Saturday, May 16, 2009

I Still Don't Like A-Rod; Chuck Daly, 1930-2009

I was in New York today, and considered going to the Yankee game. But the weather made me decide against it.

The Yankees had a 3-2 lead over the Minnesota Twins, in the top of the 8th, and soon it was 4-3 Twins, thanks to Phil Coke-and-no-smile, blowing a nice start by Joba Chamberlain. But they tied it up in the bottom of the 8th, and went to the 11th.

I didn't actually hear the end, but it probably sounded something like this. Mr. Sterling?

"Theeee pitch, it's swung on! And there it goes! Deep to center field! It is high! It is far! It is GONE! BALLGAME OVER! YANKEES WIN! THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE YANKEES WIN! It's an AAAAAAAA-BOMB! from AAAAAAAA-ROD!"

Oh, spare me. I'm happy about the win, but did it have to be Alex Roid-riguez who hit it?

I wonder if Michael Kay got that tingling feeling up his leg.

Once again, attendance was about 45,000. Seems just about every seat in the new Yankee Stadium (yeah, I typed it, but it still made my skin crawl) has been sold for every game so far -- except for the $2,500 seats! Excuse me, the $1,250 seats. They're still empty!

Even more than Dodger Stadium nearly half a century ago, it's the House That Greed Built. It's truly impressive, but it's not a park for the fans, and it still doesn't feel like Yankee Stadium. It's like a holodeck simulation of the old, pre-1976 renovation Yankee Stadium on Star Trek.

"Baseball is more than a game of strength. It's... it's about faith. And... it's about courage. And... it's about heart!"
-- Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Of course, this is the same actor who stood on the Brooklyn Bridge, built in 1883, and, in a commercial for IBM filmed incongruously in black-and-white, said, first quizzically, then angrily, like a man who had been totally stiffed by what "the future" turned out to be, "It's the year 2000. Where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars!"

Ah, the year 2000. Yankees over Mets. And the country was prosperous and safe under a trusted government good times. And A-Rod was in Seattle, taking steroids and never bothering Yankee Fans at all.

Had I known then that the future would include losing a World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks, losing another to the Florida Marlins, losing an ALCS to the Red Sox, losing two Playoff series to the Whatever They're Calling Themselves This Year Angels of Anaheim, another to the Detroit Tigers and another to the Cleveland Indians, losing the only Yankee Stadium I'd ever known (I guess that was inevitable due to George Steinbrenner truly loving money more than winning), and watching the Red Sox win two World Series... and the Yankee name being sullied by steroiders Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens -- and, to a lesser extent, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi -- I might've preferred to build a holodeck simulation of 2000 to endlessly repeat.

And had I known that, nine years later, I still wouldn't be called "Daddy" or "Husband," I might've jumped off the World Trade Center. While I still could.

Of course, I now know that I'm called "Michael" -- not yet "Uncle," let alone the name I've chosen for myself in the title for this blog -- by the 2 best little girls a man could ever have for nieces, and that the Bush years are over and the Obama years are underway, I guess the future is looking up.

I've never liked Alex Rodriguez -- despite having been in the ballpark for his 500th * career home run, and I don't think I ever will. I've never trusted A-Rod in a clutch situation -- despite having been in the ballpark for his walkoff grand slam against Baltimore in 2007 -- and I don't think I ever will.

Yeah, thanks for the walkoff win today, Alex. Now do it again in October, you useless twat.

Yeah, I'm still reading those blogs out of the British Isles, about the game we call soccer and they call "football." Today, Arsenal finally got their act together and held Manchester United scoreless for 93 minutes, but didn't score, either, and the tie was all ManUre needed to clinch their 18th League title, tying Liverpool for the most all-time, and their 3rd straight. Bastards.

And congatulations to Rachel. No, not my niece, but Rachel Alexandra, the horse that, today, became the first filly since 1924 to win the Preakness Stakes. And to jockey Calvin Borel, who'd won the Kentucky Derby aboard 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird -- winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown on different horses. I don't think that's ever happened before.

*

Chuck Daly died a week ago. Born July 20, 1930 in St. Mary's, western Pennsylvania, Charles Jerome Daly played basketball at Pennsylvania's Bloomsburg University, served in the Korean War, coached high school ball in the groundhog town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and assisted Vic Bubas on 3 Final Four teams at Duke University in the 1960s.

He then got the head coaching jobs at Boston College and then the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, whom he led to 4 straight Ivy League titles and the Elite Eight in 1972 -- the last Ivy League coach to get a team that far.

Chuck was an assistant on the Philadelphia 76ers team that reached the NBA Finals in 1980, coached the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1981-82, and then built the Detroit Pistons' "Motor City Bad Boys" that won the 1989 and 1990 NBA Championships. For winning those 2 titles, the Pistons retired their Number 2 for him, even though he never wore a professional basketball uniform.

He then left the Pistons, and coached the U.S. "Dream Team" at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He coached the Nets in the 1993 and 1994 seasons, and made them better than they'd been at any time since coming into the NBA. He closed his coaching career in 1997 to 1999 with the Orlando Magic.

He died of pancreatic cancer on May 9. He was 78. He is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 1996, he was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary 10 Greatest Coaches.

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