I PRESUME YOU KNOW
The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Larry OíBrien Trophy. The Chicago Blackhawks won the NHL Stanley Cup. I hope you like baseball because thatís all there is until the NFL a full two months away.
Manute Bol, a 7-foot-7 shot-blocker from Sudan who spent 10 seasons in the NBA and was totally dedicated to humanitarian work in Africa, both during and after his basketball career, died June 19th. He was 47. Bol died at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, where he was being treated for severe kidney trouble and a painful skin condition. I rarely print obituaries on my site, but Manute Bol clearly deserves this recognition as a great human being.
THE COST OF MLB TEAM VICTORIES
Baseball, like all sports, is a business. Virtually halfway through the 2010 season, letís look at the business of baseball year-to-date. Today (June 30) Iím going to compare the teamsí victories vs their player salary outlays, or, from that criteria alone, the cost of MLB team victories.
You would expect the teams that shell out the highest player salaries to win the most games, and those with the lowest payrolls to win the least. Thatís true to a degree, but there are definitive exceptions, with two prominent ones this season.
TOP VALUE TEAMS: As of this writing, based on the criteria set forth above, San Diego is the top value team in baseball this year. The Padres have the second lowest team payroll in MLB, but are just two wins off the top in both leagues. Texas follows with the fourth lowest team payroll in baseball, but their win total is just one off baseballís top. Both San Diego and Texas are in 1st. place in their respective divisions. They are the cream of the value crop YTD. They are followed in order by Pittsburgh, Oakland and Florida in wins:expense ratio, but all non-entities in their respective races.
BOTTOM VALUE TEAMS: In order, the worst is the Yankees with their MLB-leading (by $44 million) team payroll, the Cubs, Baltimore, Boston and Philadelphia. At least the Yankees, Boston and Philadelphia all have legitimate shots at the World Series. That cannot be stated for the Cubs (third highest payroll in baseball and nine games below .500, or Baltimore with the worst record in all of baseball and 30 games below .500.
Like all businesses, some baseball teams are run efficiently and some are not. Some spend too much and others spend too little. The two models of efficiency so far this season, the San Diego Padres (NL) and the Texas Rangers (AL), could play each other in the World Series. I donít think that will happen, but if it does, I Love Lucy re-runs will have higher television ratings.
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, THE AUTHOR
In 1939, a team of hard-playing black men from Harlem faced a fiercely competitive white team in Chicago in a game that would forever change the face of basketball and America. The Harlem Rens, Americaís first all-black professional basketball team, rose to fame during a time when jazz was the soul of Harlem and basketball was its heartbeat. It was during a time when a home court doubled as a dance hall and was shared with some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.
Best-selling author and sports legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar presents ďOn the Shoulders of GiantsĒ to showcase the astounding outburst of creative energy known as the Harlem Renaissance, and to tell the story of a team that came from the heart of it, the greatest basketball team you never heard of. This motion picture will be in theaters in 2011.
Kareem was recently a guest of Robert Osborne, the outstanding host of Turner Classic Movies. I had seen and heard Kareem interviewed before, so I knew of his great intellect. It was that show, however, that made me aware of Kareemís best- selling books, as well as his tremendous knowledge of classic movies ala those presented by Robert Osborne on TCM.
Kareemís first book, his autobiography ďGiant Steps,Ē was written in 1983 with co-author Peter Knobler. (The book's title is a homage to jazz great John Coltrane.) He then wrote ďBrothers In Arms,Ē the epic story of the 761st tank battalion, WWII's forgotten heroes, co-written with Anthony Walton. It is a history of an all-black armored unit that served with distinction in Europe. His latest is ďOn the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance,Ē co-written with Raymond Obstfeld.
To be sure, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a class guy and a most impressive person.
UNBREAKABLE SPORTS RECORDS
This article is merely a sampling. One day (it could take me a month of my time to do it justice) I plan to put together my list of the 10 records in each major sport that will never fall, never being the operative word. In the meantime, here are a few (three per sport) teasers that are untouchable in my opinion. It was very difficult to acknowledge just three per sport in this article; it will be extremely difficult to stop at just 10 per sport when I decide to do that one.
Major League Baseball:
Youngest player ever. Joe Nuxhall. Cincinnati. 15 years old.
Lots on Cy Young; here are just a few. 511 wins, 316 losses and 749 complete games.
Nolan Ryanís seven career no-hitters.
National Football League:
Most career head-coaching wins. Don Shula. 347.
Most consecutive games played by a non-kicker. Jim Marshall. 282.
Most seasons rushing leader. Jim Brown. 8.
Most rebounds in one game. Wilt Chamberlain. 55. (Against Bill Russell)
Most championships by a player. Bill Russell. 11.
Most consecutive wins by a team in a season. L.A. Lakers. 33.
National Hockey League:
Most consecutive complete games by a goalie. Glenn Hall. 502.
Most saves in a game by a goalie. Sam LoPresti. 80.
Most shutouts in a season by a goalie. George Hainsworth. 22.
Most career knockouts. Archie Moore. 141.
Most consecutive knockouts. Lamar Clark. 44.
Longest time world champion. Joe Louis. 11 years and 7 months.
CHAMBERLAIN VS RUSSELL. CALL IT LIKE IT IS.
Letís get right to it; I just love hate-mail. Had Wilt Chamberlain played for the Boston Celtics and had Bill Russell played for the Philadelphia Warriors, Bill Russell would not be in the Hall of Fame, or near it. Read on before you react.
Eight Celtics from Russellís Boston team are in the HOF; two Warriors from Wiltís Philadelphia team are in the Hall. Chamberlain was the Warriors; his dominance forced many NBA rules and court changes. Wilt was forced to basically be a one-man gang. Russell didnít begin to have that kind of offensive or defensive ability or responsibility. Bill Russell has those 11 rings won by that great Celtics team, a team on which Russell was a very fine player who contributed greatly to the right team at the right time. But there is no comparing Bill Russell to Wilt Chamberlain.
I suggest you access Wilt Chamberlainís incredible offensive and defensive stats, his bio, and all the NBA rules and court changes he personally influenced and caused. And be prepared to give it plenty of reading time because youíll need it.
I WISH I HAD MORE LEAD IN MY STICK
100,000 youth hockey sticks were recalled by the sporting goods company Bauer after Canadaís health department warned of their high lead content.
HEREíS SOME TRIVIA FOR YOU
Who is he? He is the only MLB player to be named Rookie of the Year, MVP of his league, World Series MVP, and All-Star Game MVP. He led the National League in slugging % in three consecutive years. He is a rare triple-crown winner. He is the only player to be MVP of both major leagues. He was NL MVP with the Cincinnati Reds in 1961 and AL MVP with the Baltimore Orioles in 1966. He is in the Hall of Fame, right where he belongs.
He is the great Frank Robinson. Now hereís a trivia question for the Cincinnati Reds. How do you trade Frank Robinson to Baltimore for Milt Pappas? The only logical answer; at the time, you had way too many double manhattans.
HE BYPASSED THE NFL FOR THE WHITE HOUSE
Upon graduating from Michigan, he was offered NFL contracts by the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. Instead he opted to be Michiganís assistant varsity football coach while attending law school. Years later, after turning his back on a sports career, he became the President of the United States. Gerald Ford obviously had his priorities screwed up.
HEREíS MORE TRIVIA FOR YOU
What a way to break into the bigs. One player in MLB history played on five world series-winning teams in his first five seasons. Hint; the Yankees are the only team to ever win five consecutive world series. They did it from 1949-1953. So who is the player? Heís Jerry Coleman, Yankees infielder.
JON GRUDEN, THE GOAT OF THE NFL DRAFT COVERAGE
During the NFL draft on ESPN, Jon ďIím The Only ExpertĒ Gruden proved he didnít belong there. The ex-coach repeatedly irritated three top pros, namely Steve Young, Tom Jackson and Chris Berman.
Want to enjoy MNF along with me and without Jon Gruden? Watch it on television without sound, and listen to the CBS radio broadcast featuring the professional commentary of Marv Albert and Boomer Esiason.
BUD SELIG AND HIS MORE-THAN-THREE BLIND MICE
Commissioner Bud Selig won't reverse umpire Jim Joyceís admitted blown call that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game on June 2 when he beat Cleveland, 3-0. If Selig reversed Jim Joyceís call, he should reverse Don Denkingerís botched first-base call in the 1985 World Series that cost the Cardinals a title. However, this was the exclamation point on major league baseballís need for instant replay, especially in light of the fact that MLB umpires are, generally stated, terrible. Point of fact; when they ump behind the plate, observe their very inconsistent strike zone.
Selig has two things staring him in the face on this
issue, in addition to my stated opinion down through the years that he is inept
as baseballís commissioner. The latter is another subject that you can find up
and down my website articles. Selig needs to:
1. Examine and re-examine the quality and eyesight of his umpires on a regular basis.
2. Come up with some plan for instant replay to compensate for baseballís blind mice. The argument against it is that the games will take longer to play. So what! Justice has to be served first.