La Russa would complain about strike zones and expect them to change. He would whine about other teams’ grievances and expect vengeance. He would reinvent the way relief pitchers are used and expect the world to follow. And it did. Because when Tony La Russa did something, almost all the time he did it right, and when something is done right in baseball it is prone to copy-catting.
For all the excessive machinations, the idiosyncrasies and the arrogance, Tony La Russa will be missed by baseball. He was one of its defining personalities and its great winners, a testament to intelligence and knowledge in a game that hasn’t valued either nearly as much as it ought until recent decades.
If a third World Series championship and a goodbye kiss from Passan wasn’t enough for La Genius to hang his hat on, Anheuser-Busch paid special tribute to the animal-loving skipper by naming one of the famed Clydesdales, “Drinky” “Tony La Russa”. Such a gesture is not unique for the brewery (former owners of the Cardinals) ; Bud marked the Cards’ 2006 title by naming a horse after Will Leitch’s former fiance dying a horse’s genitals a shade of nuclear raspberry, in honor of Scott Spiezio.
Calling George McCowan’s 1971 love story, “Face Off”, “second only to ‘Slap Shot’ as a classic hockey movie,”, the Globe & Mail’s David Shoalts herald’s the film’s reissue on DVD and Blu-Ray next month by also pronouncing it “nothing short of awful”. Sheesh, make up your mind!
Face Off is based on the equally hackneyed Scott Young novel and spares no cliché in telling the tale of a boy from Northern Ontario who grows up to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He falls for a hippie folk singer with tragic consequences when the hockey world collides with the psychedelic music world of the late 1960s-70s.
Face-Off stars Art Hindle and Trudy Young as star-crossed lovers Billy Duke and Sherri Lee Nelson. As Leafs coach Fred Wares, John Vernon steals many a scene with a preview of his Dean Wormer character in 1978’s Animal House. But the real stars are the dozens of players seen during actual NHL games along with footage from Toronto circa 1971 and, of course, the most hideous clothes ever made.
Most of the fun is picking out the various NHL players of the day aside from the big stars like Dave Keon, Jean Béliveau, Gordie Howe and a balding Bobby Hull. There are also a couple of sequences of Bobby Orr in his glorious prime. Keep an eye out for an impossibly young-looking Darryl Sittler. Leaf great George Armstrong had a speaking role and was not bad. The old NHL bad boy Derek Sanderson also did a nice turn as himself, the hip hockey star.
A couple of weeks ago, Mike Francesa said he didn’t know that Doc Gooden revealed last May on “Boomer & Cartoon” that he was getting high in a Long Island housing project during the Mets 1986 World Series parade (“I don’t listen to their show,” a dismmisive Pope said). Cartoon not only skewered His Holiness on the air, but WFAN sent audio of Cartoon’s comments to media outlets around the city.
In the past, this never would have happened. FAN suits would never do anything to cross Francesa let alone embarrass him publicly. This was telling. It was as if they were rewarding Cartoon for slashing the Pope Mobile’s tires.
With their personality and power established it’s reasonable to suggest the FANdroids know they’ve got a good thing going. Cartoon, whose roots are in radio, is not likely to jump ship. He’s often mentioned how he coveted the WFAN gig. Esiason? Well, that could be a whole other story.
The FANdroids created a successful morning team, how far will they go to keep it together?
The scripted drama “El Diez” premiered earlier tonight on ESPN Deportes, is not only the network’s first soap, but features, in the words of the New York Times’ Stuart Ellliot, “blue chip brands woven into the story line which is centered on a young professional fútbol (soccer) player in Mexico City.” If only they’d tried such a thing during “Playmakers”.
In one story line, the owner of a fútbol team “who woos Chava to play for his team gives him a Chevy Camaro,” Mr. Alfonso said. “It’s an underhanded tactic, but the kid falls in love with the car.”
There are also scenes depicting a late-night visit to Burger King, a shopping trip to Home Depot and a phone call to American Airlines by a character who may be leaving for Miami.
And, fútbol players being fútbol players, there are several opportunities to feature Coors Light cerveza (beer).
Viewers can also watch Chava visit a Web site about the Primera División, fanaticosdelfrio.com, that is sponsored by Coors Light. (The address translates to “fans of the cold,” and the Coors Light brand promise is centered on coldness.)
Chava “goes online to Fanáticos del Frío and checks his status,” Ms. Woodward said, in a commingling of art and life.
(not, we should stress, the MVP of the 2011 World Series)
OK, that’s not really how it went down. But upon Ilan Grapel’s release from incarceration in Egypt this week — the Queens native was part of a legal aid group working in that country after President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall — the 27 year-old’s first day of freedom was punctuated with a particularly bad joke. From the NY Post’s Andy Soltis ;
Grapel, expected to fly home to Queens today from Israel, was celebrating his release at a press conference in Tel Aviv, flanked by his mother Irene and Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens), when he was pranked.
“There’s so many people to thank,” he said, “and after being cut off for the past five months …”
Ackerman quickly interjected, “We told him the Mets won the World Series.”
Grapel, a sports fan, shot Ackerman a big smile — only to quickly feel the let-down most Mets fans are all too familiar with when he quickly figured out that the team had tanked — again.
When Grapel was arrested in Egypt on dubious spying charges on June 12, the Mets’ won-lost record was 32-33 and the Amazin’s still had dreams of playing in October.
I sincerely doubt Grapel believed Congressman Ackerman for even a moment. However, in Ackerman’s defense, “we told him the Mets re-signed Jose Reyes” would’ve been equally hard to swallow, while “we told him the Mets hired Bob Geren as bench coach” wouddn’t have had quite the same ring to it.
Echoing sentiments once routinely expressed by deep thinker Colin Cowherd, the Ventura County Star’s Jim Carlisle (above) writes, “nobody — not even most players — pays attention to the NBA in November,” Except for, y’know, actual basketball fans with anything approaching an attention span or appreciation for the game played at its hightest level. Noting that the likely cancellation of a bigger chunk of the 2011-12 NBA season would mean eliminating an Xmas triple-header featuring Miami vs. Dallas, the Celtics visiting the Knicks and the Lakers traveling to Chicago, Carlisle observes, “I suppose it’s nice as fans to have NBA games on Christmas Day, but if they weren’t there, would we really notice? Would we really care? I really don’t think so.”
Unlike the other holidays, Christmas is not synonymous with the NBA. Christmas has enough going for it already, thank you: birth of a Savior, massive gift exchange, all that. The New Year’s Day hangover would be much worse without college football. Without the NFL, Thanksgiving would just be filled with family awkwardness, turkey and tryptophan.
When it comes to Christmas, the NBA, as usual, is a little too full of itself. The league stands to lose a lot more for not playing on Dec. 25 than we do. We might start missing the NBA a lot more in December, but we frankly don’t care that much if it plays on Christmas Day or not.
Sorry, what do you mean, “we”, Jim? There’s no Savior of mine born on Christmas Day, I’m not exchanging gifts with any family and aside from getting as drunk as humanly possible (to forget the pain of shit sportswriting) I HAVE NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO that day other than the National Basketball Association.
I’m certain this post is also being read by other persons who are some combination of friendless, estranged from love ones, Jews, Muslims, Satanists, Atheiests and (hold on a moment) people who really like the NBA. How willfully ignorant do you have to be to not acknowledge said audience is neither tiny or making a bad lifestyle choice?
We should all be writing about this series like it was bacon-flavored manna, but instead I’m swamped by endless Twitter updates about Robinson Cano’s contract, Big Papi’s desire to move on, and for some reason, a flood of email from New York beat writers about David Wright moving to Philadelphia. Hell, these writers are even pontificating about Albert Pujols’ new destination for 2012 and beyond, and not at all about his 3 HR performance from hours earlier.
How can I possibly maintain interest in baseball, when all everyone wants to do is wonder and speculate about 2012 and future contracts? And how can I care about two teams that wholeheartedly deserve to win, when it seems like all baseball media is focused on the new GM for a team that always loses?
When this Series — one for the ages — is done, it will most likely rapidly fade into the ether, it’s excellence muted by the next round of speculative commentary about contracts, team budgets, lopsided trades and other minutiae.
Just once, I wish we’d all just focus on baseball.