Dawgs Sign Marino, Brown

The Dutchess Dawgs, facing perhaps the two toughest games on their schedule, have signed a pair of free agents, Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Jim Brown.

With Drew Brees on a bye this week, and Clinton Portis off next Sunday, the Somers Division leaders are looking to reinforce their lineup with two of the NFL’s all-time greats.

Marino will replace Chad Pennington at the helm when the Dolphins visit Denver this Sunday. And Brown will carry the mail for the Browns the following Monday night when Cleveland visits Buffalo.

The legendary, dynamic duo promise to give the Dawgs a boost when they face New York Division leader Evil ZITO on Sunday, and Nightcap defending champion Ari’s Dealmakers the following week.

“It’s only natural that the best should play for the best,” said Dutchess president, GM and coach Big Dawg Bowser. “Marino is one of the top quarterbacks in football history, and Jimmy Brown is the greatest running back ever to roam God’s Earth. Why not shoot for the moon? After all, this is fantasy football.

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7 Up: Nothing Quite Like A Game Seven

We need a seven-game World Series. This year.

There’s nothing like a seventh game in the World Series. It’s a game in a season, and a season in a game. One game. Winner take all.

Throughout baseball history, there have been 35 seventh games since the first World Series in 1903.

The last seven-game series in 2002 saw the Angels beat the Giants for their only World Championship.

The previous year, as the nation recovered from the 9/11 attacks, the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven on a bloop, walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez off Marino Rivera  in the bottom of the ninth, pictured left..

Since 1987, the only other seven-game series occurred in 1991 when the Twins beat the Braves, and 1997 when the Marlins beat the Indians, both in walk-off extra inning games.

Jack Morris pitched a shutout and Gene Larkin drove in the only run with a single in the 10th inning for the Twins win. Six years later, Edgar Renteria’s single in the 11th gave Florida a 3-2 win and the championship.

There have been a total of six walk-off wins in Game Seven overall. The Red Sox beat the Giants in 1912 when some Giant misplays and Larry Gardner’s sacrifice fly against Christy Mathewson enabled Boston to rally for a 3-2, 10-inning win.

Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators won their only World Series in 1924, also against the Giants, on a bad hop single by Earl McNeely in the 12th.

And in 1960, the Pirates edged the Yankees, 10-9, on a home run by Bill Mazeroski. That remains the only Game Seven in World Series history to end on a home run, pictured right.

The St. Louis Cardinals have won seven seventh games (1926, 1931, 1934, 1946, 1964, 1967 and 1982), a record. Not surprisingly, the Yankees have played in the most, winning five out of eleven.

The Cards twice beat both the Yankees (1926, 1964) and the Red Sox (1946, 1967) in Game Seven showdowns.

The Pirates have the best record at 5-0 (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979) and the Giants are 0-4 (1912, 1924, 1962 and 2002).

Other Game Seven facts and figures that may interest only me:

  • A total of 16 seventh games were staged between 1952 and 1979, nearly half of the all-time total of 35.
  • Six seventh games occurred in the 60s; five apiece in the 50s and 70s.
  • Between 1955 and 1958, the Yankees played four straight seventh games, exchanging wins with the Dodgers and then the Braves.
  • All four of those World Series were won by the road teams, including the first and only championships for Brooklyn and Milwaukee, in 1955 and 1957.
  • The Yankees avenged those losses in 1956 and 1958; they also beat the Dodgers in seven in 1947 and 1952.
  • The last time the Cubs appeared in the World Series, 1945, they lost to the Tigers in Game Seven.
  • There were no seventh games between 1912 and 1924, the biggest gap in baseball history.
  • The Oakland A’s are the only team to win back-to-back Game Sevens, in 1972 against the Reds and 1973 vs. the Mets.

50-50: Fifty States, Fifty SportsLifer Memories

I am a proud member of the 50-State Club. From Maine to Hawaii, from Alaska to Florida, from sea to shining sea, I’ve visited all 50 states in America at some point in my life. Been to em all.

Some states I’ve lived in, all I’ve visited, some once, others many times. Lived in New York, California, Massachusetts, and Florida. Drove over the border to touch down in Mississippi, Wisconsin and North Dakota.

About five years ago, after a soul-cleansing three-week  journey through the Rocky Mountains, I realized I was near a lifetime ambition.

So I knocked off Michigan, New Mexico and finally Alaska. 50 for 50.

What’s my favorite sports memory of each state? Played a little word association…check that, multiple word association…., in my mind.

Anyway, here’s what I came up with:

50/50

Alabama — Steely Dan’s Deacon Blues (“They call Alabama the Crimson Tide”)

Alaska — Yankees 5-game sweep over Red Sox  while touring Denali, 2006

Arizona — Giants upset the unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale

Arkansas — The Razorbacks

California — Willie Mays belting a grand slam at Candlestick Park, 1962

Colorado — Rockies vs. Mets at Mile High Stadium in Colorado’s inaugural season

Connecticut — Giants vs. Jets preseason football at the Yale Bowl

Delaware — Tubby Raymond and the Blue Hens

Florida — Monday night football at the Orange Bowl the night John Lennon was shot

Georgia — 49ers Deion Sanders returns to Atlanta, returns interception for a TD

Hawaii — Watching the 1996 MLB All-Star game in the early afternoon

Idaho — Riding a bicycle on the Hiawatha Trail through tunnels into Idaho

Illinois — Doubleheader at Wrigley Field

Indiana –Hoosiers with Gene Hackman

Iowa – The Hawkeyes, wrestling dynasty

Kansas — Wilt Chamberlain and the Kansas Jayhawks

Kentucky — The Kentucky Derby

Louisiana — Louisiana Lightning, Ron Guidry

Maine —   Those standout University of Maine baseball teams

Maryland — Almost catching a foul ball at Camden Yards

Massachusetts — Bucky Dent and the 1978 Yankee-Red Sox play-in game

Michigan — The Big House on Saturday afternoons in the Fall

Minnesota — Seeing Johan Santana pitch at the Metrodome

Mississippi — The Mannings, Ole Miss

Missouri — Driving past Busch Stadium in St. Louis, 1976

Montana — The Griz, University of Montana Grizzlies

Nebraska — Lincoln, Nebraska’s third biggest city on Saturdays when the Cornhuskers play football

Nevada — Sunday afternoon in a Vegas sports book during the NFL season

New Hampshire — High school football, Nashua (NH) vs. Fitchburg (Mass.)

New Jersey – Lawrence of the Meadowlands and the New York Giants

New Mexico — Watching the 2005 baseball playoffs in Santa Fe

New York — The Yankees

North Carolina — Fabled Pinehurst

North Dakota — Roger Maris, Fargo

Ohio –The great Jim Brown and the Cleveland Browns

Oklahoma — The Boomer Sooners of OU

Oregon — Giants vs. Redskins, Sunday night game, Portland, 1995

Pennsylvania — Bill Mazeroski, nuff said

Rhode Island — Ernie D and the Providence Friars

South Carolina — The old ball coach and his Gamecocks

South Dakota — Watching sports in Wall, SD, Labor Day, 2003

Tennessee — The Tigerbelles

Texas — Clemens beats the Rangers at old Texas Stadium

Utah — The 2002 Winter Olympics, snowmobiling, ski jumping and speed skating

Vermont — Cross country skiing at Prospect Mountain, Kamping at Woodford

Virginia — Iona Prep’s Dick Ambrose, UVA

Washington — Game Five, 1995

West Virginia — Zeke from Cabin Creek

Wisconsin — The Ice Bowl

Wyoming — Birthplace of Curt Gowdy


Baseball Dynasties Are Few And Far Between

When the Red Sox gallant comeback against the Tampa Bay Rays finally fizzled in Game Seven, another potential dynasty bit the dust.

The Sox loss demonstrated once more just how difficult it is to build and maintain  dynasty in baseball’s current three-series playoff format.

And it underlines the remarkable accomplishment of the Yankees, who won three World Series in a row and four out of five from 1996-2000.

If you define a dynasty as three championships in five years, only the Yankees qualify since the three-round playoff format was instituted in 1995. In fact, the Yankees are the only team to win back-to-back championships in that time frame.

And the Oakland A’s, who won three straight World Series starting in 1972, are the only team to earn the dynasty label since baseball first began a playoff format in 1969 with the league championship series.

The Yankees have the all-time record with five straight World Series championships between 1949-53. Overall, the Yanks won 14 pennants and nine World Series in a period that began in 1949 and ended in 1964.

The Bombers also won four in a row between 1936 and 1939. Both those runs occurred when the American and National League winners went directly to the World Series.

Other than the Yankees and the A’s, there have been three mini-dynasties in baseball history.

A’s 1910-11 and 1913
Red Sox 1915-16 and 1918
Cardinals 1942, 1944 and 1946

And what of this year’s World Series contestants? The Rays have never won a World Series, never even made the playoffs before this year.

And the Phillies have been around since 1883, and in all that time have just one World Championship to show for their efforts.

In 1980, the Phillies beat the Royals in six games, leading a young copy editor to come up with the headline “Phinally: It’s the Phillies” while working the slot for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Championship Runs

Five Straight
Yankees (1949-53)

Four Straight
Yankees (1936-39)

Three Straight
A’s (1972-74)
Yankees (1998-2000)

Two Straight
Cubs (1907-08)
A’s (1910-11)
Red Sox (1915-16)
Giants (1921-22)
Yankees (1927-28)
A’s (1929-30)
Yankees (1961-62)
Reds (1975-76)
Yankees (1977-78)
Blue Jays (1992-93)


TBS: Total Baseball Screw-up

Fans tuning in TBS to watch Game Six of the ALCS between the Rays the Red Sox on Saturday night got quite a surprise.

The Steve Harvey Show. Instead of playoff baseball, America got Steve Harvey.

From here on, will be known as Total Baseball Screw-up.

The Boston Herald called it  a “Bunch of TBS!”

It was all caused by a router failure that led the New York Times to proclaim: “Blowout in Atlanta, Black Out in St. Pete.”

What was the backup plan? CNN, TNT, help me.

Anything more than a belated crawl. An audio feed perhaps.

Even Seinfeld would have been better than Steve Harvey.

Attention Bud Selig, you need to put your showcase events on the networks, not some half-assed cable outfit more vested in reruns and old movies than live baseball.

But the networks make bad decisions too. Like in April, when Fox switched off a Yankee-Red Sox telecast with two outs in the ninth for the start of a NASCAR race.

Or in 1968, when NBC left an NFL telecast between the Raiders and Jets to give us Heidi. Viewers missed a two-touchdown rally by the Raiders in the final minutes of “The Greatest Game Never Seen.”


1969: Magical Time, Magical Year

Standin on your mamas porch
You told me it would last forever
Oh the way you held my hand
I knew that it was now or never
Those were the best days of my life

Bryan Adams — “Back in the Summer of 69”

When I finally find the time to write my book, I’m going to frequent the wireless cabana aside the beach sunny day after sunny day and muse about 1969.

What a year! 1969. The crowning point of the Sixties, of peace, love and happiness….and war, riots and assassinations.

On May, 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy stood before a joint session of Congress and put out a bold challenge to the American public.

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

A little more than eight years later, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, mission commander of Apollo 11, became the first man to set foot on the moon. The images of the lunar landing flickered across American television screens from coast to coast that hot summer Sunday.

“That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind ” Armstrong proclaimed as he stepped off the landing module and onto the lunar surface

It happened. In 1969. Man on the moon.

Early on a Saturday morning that same weekend, Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, the youngest of nine in the Kennedy family, was driving a car with Mary Jo Kopechne when he drove off a bridge near Chappaquiddick Island off Martha’s Vineyard. The Senator swam to safety, but Kopechne died in the car.

It happened. In 1969. Chappaquiddick  On the same weekend that Armstrong set foot on the moon.

Ted Kennedy’s brother, President Kennedy, a man of vision, was assassinated in 1963, five years before his brother, Robert Kennedy met a similar fate.

Certainly, those were turbulent times. Malcolm X was killed in 1965; and then, in 1968, Martin Luther King was shot to death.

It was a time of racial disharmony, with riots in New York and Detroit and Los Angeles and hundreds of cities and towns across America.

In the third week of April, 1969, militant black students at Cornell University used force to take over a school building demanding a black studies program.

And later that year, in October, the Weathermen, a radical offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society, orchestrated the “Days of Rage” riots in Chicago.

Also in October, college students across the country marched as part of a protest against the Vietnam War. Some met with resistance.

It happened. In 1969. Radical times. Racial unrest. Riots. Peace marches.

And in New York that same October, the Mets completed their miracle season by beating the heavily-favored Orioles to win the World Series. After years of futility, baseball’s worst team throughout the Sixties was a totally unexpected champion.

It happened. In 1969. The Miracle Mets.

Earlier in the Sixties, February of 1964 to be exact, the Beatles arrived. The four young mopheads from England made their first American appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. The British invasion had begun.

The next year, the Beatles toured the USA and played Shea Stadium.

Some five years later, in 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their famous Bed-in in Montreal.

And in the summer of 69, a tiny little town in upstate New York named Bethel hosted the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. Or just Woodstock. Three days of fun and music, and nothing but fun and music. A defining moment for rock and roll and the counter culture.

It happened. In 1969. Rock and roll. The counter culture. Woodstock.

In 1960, the American Football League kicked off it inaugural season, an alternative to the established NFL. Ridiculed at first, the AFL soon posed a financial challenge to the NFL, and the leagues eventually merged.

The first Super Bowl was played in 1967, and the Green Bay Packers throttled the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers won again the next season, and the Baltimore Colts were huge favorites over the New York Jets in Super Bowl III in Miami.

Yet the Jets, led by quarterback Joe Namath, upset the Colts and took one giant step for the AFL.

It happened. In 1969. Joe Namath. Woodstock. The Miracle Mets. The Weathermen. Chappaquiddick. Man on the moon.

Richard Nixon. Charles Manson. The My Lai massacre.

And so much more…..in 1969.


Running Backs Once Ruled at Syracuse

Rob Brown plays Syracuse running back Ernie Davis in “The Express.”

Just like USC is known for producing tailbacks and Penn State linebackers, Syracuse University was once a football factory for running backs.

The new Universal Pictures football movie “The Express” tells the story of one of those backs, Ernie Davis, the first black man to win the Heisman Trophy, who died of leukemia before playing a down in the NFL.

Davis was a tremendous talent, the second of five running backs to dominate Syracuse football in a 13-year period from 1954 to 1967 under coach Ben Schwartzwalder. He followed Jim Brown, who many consider the greatest running back ever. Jim Nance, Floyd Little and Larry Csonka completed the SU list.

Best of The Orange

Jim Brown (1954-56)
Ernie Davis (1959-61)
Jim Nance (1962-64)
Floyd Little (1964-66)
Larry Csonka (1965-67)

Davis was a sophomore running back when Syracuse won its only national football championship in 1959. The Orangemen were unbeaten that year and beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

Davis, right, is seventh all-time in rushing for Syracuse with 2,386 yards. In his junior year, he set a record of 7.8 yards per carry and was the third leading rusher in the country with 877 yards, having rushed for 100 yards in six of nine games.

The number-one pick in the 1962 NFL draft, Davis was the first black football player to be taken first overall. Selected by the Washington Redskins, his rights were then traded to the Cleveland Browns. He was also drafted by the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League.

Davis signed a three-year, $200,000 contract with the Browns in late December 1961, the most lucrative contract for an NFL rookie up to that time. However, the Browns’ dream of pairing Davis with Jim Brown in the backfield took a tragic turn when Davis was diagnosed with leukemia during preparations for the 1962 College All-Star Game.

Davis never played a game as a professional, with his only appearance at Cleveland Stadium coming during a 1962 pre-season game, in which he ran onto the field as a spotlight followed him. Following his death in 1963, the Browns retired his number 45 jersey.

Multi-Sport Star
Jim Brown entered Syracuse University in 1954, and was one of the greatest athletes in the school’s history. In addition to football, Brown ran track, played basketball and in his senior year was named a first-time All-America in lacrosse and tied for the national scoring lead

Brown scored 23 touchdowns in his career, and ranks eighth on the all-time Syracuse scoring list. In 1956, in a regular season finale 61-7 rout of Colgate, he scored 43 points on six touchdowns and seven extra points. Then in the Cotton Bowl, he rushed for 132 yards, scored three touchdowns and kicked three extra points. But a blocked extra point after Syracuse’s third touchdown was the difference as TCU won 28-27.

Brown led the NFL in rushing eight times in nine years, and established the single-season rushing record in 1963 with 1,863 yards. For his career, Brown rushed for 12,312 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. The NFL’s leader when he retired before the 1966 season, Brown still ranks eighth all-time in rushing yardage and fifth in rushing touchdowns with 106. Brown won MVP honors in 1957, 58, 63 and 65 and led Cleveland to the NFL championships in 1964.

The next great Syracuse back was Floyd Little, whose 35 rushing touchdowns are still a Syracuse record.

In 1967 Floyd Little was the sixth overall selection of the first common NFL-AFL draft. He was the first ever first-round draft pick to sign with the AFL’s Denver Broncos.

Little led the NFL in rushing for the six-year period from 1968–73, including AFL rushing titles in 1970 and 1971. Little retired as the seventh leading rusher in NFL history with 6,323 yards rushing and 54 touchdowns, but is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Number 44 Retired
Davis, Brown and Little all wore #44 for Syracuse. The number was retired in 2005. It is permanently displayed in the Carrier Dome, honoring the legends who have worn it for the Orange.

Jim Nance started for three years at Syracuse beginning in 1962, and led the Orange (then the Orangemen) in rushing in 1964, scoring in 10 straight games. In 1963 and 1965 Jim Nance was the NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion and received All-America honors.

A late-round draft choice of the Patriots in the 1965 AFL draft, Nance led the AFL in rushing in both 1966 and 1967, and was 1966 AFL Player of the Year.

In his three seasons at Syracuse, Larry Csonka rushed for a school record 2,934 yards, ran for 100 yards in 14 different games, and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He was the first pick of the Miami Dolphins in the 1968 draft.

He eventually emerged as the offensive leader of the Dolphins, and a key component on the team that went undefeated in 1972 and appeared in three straight Super Bowls, winning in 1973 and 1974. Later Csonka played in the World Football League and with the New York Giants.

In 1978, Joe Morris, a 5’7″ running back, would enter Syracuse as a freshman and eventually break the all-time records set by the illustrious group before him. But that’s another story for another  blog.