Quick Takes


          The voting for the MLB All-Star Game is convoluted and, as usual, unfair. Objectivity is terribly lacking in the voting/selection of the participants. Just ask Travis Hafner and Francisco Liriano, among others. 


          It’s ridiculous that the All-Star Game determines which league has home field advantage in the World Series. It’s probably the very last thing the game’s participants care about, especially those players who know the only way they’ll make it to the World Series is with tickets. Another Bud Selig error in judgment!   

          A.D. told me he went to sportsjunkie.com instead of .info by mistake looking for my website. He found “sex dating” as one of the hits on that site. The two sites most assuredly provide a perfect combo, sports and sex, and not necessarily in that order. So how do you judge which is more important to you at the time, sports or sex? It all depends on who’s participating in each event!


        My picks for MLB post-season this year:

AL: East-Boston.   Central-Detroit.    West-Oakland.    Wild Card-Chicago.

NL: East-N.Y.       Central-St. Louis.  West-L.A.           Wild Card-Cincy.

World                  World Series: Tigers beat Mets.

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. The Mets are the NL duck this year. The AL wasn’t as easy for me. The AL is a three-horse race; the West winner is a joke, whoever it is. I chose Detroit over Chicago and Boston because of their superior ERA, and the fact that their BA and power numbers compare favorably to competition. And I'm a big fan of Jim Leyland.


Glaring absence from the playoffs………the Yankees. That’s the bad news in light of their $200+ million payroll. The good news for the Yankees owner is the team revenue of $400+ million. No matter……Hurricane George is expected to hit New York in late September.....at the latest.


          Ben Wallace is a great defensive center, but I’m with the Pistons; he’s a one-dimensional player, and as important as his defensive strength is, he’s not worth $60 million for four years. His PPG average is just 6.6, and he’ll be 32 when the 2006 season starts. The Bulls made a huge mistake.


          The NHL is a dud on TV. Always has been; always will be. But the NHL attendance is another story. The NHL actually outdrew the NBA this season on a %-of-capacity basis. The NHL filled 91.7% of its seats; the NBA filled 91.4% of its seats. It should be noted that there are more available seats for basketball than hockey; the ice rink is bigger than the court. But it’s quite clear that the NHL sells tickets.


          The great Steve Yzerman sold a lot of those tickets. The 23-year vet of the Detroit Red Wings retired this week. His 1755 points rank sixth on the all-time NHL list. I’ll do a full feature story on Yzerman next year.    


Bill Veeck is the all-time master sports promoter and showman. See my article about Bill Veeck as owner of the St. Louis Browns (9-13-01.). One of his stunts there was employing a midget named Eddie Gaedel. Gaedel’s playing career in St. Louis lasted just one at-bat. Years later, before he sold the Chicago White Sox in 1961, as a promotional stunt, he employed a park full of midgets as vendors for a game. He didn’t figure on the weight of the trays versus the strength of the vendors, and by the end of the game, beer and soda had flooded every aisle. I absolutely loved Bill Veeck and thanks to his son Mike, a picture of Bill hangs on my office wall.


Story of the Week



          Being a 5’ 9”, 165-pound power hitter at the Astrodome in the late 1960’s was an uphill battle, but Jimmy Wynn still likes a challenge. Always a delightful speaker, he once described Sandy Koufax’s curve as a “mystic waterfall.”

Wynn tells at-risk high school kids to stay off drugs, and he also goes to U. S. military bases to thank the men and women who serve his country. He hosts charity golf tournaments that benefit the Houston Area Urban League’s Equal Opportunity Day. Wynn did well as a player; now mostly he does good.

Wynn, soon to be 64, left the game in 1977 following a 15-year career. The "Toy Cannon" still resonates. The undersized slugger spent 11 seasons (1963 through 1973) in the outsized monument to sporting Americana, the Astrodome. He hit 97 of his 291 home runs in the "Eighth Wonder of the World."

But quality rather than quantity marked Wynn as an iconic figure of the era. His regal homers generally were the type that should have had flight attendants on them. He took delight in the sluggers of the time (Mays, Aaron, McCovey, Stargell) asking him if his bat was corked. They told him it was impossible to hit home runs in the Dome as he did. Yet he did not regret playing half of his games there.

Traded to the Dodgers after the 1973 season, Wynn had one of his most productive seasons (32 home runs, 108 RBI’s) the next year. Yet he hit only .275 or better just twice in his career, and after his batting average plummeted below .210 in 1976 and 1977 with three other teams, he abruptly retired at age 35.

The “Toy Cannon” is now only 12 pounds above his playing weight, a visual reminder of the small artillery piece who stole 225 bases, had a career on-base % of .366, and played a magnificent centerfield. The Astros retired his number 24 in a celebration dedicated to him at Minute Maid Park. Said Wynn, “It’s like being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I’m so pleased the people of Houston still think of me that way.” To be sure, if you ever had the opportunity to see Jimmy Wynn hit, field and run bases, then you’re sure to remember him. The little guy was an absolute marvel.


Last Week’s Trivia


Scott Tobman writes:

The term “March Madness” originated in 1908 when a small invitation high school basketball tournament mushroomed into a 900-school competition by the 1930's. As the tournament wound down to what was known at the time as the "Sweet Sixteen", it was drawing sell out crowds to the University of Illinois Huff Gymnasium. And keep in mind that this was well before television was invented and the college game became popular with the average fan.
            In 1939, the assistant executive secretary of the Illinois High School Association, Henry V. Porter, was so impressed by the phenomenon that he wrote an essay titled "March Madness". The term struck a chord with the newspaper reporters of the time, and they used the phrase to describe phenomenon throughout the 1940's and 50's.
            Although the term is now a registered trademark owned by the Illinois High School Association, most people have come to think of it as being the NCAA Basketball Tournament.


Trivia Question of the Week


          Who was the first player to be named Super Bowl MVP twice? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.