Sheldon hurls another shutout as Yanks split

July 9, 1961 – Rookie Rollie Sheldon pitched his second straight shutout blanking the Red Sox 3-0 in the opener before Boston snapped New York’s five-game winning streak with a 9-6 win. The Sunday doubleheader was witnessed by 47,875 at Yankee Stadium.

61yankees73Sheldon (6-2), who blanked Cleveland four days ago, scattered five hits while striking out seven and walking none in outdueling Bill Monboquette (5-5).

Roger Maris hit his 33rd home run of the season in the seventh to cap the scoring. Yogi Berra, who had a pair of doubles, and Elston Howard with three hits knocked in the other runs.

In the nightcap, Jackie Jenson drove in three runs and Chuck Schilling, Jim Pagliaroni and Carl Yastrzemski two apiece as Boston jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and held off the Bombers.

Jensen got the Sox going with a two-run single in the first. Boston made it 7-0 in the third on two-run singles by Schilling and Yaz and a sacrifice fly by Pagliaroni.

The Yanks closed to within 7-1 in the fifth on a Mickey Mantle triple. But Yaz, who had four singles in the game, and Jensen drove in runs in the sixth.

Bobby Richardson had three hits for the Yankees, including a three-run homer and an RBI single.

Rookie Don Schwall (7-2) got the win and Ralph Terry (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season.

The Yankees entered the first All-Star break with a 53-29 record, a half game behind the Detroit Tigers (55-30). Maris had 33 homers, 13 games ahead of Ruth’s 60 pace. Mantle had 29 homers and is two games behind Ruth.

Box score, 1st game

Box score, 2nd game

BETTER DAYS: With baseball and life in general on hold during the coronavirus crisis, the SportsLifer will take a daily look at the 1961 Yankees as they captured the attention of sports fans everywhere. It was the year of the great home run race, as Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth into history. Hopefully the SportsLifer can provide some nostalgic entertainment for fans who are starving for baseball, past and present. Play ball!

It took 50 years, but the Chiefs are finally back

NLC_00159The last time the Kansas City Chiefs played in the Super Bowl Richard M. Nixon as POTUS, the Beatles held their last recording session in EMI Studios and Disney World in Orlando had just opened its first building.

On January 11, 1970, more than 50 years ago, the Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7, in Super Bowl IV. The Vikings, still riding the wave of NFC/NFL superiority despite the Jets upset of the Colts the previous year, were favored by 12 points.

On a chilly Sunday at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, the Chiefs rolled to a 16-0 halftime lead on three Jan Stenerud field goals and a Mike Garrett touchdown run. Kansas City wrapped up the game in the fourth quarter when quarterback Len Dawson hit Otis Taylor on a 46-yard touchdown pass.

Chiefs coach Hank Stram, shown above, was wired for that game, making for some entertaining history on the sidelines. His call on KC’s first touchdown, 65 Toss Power Trap, still resonates today.

It was a sweet victory for Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, who founded the AFL in 1960. A few minutes after KC beat Tennessee 35-24 in the AFC championship game to reach Super Bowl LIV, team owner and Lamar’s son Clark Hunt told the fans at Arrowhead Stadium, “We’re going back to the Super Bowl.” That game was the Chiefs 800th since Super Bowl IV.

The Chiefs came close on several occasions, but always fell short until this year. In the 1993 AFC title game, Buffalo pounded Kansas City 30-13. Two years later the Chiefs were the top seed in the AFL at 13-3, but dropped a 10-7 game to Indianapolis.

And just last year, Kansas lost a heartbreaker to New England 37-31 in overtime.

A bit of history. The Chiefs began as the Dallas Texans in 1960 and won the AFL championship in 1962 when they defeated the Houston Oilers 20-17 in two overtimes.

They moved to Kansas City the following season, and won the AFL championship in 1967 with a 31-7 win over the Bills.

Kansas City then lost to the Green Bay Packers 35-10 in the first Super Bowl.

It all comes full cycle when the Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.



The Super Bowl from hell

superbowlliiAbout 14 years or so ago, God approached the world’s biggest Yankee and Giants fan with a proposition. In return for the Yankees becoming the first team in MLB history to blow a 3-0 lead and lose a playoff series in seven games (to the Red Sox no less), God would grant the Giants not one, but two, comeback Super Bowl victories against the Patriots. And to sweeten the pot, one of those Super Bowl wins would knock out an undefeated New England team.

It was an offer no fan could refuse.

Now, as we approach Super Bow LII, the picture is about as bleak as can be for New York fans. Oh woe, it’s come down to this. For a Giants fan, Eagles-Patriots is about as bad a Super Bowl matchup as you could possibly get. Only thing worse would be Cowboys-Patriots.

There are so many reasons to dislike both these teams. It would be a LII (lie) to say I wanted the Eagles or the Patriots to win Super Bowl LII. But come Sunday, one of those teams will emerge triumphant.

Reasons to hate the Eagles

1. They’re an NFC East rival, and play the Giants twice each year.

2. The Eagles have handed the Giants numerous bitter losses over the year, most notably the Chuck Bednarik game in 1960, the Herman Edwards game in 1978, and the LeSean Jackson game in 2010. Those losses and others still cut deep.

3. Philadelphia fans booed Santa Claus.

4. Those some Philadelphia fans cut the brake lining in my nephew’s van during a Giants game at Lincoln Financial Field several years ago. Seriously. Fortunately noboby was injured when the van crashed into a cyclone fence.

5. Philly can’t hold a candle to New York. First prize, a week’s vacation in Philadelphia. Second prize, two weeks vacation in Philly. Get it.

Reasons to hate the Patriots

1. They always win.

2. Most of their fans also root for the Boston Red Sox.

3. They cheat. Too many controversies, ie Spygate and Deflategate, make it appear more than simple coincidence.

4. The refs are on their side. I mean how many calls go New England’s way? There oughta be an investigation.

5. Boston can’t hold a candle to New York. The Big Apple vs. Beantown. Yeah right.

There’s only one saving grace in Super Bowl LII, and it leans towards the Pats. If the Patriots win, at least the Giants can claim the only Super Bowl victories against New England in the Brady-Belichick era. New England under B&B is presently 0-2 against the Giants in the Super Bowl, and 5-0 against the rest of the league.

Go Pats I guess. Good luck New England. Not really.

And the loser is….Minnesota

When the Cavaliers shocked the Warriors to win the NBA Championship last month, Cleveland ended a string of 52 years without a championship, dating back to the Browns winning the NFL title against the Baltimore Colts 27-0 in 1964.

So now Minnesota – make that the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul – has the longest championship drought in North America professional sports.

Minnesota’s dry spell extends nearly 25 years, all the way back to October 27, 1991. That night the Twins behind Jack Morris beat the Atlanta Braves 1-0 in 10 innings to win Game 7 of the World Series. Kirby Puckett and his teammates had plenty to celebrate.

But since then, not a single Minnesota team – Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves or Wild – has even made it to a championship series.

Washington, D.C. is next on the list. The last championship for teams that represent our nation’s capital came in early 1992, when the Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl.

Ironically, the original Washington Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961. Washington hasn’t had a team in the World Series since 1933.

Toronto won its last championship in 1993 when the Blue Jays won the World Series on a dramatic, ninth inning home run by Joe Carter.

Houston last won a title in 1995 when the Rockets took the NBA crown. And Atlanta beat the Cleveland Indians later that year to win the World Series.

Like Cleveland, all the cities mentioned about have teams in at least three of the four major pro sports, baseball, football, basketball and hockey.

For cities that don’t have either basketball or hockey franchises, San Diego and Cincinnati have suffered the most. The Chargers last won a championship in 1963, when they humbled the Boston Patriots 51-10 for the AFL crown. The Cincinnati Reds last won the World Series in 1990, sweeping the Oakland A’s.

Nobody wants to be on this list, but Minnesota now tops the charts.

Cubs must prove they’re World Series worthy

1. Pressure’s on: Not buying all that pre-season hype about 2016 being the year of the Cubs. Sure, the Cubbies are loaded with young talent, and they did make it to the NLCS last year. But Chicago was swept by the Mets, stretching the futility another year. The Cubs last made the World Series in 1945, when Harry Truman was President. Joe Maddon is a good manager, but he’s not a miracle worker. Get to the World Series first Cubbies, then I’ll believe. After all, the Cubs have been rebuilding since 1908.

2. Hang it up, Peyton: You won the Super Bowl, you’re tied with brother Eli, it’s time to retire. Very few athletes get to go out on top. If you play another season, it can only end bad. Just ask Joe Namath, who finished with the Rams, or Johnny Unitas, who went to the Chargers.

3. Super Bowl leftovers: Only four players have won both a Heisman Trophy and a Super Bowl MVP. Roger Staubach, Jim Plunkett, Marcus Allen and Desmond Howard are the answer to this trivia question. BTW, there has been a least one turnover in every Super Bowl except for Super Bowl 25, when the Giants beat the Bills in the wide-right game.

4. Billy Ball: Mickey Mantle once said this when describing his fiery friend and former Yankee teammate Billy Martin: “Billy is the only guy in the world who can hear someone give him the finger.”

5. Comic genius: Is there a funnier pairing than Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau who play Felix and Oscar in Neil Simon’s 1968 film classic “The Odd Couple.”

Coughlin hearing echoes of ‘Goodbye Allie’

Way back in the mid-60s, New York Giants fans at Yankee Stadium serenaded coach Allie Sherman with taunts of “Goodbye Allie” as they expressed their displeasure with the team’s performance. Although fans are not nearly as vocal about Tom Coughlin these days, many feel it’s time for the Giants to make a change.

Coughlin will always be revered in New York for winning a pair of Super Bowls, twice beating the Patriots in dramatic fashion. But after yet another fourth quarter meltdown Sunday, this one against the Jets, it’s apparent that Coughlin’s coaching days are numbered.

The Giants have blown fourth-quarter leads in five of their seven losses this year, and some of the blame needs to come down on the coach. Clock mismanagement, bad coaching decisions, questionable play-calling, lack of execution and pure dumb luck have cost the Giants wins against Dallas, Atlanta, New Orleans, New England and the Jets.

The Giants have failed to make the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl in 2012, finishing 9-7, 7-9, 6-10 and currently 5-7. That doesn’t look pretty in a line graph, never mind in the NFL standings. Amazingly, Big Blue could still make the playoffs if the Giants win the woeful NFC East.

Allie Sherman experienced a similar fall-off in the 60s. After taking the Giants to three consecutive NFL Championship games beginning in 1961, all of which they lost, the Giants failed to make the playoffs for 18 straight years. Despite marks of 2-10-2 in 1964 and a club-record worst 1-12-1 in 1966, Sherman clung to his job until 1969, when after a terrible pre-season he was replaced by Alex Webster. Overall, Sherman was 57-51-4 with the Giants.

This is Coughlin’s 12th season with the Giants, and his teams have compiled a 101-87 record. He has coached more games and earned more victories than all but one other Giant – Hall of Famer Steve Owen who finished 151-100-17 between 1931 and 1953 and won a pair of championships.

If the Giants do decide to part ways with Coughlin, they should look outside-house for a replacement. Steve Spagnola’s defense is a mess, one of the worst outfits in the league. And despite some talent, Ben McAdoo’s offense is terribly inconsistent. (Memo to Ben: running back by committee doesn’t work, at least not with this offensive line.)

Is Coughlin a Hall of Fame coach? He did win those two Super Bowls, and his overall playoff record with the Giants is 8-3. He also coached the Jacksonville Jaguars, an expansion team, to a 68-60 mark, and took them to a pair of AFC Championship games. He will certainly receive strong consideration for a bust in Canton.

Only one eligible coach – Tom Flores of the Raiders – has won two Super Bowls and is not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But even Hall of Fame coaches lose their jobs.

DeflateGate stains Patriots’ historic quest

Let’s be honest, Tom Brady could have beaten the Colts throwing ping pong balls.

But that’s not the point. This is a story about a supremely talented New England Patriots team that somehow felt the need to cheat – again. A Patriots team coached by Bill Belichick that felt the need to skirt NFL rules and deflate 11 of 12 footballs prior to a 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game.

Belichick and Brady are both in denial, but somebody on the Patriots took the air out of those balls. So much for fair play and the integrity of the game. And the NFL seems intent on sweeping this fiasco under the rug, at least until after the Super Bowl.

Reminds one of Watergate, when President Richard Nixon tried to cover up a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. prior to the 1972 election. Tricky Dick was a lock for re-election, running against George McGovern, yet felt compelled to try and beat the system,

Did the Patriots cheat? Well they’ve been known to do this before. In 2007, the Pats were disciplined by the NFL for videotaping signals by New York Jets’ defensive coaches. The league fined Belichick $500,000, the maximum allowed and biggest fine ever imposed on a coach in NFL history. The Pats were fined $250,000 and were also stripped of their first-round pick in the 2008 draft.

In another cheating scandal, never proven, the Patriots were accused of videotaping a St. Louis Rams walkthrough prior to their meeting in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans.

DeflateGate throws a huge dark cloud over the Patriots Super Bowl quest. Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll of the Pittsburgh Steelers are the only quarterback-coach tandem to win four Super Bowls. Now  Brady and Belichick are a win away from equaling that feat.

But the Patriots’ legacy now appears tainted by an audacious, stupid and paranoid stunt. This is a team that has a history of doing this stuff. Somebody’s lying. Maybe the ball boy will take the fall.