Legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach died on Saturday at the age of 89. He won 988 games as Celtics coach and was team president for many years after that. When the Celtics practiced at Brandeis, I remember him puffing away on a cigar at the Gosman Sports complex, right in front of the “no smoking” sign.
Former major league pitcher Joe Niekro, who was on the Twins’ 1987 championship team, died Friday of a brain aneurysm at age 61. Niekro had a long and distinguished career, but he might be best known for the incident in 1987 in which a piece of sandpaper fell out of his pocket, and he was suspended for 10 games.
It’s sort of like Gerry Studds: Niekro got back in the news because of a similar transgression (by Kenny Rogers), and then died about a week later.
Not a good year for the ’87 Twins: Puckett and Niekro die, Jeff Reardon gets arrested for robbery, Gary Gaetti gets fired from the Astros, and Bert Blyleven gets suspended for cursing on the air.
Stephen A. Smith actually wrote a good column the other day. Of course, that may be because about 80% of it is quotes by NFL legend Jim Brown. In it, Brown assesses the high level of damage done to Donovan McNabb’s psyche as a result of last year’s T.O. debacle.
There’s no question that damage has been done, although I suppose the last three consecutive losses, including today’s to Jacksonville, are on him.
I got a letter the other day asking if I’d like to subscribe to something called the Hedgehog Review, which describes itself as “an interdisciplinary journal of critical reflections on contemporary culture, published three times a year by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.”
Gee, I had no idea Ron Jeremy’s interests were so highbrow…
Bill Simmons, in today’s NFL rankings column:
“THE ADAM SANDLER TEAM:Minnesota (4-2)
You know how Sandler’s movies consistently make more money than anyone else in Hollywood, but if somebody argued in a room full of people that Sandler was the biggest movie star alive, everyone would think that person was crazy? Well, the Vikings are a little like that. They hang around, don’t make mistakes, force 1-2 dumb turnovers a game and control the football with a superior offensive line (their one true strength). And if that’s not enough, their Ewing Theory potential with Culpepper and Moss is off the charts. But if somebody claimed they had a chance to win the Super Bowl, everyone would pull the “You’re crazy!” routine. Let’s see what happens on Monday night against the Pats. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.”
Well as they’re playing, I’m having trouble getting excited about this team. But if they beat the Pats Monday night, it’ll get a little easier.
Ouch. Now that’s a smackdown. Yes, of course he was cheating. And, as Simmons pointed out the other day, Rogers bears all the markings (late-career resurgence, increase in velocity, extreme rage) of a steroid guy.
I’d been wondering why we don’t hear anything anymore about pitchers scuffing the ball. We’ve come a long way since the glory days of Gaylord Perry’s spit, Mike Scott’s emery board, and (of course) Joe Niekro’s sandpaper.
Derek Jeter gave an interview this week about the Yankees, their playoff loss, A-Rod, and various other topics. My favorite part:
Somebody asked him if he’d lobbied Yankees owner George Steinbrenner on behalf of embattled manager Joe Torre in the wake of the Yankees’ Division Series loss to the Tigers.
“You don’t have to lobby on behalf of Mr. T,” Jeter said. “And if I did, that’s a conversation that would be private.”
Yes, that’s right- he calls Joe Torre “Mr. T.” I don’t even have a joke, because nothing I could possibly say could possibly be as funny as the thought of Torre with a mohawk, denim vest, and gold chains.