Monday, February 27, 2006

O'Neil Snubbed

The only association I have with John Jordan (Buck) O’Neil is the same last name, but still I'm mystified as to what it takes for him to get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Seventeen people associated with the Negro Leagues were elected today by a special committee, but Buck was not one of them.

Buck was two-time Negro League batting champion, five-time championship-winning manager, the scout credited with discovering Lou Brock and Ernie Banks, the first black coach with a major league team, and a driving force behind the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Those other 17 must be exceptional people to be more deserving than Buck. The fact I've never heard of any of them must be a shortcoming on my part.

Buck O'Neil is 94 years old and in my opinion is qualified two or three times over. The special committee should reconvene in special session and vote Buck O'Neil in the Hall of Fame before God calls him home.

Update 2022: Buck didn't make it before his death in later in 2006, but did make it in voting in 2021. Formal induction is July 2022.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Change of Seasons

Super Bowl 40 (no pretentious Roman numerals here) was a game only a Steelers fan could love. The losing team was awful, the officiating was awful, and even the winning quarterback was awful. It might have been the second-worst Super Bowl of all time, surpassing only Super Bowl 5 when the Colts beat the Cowboys. Even that drudgefest in 1971 had one thing going for it: Until fellow South Dakota State alum Adam Vinatieri came along, it was the only Super Bowl decided by a last-second field goal.

SB 5 was so bad that a member of the losing team was named MVP. Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley got the award for gathering in three of the game's ten (10!) turnovers. In the fourth quarter of SB 40, the Steelers were on their way to an unimpressive win and I was wondering who could possibly win the MVP award. The Seahawks hadn't made any plays all day so a repeat of the Chuck Howley vote seemed extremely unlikely. There were no obvious MVP candidates from the Steelers defense except, as the joke goes, the officials. The Steelers offense only made three plays all day, but it turns out that Hines Ward was in on two of them so he got the Escalade.

With the dreadful game in Detroit (capping an otherwise decent football season) now out of the way, my thoughts now turn to the Winter Olympics. Hahahaha ha ha...ack...ooof...I almost hurt myself. No, really, who cares about that!? I thought the Winter Olympics were neat the first time I saw them on 1968! Since then I've gotten over it, and February represents a hole in the sports viewing calendar. I don't care about the Olympics, hockey, golf or tennis, and in regard to basketball I'm a firm believer in the "two minute" rule: Don't bother watching until the final two minutes. Fortunately, the hole in the sports calendar between the end of football and the start of baseball is getting shorter all the time.

Last baseball season I made it to 15 professional games at various venues throughout the country: spring training in Arizona, five big-league parks (KC, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Baltimore, DC), an independent league park (KCK), and the Arizona Fall League. This season my travel schedule is much less extensive and I don't have any tickets on order.

I am scheduled to go to Florida in early April. Spring training will be over by then, and the Devil Rays (or whatever PC name they will be using then) won't be home when I'm in the Tampa area. Of course I could always take out a home equity loan and get some Boston Red Sox tickets, but I'm not real gung-ho on paying their admission prices when I can watch all of their games on TV. Maybe I'll take in a Pawtucket Red Sox game just to get to something this year.

Pawtucket's McCoy Stadium is only five miles from my house, but I'm intrigued by a game the Pawsox will be playing Saturday, August 26 at Fenway Park. Actually it's a minor league doubleheader with the Lowell Spinners hosting Oneonta in a Class A New York-Penn League game at 2:00, followed by a Class AAA International League game between Pawtucket and Rochester. It seems like a chance to get to Fenway Park this year without taking out that home equity loan. Ticket prices have not been announced but supposedly will be "family friendly."

I wonder if they'll be selling Monster seats....