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Ernie Banks, Connie Mack, Pud Galvin, Bruins, Larry Nance, 1972 WS, Mets/A's, favorite goalies, Wayne Cashman, Rodney Harrison

Thursday 12/28/23

It's become fashionable for baseball historians--who typically know no more about the game than your average slob/casual fan, but have a greater interest in it--to downplay the careers of Ernie Banks and Lou Brock, the latter especially, who they almost denigrate. The idea that Brock doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame--which regularly makes the rounds--is absurd. First ballot guy, all the way.

That there was a shortstop in the 1950s who swatted forty bombs a year still strikes me as radical. But I'll tell you what is so impressive to me about Banks: That he won the MVP--and totally deserved to--in 1958 and 1959, smack in the primes of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Mays was at the top of his game in 1958, and in 1959 Hank Aaron had one of his best years.

Connie Mack was known as the Tall Tactician. Nicknames were different and better back then. You know how Obi-Wan Kenobi has that line in Star Wars about weapons from a more elegant age? Sports nicknames were that way. The Tall Tactician was the same height as I am. People were short back then.

Nineteenth century Hall of Famer Pud Galvin--who stood at 5'8''--was so nicknamed not because he was a pud but because he turned batters into pudding. In 1883, he tossed 656.1 innings and faced 2741 batters.

The Bruins got back on track last night with a shutout win over the Sabres. It's the Sabres, so you should be coming out and winning that game after struggling for a few and then having the Christmas break, but you still need to go out and do it and they did in convincing style.

Before the game, on whatever network it was shown on--wasn't NESN--the commenters were saying the Bruins had lost four games in a row. I don't like that. If it doesn't go in the loss column, it's not a loss to me. A loss means you lost and got nothing. You don't get a point for a loss.

Two teams that underachieved, I think, which could have been dynasties: the 1980s Mets and the late 1980s/early 1990s Athletics. They should have been the current-day Dodgers and Astros of their time, but way more fun.

Outstanding World Series that is never talked about, including by baseball historians: the seven-game affair between the A's and Reds in 1972, six of which were decided by a single run.

Larry Nance: Why is he not in the basketball Hall of Fame?

My favorite goalies of all-time: Grant Fuhr, Mike Palmateer, Tony Esposito. Honorable mentions: Richard Brodeur, Mario "the Goose" Gosselin. Primary reason why: their athleticism and the balletic beauty of their saves. A Grant Fuhr glove save while doing the splits is a thing of art.

I saw someone on a hockey history board saying that they thought Wayne Cashman was the quintessential redoubtable Bruin--well, they didn't put it that way, but it's what they meant--and then they watched some clips of him on YouTube and couldn't believe how dirty he was.

Yes, well, that's how it was. Speed causes injuries in hockey now. There's no intimidation in the game--it's been outlawed, essentially. That has changed the game and not, in my view, for the better. Fear should be a part of hockey. The same as overcoming fear.

Went to the NFL's site to see who made the cut for the next round of Hall of Fame consideration. There's virtually no writing on the site--it's all videos. Way to go, publishing. You see? All of the reading is going away, and you did that. You brought that about with the garbage you publish and what your system is about. Eventually I found the list, and was glad to see Rodney Harrison is on it. There are some awfully good players there so it may take him a bit yet to get in, but he should get in. I expected to see Vince Wilfork on that list before Harrison, because people like him and Harrison had a reputation as a dirty player even by NFL standards. You used to be able to be so malevolently violent in the NFL and it was fine. Watch some Ronnie Lott highlights sometime. Or anything featuring the Steelers' defense of the 1970s.


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