Quick Takes

          The national convention of the American Council of the Blind was held last week in Las Vegas. My good friends, Jim and Rosann Saylor and daughter Christy from the Bethlehem, PA. area were here in attendance. Christy is totally blind and has been since infancy. I spent two days with them, and marveled at Christy’s enthusiasm and lust for life; I always have. The Saylors and I have been close friends for 10 years, and I can attest to Christy’s great attitude and her wonderful parents. FYI, Jim is an accomplished businessman, consultant and author. For more about Jim, see his website, www.TheBusinessCoach.org.  

          The original Texas Rangers was and is a law enforcement agency designed to keep the peace. That agency is part of the Texas Department of Public Safety, dedicated to preserving law and order within that state. The MLB Texas Rangers obviously have an inappropriate name. What makes it more ironic is the fact that the MLB Rangers’ pitching coach, Orel Hershiser, is one of the finest people in the game. It’s old news, but it seems he has two mental midgets working for him. One is Frank Francisco who tossed a chair at an Oakland fan during a game last September 13th. The other is Kenny Rogers who, on June 27th. last, went after a cameramen in a tirade before a game in Arlington. Bottom line: The Texas Rangers apparently need the Texas Rangers to police the Texas Rangers.   

Story of the Week


It is still prominent in one take-off or another in two of our major sports, baseball and football. Its positive side is its looks, and the fact that it is virtually maintenance-free. Its negative side is the harm it perpetrates upon the athletes who play on it. If I were a jock with the prerogative of choosing a college or pro home, I wouldn’t remotely consider a field that features artificial surface. After all, my goal would be to play for as long as possible, and artificial surface has the great potential of shortening careers rather quickly. But I thought you’d like to know of the stuff known as Astroturf, and how the whole damn thing began.

It was invented 41 years ago by Monsanto, the same fine company that brought you PCB’s and bovine growth hormone. First named ChemGrass when it was laid over the concrete floor of Houston’s Astrodome in 1966, this cutting-edge carpet was later given the handle of Astroturf.

Astroturf radically changed the sporting landscape. It gave rise to a rash of domed stadiums which helped soothe the frayed nerves of owners and executives who no longer worried about postponing or canceling games (and losing revenue) because of inclement weather. It was all good, right? Wrong! Artificial turf ushered in an era of architectural boring blunders, not wonders, from which we are now beginning to recover.

The pros know the cons better than anyone. The guys forced to play on artificial turf believed, and still do, that it shortens careers. While the NFL pointed to studies showing that an athlete was just as likely to blow out a knee on natural grass as on artificial turf, the players didn’t buy it, and still don’t, just as I don’t.

The sun is setting on Astroturf. It will not be missed. It is being replaced by kinder, gentler synthetic grass systems ala FieldTurf which rest on foundations of sand and like substances. These surfaces are spongier, making them easier on players’ joints.

Speaking of joints, the late Tug McGraw was once asked if he preferred artificial turf or grass, and the famous reliever replied, “I don’t know. I never smoked Astroturf.”

Last Week’s Trivia

          Slugging third baseman Eddie Mathews is the only Brave to have played for Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. He played in Boston in 1952, the Braves’ last year there. Then he played for Milwaukee through 1965. He then closed his career in 1966, the Braves’ first year in Atlanta.

Trivia Question of the Week

          Per George Ostfeld, in a NBA game, if all substitutes on a team have already been disqualified, what would happen if a player on the court gets injured and must leave the game or is ejected, thus leaving his team without the necessary five players? He asked me the question, I answered it, and he then showed me that my answer was incorrect. I hate him!  See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.