RIP Frank Gifford

Frank Gifford passed away yesterday. He was an excellent player for the NY Giants in an era where football stars were of a much smaller magnitude than baseball stars. I think his off-field involvement with the game was even more important than his Hall of Fame playing career.

In 1970, the NFL was virtually a “Sunday only league”. Yes, it played a game on Thanksgiving Day and yes, it played a game or two on Saturdays in December after the college football season was over. But the vast majority of the games were on Sunday afternoons. Then the Monday Night Football “experiment” started and in the first season Keith Jackson did the play-by-play while Howard Cosell and Dandy Don Meredith were the color commentators. After that opening season, Frank Gifford took over the play-by-play duties and maintained that spot for the next 15 years whereupon he became a color commentator for another dozen years or so.

Monday Night Football showed that the NFL was more than a “Sunday only league” and that it could be a TV juggernaut. Frank Gifford was a significant part of that movement for the league for more than a quarter of a century.

Rest in peace, Frank Gifford.

While I was gone, the good people of Boston – and of Massachusetts as a whole – seemingly came to their senses and terminated their bid to hold the 2024 Olympics there. The mayor of Boston had been a supporter of bidding for the games but when he was faced with signing a “host city contract” that included clauses making Boston responsible for any cost overruns that “might occur”, he balked. Evidently, there was some pressure from various Olympic officials with regard to a deadline for signing and Mayor Marty Walsh would not be cowed by the USOC. The folks in Boston ought to hold a parade for Mayor Walsh.

Again, while I was gone, the baseball trade deadline came and went. Given the number of players changing teams – at the major league and minor league levels – the real winners in all of this would seem to be the moving and storage companies. However, some of the myriad trades seem to me to be more impactful than others and some teams seem to have made out well in the wheeling and dealing:

    Phillies traded Cole Hamels to Texas and got back 5 prospects in return. Texas needs starting pitching and the Phillies are not going to be a serious contender while Cole Hamels is still in his prime. Good trade on both sides…

    Phillies trade Jonathan Papelbon to Washington for a pitching prospect. The Nats’ bullpen has needed help all year and the last thing the Phillies need is a reliable closer in a season where they seek to lose fewer than 100 games.

    Phillies trade Ben Revere to Toronto for two minor league pitchers. Revere can hit for average and can steal a few bases; the Blue Jays can use him in left field and/or as a DH. Good trade on both ends of the deal…

    Tigers trade David Price to Toronto for three minor league pitchers – two of whom are deemed ready for the majors. If those two prospects work out for Detroit, this is a good trade both ways; if not, the Blue Jays come out ahead…

    Rockies trade Troy Tulowitsky and LaTroy Hawkins to Toronto for 3 prospects and Jose Reyes. The Blue Jays are obviously going for the playoffs this season with all these trades. Two question marks here:

      Can Tulowitsky stay healthy?

      Will Hawkins’ eligibility to collect Social security affect his pitching?

    Tigers trade Yeonis Cespedes to the Mets for two minor league pitchers. The Mets need offense and Cespedes can hit. He will be a free agent at the end of this year so this could turn out to be a “rent-a-player deal” for the Mets.

    A’s trade Tyler Clippard to the Mets for a minor league pitcher. Clippard was a very good set-up reliever in Washington up until this year and will help the Nats’ bullpen. More importantly, the Nats wanted him back in recognition of the value he could bring to their bullpen; but the Mets prevented that from happening.

    Reds traded Johnny Cueto to the Royals for 3 minor league left handed pitchers. Given the Royals’ pursuit of the playoffs this year – and perhaps a return to the World Series? – this trade seems to favor them.

    Brewers traded Aramis Ramirez and cash to the Pirates for a pitching prospect. The Pirates are playoff contenders this year and Ramirez’ bat should help them – if he does not give up more runs in the field than he produces at the plate.

There was one exchange that was simply puzzling to me:

    White Sox sent Conor Gillaspe to the Angels for “cash considerations”. Gillaspie has been having a bad season but last year he hit .282 and fielded well. The Angels need someone to play third base while David Freese gets healthy. It seems as if the White Sox – a team going nowhere – could have gotten something more than “cash considerations” here.

Finally, Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald made this observation about minor league baseball:

“Minor league baseball team the LeHigh Valley IronPigs dressed like camels on Hump Day. Here’s your first clue you’re not on the verge of making the majors: you race onto the field in a camel costume.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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