10 Baseball Records That Will Never Be Broken

No pitcher will ever equal the 511 wins chalked up by legendary hurler Cy Young.

They say that records are made to be broken. But there are exceptions to every rule.

These 10 baseball records (and some related ones) will never be broken.

1. Most wins, lifetime, Cy Young, 511

Young’s record spanned the 1890s and baseball’s modern era. To break this record, a pitcher would need to win 25 games for 20 years…and even then, he comes up a dozen short. Next closest is Walter Johnson with 417 wins.

Some other pitching longevity records that seem certain to withstand the test of time: Jack Chesbro’s 41 wins for the New York Highlanders in 1904, Ed Walsh’s 464 innings pitched for the Chicago White Sox in 1908; Walter Johnson’s 110 shutouts and Nolan Ryan’s 5714 career strikeouts.

2. Most triples, lifetime, Sam Crawford, 309

The current leader in the majors, Johnny Damon, has 94 career triples…and is 35 years old. In fact, since Stan Musial retired in 1963 with 177 three-baggers, nobody has had more than Willie Wilson’s 147. The record for triples in a single season, Chief Wilson’s 36 for the Pirates in 1912, appears safe as well.

3. Highest batting average, lifetime, Ty Cobb, 366

Nobody has come within 25 points of Cobb, shown right, since Ted Williams retired in 1960 with a .344 average. Among all active players, Albert Pujols is the leader at .334.

4. Most consecutive games played, Cal Ripken, 2632 games

They said Lou Gehrig’s record of 2130 games played would last for all time…that is until Cal Ripken came along. Don’t see any more Ripkens on the horizon.

5. Highest batting average, season, Rogers Hornsby, .424 in 1924

The Rajah’s record stands secure; the last player to hit. 400 in a season was Ted Williams in 1941.

6. Longest hitting streak, Joe DiMaggio, 56 games in 1941

Pete Rose came closest  with his National League record 44-game streak in 1978.

7. Most grand slams, one inning, Fernando Tatis, 2 in 1999

Tatis is the only man in history to hit two salamis in the same inning. Add in the fact that he did it against the same pitcher, Chan Ho Park, and you’re got a record that will never be broken.

8. Most home runs, World Series, Mickey Mantle 18

This legendary leader list, topped by Mantle, shown left, includes Babe Ruth with 15, Yogi Berra with 12, Duke Snider with 11 and Lou Gehrig with 10. No active player is even close. Speaking of World Series records, Whitey Ford’s 10 wins and Yogi Berra’s 71 hits and 10 championships will be tough to match.

9. Most consecutive no-hitters, Johnny Vander Meer, 2 in 1938

One no-hitter is an extreme rarity, but only Vander Meer, a Cincinnati left-hander, ever threw two in a row. He beat the Braves at Cincy’s Crosley Field on June 11, 1938, and four days later no-hit the Dodgers in the first night game ever played at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. Another record that should stand for all-time is Nolan Ryan’s career 7 no-hitters.

10. Toughest batter to strike out, Joe Sewell, 114 strikeouts in 7132 at-bats

A perennial .300 hitter over 14 seasons with the Yankees and Indians, Sewell’s career rate of one strikeout for nearly every 63 at-bats is by far the best in history. He struck out three times in 1932 — in 503 at-bats over the course of the entire season. Today’s players routinely strike out three times in a game and 114 times or more in a single season.


A Quick Fix to the Bronx Bandbox Problem

The new Yankee Stadium has opened to a plethora of empty seats, walk-off wins and long home runs.

The new house has become a launching pad, a homer-happy haven for hitters. The Bronx Bandbox has yielded 87 homers in the first 23 games, just off the all-time pace set in the mile-high homer haven at Coors Field in Denver in 1999, where 303 home runs were hit.

After a thorough inspection of the new Stadium, the SportsLifer has uncovered the problem and knows how to fix it.

Listen I’m no rocket scientist, but I work for a company that employs thousands of brilliant engineers and scientists. And my father is a retired engineer. So perhaps some of that engineering expertise has rubbed off.

Anyway, here’s my premise. First of all, the dimensions of the new Yankee Stadium are identical to the old one, so that shouldn’t have any impact on increased home run rates.

And it’s not as if the new Stadium is located in another part of New York City at a higher elevation with differing weather and wind patterns. Heck, it’s right across 161st Street from the old place.

Air Flow in The Upper Deck
The answer lies in the upper deck, enclosed in the old ballpark but with open spaces in the new Stadium. In fact, on the upper concourse at the new house there is an open gap, roughly 15-feet high. This gap, above the concession stands, allows the prevailing westerly flow entry into the park, especially on the third base side.

That airflow is then channeled into a smaller gap, about six-feet high, between the upper deck and the terrace level, where it eventually flows out to right field from the third base side (or left field from the first base side).

The majority of home runs in the new Stadium have been hit to right and right-center, which is no coincidence. They have been helped by that prevailing air flow.

The solution is a simple one according to this self-anointed engineer/architect. Put up protective tiles on the outside of the ballpark to cut down the wind flow in the upper deck. Problem solved.

With a diminished wind flow the home run ratio is bound to go down, and everyone but the hitters will be happy.


Sultans of Not Sinking Fast in Fantasy Baseball

Like a 1970 Ford Pinto desperately in need of a tune-up, the Sultans of Swat have stalled out on the fantasy baseball highway. They’ve become the Sultans of Not.

Throughout April, the Sultans, co-owned and operated by Dr. G and yours truly, were the class of the Nightcap League.

But now the Sultans are sinking faster than a stone, with a red cross unit that looks like the 4077th M*A*S*H.

Five Sultans have already found the disabled list, the most recent being Troy Percival. He is threatening retirement, which might not be a bad idea considering the way he’s pitched lately

Three others are wearing the dreaded red cross label. And many of those injured Stallers got hurt early in the week, leaving the lineup down a man.

From Ace to Triple A
Adding insult to injury, another Sultan, Ricky Nolasco, who was supposed to be the ace of the Florida staff this year, has been shipped down to New Orleans, carrying his bruised ego and a 9.07 ERA to the Crescent City.

(Travel Note: If you’re going to be exiled, New Orleans is not a bad destination.)
(Mathematics Note: If you’re counting, that makes more than a third of the roster either rehabbing in the whirlpool or sampling the night life on Bourbon Street).

Nolasco isn’t the only bust in this Sultan-of-swing-and miss lineup. Cubs catcher Geovany Soto had a breakout season in 2008; this year he’s looked more like the second coming of Jake Gibbs.

Matt Holliday, who thrived on that thin Colorado air, has taken a holiday in Oakland. And shortstop Alexi Ramirez has been an automatic out for the White Sox.

The Sultans can’t seem to catch a break. On Sunday they had two of their starters, Felix Hernandez and Barry Zito, face off against one another.

Take away Blue Jays ace Ray Halladay and the incomparable Albert Pujols and this team is in the basement.. Problem is they keep walking Pujols, especially with Sultan/Cardinal Ryan Ludwick on the DL, and Halladay can’t pitch every day.

None of the other Stallers have lived up to the numbers on the back of their baseball cards

Such are the ups and downs of fantasy baseball.


Arnie & Jack: Reliving Golf’s Greatest Rivalry

In an era dominated by Tiger Woods and a field of also-rans, it’s nice to recall a time when real, honest-to-goodness rivalries existed in golf.

And none of those rivalries came close to rivaling the one between Arnold Daniel Palmer and Jack William Nicklaus.

Ian O’Connor, columnist with the Bergen Record, chronicles the rivalry that put professional golf on the American map in “Arnie & Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus and Golf’s Greatest Rivalry.”

Statistically, Nicklaus was the master (no pun intended) — quite possibly the greatest golfer ever, at least until Tiger came along. Jack won 18 majors, Arnie won 7. Jack had 73 PGA wins, Arnie 62,

“Jack was Arnie’s kryptonite,” writes O’Connor, “and the feeling of weakness and inferiority that swept over Palmer in Nicklaus’ presence wasn’t one that sat well with the golfer cut out of the western Pennsylvania hillside.”

And yet, no matter how many times Jack won or how many majors he dominated, Arnie owned one thing that Jack wanted above all else — the collective heart of the golfing public.

The King And The Bear
In many ways, Arnie and Jack were like older brother/younger brother, the King and the Bear, competitors on the golf course and in the boardroom.

It all began in an exhibition match at the Athens Country Club in Ohio in 1958, the 29-year-old Palmer, fresh from a win at the Masters, and the 18-year-old Nicklaus, headed for Ohio State. Palmer won that day, but it was Nicklaus who impressed onlookers with his booming drives.

“Arnie & Jack” covers many of the heralded clashes between Palmer and Nicklaus, like the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills in Colorado. Palmer was a full-blown TV sports star in the early 60s, rivaling Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Johnny Unitas. He turned up everywhere from the Perry Como Show to advertisements for L&M cigarettes.

Palmer, with Arnie’s Army in tow, trailed Nicklaus and the immortal Ben Hogan by seven shots with just 18 to play — and came back to win the Open. with a 280. Nicklaus’ total of 282 was the best amateur score in U.S. Open history.

Two years later, at the 1962 Open at  Oakmont Pa. a mere.40 miles from Palmer’s Latrobe, Pa. home, the crowd mocked Jack’s weight calling him “Fat Gut” and “Fat Jack” and “Ohio Fats.” Nicklaus shut out the distractions, silenced the crowd and beat Palmer in a playoff.

Nicklaus always believed he was the better player…and history would bear out the Bear. But he never really felt the love of the golfing public until the 1986 Masters, when he finally earned the full adulation of the golfing public.

The 1986 Masters
“A great piece of Americana, forty-six years old, coming in with the lead,” is how columnist Edwin Pope described the Masters finish in the Miami Herald. “People were pathetically exuberant, There was a huge amount of people crying, and they weren’t ashamed of themselves for crying. They were just so happy to see this happen, for Jack to end up like Arnold at Augusta. I think Jack felt as good about that part of it as he did about being in the lead.”

O’Connor’s book humanizes the friendship between Arnie and Jack, a friendship strengthened through their wives, Winnie and Barbara.

When Winnie died of cancer in 1999, the Nicklaus family was watching their 30-year-old son Gary attempt to earn his PGA tour card after eight failed attempts. Palmer tried to convince Jack that he should stay with his son, but Jack came to the funeral. After the service, Jack was getting updates on his cell phone. Arnold asked how Gary was doing.

“He’s got a couple of holes to play,” said Jack

“Well, come on, let’s turn on TV,” said Arnie.
.
“You don’t have to do that,” said Jack.

“I would want to,” Palmer replied.

Gary shot 63 in his sixth and final round.and earned his tour card.

Overcome by joy and sadness, the two old rivals fell into each other’s arms and cried.

In “Arnie & Jack,” O’Connor brings those glory days and memories, both happy and sad, back to life.


Catching a Ball at the New Yankee Stadium

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I’ve been waiting the past few years to see the new Yankee Stadium. And I’ve been waiting a lot longer — a lifetime — to catch a ball at a game.

Friday night I did both.

First time ever in the new Yankee Stadium, right after touring Monument Park, I ventured into the lower left field seats to check out the view and watch some batting practice. I wasn’t there 30 seconds when Derek Jeter lined a shot into the stands. It crashed into a seat several rows behind where I was standing, bounced forward, hit off several leaping fans, and popped into my hands as I leaned over the seat in front of me for a two-had grab..

So after more than 50 years and hundreds of games in 20 ballparks,…and just minutes about the new Stadium — I finally got my first ball. (Hey, I know it’s only batting practice, but hey, who’s counting beside me.)

DSCN2532 Oh, I’d come close several times, no closer than a home run Bernie Williams hit into the right field seats on the day David Wells pitched his perfect game in 1998. I had that ball lined up and ready to grab, but was shoved by a large fan and missed catching it on the bounce. If you watch replays of that famous game, you can still see me — the guy in the orange windbreaker getting turned around as the ball bounces right underneath his seat.

Close But No Ball
I came close at Candlestick as a kid, and later at Tropicana Field. A friend of mine got a foul ball at Camden Yards once, when we were sitting right behind the Yankee dugout. Once during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, I caught a small yellow ball thrown into the stands and got two free tickets to see the Bare Naked Ladies in concert.

Heck, just  a few weeks ago I grabbed a Mets’ tee-shirt thrown into the crowd in my first game at Citi Field.

But never caught a baseball at a major league ballpark  — at least until Friday night.

What an introduction to the new Yankee Stadium. Just walked into the place, caught a Jeter BP homer. Feelin’  like I own the joint.

DSCN2515 The new house is a magnificent baseball palace with wider concourses than the old Stadium, flat screen TVs everywhere, and an incredibly huge, diamond vision screen in center field. Restaurants and bars are located all over the park, a variety of food and drink available. And unlike the old Stadium with separate entrances, the bleachers are connected to the rest of the stadium.

But there are drawbacks. There are seats in the bleachers, for example, where you can’t see left field. I’m not talking about the left field corner, I mean left field. It’s blocked by the restaurant in center. There are some flat screens there, but you can’t see left field is left out.

Speaking of seats, with all that room it wouldn’t have hurt to put a few more tables around the park for fans to eat — especially in the upper deck.

Out-of-Town, Out-of-Luck
The out-of-town scoreboard doesn’t really allow the fan to follow other ballgames. It quickly flashes scores with confusing team logos, as opposed to Citi Field where fans can follow each game, all the time.

Like any new house, the new Stadium needs some getting used to. Eventually the Yankees will figure out the economics of pricing the fancy seats behind the plate, and they’ll start filling the park if they’re winning.

DSCN2530 The new Stadium is fast developing a reputation as a launching pad, and so far has given up with nearly four home runs a game on average. The night I went, Justin Morneau hit a pair and Joe Mauer one for the Twins. Jeter hit a home run for the Yankees (not the one I caught), and Brett Gardner hit an inside-the-parker, the first for the Yankees in nearly 10 years and the first ever in the new Stadium.

The general impression is that the Yankees lost some of their intimidating home field advantage moving across 161st Street to the new grounds. Winning baseball, like the Yankees dramatic ninth-inning rally Friday night to beat Minnesota, will build that home field edge. The crowd was certainly pretty loud when the Yankees were coming back, and the house went nuts when Melky Cabrera singled with outs to drive in the tying and winning runs.

First game at the new Stadium, a Yankee win, and a ball. Priceless.


Oh Shea, Can You See: Citi Field an Upgrade

I caught my first game at the new Citi Field the other night. Very nice ballpark. Loved the brickwork and the out-of-town scoreboard that shows baserunners and outs so you can really follow the other games. The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is an amazing tribute to Jackie Robinson. Vast improvement over Shea Stadium.

Of course Shea was an ugly place to play baseball, almost from the beginning. One of those sterile, cookie-cutter multipurpose stadiums, like Riverfront in Cincinnati or Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Some good memories with the Miracle Mets, 1986 and all, but not a lot of character.

One big distraction at Citi Field is the planes taking off from LaGuardia. Same as the old Shea in that sense.

I’ve now been to all three Mets home parks — the old Polo Grounds in Manhattan, Shea and right next door Citi.

And I will  be seeing the new Yankee Stadium for the first time later this week.

In the meantime, these are the ballparks I’ve visited over the years, with memories of each:

1. Yankee Stadium
The Old Stadium — My first baseball game (1958); seeing Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Ted Williams homer in the same game (1960); Yanks-Tigers 19-inning tie (1968); Fourth of July twinbill vs. Red Sox (1973); Sunday doubleheaders.
The Refurbished Stadium — Yankees vs. Orioles in the 70s; Donnie Baseball in the 80s and early 90s; Yankees  12, Red Sox 11, 10 innings (1996); David Wells perfect game (1998); World Series victories in 1998 and 1999; Roger Clemens 300th win (2003); Aaron Boone’s homer in 11th inning wins the 2003 AL pennant over Boston; Double rally vs Padres, Yankees win in 12 innings (2004); Yankees tie team record with eight home runs in game (2007); Yankees beat Texas, 18-7, capping run of 59 runs in last four games seen at Stadium (2008).

2. Candlestick Park — Willie Mays hits a grand slam and Juan Marichal beats the Cubs (1962); Giants home opener (1985)..

3. Polo Grounds — Mets outfielder Jim Hickman hits for the natural cycle; Stan Musial pinch-hits for Cardinals (1963).

4. Shea Stadium — Banner Day parade (1967); NLCS loss to Mike Scott (1986); Yankees lose two to Red Sox (1975); Subway Series regular season battles with Yankees.

5. Fenway Park — Yankee southpaw Fritz Peterson wins 20th game (1970); Ron Blomberg first DH, Opening Day (1973); Nolan Ryan 15 Ks (1977); Bucky Dent HR beats Boston in AL playoff game (1978).

6. Memorial Stadium — Dock Ellis lifts Yankees to win over Orioles en route to pennant  (1976).

7. Oakland Coliseum — A’s crush Angels in home opener (1985).

8. Arlington Stadium – Tony Pena homers and Roger Clemens stops Rangers on a hot night in Texas (1990).

9. Fulton County Stadium — Giants rout Braves, 23-8 (1990).

10. Mile High Stadium — Rockies beat the Mets in inaugural season in Colorado (1993).

11. SkyDome — Two-time champion Blue Jays beat the Yankees at the ballpark now known as Rogers Centre (1994).

12. Coors Field — Eric Young ties modern record record with six stolen bases, 10 home runs hit as Rockies beat Dodgers, 16-15 (1996).

13. Wrigley Field — Cubs and Pirates split a doubleheader; Sammy Sosa hits three-run homer to win nightcap for Chicago (2002).

14. Pro Player Stadium — Marlins beat Braves in near-empty ballpark (2002).

15. Tropicana Field — Rays beat Yankees on walk-off walk in 10th (2002).

16. Pac Bell/AT&T Park — Barry Bonds steals 500th base (2003); Bonds breaks Hank Aaron’s home run record (2007).

17. Metrodome — The Blue Jays beat ace left-hander Johan Santana and the Twins (2005).

18. Camden Yards — Yankees beat Orioles, sit behind Dr. and Mrs. Derek Jeter (2006).

19. Citi Field — Mets score five in eighth, three on Carlos Delgado home run,  to beat Pittsburgh, 7-3 (2009).

Related Links

My First Baseball Game

There Used to Be A Ballpark


Bronx Blunders: The Bad News Yankeess

Empty seats are a strange yet familiar sight in the new Yankee Stadium.

First, the good news. They still have 26 World Championships and 39 American League pennants in the bank.

Now, the bad news. The wheels are coming off the Yankees World Series express.

Where to begin. Start with the bullpen

No Relief…When .Mariano Rivera starts to struggle, the Yankees are in big trouble. The best relief pitcher in baseball history has lost some velocity on his cutter, courtesy of a tired shoulder. You have to wonder if, at 39, this is the beginning of the end for the great Rivera. The other night against Tampa Bay he gave up back-to-back home runs for the first time in his career in an 8-6 loss. He’s already given up as many home runs (4) as he did all of last season…and more than he’s given up in eight other seasons. And he’s sporting a very un-Rivera like 3.97 ERA, the highest of his career.

The rest of the Yankee bullpen is, in a word, pathetic. Every game is a crap shoot with this group. They can’t get the ball over the plate, and when they do, it gets hit someplace hard. At some point this year the Yankees will need to move Joba Chamberlain back to the bullpen to ensure at least a semblance of consistency.

Choking in The Clutch….One thing you can count on — Yankee hitters do not deliver in the clutch. This was a problem last year, but this year it has grown to epidemic proportions.

During their five-game losing streak, the Yankees did not hold a lead in any game and were 6-for-43 with runners in scoring position. We’ve seen this act before. And it’s been a problem up and down the entire lineup, with virtually every hitter sharing the blame.

 Free Agent Struggles….During the off-season, the Yankees spent more than $423 million dollars — that’s right, nearly half a billion in the middle of an economic turndown — to sign pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and first baseman Mark Teixeria (pictured right in happier times) to long-term contracts. Like virtually all high-profile free agent signees with the Yankees, the early returns have not been good.

Neither Sabathia (two wins, 3.94 ERA) and Burnett (two wins, 5.26 ERA) have been the stoppers the Yankees expected. And Teixeira has been awful, so bad he was booed repeatedly by the home fans in an 0-for-5 effort the other night. That is what happens to a .192 hitter making $22.5 million a year.

Old And Injured…The Yankees are an older team, one of the oldest teams in baseball. Old teams run the risk of injuries, and that’s what’s happening in New York. Alex Rodriguez and Chien Ming Wong have hip problems, Hideki Matsui’s knees ache, and Johnny Damon has a bum shoulder,

Now the Yanks are decimated at catcher, with both Jorge Posada and Jose Molina on the disabled list and no young catching prospects in sight. Injuries are part of the game, and older teams are more injury-prone. That’s a fact. The Yankees knew that coming in and chose to roll the dice with older players.

The New House….What’s with all those empty seats? The Yankees have a beautiful new ballpark, but they can’t fill it. They miscalculated their fan base, seriously over-priced the seats behind home plate, and as a result have lost some of the home-field advantage they enjoyed for so many years right across the street. This is a problem, and it’s not going away…but some fans are.

The Front Office….If you were given a bigger budget than your competition, and your business failed year after year, would you keep your job? So how  does general manager Brian Cashman keep his?

Cashman has put together a team that can’t pitch, can’t hit with runners on base, is old, and is lacking in speed and defensive abilities. He has to absorb some of the blame.

And Joe Girardi needs to be held accountable too, although to be fair, it’s tough to be successful when your players don’t execute. Still Girardi’s propensity to over-manage can be disturbing.

The Lightning Rod…..The Yankees are getting Alex Rodriguez back. Is that good news or bad news? We all know how A-Rod , left, has reacted to pressure over the years. Not very well.

His failures in key situations, especially in the post-season, have been well chronicled. But he certainly came though in fine style in his first at bat with a three-run homer.

Strange as it may sound, the Yankee turmoil may be the perfect foil for A-Rod. It sets him up to be a hero. If A-Rod can come back and generate some offense, carry the team and produce some victories, the New York fans will love him. So like Bonds in San Francisco, he may be a jerk but he’s our jerk.

Fans and the media alike have been piling on A-Rod ever since it came to light that he was using steroid. His eputation has taken a serious beating.. Rodriguez seemingly has nowhere to go but up. The fact that Manny Ramirez is stealing the headlines with his steroid use and 50-game suspension, may actually take some of the onus off A-Rod.

Of course, it’s up to Rodriguez and the rest of his Yankee teammates to produce if they want to get back in the race.


“The Yankee Years” Explains Rise and Fall

After winning four World Series in five years between 1996 to 2000, the Yankees and their fans expect to win the Series every year.

After reading “The Yankee Years” by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci, it’s a wonder they even made the playoffs with some of the flawed teams they’ve fielded since 2002..

Joe Torre’s reign in the Bronx is easily pared into two distinct eras — the first six years, where the Yankees won four World Series and lost the seventh game of another, and the second six years, where in spite of making the playoffs every year, the team won a single American League pennant and no championships.

In those first six years, Torre went from being “Clueless Joe” to one of the most popular managers in New York history. Until he came to the Yankees, Torre had never been to a World Series as a player or a manager. His first Yankee team won the World Series in 1996, breaking an 18-year drought for the Bombers. He then won three World Series in a row from 1998 through 2000, before losing a heartbreaker to Arizona in 2001.

Those Yankee teams had talent for sure, but they weren’t overloaded with superstars. Like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, David Cone and others, Paul O’Neill epitomized the grit and will to win of those championship squads.

‘Passion for Success’
“He wanted to get his hits, but his hits were important to him because of the success of the team.” is how Torre described O’Neill in “The Yankee Years. ” There are a lot of guys who want a hit every at-bat, but this guy, it was more about not letting the other 24 guys down. If he didn’t do enough to help the team win the game, he felt like he let everyone down. And I think people fed off that, that his passion for success and how that translated to the team’s success was what was important to him.”

As the Yankees entered the second six years, the back nine of the Torre era, things suddenly changed. The Yankees stopped winning the big games. They dropped a World Series to an overmatched Florida team in 2003, then blew a 3-0 lead to the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS. In Torre’s last three years, the Yanks had to battle to make the playoffs — and each year lost in the first round.

In 2004, the Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez to the biggest contract in baseball history. The attitude of the team changed beyond the band-of-brothers mentality of the championship clubs. Roles were reversed. The Yankees under Torre would never be the same.

“When Alex came over it became strained in the clubhouse,” said Torre in “The Yankee Years.” “I can’t tell your for sure who you can put a finger on there, or if it was just one of those things that was pretty much unavoidable with the strong personalities.”

Failing in the Clutch
Most alarming of all was A-Rod’s lack of production in the clutch, and in the post-season in particular.

“When it comes to a key situation,” said Torre, “he can’t get himself to concern himself with getting the job done, instead of how it looks…..There’s a sort of trust, a trust and commitment thing that has to allow yourself to fail. Allow yourself to be embarrassed. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. And sometimes players aren’t willing to do that. They have a reputation to uphold. They have to have answer for it. It’s an ego thing.”

Even though he’s the lightning rod, it’s unfair to pin all the blame on Rodriguez. There’s also the issue of front office judgement, of over-paying for pitchers who didn’t get the job done in pinstripes.

Beginning in 2003, the Yankees brought in 12 pitchers from outside the organization….none of who pitched three straight years with the Yankees. The dirty dozen — Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, Jaret Wright, Jeff Weaver, Steve Karsay, Esteban Loaiza, Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Contreras, Javier Vazquez, Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano, Roger Clemens (the older version) — combined for a 125-105 record, 3-7 in the post-season. The cost per win was $2.04 million if you do the math. That pretty much sums it up.

Whether you love the Yankees or hate ’em, “The Yankee Years” is a must read for all baseball fans


Family Affair at West Point

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Lacrosse, is a sport of Native American origin and one of the oldest team sports in the Americas Some believe it may have developed as early as the 12th Century.

In the traditional Native American version of the game, each team consisted of anywhere from a hundred to a thousand men on a field that stretched from about 500 yards to a couple of miles long. These lacrosse games lasted from sunup to sundown for two to three days straight.

The French Jesuit missionary, Jean de Brébeuf, saw Iroquois tribesmen play lacrosse in 1637 and was the first European to write about the game.  Some say the name originated from the French term for field hockey, le jeu de la crosse. Others suggest that it was named after the crosier, a staff carried by bishops.

DSCN2494 Today, lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. Youth participation, always a key barometer, is off the charts, and the sport has gained a strong following at the high school and collegiate level.

Family Connection at Penn
My nephew, JJ Lian, plays lacrosse at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is one of the captains. J is a senior and a team player; earlier this year he agreed to help out on defense, sacrificing his considerable scoring prowess for the good of the team. That move helped the Quakers win four of their last six games after a 1-6 start.

On the hallowed turf of Michie Stadium this weekend, the Penn Quakers held off the Army Cadets, 11-10, in the final game of the season for both teams. It was a riveting contest. Penn never trailed, but Army battled constantly to try and get the equalizer. The game ended with a mad scramble in front of the Quaker goal.

Michie Stadium, which opened in 1924,  is a fabled football field. Only 15 Division I-A stadiums, and just six located east of the Mississippi River, are older than Michie Stadium.

Throughout the years, Michie Stadium has hosted Army national championship teams and three Heisman Trophy winners: Doc Blanchard in 1944, Glenn Davis in 1945 and Pete Dawkins in 1958.

DSCN2504 Famous Playing Fields
And Army also fielded some powerful lacrosse teams during that period. At halftime of the Penn game, eight members of Army’s 1959 national championship team were honored  as the USMA Class of 1959 was celebrating its 50th reunion at West Point. Overall, the Cadets won eight national lacrosse champions before the NCAA began its post-season playoff format in 1971.

Penn’s home stadium, Franklin Field in Philadelphia is also a famous venues in collegiate sports. The NCAA considers it the oldest stadium still operating for football. Franklin Field it was dedicated in 1895 for the first running of the Penn Relays.

In late December of 1960, the Philadelphia Eagles won their last NFL championship at Franklin Field, handing Green Bay’s Vince Lombardi his only playoff loss.

My nephew played both lacrosse and football in high school. Several years ago, playing against the school my children attended, J burst through the line for a 65-yard touchdown run.

I  jumped up and yelled and cheered, and received more than a few nasty looks, especially from the parents in the home team section.

I shrugged my shoulders, smiled and said proudly, “Hey, whatddya want, he’s my nephew.”


Winning and Losing in the Sports Book

Ever since I first stumbled into a sports book, at Caesar’s Palace in Last Vegas more than 20 years ago, I’ve wanted to have a “book” right in my playroom.

Imagine a room with dozens upon dozens of huge, high-definition screens, bringing you live action from ballparks, race tracks, arenas and stadiums around the country.

A place with cheap $1.50 drafts, bar food and gambling, where you can bet on everything from the fifth race at Churchill Downs to who will win Super Bowl XXIV.

Years ago, on a business trip to Vegas, a bunch of work colleagues were hanging around the sports book at Bally’s. Most of us were losing small sums of money on football games.

But one guy knew the ponies and wasn’t afraid to put down large wagers.

One time he came back from the betting cages waving $800 in the air, another time $1400. And the third time back, he returned with yet another large wad….and an IRS form.

That same guy now owns several thoroughbreds and is a fixture at race tracks around the country.

The NFL in Vegas

There’s nothing quite like a Sunday in Vegas during the NFL season. The sports books are packed, and crowds are watching each and every game with a strong rooting interest. A seemingly inconsequential play in a game between two losing teams may draw a huge ovation. A single play, a touchdown or a turnover, swings millions of dollars.

One betting scheme I’ve always liked in the sports books is the long-term football odds. For example, the Giants are currently the NFC favorites, and are listed as 11-1 to win the Super Bowl, behind the Patriots at 11-2 and the Steelers at 9-1.The G-Men are favored to beat the Redskins by five points in their NFL opener at home on September 13.

In college football, Florida is 9-5, Oklahoma 11-2 and USC 15-2 to win the national championship. On the other end, Kansas State, Louisville and Kentucky are all 200-1.

At the end of the day, betting sports is a lot like life. There are winners….and there are losers.