New Orleans was reborn Monday night. The Superdome was filled with people who have been through hell since Katrina hit 13 months ago. Those super people had a Superdome party to behold, and the Saints did their part by kicking the Falcons all over the field.
I’ve always kept this website strictly sports-oriented, but I’m going to digress here. Many parts of New Orleans still look like a war zone. These residential areas look the same now as they did after Katrina hit the city. It’s true of the entire Gulf Coast. Our federal government needs to take care of its own first, and not foreign countries like Iraq, etc., and it is obvious that this has not been done in the many areas devastated by Katrina. Our government needs to get its priorities straight! It starts at the top!
Yes, in my July 6th. Quick Take, I did predict the Yankees would not win the AL East, let alone even make the playoffs. To state that I’ve caught heat from the Bronx Zoo would be a major understatement; the e-mails just keep on coming. There, you happy now? To all of you Yankees fans who have ripped me a new one, have your usual huge portion of raw meat and get to bed early.
Are you cognizant of the role the Washington Redskins have played in U.S. politics down through the years? The Redskins have proved to be a time-tested election predictor. In the 15 presidential elections through 2000, if the Washington Redskins lost their last home game prior to the election, the incumbent party lost the White House. When they won that last home game prior to the voting, the incumbent stayed in power.
It happened throughout the history of the Washington Redskins. 15 straight presidential elections through 2000. The streak ended in 2004 as reality finally trumped coincidence. Despite the ‘Skins 28-14 loss to Green Bay in Washington on October 31, presaging a victory for Democratic challenger John Kerry in the upcoming presidential election, two days later incumbent President George W. Bush was re-elected, breaking the Redskins' predictive pattern.
The Redskins would like to have that same 15-game winning streak on the field. Forget it! I’ll be their quarterback before that happens.
Story of the Week
An unprecedented combination of power and defense molded Mike Schmidt into one of the game's greatest third basemen. The powerful right-handed hitter slugged 548 career home runs, drove in 1595 runs, belted 40 or more long balls in three separate seasons, and hit 30 or more home runs 10 other times. He established a major league record for third basemen by clouting 48 homers in 1980 and once hit four consecutive round-trippers in a single game in 1976. A three-time National League MVP, he was a 12-time All-Star, won 10 Gold Gloves, and was named the “Sporting News” Player of the Decade for the 1980s. (In those days, the ball wasn’t a tightly-wound oversized golf ball like it is today. This fact makes Schmidt’s power numbers and home run distances all the more impressive, just as it does the power numbers of all the sluggers before a pop fly became a home run ala today.)
Schmidt joined the Phillies in 1972. His first full season, 1973, Schmidt struggled and batted only .196; his season was perhaps the worst rookie season ever posted by an eventual Hall-of-Famer. He broke out in 1974, however, leading the National League in home runs and demonstrating astounding prowess with the glove. A patient and powerful hitter, Schmidt was best known for hitting many home runs and drawing many bases on balls. For the rest of the 1970's, Schmidt excelled at bat and with the glove, winning two more home run titles and a succession of Gold Glove Awards. He helped the Phillies win three straight division titles from 1976 to 1978, the team's first postseason appearances in 26 years.
A tremendous third baseman, Schmidt had a powerful arm and was especially talented at fielding short grounders barehanded. His 404 assists in 1974 remain a record for third basemen. Schmidt also filled in at shortstop and first base when necessity demanded.
On June 10, 1974 Schmidt hit what should have been a home run (and which would have made his career home run total 549), when he hit the public address speaker that hung 117 feet above and 329 feet away from home plate at the Astrodome in Houston. The ball hit the speakers and fell to the turf. The ground rules in the Astrodome stated that the ball was live and in play. Since Schmidt had already started his home run trot, he was held to a single. Many experts agree this ball would have traveled in excess of 500 feet.
In 1980, Schmidt won the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in a unanimous vote. The Phillies reached the World Series and, for the first time in team history, won it, defeating the Kansas City Royals, Schmidt was selected as MVP of the World Series, hitting two homers and driving in seven runs.
In 1981, the Phillies again reached the postseason and Schmidt won his second MVP Award. In 1983, in celebration of the team's 100th anniversary, Schmidt was voted in a fan balloting as the greatest player in the history of the franchise, even though he still had five strong seasons ahead of him, including nearly 200 home runs. That year, Schmidt led the Phillies back to the World Series, but they were defeated by the Baltimore Orioles. In 1986, Schmidt won his third MVP Award, a record for a third baseman. In 1987, Schmidt hit his career 500th home run in Pittsburgh, in the ninth inning of a game, providing the winning margin in a 8-6 victory. Injuries to Schmidt's knees and back caused him to miss much of the 1988 season. After a poor start to the 1989 season, Schmidt chose to suddenly announce his retirement in San Diego, on May 29.
Over his career Schmidt set a vast array of hitting and fielding records. In addition to his MVP Awards, Schmidt won ten Gold Gloves, led the league in home runs eight times, in RBI's four times, and walks four times. He was named to 12 All-Star teams.
In 1995, Schmidt was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1999, he ranked number 28 on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, the highest ranking third baseman on that list.
Last Week’s Trivia
Jamal Anderson was a powerful running back in the NFL, playing for the Atlanta Falcons. His best season came in 1998 when he carried the ball for a NFL single-season record 410 times for 1,846 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who was the first NHL player to score 50 goals in a single season? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.