Quick Takes


    The 1963 Chicago Bears won the NFL title with emphasis on defense, and a mediocre QB named Billy Wade. The 2006 Bears are a mirror image, along with their mediocre QB, Rex Grossman. The passing stats of Wade in 1963 and Grossman this season are very similar, including their QB ratings; 74.0 versus 72.0 respectively. Although Chicago did it in 1963, championships are rarely won by sub-par QB’s. Rex Grossman and his #26-rating among NFL quarterbacks is the reason the Bears will not do it in 2006.  


    On 1-3-02, I wrote an article about Curt Flood. If you aren’t familiar with him, please read it. He is responsible for the incredible amounts of money being paid to baseball players today, and my article details this. Free agents and their agents have Curt Flood to thank for their great fortune, and never has that statement been more true than this off-season. (It should be noted that the 1975 free agency ruling has impacted all sports.) Sadly, I wonder how many of these mega-millionaires have ever heard of Curt Flood, or even care to know what he did for them. It was Curt Flood who freed the baseball slaves.


    On 11/23, I wrote that Michigan earned the right to play Ohio State on a neutral field for the BCS title. Michigan went to Columbus on 11/18 and lost by just the three-point home-field advantage Ohio State had. I repeat………it should be Ohio State vs Michigan in Arizona. But Florida got in by a whisker, just a hundredth of a point over Michigan in the BCS standings. Michigan is the only team that can give Ohio State a real game. To prove it, I predict Ohio State will have a much easier time with Florida on that neutral Phoenix field on 1/8 than they had with Michigan on their own home turf.


    The Rose Bowl was the only major college bowl game in 1930. By 1940 there were five major college bowl games; the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Sun Bowl. By 1950 the number had increased to eight games. In 1960 there were still eight major college bowl games, but by 1970 the number had increased to 11 games. The number continued to increase; 15 games in 1980, 19 games in 1990, and 25 games in the year 2000. Currently, there are 32 college bowl games (plus seven equally unimportant college All-Star games). Most of the games are meaningless garbage, watched primarily by those who bet on them. Other than a handful of bowl games, why else would you watch them?!


Story of the Week



    This feature story is for Doug Seidenberg, Wade Boggs' greatest fan.


    Wade Boggs made his MLB debut in 1982. His primary position was third base. He batted L and threw R. He played 18 years in the majors; 11 seasons for the Red Sox, five seasons for the Yankees and two seasons for the Devil Rays.


     Boggs was a virtuoso with a bat. He won five batting titles, strung together seven consecutive seasons of 200 or more hits, and earned 100 walks in four straight seasons. With his knack for getting on base, Boggs scored at least 100 runs every season from 1983 to 1989. A member of the 3,000-hit-club despite failing to get a chance to play in the big leagues regularly until he was nearly 25 years old, Boggs retired with a lofty .328 batting average.


    To get the clearest picture of the magnitude of Wade Boggs' production, consider the fact that in his 18-year career, Boggs reached base safely in an incredible 80% of his games and was the only batter in the twentieth century to have seven consecutive 200-hit seasons.


    The quirky Boggs was one of the most superstitious players baseball has ever seen. He awoke at the same time every morning, ate chicken before every game (Jim Rice nicknamed him "Chicken Man"), and took exactly 150 ground balls during infield practice.


    For night games, Boggs stepped into the batting cage at exactly 5:17 and ran wind sprints at exactly 7:17. (Trying to hex him, a scoreboard operator in Toronto once flipped the stadium clock directly from 7:16 to 7:18. His habits were obviously well known by all.) And before each at-bat, Boggs would draw the Hebrew word "Chai" in the batter's box.


    Various injuries (wrist, toe, back, hip) slowed Boggs in his second decade. From 1990 to 1997 Boggs "only" averaged .307, and his low point came in '92 when the Red Sox finished last for the first time since 1939. Neither Boggs nor his .259 average helped much. A change of scene was the ticket, and Boggs signed with the Yankees after that season.


    Boggs was back to his old .300 self in 1993 for the contending Yanks, and he made his first of four consecutive All-Star starts in pinstripes. At the age of 36, Boggs won his first Gold Glove in 1994 and repeated the following year. He was the oldest first-time winner of the award.


    But 1996 was the year he’ll most remember. Ten years after Boston's agonizing loss to the Mets in the World Series, Boggs found himself back in the Fall Classic, this time as a Yankee. It would be his only World Series win.

Boggs started only 88 games in '97 after enduring the worst month of his career, a .143 May. While Boggs heated up to .417 for September, it was too little, too late. The Yanks similarly sputtered, and in the off-season Boggs signed with expansion Tampa Bay.


    Boggs made a splash by socking the first home run in Devil Rays history, and in the relatively low-key environment of his hometown, Boggs seemed virtually assured of reaching the 3,000-hit plateau. He reached the historic milestone on August 7, 1999.


    Shortly after collecting his 3,000th hit, a knee injury put Boggs on the DL for just the third time in his long career. Satisfied with his achievements, the legendary “hit machine” with the great eyesight decided it was time to retire. He’ll be remembered as one of the most colorful players in baseball history.


Boggs’ post seasons:  1986 ALCS, 1986 World Series, 1988 ALCS, 1990 ALCS, 1995 ALDS, 1996 ALDS, 1996 ALCS, 1996 World Series, 1997 ALDS.
Boggs’ awards: All-Star (12, all as a third baseman): 1985-1996. Gold Glove 1994-1995. Elected to Hall of Fame in 2005.


Last Week’s Trivia


    The NBA’s “Sixth Man Award” was begun in 1982. Hall-of-Fame power-forward Kevin McHale won that award twice before he became a starter for the Celtics. McHale did everything well that the PF position calls for.


Trivia Question of the Week


    Who originated “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing!” See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.