert stayed in the election and won with 64 percent of the vote, becoming the third ex-astronaut to win election to Congress, with the others serving in the Senate.
The first was John Glenn, the living legend who represented Ohio from 1975-1998; the second was Harrison Schmitt, who represented New Mexico from 1977-82. Ironically, the same day Swigert was elected, Schmitt lost his seat to Jeff Bingaman.
Sadly for Swigert, he never took the oath on Capitol Hill. He died 27 December in the same wing of Georgetown University Hospital where Vince Lombardi succumbed to colon cancer 12 years earlier. Swigert was only 51.
Apollo 13 may never have reached its intended destination. However, the courage demonstrated by James Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert will continue to serve as a beacon of hope, especially poignant given what’s happening right now, 50 years after Lovell radioed Houston.
World Champions of NOTHING
Kansas City is celebrating the “World Champion” Chiefs today with a parade and rally.
For the record, the Chiefs are not “World Champions” of anything, even if every vehicle in the parade is displaying the words “World Champions”.
The Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, which gives them the right to forever be called “Super Bowl LIV champions” and “2019 National Football League champions”, the same way the franchise can refer to itself as “Super Bowl IV champions” and “1969 Professional Football champions” (1969 was the last year before the AFL-NFL merger).
The Chiefs may refer to themselves as “NFL champions” without a qualifying year until they are eliminated from the 2020 playoffs (or fail to qualify). If Kansas City wins Super Bowl LV next February in Tampa, the Chiefs may continue to use NFL champions without the year.
The Patriots lost the right to call themselves NFL champions without a qualifying year when they lost to the Titans in the wild card round. New England can refer to itself as NFL champions of 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018, but must use the qualifying years. And it cannot call itself a “world champion”, period.
No NFL (or AFL) champion has the right to call itself a “world champion”.
The NFL has never had a franchise in a country other than the United States of America. Save for a few exhibitions in the early 1960s, no NFL team has played a team from the only other major league on earth which sponsors gridiron football, the Canadian Football League.
Two of the other major North American sports leagues use “World Champions” when they should not.
The NBA has referred to the winner of its playoff tournament as “World Champions”. At least the league no longer refers to the final round of the playoffs as the “World Championship Series” as it did through 1985.
Major League Baseball has sponsored the World Series since 1903, with two exceptions (1904 and 1994). Every World Series winner I know has referred to itself as a “World Champion”, even though MLB has never had teams in countries other than the USA and Canada. North American champions is also inappropriate since no World Series winner has played a champion from Mexico, Cuba or another country.
The Associated Press expressly forbids its publications from using “World Champions” to refer to teams. It is SUPER BOWL champions, WORLD SERIES champions and NBA champions.
Baseball and basketball can easily determine a world champion the way FIFA does with the Champions League.
The National Hockey League has it right. Gary Bettman and his predecessor, John Ziegler, never refers to the winner of the Stanley Cup Finals as the “World Champions” of hockey. That team is the STANLEY CUP champion or the NHL champion.
Here’s something to keep in mind about the NHL. A team can win the Stanley Cup X number of times. However, a team cannot win Y Stanley Cups. There is only one Stanley Cup, and unlike the Vince Lombardi, Larry O’Brien and Commissioner’s trophies, a new one is not made each year.
Therefore, the Blues are attempting to win the Stanley Cup for the second time, not their second Stanley Cup. Got it?
Back to football.
There are two world champions of football. They are the French Men’s National Team and the United States Women’s National Team. France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the USA won the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Every Super Bowl ring is a FRAUD, since every one says “World Champions”.
Vegas’ deadline, David Glass’ two acts, and something else ranch doesn’t go with
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.
Tuning out the Tigers
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, you have yet another problem
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.