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Baseball Post-Season Rematches This Past Weekend

The past weekend in baseball had just less than half (7) post-season rematches, in the 15 series played.

Within the National League, Atlanta/New York Mets was a redux of NLCS played 30 years apart in 1969 and 1999.

Meanwhile one level of advancement lower in each case, the Dodgers/Nationals was a 2016 division series rematch.

Within the American League, there was a World Series redux, (Houston vs the Chicago White Sox) and three series that matched teams that had clashed in post-season entities as advanced as the ALCS.

Those were Tigers/Royals, A’s/Red Sox and Indians/Orioles.

Additionally, the one inter league series was a World Series redux between the Giants and Angels.

Later in the week, I will post more notes on the history involved concerning the past post-season battles among some of those teams.

 

 

Pittsburgh/Philadelphia Simultaneous Titles Notes

As was the case for parts, if not all of the following calendar years, (1960, 1961,  1975, 1976, 1980, 2009) the current (2018) prelim, matching Pittsburgh, which leads 3 games to 2, with #6 this afternoon, and Philadelphia, comes at a time with each city housing a major North American sports’ league champion. They are the two time NHL title holding (Pittsburgh) Penguins and the recent Supe/NFL winning, (Philadelphia) Eagles.

One can also add Philly’s really recent NCAA basketball champions, Villanova, not only now to the Philadelphia/Pittsburgh simultaneous titles but also for parts of 2016 and 2017 as first Villanova and then the Pens took their respective entity’s 2015-2016 season crowns and reigned simultaneously as champions from roughly June 2016 until March 2017.

 

Remembering Bruno Sammartino

Sadly, wrestler, Bruno Sammartino, who held the title belt for a record 9 years, died this week at the age of 82.

The day before, I had watched the HBO documentary, a good one on the famed wrestler, “Andre The Giant,” which discussed regional wrestling.

Bruno was my region’s wrestling champion and great memories stir thinking about him, running into the ring in street clothes and at times carrying a briefcase, as part of the scripted action.

He also was a power lifting champion and a truly good man.

Mr. Sammartino spoke out against the widespread use and abuse of steroids in the wrestling association and also represented a time as a champion, yes in an exhibition, but one that had a bit more wrestling and certainly a more “contained schtick or worse.”

I interviewed Bruno along with “Hillbilly Jim,” (remember him) at the 1987 luncheon benefitting “The March Of Dimes.”

Mr. Sammartino was such a gentleman, talking in a low key way of matches he had overseas, that were the stuff of legend–perhaps literally.

No matter, he was a champion in and out of the ring, my champion, many year’s simultaneously with Muhammad Ali in boxing.

A proud resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I have included KDKA TV’s tribute to him. Bruno was a really good man, athlete and performer. Good bells ring for him now.

Click below for the CBS-KDKA remembrance which cites Bruno’s mother Emilia’s incredible bravery in hiding and feeding her children during horrible times.

WWE Hall Of Famer Bruno Sammartino Dies At 82

 

 

NHL Update: Only One (2-2) Series But The Potential And Likely “Quarters” Look Very Good

Four games have been played in all eight NHL preliminary series and only one, “the all road team wins,” Washington (Capitals) vs Columbus (Blue Jackets) series stands at two games apiece.

In short, with six of the seven “tilted” series (either over or (3-1) going toward the higher seeded team and with a paucity of overtime games, (only four juxtaposed with a record 18 in last year’s “prelims”), this has not been a compelling first round in the NHL ‘offs.

However, there are still games to be played and one series is (2-2). Moreover, the “quarters” are shaping up nicely, a by product of first round favorites winning.

Already there is a Las Vegas/San Jose quarter that is set (each swept its prelim, the San Jose Sharks doing so, sans home advantage).

Likely, but not definite, the two top points teams, Nashville (Predators) and Winnipeg (Jets) will clash, as is the likely, but not definite, case which would match the two top points teams in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.

Now with the Washington Capitals showing some indication of shedding their historic ‘offs woes by winning both in Columbus, there may well be a third straight, compelling Pittsburgh (Penguins), the two time champions, led by the great Sidney Crosby, vs “Wash” quarterfinal series.

 

The great Sidney Crosby, pictured above. He has been brilliant thus far in the ‘offs and while I think it will be so tough for he and his classy, great team to title a third straight time, the fact that one in my opinion, so lacking in talent and more important tact, Michael Wilbon is so against them, maybe just maybe, Crosby and the Pens will prevail.

I do not really care either way, but Crosby has proven his greatness, playing a sport, not nearly Jonas Salk work, but certainly providing a better society rung than barking out opinions, often ridiculous and certainly not scrutinized, regarding sports, which is Wilbon’s role.

Remembering the Great Hal Greer.

Hal Greer, a truly great basketball player, and one of my favorites, died last Saturday April 14th, at age 81.

Mr. Greer was a starter and starred on one of, if not, the greatest NBA teams, the (1966-1967) Philadelphia 76ers, who ended the great Boston Celtics’ 8 consecutive seasons grip on the NBA crown, winning decisively vs them in the semis, before winning it all, in 6 games vs the then San Francisco Warriors, in the final.

Of course, Hal’s death evokes thoughts of the late, great Wilt Chamberlain and more specifically, the two great title teams on which Wilt played, the other being the 1971-1972 Lakers.

Three fifths of the starting players on each of those great teams have passed on, making the dead players the majority.

How I “loved” each team, the Sixers with Hal, the late Luke Jackson and Wilt. Wali Jones and the great player, Chet Walker still walk the earth.

They won the title in the middle of the week, in the middle of the night and not on national television! “Where is the love,” Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack asked in song? I  ask and lament where is the tape of the Sixers’ 1967 crown, and for that matter the Lakers of 1972.

Greer hit a shot that I believe clinched the best record in ’67 and was great in the subsequent playoffs. Fairness and perspective cites the genius of Red Auerbach, the Celts’ general manager and former coach, in getting Em Bryant who helped stymie Hal in the ’68 playoffs.

Oh ’68, oh 50 years and on April 14, 1968, Hal and “my” Sixers went up 3 to 1 vs the seemingly “past it,” Celtics on ABC television.

However, the Celtics were so great and in three games not televised, took out Philly and eventually won another crown. As I have posted before, it still hurts.

Now Hal has died 50 years later and ’68 basketball matters less (the tragedies of that year and my incredible naivete regarding such resonate exponentially) and what he did in a great career, matters more.

Somewhere, perhaps and hopefully in something akin to heaven, legendary Philadephia public address announcer Dave Zinkoff is introducing Hal Greer to a new, better place.

As his famed “Greeear” resounds across distance, time, sound and of course imaginary implications–the long and the great of Hal Greer, are easily recalled.

Go easy, Mr. Greer and take a jump shot free throw, as you do so.

 

The great Hal Greer, pictured above.

Truly Memorable Dick Cavett Shows On Decades

Recently, there have been some truly memorable Dick Cavett Shows, that have aired on the television channel, Decades.

One show featured the immortal playwright, Tennessee Williams and Mr. Cavett in the former’s home city of New Orleans.

In addition to great insight from Mr.Williams, some of the sights and sounds of New Orleans were evident and discussed.

Another show taped, but not shown in London, England, featured Robert Morley and the great actress Gladys Cooper (among many great career jewels, she was in a “Twilight Zone” episode, that really helped launch Robert Redford’s career), who happened to be Mr. Morley’s mother in law.

The shows cited above and almost every Dick Cavett Show, which airs at 9 P.M. and 1 A.M. Eastern Time, weekdays on Decades, are fascinating looks back, perhaps giving us perspective, going ahead.

 

Dame Gladys Cooper, pictured above, in the famed “Nothing in the Dark” Twilight Zone episode, that really helped launch the great career of actor, Robert Redford.

Amazing Las Vegas (Golden Knights) And The San Jose Sharks Very Likely To Be “Quarters” Opponents

Only two of the eight NHL preliminary/first round series stand (3-0), (Columbus did win the first two games at perennial ‘offs disappointment, Washington, with game 3 tonight in Columbus).

Both regular season division winning, amazing first year team, Las Vegas (Golden Knights) vs the L.A. Kings and San Jose (Sharks) vs the Anaheim Ducks, are in the Pacific Division, and almost certainly will clash in the NHL quarterfinal round. Each can wrap up their

Las Vegas, the first expansion team in any of the four major North American sports leagues, to win a non expansion regular season entity and I believe just the second expansion team to make the playoffs without being in an expansion division (the NHL had an expansion division, the NHL West for 3 seasons (’68-’70) while the ’67 Chicago Bulls made the NBA ‘offs as 8 of the 10 teams in the loop that year qualified “Chi” doing so with a poor (33-48) record), now very likely will be the first such team to win a playoffs series. They are a truly amazing team and story, alas a great “danger” to the Las Vegas sports books, already having rewarded bettors and may cause even more “damage,” if they win the conference and/or the big prize, the Stanley Cup.

Meanwhile San Jose, just two years removed from an NHL final appearance, a 6 game loss to Pittsburgh (Penguins), but out of the ‘offs last season, will be at most a slight underdog vs Las Vegas, in what likely would/will be a most interesting series.