Quick Takes


          “The other teams could make trouble for us if they win.” Yogi Berra.


          My good friend A.D. is gonna love this. He's from "back there" and he thinks the sun rises and sets on Fenway Pok. I admit it; David Ortiz is the best clutch hitter in MLB this year.........so far. He’s been sensational. He’d look great in a Dodgers or Cardinals uniform. Oh, I forgot, you have to play defense in the NL.


          Larry Brown is conceivably the best businessman and negotiator in sports history. He is the king of quickies. And this one is incredible. He found his “mark” in the inept Knicks and its presidential joke, Isiah Thomas. After one year, and with $40 million still in the Knicks A/P column, team owner James Dolan canned Brown last week. Now Dolan is trying to get out of that debt. How ironic! Brown has never been one to respect the contracts he signs, but guess what……………he’s going to respect the hell out of this one. And Isiah will now coach the team he put into this horrendous shape. No doubt there’ll be more Knicks deals, and no doubt more bad decisions for the Knicks as Thomas will be making them. Last night, I thought I was gonna hear "Little Caesar" Stern say, “With the 20th. pick in the 2006 NBA draft, the New York Knicks select Spike Lee.” Hey, New York, that could be an improvement. 


          The 2005 Detroit Tigers were 71-91. The 2006 Tigers have the best record in MLB. At this writing, they’ve already won 54 games through their first 79. It’s no coincidence; the brilliance of manager Jim Leyland is showing! My pal Gus Hoppel loves it. He’s a Detroit native who hasn’t had lots to cheer about since the Tigers won the World Series in 1984. Gus reminded me that Detroit’s great keystone combo of Trammell and Whitaker turned more career DP’s than any in MLB history. Is 2006 the year of the Tigers? If it is, Gus is going to give me a new Mercedes from his dealership, Fletcher Jones Imports. Gus, don't faint. I'm just kidding. But it's a sensational idea.   


Without their several rookies in key roles this season, the Dodgers would be in terrible shape with all the injuries to their veterans. Those rookies and Nomar’s brilliant season are keeping them in the NL West race, if that’s what you want to call that thing.


          I’ve been riding my bike for many years. Since I moved to Las Vegas, I haven’t worn my helmet, and this in the city that sports the worst drivers I’ve ever seen. I don’t like the helmet; I feel very constrained wearing it. The Kellen Winslow, Jr. incident did nothing to cause me to unbox my helmet, although it should have. Guess what…………the Ben Roethlisberger incident did. I spend 4.17% of my life on that bike (if you flunked math, kids, that’s an hour a day), and from now on, it’s gonna be spent wearing a helmet. And based on a couple “bad beats” I took at Wynn last week, I’m now considering wearing the helmet when I play poker.


          Lastings Milledge of the Mets isn’t a household name, but he’s well known at Shea Stadium. He is conceivably the worst defensive outfielder in MLB. Another candidate for the AL as he certainly doesn’t need a glove.


          All indoor sports venues are seemingly the same when it comes to crowd hype for the home team. The promotional antics give a unique meaning to the word “ridiculous.” Each venue attempts to outdo the others for noise volume. The public address announcers make each syllable stretch into another county. And they challenge our intelligence when they introduce “YOURRRRRR” whatever team; I didn’t know I own the Las Vegas Wranglers. But the most offensive aspect of all sports is when the singers of our “Star-Spangled Banner” and “America The Beautiful” think the ceremony should focus around them as they butcher the intended arrangements. During all this pre-game nonsense, my TV control mute button is the real star.


Story of the Week



          It all began on December 7, 1963 on CBS’s Army-Navy telecast. Moments after Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh scored in the fourth quarter, viewers saw his run again while announcer Lindsey Nelson stated, “This is not live! Ladies and gentlemen, Army has not scored again!”

          This technological breakthrough was introduced by Tony Verna, a 29-year-old director, and was instantly recognized as a good way to help viewers ascertain what had actually happened on a bang-bang play. It was also a great way for football broadcasters to fill the dead air between snaps.

          Instant replay was a technical breakthrough and a conceptual one as well. Television could now improve upon the experience of watching a game in person. Fans in their homes or neighborhood bars could see what those in the stands could not…………whether it was a lateral or a forward pass, whether a receiver had stepped out of bounds, whether the back's knee was down, etc.

          Football, because of its stop-start rhythm, was ideal for visual trinkets like replay, and Monday Night Football producer Don Ohlmeyer turned his telecasts into full-service entertainment events replete with humor and personality and many more technological advances. After a while, the paradigm shifted in all sports. The revolutionary premise was that sports could be improved, not by changing the games but by changing the way they were packaged. And most vitally, of course, instant replay means that if you get up from your favorite chair to get a beer, etc., you will not miss a thing.

          OK, so now the sports landscape has a way of providing its television viewers with the opportunity of seeing a play or plays they might have missed, for whatever reason. But that motive to use instant replay did not, in itself, live long. Soon it became a method by which umpires and referees, those men known as field officials, could be scrutinized very closely. And the vast improvements made in instant replay down through the years have made the concept a literal art-form today; it is truly instant. 

At first, I was totally opposed to instant replay for this purpose. No one said field officials are always right in both their calls and non-calls, and I felt that officiating should be spontaneous and without stoppage of play. I don’t feel that way any longer. Because so much rides on the officials’ calls in all sports, instant replay can and should provide the checks and balances for justice on the field to prevail, especially by virtue of the fact that the quality of officiating is so terribly suspect, and that, sports fans, is a gross understatement! So here’s to instant replay; it has made sports a better place for all concerned.


Last Week’s Trivia


          The two tallest players enshrined in Cooperstown are Don Drysdale and Dave Winfield at 6’ 6”. The shortest is “Wee” Willie Keeler at 5’ 4” and 140 pounds soakin’ wet.


Trivia Question of the Week


          Thanks to Scott Tobman for this one. What is the origin of the term ‘March Madness?’ See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.