Whitey Ford died last weekend. He was a mainstay of the Yankees’ pitching staff in the 1950s and 1960s which were dynastic years for the team. Ford holds the highest winning percentage for pitchers with more than 200 wins in MLB history at .690. Ford was known as “The Chairman of the Board” because of his calm and straightforward demeanor. According to lore, he had been struggling with arm injuries for about 2 years (there was no Tommy John surgery or rotator cuff surgery in those days) and after 1 inning in a road game he walked to the dugout and then into the locker room and headed home. He left a note on the locker of manager Ralph Houk that said, “I’ve had it; I’ll call you when I get home.”
Rest in peace, Whitey Ford.
Sticking with baseball for a moment, Bob Molinaro had this item in a column last week in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Repairs needed: With everything else going on in America ― and the impact it’s having on sports ― MLB playoff games shouldn’t be high on anybody’s list of complaints. But, man, do these games drag ― averaging about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Pitching changes are relentless. Strikeouts come in comic abundance. Let’s face it, baseball is broken.
The key observation in that commentary is that the games drag – – and they do. I am not referring to any sort of “drag” that comes from tight and low-scoring games; I enjoy games where a lead change is always imminent. But the number of walks and strikeouts means that there are long stretches of time when the ball is never in play. Some batter/pitcher matchups can be made into a TV mini-series as the pitcher fidgets around in the same zip code with the mound and the batter adjusts his gloves as often and as fastidiously as a super-model getting ready to stride down the runway. That is not enjoyable viewing.
Another of the major tennis tournaments concluded over the weekend when Rafael Nadal won the French Open for the 13th time. That means Nadal has now won 20 of tennis’ major tournaments and he did that by beating Novak Djokovic in the finals. Djokovic is the #1 ranked player in the world, and he had not “lost” a match so far this year. His only “loss” came in the US Open when he accidently hit a linesperson with a ball to her throat; and for that, he was disqualified. Last weekend, Nadal beat him in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.
Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers for their convincing victory over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. The NBA’s “Orlando Bubble” experiment worked even better than could have been wished for; players, coaches, staff and officials experienced no COVID-19 outbreaks. For anyone who chooses to nit-pick here, just remember that it worked. Now the Lakers and the rest of the NBA – along with the NBPA – must wrestle with some thorny issues for the future such as:
- How will they handle the hit to revenue in 2020 because revenue in 2020 is what determines the salary cap in 2021? When the NBA got a humongous new TV deal, the owners suggested phasing in the new cap numbers over several years and the players would have none of that. Now, revenues went down sharply…
- The schedule for next season is not going to be an easy thing to assemble. When will the season start? How many regular season games? How to avoid having the playoffs draw so poorly against playoff baseball and the NFL?
- Those decisions all involve money that flows to the owners and the players and the two sides now have about 6 weeks to figure it all out.
Dwight Perry commented on an interesting event that came out of the NBA’s “Orlando Bubble” experiment in the Seattle Times:
“Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook thanked the housekeeping staff at Orlando’s Grand Floridian hotel with a huge assist — an $8,000 tip — as he departed the NBA bubble.
“’They took great care of us,’ Westbrook told Bleacher Report. ‘Took the time and energy to do their job at a high level. That was the right thing. I like to do the right thing.’”
The “Bubble” was about 3 months long; indeed, the staff at the hotel performed their services over an extended time and obviously performed them to the great satisfaction of Russell Westbrook. Even considering the fact that Russell Westbrook makes a ton of money playing NBA basketball, that was a generous and thoughtful gesture on his part. If you want to read the backstory for this happening, you can find it here.
Anyone who has been reading these rants for a while knows that I like to have fun with the names of athletes that I run across. Here are some college football players with names that made me smile:
- Robert Corner III is a defensive back for UTEP – – Of course that is his position
- Phat Watts is a WR for Tulane – – Not a good name for a WR
- Bumper Pool is a LB for Arkansas – – He bumps into lots of people at that position
- Chase Oliver is a LB for Fla. St. – – I love names that are complete sentences
- KJ Vault is a S for Tulane – – I wonder if he is majoring in banking
And there are always those players whose names give copy editors nightmares – – such as:
- Eugentavious Blue – – WR Miss Valley State
- Kwatrivous Johnson – – OL Mississippi State
- Izuchukwu King Ani – – DE Mississippi State
- Simeon Nwokenkwo – – LB Grambling
Finally, Tom Brady lost track of downs at the end of last week’s loss to the Bears. Greg Cote had this comment – and confession – related to that incident in the Miami Herald last weekend:
“What were the odds of Tom Brady forgetting it was fourth down? Only time Greg Cote gets mixed up on small numbers is when he shoots a six on a golf hole and ‘mistakenly’ writes five on his scorecard.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………