Monday, May 28, 2007

Sports Notes

I stumbled upon a terrific article on Bo Jackson in the Kansas City Star, which you can read here.

Bo Jackon had such supernatural athletic ability that the list of jaw-dropping events in his career defies description, or even defies what is possible. Here are a few, and these are all from his baseball career only:
--his first minor league home run was hit with a broken bat.
--his first major league home run traveled 475 feet.
--in his first game in the majors, he beat out an infield single when he grounded directly to the second baseman.
--in one game, he called timeout to adjust his batting gloves. He stepped back from the box, started adjusting his gloves, and realized that the umpire hadn't called time. The pitcher was already throwing the ball. Bo hit a home run.
--he once doubled off Carlton Fisk, who was on first base, from left field. On the fly.
--he hit a 450 foot home run in batting practice. Left-handed.

Here's an excerpt from the story that I'm going to use in full, because I watched this (on television) live, and it's still one of my favorite baseball memories:
May 23, 1989: Bo locked into a fastball battle with Nolan Ryan. Up to that point, they had met six times, and Bo had struck out six times. This time, Nolan kept pumping 100-mph fastballs and Bo kept fouling them off, a real clash of the titans. Ryan was not going to try a curveball — this was man-to-man. He threw one last fastball. Bo connected. Bo hit the ball 461 feet, the longest ever homer at Arlington Stadium.

“They better get a new tape measure,” Bo said.

Here's one more, and I think I saw a replay of this one:
On June 5, 1989, the Royals were playing at Seattle. It was the 10th inning, score was tied 3-3, Harold Reynolds was on first base when Scott Bradley rifled a double to left field. Reynolds was running on the pitch, so it was obvious he would score the winning run. He rounded third, headed for home and prepared to have his teammates mob him when he saw his teammate Darnell Coles pumping his arms, the baseball signal for “SLIDE!”

Reynolds thought: “Slide? Are you kidding me?”

So, he was about to launch into what he called “a courtesy slide” when he saw that Kansas City catcher Bob Boone had the ball. Boone tagged him. In the clubhouse afterward, Reynolds would watch the play again and again and again, and never figure out exactly what happened.

What happened was this … Bo Jackson had gotten the ball and made a flatfooted throw of 300 feet in the air. It was a perfect strike. It was so impossible, so ridiculous, so absurd that no umpire was on the spot to make the call. Home-plate umpire Larry Young finally came to his senses and made a fist — Reynolds was out.

It's a fun article to read and reminds me of how much fun we missed out on because he got hurt in his prime.

The NHL Finals start tonight and, like ten other Americans, I'm really looking forward to the series.

By the way, when you open the paper and see these standings, life is very, very good:
Boston 34-15 .694
Baltimore 23-27.460
Toronto 22-27 .449
NY Yankees 21-27.438
Tampa Bay 20-28 .417

That's 12 1/2 games out for the Yankees. It's a good thing they signed Roger Clemens and pushed their payroll over $200 million, because the Devil Rays and their $24 million dollar payroll are breathing down their necks. Hell, just the contract of Clemens alone is going to cost the Yankees more than Tampa Bay's entire payroll.

Here's one last note, and unfortunately it's not uplifting. ESPN's Outside the Lines had a show this weekend about Michael Vick and dogfighting, and they had an interview with a police informant who is embedded (seemingly) deeply into the world of dogfighting. He left no doubt that Michael Vick was a heavyweight in the "sport" where dogs rip each other apart.

I wouldn't be surprised to see this start to unravel from here.

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