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Fingers Remain Crossed
[Posted Tues. p.m.]
MLB Quiz: Shu sent me a note the other day noting how Connie Mack, who managed in 7,755 games from 1894-1950, had been ejected just once, which is rather staggering. So name the top six in ejections all time. [I’m going to give you Frankie Frisch. The other five are all Hall of Famers, as is Frisch. Four would be considered ‘modern era’ for the purposes of this quiz, having managed a considerable amount of time in 1960 and beyond.] Answer below.
MLB, NBA Reopening?
Who the hell knows. Today, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver expressed doubt due to the numbers…kind of simple.
Ditto baseball…but we go on, for now.
--Ryan Zimmerman has been a fixture in Washington since the franchise moved from Montreal in 2005, but if baseball is able to launch its 60-game season, Zimmerman will be absent.
The heart and soul of the Nationals’ clubhouse, along with teammate pitcher Joe Ross, have opted out of the abbreviated season “for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones,” the team announced.
Arizona pitcher Mike Leake, and Colorado utility man Ian Desmond, also opted out, both forfeiting $5.2 million in prorated salary.
Zimmerman cited his family circumstances – he has three young children, including a newborn, and a mother who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis – as the reason for his decision.
“Everyone knows how much it means to me to be a part of a team, and I will miss that camaraderie dearly this year,” Zimmerman said in a statement. “Of course I would love to pursue back-to-back titles. I cannot speak for anyone else, but given the unusual nature of the season, this is the best decision for me and my family, and I truly appreciate the organization’s understanding and support.”
Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun is uncertain MLB will be able to pull off a season.
“I’m optimistic that we will play games, but obviously, if we look at what’s happening in the country, the COVID numbers are not good. There are a significant number of athletes who have tested positive, which is indicative of the overall numbers in our country right now.”
Ian Desmond, an 11-year veteran, announced his decision Monday night at the end of a lengthy Instagram post about police brutality, racial injustice and the lack of baseball’s accessibility for far too many youths.
“With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now,” said Desmond, who is biracial. “Home for my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys’ questions about coronavirus and civil rights and life. Home to be their Dad.”
Separately, Desmond wrote about the lack of inclusion in baseball.
In part: “In clubhouses we’ve got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems. We’ve got cheating. We’ve got a minority issue from the top down. One African American GM. Two African American managers. Less than 8% Black players. No Black majority team owners.
“Perhaps most disheartening of all is a puzzling lack of focus on understanding how to change those numbers. A lack of focus on making baseball accessible and possible for all kids, not just those who are privileged enough to afford it. If baseball is America’s pastime, maybe it’s never been a more fitting one than now.”
Desmond’s comment about making baseball more accessible for all kids is what some of who care about the game’s future worry about most.
--MLB hasn’t announced its schedule yet, but with play slated to begin July 23 or 24, the New York Post is reporting that the Yankees and Nationals are set to meet, which would mean Gerrit Cole against either Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg; Cole having pitched against the Nats in the World Series last fall.
The Yankees are hopeful Aaron Judge has fully recovered from a rib injury that bothered him during spring training in Florida.
--Sadly, as if there was ever any doubt, Minor League Baseball will have no partial season. Who knows what will happen come next fall and the offseason in terms of decisions made about the future.
Thousands and thousands of jobs lost. Thousands of local businesses, who relied on the 50 to 70 or so home games (depending on what kind of league the franchise was in) for survival. Gone.
Hopefully, many of the owners can afford a lost season, but the minor league franchises depend on the health of the parent as well, and this was a sport that MLB was looking to slash numbers to begin with.
For now, some of the teams have been trying like heck to bring in a little revenue by renting out their facilities for overnight outings. Or in-park restaurants, farmers markets, drive-in movies…anything.
Some are holding high school or college tournaments, or adult softball leagues.
For now, say a little prayer for the employees, the players, the owners and the local communities.
On to the NBA.
Just take a look at the Brooklyn Nets. Already slated to play without superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie have now tested positive for Covid-19. Jordan ruled himself out of the Orlando restart while Dinwiddie left the door open, but as the Nets struggle to make the playoffs, seventh in the East with the eight-game regular-season wrap-up before the postseason.
Lastly, the NHL said Monday that 26 players have tested positive for coronavirus.
--About two hours after I posted Sunday night, we had a bombshell announcement…quarterback Cam Newton had signed a one-year contract to play for the Patriots…and it wasn’t the only big story breaking concerning New England.
Dan Shaughnessy / Boston Globe
“There was Patriots news everywhere Sunday night. For the third time since 2007, the Patriots were spanked by the NFL in a cheating scandal, this time losing $1.1 million and a third-round pick for videotaping an upcoming opponent’s sideline.
“While this story was breaking, the New York Times resurfaced a Globe report that a three-judge panel in Florida this week will review a ruling that tossed video evidence from Bob Kraft’s solicitation charges at the Orchids of Asia spa in January of 2019.
“Oh, and in the same evening, we learned that Cam Newton, a former Super Bowl quarterback who was MVP of the NFL in 2015, is signing a one-year, make-good contract with the Patriots.
“That’s a lot of news in the middle of a pandemic when no games are being played in any of our four major sports.
“The Newton news trumps all. It’s the biggest pandemic sports news in Boston since St. Patrick’s Day, when we woke up to Tom Brady telling us he was taking his talents to Tampa Bay.
“Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
“A New England sports world with Cam Newton quarterbacking the Patriots is a better sports world for all of us. It enhances the Brady-vs.-Belichick narrative that has gripped the region for the past couple of years. It keeps the Patriots as favorites in the AFC East. The Bills, Dolphins, and Jets are Charlie Brown, and Lucy just pulled the football away. Again.
“If Cam Newton is healthy enough to be starting quarterback of the Patriots, it will scare the hell out of the rest of the NFL.
“Imagine Josh McDaniels (who likes mobile quarterbacks) tweaking the Patriots offense to take advantage of Newton’s running skills. Imagine the Patriots with a big, mobile quarterback with a big arm and a big chip on his shoulder. Imagine the fashion statements Newton can make at the Gillette Stadium podium after games….
“Five years ago, Newton was The Big Thing in the NFL. A Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick, he threw for 3,837 yards and 35 touchdowns in his 15-1 Super Bowl season. He was MVP in a season when Brady and Peyton Manning were playoff quarterbacks. In his career, he has rushed for 58 touchdowns and almost 5,000 yards.
“Shoulder and foot issues derailed his career, and it’s hard to know what the Patriots will be getting when the 31-year-old Newton shows up in Foxborough. He played only two games last year, hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since 2018, and was released after the Panthers gave his job to free agent Teddy Bridgewater.
“It’s the ultimate low-risk, potentially high-reward Bill Belichick move. If Newton is remotely healthy, he starts over Jarrett Stidham, and Stidham gets another year of on-the-job training. If Newton isn’t healthy, he’s banished to the Haynesworth Highway. It’ll be like he was never here. Newton is 0-8 in his last eight NFL starts. He’s 11 years younger than Brady, but he might be an ‘old’ 31.
“Newton’s outsized personality is guaranteed to bring noise to traditionally staid Gillette. He calls himself Superman….
“He was universally ripped when he didn’t jump on his own fumble in the Super Bowl loss to the Broncos. He’s a diva’s diva, but when he is healthy, Newton is tougher to tackle than your average tight end. Social media posts suggest that Newton’s new teammates are over the moon about him coming to Foxborough.
“And why not?
“The Patriots just replaced a Super Bowl, NFL MVP quarterback with a Super Bowl, NFL MVP quarterback.”
Newton’s deal could be worth up to $7.5 million, which means more moves are coming as the Pats only have about $650,000 available on their salary cap.
Newton had been released March 24 by Carolina.
Jets Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, who is in a dispute with the team over a long-term contract, tweeted his congratulations to Newton, while adding, “I salute Coach Bill Belichick for that!”
Ya think Adams wants to be traded to the Pats?
Back to the NFL and its investigation into the Patriots’ television crew videoing the Bengals and Browns sideline last season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Pats were fined $1.1 million, forfeited a 2021 third-round pick, and Patriots’ television crews are not allowed to shoot games during the 2020 season.
--We note the passing of legendary Washington Redskins assistant coach Joe Bugel, regarded as one of the top offensive line coaches in NFL history. He was 80.
Bugel was the architect of “The Hogs,” the dominant offensive lines that helped lead the team to three Super Bowls under Hall of Fame head coach Joe Gibbs.
Bugel was the team’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach from 1981-82 and became the assistant head coach in 1983, a role he had until 1989 before becoming the head coach of the Phoenix Cardinals.
He returned for a second stint with the team as assistant head coach-offense from 2004-09.
“Joe had an incredible passion for the game of football. He came to work every day with such great excitement and his players had tremendous respect for him. The strength of our coaching staff on both sides of the ball was a key reason we had so much success,” Gibbs said in a statement.
With players such as Jeff Bostic, Joe Jacoby and Hall of Famer Russ Grimm on the offensive line, Washington won the Super Bowl after the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons with three different quarterbacks.
In his first nine years in Washington, Bugel helped the Redskins have four 1,000-yard rushers, one 4,000-yard passer and nine 1,000-yard receivers.
Alas, as a head coach he was less successful, going 20-44 in four seasons in Phoenix, 1990-93, and then a 4-12 season in 1997 in Oakland.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder said in a statement: “I am absolutely devastated by the news of Joe’s passing. Joe was a larger-than-life figure and a true legend of his profession.”
“He exemplified what it meant to be a Redskin with his character and ability to connect with his players along with a work ethic that was unmatched. We shared a special bond and he was a great friend.”
Bugel was born in Pittsburgh, March 10, 1940, playing his high school ball at Munhall. He then played collegiately at Western Kentucky.
--Dylan Frittelli tested positive for Covid-19, becoming the fourth player to do so since play resumed on the PGA Tour three weeks ago.
The tour announced the test result on Sunday night. “I am experiencing no issues and feel great physically and was surprised and disappointed to learn of the positive test today,” Fritelli said in a statement. “I look forward to getting back on tour once it’s safe to do so.”
Frittelli had missed the cut at the Travelers and withdrew from this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.
--Fox Sports and the U.S. Golf Association ended their 12-year agreement worth around $1.2 billion that included the U.S. Open. There were seven years left on the contract.
So Fox’s rights shift to NBC, which will produce this fall’s U.S. Open from Winged Foot, which avoids an issue for Fox with its Sunday NFL coverage that day, as well as commitments to MLB and college football in that general time period.
NBC had broadcast the U.S. Open from 1995 to 2014, and will now have USGA championship rights until 2026, under the same agreement the USGA had with Fox, about $100 million a year. Aside from the U.S. Open, NBC gets the U.S. Amateur, The Women’s Amateur, and the U.S. Women’s Open, which because of the pandemic, won’t be held until Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston. I imagine with highly limited daylight the field will have to be substantially limited. Or players could be given miner headlamps.
To be fair, while Fox got off to a rocky start in its Open coverage, with Greg Norman as the main analyst, the coverage improved immensely (in my opinion), once Paul Azinger replaced Norman, while Joe Buck gained confidence. Some of Fox’s innovations, such as the use of a drone, have now pushed other networks to add similar enhancements.
--Daniel Summerhays, 36, a PGA Tour veteran, announced last week he was quitting golf to become a history teacher and coach golf at his alma mater, Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah.
Summerhays didn’t pick up a single win in his 215 starts, but he did earn nearly $9 million in eight years on the PGA Tour.
So last Sunday, he played in a Korn Ferry Tour event on his home course in Utah as a way of going out and all he did was shoot a closing 62 to earn a spot in a three-way playoff, only to lose to Kyle Jones (Paul Haley II the other).
Pretty cool…and we admire Summerhays for his career choice. No doubt he’ll be a terrific role model for his students, both in the classroom and on the links.
--Brian Wacker of Golfworld had a piece on why scores have been so low the first three weeks of the tour’s reopening.
In the first event back at Colonial, seven inches of rain the two weeks before meant it was easier to hit fairways and the course’s small greens, leading to four rounds of 63 and seven rounds of 64.
At Harbour Town, a Pete Dye track that usually rewards precision over power, there was a 62, 10 rounds of 63, and seven rounds of 64. Webb Simpson’s 22-under beat the 72-hole scoring record. Plus the event was held two months later than its usual slot in April the week after the Masters, and, for one, the winds weren’t up like they normally are in April, plus the greens were much softer.
Last week at the Travelers, Dustin Johnson shot a career-best 61 en route to winning it. Mackenzie Hughes had a 60 opening round.
But it wasn’t just the benign conditions at all three events. You had the best fields in the world, including 101 players at Colonial who’d won on tour, 17 of the top 20 in the world at Harbour Town, and a similar field in Connecticut.
But perhaps the biggest factor was…no fans. Far less distractions.
--Sadly, on Monday the Golf Channel told most of its Orlando-based staff that they would be laid off starting August 29, then allowed those staffers to reapply for a smaller pool of jobs.
Golf Channel, owned by NBC, announced in February that it would move its offices from Orlando to Stamford, Conn., starting later this year as part of a corporate consolidation.
Only a small fraction of existing jobs are expected to be made available for relocation to Stamford, with most production jobs expected to be filled by people already employed there.
Golf Channel has been a fixture in Orlando since its launch in 1995, but beginning in 2013, nearly all of the operations for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network began to be based out of a Stamford facility, Connecticut having offered major tax credits.
--Having mentioned Mississippi State star running back Kylin Hill and his threat not to play his senior year at MSU if Mississippi didn’t remove the Confederate flag emblem from the state flag, Sunday, the Mississippi state legislature officially passed a bill to permanently remove the emblem, a symbol that had been on the flag for 126 years.
When the news was announced on Sunday, Hill took to Twitter and thanked all those who supported him and joined the movement.
As part of the vote, Mississippi will be without a flag until the November election, at which time a committee will introduce choices for Mississippi voters to choose from.
--Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s video on the protest movement and Black Lives Matter is very important. I’m going to include the transcript in my next Week in Review, that other column I do.
--From Steve Kiggins / USA TODAY
“A California woman was gored by a bison at Yellowstone National Park after approaching too closely to try to take a photo, the second incident in less than six weeks between a visitor and one of the park’s iconic hulking animals.
“The 72-year-old woman received immediate medical care from rangers before being flown via helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, according to a news release from the National Park Service….
“ ‘The series of events that led to the goring suggest the bison was threatened by being repeatedly approached to within 10 feet,’ Yellowstone’s Senior Bison Biologist Chris Geremia said in a statement. ‘Bison are wild animals that respond to threats by displaying aggressive behaviors like pawing the ground, snorting, bobbing their head, bellowing, and raising their tail. If that doesn’t make the threat (in this instance it was a person) move away, a threatened bison may charge.’
“He added, ‘To be safe around bison, stay at least 25 yards away, move away if they approach, and run away or find cover if they charge.’”
A better idea is just find it in the meat section of your favorite grocery store.
Meanwhile, back in May, another Yellowstone visitor was injured by a bison when she was “knocked to the ground” and injured after approaching the animal too closely in the Old Faithful Upper Geyser Basin.
--There are people if you are of a certain age, old, such as moi, who have been in your life forever and Carl Reiner was one of them. Reiner died at the age of 98, family by his side at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Monday.
As Joe Erwin wrote in the New York Daily News;
“Carl Reiner’s first book was called ‘Enter Laughing,’ and it truly was the story of his life.
“The Bronx native, a comedy titan as a writer, producer, actor and director for decades, best known for creating ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’….could do it all. He directed comedy smashes such as ‘Oh God’ with George Burns and ‘The Jerk’ with Steve Martin, and sold millions of records as the straight man to pal Mel Brooks’ 2000 Year Old Man.”
Reiner first became a hot commodity as Sid Caesar’s foil in the 1950s on Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows,” where he wrote alongside Brooks, Neil Simon and other comedy legends, remaining a lifelong friend with Brooks, the two often sharing dinner in their later years.
But for Reiner, it was a role he didn’t play that brought his greatest contribution to comedy.
After working with Caesar, Reiner was offered starring roles in sitcoms, but he turned them down due to weak scripts. Reiner’s wife, Estelle, said that he could write a better show, so that’s what he did, creating an autobiographical pilot, in which he starred. But it went nowhere.
Then actor-turned TV producer Sheldon Leonard saw the failed pilot and thought it just needed someone else to play him, Reiner.
“He says, ‘You won’t fail. I’ll get a better actor to play you,’” Reiner recalled to Conan O’Brien.
The “better actor” was Dick Van Dyke, and with Reiner writing and producing, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” became a comedy classic, running from 1961 to ‘66. Van Dyke played Rob Petrie, a comedy writer living in New Rochelle, N.Y., at the time. The show deftly mixed Rob’s home life with Mary Tyler Moore as his wife and Larry Mathews as his son, and his office life opposite fellow writers Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam.
The three wrote for the egotistical Alan Brady. At first Reiner played Brady only from behind but then realized Brady needed to be seen and heard, so he fully took on the character for occasional guest appearances.
“Carl was the brains behind everything,” Rose Marie said in an interview for the Archive of American Television. “His mind is brilliant for comedy.”
The show ran for five seasons, winning 15 Emmys, before Reiner and company decided to go out on top…with Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam then becoming a fixture of TV game shows, I can’t help but add.
Reiner went on to films and his big breakthrough was “Oh God,” starring George Burns, in 1977. Then he partnered with Steve Martin on four films: “The Jerk,” “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” “The Man With Two Brains,” and “All of Me.”
Reiner was a solid actor in his own right and he starred in “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming” in 1966, a terrific film.
Later, Reiner, nearing 80, had a role in 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven,” opposite George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
Reiner was born in New York City on March 20, 1922, the son of a watchmaker. After graduating from high school in the Bronx, he worked as a shipping clerk and then as a machinist’s helper in a shop that made millinery equipment.
Still working at the machine shop, Reiner took free drama classes sponsored by the Works Progress Administration, getting a job where he toured high schools and colleges throughout the South as part of a Shakespearean repertory company.
Reiner and wife Estelle (who he met during a gig in the Catskills) were married for 64 years until her death in 2008. They had three children, including actor/director Rob Reiner. Estelle appeared in Rob’s 1989 film “When Harry Met Sally,” playing the woman in the restaurant who, after witnessing Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm, says to the waitress, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
In a 1998 interview with the Archive of American Television, Van Dyke called Carl Reiner a “wonderful man. To this day he’s probably my favorite human being that I’ve ever known.”
But I have to note a routine that originated in the writers room for “Your Show of Shows,” Mel Brooks and Reiner, concerning Brooks’ 2,000-Year-Old Man.
As Dennis McLellan and Steve Chawkins note in the Los Angeles Times:
“Making fun of the interviews on a TV show called ‘We, the People,’ Reiner pepped up a listless meeting by suddenly pointing to the 24-year-old Brooks: ‘Here with us today, ladies and gentlemen, is a man who was actually at the scene of the Crucifixion, 2,000 years ago. Isn’t that true, sir?’
“Without missing a beat, Brooks let loose with an Old World-weary sigh and said, ‘Oooooh, boy.’
“In awe, Reiner asked: ‘You knew Jesus?’
“ ‘Jesus – yes, yes,’ Brooks replied in a Yiddish accent, struggling to remember. ‘Thin lad. Wore sandals. Always walked around with 12 other guys. Yes, yes, they used to come into the store a lot, never bought anything. They came in for water. I gave it to them. Nice boys, well-behaved…’
“The spontaneous routine, which went on for some time, had the entire room in stitches.”
--Lastly, I just saw that arranger/composer Johnny Mandel died, age 94, also on Monday. Among his many works, ironically, was his writing music for “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming.”
Mandel was the arranger and composer of “Suicide Is Painless,” the familiar theme to the movie “M*A*S*H” as well as the TV series based on that film.
And he was the composer for “The Shadow of Your Smile” from 1965’s “The Sandpiper” that ensured his place in the American songbook.
“Shadow” won Mandel and lyricist Paul Francis Webster an Academy Award, and the pair were nominated for “A Time for Love” from 1966’s “An American Dream.” Mandel won Grammys for those songs and for his work as an arranger on several notable albums, including Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable.”
“Shadow” didn’t really take off until Mandel recorded it the way he wanted to hear it, with Tony Bennett, and it took off.
Top 3 songs for the week 7/1/72: #1 “Song Sung Blue” (Neil Diamond) #2 “The Candy Man” (Sammy Davis Jr., with the Mike Curb Congregation) #3 #Outa-Space” (Billy Preston)…and… #4 “Lean On Me” (Bill Withers) #5 “Too Late To Turn Back Now” (Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose) #6 “Troglodyte” (The Jimmy Castor Bunch) #7 “Nice To Be With You” (Gallery) #8 “Rocket Man” (Elton John) #9 “I Need You” (America) #10 “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast” (Wayne Newton…B- week…)
MLB Quiz Answer: Top six managers in ejections, all time.
Bobby Cox 158
John McGraw 118
Leo Durocher 96
Earl Weaver 94
Tony La Russa 86
Frankie Frisch 86
No arguing is allowed in the shortened season amidst the pandemic.
I was surprised the season record is ‘just’ 11, held by Cox, McGraw and Bill Dahlen. [Dahlen managed the Brooklyn Superbas/Dodgers for four seasons, 1910-13]
Connie Mack managed in 7,755 games, 1894-1950, and his last year was at age 87! He guided the Philadelphia Athletics to a cool 52-102 mark that final season…Mack going 3,731-3,948, with 76 ties, for his career.
Mack’s only ejection was in 1895 when he was a player/manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates. If anyone can find the details of this event, you will not only receive $5, U.S. currency, but a mention in Bar Chat, which means you will exist in the ether…FOREVER! I mean we are talking even after a nuclear war!
[By the way, I looked through a super reference book I have and couldn’t find the answer.]
*On a totally unrelated issue, those named “Pinky” in MLB history, Johnny Mac said I can’t forget Pinky Hargrave, a solid catcher for 10 years in the majors, 1923-33, who batted .278.
But Pinky had a brother, Bubbles Hargrave, who played mostly from 1921-28 with the Reds, hitting .310 lifetime in mostly part-time duty like his brother. Bubbles (and neither Johnny nor I recommend you name your newborn Bubbles these days…the kid will kill you later, guaranteed), in 1926, finished sixth in the MVP voting, batting .353 in 105 games with 62 ribbies.
Pinky’s full name was William McKinley Hargrave; Bubbles was Eugene Franklin Hargrave.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.