BRONX, NY – Do you seriously expect me to write about sports today? I’ve been writing about sports for this site for longer than I can remember. Besides, what’s there to write about these days? A guy beating on his fiancée with his fists? A guy repeatedly whipping his four-year-old with a switch? A guy pulling his girlfriend by the hair, slamming her arm with a toilet seat, and throwing her onto a futon covered with guns? Clueless commissioners? Racist owners? Clueless owners? The Mariners spitting the bit in the home stretch for the AL Wildcard? The Mets making me sweat out my over-74-wins bet? Nuts to that! I’m taking a week off from this crap… if not more. This isn’t sports anymore. It’s tabloid TV, and in some cases worse. You know what I miss about sports?
Mickey Rivers. When this skinny rag-armed center fielder showed up in the Bronx in 1976 I didn’t know quite what to make of him. For starters, he walked to the plate ever-so-gingerly like he was suffering from arthritis, lumbago, rickets, or any number debilitating maladies. He would then proceed to lay down a perfect drag bunt and fly down to first safely or slash a ball down the line for a triple before anyone knew what hit them. The guy was so much fun to watch and had some fairly interesting exploits off the field that involved betting on horses and sleeping in his Caddy. In that first season in New York he made the All-Star team, hit .312, and was third in MVP voting. In his final season in Texas he had 326 plate appearances and hit .300. His career batting average is .295! Not too shabby. You can have Mantle, I’ll take “Mick the Quick.”
Basketball players who knew how to shoot. It wasn’t that long ago that NBA players could actually drain jumpers and hit free throws with alarming consistency. Names like George Gervin, Alex English, Bernard King, Larry Bird, and a personal fave, Purvis Short, could absolutely shoot the lights out without so much as breaking a sweat. Even ball hogs like World B. Free were a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Today there are still guys like LeBron, Durant, and Steph Curry who can shoot the pill, but they are few and far between. And forget about free throws. You want to win in the playoffs? Get your scrubs to hack some of these bricklaying so-called stars. Speaking of stars….
The Superstars. Call me crazy but I really used to enjoy watching The Superstars on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. It was fun watching big names from various different sports compete in such things as rowing, cycling, and obstacle course. Who knew that diminutive Browns running back Greg Pruitt could clean and jerk so much weight? And who didn’t want to watch Dave Kingman attempt to play tennis? I’m sorry, but this s*** was fun. And I didn’t remember this but, apparently, actor Robert Duvall competed in the 1976 final and came in 6th ahead of names like Mike Schmidt, Rafer Johnson, and Lou Ferrigno. Great stuff!
Local Sports. I’ve written about this before but it’s fun to bring up every now and again. Growing up in New York in the 70s and 80s, I miss the days when you knew exactly where you could catch all of the games at any given time. The Mets were on Channel 9 (home to Benny Hill and ancient late-night The Life of Riley reruns), the Yankees were on 11 (11 Alive! Where the Odd Couple and Honeymooners resided) and if you couldn’t find them there then you had to bust out the radio. The Mets broadcasts featured the unbeatable power trio of Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner, and Bob Murphy while the Yanks countered with Rizzuto (too funny for words), Bill White (Abbott to the Scooter’s Costello) and the bland-yet-hilarious stylings of one Frank Messer. On football Sundays you were stuck with the hopeless Giants or the slightly-less-hopeless Jets… and strangely enough, not much has changed in that department. If you missed the games and wanted to catch up on the highlights later you had your choice of uber-sarcastic Jerry Girard on 11 or that rhombus-headed trivia whiz Bill Mazer on 5, back when they still gave hockey scores and horse racing results. Failing that you could check out Len Berman on 4 or Warner Wolf on 2, whose video-heavy reporting and “Give me a break!” catch phrase are still better than anything said by the cookie-cutter puke zombies ESPN puts on the air nightly.
It was a simpler time in many ways, and incredibly flawed. But sports were somehow more enjoyable. Oh well. We now return you to your regularly-schedule nightmare, as reported tomorrow by Big Al Sternberg/Fake Sandy Alderson.