In 1968 I attended the University of Houston. It was an eventful year for me. As a student, I got to attend the regular season basketball game between the University of Houston and UCLA, which was held at the Astrodome. It was billed as “The Game of the Century” by the press, and 52,963 fans (including me) watched as the Cougars behind Elvin Hayes’ 39 points beat the Bruins and Lou Alcindor 71-69. Alcindor, whose eye was patched because of an injury, would avenge the defeat later in the year during the NCAA Tournament. It was not, however, my most memorable event at the Astrodome that year.
In April of 1968, I decided to hitch-hike from the Houston campus to the Astrodome to see my first ever MLB game between the Astros and the Cincinnati Reds. I sat in the left field bleachers, close to the playing field. Before the game started, Pete Rose was out in left field shagging balls. I finally got up the courage to talk to him.
“Pete why are you in left field? You won Rookie of the Year at second base in 1964.”
“Good question”, he answered. “What’s your name?”
“Harvey”, I answered.
“Well Harvey. Let me answer this way. I have never put on catcher’s gear in my life, but if they told me that the only way I could be in the starting line-up was to catch, I would be behind the plate right now. Get it?”
I got it. Pete talked to me between innings the entire game. He hit a double to drive in two runs and the Reds won 2-1.
At the game’s end Pete asked, “Well what do you think Harvey?”
I told Pete that, if the Astros had to lose, I was glad that it was him who beat us.
Pete smiled and asked what my last name was. I told him.
“We are coming back in June for a weekend series against you guys. I will leave four tickets for you at will-call for the Saturday game. I hope that you can come.”
June finally did come and I told a friend about the incident with Pete. My friend really did not believe me, but we took a couple of girls with us to make four. I assured my friend (since he was driving) that I would pay for the tickets if they were not at will-call.
The tickets were there at will-call for me, just as Pete had said. On the envelope was a message from Rose. “Glad you could make it Harvey. I have bad news. We are going to beat your team again! ---Pete”
My only excuse for not saving that note was how was I to know that He would one day be the all-time hits leader?
With an introduction to MLB baseball like that, no wonder it is my favorite sport!
Randy Johnson, The Big Unit, was as intense a baseball player as ever stood on the pitcher’s mound. Hardly anyone remembers that he actually played for the Houston Astros for half a season in 1998. He pitched in 11 games and had a 10-1 record. His ERA was 1.28 and he stuck out 116 batters in 84 innings. The Astros won their division that year but lost in the first round of the playoffs. Randy pitched and lost two games, giving up just three runs while his team supported him with only one run.
Randy has mellowed considerably since he has retired, as evidenced by the photo above taken at the Phoenix Open Pro-Am on Wednesday. It seems like Randy had a stalker who followed him for the entire match. Security came and they did not know which Randy Johnson to eject, so they left them both alone.
Tim Tebow won the closest to the hole contest on # 16. The guy is a pretty good golfer, as is Randy Johnson. Being 6’10” you would guess that Randy would have a hard time keeping it all together. You would be wrong. His golf swing is nice. It helps to explain how he finally got his act together in MLB.
114,000 came out for the Thursday starting day of The Phoenix Open, a new record for the first day of any golf tournament. It is supposed to rain Friday and Saturday. It may affect the size of the crowds but not their spirit. A fun time is had by all. Be sure to watch. The par 3 16th hole is like a mini Fenway Park. Don’t believe me? Watch and see.
It has also been said the Randy does not like to talk about the pigeon episode when he demolished a bird in mid-flight. This is not true, as evidenced by his business card as Randy Johnson-Photographer.
So much stuff is going on here in Phoenix in regards to the Super Bowl, that it is hard to follow it all. The golf tournament rocks every night at its Bird’s Nest venue, Kid Rock and Darius Rucker are just two acts playing this weekend. Downtown Phoenix is abuzz with free stuff to do at the NFL Experience. Scottsdale has all those parties for the Jet-setters, and Glendale has concerts like Los Lobos for free. Katy Perry is already there practicing with a bunch of high school kids (Shhh…it’s a secret). ESPN is broadcasting from Scottsdale every day and Camelback Mountain is in the background. Nobody cares about deflate-gate and that’s the way it should be.
THE CONVEX COINS
I saw these coins were going to be minted at the U.S. Mint and my jaw dropped. I thought, wow these are going to be neat. Then I learned that they were already released last year and the proceeds went to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. There were gold coins, silver coins, and non-precious metal coins. It is a neat design with the baseball on the front and a baseball glove on the cupped side on the reverse. How did I ever miss this? Am I the only one who is clueless in Phoenix?
When I was younger, I took a trip by car that took me through New York City. I scheduled the drive through NY City for 6 AM on a Sunday Morning. I drove by Yankee Stadium (it was 1976) and I swear that my heart started beating hard when I saw the old building that all those famous Yankees had played at. I parked my car and walked up and touched the stadium walls. The hairs on my arms were electrified from the experience. How could they ever have torn that place down? The history of baseball was contained in its ancient walls. What a shame.
High on my bucket list is a visit to Cooperstown. I know that my health will ultimately deny me, but what a magical place it must be. All the greats of baseball are there, save a select few who should be. Pete Rose is on my list as a player who should be there, if only for the kindness he showed to a young baseball fan almost 50 years ago. He made that boy a lifetime fan of the game.
Thanks for the read. If you want, you can leave a comment or two on the way out. Please don’t forget to check out IHM, my partner in crime on Fridays--->.
Hello ladies and gents and welcome to this week’s Grumble with IHM. This has been a real up and down week for yours truly; found out I didn’t make the cut on a few job opportunities, but then got a few calls and a few more interviews set up after that! I’m writing all of this on Wednesday as opposed to Thursday because Thursday is a day full of interviews, and I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to get a shot at getting back online before Friday morning to get something posted. All that said, this is going to be as extreme a grumble as you’ll see this year; I am good and pissed off about a number of things, so let’s get right to it!
Last weekend during all the pissing, bitching, and moaning about Brady’s balls something else happened; new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred did an interview with ESPN, and what I heard was pure idiocy! Essentially, the guy wants to tailor the game more towards kids, speed things up, and eliminate defensive shifts. So… you want to speed the game up by putting defenses at a disadvantage and “helping the offenses”… despite the fact that the fastest games on record have all been pitching duels and defensive contests, usually very low scoring? Right. Somebody buy this fuckwit a clue please… I see the game went from a bad pair of hands (Selig) to worse (Manfred).
In my opinion, speeding up the game of baseball is a gigantic mistake. Anybody that knows anything about the game knows if you’re going to sit and watch an entire game, you’ve invested at least 3-4 hours of your time. What the hell is a pitch clock going to do, shave ten, fifteen minutes off of that? Meanwhile, you’re rushing a pitcher, which will likely lead to more offensive production. Eliminate shifts? That helps the offense too… more offensive production, longer fucking games. I remember when hockey implemented a bunch of new rules to “increase scoring” and “make the game more exciting” too… didn’t work out so well. Neither will any of this garbage. Leave the damn game alone, it is perfect the way it is! If some little twat can’t put his smart phone down long enough to pay attention to a baseball game, then fuck him!
As for eliminating shifts, how about teaching guys how to do something other than pull the damn ball? If you don’t like shifts… beat the fucking shift. Do it enough, and they’ll knock that shit off. It’s all fair, and it’s all part of the game. Shifts have been around forever… maybe not as extreme as they are now, but even Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game, faced a certain type of shift every time he came up to bat. Guess what… he didn’t cry about it, he just hit the damn ball where they weren’t!
I agree with one thing… attracting kids to the game is important. But catering to these little fuckwits that can’t sit still long enough to pay attention to a game isn’t going to make your real, actual fans happy! Remember them… the people that actually pay admission and buy all your merchandise? And another thing… the best way to attract new fans is to have competitive balance, which the game has plenty of already. The #1 way to bring in a crowd is to have a team winning… look at Kansas City this year. They went from the bottom of the league to near the top because the team started winning. People are fickle, fair weather, bandwagon jumping fucking mush heads… if a team in their area is winning, you’d better believe that tickets will sell!
What really needs to be done is to put some of the owners out there under a fucking microscope! Like Jeffery Lauria of the Marlins, Ron Fowler in San Diego, Stuart Sternberg in Tampa Bay, Lew Wolff in Oakland, etc., who spend as little as possible to field a winning team, yet never seem to get negative press about it outside their own regions. Put the screws to asshats like this… if they don’t like it, they can sell their teams to someone who will try to field a winner. Trust me, a decade or so ago I would have said the same damn thing about Mike Illitch… who has since opened his pocketbook and produced a team that has been to two World Series in a decade and draws an average of 3 million fans in one of the poorest cities in America!
Some sad news in the world of baseball, which was well covered earlier this week by both BlackBandit and Jeff, with the passing of Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks at the age of 83. Banks was a true ambassador of the game, and exactly the kind of man you’d want your kids to grow up to be like. Despite all the obstacles Banks faced, he was a positive man, a man who refused to let hate rule his life, and a man who overcame with grace and dignity. Ernie Banks retired with 512 career home runs, mostly as a SS, won two MVPs, a Gold Glove, and led a loaded National League in home runs twice (going up against the likes of Musial, Mays, and Aaron). Rest in peace “Mr.Cub”… and let’s hope the boys you meet up with upstairs are ready to play two!
In the other MLB story this week, the Yankees are attempting to avoid paying home run bonuses to Alex Rodriguez, claiming the milestone home run bonuses are no longer valid because of A Fraud’s PED use. No shit… and you knew about it when you signed this fool the first time; let alone when you gave him a second fucking contract. Get over it Yankees… and pay the man the money you owe him. And when this dirty fuck passes a great man like Willie Mays seven home runs into this season, you’d better be ready to ante up again! Of course, you could always do the sport a favor and make this tool a $30 million a year bench decoration… you know… since you’re suddenly worried about integrity!
You know who I’d love to see take a fucking brick to the jaw? Dick Sherman… who else! This asshat was at it again… running his fucking mouth, claiming the Patriots are cheaters and that Roger Goodell’s relationship with Robert Kraft is a “conflict of interest”. Newsflash dumb shit… Roger Goodell WORKS for Robert Kraft… and for YOUR owner, Paul Allen! Just because Kraft is more active in the day to day working of the league doesn’t mean he garners any more favor from Goodell. Yes, they have a closer relationship… because they work together all the time. Your owner simply writes checks and cashes checks when the profits roll in… not a damn thing wrong with that, but when you chose not to be a part of the governing of the game, that’s how it goes. As for your stance on cheating… how about that failed PED test from a year ago you somehow weaseled your way out of? Take it somewhere else, junior… and hope that elbow feels better for Sunday!
As for the media at the Super Bowl… what in the blue hell is going on with this band of freaks? All the stupid questions… all the idiots rephrasing the same fucking question and asking it even though a guy JUST FUCKING ANSWERED THAT! No wonder Marshawn Lynch doesn’t want to talk to you fools! So Lynch shows up, does his mandatory five minutes… answering every single question with the same “I’m only here so I don’t get fined” response (classic, by the way)… and the guy STILL might get fined because he chose to wear the wrong fucking hat! What the hell NFL? Give this guy a fucking break! If you want to fine him for something, fine him for the on-field dick grabbing when he scores a TD! But honestly… this has gone from a few guys asking questions to a complete and total freak show! And for what… so you can get a few stock quotes… maybe a few weird answers… it’s all just pure stupidity. A classroom of fourth graders would do a better job than the bunch of fucking hacks we consider “the media” these days.
As for the media hacks… they’re still harping on balls. Still bringing it up… still going on and on and on and on and fucking on about it. THIS is why I pay zero attention to anything NFL the week before the Super Bowl… it’s nothing but garbage. Usually these whores find one thing, grab ahold of it, and don’t let it the fuck go for a week. This shit is going on two weeks now! Impressive attention span… really… but the majority of the people I know could not give a fuck less! Maybe read your audience instead of telling us what you think we want to hear! Maybe report actual news instead of trying to fucking create it, better yet!
As for the actual game… bet anybody out there that there isn’t a single fucking endorser who has left the NFL… especially during Super Bowl season! Even if the NFL hadn’t gone on its’ bullshit apology spree… fired Ray Rice… suspended Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson, et all… these fuckers will still pay to endorse their products during NFL games because it isn’t about principles… it is about getting your product and your fucking message in front of the biggest audience possible. This is why I hate phony outrage… phony apologies. Companies are STILL paying record amounts for thirty seconds of airtime during the game… companies are STILL trying to put together their best ad of the year for this weekend… companies are STILL sponsoring the stupid halftime show!
This PC era needs to come to a close… and quick… because it is driving me bat shit crazy! It isn’t the league’s fault that maybe ten players out of 1,696 fuck up and either get a DUI, beat their spouse or kid, get caught with some fucking pot. Compare that to everyday people in that age range… it is a comparatively LOW percentage! I really wish someone, somewhere would tell these PC assholes with their faux outrage where to go and which orifice to shove it into whence they arrive at their destination! Seriously… if the NFL had told all these “women’s rights” twats to go sit on a fucking cactus, what would have been the backlash? Less women watching football? Oh no… that’d cut their ratings by… maybe… 5%? Not even a fucking drop in the fucking bucket! We REALLY need to quit trying to fucking appease everybody in this country… it is fucking KILLING US! Every time one group or another gets butt hurt, someone fucking jumps to appease them. Unless it is something fucking extreme, walk it off junior. If not, go cry to someone who cares… and keep it the fuck down, I’m trying to watch the game here!
My pick for the Bowl of Superiority, BTW, I’ll take the Patriots 33-24 over the Seahawks. Brady wins the MVP award, and Dick Sherman gets a cocksucker full of humble pie!
That’s all the rant I have in me for today folks. Thanks as always for reading and for any commentary you provide below… and have a great weekend Gabbers! Be sure to stop in and check out my pal Harvey to the left there… guaranteed to be the best blog of the day or your money back!
The sun is out here in oldharryville MA and the temp is up to 19.
I've spent the bulk of the past two days moving snow from one place and piling it in another
The officila depth in my city is 28.8"
I cant verify that total because of the drifting. I have 48"at my front door and 16"at the back
The driveway had the same variation of depth. We had a couple of days home due to the state of emergency declaired by the Governor and the fact that the roads suck. My little side street is a total afterthought around these parts. we all have 4x4's here except for my brides óld Sonata that she won't part with until the 10 year 100,000 mile warentee runs out (May 2015)
The good thing about being stuck at home is the family time and the chance to interact with the neighbors.
My neighbor whom I nicknamed Wilson because of the fence between us that he often looks over and talks to me with just his nose and eyes showing over the top...he calls me toolman.
Well anyway, Wilson has a new snoblower and he had aball doing every driveway he could, I supplied the gas and the shovel for the walks and steps. We had a great time and finished it off with some beer and some laughs.
I will be back to work by the end of the week...as soon as they finish the road.
I read Jeff's post on Wed and he mentioned little league baseball and that got me thinking.
The best memories of my youth are baseball memories
My Dad was a manager and an umpire and the inspiration for my love of the game. At age 8, which was the youngest you could play in the small town I grew up in I join ed. I was assigned to the minor league Mets (ages 8-10). I hated anything New York but I loved my new uniform with the #7 on the back. My Dad managed a Pony league team so I only saw him at baseball when he would umpire my games. I loved baseball, played 3rd base and pitched, I wasn't afraid of the ball so I got the hot corner. Thanks to my Dad hitting fungos for hours at a time.
At age 10 I was drafted by the Yankees in the major league (ages 10-12) The coach, Mr Seabury, was feared by most of the kids as he was loud and would bench kids for talking about anything other tah the game.
He asked all the 10 yearolds where they liked to play. I told him I played 3rd and pitched. he said that was last year, on my team you play where I put you. After a lengthy practice where we played infield, outfield, pitched and caught he told us to sit on the grass. The team was made up of 14 kids. There were 6 -12 yearolds, 5- 11 yearolds and 3 - 10 yearolds.
He said "ten yearolds on this team don't start unless some one is sick or you are better than one of my older players, playing time is up to me and me alone. If your mother asks me why you are not playing and Johnny is playing...I will assure her that you are not as good as Johnny"
He gave out starting positions and to my surprise he said, "Harrington, centerfield" I was in 7th heaven, 10 years old and I was starting on the Yankees. My uniform #...seven...that's right 7...Mickey Mantle and number 7
I started every game that season and had a blast and I even hit a homerun. The right field line ended at the rock, a huge bolder that the chainlink fence ended at. The distance to the rock, 179 feet. Left field was 208 and center 220 but right to the rock was 179.
I batted right handed but had decent opposite power because my Dad never babied my brother or I and threw fastballs at us. I got used to going with the pitch and took an out side low fastball from Herbie McNerney and drove it onto the rock. I ran the bases like it was still in play and coach Seabury yelled "Cadilac Harry, Cadilac" after i was in the dugout I asked him what he ment by Cadilac..."he said that homers don't happen every day so take it slow and smooth like your driving a Cadilac and you have something to show off"
I have many stories of these great days and I'm sure you all do too. so take a few minutes and share them below if you have the time.
Thanks for reading and don't forget to visit Lanz right next door digging his way from the storm.
Greetings from the Hoodwood where the flags are at half-staff for Mr. Cub
Coach K gets his grand victory
I’ve never been much of a Duke fan, I think they are the poster boy of the snobby ACC. I detested Duke for being the ones that the pundits pointed to as basketball the “right way” and how they celebrated when Duke stunned UNLV in the 1991 national semifinals in a game I still swear was fixed to give UNLV their comeuppance. The thing is as much as detested the school and program. I actually respected Mike Krzyzewski, he always seemed like a coach who actually believed in principles like staying in school. I thought for the longest time Duke didn’t put up its 1990 final four banner because of how they got humiliated in the national championship but it was because one of the players didn’t graduate. I found out later that the player. Alaa Abdelnaby did come back finish his coursework and the banner went up. But in any case, the more I read about Krzyzewski and his come up from humble beginnings in Chicago, and his yeoman like rise from coaching his alma mater to nearly being run out of Duke after a couple years, the more I respected him as much as I loathed the team that he coached. In any case, Krzyzewski has made himself a coaching institution and believe it or not been at Duke as long as Dean Smith was at UNC and has more wins he has 927 at Duke, and after the Blue Devils rallied smartly to down a plucky St. John’s squad at MSG Coach K became the 1st men’s coach in Div-1 to amass 1000 wins. Keep in mind, Coach K still has about 3 seasons to go to surpass Pat Summitt’s 1089 wins but he has a milestone that it’s a testimony to his great teams whom he was quick to put to the forefront and effusive in praise for. But also to his longevity, you don’t coach somewhere 35 years without winning pretty consistently and he has done that in spades.
MLB changes leaders
As much as it catches me off guard to think Coach K has been at Duke for 35 years it makes me pause, but to think that Bud Selig has stepped down from his post as MLB commish, a job he held since 1992 makes me feel old. Selig has been MLB’s grand poobah since the owners ran Fay Vincent out after the 92 season. He has had the job officially since 1998 when the farcical acting title was finally removed. I’ve never been big on Bud Selig, as I’ve always thought of him as a puppet for the owners as he once was one as owner of the Milwaukee Brewers. I also thought that his ideas for contracting two teams (one of whom were my beloved Minnesota Twins in 2001) was ham handed and smelled like a plot to take care of his daughter who was then running the Brewers but that plan fell through, the Twins got good, the Expos moved to fertile baseball country in Washington and Selig soldiered on. Now some of his ideas I liked. Interleague play, moving the Brewers to the NL and the wild card were good. Others like the steroid bumbling, the aforementioned contraction and the inane All-Star-home field advantage But Selig was the 2nd longest tenured commish behind the first to hold the office, the bigoted Kennesaw Mountain Landis. With Selig’s retirement the mantle passes to Rob Manfred who has been the deputy CEO of MLB and by and large has the approval of the talking heads of MLB. We’re hoping that Mann looks at further improving the game and will be his own man and not a puppet of the owners.
NBA: Kobe done for the season…and for good?
This is a haunting refrain that is getting all too familiar. Kobe Bryant has played all of 41 games for the Lakers in the last two seasons suffering through injuries to his knee and Achilles but another injury, this time to his rotator cuff which will shelve him for the remainder of this season and will be the third time in as many season that Bryant will not finish the season healthy and leaves many to wonder will this be the last time we see the self-styled Black Mamba on the court. I think it won’t be, I think that Bryant will try it one more time. I can’t see Bryant walking away from the game after an injury. I think Bryant can be self-absorbed and selfish as a player but he has a legacy of a winner and a tough customer. I can’t see him letting an injury be the checkmate for him.
PHAT DAP\HEAD SLAP
Phat Dap- In Memoriam for Mr. Cub
In lieu of a phat dap, Hoodwood takes a moment to remember Mr. Cub. Ernie Banks. The player universally loved in the baseball and revered in Chicago passed away this past Friday at 83. One of the first players of color to play for the Cubs, Banks’ infectious play and boundless spirit fueled the otherwise sad sack Cubs of the 50’s and 60’s, he retired in 1971 as the Cubs all-time home run leaders and is still 2nd but his 1636 RBI’s are still team best. He was inducted into the baseball hall of fame on his first year of eligibility in 1977. His catchphrase “Let’s Play Two” was his enduring symbolism of his love for the game. The Cubs family have lost one of their greats, and the whole baseball and sports world grieves with them.
To Russ Knight who works for the CBS affiliate in Phoenix and was hired by the NFL as an assistant frequency coordinator for the Super Bowl festivities going on in the Valley of The Sun. Knight was given highly coveted All-Access Super Bowl credentials for his job. Rightly excited he took a picture and posted it on Facebook. That was a no-no. The NFL contacted him immediately and told him that his credentials would be revoked since there would be a slim but realistic chance that the picture of the credential could be zoomed in on can be duplicated. Considering how tight security is for the Super Bowl nowadays it’s not surprising that the NFL is so strict on posting pics especially of its prized credentials. Knight for his part took ownership of his goof blaming no one but himself. But he still gets a head slap for wasting a golden opportunity to be at the year’s biggest game.
The Pro Bowl really needs to go back to Hawai’i and after the Super Bowl
The NHL All-Star was in Columbus and in a way I’m sad I missed it but 29 goals? That’s too much
The Yanks don’t want to pay A-Fraud his bonuses. Y’all act like you didn’t know???
Richard Sherman is the best corner in the league and doesn’t like inane questions about it
Doing away with defensive shifts, here’s a tip hitters should hit ‘em where they aint
Now the CFP won’t budge on their dates…did you think that they would give up their valuable cash cow dates?
Baseball, perhaps like no other sport, manages to enshrine its players in the national collective memory of its fans so deeply that even when you never have seen a particular baseball legend play, you feel as if you did.
That's how I feel about Ernie Banks. And that is why today I felt saddened to wake up and learn of his passing. I'll let news articles and other bloggers fill you in on his stats in the game and all that other stuff.
What I enjoyed most about Banks came from his youthful enthusiasm for the game. He was a great ambassador not just for the Cubs but for the entire game of baseball.
If you have followed the game's history at all, you are undoubtedly familiar with his famous quote:
In a day when players have to be bribed to play a double header or go on a tirade about having to play too many day or night games in a row, Banks joy for playing the game despite being on gut wrenchingly bad teams should put those modern day players to shame.
As expected, the Cubs paid tribute to Banks on their marquee last night:
It isn't that there aren't players of the caliber of Banks these days, they just seem fewer and farther between. And a little piece of the heart of the game goes away whenever a man like Mr. Cub leaves us.
I said that I never got to see him play, but through numerous articles, books, and of course archival footage, I have a decent understanding of just how magnificent Ernie Banks was as a player and as a representative of this game of baseball and life. He was a Hall of Famer in more ways than one.
The man was beloved by pretty much anyone who knew him it seems. It wasn't just baseball awards he got in his lifetime either. Ernie Banks was a receipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for goodness sake.
Banks may have left us but he also leaves us with an example of how to have that sparkle and enthusiasm for what you are doing, whether it be sports or any field of endeavor. He never seemed to have lost that exuberance.
Good night and RIP to you, Ernie Banks. You'll always be Mr. Cub to more than just Chicago fans. And here's to you getting to "Play Two" as much as you want now.