Quick Takes


          “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ve had a couple of those.”

Yogi Berra.


          Lots of responses to last week’s article on “Steroids.” Many noted how stupid it is for jocks to take them based on the potential ramifications. Some noted that the end justifies the means, no matter what the possible side effects long-term. To each his own, but if I were a pro jock, there’s no way in hell that I’d put my body on the block like that, no matter how many records I might break along the way, and I’m the most competitive guy I know. Thanks for the many responses.  


          Bill Medford attended one of my recent poker courses at Community College of Southern Nevada. He’s an avid sports fan as well, and graduated the United States Naval Academy. I learned that as a freshman at the Naval Academy in 1966, Bill won the 127-pound Brigade Boxing Championship. This was significant in that the only way to earn a varsity letter at that time was to win a boxing title; the NCAA did not allow freshmen to play varsity sports back then. My reaction in learning about Bill’s boxing ability was to feel fortunate that he didn’t deck me during the poker classes when I told him he made a bad play. Truth be known, I never told him that; he’s a very good poker player as well.


          You got balls? Well, you will if you go to MLB games. They’re flying out of the parks. Why? As I’ve stated before, it’s all about scoring runs and getting people to the games, so those balls are wound tighter than a drum. Balls that would have been routine outs in yesteryear now fly over the back walls on their way to car windshields in the parking lots. If you’re a MLB pitcher today, a 3.00 ERA is an automatic qualification for a Hall of Fame nomination. I miss the “art” of baseball, of manufacturing runs; singles, stolen bases, sac bunts, sac flies, hitting behind the runner, etc. Oh, well, I miss Sinatra, too.


          Here’s to the Dallas Mavs in the NBA finals. I love Mark Cuban! He's an absolutely sensational sports franchise owner.


          Not a surprise that Roger Clemens signed on with the Astros. No DH in the NL. If he goes to the Rangers, Red Sox or Yankees, all in the AL, he has to face another bona-fide bat. In the NL, he can pitch to his pitching counterpart. That’s a pitching advantage of 1/9 or 11%. That's a big ERA advantage.


           PS: By virtue of the Jason Grimsley story hitting the news yesterday, I have elected to delay my reaction to that entire mess until more details are released. I'll give you my take on the whole sordid affair next Thursday, including what I would do about it were I in that decision-making capacity.


Story of the Week



          Wilver Stargell was the Pittsburgh Pirates’ gold star father in 1979. When a teammate distinguished himself with a clutch hit, a heads-up move on the bases or a fielding gem, “Pops” Stargell marked the occasion with a gold star ceremony. Soon highly-paid players on the Pirates were putting out a little extra to get a gold “Stargell star” and by the end of that season, Pittsburgh had the whole country singing “We Are Family,” earning enough gold stars to become World Champs.

          At 39, two years after his career had apparently ended, Stargell set a record for most MVP awards in a season in 1979. He was named MVP of both the playoffs and the World Series. He divided the regular season MVP honors with Keith Hernandez, and he shared Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year Award with Steeler Terry Bradshaw.

          Many of Willie’s 475 career home runs were titanic. Only 18 balls were hit out of mammoth Forbes Field in 61 years. Willie Stargell hit seven of them. Only one player hit a ball completely out of Dodger Stadium; Stargell did it……twice.

          Stargell’s 1977 season was plagued with injuries, but he hit 28 home runs and drove in 97 runs in 1978 to earn Comeback Player of the Year. After the gold stars came out during spring training of 1979, Willie hit 32 homers and the Pirates won their division. 1979 was a special year for Stargell and his team.

          In the playoffs against Cincinnati, Willie broke an 11-inning 2-2 tie with a three-run homer, and homered again in Game Three as Pittsburgh swept the Big Red Machine.

In the World Series against Baltimore, he homered as the Orioles won the opener, and went 3-5 with a homer in Game Four. However, Baltimore came up with six runs in the eighth inning of that game to win it, 9-6, and open up a 3-1 lead in games. But Pittsburgh won Game Five as Stargell hit a sac fly and a single. They shut out Baltimore in Game Six. And Willie put on a batting show in the finale, going 4-5 with a two-run homer as the Pirates won the Series. In all, he set a World Series record with seven extra-base hits.

Willie played 21 years in the bigs, all with Pittsburgh. The left-handed-hitting slugger played the outfield most of his early years, and first base during his later years In addition to his 475 lifetime homers, he batted .282 with 1,540 RBI’s, an on-base % of .363, and a slugging % of .529. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988.


Last Week’s Trivia


          Running back DeAngelo Williams, recent graduate of the University of Memphis, set career NCAA Division 1-A records with 34 100-yard rushing games and 7,568 all-purpose yards. His 6,021 rushing yards trail only Tony Dorsett, Ron Dayne and Ricky Williams in NCAA Division 1-A collegiate ranks. DeAngelo Williams was the 27th. over-all pick in the 2006 NFL draft, taken by the Carolina Panthers. He’s going to be a great pro back.


Trivia Question of the Week


          Who is the only NBA player to ever lead the league in both scoring and assists for an entire season? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.