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Willie Is 90!

The great, great baseball player, Willie Mays turns 90 years old today.

Certainly Willie is in any discussion as to the greatest player and is pretty clearly the best living player.

The years of 100 rbis and 100 runs scored, the catch, throw, walk and stolen base in the all important NY Giants (I hope to be a part of the fine organization New York Giants Preservation Society singing happy birthday to Willie later today) game 1 win in the ’54 World Series vs the 111 wins Cleveland Indians.

New York (Giants) went on to sweep the favored Indians extending Cleveland’s title drought to 6 years on its way to the current 73 and counting.

It was Willie’s only team title, (1-3) in World Series, sans a home run–one reason Babe Ruth and perhaps others rate ahead of him, however, just about any “eye test,” i.e. watching him hit, run, field, throw and think baseball puts Willie in discussion with any other than Ruth, who remember was also a great pitcher.

Two memories, among many of Willie, one relatively the other totally personal and thus completely obscure.

Galen Cisco starts the first game of a doubleheader, on May 5, 1963 (the day before Willie turned 32, remember the #) and walks Harvey Kuenn (playing third base, what a lineup SF had–as Kuenn, Felipe Alou and Hall of Fame players McCovey, Mays and Cepeda all were at least excellent, if not better in the hitting department) and then Alou before getting “Willie Mc” to pop out to “Choo Choo” Coleman in foul ground.

The great broadcaster Lindsey Nelson notes a “mixed” reception for Mays (he also noted 50, 000 plus turned out 2 days earlier to honor him) and then on a (1-1) pitch, Nelson as brilliant as Michael Kay is bad (“bad” was said on “Follow The Money” as I typed so maybe God/force agrees, yet Kay has most of it, even if his “guy,” fellow bad human being, Guiliani goes down and I have nada) calls Willie’s 373rd career home run, into the Polo Ground’s upper deck.

Last, it was either Stan Gardner or Gerry (sp?) Weinberg, each of whom died far too young within a year (late 1980 and mid 1981) who connected a Spalding rubber ball with the point of the “32” “stoop” of the garden apartment in which I lived in better days, so many years ago.

The ball really GOES, when that happens, however, I raced back, facing the other way, toward the street and grabbed the ball.

Those guys Gerry (sp?) and Stan were adults and we were kids,  they always won. They were good to us in any case, and after my catch, each remarked to my dad, sitting and watching, that it evoked memories of Willie in #1/’54 World Series.

It was a great moment! Sadly, repeats of such, have been few and far between.

Happy 90th birthday to the great Willie Mays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only Willie Mays, who is prominently displayed, but note the now unfortunately all gone, Roberto Clemente, Henry Aaron and Mickey Mantle, all such great players, above.

Stop Blaming The Supposed Sign Stealing, At Least, Unlike In ’76, Behave

I wasted far too much of my life rooting against the greatest of all sports franchises, the New York Yankees.

At one point, after Mr. McCovey lined “straight to Bobby Richardson,” (as the great player and broadcaster, George Kell intoned. Here I go, SORRY, but now we get the inept Michael Kay and the truly offensive Suzyn Waldman. I have made my piece with “Superstar” Sterling, one day I will tell you the Howard Young story), the Yankees had won an incredible half of the 40 World Series contested, between (1923-1962).

Against my father’s advice (he did not do too well rooting vs them, but had and would have his moments. However, the most salient point is that he had created a “monster,” as I later did with cable sports, specifically the monolith, ESPN) I decided to try and stop them and did so 31 times in 33 seasons, often paying, before cashing (it did not help me save my mother and just last night, the piece of crap uncle appeared as a hotel clerk, with me owing the hotel money. Unfortunately it remains a real life night/daymare), under N.L.er Torre in ’96.

That more or less ended the sick hatred. So please you fans, who are making excuses for your vaunted or not so vaunted team’s ‘offs failures, by blaming it on Astros’ steal signing and bringing back the horrible memories of thrown bottles, most notably at Griffey Sr. during the Reds’ sweep in ’76 and the truly unfair action, as Littell stood throwing warm up pitches, before he threw a fateful real one to Mr. Chambliss.

By the way, all teams have good and bad guys and let’s just say Mr. Chambliss and Roy White were among the truly good guys and players on those title Yankees’ teams of ’77 and ’78. 

Please stop your ridiculous behavior and that goes for all fans. Stealing signs is part of baseball, always has been. Was it a great example of being ethical? Of course not, but I take nada away from the title ’17 Astros and lament their failure, losing all 4 at home in an unprecedented World Series to Washington, in ’19.

By the way, in ’17 when Houston went on to “title,” the Yankees did lose all 4 in Houston, but you can blame it on their lack of clutch hitting, something that happens when you do not have the right clutch players and manager.

They simply did not hit and that is why they lost, NOT because the Astros supposedly stole signs.

There are worse choices for me as to the 2021 World Series winner than the Yankees, who are in the midst of a period equal to their greatest 20 year paucity of titles and nearly so regarding A.L. Pennants (they did not win a title until the year of the 20th World Series–(1903-1923), winning in ’23, the first year of Yankee Stadium, as there was no World Series in 1904, as was the case 90 years later manifesting in Michael Kay,  preaching violence, vs those causing the stoppage of baseball ’94. Why God/force allowed him is beyond and truly painful to me!!

They have the same one title in the 20 seasons since their under appreciated manager, Joe Torre guided them to 4 crowns in 5 seasons from (’96-2000). Additionally they have managed to win just one pennant in 17 seasons (’04-2020) matching the zero pennants in their first 17 seasons in which there was a World Series (1903-1920, with no WS in 1904 as noted above).

2017 ALCS scores follow:

 

New York Yankees – 1, Houston Astros – 2 Minute Maid Park 3:20 43,116[6] 
2 October 14 New York Yankees – 1, Houston Astros – 2 Minute Maid Park 3:00 43,193[7] 
3 October 16 Houston Astros – 1, New York Yankees – 8 Yankee Stadium 3:25 49,373[8] 
4 October 17 Houston Astros – 4, New York Yankees – 6 Yankee Stadium 3:37 48,804[9] 
5 October 18 Houston Astros – 0, New York Yankees – 5 Yankee Stadium 3:18 49,647[10] 
6 October 20 New York Yankees – 1, Houston Astros – 7 Minute Maid Park 3:23 43,179[11] 
7 October 21

New York Yankees – 0, Houston Astros – 4

 

 

As you can see, I think, the Yankees averaged less than a run a game in the 4 “at Houston” tilts.

Maybe the Astros were stealing the signs as to how the Yankees would swing. The great teams such as the old Yankees, Canadiens or Celtics would always be willing to or on relatively rare occasion actually congratulate the team that beat them. 

Not so these Yankees and many of their fans. Certainly the Yankees and maybe even some of those fans are better than that.

The “Hidden” Craig Robinson Moneymaker, I Knew But Another “Screw”

After his brother in law, Barack H. Obama ascended to the U.S. Presidency, an outcome, seemingly unfathomable a year or two earlier , Craig Robinson guided Oregon State to a minor tournament victory, in which, as I recall, an underdog in most, if not all their “tournie tilts.”

On Saturday March 12, I first watched “Southside With Me,” a truly entertaining and revealing movie about Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson’s fateful first date, Craig Robinson is cited.

Mr. Obama is awed by Robinson’s basketball prowess. At that point, the 2021 tournie version of Oregon State, with Mr. Robinson long gone from the scene, had pulled off two upset wins in the Pac 12 Tournament.

They went on to win as a 9 or so point “dog” in the final vs Colorado and as nice underdogs in 3 NCAA Tournament wins. When Houston eliminated them in the NCAA Quarters, Or St. bettors got the cash as they covered in defeat.

As if that is not enough, Craig Robinson is part of the New York Knicks’ organization. That team has been incredible, first off they are (37-28) obliterating a “reg” season wins total/perception of 22 and a fraction, and have won 12 of 13 and I believe covered all.

Add it up (7-0) Oregon State and (12-1) Knicks, (19-1) a la the ’63 Cards before they lost all 3 vs L.A. effectively ending the 1963 N.L. Pennant race, in Stan’s (Musial) last season.

I know it, knew it, but as seemingly always, the money escaped me.

 

Craig robinson osu.jpg

Craig Robinson, pictured above. In addition to being a fine basketball man, Craig is adored by his wife, children, mother (Marian) and sister for the good man that he is. 

A true testimony to his father, Fraser Robinson, a hard working man, called the “best man in the world,” by daughter Michelle. 

Penultimate “Exactly 50 Years” Notes For Now

Exactly 50 years ago, on Sunday May 2, 1971, again, as in game 5, this time in the third period of regulation play, the great player, Bobby Hull scored the game’s decisive goal off a faceoff as the Chicago Blackhawks advanced to a 1965 Stanley Cup Final redux vs the Montreal Canadiens.

They won their semi-final series vs the New York Rangers while the Habs defeated the Minnesota North Stars in 6 games.

All these (50) years later, only the Canadiens, among the ’71 semi-finalists, who now may avoid first place Toronto (Maple Leafs) in the North Division first round, are virtually certain or even favored to make the NHL Playoffs.

It is almost certain the Rangers will not qualify, very likely “Chi” is out and the North Stars franchise, now the Stars of Dallas, trail the fourth place Nashville Predators by 3 points in the battle for their division’s final ‘offs spot.

2020 NHL runner up, Dallas, has a game in hand.

 

Bobby Hull Chex card.jpg

The great player, Robert Marvin Hull, pictured above.

Medina Spirit Is Trainer, Bob Baffert’s Record 7th Kentucky Derby Winner

12 to 1 and with Mr. Baffert shown, it was Medina Spirit, as the first day of May, Kentucky Derby winner.

In looking for the trainer with a record 5 Kentucky Oaks wins yesterday, I looked up Mr. Baffert.

I should have known.

#7 Kentucky Derby win, a record for the distinguished Mr.Baffert. He shared the record with Ben Jones.

 

Baffert 2015 Preakness Stakes.jpg

The great trainer, Bob Baffert, pictured above.

Said It Before, Say It Again–Why Tirico

I shut almost all of it off. Today with the Kentucky Oaks, hearing Mike Tirico, I shut the sound off until the race.

After the race, Tirico unprepared left us wondering which trainer has 5 Kentucky Oaks wins, one more than today’s winning trainer, Todd Fletcher.

Was it too much trouble to have that information. In fairness, maybe he did before the race.

I was not listening, but the peak audience and interest comes after the race and whether he said it before or not, Tirico, who already, sadly has the “keys to the NBC kingdom,” should have told us which trainer has 5 “Oaks” wins.

Why Tirico? | Andy B Sports

 

The great trainer, Woody Stephens, pictured above, who once said I think to me, as you approach New York City, those buildings seem and get much bigger, trained 5 Kentucky Oaks winners.

They are that much bigger and more of an obstacle with nobody to really help. Tirico, somehow did not have that problem. 

D. Wayne Lukas and perhaps others also trained 4 such winners. 

50 Years Since The Milwaukee Bucks’ Lone Title

After this, there will be just two more exact year commemorations. Tonight marks the exact 50 year anniversary of the Milwaukee Bucks’ lone title, which was completed with a (118-106) win at Baltimore, to complete a 4 game sweep of the then Baltimore Bullets.

It was the first of 6 titles for Lew Alcindor (5 as Kareem Abdul Jabbar) and the first and only one for the great player, Oscar Robertson.

Larry Costello, a member of the great 1967 Philadelphia 76ers team, one of two teams other than the Celtics (each coached by Alex Hanumm), to “title” in a 13 season period (’57-’69), was the coach, while Bob Dandridge, later a key on Bullets’ teams that won it all in ’78 and made the final a year later, was also on the team.

I bought the Bucks’ record album and truly enjoyed their broadcaster, Ed Doucette. Later, J.R. Hellman made the wise decision to choose/hire Mr. Doucette, as the Portland Trail Blazers’ broadcaster.

A huge ‘offs disappointment the last two seasons, perhaps the Bucks are “waiting in the weeds,” likely as an East “3” and maybe, just maybe, can at least make a third final in their history. Their last final round appearance was in 1974.

Click below to watch a fine, brief piece on the ’71 title winning, Milwaukee Bucks.

 

50 Years Since Pete Stemkowski’s 3rd Overtime Period Goal Forced #7 Between The Rangers and Blackhawks

Tonight marks the exact 50 year anniversary of the New York Rangers forcing a decisive 7th game in their semi-final series vs the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday April 29, 1971.

The game ended when the Rangers’ Pete Stemkowski scored in the third overtime period.

Game 7 was/would be played on national television (in those days CBS, now the NHL has agreed to a future television package with Turner Sports, effectively ending a second stint with NBC) on Sunday May 2nd.

This Sunday I will review that result.

 

NHL 50 Years Notes And Update

Tonight marks the exact 50 year anniversary of the game 5 Chicago Blackhawks’ win, vs the New York Rangers, in their semi-final series.

“Chi” won the game on the great Bobby Hull’s goal, “off a faceoff,” in the first overtime period.

In the other NHL “semi,” that year, the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Minnesota North Stars in six games. However, it is noteworthy that it was the first series in which an expansion NHL West team won an ‘offs game, vs an established NHL East team.

This season, while each still has a chance, it is unlikely even very unlikely, that either the Blackhawks or Rangers will make the playoffs.

Montreal not only figures to make the ‘offs as their division’s 4th place team, but likely will face their long time rival, Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs for the first time in 42 years.

Sadly, it will occur, if it does, without anywhere near full fans capacity.

A finalist last season the North Stars franchise now in Dallas as the Stars are in a battle for the fourth and final spot in its division. 

Arbitrary, But Baseball Titles 32 Years Later Is Rare

My favorite number is 32. I have great knowledge of sports past and know every year’s World Series winner.

Combine this with a wait for the 7 train yesterday, as the shuttle to Time’s Square was not running and I found only 3 times, a franchise won World Series 32 years apart.

(I did this in my head and it’s worth would not even secure a subway ride. Yet here it is, maybe even with a mistake, as I did not check it again, even in my head).

All three to do so were originally New York City area teams, all as franchises in New York, for the World Series played between from (1903-1957), (there were 54 such as no WS was contested in 1904).

The current Dodgers have won their last two titles 32 years apart, with Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser in 1988 and in a bogus 60 game season last year.

Now in San Francisco, where they have won 3 crowns, the Giants won the second and fifth of their New York titles, 32 years apart in 1922 and 1954.

A surprise was that the Yankees with 27 titles did not win a pair 32 years apart until their last such win in 2009. They won it all in 1977, Ross Porter behind the national radio broadcast (Scully wanted more money) when Reginald Martinez Jackson blasted 3 home runs in the Yankees’ game 6 clincher.

 

Reggie Jackson, pictured above.