Tuesday, January 03, 2006

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" ---- 01-07-06

In our ever-changing lives, few things remain constant--but one thing's for sure: the "Raven" will continue to run. My good friend Robert "Raven" Kraft recently completed his mind-boggling 31st straight year of running EVERY DAY on Miami Beach; he continues to be one of the top "streak runners" in the nation. "The Streak" now consists of more than 11,000 consecutive days of running his daily 8-mile route--currently totaling more than 90,000 miles. Despite back problems this past year--along with the normal, severe weather patterns so familiar to the Miami area--Kraft's dedication/devotion refuses to wane; he continues to be a cult symbol of perseverance and a walking advertisement for the strength of the human spirit. Keep runnin', "Raven."..........TRIVIA QUESTION: Current Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs started his NFL coaching career as an assistant in 1973. What former coach gave Gibbs his first job? Answer to follow..........Interesting note: I did a unique study a few years back for Baseball Digest of big-league players who've accumulated at least 15 doubles, triples, home runs, and stolen bases in a season. This unusual feat hadn't been accomplished since 1988 (Andy Van Slyke/Pittsburgh) until Carl Crawford of the Devil Rays did it in 2005. Crawford finished this past season with 33 doubles, 15 triples, 15 homers, and 46 steals. He now becomes the 21st player to reach this milestone--with Juan Samuel remaining the only player to ever accomplish it twice. Congratulations, Carl..........Anyone catch NBA superstar LeBron James' appearance on the "Oprah" show last week? If so, you HAD to come out of it with the feeling that this guy is the most grounded 21-year-old to ever play in the league; he said ALL the right things. The question I have is this: WILL IT LAST? In a league chock-full of thugs, prima donnas, and the ever-prevalent "ME FIRST" mentality, only time will tell if the various temptations/bad influences catch up with James; we hope not. Stay tuned..........This week in sports history, January 7, 1987: Niagara guard Gary Bossert connects on an NCAA-record 12 three-pointers and scores 37 points--leading his team to a 97-88 victory over Siena in a game played in New York. Bossert made 12 of 14 shots beyond the arc--including an astonishing 11 in a row at one point. Despite his offensive heroics that day, Bossert did not attempt a two-point shot the entire game..........Answer to trivia question: DON CORYELL--who named Gibbs the St. Louis Cardinals' running backs coach in 1973; Gibbs was later an assistant with Tampa Bay and San Diego before joining Washington as head coach in '81..........Lazzari's "Lopsided Scores of the Week": In Connecticut high school basketball action recently, the Vinal Tech girls lost on consecutive evenings--66-7 to Lyman Memorial and 51-5 to Coventry. All told, Vinal was outscored a combined 76-0 in the first halves of those two games. Umm, softball season, anyone?..........The Cleveland Indians have announced that the team's payroll will increase from around $40 million in 2005 to over $60 million in 2006 due to help from new TV revenue. That sounds good to Cleveland fans until you bring "Yankee Economics" into the equation: The trio of A-ROD, Derek Jeter, and Randy Johnson will earn around $60 million THEMSELVES during the 2006 campaign..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former major league reliever Bruce Sutter--who blows out 53 candles on January 8th. A master of the split-finger fastball, Sutter pitched 12 seasons between 1976 and 1988 for the Cubs, Cardinals, and Braves--winning 68 games and saving an even 300 during his impressive career. A six-time All-Star, Sutter won the 1979 NL Cy Young Award--a year in which he saved 37 games and pitched to an ERA of 2.22. Altogether, he led the NL in saves five times and won the NL Rolaids Relief Award in '79, '81, '82, and '84. Best wishes, Bruce..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former major league catcher/coach Elrod Hendricks--who died recently of a heart attack at the age of 64. "Ellie," a good-fielding catcher, played 12 big-league seasons--mostly in Baltimore--and is probably best known for hitting .364 for the O's in the 1970 World Series vs. Cincinnati. Hendricks later became the Orioles' bullpen coach for 28 seasons and was elected to the team's Hall of Fame in 2001. Elrod, you'll surely be missed.

Bob Lazzari

Reprinted by permission of the Valley Times.


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