John Saunders died on Wednesday this week at the age of 61. I had no idea that he was sick; the only “change” I had noticed was that he had more grey hair than he had a year ago but that is not something that made me sit up and take notice with regard to his health. Saunders joined ESPN in 1986 as a SportsCenter host/reporter. In the last 30 years, he has done hockey and college football and SportsCenter and The Sports Reporters. John Saunders was not the attention-grabbing personality of the kind that Chris Berman or Keith Olbermann was. Nevertheless, he was an important part of how ESPN has grown in the past several decades.
Rest in peace John Saunders.
In addition to the retirement announcements of A-Rod and Mark Texiera this week, two other important MLB players may have seen the end of their careers:
Prince Fielder had a second neck surgery to fuse cervical disks. After the surgery, the doctor would not sign off on Fielder’s return to baseball. What that means is that his career is over at age 32 from a debilitating injury. I surely expect some folks to attribute this to Fielder’s weight and physique. I will leave that assessment to his doctor who did the surgery but I will say that his injury/condition is in his neck which is not exactly part of the major weight-bearing apparatus of his skeleton. If he had knee problems or ankle problems that were inoperable or uncorrectable, that might be a different story. His neck …?
Tim Lincicum has been trying a comeback with the Angels this season and it has not gone well at all. The Angels sent him down to Triple A this week which is something that was unimaginable about 5 seasons ago. So far in 2016, Lincicum has thrown 38.1 innings with the Angels; in that time, he has accumulated an ERA of 9.16. In addition, he has walked 223 batters while striking out 32; that is not a good ratio at all. Lincicum just turned 32 in June.
Cecil Fielder and Tim Lincicum seem to have reached the ends of their careers at age 32 and not in their late-30s. The peak earning years for top-shelf athletes are often rather short-lived…
I mentioned earlier this week that Tim Tebow is trying to make it to MLB at age 29. A former colleague took note of that report and sent me this e-mail:
“He throws left-handed and if he can throw 90 miles per hour as a left-handed pitcher, he may have another dozen years to make it to MLB. Of course, if he could throw 90 mph with any accuracy, he would be a starting QB in the NFL by now.”
While I am talking about MLB, #1 son is a devoted fan of the Chicago Cubs. He went to grad school in Chicago and then did a post-doctoral fellowship there. He came to be a Cubs’ fan in those two stints of living in Chicago and he has carried that with him even now that he lives in Dublin, Ireland. He has been very hopeful for the Cubs this season but he still retains the “Cubs’ fan pessimism” as he awaits the fated dire event that will derail the Cubs from the World Series. Since I never acquired that “pessimism strain”, I have been feeding him optimism for the season. Now that we are in mid-August, it seems fair to ask this question:
Will the Cubs win 100 games in 2016?
Right now they are on pace to win 101 games. The last time a Cubs’ team won 100 games was back in 1935 when MLB teams only played 154 games per season. The 1935 Cubs did make it to the World Series but lost the Series to the Detroit Tigers in 6 games. Given the way the Tigers are pounding the ball, they too could make the playoffs and could reach the World Series. It could happen …
Of course, here in Curmudgeon Central I always like to take a look at the world through the “other end of the telescope” and that viewscape suggests that this is a pertinent question:
Will the Atlanta Braves lose 100 games?
If not the Braves how about the D-Backs, the Reds or the Twins?
The Braves are on pace to lose exactly 100 games; the other teams are on pace to lose 98 games. The Braves have had a lot of difficulty selling tickets this year given how bad the team has played and given that the team is moving to a new venue next year. If the team goes down to the wire trying to avoid losing 100 games, maybe that will goose attendance a few hundred folks for late games this year.
Earlier this week, there were folks who were Tweeting during the Opening Ceremony for the Rio Olympics. If one was already watching the Opening Ceremony, the Tweets were abjectly unnecessary. If someone was not watching the Opening Ceremony and experiencing it only in the “Twitterverse”, that reminds me of a bit of useless radio…
About 20 years ago, my long-suffering wife and I and her sister and our brother-in-law flew to Albuquerque NM to experience the hot air balloon festival there. Hundreds of hot air balloons of all sizes and shapes and with all sorts of sponsorships are there and in the early morning hours, they fire up and take off and go with the wind in a great spectacle.
We somehow acquired passes that got us into a “Premium Area” for the launch and that access got me to see a tent that had been set up by one of the local radio stations. They were doing a remote broadcast with two of the station personalities and they were describing the balloon launches as they happened:
“Oh, there goes the Dodge Caravan balloon. It sure has a golden glow about it.”
“Look, there is the Domino’s Pizza balloon. You can see the pepperoni slices against the glow inside the balloon.”
“Wow, here comes the Albuquerque Isotopes balloon. Remember last year when they dropped coupons for $5 off on game tickets? Boy that was exciting…”
I stood by the tent listening to the “coverage” until they broke for a set of commercials. With the mics dead and the headphones off, let me assure you that the commentary from the guys who were made to do this coverage was far less upbeat and positive. I recall more than a few scatological references…
That is the precise value of Tweeting the Opening Ceremony – – except the Tweeter thinks he is doing something valuable and important and it is left to the listener/recipient to put forth the scatological references.
Finally, as the Olympics continue, let me share with you a great comment from Dan Jenkins about the sport of track and field:
“The only thing more boring that track, is field.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports ………