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07/28/2014

Hall of Fame

[Posted 8:00 PM ET, Sunday]

Baseball Quiz: 1) Name the four with 700 career doubles. None played in the past 20 years. 2) Name the active player with the most at 574, good for No. 21 on the career list. Answers below.

Ball Bits

--How about Yasiel Puig’s game on Friday night, an 8-1 win for his Dodgers over the Giants? 3 triples and a double. Only three others have done this in a single game since 1900, with Herm Winningham the last to do so before Puig, 1990, while Winningham was with the Reds.

Puig was the first Dodger to hit 3 triples since Jimmy Sheckard* had three in 1901! The Dodgers had two other triples in the game, matching the franchise record of five last accomplished in 1921.

Afterwards, sitting in the training room, Puig said, “I’m tired,” as he sat there for 30 minutes, wrapped in ice packs.

[It was a big game for another reason...Puig started in center field for the first time, which is probably where he is best suited, assuming he learns not to take out the right and left fielder. Matt Kemp, whose range isn’t what it used to be, would now appear to be the right fielder.]

Denard Span for Minnesota was the last major leaguer with 3 triples in a game, 2010.

*1901 was Sheckard’s best season in a long career...19 triples, 11 homers, 104 RBI, to go along with a .354 BA.

--Clayton Kershaw pitched a two-hit, complete game shutout against the Giants on Saturday night to win his ninth straight decision, 5-0. Kershaw goes to 12-2, 1.76.

But, in 23 games against the Giants, he is 12-6 with a 1.40 ERA; the lowest by any pitcher against a single opponent in the past 100 years with a minimum of 20 starts.

Next on the list is Sandy Koufax, who had a 1.44 ERA against the Mets, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

--Seattle’s King Felix Hernandez set quite a record on Friday night, even as Baltimore defeated the Mariners 2-1 in 10 innings. King Felix threw seven innings, allowing just one run, making it 13 straight starts of seven innings or more not yielding more than 2 runs. Hernandez thus ties Tom Seaver, 1971, as the only other pitcher in baseball history to have such a streak.

During the 13 games, King Felix is 7-1, 1.36 ERA.

--In a year filled with awesome pitching performances, the White Sox’ Chris Sale moved to 10-1, 1.88, the other day in throwing 8 shutout innings against the Twins, fanning 12. Sale has 122 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 110 innings.

--The Yankees defeated Toronto 6-4 at Yankee Stadium as the Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle fell to a staggering 1-12 lifetime against the Yanks, with his lone win coming over 10 years ago as a member of the White Sox.

--Miami’s Casey McGehee has 2 home runs but 59 RBI. While he’s on track for 90, and not 100 ribbies, it nonetheless recalls the season Tom Herr had for the Cardinals in 1985. 8 HR 110 RBI. In 1987, Herr was 2-83. 

But you know, in looking up Herr’s stats, I see where he made only one All-Star team, that 1985 season. How was this possible? Herr was a quality second baseman, for years. One All-Star team? It’s a travesty, I tell ya!

--What will the Phils do with Ryan Howard? They want to dump him in the worst way, but the 34-year-old is owed $25 million in each of 2015 and 2016, plus a $10 million buyout for 2017 (as well as the remainder of the $25 mil he is being paid this year). What an awful, awful contract this turned out to be, and everyone knew it at the time.

[Ditto, most likely, Prince Fielder, who is to be paid $24 million a year from 2015 thru 2020, with $6 million per being picked up by Detroit.]

--San Diego’s Cameron Maybin was suspended 25 games after testing positive for amphetamines. Maybin accepted the suspension immediately, but in a statement said he had been undergoing treatment for ADD for several years and previously had a Therapeutic Use Exemption (which is what A-Rod inexplicably received in 2007, you’ll recall). But Maybin said he failed to keep up with the rules in switching back to a medicine that had been previously OK’d.

“I want to assure everyone that this was a genuine effort to treat my condition and I was not trying in any way to gain an advantage... I understand that I must accept responsibility...and I will take my punishment.”

Always liked Maybin and thought he’d have a better career. I wish him the best.

Interestingly, Jeff Francoeur, whose career was left for dead, is replacing Maybin on the Padres’ roster.

--Derek Jeter has two extra-base hits in his last 101 at-bats. Just sayin’....

--The Mets just completed a 5-5 road trip despite going the last nine without scoring more than three runs.

--Not for nuthin’ but I did pick Washington to defeat Baltimore in the World Series and at least they are leading their divisions today.

--On the eve of Tony La Russa’s induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame, he told the New York Daily News that he hoped to someday be joined in Cooperstown by the “poster boys” of the Steroid Era – including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire.

As the Daily News’ I-team of Bill Madden, Anthony McCarron and Nathaniel Vinton wrote:

“La Russa, whose Oakland clubhouses were an orgy of anabolic drug abuse, told ESPN.com Thursday night, ‘I might get voted out of the Hall of Fame with that attitude, but that’s what I believe.’

“He told the Daily News Friday that the game’s most blatant dopers should enter the Hall of Fame with an asterisk attached to their name to indicate their accomplishments were suspect.

“ ‘It’s my two cents, but I think you should let them in, but with an asterisk,’ La Russa said. ‘You can’t place these guys ahead of Hank (Aaron) and (Babe) Ruth. It was a bad period. But if a player has Hall of Fame credentials, I think they should be allowed in – a lot of them had Hall of Fame credentials before all this stuff came out.’

“He also told The News that he voiced his ‘suspicions’ about possible steroid use by some of his players with the higher-ups in Oakland – namely then-general manager Sandy Alderson, now the Mets GM – but encountered only indifference.

“ ‘I knew our programs in Oakland were 100% clean,’ said La Russa, who managed the A’s from 1986-1995. ‘But we had our suspicions – guys hitting stronger but not working out. I went to Sandy and ownership about this. And they told me flat off, ‘Right of privacy. It’s a collective bargaining issue.’’

“Alderson, the general manager in Oakland from 1983 to 1997, was not available for comment.”

Of course La Russa looked the other way when it came to the likes of McGwire and Jose Canseco. But he’s always vehemently defended McGwire, in particular, even when presented with the evidence.

“In the summer of 1998, when McGwire was demolishing the single-season home run record, La Russa barred Steve Wilstein from the Cardinals’ locker room after the then-Associated Press reporter asked questions about a bottle of androstenedione (a steroid precursor), which Wilstein had noticed in McGwire’s locker.

“ ‘If any manager had known for sure that his players were doing this and didn’t report it to the league, to me, that’s a breach of integrity and he shouldn’t be let in the Hall of Fame,’ La Russa said on Friday.”

Back to the “Poster Boys,” Clemens got just 37.6% of the Hall vote in 2013, half the 75% required for induction. His support dropped this year to 35.4%. Bonds received just 37.6% of the vote in 2013 and 35.4% in 2014.

McGwire received less than 17% of the vote in 2013 and 11% this year. He is in no way a Hall of Famer. The other two? I can eventually be persuaded.

Ted Berg of USA Today also points out it’s the Baseball Hall of Fame, not the “Upstanding and Decent Human Being Hall of Fame,” noting that Ty Cobb once bragged to his biographer that he killed a drifter in Detroit in 1912. Tony La Russa was arrested for DUI in 2007. And his 2014 Hall of Fame classmate Bobby Cox was arrested for punching his wife in 1995, “though charges were later dropped after court-ordered counseling.”

--Bob Nightengale / USA TODAY Sports

“We used to have these talks, Frank and I, inside the Chicago White Sox clubhouse.

“The subject was taboo back in the days, but Frank Thomas was never one to keep his peace.

“He was among the first players to speak publicly about baseball’s darkest, deepest secret: Steroids.

“Thomas knew what was happening. He saw the massive bodies. He saw the bloated numbers. He saw the rich rewards.

“And it sickened him. Thomas, a huge man among baseball standards, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, despised what he was seeing....

“ ‘I wasn’t THE voice against steroids,’ Thomas said Saturday afternoon. ‘But I had THE biggest voice.’....

“ ‘I probably lost more than anybody else in that steroid era,’ says Thomas, a two-time MVP. ‘I could have had more MVPs, bigger contracts, things that I deserved.’

“It’s only fitting that Thomas is now the first slugger inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame Museum from the steroid era.

“ ‘That means a lot to me,’ Thomas says, ‘because this is the pinnacle, and it was all done by hard work and dedication. I can look at them in the face, and tell them I worked my ass off.’

“There is no evidence to suggest anything different....

“Thomas is one of only four players to hit at least .300 with more than 500 homers, 1,500 RBI, 1,000 runs and 1,500 walks in baseball history, joining the likes of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Mel Ott. He once averaged 39 homers and 120 RBI from 1993-98.

“Yet, with a nation transfixed on Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who staged the great home-run race in 1998, and Barry Bonds, who became baseball’s all-time home run king, Thomas received all of the national attention of a utility infielder....

Thomas was wronged for so many years, never receiving all of the accolades he deserved, but Sunday, he’ll be the one rewarded, while those who cheated will be forced to watch from home.”

--On Saturday, the Hall changed the length of time a player can remain on the ballot from 15 years, as long as they received 5 percent of the vote total, to 10 years.

But that means Bert Blyleven wouldn’t have gotten in (he having been elected in his 14th year), as well as Jim Rice (elected in his 15th).

Three players are exempt and will receive 15 years of eligibility: Don Mattingly, who will be on his 15th ballot next year; Alan Trammell, who will be on his 14th; and Lee Smith, who will be on his 13th.

Starting in 2015, those failing to be elected in 10 years will have to wait for consideration by the expansion era committee, which meets every three years. [Richard Sandomir / New York Times]

--We have us an “Idiot of the Week”...former Minnesota Twins star Chuck Knoblauch, who was slated to be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame on Aug. 23, but on Wednesday was charged with allegedly assaulting his ex-wife. He had divorced her in 2012. In 2010, he was convicted of hitting a previous wife and sentenced to a year of probation.

The Twins cancelled the event.

--J. Mac and I agree. Of all the players in baseball today, we despise Ryan Braun the most.

NBA

--Byron Scott is going to be the next Lakers coach (four years, $17 million), a figure with longtime Lakers ties, having won three titles as a player during the Showtime era. Plus he played one year with a rookie Kobe Bryant during the 1996-97 season. So as a headline in the Los Angeles Times put it:

“Fans won’t hate Byron Scott on arrival, unlike departed Mike D’Antoni”

Bryant respects Scott, which is important given how Kobe can be...I’ll just leave that one hanging.

Scott took the Nets to back-to-back finals, though he made the mistake of taking the Cleveland Cavaliers job one week before LeBron announced he was going to Miami.

Overall, though, Scott’s teams have made the postseason just four seasons in 13, and he doesn’t inherit much with this Lakers edition.

--Chris Paul said it would be “unacceptable” if Donald Sterling were still owner of the Clippers when the season began and the team’s point guard said he’s contemplating sitting out if Sterling remains in control.

The opener is only about three months away; training camp begins in early October. As Paul put it, “Something has to happen, and something needs to happen soon – sooner rather than later.”

Of course Shelly Sterling’s attorneys are using Paul’s potential actions, along with Doc Rivers’, as examples of the “death spiral” interim CEO Dick Parsons has talked of.

Pierce O’Donnell (representing Shelly), said the other day in court: “If Donald Sterling stays on as the manager and owner of this asset, Doc won’t coach, Chris Paul won’t play, sponsors will stay away and TV ratings will fall. It is an urgent matter that this sale be closed immediately to Mr. Ballmer and restore some stability and, frankly, dignity to the NBA in Los Angeles.”

Donald Sterling’s attorneys insist “he’s going to continue to fight.”

--The Cleveland Cavaliers signed No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins to a contract on Thursday, so the clock has started regarding a trade for Kevin Love, which now can’t occur until at least Aug. 23, due to league rules on rookie contracts.

Minnesota wants to complete a trade with Cleveland, but with a 30-day window the Chicago Bulls will be all over the T’Wolves to get a deal done between the two of them for Love. Chicago is offering forwards Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, and rookie Doug McDermott for Love. But, as in the case with Wiggins, McDermott and Mirotic just signed their rookie contracts and have a 30-day window as well. So take the family on vacation in the interim.

NFL / CFB

--Controversy erupted over the suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for just two games after he had been charged with aggravated assault following an altercation with his then fiancée in Atlantic City in February. What most folks don’t get is how can Rice receive two games when in the NFL, you can get four games for testing positive for marijuana?

Michael Powell / New York Times

“The Baltimore Ravens really are blessed.

“Let’s say Ray Rice, the team’s Pro Bowl running back, had tested positive for steroids. Under league rules, he would have faced a minimum four-game suspension. A punishment that severe might have gotten in the way of this fine team of men and their playoff drive.

“Instead Rice drove his hand into his then-fiancée’s head, knocking her cold last February in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. In the National Football League, domestic battery apparently counts as half-a-roid, good for a two-game suspension.

“After the NFL handed down its suspension and a fine exceeding $500,000, and after the prosecutors washed their hands of the case (Rice will not be charged with a crime or jailed or fined by the courts, and he will have the record of his arrest expunged), Rice got to hear his putative bosses talk about what a fine, good, upstanding man he is....

“Pride of place goes to Ravens Coach John Harbaugh, who took the suspension in manly stride. ‘It’s not a big deal,’ he said. ‘I stand behind Ray. He’s a heck of a guy. He’s done everything right since.’...

“Here comes Commissioner Roger Goodell. The tousle-haired commissioner is a football lifer, having spent his career inside the NFL, which is another way of saying he knows from psychotic behavior. He has dealt with large men and their brandished pistols, their assault rifles, their beat-downs, their accidental shootings and their many and varied misbehaviors. A few years ago, he dealt with Ben Roethlisberger...who was accused of what sounded a bit like rape in a bar...

“Last season the commissioner had a real headache. Aaron Hernandez...stood accused of shooting bullets into the chest, stomach and head of three people, all of whom are dead. The Patriots quickly released Hernandez for, among other malefactions, conduct detrimental to the NFL. Technically, Hernandez remains a free agent, but that’s a word drained of some meaning, as he’s being held in jail without bail.

“On and on it goes...

“It’s a pain when a woman’s face gets in the way of your fist.

“When the prosecutor dropped charges earlier this year, Rice’s lawyer was thankful, sort of. ‘We were concerned,’ he said, ‘that Mr. Rice would be treated more harshly because of his celebrity status. We are thankful he was not.’

“There’s always something to be thankful for in this world. And here’s another: Rice can participate in training camp and all preseason games. He should be fresh and toned when he returns in mid-September.”

Rice will lose $529,000 in pay for the two games. In a statement following the suspension, Rice said, in part:

My goal is to earn back the trust of the people, especially the children, I let down because of this incident. I am a role model and I take that responsibility seriously. My actions going forward will show that.”

Oh, cut the role model crap. Most folks today, even the children, have wised up to this. You can never be a role model, Mr. Rice. After we’ve all seen the video? Just stay clean and hopefully three years from now you’re doing a halftime interview with Pam Oliver and you come across as being sincere.

Mike Lupica / New York Daily News

“Once Roger Goodell thought it was cool to pose for a cover of TIME magazine, the headline reading like this: The Enforcer. Goodell was going to take care of the bad guys in the National Football League like this was some sort of football version of ‘The Unforgiven,’ with him as Clint Eastwood, just at much higher compensation.

“And I believe Goodell has acted in a decent and principled way as he has handed out punishment in his league, for drug offenses and sex offenses, for players in strip joints and in the bathrooms of Georgia clubs and even sitting behind the wheel of a car. But the job has become too big and too complicated, even for him. His rulings have become increasingly inconsistent, and it shows now with Ray Rice....

“So Rice gets two games from Goodell. Terrelle Pryor got five games for dumb memorabilia violations in college, time served before he played his first official game in the pros. Ben Roethlisberger got six games, eventually reduced to four, after being accused of sexual assault in a bathroom in a Georgia club. Josh Gordon may now lose a year of his career because of repeated marijuana violations and now a DWI....

“Now Rice gets two games. One of the things we hear is that he had no priors before this incident. Good, job, Rice! Only point-missers think that is relevant in the case of a man taking a hand to a woman....

“Goodell had the chance to set a proper and strong precedent here and chose not to....

“Ray Rice? He has the nerve to call himself a role model. Why? Because he’s done some charity work in his life? He’s not a role model, unless you think he did something noble by not leaving Palmer in that elevator....

“For now it looks like Ray Rice got one game for slugging the woman who is now his wife, and one for dragging her out of the elevator. It’s nice to see her standing by her man, certainly, at least now that she can stand up.”

Meanwhile, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN caught major heat for saying in relation to the Rice suspension that while men “have no business putting [their] hands on a woman,” he implied that sometimes women are to blame for getting abused by “provoking” their domestic abusers.

ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle then tweeted, “I’m now aware that I can provoke my own beating,” among other things.

Smith tried to apologize, saying in a statement, “I do NOT believe a woman provokes the horrible domestic abuses that are sadly such a major problem in our society. I wasn’t trying to say that or even imply it when I was discussing my own personal upbringing and the important role the women in my family have played in my life....I should have done a better job articulating my thoughts and I sincerely apologize.”

--I liked the Jets’ acquisition of defensive end Jason Babin, after he had been released by Jacksonville. Babin, 34, appears to still have something in the tank and had the seventh-most sacks, 45, from age 30 to 33 in league history.

Michael Strahan, by the way, has the record...56.0 sacks between 30 and 33.

--It was sad to learn Broncos owner Pat Bowlen resigned his position as CEO due to Alzheimer’s. Team President Joe Ellis will take over. Ellis said: “It’s sad for his family, his wife and his seven children. It’s sad for everyone in the organization.... It’s a day nobody wanted to see happen.”

Under Bowlen’s ownership, the Broncos won a pair of Super Bowls with coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback John Elway.

There are reports Elway may eventually be part of a group taking over the team. Peyton Manning could conceivably be part of it, too, though he’s been linked to a future deal in Cleveland.

--We note the passing of former Dallas Cowboys running back Robert Newhouse, who died of heart disease at the age of 64.

Newhouse played all 12 of his seasons for the Cowboys under Tom Landry. Drafted out of the University of Houston in 1972, Newhouse finished his career with 4,784 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns (8 straight seasons with 400+ yards).

But he’s perhaps best known for a spectacular play in the 1978 Super Bowl against Denver. Dallas was leading 20-10 when they recovered a Denver fumble in Broncos territory with seven minutes remaining. So Landry, going for the kill, called a trick play...a fullback option pass, and Newhouse, running left, suddenly stopped, turned and threw the ball back to his right to wide receiver Golden Richards, who made a fine catch for a 29-yard score that sealed the Cowboys’ 27-10 win.

--New Texas Longhorns coach Charlie Strong has kicked at least six players off the team thus far, including two on Thursday after they were arrested on charges of sexual assault; yet Texas has yet to officially acknowledge any of the dismissals. Two others were kicked off for violating team rules right before Strong took over. And as ESPN.com reported, another five could be subject to dismissal soon.

Hook ‘em Horns!

--The ACC Media released their preseason football polls and the Atlantic Division is stacked, with the addition of Louisville for its first season.

1. Florida State
2. Clemson
3. Louisville

6. Boston College
7. Wake Forest...ughh...not hearing anything good about our prospects. Everyone likes the new coach, but he has little talent to work with. So I agree with big-time booster Chris K. in predicting a 3-9 finish. [Just as long as we beat BC so I can get my free lunch off Steve D.]

The Coastal division is less intimidating.

1. Miami
2. Duke
3. Virginia Tech
4. North Carolina

--Good lord...Ohio State fired the director of its marching band on Thursday amid allegations he ignored hazing and sexual harassment. The university president, Michael Drake, who has been on the job all of three weeks, said a two-month investigation uncovered a “sexualized” culture inside the band and determined the director knew about and failed to stop harassment.

The probe was prompted by the complaint of a parent, who said members must swear secrecy oaths “about objectionable traditions and customs,” including members marching across the field in their underwear – the “Midnight Ramp” – under the supervision of band directors and staff. Senior female members warn newer ones to wear items that provide “fuller coverage.”

The assistant band director said he’d witnessed the underwear march – though while some wear pajamas, others go naked – and said he didn’t believe what he’d seen.

The director, Jonathan Waters, revolutionized the band’s halftime shows and they were seen by millions on YouTube.

Now discuss amongst yourselves because I don’t want to lose my International Web Site Association license.

Golf Balls

--Wow, Bernhard Langer put on quite a show at the British Senior Open at Wales’ Royal Porthcawl. Langer won by a Champions Tour record 13 strokes over Colin Montgomerie.

In finishing -18, Langer picked up his fourth senior major, having won the Senior Players Championship last month, and 22nd Senior Tour title overall.

--Somehow I missed the fact that when Tom Watson made the cut at The Open Championship last week, he was the oldest to do so at 64, breaking his own record. This week, Watson shot 66 in the second round of the Senior Open, but faltered late and finished tied for tenth.

--Tim Clark won his second PGA Tour victory at the Canadian Open with a spectacular display of putting down the stretch, thus edging Jim Furyk by a stroke. Furyk has been stuck on 16 career wins since 2010.

--Back to Langer, the CBS crew at the Canadian Open was seriously talking about him being part of the European Ryder Cup team this fall. No way.

Stuff

--Jeff Gordon won his 90th NASCAR Sprint Cup race and record fifth at the Brickyard 400. As Ronald Reagan would have said... ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’

Gordon now trails only David Pearson, 105, and Richard Petty, 200.

Of course while the totals for Petty and Pearson are a bit deceiving, your editor has long believed David Pearson is the most underrated athlete in American sports history.

--Meanwhile, Carl Edwards announced Sunday morning he was leaving Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the season. While long rumored, Edwards has nonetheless spent his whole career (23 wins) with the team.

Edwards said he has completed a deal with another group but can’t announce it yet. [Joe Gibbs Racing]

Rumors that I would be putting together a new Honda Accord team with Edwards are patently false. I never know where these things start.

--The other night Louis van Gaal, in his first game as coach of Manchester United, saw his team put on quite a show in defeating the Galaxy at the Rose Bowl, 7-0, in front of a crowd of 86,432.

His last game, you may recall, was as coach of the Netherlands’ team.

Van Gaal is under unbelievable pressure at Man U, having seen what it did to predecessor David Moyes. But Van Gaal has already won titles with the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

--Here in New Jersey, state officials have called off the search for a reported anaconda in Lake Hopatcong, saying it found “no credible scientific evidence” supporting the existence of the snake.

A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection said there have been “no legitimate or credible encounters,” photos, videos, snake skin, droppings or other signs to indicate that an extremely large creature was in the lake. The spokesman did say Hopatcong had water snakes that could be as long as nine feet, though all the stories pegged this anaconda or boa constrictor at 15-16 feet.

Meanwhile, the local man who first started the panic said “Business owners (from Lake Hopatcong) are screaming at me saying they’re losing business... I’m sure there have to be local politicians that own businesses on that lake that are losing money. They’re losing money so they say, ‘discredit this (expletive) so it goes back to normal.’”

One local merchant, the captain of the Lake Hopatcong cruise, said he saw the snake on Saturday evening while driving his personal boat with his wife, daughter and several of her college friends. The guy (I see no need to name these folks in this story) said “his boat got within 75 feet of the snake before it flipped and arched its back ‘like a serpent’ and leaped about two feet out of the water before disappearing toward Liffy Island.”

They were too far away for pictures.

“You’re all like in shock (when you see the snake),” he said. “It happened too fast.”

The captain thought it was a hoax at first.

By the way, there are muskie in the lake – a legendary large fish – but this wasn’t a fish head. [Source: Star-Ledger]

Well, of course here at Bar Chat we’ve had quite extensive experience with stories of this kind and I’m guessing the monster is 45-50 feet in length and won’t be satiated until he’s had his way with a bar full of patrons. Just you wait. 

--Want to be freaked out? Scientists in China “have discovered what is officially the world’s largest aquatic insect, in a mountain village in Sichuan province.

“The bug – which looks like an eerie combination of a cockroach, dung beetle and dragonfly – has a wingspan of 21cm (8.26 inches!), said Zhao Li, director of the Insect Museum of West China.”

I saw a photo in the South China Morning Post...let’s just say you’d have a heart attack if you walked into your bathroom and saw this thing on the mirror...or you’re lying on the sofa and this monster is flying over your head.

It’s been named the Giant Tusked Dobsonfly in Chinese, and it spends half a year underwater in ponds or small pools while growing to full size.

“It then leaves the water in mid-July to live a short life of around two weeks, flying in search of a mate.”

Despite its terrifying appearance, it is supposedly harmless. [Right]

Alas, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, we may not have the Giant Tusked Dobsonfly to kick around much longer. You see, it reproduces only in the highest quality water, far away from cities, according to Zhao Li. And as we all know, about 1% of China’s water is of that quality, if that.

By the way, there is an insect known as the White Witch, also from China, that has a wingspan of around 30cm (11.8 inches!).

Top 3 songs for the week 7/25/64: #1 “Rag Doll” (The 4 Seasons) #2 “A Hard Day’s Night” (The Beatles) #3 “I Get Around” (The Beach Boys...helluva top 3)...and...#4 “Memphis” (Johnny Rivers...one of my all-time fave artists...way underrated...) #5 “The Girl From Ipanema” (Getz/Gilberto...tunes like this made the 60s special...that they could be popular...) #6 “The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena)” (Jan & Dean) #7 “Can’t You See That She’s Mine” (The Dave Clark Five) #8 “Dang Me” (Roger Miller...another great one...) #9 “Wishin’ And Hopin’” (Dusty Springfield...ditto...wouldn’t be considered politically correct today...) #10 “Keep On Pushing” (The Impressions...and regarding my comment on #5, I just have to note that the following week, 8/1/64, Dean Martin’s “Everybody Loves Somebody” rocketed into the top ten at #4 and would become #1 two weeks later, beating out the Supremes, the Beatles and the 4 Seasons. Very cool. Then again, Dino was the “King of Cool”...)

Baseball Quiz Answers: Career doubles: Tris Speaker, 792; Pete Rose, 746; Stan Musial, 725; Ty Cobb, 724. 2) Bobby Abreu is the active leader with 574.

Next Bar Chat, Thursday.


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Bar Chat

07/28/2014

Hall of Fame

[Posted 8:00 PM ET, Sunday]

Baseball Quiz: 1) Name the four with 700 career doubles. None played in the past 20 years. 2) Name the active player with the most at 574, good for No. 21 on the career list. Answers below.

Ball Bits

--How about Yasiel Puig’s game on Friday night, an 8-1 win for his Dodgers over the Giants? 3 triples and a double. Only three others have done this in a single game since 1900, with Herm Winningham the last to do so before Puig, 1990, while Winningham was with the Reds.

Puig was the first Dodger to hit 3 triples since Jimmy Sheckard* had three in 1901! The Dodgers had two other triples in the game, matching the franchise record of five last accomplished in 1921.

Afterwards, sitting in the training room, Puig said, “I’m tired,” as he sat there for 30 minutes, wrapped in ice packs.

[It was a big game for another reason...Puig started in center field for the first time, which is probably where he is best suited, assuming he learns not to take out the right and left fielder. Matt Kemp, whose range isn’t what it used to be, would now appear to be the right fielder.]

Denard Span for Minnesota was the last major leaguer with 3 triples in a game, 2010.

*1901 was Sheckard’s best season in a long career...19 triples, 11 homers, 104 RBI, to go along with a .354 BA.

--Clayton Kershaw pitched a two-hit, complete game shutout against the Giants on Saturday night to win his ninth straight decision, 5-0. Kershaw goes to 12-2, 1.76.

But, in 23 games against the Giants, he is 12-6 with a 1.40 ERA; the lowest by any pitcher against a single opponent in the past 100 years with a minimum of 20 starts.

Next on the list is Sandy Koufax, who had a 1.44 ERA against the Mets, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

--Seattle’s King Felix Hernandez set quite a record on Friday night, even as Baltimore defeated the Mariners 2-1 in 10 innings. King Felix threw seven innings, allowing just one run, making it 13 straight starts of seven innings or more not yielding more than 2 runs. Hernandez thus ties Tom Seaver, 1971, as the only other pitcher in baseball history to have such a streak.

During the 13 games, King Felix is 7-1, 1.36 ERA.

--In a year filled with awesome pitching performances, the White Sox’ Chris Sale moved to 10-1, 1.88, the other day in throwing 8 shutout innings against the Twins, fanning 12. Sale has 122 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 110 innings.

--The Yankees defeated Toronto 6-4 at Yankee Stadium as the Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle fell to a staggering 1-12 lifetime against the Yanks, with his lone win coming over 10 years ago as a member of the White Sox.

--Miami’s Casey McGehee has 2 home runs but 59 RBI. While he’s on track for 90, and not 100 ribbies, it nonetheless recalls the season Tom Herr had for the Cardinals in 1985. 8 HR 110 RBI. In 1987, Herr was 2-83. 

But you know, in looking up Herr’s stats, I see where he made only one All-Star team, that 1985 season. How was this possible? Herr was a quality second baseman, for years. One All-Star team? It’s a travesty, I tell ya!

--What will the Phils do with Ryan Howard? They want to dump him in the worst way, but the 34-year-old is owed $25 million in each of 2015 and 2016, plus a $10 million buyout for 2017 (as well as the remainder of the $25 mil he is being paid this year). What an awful, awful contract this turned out to be, and everyone knew it at the time.

[Ditto, most likely, Prince Fielder, who is to be paid $24 million a year from 2015 thru 2020, with $6 million per being picked up by Detroit.]

--San Diego’s Cameron Maybin was suspended 25 games after testing positive for amphetamines. Maybin accepted the suspension immediately, but in a statement said he had been undergoing treatment for ADD for several years and previously had a Therapeutic Use Exemption (which is what A-Rod inexplicably received in 2007, you’ll recall). But Maybin said he failed to keep up with the rules in switching back to a medicine that had been previously OK’d.

“I want to assure everyone that this was a genuine effort to treat my condition and I was not trying in any way to gain an advantage... I understand that I must accept responsibility...and I will take my punishment.”

Always liked Maybin and thought he’d have a better career. I wish him the best.

Interestingly, Jeff Francoeur, whose career was left for dead, is replacing Maybin on the Padres’ roster.

--Derek Jeter has two extra-base hits in his last 101 at-bats. Just sayin’....

--The Mets just completed a 5-5 road trip despite going the last nine without scoring more than three runs.

--Not for nuthin’ but I did pick Washington to defeat Baltimore in the World Series and at least they are leading their divisions today.

--On the eve of Tony La Russa’s induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame, he told the New York Daily News that he hoped to someday be joined in Cooperstown by the “poster boys” of the Steroid Era – including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire.

As the Daily News’ I-team of Bill Madden, Anthony McCarron and Nathaniel Vinton wrote:

“La Russa, whose Oakland clubhouses were an orgy of anabolic drug abuse, told ESPN.com Thursday night, ‘I might get voted out of the Hall of Fame with that attitude, but that’s what I believe.’

“He told the Daily News Friday that the game’s most blatant dopers should enter the Hall of Fame with an asterisk attached to their name to indicate their accomplishments were suspect.

“ ‘It’s my two cents, but I think you should let them in, but with an asterisk,’ La Russa said. ‘You can’t place these guys ahead of Hank (Aaron) and (Babe) Ruth. It was a bad period. But if a player has Hall of Fame credentials, I think they should be allowed in – a lot of them had Hall of Fame credentials before all this stuff came out.’

“He also told The News that he voiced his ‘suspicions’ about possible steroid use by some of his players with the higher-ups in Oakland – namely then-general manager Sandy Alderson, now the Mets GM – but encountered only indifference.

“ ‘I knew our programs in Oakland were 100% clean,’ said La Russa, who managed the A’s from 1986-1995. ‘But we had our suspicions – guys hitting stronger but not working out. I went to Sandy and ownership about this. And they told me flat off, ‘Right of privacy. It’s a collective bargaining issue.’’

“Alderson, the general manager in Oakland from 1983 to 1997, was not available for comment.”

Of course La Russa looked the other way when it came to the likes of McGwire and Jose Canseco. But he’s always vehemently defended McGwire, in particular, even when presented with the evidence.

“In the summer of 1998, when McGwire was demolishing the single-season home run record, La Russa barred Steve Wilstein from the Cardinals’ locker room after the then-Associated Press reporter asked questions about a bottle of androstenedione (a steroid precursor), which Wilstein had noticed in McGwire’s locker.

“ ‘If any manager had known for sure that his players were doing this and didn’t report it to the league, to me, that’s a breach of integrity and he shouldn’t be let in the Hall of Fame,’ La Russa said on Friday.”

Back to the “Poster Boys,” Clemens got just 37.6% of the Hall vote in 2013, half the 75% required for induction. His support dropped this year to 35.4%. Bonds received just 37.6% of the vote in 2013 and 35.4% in 2014.

McGwire received less than 17% of the vote in 2013 and 11% this year. He is in no way a Hall of Famer. The other two? I can eventually be persuaded.

Ted Berg of USA Today also points out it’s the Baseball Hall of Fame, not the “Upstanding and Decent Human Being Hall of Fame,” noting that Ty Cobb once bragged to his biographer that he killed a drifter in Detroit in 1912. Tony La Russa was arrested for DUI in 2007. And his 2014 Hall of Fame classmate Bobby Cox was arrested for punching his wife in 1995, “though charges were later dropped after court-ordered counseling.”

--Bob Nightengale / USA TODAY Sports

“We used to have these talks, Frank and I, inside the Chicago White Sox clubhouse.

“The subject was taboo back in the days, but Frank Thomas was never one to keep his peace.

“He was among the first players to speak publicly about baseball’s darkest, deepest secret: Steroids.

“Thomas knew what was happening. He saw the massive bodies. He saw the bloated numbers. He saw the rich rewards.

“And it sickened him. Thomas, a huge man among baseball standards, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, despised what he was seeing....

“ ‘I wasn’t THE voice against steroids,’ Thomas said Saturday afternoon. ‘But I had THE biggest voice.’....

“ ‘I probably lost more than anybody else in that steroid era,’ says Thomas, a two-time MVP. ‘I could have had more MVPs, bigger contracts, things that I deserved.’

“It’s only fitting that Thomas is now the first slugger inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame Museum from the steroid era.

“ ‘That means a lot to me,’ Thomas says, ‘because this is the pinnacle, and it was all done by hard work and dedication. I can look at them in the face, and tell them I worked my ass off.’

“There is no evidence to suggest anything different....

“Thomas is one of only four players to hit at least .300 with more than 500 homers, 1,500 RBI, 1,000 runs and 1,500 walks in baseball history, joining the likes of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Mel Ott. He once averaged 39 homers and 120 RBI from 1993-98.

“Yet, with a nation transfixed on Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who staged the great home-run race in 1998, and Barry Bonds, who became baseball’s all-time home run king, Thomas received all of the national attention of a utility infielder....

Thomas was wronged for so many years, never receiving all of the accolades he deserved, but Sunday, he’ll be the one rewarded, while those who cheated will be forced to watch from home.”

--On Saturday, the Hall changed the length of time a player can remain on the ballot from 15 years, as long as they received 5 percent of the vote total, to 10 years.

But that means Bert Blyleven wouldn’t have gotten in (he having been elected in his 14th year), as well as Jim Rice (elected in his 15th).

Three players are exempt and will receive 15 years of eligibility: Don Mattingly, who will be on his 15th ballot next year; Alan Trammell, who will be on his 14th; and Lee Smith, who will be on his 13th.

Starting in 2015, those failing to be elected in 10 years will have to wait for consideration by the expansion era committee, which meets every three years. [Richard Sandomir / New York Times]

--We have us an “Idiot of the Week”...former Minnesota Twins star Chuck Knoblauch, who was slated to be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame on Aug. 23, but on Wednesday was charged with allegedly assaulting his ex-wife. He had divorced her in 2012. In 2010, he was convicted of hitting a previous wife and sentenced to a year of probation.

The Twins cancelled the event.

--J. Mac and I agree. Of all the players in baseball today, we despise Ryan Braun the most.

NBA

--Byron Scott is going to be the next Lakers coach (four years, $17 million), a figure with longtime Lakers ties, having won three titles as a player during the Showtime era. Plus he played one year with a rookie Kobe Bryant during the 1996-97 season. So as a headline in the Los Angeles Times put it:

“Fans won’t hate Byron Scott on arrival, unlike departed Mike D’Antoni”

Bryant respects Scott, which is important given how Kobe can be...I’ll just leave that one hanging.

Scott took the Nets to back-to-back finals, though he made the mistake of taking the Cleveland Cavaliers job one week before LeBron announced he was going to Miami.

Overall, though, Scott’s teams have made the postseason just four seasons in 13, and he doesn’t inherit much with this Lakers edition.

--Chris Paul said it would be “unacceptable” if Donald Sterling were still owner of the Clippers when the season began and the team’s point guard said he’s contemplating sitting out if Sterling remains in control.

The opener is only about three months away; training camp begins in early October. As Paul put it, “Something has to happen, and something needs to happen soon – sooner rather than later.”

Of course Shelly Sterling’s attorneys are using Paul’s potential actions, along with Doc Rivers’, as examples of the “death spiral” interim CEO Dick Parsons has talked of.

Pierce O’Donnell (representing Shelly), said the other day in court: “If Donald Sterling stays on as the manager and owner of this asset, Doc won’t coach, Chris Paul won’t play, sponsors will stay away and TV ratings will fall. It is an urgent matter that this sale be closed immediately to Mr. Ballmer and restore some stability and, frankly, dignity to the NBA in Los Angeles.”

Donald Sterling’s attorneys insist “he’s going to continue to fight.”

--The Cleveland Cavaliers signed No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins to a contract on Thursday, so the clock has started regarding a trade for Kevin Love, which now can’t occur until at least Aug. 23, due to league rules on rookie contracts.

Minnesota wants to complete a trade with Cleveland, but with a 30-day window the Chicago Bulls will be all over the T’Wolves to get a deal done between the two of them for Love. Chicago is offering forwards Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, and rookie Doug McDermott for Love. But, as in the case with Wiggins, McDermott and Mirotic just signed their rookie contracts and have a 30-day window as well. So take the family on vacation in the interim.

NFL / CFB

--Controversy erupted over the suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for just two games after he had been charged with aggravated assault following an altercation with his then fiancée in Atlantic City in February. What most folks don’t get is how can Rice receive two games when in the NFL, you can get four games for testing positive for marijuana?

Michael Powell / New York Times

“The Baltimore Ravens really are blessed.

“Let’s say Ray Rice, the team’s Pro Bowl running back, had tested positive for steroids. Under league rules, he would have faced a minimum four-game suspension. A punishment that severe might have gotten in the way of this fine team of men and their playoff drive.

“Instead Rice drove his hand into his then-fiancée’s head, knocking her cold last February in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. In the National Football League, domestic battery apparently counts as half-a-roid, good for a two-game suspension.

“After the NFL handed down its suspension and a fine exceeding $500,000, and after the prosecutors washed their hands of the case (Rice will not be charged with a crime or jailed or fined by the courts, and he will have the record of his arrest expunged), Rice got to hear his putative bosses talk about what a fine, good, upstanding man he is....

“Pride of place goes to Ravens Coach John Harbaugh, who took the suspension in manly stride. ‘It’s not a big deal,’ he said. ‘I stand behind Ray. He’s a heck of a guy. He’s done everything right since.’...

“Here comes Commissioner Roger Goodell. The tousle-haired commissioner is a football lifer, having spent his career inside the NFL, which is another way of saying he knows from psychotic behavior. He has dealt with large men and their brandished pistols, their assault rifles, their beat-downs, their accidental shootings and their many and varied misbehaviors. A few years ago, he dealt with Ben Roethlisberger...who was accused of what sounded a bit like rape in a bar...

“Last season the commissioner had a real headache. Aaron Hernandez...stood accused of shooting bullets into the chest, stomach and head of three people, all of whom are dead. The Patriots quickly released Hernandez for, among other malefactions, conduct detrimental to the NFL. Technically, Hernandez remains a free agent, but that’s a word drained of some meaning, as he’s being held in jail without bail.

“On and on it goes...

“It’s a pain when a woman’s face gets in the way of your fist.

“When the prosecutor dropped charges earlier this year, Rice’s lawyer was thankful, sort of. ‘We were concerned,’ he said, ‘that Mr. Rice would be treated more harshly because of his celebrity status. We are thankful he was not.’

“There’s always something to be thankful for in this world. And here’s another: Rice can participate in training camp and all preseason games. He should be fresh and toned when he returns in mid-September.”

Rice will lose $529,000 in pay for the two games. In a statement following the suspension, Rice said, in part:

My goal is to earn back the trust of the people, especially the children, I let down because of this incident. I am a role model and I take that responsibility seriously. My actions going forward will show that.”

Oh, cut the role model crap. Most folks today, even the children, have wised up to this. You can never be a role model, Mr. Rice. After we’ve all seen the video? Just stay clean and hopefully three years from now you’re doing a halftime interview with Pam Oliver and you come across as being sincere.

Mike Lupica / New York Daily News

“Once Roger Goodell thought it was cool to pose for a cover of TIME magazine, the headline reading like this: The Enforcer. Goodell was going to take care of the bad guys in the National Football League like this was some sort of football version of ‘The Unforgiven,’ with him as Clint Eastwood, just at much higher compensation.

“And I believe Goodell has acted in a decent and principled way as he has handed out punishment in his league, for drug offenses and sex offenses, for players in strip joints and in the bathrooms of Georgia clubs and even sitting behind the wheel of a car. But the job has become too big and too complicated, even for him. His rulings have become increasingly inconsistent, and it shows now with Ray Rice....

“So Rice gets two games from Goodell. Terrelle Pryor got five games for dumb memorabilia violations in college, time served before he played his first official game in the pros. Ben Roethlisberger got six games, eventually reduced to four, after being accused of sexual assault in a bathroom in a Georgia club. Josh Gordon may now lose a year of his career because of repeated marijuana violations and now a DWI....

“Now Rice gets two games. One of the things we hear is that he had no priors before this incident. Good, job, Rice! Only point-missers think that is relevant in the case of a man taking a hand to a woman....

“Goodell had the chance to set a proper and strong precedent here and chose not to....

“Ray Rice? He has the nerve to call himself a role model. Why? Because he’s done some charity work in his life? He’s not a role model, unless you think he did something noble by not leaving Palmer in that elevator....

“For now it looks like Ray Rice got one game for slugging the woman who is now his wife, and one for dragging her out of the elevator. It’s nice to see her standing by her man, certainly, at least now that she can stand up.”

Meanwhile, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN caught major heat for saying in relation to the Rice suspension that while men “have no business putting [their] hands on a woman,” he implied that sometimes women are to blame for getting abused by “provoking” their domestic abusers.

ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle then tweeted, “I’m now aware that I can provoke my own beating,” among other things.

Smith tried to apologize, saying in a statement, “I do NOT believe a woman provokes the horrible domestic abuses that are sadly such a major problem in our society. I wasn’t trying to say that or even imply it when I was discussing my own personal upbringing and the important role the women in my family have played in my life....I should have done a better job articulating my thoughts and I sincerely apologize.”

--I liked the Jets’ acquisition of defensive end Jason Babin, after he had been released by Jacksonville. Babin, 34, appears to still have something in the tank and had the seventh-most sacks, 45, from age 30 to 33 in league history.

Michael Strahan, by the way, has the record...56.0 sacks between 30 and 33.

--It was sad to learn Broncos owner Pat Bowlen resigned his position as CEO due to Alzheimer’s. Team President Joe Ellis will take over. Ellis said: “It’s sad for his family, his wife and his seven children. It’s sad for everyone in the organization.... It’s a day nobody wanted to see happen.”

Under Bowlen’s ownership, the Broncos won a pair of Super Bowls with coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback John Elway.

There are reports Elway may eventually be part of a group taking over the team. Peyton Manning could conceivably be part of it, too, though he’s been linked to a future deal in Cleveland.

--We note the passing of former Dallas Cowboys running back Robert Newhouse, who died of heart disease at the age of 64.

Newhouse played all 12 of his seasons for the Cowboys under Tom Landry. Drafted out of the University of Houston in 1972, Newhouse finished his career with 4,784 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns (8 straight seasons with 400+ yards).

But he’s perhaps best known for a spectacular play in the 1978 Super Bowl against Denver. Dallas was leading 20-10 when they recovered a Denver fumble in Broncos territory with seven minutes remaining. So Landry, going for the kill, called a trick play...a fullback option pass, and Newhouse, running left, suddenly stopped, turned and threw the ball back to his right to wide receiver Golden Richards, who made a fine catch for a 29-yard score that sealed the Cowboys’ 27-10 win.

--New Texas Longhorns coach Charlie Strong has kicked at least six players off the team thus far, including two on Thursday after they were arrested on charges of sexual assault; yet Texas has yet to officially acknowledge any of the dismissals. Two others were kicked off for violating team rules right before Strong took over. And as ESPN.com reported, another five could be subject to dismissal soon.

Hook ‘em Horns!

--The ACC Media released their preseason football polls and the Atlantic Division is stacked, with the addition of Louisville for its first season.

1. Florida State
2. Clemson
3. Louisville

6. Boston College
7. Wake Forest...ughh...not hearing anything good about our prospects. Everyone likes the new coach, but he has little talent to work with. So I agree with big-time booster Chris K. in predicting a 3-9 finish. [Just as long as we beat BC so I can get my free lunch off Steve D.]

The Coastal division is less intimidating.

1. Miami
2. Duke
3. Virginia Tech
4. North Carolina

--Good lord...Ohio State fired the director of its marching band on Thursday amid allegations he ignored hazing and sexual harassment. The university president, Michael Drake, who has been on the job all of three weeks, said a two-month investigation uncovered a “sexualized” culture inside the band and determined the director knew about and failed to stop harassment.

The probe was prompted by the complaint of a parent, who said members must swear secrecy oaths “about objectionable traditions and customs,” including members marching across the field in their underwear – the “Midnight Ramp” – under the supervision of band directors and staff. Senior female members warn newer ones to wear items that provide “fuller coverage.”

The assistant band director said he’d witnessed the underwear march – though while some wear pajamas, others go naked – and said he didn’t believe what he’d seen.

The director, Jonathan Waters, revolutionized the band’s halftime shows and they were seen by millions on YouTube.

Now discuss amongst yourselves because I don’t want to lose my International Web Site Association license.

Golf Balls

--Wow, Bernhard Langer put on quite a show at the British Senior Open at Wales’ Royal Porthcawl. Langer won by a Champions Tour record 13 strokes over Colin Montgomerie.

In finishing -18, Langer picked up his fourth senior major, having won the Senior Players Championship last month, and 22nd Senior Tour title overall.

--Somehow I missed the fact that when Tom Watson made the cut at The Open Championship last week, he was the oldest to do so at 64, breaking his own record. This week, Watson shot 66 in the second round of the Senior Open, but faltered late and finished tied for tenth.

--Tim Clark won his second PGA Tour victory at the Canadian Open with a spectacular display of putting down the stretch, thus edging Jim Furyk by a stroke. Furyk has been stuck on 16 career wins since 2010.

--Back to Langer, the CBS crew at the Canadian Open was seriously talking about him being part of the European Ryder Cup team this fall. No way.

Stuff

--Jeff Gordon won his 90th NASCAR Sprint Cup race and record fifth at the Brickyard 400. As Ronald Reagan would have said... ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’

Gordon now trails only David Pearson, 105, and Richard Petty, 200.

Of course while the totals for Petty and Pearson are a bit deceiving, your editor has long believed David Pearson is the most underrated athlete in American sports history.

--Meanwhile, Carl Edwards announced Sunday morning he was leaving Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the season. While long rumored, Edwards has nonetheless spent his whole career (23 wins) with the team.

Edwards said he has completed a deal with another group but can’t announce it yet. [Joe Gibbs Racing]

Rumors that I would be putting together a new Honda Accord team with Edwards are patently false. I never know where these things start.

--The other night Louis van Gaal, in his first game as coach of Manchester United, saw his team put on quite a show in defeating the Galaxy at the Rose Bowl, 7-0, in front of a crowd of 86,432.

His last game, you may recall, was as coach of the Netherlands’ team.

Van Gaal is under unbelievable pressure at Man U, having seen what it did to predecessor David Moyes. But Van Gaal has already won titles with the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

--Here in New Jersey, state officials have called off the search for a reported anaconda in Lake Hopatcong, saying it found “no credible scientific evidence” supporting the existence of the snake.

A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection said there have been “no legitimate or credible encounters,” photos, videos, snake skin, droppings or other signs to indicate that an extremely large creature was in the lake. The spokesman did say Hopatcong had water snakes that could be as long as nine feet, though all the stories pegged this anaconda or boa constrictor at 15-16 feet.

Meanwhile, the local man who first started the panic said “Business owners (from Lake Hopatcong) are screaming at me saying they’re losing business... I’m sure there have to be local politicians that own businesses on that lake that are losing money. They’re losing money so they say, ‘discredit this (expletive) so it goes back to normal.’”

One local merchant, the captain of the Lake Hopatcong cruise, said he saw the snake on Saturday evening while driving his personal boat with his wife, daughter and several of her college friends. The guy (I see no need to name these folks in this story) said “his boat got within 75 feet of the snake before it flipped and arched its back ‘like a serpent’ and leaped about two feet out of the water before disappearing toward Liffy Island.”

They were too far away for pictures.

“You’re all like in shock (when you see the snake),” he said. “It happened too fast.”

The captain thought it was a hoax at first.

By the way, there are muskie in the lake – a legendary large fish – but this wasn’t a fish head. [Source: Star-Ledger]

Well, of course here at Bar Chat we’ve had quite extensive experience with stories of this kind and I’m guessing the monster is 45-50 feet in length and won’t be satiated until he’s had his way with a bar full of patrons. Just you wait. 

--Want to be freaked out? Scientists in China “have discovered what is officially the world’s largest aquatic insect, in a mountain village in Sichuan province.

“The bug – which looks like an eerie combination of a cockroach, dung beetle and dragonfly – has a wingspan of 21cm (8.26 inches!), said Zhao Li, director of the Insect Museum of West China.”

I saw a photo in the South China Morning Post...let’s just say you’d have a heart attack if you walked into your bathroom and saw this thing on the mirror...or you’re lying on the sofa and this monster is flying over your head.

It’s been named the Giant Tusked Dobsonfly in Chinese, and it spends half a year underwater in ponds or small pools while growing to full size.

“It then leaves the water in mid-July to live a short life of around two weeks, flying in search of a mate.”

Despite its terrifying appearance, it is supposedly harmless. [Right]

Alas, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, we may not have the Giant Tusked Dobsonfly to kick around much longer. You see, it reproduces only in the highest quality water, far away from cities, according to Zhao Li. And as we all know, about 1% of China’s water is of that quality, if that.

By the way, there is an insect known as the White Witch, also from China, that has a wingspan of around 30cm (11.8 inches!).

Top 3 songs for the week 7/25/64: #1 “Rag Doll” (The 4 Seasons) #2 “A Hard Day’s Night” (The Beatles) #3 “I Get Around” (The Beach Boys...helluva top 3)...and...#4 “Memphis” (Johnny Rivers...one of my all-time fave artists...way underrated...) #5 “The Girl From Ipanema” (Getz/Gilberto...tunes like this made the 60s special...that they could be popular...) #6 “The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena)” (Jan & Dean) #7 “Can’t You See That She’s Mine” (The Dave Clark Five) #8 “Dang Me” (Roger Miller...another great one...) #9 “Wishin’ And Hopin’” (Dusty Springfield...ditto...wouldn’t be considered politically correct today...) #10 “Keep On Pushing” (The Impressions...and regarding my comment on #5, I just have to note that the following week, 8/1/64, Dean Martin’s “Everybody Loves Somebody” rocketed into the top ten at #4 and would become #1 two weeks later, beating out the Supremes, the Beatles and the 4 Seasons. Very cool. Then again, Dino was the “King of Cool”...)

Baseball Quiz Answers: Career doubles: Tris Speaker, 792; Pete Rose, 746; Stan Musial, 725; Ty Cobb, 724. 2) Bobby Abreu is the active leader with 574.

Next Bar Chat, Thursday.