Friday, October 2, 2009

Daddy's little girl, Mr. October and predictions for the Cuse and da Bills

Before I get to the sports stuff, I just want to wish my daughter, Amy, a Happy Birthday. I’m still having problems believing she’s 23-years-old. How the heck did that happen? Seems like only yesterday (she’s going to be mortified by this) that I was changing her diapers and putting her on the school bus for the first time and going to those soccer games where she and her fellow 8-year-olds swarmed to the ball like bees to honey. The older I get, the faster time zips by. But no matter how much sand passes through the hour glass of our lives, she will always be my little girl.


OK, I’ll stop being sappy and move on to the wacky world of sports. Had the opportunity Thursday to attend the Compeer Luncheon at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center, where Reggie Jackson was the headliner. I’ve interviewed him on several occasions, and there have been times when his massive but fragile ego has made him tough to deal with. (Think T.O. in Yankee pinstripes.)

But the Reggie I encountered yesterday was gracious and accommodating, especially with the kids there, who like their parents, were playing hooky. At the end of his speech and question-and-answer session, Reggie stunned the folks at Compeer, by saying he was going to donate the use of a 20-seat suite to Yankee Stadium for a game next season. That’s no small gesture because some of those suites have been auctioned off for $75,000.

A special advisor to the Yankees, Jackson discussed a number of baseball topics. The man known as Mr. October because of his World Series exploits said his two favorite Yankees are Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera (my favorites, too). The toughest pitcher he ever faced was his former Oakland A’s teammate Rollie Fingers. And he admitted that the dimensions of the new Yankee Stadium are smaller than the old one, which helps explain the home run barrage in the South Bronx this season.

Although the Yankees have won the most games (102) and have the highest payroll, Reggie isn’t predicting a cake-walk to the Bronx Bombers 27th world championship. He anticipates a tough challenge in their upcoming best-of-five playoff series against the Detroit Tigers and their pitching ace Justin Verlander. And he’s quick to point out that money can’t buy you love or a World Series.

“I always thought if you had a pile of money, you’ll wind up being the best,’’ he said. “It doesn’t work that way. No world champions since 2000 (the year the Yanks last won it all) have had the highest pay roll. I know, because we’ve had the highest payroll every year.’’
As far as a National League opponent should the Yankees make it to the Series, Jackson gives the nod to the St. Louis Cardinals, though he admits he’s biased, having played for current Birds’ skipper Tony LaRussa in Oakland.

All in all, it was an entertaining performance by Mr. October on the first day of the month that made him a legend.


I’m heading to the Carrier Dome tomorrow for homecoming at my alma mater, and I’m looking forward to seeing Greg Paulus live for the first time this season. South Florida might just be the most talented team Syracuse plays this season (though Cincinnati’s also very good, and Penn State is no slouch either, despite last week’s loss to arch nemesis Iowa.) In George Selvie, SoFlo boasts the best defensive end in the country, and their red-shirt freshman quarterback, B.J. Daniels, is coming off a game in which he shredded Florida State for 126 yards rushing. USF also features six receivers averaging at least 15 yards per catch and they’ll be going against a porous Orange secondary that has been toasted for 11 TDs so far. In other words, not a great matchup for the Cuse.

I’m wondering, though, if we are overrating South Florida just a tad. After all, their three opponents before the Seminoles were two Division IAA schools (Wofford and Charleston Southern) and Western Kentucky, whom they combined to outscore, 135-20.

For SU to have any chance, Paulus is going to have play super, the inexperienced SU offensive line is going to have to keep him upright and open some holes for Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey, and the special teams is going to have make a big play or two.

That’s asking an awful lot. Pressed for a prediction, I’m going to have to be untrue to my school and call it: South Florida 38, ‘Cuse 20.


Since we’re doing predictions, I might as well get my Bills pick out of the way, too. I wouldn’t be shocked if they went down to Miami and won, but I believe they have too many things going against them. Buffalo’s secondary has been decimated by injuries, and I hate picking against desperate teams – and at 0-3 the Dolphins definitely qualify as desperate. So, I’m going to call it, Miami 23, Bills 20.


If you love watching sports played by people who do it solely for the love of the game, may I suggest you check out the Mayor’s Cup 19th century base ball game at the Genesee Country Village and Museum Sunday at 1:30. My team, the Excelsiors, will be playing the Knickerbockers for the championship.

It should be a tightly contest match, and high-scoring if the past couple of games are any indication. We’ve piled up 29 and 22 runs the past two weekends, making us the New Orleans Saints of the Silver Park Base Ball league. We play according to 1864 rules, meaning we don’t use gloves. That helps explain the football like scores. But when we won the national Silver Ball Tournament six years ago, our victory was by a 1-0 margin, so defense, pitching, timely hitting and astute baserunning also comes into play.
Any way, it’s a lot of fun, and the musueum is going to be hopping with a ton of activities because this is the agricultural fair weekend, too. Love to see you there. Just make sure you root for the guys in the red socks and hats – the Excelsiors.


I'm happy to report that friend and former Times-Union colleague Gene Duffey is making a great recovery from cardiac arrest. If he continues to make progress, Gene will be getting out of the hospital very soon. He heard from hundreds of friends during his ordeal, and even received a visit from a member of the Houston Texans staff, who presented him with a game ball from head coach Gary Kubiak. It was a classy gesture for a classy reporter.


Congratulations to Pat Stark, the former Syracuse quarterback and assistant coach from Walworth, who will be among the members of the Orangemen's 1959 national championship team honored at halftime of tomorrow's SU-South Florida game. Pat's a wonderful gentleman whom I've gotten to know in my time as a newspaper reporter. Many also might remember him from his days as the head coach of the University of Rochester football team. Class act all the way.
I'm not surprised the Rio won the rights to host the 2016 Olympics. As I wrote the other day, South America has never hosted the Games, so it was long overdue. Chicago could give another push for the 2020 Olympics.

1 comment:

helmet heads said...

scott... if you not busy stop by our tailgate on stadium place before the game...

the helmet heads...