Sports Outside the Beltway

Legendary UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden Dies At 99

NCAA FINAL UCLA WOODENJohn Wooden, the UCLA basketball coach who led his teams to twelve NCAA Championships, died overnight at the age of 99:

John Wooden, a staid Midwesterner who migrated to U.C.L.A. and became college basketball’s most successful coach, earning the nickname the Wizard of Westwood and an enduring place in sports history, died Friday at Ronald Reagan U.C.L.A. Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized since May 26. He was 99.

His death was announced by the university.

Wooden created a sports dynasty against which all others are compared, and usually pale. His teams at U.C.L.A. won 10 national championships in a 12-season stretch from 1964 to 1975. From 1971 to 1974, U.C.L.A. won 88 consecutive games, still the N.C.A.A. record.

Four of Wooden’s teams finished with 30-0 records, including his first championship team, which featured no starters taller than 6 feet 5 inches.

Three of his other championship teams were anchored by the 7-foot-2 center Lew Alcindor, who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Two others were led by center Bill Walton, a three-time national player of the year.

Wooden retired after U.C.L.A.’s 1975 championship victory over Kentucky. A slight man hugely popular for his winning record and his understated approach, he ultimately became viewed as a kind of sage for both basketball and life, a symbol of both excellence and simpler times.

Even in retirement he remained a beloved figure and a constant presence at U.C.L.A., watching most games from a seat behind the home bench at Pauley Pavilion. Lines of well-wishers and autograph-seekers often snaked their way to his seat in Section 103B. Wooden always obliged his fans, until the university and his family requested that he be granted privacy in January 2008, when he was 97.

A dynasty like Wooden’s would be almost impossible now, because the best players seldom spend more than a year or two in college before turning professional. No N.C.A.A. men’s basketball coach has won more than four championships since Wooden retired. Of Wooden’s eight coaching successors at U.C.L.A., only one — Jim Harrick in 1995 — won an N.C.A.A. championship with the Bruins, who have managed to retain an air of the elite among basketball programs largely on Wooden’s legacy.

Wooden’s success fed upon itself. When he won his first two national championships, landed Alcindor and moved home games to the new Pauley Pavilion, high school stars begged to play for him. Besides Abdul-Jabbar and Walton, Wooden turned out celebrated players like Gail Goodrich, Walt Hazzard, Keith Erickson, Henry Bibby, Lucius Allen, Sidney Wicks, Jamaal Wilkes and Marques Johnson.

“He was almost a mystical figure by the time I got to U.C.L.A.,” said Johnson, a starter on Wooden’s final team. “I couldn’t really sit down and have a conversation with him about real things just because I had so much reverence for him — for who he was and what he had accomplished.”

College basketball is a much different game than it was in Wooden’s game, and it’s unlikely we’ll see the likes of him ever again.


Bud Selig Will Not Overturn Umpire’s Call In Blown Perfect Game

bildeBaseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced this afternoon that he would not overturn umpire Jim Joyce’s call that denied Armando Gallaraga a perfect game last night:

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said he would look at the game’s umpiring system and the expanded use of instant replay, but would not reverse the blown call that cost Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers a perfect game on Wednesday night.

“While the human element has always been an integral part of baseball, it is vital that mistakes on the field be addressed,” Selig said in a statement. “Given last night’s call and other recent events, I will examine our umpiring system, the expanded use of instant replay and all other related features.”

Selig said he would consult with baseball’s labor unions and the game’s special committee for on-field matters before announcing any decisions.

Selig also praised umpire Jim Joyce, whose blown call in the bottom of the ninth cost Galarraga the perfect game, for his handling of the situation afterwards, as well as Galarraga and Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

“The dignity and class of the entire Detroit Tigers organization under such circumstances were truly admirable and embodied good sportsmanship of the highest order,” Selig said. “[Galarraga] and Detroit manager Jim Leyland are to be commended for their handling of a very difficult situation.

“I also applaud the courage of umpire Jim Joyce to address this unfortunate situation honestly and directly. Jim’s candor illustrates why he has earned the respect of on-field personnel throughout his accomplished career in the Major Leagues since 1989,” Selig said.

While the desire for justice in this situation is apparent, it would appear that Selig did not have many options in this situation. Rule 9.02 of the Official Rules of Major League Baseball is pretty clear:

(a) Any umpire’s decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.

There is no process for appealing such a judgment call, and no authority under the rules for an appeal of such a judgment call to the Commissioner, or any other authority. The only way Selig could have “fixed” this would have been to ignore the rules and manipulate the results of a baseball game after the fact; and that would have been just as wrong as Jim Joyce’s bad judgment call last night, if not worse.

No doubt this entire incident will lead to some re-examination of the rules and there will be discussion of allowing appeals, or instant replay. That’s a discussion worth having, but I’m glad that Selig didn’t pervert the Rules of Baseball just to make things “right.”


Armando Galarraga’s Feat Even Rarer Than A Perfect Game

IMG_2399-thumb-550x412-2108221There’s news this afternoon that Major League Baseball is considering reviewing the blown call that ruined Armando Gallaraga’s perfect game last night. Assuming that it can be done without completely disregarding the rules of baseball, I think it would be  proper thing to do.

Until then, though, Armando Gallaraga can take some comfort in the fact that he currently is in a club even more exclusive than the one made up of pitchers who’ve pitcher perfect games:

On ten occasions in Major League Baseball history, a perfect game has been spoiled when the batter representing what would have been the third and final out in the ninth inning reached base. Unless otherwise noted, the pitcher in question finished and won the game without allowing any more baserunners:[54]

  • On July 4, 1908, Hooks Wiltse of the New York Giants hit Philadelphia Phillies pitcher George McQuillan on a 2–2 count in a scoreless game—the only time a 0–0 perfect game has been broken up by the 27th batter. Umpire Cy Rigler later admitted that he should have called the previous pitch strike 3. Wiltse pitched on, winning 1–0; his ten-inning no-hitter set a record for longest complete game no-hitter that has been tied twice but never broken.
  • On August 5, 1932, Tommy Bridges of the Detroit Tigers gave up a pinch-hit single to the Washington Senators’ Dave Harris.
  • On June 27, 1958, Billy Pierce of the Chicago White Sox gave up a double, which landed just inches in fair territory, on his first pitch to Senators pinch hitter Ed Fitz Gerald.
  • On September 2, 1972, Milt Pappas of the Chicago Cubs walked San Diego Padres pinch hitter Larry Stahl on a borderline 3–2 pitch. Pappas finished with a no-hitter. The umpire, Bruce Froemming, was in his second year; he went on to a 37-year career in which he umpired a record 11 no-hitters. Pappas believed he had struck out Stahl, and years later continued to bear ill will toward Froemming.
  • On April 15, 1983, Milt Wilcox of the Tigers surrendered a pinch-hit single to the White Sox’ Jerry Hairston, Sr.
  • On May 2, 1988, Ron Robinson of the Cincinnati Reds gave up a single to the Montreal Expos’ Wallace Johnson. Robinson then allowed a two-run homer to Tim Raines and was removed from the game. The final score was 3–2, with Robinson the winner. (Robinson’s teammate Tom Browning threw his perfect game later that season.)
  • On August 4, 1989, Dave Stieb of the Toronto Blue Jays gave up a double to the New York YankeesRoberto Kelly, followed by an RBI single by Steve Sax. Stieb finished with a 2–1 victory.
  • On April 20, 1990, Brian Holman of the Seattle Mariners gave up a home run to Ken Phelps of the Oakland Athletics.
  • On September 2, 2001, Mike Mussina of the Yankees gave up a two-strike single to Boston Red Sox pinch hitter Carl Everett

And then, of course, there’s Gallarga.

Small consolation, yes, but at least it’s something.


Ken Griffey, Jr. Retires After 22 Years In Baseball

ken_griffey_jrUnfortunately overshadowed by Armando Gallaraga’s blown perfect game was the announcement that one of the best baseball player’s of the last two decades was retiring:

SEATTLE (AP) — In his prime, Ken Griffey Jr. was considered the best player in baseball, on pace to rewrite the record books.

Injuries derailed his chance to become the home run king. His spot as one of the game’s all-time greats is without question.

Now relegated to part-time duty and with little pop left in that perfect swing, Griffey unexpectedly decided Wednesday night to retire after 22 mostly brilliant seasons.

The Kid that once saved baseball in the Pacific Northwest with his backward hat, giddy teenage smile and unrivaled talent, had become a shell of the player who dominated the 1990s.


A star from the time he was the overall No. 1 pick in the 1987 draft, Griffey also played with his hometown Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox. He hit .284 with 1,836 RBIs.

But his greatest seasons, by far, came in Seattle.

Griffey played in 1,685 games with the Mariners and hit .292 with 417 homers, most coming in the homer-friendly Kingdome, and 1,216 RBIs. He won the AL MVP in 1997 and practically saved a franchise that was in danger of relocating when he first came up.

Griffey returned to the Mariners in 2009 and almost single-handedly transformed what had been a fractured, bickering clubhouse with his leadership, energy and constant pranks.

Griffey signed a one-year deal last November for one more season in Seattle after he was carried off the field by his teammates after the final game of 2009. He hit .214 last season with 19 homers as a part-time DH. He was limited by a swollen left knee that required an operation in the offseason.

But the bat never came alive in 2010. Griffey was hitting only .184 with no homers and seven RBIs and recently went a week without playing. There was a report earlier this season — which Griffey denied — that he’d fallen asleep in the clubhouse during a game.

The swing that hit as many as 56 homers in a season had lost its punch and Griffey seemed to understand his time was coming to a close.

Griffey ended his career with 630 home runs, placing him 5th on the all-time list behind Willie Mays, with only Alex Rodriguez (590) within range of surpassing him anytime soon. But for his injuries, though, it’s conceivable that Griffey would have ended his career challenging, if not surpassing, Barry Bonds’ record of 762 home runs.


Blown Call Robs Armando Galarraga Of Perfect Game

109864396-c183cd75cbba06cd3668195fce82d273.4c0713a8-scaledIt may well go down as one of the most infamous calls in the history of Major League Baseball:

DETROIT – Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers lost his bid for a perfect game Wednesday night with two outs in the ninth inning on a call that first base umpire Jim Joyce later admitted he blew.

First baseman Miguel Cabrera cleanly fielded Jason Donald’s grounder to his right and made an accurate throw to Galarraga covering the bag. The ball was there in time, and all of Comerica Park was ready to celebrate the 3-0 win over Cleveland, until Joyce emphatically signaled safe.

The veteran ump regretted it.’

“I just cost that kid a perfect game,” Joyce said. “I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”

“It was the biggest call of my career,” said Joyce, who became a full-time major league umpire in 1989.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland immediately argued the call and was joined by several of his players after the final out. Galarraga was trying to pitch the third perfect game in the majors this season.

Something that professional baseball had never seen before. Instead, we’re left with a controversy that is likely to increase pressure for expansion of instant reply in Major League Baseball.

All I can say is that I watched that final out live on ESPN, watched it again several times thanks to TiVo, and then yet again from even more angles during the post-game show. It’s pretty clear that it was an out, and Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game.’

But don’t take my word for it, watch the video and decide for yourself:

Unfortunately, the rules of Major League Baseball do not seem to provide an opportunity for the call at First Base to be reversed.

Photo obtained via Twitter from @baseballcrank


Former MLB Pitcher Jeriome Robertson dead at 33

Robertson played for Houston and Cleveland in his short career. The Houston Astros/Colt .45′s have had quite a few players die young in their short history. Everyone remembers Don Wilson who threw two no-hitters, and Jim Umbricht who died of malignant melanoma and had his number retired. But other Astros who went before turning 40 include Darryl Kile, Johnny Weekly, Walt Bond, Brian Powell, and Ron Willis at least. I think that’s the most of any MLB franchise in the last 50 years, including the jinxed Angels. RIP Jeriome Robertson.Jeriome Robertson

Former major league pitcher Jeriome Robertson, whose 15 wins led all rookies in 2003, has died. He was 33.

Robertson was killed Saturday when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed, the California Highway Patrol said.

The left-hander went 15-9 with a 5.10 ERA for Houston in his one big year and topped the team in victories. Robertson was traded to Cleveland before the next season after the Astros signed free agents Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.

Robertson’s last game in the majors came in July 2004 — he hit Magglio Ordonez with his final pitch and was ejected. He later played in the minors for the Mets and Reds, and finished in 2007 in the Mexican and independent leagues.

Astros star Lance Berkman recalled Robertson’s success.

“When you play with someone a year, you remember them. It’s certainly a tragedy and what more can you say? It’s a bad deal,” Berkman said before Tuesday night’s game against Washington.

“He won 15 games for us. That’s what I remember about him that year. He was solid every time out. He made a big step forward in his development. Then we traded him and really he kind of dropped off the face of the earth,” he said.

Robertson pitched in only eight more games in the majors after getting dealt to Cleveland. He finished with a career record of 16-12 with a 5.71 ERA.


LeBron James: Cleveland “Has The Edge” In Deciding Which Team Will Get Me

we-are-all-witnesses-lebron-james-546522_1024_768Take it for what it’s worth, but LeBron James says that Cleveland is leading the pack of all his potential suitors:

CLEVELAND (AP) — One month before the start of the N.B.A.’s free agency period, LeBron James has handicapped his field of suitors: The Cleveland Cavaliers lead the pack.

In his first interview since the Cavaliers’ season ended with a second-round loss to the Boston Celtics, James told CNN’s Larry King that Cleveland had “an edge” to re-sign him when free agency begins July 1.

King, who interviewed James at his home near Akron on Tuesday, asked him if Cleveland had “an edge going in.”

“Absolutely,” he said in a portion of the interview released by CNN. “Because, you know, this city, these fans, I mean, have given me a lot in these seven years. And, you know, for me, it’s comfortable. So I’ve got a lot of memories here. And so it does have an edge.”

The interview will be shown Friday on “Larry King Live.” Other than his postgame interview, James has not talked to the news media since the Cavaliers were eliminated by the Celtics.

The cynical view will be that LeBron will go where the money is, but he’s also shown a fairly strong connection to his hometown over the past seven years, so the possibility of staying in Cleveland is not out of the question at all.

Here’s an except from the interview that CNN has made available:


Rosie Ruiz lives- London Marathon runner DQd for shortcut

It was a close call too. Anthony Gaskell only won the 65 and over age group by 38 seconds. From AP-

A 69-year-old man who was credited with running the London Marathon in a record time for his age group has been disqualified for taking a 10-mile shortcut.

Questions were raised after Anthony Gaskell finished the April 25 race in 3 hours, 5 minutes, the fastest ever for the over-65 age group.

Gaskell said he dropped out in the middle of the race because of injury and walked to the finish, cutting out part of the course. He said he never claimed to have won the age-group race and didn’t check the results on the website.

London Marathon organizers confirmed Tuesday that Gaskell had been disqualified and 66-year-old Colin Rathbone declared the over-65 winner.

Either the London marathon doesn’t use transponders to make sure runners make every checkpoint, or Gaskell found a way around the system. I think it’s the former.


Florida Marlins put unused perfect game tickets on sale

This sounds like a really bad idea to me. From the Sun-Sentinel-

So you decided not to buy a ticket Saturday and missed Roy Halladay’s perfect game, the 20th in baseball history. Thanks to some outside-the-box thinking in the Marlins’ front office, you can still obtain proof that you were there!

The Marlins are selling tickets to Saturday’s game at the Sun Life Stadium box office and through No discount prices just because you already know the outcome either. The Marlins figured they might sell a couple hundred. Theoretically, since 25,086 were on hand Saturday, they could disperse another 13,474 tickets. Baseball seating capacity at Sun Life Stadium is listed as 38,560.

These tickets aren’t going to be worth more than their face value at this. Some time in the future they could be worth more money. Some people collect all sorts of weird shit. A person who has bought one of the tickets may be able to fool a collector with the tickets.

Another possibility is a person using these tickets as a possible alibi for their real whereabouts. All of this sounds like a twisted television crime drama or novel but successful crooks are some of the most imaginative people around


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.