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Posted on: May 12, 2009 9:24 pm
 

The New Golf Rules

I have offcially been put in charge of all golfers that fall outside the realm of the PGA.  In short I am in charge of the rules for all of us duffers and weekend warriors who dream of winning at Augusta but play more like we are Carl Spackler.

The PGA has their rules...here are the rules for the rest of us:

The first rule is the most important rule.  All other rules will work to make sure the number one rule is obeyed.

Rule #1: YOU MUST PLAY YOUR ROUND IN 4 HOURS OR LESS!

This is the most important rule because those who do not follow this rule are ruining it for the rest of us.  The 5 hour and 6 hour round guys are the ones who make it so our wives will not let us play.  Playing a round in 5 or 6 hours means you are gone from your house for 7 or 8 hours on a golf day.  Most of us can't make that happen on an off day with out some kind of divorce proceedings being in the offing.  If there were a 4 hour round limit most of us would be able to play far more often.  This rule will be strictly enforced.  You must play in 4 hours.

Rule #2: YOU GET 1 PRACTICE SWING

I know this sounds like a tough rule but people seriously.  One practice swing is enough.  How many times have you been playing in a group and you watch a guy take practice swing after practice swing only to watch him skull the ball down the fairway or chunk a divot the size of a strip of sod?  Guys those practice swings are not going to change your game.  Holding the club at the top of your back swing and bringing it 1/2 way down to make sure you are doing the proper hip rotation is not the problem with your game.  Take one practice swing and hit your ball already.

Rule #3: ONCE YOU ADDRESS YOUR BALL YOU ARE GOING TO HIT IT

I know you like watching PGA tournaments week after week.  I know when you watch those tournaments you see guys like Sergio step up to their ball and get ready to hit it just to back off to make one more check or one more little adjustment.  I know you see that and I know you think it's cool but trust me...it's not cool.  You are not Sergio Garcia.  That little gust of wind that just came up is not going to change your shot.  You are not good enough to have it make that much of a difference.  You are probably going to chunk the ball anyway so just address the ball and hit it.

Rule #4: GET TO YOUR BALL AND HIT IT

Is that yardage 225 or 230?  Are you the kind of guy that has to find the sprinkler with the yardage marked on it so you can pace off your exact yardage?  Maybe you can't hit the shot with out a GPS telling you the exact yardage to the front of the green and the exact yardage to the center of the green.  You know what?  It doesn't make that much of a difference.  First of all you are probably aiming at the green and not a quadrant on the green (if you tell me you are anything more than a scratch golfer and you aim at quadrants I'll call you a liar).  Whether the yardage is 150 or 155 doesn't matter.  Second, you are probably going to miss the green anyway.  Remember, we are talking about all of us duffers out here.  Get a close yardage and pick the club and go hit your ball.

Rule #5: LINE UP YOUR PUTT AND HIT IT

Ok Tiger.  Is your putt a 23 footer with 2 turns on bent grass or bermuda?  Well the sun is setting and the cut of the grass changes with the sunlight and all that right?  No.  Hit your putt.  How about the guy you see on the green who gets behind his ball and then has to walk around the hole to line up his putt from the other side of his putt?  Have you seen that?  How about the guy who kneels behind his ball and then holds his fricken putter up in front of his face to line up his putt?  Come on!  First of all what the heck does that even do?  If anyone knows it is not a weekend duffer I'll tell you that.  Second, you are more than likely not going to hit your putt on the right speed or line anyway.  Take one look at your putt and hit it.  Get it within 2 feet of the hole and its a good first putt.  You are not putting to win the U.S. Open.  Line up your putt and hit it.

Rule #5: GET OFF THE GREEN BEFORE YOU WRITE DOWN SCORES

You see those guys standing out there on the fairway?  They are the ones who have been laboring behind your slow-playing ass all day.  They are waiting for you to clear the green so they can hit their shots.  They love seeing you and your buddies stop to reminisce about how awesome those putts were while you are still standing on the very green where it just happened.  Trust me they love it.  I bet they love seeing you break out the score card and watch as you look back down the fairway to count your shots.  Heavens knows you don't want to write down an inaccurate score.  What would happen to you when you got to the scorers table?  Make your putts and get off the green.

Rule #6: YOU MUST PLAY READY GOLF AT ALL TIMES

Yes we know that you are a master of golf etiquette and that you know all the rules for who is away and who has what honors.  Thats all great when you are playing at your $50,000 a year country club that doesn't allow blacks or Jews to join.  When you are out on the public course you must play ready golf.  What does that mean?  It means that you all get to your ball and get ready to hit it when its your turn.  All four of you do not need to get to each ball to watch every shot and then have all four of you move on to the next ball.  All of you get to your own ball and then you hit it when its your turn.  Its ok for you to walk out ahead of the guy that you just out drove by 50 yards.  It speeds the game up.  The same thing applies when you are on the green.  All of you stand by, or near, your own ball and get ready to hit it.  During the time when you are at your ball you should be checking out your shot and deciding which club to hit and what you are going to do.  When its your turn, hit the ball.

Rule #7: YOUR BALL IS LOST DUDE

See those guys behind you again?  The ones who were waiting for you to clear the green on the last hole?  They are behind you again but this time they are waiting while you forage through the forest on the side of the fairway looking for your ball that you shanked in to the wilderness despite having lined up the perfect shot with the perfect yardage.  If you shank your ball in to the woods you get a brief moment to look for it.  If its not immediately visible then your ball is lost.  Do not go on a Lewis and Clark expedition to find this ball.  Those guys behind you are waiting.  Besides you have a very long pre-shot routine you need to go through before you can hit your next disaster so pull another ball from the bag and get your routine going.

Rule #7 Corollary: NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO GO ON A BALL HUNT

I know you probably pride yourself on being the guy who finishes a round of golf with more golf balls than you started with but now is not the time.  No one wants to wait behind your group while you search the woods for a $1 range ball.  You may search for lost balls if there is no one behind you but once you spot a group behind you it's time to move on.

Thats it folks.  Those are the rules we all must abide by.  Course rangers will be given the power to kick your slow playing ass off the course with out refund.  If you cannot follow these rules you are ruining it for the rest of us and we just can't have that.
Posted on: October 1, 2008 7:54 pm
 

My awards votes

I know everyone is sitting out there wondering just who I would vote for Cy Young and MVP if I had a vote so let me go ahead and put my votes out there so everyone can rest easy.

 

Let's start with the AL:

 MVP - Dustin Pedroia (BOS)

It's a tough call.  The AL MVP race is pretty tight.  Justin Morneau of the Twins probably deserves it just as much as Pedroia but the Twins didn't make the playoffs and the Sox did.

 

Pedroia was 2nd in the league in batting avg at .326 behind Joe Mauer of the Twins who hit .328.  Pedroia also lead the league in Runs (118), hits (213), and doubles (54).  In addition to leading the AL in those categories, he was in the top 5 in 7 other offensive categories.  It was close but if I was voting I would have to vote for Pedroia.

 

Cy Young - Cliff Lee (CLE)

The guy went 22-3 on a team that went 81-81.  He won 22 of his 31 starts and had an ERA of 2.54 and a WHIP of 1.110.  Francisco Rodriguez might have had 62 saves this year and he might have set the single season saves record but in my book he doesn't deserve the Cy Young.  As closers go, Mariano Rivera is still better.  K-Rod played on an outstanding Angels team and he had many more chances to get saves than Rivera did.  In 76 appearances Rodriguez only pitched 68 1/3 innings.  Rivera pitched 70 2/3 innings in 13 fewer appearances.  Even though Rivera had so many more innings pitched than K-Rod he still managed to give up just 11 earned runs the entire year.  The mighty K-Rod gave up 17 earned runs.  I don't need to go on further since its my vote and Angles fans are free to vote for K-Rod if they like but I don't think he deserves the award.

Rooke of the Year - Alexei Ramirez (CWS)

It might be a homer pick since I'm from Chicago but I think he deserves it.  He hit .290 with 21 HR and a rookie record 4 grand slams this year.  His 4th grand slam came in the game against the Tigers that the Sox needed to win to get in to a 1 game playoff against the Twins.  He battled all year long on a team that most predicted would finish no better than 3rd in their division.  Longoria of the Rays comes in a close 2nd.

Now for the NL:

There are some interesting arguments to be made in the NL for both MVP and Cy Young.  Where will Manny and C.C. fit in this year?  Did they do enough in their time in the NL to win any awards?

MVP - C.C. Sabathia (MIL)

I think the NL MVP comes down to four players.  C.C., Manny, Pujols, and Ryan Howard.  Manny I rule out immediately because he flat out quit on the Red Sox just so he could get traded.  I don't care how on fire he might have been with the Dodgers, no POS like Manny should win an award in the same year he threw a classic hissy fit to get what he wanted.

Pujols had a great year but the Cardinals didn't make the playoffs.  I know it's sacrilidge for a Cubs fan to use making the playoffs as a criteria for MVP since Andre Dawson won the award in '87 while playing on a last place Cubs team but I was only 14 that year and I didn't have a vote so I believe I am free to use helping your team make the playoffs as a valid criteria for MVP voting.  Cardinals fans will more than likely disagree with me.

If C.C. doesn't come to the league and go absolutely crazy for the Brewers I think I would vote for Ryan Howard.  The guy delivers and he has delivered again this year.  The Phils are in the playoffs again and they have already won their first play off game since 1993 as I am writing this.  He is an excellent player and the writers probably will make him the MVP despite my vote.

I have to go with C.C. because I don't think any other player (with the exception of that quitter Manny) did more to help their team make the playoffs than C.C. did.  When he got to Milwaukee the Brewers were in 3rd place in the division 5 games out of 1st place.  He went 11-2  with a 1.65 ERA.  With out C.C. the Brewers are watching the Mets play the Cubs in the playoffs.  I don't believe that he had enough time in the NL to warrant a vote for the Cy Young.  Again the writers might go against my wishes here and he may very well win the NL Cy Young but I think he is more deserving of the MVP.

Cy Young - Tim Lincecum (SFG)

While Brandon Webb of the Diamondbacks won 22 games this year to Lincecum's 18, Webb did it on a much better team.  Winning 20 games usually is a deciding factor in Cy Young voting and the voters will probably disagree with me again here and go with Webb but I believe Lincecum had a better year.  Both pitched nearly identical innings this year with Lincecum pitching 227 and Webb pitching 226 2/3 innings.  Lincecum had an ERA of 2.62 to Webb's 3.30.  Lincecum gave up just 66 ER to Webb's 83.  Lincecum gave up 182 hits to Webb's 206.

In addition to those stats, Lincecum also lead the league in strike outs (265), strikeouts/9IP (10.51), and hits allowed/9IP (7.22).  He was 2nd in the league in won/loss % (.783), wins (18), and ERA (2.62).

Lincecum had a great year pitching on a terrible Giants team.

Rookie of the Year - Geovany Soto (CHC)

Come on.  Is there really even an argument here?  This guy had a monster rookie season.  He hit .285 with 23 HR and 86 RBI.  He was named as the starter on the NL All Star team becoming the first rookie catcher to be named a starter for the NL (Sandy Alomar was the first rookie catcher to start the All Star game for any league in 1990).  Soto is hands down the NL Rooke of the Year.

 

Those are my votes.  If you disagree tell me who you would vote for.

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 17, 2008 3:48 pm
 

If you could be a pro

We all think about it.  We all watch Sports Center and wonder what it would be like to be one of those guys being interviewed after the game.  We all tell our friends that if we were one of those guys we would never complain about the press becuase we would be grateful to be there.  We wouldn't be like these selfish self-centered pros who don't care about the fan.  We would be different.

My question is, what sport would you play if you could be a professional?

There are many pros and cons for each sport.  For just about all sports (except soccer, you can only make money in that sport if you have one name), you are rich if you play.  Even if you aren't a starter or an all-star you are rich.  The league minimums in each league are far more than most of us make and will ever make in our jobs.

In the MLB the league minimum is $390,000.

In the NFL the league minimum is $285,000.

In the NBA (the league with the weakest Players Association) the minimum for the '08-'09 season is $442,114.

In the NHL the league minimum this year is $450,000 (thats $1 for each fan that actually watches the NHL by the way).

In the MLS the league minimum is $33,000.  Like I said, soccer doesn't pay here in the States.

In the PGA, where you only make money if you do well, the lowest paid guy with at least 10 tournaments played is a guy named J.L Lewis at $25,318 through 14 tournaments.  He is ranked 236 out of 250 on the tour this year.

If you could play in one of these leagues which one would you play in?

If I had a genie and he was going to grant me the wish of being a professional athlete and I could only choose one, I think I would choose the PGA.  I had an argument about this with a friend before and he changed my mind.

How many crippling injuries do PGA players suffer?  When was the last sickening ACL injury you saw on Sports Center involving a bad golf swing?  None.  While there are injuries, they don't compare to the kind of injuries you suffer in any of the other sports. 

It would be cool to be a football player, but those guys die young.  It seriously takes years off your life playing in the NFL.  Brian Urlacher is a god in Chicago.  Brian Urlacher has arthritis in his back.  How is it going to be for him when he is 40?  Are any of us going to be there to help him get out of bed in the morning?  He's got a lot of money but only his wife and kids are going to be able to enjoy it.

Baseball players are gods in this country.  Baseball players always had the hottest girlfriends and they have the most fans following them.  There is a lot good about being a ball player but if you want a family, being a pro ball player is not the sport to play.  How many days a year are you on the road?  How long are you gone from home?  Granted you make tons of money, but your wife will probably get most of it in your upcomming divorce.

Even if I had a genie I would be far too white to play in the NBA.  No genie could cure my lack of ups.

Soccer?  Come on.  Lets be serious.  I think I'd play in the WNBA before I played soccer.  Yes its popular in the rest of the world and yes there are more fans world wide of soccer than any other sport.  I've heard all the arguments.  The fact that soccer is not popular here but is very popular in say Germany is really more a point of pride than anything else.  No one gets killed at football games.

Yep.  For me it would be the PGA.  They travel quite a bit but it is at their option.  They can choose not to play in some tournaments if they want to and can be home when they need to be.  Plus, there is a ton of money in the PGA.  The lowest ranked guy who is making over $1,000,000 this year is a guy named Jonathan Byrd.  He's ranked 84th on the money list.  Who the F is Jonathan Byrd?  His best finish came this year when he came in 4th in the AT&T classic.  Unless you write for Golfers World you probably have never even heard of this guy.  He's making over a million dollars playing golf and you don't even know who he is.  You get to be a pro on the PGA tour and you can still be anonymous.

Try going out to eat if you are Derek Jeter or A-Rod or Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.  I bet Jonathan Byrd has no trouble going out to dinner.  He could probably go out to dinner in a shirt with the words "I PLAY ON THE PGA TOUR" emblazened on the front and still no one would bother him.  That guy has a million dollars in the bank.

Yes, if I could be a pro it would definitely have to be the PGA.  How about you?

Category: General
Tags: MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, PGA
 
Posted on: September 11, 2008 8:51 pm
 

The Top of the List

After much anticipation and internal debate my number #1 favorite baseball player is ready to be revealed.

My #1...Ryne Sandberg.  As a Cubs fan who came of age as a Cubs fan in the 80s there really is no other choice.

Sandberg came to the Cubs in 1982 as a player who was rounding out a trade with the Phillies.  The Cubs were trading Ivan DeJesus to the Phillies to get the veteran Larry Bowa and Sandberg was added to the trade to even out the value of DeJesus.  As a September call up for the Phillies in '81 Sandburg only had 1 hit in 6 AB's and was thought to be a rather light hitting SS.

Bringing Bowa to the Cubs meant that Sandberg would have to change positions since Bowa was already a well established SS.  Moving to the Cubs moved Sandberg to 2nd base and his career took off.  He came in 6th in Rookie of the Year voting in '82 behind Steve Sax, Johnny Ray, Willie McGee, Chili Davis, and Luis DeLeon.  Sandberg's stats were nearly identical to the ROY winner Sax's except that Sax played for the flashy Dodgers who won 88 games that year and finished just a game behind the Braves for the Division title.

1984 was Sandberg's best season as a Cub.  Hitting .314 with 19 HR.  19 HR sounds like such a small total but you have to remember that this was before the steroids era when HR didn't just happen by accident.  Mike Schmidt and Dale Murphy lead the NL in HR that year with just 36 each.  19 HR as a 2nd baseman was a monster power year.

I remember watching games in '84 with Harry announcing and one of the memories that sticks with me the most is Harry coining the term "the daily double" for Bob Dernier and Ryne Sandberg and my most clear Sandburg memory of that year came on June 23, 1984.  All Cubs fans know that this is the day of the "Sandberg Game."

We had a rare appearance on national TV that day playing against the hated Cardinals.  The Cubs were down 7-1 in the 5th inning of that game when the come back started.  Sandberg drove in Jay Johnstone (who FYI is the batter in the first Naked Gun movie when Leslie Nielsen's character is pretending to be an umpire) in the 5th to make the score 7-2 and then drove in Richie Hebner and Bob Dernier in the 6th to make the score 9-8.

The 9th inning is where the legened was born.  Leading off the 9th inning against the first specialized closer and the most dominant closer of the 80s, Bruce Sutter, things did not look good for the Cubs.  Sutter was a flame thrower who came in to close the door on 45 teams in '84 and it appeared as though it was going to happen to the Cubs this day and the come back was going to fall short.  Instead, Sandberg homers off Sutter in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game and it was on to extra innings.

The Cardinals came back in the top of the 10th to score 2 runs off Lee Smith and it again appeared as though the Cubs were going to lose the game.  Sutter was still in the game and he now had a 2 run lead.  He got Bowa and Hebner to ground out and the Cubs were down to their last out in the bottom of the 10th.  Sutter then walked Dernier with 2 outs which the brought Sandberg back to bat.

I'll let Harry describe what happened next:

"There's a drive, way back! Might be outta here! It is! It is! He did it again! He did it again! The game is tied! The game is tied! Holy Cow! Listen to this crowd, everybody's gone bananas!"

Sandberg tied the game with his 2nd HR off Sutter and the Cubs went on to win the game in the 11th when Dave Owen hit a pinch hit single to drive in the Bull Leon Durham.

Sandberg went 5 for 6 in the game and had 7 RBI.  It was in front of a national audience and it was the game that put the Cubs and Sandberg on the national map and it was an incredible game.

Sandberg was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 2005.  I went to the Hall of Fame in 2006 and the first picture I wanted to get when visiting there was a picture of Sandberg's plaque.  If there was a way to post it here I would.  Its a great picture.

Ryne Sandberg is my favorite Cub and my favorite baseball player.  He was the Cubs in the 1980s and he is still the most popular ex player (with the possible exception of Williams) that the Cubs have.

Ryne Sandberg #23 in the score book but #1 in my heart.

Posted on: September 10, 2008 10:09 am
 

And then there were 2

Just 2 more players left in my highly acclaimed list of favorites.  To be clear to all who might stumble across this blog, these are my favorite players.  They may not statistically be the best players who played their positions but they are my favorites none the less.  Unlike Philly fans, I don't just support the front-runners.

#2 on m list.  Bill Buckner.

I am man enough to admit that I have cried two times in my life over baseball.  Both times came in 1984.  One time was October 7th, 1984 when the Cubs lost game 5 of the NLCS to the Padres.  The other time was May 25th, 1984.  The day the Cubs traded Bill Buckner to the Red Sox.

Bill Buckner came to the Cubs in 1977 along with Ivan DeJesus in a trade Rick Monday and Mike Garman to the Dodgers.  For the next seven seasons Buckner became a fixture at first base for the Cubs.  My first real memories of Buckner started in '81 when he made the All Star team.  He hit .311 that year with 10 HR and 75 RBI.  Statistically it wasn't his best year with the Cubs but somehow he made the All Star team which to me was a big deal.  I think then the All Star game was more widely watched but then as it is now the All Star game is a great time for young baseball fans to see their heroes play.  Buckner was not the starting first baseman for the team that year since Pete Rose was still dominating in Philly but Buckner made the team as one of the reserves.  The '81 NL All Star team is a list of who's who in baseball.  Pete Rose, Dave Concepcion, Dave Parker, Mike Schmidt, George Foster, Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, Davey Lopes, Steve Garvey, Manny Trillo, Phil Garner, Bill Madlock, Bruce Bennedict, Terry Kennedy, Dusty Baker, Tim Raines, Mike Easler, Pedro Guerrero, Joel Youngblood, and Ozzie Smith.  Making that team was quite an accomplishment for Buckner and the NL won the game 5 to 4.

On May 25, 1985 my second favorite team became the Boston Red Sox.  I can say that I was a fan of the Red Sox before it was cool to be a backwards hat wearing frat-boy sporting the Red 'B' because my favorite player had been traded there.  To me, October 25 is as painful a memory as it is for any born and bred member of Red Sox nation.  Much has been written about Game 6 of the '86 World Series and I don't have much to add to it other than my own personal memory of the play.

The game itself was an outstanding game.  The Red Sox jumped out to an early lead but the Mets tied it back up in 5th.  The Sox took the lead again in the 7th and the Mets tied it back up again in the 8th.  When the Sox scored two runs in the top of the 10th inning I had the feeling that the game was over.  I was excited about the Sox being on the verge of winning the series both because they were my 2nd favorite team (and as a Cubs fan I have to root for others in the WS because we never get there) and because I wanted Buckner to get a ring.  I was also excited for the Sox to win because I absolutely freakin hate the f-ing Mets.  There is no team in any sport in any league in any solar system that a I hate more than the Mets.  If the Sox won it would mean that the Mets and all their coke addled players would be sent home crying.  It was going to be a great moment.

I was 13 at the time of this game and a pretty good 13 year old ball player but I was not yet a proper baseball strategist.  I had no idea that Buckner probably shouldn't have been in the game in the 10th inning.  He should have been subbed for a defensive replacement as McNamara had done all year long in the late innings.  Schiraldi could have finished off Ray Knight but he didn't.  Stanley could have not thrown a wild pitch that let Kevin Mitchell score but he didn't.  Many things could have happend along the way to avoid what happened to Buckner in that game but it didn't.  Instead, Mookie (they're not booing...they're saying Mooooookie) Wilson hits a slow roller towards first that should have ended the game and clinched the Series for the Sox.  I remember seeing the ball tapped down the line and I stood up thinking the game was about to be over.  In that instant my emotions hit the roof and I was about to start cheering.  Just as that was about to happen I saw the ball go through his legs.  I can see the play in my head now and I have goose bumps writing this.  It was abosolutely devastating.

Bill Buckner is still one of my heroes to this day not only for how he was as a player but for how he has handled himself since 1986.  He has endured more than any ball player alive but he has done it with class and professionalism.  If he were a lesser man he would have surely been broken by the years of torment and abuse.  On April 8, 2008 Buckner threw out the first pitch at the Red Sox home opener against Detroit.  He received a 4 minute standing ovation from the fans.  It was an incredible moment and I was so happy for Buckner that he was able to return to Boston and that he received the ovation that he did.

Billy Buckner.  My #2.

Posted on: September 7, 2008 9:55 pm
 

3 To Go

The series that has been read world wide continues.  My 3rd favorite baseball player of all time is...Carlton Fisk.

I was born in '73 so I was not old enough to remember his famous at bat in the '75 series but it is one of the most famous baseball images of all time so no matter when you were born, you know the story of that game.  In the 12th inning of Game 6 of the '75 series, Fisk hit a Pat Darcy pitch down the left field line.  The enduring image is of Fisk jumping down the first base line trying to steer the ball to keep it in fair territory.  The ball went out and it was a home run that sent the series to game 7 where the Reds went on to win anyway.

Something I think is funny about that moment is what Johnny Bench always says about it.  Bench was the Reds catcher at that time and had as good a view of the balls flight as any one in the stadium.  Bench claims that the ball wasn't hooking at all and that it was a straight shot down the line and that there was no doubt at all that the ball was going to be fair.  The last time I saw him interviewed about the play he actually got a bit angry about it and said Fisk was just being a show boat.  I don't know about that but it was, up until Gibson's home run in the '88 Series, one of the greatest World Series home runs ever hit.

Fisk came to life for me when he came to the Sox in '81.  He won the Silver Slugger award in '81 as the best hitting catcher in the AL and he was named to the All Star team for the 8th time that year.  In the Division Championship year of '83 Fisk has his best year with the Sox hitting .289 with 26 HR and 89 RBI.  He came in 3rd in the AL MVP voting that year behind Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray.

Carlton Fisk is the reason I wanted to be a catcher.  I started playing baseball in 1978 and was a pitcher and an outfielder and a first baseman and a third baseman.  Really at that time you play all the positions, especially if you have any ability at all because when you are 5 years old most of your team mates spend innings in the field picking their noses and chasing butterflies.  By the time I was 12 years old baseball was getting real with All Star teams and travelling teams and actual real baseball being played.  I wanted to be like Fisk.  He played the game so hard and with such passion that it was hard not to love him.

There is a famous story about Fisk and his respect for the game involving Deion Sanders.  In 1989 the Sox were in New York to play the Yankees.  The incident occurred when Neon Deion hit a pop up that was sure to be caught and he did not run to first base.  Fisk, always the defender of the honor of baseball was enraged at Sanders.  He told him "You're in Yankee Fucking Stadium!  Who the hell do you think you are!  You are not bigger than this game and if you don't run that fly ball out I will kick your ass right here!"  Sanders later apologized for his actions.  Awesome.

How the Sox treated Fisk at the end of his time in Chicago is one reason why I started to distance myself from the White Sox.  He gave the Sox 12 years and he was treated very poorly by Jerry Reinsdorf on his way out.  I was not happy about how he was treated and neither were most Sox fans at that time.  The Sox did a good job trying to heal the wounds of his release when they retired his number.  The team chipped in and bought him a Harley which he drove around the stadium for his last trip around Comiskey park.

Fisk is only of only 8 players with his number retired by more than one team (not counting Jackie Robinson who's number is retired for all teams).  Those 8 players are:

Hank Aaron - Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers

Rod Carew - Minnesota Twins and California Angels

Rollie Fingers - Oakland A's and Milwaukee Brewers

Reggie Jackson - New York Yankees and Oakland A's

Frank Robinson - Cincinatti Reds and Baltimore Orioles

Nolan Ryan - New York Mets, Houston Astros and the California Angels

Casey Stengel - New York Yankees and New York Mets

and Carlton Fisk - Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox

Fisk was such a respected member of both the Red Sox and White Sox that when the Red Sox won their first World Series they gave Fisk an honorable World Series ring.  When the White Sox won their series on '05 they also gave Fisk an honorable World Series ring.

He is in my opinion one of the best catchers who has ever played.  There have been catchers with better offensive numbers and there might have been better defensive catchers but for his era Fisk was the best around (you can suck it Bench.  You and the rest of the Big Red Machine).

Carlton Fisk.  My #3.

Posted on: September 6, 2008 7:39 pm
 

Just 4 remain

Here we go with my much anticipated top 4 favorite baseball players of all time.  Recapping where we have been up to this point:

10. Dave Kingman

9. Jody Davis

8. Ron Kittle

7. Mark Grace

6. Tom Seaver

5. Robin Ventura

And now in at #4 Bo Jackson.

Bo Jackson is my all-around favorite athlete of all time.  He is very high on my all time favorite football player list and he is very high on my baseball list.  He is, in my opinion, the greatest all around athlete that there has been or at least that I have seen play since I never saw Red Grange play.

Jackson was drafted by the Yankees out of high school in 1982 but he chose instead to take a football scholarship to Auburn University to play football.  He was a two sport athlete at Aurburn playing football and baseball but he made more of a name for himself as a football player winning the Heisman trophy in 1985 barely beating out Wheaton North's own Chuck Long of the University of Iowa.

Bo's career in MLB started with the KC Royals.  He spent his first season in the minors not being called up to the big leagues until the '87 season.  The '89 season he was named to the AL All Star team and he was the All Star MVP being only the second person to hit a home run and steal a base in an All Star game (the other being Willie Mays.)

In the '89 season in a game against the Mariners his legend began to grow.  Harold Reynolds (the touchy feely Reynolds late of ESPN) was on 1st base when a line drive was hit deep in to the gap in center.  Against most human outfielders the ball in the gap would have been enough to score Reynolds easily but Jackson chased down the ball at the wall, turned, and threw a line drive strike, ON THE FRICKEN FLY, to home to throw out Touchy Feely at the plate.  It was a monster of a throw.

In 1990 he did his famous wall run that you always see in highlight clips of Bo.  Playing against the Orioles he chased a fly ball down and was approaching the wall.  Rather than run in to the wall he ran up on it and turned and ran parallel to the wall for a few steps and used the wall to turn back around.  It was impressive, maybe not totally necessary, but impressive none the less.

He came to the White Sox after his return from his hip injury that he suffered in a playoff game in football.  He was not quite the same player he was before the injury since the hip replacement didn't allow him to run like he had been able to before he was hurt but that was fine for the AL.  He could still swing the bat which meant he could DH.

I was at a Sox game in 1991 when they were playing the Angels.  My best friend's dad had season tickets for the Sox and I went to many games over the years.  I was happy to be at a game getting to see Jackson play and at this game I was not disappointed.  In the 3rd inning he hit a monster of a HR to left field.  He only hit 3 HR in that return season but I got to see one of them.  I was one that was pulling for him to be able to return to be the player he once was and I'm sure I was hoping against all reason.  The fact that he came back to play at all after major hip replacement surgery is a testament to his athletic abilities.  If he had not been injured who knows what he would have done with his career.  I'm sure at some point he would have had to pick either football or baseball to focus on since prior to his injury playing both cut in to time in both sports, but it is more than likely that he would have chosen baseball like the other two sport athletes have done.  Baseball players have a longer shelf life and do not die 4 years after they retire from the sport.  His injury was a real tragedy.

Bo Jackson.  My #4.

Posted on: September 5, 2008 4:05 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2008 4:07 pm
 

The list continues

Here we go again with another highly anticipated installment of who are my favorite baseball players.  I have checked the logs and I have gotten traffic from nearly all continents on the planet.  Obviously interest is high.
My #5 favorite baseball player of all time.  Robin Ventura. What's not to like about Ventura?  I started following him when he was in college at Oklahoma State.  He was named the College Baseball Player of the Millenium by Baseball America.  He was an awesome college player.  He was drafted by the White Sox in 1988 and came up to the bigs the next year.
He was a hitter and a fielder.  In fact, he is only the fifth third baseman to hit at least 250 home runs and win at least 5 Gold Gloves.  His 6 Gold Gloves put him behind only Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt at his position.  He lead the American League 4 times in double plays and total chances.  He lead the AL three times in put outs and two times in assists.  No less than Bill James himself called Robin Ventura the best third baseman of the 1990's.
He had an outstanding career with the White Sox and I loved watching him play.  If you have been watching baseball for any length of time you probably remember his horrible injury that he suffered in a Spring Training game in 1997.  Sliding in to home plate he caught his cleat in the dirt and he severely dislocated and broke his ankle.  He foot was twisted all the way around it and was as gruesome as the Joe Thiseman injury.  Ventura's wife actually ran out on to the field when she saw his injury.
Ventura ended up spending 10yrs with the White Sox before moving on to other endeavors.  In a memorable at-bat with the Mets during the 1999 NLCS vs. the Braves he hit what Baseballreference.com calls only the 2nd "Grand Slam Single" in the history of baseball.  With the bases loaded and the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 15th, Ventura hit a ball out of the park for what should have been a walk off grand slam.  Instead his team mates mobbed him on the field and he never finished rounding the bases.  The official scoring of the at-bat credits him with a single and 1 RBI.
He had a great career cut short by the terrible ankle injury.  Robin Ventura.  My #5.
 
 
 
 
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