THIS STORY IS NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT
In an attempt to stifle a sneeze recently, Padres pitcher Mat Latos held the sneeze while walking down the dugout steps, and felt a pull. The 22-year-old Latos went on the 15-day DL with a strained oblique. This story just feeds my opinion that too many MLB players are “soft.”
I roared when I heard about this. So did my friend Rick Dames. Why? Because we’re both avid hockey fans, and we know that hockey players have their own threshold for pain. Rick once owned a minor league hockey club, so he knows this much better than I. We can’t quite imagine a player in the NHL going on the DL in this situation, and then having to live it down with his teammates and raucous fans. Forget the DL; a player in the NHL wouldn't have missed a shift. Not a chance!
THERE’S A LeBRON JAMES DRINK ON THE MARKET
Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company calls it "Quitness." It’s a LeBron James-inspired pale ale designated to leave a bitter taste in its drinker’s mouth. It’s true and it’s a success. (The imagination of some people is absolutely incredible.)
HENRY AARON. APRIL 8, 1974 REVISITED.
It’s been a long time since I wrote a feature story about Henry Aaron. This will not be a feature story. It will, however, be a reminder of the tremendous pressure Henry endured in his quest of Babe Ruth’s career home run record.
Like Jackie Robinson, but on a much different stage, Aaron lived through all the pressure perpetrated upon him by those who did not want to see yet another black man achieve immortality. This classy gentleman, this great player, certainly earned center stage on April 8, 1974, as he hit career home run #715, thus breaking Babe Ruth’s record.
I’ve made no secret on my website of my feelings that performance-enhancing drugs have no place in sports. I therefore continue to view Roger Maris as the single season home run king with 61 in 1961, and Henry Aaron as the career home run king with 755.
AN ARTICLE FROM SI.COM/VAULT. WRITTEN BY RON FIMRITE.
It rained in Atlanta during the day, violently on occasion, but it was warm and cloudy by game time. It began raining again just before Aaron's first inconsequential time at bat, as if Ruth's phantom were up there puncturing the drifting clouds. Brightly colored umbrellas sprouted throughout the ball park, a brilliant display that seemed to be merely part of the show. The rain had subsided by Aaron's next time up, the air filled now only with tension.
Henry wasted little time relieving that tension. It is his way. Throughout his long career Aaron had been faulted for lacking a sense of drama, for failing to rise to critical occasions, as Mays, say, or Ted Williams had. He quietly endured such spurious criticism, then dispelled it for all time. And yet, after it was over, he was Henry Aaron again.
"Right now," he said without a trace of irony, "it feels like just another home run. I felt all along if I got a strike I could hit it out. I just wanted to touch all the bases on this one."
He smiled slightly, conscious perhaps that his words were not sufficient to the occasion. Then he said what he had been wanting to say since it became apparent that he would eventually pass Ruth and achieve immortality.
"I feel I can relax now. I feel my teammates can relax. I feel I can have a great season."
It is not that he had ever behaved like anyone but Henry Aaron. For this generation of baseball fans and now for generations to come, that will be quite enough.
THE ESPY AWARDS. JULY 14, 2010.
LOS ANGELES -- New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said it didn't take long for his team to realize what its Super Bowl season meant to the people in the Gulf Coast. (Having been to New Orleans in May of this year, I can personally attest to it. The Saints’ Super Bowl win meant so much to this devastated but great city.)
"We were playing more than just football," said Payton, in his acceptance speech for the best team at the ESPY Awards. "We were playing for the region, for our city, beginning in 2006 after [Hurricane] Katrina and culminating this February in Miami."
The Saints and quarterback Drew Brees were the big winners at the ESPY Awards. Brees received four trophies, including male athlete of the year. He also won best championship performance, best NFL player, and shared the team award with his Super Bowl-champion colleagues.
Here's to Drew Brees and the Saints this season. I'd love to see a repeat.
“SNOW BOWL” OF 1950. MICHIGAN AT OHIO STATE.
The 1950 contest, colloquially known as the Snow Bowl, is perhaps the most famous game in the rivalry. Eighth-ranked Ohio State, coached by Wes Fesler, was scheduled to host the game on November 25 in Columbus amidst one of the worst blizzards on Ohio record. The Buckeyes, who led the Big Ten, were granted the option to cancel the game against Michigan, which would have, by default, given the Buckeyes the Big Ten title outright and won them a trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. Ohio State refused, and the game was set to be played.
Amid howling snow and wind, in what was probably the most literal example of a "field position" game, the teams exchanged a whopping 45 punts, often on first down, in hopes that the other team would fumble the ball near or into their own end zone. Ohio State's Vic Janowicz, who would claim the Heisman Trophy that year, punted 21 times for 685 yards and also kicked a field goal in the first quarter for the Buckeyes' only points. Michigan capitalized on two blocked punts, booting one out of the back of the end zone for a safety and recovering another one in the end zone for a touchdown just before halftime.
Despite failing to gain a single first down or complete a single forward pass, Michigan gained a 9–3 victory, securing the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth. Heavy criticism of Fesler's play calling led to his resignation and the hiring of Woody Hayes as his successor.
IF YOU WANT R-O-I, IT AIN’T DAVID BECKHAM
$6.5 million is the salary guaranteed to L.A. Galaxy forward David Beckham. He has not played a game in 2010, and may not. Beckham ruptured his left achilles tendon while on loan to Italian club AC Milan in April. If it’s value you want, look at the $2.8 million salary guaranteed in 2010 to the entire 25-man roster of the MLS’s Eastern Conference-leading Columbus Crew. That’s return-on-investment!
IT’S A DUET RECORD
114 playoff wins as player and coach for the Lakers’ pair of Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson after the 2010 NBA title series victory over the Celtics. The previous mark was set by the same Jackson and Scottie Pippin with the Bulls at 110.
ASHLEY MADISON SEX STADIUM
That wouldn’t have been the name, of course, but it would have been appropriate. The NY Giants and Jets were offered, and declined, $25 million for the naming rights to their new stadium by the dating website, AshleyMadison.com. The latter targets adulterers. Can you imagine their electronic scoreboard ads?
PER NOLAN RYAN
In 2009, the Giants led the major leagues with 11 complete games. In his career, Ryan surpassed that total by himself seven times. Ryan first heard of pitch counts in the late ‘80s. He was also given a pitch count as well in the late ‘80s, and was taken out when he hit it. Says Ryan, “Pitchers have been pampered. There’s no reason kids today can’t pitch as many innings as people did in my era.”
COACH JOHN ROBINSON AT 74 IS BACK IN FOOTBALL
Hall of Fame coach John Robinson can’t stand retirement any more than I can. It’s not USC, but he resumed his career as defensive coordinator at San Marcos, CA. High School. Good for him!
HARD TO BELIEVE
Only one player has hit two grand slams in one inning. That player is Fernando Tatis, then of the Cards. What is much harder to believe is the fact that the same pitcher threw him both pitches. That pitcher is Chan Ho Park, then a Dodger. It happened on April 23, 1999. Rookie Dodgers manager Davey Johnson apparently wanted to delay his trip to the mound as long as he could, and he did just that.
WASHINGTON CAN SELL OUT WITHOUT STRASBURG
The Nationals are a terrible team, and sell their 41,888 seats only when Stephen Strasburg pitches. But they sold out on July 27, and the young star didn’t toss one pitch. Why? Because Strasburg was scheduled but came up shoulder-lame an hour before game time, and was scratched. So the full house plus standing room crowd spent a ton of money, and didn’t get what they paid for. Hey, from now on the logical thing for the Nationals to do is announce that Strasburg will pitch every home game. It wouldn’t be ethical or honest, but who expects ethics or honesty from anyone in Washington?!