1. Ten Years After
I never really felt those Don McLean lyrics, “the day the music died” until I got word on a Friday afternoon in April of 2004 that Pat Tillman had been killed. On days such as today, you try to be careful not to appropriate his memory, not to ascribe qualities to him just because you appreciate those qualities, as opposed to him actually having those traits.
I never met Tillman, although he played college and pro football in my hometown, i.e., the Phoenix area. What I do think it’s fair to say about Tillman is that comfort and ease were never priorities for him, nor were being popular or cool. He came to his own conclusions and his B.S. meter was always properly calibrated.
Tillman’s sacrifice may have been no greater than any other soldier who died in the line of duty. But his character was rare. See the powerful doc “The Pat Tillman Story” if you ever get the chance and watching ESPN’s “OTL” on Tillman’s death tonight is a good idea, too. The young Ranger who was standing near him when he died, Bryan O’Neal, tells Mike Fish of ESPN, and I paraphrase, “Everything I do in my life is an effort to live up to the standards that Pat set.”
And here are some solid words from Jim Rome. Rack it.
And here’s a solid anecdote, told by Josh Weinfuss, about a dinner in Seattle that took place a few months before Tillman died. Doug Tammaro is one of the men behind the creation of “Pat’s Run”, which will take place for the 10th time in Tempe this weekend.
2. We Like Ike
For the second time in two weeks, Ike Davis hits a grand slam in his team’s win. What makes the Arizona State alum’s prolific clouts more unusual is that he was traded from the Mets to the Pirates between the first and second slams. Davis’s two grand slams after just 15 games puts him on pace to hit 21 grand slams, for 21 different ball clubs, in 2014. \
3. Girls Gone Wildling
I wish there were even more time to recap Sunday night television. Instead, a few random thinkages: Ygritte shoots a father dead with an arrow to the head as he is talking to his son. And then the Thenns will…eat Crow? Cooking instructions: It takes 30 minutes as the Crow fries…Ever notice how Tywin Lannister always comes out a winner and never seems to break a sweat? He’s Gregg Popovich. Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen has the world’s most awe-inspiring army but never has to fight a battle. She’s Geno Auriemma.
On “Mad Men”, of course Don Draper gets an “I love you” on Valentine’s Day from…Sally. While Peggy has turned into the nastiest cat lady of all time, or as James Poniewozik of Time aptly called it, into “Hannah Horvath.” Pete Campbell remains as self-absorbed and needy as ever –he’s “guy-coastal”–while Roger keeps his clothes on for an entire episode.
It is an episode filled with bon mots of wisdom, from “Just tell the truth” to “Cash the checks, you’re going to die some day” to “Keep pretending: That’s your job.” There’s the work kitchen scene, which is every bit as good as last season’s when Harry Crane commented on how hot Don’s new bride was within earshot of Megan (awkward). This time, it’s African-American secretaries Dawn and Shirley calling one another by their own names as a means of mocking their white colleagues who cannot tell them apart. And then, when the white secretary enters, silence. That’s pitch perfect.
Reminds me of the SI writers meeting I once attended. The only black writer on staff then was Phil Taylor. As he walked past, one of the funniest people I ever met at SI –I’ll leave him anonymous here –said to me, but loud enough because he wanted Phil to hear, “See that? Those people always hang out with each other.”
Honestly, if this particular episode of “Mad Men” wasn’t for you, then I must say that this series isn’t for you. It’s the subtext and the character evolution that makes this show brilliant, not the plot twists.
4. Kevin is For Real*
The Thunder still lost later, in overtime, but this reedick four-point play by Kevin Durant that trimmed a five-point lead Grizzlies lead to one with 13 tick-tocks remaining was otherworldly. The funny thing, as others have noted, is that it seemed a surer thing than Kendrick Perkins’ point-blank layup that tied the contest later. If the Thunder somehow fail to make the NBA Finals, or even the Western Conference finals, is it too soon to do a “30 for 30” on the fact that Durant and James Harden were once teammates?
*See what I did there?
5. Wheel or Fake?
Did the 15- or 16 year-old Santa Clara lad really stow away in the wheel well of a Maui-bound Hawaiian Airlines jet over the weekend? How did he survive he decrease in both air pressure and temperature? Impossible! we all say, even though while this flight was taking place we were probably at mass celebrating the resurrection from the dead of an unemployed Jewish carpenter whom the Romans put to death. Life’s funny that way.
Charter Inductees: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner 1937: Tris Speaker, CF; Cy Young, P ; 1938: Grover Cleveland Alexander, P; Eddie Collins, 2B 1939:Nap Lajoie, 2B; Joe Jackson, LF; 1940: Billy Hamilton, OF; Cap Anson, 1B; 1941: Wee Willie Keeler, RF; George Sisler, 1B; 1942: Rogers Hornsby, 2B; Pie Traynor, 3B; 1943: Mickey Cochrane, C; Frankie Frisch, 2B 1944: Ed Walsh, P; Old Hoss Radbourn, P 1945: Lou Gehrig, 1B; Kid Nichols, P 1946: Ed Delahanty, LF; Lefty O’Doul 1947: Pud Galvin, P; John McGraw, INF 1948: Carl Hubbell, P; Addie Joss, P 1949: Harry Heilman, OF/1B; Monte Ward, P/SS 1950: Cool Papa Bell, CF; Jimmie Foxx, 1B 1951: Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, P; Josh Gibson, C 1952: Paul Waner, RF; Charlie Gehringer, 2B 1953: Mel Ott, RF; Hank Greenberg, 1B 1954: Eddie Plank, P; Dan Brouthers, 1B 1955: “Wahoo” Sam Crawford, OF; John Clarkson, P 1956: Chief Bender, P; Bill Dickey, C 1957: Sam Rice, RF; Joe DiMaggio, CF 1958: Bill Terry, 1B; Heinie Manush, LF 1959: Dizzy Dean, P; Tim Keefe, P 1960: Gabby Hartnett, C; Mickey Welch, P 1961: Bob Feller, P; Ducky Medwick, LF 1962: Luke Appling, SS; Jesse Burkett, LF 1963 Jackie Robinson, 2B; Zack Wheat, LF 1964: Jake Beckley, 1B; Rube Waddell, P 1965: Ralph Kiner, 1B; Lefty Grove, P
1966: Ted Williams, LF; Smoky Joe Wood, P/OF 1967: Roy Campanella, C; Max Carey, OF 1968: Goose Goslin, LF; Rabbit Maranville, SS 1969: Stan Musial, 1B/OF 1970: Ferris Fain, 1B; Earle Combs, CF 1971: Warren Spahn, P; Yogi Berra, C 1972 Satchel Paige, P; Sandy Koufax, P 1973: Robin Roberts, P; Whitey Ford, P 1974: Mickey Mantle, CF; Eddie Mathews, 3B 1975: Lefty Gomez, P; Hack Wilson, CF 1976: Jack Pfiester, P; Johnny Mize, 1B 1977: Ernie Banks, SS; Mickey Welch, P 1978: Roberto Clemente, RF; Chuck Klein, RF 1979: Willie Mays, CF; Luis Aparicio, SS 1980: Al Kaline, RF; Enos Slaughter, RF 1981: Bob Gibson, P; Harmon Killebrew, 1B 1982: Hank Aaron, RF; Frank Robinson, OF 1983: Brooks Robinson, 3B, Juan Marichal, P 1984: Hoyt Wilhelm, P; Arky Vaughan, SS 1985: Lou Brock, LF; Pete Browning, OF 1986: Sidd Finch, P 1987: Willie McCovey, 1B, Roger Maris, RF 1988: Willie Stargell, 1B, Catfish Hunter, P 1989: Earl Averill, CF, Billy Williams, LF 1990: Johnny Bench, C, Carl Yastrzemski, LF 1991: Jim Palmer, P, Joe Morgan, 2B 1992: Rod Carew, 2B; Gaylord Perry, P 1993: Reggie Jackson, RF, Tom Seaver, P 1994: Phil Niekro, P, Rollie Fingers, P 1995: Pete Rose, INF, Mike Schmidt, 3B 1996: Steve Carlton, P, Denny McLain, P 1997: Jim Rice, LF, Don Sutton, P 1998: Dick Allen, 1B, Dave Parker, RF 1999: Nolan Ryan, P, George Brett, 3B
Robin Yount, SS; 1974-1993, Brewers
To damn The Kid with faint praise, Yount was a two-time American League MVP despite never leading the league in HRs, batting average or RBI. He may belong in the Hall of Very Good, but his inclusion is an indictment on the Eighties as perhaps the game’s most forgettable decade since integration. Yount did collect 3,142 hits, though, which puts him 18th all time.
Carlton Fisk, C; 1969-1993, Red Sox, White Sox
Pudge was an answered prayer to New Englanders. A native of New Hampshire who had a face that begged to be put on a Brawny towel package, Pudge was unanimously voted Rookie of the Year in 1972. Three years later he clouted the most famous home run in World Series history (sorry, Joe Carter), and most fans seem to forget –or not care–that the Sawx didn’t even win that Fall Classic. A born on-field leader, Pudge held the record for most home runs by a catcher (351) and most games played by a catcher (2,226) at the time of his retirement.
John Wayne Double Feature
TCM 8 p.m.
There’s actually lots of good viewing available this evening (I’ll be DVR’ing “The Way, Way Back” on HBO 2 at 8 p.m.), but Turner Classic Movies lives up to its name with two of The Duke’s (not to mention director John Ford’s) finer efforts: first, it’s the 1939 film “Stagecoach” (1939)at 8 p.m., followed by “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962) with Jimmy Stewart, at 10. The latter film gave us the eternal truism, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
So, you also think the Thunder will be in the Finals? I thought (from your past tweets), you were thinking it would be the Clippers or Spurs. For me, it’s almost 50-50 between the Thunder & Spurs, but KD is younger & how can Pop play his starters for only 30 min/game in the Playoffs as he did in the regular season & make it to the Finals? Thus, I see the older Spurs running out of gas/healthy & energetic bodies. Maybe. Still, KD wants it BAD, to prove he really deserves his MVP (yes, I grudgingly acknowledge he will win it this year & yes, he had a great season, but LeBron is still the best player! 🙂 ), but the Spurs want desperately to erase last year’s Game 6, so motivation is about equal I guess. I didn’t watch any of the Western playoffs the past 2 years, but I will watch Thunder-Spurs in a Western Finals this year!
I only clicked onto last night’s game with 3 minutes to go & was fairly shocked to not only see the Grizzlies leading but hear that they had for most of the entire game. I was happy – don’t want the Thunder to win too easy; want them TIRED for the Finals! Anyhoo, when KD made that shot, well, I didn’t even see it until the replay, all I’d seen was flailing arms in the bottom left of my TV & next thing I know, the damn ball swished thru the hoop! Could NOT believe it! The other “shocking” play I saw was KD being stripped of the ball as he was getting ready to take 1 of his usual for-sure jumpers. I must say, the Grizzlies are much better than I’d thought.
Switching over to the Eastern side – what’s YOUR take on what’s happening with the Pacers? Can’t deny I haven’t been channeling that dude in the Mounties hat (i.e. ‘HAPPY’) watching them fall apart the past 5-6 weeks, but geeze, feel kinda sorry for PG. And all these talking/writing sports poohbahs saying Vogel will get fired if they don’t make it to the Finals? Good grief, the last 2 years they slobbered over the guy, crowing about what a great coach he is & how he “connects” with his players. Seems like having Larry Legend looking down your nose at every thing you do is not conducive to a ‘productive work environment’. That & his messing with team chemistry halfway thru the season. (My fellow Heat fans & I thank ya, Larry!) I watched some of the Pacers’ Game 1 with the Hawks & if they even make it to the Eastern Finals, I’d be surprised unless they somehow morph back into their Dec-Jan selves.
BY THE WAY! Did you see the ESPN show right after the Bad Boys doc? Apparently, ESPN producers read this blog & comments! There sat Bill & Jalen in a version of Bill’s “man cave” set with a “guest”. Exactly what I wrote here that ESPN should do next year for their NBA Countdown! The live audience, which I did not mention, was a nice addition though. You are welcome, ESPN.
And speaking of those Pistons – I HATED those guys! Especially Laimbeer. God, I wanted someone to PUNCH that guy in EVERY game! He was a punk! A thug! A dirty player! Normally, I hated when players got into brawls, but if someone was smacking around Laimbeer, I was screaming encouragement.
So! I’m envisioning the Pacers locker room at Half-time last night – “Dr” Vogel unzips the body bag, frantically thwacking the ‘chest’ 4,5,6 times, all the while screaming “YOU’RE NOT DEAD! YOU’RE ALIVE! ALIVE! RISE!” And the “patient” did. Too soon to tell if the 2nd half truly represents a morphing back into their Dec-Jan selves or merely yet another sighting of “zombies” (all the rage these days), but at least they didn’t lose another playoff game at HOME & thus kill off their championship hopes entirely. Perhaps halftime at last night’s game was the Pacer’s ‘Scarlet’ moment. That’s ok – my Heaters are “Rhett” (frankly, my dear….). 🙂
Interesting is that while I immediately pronounced the Pacers as goners if they had lost their 2nd straight HOME game, I still don’t think the Bulls are dead yet & they actually HAVE lost 2 straight HOME games. WHO saw that coming?! None of the NBA writers I read. In fact, Charles was pretty much the only guy who said the Wizards would win the series, even before the 1st game.
There’s an undeniable geographic nexus to your post. Tillman, Davis and Harden all played for ASU. Take another step back and you’ll find that Davis played baseball at Chaparral High School, where all of Robin Yount’s children graduated.
Sun Devils and Firebirds, Pilgrim.