Friday, January 23, 2015

Let's play two

In sad news, legendary Chicago Cub, Ernie Banks, has passed at 83. On the bright side, Ernie’s chances of seeing the Cubs win the World Series are still about the same.

Ernie Banks is arguably the most positive and least bitter person who ever lived. Which is amazing enough by itself, but even more amazing when you realize he had every reason to be bitter.

Born to abject poverty in Texas, drafted in the Army for the Korean war where he seriously hurt his knee in basic training. Played through the prejudice in the Negro Leagues. Then playing for a Chicago team that never once made it to the playoffs. He was so athletic, he played for the Harlem Globetrotters for a while.

Can you imagine the hue and cry today from a gold glove-winning shortstop in his prime being asked to move to first base? Ernie moved with a smile, as he did everything, because it was for the good of the team.

When I grew up outside of Chicago in the Sixties, if a Little League baseball player did not stick his bat straight up in the air, like Ernie Banks, we knew they were an easy out. 

Had the honor of talking to the great man at the Louisville Slugger museum opening in 1996. As star struck as I was, Ernie Banks could not have been more sincere and kind. Granted he was sincerely more interested in my cousin Jack's beautiful wife, Becky, but sincere all the same. 

After talking with the great man for a good ten minutes, we, Jack, Becky and me, got in the elevator and I turned to them and yelled;

"Holy sh*t, we just talked to Ernie Banks."

Ernie Banks almost missed playing Major League Baseball baseball due to prejudice. He played for a team that always missed the playoffs. He missed the big money in baseball. He missed the chance to play in the World Series.

How could someone who missed so much be so missed? 

“No, that’s too hard. Softer.”
“No, that’s too hard. Softer.”
“No, that’s too hard. Softer.”
“No, that’s too hard. Softer.”

“What is either a conversation Tom Brady has with the ball boy, or a conversation Giselle Bunchen has never had with Tom Brady? For $500, Alex.”

Tom Brady Can't Get A High-Five PSA | What's Trending Original

One of the insightful fallouts from New England Patriot’s deflate gate is that Tom Brady is not popular in the NFL. This explains all those awkward sideline high-fives that leave Brady hanging.

Look, Tom Brady is not a bad guy. But there is trouble to be had when a super star athlete portrays himself as a super star person and they're not. Look how it blew up on Tiger Woods. Steve Garvey's teammates despised him for being a hypocrite. 

The more I think about Deflate-gate or Ballghazi, I am more and more sure, Mark Brunnel's overly emotional reaction aside, Tom Brady is lying. Period. 

There is so much that can go wrong in a football game, you obsess about what you can make right. That means going over your equipment over and over again. 

Anyone who has played football at a decent level, even in high school, is well aware there is a high level of O.C.D. involved in checking the equipment. 

The night before games I spent polishing my helmet and my cleats. The day of the game, I was in the locker room one hour before we were supposed to be there. This was after my dad and I drove to the same sporting goods store to buy a new pair of green-striped stretch socks.

The same thing happens in the military. Imagine them asking a member of Seal Team Six;

“Why didn’t you shoot bin Laden?”

And then the Seal says;

“Turns out, I didn’t have any bullets. Guess I forget to check my rifle before we took off.”

The quarterback checks the game balls on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There are only two things to adjust: A, the feel and texture of the leather and, B, the amount of air they are inflated. If they are too slick, they brush the balls so they’re rougher. If they are too hard and too inflated, they take air out.

Tom Brady claims he does not do that? He’s lying.

The biggest loser in this mess is the Patriot's legacy. This is a team that is playing for its fourth Super Bowl win, but it could easily be playing for its sixth. 

They don't need to cheat. But they keep getting caught cheating.