Friday, November 15, 2013

Recent Sports Farewells, Updated Event Countdown

Several prominent sports personalities died during my glitch. Let me pay tribute to:

Allan Stanley, Canadian hockey defenseman. Played for the Rangers from 1948 to 1955, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 1950. Reached them again with the Boston Bruins in 1957 and '58, and with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1959 and '60. Then became one of the veterans that Leafs coach George "Punch" Imlach relied on to lead the Leafs to 4 Cups, in 1962, '63, '64 and '67. A 3-time All-Star and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Died of unknown causes on October 18, 2013, age 87.

Gerardus "Gerrie" Mühren, Dutch soccer midfielder. With Ajax Amsterdam, won 3 League titles, 3 Dutch Cups, and 3 straight European Cups (the tournament now called the UEFA Champions League, although the name of the trophy was kept) in 1971, '72 and '73. He also won Spain's Copa del Rey with Real Betis in 1977, and was a member of the Netherlands national team that reached, but lost, the Finals of the 1974 and '78 World Cups. Died of a rare blood condition on September 19, age 67.
Sergei Belov, Russian basketball guard. Played his club ball for CSKA Moscow, the Red Army team also known for their soccer and hockey squads. Scored 20 points for the Soviet Union in the controversial Gold Medal game against the U.S. at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. Given the honor of lighting the cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. The 1st European player elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Died of unknown causes, on October 3, 2013, age 69.
Kenneth Stanley Adams Jr., a.k.a. Bud Adams, founder of the Houston Oilers, now known as the Tennessee Titans. Although Barron Hilton of the San Diego Chargers is still alive, Bud Adams was the last of the original 8 American Football League owners still in charge of his team.

A native of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, he was a member of the Cherokee tribe who made millions in energy. He served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, and graduated from the University of Kansas. He tried to buy the Chicago Cardinals and move them to Houston, and then to buy an NFL expansion team. They turned him down, but Lamar Hunt, whom he knew from business (he was the son of oil baron H.L. Hunt), took him into the fledgling AFL.

The Oilers won the 1st 2 AFL Championships, in 1960 and 1961, both times beating Hilton's Chargers. But in 1962, they lost the AFL Championship Game to Hunt's Dallas Texans (who soon became the Kansas City Chiefs), and haven't gone as far as the rules of the time have allowed them to go since. They lost the AFL Championship Game to the Oakland Raiders in 1967, and the AFC Championship Game to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978 and 1979. He also owned the Houston Mavericks of the American Basketball Association.
Bud posing with the 1st 2 AFL Championship trophies

After the 1992 season, which featured their epic Playoff collapse against the Buffalo Bills, Adams began complaining about the Oilers' lease at the Astrodome. A Texas energy man is used to getting what he wants, and he wanted a better lease. When he didn't get it, he threatened to move the Oilers to Jacksonville. But the NFL beat him to it, by putting the expansion Jaguars there. So he threatened to move to Nashville -- inspired by the alleged threat of the New Jersey Devils to move there (which, thank God, didn't happen). The city wouldn't cave in, and in 1997 they moved. The Tennessee Titans won the AFC Championship in 1999, but lost Super Bowl XXXIV to the St. Louis Rams.

Adams died 3 days after his colorful 1970s head coach, Bum Phillips.

Walt Bellamy, Carolinian basketball center. Graduated from Indiana University as the all-time leading rebounder at that storied basketball school. A member of the U.S. team that won the Gold Medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

A 4-time NBA All-Star, was with the Knicks when they moved from the old Madison Square Garden to the new one in 1968. Later that season, he and Howie Komives were sent to the Detroit Pistons in the most important trade in Knick history: New York got Dave DeBusschere. Trading Bellamy for forward DeBusschere also allowed coach Leonard "Red" Holzman to move Willis Reed from forward to center, resulting in the 1970 and '73 titles.
"Bells" managed to continue building a Hall of Fame resume with the Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks. Closed his career as an original member of the New Orleans Jazz (now in Utah) in the 1974-75 season. Died of unknown causes on November 2, 2013, age 74.

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It's been a while since I did a countdown, so here it is:

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: Less than 1, at 3:00 this afternoon U.S. Eastern Time, in an exhibition -- or, as they call it in soccer, a "friendly" -- against Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow.  The U.S. has already qualified for next year's World Cup.  We hammered Scotland 5-1 in Jacksonville last year, and the Scots (a.k.a. the Jocks and the Sweaties) haven't had much of a national side since the 1980s.

Days until the Devils play again: Less than 1, tonight, at 7:00 PM, home to the Los Angeles Kings.  They beat the arch-rival New York Rangers (a.k.a. The Scum) on Wednesday night, 3-2 at Madison Square Garden.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Less than 1, tonight at 7:00, a "consolation game," away to Montgomery High School in Somerset County.  We are 1-7, and if we're hoping to finish 2-8, we have to win this one.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 1, tomorrow at 12:00 noon, home to the University of Cincinnati.

Days until Arsenal play again: 8, a week from tomorrow, 10:00 AM U.S. Eastern Time, home to Southampton, from Hampshire on England's South Coast (English Channel).

Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 13, Thursday morning, November 28, 10:00 AM.  The Big Green's chances of beating the Purple Bastards are slim and none, but you never know.

Days until the Devils next play a local rival: 23, on Saturday, December 7, at 7:30 PM, against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.  They next play the New York Islanders on Saturday, December 28, at 7:00 PM, at the Nassau Coliseum.  They next play the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, January 7, 2014, at 7:30 PM, at home.

Days until the Devils play the Rangers at Yankee Stadium: 73, on Sunday, January 26, 2014, at 12:30 PM.  A little over 10 weeks.

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 80, on Sunday, February 2, 2014, kickoff at around 6:25 PM.  A little over 11 weeks.

Days until the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: 85, on Friday, February 7, 2014.  Just 12 weeks.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 119, on Saturday, March 15, 2014, at White Hart Lane.  Just 4 months.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: Unknown, as the 2014 schedule has yet to be released.  They tend to begin play on the 3rd Saturday in March, usually at 7:30 PM.  If that holds true, it will be on March 15, 2014, the same day as the North London Derby, therefore 119 days.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a local rival: See the previous answer.

Days until the Yankees play again: 138, on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, time to be determined, away to the Houston Astros.  Under 5 months.

Days until the Yankees' home opener: 144, on Monday, April 7, 2014, probably at 1:00 PM, vs. the Baltimore Orioles.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 147, on Thursday, April 10, 2014, time to be determined, at Yankee Stadium.

Days until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: 209, on Thursday, June 12, 2014.  Under 7 months.

Days until Rutgers makes its Big Ten Conference debut: 302 days, on Saturday, September 13, 2014, time to be determined, against old enemy Penn State.  Under 10 months.

Days until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 1,025, on Friday, August 5, 2016.  Under 3 years.

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