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Some sports

Sunday 2/13/22

I belong to various FB groups, but I end up leaving most of them. I just can't handle the stupidity. No one knows anything. You'd think, given the specificity of what some of these groups are about, that the people in them would know something about that subject. Like, if it's a group about 1950s baseball, there would be some knowledge from some of the members about 1950s baseball. There is not. Same thing if it's a silent film group, a Laurel and Hardy group, a classic horrors group. There's never any intelligence or knowledge. It's not out there. I'm a member of a vintage baseball cards group, and I'd say that 90% of the posts are from guys who have found a reprint of a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card in a box in their garage--a card which often has the word reprint somewhere on it--and so now they're asking people if it's legit and whether they can get $80,000 for it, given the condition it's in. I'm not exaggerating. There are twenty posts like this every day.

Anyway, saw last night in one of the baseball history groups where someone floated the idea that Bobby Grich and Tony Gwynn have similar WARs. Heads exploded. The old guy stereotype is a stereotype that usually holds. He won't learn. He does stand on his lawn and yell at clouds. They go on and on about batting average, these old guys. They love batting average so much, that they honestly believe that the best hitters in baseball history have the highest batting average. Even if they average seven home runs a season. So, to every last one of these oldsters, Tony Gwynn is better than Mike Schmidt. They also think Pete Rose--despite barely having a career average over .300--is one of the top ten ballplayers of all-time. I have no earthly idea why they think this, save the hustle thing (which was a form of hammy acting on Rose's part), and because people talk about Pete Rose like he hit .377 over his career. Even without the gambling, Pete Rose is a lower rung Hall of Famer. He was a singles hitter who played forever. Tony Gwynn was good. But he's not close to being one of the best hitters in baseball history. Batting average doesn't mean a lot on its own. It's not a valueless stat, which is how analytics people prefer to think of it now. It's important. But if you had two guys and one hit .329 with 11 home runs and 64 RBI--just to use traditional stats--and someone else hit .276 with 38 home runs and 114 RBI--you want the second guy, and you really want the second guy if he walks a lot, because he could have a higher OBP, and his OPS and OPS+ will destroy those of the other guy who might have just won the batting title.

When I talk about how there is no young and there is no old, I'm talking about people like this, too, because they want to be old. They go about the business of being old. And not thinking. They don't have to do this. They choose to by keeping going as they've been going and not evolving. You can evolve at any age. You can evolve on your last day of life. Also: people love to be cranky bitches. I think it's the closest many of them come to ever getting a thrill in this dead world.

Robert Kraft strikes me as a sad, needy man. Bases his life on receiving attention and credit. The way he tries to get things on film, or have people see other people liking him, or paying tribute to him, is creepy. He's not genuine. He doesn't have genuine affection in his life. Whenever I see him, how he tries to stage affection, I see an unhappy man, for all of his money. A man who will never feel fulfilled. I think he's as fake as a desert mirage, too.

Richard Seymour was elected to the Hall of Fame, as he should have been. Helped turn the Patriots into what they became. Obviously Brady will get into the Hall, and Vinatieri. Law is already in. That leaves Rodney Harrison as the final player who should make it from that first wave of the dynasty. Corey Dillon from the 2004 team? I don't think so. Roger Craig isn't in the Hall of Fame.

I'm reading Pepper Johnson's account of the 2001 season. I think I mentioned that. It's a bit like the Sparky Lyle book in that it shows you the side of sports behind numbers; the intangibles, the team stuff, the parts of the game that aren't quantifiable by stats. He's pretty thorough.

Joe Montana also strikes me as a needy guy. He gets all grumpy when people bring up Brady. Clearly he doesn't like Brady. He doesn't like Brady because he doesn't like that Brady was a lot better and took his best ever QB title away from him. I will let you in on something: Joe Montana was sorely overrated. He was not even the best player on his own team, once Jerry Rice came along. Montana had a weak arm, too. I suppose that should encourage me with Mac Jones? It doesn't. Mac Jones won't be anything in the league. He's topped out, or close to it. Doesn't have the physical skills, is nothing special mentally, and he's not a leader of men.

Even if I had a life and things like this had any resonance--nothing does at this point, save getting out of this hell--this Super Bowl would be a big old blah to me. I couldn't enjoy it, because I was in this hell, but I would have enjoyed the Patriots being right there year after year. It's quite a bit different when it's two random teams that may not be back for another thirty years.

It annoys me when people whose entire lives are about sports don't know that Super Bowl is two words. I see it all the time. The market down the street has all of these signs out in front for you to come in and get your wings, get your nachos, for the "Superbowl."

Awful news about Jeremy Giambi. Shot himself, aged forty-seven, at his parents' home. People don't remember this at all now, but he was actually supposed to be the Red Sox' DH in 2003 and that's how he started the season. They had just gotten David Ortiz as well, and he was an afterthought. These two men were roughly the same age. Think about that. Ortiz goes on to do what he did, goes into the Hall of Fame the other day, and Giambi has this tragic outcome. But take it back to the beginning of that 2003 season. One can't help but think about those divergent paths.

I have always thought that Ortiz could have been league MVP that year, if the MVP was done as it used to be done, in the spirit of the words. That's why Kirk Gibson was the MVP in 1988, or Stargell in 1979. Obviously Ortiz put up better numbers as well, but he was valuable in that regard of being valuable and changing a team's fortunes.

Marchand was suspended for six games. This guy. I've written about him a bunch of times as the most complete forward in the NHL, but damn is he dumb. Or he needs to grow up. He won't. You're an assistant captain, your team counts on you being in the line-up, looks to you for leadership, and that's how you act? As you approach your mid-thirties? Then I heard an interview with him after the suspension, and he took no accountability, and clearly just didn't get it. He's cost himself a great year, because between his two suspensions, he's going to miss a lot of it. He won't be top ten in scoring--unless he gets hot--and may not get a postseason All-Star nod. This is one of his last years--if not his last year--being able to play at this type of level.

Favorite Super Bowl moment of all-time: has to be from somewhere in the Patriots/Falcons Super Bowl. That was the one Super Bowl I watched where I thought I was seeing history. Yes, the upset of the Rams was cool and shocking--but maybe not shocking, really, if you watched that Patriots team closely over the season. Is it surprising now? Well, as we've seen, that Patriots team will have, what, four Hall of Famers on it, not counting the coach, and then you have all of those playmakers who aren't Hall of Famers--a Bruschi, Malloy, McGinest. Troy Brown was the best player on that team that year.

The 28-3 thing remains shocking. The Edelman catch has become overrated. They didn't need it. Yes, it helped. But it wasn't a "gotta have it" play, and there were a solid dozen of those for the Patriots in that game. The Hightower hit was a gotta have it play. The two two-point conversions. I was texting with my NPR producer at the time, an English guy who had become a Patriots fan. And he didn't want to watch anymore when it got to 28-3, and I said might as well, because now there's a chance to see history. I'm a romantic, so I think that way. And I understand Brady, so I think that way. I understand that make-up, that mentality. And I understand history. And opportunity. How did Herb Brooks present the match against the Soviets to the USA players? As an opportunity ("Go out and take it."). Edelman's block on the game-tying two-point conversion was a bigger play than his famous catch.

That will be a good book when I do it--about the best comebacks in sports history, the psychology of the comeback, and how that psychology can serve us in regular life.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not as smart as he thinks he is, but he might be the second best player in NBA history. It's him or Chamberlain. It's Bill Russell, as great a player as he was, and a leader, a winner. People don't don't vet as much as maybe they should when it comes to Russell. They just say, "ten championships." They automatically fall in rhetorical line. He never finished higher than sixteenth in the league in scoring. I think that's a pretty big thing against him. His teams were stacked. That had a lot to do with the winning. Russell was the best player on those teams, yes. But I just don't think he's in that innermost circle.

Was surprised to learn recently that James Worthy never scored more than 38 points in a regular season game. Isn't that crazy? Scoring was his thing, his main attribute. What got him in the Hall of Fame. And he never scored 40 points during the regular season in his entire career. Dennis Rodman's career scoring high was 34 points.

This is the 1965 Topps card of catcher Smoky Burgess. He was a fine line-drive hitter throughout his career, and one of the best pinch hitters in baseball history. He's thirty-seven-years-old in this shot.


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