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One More Look
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
Baseball Quiz: While I’m adding one more little bit about Jimmie Foxx, “Old Double-XX,” a quiz that every baseball fan should know...and parents, teach your kids. In the 1934 All-Star Game, name the five batters, all future Hall of Famers, that the N.L.’s Carl Hubbell (himself a future HOFer) struck out in a row. Answer below.
The PGA Championship...final thoughts
--When you think of Tiger Woods’ tournament, consider he was three-over after his first two holes on Thursday, then 17 under the final 70 holes. Plus you can point to numerous short putts that didn’t go in.
In the aftermath, talk wasn’t about Brooks Koepka third major in his last six attempts, but the return of Tiger-mania...at a fever pitch, especially after birdies at 12 and13 vaulted him to within one of the lead.
“You could hear them,” smiled Woods. “They were loud and they stayed around and...it’s been incredible with the positiveness that everyone was saying and they wanted to see some good golf and we produced some.”
Mark Cannizzaro / New York Post
“If you don’t think Tiger Woods will win another major championship you’re either:
“A. Tiger hater.
“B. In a coma.
“D. All of the above.
“Based on what Woods delivered in Sunday’s PGA Championship final round at Bellerive – a scintillating, riveting performance dripping with guile – it’s difficult to imagine that he won’t add to his 14 career major championships before long.
“His sixth-place finish at the British Open at Carnoustie, where he led with eight holes to play, was pretty strong evidence that he has another major or two in him.
“Sunday’s performance – shooting the low round of the day with a 6-under-par 64 to finish runner-up to winner Brooks Koepka – hammered that point and possibility home with even more force.
“But that doesn’t tell a fraction of the full story on this day.
“The heart of the story Sunday, amidst the caldron of final-round pressure and the 90-degree heat, was Woods’ heart. He struggled with his swing for most of the round and yet still somehow had himself one shot out of the lead with three holes to play.
“Woods didn’t hit a fairway off the tee until the 10th hole and yet he was somehow 3-under par in that span with only one bogey.
“Whether you like him or not, you cannot deny that there isn’t a player alive today who grinds harder than Woods, who simply does not give up under any circumstance.
“Did he commit a few fatal flaws Sunday that cost him the chance to win his 15th major and first since 2008?
“Woods’ failure to hit the fairway on the par-4 14th hole despite hitting iron off the tee was debilitating. His ball ended up in a gnarly tuft of rough and he was unable to advance the ball to the green and save par.
“A moment earlier, he’d drained a birdie putt on No. 13 and raised his arm and the putter for the exclamation point. It looked and felt like old times when he was about to swallow up the field.
“The galleries, which packed the course like none players said they’ve ever seen, were delirious. The fans, sensing that they were about to witness a part of history, were willing him on, chanting, ‘Let’s go, Tiger,’ as if they were at a playoff game rooting their team on into the World Series.
“ ‘The energy was incredible,’ Woods said.
“ ‘That was the biggest crowd I’ve seen,’ Woods playing partner Gary Woodland said....
“Of his troubles off the tee, Woods said, ‘I had a hard time with my warm-up. I was hitting it left and right and I had to pick a side. I found a little something on the back nine and it kind of got me through.’
“Not all the way through, though, which – for as well as he’s played in this comeback – has been the dominant narrative so far.
“ ‘I was pretty ticked at the British Open,’ Woods said. ‘I had the lead there. This one I never quite got to the lead. I was always trailing. [But] I was in contention in the last two major championships, and I would never have foreseen that a year ago. I’m so thankful to be here.’”
Steve DiMeglio / USA TODAY
“In his return to the game following a two-year absence, a battle with prescription drug medication and spinal fusion surgery, Tiger Woods steadily built up his body, swing and will to once again contend against the best players in the world. And it didn’t take long to find him in contention Sunday on three occasions this year.
“But ever since he began his assault on Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major championship triumphs with his record-breaking tour de force in the 1997 Masters, Woods has been judged by his results in the game’s four biggest tournaments.
“After his magical turn at Bellerive Country Club in the 100th edition of the PGA Championship, even Tiger haters need to give him props for his performance in the majors in 2018....
“He’ll be 43 when the best players in the world arrive at Augusta National next April, but the old Tiger is feeling young. He now expects to win after wondering if he’d ever play again on this level or play again period.
“On Sunday at Bellerive, Woods closed with a 64 – his lowest final round in a major – and his 266 total was the lowest of the 80 majors he has played. He came within one stroke of the lead on three occasions in the final round, the sixth time this year he was in Sunday contention....
“ ‘I’m in uncharted territory,” (said Woods). “So, I had to kind of figure this out on my own and it’s been really hard, it’s a lot harder than people think. And I’m just very pleased at what I’ve done so far and now to be part of the Ryder Cup conversation, going from where I’ve come from to now in the last year, it’s been pretty cool.’
“Pretty amazing, too. Now just imagine how good he’ll be if he continues to improve, which he expects to do and so, too, do his peers.
“Players like Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed were confident Tiger could be Tiger again when they played rounds with him in the early stages of his latest comeback. They saw it coming.
“Sixteen months ago, Woods could barely walk. Now he’ll stride down the fairways next year as one of the favorites in every major.
“Especially at the Masters, where he has won four green jackets. And at the PGA at Bethpage Black, where he won the 2002 U.S. Open. And at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he won the 2000 U.S. Open by 10 shots.
“This year in the majors, heck this whole year, has been remarkable. Next year could be magical.”
Nick Faldo had the following after Sunday:
“I didn’t think (Tiger) had a hope in hell of winning another Major and now you have to say he does. But his determination and all his efforts are incredible. He is done, doomed and then suddenly he is two-under par. He is unbelievable.
“This is the greatest comeback in golf. If he wins again, it would be the greatest comeback in sport. He now knows he can win again. He shot 64 and if you had dropped anyone else in those positions [Ed. referring to Tiger not hitting a fairway until No. 10] they would have shot a 74.”
Andrew Both / Reuters
“Triple major winner Brooks Koepka has fans, but they were few and far between in the final round...
“A charge by Tiger Woods, playing two groups ahead, had sucked the oxygen out of the atmosphere surrounding the final pairing of Koepka and Adam Scott, who played in almost funereal silence by comparison at Bellerive.
“ ‘Tiger’s coming,’ yelled one of the few spectators who bothered hanging around to watch Koepka and Scott after the 14-times major champion had been through.
“The fan was not exactly wrong, but it hardly fazed the under-appreciated Koepka.
“Despite one of the most powerful swings in the game, an unflappable temperament and now three major titles, one less than Rory McIlroy, the same as Jordan Spieth and two more than world number one Dustin Johnson, he is rarely mentioned among the game’s A-listers.
“Whether Sunday’s two-stroke victory over Tiger Woods changes the way the 28-year-old is perceived is an open question.
“ ‘I try to acknowledge all the fans as much as I can but there’s always going to be people that hate you, but you’ve just got to move on and use that as motivation,’ said the American.
“ ‘The people around me, they know who I am, and that’s really all I care about.’
“Few people actually dislike Koepka, but apathy is a more appropriate description of how most golf fans view him.
“No matter what, it was difficult not to be impressed with the way he responded to the challenges of Woods and third-placed Scott with birdies at the 15th and 16th holes that proved the difference in the end.
“ ‘I have a lot of self-belief,’ said Koepka, struggling to recall having ever been rattled on the course.
“ ‘Even today, I knew when everyone was making that charge that if I just hung in there I was going to have a chance to separate myself a little bit.’
“Koepka has only one non-major PGA Tour title on his resume, but Australia’s Scott said that was not the worst thing in the world.
“ ‘I’ve heard some frustration that he hasn’t won a lot of other tournaments, but he’s won three majors now, so he’s definitely winning the right ones,’ said Scott.
“ ‘If I was him, I wouldn’t change much at the moment. I’d just keep doing what he’s doing because he’s showing up at the right moments in the biggest events.
“ ‘I can see he’s got that mindset. There’s something inside his brain that makes him believe that that’s what he’s destined to do.’”
Sally Jenkins / Washington Post
“Brooks Koepka might have felt more breath on his neck if it wasn’t quite so thick. Try to push him in the back. Go on, just try. See if he gives an inch. Koepka is now one of the most substantial golfers in the world with his victory in the PGA Championship, and the proof of it was that not even a mighty 64 by Tiger Woods was quite enough to shake him....
“Koepka, 28, is one of those players fueled by a chronic sense of disrespect. He once was mistaken for a club pro by Tom Watson and is continually overshadowed by flashier phenoms such as (Justin) Thomas and Jordan Spieth. He has chosen to combat it silently by launching an assault on the world’s biggest titles with the clubs in his bag. ‘I use it as motivation,’ he said Saturday night. ‘You can’t hide when you’re on top of the leader board. You can’t hide my name. So get to the top and work from there.’
“Even Saturday morning, Koepka felt overlooked when he went to the gym with his good friend, the far more recognizable Dustin Johnson, who has spent much of this season ranked No. 1. While Johnson was surrounded by fans who wanted their pictures taken with him, nobody bothered with the reigning U.S. Open champion Koepka, who stood by quietly. ‘I was just standing there laughing,’ Koepka said. ‘They were like, ‘Did you see that the No. 1 player in the world was here?’ It’s like, yeah, okay. I don’t know what to say to that. It was like, all right.’
“But Koepka has a deep sense of inner deserving that’s based on conditioning. He works out every day and lifted weights even on the Sunday morning of the championship. ‘It’s better for you than sitting in bed, sitting on the couch,’ he said. Though he looks like a player who wins on pure brute physique, in fact he is an elegant iron player and smooth stroker on the greens. ‘He put it all together,’ Woods said later. ‘He didn’t just have the driving. He had the iron game, he had the putting, and [he] made some key up and downs the last couple of rounds I saw to keep himself in the tournament and then end up winning the tournament.’
“He has quietly built an astonishingly consistent record in the big events that bespeaks what a complete and versatile player he is: In 12 of his past 13 majors he has finished 21st or better, and in fully seven of those he has been in the top 10. What separates him is ‘just how well he plays when the lights shine on him,’ Thomas said Sunday night. ‘When he needs to do it the most, he seems to perform the best. He does it week in, week out. You look at his performance in the majors, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.’
“Above all Koepka has the gift of focus. Once a tournament is in his grip, it’s like fighting with a python. ‘For some reason I can really tune into majors,’ he said. ‘They really get my attention.’”
Karen Crouse / New York Times
“Brooks Koepka is one of the longest hitters in golf, but most weeks he is a distracted driver, his focus fading in and out like a radio signal on a tree-lined mountain road. But four weeks a year, during the majors, Koepka has no problem locking in his concentration.”
Speaking of Tiger, Koepka said when it was over: “When he started making that run, it brought me back to when I was a kid and when I was watching him and you heard those roars. Being a part of that as a fan is cool, and even when you’re playing it’s still pretty neat. It kind of pushes you to step up your game. I mean, you have to because you know he’s right there if you fall.”
Eamon Lynch / Golfweek
“It was fitting that the 100th PGA Championship was contested on a golf course with all the design variety of a boxing ring. Sunday’s slugfest deserved to be conducted under the Marquis of Queensbury’s rules rather than the U.S. Golf Association’s.
“Brooks Koepka confirmed himself as the undisputed heavyweight champion with his second major victory of the year and third in six starts, having sat out the Masters with a wrist injury. His was a decisive win, but it was a win on points.
“This was no knockout. The greatest of them all, a man who has been punch drunk and on the ropes for several years, was still on his feet, and until his very last shot was throwing haymakers with a ferocity not seen in a decade.
“Tiger Woods faced numerous obstacles beginning this comeback, not least the durability of his body and his game. But the most daunting hurdle is his opposition, a generation unburdened by the scar tissue he inflicted on their elders. Its poster child is Koepka, a pure athlete possessed of the most intimidating arsenal in golf: raw power, bulletproof self-belief and an unflappable demeanor.
“Koepka is what Woods once was....
“ ‘Other than me, my team, everybody was rooting for Tiger,’ Koepka said. ‘As they should. He’s the greatest player to ever play the game, and to have the comeback that he’s having is incredible.”
But Koepka was hitting his drives 340 yards...in the air! Tiger could only marvel at that. “That’s the new game,” he said.
“On Sunday at a major championship, news morphs into history as soon as the engraver sets to work. The inscription on the Wanamaker Trophy will read simply ‘Brooks Koepka, Bellerive Country Club.’ Nothing about the epic crowds or the intoxicating leaderboard. No mention of the men condemned to a winter of discontent until the gates open at the shabby end of Magnolia Lane 242 days from now....
“Tens of thousands of people streamed into the St. Louis night having been treated to a thrilling brawl. Among them was the man with silverware who stood alone astride the golf world. Somewhere else in that crowd was a man who used to be up there. He didn’t leave with a trophy, but he does have something almost as precious: the knowledge that in the extreme heat of a major championship he can again summon the player he once was, and that he might be again.
--How good were the television ratings? CBS announced a 6.1 rating for Sunday’s final round, up 69 percent from 2017. The telecast peaked between 7:00-7:15 pm ET with an 8.3 rating. St. Louis was the No. 1 market during the broadcast with an 11.5. The 6.1 tied for the highest non-Masters TV rating since the final round of the 2012 U.S. Open.
The PGA’s ratings were also the highest for this event since 2009, the last time Tiger almost won it. He was the 54-hole leader, but was beaten by Y.E. Yang at Hazeltine, producing a 7.5 rating.
Yes, Tiger’s comeback has been good for the game. The British Open’s ratings improved 38% over the prior year with Tiger in contention on the back nine.
--Consider Brooks Koepka’s last two big paydays. He banked $2.16 million for first prize at Shinnecock in taking the U.S. Open, and $1.98 million for the PGA. No wonder why his girlfriend was so happy.
For the archives I do have to add something I failed to on Sunday, that being Koepka was just the fifth player to win the U.S. Open and PGA in the same calendar year, joining Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
--As for the Ryder Cup, Tiger Woods has been all but confirmed as one of the four captain’s picks. Tiger’s effort at the PGA vaulted him to not only 26 in the world rankings, but also No. 11 on the Ryder Cup points list.
The eight automatic qualifiers remained the same, Webb Simpson holding on to the last spot with a solid T-19 at Bellerive: Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Thomas, Reed, Bubba Watson, Spieth, and Fowler the other seven.
Captain Jim Furyk resisted stating unequivocally that Tiger would be one of his four wildcards, but his words in Monday’s press conference in St. Louis left no doubt, as did the fact he is preparing to sign up another vice-captain to replace Woods.
“What’s important is how well Tiger has played,” Furyk said. “Sixth place at the Open, second place at the PGA. The word he used is ‘trending.’ His game is trending and it is great to see him playing well. We want the players who are going to help us be successful. I realize he is playing very well and I am excited to see that.”
Mickelson is another certainty to be selected, for a number of reasons, and then it’s between DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau; with Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner and Zach Johnson also in the conversation.
Personally, it’s a no-brainer...Schauffele and Finau. I am not a fan of DeChambeau, because of his personality. Kuchar or Zach Johnson would make for a good vice captain to replace Woods.
But it will come down to who is playing well these next three weeks.
Final points standings....
20. Z. Johnson
On the European side, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Thorbjorn Olesen, Rory McIlroy and Alex Noren are in, in one form or another...and then you have Russell Knox, Eddie Pepperell, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Rafa Cabrera Bello at Nos. 9-12 on their points list.
Henrik Stenson is 16.
But Ian Poulter will no doubt be selected, and then you have the guy I talked about last time, Sergio Garcia, who is just 20th in the Euro ranking.
For my Euro four I’d go Poulter, Knox, Cabrera Bello and Stenson, though Captain Thomas Bjorn clearly hinted that if Garcia can suddenly string some good golf together these next few weeks, he could yet make the team.
While the U.S. won the Cup at Hazeltine in 2016, it has lost its past five matches in Europe.
Oakland 72-48... 1
Seattle 69-52... 4.5
AL Wild Card
New York 75-44... +3.5
Oakland 72-48... --
Seattle 69-52... 3.5
Philadelphia 65-53... 2
Washington 60-60... 8...stick a fork in ‘em
Milwaukee 68-54... 2
St. Louis 65-55... 4
Colorado 64-55... 1
Los Angeles 64-57... 2
NL Wild Card
Milwaukee 68-54... +1
Philadelphia 65-53... --
St. Louis 65-55... 1
Colorado 64-55... 1.5
Los Angeles 64-57... 2.5
--The Dodgers have been sucking wind, losers of 8 of 11, as they deal without closer Kenley Jansen ineffectively, Jansen possibly returning soon after a heart issue. It hasn’t helped that in 25 games, Manny Machado has just 2 home runs and 6 RBIs, .258 BA, in 97 at-bats.
--The Yankees, 10 games back of 86-35 Boston, have hung in there when it comes to the wild card, maintaining their margin to host the one-game playoff against Oakland, were it held today. New York does have six games on the road in early September against the A’s and Mariners.
Monday, though, the Yanks were shut down by Jacob deGrom and the Mets, 8-5 at the Stadium, deGrom allowing two earned in 6 2/3, striking out 12, improving to 7-7, with the ERA ticking up to 1.81.
Tuesday, however, the Yanks got another great performance from J.A. Happ, one hit over seven innings in a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay. Happ is 3-0 in his three starts with New York, allowing just four earned in 19 innings. He and Lance Lynn are carrying the team lately.
--Barry Svrluga / Washington Post
“At 10:59 p.m. Sunday, I was convinced the Washington Nationals were going to make the playoffs, and be dangerous once they got there. They had absorbed a galling loss to the best-in-the-National League Chicago Cubs on Friday, responded with a resounding win Saturday, handed the ball to the best pitcher on the planet Sunday and pushed across enough runs to win. They would sail to St. Louis closer to the National League East division lead than they had been since late June. They would be getting back pieces of their broken bullpen before the playoffs. Watch out.
“And at 11:02 p.m. Sunday – and at all points since then – I have been convinced there’s no way this group can reach October. None at all.
“On back-to-back nights, we now have the most harrowing results, the kind that can change the feeling from anything-is-possible to we’re-playing-out-the-string. At 10:59 p.m. Sunday and before, the Nationals had a statement-making, 3-0 victory until it became a 4-3 loss to the Cubs on the most imaginary of all baseball plays – the two-out, two-strike, down-three, pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam.
“That was the hard right cross. Then, at 11:32 p.m. Monday, the left-hand uppercut: Paul DeJong’s bottom-of-the-ninth shot that provided St. Louis a 7-6 victory, a game the Cardinals trailed by two in the eighth.
“The Nats are staggered, and reeling into the ropes.
“ ‘It’s about how you respond to this,’ Max Scherzer told reporters at Wrigley Field on Sunday night, in between disasters.
“Two potential responses: an impressive finish to this road trip against the Cardinals that yields meaningful and crucial games against Philadelphia next week, or a fold.
“The fold appears to be the early favorite.”
Tuesday, it continued, the Nationals losing 6-4 to St. Louis. 120 games in the books for one of the preseason favorites for the World Series...and a whopping 60-60.
--Who is National League Rookie of the Year? 20-year-old Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Braves, or 19-year-old Juan Soto of the Nationals? It’s now advantage Acuna.
Monday, Acuna led off both games of a doubleheader with home runs, apparently just the fourth in baseball history to do so, one of them being Rickey Henderson.
And then Tuesday, Acuna did it again, leading off with a home run, and then adding another round-tripper in the seventh of a 10-6 Braves win over the Marlins. Acuna went 3-for-5, 4 RBIs, and now has 19 homers, 43 RBIs, a .288 BA, .922 OPS in 264 at-bats, Acuna having appeared in only 67 games.
Last night Acuna also became the youngest player in major league history to homer in five straight (and he now has 8 in eight games), let alone the fact he became the first player to hit a leadoff homer in three consecutive games since Baltimore’s Brady Anderson went deep in four straight in 1996.
--What a bizarre story...Cleveland Indians outfielder Leonys Martin acquired a life-threatening bacterial infection last week and at last word was in stable condition and improving at the Cleveland Clinic.
Martin, 30, who was recently acquired from Detroit, became ill last Tuesday night and did not play Wednesday. Thursday, the Indians placed him on the 10-day disabled list. Friday, some Indians players were writing his name on their hats, and manager Terry Francona was asking fans to pray for him.
Indians president Chris Antonetti addressed the team Monday and told them that Martin’s outlook is good, but said that “progress will be measured in weeks, not days.”
The infection entered his blood stream and damaged his internal organs. The organs started to shut down and it was “severe,” Antonetti said. Martin has “a long path to get back to full health in front of him. It’s going to take some time.”
--Some of you may have seen the story of the big sports auction. A baseball signed at the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame induction in 1939 by all of the inductees who attended the ceremony sold on Saturday night for a record $623,369, sold by SCP Auctions, shattering the record for a signed ball.
11 of the 12 men who were deemed the sport’s first group of greats, including Ruth, Cobb, Cy Young and Walter Johnson...very cool
The signatures on the ball were collected at the time by White Sox third baseman Marv Owen, who stored the ball in a fur-lined glove in a safe-deposit box, which kept the signatures in pristine condition by the time he died in 1991.
The previous record for a signed baseball was one signed by Ruth, which sold for $388,375 in 2012. The most paid for a baseball is the $3 million that Todd McFarlane spent for Mark McGwire’s 70th home run ball in January 1999, which looks most foolish today.
Anyway, I agree with Ken P. that $623,000 sounds like a steal for the HOF induction ball, but you know the famous photo of the Inaugural Hall of Fame inductees...all the living members? Ken P. was wondering why Ty Cobb is absent from the photo of those in the classes of 1936 thru 1939, and it seems that Cobb and his son took the redeye train which was late to Cooperstown because Cobb didn’t want to pay for a hotel room. He was 20 minutes late for the photo. As Ken observed, you would think they would have just had a reshoot. [Another story has Cobb wanting to avoid Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis, with whom he had a long-running feud.]
But then Cobb signed this ball. The ten in the photo, and on the ball as well as Cobb, were Honus Wagner, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie, George Sisler, Johnson, Eddie Collins, Ruth, Connie Mack and Young.
--Speaking of Ruth, he died 70 years ago, Thursday. Aug. 16, 1948. He was just 53.
Ruth was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1946, and doctors were unable to stop it from spreading. You can imagine with modern medicine, Ruth may have lived until 1968 or so. Wish I could have had a memory of him alive.
Ruth’s body was shown at the entrance of Yankee Stadium, with thousands filing through, and then thousands attended his funeral mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
----Last time I had a quiz on the great Jimmie Foxx, “Old Double X,” and if it’s possible to be underrated, despite hitting 534 home runs and driving in over 1,900, while batting .325, Foxx is it. [Mel Ott might be another.]
The thing I think about in terms of Foxx is that his last big season was at age 33, and if he had stayed off the hard stuff, he’d be over 600 home runs and 2,000 ribbies; the latter would put him in truly elite territory, with just five others once Albert Pujols hits the mark, this year or next. [And that includes Cap Anson, who I frankly have a problem with, his entire career prior to 1900. Sorry, Cap Anson fans and family members.]
Just a nugget from “The Biographical of Baseball,” from the editors of Total Baseball.
“People were impressed not only by the number of homers that Foxx hit but also by how he hit them. One time Double-X hit a homer off Yankee ace Lefty Gomez that sailed into the distant upper deck in Yankee Stadium; another 20 feet and it would have gone out of the park altogether. Gomez decided to investigate the force of the blow. He climbed all the way up to where Foxx’s homer had touched down. When he got there he saw that the seat it had landed on had been shattered by the impact. ‘It’s impossible,’ marveled Gomez, ‘but old Double-X did it.’ Many baseball people agreed with Gomez when he joked about Foxx, ‘He has muscles in his hair.’
“Although the media portrayed this new superstar as a wholesome farm boy, he was hardly a role model. ‘[Foxx] never made any bones about his love for Scotch,’ recalled Ted Williams. ‘He used to say that he could drink 15 of those little bottle of Scotch, those miniatures, and not be affected. Of course nobody could do that and stay healthy, and it got to Jimmie later on.’
“Foxx was also famous for his profligate spending. As Bobby Doerr recalled, ‘Jimmie was a big spender. He would always be the one to pick up the tab whenever we went out for steaks at Durgin Park or wherever. It was not unusual for him to call out, ‘The drinks are on the house – Old Double-X is here!’
“While Foxx was throwing his money around, his boss was desperately counting pennies in the wake of the Great Depression. Connie Mack could no longer afford to maintain his stable of stars. In fact, after Foxx won the 1933 Triple Crown [Ed. 48 HR, 163 RBI, .356 BA], Mack actually tried to cut his salary from $16,333 to $12,000. Foxx balked, but eventually took a token cut to $16,000.”
Foxx would retire, a first time, in 1942 at the age of 34, after a miserable season.
But he returned, briefly, in 1944, and then as a part-timer for the Phillies in 1945, where he hit .268 with seven homers.
“So desperate was wartime baseball for manpower that on August 19, Phillies manager Ben Chapman called on Foxx to pitch against the Cincinnati Reds. Foxx pitched six innings of no-hit ball. In the seventh his arm gave out, but it was nonetheless a remarkable accomplishment.”
Foxx actually appeared in nine games that season as a pitcher, throwing to a 1.59 ERA in 22 2/3 innings.
Some stories you read about Jimmie Foxx kind of make him out to be a surly type, no doubt stereotyped by his alcoholism, but as the Baseball Encyclopedia puts it, via sportswriter Al Hirshberg, “His personality was one of the gentlest in the game. Foxx hated no one and no one hated him. From the day he first went into the major leagues, he was pleasant to everyone, never impatient with fans or admirers, always, always accessible to anybody who appreciated him.”
As the decades go by, and baseball fans are looking at a guy with 534 home runs, sitting way down on the list, I just hope people appreciate how great Jimmie Foxx was. Maybe toast him with a Scotch.
Another preseason poll.... Sports Illustrated’s...
7. Penn State
9. Ohio State
10. West Virginia
16. Notre Dame
--The internal investigation at Ohio State and the status of coach Urban Meyer continues. There should be a resolution in a couple of days. In the meantime....
Michael Rosenberg / Sports Illustrated
“Urban Meyer is a football coach. This is a fact he seems to forget, as he stands on the pedestal he built for himself, extolling his virtues and integrity and values. Meyer’s holier-than-thou attitude has grated on his fellow coaches over the years, and now it may cost him. His job might not be in jeopardy today if he thought of himself as just a football coach. Though he will probably keep his job because he is a great football coach.
“Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 1 while the school investigates whether his handling of domestic violence allegations against receivers coach Zach Smith violated Ohio State’s policy and Meyer’s own contract, which requires employees to report any incidents involving domestic violence to OSU’s Title IX office. At a minimum, based on what we know, those allegations were handled poorly....
“Meyer was in some hot water, but maybe he figured he would get out of it because he is Urban Meyer, and Urban Meyer gets to decide how hot the water is. At Big Ten media days last month, he claimed that he did not know about the 2015 incident [involving Zach Smith] at the time. That was a lie. And when (it was made clear he lied through reporting), Meyer said he had properly reported the incident... He also said, ‘I deeply regret if I have failed in my words.’ Let’s pause here to imagine a Buckeyes running back saying he ‘deeply regrets if he has failed in his ball-carrying,’ rather than just admitting he fumbled. Surely, the head football coach would roll his eyes at that....
“More likely, (Meyer) acted as if he could control more than he could. Hubris snares coaches as often as intentional rule-breaking.
“Meyer has some free time on his hands, so he could ask himself: If his values are so strong, why did his program do such a poor job of enforcing them? It was telling that Meyer said of Smith’s 2009 arrest, ‘What was reported wasn’t actually what happened,’ and that Zach and Courtney Smith were a ‘young couple’ at the time. This is the same picture Zach Smith painted during several interviews with local media outlets in early August....
“Perhaps the investigation, or another damning news report, will force Ohio State to fire Meyer. But the school clearly does not want to get rid of a man who won the 2014 national championship for the Buckeyes and is 6-0 against Michigan. If Meyer gets his whistle back, he would be wise to remember why: He is a great football coach.”
--Follow-up: The University of Maryland acknowledged that football team trainers failed to properly diagnose and treat football player Jordan McNair during a workout last spring, and apologized to the player’s family for the school’s role in his death.
President Wallace D. Loh said the staff failed to recognize that McNair was suffering from exertional heatstroke and did not follow prescribed medical steps to treat it. Athletic Director Damon Evans said trainers never took the player’s temperature and did not ice his body to lower his body temperature, steps experts say would likely have saved his life. Instead, McNair died 15 days later in the hospital.
The school’s investigation into the football culture continues, with the team’s head coach, DJ Durkin, and others, on administrative leave. Rick Court, the strength and conditioning coach who was running the workout in May, is no longer at the school.
McNair’s family, through their attorney, said Durkin should be fired. While the parents expressed their appreciation and support for both Loh and Evans, a civil lawsuit will be pursued.
--There have been 23 races and Kevin Harvick has won seven, Kyle Busch six, and Martin Truex Jr. four. I’d call that a Big 3.
Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, though, has had a miserable year and doesn’t have a top 10 in his last nine races, just 14th in the standings overall.
--One of my favorite races of the season is this Saturday night at Bristol, Tenn.
--The Steelers have early cause for concern as it seems Ben Roethlisberger may have suffered another concussion in practice Tuesday. The 36-year-old has had multiple concussions in his career.
--From the BBC: “A Taiwanese tourist has died after being bitten in the chest by a hippo he was trying to photograph in Kenya.
“The man, 66, was tracking the animal at a wildlife resort on Lake Naivasha. A second tourist, also from Taiwan, was injured. Six people have been killed by hippos in the area this year.
“High water levels have seen hippos – the world’s deadliest large land mammal – stray on to resorts for pasture.
“Witnesses said the two had come too close to the animal near the Sopa hotel. The bitten man was rushed to hospital bleeding profusely but later died.
“The second tourist was treated for minor bruising.”
But get this...hippos “kill an estimated 500 people every year in Africa.”
Kind of makes you want to treat ‘Hippo’ with more respect, doesn’t it? The All-Species List International Tribunal in Kazakhstan now has this case, and ‘Hippo’s’ ranking, currently 24, is under consideration for elevation.
Top 3 songs for the week 8/11/62: #1 “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” (Neil Sedaka) #2 “Roses Are Red (My Love)” (Bobby Vinton) #3 “The Wah Watusi” (The Orlons)...and...#4 “The Loco-Motion” (Little Eva) #5 “Ahab, The Arab” (Ray Stevens) #6 “Speedy Gonzales” (Pat Boone) #7 “Sealed With A Kiss” (Brian Hyland) #8 “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” (Barbara Lynn) #9 “Things” (Bobby Darin) #10 “The Stripper” (David Rose...we’re just setting things up for the British Invasion...)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Five to be struck out in a row in 1934 All-Star Game by the New York Giants’ Carl Hubbell...Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.