Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 8/16/14

Here's an interesting tidbit for everyone: Minnesota Twins pitcher Scott Erickson led the American League in victories in 1991 with 20--a year in which he was an All-Star and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting to Roger Clemens. However, did you know that just two years later--in 1993--Erickson led the AL in LOSSES (19), pitched to a robust 5.19 ERA, and gave up the MOST hits in the league (266)?..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1985 Pittsburgh Pirates--who lost 104 games under manager Chuck Tanner--were led in home runs by a former infielder with a paltry total of just TWELVE. Can you name this former big leaguer who spent 11 years in the majors with four different teams? Answer to follow..........ITEM: Florida State wide receiver Isaiah Jones is ruled academically ineligible and will not play during the 2014 season. Put it this way: To be ineligible to play at a "football factory" like FSU, one has to REALLY mess up in the classroom--or perhaps he just couldn't find his way to the Seminoles' practice facility..........Steve Lyons may have been considered a tad "flaky" when he played in the majors (after all, he WAS nicknamed "Psycho"), but he truly knows the game--and provides some very keen, well-delivered insight whenever he's given the opportunity to provide color commentary on Red Sox telecasts. Funny guy, too.........Just the other day, I was thinking to myself how beautiful it is watching Baltimore Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones going back on a fly ball. A couple hours later, I witnessed lovely TV host/model Daisy Fuentes doing a commercial for hair extensions, and my definition of "beauty" took on an ENTIRELY new meaning (no offense, Adam). My goodness--and I used to think that Mariano Rivera aged well..........Try to fathom THIS, folks: The New York Yankees STILL owe "past their prime" players A-ROID and CC Sabathia approximately $120 million over the next three seasons. If that doesn't make any Yankees fan out there a bit nauseous, then consider yourself as possessing a very strong gastro-intestinal system; I'm not sure the same can be said about current NY general manager Brian Cashman..........*O.K.--here goes: WNBA player Kayla Alexander marries New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham, divorces, then walks down the aisle with Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell. Fans of telecommunications history would surely delight in her full married name of Kayla Alexander Graham Bell..........Based on pitcher Mickey Lolich's 1971 season with the Detroit Tigers (376 IP/29 CG/25 wins), I'm going to make THREE assumptions: 1) Manager Billy Martin was NOT concerned with his pitch count 2) Pitching coach Art Fowler was NOT concerned with his pitch count, and 3) If the team doctor WAS concerned with Mickey's pitch count--and had publicly voiced concern about it--he probably would have been looking for new employment within 24 hours of doing so...........Speaking of baseball broadcasters: I've always respected Paul O'Neill's ability ON the baseball field. But as a color commentator on Yankees telecasts, he's prone to talking WAY too much--which sometimes resembles a monologue rather than good, periodic insight..........Answer to trivia question: JASON THOMPSON--a first baseman whose career spanned from 1976-1986 with the Tigers, Angels, Pirates, and Expos..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former Duquesne basketball coach/NBA scout John Cinicola--who passed away recently of cancer at the age of 85. Cinicola--who led Duquesne from 1974-1978--was the last coach to take that school to the NCAA tournament (1977). One of his prized recruits during his tenure at the Pittsburgh school was Norm Nixon--who would experience a long, successful career with the Los Angeles Lakers. John would later do some scouting for the NBA's New Jersey Nets. He was an avid fitness buff, too--competing in several Boston Marathons while running 100 miles per week at certain junctures of his training. Cinicola is a member of the Western Chapter of the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame, the Duquesne University Hall of Fame, and the Italian Sports Hall of Fame. John Cinicola is survived by two sons, two daughters, and 13 grandchildren; he was predeceased by his wife, Eileen, in 2012. Rest in peace, "Coach."

Monday, August 04, 2014

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 8/2/14

I know it's been a couple of years now, but didn't it seem like YESTERDAY when many of us were debating who was the better all-around player--Bryce Harper or Mike Trout?..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1997 Cleveland Indians--who lost the World Series that year to the Florida Marlins--had three players on the team who surpassed the 100 RBI mark. Can you name this trio? Answer to follow.........ITEM: Alabama's fall football camp opens with three players suspended for violation of team rules (one was arrested on a DUI charge last month)--along with one incoming freshman ruled not academically eligible for the upcoming season. Ahhhhh--just another day in the dirty business of "big time" college athletics, folks............*Here goes--for all the "flower-loving fans" out there: Former female wrestler Iris Smith marries PGA golfer Justin Rose, divorces, marries ex-pro basketball player Jason Daisy--divorces again--then walks down the aisle with former NFL defensive back Joe Lavender. She then possesses the "scent-illating", full married name of Iris Rose Daisy Lavender..........Did you know that, in 1982, utility players Len Matuszek, Willie Montanez, and Del Unser of the Phillies went a combined 4-for-69 (.058) at the plate? In contrast, PITCHER Steve Carlton had 22 hits that season for the Phils in 101 at-bats--finishing with a batting average of .218..........ITEM: Newly-acquired Cardinals pitcher John Lackey says he WILL honor the clause in his contract (nice of him, huh?) that will result in him earning "only" $500,000 in 2015 (for having missed significant time due to a pre-existing elbow injury). Oh, by the way, Lackey has made approximately $110 million so far in his career pitching for the Angels, Red Sox, and Cardinals. Anyone out there thinking of organizing any benefits for this guy--a man who's taken home about $15 million so far this season? I didn't think so...........I had the privilege of interviewing former World Series MVP/Red Sox nemesis Bucky Dent recently--who acknowledges that he STILL continues to possess an unprintable middle name in many parts of New England..........I used to think that a Jimmy Connors two-handed backhand was the ultimate thing of beauty. That all changed recently when I saw some pictures of 42-year-old beauty Carmen Electra modeling various swimsuits in the summer issue of Galore magazine. My goodness; some things in life are flat-out UNFAIR, folks..........ITEM: The Green Bay Packers announce that they will retire Brett Favre's #4 jersey and induct him into the team's Hall of Fame. I'm just wondering right now how many times his JERSEY will "un-retire"/come out of retirement..........Just wonderin' what the great Bob Gibson would have done had a guy like David Ortiz homered off him and then admired the blast as if it resembled one of Charlie's Angels..........Answer to trivia question: MATT WILLIAMS (105), JIM THOME (102), and DAVID JUSTICE (101)..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of a good friend, Dennis Gleason--who passed away recently at the age of 65 after battling ALS. Dennis was a retired teacher, coach, and athletic director--spending the majority of his professional career at Ansonia (CT) High School. It's funny how life comes full circle, folks: Dennis was a former umpire when I played baseball/softball many years ago; it was later in our lives when we truly connected during meetings of the Silver Sluggers baseball discussion group (Dennis was a founding member)--long after our playing/umpiring days were over. What I'll remember most about Mr. Gleason is the immense amount of common sense he possessed and the importance he put on fairness--both in sports and life in general. He was an avid NY Yankees fan, but would be the first to point out team personnel moves he didn't agree with/players he didn't particularly care for. I'll miss his candid nature and overall intelligence; he was a very well-spoken individual. Dennis Gleason is survived by his wife, Dorothy, a son, Ryan, and a brother, Colin--along with many other loving friends and relatives. Rest in peace, my friend--you'll surely be missed.