Sunday, August 30, 2009

Edwards, Bills have been offensive - as in putrid - so far

The most alarming development in the Bills four practice games this summer is the regression of Trent Edwards, who seems to get worse with each start. In Saturday's 17-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the struggling quarterback was six-for-13 for 31 yards. He did, however, throw his first touchdown pass. Unfortunately it was to Pittsburgh's James Farrior.

I've said repeatedly that I don't put much stock in exhibition games, but you can glean a few things, and it doesn't bode well that Edwards and the Bills first-string offense has mustered only three points in 15 possessions. I'm sorry, but I don't care if you have the Steel Curtain as your defense, you aren't going to win many games with that kind of production.

Against the Steelers, that starting unit accumulated a total of just 56 yards, despite playing one series into the third quarter. The fact Edwards and Co. have gone against very vanilla schemes makes those numbers even more disconcerting. What's going to happen when the games are for real and the Bills are exposed to the flurry of complicated blitz packages opponents will be throwing at them.

Of course, it doesn't help when you are depending on an entirely revamped offensive line, featuring two rookies, a new center and a guy at left tackle who was barely adequate at right tackle.

Perhaps Terrell Owens' return from his toe injury will give the Bills anemic offense a shot of adrenaline, but it's asking an awful lot of a receiver - even one as as talented as TO - to compensate for major inadequacies at the all-important QB position and along the offensive line.


Speaking of Buffalo's O-Line, Tim Graham, a former Buffalo News reporter now working for, reports that the Bills would like to replace left tackle Langston Walker with Demetrius Bell. Bell is the son of NBA great Karl Malone and is an extremely athletic big man who has limited experience. The move has been delayed by Bell's nagging back problems during camp.


One of the few positives from the Steelers game was the play of rookie Aaron Maybin, who had a sack, a hurry and a tackle for a loss on a running play. That's the kind of production the turnover-starved Bills defense could use every game from the former Penn State star.


Don't expect any updates about Tom Brady's shoulder injury from New England's secretive coach Bill Belichick. He's always treated the NFL's injury report as a farce. He listed Brady as probable for every game during the Patriots Super Bowl years, and often included half his roster on the weekly report submitted to the league.

A better source might be Chad Ochocinco, the Bengals prolific pass-catcher and Tweeter. He spoke to Brady after the quarterback took a hard hit the other night and reported on Twitter that the Patriots superstar is sore, but OK. I wonder if control-freak Belichick is going to ask the league to place a gag order on Ochocinco.


Speaking of Ochocinco, he was fined $5,000 for wearing an orange chin strap in a recent Cincinnati exhibition game. He was ticked off and deservedly so. The chin strap actually matched nicely the Bengals orange helmets. I know there has to be uniformity, but sometimes common sense needs to prevail. The NFL does get full of itself at times.


I'm happy to report that my good friend and 19th century base ball teammate, Max Robertson, is out of the hospital and home recuperating from a staph infection in his leg. I think Max may be concerned that he has surpassed me as the slowest runner on the team. When he recovers, we'll have to get out the sun dial and have the guys time us from home to first.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A political football: Kennedy was courted by the Packers

He undoubtedly still would have wound up in politics because that was Ted Kennedy's destiny from birth, given his family's history.

Still, it's interesting to wonder what might have been had the senator accepted the Green Bay Packers invitation to try out back in 1956. Apparently, Kennedy had caught the Packers' eye after catching a touchdown pass in a 21-7 loss to Yale in The Game during his senior year. Packers coach Liz Blackbourn saw the film. He liked Kennedy's size - 6-foot-2, 210-pounds - and athleticism enough to send the Crimson receiver a personal letter.

Kennedy reportedly was flattered, but not enough to take the coach up on his offer. He eschewed the tryout in order to attend law school and pursue politics, which he wittily and accurately described as "another contact sport.''

Upon learning of the senator's death earlier this week, the Harvard football team hung a lone jersey - Kennedy's No. 88 - in the locker room.

After graduating from Harvard, Kennedy's grid-iron activity would be restricted to those highly competitive touch football games at the family's compound in Hyannis. His life-long sporting activity wound up being sailing, but his favorite sport to follow was baseball. He was a die-hard Red Sox fan, and said one of the greatest thrills of his life was throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before a game at Fenway Park early this year. It was an honor also bestowed upon his grandfather, former Boston mayor Honey Fitzgerald, many decades earlier.

Kennedy also followed the New England Patriots closely, and had a running correspondence with coach Bill Belichick. He would send Belichick congratulatory letters following significant victories and spirit-boosting notes on those rare occasions the Patriots lost. The normally stoic coach opened his Wednesday press conference thanking the late senator for his loyal support.

That was great news that the LPGA will return to Rochester for a 34th time next summer. As I stated on numerous occasions, the women's golf organization needs us more than we need them. To have snubbed one of your best supported venues and most generous sponsors (Wegmans) would have been a terrible business move, and fortunately the players realized that and rid themselves of commissioner Carolyn Bevins before it happened.

Look, I've signed off on giving a Michael Vick a second chance despite his heinous acts, but I believe the standing ovation he received from Eagles fans the other night was a little much. True redemption takes time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Memories of fine China

So much has happened in my life that it seems much longer than a year ago that I was covering the Olympics in China. Today actually marks the one-year anniversary of my return from Beijing, and to celebrate the occasion, I looked at some of the photographs I took over there. What a marvelous trip it was - from twice climbing the architectural marvel that is The Great Wall of China to writing about swimmer Michael Phelps and sprinter Usain Bolt to interacting with the Chinese people to being overwhelmed by the tour de force that was the Opening Ceremonies. (It took more than 12,500 performing artists to pull it off. By contrast, there were 10,000 athletes competing in the Games.) It was the fifth Olympics I've worked, and I'd love to cover a few more. Next time, though, I want to take my lovely bride with me. Three weeks is just too long a time to be apart.

Any one else beginning to wonder if there is more than meets the eye (or should that be toe?) with T.O.'s injury? I know it's only preseason and veterans normally don't need a lot of reps. But Owens is new to the team and quarterback Trent Edwards needs to develop some on-field chemistry with his star receiver. Timing in the passing game only comes with repetition.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it takes the average American roughly four years to earn $100,000. Meanwhile, it takes basketball superstar LeBron James just 21.2 minutes of playing time, slugger A-Rod just six pitches and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger just 3.6 snaps. Poor Tiger Woods has to sweat through 11.2 holes to pocket his six figures. Obviously, these figures don't take into account Woods' endorsement money. If the beancounters had, they'd discover that Tiger cashed his first 100 G's shortly after pushing his tee into the ground at hole No. 1.

Here's another reason why 35-year-old Derek Jeter should be strongly considered for AL MVP: The Yankees superstar has an opportunity to become only the second shortstop in baseball history to hit .330 or higher at his age. The only guy to do it was Honus Wagner, who hit .339 in 1909 and .334 in 1911.

Since 2003 - post-season games included - the Yankees and Red Sox have played 141 times, with the Bronx Bombers holding a 71-70 edge. Now, that's what I call a rivalry.
I was thrilled to see the Pro Football Hall of Fame veterans committee nominate Floyd Little as one of its two candidates for induction next year. Little's statistics are very good, but not great. Still, the former three-time Syracuse All-American running back is deserving of induction because he played an integral role in filling Denver's Mile High Stadium and helping the Broncos become the most popular sports option in Colorado. It wasn't that way before they drafted Little. In fact, the stadium was usually just half-full until the Orange legend donned Broncos' orange. Little was the face of the franchise long before John Elway received sainted status in Denver. I hope the voters do their homework and look beyond mere numbers.

In all the discussion over Brett Favre has anyone thought that maybe Father Time has caught up with him the way He does with everyone? Athletes have been known to lose it quickly, just like that. Who's to say Favre will continue to defy time?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

AL MVP? How about Derek Jeter

I know there will be a lot of clamoring for Joe Mauer and Mark Texeira, and it will be justified because they are both deserving candidates for the American League Most Valuable Player award.

But I'm rooting for Derek Jeter to finally win one. The classy Yankees' star is having a superb year at the plate and in the field where he supposedly no longer had the range to play shortstop. He remains the heart and soul and leader of a team that's currently the best in baseball.

I don't believe in using the MVP as a lifetime achievement award. I think it should be based on what you've done that particular season, and if you look at Jeter's stats (.332 batting average, 86 runs scored, 16 homers, 21 stolen bases), you realize he has earned it on performance rather than sentiment.


When a punt boinked off the scoreboard high above the Dallas Cowboys' new billion dollar playpen the other night, referees whistled the play dead and ordered a re-kick. I think it would be kind of cool if you had ground rules saying you have to play the ball off the scoreboard. It would be like the rules we made up when we were kids when trees, telephone poles and even parked cars were in play. You have to admit, it would make things interesting.


You would think for a billion dollars the architects and Cowboy and NFL officials might have taken into account a punter's ability to boot a football really, really high. Then, again, when I sat in the second deck in right field at the new Yankee Stadium - another billion-dollar edifice - I foolishly expected to be able to see rightfielder Nick Swisher when he took his position. Little did I know they would design the place with obstructed view seats.


Help me here, folks. The Bills play in a division in which each of their opponents have played 3-4 defenses for several seasons, and they're still acting like this defense is a complicated mystery. Not a good sign.


So Beth takes Sassy the Cat to the vets recently and runs into a farret who's name is - I'm not making this up - Farret Fawcett.

I can't recall a team more snake-bitten than the 2009 Mets. The injury-bug is so bad that their pitching ace Johan Santana and newcomer Jeff Francoeur might soon join David Wright, Carlos Beltran and 9 others already on the disabled list. The team is cursed.


Congratulations to Jenna Cacciatori and Warren Frame on their marriage, and get-well wishes to my good friend and fellow baseballist, Max "Country Mile'' Robertson, who's battling an infection on his leg.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Help! I'm all Favred-out!

Like most sports fans, I'm suffering from a severe case of Favre Fatigue. I don't have a problem with him coming back, and it takes two to tango (or will it be tangle?), so the Minnesota Vikings are as big a player in this soap opera as the NFL's all-time diva quarterback. But enough is enough, already. You'd think something monumentally important had just happened - like a cure for cancer or a solution for world peace.


That said, I do believe Vikings legend Fran Tarkenton went off the deep-end criticizing Favre. If they ever make another sequel to "Grumpy Old Men'' they ought to contact Fran for a starring role.


I understand Syracuse scheduling two home games against Notre Dame in the new Giants Stadium in the Jersey Meadowlands, but I wish they had kept their USC home game in the Carrier Dome. I also believe there might be more Subway Alumni than Orange fans at those Notre Dame games, so whose home game will it really be?


If the Red Sox don't make hay in this weekend's Fenway Park showdown with the Yankees, the race for the AL East will be history.


Kudos to Bills fans for gobbling up 55,000 season tickets for the second season in a row. Yes, the price was right because they didn't have to pay for the one home game being playing in Toronto, but it's still a great show of support by a fan base that hasn't experienced a playoff game in nearly a decade.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Syracuse will pin hopes on Paulus

No one can be surprised that Syracuse football coach Doug Marrone named former Duke point guard Greg Paulus his starting quarterback after just one week of practice. This was a foregone conclusion the minute Paulus announced he had chosen SU over a dozen other schools, including Nebraska and Michigan, this spring.

As I've written a few times in this cyberspace, this is a risk worth taking. So what if Paulus, a former national scholastic football player of the year, hasn't played the sport in four years? His leadership skills can't be questioned, and during these recent practices he's shown Marrone he has the arm to make all the required throws.

The two-time academic All-America is bright enough to assimilate the SU offense on the fly, and he learned all about dealing with pressure during those games in Chapel Hill - where Duke point guards are about as popular as Bernie Madoff.

I know this is a long-shot, but Paulus is a special talent. I really believe that, barring injury, he is going to be the difference in two or three more wins for SU, which would be a healthy improvement over last year's 3-9 Sour Orange. And even if he bombs, it'll still have been worth it because he'll have sold a bunch of tickets and created interest in a program that's been a bottom feeder for several years.


I pray that sprinter Usain Bolt is clean because he's such a joy to watch run. Sadly, this is where we are in the world of sports in 21st century - wondering if athletes are breaking records naturally or artificially. I find myself reluctant to gush over such achievements, because I've been burned by so many fraudulent sluggers and sprinters over the past decade.


I've researched and written quite a bit about Rochester Red Wings history through the years, but I'm hardpressed to come up with many finishes as bizarre as yesterday's. The Wings head into the ninth up by a run, then proceed to give up 12 runs in a 16-5 loss. That's the stuff of the Bad News Bears.


It seems like it was a decade ago, but it was just last year that I was covering Michael Phelps winning his record 8th Olympic gold medal in Beijing. About an hour before Phelps raced, I was in a bathroom in the Ice Cube swimming arena throwing up. That prompted friends and relatives to wonder if I deserved a gold medal in "hurling.''


There are reports out of Oakland that Raiders head coach Tom Cable punched defensive assistant Randy Hanson in the jaw. That, of course, reminds me of the "Bickering Bills'' days in 1989 when Buffalo assistants Nick Nicolau and Tom Bresnahan got into a fight. Despite giving away about five inches and 80 pounds, Nicolau got the better of Bresnahan, who wound up wearing a turban-like bandage around his head to meetings after having his head driven through a plaster wall. In the book I calloborated on with Steve Tasker, the Bills special team's star told me that Nicolau and Bresnahan had gone back to being friends before the plaster had dried on that repaired wall in the coaches' meeting room.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Making up for lost time

Forgive me, folks, for my week-long absence from this cyberspace, but I’ve been working on three books at once and the deadline for a couple of chapters is fast approaching. I promise not to disappear for so long a period again.

Clearly, much has happened since the last time I wrote.

It’s time to play some catch-up.

I believe Tony Dungy is the best thing dog-killer Michael Vick had going for him during his search for a new NFL city in which to resume his career and attempt to redeem himself after his heinous acts of cruelty. Vick also will benefit from being around Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who’s as good a role model as you’re going to find in today’s world of sports. That said, I still wonder if Philly was the best place for Vick. The City of Brotherly Love has the toughest sports fans and media to please, and callers to Philadelphia’s often vitriolic radio talk shows already have been vicious. As an animal lover, I still can’t understand how Vick or anyone else could have found pleasure in what he did, but I do believe in second chances. And if Vick is smart, he will lean heavily on both Dungy and McNabb along the way.

Speaking of second chances, Louisville wouldn’t have retained basketball coach Rick Pitino after his affair became public if he were a .500 coach with no titles on his resume. Sadly, if you just win, baby, everything gets glossed over in sports.


I try to refrain from gleaning anything meaningful from exhibition football games, so please take these following observations with a grain of salt: I like the progress the Bills are making with their no-huddle (the tempo was noticeably faster Saturday night vs. the Bears than it had been last week against the Titans) and you have to hope that the trend of forcing turnovers continues into the regular season.

At some point fairly soon, Aaron Maybin needs to forget about the salary slotting associated with NFL rookies and get to camp.

I’m all for the Bills going permanently to their throwback uniforms. I never cared for the clownish uni’s from the Gregg Williams-Tom Donahoe era.

Took a break from writing yesterday to journey to Cooperstown to play 19th century base ball with my teammates and counterparts from the Silver League at Genesee Country Village and Museum. I had played once before on the hallowed grounds of Doubleday Field. To know that you are standing in the same batter’s box that Mickey Mantle once swung from and are roaming the same rightfield grass as Roberto Clemente and the same shortstop dirt once patrolled by Cal Ripken Jr. is pretty cool.

That old-style photo I included with this blog is of “The Barber,’’ “Scribe’’ and “Country Mile’’ – also known as Curt Kirchmaier, yours truly and Max Robertson – sitting in the first-base dugout at Doubleday. We’re all in our 50s and too stubborn to act our age. At the suggestion of Excelsiors captain Ryan Brecker – a young whippersnapper who celebrated his 31st birthday yesterday – we geezers headed to a nearby shop in Cooperstown to purchase some old-school T-shirts. Mine bears a drawing of a 19th century baseball player with the phrase: OLD GUYS RULE: THE OLDER I GET . . . THE BETTER I WAS. And to drive home the point, following the game, Max, his wife Cathy, and I celebrated by reliving our split of Saturday's doubleheader with bottles of Old Slugger, a wonderful beer brewed in the nearby Leatherstocking Country town of Milford.
Belated Happy B-Day wishes to my daughter Amy’s fiancĂ©, Brian Renno.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ralph does Buffalo proud

CANTON, Ohio – One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Ralph Wilson in the 26 years I’ve known him is his sense of humor. The Bills owner has never been afraid to poke fun at himself, and he’s never demanded the spotlight the way current egomaniacs like Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder have. Ralph has always been content to hang in the background and allow his players and coaches to receive the accolades.

His trademark humor and humility were on display during his Pro Football Hall of Fame acceptance speech Saturday night when about 10,000 Bills fans in the crowd of roughly 15,000 turned Fawcett Stadium into Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Ralph talked about how friends convinced him to go down to the locker room after his team had fallen behind 21-7 to the New York Titans (now the Jets) in an exhibition game before the 1960 season.

“So at their urging, I went down and walked into our locker room, and there was our head coach, Buster Ramsey, with that ‘What are you doing in here?’ expression on his face, ’’ Wilson recalled.

“I said, ‘I want to talk to the team.’ Buster said: “Go ahead, talk to them.’ And I gave the team one of the most inspiring fight talks. It was reminiscent of Knute Rockne or Vince Lombardi. And we lost the game, 51-7.

“Shortly, thereafter, Buster said to me, “Hey, Ralph, next time talk to the other team.’’

Ralph also spoke about how it was simultaneously special and strange to be inducted because, unlike the other enshrines, he never played the game.

“I play tennis,’’ he quipped, “because, in tennis, folks, when you go back to serve, you don’t have to worry about the rush of Bruce Smith. And you go home without any bruises and clean clothes.’’

He may not have played football, but, as these past 50 years have proved, he loved the game with his heart and soul.

For me, one of the nicest parts of his speech was when he paid homage to Bills fans. He talked about how, back in 1959, he wound up choosing Buffalo for his new AFL franchise from a list of five prospective cities.

“It was a lucky pick,’’ he said, “because over the years, they have supported the team in Buffalo beyond our fondest dreams. And without the support, I wouldn’t be on this platform tonight.’’

Nicely said, Ralph. Nicely said.


For a soon-to-be 91-year-old, Ralph gave a solid speech. He told some funny stories, thanked a ton of people and didn’t ramble much.

The same couldn’t be said for former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Rod Woodson, whose 40-plus minute sermon threatened to put many of us to sleep.

I feel badly for the Hall of Fame organizers and the television producers who had told each of the six inductees well in advance that they shouldn’t go longer than 12 minutes. Woodson showed total disregard for the audience and the other inductees by being such a wind bag.


My wife, Beth, suggested that the Pro Football and Baseball halls of fame adopt the Academy Awards approach to keeping the length of speeches under control.

At the Oscars, they begin playing music after a minute or two to let the winner know that his or her time is up, and that the show must go on.

Perhaps, if they had blasted a college fight song over the Fawcett Stadium loud speakers at about the 20-minute mark, Woodson would have taken the hint.


I thought it was bush league when some Bills fans began chanting “Free Marshawn!’’ when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was introduced. They should be happy that the Commish hit Marshawn Lynch with just a three-game suspension for his gun possession arrest this spring on top of his hit-and-run incident last year. Come on, folks, I know you love your team, but your loyalty can’t be blind.


On a personal note: It was great spending time in Cleveland with friends Leigh and Larry Brattain, their dog, Pip, and their cats, Charley and Leo. Rochesterians will remember Leigh as Leigh Ann Carlson, the long-time news anchor at the old R-News.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

On the road to Canton

I'm heading off to Canton to cover the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions of Ralph Wilson and Bruuuuuuuuuuuuce! Smith. Should be fun.

I'm glad that Ralph is finally getting in. It's long overdue. Without him, the AFL never would have survived and flourished. He bankrolled several struggling franchises, including the Oakland Raiders and old Boston (now New England) Patriots. He also helped broker the merger between the two leagues, and through the years has been one of the NFL's more sane voices. (He was one of only two owners that voted against Art Modell's move of the Browns out of Cleveland.)

Of course, we, here in Western New York, have benefitted the most by having a big-time franchise to follow all these autumns. The Bills helped put the region on the map, and whether you love 'em or hate 'em, they've added to the region's quality of life.


I was there for the compelling speeches of former Bills coach Marv Levy and quarterback Jim Kelly. Ralph and Bruce are going to have a difficult time matching Levy's humor and erudition and the poignancy of Kelly, who paid tribute to his late son, Hunter, who was in the audience that day and died a few years later.


It will be interesting to see if Ralph and Bruce stick to the 12-minute limit imposed by ESPN, which is covering the event live. As a veteran of about 20 Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies, I can attest that there's nothing worse than a long, rambling speech.

I remember covering one year when former baseball commissioner Happy Chandler filibustered for 45 minutes. Frank Robinson was next up to the dais, and assured he would not be as long-winded as the ex-Commish. Well, Robby proceeded to go even longer under the blistering Cooperstown sun. Surprisingly, none of the fried fans or reporters suffered heat stroke. I don't remember a word Robby said after his failed promise. I was just praying for his speech to end as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Remembering Thurman Munson

Thurman Munson’s old locker, which had remained empty in the Yankees clubhouse for nearly three decades, is now on public display in the museum at the new Yankee Stadium.

It serves as a haunting reminder of the Yankees first captain since Lou Gehrig and how Munson’s life was cut short at age 32 when the Cessna Citation he was piloting crashed at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport.

Last Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of that tragedy – still one of the most shocking and saddest sports moments of my lifetime.

I loved watching Munson play. He was a superb athlete stuck in a squatty, unathletic-looking body, which no doubt added to his appeal for the majority of us who weren’t lucky enough to be born to look like Adonis.

The most appealing thing, though, about Munson was his competitiveness and grit. He always put his team first, often playing hurt and seemingly always finding a way to drive in the crucial runs.

And although Reggie Jackson wound up getting a candy bar named after himself, Munson’s teammates, to a man, would tell you that Thurman was the true straw that stirred the drink on those Yankee championship teams during the incendiary Bronx Zoo seasons of the late 1970s.

Besides the anniversary of his death, Munson is back in the news this summer because of a compelling new biography written by Marty Appel, a former Yankees public relations director and co-author of Munson’s autobiography roughly three decades ago.

Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain is a superb read that delves into his turbulent childhood and dysfunctional family. Through extensive interviews with Thurman’s estranged siblings we learn about his impossible-to-please father who continued to rail against his famous son, even in the days following his death.

In one of the more disturbing passages of the book, Darrell Munson approaches his son’s coffin just before it is lowered into the ground and shouts: “You always thought you were too big for this world. Well, you weren’t. Look, who’s still standing, you son of a bitch!’’
Although notorious for his gruffness with the media and strangers, Munson is portrayed as a loving husband to his wife, Diana, and a doting father to his three young children.
In a cruel twist of irony, he upgraded to a jet he may not have been totally prepared to fly in order to shorten the off-day trips from New York to Canton so he would be able to spend more time with his young family.
In one of the most compelling parts of the book, Appel does a masterful job re-creating, in riveting detail, the final days and minutes leading up to the accident.
Munson’s fatal crash is attributed to pilot error, but his heroism is evident to the end. His final actions helped saved the lives of his two passengers, and the first thing he asked after the crash were: “Are you guys okay?’’

Though the circumstances of his death are what many remember most about Thurman Munson, this book reminds us of what an incredible life preceded that tragic ending.

Cobbling together material garnered from more than 150 interviews and his own experiences with Munson during his days as the Yankees PR man, Appel tells, in page-turning fashion, the definitive story of a man and a player who will never be forgotten.


Munson was All-Ohio in three sports in high school – baseball, football and basketball. A number of major colleges offered him football scholarships as a flanker and safety, including Syracuse.


I never interviewed Munson, but I did speak to him once. My buddy, Wayne Cacciatori (yes, that’s really his name and his nickname was “Chicken’’), and I visited a friend of ours in Tampa in March of '78 and took in a spring training game between the Yankees and Mets in St. Petersburg.

The curmudgeonly Thurman was in an especially jovial mood and was even fielding grounders at third base with his catcher’s mitt on.

After batting practice was over, we called out to him, and he came over, asked us where we were from and posed for a picture from the stands.

I also saw Munson play for the Syracuse Chiefs and was in old Yankee Stadium the night he made his big-league debut.
While playing softball in the late 1970s, I grew a Fu Manchu mustache, and some of my teammates started calling me "Thurm.'' I took it as a compliment. (Hey, it's better than being calling "Squatty Body'' or "Pudge.'')

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Happy Anniversary shout-out to a very special lady

I've managed to make a living these past 36 years stringing words together, but, try as I may, I can't find ones to adequately describe the depth of my love for my soul mate, Beth.

From my admittedly biased perspective, Beth is the most kind-hearted, intelligent, beautiful, humble, funny, sensual, compassionate, dignified, grounded person I've ever met.

So what the heck is she doing with me?

Good question.

All I know is that I love her more than life itself.

And always will.

So please indulge me as I wish my Beth a very Happy Anniversary.

I have no idea how to segue from that opening to the wacky world of sports, but I'll try.

I filed stories for The Associated Press today and wound up scrambling once the Bills handed us a press release saying that NFL Commish Roger Goodell had denied Marshawn Lynch's appeal to reduce his three-game suspension for violation of the league's personal conduct policy.

Lynch can't possibly be surprised by the ruling.

I'm shocked he appealed the suspension in the first place.

The Bills running back probably should be happy his misdemeanor gun charge in February coupled with last year's hit-and-run incident didn't result in a longer suspension.

I wish someone would release the entire list of the baseball players who flunked their drug tests. This one name here, one name there stuff is like Chinese water torture.


One more personal note: I'd like to wish my mother-in-law a speedy recovery from a bad fall today. Get well soon, Dot.