The Florida Marlins are an amazing story. There are veteran teams that can’t get to the World Series, let alone win it. But the Marlins, born in 1993, won the Series in 1997, had a fire sale, and won it again in 2003.
That leads me to the Cubs and Red Sox. Chicago last won the World Series in 1908. Boston last won it in 1918. They could face each other in this year’s World Series. If that happens, it’s even money neither will win.
Story of the Week
ELI MANNING vs PAT TILLMAN
We all have different values in life. Two classic opposites were in the news very recently, on the very same day, namely April 23rd.
A couple of days before the recent NFL draft, Archie Manning, the father of Eli Manning, star collegiate quarterback at the U. of Mississippi, went public with the story that his son would not play for the San Diego Chargers, the team with the #1 pick in the draft, and if San Diego were to draft him, son Eli would sit out the entire 2004 season, thus becoming eligible again for next year’s draft.
Archie Manning, himself a star quarterback a generation ago, has painful recollections of his days with the New Orleans Saints, then the joke of the NFL, both in the front office and on the playing field, as San Diego is now. Archie had little to show for it except the black and blue bumps and bruises that come with being a one-man gang on a team without an offensive line to protect him. I can understand father Archie’s concerns, but I absolutely do not appreciate or respect the Mannings’ edict and their manipulation of the draft.
The Mannings got what they wanted. Eli is now a New York Giant, and will command the very highest rookie contract in NFL history. This is the second coming of John Elway; the latter turned the same trick on the Colts in 1983, and won by going to the Broncos, and I never respected Elway for it.
Now for the flip side of this article, the truly sad side. Pat Tillman was a stellar strong safety for the Arizona Cardinals. Tillman, 27, at the height of his playing career, left a seven-figure NFL salary to enlist in the Army after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He wasn’t drafted; he enlisted. By his own admission, he wanted to contribute to his country. When he made his decision, he stated that he lived the American dream, and he wanted to preserve the American dream. He was killed in Afghanistan.
Yes, this story is all about values. One player wouldn’t sign a contract with a specific team while becoming the wealthiest NFL rookie ever. And another NFL player walked away from his lucrative contract because he wanted to serve his country after one of the darkest days in U.S. history.
Apparently the Mannings don’t realize that playing in the NFL, for any team in any city, especially at that financial level, is an honor and a privilege bestowed upon a very few. Apparently Pat Tillman felt that serving his country was a greater honor and privilege. If given the choice, I wonder where Eli Manning would rather play--------San Diego or Afghanistan.
Last Week’s Trivia
Recently retired Jesse Orosco owns the major league record for most career pitching appearances at 1,252.
Trivia Question of the Week
Only two major leaguers have ever hit grand slam homers in their first game. One was that household name, Bill Duggleby, in 1898; I was at that game. The other is a more modern-day player who achieved star-status. Who is he? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.