HOW BOSTON TURNED A ROYAL FLUSH INTO A 2-7 OFF-SUIT
This NHL series will be remembered more than the current Stanley Cup finals. With the NHL Eastern conference semi-finals on the line, the Boston Bruins were at home for Game 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers. They had won the first three games of the series. They had a 3-0 lead in Game 7. OK, playing at home, 3-0 in the first three series games, and a 3-0 lead in Game 7.
Then the Bruins got called for the sophomoric blunder of too many men on the ice in the third period. Philadelphia scored on the power play, and won the game and the series. The Flyers obviously deserve lots of credit for staying with it and defying all odds in their great comeback victory.
Conversely, Boston completely and utterly imploded in a collapse of monumental proportions, leaving themselves on the losing end of one of the biggest comebacks in sports history. The loss left the Bruins one of three teams in NHL history to blow a best-of-seven series after holding a 3-0 lead. They also became only the third team in NHL history to blow a three-goal lead in a Game 7, and the first to do so in regulation, and to compound that felony, they did it on their home ice. May 14, 2010 was the second coming of the Boston Massacre.
ANOTHER STAT CATEGORY. JUST WHAT WE NEED.
Watching, listening to, and reading about sports has made me realize the fact that there are so many bisected sports statistics for every specific stat in every sport. And if the statistical category doesn’t already exist, someone invents one.
Like this one. There’s a baseball terminology I hadn’t heard of until recently, namely the acronym WAR. “Wins Above Replacement” is a statistic that attempts to measure the "total value" of a player over a given season. WAR calculates the total number of wins that any player adds to his team over the course of a season by comparing the player's performance with that of a fictitious replacement.
A "replacement player" is assumed to be an average Triple-A call-up who might appear in the majors only as replacement for an injured player, and whose hitting/fielding or pitching skills are far below league average. A team consisting entirely of replacement-level players would likely be historically bad, winning only 20-25 games over a full 162-game season. Most regular position players will accumulate 3-5 WAR over a season. A legitimate All-Star-caliber player may have over 7 WAR. Over 10 WAR is a strong MVP candidate, while over 15 WAR is a "one-for-the-ages" season.
Do you comprehend all that? Do you even care? I don’t need more sports statistics; I know more than enough useless sports information now. I don’t need to know WAR. I just need to know WHY?
THE REALM OF THE COIN
The Chicago Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers each finished the 1969 season with a forgettable record of 1-13. The coin flip’s winner got the consensus first pick in the 1970 NFL draft, the great Louisiana Tech QB Terry Bradshaw. Bears chairman Ed McCaskey’s wrong coin toss guess sent Bradshaw to Pittsburgh for 14 seasons, four Super Bowl titles, and the Hall of Fame. To editorialize a bit, Terry Bradshaw was as fine a quarterback as I have ever seen.
Back to McCaskey. He then proceeded to trade the #2 pick in that 1970 draft to Green Bay, trading down to the third round. He selected UCLA wide receiver George Farmer with the draft’s 54th. pick. Farmer spent six years in the league, catching 119 passes and scoring 10 touchdowns with Chicago and Detroit.
Not the very best judge of football talent, McCaskey might well have spent that top pick on someone other than Bradshaw had he won the coin toss in 1970. We’ll never know, but it would certainly not have surprised me.
YOU JUST AIN’T GONNA BELIEVE THIS ONE
This is as strange a baseball play as it gets. Please try to picture it happening as you read it.
James “Cool Papa” Bell was a fabled Negro League center fielder who is widely considered to be the fastest man to ever play professional baseball. Playing in the Negro Leagues, Hall-of-Famer Bell once fielded a ground ball hit into center field, overthrew third base, raced into the infield to field the carom of his throw off the third base dugout roof, and tagged the hitter out at third.
The official scoring on the play was 8-8. That means that the centerfielder got an assist and a putout on the very same play. You can’t begin to compute those odds.
I’ve always loved the line about Bell as told by the great pitching star, “Satchel” Paige. “Bell was so fast that he could flip the wall switch in his bedroom and be in bed before the light went out.”
WHO WAS PACKY EAST? YOU KNOW HIM BY ANOTHER NAME.
He had ambition but he wasn't what you'd call career-oriented. Born in England and growing up in Cleveland, he wanted to be a boxer. The 16-year old took on the name "Packy East," in honor of his school, East High, and decided to enter the Ohio State Boxing Amateurs.
"I was sixteen, I weighed 128 pounds and the featherweight class had a top limit of 126. I just missed getting into it. If I'd taken the apples out of my pockets, I could have qualified as a featherweight. If I had, I'd have made out better. As it was, I creamed my first opponent. He was constantly looking over his shoulder toward his corner for instructions. I finally tagged him while his head was turned."
Too bad for "Packy East" his third and last opponent didn't turn his head. “Packy” won his next bout when the guy he was supposed to fight failed to show up. And "Packy" was headed for the finals--as in time to hang up the gloves and a very early retirement from boxing.
After his brief boxing career, he eventually would become one of the most famous entertainers in the history of show business. Born Leslie Townes Hope in 1903, you know him as the legendary Bob Hope.
THE LONGEST MLB GAME EVER PLAYED
The April 17th. Cards-Mets game in St. Louis made me curious. It took 6 hours and 53 minutes to play 20 innings. That marathon fell short of the record.
BASED ON INNINGS PLAYED:
Home team: Brooklyn Dodgers
Visitors: Boston Braves
Date: May 1, 1920
The game was called due to darkness as they didn't have lights way back then, resulting in a 1-1 tie and going down in history as the longest MLB game ever based on innings played.
BASED ON TIME PLAYED:
Home team: Chicago White Sox
Visitors: Milwaukee Brewers
Date: May 9, 1984
Length: 8 hours & 6 minutes
The game began on May 8, but according to MLB rules an inning cannot begin after 12:59 AM, so the players and fans had to come back the next day. The overall game time was 8 hours & 6 minutes with Chicago finally winning 7- 6 on Harold Baines' home run in the 25th inning, one inning short of that record, but still the longest MLB game ever based on time played.
IS RYAN LEAF THE BIGGEST NFL DRAFT DUD OF ALL TIME?
answer is yes, but Ryan Leaf has company. The company is former Raiders QB
JaMarcus Russell. There are similarities here. Both were paid a king’s ransom to
fail miserably. Both played three seasons in the NFL. Neither showed improvement
along the way. Look at the numbers:
Games Started Completion % TDs Interceptions
Leaf 21 48.4 14 36
Russell 25 52.1 18 23
I still think Leaf wins the all-time bomb award. Why? Nobody, and I mean no one, could have possibly cared less about his job than Leaf. There has never been a coach in the NFL who could have given Leaf incentive to succeed. Regarding Russell, ala Leaf, a major failure is the best I can write about either one of them.
UBALDO JIMENEZ IS THE REAL DEAL
On April 17, the 6’-4” Dominican pitched a no-hitter for the Colorado Rockies against the Atlanta Braves. He’s the first Colorado pitcher to ever turn that trick. This is his fourth full season in the bigs. This 26-year-old right-hander was sixth in the NL in strikeouts last year with 198. He is an incredible bargain at $1.25 million in salary; that isn’t going to last long.
Jimenez (9-1) continued his dominant start to the season last week, extending his current scoreless streak to 16 1/3 innings and dropping his ERA to 0.88, the best in baseball. Jimenez’s 0.88 ERA through 10 starts is the fourth-lowest mark in the live ball era (since 1920). His nine wins lead the major leagues.
After Bob Gibson finished 1968 with his incredible 1.12 season ERA, the height of the mound was lowered five inches (from 15” to 10”) to give hitters a fighting chance against the likes of the great Gibson. Even with that lower mound, it will take everything Jimenez has in his magical right arm to equal Gibson’s 1.12 ERA of 42 years ago. But having watched Jimenez pitch, that incredible accomplishment over the course of the full season would surprise me but it would not shock me.
DAN DIERDORF. NOT MY FAVORITE PERSON OR ANNOUNCER.
Dan Dierdorf, while a player for the then-St. Louis Football Cardinals, stood up my company as guest speaker at our national sales meeting in St. Louis many years ago. It had been a long-standing commitment. After we learned at the last minute that he was in the Bahamas on a vacation instead, a young offensive guard on the team named Terry Stieve pinch-hit, took his place as MC, and did a great job. Despite what you may think, the above is not the reason I’m writing this article, but it does speak to the person.
ESPN recently showed the film of Super Bowl XXV. After Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood’s last-second 47-yard field goal attempt, which had the distance, went wide right, thus permitting the New York Giants to hold onto their 20-19 win over the Buffalo Bills, Dierdorf, working the game on television, stated “a great defense beats a great offense every time.”
GO TO TOLEDO FOR ICE CREAM
Toledo was once the home of the largest manufacturer of weighing scales in the business. Too bad they’re not there any longer. The Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens now sell a 15-scoop ice cream sundae served in a regulation-size plastic baseball helmet for $25. You get to keep the knock-off helmet and the 2,500 calories in it.