If Kentucky wins, the Yankees will march


If Kentucky wins the NCAAs, you can count on a Yankee parade down Broadway this fall.

The last six times Kentucky has won the NCAA men’s basketball title, the Yankees have gone on to win the World Series.

The Wildcats have won seven titles overall, second only to UCLA’s 11 and by far the most of any team in this year’s Final Four. Kansas has taken three, Louisville two and Ohio State one.

Kentucky won its first championship in 1948, the year the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Braves to win their last World Series.

Kentucky repeated in 1949, beating Oklahoma State in the final, under the tutelage of  immortal coach Adolph Rupp, the “Baron of the Bluegrass.”

Rupp, fourth all-time with 876 victories, would go on to win in 1951 (against Kansas State) and 1958 (against Seattle) for a total of four championships.

Meanwhile the Yankees were winning five World Series in a row between 1949 and 1953 under another legendary leader, Casey Stengel. In 1958, the Yankees rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Milwaukee Braves.

It took Kentucky 20 years to return to the mountaintop, when coach Joe B. Hall’s Wildcats defeated Duke for the 1978 national championship. That fall, the Yankees rallied to knock off the Red Sox on Bucky Dent’s home run, then repeated against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Rick Pitino, now the head coach at Louisville (which meets Kentucky in a Final Four intra-state rivalry on Saturday), coached the Wildcats to the NCAA title in 1996. Two years later, coach Tubby Smith guided Kentucky to its last championship, against Utah.

Meanwhile, Joe Torre piloted the Yankees to World Series wins in 1996 (vs. the Braves) and 1998 (vs. the Padres).

Of the other Final Four finalists, Kansas won its first championship in 1952, followed by a Yankee win over the Dodgers. Ohio State’s only title occurred in 1960, the year the Yankees lost the Series to Bill Mazeroski and the Pirates. And although the Yankees didn’t win the World Series following Louisville’s 1986 title run, the Mets did.

Kentucky is heavily favored to cut down the nets Monday night. And if they do, the Yankees can start planning a parade down Broadway

The glory days of Ohio basketball

In the early 1960s the Cold War was heating up. America was showing it had the right stuff for the space race. And the state of Ohio was the center of the basketball universe.

Now, more than 50 years later, Ohio is again dominating the NCAA basketball tournament. For the first time in NCAA tournament history, four teams from the same state — Ohio State, Cincinnati, Ohio and Xavier — have advanced to the Sweet 16.

Back in 1960, Ohio State, led by All-America center Jerry Lucas, won their only national championship, beating defending champ California, 75-55.

In 1961 and again in 1962, Cincinnati captured back-to-back NCAA championships, beating Ohio State both times in the final game.

All told, Cincinnati made it to five straight Final Fours between 1959 and 1963. And Ohio State advanced to the championship game three straight times.

Lucas, below right,  led a well-balanced Ohio State team coached by Fred Taylor.  He was named NCAA Most Outstanding Player in both 1960 and 1961 (the second time on a losing team) , and was Big Ten Player of the Year three straight times, leading OSU to a 78-6 record over three years.

Lucas and Havlicek
Other members of that famed 1960 team included John Havlicek and Larry Siegfried, both of whom went on the play for the Celtics, and a reserve named Bobby Knight, who achieved coaching immortality at Indiana University.

Oscar Robertson, one of the greatest guards ever to play basketball, was the top player on Cincinnati’s Final Four teams in 1959 and 1960 that failed to go all the way..

But the Bearcat dynasty continued after the Big O graduated under the direction of coach Ed Jucker and mainstays like Tom Thacker, Paul Hogue and Ron Bonham.

In the 1961 Final Four in Kansas City, Cincy knocked off Utah and Ohio State beat St. Joseph’s to advance to the championship. Then the Bearcats and the Buckeyes had to wait anxiously while St. Joseph’s beat Utah in a record-tying four overtimes to win the third place game.

Cincinnati trailed OSU by one point at the half, but rallied to win in overtime, 70-65, with a balanced scoring attack (four players in double figures). Lucas led all scorers with 27 points.

The following year Cincy beat UCLA, making its first appearance in the Final Four, and Ohio State topped Wake Forest and guard Billy Packer. Hogue scored 22 points and earned Most Outstanding Player honors as Cincinnati won again, 71-59.

Seeking the first three-peat in tourney history, Cincinnati advanced to the championship game in 1963 but blew a big second half lead and was upset by Loyola of Chicago, 60-58, in overtime.

The Wrap
When Cincinnati and Ohio meet in the NCAA East semifinals, it will mark their first match-up in the NCAA tournament since March 24, 1962, almost exactly 50 years ago.

Ohio State made it to the championship game in 2007 behind Greg Oden, but lost to Florida. The Buckeyes also made the Final Four in 1968 and 1999.

Cincy’s only Final Four appearance since 1962 occurred in 1992. Neither Xavier or Ohio University has ever advanced to the Final Four.

March Madness: Funky Final Fours

Get a load of these 10 potential Final Fours. Hey, it’s March Madness, anything is possible.

Wonderful World of Color Final Four

Duke Blue Devils
LIU Blackbirds
Syracuse Orange
Alabama Crimson Tide

Carolina on My Mind Final Four

NC — Asheville
North Carolina

Top Cat Final Four

Kentucky Wildcats
Memphis Tigers
Kansas State Wildcats
Ohio Bobcats

Been There, Done That Final Four

UNLV (1 championship)
Marquette (1 championship)
Syracuse (1 championship)
Michigan (1 championship

Been There, Done That Redux Final Four

Kentucky (7 championships)
Florida (2 championships)
Cincinnati (2 championships)
North Carolina (5 championships)

Bless Me Father Final Four

Notre Dame
St. Bonaventure
St. Mary’s

Larry Bird Final Four

Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Louisville Cardinals
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Temple Owls

What’s That Supposed to Mean Final Four

Indiana Hoosiers
Saint Louis Billikens
Ohio State Buckeyes
Georgetown Hoyas

Like Father, Like Son Final Four

Duke — Austin Rivers, Seth Curry
Missouri — Matt and Phil Pressey
Gonzaga — David Stockton
Michigan — Tim Hardaway Jr.

C What I Mean Final Four

Colorado State

Wilt’s ‘Game of the Century’ set the standard

Name a great one. Babe Ruth. Ted Williams. Jim Brown. Tom Brady. Wayne Gretzky. Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan.

The list goes on and on, but no athlete in the history of professional sports ever had a more dominant game — and a more dominant year — than Wilton Norman Chamberlain, playing for the Philadelphia Warriors in 1961-62.

The crowning achievement of Chamberlain’s year (and his career) occurred on March 2, 1962, when Wilt scored 100 points against the New York Knickerbockers.

The ‘Game of the Century” was played before a half-empty arena with 4,124 in attendance in Hershey, Pa. The contest was not televised — in fact no footage of any kind exists.

Not a single New York sportswriter was there to write about it. There were only two photographers on hand, and one of them left after the first quarter. Veteran broadcaster Bill Campbell broadcast the game over WPHT radio in Philadelphia.

In addition to his 100 points, Wilt established single game records that still stand for field goal attempts (63), field goals made (36), and free throws made (28 on 32 attempts), mind-boggling for such a terrible foul shooter.

No NBA player has ever come close to approaching 100. Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in 2006. David Robinson had 71 in 1994. Michael Jordan scored 69 in an overtime game. Pete Maravich once scored 68 against the Knicks.

Here are 10 interesting sidebars about Wilt Chamberlain and his incomparable 1961-62 ‘Season of the Century’:

1. 50.4 PPG: Chamberlain scored 4,029 points and averaged 50,4 points a game during the 1961-62 season, coming off a 44.8 scoring average the previous year. In the 50 years since, Michael Jordan’s 37.1 ppg in 1986-87 is the NBA high water mark.

2. Scoring Streaks:  In 1962, Wilt  scored more than 50 points 44 times, more than 60 a dozen times and more than 70 twice. In December of 1961, Chamberlain had five straight games of  50, including a then-record 78 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Later that December, he scored 50 or more seven times in a row. He had another streak of six straight 50+ games in January of 1962, topped by 73 against the Chicago Packers. Wilt scored 67, 65 and 61 in the games leading up to 100. And two nights after 100, Chamberlain torched the Knicks for 58 at Madison Square Garden.

3. Rebounds: Wilt averaged 25.6 rebounds per game that year, third best all-time behind his own best 27.2 in 1960-61 and 27.0 in his rookie year, 1959-60.

4. League Leader: Chamberlain led the NBA in at least 10 major categories in 1961-62, including minutes played, field goals, field goal attempts, free throws, free throw attempts, total rebounds, points, minutes per game, points per game and rebound per game.

5. Minute Man: Wilt played every minute of every Warriors game that year, and averaged more than 48 minutes per game (48.52), the only time that’s ever been done. In fact, the top seven seasons of minutes played all belong to Chamberlain, who never fouled out of an NBA game.

6. All-Star Game Record: He set new standards in the NBA All-Star game that year with 42 points and 24 rebounds. But Bob Pettit of the host St. Louis Hawks won the MVP as the West beat the East, 150-130.

7. Playoffs: Wilt’s Warriors finished second in the NBA East in 1961-62 with a 49-31 record, 11 games behind the Boston Celtics (60-20). Philadelphia beat the Syracuse Nationals 3-2 in the best-of-five first round, then lost to the eventual NBA champion Celtics in seven games, with the home team winning each time. Wilt outscored his Boston counterpart, Bill Russell, in all seven games, with a 42-point, 37-rebound effort in Game Two, and a 41-point, 34-rebound performance in Game 4. In the deciding Game 7, Chamberlain had 22 points and 21 rebounds, and tied the game in the last minute with a three-point play, but the Celtics’ Sam Jones hit the game-winner with two seconds remaining. Russell finished with 19 points and 22 rebounds

8. No MVP: Despite putting together the greatest statistical season in NBA (and arguably pro sports) history in 1961-62, Wilt Chamberlain did not with the MVP. That honor went to his rival, Bill Russell. Wilt did win four NBA MVP awards.

9. NBA Leader: Chamberlain won the NBA scoring title his first seven years in the league, beginning with his rookie year in 1959-60. He led the league in rebounds 11 times in 14 seasons, and even won the assist title in 1967-68. He won two NBA titles, with the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers and the 1971-72 Lakers.

10. On the Record: The record books are heavy with Chamberlain’s accomplishments. In addition to what’s been outlined above, he holds the NBA record for most consecutive field goals (18), most rebounds in a game (55),  most games with 50+ points (118); most consecutive games with 40+ points (14) most consecutive games with 30+ points (65), most consecutive games with 20+ points (126), highest rookie scoring average (37.6 ppg) and highest field goal percentage in a season (.727).

Top 10: Seinfeld baseball storylines

Jerry and George with Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter in the Yankee batting cage.

For a show about nothing, Seinfeld sure had something.  And a lot of that something had something to do with baseball.

In real life, Jerry Seinfeld is a Mets fan. But most of the baseball storylines in Seinfeld were based on the Yankees.

From George Steinbrenner to Keith Hernandez to the naked fat man on the subway, here are the 10 best Seinfeld baseball storylines.

1. George, by George:  The obvious choice for #1 was the natural pairing of two Georges. George Steinbrenner, The Boss,  and George Costanza, self-proclaimed Lord of the Idiots.

The two George’s get together when Costanza,convinced that every instinct he ever trusted had been wrong, acted out the opposite. He meets the beautiful Victoria in the diner and through her uncle, gets an interview with the Yankees and lands the job of his dreams, assistant traveling secretary.

Upon hearing the news, Jerry exclaims:

“Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle … Costanza?!”

The fictional Steinbrenner talked nonstop, cancelled a meeting because he wanted Costanza to get him an eggplant calzone, and once traded Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps to Frank Costanza’s dismay.

Frank: What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?! He had 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs last year. He’s got a rocket for an arm. You don’t know what the hell you’re doin’!
Steinbrenner: Well, Buhner was a good prospect, no question about it. But my baseball people loved Ken Phelps’ bat. They kept saying “Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps.”

The Steinbrenner character was portrayed by Lee Bear, although his full face was never shown. Larry David, the show’s executive producer, provided voice-over whenever “Big Stein” spoke. In all, the Steinbrenner character appeared in 13 episodes of Seinfeld, including the finale.

2. The Second Spitter: This hilarious two-part episode plays off JFK, the film by Oliver Stone. Jerry debunks the theory that Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez once spit on both Kramer and Newman at Shea Stadium — an event that would change them “in a deep and profound way from that day forward.”

Let’s set the scene: June 14, 1987. Mets-Phillies. Hernandez makes a crucial error in the ninth that cost the Mets the game. Newman spots the former first baseman outside Shea Stadium and heckles, “Nice game, pretty boy.” Kramer feels the sting of saliva and yells out, “I’m hit!” before the spit reportedly ricochets toward Newman. Back … and to the left. Back … and to the left.

“Unfortunately the immutable laws of physics contradict the whole premise,” concludes Jerry, who along with Hernandez assists the victims in determining an additional assailant: relief pitcher Roger McDowell.

Newman.: Wow, it was McDowell.
Jerry: But why? Why McDowell?
Kramer: Well, maybe because we were sitting in the right field stands cursing at him in the bullpen all game.
Newman: He must have caught a glimpse of us when I poured that beer on his head

In one of the many side plots, Hernandex is trying to round third and head for home, but Elaine warns him to watch the third base coach, because she’s pretty sure he’ll be giving the stop sign.

3. Catch One in Your Hat:  When George gets squirted in the eye by Jerry’s grapefruit, the ensuing sting instigates a lot of one-eyed blinking, which people assume to be a wink and an understood  alternative message to whatever George says.

So when George says he doesn’t want Kramer to take George Steinbrenner’s team-signed birthday card and sell it to a memorabilia dealer, he means it. But Kramer sees the wink and soon, bed-ridden little Bobby is holding the now-framed birthday card.

To get the card back, Kramer gets creative and promises one, then two, home runs from Bobby’s favorite player, Yankee outfielder Paul O’Neill. O’Neill is understandably upset — he’s not a home-run hitter, he claims — and says even Babe Ruth “was not stupid enough to promise two.”

Bobby: Would he hit two home runs?
Kramer: Two? Sure kid, yeah. But then you gotta promise you’ll do something for me.
Bobby: I know. Get out of this bed one day and walk again.
Kramer: Yeah, that would be nice. But I really just need this card.

Kramer follows the game with in the hospital with Bobby, and they’re both excited after O’Neill hits one home run. In the bottom of the eighth, O’Neill hits what appears to be an inside-the-park home run, but the official scorer rules it a triple and an error.

Bobby still won’t give up the card, so Kramer promises that O’Neill will catch a ball in his hat the next night.

4. Costanza, King of Swing: Abstinence turns George into a genius. He speaks Portuguese, studies volumes, and gives Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams batting tips.

George: Guys, hitting is not about muscle. It’s simple physics. Calculate the velocity, v, in relation to the trajectory, t, in which g, gravity, of course remains a constant. It’s not complicated.

The Yankee stars, World Series winners, say that they don’t need help from an assistant traveling secretary who put them up in a Milwaukee Ramada. George reminds them it took them six games to dispose of the Braves.

5. The White Bronco:  Kramer gets into an argument with his golfing partner and former Yankee catcher Steve Gandeson, who loses his temper and allegedly murders a dry cleaner.

Kramer is convinced that he caused it all, and helps his buddy. In a scene that mimics the famous OJ Simpson freeway chase, Kramer drives a white Bronco with Gandeson in the passenger seat., pursued by police.

During the slow-speed chases on the New Jersey Turnpike, Kramer negotiates with police, saying Gandeson wants to see his goldfish.

6. Cotton Uniforms: In Danny Tartabull’s first Seinfeld appearance, George gives he Yankees slugger some pointers on how to “improve” his swing. After seeing how sweaty Tartabull is in the jersey, George shares with manager Buck Showalter his idea to have the Yankees wear cotton uniforms.

George: Listen, Buck, I uh…obviously I don’t need to talk to you about the importance of player morale, but uh…I’ve been talking to some of the guys, and some of them – I don’t want to mention any names – but some of them…they’re not too happy with the polyester uniforms.
Buck: How so?
George: Well, they get very hot in the polyester. You know, it’s not a natural fiber. I think they would prefer cotton.
Buck: Cotton, huh?
George: Yeah. Cotton breathes, you see, it’s much softer. Imagine playing games and your team is five degrees cooler than the other team. Don’t you think that would be an advantage? They’re cooler, they’re more comfortable…they’re happier. They’re gonna play better.
Buck: You may have something there, George.
George: Oh, I’ve got something.

Initial reviews were glowing: “Wade Boggs: ‘What a fabric! Finally we can breathe.’ Luis Polonia: ‘Cotton is king.’ Paul O’Neill: ‘I never dreamed anything could be so soft and fluffy.'”

But the cotton unis would shrink, leaving the Yankees, “running like penguins.” Worst of all: Don Mattingly split his pants.

7. Elaine Gets Ejected: Elaine, Kramer and George get tickets to a Yankees game in the owner’s box, courtesy of Jerry’s girlfriend, whose father is an accountant for the team. However Elaine steadfastly refuses to take off her Orioles cap, and is ejected from Yankee Stadium.

As it turns out, Elaine had lied to get out of attending a bris for the son of her boss (Mr. Lippman of Pendant Publishing, not Mr. Peterman). She tries to hide the New York Times Sunday sports section from Lippman, since it contains a picture of her at the game.

Mr Lippman quizzes her on her Maryland allegiance, then invites her to attend a game with him in the owners box and asks her to wear her Oriole cap.

In the final scene, George and Jerry are watching the Yankee game and hear Phil Rizzuto talk about a woman in an Oriole cap causing a disturbance in the stands. Holy cow!

8. Charlie Hustle Costanza: In a softball game reminiscent of MLB’s 1970 All-Star game when Pete Rose bowled over catcher Ray Fosse, George, waved home by third base coach Jerry, flattens Bette Midler and is safe at the plate.

An angry mob chases George and Jerry around Central Park. Meanwhile, Kramer consoles Bette by singing “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

9. Dunkin’ Joe DiMaggio: Kramer tells of spotting Joe DiMaggio in Dinky Donuts. Jerry can’t believe a man of DiMaggio’s stature would be “sitting at the counter in little, tiny, filthy, smelly Dinky Donuts.”

10. Subway Series: Jerry falls asleep on the subway and then wakes up across from a fat naked man. On the way to Coney Island, they become fast friends and wind up discussing the Mets prospects for the upcoming season

Jerry: (to the naked man) Tell you what, if they win the pennant this year, I’ll sit naked with you at the World Series.