Quick Takes


         In the most famous pine tar incident ever, a July game in 1983 at Yankee Stadium, George Brett hit a home run putting the Royals on top in the ninth. Yankees manager Billy Martin registered his complaint to the umpiring crew regarding the extent of pine tar Brett had on his bat. The home run was disallowed temporarily until the ruling was overturned. Not the same set of circumstances as the following, but Billy Martin did his job.

Jay Howell achieved national notoriety with the Dodgers in the 1988 NLCS against the Mets. In Game Three, he was ejected for having pine tar on his glove. He was also suspended for two more games of that series. Mets manager Davey Johnson registered the complaint with the umpiring crew. Davey Johnson did his job.

So where was Tony LaRussa in the top of the first inning Sunday night after Kenny Rogers’ first pitch? This was even more flagrant than the Howell incident because the pine tar was on Rogers’ pitching hand for all to see, and was not hidden in a glove. The rule states that it is the manager’s responsibility to register the “foreign substance” complaint with the umpiring crew, and he did not. Rogers, based on precedent, should have been tossed from the game then, and out of the World Series until Game Five. Cards manager Tony LaRussa knows the “pine tar” rule. He should have been all over it with the umpiring crew and he wasn’t, and it could  have cost the Cardinals Game Two (which they lost), and maybe the World Series; at this point (St. Louis now leads the Series, 2-1), we don't know.

Bottom line: The manager’s job is to win. LaRussa didn’t do his job!


Taking nothing away from the great job new head coach Sean Payton has done with New Orleans this season, the Saints are not using Reggie Bush properly on offense. His stats as a running back are feeble. The Saints don’t have the offensive line needed to open holes for Bush in the NFL like USC had to open holes for him against college competition. Bush should be used much more as a receiver. Although he’s caught lots of balls this season, his average yards-per-catch is just 7.5.

This tells me he needs to be isolated more. He needs to line up as either a slot back or a wide receiver. The Saints need to isolate him just as other running backs of the past were used far more as wide receivers because of their great quickness and moves. (Bobby Mitchell is a prime example. He had been a running back with the Browns. The Redskins acquired him and immediately converted him to wide receiver, and he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of it.) Reggie has scored just one touchdown this season, that on a punt return. Do it my way and there’s no reason why his yards-per-catch can’t be 15+ with a bunch of six-pointers.


Story of the Week



It really was colorful, in more ways than one. It was the “red, white and blue league.”


The ABA existed from 1967 to 1976, nine full seasons. During that time, the ABA fought a bitter war with the established National Basketball Association (NBA) for players, fans, and media attention. In June of 1976, the two rival pro leagues finally made peace. Four of the strongest ABA teams (the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs) joined the NBA and survived. The other remaining ABA teams (such as the Kentucky Colonels, the Spirits of St. Louis, and the Virginia Squires) vanished, along with the ABA itself.


However, the ABA is still vividly remembered by its loyal fans. The ABA was the "outlaw" league with the psychedelic red, white and blue basketball and huge afros. It was the "lively" league that adopted the three-point shot -- the exciting "home run" of basketball -- as its own. It was the "frontier" league that brought (or returned) modern professional basketball to hoops-crazy cities like Indianapolis, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Charlotte/Greensboro, Louisville, Norfolk, and Denver.


The ABA featured dazzling players like Louie Dampier (the ABA’s all-time leading scorer), Julius ("Dr. J") Erving, Mel Daniels, Billy Cunningham, Rick Barry, Connie Hawkins, George "Ice Man" Gervin, David Thompson, George McGinnis, Artis Gilmore, Spencer Haywood, Moses Malone, Roger Brown, Dan Issel, Marvin “Bad News” Barnes, Wendell Ladner, Warren Jabali, Babe McCarthy, Louie Dampier, Bobby Jones, Mack Calvin, Jimmy Jones, Don Buse, Donnie Freeman, Larry Jones, Charlie Scott and Ralph Simpson.


Each of these electric stars first played professional basketball in the ABA, with young legs and few limitations. But all of these brilliant ABA artists went on stage in front of notoriously small crowds. Most ABA teams had serious attendance problems and almost no national or local television coverage. But even if you knew nothing about the old ABA, you’ll recognize many of the players’ names noted above as they eventually became NBA players, some achieving greatness in that league.


List Of ABA Teams

Bold-print franchises are ABA members absorbed by the NBA.  Arrows indicate chronology of franchise shifts.

Last Week’s Trivia


Ken and Clete Boyer were the first brothers to hit home runs on opposing teams in the same seventh game of a World Series. They did it in 1964. Ken’s Cardinals beat Clete’s Yankees. Both were fine third basemen.


Trivia Question of the Week


What NFL QB has the most career games with 300+ passing yards? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.