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Dick Butkus, R.I.P.
And good for Kim Ng
Good morning, all! Here are some thoughts about sports, as I fret our world is spinning out of control.
Dick Butkus passed away the week before last. The outstanding linebacker for the Chicago Bears of the 1960s and early 1970s, Butkus was among those who helped professional football become America’s favorite sport.
I have written and talked about how the NFL has changed. Attending a preseason game, where fans pay regular season prices, has become a joke. Back in the day, however, when the NFL had a six-game exhibition schedule, those games were played like the real thing. The other day, while surfing You Tube, I happened upon a preseason game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers from Milwaukee’s County Stadium. It was the annual Midwest Shrine Football Game in August of 1969 and these two NFL rivals played the game as if it counted in the standings.
Bart Starr was quarterbacking for the Packers and Butkus was playing for keeps for the Bears. Below is a hit Butkus put on Packers running back Chuck Mercein, following a swing pass from Starr. The reaction from the crowd can be heard, after Butkus flattened the Packers’ third round pick out of Yale.
Click here to watch the actual CBS telecast of the game, with the great Ray Scott calling the play-by-play and the equally great Paul Christman, providing commentary. Sadly, Christman would die less than a year later.
Kim Ng walks
Good for Kim Ng to walk as General Manager of the Miami Marlins on Monday, after leading the National League club to a post season berth. Several accounts indicate that Ng, who entered the option year of her contract, expected a new three-year deal. Instead, owner Bruce Sherman chose to pick up the option year of the contract and tell Ng he was going to hire a head of baseball operations to work over her.
Sherman has every right to do what he wants with his baseball club and Ng has every right to take a hike, which she did and should have. People I have talked to in the game had nothing but praise for Ng on how she ran the Marlins. Her reward was to be essentially told, “no raise for you and you’re getting a new boss.”
Of course, leave it to the New York Post to try to generate clicks by lobbying for Ng to become the next GM of the New York Mets. Why would she take that job, when she would also be number two under David Stearns? Ng deserves the chance to run the entire show of a MLB club. She proved worthy, calling all of the shots in Miami.
Quiz: Entering this MLB post season, nine clubs have won American League pennants over the last 20 seasons. Name the six that have not won an AL pennant, during this period?
Good for the San Francisco Giants to interview coach Alyssa Nakken for their open managerial position. She is believed to be the first woman to ever interview for a MLB managerial opening. Hope she gets the job.
How cool was this? Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder had an idea; play a women’s exhibition basketball game outdoors and try to draw the largest crowd ever for a women’s game. Kinnick Stadium would serve as the venue. On Sunday, 55,646 turned out to watch Iowa defeat DePaul, 94-72. The new attendance record breaks the old mark of 29,619, who watched the UConn-Oklahoma 2002 national championship game at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Proceeds from the game benefited the university’s Children’s Hospital. Incidentally, Iowa WBB is very popular in the Hawkeye state, after the team made it to the NCAA national championship game last season, before losing to LSU.
Do not count out the Houston Astros in the ALCS, but the Texas Rangers sure look tough, winning yesterday, 5-4. The Rangers are going home with a commanding, 2-0 lead over the defending World Champions in the best-of-seven.
The Boston media is doing cartwheels trying to explain why it failed to report a story right under its noses. It was revealed late Saturday that the Boston Celtics, favored to win the NBA’s Eastern Conference, had hired former Knicks and Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy as advisor to the team. ESPN let Van Gundy go, after he broadcast NBA games for the network for nearly 20 years. The thing is, Van Gundy had been working two weeks for the Celtics, before the media noticed. In reading accounts of Van Gundy’s hiring, the media seemed to be doing more to explain why it had missed this story rather than reporting it.
Quiz answer: Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays.
That is it for this week’s newsletter. As always, thank you for subscribing and have a terrific week.