Monday, August 27, 2007

Phil Rizzuto

It is with infinite sadness that I comment on the passing of the Scooter, Phil Rizzuto, one of the most beloved Yankee Icons of all time. He was a great player, and won 7 world series as the anchor at short for the Yanks in the 40's and 50's.

That was before my time. I know him best as the announcer for Yankee broadcasts. It was like watching/listening to the game with your crazy old Uncle Phil. I will miss him dearly.

He broadcast Yankee games for 40 years. As a trivia question, who can tell me why he stopped, after 40 years? Why would he stop? He was an institution.

On a personal note, I got to meet the great Scooter once, some 20 odd years ago at my buddy Robert's wedding. It was in Bennington, VT, at one of these deals with a banquet hall on one side and a restaurant/dining room on the other. Rumor had it that Scooter's daughter owned the place.

Sure enough, when we wandered across the dining room, on the way to the john, there was the great man, having dinner with his wife Cora and friends. Naturally, we dove in, interrupted his dinner and told him what a tremendous Yankee fanatic our buddy Robert was.

Gracious does not even begin to describe the Scooter's response. He walked back to the reception hall, shook hands, made small talk, posed for pictures. Truly amazing.

Rest In Peace Scooter.

Barry Bonds

Unlike with Mr. Vick, I am not, in anway conflicted over Barry Bonds and his amazing accomplishment this summer. HE HAS HIT MORE HOME RUNS THAN ANY MAJOR LEAGUER IN THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL!!!

I listen to the talking heads talk about cheating and the importance of a level playing field and I shake my head and laughs.

Cheating is practically institutionalized in baseball. It always has been!

The notion of a "level playing field", I find particularly preposterous. One of the charms of our national pasttime is , there is no such thing as a level playing field. Every ballpark is different.

How many more home runs would Joe D have hit if his home park didn't have Death Valley, in left field?

How many fewer home runs would Hank Aaron have hit if he didn't play at the launching pad?
Lord have mercy, Davey Johnson hit 40 HRs one year in that bandbox.

Don't deny Barry his greatness. He's the best ballplayer you will ever see.

Michael Vick

I've been pretty conflicted about the whole Michael Vick saga that has enfolded these last few weeks.

Two articles by journalists I respect a whole lot, one black (Jason Whitlock) and one white (Gregg Easterbrook), lend some much needed balance to the discussion. I mention their race because anyone who thinks race and culture is not central to this whole issue, is, in my opinion, simply deluding themselves.

Please read them if you get the chance.

Apart from Michael Vick, I recommend the writings of Messrs. Whitlock & Easterbrook very highly. Jason is a sports journalist. Mr. Easterbrook is the Tuesday Morning Quarterback on ESPN, but ranges farther afield. He is in fact, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institute.