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Normal Seems Far Away
[Posted Sun. p.m.]
*I was really looking forward to Talladega, but, alas, persistent thunderstorms moved the race to Monday…with a forecast that is not much better. Drat!
Baseball Quiz: In the history of the game, there are only two catchers who have caught four no-hitters…both playing post-1960 (and it’s not Jeff Torborg, who caught three). Name ‘em. Answer below.
The State of Sports…not good….
Reality keeps hitting us in the face. Every time there is a shred of hope, we get a negative headline that dashes it. Only the last few days, we’ve had a slew of headlines that calls into serious question whether we’ll see a mini-baseball season, a completion of the NBA and NHL seasons, and college football and the NFL in the fall.
All of these sports have been hit by a slew of positive Covid-19 test results, some symptomatic.
Just a partial list, and accounting, for the record…frankly, at this point, it’s tough to keep up:
Glenn Guilbeau / Lafayette Daily Advertiser (La.)
“Someone needs to get that message across concerning the coronavirus pandemic that, yes, it’s still a pandemic.
“ ‘People keep talking about a second wave,’ Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the preeminent authority on Covid-19, told the Wall Street Journal last week.
“ ‘We’re still in a first wave,’ said Fauci….
“Maybe another bit of news on Saturday will get Louisianans – and everyone hopefully – to wake up and put on their masks and stop pretending it’s over, or acting out over some sense of rebellion that is more juvenile than courageous.
“At least 30 LSU football players have recently been quarantined because they have tested positive…or have had contact with someone who did.
“They are all young and in great shape, so they likely will be done with the virus in a couple of days if they have not already gotten over it. But maybe the fact that Covid-19 has now hit home in Louisiana at that most sacred part of the house – LSU Football – people will get it that it is not over.
“ ‘The reality is every Louisianan needs to do a gut check on whether he or she has been slacking off on taking proper precautions,’ Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Thursday as the first wave rolled onward in Louisiana.”
There were 1,231 new cases on Saturday in the state…25 deaths.
Glenn Guilbeau and others point out the Tigerland bar circuit should be closed to all LSU athletes for the time being, but this is just one example of the issues faced in returning.
Kansas State yesterday announced it is pausing all voluntary football workouts for 14 days, as testing of more than 130 athletes revealed 14 positive tests. They are all in self-isolation for 10 days and until the patient is without fever for 72 hours without medication, whichever takes longer.
The University of Texas on Thursday said 13 players had tested positive or were presumed positive for Covid-19.
Clemson announced Friday that 28 members of its athletics department had tested positive in the month of June out of 315 tests, the vast majority of those being football players and staff (the number 23 has been reported…21 players, two staff). A week ago, Clemson announced two football players and one men’s basketball player had tested positive. “Most” of the cases are asymptomatic, according to the school, and none have required hospitalization.
According to a database compiled by USA TODAY Sports, at least 29 NCAA Division I schools have reported positive coronavirus tests.
Four college football games involving historically black colleges and universities have been cancelled because of the pandemic, making them the first casualties of the season.
Games like Southern University vs. Tennessee State and Southern’s game against Florida A&M, both of which were to be held at neutral sites in Memphis and Detroit.
Other neutral site games could be at risk, including the season opener, Alabama playing USC in Arlington, Texas.
A big issue is while some games are financially feasible even without fans due to television receives. In the case of the HBCUs, they can’t afford to travel to Detroit, for example, and split up essentially zero revenue. At least with Alabama-USC, you have network revenue, plus ‘Bama was guaranteed $6 million and USC reportedly a similar amount.
But that was contingent, no doubt, on 81,000+ packing Jerry World. Texas has been spiking in its Covid #s as well.
The aforementioned Tony Fauci said the other day that he couldn’t conceive of how the NFL could stage a season amid the pandemic.
“If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year,” Fauci told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta.
“Unless players are essentially in a bubble – insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day – it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Fauci told CNN.
If the NFL and NCAA seasons were to be cancelled, broadcasters including ViacomCBS Inc., Fox Corp., Comcast Corp. and Walt Disney Co. would be among the most exposed. More than 80% of the 50 most-watched programs on TV last year were NFL games.
In response to Fauci’s comments, the NFL provided a statement from their Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills that details the league’s efforts to prepare to play in 2020. They include a rapid-result testing program and protocols for players and team personnel based on the guidance of public health officials.
“Dr. Fauci has identified the important health and safety issues we and the NFL Players Association, together with our joint medical advisors, are addressing to mitigate the health risk to players, coaches and other essential personnel,” Sills said. “Make no mistake, this is no easy task.”
Monday, several players from the Cowboys and Texans were reported to have tested positive, including Ezekiel Elliott.
So that gave President Trump an opening, since he’s been all about reopening himself ahead of the Election.
“Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening. However, if they don’t stand for our National Anthem and our Great American Flag, I won’t be watching!!!,” the president tweeted.
This afternoon, the medical director for the NFL Players Association is advising players to avoid working out with teammates to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
All Major League Baseball training camps have been temporarily closed after multiple teams reported positive coronavirus tests on Friday.
Here is the irony. A month ago, MLB and the NBA, as well as some NFL teams, were confident they could hold informal workouts in Arizona and Florida, as those two states had low numbers for Covid-19. Remember, the heat was also supposed to play a positive role in keeping infections down.
[The NBA is set to resume its season in Orlando end of July, but with Florida’s spike, this is seriously in doubt.]
But then we were hit with the news the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jay, San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers all announced they were shutting down their camps after players either tested positive or were displaying symptoms consistent with the virus.
The Giants had a staff member test positive at their site in Arizona, as well as a family member who was exhibiting symptoms, while the Rangers said that while no players tested positive as yet, they wanted to expand their testing procedures.
Other teams have reported players testing positive at informal workouts, such as the Astros.
The irony is that the Mets and Yankees are now, at last report, going to hold their workouts, and spring training, if an agreement is reached on a partial season, back in New York at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, because New York is in much better shape than Florida at this point.
As for the labor negotiations over a partial season, the players union said in a statement Friday night, “MLB has informed the Association that it will not respond to our last proposal (of a 70-game schedule) and will not play more than 60 games. Our Executive Board will convene in the near future to determine next steps. Importantly, Players remain committed to getting back to work as soon as possible.”
[At this point, I’m not going into details of the MLBPA proposal, after both sides had seemingly agreed on a 60-game schedule at full pro-rated salaries. If there ever is an agreement we’ll learn the final details together.]
But with Friday’s developments at the training camps, we’re left with a sobering reminder of how difficult it will be to pull off a season for any team sport.
Dr. Fauci said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that if baseball restarts, it shouldn’t play too deep into the fall.
Well this afternoon, when the players were supposed to vote on the owners’ 60-game plan, Rob Manfred instead sent a letter saying that with the spikes in Florida and Arizona, MLB couldn’t possibly start Spring Training II until June 29 at the earliest.
Meanwhile, the NHL, with the aid of Canadian public health officials, are working on a plan, now approved by both sides, that could see one of three Canadian cities become a hub city when the league resumes play.
Canada’s top doctor and her counterparts in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario approved the plan, as the NHL considers Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver for one of its two hubs when play resumes later this summer.
Seriously, the league should just go with Vancouver and Edmonton, from my reading of the Covid figures.
NFL, part deux
--Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott is expected to sign his $31.4 million exclusive franchise tender by Monday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The two sides have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal.
By signing his tender, Prescott will be contractually obligated to report to training camp on time, whether or not he and the Cowboys can figure out a long-term deal.
Kind of easy decision to make these days, don’t you think?
“You just won Powerball…but you have to sign a piece of paper first.”
--We note the passing of former Miami Dolphins running back Jim Kiick, 73. Kiick, along with Hall of Famer Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris, formed what the NFL Network called “The Perfect Backfield," as well as one-half of the Dolphins’ legendary “Butch and Sundance” tandem with Csonka.
Kiick’s daughter, Allie, a top tennis player, said she was not permitted to visit her father’s room because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s not clear if Kiick tested for the disease.
While Kiick’s statistics were overshadowed by Csonka’s and Morris’, he is a big reason why they had a perfect 17-0 season in 1972. Kiick scored the winning touchdown in all three of that team’s postseason victories.
Kiick had at least 500 yards rushing each season, 1968-72, Kiick’s playing time cut some by the emergence of the dynamic Morris, while Csonka was getting his 15 carries a game.
But Kiick was a big receiver out of the backfield and did the little things, a terrific fifth-round find out of Wyoming, with 3,644 yards on the ground in his seven seasons in Miami, plus 221 receptions for a 10.0 yard average, before finishing up his career with spot duty in Denver.
--The Washington Redskins made a big move…announcing Saturday they were retiring Bobby Mitchell’s No. 49 number and displaying his jersey in the rafters, while renaming the lower level of FedExField in his honor. The lower bowl of the stadium had previously been named after former owner George Preston Marshall, whose memorial outside RFK Stadium was removed on Friday.
Mitchell played for Washington from 1962-68 and was a three-time All-Pro wide receiver. The Hall of Famer was also the first black player in franchise history, 16 years after the NFL began integration. He died back in April at the age of 84.
“Bobby was our Jackie Robinson,” former Redskins safety Brig Owens said in a statement released by the team.
The other number retired in team history is No. 33, which belonged to Sammy Baugh.
As for the racist Marshall, he had prevented integration in his organization, but the federal government – led by then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy – pressured him to do so. Marshall’s plan was to draft running back Ernie Davis out of Syracuse, but Davis refused to play for Marshall. So the Browns and Redskins struck a deal to send Mitchell to the nation’s capital.
--Editorial / Washington Post
“ ‘But how, in these times, do you raise kids in the nation’s capital, ask them to look at the pain and the strife racial injustice has caused in their hometown and their home country, walk them through steps they can take to make things better, and then have them Hail to the Redskins on Sundays? It’s so incongruent it makes your head hurt.’ So wrote Post sports columnist Barry Svrluga in calling on Washington football team owner Daniel Snyder to rename the team in light of the national reckoning over racial injustice that has been sparked by the killing of George Floyd….
“Over the years, there have been many calls for the team to jettison its name because it is a slur that denigrates and disrespects Native Americans. Throughout, Mr. Snyder has been dismissive, if not downright contemptuous. ‘NEVER – you can use caps’ he famously told USA TODAY in 2013 when he was asked about changing the name. But the breadth and intensity of the demands for an end to racial injustice that have gripped the country as the result of Mr. Floyd’s tragic death put a new edge to the debate and the demand for change.
“Already, institutions across the board have been forced to take stock of how their practices and policies and – yes – even the names and symbols of their products have contributed to racial misunderstanding and prejudice…
“This should be an easy call. Mr. Snyder – or, if Mr. Snyder refuses to back down from his declaration of ‘NEVER,’ the NFL – should take advantage of this singular moment in history to get on the right side of history. Change the name. NOW.”
I’ve said for years this should be a layup. Change the name to Red Clouds. Chief Red Cloud was a noble, terrific warrior. [Kicked our butt more than once, which your editor kind of likes, having been to the site of the Fetterman Massacre, for one.]
PGA Tour, Act II
--We had the second event of the reopening, the RBC Heritage down at Hilton Head, S.C., and the big storyline Friday was that Nick Watney had to withdraw prior to the start of round two because he had tested positive for Covid-19, the first affiliated with the Tour to do so.
Watney, who had tested negative on Tuesday when he arrived on site, woke up Friday with symptoms and asked to be tested again. Watney then waited in the parking lot awaiting the result and Brooks Koepka said he stood near him there. Rory McIlroy said he saw Watney before his round from a distance on the practice putting green.
“He feels badly that he was here today at the golf course,” McIlroy said. “I said, look, it’s fine. You never know. So I said to him, if I was in your position, I probably would have been here, too. Look, at this point, you just have to concentrate on getting better and getting healthy….
“We’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Until this thing’s over, we all just have to stay vigilant and keep your distance and wear our masks if we’re going out in public and keep washing our hands.”
Watney shot a 74 in the first round, playing with Vaughn Taylor and Luke List, who were notified of the result through nine holes of the second round Friday.
“I was a little shocked, to be honest,” Taylor said. “Heart started racing, got a little nervous. Just hope Nick’s doing well and we get through this. I didn’t have any close contact with Nick yesterday. We kept our space. We didn’t shake hands. Right after the round, I washed my hands. Nick never coughed or sneezed. So I feel comfortable.”
Everything Vaughn Taylor mentioned is what everyone of us has to think about if we found out after the fact someone we were around the day before had tested positive.
Watney was immediately quarantined at Harbor Town for 14 days.
According to the Tour, a total of 369 players, caddied and essential personnel underwent on-site testing before the start of the tournament, with no positive results. There were 954 total tests without a positive result in the first two weeks of the tour’s restart following the 13-week shutdown.
Jordan Spieth said: “The whole plan put in place was not if but when somebody tests positive. What’s the protocol, and what’s the next steps? So I feel confident just in being on those phone calls in what the PGA Tour’s going to do going forward here, and hopefully contact tracing doesn’t lead to anybody else testing positive within the bubble.
“South Carolina’s open. If you go anywhere to a restaurant, there’s a lot of people there right now. So I guess that’s probably the best case is that he got it on his own outside.”
Justin Thomas told Joel Beall of Golfworld (Golf Digest) that Hilton Head was “a zoo.”
“I mean, no offense to Hilton Head, but they’re seeming to not take it very seriously. It’s an absolute zoo around here. There’s people everywhere. The beaches are absolutely packed. Every restaurant, from what I’ve seen when I’ve been driving by, is absolutely crowded. So I would say it’s no coincidence that there’s got to be a lot of stuff going on around here.
“Unfortunately, that’s not on Nick because I know he’s very cautious and has done everything he can, but I would say a lot of people in this area of Hilton Head just aren’t.”
Watney, by the way, according to sources and fellow players, believes an alarming reading on his WHOOP fitness tracker Friday alerted him to the fact he needed to be tested again. Rory McIlroy said he talked to Watney Friday and he told him the WHOOP strap had recorded his respiratory rate (number of breaths taken in a minute) went up during the night, which we’re told is a tell-tale sign that you might have something.
South Carolina has been recording daily highs in new cases the past week.
--Meanwhile, there was a tournament being played, and talk about chaos on the leaderboard….
Entering the final round today…
Tyrell Hatton -15
Abraham Ancer -15
Ryan Palmer -15
Webb Simpson -15
Carlos Ortiz -14
Daniel Berger -14…last week’s winner
Joel Dahmen -14
Eight more at -13!
This event is normally held in April and what has the change to June meant? Well conditions are perfect, but there were 35 players in double digits under par heading into the final round, and this compares with a previous high of just seven, and Dustin Johnson was the lone guy at 10 under after Saturday last year.
So we had a little freakin’ thunderstorm settle near enough to the course to cause concern, and a multi-hour delay, but in the end….
Webb Simpson wins…No. 7 on the PGA Tour…[one ahead of fellow Demon Deac Bill Haas, who made the cut, which was an accomplishment these days for him.]
The Belmont Stakes
There was little of the suspense that would normally accompany the first leg of the Triple Crown, but that’s normally the Kentucky Derby. Instead, we had the Belmont Stakes, and not a mile-and-a-half, but 1 1/8. And no Bob Baffert super horses, as in Nadal and Charlatan (out with injuries, and possibly other issues).
But it was Triple Crown racing, and the prohibitive favorite Tiz the Law pulled away down the stretch, impressively, winning by 3 ¾ lengths.
There was no crowd, no buzz, but we have a good story for the Derby when it is run as the second leg on Sept. 5. 82-year-old trainer Barclay Tagg may have another shot at his first Triple Crown.
Tagg, the incredibly soft-spoken legend of his sport, had a chance in 2003 when Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but he finished third in the Belmont.
Yes, it was a weak field yesterday, but jockey Manny Franco, masterfully selected by Tagg, won his first Triple Crown race.
Steve Serby / New York Post
“No matter what order the races are run in, somebody gets to carry a dream into the second leg of a sport that has illustrated how to effectively leave a merciless, remorseless pandemic that has delayed and threatens to compromise or further interrupt all the other major professional sports back in the starting gate.
“And that somebody, following a taped ‘Riders up’ from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a taped Sinatra ‘New York, New York’ will be Tiz the Law, who won by four lengths over Dr. Post with a furious finishing kick that would have made Secretariat proud. Tiz the Law, the first New York-bred horse to win the Belmont Stakes in 138 years.
“That somebody will be jockey Manny Franco.
“That somebody will be 82-year-old trainer Barclay Tagg.
“And that somebody will be Sackatoga Stable owner Jack Knowlton….
“No one can predict how MLB, if it ever decides to give us a shortened season, and the NBA, NHL and NFL will fare against the pandemic, how many more positive tests there will be, how many will be quarantined.
“When you talk about ‘New York tough,’ you can start with the NYRA, because the NYRA was the first to defy these long odds.
“ ‘Tiz the Law ran for all of us and won, embodying what it means to be New York tough,’ Gov. Cuomo said in a statement. ‘It was a different Belmont this year but thanks to all for making this iconic racing event happen.’
“Win, place and show for the Sport of Kings.”
[Our in-house experts, Johnny Mac and Shu, flamed out…neither winning the $2.95 and a Colonial Penn Life term insurance policy from Jonathan Lawson, 15-year veteran at Penn Mutual.]
--The Premier League is off and running again, with no fans, and I have to admit I have caught little of the action. It’s important to finish off the season in order to give Liverpool its proper due for its spectacular campaign and first title since 1989-90.
But in the very first game back on Wednesday, Aston Villa and Sheffield United, the two played out a goalless draw in a match memorable for powerful statements before kick-off – and a major technology controversy.
At a largely deserted Villa Park, the players of both sides and officials took a knee for 10 seconds immediately before kick-off in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
This was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of those who have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
And then in the game, Sheffield United were the victims of a serious first-half injustice when Villa keeper Orjan Nyland fell behind his goalline clutching Oliver Norwood’s free-kick in the 41st minute, only for referee Michael Oliver’s watch fail to signal a goal.
The operator of the PL’s goalline technology system apologized afterwards.
“Hawkeye” said it “unreservedly apologizes,” and acknowledged that the ball had gone over the line.
The company added it was the first time such an error had occurred in more than 9,000 matches using the system.
So today, Everton and Liverpool played to a 0-0 draw, meaning the Reds might have a chance to wrap up their title this coming Wednesday.
In another important contest, Chelsea improved its top four standing with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa, as 21-year-old American Christian Pulisic tallied for the Blues.
Standings after 29/30 of 38…matches, points…top four Champions League…
1. Liverpool 30 – 83
2. Man City 29 – 60
3. Leicester 30 – 54
4. Chelsea 30 – 51
5. Man U 30 – 46
6. Wolves 30 – 46
8. Tottenham 30 – 42 …rats!
--The Champions League, suspended in March due to Covid-19, will be completed with an eight-team mini-tournament which will be held in Lisbon in August.
The quarterfinals and semifinals will be staged over one leg, instead of the usual two, with the final to be held on Aug. 23, UEFA said Wednesday.
First, there will be four last-16, second leg matches that needed to be held, while Paris St. Germain, Atletico Madrid, Atalanta and RB Leipzig have already qualified for the quarterfinals.
--Spanish football’s international viewing figures have increased by over 48 percent since the season returned after being halted for three months due to the pandemic, organizing body La Liga said on Thursday.
Citing a study by Nielsen Sports of the first round of matches since the campaign resumed on June 11 without fans, La Liga said its biggest audience bounce came in Africa, where it received a 73 percent boost in viewers. Africa does indeed love European football…the fans pick a team just like everyone else does around the world, like me with Tottenham.
In Europe, audiences for La Liga increased by 72 percent, including by 130 percent in Belgium, which cancelled its domestic season.
A Wednesday afternoon Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City averaged 518,000 viewers in the U.S., the third-largest weekday EPL audience since the NBC networks began airing coverage in 2014 (ex-holidays, like New Year’s Day).
The Impact of the Protests
--The NCAA became the latest organization to take action in condemnation of the Confederate flag, saying Friday that it would not hold championship events in states where it “has a prominent presence.”
The ban primarily affects Mississippi, whose flag features the 13 white stars and blue bars of the Confederate flag in the top left corner.
“There is no place in college athletics or the world for symbols or acts of discrimination and oppressions,” said Michael V. Drake, the outgoing president of the Ohio State University who presides over the NCAA Board of Governors.
The NCAA’s announcement came less than a day after Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey called upon Mississippi to remove the Confederate emblem from its flag if the state wanted to continue hosting league championship events. In practice, that would preclude Mississippi and Mississippi State from hosting the most important conference games, which also are substantial revenue generating opportunities for universities. Ole Miss’s nickname, the Rebels, is a reference to the Confederate army.
--Dodgers superstar Clayton Kershaw took to social media to proclaim not only that Black lives matter, but that it was his responsibility to help dismantle the systemic racism that for centuries has said otherwise.
“Silence won’t cut it,” he tweeted. “We have to start by saying something and STANDING up for our Black brothers and sisters. I want to listen, I want to learn, I want to do better and be different. I want my kids to be different.”
In a Friday morning interview with the Los Angeles Times’ LZ Granderson, Kershaw told him:
“My whole career, I haven’t been very vocal on different issues because I didn’t feel that social media was the right platform. Words can only do so much. You really need to be action-based. But I spoke with my Black teammates and my Black coaches and they basically told me, ‘Your silence is speaking volumes right now.’ That really hit me.”
He vows that the tweet is not a one-off.
“To be a white person and not say anything, I really felt like more and more that I was a part of the problem. I felt like I needed to do something, to speak out. It’s still just words, so I will follow that up with action.”
Throughout his career, “Kershaw has been a positive change agent… Through his nonprofit organization, Kershaw’s Challenge, and his partnership with Arise Africa, he has been a consistent pillar of philanthropy, especially on behalf of people of color.” [LZ Granderson]
--The Twins removed a statue of former owner Calvin Griffith from outside Target Field over racist comments he made during a speech in southern Minnesota in 1978.
The Twins said in part in a statement on Friday:
“Our decision to memorialize Calvin Griffith with a statue reflects an ignorance on our part of systemic racism present in 1978, 2010 and today. We apologize for our failure to adequately recognize how the statue was viewed and pain it caused for many people – both inside the Twins organization and across Twins Territory. We cannot remove Calvin Griffith from the history of the Minnesota Twins, but we believe removal of this statue is an important and necessary step in our ongoing commitment to provide a Target Field experience where every fan and employee feels safe and welcome.”
Griffith said in 1978 that he uprooted the franchise from Washington, D.C. in 1961 “when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here.”
--We note the passing of former N.L. Cy Young Award winner, Mike McCormick, who died at the age of 81 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
McCormick played 16 years in the majors from 1956 to 1971 with the Giants, Orioles, Senators, Yankees and Royals, compiling a 134-128, 3.73 ERA career mark.
But his greatest accomplishments came with the Giants.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Mike McCormick, a true gentleman and forever Giant,” Giants president and CEO Larry Baer said. “Like many Giants fans, I have many fond childhood memories of watching Mike pitch at Candlestick Park and then was blessed to call him my friend these past 30 years. As a member of the inaugural San Francisco Giants team in 1958, Mike helped establish baseball on the West Coast and then went on to play a major role in the legendary Giants teams of the 1960s, becoming San Francisco’s first pitcher to win a Cy Young Award.”
McCormick won at least 10 games each year from 1958 to ’61 and led the N.L. in ERA in 1960 at 2.70 when he was named to the All-Star team for the first of two times.
He was then traded to Baltimore following the 1962 season and struggled for four seasons in the A.L. with the Orioles and Senators.
Washington then traded him back to the Giants following the 1966 season and he had a remarkable bounce-back season, going 22-10, leading the league in wins while posting a 2.85 ERA. For this he was awarded the Cy Young. I remember as a newbie baseball fan kind of thinking, Mike McCormick? But we were all pouring over the box scores in the papers in those days and Mr. McCormick kept racking up ‘Ws’.
McCormick is also recognized as the player who hit the 500th home run ever by a pitcher, which I found surprising, while he gave up Hank Aaron’s 500th. Because of this, his personalized license plate read “Mr. 500.”
--Dale Earnhardt Jr. is joining his late father as a first-ballot NASCAR Hall of Famer, having been selected for induction the other day, along with Mike Stefanik and Red Farmer.
Earnhardt actually ‘only’ won 26 times, but had 260 top-10 finishes in 631 Cup Series races. Perhaps more importantly for the sport, he was voted NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver 15 times and his retirement, due to a series of concussions, hurt NASCAR bigly.
--Muhammad Ali had nine children, but only one son, Muhammad Ali Jr., who like his father is a Muslim.
The New York Post caught up with him on the fourth anniversary of his father’s death, and the son says that his father would be against Black Lives Matter, calling the movement “racist” and the protesters “devils,” which I found kind of fascinating but won’t comment on.
Ali, the boxer and activist, stood up against racism throughout his life, but Muhammad Ali Jr. says his dad would have been sickened by how the protests have turned to violence and looting after the death of George Floyd.
In his day, Ali was politically ambivalent most of his life, once endorsing liberal Democrat Jimmy Carter but supporting the reelection of Republican Ronald Reagan (who was backed by only 9 percent of black people).
Muhammad Ali Jr. is struggling to make ends meet, the Post reports, receiving only a $1,000 monthly allowance out of Ali’s estate.
--Brad K. passed on this horrifying tale from the Daily Star of the UK.
“An alcoholic monkey who terrorized a community in India by biting more than 250 people in a rampage after his booze supply ran dry will now be locked away in a zoo for life.
“The alcohol-dependent beast, known as Kalua, is understood to have been a pet of an occultist who made it drink booze at his home in Mirzapur in the county of Uttar Pradesh. But, when the owner died, the supply of hard liquor became impossible for the monkey to come by, leading it to prowl the streets in a furious rampage.
“It was claimed that dozens of children were left needing surgery after Kalua sliced open their faces with his fangs.
“Local media reported that one of the 250 victims had later died.”
I’ve always said there’s a difference between drinking Coors Light and hard stuff. Coors Light drinkers, when denied their supply, do not go on rampages. We just switch to Bud Light.
Top 3 songs for the week 6/21/69: #1 “Get Back” (The Beatles with Billy Preston) #2 “Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet” (Henry Mancini…the next week it hit #1 for two weeks…before one of the worst #1 songs of all-time, “In The Year 2525” ruled for six f’n weeks!...what were we thinking, sports fans…) #3 “Bad Moon Rising” (Creedence Clearwater Revival…peaked at #2…should have been #1…but noooo….)…and…#4 “In The Ghetto” (Elvis Presley…terrific tune…) #5 “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” (Marvin Gaye…wish he was still alive, especially today. Would have been 81…) #6 “One” (Three Dog Night…another great one…) #7 “Love (Can Make You Happy)” (Mercy) #8 “Grazing In The Grass” (The Friends of Distinction) #9 “Good Morning Starshine” (Oliver) #10 “Spinning Wheel” (Blood, Sweat & Tears…not a bad tune in the bunch… ‘A’…deal with it…Zager and Evans would hit the following week, which would have resulted in a ‘D’…)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Jason Varitek and Carlos Ruiz have each caught four no-hitters, which shocked the hell out of me.
Varitek: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Derek Lowe, Hideo Nomo.
Ruiz: Roy Halladay (2), Cole Hamels (6 innings…then three others), and Hamels a full nine.
Aside from Torborg, Charles Johnson also caught three, in case you were thinking of him.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday…or probably sooner.