Thursday, October 7, 2010

Opining on Billy Crystal, Doc Halladay's no-no and the Buffalo Bills

Beth and I had a chance to hobnob with Billy Crystal and Bob Costas last Friday night at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Crystal had donated a number of items from 61*, his wonderful film about the riveting home run duel between Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and the ghost of Babe Ruth in 1961, and was on hand for a talk and movie screening. Costas, a Syracuse classmate of mine, moderated a panel discussion that included Crystal, Thomas Jane ( the actor who played Mantle in the movie) and the producer and screenwriter who conceived the idea for HBO. It was a fabulous night in which I was reminded again of Crystal’s genius as a comedian and director and Costas’ brilliance as an interviewer.

One of the memorable stories told that evening was how Mantle hadn’t seen his plaque hanging in the Hall of Fame until Crystal brought him back to film a comedy skit in 1985, 11 years after Mickey’s induction. Crystal said that Mantle, haunted by feelings that he had not done everything he should have to fulfill his enormous potential, confided to the comedian that he felt he really didn’t belong in the Hall. Believe me, anybody who ever saw him play, will tell you he definitely belonged – near the front of the class. Still, it was a poignant revelation into the soul of a player who was a tortured genius.

As an aside, you’ll notice in that picture of Billy C and me, I’m holding a copy of my book, Memories of Yankee Stadium, which includes an essay I wrote about Crystal’s life-long love affair with Mantle and the Yankees. I had sent him a copy of the book two years ago when it first came out and he said he enjoyed it. We authors love those kind of endorsements. Thanks to my friend, Chris Sciria from Auburn, for snapping the shot.


There are few baseball dramas more compelling than the final outs of a no-hitter. I had no idea that Roy Halladay was working on one until I flipped the channel to TBS at the start of the top of the ninth last evening. I was nervous watching him work through those final hitters, and was rooting for him because even though I’m not a Phillies fan, I’m a fan of history-making events. Even Beth, who doesn’t follow baseball, was getting into it a little.


Interestingly, Doc Halladay’s no-hitter occurred just two days short of the anniversary of the only other post-season no-hitter – Don Larsen’s perfecto for the Yankees vs. the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. Think about that: Baseball’s playoffs now begin near the time World Series ended back in the day. If this year’s Fall Classic goes the distance, Game 7 will be played on Nov. 7. Way to go, Bud.

I told Beth the other day that I’m going to grow a beard and not shave it off until the Bills win a game, and she had a sarcastic two-word response: “Rip VanWinkle.”
Actually, I think I’d be able to pull out the razor Sunday because I believe these counterfeit Bills will upset the Jacksonville Jaguars in front of a two-thirds filled Ralph. Call it Buffalo 23, Jags 17, and look for a big game by running back Fred Jackson, who should have been playing all along but lost playing time during the four-game Marshawn Lynch trade audition.


The next best chance for a Buffalo victory will come on November 14 at home against the perennially weak Detroit Lions.
This Sunday’s game will be blacked out, and you can also expect the Lions, Browns (Dec. 12) and Patriots (Dec. 26) games won’t be televised either, as the Bills sink deeper into irrelevancy.


If you are going to Sunday’s game, stop by the field house, where I’ll be signing copies of my new book, Buffalo Bills Football Vault: The First 50 Seasons from 10-noon. Hey, the book takes you back in time, and isn’t the past a better place to be than the present as far as the Bills are concerned?


Saw the movie, Social Network, about the founding of Facebook last week. Highly recommend it. Great story, great acting. Can see why it is receiving Oscar buzz.


Joe T said...

There's no better drama in sports than a no hitter!

Anonymous said...

Just once, I'd like to start a autobiographical paragraph "I had a chance to hobnob with Billy Crystal and Bob Costas last Friday night at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown."