Fans?

Quote of the day

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan

Trivia Time

Since the NBA playoff are in full swing, I thought that it would be appropriate to give an NBA trivia question today. Who was the first player to win the multiple finals MVP awards?

Fans?

What is going on with fans? Over the last week or so, there have been four incidents where fans have either physically or verbally “abused” players as they were leaving the court. To recap, a Knicks fan spit at Trey Young, a Sixers fan threw popcorn at Russell Westbrook, a Jazz fan hurled racially motivated slurs at Ja Morant, and yesterday, a Celtics fan threw a plastic bottle at Kyrie Irving. it is mind boggling to think that these fans assume they have the right to abuse players in this manner just because they paid top dollar for a ticket to attend the game.

Credit must be given to each arena’s security staff as they were able to quickly identify the offending fan and punish them accordingly. Without their quick response, these so called fans might have evaded justice and acted as stimuli for other fans to do more of the same.

What has gotten into these fans? Temporary insanity? Are their lives that unfulfilling that they have to act out with such raw emotion after a game has been decided in favor of the opposition to relieve such pent up tensions? I am both stunned and saddened that fans who are so passionate about their teams have crossed this line of decency.

The question now becomes, “how do we deter this type of behavior?” Well, I have a couple of suggestions. First, ban alcohol sales after half-time. My best guess is that much of this behavior is spurred on by inebriated fans who are unable to control their emotions. Remove the fuel and the fire will die down.

Second, maybe it is time to put up netting around the court so that fans can watch, but they cannot interfere with the playing of the game. High netting would make it almost impossible for fans to throw things at players and that has top be one of the primary goals. Yes, it might alter the fans viewing of the game, but remember this. It is the fans who have brought this upon themselves and they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Third, to end the verbal abuse, it is up to the fans who witness this kind of behavior to contact security personnel and have that person removed from the arena permanently. Zero tolerance, period. It is completely unacceptable to hurl racial slurs at the players and the punishment must be severe. Thus the permanent ban.

And permanent means permanent. There is simply no valid reason to act this way. With today’s technology, and I am talking about facial recognition and fingerprinting, it is rather easy to identify these people to ensure that they do not “sneak” back into an area at a future date. As these so called fans are marginalized, perhaps they will share their tales of woe with friends and family which, in turn, will spread the message that this kind of behavior is never acceptable and that there is a price to be paid when it happens.

Trivia Answer

Willis Reed (1970, 1973)

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

My Favorite Guitarists

Today’s piece is another one in a series of pieces that is tied to my love of music.  In keeping with that theme, we’ll start out with a music quote and a music trivia question. 

“Quote of the day”

“Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Andersen[i]

Trivia Time

What band got its name from a book by author William Henry Davies?

My Favorite Guitarists

I love making lists.  They’re a great conversation starter and people get quite passionate about their choices.  Years ago, we did a survey of our top 20 Guitarists.  Today, I’m going to revisit that list, add a few more to get to a top 35 and update it a bit to include newer players.  Please note that this is a list of my favorite ones, not the greatest of all time.  There is a difference.  Comments on the top ten afterwards.

NoGuitaristBand
1Frank ZappaFrank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention
2Steve HoweYes, Asia
3Jeff BeckYardbirds
4Duane AllmanAllman Brothers
5Stevie Ray VaughnDouble Trouble
6Eric ClaptonYardbirds
7Robert FrippKing Crimson
8Jimmy PageYardbirds, Led Zeppelin
9Mark KnopflerDire Straits
10Andrew LatimerCamel
11Dickey BettsAllman Brothers
12Jimi HendrixJimi Hendrix Experience
13Jeff BaxterSteely Dan, Doobie Brothers
14Peter BanksYes, Flash, Empire
15David GilmourPink Floyd
16George HarrisonBeatles
17Derek TrucksAllman Brothers, Trucks & Tedeschi
18Phil ManzaneraRoxy Music, 801
19Dave LambertStrawbs
20Robert CrayRobert Cray Band
21Alan HoldsworthAlan Holdsworth Band
22The EdgeU2
23Kerry LivgrenKansas
24Steve HackettGenesis
25Terry KathChicago
26Carlos SantanaSantana
27Neil YoungCSNY
28Tommy ShawStyx
29Paul ButterfieldButterfield Blues Band
30Frank MarinoFrank Marino Band
31Henry PaulOutlaws
32Larry CarltonSteely Dan, The Crusaders
33Mike CampbellTom Petty & the Heartbreakers
34Lindsey BuckinghamFleetwood Mac
35John FruscianteRed Hot Chili Peppers

As promised, here are a few thoughts about the top ten in my list.

Frank Zappa left an impression on me like none other.  His solos are among the most mesmerizing ones I have ever heard.  They just never get old.  It took me a while to get into his music, but once I did, I was hooked.  Yes, the lyrics can get silly at times, but the technical prowess and tightness of his ensembles is second to none.  And Frank led the way on guitar.

Steve Howe is the lead guitar player for my favorite band ever, Yes.  Their creativity was incredible, and I always found myself trying to concentrate on his guitar riffs and solos.  Listening to him play is a treat.  Seeing him do it live, in concert was fabulous.

No list is complete without the lead guitar players for the Yardbirds, Clapton, Beck and Page.  Truly legends as well as musical innovators that sit at the top of the heap.  Again, I never tire of listening to any of them go off on an extended solo.

People talk about the day the music died and of course, they were referring to Buddy Holly’s death.  For me, it was the day we lost Duane Allman.  I had just stumbled upon the Allman Brothers, and I couldn’t get enough of their music.  Listening to him duel with Dickey on Whipping Post and In Memory of Elizabeth Reed are landmark recordings.  And then he was gone.  That was the day the music died.

The same could be said of Stevie Ray Vaughn.  Nobody worked harder to become a superior guitarist than this man.  I have a DVD from one of his concerts and the man goes at it, full force, for the entire concert.  Absolutely stunning to watch.  Gone too soon.

Robert Fripp is another one whose technical expertise is second to none.  Now, King Crimson music can be challenging to take in, but if you concentrate on what Fripp is doing, he is one of a kind.  Listen to the song “Fracture” from the Starless and Bible Black album and you will instantly know why I admire this guy.

When Dire Straits hit the music scene way back in the 70’s we were all taken aback by the playing of Mark Knopfler and his work on the song, The Sultans of Swing.  His ability to create memorable solo after solo is what keeps me coming back for more.

To round out the top ten, I chose Any Latimer, who fronted the band Camel.  Sort of an underground band, they never really broke through in the U.S. and I was late to the party as well.  However, once I discovered this band, I was hooked by Latimer’s playing.  The guitar work coupled with keyboardist Peter Bardens’s riffs created a unique back and forth soloing tradeoff style.  Simply great stuff.

Trivia Answer

Supertramp.

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

End Notes


[i] “75 musical quotes on how it heals our soul”, Everyday Power Quotes”, https://everydaypower.com/music-quotes/

Fake .500

With the Stanley Cup playoffs ready to commence tomorrow, we’ll delve into the fascinating story of how the NHL determines its standings.  Like most things NHL, they do it a bit differently.  The question is, to who’s detriment?

“Quote of the day”

“Why is a puck called a puck? Because dirty little bastard was taken.” – Martin Brodeur[i]

Trivia Time

Since today’s story is about hockey, let’s go with a couple of hockey trivia questions.

  • First, who was the first goalie to be credited with scoring a goal?
  • Second, who was the first goalie to score a goal by shooting it into the net?

Fake .500

I think it might have been Sean McIndoe from the Athletic who coined the phrase “Fake .500” to describe the NHL’s wacky system used to determine the standings for each division.  The system works like this; for every regulation win (that is a win not requiring overtime,) a team earns two points.  The team that loses that game earns zero points.  A team that wins a game that goes into overtime earns two points while the losing team “earns” (and I use that term loosely) one point (aka the “loser” point.). Same rules apply for the shootout.  A team that wins a game that goes into a shootout also earns two points while the losing team earns one point.

When one looks at the daily standing, they will have to sift through at least eight columns of data, games played, wins, losses, OT (stands for overtime losses,) points, RW (regulation wins,) ROW (regulation plus overtime wins,) and SO (the team’s record in shootouts) to calculate a team’s overall points (PTS.) Here are the standings from this past season:

Honda WestGPWLOTPTSRWROWSO
Colorado56391348235390-1
Las Vegas56401428230391-2
Minnesota56351657527341-1
St. Louis56272096319252-3
Arizona56242665419213-2
Los Angeles56212874919201-1
San Jose56212874915165-3
Anaheim56173094311152-2
Discover CentralGPWLOTPTSRWROWSO
Carolina56361288027324-2
Florida56371457926361-2
Tampa Bay56361737529351-2
Nashville56312326421265-0
Dallas562319146017212-6
Chicago56242575515222-2
Detroit561927104816172-3
Columbus561826124812153-3
Scotia NorthGPWLOTPTSRWROWSO
Toronto55351377729341-0
Edmonton55351827231350-0
Winnipeg55292336123290-2
Montreal562421115920231-3
Calgary53242635121231-1
Ottawa56232855118212-1
Vancouver52212834515183-1
MassMutual EastGPWLOTPTSRWROWSO
Pittsburgh56371637729343-1
Washington56361557729333-2
Boston56331677325294-2
NY Islanders56321777124284-3
NY Rangers56272366024261-2
Philadelphia56252385817223-4
New Jersey56193074515190-5
Buffalo56153473711114-3

One quick note.  Because of the effects of Covid-19, not all team have finished out their schedules.  For the purposes of this discussion, none of these teams can affect the seating for the playoffs. 

From these columns of data, we can derive how many three-on-three overtime wins each team had, as well as how many shootout losses they incurred.  This is important, because a quick glance at the standing would leave one to believe that 19 out of 31 teams finished their season over .500.  In other words, well over half of the league had a winning record. How can this be? 

Every game has a winner and a loser, right?  Well, in the fantasy world of the NHL, this is still the case, but because of the awarding of the “loser” point in games that go into overtime, this balance is thrown out of kilter.  If we recalculate the standings to show pure wins and losses, we get this:

Honda WestGPFake-500
Colorado5639-17
Las Vegas5640-16
Minnesota5635-21
St. Louis5627-29
Arizona5624-32
Los Angeles5621-35
San Jose5621-35
Anaheim5617-39
Discover CentralGPFake-500
Carolina5636-20
Florida5637-19
Tampa Bay5636-20
Nashville5631-25
Dallas5623-33
Chicago5624-32
Detroit5619-37
Columbus5618-38
Scotia NorthGPFake-500
Toronto5535-20
Edmonton5535-20
Winnipeg5529-26
Montreal5624-32
Calgary5324-32
Ottawa5623-33
Vancouver5221-31
MassMutual EastGPFake-500
Pittsburgh5637-19
Washington5636-20
Boston5633-23
NY Islanders5632-24
NY Rangers5627-29
Philadelphia5625-31
New Jersey5619-37
Buffalo5615-41

The truth is laid bare!!!  Seventeen out of the 31 teams finished with a sub .500 record.  Also, Las Vegas wins the division instead of Colorado while Florida edges out Carolina.  Montreal and Calgary would have to go to tie breakers to settle who gets the last spot in the North.

This is the NHL’s way of increasing competitive balance, fake the results.  If they really want to increase competitive balance, I suggest that the perennial losers (yes Buffalo, we’re looking at you,) need to be scrutinized much closer in terms of the management team that is in place and the level of ownership interference and incompetence.  Those are the true underlying problems to be resolved.

So, what is a better method of ranking teams?  My research has uncovered two possibilities.  One is what many hockey pundits refer to as the 3-2-1 Point System.  Only the winning team earns points. It works like this; any regulation win is worth three point to the winning team.  The losing team earns zero points.  Any three-on-three overtime win is worth two points to the winning team.  The losing team earns zero points.  Any shootout win is worth one point to the winning team.  The losing team earns zero points.  One quick note, SOL stands for shoot out losses.  Here are how the standings would look under this model:

Honda WestGPWLOTRWSO3-3 Wins3-3 LossSOWSOL321
Colorado5639134350-14301113
Las Vegas5640142301-29012109
Minnesota5635165271-1741196
St. Louis5627209192-3662371
Arizona5624266193-2243264
Los Angeles5621287191-1161160
San Jose5621287155-3145352
Anaheim5617309112-2472243
Discover CentralGPWLOTRWSO3-3 Wins3-3 LossSOWSOL321
Carolina5636128274-2564295
Florida5637145261-21031299
Tampa Bay5636173291-26112100
Nashville5631232215-0525078
Dallas56231914172-6482661
Chicago5624257152-2752261
Detroit56192710162-3172352
Columbus56182612123-3393345
Scotia NorthGPWLOTRWSO3-3 Wins3-3 LossSOWSOL321
Toronto5535137291-0571098
Edmonton5535182310-04200101
Winnipeg5529233230-2610281
Montreal56242111201-3381367
Calgary5324263211-1221168
Ottawa5623285182-1342162
Vancouver5221283153-1323154
MassMutual EastGPWLOTRWSO3-3 Wins3-3 LossSOWSOL321
Pittsburgh5637163293-15231100
Washington5636155293-2433298
Boston5633167254-2454287
NY Islanders5632177244-3444384
NY Rangers5627236241-2241277
Philadelphia5625238173-4543464
New Jersey5619307150-5420553
Buffalo5615347114-3044337

A few observations.  Compared to the Fake .500 standings, Colorado jumps back into first place with this system.  Tampa leaps over both Florida and Carolina to win the Central.  Florida also jumps over Carolina to earn home ice during the playoffs.  And shockingly, Edmonton overtakes Toronto to win the North outright.  Finally, Montreal looks on from the outside as Calgary overtakes them for the final playoff berth in the North.

In yet another system, this one I will refer to as the 5-4-3-2-1 system, points would be awarded as follows.  All games have five points to be awarded potentially to both teams depending on how the game ends. Any regulation win is worth five point to the winning team.  The losing team earns zero points.  Any three-on-three overtime win is worth four points to the winning team.  The losing team earns one point.  Any shootout win is worth three point to the winning team.  The losing team earns two points.  Here are how the standings would look under this model:

Honda WestGPWLOTRWSO3-3 Wins3-3 LossSOWSOL54321
Colorado5639134350-14301198
Las Vegas5640142301-29012191
Minnesota5635165271-17411175
St. Louis5627209192-36623140
Arizona5624266193-22432122
Los Angeles5621287191-11611115
San Jose5621287155-31453105
Anaheim5617309112-2472293
Discover CentralGPWLOTRWSO3-3 Wins3-3 LossSOWSOL54321
Carolina5636128274-25642181
Florida5637145261-210312181
Tampa Bay5636173291-26112176
Nashville5631232215-05250144
Dallas56231914172-64826129
Chicago5624257152-27522121
Detroit56192710162-31723107
Columbus56182612123-33933102
Scotia NorthGPWLOTRWSO3-3 Wins3-3 LossSOWSOL54321
Toronto5535137291-05710182
Edmonton5535182310-04200175
Winnipeg5529233230-26102143
Montreal56242111201-33813134
Calgary5324263211-12211121
Ottawa5623285182-13421117
Vancouver5221283153-13231101
MassMutual EastGPWLOTRWSO3-3 Wins3-3 LossSOWSOL54321
Pittsburgh5637163293-15231179
Washington5636155293-24332178
Boston5633167254-24542165
NY Islanders5632177244-34443159
NY Rangers5627236241-22412141
Philadelphia5625238173-45434126
New Jersey5619307150-54205100
Buffalo5615347114-3044378

Under this system, the changes are reversed when compared to the 321 system.  In the Central Carolina, Florida, and Tampa finish 1,2,3.  Toronto regains first place and Calgary is out as Montreal squeaks back in.

So which system is best?  Who knows?  I have always favored the system that does not reward losing, so, my pick would be to go with the 321 System and call it a day.  These are the pros. No participation trophies here. NHL Commissioner in waiting, whomever you are, just do it.

Trivia Answers

  • Billy Smith, NY Islanders – 11/28/1979
  • Ron Hextall, Philadelphia Flyers – 12/8/1987

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

End Notes


[i] Brodeur, Martin, “57 famous hockey quotes about hard work and team spirit”, Every Day Power, https://everydaypower.com/hockey-quotes/

The Rangers Respond

“Quote of the day”

Here’s one of my favorites from the immortal Yogi. We miss you Yogi…

“Baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra[i]

Trivia Time

What was the first Major League team other than the Yankees to have 5 players with 20 or more home runs in one season? Name the 5 players (including 4 Hall of Famers)?

A Rangers Response

Was anyone really surprised by what happened on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden?  I was not.  In fact, I expected it.  This was “must see” television as any veteran hockey fans knew that it would be an eventful night.  In fact, this is what you get when the NHL’s Department of Player Safety (DOPS) hands down such a poor ruling that drew the ire of many a fan. 

Why even have DOPS if they’re not going to do their job, which is to protect the players.  They failed to protect one of their superstars!!!  If Panarin had landed on his head without his helmet, we would be having a much different discussion today.  With their heads in the sand, I’m sure the NHL thought this would simply fade away.  Or, they cleverly anticipated that possibly this might lead to the best ratings night of the season.

The puck did not even drop before the Rangers and Capitals dropped their gloves to start an action-packed 1st period at the Garden Wednesday night.  At 0:00, Rangers center Kevin Rooney dropped his gloves and squared off against John Dowd; winger Phil DiGuiseppe went after Washington’s Garnet Hathaway and Colin Blackwell attacked former Ranger Carl Hagelin.  All six received fighting majors as the penalty boxes began to fill up.

As soon as they were they escorted to the penalty box, Tom Wilson stepped onto the ice.  It took less than a minute for Ranger forward Brendan Smith to make a bee line for him and engage him in the next round of fisticuffs.  The result of this exchange was two more players headed to the box with the Rangers adding an additional player to server Smith’s extra two minutes for instigating.

Finally, at the 4:14 mark, Rangers Ryan Strome and Lars Eller of Washington attempted to exchange blows while Rangers defenseman Anthony Bitetto went at it with Washington’s Michael Raffl.  Fortunately, there were no more fights for the rest of the period because there was no place to put the next two contestants:

Wilson left the game soon after with what was described as an “upper body” injury. I have to think that Caps head coach Peter Laviolette “decided” that there was no point in having Wilson remain in the game. Kudos to him for recognizing this and diffusing the situation as best he could.

Eventually the Caps won the game 4-2 and thus concluded “Retribution Night” at the Garden.  After the game, there were many players on other teams praising the Rangers for their response.  And why not.  If the league is not going to do anything, then the Rangers had no choice but to offer their own form of justice.  Justice was served, but this league is no closer to attracting new fans if these kinds of ugly events continue to proliferate year after year. 

It’s a shame because this is the best game out there.  Not only do they players have to demonstrate amazing hand to eye skills, superior conditioning, and mental awareness for the different situations they will face, but they are doing it skating on knives on a friction free surface.  On a scale of 1-10, the degree of difficulty has got to be a 45.  Shame on you George Parros, Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and all the rest of the dinosaurs running this league.

Trivia Answer

The 1940 Boston Red Sox – Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Bobby Doerr, Joe Cronin, and Jim Tabor.

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

End Notes


[i] Finn, Amy, “100 baseball quotes”, “Quote Ambition”, https://www.quoteambition.com/baseball-quotes/

Madman

“Quote of the day”

“Baseball is like church. Many attend few understand.” – Leo Durocher [i]

Trivia Time

Name the five Mets pitchers to lead the league in ERA.

Madman

Quick post for today about the dumbest owner in sports. And that includes such illuminaries as Dan Snyder (The Washington Football Team,) Terry & Kim Pegula (Buffalo Sabers,) and Eugene Melnyk (Ottawa Senators hockey team.) Yesterday, Dolan did what no one though was possible. He fired John Davidson and Jeff Gorton from their posts as President and General Manager respectively of the New York Rangers hockey club. His rationale? They weren’t steering the team in the right direction quickly enough for his liking.

It is a remarkably obtuse statement from a spoiled little rich kid who knows nothing about how to run a sports franchise. One would think that after 20+ years of constantly interfering with the day to day operations of the Knicks, and living with the less than stellar results that are a direct result of that interference, he might have learned a lesson or two. Apparently not. In what was a promising future for a franchise that decided to tear it all down and rebuild the right way, a shining moment has come and gone. Make no mistake about it. We are at a turning point in this franchise’s history.

Time and time again, it has been proven that the most effective ownership groups follow a three step approach. First, the owner hires the right management team. Next, he provides them with the appropriate amount of resources to spend on facilities, player development and marketing. Finally, and this is the critical step, s/he then steps back from the day to day operations of said management team and lets them spin their magic spell. This is the object lesson that has played out in franchises like the Pittsburgh Steelers of the Rooney family, the Miami Dolphins of the Joe Robbie era, the Boston Celtics led by Red Auerbach, and the Dallas Cowboys of Clint Murchison.

That’s quite the list, eh? Somewhere between steps two and three, Dolan didn’t get the memo and what has to be considered potentially one of the great rebuilding efforts has now officially gone sideways. Full disclosure, I’m an Islanders fan. Always have been, always will be. When they joined the league in 1972, the Rangers were in a period of sustained excellence driven by then head coach and general manager Emile, the Cat, Francis. I witnessed him break up the core of that team because they never did quite get over the hump as they lost to the other great teams of that era, the Bruins and the Flyers. And then he left when ownership changed. And the Rangers never really reached that peak again until Glen Sather took over the reigns.

At the same time, the Islanders hired one of the greatest general managers of all time, Bill Torrey. Team owner backed his decisions all the way and the end result was the Islander Dynasty that started in 1975 with an upset of the Rangers and culminated with four Stanley Cups, the last of which occurred in 1983.

This was the model that Davidson thought he was emulating when he accepted the position barely two years ago. He was provided the resources necessary to execute the rebuild that was so desperately needed. He patiently stocked draft picks, drafted well, launched the dead wood from the roster and directed the head coach to give the young players the necessary ice time over grizzled veterans. Then he sat back and waited for the the kids to acquire the necessary experience to blossom into an annual contender. Sadly, the irrational decision making demonstrated by Dolan has torpedoed that plan as Davidson and Gorton can only look on from the sidelines as rookie president and general manager Chris Drury takes over the operation.

Now Drury might, and I emphasize might, continue down the path that Davidson and Gorton walked, but I doubt it. Mr. itchy pants can’t wait another minute for the plan to manifest into a cup contender and the time of poor decision making is upon us. He will force trades for players with past glory, oversee poor draft picks and be a general nuisance as he continues to insert himself into the process.

It amazes me that a man with such a huge ego and so little expertise in relationship management continues to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Good luck Ranger fans because you’re going to need it as once again, another foolhardy owner thinks he knows better that hockey lifers on how to run a franchise. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 0-3 in ruining franchises (Knicks, Rangers, Liberty.). A perfect batting average in the weird world of James Dolan. A not so perfect world for the rest of us.

Trivia Answer

Tom Seaver (1970, 1971, 1973,) Craig Swan (1978,) Doc Gooden (1985,) Johann Santana (2008,) and Jacob deGrom 2018.)

End notes

[i] Finn, Amy, “100 baseball quotes”, Quote ambition”, 2021, https://www.quoteambition.com/baseball-quotes/

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

Tom Wilson

“Quote of the day”

“It was all I lived for, to play baseball.” – Mickey Mantle [i]

Trivia Time

Since 1947, post-integration, who holds the single season record for pitching losses in a season?

Tom Wilson

I guess it’s going to take having a player wheeled off the ice with a broken neck or something similar for the NHL to severely discipline the Washington Capital’s forward, Tom Wilson.  If you missed it, last night Wilson repeatedly punched a defenseless player, Pavel Buchnevich, while he was prone on the ice and then turned around a flung another player, Artemi Panarin, to the ice, picked him back up and did it again.  Twice!!!  And what did the referees do?  They administered a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute penalty for fighting.

It’s bad enough that the refs “manage” the game doling out penalties on a whim to keep the game close, but why on earth did they not throw Wilson out of the game?  Clearly, he crossed the line with his antics.  Both players could have been seriously hurt and in fact, Panarin did not return to the game.  Today we found out that he will miss the remainder of the season because of the injuries inflicted on him by Wilson.  This is unacceptable.

Back in the day, there was an unwritten code of conduct that was followed whenever two players decided to duke it out.  With the NHL’s half-hearted effort to eliminate fighting from the game, the code is basically gone.  Anything goes.  What is more appalling is that in Wilson’s case, he is a repeat offender have served five suspension over the course of his career for crossing the line time and time again.

One would think that after this many incidents, the NHL would have come down hard on him.  Not so.  We learned today that he received a $5,000 fine for his actions in the game last night.  Say what?  How is what he did not subject to a long suspension?  If the goal is to get him to change his behavior, then this ain’t working.  In my humble opinion, a 20-game suspension was in order.  My reasoning is that he attempted to injure two players beyond what is generally accepted during a fight.

The Rangers and Capitals have one game remaining in this season. The Rangers are out of the playoff picture. Care to guess when they will extract their pound of flesh for a) the ridiculous penalty handed out by the NHL and b) the fact that Panarin is done for the year? Assuming Wilson plays, because the Caps are still fighting for playoff positioning, I’m setting the odds at 2-1 that he is challenged to a fight by one of the Rangers on the first shift of this upcoming game. And here’s to hoping that he gets a game misconduct and the Caps lose. Sour grapes? Not really. The NHL has always taken pride in letting the players settle things. Well, here we go, round two. Ding, ding, ding…

Trivia Answer

Jack Fisher and his teammate Roger Craig are tied with 24 losses each for the 1962 Mets.  What a team.

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

End Notes


[i] Finn, Amy, “100 baseball quotes”, Quote ambition”, 2021, https://www.quoteambition.com/baseball-quotes/

House Cleaning

Quote of the day

“There are three types of baseball players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happens.”– Tommy Lasorda [i]

Trivia Time

Who are the only two players who hit one career homerun and it occurred in a World Series game?

The State of Umpiring

Unions are supposed to be a good thing.  They protect their workers from arbitrary discipline and discrimination, unwarranted terminations by their employers better health and safety conditions, and others.  They negotiate fair wages and compensation for their members and provide job security.  When it comes to job security, there is another side to the same coin.  They provide cover for those workers who continually perform below expectations and really cannot perform he job for which they were hired.

When we analyze the quality of Major League Baseball’s umpires, we see all these conditions on display.  Top umpires are compensated with top of the line pay.  Benefits packages provide excellent health care of umpires and their families and their jobs are beyond secure.  Short of dying, it is a job for life.  And therein lies the problem.  Poor umpires are shielded, in most instances, from negative consequences for their continued poor judgements.

What irks most baseball fans about the last point is that the level of incompetence and the lack of discipline for the worst umpires taints the game.  Do you really want your 8-year-old son to remember the umpire who blew the game or would you rather he remembers the diving play by the shortstop that saved the day or the game winning home run that barely cleared the fences?

The names are familiar because they keep coming up season after season.  Yes, I am talking about Laz Diaz, Joe West, C.B. Buckner, and Angel Hernandez.  This year, “bad umpiring disease” has spread, and it continues to sully the game by rendering inexplicable decisions such as the one that occurred in the Milwaukee-Miami game on April 28, 2021.

To review, umpire Marty Foster called obstruction on a play where it was obvious to everyone but Marty that the runner was going to be throw out on a routine grounder.  Isan Diaz, the runner was half-heartedly running down the line, out of the base path, I might mention and Zach Godley, the pitcher who was covering 1st base was a step ahead of him.  Routine play, right?  Wrong.  Marty ruled that Diaz’s path to the base was obstructed and he awarded Diaz 1st base!!!

Everyone was stunned by the call.  Players, Coaches, managers, Play-by-play announcers all were speechless.  After the game was over, Foster doubled down and stated,

“I’m 100% sure that the runner was impeded on his way to first base.”

And he followed it up with,

“(Diaz) actually makes a jog to the right to get out of his way, to get out of Godley’s way. That’s clear-cut obstruction. It doesn’t have to be contact. It just has to be hinder or obstruct, and that’s what happened.”

In another incident, Andrew McCutcheon was called out for supposedly running out of the baseline.  Replays clearly showed that this was not the case and that umpire, Jose Navas blew the call.  As with most bad calls, in the flawed eyes of MLB, judgement calls are not reviewable.

And finally, umpire Ron Kulpa blew it when he let a pitch that hit Michael Conforto stand and awarded hit 1st base. On replay, it was apparent that Conforto leaned into a pitch that crossed into the strike zone.  Kulpa, to his credit admitted the mistake, but the damage was done.  The HBP allowed the Mets to score the winning run since the bases were loaded when this event occurred.  Game over.

These are just three of the more notorious examples that have occurred this year.  In fact, bad umpiring has become a cottage industry.  Consider this web site: https://www.closecallsports.com/  It is a fantasy league for based on the concept of poor officiating!  From the web site,

“Close Call Sports objectively tracks and analyzes close and controversial calls in sport, with great regard for the rules and spirit of the game. Developed from The Left Field Corner’s MLB Umpire Ejection Fantasy League (UEFL), baseball’s number one source for umpire ejections, video instant replay reviews and their corresponding calls, with great regard for the rules and spirit of the game.” [ii]

How crazy is that?  There are numerous umpire ranking sites such as The Cold Wire, The Top Tens, as well as plenty of YouTube videos.  The hubris that MLB umpires continue to demonstrate is completely out of line and I submit that it is time to purge baseball of these displays of sheer incompetence.  How many more blown calls by Angel Hernandez do we need to suffer through before somebody within MLB stands up and says, “enough already?  How many more times are we going to “let”’ umpires define their own strike zone?  It is time for some serious attitude adjustments to be developed and then imposed on these rogue umpires.

Whomever is selected to negotiate the next CBA with the umpires union must make eliminating this disease a priority.  I would suggest that they bargain for no less than the following conditions:

  1. Increase the penalties for consistent blown calls (Laz, Angel, C.B., this one’s for you,) to include lengthy suspensions and corresponding fines.  There must be full accountability just like there is when players cross the line.
  2. Make judgement calls reviewable.  Managers should be able to challenge anything.  No more excuses for poor judgement, period.
  3. Set up a rating system to evaluate all umpires and make it public.  There is nothing like opening a window to let a little sunshine in to cleanse the room.
  4. For those umpires who consistently rank at the bottom of the ratings, relegate them back to the minor leagues for a period of five years.
  5. Any umpire who is relegated must attend mandatory training that focuses on communications, relationships, and conflict management so that this hubris they display is eliminated.
  6. No tenure for umpires.  Just like employees of standard businesses, you must prove yourself every year.  No coasting on past reputations.  If your performance slips, so does your eligibility to call games.
  7. Finally repeated gross incompetence becomes a “fireable” offence.

It’s bad enough that the level of action has decreased to the point where the games are almost unwatchable, but to layer on this level of hubris is too much.  Keep going down this path and watch the fans walk away…

Trivia Answer

  • Mickey Lolich, 1968
  • Joe Blanton, 2008

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

End Notes


[i] Finn, Amy, “100 baseball quotes”, “Quote Ambitions”, https://www.quoteambition.com/baseball-quotes/

[ii] Imber, Gil, “Close call sports and fantasy league”, 2019, https://www.closecallsports.com/

MLB Predictions – 2021

Well, another baseball season is upon us and it is time for my annual predictions. Perhaps these will go a little bit better than the last ones although I did pick the Dodgers to win it all. The rest of the picks? Sort of a hodge-podge of right and wrong.

We’ll start off with the American League.

  • AL East: Yankees
  • AL Central: White Sox
  • AL West: A’s
  • AL WC1: Rays
  • AL WC2: Twins
  • AL Champions: Yankees over the White Sox, 4-2

And for the National League, I have the following winners.

  • NL East: Mets
  • NL Central: Cardinals
  • NL West: Dodgers
  • NL WC1: Braves
  • NL WC2: Padres
  • NL Champions: Dodgers

World Series

  • Dodgers over the Yankees, 4-3

And there you have it. Easy, right? Clip ‘n’ save…

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

Firsts

“Quote of the day”

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” ―Helen Keller

Trivia Time

With baseball season almost upon us, I thought that I would ask a question about an endangered species, starting pitchers.  Name the last two pitchers, one in the NL and one in the AL to have 40 or more starts in a season.

Firsts

Thought I’d do a quick list of the first time I attended a sporting event at the pro level.  There is something special about going to your first ball game and I wanted to get those memories down on paper, er, in the blog before the memory goes kaput.

First Baseball Game – 1964

My grandpa Norm took me and my sister Elizabeth to our first game where we saw the New York Mets play the Los Angeles dodger in a doubleheader at Shea Stadium on Friday September 4.  I was very excited because I was a huge Sandy Koufax fan, and I was hoping that he would start one of the games.  My grandpa, on the other hand, was still mad at the Dodgers for leaving town back in ’57 and he was now an avowed Mets fan.  Unfortunately, Koufax did not make the start that day.  Instead, we got to see their other star, Don Drysdale.

In the first game Drysdale pitch a gem as he gave up only 3 hits as the Dodgers won 3-0.. Galen Cisco took the loss.  Maury Wills had a stolen base in the game.  Just two years earlier, Wills had set a major league record by swiping 104 bases.

In game two, the Mets rallied from a 5-1 deficit with one run in the bottom of the seventh and four runs in the bottom of the eight to earn the win 6-5.  Larry Bearnarth won it and Bob Miller lost it.  Famed reliever Jim Brewer started for the Dodgers that afternoon (why, I don’t know.  Alston was usually fairly predictable with sticking to a regular schedule.)  The turning point came when Tommy Davis committed a 2-run error that let in the tying and winning runs.  Grandpa Norm made sure I remembered that game.

First Basketball Game – 1969

We went down to “The Most Famous Arena in the World,” Madison Square Garden on a Saturday in December to see the New York Knicks take on the Baltimore Bullets. Having recently gravitated to the game, I would listen to the Knicks on the radio and when they showed up on television, I tuned in.

The Knicks had been a dismal franchise during the ‘60’s, barely competing against the leagues powerhouses, but a new management team and a couple of trades later, they were an up and coming organization  In 1965, they drafted Bill Bradley. In 1966 they drafted Cazzie Russell.  In 1967 they drafted Walt Frazier and in 1968 they traded for Dave Debusschere.  All the pieces were now in place and in 1969 in all came together.  This was the season in which the Knicks would go on to win their first of two championships and the game I attended was against their arch rivals, the hated Bullets.  The Bullets featured a roster loaded with HOFers, Earl Monroe, Wes Unseld and Gus Johnson, to name a few.

Well, that night, the Knicks really took it to them as they walked away with a 128-91 victory.  Walt “Clyde” Frazier let the way with 29 points while Dick Barnett chipped in with 26.  Dave DeBusschere added 16 rebounds.  High scorers for the Bullets were Wes Unseld, Jack Marin, and Gus Johnson with 14 points each.  Great game for a first time outing and a prelude to bigger things to come.

First Hockey Game – 1973

The New York Islanders came into existence for the NHL’s 1972-1973 season as part of a two team expansion.  Their expansion cousins were the Atlanta Flames, now known as the Calgary Flames.  The Isles then proceeded to muddle through a historically poor season as they went 12-60-6, good for 30 points and a new NHL record for futility.

I was lucky enough to see them that inaugural season because tickets were not hard to come by and my Dad scored a pair for a game against the Buffalo Sabers on February 3.  The game was scheduled to start at 7:05 but because of heavy traffic on the Long Island Expressway, we arrive in the middle of the first period with the score tied at 1-1.  And that’s the way it ended.  On a positive note, it was one of the few games in which they actually received a point.

Until that season, I had been a Rangers fan, but in 1974, after another playoff season without winning the Stanley Cup, Emile Francis traded away beloved stars Jean Ratelle, Brad Park and Vic Hatfield.  Utterly stunned, I decided right there and then that I was done rooting for them.  Those trades sucked the soul from me and feeling betrayed, it was an easy switch to rooting for the new kids on the block.

By 1975, the Isles had made the playoffs for the first time; ironically they beat the Rangers in their first ever playoff series, and in 1980 they won their first of four consecutive Stanley Cups.  They set a record by winning 19 straight playoff series.

First Football Game – 1975

After my first semester at Alfred University, I was home from winter break when one of my dorm-mates, Carol Aspros called me up and asked me if I wanted to go to the Jets game that weekend.  I said yes and as it turned out, they were playing the Dallas Cowboys, who were in the midst of a sustained run of excellence.  The Cowboys featured Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, and Robert Newhouse on offense while their defense was led by Bob Lilly, Lee Roy Jordan, Cliff Harris, and Roger Waters.

The Jets were finishing up another dismal season and their record stood at 3-11.  Thus, the reason we were able to score tickets.  They were led by the immortal Joe Namath, John Riggins, and Emerson Boozer on offense.  The defense literally had nobody of note; they were that bad.  The game was played in Shea Stadium on December 21, 1975 (the Meadowlands was still a year away) and it was a cold and windy wintery day.  Surprisingly, the Jets started out strong as they received the opening kickoff and marched down the field to score a touchdown to go up 7-0.  On the next series, Dallas fumbled, and the Jets put it in the end zone to go up 14-0.  We were all jumping up and down as we could not believe what was happening.

That turned out to be the highlight of the day as Dallas proceeded to score the next 24 point as they cruised to a 31-21 victory.  After Dallas’s last touchdown midway through the third quarter, Carol & I decided to call it a day as we were shivering uncontrollably.  That’s what it was like at Shea in December; the wind would whip through the stands and chill fans to the bone.  Even the Hot Chocolate wouldn’t help.

Trivia Answer

  • Phil Niekro, 1980 – Atlanta Braves
  • Charlie Hough, 1987 – Texas Rangers

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.


The Little 10

“Quote of the day”

“The most wasted of days is one without laughter.” – E.E. Cummings

Trivia Time

Name the only World Series in which neither team had a stolen base.

The Little 10

With the NCAA tournament already half over, I think it is safe to say the that Big 10 was waaaaaaaay overrated this year. Prior to Selection Sunday, all I heard or read was how stacked the Big 10 was and how they were sending nine quality teams to this year’s tournament. Nine! That was the most from any major conference. Well, I’m here to tell you that once again, the Big 10 is exactly we thought they were (thanks to Dennis Green for that unforgettable line.) And what I thought was that every team except Illinois was flawed and not good enough to make it to the final four.

Despite that feeling, I had Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State all making serious runs. And I had Illinois going to the title game. As of today (Tuesday 3/22 at 4:40 EDT,) only Michigan is still standing. So much for my brackets. Never again do I trust the “Little 10.”

Trivia Answer

1944 – St. Louis Browns vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

An Exercise in Futility

“Quote of the day”

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” -Aesop

Trivia Time

Name the 6 pitchers who, more than once, struck out at least 10 batters in a World Series game.

An Exercise in Futility

Last night, as I was watching the New York Rangers obliterate the Philadelphia Flyers 9-0, my buddy Mike (who is a huge Rangers fan) and I exchanged a series of text messages as we pondered the historical significance of the game. You see, Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad had a game for the ages as he tallied 6 points in a single period by garnering a natural hat trick to go along with three assists. It tied the all-time mark for point in a period set by Bryan Trottier of the New York Islanders in 1978. Trotts also had three goals and three assists in a 9-4 thrashing of, ironically, the Rangers.

For all those positives, there was a flip side as Flyers defensemen Phil Myers and Travis Sandheim tallied -6’s plus-minus ratings for the game. The question we pondered was, what was the all-time record for negative plus-minus rating in a game. A quick Google search unearthed the answer as well as a few more dubious records:

  • Greg Joly, a defenseman had a -9 plus-minus rating for the Washington Capitals in 1975 again the Pittsburgh Penguins.
  • Defenseman Bill Mikkelson finished the season with a -82 plus-minus rating, the worst single-season plus-minus of all time.
  • The Caps went 8-67-5 for the season and set the record for the worst goal differential at -265.

That, my friends is a record for futility. It should be noted that 1975 was an expansion year and the Caps set a host of marks for all-time futility records. It may be quite a while before we see these kinds of records again.

Trivia Answer:

  • Bob Gibson – 5x
  • Sandy Koufax – 3x
  • Orlando Hernandez – 2x
  • Walter Johnson – 2x
  • John Smoltz – 2x
  • Bob Turley – 2x

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

Adventures in Potter County – Part I

“Quote of the day”

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ―Thomas A. Edison

Trivia Time

Name the first baseball team to win 100 games in three (3) straight seasons.

Adventures in Potter County – Part 1

Back in the 90’s we would usually make plans to spend a summer weekend with our good friends, Mark and Judy W. in Potter County, Pennsylvania.  There was a cabin located there that Mark & Judy had access to as a benefit for being members of a hunting lodge.  Ironically, neither of them were hunters.  Instead, they took advantage of their membership to use the cabin during the summer months as a vacation home.

The lodge itself was located on a small plot of land in the Susquehannock State Forest. It was a simple two story cabin that was built sometime in the 1920’s.  The downstairs was comprised of two rooms,  a small, fully functional kitchen, and a large living room/den area.  In the living room, there was a wood burning stove, a couple of couches and a couple of easy chairs.  The upstairs was one long room that functioned as a sleeping porch.  On the outside of the cabin was a nice, large deck with a picnic table, a charcoal grill, and some outdoor chairs that overlooked a small creek running through the backyard.  In terms of basic necessities, the house was wired with electricity, however there was no telephone service nor running water.  Lastly, there was an outhouse a few feet from the cabin.

In June of 1992 Mark & Judy had invited us along with another couple, Judy & Jay, to spend a weekend there.  We were excited because this would be the first summer that our son Nolan would be able to really enjoy the experience.  We had brought him to the cabin the summer before, but he was not walking yet, and he spent a fair amount of time sitting in a backpack that was attached to my backside.

This time around, he was walking, talking, and curious about all sorts of things.  And what better place to explore nature than a cabin surrounded by a forest.  That Friday, after I arrived home from work, we loaded up the car  with all of the essentials, portable baby crib, diaper bag, extra diapers, snacks, and baby clothes, and set out for Potter County.  We guesstimated that our arrival time at the cabin would be around 9:30PM.

Potter County is located in central Pennsylvania, not far from the New York border.  From our home in Flemington, NJ, the trip usually took about 4.5 hours.  Our usual route would be to work our way north to I-80 via PA-611 and then head west for about three hours, depending upon traffic conditions.  At Lockhaven, PA, we got off the interstate, took a sharp right and proceeded to traverse local county routes as we headed towards the roaring metropolis of Cross Fork (population 67.)  Once we reached Cross Fork, a town with two bars and a gas station, we had to travel the last 5 miles on a dirt and gravel road.

Lockhaven was an actual city (population 9,700) that hosted Lockhaven University and it was the last stop where one could actually buy ample supplies, fill up the car w/gas and sit down in a restaurant.  After leaving Lockhaven, it turned desolate very quickly.  There were nothing more than a small towns scattered over county roads the rest of the way.  More importantly, once you left Lockhaven, cell phone service was almost non-existent.  You might find a pocket or two occasionally, but chances were between slim and none that you could place a call.  That was the state of cellular networks in the early 90’s.  Main corridors were fully covered, but veer off the straight and narrow, and you were on your own.

Typically, when we arrived in Lockhaven, we would stop at the local McDonalds to fuel up for the final two hours of the trip.  Nolan always loved stopping there and consuming an order of their chicken nuggets.  To this day, he is still a chicken nugget fan.  I would usually stock up on a couple of Double Cheeseburgers while Nancy would order the salad.  In order to save time, we would order the meals through the drive through and eat in the car as we continued our journey north.  More than a French fry or two would be discovered when I was cleaning the car after the trip was over.  Of course, that wasn’t as bad as when Jay discovered part of a six-foot hoagie under the passenger seat of his car some three days after a party.  That’s another story for another time.

On this particular trip, we made it to Lockhaven by around 8:00 pm.  The trip had been going smoothly although about every 15 minutes, we would hear Nolan ask from the back seat, “Are we there yet?”  That became his running gag for many a future trip.  My response; turn up the volume on the CD player.

We left Lockhaven and headed north on route 120.  About forty five minutes later we blew through the town of North Bend and suddenly the car engine made a loud whiny sound and turned off.  If you’ve ever been in a car that turns off unexpectedly, it can be a harrowing experience because the steering column also locks up as an anti-theft measure.  If you aren’t going straight, turning is next to impossible.

Fortunately, I pumped the brakes a couple of times and guided the car off the road and onto the shoulder.  We came to a full stop and I immediately turned on my emergency blinkers.  It was now dark outside and there were no lights on the road.  No cars were passing by, let alone a police car, to help.  As we sat there thinking about what to do, a sense of panic crept in.  This was the ultimate horror movie scene; car breaks down on a lonely country road and help is nowhere to be seen.  What to do, what to do.

After taking a moment to calm down, we decided to investigate and attempt to see what was causing our problem.  Now you have to understand that I am not a car person.  I can do the basic things like check the oil, check tire pressure, and replace the coolant/anti-freeze and windshield wiper fluids when their levels get too low, but that’s about it.  When an engine shuts off, I’m out of my league.

We got out of the car, popped the front hood, and took a look around the engine.  Nothing stood out as a potential root cause of the problem.  No hoses nor cables appeared to be loose or detached. Nothing looked out of place.  We needed help.

Fortunately, I had my cell phone with me.  As an IT employee of Bell Atlantic Mobile System, I was given one for handling after hours calls.  And times like this.  Unfortunately, there were zero bars of service indicating that we were out of range.  Sigh!  As we pondered our situation, we looked back along the road from where we had just driven and realized that there was the semblance of a town within spitting distance.  While Nancy stayed with Nolan and the car, I walked the back into the town to see what sort of help might be available.

As I neared the town, I realized that the first building that I approached was a motel!!!  I opened the door, walked in, and rang the little bell on the counter.  A nice woman came in from the back room and asked how she could help me.  I explained our situation and she informed me that the town was closed for the evening.  Thus, the car would have to wait until morning.  In the meantime, I was able to book a room for the night.  I grabbed the room key and headed back to the car.  After sharing the good news with Nancy, we then took turns transferring our luggage, food, and supplies from the car to the motel.

Job one was to get Nolan to the motel, so I put him on my shoulders, grabbed a piece of luggage and walked back to the room.  As soon as Nolan got in the room, he jumped onto the second bed and started using it as a trampoline.  This worked out to be a great distraction while we grabbed the final few items from the car.  By this time, It was around 8:30 or so and we had no way to contact mark & Judy.  We decided to have a quick dinner of pretzels, candy bars and a few other snacks, and then we all went right to bed.  It had turned into a long day and tomorrow we would figure out what to do.

The next morning, we got up early (thanks Nolan) and by 8:00, we had made a list of the things we needed to accomplish.  First, we had to find a mechanic to look at the car and determine what went wrong.  Second, we had to find a way to get a message to Mark & Judy about our situation.  And third, we needed to find a place to have some breakfast.  We decided to divide and conquer.  Nancy took on the task of rounding up breakfast while I explored our options on getting the car fixed.  As I surveyed the scene, I noticed that the town of North Bend had two gas stations and in an unbelievable stroke of luck, it also had a huge Chevy dealership.  Who would have thought that in the middle of nowhere, and I mean nowhere, there would be a Chevy dealer?

I went to the first gas station and asked them if they had the facilities to diagnose and repair a Toyota Supra.  The guy looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and say, “Sorry, I only work on American brands.”  I said thanks and walked over to the Chevy dealer.  Same response (no surprise there.)  Then I walked over to the other gas station.  They guy said he had never worked on a Toyota, but he sure would love to give it a try.  I said thanks and that I would get back to him.  I wasn’t so sure I wanted him touching the car.

In the meantime, Nancy had found a small shop in town and bought some breakfast food; muffins if I remember it correctly.  She brought them back to the motel and while we ate it, we contemplated our next steps.  We agreed that she would give AAA a call to see if and when they could get to North Bend to take a look at the car.  My task was to find a way to get to the cabin to see what help Mark, Judy, Jay & Judy could provide.

No sooner had I stuck out my thumb in hopes of hitchhiking there than a guy in a classic 1967 Pontiac GTO stopped and asked me where I was going.  I told him my tale of woe and he generously offered to give me a lift to the cabin.  It turned out that the guy was in town for the wedding of his college roommate, and he had been driving around looking to kill some time until the evening’s festivities were scheduled to begin.  I directed him up to the cabin and  about forty five minutes later we arrived at the cabin.  Everyone was surprised to see us, and I after introducing my new found friend, I took the next few minutes explaining what had happened that past evening.

We piled into Mark & Judy’s car and with Judy and Jay following in their car, we all headed back to North Bend.  When we got there, Nancy explained that she had reached the AAA office in Lockhaven and that the AAA mechanic had agreed to meet us at our car at 5:00 PM.  Rather than hang around North Bend all day, we decided to head back to the cabin for the rest of the day.

We unloaded the Supra and transferred all of our groceries, luggage, and Nolan’s baby paraphernalia into Mark & Jay’s cars.  In no time at all, we were back at the cabin.  We spent the day catching up on what was going on in everyone’s lives and making plans for the next possible event.  At around 4:00, Mark drove us back to North Bend.

The AAA tow truck arrived on time and the mechanic got out and introduced himself.  It turned out that he had lived in Flemington for years and was quite familiar with our current stomping grounds.  We exchanged a couple of stories or two and then he directed me to pop the hood, get in the car and try to start it up.  After 30 seconds or so, he said to stop what I was doing and to come over to look under the hood with him.  He pointed out that the “drive belt” had snapped and broken through its casing.  He would be able to replace this part, but he could not finish the repair until later in the week.  We agreed to let him tow it back to his shop in Lockhaven and that we would plan to pick it up the following weekend.

We said goodbye and then headed up to the cabin to enjoy the rest of the weekend.  And it turned out to be a wonderful time.  The water in the creek was bone chilling but refreshing for a 90 degree day as we alternated between soaking up the rays and wading in the creek.  The park trails were teeming with bird calls and critters roaming in the underbrush.  We built a campfire that night and Rocky, the local raccoon made an appearance looking for leftover scraps from dinner on the grill.  Before long, we had sipped our way through a bottle of Jim Beam and a six pack or two of Sam Adams.  Sleep came easy that night.

Sunday was moving day. We somehow managed to pack all of our stuff, all of Mark & Judy’s stuff, Nolan, Nancy, and me into their Toyota Camry for the drive home.  They had graciously offered to drop us off back in Flemington and we gladly accepted the invitation.  To say that it was cramped was an understatement, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Being a “napper,” I slept most of the way.  Nolan, being 18 months old, also slept most of the way.  Nancy, not so much.  After the trip, she informed me that we ran into a huge traffic jam near the Pocono Raceway, but other than that, the trip was uneventful.  Mark and Judy dropped us off in Flemington, we said goodbye’s and they proceeded on to Medford, NJ.

The next week, we arranged to rent out the cabin for the upcoming weekend and that Friday, we packed Nolan into our 1989 Honda Civic and once again, we were off to Potter County.  This time, the trip was without incident and we made it up there in a little over four hours.  Along the way, we stopped in Lockhaven and the mechanic returned the Supra to us, fully functional once again.  We had a great weekend as we took a long walk each day, swam in the creek and barbecued dinner each night.  Nolan thoroughly enjoyed himself as well.

That Sunday, after a final plunge in the creek, we packed up the cars, locked up the cabin and drove back to Flemington.  Mark and Judy eventually told our story to the rest of the lodge member and shortly afterwards, they decided to have phone service installed at the cabin.  We haven’t been back to Potter County in a long time, but I am willing to bet that there is still no cell service up there.

Trivia Answer

The Philadelphia Athletics, 1929-1931

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

Tourney Time

The NCAA Men’s basketball tournament is back and although the outcome is anything but certain, it’s betting time. Here are my picks:

Final Four:

  • East – Texas
  • Midwest – Illinois
  • South – Baylor
  • West – Gonzaga

Semi’s:

  • Gonzaga over Texas
  • Illinois over Baylor

Finals:

  • Zags over the Fighting Illini 80-77

The Zags will finally break through and become our first undefeated champions since the Hoosiers way back in 1976. Clip ‘n’ save…

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox. All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

The Top 100 Songs – Revised in 2021

“Quote of the day”

“The pain of self-discipline will never be as great as the pain of regret.” Anonymous

Trivia Time

As of 2021, what is the only franchise to never appear in a World Series?

My Top 100 Songs

Since we’re on the topic of music, I thought that I would revisit the list I keep of my top 100 songs.  The original list was the result of a series of music survey projects that my good friend Steve S. administered back in the 90’s and 00’s.  With some time on my hands, I thought it was time to revisit the list and update it accordingly. Without further ado, the list:

NoSongArtist
1Close To The EdgeYes
2Nine Feet UndergroundCaravan
3JunglelandSpringsteen, Bruce
4Cinema ShowGenesis
5StarlessKing Crimson
6IntroductionChicago
7Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’Rolling Stones
8Low Spark of High Heeled BoysTraffic
9Funeral For A Friend/Loves Lies BleedingJohn, Elton
10Take 5Brubeck, Dave
11Soul SacrificeSantana
12Miracles Out of NowhereKansas
13Manhattan MorningFlash
14Young GirlUnion Gap
15South Side of the SkyYes
16TheophanyProto-Kaw
17Wouldn’t It Be NiceBeach Boys
18Across 110th StreetWomack, Bobby
19Year of the CatStewart, Al
20Hide in Your ShellSupertramp
21AjaSteely Dan
22Evil WomanElectric Light Orchestra
23I’ll Be ThereJackson 5
24She Loves YouBeatles
25Peaches en RegaliaZappa, Frank
26ScatterbrainBeck, Jeff
27Never Let GoCamel
28New WorldStrawbs
29You Get What You GiveNew Radicals
30Ol’ 55Eagles
31Walk Away ReneeFour Tops
32There She GoesLa’s
33Walkin’ The Streets AloneMarshall Tucker Band
34Crystal BallStyx
35Green Grass & High TidesOutlaws
36One More HeartachePaul Butterfield
37EchoesPink Floyd
38I’ll Be AroundSpinners
39Maybe We Can Go Back to YesterdayAllman Brothers
40Terrapin StationGrateful Dead
41Wouldn’t It Be NiceBeach Boys
42Grab it For A SecondGolden Earring
43AwakenYes
44Positively 4th StreetDylan, Bob
45Rose Coloured LensesIzz
46Don’t Do Me Like ThatTom Petty
47Bad TimeGrand Funk Railroad
48Philadelphia FreedomJohn, Elton
49Wake Up EverybodyMelvin, Harold & the Blue Notes
50FrankensteinWinter, Edgar
51Can You UnderstandRenaissance
52Lady WillpowerUnion Gap
53Scenes From an Italian RestaurantJoel, Billy
54Space CowboySteve Miller
55What a Wonderful WorldLouis Armstrong
56Don’t Worry BabyBeach Boys
57Rock & RollVelvet Underground
58Come As You AreNirvana
59The VoiceMoody Blues
60Beat ItJackson, Michael
61Kingdom ComeWorld Party
62HeartbreakerWarwick, Dionne
63WireU2
64Something In the AirThunderclap Newman
65It Only Takes  MinuteTavares
66Who’s That LadyIsley Brothers
67DeadlineBlue Oyster Cult
68SurrenderCheap Trick
69Light My FireDoors
70Doctor WuSteely Dan
71Spirits In the Material WorldPolice
72Slip AwayStanley, Michael
73When We’re AloneStamey, Chris
74Both Ends BurningRoxy Music
75Show and TellAl Wilson
76I Love MusicO’Jays
77Enter SandmanMetallica
78Heard it in a Love SongMarshall Tucker Band
79Woman WomanUnion Gap
80We’ve Got TonightBob Seeger
81If Looks Could KillHeart
82Sweet Child of MineGuns ‘n’ Roses
83Supper’s ReadyGenesis
84GetawayEWF
85In Memory of Elizabeth ReedAllman Brothers
86You’re So VainCarly Simon
87Chiefs & IndiansCaravan
88Sultans of SwingDire Straits
89My Sweet LordGeorge Harrison
90Slippin’ AwayEdmunds, Dave
91RedKing Crimson
92Crystal Blue PersuasionTommy James & the Shondells
93QuartetABWH
94PhotographDef Leppard
95When the Music’s OverDoors
96Won’t Get Fooled AgainWho
97SpookyClassics Four
98Lotta LoveNicolette Larson
99DowntownPetula Clark
100Everybody Wants to Rule the WorldTears For Fears

Trivia Answer

The Seattle Mariners.

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

WABC’s Top 100

Well, I’m back in the saddle and inspired to write again. Let’s see how long this phase goes. I’m going to start with a quick look at the Trump Pandemic numbers:

CategoryWorld-Wide CountUnited States CountPennsylvania Count
Confirmed Cases106,585,70827,098,033876,165
Deaths2,328,383465,09622,443
Table 1 – Covid-19 Statistics

“Quote of the day”

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle awakens. He has only one thought on his mind: To be able to run faster than the fastest lion. If he cannot, then he will be eaten.

Every morning in Africa a lion awakens. He has only one thought on his mind: To be able to run faster than the slowest gazelle. If he cannot, he will die of hunger.

Whether you choose to be a gazelle, or a lion is of no consequence. It is enough to know that with the rising of the sun, you must run. And you must run faster than you did yesterday, or you will die.

This is the race of life. – African Proverb[i]

Trivia Time

Name the three (3) player to have 13 hits in a single World Series.

The Top 100

I cut my teeth listening to music back in the 1960’s when AM radio was the only choice available to us.  This was before FM Radio took over the airwaves and gave us legendary stations like WNEW-FM, WPLJ, and WCBS.  FM radio was different.  They would play entire albums at a time or just deep cuts; songs that would never appear on AM Radio.  It was a wonderful time to listen to music.

My “go to” station on the AM dial at the time was WABC Musicradio 77.  Operating at 770 kHZ, I would draw a mark my old box radio at exactly that point so I could tune it in easily.  AM Radio, at that time, was focused exclusively on broadcasting two and a half minute songs.  Hits Like “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Young Girl,” and “Ruby Tuesday” would be played continuously throughout the day.  Longer songs like “Light My Fire” were cut down in length to fit this mold.  It wasn’t until FM Radio came along that I was able to hear the full length version.

Every morning, on my way to school, I would listen to the Harry Harrison show.  He introduced me to legendary bands like the Doors, the Supremes, James Brown, and anyone else who might appear in the top 40.  On my way home from school, it was time to tune in to Dan Ingram as he piloted the afternoon drive.  At night, while doing my homework, Cousin Brucie filled the airwaves.  And finally, if the Mets or Yankee game was not on, I would fall asleep to Chuck Leonard.

Each year, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, WABC would roll out their top 100 hits of the year.  My sister and I would each take a page of loose leaf paper, number it from 1-100 and then try to fill out the entire sheet as WABC played the top 100 hits in a random sequence.  This became an annual tradition until we each went away to college and we eagerly looked forward to completing our lists. 

In a few of the years, we took advantage of WABS’s offer to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to their studios and in return, they would mail us a pamphlet that contained the complete top 100.  Here is a pic of one of them:

A few years ago, I was reminiscing about the fun we had creating these lists and I decided to see if I could find any of them online.  Well, lo and behold, there is a web site dedicated to WABC Music Radio and it has all of these lists!!!  You can find it here

Times have changed and WABC is no longer a music station.  The music “died” on May 10, 1982 and WABC is now Talkradio 77.  The tradition of producing a Top 100 has morphed into various forms.  Many of the FM music stations conduct user polls throughout the year and then they play their top 500 songs, albums, artists or whatever theme they can think up and they match them with their call letters (e.g., WXPN-FM, 88.1 out of Philly, creates a top 880.) The Christmas season is no longer the time when these lists are played.  The stations will play them over any available holiday; Independence Day, labor Day, etc., and as a result, they have lost their luster.

I wish that WABC would bring back the tradition with a twist.  For Christmas week, how about each day, they play the top 100 for a given year.  For example, on Christmas Day, start with the Top 100 from 1960.  The next day, play 1962’s songs, and so on.  This would be something to look forward to once again.  What do you say WABC?

Trivia Answer

  • Bobby Richardson, 1964
  • Lou Brock, 1968
  • Marty Barrett, 1986

Copyright 2021 by Robert Fox.  All rights reserved

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner.  They do not represent the view of those people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.  Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

End Notes


[i] African proverb, “The lion and the gazelle,” Brainy Quotes, https://maglite.com/blogs/maghistory-blog-1/the-lion-and-the-gazelle