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Lean On Me
[Posted early Sunday P.M.]
PBA [Professional Bowlers Association] Quiz: It’s been ages since I did a quiz on this topic. It helps if you are old as dirt, like moi, and grew up watching this on Saturday afternoons, in their neat, 90-minute package that culminated in the final match. 1) Name the first ABC broadcast team from 1962-74, but you have to get the spellings right. 2) Name the top three in career tour titles (#3 is at 40). 3) Who was the first PBA player of the year, first recognized in 1963? 4) How many titles did Ray Bluth garner? Answers below.
President Trump held a call with America’s sports commissioners and expressed his hope that the NFL season could begin on schedule in September, with fans back in the stands.
We all would love this, but as NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, he’d love his league to lead the way to starting the economy once there was an “all clear” from public health officials.
And later Saturday at his daily briefing, the president said, “I want fans back in the arenas…I can’t tell you a date, but I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later.”
Asked by the commissioners on a timeline, according to reports Trump said: “We’re not going to have to have separation for the rest of our times on the planet. We need it for this period of time, but eventually, people are going to be able to occupy those seats in arenas, next to each other, like we have for all of my life and all of your life.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom responded to the report about the NFL starting in the fall by saying, “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.”
But Trump raised the idea of tax credits for fans, such as the ability to deduct concessions and tickets from taxes as a way for leagues to jumpstart fans ability to return in a difficult economy. Also allowing corporations to deduct the cost of tickets.
Meanwhile, MLB is considering a rather radical way of kickstarting their season; a plan for every team to play in the same state, i.e., Arizona and Florida, to try to limit travel and ease concerns over infections.
Nancy Armour / USA TODAY
“When it comes to President Donald Trump’s prognostications about the return of sports, don’t waste your time….
“Look, we’re all desperate to have our sports back. To be able to obsess over trivial things, like whether the Houston Astros should be stripped of their World Series title or who’s more deserving of NBA MVP honors, Giannis Antetokounmpo or LeBron James, rather than these stark decisions of life and death that now consume us.
“And instead of getting used to doing without sports, each day brings a raw reminder that makes us feel their absence more deeply. The Final Four was supposed to be Saturday night. The Masters was to begin Thursday. In two weeks, James should have been starting his quest for another NBA title, this time with the Los Angeles Lakers….
“Before you start planning those tailgates or looking for your foam fingers and face paint, however, know that this isn’t a matter of Trump decreeing something and it magically becoming so. You need look no further than all of the other grand pronouncements he’s made about the global pandemic to know about.
“Back in January, Trump decreed that the United State had it ‘totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.’ In early February, he pronounced that Covid-19 would be gone ‘by April,’ that it would ‘miraculously’ go away with warmer weather. Later that month, he said the disease would simply disappear one day, ‘like a miracle.’
“Last month, Trump said the United States had ‘tremendous control’ over the virus. And that he hoped to have the country ‘opened up and just raring to go by Easter.’
“All of that is complete hogwash, of course….
“Fortunately, it will be people who rely on science and facts making these decisions, and they will not be bullied into doing something that’s not safe.
“ ‘As long as we’re still in a place where when a single individual tests positive for the virus that you have to quarantine every single person who was in contact with them in any shape, form of fashion, then I don’t think you can begin to think about reopening a team sport,’ Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told NFL.com’s Judy Battista on Thursday.
“ ‘Because we’re going to have positive cases for a very long time.’
“We all want to know when we’ll get our sports back because it means life will have returned to normal. Even a date gives us reason to hope, a light at the end of this very dark tunnel.
“But we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks how dangerous blind faith or misplaced optimism can be. It has cost lives, and we can’t afford it.
“Sports will return when the health experts say so, not the president.”
--College football is in a total state of flux. The spring months are a crucial evaluation period for the sport; programs holding practices and intrasquad games to preview their depth charts. Freshmen who enrolled early – a growing practice strongly encouraged at the big programs – can get up to speed with the playbook far ahead of the season.
But a bigger problem is already emerging for 2021 and beyond as schools can’t recruit like they would be during this time. The early signing period for the Class of 2021, December, is now on indefinite hiatus.
For example, as Laine Higgins writes in the Wall Street Journal, last December, Ohio State coach Ryan Day inked 24 players, saying “that’s a full class right there.” Only one more player joined the roster on National Signing Day on February 5, 2020.
That trend was expected to accelerate, until coronavirus changed the entire sports world.
June 1 is the first day the NCAA permits high school juniors to make official visits. The face-to-face interactions are critical.
One trend coaches expect is that more and more players will stay closer to home, which could impact the likes of Alabama and Clemson, both of whom have made inroads with talent pipelines on the West Coast in recent years.
Conversely, Rutgers should be a beneficiary.
Meanwhile, there is talk of potentially playing the 2020 season next spring. Just speculation for now.
College football revenue is critical for most athletic departments but playing in the spring would bump up against March Madness, a potential season then extending into late May, which would mean competing with NBA and Stanley Cup Playoffs.
--The Premier League on Friday said its clubs would consult with their players over a proposed 30% reduction in wages. Teams like Liverpool have furloughed some of their non-playing staff though the club said they would continue to receive 100% of their salaries, but this goes in hand with the British government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, where furloughed workers can claim 80% of their wages up to $3,065 per month. So Liverpool will make up the remaining 20%.
Meanwhile, the Premier League is providing over $153 million to their minor leagues (the 72 professional clubs in the three divisions below the PL) to help with cash flow problems caused by the outbreak.
The PL added that the 2019-20 season will only return when it is “safe and appropriate to do so.”
--Wake Forest fans remember “Gentleman Carl,” coach Carl Tacy, who died at the age of 87, 35 years “after he inexplicably walked away from coaching when he was only 53,” as Ed Hardin wrote on Greensboro.com.
Tacy was the coach when I was at Wake and overall he won 222 games for the Deacs, taking them to the NCAA Tournament four times and the NIT twice. The Deacs made it to the regional final twice, failing to reach the Final Four in losses to Marquette (1976-77) and Houston (1983-84), the eventual national champion and runner-up, respectively. The 1983-84 edition defeated DePaul and Ray Meyer in overtime, 73-71, to advance to the Elite Eight, a crushing defeat for Meyer in his final game as coach. He left the court in tears.
But after a loss to South Florida in the first round of the 1985 NIT, and a 15-14 season, Tacy had had enough, though he waited until the summer to tell a shocked school, “After careful thought and deliberation, I have reached a decision to make a job change that I believe is in the best interest of my family, the university and me,” he said..
“Tacy’s team reflected their coach, dogged and unafraid, with the ability to go into Carmichael Auditorium and beat Dean Smith, playing head-to-head against Lefty Driesell at Maryland, Jim Valvano at N.C. State, Terry Holland at Virginia or young Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.
“And his teams could also go into periods of darkness.
“Mary Garber, the legendary sportswriter with the Winston-Salem Journal, was once asked by another writer for a funny story about Tacy for a profile he was writing.
“ ‘There are no funny stories about Carl,’ she said.
“That was mostly true.
“Tacy could be open and engaging with the press or taciturn with fans and even his own staff and players. But to those who knew him best, he was a kind and dignified man of few words.
“Rev. Mike Queen, who was Tacy’s pastor at First Baptist Church in Winston, probably knew him as well as anyone. And he saw both sides of the man and the coach.
“ ‘Some of his players loved him, and some didn’t,’ Queen said. ‘That’s the way it is with most coaches. But he was who he was, a man with no pretense, a straight-up guy who was respected by his peers.’”
Tacy coached some of the greatest players in Wake history, including Skip Brown, Rod Griffin, Frank Johnson and Danny Young.
And he recruited 5-foot-3-inch point guard Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues out of Baltimore. That worked out rather well, for both the school and Muggsy, who went on to become an NBA star.
--Speaking of Wake, congratulations to Tim Duncan, who was selected Saturday for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, along with the late Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. Former four-time NCAA coach Eddie Sutton, and former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich were among the others who will enter the shrine.
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, told ESPN in a video interview, “It’s definitely the peak of his NBA career, and every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a steppingstone to be here.”
Duncan told ESPN, “It’s kind of the end of the journey here. It was an incredible career that I enjoyed so much. To call it a dream come true isn’t doing it any justice, because I never dreamt I would be at this point. I played the game, enjoyed the game, loved what I did, and to be here now with the guys I will be put in the Hall of Fame with is just an amazing class.”
--Former White Sox pitcher Ed Farmer died. He was 70. A member of the 1980 A.L. All-Star team, Farmer had been a full-time radio announcer for the White Sox since 1992.
At his peak, Farmer could be scary.
In one memorable 1979 game for the Texas Rangers, his first start in almost five years, he hit Royals leadoff man Frank White with the second pitch of the game, breaking White’s right thumb.
Then, in the fifth, a wild pitch by Farmer with runners on second and third enabled the Royals to tie the game, 7-7, bringing Al Cowens to the plate. Another tight fastball from Farmer broke Cowens’ jaw and some of his teeth and he was taken off the field by stretcher.
“I have to believe he was looking for a breaking pitch,” Farmer said at the time. “He never moved.”
Farmer said he didn’t throw at White or Cowens on purpose. “But, with their losing two key ballplayers, I can understand how they would feel that way. I’m sorry it happened.”
Frank White forgave him. Cowens didn’t. The next season, with Farmer now on the White Sox and Cowens with the Tigers, Cowens came to bat against Farmer to lead off the top of the 11th inning.
Cowens hit a grounder to short. Farmer turned to watch the play. Cowens opted to make a beeline for the mound rather than run to first, tackled Farmer and began wailing on him, triggering a bench-clearing melee.
Farmer filed assault charges against Cowens that would prevent him from joining the team on their next road trip to Chicago. Farmer agreed to drop the charges in return for a handshake. [Chicago Tribune]
Farmer finished 30-43, 4.30, with 75 saves, including 30 in his lone All-Star season of 1980.
--This summer’s Wimbledon Championship was cancelled due to the coronavirus and The Open Championship will be as well, though as I go to post, the R&A hasn’t officially done that. Just depressing.
--We note the passing of the great Bill Withers, who died from heart complications the other day. He was 81. Withers wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 1970s that have stood the test of time. Just look at his five big ones.
“Ain’t No Sunshine” #3 1971
“Lean On Me” #1 1972
“Use Me” #2 1972
“Lovely Day” #30 1978
“Just the Two of Us” #2 1981
The family said in a statement: “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father. A solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world at large, with his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other.
“As private a life as he lived close to intimate family and friends, his music forever belongs to the world. In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones.”
Withers sang about everything from friendship to infidelity, filling each song with rich emotion and relatable simplicity.
Nelson Oliveira and Leonard Greene / New York Daily News
“ ‘Only darkness every day,’ he sings about the time spent away from his lover. And when he suspects the woman is cheating on him, as he does in the hit ‘Who Is He (And What Is He To You),’ Withers reminds the flirt that she is ‘too much for one man, but not enough for two.’
“The three-time Grammy Award winner’s brief and inspiring career ended in the mid-1980s when he decided to stop making music.
“But Withers had already written some of the most loved and covered songs in history. His soulful music became the soundtrack of numerous weddings, engagements and other events across the world over the years.
“ ‘What few songs I wrote during my brief career, there ain’t a genre that somebody didn’t record them in,’ Withers told Rolling Stone magazine. ‘I’m not a virtuoso, but I was able to write songs that people could identify with. I don’t think I’ve done bad for a guy from Slab Fork, West Virginia.’
“But it was his brotherhood anthem ‘Lean On Me,’ with its biblical message of being your brother’s keeper, that resonated most with fans. The song helped inspire a movie about a New Jersey urban school principal and was also performed at the presidential inaugurations of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
“Most recently, residents in Boston, Dallas and other cities took to their windows and balconies to sing his classic to help them get through the coronavirus pandemic.”
“Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean On Me” are among Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
“He’s the last African-American Everyman,” Roots band leader Questlove once told Rolling Stone. “Bill Withers is the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen.”
Withers joined the Navy at 17 and spent nine years as an aircraft mechanic. After his discharge, he moved to Los Angeles, punched the clock at an aircraft parts factory – and bought a guitar at a pawn shop.
Working with the iconic Booker T. Jones, Withers released his first album, “Just As I Am,” in 1971. “Ain’t No Sunshine” was actually the B-side of “Grandma’s Hands,” a surprise hit. Withers reportedly was inspired for “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick’s doomed drunkards-in-love film, “Days of Wine and Roses.”
Withers was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
As I’ve noted over the years, there was a time when I did a great job with “Lovely Day” and it became a staple at our parties at Wake Forest. Granted, the voice was properly lubed, but when Withers died a few of my fraternity brothers quickly reminded me of this.
--NFL kicking legend Tom Dempsey died of complications from Covid-19. He was 73. I noted last time he had tested positive following an outbreak at the senior center where he lived in New Orleans.
As in all these cases, Dempsey’s family was unable to be with him. His daughter, Ashley, said the family did video chats with him because “we didn’t want him to think we had abandoned him. We wanted him to know we still loved him – always.”
Dempsey had been battling Alzheimer’s and dementia before he was felled by the virus.
At least 15 residents of the Lambeth House center, including Dempsey, died after battles with Covid-19.
--By the end of the weekend, you should have heard at least one story (or read about it in that other column I do) on the dangers of using Zoom.
The New York Rangers have a little series on Twitter where they invite the first 500 fans who click on a link to listen in on interviews with players. Friday, that was the newly signed prospect K’Andre Miller.
The call went horribly bad. Sometime during the Q&A, the n-word was repeatedly typed out across the chat screen. Miller is African-American.
“We held an online video chat with fans and New York Rangers prospect K’Andre Miller, during which a vile individual hijacked the chat to post racial slurs, which we disabled as soon as possible,” the team said in a statement. “We were incredibly appalled by this behavior, which has no place online, on the ice, or anywhere, and we are investigating the matter.”
The FBI has issued a statement that there have been multiple reports of hijacking during Zoom calls, which the multitudes are resorting to in order to communicate amid the pandemic. There have been several cases of conferences “being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language,” according to a warning from the FBI’s Boston division.
--ESPN analyst Rex Ryan issued an on-air apology Friday, hours after the former NFL coach delivered a scathing rant in which he said the Dallas Cowboys overpaid for wide receiver Amari Cooper and added, “I wouldn’t have paid this turd.”
“I can’t believe I said that and used that word. Obviously, it was a poor choice by me to say what I said about Amari,” he said.
But Ryan didn’t walk back his take about Cooper being overpaid.
“I don’t doubt that this is an elite player,” Ryan said. “He has those traits. But an elite receiver to me shows up on the road, he shows up against great corners and he shows up in crunch time, and those are three things that Amari Cooper has not done so far in his career.”
--Needless to say sports radio has collapsed. Entercom, owner of WFAN in New York, for example, is asking its big stars to take a 20-percent pay cut. Personally, I haven’t tuned in to the station in weeks.
I do note the departure of the FAN’s John Minko, “The Mink Man,” who took a buyout from the station after 33 years; an original at the station.
--Johnny Mac passed along the story of how specialist sniffer dogs, already trained to spot the scent of malaria, cancer and Parkinson’s, may now be trained to detect coronavirus.
The charity Medical Detention Dogs plans trials on Covid-19 with Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
Charity boss Dr. Claire Guest said it had to find out how to “safely catch the odor of the virus from patients.”
“In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect Covid-19,” she said.
LSHTM head of disease control Prof. James Logan said research showed dogs could detect the odor of malaria infection with a level of accuracy “above the World Health Organization standards for a diagnostic.”
--Brad K. relayed a Daily Mail story by Ralph R. Ortega.
“A man who was arrested after cops were lead on a 100-mph chase Sunday left his excuse for the incident to the dogs.
“Washington State troopers who used spike strips to disable the vehicle and end the chase near Seattle said they found a pit bull behind the wheel.
“The animal’s owner, Alberto Tito Alejandro, 51, claimed he was teaching the dog to drive, says State Trooper Heather Axtman.
“During the pursuit, troopers were shocked to see the animal in the driver’s seat and Alejandro steering and pushing the gas pedal from the passenger side.
“Alejandro was taken to a hospital and later booked on multiple felonies including driving under the influence of drugs.”
--I saw a piece on NBC “Nightly News” Saturday that was heartwarming in this incredibly lousy time. Zookeepers, who continue to take care of all the animals, even though their facilities are closed. A shout out to them!
--Pink said she tested positive for the coronavirus two weeks ago and has since beaten it.
“Two weeks ago my three-year-old son, Jameson, and I were showing symptoms of Covid-19. Fortunately, our primary care physician had access to tests and I tested positive,” she wrote on Instagram Friday, sharing a photo of herself and Jameson.
Pink said that after sheltering at home for two weeks they were re-tested and are now negative. She also called it “an absolute travesty and failure of our government to not make testing more widely accessible. This illness is serious and real. People need to know that the illness affects the young and old, healthy and unhealthy, rich and poor, and we must make testing free and more widely accessible to protect our children, our families, our friends and our communities.”
She pledged half a million dollars to supporting healthcare professionals on the frontlines, including $500,000 to the Temple University Hospital Emergency Fund in Philadelphia in honor of her mother, Judy Moore, “who worked there for 18 years in the Cardiomyopathy and Heart Transplant Center,” Pink wrote.
Another $500,000 is going to the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Emergency Covid-19 Crisis Fund, Pink said.
“THANK YOU to all of our healthcare professionals and everyone in the world who are working so hard to protect our loved one,” she said, in closing. “You are our heroes! These next two weeks are crucial: please stay home. Please. Stay. Home.”
Pink goes in the December file for all the right reasons. [Psst…my brother has a crush on her. His wife is well aware of this.]
Top 3 songs for the week 4/8/67: #1 “Happy Together” (The Turtles) #2 “Dedicated To The One I Love” (The Mamas & The Papas) #3 “Somethin’ Stupid” (Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra)…and…#4 “Bernadette” (Four Tops) #5 “This Is My Song” (Petula Clark) #6 “Penny Lane” (The Beatles) #7 “Western Union” (The Five Americans) #8 “I Think We’re Alone Now” (Tommy James & The Shondells) #9 “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” (The Monkees) #10 “There’s A Kind Of Hush” (Herman’s Hermits…not a bad song in the bunch, but being discriminating… ‘A-’ …)
PBA Quiz Answers: 1) The first ABC broadcasting team from 1962-74 was Chris Schenkel and Billy Welu. Schenkel then had various partners through 1997! 2) Top three in career wins: Walter Ray Williams, Jr. 47; Earl Anthony 43; Norm Duke 40. [Pete Weber 37, my man Dick Weber, the Arnold Palmer of his sport, 30.] 3) First PBA player of the year was Billy Hardwick. 4) Ray Bluth had only three titles. Growing up I emulated how Bluth held the ball. It’s kind of like batting stances. He was unique for his time.
Now I can’t mention everyone some of you remember but just a few names and their career wins.
Carmen Salvino 17
Johnny Petraglia 14
Larry Laub 12
Barry Asher 10
Ernie Schlegel 7
Skee Foremsky 6
Mike Limongelo 6
Teata Semiz 3
You can look up your other favorite names of yore like Dave Davis and Dick Ritger.
Growing up, there was a two-year period when my Dad and I would open up Madison Plaza Lanes at 9:00 a.m. on Sundays, play three quick games, head home for a big breakfast Mom had been working on, and then Mom and I went to noon Mass.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday…probably sooner.
*You might be thinking, ‘Has the editor watched anything but news the last few weeks?’ Funny you should ask. I just watched Emeril’s Air Fryer infomercial for a second time. There was a time years ago when I watched Emeril every night. The dude still rocks!