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Ms. Electra...and Dennis...
[Posted Tuesday p.m.]
College Baseball Quiz: USA Baseball has given the Golden Spikes Award to the best amateur player in the country every year since 1978, the first recipient being Bob Horner, 3B, Arizona State. But no award this year due to the incomplete college season.
Aside from Horner, and folks like Robin Ventura (1988, Oklahoma State), there have been some terrific winners of the award. Even if it was just for one year, name the college from which the following were drafted: 2015 – Andrew Benintendi, 2013 – Kris Bryant, 2011 – Trevor Bauer, 2010 – Bryce Harper, 2009 – Stephen Strasburg, 2008 – Buster Posey, 2007 – David Price, 2006 – Tim Lincecum. Answers below.
--There is a story that the NFL is working on a revamped schedule, with a regular season starting as late as Thursday, Oct. 15, and a season without bye weeks or a Pro Bowl, according to Sports Business Daily.
Supposedly schedules will be released in early May and include the standard 16-game, 17-week slate but will allow for flexibility, if necessary.
[Speaking of revamped schedules, I’m tired of hearing about all the sports and when they will restart. I mean baseball and its supposed plans have been a total mess. They start back up when they do. But I do have hope the PGA Tour can get it right in mid-June.]
--In an interesting move, the New Orleans Saints are signing quarterback Jameis Winston to a one-year deal, with Winston competing with Taysom Hill for the backup job behind Drew Brees, who in all likelihood will be playing his final season (despite signing a two-year contract extension).
So Winston has a year to learn behind a great teacher in Brees and it could end up being a brilliant move for the Saints.
Winston had quite a 2019, leading the NFL in passing yards with 5,109, while throwing a league-worst 30 interceptions and losing five fumbles to lead the league in turnovers (35). But he threw for 33 touchdowns.
In his career he has 121 touchdowns and 88 interceptions, as well as a league-worst 111 turnovers since 2015.
But he’s talented. Weird, but has the ‘it’ factor.
--Harland Svare died. The former New York Giants linebacker and later head coach of the Rams and Chargers was 89.
Svare, after breaking in with the Rams in 1953, played with the Giants during a time in the 1950s when New York played in three NFL championship games, winning the title in 1956 as the Giants routed the Bears, 47-7, then lost to the Colts in the classic 1958 sudden-death title game and again in 1959.
At 6 feet, 215 pounds, Svare was relatively undersized for a linebacker of his time. Frank Gifford recalled in “The Whole Ten Yards” (1994), a memoir written with Harry Waters Jr., that “Svare didn’t have a muscle in his body, but he possessed remarkable intensity.
“He became known as a smart linebacker, and to be a smart linebacker in Tom Landry’s defense you had to be very smart,” Gifford said.
How smart was Svare? He became the Giants’ defensive coach in 1960 even while continuing to play, after Landry left to become head coach of the expansion Dallas Cowboys. He retired but remained the defensive coach under Allie Sherman, and then found his way to the Rams, where midway through the 1962 season, he was named head coach at the age of 31 years, 11 months; the youngest in the NFL’s modern era, later passed by Lane Kiffin (31 years, 8 months) and Sean McVay (30 years, 11 months).
But Svare’s head coaching record was poor…21-48-5 overall with the Rams and then the San Diego Chargers (1971-73). In between the two jobs, he went back to the Giants as their defensive coach and then joined Vince Lombardi in Washington in the same role.
Svare’s stint as coach of the Chargers ended in a cloud of controversy. After the 1973 season, the NFL levied a total of $40,000 in fines against eight players as well as owner Eugene Klein and Svare, with the players having been found to have possessed drugs, while Klein and Svare were penalized for lax oversight. The league didn’t disclose the nature of the drugs, but Svare said it was marijuana. One of the players admitted using amphetamines. Svare was fired.
The Last Dance, Episodes 3 and 4
I’m tellin’ ya, ESPN has done a superb job with this series. Sunday was largely about Dennis Rodman. Absolutely loved every minute of it.
Mark Medina / USA TODAY
“Dennis Rodman can be as colorful and unpredictable as his hair.
“ ‘You hear a lot of negative things about Dennis Rodman. But you don’t actually know Dennis Rodman,’ the former Chicago Bulls star said in the third person. ‘They just see what they see on the court and see what they read in the papers. They think he’s a bad person.’”
Sunday showed what a complex person Rodman is, from his body piercings, to his confrontations with opponents and officials, to the celebrities he dated, like Madonna and Carmen Electra.
But “The Last Dance” was a reminder of just what a tremendous rebounder Rodman was. The Bulls also appreciated his transparency and loyalty, so coach Phil Jackson learned to give Rodman some rope.
Michael Jordan said of the 1997-98 season that “Dennis is what held us together” when Scottie Pippen was out, adding, “Dennis was a model citizen to the point where it was driving him (bleeping) insane.”
So when Pippen returned, Rodman asked for a vacation and Jackson relented, with Michael’s not exactly enthusiastic permission.
Rodman then went to Vegas for a 48-hour party with Carmen Electra and other friends, except after 48 hours he was still there.
Jordan then said, “He didn’t come back on time. We had to get his ass out of bed.”
Literally, Jordan knocked on the door of Rodman’s room in Vegas, and while Michael didn’t reveal details, there was a great interview with Ms. Electra, who was looking absolutely phenomenal.
“There was a knock on the door, it’s Michael Jordan, and I hid,” Electra said. “I didn’t want him to see me like that, so I’m just hiding behind the couch with covers over me. ‘Come on, we got to get to practice’ he said.”
“It was definitely an occupational hazard to be Dennis’ girlfriend,” said Carmen.
“To ensure that Rodman would get back in shape, Jackson organized a conditioning drill that forced everyone to match the pace of the players in front of the line. Most of them walked or jogged lightly. When Rodman reached the front of the line, though, Jordan said he held the lead against the rest of his teammates for four laps.
“ ‘He needed to get away. But in all honesty, Dennis was always there,’ observed Michael.”
Dennis Rodman led the NBA in rebounds seven straight seasons. He also had seven games where he had 20 rebounds and 0 points. Next is Marcus Camby with two.
Lastly, to go back to something Walt “Clyde” Frazier said in the first or second episode of “The Last Dance,” a decades-old clip, Frazier was opining about Jordan after he was drafted by the Bulls with the No. 3 pick.
“He’s not 7 foot. So he’s not going to carry a team in the NBA.”
So that attracted a lot of attention on social media and when contacted the other day, Frazier still wouldn’t name Jordan “The GOAT.”
Frazier told the New York Post’s Marc Berman, when asked where he ranks MJ:
“I always ask what’s the criteria when you say the greatest ever. If it’s Superman, it’s Wilt Chamberlain. I have (Kareem) Abdul-Jabbar as a career-leading scorer. Versatility is Oscar Robertson. Winning is Bill Russell. Those are the four guys. Actually I’d say Wilt Chamberlain because when he played in the ‘70s and flied commercial, you go through the airport and people would say either ‘Are you a Globetrotter or Wilt Chamberlain?’ That’s all the people knew.”
Frazier also cited rule changes designed to limit Chamberlain.
“There were only two players they ever changed the rules for in pro basketball – George Mikan and Wilt Chamberlain – widening the lane for them,” Frazier said. “The two guys they had to neutralize by changing some aspect of the game. If not for Chamberlain, nobody would’ve heard of any of us. I don’t know if there would’ve been an NBA. If not for Wilt, and Bill Russell, I don’t know if the NBA would’ve made it.
“I would find it hard to say Mike. Mike is right there with those guys, but if I had to pick, it would be Chamberlain.”
Wake Forest Hoops…and minor sports…
Matt Bonesteel / Washington Post
“Wake Forest’s decision to fire men’s basketball coach Danny Manning on Saturday wasn’t necessarily a bad one. In six seasons under Manning, the Demon Deacons had just one winning season and earned only one NCAA tournament berth….
“They totaled just six ACC road wins over those six seasons and won only one ACC tournament game. Junior guard Chaundee Brown, who would have been Wake Forest’s second-leading returning scorer, had announced he was leaving, either via transfer or the NBA draft. His departure means the Demon Deacons retained exactly zero of the nine players Manning recruited between 2016 and 2018.
“Athletic Director John Currie had plenty of reasons to fire Manning, in other words, but he had one big reason not to: his buyout, which reportedly is somewhere around $15 million. (As a private school, Wake Forest does not have to disclose coaches’ salaries, and Currie declined to discuss the financials when speaking with reporters over the weekend.) That sort of money would be a drain on an athletic department in the best of times. Now, amid the novel coronavirus that has shut down nearly all sports and cast doubt on whether there will be football in the fall, it could be considered a downright dangerous expenditure.
“Nevertheless, Currie said the school will be able to make it work, perhaps because – as the Athletic’s Seth Davis reported – the school has been combing through Manning’s contract to look for ways to reduce the buyout….
“About a week before the school fired Manning, Currie said Wake Forest was able to save about $800,000 in expenses by not playing spring sports, partly offsetting the $2.3 million in NCAA revenue the school did not receive after the cancellation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. All head coaches at the school have taken a pay cut, with Currie and football coach Dave Clawson shaving 10 percent off their salaries. (According to USA Today, Clawson made nearly $2.2 million last season.)
“Currie added that cutting sports, as has happened this spring at Cincinnati and Old Dominion, isn’t the financial panacea some make it out to be. For one, Wake Forest fields only 18 sports, just two above the NCAA-mandated minimum for a school to maintain its upper-echelon Football Bowl Subdivision status. For another, Currie said, many athletes who play for the school’s nonrevenue sports do not receive full scholarships, meaning they’re paying to attend school, anyway.
“ ‘In fact, student-athletes at Wake Forest outside of the aid they receive, are paying about $10 million annually to the university for some or all of their tuition cost,’ Currie said. ‘Just dropping a sport doesn’t necessarily create a net revenue savings for a school.’”
So it’s interesting to get this perspective, after what I wrote last time on schools beginning to eliminate minor sports.
But while Wake Forest’s job opening is an attractive step up for many a coach, it does have the smallest enrollment of any school that competes in a Power Five conference, and only Rice and Tulane have smaller enrollments among FBS schools.
And we have this decade of godawful play, including under Manning’s predecessor Jeff Bzdelik.
And an incredibly apathetic fan base…the Deacs averaging only 6,900 fans per game in a nice coliseum that holds over 14,000.
Supposedly, every fan’s first choice, John Beilein, isn’t under consideration, Beilein’s choice. Currie has promised to move quickly. I’m now of a mood to just name Randolph Childress (who Currie tabbed as interim coach) as coach for one year. No one has a clue what the world will look like in 2021.
--French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Tuesday that no sporting events will take place in the country until at least September, meaning the 2019-20 French football season is effectively over.
The Premier League remains suspended indefinitely, ditto the rest of the Champions League season.
--Shu asked if I had heard of Mesabi Range College in Virginia, Minnesota. Nope, can’t say I had. But it seems WNBA guard Tamara Moore was hired as the men’s basketball coach there, making her the only woman to be the head coach of a men’s basketball program in the country now.
Mesabi is a junior college that plays the likes of Minnesota West, Ridgewater, Northland, Central Lakes and Lake Superior, all members of the Minnesota Community College Conference.
I do like their nickname, the Norsemen.
And looking at the schedule, Wake Forest would have a shot at a few ‘Ws’.
--I’ve been watching old heavyweight fights. Two of them Monday night involved my man Earnie Shavers, but they weren’t his best; a first-round knockout by Jerry Quarry in Dec. 1973 (great YouTube video of the pre-fight introductions of Ali, Frazier and George Foreman, especially given what was to come between those three). The second was a fascinating bout between Shavers and another brutal puncher, Ron Lyle, from Sept. 1975. Shavers had Lyle knocked out in the second, only for Lyle to be saved by the bell, and then Lyle fought back to knockout Shavers in the sixth.
Next up…watch a few Oscar Bonavena fights. Then I’ll switch to Thomas Hearns this weekend. [A few prelims before “Hagler/Hearns”.]
--The other day Allan Ripp had a piece in the Wall Street Journal on the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, which, aside from the Kennedy assassination in 1963, is probably my first vivid memory of things growing up (though I also remember nap time in nursery school and a fish tank in my pediatrician’s office…plus the Beatles’ first appearance on “Ed Sullivan,” Feb. 9, 1964).
So in his stay-at-home mode from NYC, Mr. Ripp said he was perusing his official guide to the fair that he had picked up at a vintage shop in Hudson, N.Y. (an interesting community, I have to add), and while he grew up in Pittsburgh and didn’t make it to the fair, he said he marveled at the futuristic pavilions and drive-through dioramas (in a Ford convertible) from the pages of Life Magazine on his grandparents’ porch.
You can buy the 312-page guide online, but what you learn is the world’s fair was a giant trade show, and I remember some of the stuff vividly. In fact, I won a very cool Ford Torino model for screaming the loudest at one exhibit.
Mr. Ripp said he was fascinated by displays in the guide like for Schrafft’s restaurants and cocktail lounges (33 locations across the city). Yes, this is a bit parochial, but some of us growing up vividly remember Schrafft’s. And at the World’s Fair, it had a pavilion where you could purchase a ham sandwich and soup for 95 cents. Schrafft’s was also known for its ice cream, which is why our family would from time to time go to one when we were in the Big Apple.
But the fair was really about the future of technology, with General Electric touting “an all-electric city”!
Technology and beer, that is.
Rheingold recreated old New York for its pavilion, a “cobblestoned, gaslighted New York City street of 1904,” with occasional appearances by a barbershop quartet (not big on this…used to get dragged to see them at local concerts by my parents) and Miss Rheingold herself! [I was into that.]
Schaefer created the longest bar in the world, 100-feet long.
Seeing as I was only six and not drinking beer yet, my parents didn’t take my brother and I into these last two exhibitions.
--This Saturday, NBC will air the leadup to the 2015 Kentucky Derby that kicked off American Pharoah’s Triple Crown run. [Bet on Pharoah…just a little tip from moi…] The broadcast will also highlight Churchill Downs’ first-ever virtual race – The Kentucky Derby…a computer-simulated version. If you are using a Commodore computer, don’t bet on this one.
Top 3 songs for the week 4/27/74: #1 “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” (MFSB featuring The Three Degrees) #2 “Bennie And The Jets” (Elton John…this and “Your Song” my two favorites of his…) #3 “Best Thing That Happened Ever To Me” (Gladys Knight & The Pips…always had a problem with this group…kind of like my mother not liking Anne Murray…)…and…#4 “The Loco-Motion” (Grand Funk) #5 “Oh My My” (Ringo Starr) #6 “Hooked On A Feeling” (Blue Swede) #7 “Come And Get Your Love” (Redbone) #8 “Dancing Machine” (The Jackson 5…possibly their worst ‘hit’…) #9 “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song” (Jim Croce…his best…OK, “Time In A Bottle” also solid…) #10 “Lookin’ For A Love” (Bobby Womack…no relation to former Yankee pitcher Dooley Womack… ‘B’ week…)
*Just looked up Dooley Womack’s record. The guy was OK! Pitching from 1966-70 with the Yankees and others, he had a 19-18 record in 193 games, but with a solid 2.95 ERA. In 1967, for an otherwise godawful Yankees team (72-90), Womack was 5-6, 2.41, but with 18 saves. Kind of makes you want to treat the kid out of Columbia, S.C., with a little more respect, as Pigpen would have said.
College Baseball Quiz Answer: Where the following Golden Spikes Award winners went to college…Andrew Benintendi (Univ. of Arkansas), Kris Bryant (Univ. of San Diego), Trevor Bauer (UCLA), Bryce Harper (College of Southern Nevada), Stephen Strasburg (San Diego State), Buster Posey (Florida State), David Price (Vanderbilt), Tim Lincecum (Univ. of Washington).
Next Bar Chat, Monday.