Thanks to my cousin, Lenny Adams of Chicago, a most knowledgeable sports junkie himself with a sports writing resume, for an in-depth article he sent me that appeared in the New York Times Magazine dated February 13th. It was written by Michael Sokolove. The title of the article is appropriately "CLANG." It discusses the fact that the NBA doesnít have a drug problem or a thug problem; it has a basketball problem. As Sokolove states in the article, "Unbelievable as it may seem, you can make millions in todayís NBA without having even one semi-reliable way to put the ball in the basket; no jump shot, no hook shot, no little 12-foot bank shot." Heís right! The current NBA flock, on average, canít hit a bull in the fanny with a bag o' rice, and I cleaned that up! Todayís NBA is precisely why there are no modern-day players on my all-time team, either as starters or relievers, and my articles down through my siteís 3Ĺ years discuss the incredible ineptitude of the modern NBA. I suggest you contact the New York Times for that article.
Story of the Week
This guy was never MVP, he never led the AL in home runs or RBIís, and he managed to win only one batting title in 22 major league seasons. Yet, in 1980, he became only the tenth player to be named to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Al Kaline had 100 or more hits 18 times, hit 20 or more home runs nine times, hit .300 or better eight times. The first player to win a gold glove at two different positions, he won 10 in all. In 1971, at age 36, Kaline played the entire season errorless as part of a 242-game streak without a miscue.
Only one week after signing with the Detroit Tigers on his high school graduation day, Kaline got into the lineup. Soon after, in a game against the White Sox, he threw runners out at second, third and home in successive innings. The next year, he became the youngest player ever to win a batting title (.340), and was named AL Player of the Year by The Sporting News. He would go on to win that award another time in his great career.
He started in the All-Star Game for the first of 10 times in 1955, and played in 16 of them without committing an error, hit .324 in those All-Star games, and homered in two of them.
After a pitch broke his arm in 1968, Kaline returned as a first baseman, but was back in right field during the World Series. Painful as it is for me to write this paragraph (Iím from St. Louis, and saw every home game of that Series in person), Detroit was down three games to one to the Cards. The Tigers came back in Game Five as Kaline singled home the tying and go-ahead runs. He got two more hits in Game Six as Detroit tied the Series. Yes, Detroit won Game Seven (thatís a story in itself) and the Series, as Kaline wound up with a .379 Series average, and eight RBIís.
In 1974, Al Kaline needed 139 hits to reach the coveted 3,000 career mark. He became a full-time DH. He accomplished the feat, and retired with 3,007 career base hits. While no Tigers uniform had been retired (in deference to Ty Cobb, who did not wear numerals on his uniform), Kalineís number 6 was taken out of circulation by Detroit in August, 1980, after his election to the Hall of Fame.
Last Weekís Trivia
What was Mickey Mantleís true given first name? Every e-mail response was correct. Youíre right, it was Mickey. Just a little test, kids, to see if you're paying attention.
Trivia Question of the Week
If you donít know this one, turn in your cleats! What former NFL player held the world record for the 100-yard dash? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.