|09.25.09 at 7:24 am ET|
Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup, where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.
The Red Sox head into New York on a high note after beating the Royals, 10-3. Rob Bradford has his Five Things We Learned, leading off with Clay Buchholz providing the team some peace of mind after a solid performance last night.
Alex Speier has David Ortiz talking about heading back to New York, where on his last visit he held a press conference to discuss steroid allegations in the midst of a nightmarish sweep at the hands of the Yankees.
The Boston Herald’s Sean McAdam reports that the Sox plan to start Jon Lester in Game 1 of the ALDS, followed by Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz.
Following up on a bizarre story, an incarcerated Red Sox fan in Iowa returned to prison after being given a pass so he could see the Sox play the Royals Wednesday night in Kansas City.
Dan Guttenplan comes up with the answers in his Week 3 NFL picks.
Over at Sports Illustrated, Michael Rosenberg wonders what happens if Tom Brady never returns to form.
On the ice, Patrice Bergeron lifted the Bruins to a 2-1 shootout win over the Canadiens. From totalprosports.com, here’s some interesting video from Sunday night’s game in Quebec. Bruins youngster Jeffrey Lovecchio pushes a Canadiens player into the boards and the glass becomes dislodged, landing right in the nose of a woman in the front row.
Wayne Gretzky resigned as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, replaced by Dave Tippett. And Canadiens defenseman Patrice Brisebois tearfully announced his retirement after 18 NHL seasons, and then said he plans to become a driver in NASCAR’s Canadian Tire Series.
Jessica Camerato has a nice piece on new Celtic Shelden Williams and his wife, WNBA star Candace Parker.
HISTORIVIA: On Sept. 25, 1965, Satchel Paige, reportedly 59 years old, came back for one last game after a 12-year hiatus from the majors. Pitching for owner Charles O. Finley’s Kansas City Athletics, Paige pitched the first three innings against the Red Sox and gave up just one hit. Which player got that hit?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think you guys are spoiled up here, because Tom is different than probably 99 percent of the guys I’ve played with.” — Patriots receiver Joey Galloway, talking about quarterback Tom Brady
‘NET RESULTS: Our “historivia” question focuses on the great Satchel Paige. Here’s Paige in 1971 making an appearance on the game show “What’s My Line?” and discussing his age.
And while we’re on “What’s My Line?” here’s Ted Williams’ appearance in 1954.
HISTORIVIA ANSWER: Carl Yastrzemski hit a first-inning double in the Sox’ 5-2 victory.
SOOTHING SOUNDS: In honor of Jacoby Ellsbury getting stolen base No. 66 last night, here’s Nat King Cole performing the classic “Route 66.” Come on, just click play. We’re trying to learn you something about music history here.
OK, fine. Here’s the Rolling Stones’ version.
Enjoy your weekend. See you Monday, after the Patriots get everyone back on the bandwagon.
|09.24.09 at 12:24 pm ET|
So, Kanye West, what do you think? Your opinion is greatly needed. What new sports venue merits being crowned the Best New Home Stadium from 2008 until this past Sunday?
On Sunday, Jerry Jones unveiled his box-office masterpiece of the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium, replacing the old Texas Stadium that was home for so many years to greats such as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Tony Dorsett and more. Yet, he did not receive what he had bargained for.
Despite the flashy lights, high-definition television screens, retractable roof and luxury suites, the Cowboys’ NFC East rivals spoiled the inauguration and left Jones and coach Wade Phillips speechless when Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes launched the game-winning, 37-yard field goal straight through the posts to give the Giants a 33-31 victory.
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo threw three interceptions — all resulting in Giants touchdowns — in the stadium debut. The Cowboys quarterback completed 13-of-29 passes for 127 yards. One pick, in particular, was quite amusing, as Romo attempted to complete a pass to tight end Jason Witten that ended up in the hands of Kenny Phillips after bouncing off Witten’s shoe. One can only wonder whether somewhere, Jessica Simpson was in a skybox engaged in a victory dance.
Yes, Jones’ much-anticipated grand opening ended in a dud, but he should carries no long-term worries — yet, that is.
The Yankees and Mets celebrated the opening of their new home turfs this past April, bidding farewell to the old Yankee Stadium and the middle-of-nowhere Shea Stadium, respectively.
As with every New York event, the induction of both ballparks, the “new” Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, received an array of lights-camera-action coverage, including the momentous — and at times controversial — buildup. (There was that small incident where one of the construction workers, who was an avid Boston Red Sox fan, buried a David Ortiz jersey in the cement sealing in the restaurant section of the stadium. The jersey was dug up and removed days later, though the hole remains as something of a new Yankee Stadium monument.)
Yet, to New York fans’ dismay, the Yankees’ and the Mets’ home openers were overshadowed by losses. In fact, most fans found themselves questioning several aspects and features of the stadiums instead of focusing on their home team.
What is going on with that short porch in right field in Yankee Stadium that has turned Johnny Damon into a home run basher? Why are there more shrines and engravings dedicated to the Brooklyn Dodgers and Ebbets Field than the Mets? How much do these box seats actually cost, Mr. Steinbrenner? Wait, why is Dwight Gooden getting reprimanded for carving his autograph in Citi’s bathroom?
Dimensions and artistic differences aside, on April 16 the Yankees suffered a humiliating 10-2 opening defeat to the Indians in their $1.5 billion home investment. CC Sabathia (and his freshly inked $161 million contract) was tagged and proved unable to escape the sixth frame.
Earlier that week, on April 13, the Mets had flopped in their $800 million home, inaugurating the facility with a 6-5 loss to the San Diego Padres. From the moment Jody Gerut lead off the game with a home run off Mets starter Mike Pelfrey, fans have been convinced that the new park is doomed to failure, especially with the Mets owning a better record than only the miserable Washington Nationals in the NL East.
Back to football: Indianapolis Colts fans could not have been more ecstatic last year when the team kicked off the season in the new Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 7 against the Chicago Bears. Determined to avenge their Super Bowl defeat, however, the Bears rained on Peyton Manning and the stadium’s parade, winning 29-13. Though Manning manage to pass for 257 yards with one touchdown, the Bears limited the Indy rushing game to 53 yards.
While the Colts finished the season with a reputable 12-4 record, they were ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Chargers. The Yankees currently are preparing for another postseason run, owning the best record in baseball while their subway counterparts dwell in fourth in the NL East.
What is now in store for the Cowboys? Only the future can tell.
And the award for Best New Home Stadium Opener goes to … Taylor Swift?
|09.24.09 at 7:35 am ET|
Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup, where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.
The Red Sox knocked off the Royals, 9-2, last night in Kansas City. Josh Beckett gave up 12 hits, but the large majority of them weren’t hit hard, which bodes well for Beckett’s prospects heading into the postseason, explains Alex Speier in his Five Things We Learned column. If you saw the game, that Sox lineup may become a familiar one, says Rob Bradford.
The other big news in Red Sox Nation yesterday? NESN hired another beauty queen to deliver us details about the hometown team. Newton native Jade McCarthy joins the station in January.
Nationally, Braves manager Bobby Cox announced that he will retire after the 2010 season. That sound you heard was the party in the umpires’ locker room. And suspended Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley apologized for being Milton Bradley.
On to football. Chris Price says Tom Brady isn’t stupid, and he’ll figure out a way to adjust to the problems in Foxboro. Price also talks to Sam Aiken about the Patriots’ special teams troubles. In case you missed it yesterday, Kerry Byrne of Cold, Hard Football Facts breaks down the Patriots’ mistake in relying too much on Tom Brady while ignoring the run game. Mike Petraglia checks in with a piece on Sunday’s opponent, the Falcons, led by former Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan.
Speaking of BC, Dan Rowinski previews the Eagles’ game Saturday against Riley Skinner and Wake Forest.
In basketball news, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is buying the New Jersey Nets, making him the first individual from outside North America to own an NBA team.
Yesterday in Washington, a documentary about Len Bias debuted, six weeks before a scheduled Nov. 3 showing on ESPN. “Without Bias” details the life and death of the University of Maryland star who died of a cocaine overdose two days after being drafted second overall by the Celtics in 1986. Bias’ mother, Lonise, attended the screening.
HISTORIVIA: On Sept. 24, 1998, this Red Sox reliever set a major league record by converting his 42nd consecutive save without a blown opportunity, on a night when the Sox clinched a wild card berth. Who is he?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’re still feeling each other out. Obviously, you can’t expect him to go out there and he and I to be like me and Jason for three years now.” — Josh Beckett, on pitching to Victor Martinez instead of Jason Varitek
A day late on this, but here’s Jennifer Garner coming through (with one gaffe) by reciting the Red Sox’ starting lineup on “The Jay Leno Show.”
The host was far more forgiving with Garner than “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek was with Cliff Clavin in this classic “Cheers” clip. “Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?”
HISTORIVIA ANSWER: Tom Gordon, who finished the season with a Red Sox-record 46 saves and continued his streak into the next season, finishing at 54 consecutive saves without a blown opportunity.
SOOTHING SOUNDS: With the Yankees winning in Anaheim yesterday, the Red Sox can forget those hopes of a stirring comeback to win the AL East, and instead start planning on playing the Angels. So, here’s “Send Me An Angel,” with a freaky video from the Australian new wave band Real Life.
Also see: Wednesday’s Morning Mashup
|09.23.09 at 8:19 am ET|
Welcome to Wednesday’s “Morning Mashup,” where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.
The Red Sox went down with a whimper against Zack Greinke in a 5-1 loss to the Royals. In his “Five Things We Learned,” WEEI’s Alex Speier says the bright spot last night might have been the ability of Michael Bowden to pitch well in back-to-back games, an accomplishment that may lead to a postseason roster spot. Meanwhile, the Yankees beat the Angels to clinch a playoff spot and move six games ahead of the Sox.
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, a WEEI blogger, finally made his decision about his candidacy for the open U.S. Senate seat: He’s out.
And another former Red Sox pitcher just can’t let it go: Roger Clemens filed an appeal of his dismissed defamation suit against Brian McNamee in Houston.
Fans are still recovering from the Patriots’ 16-9 loss to the Jets on Sunday, and Chris Price gives them a chance to vent in his inaugural Football Mailbag. The Patriots made a move yesterday, acquiring linebacker Prescott Burgess from the Ravens, a team they play a week from Sunday.
Tom Brady was in the news for another apparent communication problem. This time, two photographers are suing him and his supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen, for $1 million. The photographers claim they were shot at by bodyguards during Brady and Bundchen’s post-wedding party in Costa Rica in April, and they accuse the bride and groom of hiring improperly trained security guards.
In other NFL news, former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress started his two-year prison sentence for violating New York’s gun laws.
The Bruins are taking a look at some promising youngsters as they continued their preseason last night with a 6-5 shootout loss to the Blue Jacket in Columbus, Ohio. One such youngster is 22-year-old Czech center Vladimir Sobotka. Joe Haggerty tells Sobotka’s story in the Big Bad Blog.
Right here on LEEINKS, you can learn more about the best father-son combinations in Major League Baseball history. Wondering who the top three are? Here’s a hint: Of the three, two of the sons are still playing, and one wishes he was.
HISTORIVIA: On Sept. 23, 1970, groundbreaking ceremonies were held in Foxboro for Schaefer Stadium, which would serve as the new home of the Patriots starting in 1971. Where did the Patriots play their homes games in 1970? (Answer below.)
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I have a very difficult time believing there is anybody better in the major leagues, that’s as good a pitcher as Zack Greinke is in the year 2009.” — Royals manager Trey Hillman last night, after Greinke shut down the Red Sox in a 5-1 Kansas City win
‘NET RESULTS: If you haven’t yet seen this video of amazing basketball shots, take a look. It’s the third in a series by a bunch of college kids in Texas going by the name Dude Perfect.
And here’s their latest entry: “The World’s Longest Basketball Shot”:
HISTORIVIA ANSWER: Harvard Stadium, which served as the team’s third home stadium in three years, following Fenway Park (1963-68) and Boston College’s Alumni Stadium (1969).
SOOTHING SOUNDS: After Sunday’s forgettable performance, the best advice for the Patriots this week might be: Don’t Look Back.
|09.21.09 at 1:08 pm ET|
There is nothing quite like the bond a father has with his children, especially when it comes to baseball.
In the midst of a week that contained bickering and whining from a Los Angeles Angels squad over a called ball four, a threat stemming from the potty-mouth of Serena Williams after a questionable foot foul, and an exchange of profanities between tennis star Roger Federer and the chair umpire in the U.S. Open final, a Philadelphia Phillies season ticket-holder named Steve Monforto, who hails from Mt. Laurel, N.J., showed the sports world that in the end, it’s just a game and the love is what counts.
On Tuesday night, Monforto, 32, caught his first foul ball ever when the Phillies took on the Washington Nationals at home. Filled with excitement and euphoria, Monforto high-fived and kindly handed over the ball hit by outfielder Jayson Werth to his 3-year-old daughter, Emily, while he traded fist bumps and received congratulations from the fans around him.
Almost instantly — to the apparent shock of Monforto — Emily tossed the ball off the rail into the stands below. But in that moment, all Monforto could do was affectionately lock his daughter in a warm and heartening embrace in a stirring moment that took everyone’s mind off the game.
In baseball, there have been numerous father-son duos who have been lucky to live the American dream together. Former MLB players have been fortunate to watch as their sons have carried the family tradition living in their father’s footsteps.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona grew up watching his dad Tito play first base and the outfield for several teams, including the Phillies, whom he would one day manage. In 15 seasons, Tito compiled a career .272 average while his son went on to win two World Series as manager with the Sox.
Former Chicago Cub and New York Met outfielder Moises Alou received the rare opportunity to play for his father Felipe during his time with the Montreal Expos and the San Francisco Giants.
Sandy Alomar was able to witness two of his sons go on to exhibit highly successful big-league careers. Sandy, a switch-hitter, raised his sons Roberto (who is considered one of the best second baseman in history) and Sandy Jr. (an All-Star catcher) while still managing in the big leagues following a 15-year playing career.
In present day, St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan was able to coach his son Chris while on the Cardinals and scan the New York box score to see how his other son Shelley was doing with the Yankees. (Chris, of course, was acquired by the Red Sox in exchange for Julio Lugo … and then subsequently released after a short stint with the PawSox.)
Dave LaRoche, famous for his “La Lob” pitch, had no trouble finding a seat at PNC Park to watch his sons Adam at first and Andy at third donning Pirates jerseys. Adam eventually spent a short stint with the Red Sox before being dealt to the Atlanta Braves.
Bob Boone could not have been more proud when his son Aaron hit the game-winning home run off knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS to launch the Yankees into the World Series. Bret, a former Seattle Mariner, got to call his brother’s monster hit from the Fox broadcast booth. The Boones represent the first three-generation family to all make it to the All-Star Game, after Grandpa Ray first was selected in 1954 while with the Tigers.
Although there are many more famous father-son combos to enter the league — such as Gary Matthews and Gary Jr., Gus, Buddy and Dave Bell, and Yogi and Dale Berra — here are three of the most successful duos to take the field:
Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds
Though Barry owns the title of “Home Run King” after launching 73 long balls into the stands in 2001 and ending his career (at least temporarily) with a record 762, Bobby turned in a successful career, becoming the first player ever with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in five seasons. Barry would ultimately match his father’s mark. Both Bonds men played a large portion of their careers with the San Francisco Giants. Together, the two of them have combined to hit a total of 1,094 home runs, steal 975 bases, and drive in 3,020 runs.
While Bobby received three All-Star selections and three Gold Glove awards in right field, Barry managed to win seven Most Valuable Player awards while being named an All-Star 14 times and winning eight Gold Gloves.
Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr.
The first father-son tandem to play on the same team — with the Mariners in 1990 — the Griffeys each enjoyed several memorable seasons playing with the Cincinnati Reds and Seattle. Though his son has yet to win a championship ring, Griffey Sr. won two World Series, in 1975 and 1976 while on the Reds. After finishing his career with a .286 average and 206 home runs, Griffey Sr. watched his son surpass his numbers despite suffering through numerous injury-plagued seasons. Griffey Jr., currently in his second stint with the Mariners, earned an MVP Award in 1997. Only the sixth player in history to reach the 600 homer plateau, Griffey Jr. took career marks of a .285 batting average with 627 home runs and 1,822 RBI into Tuesday’s action.
Cecil and Prince Fielder
Who would have ever guessed that Prince was a vegetarian? Cecil and Prince are the only father-son duo to both hit at least 50 home runs in a single season. Like the other two combos above, Cecil has not had quite the success his son has enjoyed during his time in the majors. Finishing his career posting a .255 average with 306 home runs, Cecil attempted to have an influence when negotiating Prince’s contract with the Brewers, demanding that he receive some of the earnings since he helped Prince make it to MLB. Hostility between the two followed, and the Fielders have not been on speaking terms the past few years.
Prince holds a .283 average since 2005 and has launched 154 home runs in that span. He added an All-Star Game Home Run Derby title to his resume in 2009.
|09.16.09 at 9:27 am ET|
Cusick passed away Tuesday afternoon, just before he was scheduled to be inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame on Wednesday night. He will now be inducted posthumously. Below is an example of Cusick’s brilliance as he bids farewell to the old Boston Garden:
|09.16.09 at 9:00 am ET|
Even with NFL kickoff weekend looming large in the minds of sports fans across the nation, a little-known tennis tournament held in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., managed to garner some attention on Saturday. Two points from being upset by Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams was called for a foot fault, the line judge claiming her foot went over the baseline on her serve.
Williams had not been playing her best tennis, and the ensuing fit she pitched is on par with some of the best athlete meltdowns.
The best part is when she yells out, “Are you serious?!” It’s the perfect homage to another well-known outburst by a tennis player.
The rest of this entry could be filled with John McEnroe outbursts — please believe the idea was debated. However, that would be unfair to other athletes, coaches and personalities who have lost their cool in the heat of the moment. Take, for example, Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy.
At least we are now clear on whether or not Gundy is a man.
When your meltdown involves defending your players, that’s OK, but the blowups are much more memorable when your team has just lost a game it should have won.
The beauty of that meltdown is the person saying, “Thanks coach.” How do you continue with a press conference after that? More importantly, what more could you possibly want in a sound bite? Maybe this:
To be fair, not all of the best meltdowns happen in sports. Celebrities and personalities have the ability to command the meltdown spotlight, such as Ellen DeGeneres over a puppy.
Wow, so that was a bit emotional. Let’s lighten the mood.
As fans — of sports stars or celebrities — we often hold those we follow to a higher standard of excellence. We yearn to get closer to them, to see them as regular people. However, the meltdown is what we really look for. It shows, if ever so briefly, a crack in the made-for-TV image that we are fed on a daily basis. It lets us know that these people are, in fact, human and, like the rest of us, have bad days.
|09.14.09 at 1:11 pm ET|
Terrell Owens loves being the center of attention. Whether it is mimicking Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis’ notorious pre-game dance after scoring a touchdown, spitting in the face of cornerback DeAngelo Hall, or tweeting about a day in the life of T.O, Owens has never been one to shy away from the media spotlight.
Now, with the christening of the 2009 Monday Night Football season beginning tonight when the New England Patriots take on the Buffalo Bills at 7 p.m. at Gillette Stadium, T.O. will most likely make his presence known in his Bills debut. Yet, contrary to Owens’ egoism, T.O. will not be the only player on the field that the cameras will be focused on.
No, this is not VH1. “The T.O. Show” does not air on prime-time tonight. (At least, not the way it is portrayed on reality television with T.O. as a low-key, unobtrusive Southern boy misunderstood in the world.)
Aside from quarterback Tom Brady’s much anticipated return and T.O’s hyped-up antics, the Bills open the season with only their third Monday night game on Kickoff Weekend. In their 50th season as a professional football franchise, the Bills have previously hosted the opening Monday night festivities twice before owning a 1-1 record in the contests.
Buffalo’s first ever Monday night kickoff resulted in a close 21-20 victory against Oakland Raiders on Sept. 16 1974. In an exciting thriller, the Bills managed to barrel through Oakland’s defense and stun John Madden’s club in the final two minutes of regulation thanks in part to wide receiver Ahmad Rashad’s two touchdown catches from quarterback Joe Ferguson.
In their second Monday night opener on Sept. 13, 1976 against the Miami Dolphins, the Bills had no choice but to sparingly play running back Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson (who held out all of preseason after demanding a trade to a west coast) in the match-up. Missing Simpson’s rushing potency, the Bills dropped the game 30-21 in front of a packed home crowd of 77,683 at Rich Stadium. Simpson was limited to 5 carries collecting only 28 yards with his longest running merely totaling an 8-yard gain.
During the contest, Bills kicker John Leypoldt missed all three of his field goal attempts- the only attempts he would be given that season since he was released later on- which inevitably made the difference in the game. Buffalo finished the disappointing year with a 2-12 record.
Fast forward to tonight and the Bills return to the Monday night opening limelight determined to turn around their struggles in the past. Since defeating the Patriots on Kickoff Weekend 2003, a victory in which the Bills absolutely crushed New England’s defense (to the joy of former safety Lawyer Milloy) 31-0. Since then, however, the Bills have failed to put a tally in the win column against their AFC East rivals losing 11 straight contests against the Patriots.
The last time the Bills countered the Patriots on Opening Weekend occurred in 2006 when Buffalo suffered a 19-17 loss. Quarterback J.P. Losman completed 15-for-23 passes throwing for 164 yards, yet could not match Brady’s two touchdown performance despite playing without wide receiver Deion Branch, who later was traded to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Bills have seen their share of upsetting Kickoff Weekends in the past. On September 9, 2007 against the Denver Broncos, tight end Kevin Everett suffered a life-threatening, season-ending injury. On a kickoff, Everett attempted to tackle Dominick Hixon, but injured his neck in the process that resulted him being transported off the field with his life in question as to whether he was ever be able to walk. Doctors concluded Everett was hit with a cervical spine injury that ended his football career. Everett, however, did regain movement and despite the initial prognosis has been able to walk again.
Shaken by the incident, the Bill ultimately lost the game 15-14 holding Everett close to their hearts and in their prayers.
Now, with the addition of the boisterous T.O., a no-huddle offense engineered by quarterback Trent Edwards, and Head Coach Dick Jaurons at the realm, the Bills aim to end their win-less Patriot drought and prove they can compete within the talented AFC East. Both teams will wear their traditional throwback jerseys to commemorate the 50th year celebration in the contest tonight.
You know for sure T.O. will have his personal camera ready to go.
|09.12.09 at 12:39 pm ET|
Contrary to Warner Brothers’ beliefs, Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan was not motivated by a pack of animated Looney Tunes headed by Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and other famous characters to end his short-lived baseball career and return home to the NBA where he belonged.
Although he did successfully help the Looney Tunes defeat a group of aliens in a marquee match-up that would determine the freedom of the entertaining cartoonists, the Space Jam competition (and that catchy beat) was not the reason for Jordan’s decision to come out of retirement (and the minors) to rejoin the Bulls in the Windy City.
Maybe it was the .202 batting average in which he struck out a total of 114 times in 436 at-bats. Maybe it was the 11 errors in 127 games, where he turned singles into doubles and outs into singles. Or perhaps it was those uncomfortable tight pants, high socks, and gray button-up shirt instead of the loose shorts, Air Jordan’s, and red #23 jersey that ultimately convinced Jordan to hang up his helmet, stow away the batting gloves and pick up the basketball once again.
Whatever the actual reason, Michael Jordan decided to end his dreams of becoming a star Major League Baseball player and resumed his title as the greatest basketball star in NBA history.
Following the 1992-1993 season, in which the Bulls won the Championship for the third consecutive year, Michael Jordan announced his retirement from the NBA, saying he wished to pursue a career in baseball. When Jordan’s father tragically was murdered in July 1993, Michael felt in tribute to his name he would sign with the Chicago White Sox Double A Affliate Birmingham Barons, since his father always envisioned him growing up to one day play on the baseball diamond.
Jordan played under now Red Sox manager Terry Francona that year. “That was the best experience I could have ever had,” Francona said. “I couldn’t believe how he handled things. He was put in some horrendous situations, unfair situations and he always handled it with grace. It amazed me how he did that.”
Baseball and Michael Jordan did not mix though. Following his lone season in the minors, Jordan opted to return to the sport he excelled in by re-signing with the Bulls and leading them to another three Championships.
Now, inducted into basketball immortality alongside former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, all-time assist leader John Stockton, Spur great David Robinson, and Rutgers women’s coach C. Vivian Stringer, Jordan will be crowned as the greatest player to ever set foot on a court.
His number 23 will be hailed the same way Wayne Gretzky’s 99 is worshipped in the NHL, and George “The Babe” Ruth’s 3 is revered by baseball fans everywhere.
Though Jordan may have been the most prominent name to switch professional sports during one’s career, there are several other athletes who gave up playing one game to shine in another — even without counting Tony Romo’s attempt to qualify for the PGA Tour or Shaquille O’Neal’s “Shaq vs…”
Here is a list of a few recent sports figures who grew tired of playing one sport and chose to give another a try. Not all of them may ring a bell at first glance, but they still carried with them a never-give-up attitude that enabled them to cross sports.
“Neon Deion” managed to not only compile a successful football career as a nine-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl Champion, but also carried an impressive resume in his nine years as an outfielder in the MLB. Drafted 5th overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 1989, Sanders did not allow the overlapping seasons to hinder his opportunity to become a professional two-sport athlete. In 1989, Sanders remarkably hit a home run with the New York Yankees and scored a touchdown for the Falcons later that day.
Sanders found himself in quite a few scuffs over the years in the MLB. In 1990, Carlton Fisk, then with the Chicago White Sox, became aggravated after Sanders drew a dollar sign in the dirt with his bat. Fisk, who held great reverence for the game, called Sanders out, which led to a shouting match in the middle of the game. A few years later, during a postseason run with the Braves, Sanders poured a buckett of ice over the head of announcer Tim McCarver after McCarver questioned Sanders’ loyalty to both his MLB and NFL squad.
Even so, the talent and ability were apparent. Making a World Series appearance with the Atlanta Braves in 1992, Sanders became the only player in history to reach both the Super Bowl and the World Series. Though football was his primary sport, he finished his baseball career in 2001 with a .263 batting average, 558 hits, and 186 stolen bases. After retiring in 2006 from the NFL, Sanders left behind a legacy with 52 interceptions, returning a record 19 of them for touchdowns.
Known for many of his famous quotes, Sanders had a memorable conversation with Sports Illustrated about a dual-sport track in 1989: “I’ve always said I love football and that baseball is my girlfriend,” he told the magazine. “Well, that girlfriend is really getting friendly now.”
In his four years as point guard of the Duke Blue Devils, Greg Paulus enjoyed a successful run engineering the team’s offense under the brilliant coaching of Mike Krzyzewski. Paulus helped lead Duke to a spot in the Elite Eight his freshman season alongside three-point master J.J. Reddick, with Paulus compiling 187 assists to rank third on the all-time freshman list. However, in his senior season this past year, Paulus’ inconsistency forced him to only start five games while he averaged only 16 minutes of play.
Instead of entering the NBA draft with a slim chance of being selected, Paulus decided to enroll at Syracuse University and participate in the Orange football program instead of continuing his hoop career. Paulus lost his NCAA football debut to Minnesota 23-20, throwing for 167 yards while completing 19-of-31 passes with one touchdown and one interception.
Henson began his professional career after getting drafted by the New York Yankees in 1998. In college at the University of Michigan, Henson served as Tom Brady’s back-up before taking over at the helm his junior year. After a long journey in the minors, Henson finally made his major-league debut with the Yankees in 2002, yet was given only one at-bat (a strikeout) in three games. (He actually once was acquired by the Yankees in a deal that sent former Red Sox outfielder Wily Mo Pena to the Cincinnati Reds.) The following season, Henson appeared in five games with New York, going 1-for-8 in his brief call-up with the club.
After the season, Henson decided to return to his college sport by offering his services to the Dallas Cowboys to play under Bill Parcells. Like his baseball career, however, Henson was limited. Starting in the Thanksgiving Day game in 2004, Henson had a poor showing, completing only four passes in 12 attempts for 31 yards. Henson went on to be listed as the third quarterback behind Drew Bledsoe and Romo. He was later assigned to play in NFL Europe in 2006 before he secured a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings in 2007, but was cut prior to the season opener.
One year later, Henson would receive another shot when he inked a contract with the Detroit Lions. Though he only played one game, Henson was cut by the Lions this past April and is still hunting for a job as a free agent.
After agreeing to play baseball for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Jeff Samardzija was best know for his impact during Saturday football games while catching long passes from quarterback Brady Quinn. Although he served as a reserve in his first two seasons, Samardzija set several team-records his junior and senior years, including receiving yardage (2,593) and touchdown receptions. After his senior season in 2006, Samardzija was named one of the top three finalists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver. Though he was scouted by many NFL teams, Samardzija backed away from football when he signed a five-year, $10 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.
On July 25, 2008, Samardzija made his MLB debut, striking out the first Florida Marlins batter he faced. Two days later he recorded his first career save. Though his fastball is clocked consistently between the 96-99 mph range, Samardzija was optioned back to the minors prior to the 2009 season. This past year, in 17 games (1 start) Samardzija is 1-2 with a 7.81 ERA as he continues to develop into a major league pitcher.
Will he one day resume his football duties, too? Only time will tell.
Arguably the greatest natural two-sport athlete in history, Jackson was the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn University. Anchoring the team at running back, Jackson currently ranks fourth all-time in the SEC Conference with 4,303 total yards. That same year, Jackson batted .401 with 17 home runs and 43 RBIs for Auburn’s baseball team. (In fact, Jackson was teammates with former Chicago White Sox designated hitter Frank Thomas in both Auburn sports.) During his already impressive collegiate career, Jackson qualified in track & field in the 100 meter dash which made him eligible to join the U.S. Olympic team, but that undertaking did not provide the financial incentives Jackson sought in football or baseball
In 1986, Jackson was selected as the first overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL Draft. Yet Jackson decided to join the Kansas City Royals (for whom he was a fourth-round pick), where he first began his MLB career. In 1989, he was voted to the All-Star game and received the honor of being named MVP of the game. Most known for his frustration when he had a poor at-bat, Jackson would snap the wooden bat over his knees or his helmets breaking it into two.
Though he did not sign with the Buccaneers, Jackson re-entered the draft in 1987 as he was selected in the seventh round by the Los Angeles Raiders. In his four seasons with the franchise, Jackson rushed for a total of 2.782 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also holds the Monday Night Football record for most rushing yards in a single game with 221 when he ran over the Seattle Seahawks (quite literally, in the case of a memorable bulldozing of linebacker Brian Bosworth) in 1987 with two rushing and one receiving touchdown.
An injury during his NFL career cost Jackson the 1992 MLB season. Now with the Chicago White Sox, Jackson would go on to play one more season with the team in 1993 where he was awarded the AL Comeback Player of the Year. In 1994, Jackson joined the Los Angeles Angels for his final season in MLB, where he finished his career with a .250 batting average, 141 home runs, and 415 RBIs.
Perhaps more than any other modern athlete, Bo knew dominance in two sports…and then some:
|09.11.09 at 11:12 am ET|
Joining Dennis & Callahan on Friday, Men’s NCCA Head Basketball Coach John Calipari discusses his new book entitled “Bounce Back: Overcoming Setbacks to Succeed in Business and in Life” and also reminisces about the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Here are some highlights of the show:
To listen to the first segment click here
To hear the second segment click here
If you have a flight and a stop in Memphis, are you comfortable?
I’m good. I have a few critics in Memphis. I have them everywhere it seems to be, but I have a ton of friends. I was there nine years, so I got a lot of love there for people and I think all in all it’s pretty good.
How about here? We all read Dan Shaughnessy’s column in yesterday’s Globe…
(Laughs) What did he write? Did he say I have some critics?
Do you have people like Dan Shaughnessy who don’t think you’re welcome in Amherst?
No, my daughter just graduated from Amherst. I’ve been back there. Kelloggs, their new head coach, played there for me. From professional and different people that are there, I had a great relationship with then. Even now, we’re doing a function a the UMass club tonight and there’s going to be all my friends and supporters. In the profession I’m in, you’re going to have critics, and you’re going to have family, friends, and supporters. I mean I deal more with the good stuff, I don’t get mad when someone’s a critic and they write mean and nasty stuff. They have an opinion. If they like me, don’t like me, it’s how it is.
This book is a chance to give back and help. I’m listening to you guys coming in and the 9/11 stuff struck me before going into New York because we signed yesterday in New York and did some interviews and stuff, but we went to the sight and it was amazing. One: how big it is. Two: what they’re trying to do in some parts.
I’m wondering, John, has your resolve about this country changed in 8 years? Has your outlook and rage gone away?
It’s still raw with me. I still remember the anger first that you wanted to fight and then the second thing was the emotion of compassion of the children, of wives, and of the families.
Based on how many things you have to do to get ready for this upcoming basketball season, what would incent you to sit down and write a book?
A lot of the money is going back to the charity Calipari Family Foundation for Children. This book has been in the works for 2 1/2 years. I was fired in New Jersey by the Nets and I’m going to tell you, it knocked me on my knees. It was tough for me to get out from under the covers.
When you’re world is rocked, when you’re knocked, it’s a gut-wrenching thing. We all deal with it the same. It’s almost like you’re grieving and coming through. When I got the Memphis job and I was called by coaches, I said, “You know what? I got to write down what I went through and what it was like and how I felt.”
Are you born made for college, kind of like Petino? Were you miscast in the NBA?
Well, I think I’m a coach and I don’t know what that means, but I enjoy what I do, I enjoy helping. In this book, basically I’m coaching people through Bounce Back and I say right up front what I’ve gone through and had to overcome, may not even rate on the Richter scale of what other people were doing and having to deal with and go through. But there’s still that pattern, that blueprint of what you have to do.
Did you have a moment in the NBA when you said these guys are not coachable or at least not coachable enough?
No, it was never about that. They fired me that’s why I was out.
Who fired you? Was it the players that fired you?
You could say yes. In this book, it’s not to feel sorry, it’s not my life story, it’s not a sports book. In here, I talk about it and take responsibility. First of all, I wish I had been an assistant in the NBA so that I would have a better idea because I was going from the seat of my pants. I wish my demeanor was a little bit different because there demeanor matters because they’re professional. The other thing is you do more in practice and less in the games and I worked for Larry Brown that year and learned all that.
How many covers did your wife have to pull off you after losing a 9-point lead with 2:12 to go in the National Championship to Kentucky?
Because of the New Jersey situation, I was able to better deal with it. It wasn’t about me, it was about everybody else, it was about my team, they were devastated.
If Memphis was a step up from UMass and New Jersey was in between and Kentucky is a step up from Memphis, what is a step up from Kentucky?
I think the jobs in our profession that eearn the most whatever you want to say are Notre Dame football, Yankee baseball, you have to say Boston Red Sox baseball, you have to say the Dallas Cowboys, the Manchester whatever in England. So, I think I have one of those positions.
Did you have any inkling as to what Marcus Camby was up to at UMass? Why didn’t you know?
No, when you are the head of an organization or business and you have a lot of stuff underneath you, you are responsible when anything happens, buts it’s hard to be held accountable.
Did you know he was up to something?
No, absolutely not.
So you weren’t mad at Marcus Camby?
You know what, I was disappointed. But you know what, I love Marcus Camby. And that stuff you hope they learn from it.
Part of this book is overcoming stuff that is thrown at you.
Do you consider yourself to be a lucky guy?
You’re responsible when you’re head of an organization. I’m proud of my guys.
Was it unfair for the NCAA to wipe UMass out of the record book?
The rules changed now because of that case five years later and here’s why. They came back and said if the university, if the staff did not know, we will not vacate. Five years it has happened to other schools, same exact thing, same exact money, a bigger name, and they were not vacated. Why? Because they didn’t know. But when we did it, it was cut and dry when we went through that in ’96.
Is building a program in which you are a master at have the same set of rules no matter where you are and how does that apply now that you are going to the University of Kentucky?
Well, it does. I mean you got to walk in and it really depends on where the program is. The programs I have taken over all been down. You’ve got to go in and start to change the culture of how you do business, you got to set standards on what we do, you got to make sure the young people know what you accept and what is not acceptable and then you walk that line and make sure you are consistent and fair in what you do.
When you walk out of a recruit’s house, what is the one sentence you want Mom and Dad and whoever else is there to remember?
The hardest place you can go and play basketball is with us because you are going to go to every class, you are going to go to study hall. You’re going to be on a team with other good players, and train physical because you are going to be in the best shape of your life. You are going to be given skills that are going to add to your game.
I hope they say, “Well, if you’re going there, it’s not going to be easy.”
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