Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Just a Real Son of a Bitch

I recently have been watching Ken Burns Baseball that was originally produced for PBS on the MLB channel.  I have seen bits and pieces of it before but this is the first time I have watched the show in sequence. 

The first three programs deal will the early days of baseball.  Some say when it was a game and it mostly deals with the dead ball era (the era before the ball was wound and stitched very tight and when this occurred home runs became the thing). 

It was an era of hitters and also of players who had a bit more personality than the ballplayers of today (really after the 70’s personalities seem like they are just not the same). 

Baseball has had its share of villains over the years and Ty Cobb is one that is probably always at the top of the list.  Let’s face it, he was a bad person.  Racist in nature, hated by his own teammates and described by one teammate as “Just a Real Son of A Bitch”.  If you remember in the movie Field of Dreams Ray Liotta’s Joe Jackson character made a reference to Ty Cobb wanting to come and play and he referred to the fact that none of them could stand him when he was playing so they told him to go screw himself.   

The Biblical meaning of the name Tyrus is: Strength; rock; sharp.  As pointed out in Ken Burns Baseball the name is also synonymous with the Siege of Tyre which was a city that refused to surrender to Alexander the Great.  Cobb’s drive and demeanor on the field pretty much matched the origins of his name. 

Cobb was one of the, if not the greatest hitter of all time.  Just look at his career stats:

Ty Cobb's Career Batting Statistics



His career average will never be matched and his numbers for hits and stolen bases will likely always be in the top five.  I doubt anyone will ever win twelve batting titles either and for sure not twelve consecutive batting titles.  There are other records that say he struck out 600 times instead of 357 but pretty amazing feat either way. 

Cobb was not just a great player but a great competitor.  One of the most competitive men to ever play a professional sport period based what I have learned about him over the years. 

What motivated Cobb?  Per a story covered by Ken Burns Baseball on the road Cobb was always the first one back to his room, before his traveling roommate, and first in the tub.  Once when his roommate made it back before him and was in the tub first.   Cobb, upon arriving in his room, went in and yanked the teammate out of the tub, while yelling, “I have to be first!  I have to be first in everything I do!”

Cobb was motivated by his father.  A father who told him when he left to go play baseball professional in a lower level league to not come back a failure.  Tremendous pressure put on a young kid who idolized his dad. 

Cobb was an immediate success and two weeks before the Tigers purchased him to play in Detroit Cobb’s father was tragically killed by his own mother.  Cobb was quoted in later years that he was driven by his father’s challenge and even more driven by the fact his father never got to see his success. 

I look at other great athletes who were driven like no others, Larry Bird and Ben Hogan come to mind, who had motivation and drive that came, like Cobb, from tragic losses of their fathers.  The great ones are usually driven like no one else for some reason.  There are some who do it on talent alone but that usually runs out on them much quicker than those who do it with drive and hard work.

Nicklaus, Jones, Tiger and Mickelson also come to mind who were not driven by tragedy related to their fathers but by fathers who motivated them to become the champions they were and are on the golf course.      

Love him or hate him Ty Cobb is one of the greatest athletes sports has ever known.  Even as much of a Son of A Bitch as Cobb was he also did some great things in his life with his wealth that rarely garner any recognition and is really more of his legacy than what he did on the baseball field.    

He donated $100,000 in his parents' name for his hometown to build a modern 24-bed hospital, Cobb Memorial Hospital, which today is part of the Ty Cobb Healthcare System in the State of Georgia today.   He also established the Cobb Educational Fund, which awarded scholarships to needy Georgia students bound for college, by endowing it with a $100,000 donation in 1953 (of Coca Cola Stock) and that endowment still exists today.

Ty Cobb the ballplayer, one of best ever, Ty Cobb the person, pretty much a rotten guy but in the end Ty Cobb showed he had some heart and did care about more than just himself.

I think I have allot of Cobb in me because I am very much motivated like he, Bird and Hogan were for sure.  I also think as you grow older you think about your legacy and what will your legacy be and I think that is why Cobb did some of the good things he did later in his life.  Not everyone will have a legacy like a Ty Cobb from the sense of how famous his legacy is, what it has done and will be for years to come but everyone can leave a legacy. 

Thinking about your legacy and what you legacy means and how it could be carried on his healthy thinking and something that people should take time to reflect upon.  Understanding legacy and what that means has also given a big boost to my career because I have established things at work that will be my legacy for years to come that will benefit people and my organization 

Read more on Cobb here:


Cracking the Code

I recently finished reading Paul Azinger’s book Cracking the Code which is the story of how he put together his team for the 2008 Ryder Cup and led the team to a successful Cup performance. 

I have to say now I understand what Mickelson was saying at the close of the 2014 event and why the European Team has an advantage before the matches even start. 

We had all heard about the pod system but the book goes into some fascinating detail of where Azinger got the idea, how the idea evolved with input from allot of people and how in the end he had three pods of three people and he let each pod decide what player to add to their pod and the team. 

He created some ownership in the process and truly built a team from the Pods.  So when Watson said it is not Pods it is a team of 16 people he had it half right but the Pods are important. 

The book also gave me some great ideas for work also.  My direct reports lead teams and our projects are team based with all team members dependent on each other.  There is some pretty cool stuff that we are talking about incorporating that Azinger used in his process and execution. 

Lesson Learned!  I need to read more books because you never know where the next great idea can come from.  


-       When I retire I plan on getting two dogs.  If I was going to get them today I would name one of them Tyrus and the other one Musial.

-       If you are not listening to or watching Finebaum for an hour a day you are really missing out on some great entertainment (hopefully it is not because you are watching Doug Gottlieb). 

-       Kentucky Basketball is not going to go undefeated.

-       SEC Basketball is better than it is getting credit for. 

-       St Louis does NOT need to trade Carlos Marteinez. 

-       Cowboys got bit by Karma or Irony.  Right call bad rule in Packers game!  Saw Middies get the same call in 2013 to cost them game.  Navy player caught it, took two steps while falling backwards with ball cradled firmly, broke the plain of goal line, hit the ground in end zone and ball came out.  Had it been a running play Touchdown!    

-       Congrats to Buckeyes on winning the NC.  Urban Meyer is a great coach but proved at end of game he is an Petrino Like for not taking a knee!    

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Culture of Sports


Baseball thrives on local cultures in a way no other sport does. -  Will Leitch
This statement more than anything is what makes me a fan of the game of baseball.  You can go to any baseball stadium and find a major difference in the people that are at the games, the food at the games, etc. where the fans hang out and do before games, but on the field the game is literally played the same The exception is baseball is played different in American League Parks vs. National League Parks because of the DH.  The culture of one league vs. the other.  There are also running teams, power teams, etc. but the core of the game is the same. 
Go back to the days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Giants and New York Yankees.  It was as much about culture as it was about geographic location as to why you pulled for one team or the other (if you were in the South or the West there were really no teams so if you were a fan of a pro baseball team culture of a team was likely what influenced you). 
I am sure a Yankee or Giants fan in Brooklyn was hard to find but my guess is there was a scattering of Brooklyn Dodgers fans who lived in Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx or Long Island (before all the Dodgers fan moved to Long Island and caused the Dodgers to shift west).  
You were a Yankees fan because they were the Yankees, dominant and likable characters year in and year out who would just simply win.  They started out in Manhattan, the center of the cultural universe, as the Highlanders (moving from Baltimore) and were in the limelight not just for their success on the field but their antics or performance off the field over the years (they moved to the Bronx in 1923). 
Dodger Fans, my guess were polar opposites.  I say this because my grandfather was a lifelong Dodgers fan, why?  I think it was because he could relate to that team in a more realistic way and because it was easy to be a Yankee fan or Giants fan.  I believe the Dodgers were viewed as the working class guys, the guys that lived in the neighborhood and rode the subway to work like most Brooklynites did and still do today. 
I know it is documented that the Dodgers of Brooklyn were very much a fan friendly team who interacted well with the fan base during and after the season.  They were a community and my grandfather, although the son of a sharecropper, spent allot of time in the East End of my hometown in what was very much a strong community at that time, a mix of many different cultures, who all came together and took care of each other. 
For many years, per stories that have been passed on by my late grandfather RJ, his wife Cym and my late father in law Dutch Herzog they had a common bond, the East End came together on Sunday's around the site of the old Hosiery Mill in Henderson for the adults to play baseball (my grandmother says RJ loved the game but was just not very good something I am sure he would dispute if he were still alive).  Those stories include characters, like a first basemen named Harpole who was a star despite missing some fingers on a hand and Old Monk Norman who had the best drop ball my grandmother said was the best she had ever seen. It is obvious Baseball was a big part of their culture and it is a shame that culture, in this way, has been lost and is gone forever. 
In today's world geography and pedigree play a major role in which baseball team you choose as your favorite but is less regionalized than it has been with TV and media coverage.  I am a Louisville Bats fan even though they are the AAA team of the Reds because I am in Louisville.  In the mid 80's I pulled for Duke basketball because I was on the East Coast and TV there was dominated by the ACC and they were the team that most closely resembled Kentucky basketball at the time. 
If you live in  Missouri outside of KC, Western Kentucky, Western Tennessee, Parts of Illinois, Northern Mississippi, Oklahoma or Arkansas you are very likely a fan of the Redbirds from St Louis because of your geographic location (until the late 50's this was the team located the farthest west) and family pedigree.  For me it is a little geographic location but it is mainly the culture the St Louis Cardinals fans enjoy.  They have a small town feel and the Redbird organization operates the team with this culture in mind. 

The states I mentioned are built on small town feel so it is not surprise to me that when you talk baseball in these areas you are talking predominantly of the St Louis Cardinals.  No doubt Budweiser and the previous ownership of the Busch family has had an impact on the culture of the Redbirds and the fan base of the St Louis franchise something that was unique. 
I am a Navy Football Fan because I served in the Navy, a fan of the culture of Navy Football of maximum effort, respect, etc.  I like Bama because of the mystique of the Bear and those great wishbone teams of the 70's and their winning culture.  I am a Kentucky fan because that is in my DNA no matter what the culture (although the current changing culture for football and the basketball culture of Coach Cal are major pluses).  I started out as a Pirates fan, loved the A's of the early 70's, 75 Red Sox's, the Dodgers for a bit before finally settling (much to the dismay of my grandfather) in as St Louis Cardinal Fan (to note my mother is a longtime Reds Fan). 
I think Will Leitch nails it for baseball.  His article during the World Series http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/features/2014-10-28/the-very-civil-war-of-the-world-series?hootPostID=3b60154a524e11dd55d6c371cb0817fe represents the baseball culture of teams on much more an expanded level. 
Baseball, because of how long it has been played, is still influenced by culture and the players are influenced by the local culture.   College football teams are deeply rooted in local culture and tradition and that sport is likely more localized than any other (for example if you did not grow up in Mississippi or attend a Mississippi school or ever reside in the state the likelihood you are a fan of a Mississippi school is very slim). 
You can find Cubs fans everywhere, why is beyond me (that is a humorous statement because I get it), a Braves fan all through the South because of TBS (although they know longer carry the games like they used to) a Yankees fan anywhere (I know several and some have never even been to New York) or a Red Sox Fan anywhere because of the culture and coverage of those teams.

Do all the teams have that culture I am talking about?  I would say that St Louis, New York, Cincy, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago and Philly have long standing baseball cultures and that culture still influences those teams today.  I would even say that the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, LA Dodgers and SF Giants have that level of culture also even though they are not in their original cities.  The others are building that culture or may never even really capture that culture because they are new cities in the grand scheme of things. 

For Pro Football I think for the long-time professional football teams of the Giants, Eagles, Browns, Redskins, Bears, Packers, Lions, Steelers and 49er's culture within the fan-base still plays a large role because of the team history and influence of the local cultures.  A team like the Indy Colts is not really influenced by the culture of the fans in my opinion.  Dallas has it and you could say the New England Patriots and New York Jets have it also.
Sports = culture and to me it is positive culture in general (everything has it's flaws that can be picked out).  I know that my life benefits from participating in, watching and listening to games and most of all attending games.  Find a team, support that team and better yet find a local team (like at the high school level) to follow for Friday Night Football (something my wife and I have done for the past couple of years). 

If you want to experience what baseball culture was like before a game in the past go to a day game during the week at Wrigley field and you will experience that moment. 

There are still Giants Fans in New York:

Read about the Culture of the Brooklyn Dodgers from Don Zimmer and Vin Scully during Dodger Hey Day:

Kentucky Football - From Coach Stoops

''As you look at the season I never hid from the fact that it was important to win one of these games down the stretch and we didn't get that done,''

Agree 100%.  With the stadium improvements and now the practice facility upgrades scheduled all of these things can help add to the success.  The offense went backwards, due to play calling, but they have playmakers and a new OC will help (as long as it is someone who runs the true Air Raid attack).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Oscar Taveras

I was a very young kid the first time I remember a sports personality passing away tragically. 
In 1971, at the age of seven, I had become very familiar with Roberto Clemente.  This was because my mother was such a baseball fan, passed down from grandfather and I am sure that she was instrumental in me watching the 1971 World Series in which Clemente was named MVP after a great performance.  At seven years old I was hooked on baseball, hooked on Clemente and the Pirates were my favorite team (important to note the A's were soon my favorite team, then the Dodgers and back to Pirates before finally locking in on the Redbirds). 
I would like to say that I vividly remember watching Clemente glide all over the field with such grace and his prowess at bat on the bases but I really do not.  I do however remember the events surrounding his disappearance and death. 

From Wikepedia:

Clemente spent much of his time during the off-season involved in charity work. When Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, was affected by a massive earthquake on Saturday December 23, 1972,

Clemente (who had been visiting Managua three weeks before the quake) immediately set to work arranging emergency relief flights.[40] He soon learned, however, that the aid packages on the first three flights had been diverted by corrupt officials of the Somoza government, never reaching victims of the quake.[41]

Clemente decided to accompany the fourth relief flight, hoping that his presence would ensure that the aid would be delivered to the survivors.[42] The airplane he chartered for a New Year's Eve flight, a Douglas DC-7, had a history of mechanical problems and sub-par flight personnel, and it was overloaded by 4,200 pounds.[43] It crashed into the ocean off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico immediately after takeoff on Sunday December 31, 1972.[44]

A few days after the crash, the body of the pilot and part of the fuselage of the plane were found. An empty flight case apparently belonging to Clemente was the only personal item recovered from the plane. Clemente's teammate and close friend Manny Sanguillén was the only member of the Pirates not to attend Roberto's memorial service. The Pirates catcher chose instead to dive into the waters where Clemente's plane had crashed in an effort to find his teammate. Clemente's body was never recovered.

I remember the news, I remember it real left an impression on me and I remember coming from school each day to scan the paper or watch the news to see if they had perhaps found the great ball player still alive.  Of course they did not and I vividly remember that I thought if they did not find his body that maybe he was still alive.  I am not sure when I gave up on that hope or really the events after the plane went down I just remember the experience at that time and how it made me feel.  I did not remember the part about Sanguillen but that is a great tribute to a fallen teammate. 
Fast forward to Oscar Taveras.  First of all let me say this loss is different in many ways but it is still a tragedy.  Anytime a young person dies, whether they or an athlete or not, it is a tragedy of what if's to be played out over a period of time. 
Taveras was no doubt a special talent with a one of the greatest left handed swings you would ever see (just asked Harold Reynolds who raved about it during the playoffs).  He had been a great minor leaguer who was just starting to learn to play in the majors and was on his way in 2015 to get his shot at being the Redbirds everyday Right Fielder and effort to blossom into a star. 
There was no guarantee that he would every achieve a level of greatness, for every Roberto Clemente there are ten Ty Giffin's, guys who had the talent but for whatever reason they did not make it in the majors or there is an A Rod, Sosa, McGwire or Barry Bonds who have disrespected the game (not for using Roids but for using them and lying about it).  The tragedy for Taveras and his family is we will never know.  He certainly was a hero in the DR and he certainly could have gone on to greatness in both the world of baseball and that as a humanitarian like Clemente. 
St Louis has had some tragedy with their ballplayers over the last several years and they also shook the team and franchise but this one is different to me.  It is different because it is partly the result of some bad choices that maybe could have been avoided.  There is a lesson to be learned here for us all when a death like this now has an asterisk. 
Many of us, myself included, have made these type of bad choices before in our lives but the key is to stop making them at some point so you can live on.  Just like with Oscar Taveras there was no guarantee of greatness but one may never realize their full potential without making better decisions. 
I recently watched the movie Rush, the story of two Formula One rivals on different paths, which is another great example of different ways one can choose to live their lives and have an influence on how those lives end.  Taveras could have learned from this movie as we really all could. 


- Follow @KentuckyStoleMyFish if you want to see how crazy fans on in their hate of Kentucky Basketball. 
- UK Football is not a disappointment overall but after a 5 and 1 start if they do not get a sixth win that would be a disappointment (Most rational people predicted 4 or 5 wins).  Stoops is on the right path and with the stadium renovations this program is taking a big step forward. 
- Does this UK basketball team go on to win it all?  It is a long season and they can get better but winning that tournament is a tough thing to do no matter how good you are. 
- Navy Football is the one that is a bit of a disappoint to me.  I thought that 8 or 9 regular season wins were on the menu but they lost a couple they should not have in my opinion.  QB Reynolds has been great and he has another year to go. 
- I like the trade the Redbirds made with the Braves but St Louis cannot afford to give up anymore of the young arms.  They also need a right-handed hitting 1B/3B to spell Adams and Carp on occasion (mainly Adams). 
- My four playoff teams, if they win out are FSU, Bama, Mississippi State and fill in the blank at this point.  Baylor and TCU have hurt themselves with losses (Baylor beat TCU but lost to WVA) and Oregon is no better than the Buckeyes to me because they lost at home also.  Oregon and OSU have the most uptick since they play a conference championship game.  Still allot of Football left to be played. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chunky, Funky and Punky

Dance Team

I have no issues with this lady. Chunky? Maybe a little but I do not see the issue or why someone would have an issue.

Ridiculousness Abounds

I am just speechless. First IU prints T-Shirts that say “We’re Back” after they win a non conference home game in December of 2012. Then the team they beat beats them when it counts, in a game that was a great college basketball like the non con game in December.

Next IU cuts down the nets after a home loss because they clinched a tie for the B10 title A tie (they do end up winning the B10 outright), Next IU’s coach berates an assistant coach from another team, ‘ruining the IU program” when the person responsible for that is Bobby Knight. Next there is number one seed T-Shirts and then they are bounced in the tournament.

Now if that was not enough The Coach After Eddie gets a tattoo. I just have no idea what to even say about this one. Just when you think you have seen it all you see something else that puts a look on your face like you took an ambien and woke up outside in the street naked (stole that line from Dennis Miller). Rick just needs to grow a line beard now and start listening to rap music (nothing wrong with rap music I have plenty on my I Pod) and he will fit right in with their fan base.

At this point I would fully support the banner in Rupp Arena for him and one Richie Farmer comes down. Both are an embarrassment to University of Kentucky and the fan base and it is time to part ways with them both.

It is not that the Coach After Eddie won it all in 2013 (to be honest I cannot understand why he took so long) or that he did it at Louisville but it starts with that he is arrogant enough to think that going to one of Kentucky’s rival schools is OK. I guess his punishment is he has to wake up everyday and look at that face (not his but his grossly reconstructed wife’s).

Woody Hayes would have never went to Michigan, Bo to OSU, Dean Smith to Duke, Coach K to UNC, Bear to Auburn or Dye to Bama because they respect the schools they came from. That is the issue I have with this arrogant SOB.


The College Football Playoff

I like the format. I like that we will be back to games being played on New Years Day. I do not mind the name either, The College Football Playoff. This format continues to make the regular season relevant, very relevant and that is very important to me.

For the SEC, ACC, P12 and B10 the Championship Game will be rewarded with a spot, as they should and it looks like the B12 Conference winner gets a spot in the bowl games.

At the end of the year there are only 4 to 6 teams who deserve a spot in this playoff so the set up is really perfect. Money will cause it to expand but I hope it does not go past eight teams when it does. To me there will always be a team that may be left out but they are left out because of a loss or in a rare occurrence a weak schedule (will not happen often).

This playoff keeps the bowls in place and I think it is important for schools to have a chance to get that extra month of practice, have a place for their fans to travel to play a non traditional opponent.

Here is an excerpt from the New York Times on how it works:


The conference commissioners who spent more than a year putting the playoff together cringe when it's suggested that the new system is BCS 2.0, but to understand how it works, it helps to keep in mind how the Bowl Championship Series worked.

In the BCS, there were four, and then later five games played each season. Only one, the national championship game, had anything to do with the national championship. The others were glitzy bowl games played in showcase stadiums that — hopefully — had compelling matchups. Six conferences had automatic bids to those games, and other teams could earn automatic entry.

The new system will have a total of seven games, including two national semifinals and a final that will determine the national champion. The four other games will be glitzy bowl games played in showcase stadiums that — hopefully — will have compelling matchups. There will no longer be automatic bids for six conference champions, as was the case for the BCS. Now five conferences (the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Pac-12) each have guaranteed a spot for their conference champion in either the semifinals or one of the four glitzy bowls. There will also be a guaranteed spot for the best team from the five FBS conferences (the Big East, soon to be the American Athletic Conference, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Conference-USA and Mid-American).


The selection committee will, for the most part, make the matchups. Foremost it will seed the top four teams in the country, setting up the semifinals. No. 1 will play No. 4. No. 2 will play No. 3. The committee will try as best it can to avoid giving the lower-seeded team a geographical advantage. For example, if LSU is seeded fourth the committee is unlikely to let the Tigers play a semifinal in New Orleans.

The selection committee will also set some of the matchups in the glitzy bowls, with a priority on getting as many highly ranked teams as possible into the games.

But this is important: when the Rose Bowl does not host a semifinal it will always be Big Ten vs. Pac-12. The Sugar Bowl in years it does not host a semifinal will always be Southeastern Conference vs. Big 12. The Orange Bowl in the years it does not host a semifinal will always be Atlantic Coast Conference vs. either an SEC team, a Big Ten team or Notre Dame.


None. Unlike the BCS, which capped the number of teams from a conference at two, in the new system there is no limit to how many teams a league can put in the two semifinals or the other bowls. Four SEC teams? Sure, why stop there.


The semifinals will rotate through six bowl games: the Rose (Pasadena), Orange (Miami), Sugar (New Orleans), Fiesta (Glendale, Ariz.), Cotton (Arlington, Texas) and Chick-fil-A (Atlanta). When those games don't host a semifinal, they will put on one of the glitzy bowls.

The championship game will be bid out like the Super Bowl and move all over the country. The first one will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, also home of the Cotton Bowl.

5. WHEN?

Three games will be played back-to-back-to-back on New Year's Eve and there will be another tripleheader on New Year's Day. Adjustments will be made if Dec. 31 or Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday so as to not conflict with the NFL.

The championship game will always be played on a Monday, at least a week after the semifinals.

The first season the semifinals will be in the Rose and Sugar bowls on Jan. 1, 2015. The Rose will kickoff around 5 p.m. EST. The Sugar around 8:30 p.m. EDT.

The championship game in Texas will be played Jan. 12, and kickoff around 8:30 p.m.

The Rose and Sugar bowls will always be played on New Year's Day, so in most seasons the semifinals will be played on New Year's Eve.

6. TV

All these games will be shown on ESPN. It has reportedly paid about $7.2 billion for the entire package.


About 85 percent of it will go to the Big Five conferences. The other five will split the rest, but don't feel too badly for them. Most will be making about five times the amount they made with the BCS.


The idea was to make it similar to the one that puts together the NCAA basketball tournament, made up of athletic directors and conference commissioners. But make no mistake, this will be much tougher to put together, and the commissioners know that.

"This is an issue of considerable complexity and given how much time we have until the playoff begins, we're in no rush," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said Thursday, the final of three days of meetings at a resort hotel in the Rose Bowl's backyard.

Everything is apparently still up for debate, from who will be on the committee — current or former athletic administrators? — to how many people will be on it — 16? 18? 20? — to what kind of metrics and rankings it will be given to guide decisions.

On to the real topic, recruiting. – By Final Four Ken (AKA Ken Lawson)

First point; there are zero pro prospects on the UL team. My wife typed in “Rick Pitino’s Health” and she found every article written about Ricky P’s affairs.

When Cal was at Memphis I was not happy that one coach was already getting the top players, two or three. Then I started doing some research. If you look at coach K’s roster this year you will discover that every player on his roster was either number 1 or number 2 at his position. This year coach K signed #2, #19 and #20. His technique is a little different that Cal in that he recruits suburban kids. These kids typically stay 3 to 4 years because their families have more resources. Coach K has been doing this every year for the past 32 years and no one says a word. No outrage. No questions about character or cheating.

Next, Roy Williams recruits much like Cal. Roy has been recruiting McDonalds All Americans for a lot longer period of time. Roy has been signing at least two top ten recruits every year. A quick review of the last 5 seasons for Roy reveals that he has started players who have been either number 1 or number 2 at their position. Again, not one word about character or cheating. History shows Roy has been caught on several occasions on the wrong side of the rules. This is not discussed anywhere at all.

Bill Self also recruits very well. Kansas always signs a top class. They don’t get as many. No one talks about an injustice or question how coach Self attracts so much talent to Kansas.

You can make the same case for Billy Donovan. Every year he successfully recruits 3 top ten players. His teams regularly have players who were number 1 or number 2 at their positions. There are zero character questions or out loud complaints about how Billy brings players to his program.

One of the best examples of questionable coaches is the dean of college basketball, Dean Smith. Can you find an explanation for this coach? Again, Dean Smith consistently recruited top recruits for 15 straight years. Were there any questions about Coach Smith’s character or recruiting improprieties? Not one word. If you review his roster you will find more number 1 players than number 2 players on every UNC roster. Under Coach Smith’s great coaching UNC made more final four appearances with less success than any other program. UNC was in every sweet sixteen for 15 straight years. All they have to show are two of the top questionable championships college basketball will ever remember.

Back to coach Calipari. He is outspoken about the one year requirement (his dislike) and yet he is questioned at every turn on every college basketball blog. If you review the last 100 articles regarding college basketball stories you will find at least one negative comment regarding Calipari cheating. The story doesn’t even have to reference Kentucky.

I think Coach Cal gets a bad wrap. Unless you do some research people may continue to question and dislike Coach Cal’s success.

I agree with Final Four Ken on all points! For me I think Dean Smith is still the most over-rated coach in the history of college basketball. To only win two championships with all the talent he had at UNC during his tenure is under achievement at its best. He also held MJ under 20 points a game which to me is next to impossible unless you run the four corners set.

Go Navy

Two weeks ago the Navy Football Team was awarded the Commander in Chief Trophy for the eighth time in ten years. This is a truly great accomplishment for the Middies and a tribute to their players and coaching staff.

If you missed the three games they were truly outstanding last year. The Army Navy game was one of the best in recent memory and in the end I was as sad for the Army Team as I was happy for Navy.

Navy looks to have another great year in 2013. Former starting QB Trey Miller has been moved to slot back as Sophomore Kennan Reynolds has the job locked down. Navy is not very experienced at the Wing Back position so moving Miller out there will help. As for Reynolds he is going set allot of records at Navy. From the Navy Website:

“Reynolds saw action in all 13 games, starting the final eight games of the year. Named the Independent Rookie of the Year by the nationwide media panel responsible for the FBS Independent Player of the Week awards. Help to anchor an offensive unit that finished the year ranked sixth nationally in rushing offense, averaging 278.46 yards per game. Reynolds believed to be just the fifth TRUE freshman to win his first four career starts at quarterback. Notre Dame's Matt LoVecchio won his first seven starts as a true freshman in 2000, USC's Matt Barkley won his first six starts in 2009 and Tim Jefferson of Air Force won his first five starts as a freshman in 2008. “



- The Coach After Eddie to now grow a line beard, pierce his ears, wear a backwards ball cap and clothes that are to big for him to fit in.

- The media is really pushing the gay athlete agenda or the gay agenda period. Who cares? If someone is gay they are gay! I could care less about an athlete or anyone else being gay that is so yesterday’s news. Time to move to something that really matters.

- I cannot be more excited about UK Football.

- I love the Feherty show but I did not watch the Bobby Knight one because F Bobby Knight!

- As I have said before the only Cardinals I care about and whether they win or lose is the one that does not have teeth and sits on a bat and right now needs their bullpen to step up.

- Count me as a fan of golfer Billy Horschel. I think golf needs a bit more emotion at time and he shows it all over the place. Get a bit fired up sometimes!

- Coach After Eddie is like The Player Formally Known As Puljos, love what you did but you will never be legendary in the city you left.

- I think the large schools should form their own division (B10, B12, P12, ACC, SEC and Independents) in football.

I will hang up and listen!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Masters and The Man

The Master’s

First of all upon further review I think the slow play penalty assessed to the young man was the right call. The problem with this penalty and why it is never called is because what was explained the tour players do to prevent getting a slow play penalty once they are on ‘the clock’ which the young China Man did not know (but his caddie should have).

What the players do when they are put on the clock is this:

1. They slow down.
2. As soon as all the players have teed off on the hole the caddies pick up the pace and to arrive at the ball much quicker.
3. The caddie then checks yardage, wind, etc all before the player arrives and has made the club choice.
4. The player actually slows down their walking pace to allow the caddie to make all the projections.
5. The player that is to hit first gets 60 seconds to strike the ball once they arrive at the ball.
6. The second player has 40 seconds after the first player hits.
7. So the pace of play rule really has no impact.

I really cannot believe how a 14 year old kid handled this situation but that is golf and the golf influence coming through. When a kid learns about etiquette and respect, which are two things golf teaches this is the result you get. Well played young man, well played!  Goes to show what golf can teach a young person and why cities should do more to make the game available to their youth.

As for what happened with Tiger it was the right call. The haters do not think so and I admit at first I thought he should DQ himself but when I learned he was told that it was reviewed and he was OK then the next day something different was decided that is no fault of the player. Had this been anyone else would this have been the same result? Since 90% of participants in a tournament never make TV coverage had one of these players did this it would have never even come up. Had it been McDowell, Couples, Day, Scott, Cabrera the ruling would have been the same. Non issues play on!

As for the Master’s itself it proved once again the tournament starts on the second nine on Sunday. There was a host of people in position to win the tournament and this was one that was won by someone and not given to someone because other players folded.

The putt that Scott made on 18 was huge and then for Cabrera to stuff one in on 18 after watching that from the fairway was just incredible. I loved how Angel showed great respect for Scott when he made the putt and Angel’s emotion on the course during the tournament was truly awesome to watch.

Jason Day once again played a great Master’s but his bogeys on 16 and 17 were his undoing. I loved seeing Freddie and Langer compete as long as they did and great to see Sandy Lyle make the cut also.

Despite some of the controversy it was a great tournament once again.

UK Spring Football

Could the sleeping giant have been awakened? Over 50,000 in the stands for a Spring game at UK just shows how solid the football fan base is despite the lack of success in the SEC. Also proves that UK hired the right person and he has hired the right staff to create a buzz around this program that is like none most people have ever seen (1977 and 2007 come to mind for me).

It is for sure hard to get much out of a Spring Game but I did see some things I liked:

1. UK never huddled on offense one time and they appeared to be very much in sync.
2. The first and second string O Line looked like they have size and some speed.
3. UK spread the field on offense with the linemen spaced wide and lined up with four, five receiver sets on almost every play.
4. They did work in some plays with a fullback or TE in the backfield as a blocker.
5. UK has three solid QB’s and I like the dimension that Jalen Whitlow brings with his ability to run the ball out of the pocked and he threw it well also.
6. There is speed and talent at the wide out positions.
7. Depth at running back.
8. The defense is a work in progress.

UK’s football schedule is tough, tough next year and I do not expect allot of wins but I expect the brand of football will be exciting and they will have and create opportunities to win games. Mark Stoops has momentum and he for sure knows what he is doing and he wants to be in Lexington and that bodes well for UK Football.

I am very excited about next year and the years to follow. Finally a coach with the right idea and a coach that is recruiting beyond expectations already to this point. He will have to win but he is off to a great start.

Ignorance Abounds

And once again I let the masses demonstrate their intelligence. Stupid people are killing our country! Some of the comments are after an article where UK is picked as the preseason #1 in basketball next year and the other comes from comments made after the Chinese Golf Phenomenon was penalized for slow play at the Master’s. Just goes to show people believe what the want to and do not base much on fact which is what the majority of Americans who have issues, whatever they may be, and have those issues.

Unedited Comments:

I'm very glad Kentucky is preseason number 1. Put as much pressure on them as possible. I have them going farther than this year - I have them in the semifinals next year...of the NIT. Assuming, of course, they can avoid Robert Morris.

UK will always be #1 at the beginning of the season, because they buy up all the best one-and-done recruits. On paper, they always have the best team going in. But Calipari isn't doing himself any favors in his failure to develop upperclassmen and role players into leaders. Luckily, in basketball, the best teams get to play and determine who is the best at the end of the year, when it really counts.

This will be a team that starts out #1, maintains its top-5 status thanks to a weak SEC, and then implodes come March due to...

1. A bunch of guys more interested in draft status then winning. Oh yeah, did you see the MCds interviews. They all think they could beat Jordan, in his prime, 1 on 1. So, don't worry, these guys have their head on straight. No way on earth that maybe they could believe their own hype a little too soon. Because as we all know, if you are a top ranked high school player, you ALWAYS pan out. The fact that these players think they are pretty much assured ti win the title without having played a game only helps assure their gigantic failure.

2. A lack of GOOD experience. Sure, Cauley and Pythrees return. So what? GP even contradicts himself when he champions the experience they bring back, but later says this group was "not as good" as the Davis class. Oh yeah, and they didn't even get to play in the Dance. This team has the threat of dysfunction all over it.

3. They are only better on paper - IF you believe that high school rankings matter. Again, you contradict yourself, GP. Its a cop out to say last years class was not as good AFTER THE FACT, despite their #3 ranking. And its stupid to then do the same thing this year due to this years class. Duke, Arizona, Louisville, UNC, Ohio State - they will all be deep and talented, with more REAL experience. This has EPIC fail written all over it.

Just like your last name, UK withered! What a joke they were this year. I can tell you this, as a season ticket holder of the Lakers and Clippers, please do Noel a favor and tell him to stay at little ole UK and the college game. He will get destroyed in the NBA. Shot blocking is important, but it's not what makes pro players significant and a pro fan base has far higher expectations than good ole rah rah blue nation pulling for their little one and done operation and bragging about stupid things like catlanta. Wait, you were not in catlanta, the superior team in the state of Kentucky was in catlanta winning a Championship. Ouch! Rah rah UK!

This is so much nonsense it's pathetic. UK will not win another title under Cal. PERIOD. It sure is funny how getting run out of the gym against Robert Morris has had such an affect on the frontal lobe of all things UK. As a reminder, the loss to mighty Robert Morris was in the NIT 1st ROUND! Not the NCAA 1st round. THE NIT 1st ROUND in a High School sized gym! The UK fan base and the sports prognosticators are completely delusional and so caught up in the hype of McDonald's All Americans that they forget there's this thing called chemistry, something a crop of Freshmen will never be able to establish enough in 1 season to contend with more experienced teams. It's just not going to happen. The UK team that won last year had significant veterans, this years team will not leave significant veterans on the roster next year. Noel was a bust when looking back at all the hype he received and he will not even hang around for another year (although he should stay for all 4). Keep dreaming UK while the Tar Heels prepare to hang another National Championship next year. Also, don't forget, the Heels are 22-13 against your Wildcats and that number will continue to widen now that the series will be starting back. Remember this. You lost in the 1st round of the NIT this year. You are not worthy. PERIOD!

***HERE'S PARRISH At his "best" Again !! A Few Days Removed From LOUISVILLES outrageous Year & National Championship.. NO Great Coverage or story lines About the Cards (except of course . players leaving).. No NEW Final Rankings for THIS YEAR acknowledging Uof L & others .. BUT RATHER CBS FRONT PAGE Pictures & Article ABOUT ..His buddy & Next years ridiculous Predictions ABOUT ..YEP--You guessed it .. KENTUCKY !! Couldn't Go a week without Drudging up This NIT teams Name & story On UK .. trying to OVERSHADOW LOUISVILLE 'S Magnificent Achievements & Year !! GARY -- SHAME on You & I really Hope your not so subtle allegiance is Properly Rewarded !! UK -This Year - S^*T THE BED & Is NOT Newsworthy .. LOUISVILLE IS !!! YET ..You create some "Fantasy" about NEXT year already to Thrust Pay pal & his Crew on Front Page .. Absolutely Shameful !! **OH-- Your "jokes" about the Uof L Womens Team on CBS TV few Nights back WERE NOT Appreciated & In VERY BAD TASTE although consistant with your Distain For Rick & the CARDINALS !! THEY HAD AN AWESOME YEAR !!! RE-THINK your "stuff" & stop being so very Transparent & Biased !!! ** THIS WEEK-- WE should NOT Be reading about what a few High School Kids MIGHT Do next year at UK .. BUT Rather ... What a few High School Kids who at UofL ..this year .. IN FACT--DID DO !!! IS THIS DIFFICULT ???

If this was a white kid from anywhere USA they would never have imposed this penalty...the old school Masters Members are racist, they still can't stand the Idea that Tiger is a member.

The good old boys don't want a #$%$ in the Masters.

Tianlang Guan is the MOST interesting player in this "Masters," that continues to prove Augusta National a DISGRACE! WHAT else can you call it? RACISM! THINK! The kid would be tied with Mickelson!! Augusta National spokesman Steve Ethun said there were NO records of the penalty EVER being assessed during the Masters. EVER! LAST player penalized for slow play at a major=Gregory Bourdy at 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits!!! FIRE ALL of these officials NOW before the PGA becomes a TOTAL JOKE!!!

This little kid is trying to cheat his way to the top and should be deported.

I'm sure the penalty wasn't unilaterally imposed by the "good ol' boys" who run Augusta. It presumably was imposed only after it had been blessed by the PGA officials who are all over the place during this tournament.

just shows the fools running the Masters r FOOLS!!! really hurt the kid just can u can!!! wow total jack *^$( running the place!!!

Phil and the others crying racism by Southerners need to check the membership of the club.

For instance, I don't believe Bill Gates is a Southerner however he is a club member.

Just saying--------------

But then they allow the wife cheating colored boy play.

So many great golfers and the Masters waste a spot on a child from China? Put an age limit of at least 18 on all PGA tournaments. And do you really want a bunch of no name Asian golfers on the tour? Look what it has done for the LPGA which barely even exists due to the irrelevance of Korean golfers which has chased away most all sponsors and greatly reduced the number of tournaments.

some of the good ol' boys had to let blacks play but a teenage chinese kid nope

The rednecks there don't like blacks, women and apparantly asians. Welcome to the Old South youngster.

My Tribute to The Man

My grandfather said Stan was the greatest ball player he ever saw. Stan is by far the most under appreciated player in the history of the game.

I give you a great New York Times Article about Stan Musial.

Back in the late winter of 1941, a skinny, 20-year-old pitcher named Stan Musial showed up at the St. Louis Cardinals' spring training camp with an aching arm and diminishing hopes that he would ever fulfill his youthful dream of making it to the big leagues.

Musial, who died Saturday at the age of 92, had come up as an erratic, wild-throwing southpaw -- so wild, in fact, that a scouting report at one point urged his release -- in the Cards' minor league system in 1938. His prospects grew only darker in August 1940 in Orlando, Fla., when he was chasing a fly ball in the outfield and his cleats got caught in the turf. He fell hard on the point of his left shoulder, the one to which his pitching arm was attached. With his shoulder injured, he lost the pop on his fastball, and Cardinals hitters began teeing off on him. He later remembered throwing one pitch to his boyhood idol, Cards star center fielder Terry Moore, and then hearing the crack of the bat and watching the ball carry out of the park.

Discouraged as he was, the young man did not quit. As fate would have it, on a day Cards legendary general manager Branch Rickey was watching an intrasquad game in Hollywood, Fla., Musial himself hit a ponderous home run over the right-field fence. This turned out to be, for the Cards as a team and baseball in general, a wonderfully propitious moment. Musial's arm never did completely heal; but at the end of camp, when Rickey heard some sentiment among coaches to send the kid packing, he waved those voices away.

 No one in the annals of the game knew young talent like the Mahatma, as Rickey was known. He saw the kind of potential in young Musial that he one day would see in Jackie Robinson, when he was general manager of the Dodgers and sought to integrate baseball; in a minor league outfielder in Montreal named Roberto Clemente, whom he shamelessly picked from the Dodgers' pocket after he left Brooklyn for Pittsburgh; and in an aspiring young shortstop named Bill Mazeroski, whom he saw turn a few plays at second base, also when he was general manager of the Pirates. "Don't move him," Rickey told Maz's coaches. "He stays at second." The Mahatma thus launched Maz on a career that turned him into a fielder baseball historian Bill James has called "probably the greatest defensive player of all time."

So when Rickey heard talk that sore-armed Stanley ought to be released, he ordered the kid sent to the Cards' Class C affiliate in Springfield, Mo. "Don't let him go," the Mahatma said. "Put him in the outfield and see if he can hit."

This was, as things turned out, a declaration worthy of enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, right next to the plaque honoring Musial himself. Indeed, over the next two decades, his physical presence in the batter's box left a lasting impression on all who saw him stroke a baseball with a wooden bat.

His stance was singular. Musial stood slightly crouched -- "I started to crouch because that way I could guard the plate better," he once said -- with his bat straight up, his feet close together and his shoulders turned so far to the left that the pitcher, Lord help him, could read the "6" on Musial's back. He had learned as a kid how to go with a pitch and how to slap the ball to left field, a talent that gave him an enormous edge and, as can be imagined, drove opposing fielders to distraction unto despair.

Managers forever were flummoxed as to how to defend against him. Early in the season of 1951, not long after 20-year-old Willie Mays first was called up to the New York Giants, manager Leo Durocher met with the young slugger to go over the opposing hitters for that day. The Giants were playing the St. Louis Cardinals, and Durocher briefed Mays on the Cards' lineup, telling Mays how to play the first hitter, then the second hitter and then the fourth hitter. "What about number three?" Mays asked. "The third hitter is Stan Musial," Durocher told him. "There is no advice I can give you about him."

What complicated things for Durocher and fellow skippers was the fact that Musial was fast on his feet. Stretching singles into doubles or doubles into triples, he could hit another gear on the basepaths, prompting one manager to liken Musial at full gallop to "a wounded turkey." They nicknamed him the "Donora Greyhound," a reference to his hometown in Pennsylvania.

Blessed with such an array of talents, Musial became not only one of the dozen or so greatest hitters in the annals of baseball, but he also was clearly the finest left-handed batter who ever graced a box in the National League. In the course of his surpassing career, he hung up such prodigious numbers that James, the eminent guru and muncher of baseball stats, ranked him at the end of the 20th century as the 10th greatest player of all time.

In his 2000 edition of Baseball Abstract, James put Musial behind Babe Ruth (1), who was followed in order by Honus Wagner, Willie Mays, Oscar Charleston, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Walter Johnson and Josh Gibson. Musial was next, directly ahead of such indubitable lights as Tris Speaker (11), Hank Aaron (12), Joe DiMaggio (13) and Lou Gehrig (14), with Mike Schmidt (21), Rogers Hornsby (22) and Frank Robinson (24) further back.

Musial retired at the end of the 1963 season, but nearly a half-century later, he still is second in total bases with 6,134, behind Aaron (6,856) and just ahead of Mays (6,066). No active ballplayer is even close, and Musial left the game well ahead of Cobb, Ruth, Pete Rose and Carl Yastrzemski.

In the realm of all-time leaders, Musial is fourth in hits with 3,630, sixth in RBIs with 1,951, ninth in runs scored with 1,949, third in extra-base hits with 1,377, third in doubles with 725 and tied for 19th (with Rabbit Maranville) in triples, although again, it is only fair to point out that 10 of those ahead of him in three-baggers began their careers when triples were as plentiful as buffalo, and no less endangered, in the years immediately following Custer's Last Stand.

His ratio of at-bats to strikeouts also is among the best in the history of the majors. Here is one you would not have guessed: Musial had 3,266 more at-bats than Williams but 13 fewer strikeouts (696 for Musial, 709 for Williams), and Williams owned a pair of the most famously discriminating batting eyes in the game. And while Musial ranks 28th in home runs, tied with Willie Stargell at 475, his true place in that pantheon is difficult to fathom in the wake of the recent orgies of chemical enhancement.

All that said, the combined weights of the Musial numbers bear James out, and they certainly give powerful affirmation to those many voices along the Mississippi Valley that have been crying for years that Stan was The Man. So it always has been something of a mystery why Musial -- as generous and decent a man off the field as he was brilliant and dependable on it -- has spent so many years sunk in the shadows of baseball history, a giant often either forgotten or dismissed whenever the sports-talk junkies summon the names of baseball's finest hitters and all-around players.

This unwarranted neglect has become manifest at the game's grassroots. When Sports Illustrated had fans pick a 20th century all-star team at the end of the millennium, they voted Musial 10th among outfielders. ESPN television failed to put him among the top 50 athletes of the 20th century. When MasterCard and professional baseball assembled their All-Century team in 1999, the voting masses virtually ignored Musial; ultimately, an "oversight committee" slipped him onto the roster.

No doubt these embarrassing instances of poor judgment can be traced, at least in part, to the town Musial called home. He played baseball out of St. Louis, not New York, and he did so mostly in an era when that burg was as far west as baseball reached, on the near edge of the American wilderness known as the Great Plains. No one wrote songs about him. No one penned lyrics invoking his name. No character in a Hemingway novel ever mused about him. And no one made a movie of his life. He often visited the media capital of America, but he never was a creation or a creature of it. Musial had neither the flair nor the flamboyance of Willie Mays. No basket catches by Stanley.

He did not crush 500-foot home runs over the white walls of the Bronx, recalling the titanic shots of Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx.

No swilling beer from a bucket for Musial. No swallowing hot dogs in two bites, no open roadsters, no raccoon coats. Nor did Stanley have Mickey Mantle's awesome speed and ambidextrous power. He never got into a single drunken brawl at the Copacabana.

In fact, through the 3,026 games he played in his career, he never got kicked out of one. Not a single game. Ken Burkhart umpired scores of St. Louis games behind the plate and said Musial never once complained to him about one of his calls, not even one of those hair-splitting called strikes that might have gone either way.

"In seven years, he never even turned his head to look at me when I was behind the plate," Burkhart said. Nor did he marry the blond movie star with the dress billowing above the subway vent, and he never insisted on being introduced at old-timers' games as "the greatest living ballplayer," although you could make a far stronger case for him than you could for Joe D.

No, Musial married the grocer's daughter from Donora, a shot-and-a-beer mill town that lay some 28 miles south of Pittsburgh, on the banks of the Monongahela River. He grew up, one of a family of eight, in a five-room, wood-frame house at the top of a hill. His father, Lukasz, a Polish immigrant, worked in a zinc factory. A hanging blanket of sulfurous fumes killed all the vegetation on the hill and eventually the old man, too. Lillian Labash, the grocer's daughter, first saw Musial in Palmer Park when he was a 14-year-old lad working as a bat boy for the team of zinc workers managed by a neighbor, Joe Barbao. That day, they were playing another team of blue collars from nearby Monessen. Barbao had run out of pitchers, according to the late sportswriter W.C. Heinz, so he threw young Musial into the fray. Musial pitched six innings and fanned 13 hitters. "Look at that Polish kid pitch against those men," the grocer said to his daughter.

Lillian and Stanley were married five years later -- on his 19th birthday, Nov. 21, 1939 -- when he was making $65 a month pitching for the Cardinals' Class D minor league team in Williamson, W.Va. At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Musial always had been able to hit the ball, a skill he had been practicing since he was a boy. "I learned to hit with a broomstick and a ball of tape, and I could always get that bat on the ball," he said.

It did not take Rickey long to learn how right he had been about giving the kid a chance. At Springfield, in just 87 games, Musial hit 26 home runs and had a whopping 94 runs batted in -- a glorious harbinger of his baseball life. After having hit at an equally torrid clip with the Cards' Double-A Rochester club, Musial was home in Donora in mid-September 1941 when he got that unforgettable telegram. It was from Rickey, ordering him to report to the mother club.

"It was really something," Musial told Heinz. "Imagine a 20-year-old kid who starts the year pitching with a sore arm and can't tell if he's gonna make it anywhere in organized ball and ends up …" 
… Stepping into the St. Louis clubhouse for the first time in his life and immediately running into Terry Moore, that outfielder who had been his boyhood idol.  Moore looked at him quizzically. "You look familiar," he said. "I ought to," Musial said. "You hit a homer off me in an exhibition game this spring." "Are you that humpty-dumpty, bum-armed kid?" Moore said. "How'd you get way up here?"

That was the question in the Cards' clubhouse that afternoon, and it took Musial no time at all to answer it. That day against the Boston Braves, in his first major league game, he found himself face to face with a knuckleballer, Jim Tobin. Musial had never seen a knuckler, and he sliced under the first one for a popup out. Tobin later tried to fool the rookie again, fluttering up another knuckler, but this time, Musial lashed it for a double to right, scoring two runs to help win the game 3-2.

Musial was rarely without his harmonica, including at a White House ceremony honoring Hall of Famers in 2001. With Ernie Banks leading the cheers while Juan Marichal and Lou Brock looked on. Musial had 20 hits in 47 at-bats that month, including four doubles and a home run, and ended up hitting .426. He went 6-for-10 in a double-header against the Cubs, leaving Chicago manager Jimmy Wilson to wonder aloud, "Nobody can be that good." Also during that month, the Cards visited the Braves in Boston, and after they left town, the Dodgers showed up, on their way to winning the pennant. Casey Stengel, then the Braves' manager, greeted the Brooklyn writers with this: "Your fellas will win it, but those Cardinals got a young kid in left field that you guys are gonna be writin' about for 20 years."

Leave it to Casey to call that shot, almost to the year. Rarely has baseball seen a more sustained display of excellence, consistency and class than in the 22 years Stanley Frank Musial played baseball. Beyond that brief debut in 1941, he hit no less than .310 for 16 consecutive seasons, a span during which his batting average was .340 and as high as .376 in 1948, his signature year: 230 hits, 46 doubles, 18 triples, 39 home runs, 135 runs, 131 RBIs. It was the year the Phillies' new manager, Eddie Sawyer, was asked what he thought of the National League teams. "Of all the teams I've seen so far," Sawyer said, "Musial is the best."

It also was the year he won one of his seven batting titles and one of his three MVP awards. By then, he was so feared by pitchers that they began to joke about how they pitched to him.

The Brooklyn Dodgers' pinpoint control specialist, Preacher Roe, once said of Musial: "I throw four wide ones to him and then try to pick him off first." "I've had pretty good success with Musial by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third," the Dodgers' Carl Erskine said.

As humble as he was, shy to a fault, Musial felt utterly at home between the chalk lines. No one had more confidence in him than he had in himself. In the 1955 All-Star Game, with the score knotted in the bottom of the 12th inning, Musial came to the plate and was greeted by a very tired Yogi Berra, who was catching that day. "My feet are killing me," Yogi said to Musial. "Relax," Musial said, "I'll have you home in a minute."  He homered into the seats, winning the game. In fact, the homer became one of a record six he hit for the National League in All-Star Games.

Before doubleheaders, shirtless and dressed in only his flannel pants, he would walk around the Cards' clubhouse squeezing the handle of his bat and saying, to no one in particular, "Stanley could have 10 hits today. It is possible for Stanley to have 10 hits. Ten hits for Stanley!" In fact, in one doubleheader, he hit a record six home runs. And as often as he hurt the Dodgers, they never booed him in Brooklyn, where he became so inspired he seemed to enter a whole new zone as a hitter.

"There was always excitement in Brooklyn," Musial once said. "My adrenaline was always flowing in Ebbets Field. The tension, the atmosphere, the fights -- you knew something was going to happen. … The ballpark was small, so the seats were close to the field, and you could hear just about anything anybody said."

Musial heard plenty in those summers of 1948 and 1949, when he hit .522 in Ebbets Field and appeared, like "The Natural," able to do almost anything he wanted with the bat. It was where they coined his other nickname. "I'd come to the plate and the fans would say, 'Here comes that man again, that man.' A sportswriter picked it up and it became 'Stan the Man.'"

It also was the era when Jackie Robinson integrated baseball, and with Robinson's arrival, the game became rife with rumors that some players were planning to boycott any games involving the Dodgers. The hottest of these beds was St. Louis, where there were a number of Southern players. But Musial openly backed Robinson, and the Cards never voted to strike. Musial had played with and against blacks in high school, and among his teammates was Buddy Griffey -- later the father of Ken Griffey Sr. and the grandfather of Ken Griffey Jr. "I didn't give it a second thought," Musial said.

Indeed. When another black player, Joe Black, came up to play in Brooklyn five years later, in 1952, racial slurs still were being heard in baseball. In one game, with Black on the mound, Musial was in the box and set to hit when he heard one of his own teammates shout from the dugout, "Don't worry, Stan. With that dark background on the mound, you shouldn't have any trouble hitting the ball." After the game, Black was dressing in the Brooklyn clubhouse when Musial sidled up to him. "I'm sorry that happened," Musial said quietly. "But don't you worry about it. You're a great pitcher. You'll win a lot of games."

His baseball prowess aside, Musial was first all-time in decency, affability and charm. He had endless patience for signing autographs, and if he happened to spot a table of little old ladies at a restaurant, celebrating someone's 80th, he would pull from a pocket his well-used harmonica and serenade them with a chorus of "Happy Birthday." He would follow this with a few bars of "The Wabash Cannonball" and finish the show by playing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Musial always described himself as a retiring man who shied from public appearances, particularly if they involved giving speeches, but he was perfectly at home in social gatherings and loved to party. For years, he was the central schmoozer and greeter at his famous St. Louis restaurant, Stan Musial and Biggie's, serving as the city's informal host in the same way Jack Dempsey served New York from a table at his famous Times Square eatery. He was no shirking violet when it came to public celebrations. One day in 1986, in the week before the Bears-Patriots Super Bowl in New Orleans, a young sportswriter was sitting in a bar in the French Quarter when, suddenly, a conga line came dancing off the street and through the bar. It snaked past the table of the sportswriter, who thought he had to be seeing things through a beery mist. There was Musial, then 65 years old, dancing at the head of the line as he blew the throbbing conga tune from his harmonica.

By this time, of course, Musial long had been an institution in St. Louis -- not only as a Hall of Fame baseball player, but as a roving, sometimes dancing, ambassador for the Cards' franchise, his adopted city and the sport of professional baseball. He visited his father's native Poland several times since 1970, including once to meet with the Polish Olympic Committee, which was striving to build a ballclub that would be competitive on the international baseball stage, and another time to attend the dedication of two Little League fields named in his honor and to pass out 250 gloves to all those young, aspiring Musials in cities like Wroclaw and Jaslo. Musial stayed with the Cards long after his playing days were over and was the team's general manager when it won the 1967 World Series.

In many ways, Musial more than served the Cardinals. He was the franchise. A formidable statue of Musial was erected in front of Busch Stadium, and the inscription had it right: "Baseball's perfect warrior, baseball's perfect knight."

He was, and will always be, Stan the Man.

- Bob Wolff, who called some of the greatest games in baseball history including Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game has not donated over 1400 audio and video recordings consisting of over 1000 hours of stuff that includes interviews with Ruth, Cobb, Robinson, Jim Thorpe and Tris Speaker just to name a few to the Libray of Congress. They are digitizing the collection and will make most of it avaialble on line. I listened to Ty Cobb interview pretty awesome!

- Angel Cabera is a great example of someone who has taken responsibility for his own life. Quits school at ten years old to become a caddie, basically lives on the streets and is now a successful professional golfer!

- When will racisim and sexism not be a topic for the media in relation to the Masters? When they stop talking about it. This has all passed and Augusta National has moved forward. Now the pundits on critcizing Condi Rice for joining. Please! It is a private club that membership is by invitation only and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

- Bob Costas, shut the hell up and be a Sports Reporter and great baseball Play by Play guy!

- Redbirds need a closer of it is going to be a long season!

- I loved Fehrety kept breaking it off in Faldo all day on Saturday and Sunday. I like Faldo but he is wrong this time!

- The only issue I have with the long putter is that the people using it have an advantage over themselves because they cannot putt the other way. This is why I support the ban on anchoring the putter. Can Adam Scott win a major without the broom handle? The Adam Scott who did not use the broom handle cannot as it appears.

- My wife said Adam Scott looks like he is smelling shit all the time and if you take a watch of him his facial expressions lead you to believe that is the case. Good guy though and happy for his win.

- Had a Chickenhead tell me today, after I offered congratulations, yea and it was all started in Rupp Arena...  What is that supposed to mean?  Has no significance to me but does for some reason to her and the ass wipe Pat Forde. 

- I have World Series Champion items in my basement and UK National Championships items also.  This is where this stuff should be not hanging from your car or car windows, etc. 

I will hang up and listen!