If you’re not a sports fan, you almost certainly will not enjoy today’s post.
The death of Hall of Fame pitcher Bruce Sutter is very sad to me. (By the way, he was the first pitcher elected to the Hall without ever having started a game in the majors.) I cannot describe the impact his 1977 season had on me. In a year where hitters seemed to be gaining the upper hand after the game had been pitcher dominated since the early 1960s, Sutter had–for the era–an almost incomprehensible performance. OK, stat geeks, here I go: 1.34 ERA, 1.61 FIP-ERA, 107 1/3 innings, 69 hits allowed, 129 strikeouts, only 16 unintentional walks. Oh, he had 31 saves.
I was already hooked on table top statistics-based sports games and played thousands of games of APBA Baseball. In APBA the pitcher had less impact on the outcome of plate appearances than in Strat-O-Matic, which is the game I started playing in 1979, but stopped after the 1981 strike. Anyway, I couldn’t wait to see Sutter’s 1977 APBA card.
Sutter won the National League Cy Young award as the best pitcher in his league in 1979. He led the NL in saves in five different seasons, which is the most ever. Of course, Sutter was known for the pitch that saved his career, the split-finger fastball. His success was the inspiration for many other pitchers to throw it and it is now, apparently, a part of many pitchers’ repertoires.
I don’t really follow baseball anymore, but I must admit that Aaron Judge’s quest for 60 homeruns and the American League single-season homerun record this year piqued my interest a bit. I also must admit that I enjoyed looking at baseball statistics more than I enjoyed watching the games, although I did enjoy watching. After 1977, I was a big fan of Sutter. His death is another stark reminder of the finite nature of life.
Since the asshole who owns the Washington NFL team bristles when anyone calls him by his first name, I will use a spoonerism, Snan Dyder. This long ESPN article chronicles what an awful POS he is.
Two friends of mine left the Baltimore Orioles to work for the Washington NFL team and Dyder. They both left there in less than a year, in large part because of how disgusting he is. They both said that employees were not allowed to address him, even just to say hello.
That franchise has, for the most part, been owned by horrendous people. I used to think about writing a book about that fact, but decided it would have a limited market and might be the subject of lawsuits.
The team’s first owner, George Preston Marshall, refused to integrate his roster years after the rest of the NFL had done so. He only did so when the federal government threatened to kick his team out of what was then called DC Stadium. The stadium had been funded by the government and was located on federal land.
Going way back…in 1940 Marshall’s Redskins played George Halas’ Chicago Bears in a late-season game that was a preview of the NFL Championship game. With Washington leading 7-3 late in the game, the Bears drove down for a potential game-winning score. Bears’ Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman (a person with an interesting life of his own) threw a pass in the end zone to Ken Kavanaugh. The pass was incomplete; the Bears screamed that the Redskins had held/interfered with him.
After the game, Marshall said in public, “The Bears are front-runners. Quitters. They are not a second-half team, just a bunch of cry-babies.” Halas used Marshall’s words as motivation before the NFL Championship Game three weeks later. Hard to say it didn’t work. The final score was Chicago 73, Washington 0. Oh, the game was in Washington, which leads to this story care of the great book, The Pro Football Chronicle, by Dan Daly and Bob O’Donnell.
“While the Bears were pouring it on the Redskins in the 1940 championship game, a Washington fan heckled owner George Preston Marshall relentlessly, letting him have it with all manner of vulgarities. Losing 73-0 can have that effect on people.
Marshall finally got fed up. He jumped from his seat and confronted the loudmouth. Ushers stepped between the two, but Marshall noted the rowdy’s seat number. When it was discovered the man was a season-ticket holder, Marshall refused his request to renew for 1941.
But wait, it gets better. The fan turned out to own a building that housed one of Marshall’s Palace Laundry stores. He refused to renew Marshall’s lease and kicked him out.”
I used to despise the Redskins. While attending a Ravens game in 2000, a Redskins fan sitting in the row in front of me turned around and asked me how it would feel to have to root for the Redskins when they played all of the teams in the Ravens’ division that season. I answered, “If Saddam Hussein had a football team and they played the Redskins, I don’t know who I’d root for.” That shut him up for the rest of the game.
It is rumored that NFL owners, in the wake of all of the scandals surrounding Washington’s team, want to force Dyder to sell. The linked ESPN article reports that Dyder is threatening to spill “dirt” on the league in an effort to keep his team. It takes a 3/4 majority of owners to force an owner to sell, but that doesn’t mean Dyder wouldn’t sue even if the league gets more than enough votes. From the ESPN piece, here are a couple of anonymous remarks about Dyder, supposedly from other owners:
“That’s not true [in response to Dyder’s assertion that all of the owners hate each other],” one veteran owner says. “All the owners hate Snan.”
Asked for his early view of Dyder, a veteran owner now says: “Arrogant. Obnoxious. Standoffish. Selfish.”
Don’t get me started on Jack Kent Kook, who also owned Washington’s NFL team for more than 20 years. He was another piece of work and I don’t care how successful his teams (including the LA Lakers) were.
I am looking forward to watching the Alabama-Tennessee college football game this afternoon. Both teams are undefeated; Alabama is “ranked” #3 in the country while Tennessee is “ranked” #6. As I have said before, these rankings are just a collection of opinions, often less than well-informed.
Since Nick Saban has been Alabama’s head coach, they have never lost to Tennessee, compiling a record of 15-0. Alabama-Tennessee used to be quite the rivalry, but rivalries fade when one (or both) of the teams cease to be relevant.
While I suspect that star Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (who would not have been allowed to play for the Redskins until 1962) will play, I also suspect he will be less than 100%. I do not have a dog in the fight, but it could be quite the fight.
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6 thoughts on “Saturday Sports”
Alabama vs. Tennessee will be an interesting side note at our house. As I write this at 1:25 pm AZ time, Arizona will play Washington in Seattle at 2:30 pm on the PAC-12 Network. This should be a real passing shootout. Most remembered of the Arizona-Washington games is the 1998 game where Arizona won on the last play with the famous “Leap at the Lake” where QB Ortege Jenkins attempted to leap over the linemen to dive into the end zone. He got hit so that he flipped up and over the line to land on his feet in the end zone and scoring a touchdown to win. That play is almost as famous as Chuck Cecil’s interception of an ASU pass in the end zone and returning it for a touchdown all 106 yards. Football memories are grand. Enjoy your game, I know I will enjoy mine.
Thanks, Philip. I admire your loyalty to Arizona football.
APBA was so awesome. I use to run home from school to play with the neighborhood kids. Once we were done it was off to play hide and seek, those were the days.
Thanks for joining the conversation and for letting me know you were a fellow APBA fan.
Re Alabama v Tennessee, prescient as always…
I spent the day at a series of jazz concerts with the wife, followed by an Italian dinner and a 2016 Amarone.
Thanks, Doc. Yes, the game was “quite the fight” as I had “predicted,” but I was wrong about Bryce Young; he seemed like 100% to me.
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