Friday, March 28, 2008

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 3-29-08

Well-wishes go out to former Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles--who will undergo prostate cancer surgery on April 8th at Sloan Kettering Hospital in Manhattan. Perhaps my favorite Yankee of all-time, I was fortunate enough to witness his incredible fielding heroics in person during Game 3 of the '78 World Series vs. the Dodgers. The two-time Gold Glove winner was urged to get checked by his brother Jim (a former big leaguer) due to the fact that prostate cancer ran in the family. Yes, a lesson to be learned here, fellas: GET CHECKED--it could save your life. Hang in there, Graig............"Who Am I?" TRIVIA QUESTION: A former first-round NBA draft pick during the 60's, I played 11 NBA seasons--appearing in 849 games. From 1969-1973, I averaged more than 18 ppg each season. I played for four different teams during my career and was fortunate enough to have stars like Earl Monroe and Bob McAdoo as teammates. But I made a name for myself, too--always being near the top of the league leaders in free-throw percentage. Who am I? Answer to follow..........This week in sports history, April 1, 1985: In one of the greatest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, Villanova stuns Georgetown 66-64 to win the national title in college basketball. The Wildcats were able to overcome Georgetown's stifling full-court press--connecting on 13 of 18 first-half shots. Led by the superb ball-handling of point guard Gary McLain, Villanova was able slow down the game while holding a late second-half lead; Georgetown was then forced to foul which ultimately helped Rollie Massimino's outmanned squad to claim the monumental victory..........Great line by CBS'/Connecticut's own Mike Gminski during the UCONN/San Diego NCAA tournament game last weekend. Play-by-play man Tim Brando remarked how UCONN center/shot- blocker Hasheem Thabeet has "rock star status" in his native Tanzania. Gminski: "Rock star or BLOCK star?"..........Saw a picture the other day of a bikini-clad Jennifer Aniston tanning herself on Miami Beach. Let's just say that I now know the REAL reason why I love southern Florida in March--and it has NOTHING to do with spring training baseball..........How 'bout that March 16th NBA game between the Nuggets and Sonics--an old "ABA-style" game won by Denver 168-116? Yes, SO refreshing in a league that I've been SO down on due to the lack of good shooting/scoring. Fellow writer John Buro just pointed out to me that NO player on Denver scored more than 26 points in that game--resulting in an incredibly balanced attack (eight players for the Nuggets scored in double figures); additionally, the Nuggets tallied a mind-boggling team total of 44 assists. Buro also pointed out that Denver's Marcus Camby--playing only 26 minutes--took just SIX shots during the game and STILL recorded a triple-double. Great stuff, John..........Lazzari's "Lopsided Score of the Week": In the first game of a doubleheader played two weeks ago, the Western Carolina baseball team ANNIHILATED the University of Hartford 32-3; the winners scored a whopping THIRTEEN runs in the second inning and added nine more in the fourth. And get this: Over a six-game span from March 16-20 vs. various teams based in North Carolina, the Hartford pitching staff gave up an outrageous total of 74 runs--an average of more than 12 runs per game during that stretch. All I know is THIS: If anyone out there mentions the term "southern hospitality" to any member of the Hartford baseball team from this day forward, that person may get some nasty stares if not something WORSE..........Answer to trivia question: JACK MARIN--who played for Baltimore, Houston, Buffalo, and Chicago in a career that lasted from 1966-1977..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former major league pitcher Mark Esser--who blows out 52 candles on April 1st. Can't remember this native of Erie, PA? Neither can I, mainly because Esser pitched just ONE season in the "bigs"--1979 with the White Sox. Esser appeared in only TWO games as a reliever that year--allowing three earned runs in 1 2/3 innings while walking four. Yes, folks, Mark Esser's career ERA stands at a robust 16.20; hey, they ALL can't be Bobby Thigpen, right? Best wishes, Mark..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former major league pitcher Bob Purkey--who died recently in Pennsylvania at the age of 78; he reportedly suffered from Alzheimer's disease. A knuckleballer, Purkey pitched 13 seasons between 1954 and 1966 for the Reds, Cardinals, and Pirates--winning 129 games. By far, Purkey's best season came in 1962 while with Cincinnati when he compiled an amazing record of 23-5 while pitching to an impressive 2.81 ERA. He pitched very effectively for the Reds in the 1961 World Series vs. the Yankees and was a three-time All-Star--being named to the NL team in 1958, 1961 and 1962. In addition, he was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1974. Purkey is survived by his daughter, Candy Holland; may he rest in peace.


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