Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A-Roger, Billy Loes, Tatum & T.O.

So Alex Rodriguez is in a slump. Last night, he was 0-for-4.

Prior to that, he was 8-for-15 with 3 doubles. I'd love to have a "slump" like that. I'd even eat "Roger Maris eggs" to get into a slump like that!

Remember, from the movie 61*?

Mickey Mantle (played by Thomas Jane): What the hell's that?

Bob Cerv (Chris Bauer): That's Roger's special eggs.

Mickey: It looks disgusting.

Roger (Barry Pepper): Well, you don't have to have any, Bob.

Bob: Oh, thank you!

Mickey (looking at the dish): I'm sorry Roger, but I'm going to have to pass.

Roger: Mick, I'm telling ya, don't listen to Bob. Last few times I ate these, I hit home runs.

(Mickey shovels in a forkful.)

Roger: Sorry Bob, looks like somebody likes 'em.

Bob: You like 'em?

Mickey: No, they're shit! But I'm in a bit of a slump. I'll try anything.

Then, to the tune of the Ventures' 1960 smash-hit instrumental "Walk Don't Run" -- appropriate for a home run trot, I suppose -- we see Mickey hitting one out, and he says to Bob, coming up to bat next, "Love them eggs!" And the next scene is Bob eating them.

Actually, the comparison of A-Rod with Maris is apt. Not since Maris has a Yankee been pursued by the media and psycholanalyzed by the media and the fans like A-Rod, not even Reggie Jackson.

And when Roger hit Number 61, there were 23,000 fans in The Stadium, seemingly all of them in right field, hoping to catch the ball that a Sacramento restaurateur had a $5,000 bounty on.

Last night, John Sterling kept commenting on the attendance at Jacobs/Progressive Field -- 27,000, up from their average of 16,000, and remember when it was 43,000 every night for years? -- and how a certain area in left-center, by the corner of the bleachers, filled up whenever A-Rod came to the plate, and then scattered when his at-bat was over.

I don't care who steps up to the plate for the Yankees and gets the winning runs home, or who takes the mound for them and gets the big outs, as long as said runs and said outs come. And if A-Rod is getting it done with singles, doubles, walks and good defense, that's fine with me.


Billy Loes, a pitcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s, has died. The native of Long Island City, Queens was 80.
To use a modern term, he was a flake, or a head case. But often a good pitcher. He once won 13 games in a season, but was told that with his talent he should win 20. "If you win 20, they'll expect you to do it every year," he said.

What he meant was that, in those days, before the players' union had the strength to prevent such a thing, if you won 20, you'd get a raise, but if you didn't win 20 the next season, even if you won 19 -- at which point, the owner or GM might order the manager to not start you again, so that you couldn't get the 20th -- you'd get a pay cut, and there'd be nothing you could do about it except try to win 20 again.

Loes pitched for the Dodgers in the 1952, '53 and '55 World Series. Of the '55 World Champs, 8 players are still alive, 55 years later: Duke Snider, Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine, George "Shotgun" Shuba, Roger Craig, Ed Roebuck and Don Zimmer. And Sandy Koufax: It's easy to forget that Koufax, a rookie at the time but far from finding the form that would make him one of the best pitchers ever, pitched for the Dodgers before they left Brooklyn, even though he was from Brooklyn.


Jack Tatum, "the Assassin" of the 1970s Oakland Raiders, has died, of a heart attack related to diabetes. He was 63.

He was a graduate of New Jersey's Passaic High School, as was Craig "Ironhead" Hayward, a star running back of the 1990s. He, too, died young, from (ironically, considering his nickname) a brain tumor.

But pretty much everyone liked Ironhead. Tatum, who played on Ohio State's 1968 National Champions and the 1976 Raiders that won Super Bowl XI, was hated because of the excessive force he used. He'll forever be best remembered for hitting Darryl Stingley of the New England Patriots. In a preseason exhibition. Paralyzing Stingley from the neck down for life.
Tatum said that he tried to meet with Stingley to apologize a few times, but it was Stingley's family, rather than Stingley himself, who wouldn't allow it -- and that it was Stingley's family who then said that Tatum wouldn't apologize.

But Tatum didn't help himself by writing books like They Call Me Assassin, in which he seemed absolutely unapologetic for the way he played.

In another great irony, diabetes, and the circulation problems it can cause, cost Tatum first some toes -- after hearing about it, Stingley sent him a get-well card, proving that he didn't have the kind of bitterness many people suggested he did -- and then part of his leg. Making it difficult for him to walk, although not, as in Stingley's case, impossible. And he only outlived Stingley by a few years.

Hopefully, now, both Stingley and Tatum can run on a football field again.


Terrell Owens, having worn out his welcome with the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and now the Buffalo Bills, has signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

T.O. going to the Bungles will pretty much guarantee -- unless the Reds can keep this NL Central race going -- that every major league sports team in the State of Ohio is going to be a huge mess for the foreseeable future.

The Jets were rumored to be interested in him. T.O. going to the Jets would have been like inviting a radioactive clown to a birthday party: No matter what kind of tricks he could perform, it's not going to end well.

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