Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 9-06-08

Good luck wishes go out to former Connecticut Defenders Director of Corporate Sales Johnny Gill--who recently accepted a sales position with the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes. The on-field announcer during Defenders games for the last five years, Gill's energy and enthusiasm were always present during his tenure in Connecticut--and he's sure to be an extremely valuable addition to the Hurricanes organization. Best of luck, Johnny..........TRIVIA QUESTION: From 1974 to 1978, American Jimmy Connors appeared in five straight U.S. Open singles tennis finals--winning three times (over Ken Rosewall in '74 and Bjorn Borg twice, '76 and '78). Can you name the two men who defeated Connors during that stretch of time? Answer to follow..........Question: If former RIT volleyball player Tracy Wilt were to wed N.Y. Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, would she automatically grow taller while possessing the full, married name of Julie Wilt Chamberlain?..........Great line by WFAN's Mike Francesa recently while talking about the Yankees' dwindling chances for a playoff spot this year. Francesa said that the team was NOT "dead" yet, but conceded that "the coroner is traveling with the team."..........Forget about all these entrance exams, SAT scores, applications, etc. when seeking to get into an Ivy League school. I say that if ANY applicant out there can pronounce the name of Uzbekistani tennis player Akgul Amanmuradova correctly on the very FIRST attempt, then that person should automatically be accepted..........I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the sad passing of Genuine Risk, the 1980 Kentucky Derby Winner--one of only three fillies to win that race. She had been the oldest-living Derby winner until her passing a few weeks back at the age of 31, and died peacefully at a farm in Virginia. Finishing second in both the Preakness and the Belmont that year, she remains the only filly to finish in the top three in each of the Triple Crown races. But what I'll remember most about this special horse was the way she ran that last quarter-mile of the aforementioned '80 Derby--faster than ANY Kentucky Derby winner except the legendary Secretariat in '73. Genuine Risk was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1986; thanks for the memories, sweetie..........This week in sports history, September 8, 1988: Major league baseball owners select National League President A. Bartlett Giamatti as the game's new commissioner--succeeding Peter Ueberroth. The 50-year-old Giamatti--a former professor at Yale University--impressed owners with the professional/stern way he had handled various problems in the NL. Upon his selection, Giamatti announced that he would soon hire a deputy commissioner--mainly to handle the business side of things once the new regime takes office..........Answer to trivia question: MANUEL ORANTES (1975) and GUILLERMO VILAS (1977)..........I recently talked to former Red Sox/Cubs infielder Carmen Fanzone and asked him what separates Chicago fans from those of other teams. "They are tremendously loyal," he told me. "When I was playing, we would go to other National League parks and I would feel like WE were the home team because so many Cubs fans would travel to these other cities."..........The odds of the N.Y. Yankees NOT signing pitcher CC Sabathia during the upcoming off-season? About the same as yours truly hooking up with the newly-single Jennifer Aniston by mid-September..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former major league pitcher Jim Corsi--who blows out 47 candles on September 9th. A native of Newton, MA, Corsi pitched for the A's, Astros, Marlins, Red Sox and Orioles between 1988 and 1999. He appeared in 369 big league games--all but ONE of them coming in relief. Corsi's best year came in 1992 while pitching for the A's--a season in which he went 4-2 in 32 games while pitching to a sparkling ERA of just 1.43. Best wishes, Jim..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former Notre Dame defensive line coach Joe Yonto--who passed away recently in South Bend at the age of 83. During his years with the Irish, Yonto worked under Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine, Gerry Faust, and Lou Holtz and served a major part on three Notre Dame national championship squads (1966, 1973, and 1977). Yonto coached players such as Alan Page, Walt Patulski, and Ross Browner--all of whom went on to be first-round picks in the NFL draft. In terms of rushing defense, Yonto's defensive line ranked among the top ten teams in the country an impressive TWELVE times. During his own playing days, Yonto played fullback for Notre Dame in 1945 and guard the following year; rest in peace, "Coach."


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