After the seventh game of the NBA Finals, there was the expected chaos in Detroit; lootings, muggings, fires, destroying cars. No, it had nothing to do with Game Seven; thatís the scene in Detroit every night. Yes, boys and girls, I know I picked Detroit to win, and I was wrong. The Pistons didnít execute; the Spurs did. Tim Duncan received but did not deserve Series MVP; that award should have gone to Manu Ginobili. Not even close!
Mike Tyson came from an absolutely horrific childhood to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history. His was a twisted career after the death of his mentor and manager, Cus DíAmato, in 1985, and he was then royally screwed by so many people along the way, people he made the mistake of trusting with the millions he earned. He is now in debt up to his back-end to the IRS. It reminds me all too well of the plight of the great Joe Louis, the difference being that Louis represented class and dignity during his ring career. Although Mike Tyson is worth lots of future autograph signing money and public appearance money, and always will be, I feel sorry for the guy for placing his faith in the wrong people. Mike Tyson is a classic case of blatant exploitation. I do believe that Tysonís life would have been far different had Cus DíAmato lived. (Cus DíAmato will be my feature story on 7-28.)
The Lakers once again showed their dependence on a center in the NBA draft this week. Itís nothing new. They depended on George Mikan in Minneapolis, and depended on Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and then Shaquille OíNeal to put them over the top in L.A. They drafted a 17-year-old high school grad in the first round on Tuesday. His name is Andrew Bynum, heís 7-0 and 285. Heís a high school All-American and a honor student. Top-quality centers are hard to come by in the NBA, centers who have the potential to deliver a flag. But Phil Jackson may not be around when Bynum makes his mark; this is not going to be a quickie transition for the kid. The Lakers need help now, right now, and I question the pick from that standpoint. And regarding Phil Jackson, it blows my mind that the brilliant coach was not asked to either be at the draft in N.Y. or in the draft war room in L.A. I would think GM Mitch Kupchak would welcome Jacksonís ability to diagnose player talent. After all, Kupchak ain't no Jerry West; just look at the remnants of the Shaq deal. About all Kupchak got in return for Shaq was sub-basement talent. So why not tap Jackson's brain?!
Story of the Week
Statistics are kept for absolutely everything in sports. I mean everything! It amazes me! How many goals did Bobby Hull score on Sundays when there were six inches of snow on the ground in Chicago? How many times did Eddie Yost get drilled by a pitch when the temperature in Washington was 95 degrees? How many elbows to the throat did Bill Laimbeer dish out? How many carrots of diamonds are owned by Deion Sanders? How many women did Wilt Chamberlain-------never mind; use your imagination. Donít be surprised if answers to the above can be fully documented.
We are well aware of baseball players being judged as hitters by their batting average. Thatís hits divided by official at-bats. A good deal of emphasis is paid to slugging percentage. Thatís total bases divided by official at-bats. And thereís OBP. Thatís the number of times a hitter reaches base safely divided by his official at-bats. But two months ago, Allen St. John of the Wall Street Journal made me aware of one Iíd never considered. Itís the playerís grand total bases (hits plus walks plus extra bases) divided by his official at-bats. It is known as bases-over-plate appearances or BOP. What BOP tells you is how effectively a player manages to move from home plate to first base and beyond.
Before getting into the top 10 list through the 2004 season, permit me to once again take a literary swing at modern-day baseball. There are some modern-day players on the list. I will reluctantly include them with my own personal asterisk. Why? You know why! Because modern-day baseball includes a juiced-up ball, juiced-up players under the influence of steroids, smaller parks, artificial surface, and watered-down pitching as a result of all the expansion. All of this aids modern-day hitters greatly. And the following list has five modern-day players on it, two of whom are known to have been on steroids. Having gotten that off my chest, I shall now continue.
The top 10 BOP list thru 2004:
1. Babe Ruth at .740.
2. Ted Williams at .705.
3. Lou Gehrig at .680.
4. Barry Bonds at .678.
5. Jimmy Fox at .663.
6. Todd Helton at .659.
7. Hank Greenberg at .655.
8. Albert Pujols at .652,
9. Mark McGuire at .647.
10. Manny Ramirez at .641.
In addition to the use of steroids by McGuire and Bonds, I feel compelled to note that Helton benefits greatly by the rarified high-altitude air in Denver.
Letís look at some others on the all-time BOP list thru 2004. Mickey Mantle ranks #12. Joe DiMaggio ranks #15. Stan Musial ranks #17. Willie Mays ranks #22. Hank Aaron ranks #34. All of the top-ranked players hit with power, or they could not possibly be ranked too high on the BOP list. So it is not a surprise to me that baseballís all-time greatest hit-maker, Pete Rose, ranks #728. The worst all-time player in BOP rankings with a minimum of 2,000 official plate appearances is former Atlanta Brave Rafael Belliard.
The category of BOP is noteworthy. Itís something I would certainly consider in evaluating a playerís contribution to my team were I its manager. But, ala most statistics, and for the reasons Iíve noted above, a quantifiable comparison in all categories of modern-day players and the tremendous advantages they enjoy versus the players of yesteryear is virtually impossible. But it is fun to think of what those yesteryear hitters would do to all the statistics today!
Last Weekís Trivia
Name the eight original AFL teams. They were the Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Texans, Denver Broncos, Houston Oilers, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Titans and Oakland Raiders. Boston is now New England. The Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs. The Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee and became the Titans. The Chargers moved to San Diego. Sonny Werblin bought the New York Titans and changed their name to the Jets. The Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles and then back to Oakland. No change with the Bills or the Broncos.
Trivia Question of the Week
What NFL team holds the record for the most consecutive losses? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answers.