Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - -9/26/15

I had originally planned on devoting this entire column to the great Yogi Berra following his death last week at the age of 90. However, after reading many of the countless columns/articles that have been written since his passing, I ultimately came to the conclusion that there's not much I can add to what's already been penned. Yes--he was a terrific ballplayer, a clutch performer, and a true Yankee/baseball legend. I will add this: What TRULY made me appreciate the greatness of the man was his unassuming, "regular guy" persona. I was lucky enough to speak to the man ONCE in my life--and just for a minute or two; it was like talking to my DAD. You'd never know he was a Hall of Famer and decorated war hero--along with possessing celebrity-like status; his monotone, down-to-earth delivery was simply HIM. You see, THAT's what made Yogi Berra so special; he NEVER tried to be something he was NOT. Yeah--it's called being GENUINE. I guess Lawrence Peter Berra taught me one VERY important lesson over the years: It's not so bad to be "just" a regular guy--no matter WHAT you do in life. Thanks for BEING you, Yogi, and "Dad-like" to so many others. Sincere condolences go out to the entire Berra family; may you rest in peace, sir..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1996 Washington Redskins--who finished 9-7 under coach Norv Turner--were led in receiving yardage by a WR who played SIXTEEN seasons in the NFL. Can you name this former talented player? Answer to follow..........**Crusade alert: I continue to be a strong advocate for Daniel Lucius "Doc" Adams' enshrinement into baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Quite frankly, this is a "no-brainer," folks. Chosen as SABR's Overlooked Nineteenth Century Baseball Legend for 2014, Adams was a HUGE contributor dating back to the game's developmental period in the mid-1800's when he was a player AND executive for the New York Knickerbockers Baseball Club. Among his MANY innovations, he is credited with creating the shortstop position while making the baseballs/overseeing the production of bats for many early clubs. In addition, he was the presiding officer of the first Conventions and Rules Committee; he recommended bases be spaced at 90-feet from one another, advocated for 9 inning games/9 players per side, and was also instrumental in developing the fly-game (eliminating balls that were caught on bounces being counted as "outs"). I was first alerted to "Doc's" many contributions by various members of SABR, along with his great-granddaughter, Marjorie--who currently spends much of her time/efforts telling ANYONE who will listen about her relative's remarkable exploits. Bottom line? "Doc" Adams is HIGHLY-RESPONSIBLE for the way the game of baseball is currently played and remains one of its earliest architects. In all seriousness, I won't sleep soundly until this guy has a plaque hanging in a popular building in upstate New York; his "stamp" remains plastered ALL OVER the game of baseball, folks..........I miss seeing "Gerela's Gorillas" and "Franco's Italian Army" in the stands at the old Pittsburgh Steelers games at Three Rivers Stadium; just sayin'..........*ITEM: Ragnar, the Minnesota Vikings mascot (real name is Joe Juranitch), has no luck negotiating his salary and the team seems to have little interest in having him back on the field. I guess you have to give the Vikings front office credit for their bravery; as far as I know, getting into ANY kind of a squabble with a man wearing horns is usually NOT at the top of ANYONE's priority list..........As a young guy, I used to think that a Ron Guidry slider was the ultimate thing of beauty. That all changed the other day when I saw a picture of Australian model Miranda Kerr wearing a skin-tight white dress as part of a photo series for the October edition of Harper's Bazaar. Holy cow; it's amazing how one's perceptions change as one grows older--right, folks?..........Question: If "brittle" ex-Red Sox teammates Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz were to meet on the streets of NYC this week and "high-five" each other, which player would most likely be injured badly due to a seemingly non-risky, friendly gesture?..........*Scenario: Suppose former Ursinus College lacrosse star Maureen Burger married ex-NBA star Bernard King. Do you think she'd EVER want people to acknowledge her full married name of Maureen Burger King?..........Answer to trivia question: HENRY ELLARD--who caught 52 passes for 1,014 yards; he had almost 14,000 receiving yards in a career that lasted from 1983 to 1998..........Finally, condolences also go out to the family of former NFL coach Richard Williamson--who died recently from a heart condition at the age of 74. Williamson was the head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers briefly in the early 90's; he later became an assistant coach for the Carolina Panthers from 1995-2009 (working under Dom Capers, George Siefert, and John Fox). Known for his work with wide receivers, talented players such as Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith benefited greatly from Williamson's tenure with the team. Richard Williamson is survived by his wife, Norma, and two children: Caroline and Rich. Rest in peace, "Coach."

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 9/12/15

*Question: With all the advances in medical science/technology--along with the many resources available to the New York Yankees--WHY did it take the team almost a MONTH to find out that first baseman Mark Teixeira had a fractured right leg? My good buddy, sportscaster Steve Lenox, chimed in with this answer: "Perhaps the Yankees are cutting costs--and/or using the Mets' old team doctors." Go figure..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 2004 St. Louis Cardinals--who won an impressive 105 games under manager Tony LaRussa--had three players on the team who hit more than 30 home runs and drove in more than 100 runs apiece. Can you name this talented trio of sluggers? Answer to follow..........ITEM: Robert Griffin III is used as a scout team SAFETY in practice prior to the Redskins first game of the season. Call me crazy, but I'll go out on a limb and say that RG3 is the first scout team safety EVER to be earning $16 million per season..........Just received word that former 3-time NBA MVP Moses Malone died in his sleep in Virginia at the age of 60. Wow--what a player. This was a guy who was voted one of the NBA's 50 greatest players in 1996; he is one of only four players in history (Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain, and Hayes) to finish with 25,000 points and 15,000 rebounds. He also has the distinction of being the first player to go from high school to the pros (when HARDSHIP was a relevant term)--playing for the Utah Stars after leaving Petersburg (VA) High School. The "Chairman of the Boards" was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame in 2001. This 6'10" former center was always considered a "gentle giant" off the court, too. You'll be missed greatly, Mr. Malone..........Feelin' old, folks? This won't help: Former MLB pitcher Mickey Lolich celebrated his 75th birthday this past weekend. Did you know that, as a member of the Detroit Tigers, Lolich pitched 200+ innings EVERY SEASON between 1964 and 1975 (including a remarkable 376 in 1971)? Ummm--do you think the team got its money's worth out of this talented lefty all those years? Just an amazingly tough, SOLID pitcher during his day..........I came across a TV commercial the other day for Infiniti automobiles featuring the lovely, ageless Christie Brinkley. Sadly, it made me realize EVEN MORE that she probably would NOT be interested in dating an aging sports columnist who currently drives a beat-up old Ford..........Oh--and the chances of finding an ACCURATE/COMPLETE Connecticut high school football roster on any website are about the same as yours truly dating the aforementioned Ms. Brinkley AND Sharon Stone on the SAME night before the end of 2015..........Lazzari's "Lopsided Score of the Week": In a college football game played last weekend, Boston College totally ANNIHILATED Howard 76-0; BC led 62-0 at HALFTIME--with both teams agreeing to play 10-minute quarters in the second half. I haven't seen anything THAT ugly since a former male college roommate of mine donned pantyhose prior to going to see a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show back in the late 70's..........*Question: How could superstar Mike Trout of the L.A. Angels steal a combined 82 bases in the 2012-'13 seasons--and have a total of only TWENTY-SIX since then (as of press time)? Now I know these athletes are coddled in ridiculous fashion these days and "risky" situations like base-stealing are taken into account when teams are trying to protect their "investments." But to rob Trout of an important "tool" like his running ability--strictly due to monetary concerns--truly takes Trout's "superstar" status and drops it down a notch. Totally ridiculous......... Answer to trivia question: ALBERT PUJOLS (46/123), JIM EDMONDS (42/111), and SCOTT ROLEN (34/124)..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former college basketball star Roy Marble--who passed away last week after a lengthy battle with cancer; he was just 48 after being diagnosed in August of 2014. Marble, a 6'6" swingman--played at Iowa from 1986-1989 and left that school as its all-time leading scorer (2,116 points). A native of Michigan, Marble led the Hawkeyes to the NCAA tournament four times--including an appearance in the Elite Eight in 1987. He was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1989 but was suspended in his rookie year for violating the NBA's substance abuse policy; sadly, he played in just 29 games during his brief NBA career. Marble's son, Roy Devyn, also played at Iowa (he earned first team All-Big-Ten in 2014); he and his Dad were the first father-son duo in Big Ten history to score 1,000 points apiece. In addition to Roy Devyn, Marble is survived by four other children: Carlo, Royonah, Merrick, and Roichelle. May Roy Marble rest in peace.