Lynn Sparks of Roanoke, VA. e-mails that I should advertise my articles as “The Best 5 Minutes In Sports.” Lynn, thanks very much for the nice compliment, but as long as you and I know it, that’s good enough for me. Cheers.
Rafael Palmeiro is a stud. He just made the trio a quartet, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray in the MLB club of 3,000 hits and 500 homers. He’s pushing 41, but he can still rip. It’s one of the sweetest swings I’ve ever seen. He’ll be in the HOF on the first ballot if he doesn’t bet on baseball between now and retirement.
The NHL will be back in the Fall. The owners and the players union reached an agreement that the players could have agreed to a lost year ago and didn’t. But unfortunately for the NHL, damn few people care. Most people, I mean sports fans, would be hard-pressed to name just two hands worth of players in the entire league. How about just one hand’s worth? The NHL wants to increase fan interest by implementing a plethora of changes designed primarily to create instant offense. Gary Bettman, I’ve got a better idea. Do away with the zamboni and have gorgeous somewhat-dressed young women clear the ice before the game and between each period. It’s probably your only shot on goal this year.
Red Sox Nation. I’m tired of hearing about it. Before 2004, the last time the Red Sox won a World Series was the year Ted Williams was born. That was 1918! Where was this Red Sox Nation during those 86 years between titles? Now they’re coming out of the woodwork. The only thing I’d enjoy more than the Yankees missing the playoffs this year is both the Yankees and the Red Sox missing the playoffs. Now that would put a huge sock in the mouths of the crazed East Coast fans and media.
The nomadic Larry Brown has it down to a proverbial science. Sign a long-term coaching deal, get disenchanted for whatever reason and become a distraction to your team after a couple of seasons, and then let them buy you out of the contract. Brown conceivably makes as much money from these buy-outs as he does from actual coaching. The irony of it all is that his coaching results are as good as his contract buy-outs. If the Knicks sign him, they ought to pay him by the game.
Story of the Week
He holds major league third baseman records for highest fielding average, putouts, assists and double-plays. His defensive abilities alone were worth the price of admission. He absolutely was a human portable vacuum cleaner, and his nickname of “Hoover” attests to the fact that he sucked up everything hit towards third base. His name is Brooks Robinson.
Robinson won Gold Gloves every year from 1960 to 1975. He led American League third basemen 11 times in fielding, and eight times each in putouts and assists. He also spent 23 years with the same team, the Baltimore Orioles.
Robinson made his debut as an Oriole in 1955, and collected 2,848 hits in regular season play. However, no amount of work could make up for his basic lack of speed as he grounded into 297 career double-plays, and stole but 28 bases during his entire career.
He won the MVP award in 1964, hitting .317 with 28 home runs. The spotlight was his in postseason play. In 39 playoff and World Series games, he hit five homers and batted .303. He starred in the postseasons of both 1969 and 1970.
The 1970 World Series pitting Baltimore against Cincinnati was "the Brooks Robinson Show." In the opener, he backhanded Lee May’s bullet to keep the go-ahead run off base in the sixth inning, and with the score tied in the seventh, he homered to give Baltimore the win, 4-3. In Game Two, he knocked in the game-winner in a 6-5 Orioles victory.
All that was prologue to Game Three when Robinson reinvented the definition of third base fielding. He made sparkling plays on Tony Perez’ shot down the line in the first inning, Tommy Helms’ slow roller in the second, and Johnny Bench’s line drive in the sixth. To punctuate the Series, he went 4-4 in Game Four, and was named MVP when his team won Game Five and the Series. Bench paid Robinson a supreme compliment by stating that he will become a left-handed hitter to avoid pulling the ball to Robinson; Bench did not.
When Brooks Robinson retired in 1977, the Orioles gave credit where it was due by holding a special day for him on September 18th. The occasion drew the largest regular season crowd in Memorial Stadium’s history. He entered the Hall of Fame in 1983.
Last Week’s Trivia
Per George Ostfeld, if all subs in a NBA game have already been disqualified, what would happen if a player on the court gets injured and must leave the game, or is ejected, leaving his team without the necessary five players? My first answer was that the team would be forced to play the remainder of the game short-handed. That was wrong. My second answer was that the team would forfeit the game. That was wrong. The correct answer is that the final player on the team to leave the game must be replaced by the very last player who was disqualified before him for whatever reason. As in my case, one is never too old to learn.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who is Bernice Gera? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.