Quick Takes


    With San Diego Padres OF Milton Bradley on first in a game Sunday, umpire Mike Winters and Bradley began debating an earlier call. Winters uttered whatever the words that lit Bradley's fuse. Next thing we knew, his manager, Bud Black, was sprinting toward his left fielder in a furious attempt to serve as the last line of defense between Bradley and the inevitable suspension that clearly would have awaited him if he'd ever made it to Winters. Black and Bradley got into a wrestling match, and down went Bradley with one of the strangest injuries we've ever witnessed, a right knee seriously injured in a bout with his own manager. Bradley and his torn ACL are out for the rest of the season.


    Denver Broncos RB Travis Henry owns a record that will probably stand forever. He is an absolute legend, but not on the football field. He has nine children. He has reportedly fathered them by nine different women. I thought I knew football; I always thought it was quarterbacks who needed extra protection.


    With just a few games left in MLB, there isn’t one team playing at .600 this season.


    Bill Parcells is a legend on the football field. He’ll never be a legend pitching Coors Light. Why? Because their commercials are absolutely terrible, stupid, idiotic (the point has been made), and even the great coach can’t change that. I guess I’d do it as well for the right amount of money.


    I have no Dodgers or Cardinals to pull for this post-season. As a former resident of L.A. and St. Louis, my allegiance is there. So, here’s to Mike Scioscia and his Angels to take it all. He manages like he played…………aggressively.


    Problem in San Diego. Two losses by the Chargers in three games this season, equaling their total for 16 games last season. Just 2.4 yards-per-carry averaged by the Chargers through three games this season, versus 4.9 yards-per-carry averaged by the Chargers last season. And that's with the best running back in football.


    And there’s my favorites, the Saints. That’s a bigger problem. They’re winless and without Deuce for the year. Three games does not make a season, and before it’s all over, some teams now enjoying fast starts will prove that statement to be valid as well.


    What with Tyson, Thomas, Vick, Simpson and the all-too-many others, sports truly does produce role models kids look down to. And the sad part of it all is that it isn’t going to get any better.


Story of the Week


    Thanks to Louis Delsarto for suggesting I write about today’s feature subject.


    Rusty Staub's great batting stroke kept him in the big leagues for more than two decades. He was a non-typical ballplayer, preferring fine cuisine and the theater to ballpark food and strip joints. An accomplished chef, after his playing career Staub devoted his time to a successful New York restaurant before entering the Mets' front office.


    Rusty Staub never resembled an athlete so much as a 205-lb Sherlock Holmes who'd taken an intense interest in the game of baseball. Staub began with modest natural skills, and honed them to precision through perpetual practice. Baseball was equal parts discipline and sport to Staub, whose broad, curious world view attracted him to the study of history and gourmet cookery.


    "He leads the league in idiosyncrasies," said one Staub observer. "He makes a science of getting ready to play to the point where it almost becomes an obsession to him." For years, Staub operated Rusty's restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He'd often embarrass teammates who joined him for dinner on the road by sending his meal back two or three times until the chef got it right.


    Staub signed with the Houston Colt .45s (later the Astros) for a whopping $100,000 bonus in 1961 (it was whopping then), and played in 150 games as a 19-year-old rookie. His short, left-handed stroke produced line drives and a .333 average for the Astros in 1967, with a league-leading 44 doubles.


    Always popular, Staub became a national hero (and was nicknamed Le Grand Orange for his red hair in French-speaking Quebec) in Canada as a star for the expansion Expos. He hit 30 homers for Montreal in 1970.


    A broken hand, his first major injury, sidelined him with the Mets in 1972, but he played a dramatic role in the postseason in 1973. Staub hurt his shoulder against the Reds in Game Four of the playoffs when he caught Dan Driessen's 11th-inning drive and smashed into the right-field wall at Shea Stadium. He took cortisone shots and threw underhand in the World Series against the A's. Though unable to pull the ball, he socked an opposite field homer off Oakland's Ken Holtzman to win Game Four. Staub hit .423 with 11 hits in the seven-game loss to the A’s.


    When he was placed at DH by the Tigers, he knocked in a career-high 121 runs in 1978. The Mets made him a pinch hitter in his final few years, and he tied records in 1983 for consecutive pinch hits (8) and RBI (25), and had a record 81 pinch at-bats.


    As Louis Delsarto accurately stated to me, “A true pinch hitter has a mindset all his own. He sits in wait with bat close by knowing that call to arms will surely be needed. An assessment of the situation will tell him if he is to drive one to the right side, get one up and deep so the runner on third can trot home, work the count on the tiring pitcher, or lay one down. A true pinch hitter is a specialist indeed.” Rusty Staub filled the bill most capably.


    Staub retired in 1985 at age 41 with 2,716 hits and an unmatched reputation as a batter. "He is a pure hitter," said Duke Snider.  Staub said, "I discovered at a very early age that nothing was going to come easy for me, that I'd have to work for my success." Despite a lack of speed, Staub led his league four times in outfield assists. He and Ty Cobb are the only players to homer before age 20 and after age 40, and Staub is the only player to appear in 500 games for four different teams and collect 500 hits for four different teams. He was in MLB for 23 years, and finished with a career batting average of .279.


Last Week’s Trivia


    Who was the first player to have a candy bar named after him? No, it wasn’t Babe Ruth as noted in the many e-mails I received. The Baby Ruth bar was not named for Babe Ruth, but rather for President Grover Cleveland’s granddaughter. The answer is Reggie Jackson. The candy bar was the Reggie!
    This week was no exception; I can invariably count on Dennis Cler to send me the correct answers to my trivia questions.


Trivia Question of the Week


    Paul Newman starred in the motion picture “Somebody Up There Likes Me.” Who did Newman portray in the movie? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.