Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 5/18/13

Enjoyed talking to former NBA player Mike Gminski at the Gold Key Dinner in Southington a few weeks ago. We played against each other at the middle school level; he told me he always enjoyed making the short trip from Monroe to the Valley here in CT. What probably made it MOST enjoyable for him was how his team beat the pants off ours; he was already probably 6'5" tall at the time while our tallest player had to be about 5'10"..........TRIVIA QUESTION: What pitcher has thrown the most innings in Pittsburgh Pirates history? Answer to follow..........Over/under date for the next N.Y. Jets player to get busted on marijuana possession charges: June 15th..........Tragic news about former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle--a short-track specialist who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on May 16th. Reportedly, Trickle had been experiencing chest pains before his suicide, but he never seemed to be able to recover mentally from the death of his granddaughter--who was killed in a car accident in 2001; he also had a nephew who was shot to death in 2007. But I'll prefer to remember him as a charismatic, unique character--a guy known for smoking cigarettes during races and poking fun at himself due to his lack of success at the top level in the NASCAR series (even though he was voted NASCAR's rookie of the year in 1989--the oldest to win the award). I just hope you're finally at peace now, Mr. Trickle; thanks for your dry wit, the fun memories, and for being one helluva driver, too..........When Red Sox utility man Pedro Ciriaco played first base on May 12th, it was the SEVENTH position he has manned during his short career; he has yet to catch or pitch. THAT kind of versatility will keep a player on SOME team's roster for a very long time..........Since the passing of golf legend Ken Venturi, we've heard a lot about his heroic efforts in 1964 when he won the U.S. Open in blistering heat in Maryland while fighting off dehydration; yes, it was his signature moment as a golfer and an amazing feat. I'd also like to point out how terrific a commentator he was for CBS after his retirement from golf--underrated, in fact; he remained with the network for 35 years before leaving in 2002. Often paired with Jim Nantz, Venturi's low-keyed approach and smooth delivery were welcomed qualities that I'll never forget. His keen insight truly taught me how intricate the game of golf truly is--and how difficult it is to master. Mr. Venturi was recently elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame but couldn't attend the ceremony due to illness. He'll surely be missed--but never forgotten--by those of us who've followed golf over the past few decades..........O.K.--here goes: Former LPGA player Sally Little marries NBA player Michael Redd, divorces, marries British alpine skier David Ryding--divorces again--then walks down the aisle with former MLB pitcher Don Hood. Fans of old fairy tales would surely enjoy her full married name of Sally Little Redd Ryding Hood..........ITEM: Former Detroit Lions receiver Titus Young is arrested at least THREE TIMES (I lost track) within a week. I don't know if this is a sports question or a societal one--but let me ask it anyway: How in the world is this guy ALLOWED to be arrested more than, say, TWICE in one week? Putting aside possible brain disorders, concussions, etc., isn't this an embarrassment on the part of our legal system IN GENERAL?..........Since signing with the Red Sox in late 2009, pitcher John Lackey has won less than 30 games for the team and has pitched to an ERA of around 5.00. He will have earned (or should I say COLLECTED) around $65 million from the team when the current season ends. I'd say that all of this qualifies as "grand larceny"--don't ya think?..........Did you know that the 2004 N.Y. Mets--who finished 71-91 under manager Art Howe--were led in RBI's by Mike Cameron with a total of just 76? Offense was definite a problem that season; Cameron also led the team in runs scored (same modest number--76), and the team didn't have one player--starter or reserve--bat above .294..........Answer to trivia question: BOB FRIEND--who threw 3,480 innings for the Pirates between 1951 and 1965..........Finally, I was also saddened to hear about the death of former N.Y. Jets wide receiver George Sauer--who passed away recently of congestive heart failure at the age of 69; he had been battling Alzheimer's disease. A star player at Texas, Sauer played just six years in the AFL/NFL, but surely left his mark. He led the AFL in receptions in 1967 with 75, but is best-known for having a game-high eight receptions in Super Bowl III--when the Jets upset the highly-favored Baltimore Colts. Sauer was considered a rebel due to his feelings about the game of football; he considered it "dehumanizing" and disdained any type of regimented routine. He looked at his poetry/writing as much more important/relevant than the game of football--even though he was such a gifted athlete. All told, Sauer caught 309 passes for 4,965 yards during his short career between 1965 and 1970--scoring 20 touchdowns. His sister, Ms. Dana Keifer, is his only immediate survivor. Thanks for the memories, George; may you rest in peace.

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