A good topic for stools and a questionable honour in L.A.
Well, there goes 162-0!
Rather a boring opener, wasn’t it? That’s going to happen more often than not in a season that’s a true marathon; the good thing is there’s just about always a game the next day and you just move on.
So my guy Mike Wise of the Washington Post (one of the most under-rated scribblers in our business) goes on the tweeter the other night (a phrase I’m gleefully stealing from The Mighty Quinn) and poses a question something like this:
With the passing of Stan Musial, who is the greatest living ballplayer?
Now, isn’t that one for the stools?
Mike lists some usual suspects, Hammerin’ Hank, The Say Hey Kid, Yogi and I’m thinking that’s a great discussion.
My initial reaction is that it has to be Willie Mays, right? Offence, defence, speed, grace, one of the all-time greats no matter who’s alive or dead.
And then others start chiming in and the one and only S. Asch of NBA.com trumpets the skills of Henry Aaron, pointing out that even if you took away everyone of his all-time (clean) home run record, he’d still have more than 3,000 hits and, yes, even Asch’s bent towards Milwaukee (that’s what a Marquette education will get you) can’t take away from the logic.
Lombo chimes in and agrees but he’s a Wisconsin guy, too, and I wonder about his objectivity.
(I joke, of course; those dudes are smart. Really smart)
But I still think I’m going with Mays.
You can’t quantify baseball defence (well, you can, but that’s analytics and we all know how we feel about that) and there is no denying how good he was offensively.
Raw numbers can obviously favour Aaron and there would be nothing wrong with holding him up in that lofty position as BLBP.
But I’m sticking with the initial reaction and just wish there’d been a big table of people sitting around talking about it the other night rather than one guy on a stool talking electronically with some others.
Now, as this tweeter discussion is going on, Steve Simmons chimes in with two words and it’s got to start another disussion.
And this, folks, is the essence of sports in a large part: Discuss.
No one’s right, no one’s wrong and it’s fun.
So I hear tonight’s this I Roll With Amir thing at the ball game (sounds like a flawless way to spend a night) and all I can wonder is how he’s going to be rolling.
After one of his least productive games of the season the other night, Dwane told us he’d been banged up – shocker!!! – and was feeling the effects most nights.
And now with even the arithmetic telling them the season’s all but over and Acy back and healthy, I would imagine they’d try somehow to reduce Amir’s minutes, at least a little bit.
The kid could probably use it. And I wonder if other guys might get nights off here and there between now and the end of the season as well.
I hear there are a couple of big shows being put on around these parts in the summer and if this was the 70s or 80s I might be convinced to part with my own money to go see them.
But I honestly am not sure I’d go see The Stones now on your dime.
Okay, took me one game to figure out how the Blue Jays are gong to pay for all that added salary.
Man, is EVERYTHING sponsored? I couldn’t get over the commercialization: On the field, in the stands, on the broadcast. Everywhere.
It was too much, wasn’t it? And, sadly, I doubt that it was only an opening day phenomenon and that’s too bad.
Makes me want to go key every Hondo that I see, change to Bell from Rogers and go to Rona every day.
Oh, and attendance was 48,857 and I think every single one of them got on TV at one time or another during the game.
I get a huge kick out of this NHL trade crap that starts at dawn and provides such compelling TV as watching guys look at their phones and blackberrys and breathlessly analyze deals that will in no way, shape or form tilt the balance of pucks power.
Thank goodness for a shootaround to keep a guy busy.
I see and hear and read that they retired Shaquille O’Neal’s number out in Los Angeles last night.
Now, Irregulars will know that I’m a bit of a hard-ass when it comes to such things Halls of Fame and retiring numbers and, frankly, I can’t understand why they did it for Shaq in L.A.
Look, there is no denying his talents and his impact on the sport and he should – and rightfully will – be duly honoured with a spot in Springfield the minute he is eligible for Hall of Fame.
But when it comes to things like retiring numbers, which to me is the absolute greatest honour a franchise can bestow upon an individual, I think you need to have a longer, more lasting impact on a team, a franchise, a city than Shaq did with the Lakers.
It’s not like he played there for more than a decade and became synonymous with the emergence of the team. It’s not like they need it to draw attention to some kind of legacy seldom rivalled in the team’s history.
No, he engineered his arrival and his departure, he was more mercenary than integral part of the Laker history.
Heck, if you’re going down the list of all-time Lakers, you have to get pretty deep down before you even get to him.
You’ve got Kareem and Kobe and Magic and West and Baylor and Wilt and, since it’s Laker history, you’ve even got George Mikan.
And several others who gave more of themselves to that organization than O’Neal ever did.
As I said, he was truly a brilliant and dominating player for most of his career (although the folks in Phoenix would surely debate that) and will be thought of as one of the greats of his era.
But to retire his number?
A stretch. A big, big stretch.