Sports Outside the Beltway

Former Horse racing and NY Mets announcer Jack Lee dead at age 73

I didn’t know Lee worked at Shea Stadium but do remember his voice calling the races at Roosevelt Raceway. Roosevelt was the closest harness track to the part of Long Island I grew up in till 1976. I only went to Roosevelt a few times, but heard Lee’s voice many times when weekend races were broadcast on local and cable television after I moved away from the NY area. RIP.

Jack E. Lee, a longtime race announcer most closely associated with his work at Roosevelt Raceway, died Thursday, July 30. He was 73.

Mr. Lee was a popular fixture at the now-shuttered Roosevelt, from 1968 until 1985, and also called races at Freehold Raceway in 1966 and from 1990 through 1998.

His mellow voice and descriptive calls were known to millions via his race calls on the “Racing from Roosevelt” TV shows syndicated across the nation by WOR-TV. He also served as the public address announcer for the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, and was for a time the ring announcer for World Wrestling Federation shows at Madison Square Garden.

Mr. Lee was retired and living in Florida at the time of his death.


Cleveland Indians trade P Cliff Lee to Philadelphia

Lee was the 2008 American League Cy Young award winner. From ESPN-

The Cleveland Indians traded Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco to the Philadelphia Phillies for four minor leaguers on Wednesday.

Triple-A right-hander Carlos Carrasco, Class A righty Jason Knapp, catcher Lou Marson — the likely heir apparent to Victor Martinez — and shortstop Jason Donald were sent to Cleveland.

“At the root of this deal was balancing the conviction of our ability to compete in 2010 with the opportunity to impact the team’s construction for years to come,” Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said in a statement. “Without the sense of confidence in the team’s ultimate competitiveness, we acted aggressively to add players that will impact the organization in 2010 and beyond.”

Why don’t team owners come out and say why certain personnel transactions are made instead of lying? Indians fans know why Lee was dealt. Salary considerations and the fact Lee was likely to be lost to free agency after the 2010 season.

The Phillies weren’t required to give up pitcher J.A. Happ or the three prospects they balked at trading for Roy Halladay — outfielders Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor and pitcher Kyle Drabek.


Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young winner who turns 31 next month, is having another solid season for the Indians, posting a 3.14 ERA while walking just 33 in 152 innings. He will make $8 million in 2010 and then be eligible for free agency.


Lee would be the sixth Cy Young winner to be traded in the offseason or during the season following his Cy Young win. Last season, 2007 AL Cy Young winner CC Sabathia was traded by the Indians to the Milwaukee Brewers.What does it say about an organization when it trades its best player year after year? Nothing good is the answer. It angers a team’s fans, who are ultimately the customers of the business/Major League baseball team. Cleveland is already finding it difficult to fill its stadium because of their dealing away people like Lee, Sabathia, and others.

Lee gives the Phillies another top starter to join Cole Hamels. Hamels, who was MVP of the World Series and NLCS last fall, has been inconsistent this season. He’s 7-5 with a 4.42 ERA, though he pitched well in a Tuesday night victory over the Diamondbacks.Hamels has been worked awfully hard at a young age(He’s only 25, but this is his 4th season as ML starting pitcher). As baseball stats man Bill James has documented in some of his books, young pitchers who are worked hard before their arm matures are more likely to have their careers shortened by arm trouble. Some Baseball people recognize that, Earl Weaver for instance who said the best place for a young pitcher was long relief.


Houston Astros Reliever Wesley Wright treated for dehydration, released

He had to be removed from a game last night against the Chicago Cubs. From AP-

Houston Astros reliever Wesley Wright was out of the hospital Wednesday after being treated the previous night for dehydration.

Wright had to take the mound in the second inning of Houston’s 11-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs after Astros ace Roy Oswalt hurt his lower back.

Oswalt on Wednesday returned to Houston, where he was to be examined by a back specialist.

One of baseball’s best pitchers this decade, Oswalt has had back problems before, including a stint on the disabled list in 2006 for a mid-back strain.

Wright allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings and got his first career hit before he had to be rushed to Northwestern Hospital. Team officials originally thought he might have had appendicitis because he had complained of discomfort in that area of his body.

The Astros said Wright was staying at the team hotel Wednesday but probably would be back with the club for Thursday’s series finale.

Athletes need to drink plenty of fluids while a game is being played and more so during summer time. I remember a member of the 1969 New York Mets, J.C. Martin, being taken to the hospital after a game was played on a July afternoon in Chicago. In that instance, team trainers worried may be having a heart attack. It proved to be heat exhaustion or dehydration like in Wright’s case.


Kansas City Chiefs waive Kicker Connor Barth

The worst team in the AFC during 2008 needs improvements at a whole lot more positions than just who does their placekicking. From AP-

The Kansas City Chiefs have waived kicker Connor Barth, likely clearing the way for seventh-round draft pick Ryan Succop to be the team’s starter this season.

Barth played in 10 games for the Chiefs last season, making 10 of 12 field goals as a rookie, but the 2-14 Chiefs struggled mightily on special teams.

Succop was this year’s “Mr. Irrelevant,” the last player — 256th overall — taken in the NFL draft. He played 50 games in four seasons at South Carolina, converting 71 percent of his field goals with a long of 55 yards. He made 66 percent his senior season and converted all 30 of his PATs.

I’ve been a patient of a female Dr. Succop(pronounced suck up). I wonder if they are any relation? It isn’t a common name.

Many teams invite more than one kicker to camp, so Mr. irrelevant may not have a guaranteed job yet. In fact Barth getting waived before practice even begins is sort of surprising. The Chiefs have a new head coach(Todd Haley, and as so often happens in that case, they like to bring in their own personnel.


BMW to withdraw from Formula One racing

Their racers are doing dismally this year. From AP-

BMW is pulling out of Formula One at the end of this season, the second car maker to leave the series within a year.

The German company announced the decision at a news conference Wednesday, saying it wanted to use its significant F1 budget in other areas. It will remain involved in auto racing.

Since entering F1 as a team by taking over the Sauber team ahead of the 2006 season — it had previously acted as an engine supplier — BMW had posted just one race win, at last year’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Touted as a championship contender for the 2009 season, BMW lagged well behind the pace of the leading teams.

“Of course, this was a difficult decision for us. But it’s a resolute step in view of our company’s strategic realignment,” BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer said at the news conference.

He said the Munich-based car maker would use the resources previously spent on the F1 team to advance “sustainability and environmental compatibility.”

Japanese automaker Honda withdrew from Formula One before the 2009 season began. The worldwide economic slowdown is causing the auto industry to re-think its sports ventures. The PGA Tour’s Buick Open which will be played this week, is liable to be the last edition of that fifty-one-year-old event. I expect we’ll be seeing more cutbacks in the next year at least.


Bret Favre to stay retired

The ongoing ‘will he’ or ‘won’t he’ play again saga is finally over. None too soon IMHO. I had long since grown sick of seeing waste space on their front page over the last Bret Favre rumor. Favre was a great player but like many before him, didn’t know when to call it quits. His last year with the Jets wasn’t a disaster, but was no more than mediocre. Considering his age, health questions, and recent performance, I couldn’t understand why the Vikings were the slightest bit interested in Favre. Maybe it was just a lot of hot air.

Now maybe football writers can focus on something that has meaning for the upcoming NFL season. That is after they get their last Bret Favre columns out of their systems. Can you believe it is only a little over 12 days till the 2009 season kicks off?


Washington Nationals Nate Willingham hits 2 Grand Slams in one game

He became the first major leaguer since 2003 to accomplish this feat. From AP-

Josh Willingham put the ball from his second grand slam, inscribed with all the details, into an acrylic cube. His bat was staying in circulation for now, even if the Hall of Fame asked for the lumber.

Life was grand for Josh Willingham on Monday. That’s because Willingham hit two grand slams, becoming just the 13th player in MLB history to do so and the first since 2003.

“No, no way,” he said. “Well, when I break it, I’ll give it to them.”

Willingham hit two grand slams and tied a franchise record with eight RBIs, powering the Washington Nationals to a 14-6 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night.

“That’s the beautiful thing about baseball,” he said. “You come into the game before the game and you never know what could happen.”

Willingham became the 13th player to hit two grand slams in a game and first since Boston’s Bill Mueller hit one from each side of the plate on July 29, 2003, against Texas. Willingham’s eight RBIs were the most in Nationals history and tied the franchise mark, accomplished last by Tim Wallach for Montreal against San Diego in 1990.

Hitting two Grand Slams in one game has only been done 13 times in MLB history. Incredibly, up till 1999 the only National League player to do it was pitcher Tony Cloninger. Fernando Tatis became the first NL non-pitcher.

The Washington Nationals have won only 32 of 99 games this year. Will they win 50 or more games for the season? I think they will but barely.


Breakthrough- Ai Miyazato wins the Evian Masters

It was her first LPGA win. From AP-

Ai Miyazato of Japan has won the Evian Masters with a birdie on the first playoff hole, beating Sophie Gustafson of Sweden to clinch her first victory on the LPGA Tour.

Miyazato steadied herself and sank a putt from about 6 feet on Sunday after Gustafson had missed her birdie putt from the edge of the green.

Miyazato shot a 3-under 69 in the final round and Gustafson had a 2-under 70 as both finished at 14-under 274.

Gustafson could have won on the 18th hole when her eagle putt stopped right on the edge of the hole.

I am happy Ai won. One of my golf predictions has finally come true, if a little bit belatedly.

Miyazato came on the LPGA Tour in 2006 after dominating the JLPGA. As a result, much was expected from Ai. Her first three years on the LPGA were solid, but she couldn’t get that first elusive victory. The closest she came was a loss to Seon Hwa Lee in the finals of the 2007 HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship. Lee won the 2006 Rookie of the Year award many golf prognosticators predicted would go to Miyazato.

Of the last eight LPGA tournament winners, seven have come from Asia. Next week is the British Open, and I’ll predict the streak becomes eight out of nine. My pick for the last major of the 2009 LPGA season- In Kyung Kim. She finished tied for 3rd at the U.S. Open, tied for 8th at Evian, and is one of the top five money winners this year.

The Constructivist is more than ecstatic about Ai Miyazato’s victory in this blog post.


Former Junior Middleweight Champion Vernon Forrest dead at 38

He was shot after two men tried to steal his car. Tragic and RIP.

Recent WBC junior middleweight champion and 1992 U.S. Olympian Vernon Forrest was shot and killed Saturday night during an attempted carjacking, WSB Radio in Atlanta has reported, citing a police spokesman.

Forrest, whose title was vacated in May amid an indefinite rib injury, was shot seven or eight times as he chased at least two men who had tried to steal his Jaguar as he put air in his tires at an Atlanta gas station, Lt. Keith Meadows said, according to the radio station.

But Forrest had a gun and confronted the men, police said.

“The victim and suspect became involved in a brief foot chase,” Lt. Meadows said. “At some point, gunfire was exchanged between the two of them. The victim was shot at least once in the head.”

Forrest, 38, was fatally wounded by two semi-automatic weapons, according to police.


F1 driver Felipe Massa’s skull fractured in freak accident

He underwent emergency surgery on Saturday. From AP-

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa underwent surgery on life-threatening skull injuries Saturday from a high-speed crash during Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying. He was in stable condition in the intensive care unit of a military hospital.

The accident happened when a loose part from another car hit Massa in the helmet, causing him to veer into a tire-lined barrier at about 120 mph. The front of his car was shredded, with both tires gone and the front nose open.

The 28-year-old Brazilian also sustained a concussion but was conscious when airlifted to AEK hospital, his team said.


Massa underwent surgery about an hour after arriving at the hospital. Hospital doctors subsequently said his condition was “serious, life threatening but stable” at a news conference, but ultimately ruled the Formula One driver was in “stable, satisfactory condition.”

Say a prayer for Massa.

Here’s a video of the crash.

A little over 30 years ago, F1 driver Tom Pryce was killed after he collided with a track marshall. These cars travel at high speed and any impact with items large or small can have fatal consequences for a driver.


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