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We Must Never Forget
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
Baseball Quiz: George Brett (.390) in 1980 and Tony Gwynn (.394) in 1994, a strike-shortened season, have the highest batting averages since Ted Williams’ .406 in 1941. 1) Who has the highest average since Gwynn? 2) Who is the last to hit .350 for the season?
D-Day....75 years ago...June 6, 1944
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
[punctuation is correct]
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force !
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944 ! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned ! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory !
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory !
Good Luck ! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Overlord was the overall codename for the Allied invasion of occupied north-west Europe. The assault phase, the Normandy landings and associated operations, was codenamed Neptune.
I have a phenomenal history book collection, including “The Oxford Companion to World War II,” a mere 1300+ pages, and the following is their description of the invasion.
“Neptune began just after midnight on 6 June – known then and now as D-Day – when 23,400 British and US paratroopers were landed on the flanks of the invasion beaches. On the left flank 6th British Airborne Division was dropped east of the River Orne, and on the right flank 82nd and 101st US Airborne Divisions were dropped between Ste Mere Eglise, the first village in France to be liberated, and Carentan. Then, starting at 0630, the assault divisions were delivered by five naval assault forces to their beaches, which were codenamed (from west to east) UTAH, OMAHA, GOLD, JUNO, and SWORD. Each naval assault force was given the first letter of the codename of the beach on to which it was to deliver its division.
“There were also two additional naval forces, B and L, which were associated with landing the follow-up troops. Nearly 7,000 ships and landing craft were employed to bombard German positions, land the five Allied divisions, create the two artificial harbors which had to be towed across the English Channel, and counter any German naval attacks. Of the 1,213 naval warships involved 79% were British and Canadian, 16.5% were American, and 4% were Dutch, French, Greek, Norwegian, and Polish. Including the Allied merchant navies, 195,701 naval personnel took part. The Allied Expeditionary Air Forces also played their part, protecting the armada from air attack, bombing German defenses, and creating a ‘ghost’ invasion force which deceived German radar.
“Altogether 75,215 British and Canadian troops and 57,500 US troops were landed on D-Day. There were about 4,300 British and Canadian casualties, and 6,000 US ones.
“Neptune officially ceased on 30 June 1944, by which date 850,279 men, 148,803 vehicles, and 570,505 tons of supplies had been landed for the loss of 59 ships sunk and 110 damaged. Pressure mines caused a substantial number of naval casualties, and a storm on 19 June, which wrecked one of the artificial harbors, caused many more.”
Hall of Famer Yogi Berra was one of the many ballplayers and athletes who served in WW II, as well as landing on the beaches of Normandy. Berra had received a minor league baseball contract to play in the Yankees system but the war came and Berra joined up, serving on a Navy rocket boat.
From the book “Duty, Honor, Victory: America’s Athletes in World War II” by Gary Bloomfield:
As the invasion forces hit the beaches of Normandy:
“To keep the skies clear of Luftwaffe fighters, ‘we were told to shoot anything that moved,’ recalled Yogi Berra. ‘I am not sure if he said ‘moved’ or ‘any plane below the clouds,’ but we all shot at the first plane below the clouds and we shot down one of our own planes. The pilot was mad as hell, and you could hear him swearing as he floated down in his parachute. I remember him shaking his fist and yelling, ‘If you bastards would shoot down as many of them as us the goddamn war would be over.’’”
Berra later recalled the scene on the beach once the enemy had been routed.
“When the beach was secured, when we had taken the beach from the Germans, it was like magic. Hundreds of French people came out of nowhere. They ran out on the banks and shouted and waved. Old people, kids, even some dogs. They carried flowers and bottles of wine.”
The Golden State Warriors evened their series with the Toronto Raptors Sunday evening after I had posted, 109-104, as DeMarcus Cousins, who was ineffective in Game 1 in his return from his serious quad injury, played a superb all-around game, with 11 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks in 28 minutes. Kawhi Leonard had 34 points and 14 rebounds for the Raptors but was just 2 of 9 from three.
So for tonight’s Game 3 back in Oakland, the Warriors are without Kevin Durant, again, and possibly Klay Thompson; Thompson saying he’ll play if at all possible but he’s dealing with a hamstring injury. Golden State is already without backup center Kevin Looney for the remainder. If the Warriors are to win tonight, Cousins is going to have to be big again.
Meanwhile, it seems Durant will finally be available for Game 4.
Stanley Cup Finals
St. Louis had an impressive 4-2 win over Boston in Game 4, an exciting contest, evening things up 2-2, with Game 5 back in Beantown.
--The Yankees have an interesting problem. Outfielder Clint Frazier, who after I posted last Sunday, in Boston’s 8-5 win over New York to avoid a sweep of their series, well, I’ll let the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff describe it.
“In a Yankees season that often has felt magical, Frazier put together enough terrible looks in one night to create considerate unease and bad will....
“The Frazier fright show on national TV, however, set off multiple alarms. After playing absolutely awful defense in right field, clearly unraveling via three separate plays that helped the Red Sox total five runs in the seventh and eighth innings, the 24-year-old refused to face the media to discuss what went down. He instead sent word through Jason Zillo, the Yankees’ vice president of communications and media relations, that he would not be talking.
“On-field meltdowns hurt the team’s bottom line. Clubhouse malfunctions hurt the team’s culture. And the Yankees’ overall superb culture, one promoted by veterans Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia and reinforced by youngsters like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, has helped them overcome their wave of injuries.
“The Yankees undergo considerable media training while they’re preparing for their season in Tampa, and they know the drill. When you mess up, you own up. When you don’t honor that credo, you’re not only letting down the public. You’re letting down your teammates as well. While Frazier has previously expressed discomfort about discussing his defensive woes, Sunday night – with multiple mishaps followed by an official blow-off – represented a new low for the 24-year-old.”
Frazier’s teammates weren’t happy he pleaded the Fifth.
So there is lots of talk that the guy could be trade bait, but Tuesday night (after an off day Monday), Clint DH’d on the road at Toronto and hit a two-run homer in the fourth, though the Yanks lost to the Blue Jays 4-3.
Yet before the game, Frazier doubled down on his avoiding the press Sunday, saying he had no regrets, either about ducking questions or his series of defensive miscues.
“No, I don’t regret it. And to be fair, I don’t think I owe anyone an explanation because it’s not a rule that I have to speak,” Frazier said, meandering his way through a number of different topics while addressing reporters.
Well, Section 7 of the collectively bargained MLB Players Association’s regular-season media guidelines state, “It is very important to our game that ALL players are available to the media for a reasonable period and it is the player’s responsibility to cooperate.”
Time to unload the 24-year-old Frazier, Yankees fans, despite his potential at the plate (11 home runs, 30 RBIs, .273 BA). The problem is his trade value is plummeting. He’s clearly a very strange dude.
--Ron Darling returned to the broadcast booth for the Mets Tuesday night, after being out since the middle of April for surgery to remove a mass on his chest, with Ronnie being diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He’s been told the cancer was treatable.
“My doctors have informed me that my thyroid cancer has been stabilized for now and that I have been cleared to return to work,” Darling said in a statement.
His condition requires close monitoring.
Well Ronnie’s presence didn’t bring good luck to the Mets, as they lost to San Francisco 9-3 at Citi Field in 10 innings, the bullpen imploding again, New York falling to 28-32.
Manager Mickey Callaway made another incredibly stupid move taking out starter Noah Syndergaard with two outs in the seventh and the Mets ahead 3-2.
This comes after he pulled Jacob deGrom three days earlier against the ace’s objections, the bullpen then blowing a four-run lead in that one.
And the moves come from the same manager who has always referred to the starting rotation as the Mets’ strength.
But for San Francisco, manager Bruce Bochy won his 1,000th game in a Giants uniform.
Bochy has 1,951 career wins overall in a managing career that started with a dozen years in San Diego.
Lastly, Mets fans are miffed that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady filed for two “Tom Terrific” trademarks, one for trading cards, posters, and printed photographs, and another for clothing. The issue is that the nickname originally belonged to Mets pitcher and Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.
--The Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu logged seven more scoreless innings in a 9-0 whitewash of the Diamondbacks last night, extending his latest scoreless streak to 18 2/3 frames. He’s now 9-1, 1.35 ERA.
--The first-place Phillies defeated the Padres in San Diego last night, 9-6, as newly-acquired outfielder Jay Bruce doubled and homered twice for six RBIs.
Bruce had been picked up from Seattle as outfielder Andrew McCutchen went down with a torn ACL, a big blow for Philadelphia, McCutchen a terrific leader as well as still being a solid contributor on the field.
So the standings in the NL East:
Atlanta 33-27... 0.5
--The MLB Draft has nowhere near the drama of the NBA or NFL Drafts for the simple reason the kids just don’t have the exposure college basketball and football players have. End of story.
But you hope your team has selected the next Mike Trout...and not Steve Chilcott (that’s for you old-time Mets fans, read ancient...Mr. Chilcott the first overall selection by the Metropolitans in 1966, who then never made the big leagues).
So the Orioles had the first pick and selected Adley Rutschman, a catcher out of Beaver Nation, Oregon State.
The second overall selection was Bobby Witt Jr. (which should be a familiar name to baseball fans), the son a high school shortstop tabbed by the Royals.
Among the others, and I don’t have a clue who any of these guys really are, was Shea Langeliers, the Baylor catcher I mentioned last time for his NCAA tournament record 11 RBIs in a game, the kid selected ninth overall by Atlanta.
And I can’t help but note “Shu’s” man, pitcher George Kirby from Elon, selected 20th overall by Seattle. We’ll be following the lad, Shu.
One more...the Yankees selected high school shortstop Anthony Volpe with their first pick (30th overall), Volpe hailing from Watchung, New Jersey, ten minutes from here.
--So speaking of the NCAA Baseball tournament, the regionals are complete, the super regionals, final 16 looming, and among those advancing were Duke, which will face powerhouse Vanderbilt; East Carolina (who I want to win it all), now facing Louisville; North Carolina, which goes against Auburn; LSU, now up against Florida State; and No. 1 overall seed UCLA, which faces Michigan in the super regionals this weekend.
The eight winners of the best-of-three move on to Omaha and the College World Series.
I do have to say the Beaverwear in my sports drawer was silenced in the regionals at home, in Corvalis, the shirts whimpering as they staggered to the bottom, below San Diego State. Beaver Nation (aka defending champion Oregon State) is not happy.
--Only two men have defeated Rafael Nadal on the clay of Roland Garros, where the 11-time French Open champion boasts a 91-2 record. And Roger Federer is not one of them.
But Friday, the two will square off in one of the semifinals, resuming their now 15-year-old rivalry.
Nadal and Federer won their quarterfinal matches on Tuesday, Nadal defeating Japan’s Kei Nishikori, followed by Federer’s tough 4-setter over countryman Stan Wawrinka.
Nadal and Federer will thus be meeting for a 39th time, with Nadal holding a 23-15 advantage, including 13-2 on clay. Federer, however, two months shy of his 38th birthday, has won their past five matches – but none on clay since 2009, when he beat the Spaniard in Madrid.
The other men’s semi is being determined later today...top-ranked Novak Djokovic vs. No. 5 Alexander Zverev, and 4-seed Dominic Thiem vs. Karen Khachanov of Russia.
The women’s semis are also being finalized today, with American Sloane Stephens losing one of the quarterfinals yesterday.
The story Monday was American Amanda Anisimova, 17, who became the youngest player to reach a French Open quarterfinal in 13 years.
Anisimova, from New Jersey, reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in January and isn’t lacking for confidence.
Her parents emigrated from Russia before she was born to give their children a better opportunity and Amanda is grabbing it. She now faces (3) Simona Halep in a quarterfinal this afternoon.
--The Women’s Soccer World Cup kicks off Friday in Paris; the United States and France the two decided favorites.
--CNN.com had a report this week on CTE in wrestlers after former WWE star Ashley Massaro died last month, her lawyer announcing she wanted her brain donated to CTE research.
“A study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that the rates of concussions among college athletes were higher for male amateur wrestlers than for football players.
“Though pro wrestling is different from amateur wrestling in many significant ways...the injuries that pro wrestlers sustain are very real, and can be as serious as in other combat sports.”
--James Holzhauer’s run on “Jeopardy!” finally ended Monday, the result having been leaked over the weekend. Incredibly, in 33 games he won $2,464,216, but he fell short of Ken Jennings’ $2,520,700.
Holzhauer was taken down by Emma Boettcher, a librarian from Chicago, who is also a Princeton grad.
Holzhauer wrote in an email: “I was a little shook during Double Jeopardy, because I was playing from behind and constantly getting beaten on the buzzer by Emma. By the time Final Jeopardy rolled around, I knew I could only win if Emma answered incorrectly. It felt like needing a team to miss a last-second field goal. She didn’t miss, but I was still proud of my performance the whole way. I gave her a high five and smiled at how far I’d come.”
--From the New York Daily News:
“An Alabama man is warning his neighbors about the dangers of not locking pet doors after a coyote got into his house and killed his cat.
“Roland Collins was woken up Sunday by a loud noise in his basement and hurried to investigate.
“ ‘I’m hard to wake up, so I knew it was something pretty serious, and my dog jumped up and started growling,’ said Collins.
“Collins said he grabbed his pistol and soon found his cat dead and a coyote standing nearby....
“After cornering the coyote, Collins felt he was left with no other option than to shoot it....
“Collins added that two other cats were missing and he believed the coyote had killed them, too.”
--The Wall Street Journal’s Mark Richardson gave a very good review of Bruce Springsteen’s next album, out June 14, “Western Stars,” which draws from unlikely source material, specifically the likes of Glen Campbell and Burt Bacharach as an inspiration.
“The most immediately striking feature of the record is its lush orchestrations.... The songs here capture the sound of an era when AM radio was dominant and singles like Campbell’s ‘Wichita Lineman,’ B.J. Thomas’ ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’ and Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘If You Could Read My Mind’ were hits on both the pop and Easy Listening charts.”
Sounds very cool.
Top 3 songs for the week 6/8/74: #1 “Band On The Run” (Paul McCartney & Wings) #2 “The Streak” (Ray Stevens... ‘streaking’ was huge at every high school and college in the day...) #3 “You Make Me Feel Brand New” (The Sylistics)...and...#4 “Dancing Machine” (The Jackson 5) #5 “Sundown” (Gordon Lightfoot) #6 “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero” (Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods) #7 “Help Me” (Joni Mitchell) #8 “The Entertainer” (Marvin Hamlisch) #9 “Midnight At The Oasis” (Maria Muldaur...yeah, this song makes zero sense, but I loved it...) #10 “For The Love Of Money” (O’Jays)
Baseball Quiz Answers: 1) Highest batting average since Brett (.390, 1980) and Gwynn (.394, 1994) is Larry Walker, .379, 1999, Colorado. 2) Last to hit .350 is Josh Hamilton, .359, 2010, Texas.
1969 Mets cont’d....
The Dodgers followed the Giants into town for a mid-week three-game set.
June 2: Mets win their fifth in a row, 2-1, as Jerry Koosman (2-3) throws a complete game, besting Claude Osteen (7-4). The Mets are now .500, 23-23.
June 3: Mets win again, 5-2, as Tom Seaver threw 8 innings, 9 Ks, for the win, Tom Terrific improving to 8-3, Tug McGraw the save. The ‘other No. 7’ in New York, as I like to affectionately say, Ed Kranepool, hit two home runs. So the Mets are above .500 for the first time in franchise history (save for a 2-1 mark in the first week of 1966) at 24-23.
June 4: Well my Mets won again, defeating the Dodgers 1-0 in 15 innings, Jack DiLauro pitching nine scoreless, just two hits, in a spot start, the Dodgers holding the Mets to all of four hits the entire game.
At 25-23, still 8 ½ back of the Cubbies, what does it all mean? Beats the hell out of me. I’m just 11 years old, after all. But I’m hooked. Watching every game with my slush mug filled with Hawaiian Punch.
Anyway, the Mets were now headed out to the West Coast for a 12-game road trip, including a last stop in Philadelphia. This could be telling.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.