Wow. I almost forgot it was Monday. These three day weekends mess me up. I have the honor of speaking with you each week on Monday. Today it’s especially an honor because it’s Memorial Day. There is no endeavor more important, nor more worthy of our taking time to remember, than that of military service. To the men and women who have served our country, are serving, or will soon serve, my sincerest words of respect.
Ted Williams was supporting his mother with his baseball money and was granted a 3-A status meaning his service would be deferred. When Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1942, his status was changed to 1-A – draftable. He appealed this determination and was again granted a deferment, but when the public turned on him, he changed course and enlisted. I respect his decision to seek a deferment, but more importantly, I respect his decision to enlist. He was making a good salary to be sure, and he could have supported his family with a military salary, but he was exercising his options in seeking the deferment. As if to put an exclamation point on the idea that he was not avoiding service, he served in both the second world war and Korea, at one point escaping a crashed and burning airplane. By the end of his career, he had missed 5 seasons. Imagine how the baseball records would be different had he not.
Bob Feller, Hank Greenberg and Joe DiMaggio both lost time to military service. One can only wonder what would have been different. But in the end, these men were all drafted – after Pearl Harbor, that was the only way into the military as volunteers were not accepted. Today, we have an all volunteer force.
Which leads us to Pat Tillman. While our World War II vets were drafted, Tillman was a volunteer. He left the NFL to enlist after the September 11 attacks, served in Iraq and Afghanistan where he was killed by friendly fire. While men like DiMaggio and Williams served, Tillman affirmatively left and paid the ultimate price for his service. He left knowing a football career is short, and that he may not play again professionally, but his duty was far more important. While I respect Williams for availing himself of a deferment, I admire Tillman for taking the personal responsibility to join.
Today, I just want to highlight that these men served their country. They served time in the middle of their careers because there are things more important than ball. The evidence suggests Williams really didn’t want to go, but he did. The evidence suggests Tillman did want to serve. At days’ end, their motivations or how they came to serve aren’t as important as the fact they did. And to that, I say “thank you,” even some 70 years later.
Enjoy your day and remember why we celebrate. Take another minute or two to read Radatz' post from yesterday. You won't be disappointed.
Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. Last Friday, we made our last trip to Edinburg to watch some Bronc baseball. One of the cool things about this season is watching my Mom and Dad connect with college baseball. It was a treat to have them join us for the Mother Day weekend series. Although we have been sorely lacking in rain; we managed to find the one of those dramatic thunderstorms that the southwest is famous for. Booming thunder with a spectacular lightening display rode with us the last 3 hours of our rides unbeaten string on Saturday in a game 3 to 1. The trio of Sam Street, Blake English and Alex Henson have a weekend ERA of 2.27, which is best in the WAC, second best in Texas and ninth best in the country. Blake English started the second game on Saturday and finished with a 2 to 0 complete game win. Alex Henson started the Sunday game, but gave way in the 5th inning for a procession of senior relief pitchers. It was 0 to 0 in the bottom of the 9th when senior Andy Fotuna hit his first career HR to send the crowd home happy.
The Broncs have one weekend series left at Northern Colorado next weekend…but my interest will no longer be what it once was. Last week, Blake told the coaches that he did not plan to come back to Pan Am next year. He assumed that he would be fulfilling his obligation this year before he moved on, but that is not how the coaches wanted to move forward. Since school is officially over, Sunday was Blake’s last game in a Pan Am uniform. I was proud to watch him support his teammates, even though he did not get any playing time. This year was a blast for Julie and I and I believe that this year was a valuable year for Blake’s maturity. Given the lack of depth at catcher, it was rather odd that Blake will not be traveling to Arizona for the conference tournament…but that decision was not his to make. Things work out for a reason and it is time to look to the future. Several JUCO coaches have been in touch with Blake about next year, so we will see what happens. It is great to have him home for a few weeks before he heads out to California for a summer of baseball.
Did you happen to see the bat flip that Puig had against Tim Hudson? I loved Hudson’s response when asked about the bat flip...: "He hit the piss out of it, so I probably would've flipped it too." I suppose that the bat flip is here to stay, so hopefully more pitchers will take Hudson’s stance about the flipping of the bat. Here is a guy in Japan that has taken the bat flip to a new level…
Most of you know that I love to watch the MLB channel. One of the analysts that I enjoy is Mitch Williams. After reading about Mitch’s antics while coaching a group of 12 year olds at the Ripken complex, I wonder if perhaps Mitch might be better off leaving coaching to someone with a more “professional” approach. Getting in an umps grill might be okay in the big leagues, it is not okay when coaching kids. I love you Mitch, but this is bad form…
Sports Illustrated used to do a section called "The Apocalypse" is upon us...(maybe they still do). This story sort of reminds me of that section. A former OU football player (Gabe Ikard) and his girlfriend enjoy attending the Oklahoma Thunder games using tickets that his girlfriend provides. The OU compliance office wanted to make sure that she was taking him to the game because she loved him the "right" way. The couple actually had to sign an autograph that they were dating for love and not because Ikard was a football player. To top it off, Ikard actually signed a professional contract with the Titans and is no longer an amateur player. It really is time for this nonsense to stop...
That’s all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…
"If you're a young Mafia gangster out on your first date, I bet it's real embarrassing if someone tries to kill you. "
"You know what's probably a good thing to hang on your porch in the summertime, to keep mosquitos away from you and your guests? Just a big bag full of blood."
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own.
Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. This week marks two very significant events. Tuesday was Jackie Robinson day and the anniversary of the bombing at last year’s Boston Marathon. MLB does a great job each year of recognizing Robinson by having each MLB player wear #42. While this is a great tribute, I have a question. On Jackie Robinson day, shouldn’t the Dodgers be playing at home? It really does seem like a slap in the face to me to not only have the Dodgers on the road…but playing at San Francisco. I am really scratching my head over this. I am also trying to understand why someone would leave two dummy backpacks at the Boston Marathon finish line. It is acts like this that make me wonder about the direction of our country. Sick…
BOB mentioned yesterday in his blog about Aldon Smith’s latest screw up. Telling TSA agents that you have a bomb is not very bright. This does not strike me as the act of a mentally stable person, but maybe he is just an idiot. Either way, I think BOB is right, Sheriff Goodell will ask Smith to take the year off. This is really a bad deal for the 49ers as their defense is not the same without him. But, I figure that this is out of the team’s hands at this point. It will be interesting to see if they cut him loose or save a spot for him.
I caught the movie Draft Day last weekend. If you like football, you will definitely like this movie. It was like a big spoonful of football. I would not say it is Costner’s best work, but it is definitely worth watching. It was interesting watching the behind the scene conversations. Given the timing of the approaching draft, it makes the current headlines rather intriguing. I saw on Tuesday that an “anonymous” NFL executive thinks that Clowney is “spoiled” and “lazy”. Teams are looking for any reason to cause a player to drop. Is this truly what this executive believes or is he trying to allow Clowney to fall into their lap? Johnny Manziel is slammed because he scores too high on the Wonderlic test. It is whispered that he may be too smart to be coachable. Vince Young was slammed because he scored too low on the test…maybe he is not smart enough to learn the playbook. It really is a game of chess. The media sucks up the words like a Hoover on steroids. I am not even sure that they realize that they are being played by the teams…either way, they are pawns. There was a time that we could believe what we read in the paper, but those times are long gone.
I have been reading an old book about baseball stories. I found the book at an antique store and figured for a few bucks it would be interesting to read. The stories are an assortment of short stories, poems…each one is different. There was the original story that I suppose the Field of Dreams was based upon. One very short story was about a guy that walked into a bar. A baseball game was on the small TV in the corner. An older guy sitting next to him started talking about baseball and complaining about the way games today (probably 40 years ago) are described. Lanz commented on BOB’s blog yesterday how Vin Scully used words to paint a picture of the game. That is exactly what this old guy was complaining about in this story. He missed listening to a baseball game on the radio; because those play by play guys painted that picture for their listeners…they had to. TV guys have gotten lazy. Most do not understand what it is to do a play by play. They use words like velocity instead of bringing the heat or throwing gas and location instead of nibbling around the corners. As I read this story, I realized that the old man was exactly right. I have spent those summer nights lying in my bed with my eyes closed…seeing the game through the words. I watch the game now, and don’t really listen as much to the words of the broadcast. Often, I think that I see as much or more than the guys doing the broadcast. Baseball is great today and I love being able to watch so many game on TV. But, there will always be something special about listening to a baseball game on the radio.
I think we have all noticed how many pitchers are MIA this year. The dreaded phrase “Tommy John” surgery has been spoken 20 times this year. I started looking around trying to find some answers. One theory is that the MLB strike zone is so tight that pitchers have given up throwing slower breaking balls and now throw a cut fastball, slider and split finger fastball. Hitters spend hours watching video now. They are much more patient at the plate because they know that the tight strike zones favor hitters. There is some potential truth to this. Fastballs are thrown with the shoulder. Curveballs are thrown with the shoulder and wrist. The harder breaking balls all stress the elbow. I can see this, but I don’t think it tells the entire story. So I went to the expert on the matter…Dr. James Andrews. Dr. Andrews believes that there are several factors that are causing the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) to fray and eventually fail. Kids are bigger and stronger and the UCL is just not able to keep pace with how hard the young pitchers are throwing. Also, baseball has become a year round sport in many parts of the country. He believes that young pitchers are not getting a break like they used to. Instead of putting away the baseball glove and picking up a football or basketball, they simply play on. A comment on the article about Dr. Andrews was spot on. He remembers listening to 2 visiting hockey coaches from Finland. They said if you want to be one of the best 12 year old players around then play year round. But if you want to still be a good player when you are 16 or 17 then drop the game when your season is over and play other sports that interest you because eventually water seeks its level and others will catch up or your zeal for the game will be greatly diminished.
My son began playing tournament baseball when he was 11. But, we limited the amount of games that the kids played. But there are others that do not. I am a firm believer that playing all sports is of great benefit for young athletes. Focusing on one sport at a young age often burns kids out. It also can lead to overuse of a pitchers arm…which is what we are beginning to see at the professional level. There is really nothing that the MLB can do to change this, except perhaps offer direction. Baseball should spend time preparing messages to younger players and their parents. Most kids will never play professional baseball, but the facts should be known. Throwing a baseball is not a natural action. Throwing a baseball hard puts stress on the shoulder and elbow.
Based on this information, it does not appear that anything will change soon. For the record, of those 20 pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery only one is from outside the US. It is clear that this problem is something that is homegrown. Hopefully, it will be something that we can soon begin to change.
Last weekend was the Masters. The big news leading up to this great tournament was that Tiger Woods would not be healthy enough to participate in this year’s Masters. I have been a big fan of Tiger Wood's golfing. I have watched him perform at a level that few have ever approached. I cheered Tiger on in his pursuit of the major championship record. But, in the back of my mind, I had a nagging feeling like I had forgotten something. This week, I was reminded what I had forgotten. For all of those wins, Tiger Woods will never have something…he will never be the King of golf. There has only ever been one man in golf that completely grabbed the fancy of the country and that was Arnold Palmer. Although, Jack Nicklaus will wear the crown of best player, it is Arnold Palmer that captivated our nation and brought attention to the game of golf. Men wanted to be Palmer and women just wanted him. Class, charisma and charm were characteristics of Arnold Palmer. When Palmer began to make a move up the leader board, he would hitch his pants and eagerly charge toward the next shot. The adoring crowds were called “Arnie’s Army” and they would announce a great shot with a surge of cheers. Seriously, there was no doubt when Palmer sank a long putt or hit a great shot. ..You just knew. He did not so much play golf, as attack the course. As a small kid, I remember thinking that there was something different about this man.
Through all of his professional successes, Palmer remained a hero to every man. You cannot find anyone that will say something bad about Palmer. He has been a gentleman from the beginning. He always had time for a smile and a handshake. Athletes of today would do well to examine the manner that this giant of another generation has handled his business.
Here are a few facts about Arnold Palmer:
Hale Irwin said that he learned from Arnold that the most important part of being a professional golfer was what you did outside the ropes.
Palmer said that his father told him…You don’t need to tell anyone how good you are, you show them how good you are.
You can have a discussion over who is the best golfer of all time, but there is no question that Arnold Palmer has been the most important golfer of all time.
Johnny Bench named his son Justin Palmer Bench. Now, that is impressive.
Palmer represents the values of what America used to be. He is an American icon.
Arnold Palmer loved to add lemonade to his glass of iced tea…now that drink is called an Arnold Palmer.
There is so much more about Palmer to discuss. He beat prostate cancer in 1999, but has never quit his fight to beat the disease. He has donated money and been very outspoken to help raise awareness for fighting cancer. He built a Children’s hospital in Florida that remains one of the most impressive hospitals in the country for children.
Arnold Palmer brought attention and money to the PGA tour. He helped create the Senior Tour and the Golf Channel. He defined how to create a brand, by living his life doing good things. He began flying his own plane in the 1950s. In watching the golf channel story, it detailed how Palmer decided that at 80 years of age that he should leave the flying to someone else. On his last flight from the west coast to Orlando…he got the red carpet treatment from each airport that he was in communication with. Apparently, all of the airports across the country cleared the way for his flight. I am not a pilot, but supposedly, this is just not done. He did not have to wait for anything…which speaks to the respect that the air traffic guys had for Palmer as a pilot. From his humble beginnings, Palmer has created a huge place in American history…and he has done it the right way.
Tiger Woods has been a student of golf and has focused his attention to try to eclipse these records. It is a shame that Tiger does not understand that golf is only a small part of the legacy he will leave behind. It is sad, but I sort of see Tiger Woods as I do Barry Bonds. Both were great players that never realized the true meaning of being a champion. Arnold Palmer is 85 and won’t be with us much longer. It is time we took a moment to acknowledge just how special his life has been.
I think that everyone is ready for the snow to stop...
This is a picture of the Utah Valley University baseball field. The UTPA Broncs headed to Orem Utah to take on the Wolverines last weekend. They took 2 out of 3, but could not close out the sweep on Sunday. Watching the games online, I could not help but admire the beautiful venue...at least until the weather turned bad on Sunday. Blake and his guys managed to just beat the snow out of town. Next week is a home series against Bakersfield. Hopefully, they can just keep winning 2 out of three. Taking a series the rest of the way will allow the Broncs to make the conference tournament in May.
That is all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey...
"Too bad you can't buy a voodoo globe so that you could make the earth spin real fast and freak everybody out."
"If you're a young Mafia gangster out on your first date, I bet it's real embarrassing if someone tries to kill you. "
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own...
If you’re a hockey fan then you know there’s nothing more exciting than when the trade deadline approaches and everyone vying for a playoff run is looking to get the one missing gem to make it to the Promised Land. There was a move two days before the deadline that sent the overpaid and heavily shopped Roberto Luongo to Florida, his old address before going to Vancouver where he scored the huge contract they ended up choking on. Now I’ve heard some pretty dumb comments from athletes in my years, but Luongo tossed out one doozy once the trade was announced, he said, “ I was shocked, I never saw this coming”! Really? You didn’t know that for the last three seasons the Canucks have actively, and quite publicly I might add, been calling every GM in the league looking to send you packing? You missed the numerous headlines right after the season ended last year that again the Canucks were looking to get anyone to take you and that ridiculous contract and there were no takers because the very team that gave you that contract was being asked to kick in for a good chunk of it to take you off their hands? Sure, I can see how you may have missed all that, and I’m more than sure you didn’t hear about going to the Islanders last month either. Talk about denial. So good ole Roberto goes off to Florida and whose waiting to greet him there is none other than Tim Thomas, the very guy who beat him in the Cup finals in 2011, the same goalie who got in a verbal battle and said he didn’t really care what he had to say about the way he played the game, he wasn’t there to pump up your tires…I was hoping he could remind you in the locker room that he also never got pulled out of a game after getting shelled in that series, TWICE!!! Quite the ego you’ve got…you know what you can do with that contract Roberto, good luck in Florida and you won’t have to worry about hearing how badly you perform in the playoffs, they don’t usually go to them.
Luckily for Luongo, Thomas was sent to Dallas and Ellis was sent to Florida in exchange. So what we'll all get to miss is those fake looks of camaraderie, or hear that everything is all good when I wouldn't believe for a second that one would buy the other so much as a cup of coffee. But the real blockbuster move came from the Rangers, sending captain Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis. The first thing I thought of when I heard this trade was my man Beeze and his reaction to it, I just knew he wasn’t going to dig this move at all, and he didn’t. Callahan and the Rangers have been trying to work out his new contract and the rumor was he and the team were apart on the numbers, to the tune of $200-$400K a year in a six year deal, until just now this is all we heard, then I get a text from Beeze and he's telling me that what was missing in this story last night was the no trade clause that Callahan also wanted...so that was the deal breaker, a guy who isn’t afraid to throw down, isn’t scared of laying down and blocking shots from the likes of a Zdeno Chara if it means saving a game for the likes of St. Louis, who at 38 is still an offensive threat and healthy only because he avoids the physical portion of the game. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fine player, a good goal scorer, but with one-year left on his contract he’ll be 39 and looking for another deal, say 2 years and I’m not sure if the Rangers will be kicking in at that point. With Callahan they had a guy with longevity, (he’ll be 29 this month), so I can’t say I blame Beeze and Ranger fans for dumping hard on this one.
Then we have the Canadiens, err… They scooped up Thomas Vanek from the Islanders. When I heard this one I immediately knew why too, they got Vanek because they know they’ll probably have get through Boston to further any hope of moving on in the playoffs and Vanek has always been a thorn in their side. Eh…good luck to them with that is all I’ve got to say…no love lost here for the Habs and their hurt feelings…you know me, no warm fuzzies coming from Sully.
Jaroslav Halak, the goalie that has had a great season was sent packing earlier in the week to Buffalo for Ryan Miller. I hated this trade for a lot of reasons. But as I suspected Halak didn’t unpack, he was traded to Washington, so he at least will get a better shot at some playoff time, maybe he ends up being just what the doctor ordered. God knows the Achilles heal for the Caps has been between the pipes, but what Halak won’t have that he had in St. Louis is a team that plays stifling defense. No more will he see only 19 shots a game, he can forget about that, he’ll be lucky if the low is in the 30’s. These are the trades that stood out most to me, I won’t go into all the deals, I know there have been others who have or will touch on them too, and Beeze will undoubtedly be “Moaning” about it on Monday!
In other happenings, I see that Adrian Peterson is tweeting that he’d like Michael Vick to join the Vikings, that they could win with him at the helm. What makes him think that Minnesota can do with Vick that no one else has been able to do? The only thing different about Michael Vick is he’s older. He’s still injury prone, he still makes terrible decisions with the football and to think that he can just stroll through the door and be the answer to their QB problems is a bit ridiculous. If that happens…good luck with that, but you’ve been warned.
The 2014 YouGabSports fantasy baseball league if fired up, if you’d like to ply just sign up on the post I put up yesterday, and I’ll get an invite right out to you. If we fill this up quickly and there’s enough interest to play I’ll start another league.