While pro football has made significant progress since the days of claiming there was no conclusive link between blows to the head and brain disease/dementia, CNBC’s Darren Rovell writes the NFL’s deal with helmet manufacturer Ridell receives a thumbs down from the league’s own watchdog group.
Dr. Hunt Batjer, co-chair of the NFL™s Head, Neck and Spine Committee was asked whether the NFL should have an official provider of helmets.
œMy preference would be that it did not, Batjer said. œCertainly there is not now nor will there be any restriction for any player on which device they use as long as the helmets are tested and they pass the NOCSAE standard.
Players can use helmets made by Riddell competitors like Schutt and Xenith, but, through a deal made with the league through 2013, Riddell is the only helmet manufacturer that can have its name on the helmets.
Still, the doctors on the panel were not comfortable with the impression that the official deal leaves with consumers. œIn my opinion, it is not a good thing, Dr. Robert Cantu, senior advisor to the NFL™s Head, Neck and Spine Committee. œIt does give the perception, if not the reality, of an uneven playing field.
Cantu went on to say that if the league is going to get behind one helmet company it should be supported by œon the field head-to-head comparison of all helmets.
In the best interest of player safety, it certainly provided an awkward moment for one of the NFL™s sponsors, as league commissioner Roger Goodell (above) hinted that Riddell™s future of having exclusive on the field helmet branding rights might be numbered.
œWhen (the license expires), we will welcome all helmets from a commercial standpoint on the field, Goodell said.
There was talk a few years back about a Bill Veeck feature length biopic starring Bill Murray, but as St. Paul Saints co-owner Mike Veeck — he of Disco Demolition infamy — explains to the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan, you can blame the continent of Europe. Or whoever thought it would be a good idea to release Bernie Mac’s “Mr. 3000″ in France.
Ted Turner owned the original rights, but Mike Veeck said the idea was tossed out during the AOL-Time-Warner merger.
“When they merged, they threw out any vehicle that wouldn’t make its money back overseas,” Mike said. “They don’t call them movies- but vehicles. And guess what movies are the only ones that don’t make money overseas? Baseball movies. So that’s what happened. When the merger came, it was one of like, three movies thrown out.
“In Europe, that’s where they sell the majority of movies, and (the Bill Veeck story) really wouldn’t mean anything to them. So it was an interesting run. The only reason Murray got involved was I said to Mom (Mary Frances Veeck): ‘Look, this movie business is a more illegitimate business than we’re in. Everybody is making a movie, so let’s get a commitment from somebody.’
“And that’s how Murray got involved.”
“I think something will happen, but you just kind of let that stuff percolate,” Veeck said. “There’s a lot of people that don’t know him because of the age difference now. The redeeming thing is that fun is now even more heavily marketable. If I see one more corporation that led us down the primrose path selling fun and customer service, I’m going to throw up.”
…besides, y’know, his throwing like BabaBooey a girl.With the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership in the untenable state of shared responsibility between the divorcing McCourts, a potential savior has emerged from the club’s glittering past. And he’s about as likely to play a pivotal role in the Dodgers’ future as Isiah Thomas is to someday own the New York Knicks, as the LA Times’ Bill Shaikin explains.
Steve Garvey (above, far right), one of the most popular players in Dodgers history, said Wednesday he has assembled an investment group that would like to buy the team.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to own a franchise,” Garvey said.
“There are some great treasures out there that people would love to buy, the Dodgers among them,” McCourt spokesman Steve Sugerman said. “But, like the Mona Lisa and the Pacific Ocean, the Dodgers aren’t for sale.”
In 2006, The Times reported that Garvey had fallen behind on bill payments for at least a decade, citing interviews and court records. Garvey said Wednesday he disputed elements of that report and in any case said it should not be relevant to whether he could organize a bid for the Dodgers in which he would not provide significant financing.
“It’s not as if I’m going to be the primary investor or I’m going to be the CFO,” he said.
Garvey said the group had explored the purchase of other sports franchises within the last year, without naming any of them.
“I believe we could make a very viable bid for any franchise,” Garvey said.
On the occasion of Walt Frazier’s “Rockin™ Steady: A Guide to Basketball and Cool” being reissued, Clyde (above, left) was quizzed by Slam.com’s Kyle Stack on a variety of topics, including but not limited to the MSG fashion plate’s sartorial advice for the younger generation. Of his early ’70′s aesthetic, Frazier modestly tells Stack, “I™m really astounded that I had that perception so far back.”
SLAM: When you™re getting dressed for a game broadcast, do you have a certain routine you go through at home to get ready?
CF: Yeah, a lot of people ask me what my closet looks like. I say my closet is a room. [Laughs] I have a room with racks and racks of clothes. So, sometimes in my spare time I™ll just go over certain outfits, see what goes with them. A day before a game, I might already have that suit laid out. What I do after I wear them is I take them loose. Sometimes I don™t know what combinations I wear with a suit; I have to keep my creativity going.
SLAM: Do you pay attention to what the players are wear before and after the game?
CF: They™re very casual. They wear warmups. [Amar'e] Stoudemire is pretty sharp; he likes a more tapered fit. [Chris] Duhon is a guy who used to wear suits all the time when he was on the team. I tell people when we were coming up, there were The Temptations, The Four Tops¦these guys were our idols and they wore suits all the time. So, all the players were competing to see who could dress the best. Now, these guys™ idols are rappers, so they dress like rappers.
SLAM: Do they ever come to you for fashion advice?
CF: Well, they give me compliments.
SLAM: What tips can you give to the everyday guy on fashion and grooming?
CF: Well, it™s not necessarily how expensive clothes are ” it™s the fit. Try to get something that fits you. And the color, a little pizzazz. The pocket handkerchief. I think that dresses you up
According to police documents, Iowa City Police Street Crimes investigators were conducting a drug investigation on Johnson-Koulianos’ roommate, 21-year-old Brady C. Johnson. Police served a search warrant at the residence they shared at 1128 E. Washington St. at 1:50 p.m. Inside, officers allegedly found marijuana, more than $3,000 cash, a digital scale and other items used in the sale of drugs.
Police said they found cocaine, small quantities of marijuana and Pamoate, Diazepam, Hydromorphone Hydrochloride and Zolpidem Tartrate pills in Johnson-Koulianos’ bedroom. Pamoate is one of the two formations of Hydroxyzine, an antihistamine used to treat mild anxiety, insomnia, motion-sickness, itching and allergies and is known as an effective sedative and tranquilizer. Diazepam is used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures. Hydromorphone Hydrochloride is a narcotic analgesic which Johnson-Koulianos allegedly told officers he takes to help with pain, according to police. Zolpidem Tartrate is used to treat insomnia.
Johnson-Koulianos did not have a prescription for the various drugs.
Police said Johnson-Koulianos admitted to smoking marijuana and said he smoked within a day of his arrest. Johnson-Koulianos also admitted to using cocaine and the prescription pills, police said. Johnson-Koulianos said he “gets (the pills) from friends,” according to the criminal complaint.
The Mets would be expected to assume a large part of that “ if similar money couldn™t be swapped “ but Alderson did suggest in general terms that he isn™t averse to doing so if necessary.
œI think we™re realists, Alderson said. œIf we felt given all of the components of the transaction that it was in our interest, yeah. Eaten money before and prepared to eat it again.
There is another way. The Red Sox could try to convince Daisuke Matsuzaka to waive his own no-trade clause, and with Dice-K owed $20 million over the next two seasons, the money would be nearly a wash. Beltran, who also has a no-trade clause, already has said he would approve a deal under the right circumstances. Given his contentious history with the Mets during the past year, there™s little doubt Beltran would jump at the chance to play for the Red Sox, even if it meant part-time DH duties and perhaps switching to a corner outfield spot for the final season of his seven-year, $119-million contract.
DB: You don’t think that Obama wasn’t born in the United States, do you?
LS: He was not born here.
LS: That’s my belief. I was born here. If someone accuses me of not being born here, I can go ” within 10 minutes ” to my filing cabinet and I can pick up my real birth certificate and I can go, “See? Look! Here it is. Here it is.” The man has dodged everything. He dodges questions, he doesn’t answer anything. And why? Because he’s hiding something.
You know what? People who have bad intentions, people that are deceivers or are not of honor and integrity ” that’s how they act. I’ve seen it in every ” it doesn’t matter what level. It can be in politics, it can be in business, it can be in sports, it can be in the construction field. Doesn’t matter. It’s all the same attitude. It’s the same thing.
People who tell the truth, they’re very easy to … their actions prove it. Something as simple providing a birth certificate. Come on. If you’re born here, there’s plenty of documents. But you know what? There’s no documentation of him. No legal documentation of him. There’s been lie after lie after lie exposed, but people put it under the carpet. Hence, the problem we have in this country.
Whether or not this is the most creative attempt at raising funds for WFMU to date I will not say —- certainly Jim Marshall refusing to stop playing REM’s “Stand” until a fiscal goal was achieved was a rather effective —- but it is without a doubt the most provocative use of U-Stream this side of Stephon Marbury lip-synching to Sinead O’Connor.
(because of cropping, you can’t see that Murray is wearing a t-shirt that reads, “TOP THAT, DAULERIO”)
“I™m not sure what Tom Verducci, the Sports Illustrated writer, thought of Marvin Miller, but I know he didn™t think much of the job Miller had. When Verducci covered baseball for Newsday, the Long Island daily, he hated covering baseball labor. And when he did cover it, he wasn™t very good at it.” That’s how former NY Times scribe Murray Chass attempted to make sense of Tom Verducci allegedly voting against Marvin Miller’s election to the Baseball Hall Of Fame, a charge Chass apparently learned from Miller himself. Trouble is, Verducci insists said story is pure fiction. From SI.com :
Because Miller gave erroneous hearsay to the blogger that was published, and especially with Miller falling one vote short of induction, the Hall of Fame took the unusual step of allowing me to reveal my vote. Committee members are asked not to reveal their votes.
Miller issued his apology to me after I telephoned him. I informed Miller that I supported him in the meeting room and with my vote. I also stressed to him that while I continue to admire his accomplishments, I was disappointed and saddened that a champion of fair treatment in his professional career would pass unfair, erroneous accusations to a blogger.
“I passed it along, and I’m guilty of that,” said Miller, who admitted that he spoke with the blogger by telephone when he made his comments. “I didn’t know he was going to publish it.”
The blogger did not return phone and e-mail messages.
“The Cleveland fans were bitter and they had a right to be,” opined ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons (above) after watching LeBron James decimate the Cavaliers last Thursday night. Get Buckets’ tjarks takes a somewhat more measured approach, declaring “there isn™t an athlete in the world who would compel me to boo him for more than one or two minutes…and there isn™t a person in the world I hate as much as the fans seemed to hate LeBron.” You have to give some kind of decorum award to a person who’d not even boo Hitler.
The Cavs players have played basketball their entire lives. They knew they weren™t good enough to win a championship; œThe Decision was business, not personal. Most of them were just happy to see their friend again, a long-time colleague who left for a better opportunity.
Why should they be mad at him? LeBron made them all rich! If Daniel Gibson, who never had a PER higher than 11.7 in his first four seasons in the NBA, had been drafted by any of the other 29 teams, he™s fighting for a spot in the league right now. In Cleveland, playing off of LeBron, he got a 5-year $21 million contract. Andy Varejao ” who has never met a lay-up he couldn™t botch ” got a 4-year $32 million deal.
Seemingly everyone, from the fans to the media, was not happy about the Cavs professionalism:
“He started yapping at his old buddy Boobie Gibson (sitting on Cleveland™s bench), as everyone who grew up in the Rick Mahorn/Charles Oakley era waited for one of the Cavaliers to stand up and punch him in the face, or at least tell him to have sex with himself. Nope. Nothing.”
I™m going to assume that Bill Simmons didn™t actually want to see a reprise of the 2004 Brawl at the Palace. So what exactly did people want the Cavs to do? Be mean to LeBron? Would a wedgie have sufficed? How about attempting to injure him? Or maybe they were supposed to punch him in the face.
Mets mouthpiece David Howard has long stressed that Fred and Jeff Wilpon’s investment’s with convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff (above) did not in fact, leave the franchise high and dry. Bankruptcy trustee Irving Picard would seem to agree, having filed suit against the Wilpons and the Mets Tuesday alleging they profited to the tune of some $48 million in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. From CNBC.com :
According to court documents filed in October 2009, the Mets Limited Partnership was a net winner in the Madoff Ponzi scheme. The partnership is alleged to have turned a profit of around $48 million.
It is not yet known how much money is being sought from the Wilpons and the Mets.
Picard has until the two-year anniversary of Madoff’s arrest on Saturday, Dec. 11 to file lawsuits in the series of callback cases for net winners in the Madoff Ponzi scheme.
I’ve no idea how strong Picard’s case might be, but if there’s any way these funds can be physically beaten out of Oliver Perez, I’m all for it.
Forget about b-ballers Devin Harris and Brook Lopez, the lead image on the site is a glamour shot of Irina Pavlova, president of Onexim Sports and Entertainment, a subsidiary of Prokhorov™s $25-billion holding company Onexim.
Clicking the second story on the site brings up a picture of Prokhorov among his players, looking more like the coach than the owner.
The fledgling website offers articles, interviews, schedule photos and video and ticket information. It does not reveal the current NBA standings, where the Nets are 6“15, good enough for the third-worst record in the league.
œI love basketball, but I won™t go on the site just because the team owner is Russian, said Raisa Chernina, a Sheepshead Bay resident who heads the Be Proud Foundation, a Russian-American advocacy group.
Besides, she said, the mega-wealthy team owner practically œspeaks a different language than the vast majority of Russians.
œHe is in heaven, and I am on earth, Chernina said. œI don™t know what our Russian community will get from him.
The St. Louis Cardinals are betting a substantial sum that DH-if-you-ever-saw-one Lance Berkman will experience an unlikely career revival next spring. Of Tony La Russa’s plans to install Berkman in right or left field next season, the Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz hopefully notes, “the Cardinals have a ground-ball pitching staff.” You’d better hope exclusively ground balls. * It’s fair and natural to wonder if he can handle a corner outfield spot. The Cardinals apparently will use Berkman in LF. He hasn’t played any outfield at all since 2007, and hasn’t been in LF since 2006. And as a younger, mobile athlete Berkman wasn’t good in RF. The sample sizes are small, but: in 78 innings in RF in 2005, he was a minus 1 fielder according to the John Dewan “Fielding Bible” system. In 305 innings in 2006, he was a minus 3 RF. And a minus 9 in right fielder (2007) in 229 innings.
* If Berkman is placed in LF, that means Matt Holliday will go to right field. Holliday has never played RF in the majors. Last season he was one of the better left fielders in the majors, with a +14 rating from Dewan that put him 3rd among all MLB left fielders. Holliday’s arm was adequate in left field, but he doesn’t seem to have a RF arm. With Berkman in left and Holliday in right, the Cardinals have weakened themselves defensively at two OF positions. Tony La Russa will obviously take measures to reinforce the OF defense when the Cardinals have late-inning leads, with someone like Jon Jay coming off the bench to upgrade the defense to protect the lead.
* Berkman in left and Holliday in right puts more pressure on Colby Rasmus to raise his game defensively in center field. Rasmus was pretty bad out in CF in 2010, rated as a minus 7 defender by Dewan and Fielding Bible. Rasmus has the ability to be better than that. And the Cardinals need him to be significantly better than that in 2011.
Former Cowboys QB / “Monday Night Football” analyst Don Meredith passed away today at the age of 72, and while the Dallas Morning News’ Brad Townsend recalls Dandy Don’s playing career in sufficient detail, the SMU product’s acting history receives somewhat short shrift. In addition to cameos on the ill-fated “Supertrain”, “Police Woman” and “McCloud”, Meredith assumed the titular role in the 1976 made-for-TV film, “Banjo Hackett : Roamin’ Free”, and played the part of Bert Jameson alongside partner Tony Calabrese (Tony Lo Bianco) in 5 episodes of NBC’s “Police Story” between 1973 and 1975.
“Bighorn” – a “Quantum Leap” that is thankfully a Bakula-free zone, is billed as “a 15-minute, supernatural historical fantasy” ; a funny take on parallel universes, for sure, but perhaps more about Adam Vinateri’s lineage than most persons would like to consider (link culled from Boston Sports Media)
The New York Mets have been conspicuous by their absence in rumors revolving around Cliff Lee, Adrian Beltre, Adrian Gonzalez or Jayson Werth this offseason, and given the state of the club’s finances, that’s no big shock. But given the necessity with which the Amazins will need to uncover a few diamonds in MLB’s very rough free agent junk pile, the Bergen Record’s Steve Popper suggests a rather unpopular candidate to assist GM Sandy Alderson. To wit, Alderson’s predecessor, the still-on-the-payroll, Omar Minaya. “If there was one thing that Minaya excelled at during his time with the Mets,” recalls Popper, “and the thing he really took pride in as an executive brought up as a scout “ it was finding the end-of-the-bench piece, an aging veteran or underrated chip.”
While Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo are the contracts that are defining Minaya right now, think instead of R.A. Dickey, Endy Chavez, Jose Valentin, Marlon Anderson, Chris Woodward, Damion Easley, Darren Oliver and Chad Bradford. Think of Fernando Tatis “ at least early in his tenure with the team. Angel Pagan and Pedro Feliciano were bargain pickups. Even in trades Minaya managed to find undervalued gems as often as he missed.
The point is that Alderson is searching for back-of-the-bullpen arms, a starter to fill out the rotation, a backup catcher and a fourth outfielder. And this might be the first test of Moneyball versus old-school scouting.
Whether it was Minaya or his mentor, Sandy Johnson, who was responsible, the Mets were able to fill out the fringes of the roster during recent seasons. Injuries to the roster’s main components did them in repeatedly. But this time, there are no main components on the shopping list.
I mean no disrespect to Popper — who deserves credit for recognizing that Minaya isn’t without his redeeming qualities (for starters, he’s not nearly as toxic or delusional as Isiah Thomas) — but in addition to the injuries suffered by key figures such as Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Johan Santana and Carlos Delgado during Omar’s tenure, Jerry Manuel was constantly forced to rely on something less than a deep bench. For every R.A. Dickey or Angel Pagan, there was a Frank Catalanotto, a Gary Matthews Jr., an Angel Berroa, a Cory Sullivan. Popper claims Minaya is defined, for better or worse, by Oliver Perez’ contract, but on the bottom feeding end of the spectrum, Minaya is also the guy who lavished nearly $4 million on Alex Cora (and narrowly avoided paying him much more) and gave Kelvim Escobar $1.25 million and received nothing in return.
Of RF Jayson Werth’s new, $126 million, 7-year pact with Washington, the WaPo’s Adam Kilgore opines the Nats have completed “a sudden move that enhanced their credibility as an immediate contender androbbed the division rival Philadelphia Phillies of one of their best players.” It’s also a contract that presumes Werth will continue to improve late into his 30′s, which is either a tremendous gamble on the part of Washington GM Mike Rizzo or tacit acknowledgment the team believes that HGH will soon become part of the (legal) pregame spread. At least one early comparison to Kevin Brown’s last (insane) contract was made, though Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan prefers to live in the modern era, stating, “the Nationals socked the sport in the face Sunday.”
All it takes is one team “ one with a complex or a dream “ to upend the entire damn thing. And while the Werth contract won™t change everything, just as the Alex Rodriguez(notes) deal didn™t, just as the Zito pact didn™t, just as all of the previous albatrosses didn™t, the standard it sets in the present frightens the financially prudent.
A player whom Baseball-Reference.com compares to Brad Hawpe, Kal Daniels, Corey Hart, Curtis Granderson and Juan Rivera received what could be the contract of the decade. Werth is a far better player than those five, sure, but he hasn™t had the career of Matt Holliday, for whom Boras could secure only seven years and $120 million last season.
The visit from Nationals owners Ted and Mark Lerner couldn™t have hurt. Werth is extremely intelligent, well-spoken and, despite the scraggly beard that adorns his face, presentable. Though Boras didn™t go into details about the Lerners™ trip to California to meet Werth, it™s easy to envision him charming the hell out of them.
Charm, apparently, costs more per ounce than gold. Because a player who convention figured would struggle to get nine figures is now sitting on a $126 million pile of cash, and the rest of the market is readying to readjust, aftershocks certain to follow, namely with Carl Crawford and the eight years and $160 million for which he can reasonably ask.
The New York Islanders are hosting Philly this afternoon, and if an early 1-0 advantage to the visitors holds up, the hosts will see their record drop a league-worst 5-15-5. Noting that hopes for the Lighthouse Project are dashed, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks accuses owner Charles Wang (above right) of “acting as the equivalent of a slumlord for the remaining four years of his team’s lease at Nassau Coliseum, an arena that was hockey’s big stage three decades ago but now stands as a living tomb haunted by memories.”
There is Broadway, there is off Broadway, there is off-off Broadway and then there is Long Island, where the owner, once perceived as a savior (so originally was Spano, so originally were the Gang of Four) has all but disappeared from public view.
It is impossible to determine what the endgame here is for Wang. It can’t be to simply run out the clock over the next four years while further gutting the franchise’s infrastructure. If that truly is the objective, if the owner simply intends to devalue the franchise to the extent no one else would even consider buying it to keep in this area, then it is time for the commissioner to step in, exert his authority and save the Islanders from the crypt-keeper.
Bettman always talks about the league’s commitment to its current markets except when he talks about the Islanders, and then he talks about the commitment to Wang. It’s troubling there is no sense of NHL commitment to Long Island, no sense of NHL commitment to the fan base Bettman himself was once a part of back in the glory days that have passed the franchise by.
(an extremely rare recent photograph of Eddy Curry standing upright on a basketball court)
Though the Knicks have won 8 of 9 entering tomorrow afternoon’s matinee in Toronto, Ronny Turiaf is banged up and Russian rookie Timofey Mozgov has struggled (budding career as a poster model, aside). With such a glaring need for a big body in the paint, you might think this would finally be the time for the Eddy Curry Suppression Ring to see meaningful minutes, but as head coach Mike D’Antoni tells the New York Post’s Marc Berman, “we got to get our record straight and can’t experiment right now.”
Curry is getting “antsy” and said he’s ready to rock.
“Yeah, I am. At the same we’re winning, and I’m not trying to disrupt that or disrupt anything around here,” Curry said. “It’s been a while since I played, but I haven’t been sitting around. I’ve been practicing, doing extra work to make sure I can get up and down. At the end of the day, it’s just basketball, what I’ve been doing my whole life. I don’t want to get into deserve or not deserve. I’m ready whenever he needs me.”
D’Antoni is wary of using Curry because last season, during another comeback, Curry was spotted in during two games and the team collapsed with him on the floor. But it’s surprising D’Antoni won’t at least suit him up for potentially useful garbage-time minutes.
D’Antoni said he didn’t think Curry could “get up and down the floor” efficiently.
“To be honest, I’m playing it close to the vest,” he said. “I’m not going to give up a couple of games just to [spot Curry] when I don’t know. If it’s Raymond [Felton] or Amar’e [Stoudemire] you do it. You just don’t know [with Curry]. It’s a tough situation for us right now.”
A mere day after Real Madrid were on the losing end of a 5-0 scoreline to Barcelona, the former’s manager, Jose Mourinho, found himself the subject of a two match UEFA touchline ban for allegedly ordering two of his players, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos, to get get sent off at the end of a 4-0 drubbing of Ajax in the Champions League last month (above). “”I see this punishment as a medal,” sniffed The Special One, in comments captured by Reuters.
“I’m not going to change,” Mourinho said. “My grandmother died a long time ago but I remember what she told me as a child: ‘If they are envious of you, you should be happy,’ and this has happened to me.
After the Ajax game, Spanish media reported the Real players had acted on instructions from Mourinho. They said the message was passed from Mourinho to the reserve goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek and on to the first-choice keeper, Iker Casillas.
The sendings off mean Alonso and Ramos will serve automatic one-match suspensions in the final group game against Auxerre, which is a dead match for Real as they are assured of first place in Group G and qualification for the last 16.
Both players had accumulated two yellow cards in the group stage before they were sent off and a further yellow card in a subsequent game would have meant a one-match suspension during the knockout rounds.
[A classic from Santo, as usual, voicing the honest to God truth of Wrigley.]
Cubs fans have never gotten over the loss of Harry Caray or, to a lesser degree, Steve Stone’s abrupt exit from the Cubs booth. Yet, the real mainstay in the Cubs organization who pre- and postdates them was Ron Santo. I first saw Santo play in 1970 at Wrigley when I was 3 or 4. I won’t tell you I remember any play he made that day, because all I can remember is how excited I was to be in Wrigley and see Billy Williams himself in the batting circle, right where we were sitting. While Ernie Banks and other players always came back to visit, Santo seems to me to always have been around. He signed with the Cubs in 1959, debuted in 1960, played at Wrigley until 1973, then for the White Sox in ’74.
Santo spent five decades (pretty much) in and around baseball and the team he loved most. Not bad. Still, there was a lot of frustration in his life: the ’69 pennant loss, disease, and then the Hall of Fame, which denied him admittance again and again. The thing that stands out to me about Santo’s broadcast career was his ability to convey perfectly the frustration of Cubs fans. Jack Brickhouse’s “Hey Hey!” for home runs or Harry Caray’s boozy boosterism “ that’s what you usually remember about broadcasters. It’s always highlight moments like Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard heard round the world” (“The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”) that we replay. For me, Santo “ as in the clip above “ voiced better than anyone the undeniable truth of the Cubs history he witnessed, called, and participated in “ frustration. I know that’s not how he would want to be remembered. He was a hugely optimistic Cubs fan as well as a presence in Wrigley. He felt every play on the field personally like he was still down there on third himself. Harry Caray moved from the Cardinals booth to the White Sox to the Cubs without blinking. Could Santo have done the same? I doubt it. The above clip is what Santo did best in the booth, his pitch perfect echo of Cub fans everywhere.
No less an expert than baseball scribe Peter Abraham has declared the E Street Band’s Nils Lofgren, “just about the best guitar player walking the face of the earth”, a statement that clearly reveals Tara Key, Mary Timony, Wayne Rogers Kristy Greene and Gregory Raimo are currently traveling in outer space. Lofgren, who has already shown his sports acumen in the medium he’s best known for, has the editorial bug in light of Michael Vick’s return to form. Credited as “musician and huge sports fan, hurt and demoralized”, Lofgren asks the readers of ESPN.com, “how can we justify this saga to our children?”
I support Vick’s right to earn a living. But, while I can’t fault him for taking great advantage of the opportunities afforded him by playing in the NFL, I feel he does not deserve that lofty a place in our society and culture. However repentant he may be, he committed acts whose vileness will resonate down the years. When you do what Vick did, a second chance should never include the rare gift of an NFL career and the potential bounty it offers.
Shame on the NFL for not banning him permanently.
I am a giant sports fan. However, the cynic in me thinks maybe if Vick were a third-string lineman, the NFL would have set an example and banned him for life. Maybe many of the other significant charges Vick was facing wouldn’t have gone away if he didn’t have the prestige of being an NFL quarterback who can afford high-priced lawyers to wrangle pleas and deals.
For the NFL to be that forgiving of evil, vicious behavior is a terribly inappropriate act of forgiveness and has brought a sick, sad, dirty feeling to many of us fans who have loved the game for so long.
And to you reporters, whom I enjoy and respect, the sentiments in this letter are suspiciously absent in your hundreds of hours of Vick coverage.
1) fetch LBJ dry cleaning
2) finish Spoelstra voodoo doll
3) pick up tacos for lunch. Everyone likes tacos
4) find somebody (Buzz?) willing to ghostwrite postgame soundbytes that will make LeBron come off just a little less like a preening dickhead.