Tag Archives: Ty Cobb

NFL16: In Deferring to Dak, Tony Romo Fails the Grit-Test

17 Nov

He didn’t take many questions in Tuesday’s press conference. Instead, Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback for the past decade, Tony Romo, read a statement. He got goods reviews from the press corps and blogisphere bunch.

But place me about 800 yards west of the cheering section.

Grade given by this football fan for Romo’s blood-less abdication: D.

In his oration, Romo deferred to rookie back-up QB Dak Prescott on the starter question: “He’s earned the right to be our quarterback. As hard as that is for me to say he’s earned that right. He’s guided our team to an 8-1 record and that’s hard to do.” Very nice. Maybe too nice.

“Right” schmight. There are no “right(s)” in football, just ethical duties and contract obligations that some players will always meet, some will sometimes, some won’t but on their best day and a few don’t seem to give a damn at all.

romo-10-13-10-bigcatsliar-wc-343kOkay…you say you believe in rights. That should make you a Thomas Jefferson fan (BoR). For the sake of argument, let’s say rights do exist in football. Then I’d say, Tony Romo’s earned a BIGGER right to re-claim his starters job than has Prescott in retaining it, and with ten years of All-Pro play, sound character and seniority, shouldn‘t have to convince his owner of it, not if the Cufflink appreciates loyalty, anyway.

‘Seniority is lame,’ say some, but just wait until you start having to look over your shoulder at the young Turks coming to take your job. It won’t seem so silly then.

And I don’t want to read any hearsay from captured scribes or Cowboys’ brass (Steve Jones) on how Tony supposedly asked politely for his job back. Straight from the horses mouth (TR) or save it. Even if, this you don’t ask, you demand. If you lose the argument you take your lumps and stay a team-player, giving advice / support as needed. But you don’t ask.

And therein lay the wild-card in this hand of high-stakes football.

What would Jerry Jones have done if Tony had pushed hard to get back his starters spot, made an issue of it, would Jones have conceded, admiring the veteran’s moxie and taking it as good sign that maybe now Tony finally has the wherewithal to lead Dallas back to the Super show? Test of tenacity, as it were.

Apparently Romo never pressed the point, never handed in his exam.

Leaders, champions, they don’t defer to hot-streaks, popularity contests or young Tom Brady analogies. The greats will advocate, argue, fight tooth n’ nail for that starters spot and slot-to-glory, with both fists-a- flyin’ if necessary, Ty Cobb style when you had to fight for the right to play. And they did.

prescott-9-18-16-k-allison-187kIf I were Jerry Jones or Jason Garrett I’d likely tab Dak Prescott the starter myself. Stick with the hot hand and healthier frame than the oft-injured Romo.

I wrote, ‘likely.’ I’d need convincing that three good wins (DC, @GB, PHI), one pretty good win (@ PIT (Ben still bunged)), four walkover wins (CHI, SF, CIN, CLE) and one loss (NYG) gives a first-year guy the nod over a 4-time Pro Bowler.

But Tony Romo’s not an owner, he’s not a coach, he’s not Cowboys PR person, he’s not a GM implementing a youth movement or authoring a masters thesis on ‘Diversity and the NFL.’ He’s a man who dresses in shoulder-pads, cleats and rides point for America’s Team, or used to, anyway, the top job on the planet, a man with great passing stats in line for Cowboys’ Ring of Honor but posts a pedestrian playoff mark that raises doubts about his clutch-capability.

A man with that Dallas record and deep well of gridiron knowledge should NOT willingly hand over the starters spot. NEVER. And that’s Tony Romo all over.

From his first year as a starter when he bobbled that FG snap late in a playoff loss v. Seattle in Parcells final season (’06), you wondered about Mr. Romo. The bobble was a blip. Things like that happen. But with Romo it’s always something, something to derail the run. In fairness, Dez did (catch it (See; GB 2015)).

It doesn’t matter that Romo may be the only man in these United States who thinks he should start over an 8-1 rookie. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one.” Some players, those imbued with spirit of competition and personal achievement, would understand and give their backing. Great quarterbacks have great big egos. They’d better.

jones-12-7-15-k-allison-wc-339kAnd if Romo had been given his job back and his ‘mates had tanked in protest, tanked on the team, tanked on the fans, that’s their problem. You go out with your head held high knowing you’ve done what a leader does: Take charge, give it your best, give it your all until that final gun goes off.

‘But what about the team,’ you say, ‘Dak’s got ’em believing?’ Sure he has, but Romo’s a master-craftsman in the pocket who’s won a playoff game or two, had Dallas believing in prior campaigns and could likely do it again. It’s theory but as sound as the Dak strategy.

I wish Mr. Prescott well. Youth must be served, elections excepted.

As for Tony Romo, I hope you like your Ring-of-Honor ceremony. When you get back to the fairways say ‘hey’ to President Obama and remember this link lesson: Drive for show, put for dough, Canton covets moxie that few come to know.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: T.Romo, wc.cca, 12.7.15, DC, K.Allison; Romo, wc, bigcatsliar, 10.13.10; D.Prescott, wc, 9.18.16, K.Allison; J.Jones, wc, 12.7.15, DC, K.Allison; cherries-cloth, wc, picdrome, 6-2011; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 11.17.16 @ 5:07pm EST; Copyright © 2016

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MLB16 Chin Music: Cubs Win Is Just More Cloudburst For Rainmaker Epstein

6 Nov

Those Sporting Gods are a funny bunch of deities. Not funny like a “clown,” oh no, but curious, like that monkey on PBS (“George”).

sportingmeetinggods-wc-1630-cv-poelenburgh-3mAt times they seem asleep at the wheel, having no interest whatsoever in the goings-on of sport, letting just about any Whosit on a hot-streak hoist the Title hardware (‘86 Mets, ‘06 Heat, ‘15 GSW, ’14 Seahawks), then, at other times, the Sporting Gods just can’t keep their all-guiding hands off of the controls.

It’s the latter practice that looks to’ve been in operation for major league baseball’s World Series 2016 that pitted two Title-starved opponents in the Cleveland Indians against the Chicago Cubs.

The Gods must’ve had themselves a good long laugh.

Not with the winning Bruins (4-3), the team most pre-season prognosticators pegged to take the title, but in affecting the crazy course by which the Cubbies finally navigated their way, once again (‘07-08), back to the champion’s podium.

As for the Indians, Mgr Terry Francona and Cleveland brass will have ’em back.

chancemcgraw-5-2-1911-gg-bain-loc-wc-66kEmphasis on the adverb ‘again’ as most people, even the raucous revelers on State Street, have no idea (interest) that there were times, like in the 1880s (Cap Anson, King “Hook-Slide” Kelly, John Clarkson) and then early 1900s (Chance, Evers, Tinker, Brown, Kling, Overall, Steinfeldt, Reulbach) when the name Chicago Cubs struck fear into the hearts of men, even the likes of Cobb, Wagner, McGinnity & McGraw.

First, the Gods put the Tribe out front (3-1), building hope for their frustrated fans who hadn‘t had a championship since Red River was in the theaters (“Yeeee-ha!” (‘48)), then they set the Cubs, who hadn’t even taken a pennant since that heart-wrenching year of 1945 (FDR – WW2), storming back to even it up at three, most of their wins coming on the road, no less, at Progressive Field.

And if that weren’t enough to trigger the PVCs, then the deciding game seven (7) goes extra innings (Zzzzz), has a rain-delay and had baseball writers pulling their hair out not knowing which title they were gonna’ post (’Cleveland, City of Champs!’ or ‘Cubs Win, Cubs Win, Cubs Win!’).

james-wc-4-27-8-k-allison-3-8mEven a kingly presence in the crowd (LeBron James) couldn’t turn the trick for the Tribe.

But if there are any fans in sportdom who can fully appreciate both the lows of losing the big match (Indians) and then the cathartic joy that comes with winning the Chalice of a Champion (Cavaliers), it would be those who reside in and around the Forest City, Ohio.

So after all their fun n’ games, why’d the Gods tab Chicago the winner?

If there’s one thing the Divinities will not tolerate, something they simply abhor, it is the haphazard stewardship of baseball records.

If you write about rounders often you will come to rely on the wealth of statistics made available on the web at baseball-reference.com. The same sort of repository exists for many of the major American merriments. When you cut through all the sabrmetric snooze (WAR, OPS, etc.), the site’s smorgasbord of stats is a tremendous baseball resource for which this user is grateful.

gold-medieval-ring-wc-sonofthesands-britain-146kBut when the boys who run the site brazenly decided in-Series to award championship rings to the Indians (appearing as a gold icon next to the relevant year in the “Postseason” section (all now removed)), as early as the close of game three (3) with Tribe up 2-1, the Sporting Gods decided on a winner: The Cubs. There’s that, and the fact that the Northsider’s dry-spell for a World Series winner (1908), whether based at West Side Grounds or Weeghman – Wrigley Field, had Cleveland’s beat by 40 years. Plenty parched.

— — —

He was near demigod status in his role shaping the Francona Red Sox teams that ended their own championship drought in 2004 and reigned again in 2007. But in doing the same for the parched pin-strippers on Chicago’s Northside (See Also; GM Jed Hoyer), Theo Nathaniel Epstein (b.12.29.73 (NY)) left behind the wunderkind tag and joined a select group of baseball executives (GM – PBO), builders who, when funded ($), create dream seasons and dynasties. It’s a membership that includes Branch Rickey (OH) and Ed Barrow (“born in a covered wagon in Springfield (Ill.)(Wikipedia)).” Big stuff.

inherit-tracy-wc-1960-ua-54kBut with progress comes a cost, a quid pro quo. You gain something, you give something up. For the Cubs and their followers that price may be the ‘lovable’ they’ve been serving up since 1945.

Spencer Tracy (“Henry Drummond”) spoke to this yin-yang thing in Stanley Kramer’s highly acclaimed Scopes Monkey Trial movie, Inherit the Wind (‘60):

Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it.
Sometimes I think there’s a man who sits behind a counter and says, ‘All right, you can have a telephone but you lose privacy and the charm of distance.
Madam, you may vote but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder puff or your petticoat. And Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.’”

The faithful, Cubs ownership in the Ricketts family and Manager Joe Maddon, both deserving of the Rainmaker tag themselves, the sports media, all have failed to consider what it will really mean to the Cozy World of Confine now that the Cubs have won their 3rd World Series championship.

epstein-wc-slingsby-9-8-10-688kThe red, white & blue Bruins have built so much out of “nothing” it became the most beloved brand in all of sports. Everybody likes the Cubs, even before 2016. The undying love they engender in their fans nationwide is admired on par with Yankees’ prowess in play.

Winning changes everything. Fenway fans in their 40s understand that. There’s a new expectation, standard in Bean Town and Chicago, too. Anything short of a World Series title gets an incomplete grade. Tension rises, especially amongst the fair-weather fan who jumped the bandwagon and has wherewithal of a wet peanut.

Finally breaking that championship drought (’04 (1918 v Cubs)) can be cathartic for those who still hold the pain from chances that got away (‘67, ‘75, ‘86). But it’s a different mood in Boston these days. Success is sweet but it can be a pretty girl with a fickle heart: Warm when in clover, cold when the chips are down.

And that’s half hyperbole.

The victory parade down Michigan Avenue in November, so thick with confetti The Fugitive could’ve eluded police for days, was a beautiful sight to behold.

chicago-mi-ave-wc-4-9-11-l-fuss-2-8mA man who knew a thing or two about progress was at the Allied controls when the Cubs were in spring training and about to embark on a season that would take them to what was to be their last NL pennant and fall classic prior to 2016 (1945). That man was U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – April 12, 1945 (d. Warm Springs, GA)):

This is what 4-termer FDR, the standard by which all Presidents are measured, had to say about progress: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much (Yankees & Cardinals), but whether we provide enough for those who have too little (Royals (2015) and Cubs (2016)).”

Hooray for progress!

.....canned cornSteven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: T.Epstein, wc.cca, 10.22.16, A.PardavilaIII; Sporting(MeetingGods), wc, 1630, CV.Poelenburgh; J.McGraw-F.Chance, wc, 5.2.1911, GG.Bain, LoC; L.James, wc, K.Allison, 4.27.8; gold-medieval-ring, wc, Britain, Sonofthesands; Inherit-the-wind, S.Tracy, UA, 1960; Epstein, wc, 9.8.10, S.Slingsby; MichiganAve., wc, Chicago, L.Fuss, 4.9.11, Canned-corn
Posted: 11.5.16 @ 9:57pm EST; Copyright © 2016

Chin Music’14: When .400 Was Fashion

23 Jul

Note: This write is dedicated to actor James Garner (b.1928) who died Saturday at his Brentwood home in Los Angeles.

......J.Garner.C.Stevens.59.wc.cca

 

 

 

 

A sport enthusiast, Jim was a movie star of the first order (Grand Prix, The Children’s Hour, Murphy’s Romance, Fire in the Sky) but will be best remembered for his game-changing TV series “The Rockford Files (1974-80).” By all accounts, Jim was as likable & loved in real life as his fictional private-eye character, tailor-made to his talents. “Rockfish” or “Jimbo” was a knight-in-shining-Pontiac: street-smart but kind, cautious but brave, ladies man with taste for beer & burrito whose guest list was a hallmark of class that included starry names like Bacall, Cotton, Selleck, Reiner, Hayes, Moreno, Beatty, Cooper, Hartley, Gossett, Towers, Fix, Woods, Warwick, Fix, Powers, Strasberg and Elizondo, among many others.

Pure Baseball

You wouldn’t be going too far out on that proverbial white ash limb in predicting nobody in the major leagues is ever gonna’ hit .400 again.

The 30 win season (McLain ‘68), maybe.

Knocking over 262 hits (Ichiro ‘04), possible.

But to bat .400 today is about as likely as a 2014 sports page sans Manziel, LeBron or Tiger: not very.

About once or twice a decade a player will hover around the mark for a time, then fade away around the All-Star break. After the festivities, the grind sets in, a few bumps & bruises and the hopeful is out of the running by late July.

Ted Williams was the last to achieve the magical mark when he batted .405 in 1941, and did it in style. “The Splendid Splinter” looked Mr. chance straight in the eye and said, ‘(Flip) you, fella! I’m gonna’ hit .400 and that’s that! Now give me a bat.’

......T.Williams.wc.cca.1940.Bowman.47k

 

 

 

 

 

With his Red Sox slated to play a double-header to close it out, Williams sat on a batting average one ten-thousandth of a point under .400 which would technically qualify one for the hallowed mark, had he opted to ‘discover’ an ailment that would sit him for the final two and preserve the achievement. Not an option for “Teddy Ballgame.”

Williams went 5 for 8 and became the stuff of greatness.

His bold nonchalance and respect for how revered marks should be attained, puts Ted’s day on par w/Jackie’s debut (4-15-47), Ruth’s called shot (‘32), Larson’s perfecto (‘56), Gehrig’s farewell (‘39) and Ed Reulbach’s stretch-run, twin-bill shutouts (9-26-08).

The last man to flirt with .400 was another San Diego stalwart (Ted’s POB), the late, great Tony Gwynn (d. 2014). Mr. Padre batted .3938 in 1994.

If one as dedicated to his craft as was Tony, a man with 8 batting titles to his credit, could fall short when so close, that tells you just how tremendously difficult .400 becomes.

A player today could give his spring blood sample by way of baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and later that same day begin a juicing regimen until it comes out his ears, heaven forbid, and yet still never get close to the big four hundred.

Some records were easy prey. Power marks proved highly susceptible to the PED cheats.

Others appear pretty safe & sound, like Hack Wilson’s 1930 RBI mark of 191, Billy Hamilton’s 198 runs in 1894 and Jack Chesbro’s modern era wins tally of 41 (1904).

But what seems out-of-reach today wasn’t always the case.

For a 40 year period starting in the late 1890s and running up to 1930, hitting .400 was in vogue. Not as common as a curious no-hitter but about on par with the 100-win season.

......G.Sisler.Ruth.Cobb.10.4.24.wc.cca.929k.LoC

 

 

 

 

If you read what Babe Ruth said on the subject, you’d think it was a cinch. When pressed on whether he’d have hit .400 if not for his home run swing, Bambino brashly responded, “Four hundred, hell, I coulda’ hit .500!” And he probably could’ve (‘23 – .3927)!

It’s a very special stratosphere these 20 men inhabit.

And to those who would besmirch these early years of baseball, declaring them unworthy of inclusion, I’d say that MLB and Elias chose long ago to bestow major status on these formative years (1876 – 1900) and their five leagues (National, AA, Players, Federal & Union), not just for color & tradition but because these body-armor & cortisone free days were as challenging, skillful and visceral a time as any in the history of our great sport.

The .400 breakdowns:

By the decade:

1880s: 4
1890s: 11
1900s: 1
1910s: 3
1920s: 7
1930s: 1
1940s: 1

.....H.Duffy.1902.wc.cca.LoC.24k

 

 

 

 

 

Highest figure: .439, Hugh Duffy, 1894

Repeaters (5 players):

Rogers Hornsby (3): 1922 (.401); 1925 (.402); 1924 (.423)
Ty Cobb (3): 1922 (.401); 1912 (.408); 1911 (.419)
Ed Delahanty (3): 1894 (.404); 1895 (.404); 1899 (.409)
George Sisler (2): 1920 (.407); 1922 (.419)
Jesse Burkett (2): 1895 (.405); 1896 (.409)

First Achiever: Ross Barnes: 1876, .428
Last: Ted Williams: 1941, .405

......R.Hornsby.7.9.28.Time.wc.cca.63k

 

 

 

 

 

Lefties: 9

Righties: 10

Switchies: 1 (Tuck Turner, 1894, .417)

Tallest: Ted Williams: 6’3”
Shortest: “Wee” Willie Keeler: 5’4”

AL (1901®) 6
NL: 2

Hot-beds of Hit-Machines:

St. Louis: Dunlap (1-UA), Hornsby (3-NL), O’Neill (1-AA) & Sisler (2-AL): 7
Philadelphia: Thompson (1-NL), Turner (1-NL), Delahanty (3-NL) & Hamilton (1-NL): 6
Detroit: Cobb (3-AL) & Heilmann (1-AL): 4
Boston: Duffy (1-NL) & Williams (1-AL): 2
Chicago: Barnes (1-NL) & Jackson (1-AL): 2
Cleveland: Burkett (2-NL): 2
Baltimore: Keeler (1-NL) & Jennings (1-NL): 2

......E.Delahanty.wc.cca.1903.98k

 

 

 

 

 

Philadelphia on Fire!

In 1894, four Phillies topped .400: Bill Hamilton (.403), Sam Thompson (.414), Fred Dunlap (.412) and Ed Delahanty (.404) for a whopping .350 team BA.

Oh so close:

Cap Anson, .3994, 1881
Frank O’Doul, .3981, 1929
Harry Heilmann, .3980, 1927
George Brett (#48), .3898, 1980
Rod Carew (#55), .3880, 1977

That’s the history. Question for the here & now, can it be done again?

I wouldn’t bet the farm on it but there is reason for some optimism.

Teddy (MLB 1939 – 60) was a wizard with the bat and one unique individual but he did put his pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. If he could do it, others can too.

As that “mighty warrior” of Wales and the Arabian desert once said, “Nothing is written (T.E. Lawrence),” i.e., we, not fate, control our destiny.

......Lajoie.Wagner.wc.cca.1904.BPL.176k

 

 

 

 

 

So, what would be the trademarks of a batsman to hit the big four double-zero?

1) It starts with the brain: having the mindset, the desire, the dedication to hit .400. That’s not as simple as it sounds.

Post-WW2, power-ball’s been the norm, for hitters, pitchers and managers alike (See: E. Weaver). It’s how the biggest money deals get gotten and keeps kids oogling & googling.

2) You needn’t sacrifice the long-ball. Look at Ted (521 hr / .634 slg / .482! ob%), Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Pujols, all crushin’ it w/ regularity and getting’ on base w/ habit. But don’t live in the weight room, either.

3) Contact, not slugging, is key. That means patience at the plate. Selectivity. A command of the strike zone, i.e., a keen batter‘s eye. No more than 30 – 40 whiffs a season.

4) The best hitters never stop being students of the game, which is why every name listed here was head of his class.

Steven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo Credits: T.Cobb & J.Jackson / 1913 – wc.cca – LoC;  C.Stevens & J.Garner / 1959 -wc.cca;  T.Williams / 1940 – wc.cca – Bowman;  G.Sisler, B.Ruth & T.Cobb / 10.4.24 – wc.cca – LoC;  H.Duffy / 1902 – LoC;  R.Hornsby / 7.9.28 – TIME – wc.cca;  E.Delahanty / 1903 – wc.cca;  N.Lajoie & H.Wagner / 1904 – BPL – wc.cca