Neil Best of Newsday wrote about Ralph Kiner and his links to the past.
“The stories never stop, a bottomless trove from the long, sharp memory of Ralph Kiner.

An hour before yesterday’s Cardinals-Mets game, he was talking to an audience of one about Ty
Cobb, the 1952 Pirates, Lou Gehrig, Bob Murphy, Joe Garagiola and Bob Sheppard, among many other

Soon he would continue on TV, veering from Gus Zernial (an Athletics slugger of the 1950s) to
Terry Moore (a Cardinals outfielder of the ’30s) to Rick Ferrell (a Senators catcher of the ’30s).
Even Toots Shor and Jackie Gleason made cameo appearances during Kiner’s 4½ innings in the SNY

“Two things good about being around a long time,” he said before the game. “One is you can tell
a lot of stories, and the people that might refute the stories are all dead now.”

But something else he said was more serious, and to the point.

As he was comparing the 1952 Pirates, who lost 112 games with Kiner in the lineup, to the ’62
Mets, who lost 120 with him in the booth, he interrupted himself and said this:

“It’s really one lifelong story.”

So it is. At 87, now 55 years after he retired as a player and 35 since he made the Hall of
Fame, Kiner is living history, a guy old enough to have met Babe Ruth and young enough at heart
to studiously follow the 2010 Mets and other teams.

The trick is being willing and able at his age to share that knowledge with a television
audience more interested in the present.

Kiner does that consistently, tossing loose ends of baseball’s past into the air and then tying
them together during his 25 or so shifts for SNY each season.

It is a role he takes seriously. “I want to keep the names of the people I knew and the ones I
heard about before my time alive,” he said. “I want that history to be preserved.”

For Mets fans of every age, Kiner is a link to their own memories as part of the broadcast crew
since Day One.

That includes play-by-play man Gary Cohen, who said, “It’s such an incredible honor to sit next
to him and actually get to work with him, I can barely express it.”

Cohen is impressed both by Kiner’s preparation and the breadth of his material.

“It fascinates me: A guy who hasn’t played a game in the major leagues in 55 years constantly
comes up with stuff I’ve never heard before,” he said, “and I’ve been watching him since I was

Said another of Kiner’s broadcast partners, Keith Hernandez: “I always feel Ralph’s a bridge to
the ’40s, the ’30s, the ’20s, stuff that none of us can go back to and bring up.”

Kiner would like to work more games, but he largely is limited to day games at home to ease the
burden physically. And more of a good thing might be too much. As it is, he is a welcome change
of pace.

(Early in the season, he commutes to Mets games from his home in Florida, but in the summer, he
lives in Greenwich, Conn., easing the travel grind.)

But SNY is looking for more ways to use him. Later this season, it plans to package clips from
the old “Kiner’s Korner” postgame show with fresh insights from Kiner on the network’s website.

Reviving “Kiner’s Korner” on television is unlikely. “The players are making enough money that
they don’t need the 50 bucks,” Kiner said.

What would the then- 39-year-old Kiner have said in 1962 if someone had told him he’d still be
working Mets games in 2010, let alone in a booth named in his honor?

“I’d never have believed it,” he said, adding that for his first several years, he worked on
one-year contracts, never sure he’d be back.

Those dreadful early Mets teams provided some of his best stories, Kiner said, as did the woeful
’52 Pirates. How did they lose 112? Weren’t there any other good players on the team?

“I can’t think of any,” he said, laughing. “No, we did have some.”

Still . . . “After my last time at bat, people would get up and go. They knew we were going to
lose it and they were going to beat the traffic.”

Kiner hit 37 home runs that season, his seventh consecutive year leading the National League. It
was a very long time ago, but he often finds that teenaged players he speaks to are interested i
n that era, even if they know little about it.

“I always say to them, ‘Do you have a computer?’ and they always have one, obviously,” he said.
“I say, ‘Look me up on Google and you’ll find out all you want to know about me there.’ ”

Frank Rajkowski of the St. Cloud Times (MN) had a piece posted in the Boston Herald that
profiled George Blanda’s long and storied career and compared him to Brett Favre.

“Brett Favre will not be on hand when the Minnesota Vikings begin training camp this afternoon
in Mankato.

The veteran quarterback remains at home in Mississippi and has yet to announce whether he will
return for what would be his 20th NFL season.

But after seeing the way the 40-year-old performed in 2009, the man who set the standard for
longevity in pro football believes Favre will be back for another go-around this fall.

George Blanda — who played a total of 26 seasons as a quarterback and kicker in the NFL and
AFL — does not believe Favre is yet ready to ride off into the sunset of retirement.

“I think he’ll be back,” said Blanda, now 82, who began his pro career with the Chicago Bears
in 1949 and ended it at age 48 with the Oakland Raiders in 1975. “He can still get the job done.

“(The Vikings) came within a play of going to the Super Bowl last season and he’s a
competitive guy. I’m sure he thinks they have the talent to get to the Super Bowl this
season and win it.”

Favre certainly didn’t show signs of aging in his first season with the Vikings a year ago.

In fact, he put together one of the best seasons of his career, throwing for 4,202 yards and 33
touchdowns with just seven interceptions.

Favre helped lead his team to a matchup against the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans
Saints in the NFC Championship Game where only a too-many-men-in-the-huddle penalty and an
interception late in the fourth quarter ended what looked like a potential game-winning drive.

All this during a year that saw Favre turn 40, an age when many of his peers have long since
moved into their post-football careers. The success he achieved has many assuming he will be
back, despite an ankle injury that required offseason surgery.

“I wasn’t surprised at all,” said Blanda of Favre’s 2009 performance. “He’s a great player and
he always has been. He keeps himself in good shape and he hasn’t had many injuries until

“As long as he hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for the game, he can keep going. And he certainly
looks like he still has it. He still looks like a kid in a candy store out there.”

In recent off seasons, Favre has weighed retirement only to eventually return. A year ago, he
announced in late July he would not be back, only to change his mind and sign with the Vikings
in August.

Blanda never went through such public indecision. He always knew he would return as long as the
teams he was playing for would have him. After leaving the Bears and the sport following the
1958 season, he returned to football with the Houston Oilers in the then-new American Football
League in 1960. He quarterbacked Houston to the first two AFL titles and was named league player
of the year in 1961.

He was released by the Oilers after the 1966 season, but was picked up by Oakland as a backup
quarterback and kicker in 1967 and remained with the Raiders for nine more years. His final NFL
game was the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 4, 1976 in which he
kicked a 41-yard field goal.

“I was never in the same position that (Favre) is in,” Blanda said. “When the Raiders picked me
up in 1967, I was already a 40-year-old backup quarterback and kicker. I knew if I did my job
well, they might invite me back. But I was never the starting quarterback there where my
position was more secure. It was always one year at a time.”

But despite primarily being a kicker in Oakland, Blanda did log some significant time at
quarterback, notably during the 1970 season when he came on in relief of starter Daryle Lamonica
on several occasions, including in an AFC Championship Game loss to the Baltimore Colts.

He finished the 1970 season with 55 passing attempts for 461 yards and five touchdowns, coming
off the bench to help the Raiders to a win or tie in a stretch of five straight games, all at
age 43.

In 1971, he attempted 58 passes for 378 yards and six touchdowns. And while in his final season
in 1975, he attempted just three passes for 11 yards, he was still 44 for 48 on extra-point
attempts and 13-for-31 on field goals, including a season-long 37-yarder.

“I still felt like I could play, but at that age, it becomes harder and harder to kick those
40- to 49-yard field goals,” said Blanda, who finished his career with a then-record 2,002 points.
“When you’re younger, you have a stronger leg. And there were younger guys around. So it
probably was time for me to go at that point.”

Blanda said age can be an asset for a pro quarterback, even one 40 or older.

“Playing quarterback at 40 was just like playing quarterback when I was 21 except that I had
more experience,” Blanda said. “When I was 40, I knew how to get rid of the ball quicker, how
to read defenses better and I had a better sense of when my receivers we’re going to get open.
I’d seen a lot more by that point.”

Those were traits Blanda noticed while watching Favre play last season as well.

“There were a lot of things he didn’t do last year that he’s done in the past,” Blanda said.
“When he was younger, he was a gunslinger and he threw the ball all over the place. If it went
to the wrong person every now and then, he didn’t worry about it too much. But today, he seems
more concerned with turning the ball over and he makes better decisions. He’s more willing to go
to the shorter routes if he gets into trouble.”

Blanda said he sees no reason why Favre, who will turn 41 in October, should step away from the

“If he asked me, I’d tell him to do what his heart tells him to,” Blanda said. “If his family
wants him to play, and he’s still excited about it, he should.

“Once you quit, you’re finished. That’s it. You can’t go back. You can be a doctor and retire
for awhile, then step back into your job. But you can’t be a football player and do that. So as
long as you can keep playing, and they want you to, you should do it.”



July 30, 2010

Bob Molinaro posted this complaint on
“By sheer coincidence, about the same time first-year Dallas Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant was upsetting the established
order at training camp by refusing to carry the shoulder pads of veteran Roy Williams, I was experiencing my own run-in
with a rookie at The Virginian-Pilot.

“I expect you to carry my pads,” I told Chris Carlson, a talented writer who recently joined the sports staff.

Pads? he asked.

“You know,” I told him, “my legal pad. My reporter’s notebook. If I decide to buy an iPad, I expect you to carry that.
It’s part of the traditional hazing process, just like in the NFL.”

Carlson immediately declined my request. Just as Bryant did at training camp, he expressed his displeasure to a room
full of sports writers. Of course, at The Pilot, Chris was already standing in a room full of sports writers.

“I’m not doing it,” he said. “I feel like I was hired to write stories, not carry another reporter’s note pads.”

These kids today. They’ve got all the ability in the world but won’t pay a veteran the respect he deserves.

It’s not like I was asking him to get me lunch or wash my car or have my laptop checked for viruses. And I would never
think of tying him down to a chair to give him an ugly haircut. Wouldn’t be necessary. Sports writers’ haircuts are
ugly enough already.

While my little disagreement with the rookie was virtually ignored by the media, Bryant’s dust-up with Williams made
news, and not just in football-mad Dallas. In Tuesday’s USA Today, it was the lead story in the sports section.

It’s that time of year, a silly season when baseball – even another no-hitter – is nearly eclipsed by NFL camp news,
including reports of Terrell Owens’ job search.

It’s not yet August, and I’m already bored by Owens, a condition that goes back to at least 2007. Except for T.O. and
his agent, who wouldn’t be?

Amazingly, though, Owens can still charm people who should know better. Following a meeting with Owens, and before
Cincinnati reportedly agreed with him on a one-year contract, Bengals executive Mike Brown said, “I was taken by him.
He was thoughtful (and) pleasant.”

Somebody’s been standing out in the summer sun too long.

Is the future of an aging quarterback saboteur still intriguing news? I don’t think so. Not like Michael Vick is, in
Year 2 of his comeback.

“I’m definitely on my last chance,” Vick told reporters at the opening of Eagles training camp. “I know I’m on thin ice.
I know this is it for me. If I do the smallest thing, I’ll probably get kicked out of this league, banned forever.”

A year after the Eagles signed him, promising that Vick would be a role model, the backup quarterback was just cleared
by commissioner Roger Goodell to play football again following an investigation into the shooting of Quanis Phillips, a
co-defendant in the dogfighting case that sent Vick to federal prison.

With his career in the balance, Vick is admitting once again to extremely poor judgment. Nobody ever said he was a
quick learner. But how many last chances does he get?

Naturally, Vick bemoans his horrible decision to allow an open-to-the-public 30th birthday party to be thrown for him
in Virginia Beach, an event which resulted in Phillips getting shot in the leg outside a restaurant. He said this week
that he should have listened to his mother and kept the celebration a private affair. That begs the question: Who does
he listen to?

Compared with the baggage Vick carries to camp, Bryant’s anti-hazing manifesto is a trifling matter, news for the
slowest of days.

On Tuesday, Bryant said he was unaware of hazing traditions. Now that he’s relaxing his stand, maybe the former
Oklahoma State player will agree to belt out the school fight song for his Dallas teammates.

I sympathize with veteran Cowboys on this. Carlson is a Syracuse grad, but he’s already told me there’s no chance he’ll
stand on a chair to sing his school song.

Figures. The rookie who won’t carry my pads apparently can’t carry a tune.”

Jim Caple is a senior writer for and had this to say about Miguel Batista’s comments about Miss Iowa.
“Washington Nationals pitcher Miguel Batista inadvertently insulted a certain beauty pageant winner Tuesday night when
he said the following quote while interpreting the boos he heard upon being announced as the emergency starter in place
of injured Stephen Strasburg: “Imagine if you go to see Miss Universe, then you end up having Miss Iowa, you might get
those kind of boos.”
Quotes like that are one reason why I have always liked Batista. Of course, the current Miss Iowa, Katherine Connors,
isn’t quite as big a fan. Responded Connors in the Des Moines Register: “I know I can throw a pitch or two! The
question is, can Miguel Batista walk the runway in a swimsuit?” (Page 2 hopes we don’t find out.)
Batista apologized to Miss Iowa, sending her flowers and explaining to the Washington Post that what he meant was,
“People started booing me, and they hadn’t seen me throw a pitch yet. It’s like you hear ‘Miss Iowa,’ and you say,
‘Iowa?’ And then you see her up close and you say, ‘Wow, she’s gorgeous.'”

Miss USA Pageant This year’s Miss Iowa USA pageant winner, Katherine Connors, won’t be booed by Page 2 anytime soon.

For the record, yes, she is. In fact, she’s reason enough for a “Field of Dreams” remake …

JOE JACKSON stands in the sandlot that RAY KINSELLA built on his farm, After so many decades in the wilderness, he
can’t believe his fortune. He tries to take it all in. The smell of the ballpark in his nose, the coolness of the grass
and the thrill of the vision standing in front of him: KATHERINE CONNORS wearing a string bikini.

SHOELESS JOE: Is this heaven?

RAY: No, it’s Miss Iowa. But calm down, big guy. She’s dating Derek Jerek.

Meanwhile, the Miss Iowa USA pageant responded to Batista’s comments by inviting him to serve on the judging panel at
the state contest this October. Hopefully, Batista will accept the offer (Lord knows, the Nationals won’t still be
playing then) because then we could get questions such as these:

“Miss Des Moines, the Deepwater Horizon disaster released hundreds of millions of gallons of oil into the ocean,
raising new concerns about our need for fossil fuels and the environmental hazards posed by deep drilling. So tell me,
if you were Miss Iowa, do you think it would be ethical to place a foreign substance on the ball when pitching to
Albert Pujols with the tying run on second and two out in ninth?”

“Miss Keokuk, the American educational system is receiving increased criticism, particularly in subjects such as math.
In fact, students ranked 24th out of 29 countries in a recent survey of math skills. If you were to become Miss Iowa,
would you be able to explain how the hell WARP works?

“Miss Cedar Rapids, with the increased popularity of video games and cell phones, American youth are reading fewer and
fewer books and gaining less and less appreciation for the written word. So tell me, can you name the major league
pitcher who is the author of the book of poetry ‘Feelings of Black and White,’ and the thriller ‘The Avenger of Blood’?
Hint: He left Game 5 of the 2001 World Series with a 2-0 lead after throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings, saved 31 games as
a closer in 2005, won 16 games as a starter in 2007 and pitched five scoreless innings in place of Stephen Strasburg?
And he’s also free tonight after the pageant.”

Frank Deford answered the question on
“Two things that people love to ask me are: Is such-and-such really a sport? And: Are people who do such-and-such
really athletes? Usually, I can tell, the people who ask me: say, are race car drivers really athletes? … don’t like
auto racing — and they are very piqued at me when I say, yeah, definitely I think race car drivers are athletes. Just
because you are sitting down doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete. As there are different artists, so too different
However, there is a widespread prejudice that only people who do something proficient while being vigorously active for
long periods, can be real athletes. Basketball, soccer and tennis players are usually held up as the standard. But I
think there are many physical abilities that qualify you as an athlete. Let’s face it: you can be the fastest and
strongest athlete in the world, but if you don’t have hand-eye coordination, you can’t be any good at baseball.
The sports that most people have their doubts about are the ones where the athletes don’t directly beat each other, but
are judged. Especially in Olympic years, people like to snicker and ask me: Is synchronized swimming really a sport?
Snicker, snicker. And I think, well, isn’t it just like gymnastics or figure skating? They exercise, they get scores,
they’re sports. I think pretty much that if you’re employing physical attributes, you’re being an athlete. Then, if
you’re competing against someone else, it’s a sport. Mountain climbers, for example, may be incredibly athletic, but I
don’t think mountain climbing is a sport.
This brings us to cheerleading. Is it a sport? It can be a very vigorous activity, even dangerous when cheerleaders fall.
But, of course, there is a particular form of cheerleading performed by busty young things in halter tops, waggling pom
poms, which is simply titillation, and while I’m all for being titillated, that is not a sport. In schools, though,
there are cheerleading matches, with scores, not pom-poms. I judged a national collegiate cheerleading competition once.
It was an eclectic panel. Dr. Joyce Brothers was next to me. It seemed like a sport to us.
But now a federal judge has ruled that cheerleading is not yet a real sport even though 64,000 high school girls are
registered in “competitive spirit squads.” It was a complicated case that forced this decision, wherein one more
college –Quinnipiac, this time — was trying to get around Title IX stipulations. The more women who go to college,
forming a greater majority of students, the more women’s sports we must have, and that is hard for a lot of male
athletic officials to deal with. All the more reason, it seems to me, to certify cheerleading.
But here is one hard and fast rule I would make. Any college that is put on any athletic probation — like the
University of Southern California now — for violating NCAA rules should not be allowed to have cheerleaders at any of
its games. It would be a very visible sign that that school is being punished. No cheerleaders for cheaters.”

Chris Erskine said that scorekeeping is a dying art in the LA Times.

“Know what I like? When a home run lands in the stands, and the fans there quiver like winter wheat, just as wiggly
spectators did back in Babe Ruth’s day.

Know what else I like? The way the vendor yells, “Peanuts here! Salt peanuts!” a character from baseball’s creaky

I even like the way the West Coast puts baseball to bed each night, scores from earlier contests glowing like evening
stars on the little scoreboards along the outfield.

Baseball is a game of touchstones and tombstones and comforting repetition. Unfortunately, one of the game’s saintly
little traditions seems to have about run its course.

Each season, fewer and fewer fans keep a scorebook at ballgames. Scorekeeping — baseball’s Latin — appears to be a
dying language.

“It’s been fading out for a very long time,” says Barry Rubinowitz, a lifelong devotee to scorekeeping. “There’s a
certain lack of literacy involved.”

Last Friday, the former comedy writer was the only soul I could find keeping score on the third-base loge level at
Dodger Stadium. Ushers there confirmed that they rarely see anyone “keeping book” any more.

Rubinowitz is not exactly the last of a species. But he’s certainly on the endangered list.

“When I was a kid, it was different; you could talk to strangers,” says Louisa Jensen of Glendale, who still keeps
score at Dodgers games. “So when I was a kid at Wrigley Field I learned from a man sitting next to me.”

If you’ve never kept book, it involves a batter-by-batter shorthand account of the game. The only symbol that makes any
sense is the little diamond that represents the basepaths. When a runner reaches first, the scorekeeper draws a line
from home to first and makes a notation about how the runner reached. BB means “base on balls.” 1B means “single.” HBP
means “hit by pitch.”

When a runner scores, you fill in the diamond, like completing the answer on a standardized test.

On the defensive side, each player in the field has a number based on the position he plays. The pitcher is 1, the
catcher 2, first baseman is 3, and so on. For some reason, the shortstop is 6, not 5, in the rotation of positions.
When the shortstop fields a grounder and fires the ball to first, the scorekeeper records the out with a simple “6-3,”
noting shortstop to first base.

Everybody keeps score a little differently. For example, I customize my scorebook by adding CB (cold beer) and HBHDW
(hit by hot dog wrapper) to mine. When Alyssa Milano shows up at a Dodgers game, I write a little AM inside the shape
of a heart. When a drunk muffs an easy foul ball, I write DMEFB. If Milano muffs an easy foul ball, I write … OK, you
get the idea.

Sure, scorekeeping is an arcane set of chicken scratches that not everyone wants to learn. Besides, finished
scoresheets are available on the Web, and stats are flashed onto big screens and directly to your cellphone if you
like, making a scorebook less vital.

But to a few stubborn holdouts, it’s almost unthinkable to attend a game without a scorebook.

“I’ve scored virtually every Red Sox game I’ve been to since my first game ever at Fenway Park in 1967,” says Steve
Ferri, who grew up in Boston and lives in Pasadena. “For the Sox, George Scott hit a home run in the bottom of the
first to tie it up, and Rico Petrocelli hit a home run in the bottom of the second to tie it up again.”

At Angel Stadium, I found more scorekeepers than at Dodger Stadium, but still only a smattering. As with all things
baseball, the practice often harkens to the fan’s childhood.

“I started doing it with my father,” says Jack Rallo of Covina, a program scoresheet in his lap. “And I do it now
because it keeps me in the game. … It’s just kind of fun.”

“My mom taught me,” says Carl Johnson, visiting from Pittsburgh. “When the game’s over, you can go back and appreciate
it. The more pencil marks, the better.”

“You’re taking it to the next level,” says Bruce Jacobson of Upland. “Where did the player hit it last time? Why are
they moving the fielders?”

So baseball, a game built on stats and tradition, is losing a geeky little accounting procedure that no one will stay
awake worrying about — except maybe me.

Fortunately, a few diehards are managing to keep scorekeeping on life support, still scribbling their little love notes
to the game.

“I think keeping score helps me to strategically understand the game,” Ferri says. “Or at least that’s what I tell

“I guess that’s kind of like claiming that you read Playboy for the articles,” he says. “But maybe the real reason is
that I am just a nerd.”

Jon Miller was inducted into the broadcaster’s wing of the MLB-HOF.  Bruce Jenkins, of the SF Chronicle, gave us a
profile of his illustrious career.

“As a devout student of baseball history, Jon Miller is likely to be awed this afternoon as he joins the great names of
broadcasting in the Hall of Fame. These are his idols: Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, Vin Scully, Ernie Harwell, Jack Buck,
so many more.
I would submit, though, that Miller has a singular place among the winners of the Ford C. Frick Award. When it comes to
the combination of pinpoint accuracy and outright whimsy, he stands alone.
“The first thing I found out about Jon,” Giants broadcast partner Duane Kuiper said, “is that he’s not afraid to
correct himself on the air. If he’s on radio and calls a fastball outside, for a ball, and it was actually a slider,
he’ll make that correction. That tells me something about the guy. He wants people to know the true story, and he’s not
afraid to admit he got something wrong. I mean, there are guys in this business who just make stuff up and never
correct themselves.”
As for the whimsical angle, fans undoubtedly remember one of Miller’s most famous calls: Rubén Rivera’s madcap trip
around the bases in a 2003 game against Arizona. “Bottom of the ninth inning, big game, and Rivera was the winning
run,” Miller recalled. “It looked like he was running in circles. He literally went and tagged second base three times
on that journey. Finally, he heads to third, where he’s out by 10 feet, but the throw hits the third baseman in the
sternum and careens out to shortstop, so by some miracle he’s safe. But then, not content with that scenario, he gets
up and heads home, where he’s tagged out by 15 feet.”
Miller’s call: “And that was the worst baserunning in the history of the game!”

Kuiper: “Remember, that wasn’t his call in retrospect. He said that as the tag was made. I’ve heard it many times since.
Absolutely fabulous.” (Rivera was released two days later.)
Growing up in Hayward in the 1950s and ’60s, Miller learned the value of teamwork from Hodges and Simmons. He marveled
at Bill King’s play-by-play on Warriors games – “still the best I’ve ever heard.” And he learned from Hank Greenwald
that if you are genuinely funny, at just the right times, you can bring humor into a broadcast.
My favorite example: Miller was broadcasting the Baltimore Orioles’ games in 1991 when, one night in May, Queen
Elizabeth made her first-ever appearance at a major-league game.
“The queen of England is here,” Miller told his listeners, “but that doesn’t mean we’re going to call it any differently.”
Miller then began lifting phrases from Shakespeare at every opportunity. “It’s just two baseball teams,” he announced,
“both alike in dignity, in fair Baltimore, where we lay our scene.”
When Rickey Henderson took a strike: “It was the umpire that shrieked, the fatal bellman, which gives the sternest
Asked later about this nutty departure, Miller said, “I was just trying to get the Queen to come on the air with me. I
was hoping she’d come up and read the Esskay Meats out-of-town scoreboard.”

Other stories culled from our Miller research:
— Childhood friend Lol Sorensen: “Although never known for his prowess as an athlete, Jon seemed to have an innate
understanding of how to generate power. He’d hit these long, towering drives on the golf course – although he never had
any idea where they were going (laughs). He was a pretty good third baseman in the Hayward youth leagues, and when he
connected, he would send these Harmon Killebrew-like shots to left field.”
— Miller with a toupee? It happened in 1976, when he was broadcasting Earthquakes games in the old North American
Soccer League. “I got talked into wearing it so I’d have a better presence on television,” he said. “CBS liked the look
and asked me to work the league championship game in Seattle, so I’m thinking, ‘Damn, this really worked out.’ But then
one night I washed the thing, and it got so tied up in knots, it got totally destroyed. It was so bad, I became the
first person wearing a hairpiece to whom people would say, ‘Jon, ever thinking of getting a hairpiece?’ I wound up
getting a new one, but one night I was working a USF basketball game and just said the hell with it. Didn’t wear it,
nobody cared. I felt like I’d been let out of prison.”
— In 1979, Miller’s second and final season with the Texas Rangers, he insisted that Eric Nadel, a rookie television
analyst, work several innings each night in the radio booth so he’d get a true sense of the craft. He told Nadel to
make recordings of his work, in case he needed an audition tape.
“I had never broadcast baseball before,” Nadel recalled, “and everyone just assumed I’d be gone in a year, replaced by
some ex-ballplayer. But Jon was totally open to helping me learn. He answered every question I had, showed me the
detailed forms he kept on every player, how to keep score in an official way, basically turned me into a professional.
Here I am, more than 30 years later, still with the Rangers. I am totally indebted to Jon for my entire career.”
— Giants announcer Mike Krukow: “He has such a profound love for the game, he really believes it’s a pastime, a game
that doesn’t rely on a clock, and you can relax as a listener and enjoy the art of storytelling. He does that better
than anyone since Vin Scully. In fact, I believe Jon is the one guy on the planet who could follow Scully in Los Angeles.
He’d never go there; he’s a devout Giants fan, and it’s part of his soul. But for sheer ability, he’s the one guy who
could pull it off.”
— Giants announcer Dave Flemming: “Jon gave me a great piece of advice when I started – don’t pretend you know more
than the audience. There are lots of listeners who have followed the Giants for their whole lives; no need to prove
that I’m smarter than they are. I think Jon is such a unique talent, he could have done just about anything – acting,
singing, comedy. We’re really lucky he fell in love with baseball. One of my favorite lines of Jon’s is, ‘I’m sort of
getting tired of this broadcasting thing. Another 25 or 30 years, and I’m outta here.’ ”

“Welcome to the No-Hit Zone of Major League Baseball, 2010,” Dan Shaughnessy wrote in the Boston Globe. “Must be the
season of the pitch.
Red Sox players stopped in their tracks a few times while warming up for the series opener against the Angels Monday
night. Shagging in the outfield, Jon Lester found himself checking out the big video board in center where Tampa Bay’s
Matt Garza and Detroit’s Max Scherzer were locked in a double no-hit bid in the sixth inning at Tropicana Field.
“Yeah, I was checking it out,’’ said Lester, who threw a no-hitter against the Royals at Fenway two years ago. “You
always stop and look when a guy is throwing a no-hitter.’’
Garza joined the no-hit club, smothering the Tigers for baseball’s fifth no-hitter this season. It’s the most no-hitters
in a season since 1991, when there were seven. The all-time record for no-nos in a season is eight, set in 1884, which
was also Vin Scully’s first year in the broadcast booth.
The 126-year-old record should be in jeopardy. It’s still July and there already have been six no-hitters if you
include the perfect game that was taken from Armando Galarraga when umpire Jim Joyce blundered in Detroit in June.
Put it this way: The Tampa Bay Rays have played 99 games this year and three of them were no-hitters. That’s like the
same Greyhound Bus getting hit by three bolts of lightning.
Why so many no-nos?
“I’ve been getting asked about that,’’ said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who caught no-hitters by Fernando Valenzuela
and Kevin Gross. “Overall, I think there are a couple of things going on. There have been a lot of power arms coming up
in our league the last few years and those guys are starting to mature. Guys like [Tampa’s David] Price and [Detroit’s
Justin] Verlander and [Boston’s Clay] Buchholz. Even Jered Weaver here. Plus, offense is down a little and I do think
it has something to do with testing for performance enhancers. Certainly pitchers benefited from that also, but overall
I think the playing field has been leveled.’’
It’s as good a theory as any. Homers are down because it’s harder to cheat. And there’s no disputing the surge of power
pitchers. There was a time when a guy who threw 97 miles per hour was rare. Today there are rotations with four guys
who throw in the mid-90s.
“Nobody seems to be able to put their finger on the reason for this,’’ said Buchholz, who threw a no-hitter in his
second start in the majors in 2007. “I think it’s just the luck of the draw.’’
Luck plays a big part in no-hitters. How else to explain that Roger Clemens never tossed a no-no, but the feat was
accomplished by guys like Chris Bosio (against the Red Sox in 1993) and Joe Cowley?
“I was in a bunch of them,’’ said Jerry Remy. “I was at second base when Nolan Ryan [seven no-hitters] threw one of his
against the Orioles. I made a good play behind the bag on Tommy Davis, but it helped that he couldn’t run anymore.
Oakland threw one against us [Angels] on the last day of the season, using four different pitchers. Bert Blyleven threw
one against us and so did Dennis Eckersley. I was also in the game in New York for the Red Sox when Dave Righetti
no-hit us on the Fourth of July [in 1983]. I was on deck when [Wade] Boggs struck out for the final out. Good thing for
Righetti. I could see the fear in his eyes.’’
Two Sox pitchers made runs at no-hitters on this trip. John Lackey took a no-hitter into the eighth in Seattle, but it
was broken up on a two-out single by Josh Bard. Two nights later at Safeco Field, Lester was working on a perfect game
and had 10 strikeouts with one out in the sixth when Eric Patterson dropped a fly ball in center field. A distracted
Lester then surrendered a home run to No. 9 hitter Michael Saunders. Boston lost the game.
“It’s probably the best stuff I’ve had in my life,’’ said Lester. “But that just goes to show you. You can have so-so
stuff and wind up with a no-hitter. Or you can have great stuff and not even win the game.’’
Lester and Buchholz have different mind-sets when a no-hitter is on the line. Buchholz sticks with the time-honored
tradition of speaking to no one. Lester rejects the ancient ritual and interacts with teammates.
“Our dugout [at Fenway] is so small it’s hard to stay away from guys,’’ said Lester. “So I talk to guys the whole game.
It helps keep my mind at ease. I’m usually talking between innings anyway, so I don’t want to sit there intensely
“No one talked to me that night,’’ Buchholz recalled. “I just tried to keep doing the same things the same way and sit
in the same place between every inning. I just let [Jason Varitek] call the pitches. The whole thing is still like a
blur to me.’’
Chicks used to dig the long ball. Now everybody digs no-hitters.
“It’s the big thing now,’’ said Clyde Wright, who pitched for the Angels four decades ago. “People have been asking me
how come there’s so many no-hitters these days. Hell, I don’t know. I threw one in 1970 against Oakland. Anybody who
thinks it’s easy should try to do it with the [junk] I had.’’

Scott Ostler, of the SF Chronicle looked at the way the Miami Heat might look in the opinions of sports fans.
“The Miami Heat have the potential to achieve something truly special. I believe they have what it takes. In fact, they
may have already done it.
The Heat have a chance to be the most hated team in sports. Ever. That’s a massive challenge, but this is a team with
great hate upside. Look what they have achieved without playing a game.
Some fans might need further convincing, but the Heat had me at “I’m taking my talents.”
Then there was the grand introduction of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who were presented to the world,
appropriately, ass-backwards, with smoke billowing out of their … smoke machines.
When it comes to hated teams, the Heat is the flavor of the day. The question is, do they have what it takes to sustain
the hate? Or will fans soon tire of despising them?
For the Heat to achieve their potential and become Most Hated Ever, they will have to leapfrog such legendary teams as
these (in no particular order):
— The New York Yankees (pick an era, any era). The Yankees are the snobs at the party, wearing the silk cravat and
looking down their monocle at you.
— The Dallas Cowboys. They crowned themselves “America’s Team,” but acted like “America’s Most Wanted.” Hollywood
Henderson and the boys. Even stone-like Tom Landry and the too-clean-cut Roger Staubach got on your nerves.
— Notre Dame football. The program’s sense of entitlement is enormous. How dare Tyrone Willingham (or whoever) not
lead us to the national championship!? The Fighting Hunchbacks haven’t been great for ages, but their fans keep waiting
for the universe to re-order itself.
— USC football. They are relatively new to the we-hate-you party, but the Trojans make up for it by arriving in a
really, really fine automobile.
— The Soviet Olympic teams. During the Cold War, the Rooskies were truly hated, and feared. We knew they were cheating.

 They were forcing 2-year-olds to pole vault. Their goal was not to win, but to crush. Their figure-skating judges cheated like Tiger Woods, and they stole our basketball gold medal. Pure evil.
— The East German Olympic teams of the Great Steroid Era. Their female swimmers had mustaches like Ray Ratto’s. Come
— The Detroit Pistons of the Bad Boys era. They had a lot of tools to make you hate ’em. They had Bill Laimbeer
(McFilthy), Rick Mahorn (McNasty), Dennis Rodman (McCrazy) and Isiah Thomas (McSmuggy).
— The L.A. Lakers probably deserve some recognition, because Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson don’t bowl you over with
their humility, you know?
And now the Heat. Once LeBron poured out his heart to Jim Gray during the barfiest hour in the history of television,
the Heat were hated. But do they have what it takes to sustain the hatred?
I say yes. Already the team has been ridiculed by Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson. Next: James
Naismith raises from the grave to declare James a wussy.
But the Heat don’t need outside help to be hated. James bought himself a $49.5 million estate in Miami, originally
owned by Ponce de León (actually Pat Riley). I didn’t expect James to move into a trailer park, but this Taj MaBron
seems kind of flaunt-ish.
Wade recently took a gratuitous shot at the media, snorting that if the Heat lose two or three games in a row, “You-all
(media) are going to make it seem like the World Trade has just went down again.”
When Wade was made aware his remark struck many as insensitive, he said he was misquoted or taken out of context.
His original statement, mumbled with mangled grammar, was followed by a non-apology apology, written in stilted
Poorly played, Wade!
The guys have put themselves in a situation they can’t handle. The Heat can’t stand the heat. Already they are chippy
and defensive about being disrespected by basketball royalty and the common fan alike.
Somebody could have told the three, “You’re buying into a no-win game, fellas. Win a title and they’ll call you
bullies. Lose and they’ll laugh at you.”
Instead, the three superstars listened to the superstooges who surround them. Now what choice do we have but to hate ’em?
What will forever elude Wade, James and Bosh is the one thing they seek: respect.
“Most hated,” though, that’s within their collective grasp.”

I can’t believe that Diana Nyad, the ocean swimmer, is going to be 61.

Bill Dwyer, of the LA Times, reported about her latest endeavor.
“Diana Nyad failed in a 1978 attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida, but is now ready to complete unfinished business.

Being in your 60s means many things. It can be the joy of getting your shoes tied every morning. For Diana Nyad, it is
swimming from Cuba to Florida.

That’s 103 miles, and, yes, that’s nuts.

But all signs point to its happening, and Nyad, a world-renowned open-water swimmer who has been landlocked for 31
years, is as determined now as she once was when setting off on record swims around Manhattan Island, across Lake
Ontario and from the Bahamas to Florida.

Late last week, Nyad received permission from both governments to do this. She began her requests in January, and says
that if Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had not stepped in recently, her dream might have been drowned
forever in red tape. The United States government still sees Cuba as a hot potato, and Cuba, eager for this event to
take place, badly wanted Nyad to complete her swim in Havana, not leave from there.

“The Cubans don’t like the implication of somebody walking out on one of their beaches and swimming away,” Nyad says.

She also says she would be more than happy to make the big arrival show in Havana, but that prevailing currents in the
Gulf Stream make that much more difficult.

Nyad, who will be 61 next month, stopped swimming when she was 29, but never strayed far from the spotlight. She is a
nationally known speaker, author, travel expert and sports commentator on NPR. She was born in New York City, grew up
in Florida and lives in Los Angeles.

Actually, for the last 10 months, she has lived both in L.A. and in various oceans. She would fly to spots off Mexico
or a Caribbean island, do some ocean swimming, then return to tend to her professional life in Los Angeles.

“Last January, I flew to Mexico, hired a boat and swam for 6½ hours,” she said. “I got on the plane to come home and
suddenly knew I was going to do this, I could do this, I still had it in me.”

Nyad says that encroaching age never bothered her, that 50 and 55 came and went with no thought. But 60 was different.
She had a feeling of “being disenfranchised, of being no longer valued.” That, coupled with the death of her mother,
left her worried that her best days were behind, and she was struggling to find a way to disprove that to herself.

She went back to who she was, what she did. She quietly went to the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, then other area pools,
and the work began. The long-range goal was easy. In 1978, she had attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida, struggled in
huge waves for nearly 42 hours and had to give up.

At 60, she saw it as unfinished business.

Now, weather permitting, she will wade into the water in Havana in the next few weeks. She has the team and equipment
in place, which is no small undertaking and no small expense. She has to house and feed boat captains, kayak paddlers,
trainers, medical personnel and more until the weather is perfect.

“I’m looking for two or three days of doldrums, where the ocean is so flat you can put your breakfast plate down on it,” she says.

That’s exactly the weather she had July 10, when she did a successful 24-hour training swim in Florida.

There was one small hitch: At dusk, a shark surfaced close by. Her safety diver spotted it, and it went away. Nyad will
swim the entire shark-infested route without a shark cage, unlike her first attempt in 1978. A similar route was
accomplished by Susie Maroney in 1997, but she did it in a shark cage and some have theorized that the cage helped pull
her along. Maroney did her crossing in 23 hours 47 minutes. Nyad expects to take about 60 hours.

Nyad says she will be protected by a newly developed shark shield. She said the four-pound device, dragged along by
accompanying boats, emits something that keeps sharks away.

“They tested it in Australia,” she says. “They put a bloody leg of a cow on a surfboard and then watched from a
helicopter. Within minutes, hundreds of sharks came and just tore the thing apart. Then they did the same thing with
the shark shield device. Nearly 5,000 sharks were in the area, but none touched it.”

There are doubters.

“I get e-mails from people saying they are shark experts,” she says. “They say I will be like a dinner bell out there.
I’ve started deleting those immediately.

“Whether it is true that the shield works or not, I’ve decided to believe it will.”

Although there is obviously commercial value and ego enhancement in her incredible quest, Nyad has a revealing answer
to whether just a good try will be OK.

“I’m an athlete,” she says. “I don’t feel that way. I didn’t make it the first time, and I’m sure not going to wait
another 30 years.”

When she does this, Nyad says, she wants people in their 60s to feel good about themselves. She likes to say that “60
is the new 40.”

There will, of course, be a day or two after she finishes when she will be too stiff to tie her shoes.”

Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe looked at how the Miami Heat is made up
“The Miami Heat. How do you like ’em so far?
We are now 17 days into the new Overthetop Era of Miami basketball, and there actually is a team for us to evaluate, at
least as well as we can judge an aggregation that is more than two months away from hitting the practice floor.
I know I learned my lesson three years ago. Having a formidable trio as your calling card really is a nice foundation
for success. If a Big Three really is a Big Three, it can guarantee a pretty impressive record. Boston’s Big Three
lived up to every bit of their hype, serving as the focal point of a team that won 66 games and the championship,
although not without difficulty. They didn’t win a road game in the playoffs until the third series, remember.
But the Celtics proved that a very successful team can be put together on the fly. Five members of the eight-man
rotation flashing the big smiles at the conclusion of that 131-92 Game 6 rout of the Lakers were wearing another
uniform the previous year.
The precedent has been set. The Heat know it’s possible. OK, so what, beyond LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh
do they have to offer?
1. CENTER First of all, the idea that a team needs a classic All-World center in order to win big in the modern NBA is
passé. Yes, of course, if you have an old-fashioned low post butt-kicker who likes to punish people inside, rebound,
pass out of the post, and defend, you embrace him. That will always be the way to go.
Those guys are harder than ever to find, so you take what you get. You settle for what is euphemistically known
nowadays as a “big,’’ that being a guy approximately 6 feet 9 inches or taller who has one or two of the appropriate
skills and who is as much a power forward as he is a center.
Joel Anthony is a big. He’s 6-9, 245 pounds, and not much of a scorer. They won’t be throwing him the ball too often,
asking him to score. He doesn’t have gaudy rebounding stats, either. What he does is take up space and block shots.
Sound familiar? We’ve got a guy like that right here. In fact, were I him, I’d ring up Kendrick Perkins and ask for
They’ve also got Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who may be one of the oddest players in NBA history. Big Z is appropriately
nicknamed. He is a very large human being, every bit of 7-3, weighing in at 260 pounds. Yet he spends most of his time
lurking on the perimeter, where he has been one of the best shooters from the 15-18-foot range in the league. He never
seems to go anywhere near the paint, yet he once led the league in offensive rebounds. How is this possible? Big Z is
35 now, but they won’t ask too much of him, I’m sure. Oh, and did I mention that LeBron loves him?
Jamaal Magloire is another big. He brings experience and provides a safety-in-numbers adjunct to the equation.
They also have a wide-body rookie from Texas named Dexter Pittman. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: big guy,
huge slimmed-down body (once weighed well into the 300s), soft hands, good post skills, and let’s just hope he doesn’t
revert and eat himself out of the league. Anyone seen Oliver Miller lately?
2. FORWARD Bosh starts at power forward. I’m pretty sure of that. James starts at small forward, but not just any small
forward. I think we can all agree on that.
Udonis Haslem re-upped as the backup power forward. He has lost something, but he remains industrious, intelligent,
dedicated, unselfish, and totally reliable. With these new teammates he has just had two years added to his basketball
Mike Miller is the big pickup. He is a legit combo small forward/big guard and he will seize this opportunity of a
lifetime to make the most of a superior shooting touch that has established him as one of the league’s better 3-point
specialists. But that’s not all he does. He’s a serious all-around basketball player who has just been elevated into
one of the league’s most dangerous sixth-man types.
James Jones shoots the ball. Put him down for two or three game-changing nights.
Juwan Howard is on board, 14 years after Pat Riley broke the rules by trying to sign him to a seven-year, $100 million
contract that was ruled to have circumvented the salary cap. There’s still something left. He actually played more
minutes last season (22.4 per game) than he has since 2006-07 (26.5). He’s their Yoda.
3. GUARD Wade starts at the off-guard. I’m pretty sure of that.
The incumbent point guard is Mario Chalmers, who won’t be asked to do very much offensively, at least not while James
and Wade are on the floor. His numbers declined last year following a pretty solid rookie season, but all bets are off
from everyone in this new Heat scheme of things. Let’s just say that some lucky guy has to start at this position, and
he happens to be the one.
Carlos Arroyo re-signed as additional point guard insurance. If he’s interested in a ring, he’ll take whatever they
Right now, that’s it. Once you get beyond the star trio, you get to Miller, who should have a great year in this
company. Chalmers will be asked not to embarrass himself at point guard. Assuming Anthony starts, he does the dirty
work and never ever thinks about asking for the ball.
Then you get to Haslem, who should thrive in this company; Big Z, who will like spotting up all night long; Magloire, a
so-so player; Jones (see Big Z); and Arroyo, who could easily dislodge Chalmers. Oh, and Howard, who starts the season
at 37, but whose value may transcend actual playing performance.
Does this conglomeration of subs equal or surpass the James Posey-Eddie House-P.J. Brown group that so ably backed up
the Boston stars three years ago? In a word, no. I say that even though I really like Miller. There’s just no getting
around how valuable Posey was, at both ends of the floor.
Balanced against that is the fact that Riley’s Big Three is far younger than Boston’s was. So, I’ll give him an A-minus
in roster assembly and I’ll put their over/under at 62 Ws. The title? The Lakers are still the champs, last I heard.”

Jerry Crowe looked out of the “Crowe’s Nest” of the LA Times and gave us a profile of, “the quintessential Raider,” Ben
“From the backyard of his hillside home outside San Diego, Ben Davidson can look out and enjoy nearly two dozen
fireworks displays on the Fourth of July.

“I’m kind of ruined now for gyms,” notes the former Oakland Raiders defensive end, motioning toward a stack of weights
nearby, “because I can stand here and, while I’m doing my curls, make sure everything’s all right in Tijuana and San

Football, in short, has accorded Davidson a pleasant, comfortable lifestyle, not to mention a breathtaking view.

“It’s been very, very good to me,” he says, a smile creasing his bearded face.

So good, in fact, it’s surprising to learn that Davidson, whose later fame as a Miller Lite pitchman outstripped his
football notoriety, had virtually no use for the sport in the 1950s while growing up in Boyle Heights.

At L.A. Wilson High, the 6-foot-8 Davidson played basketball and was a hurdler, high jumper and shotputter.

Son of an LAPD officer and a librarian — his mother, he jokes, used to tell him, “Read, or I’ll have you arrested” —
Davidson says he wasn’t much of a basketball player either.

“I was just kind of a big guy who got a rebound and put it in every once in a while,” he says. “I think I averaged
eight points in my senior year, which was pretty sad.”

So Davidson, who turned 70 last month, wasn’t exactly shunning a potential NBA career when finally, as a freshman at
East Los Angeles College, he went out for football.

“I think I just decided that I’d try it,” he says during a midday interview in his living room. “I didn’t know the
positions. I knew the center was probably in the middle, but I’d only been to one or two games . . . and I never really
paid much attention to it. . . .

“I have no idea what kind of stance I got into, but that was a major project. The coach had me so fixated on getting a
good stance that I’d be looking down at my legs, trying to make sure everything was right, and they’d snap the ball.”

Undeterred, Davidson kept showing up every day, his tremendous size eventually drawing interest from recruiters.

“I think there was a lot of word of mouth back then,” Davidson says, “and I think the coach would say, ‘This guy’s
really stupid, but he works hard and he’ll do what you tell him.’ ”

At Washington, where he played on teams that won the 1960 and ’61 Rose Bowls, Davidson started only two games but was
taken before any of his teammates in the 1961 NFL draft.

As a rookie, the fourth-round pick played on a Green Bay Packers team that won the NFL championship.

But, Davidson says, he was still learning how to play.

Finally, after two forgettable seasons with the Washington Redskins, Davidson landed in the AFL with the Raiders, a
symbiotic melding of extrovert and iconoclasts.

“We had fun,” Davidson says of the dawn of the Raiders’ heyday.

Al Davis, who as a USC assistant years earlier had tried to land Davidson for the Trojans, made him a starter. A
three-time AFL All-Star, Davidson played in Super Bowl II, three AFL championship games and the first AFC championship

All the while, he helped establish the Raiders’ swashbuckling, renegade identity, growing a distinctive mustache.

Years later, blogger Matthew J. Darnell would deem it the greatest in NFL history, noting with envious gusto, “It’s a
well-rounded and versatile mustache that can intimidate on the field and say, ‘Yes, I’d love a martini’ off it.”

Davidson’s intimidating physical presence and equally outsized personality made him a natural for Hollywood bit parts,
starting with Robert Altman’s “M*A*S*H” in 1970.

In his most famous role, he played himself in more than two dozen commercials for Miller Lite, part of the popular,
long-running “Tastes great, less filling” push that Advertising Age deemed the eighth-best advertising campaign of the
20th century.

“I’m not Catholic,” Davidson says, “but sometimes when I say, ‘Lite beer,’ I make the sign of a cross. If I could have
designed a job for myself post-football, it would have been exactly what I did.”

A tireless pitchman, he curtailed his acting career to travel the world making promotional appearances for Miller Lite.
Married 49 years to wife Kathy and father of three grown daughters, he has invested successfully in real estate,
building on what he started when he bought a three-unit Seattle apartment with his $5,194.78 winner’s share from the
Packers’ 1961 title.

Former teammate Tom Flores, in his book “Tales from the Oakland Raiders,” called Davidson a “hard-nosed defensive
lineman whom people would not have figured for a good businessman,” but, “Indeed, he has great business acumen.”

Davidson, about 40 pounds lighter than when he played, still enjoys traveling and making appearances. With former
teammate Tom Keating, he once rode a motorcycle to the Panama Canal and later, during a four-month, 14,000-mile trip,
they rode throughout the United States. More recently, Davidson has made more than a dozen multiday, long-distance
bicycle trips in the U.S., Mexico and Europe.

During his travels he gathered some 3,000 beer cans and bottles, a collection his wife recently talked him into
donating to the Blind Lady Ale House in San Diego.

“I hate to say this for print,” Davidson says, laughing again, “but I’m 70 years old and I’ve never had a real job.”

Meri-Jo Borzilleri wrote on that the Amazing Kreskin wants to help Pirates.

The Amazing Kreskin would like to help the Pittsburgh Pirates, but they said, “No, thanks.”
Of course, the famed mentalist The Amazing Kreskin knows what you’re thinking.
He can’t be serious about his offer to help the Pittsburgh Pirates end a 17-straight — and counting — losing season
streak. But you’re wrong, he says.
“I’m not making this a sideshow thing,” said the 75-year-old famed mind reader, whose career as a prognosticator has
spanned decades of late-night talk shows as well as Super Bowl and Academy Award predictions. “I don’t want cameras
there. I want to meet privately with the team.”
The Bucs (34-61) are on pace for a disastrous season of more than 100 losses. Their last winning season was 1992.
Now they’ve attracted the attention, and sympathy, of a man who can bend spoons with his brain.
Kreskin, born George Joseph Kresge Jr. in New Jersey but legally changed his name, became famous on his 1971 to ’75 TV
show “The Amazing Kreskin,” which has been revived on More recently, he appeared to hypnotize the Aflac duck
in a commercial.
“It would be my joy to help turn around your organization. I await your response,” Kreskin wrote in an e-mail to the
Pirates, with the sign-off, “ESPecially, The Amazing Kreskin.”
Kreskin, speaking from his office in North Caldwell, N.J., said he’d charge the team for his expenses and services but
declined to disclose his fee.
“I’m not doing this for the money. I don’t need the money,” he said. “I think I can make something happen.”
First on the mentalist’s list: Jettison manager John Russell and general manager Neal Huntington, whose standing is so
tenuous the club delayed announcing the managers’ contract extensions (through 2011) to fans.
Don’t fire them, Kreskin said, banish them until their extensions expire and help the club shake its downward spiral.
“They should be allowed to go on vacation to Tibet or Brazil,” Kreskin said.
Kreskin said he would meet with the team for four weekly sessions of an hour or less.
“I will train them and condition them so that they can tap into their unconscious and break into any negativeness that
has built up for a number of years,” he said. “I know a little bit about human behavior. I don’t just read thoughts.”
Kreskin, a longtime Yankees fan, said he became aware of the Pirates’ malaise when he heard about the club firing one
of its “Racing Pierogies,” a staffer dressed in a Polish dumpling costume. The staffer, later rehired, had criticized
the team on Facebook for extending the managers’ contracts.
Kreskin didn’t need a crystal ball to see that dumping the team’s trademark dumpling not only further offended fans but
invited bad juju to linger.
Besides, Kreskin said, “I’m Polish. I love pierogies.”
The Pirates’ response to the offer? No, thanks.
“We did receive a brief e-mail from him and respectfully declined to play a role in his personal PR stunt,” Brian
Warecki, the team’s senior director of communications, wrote in an e-mail. “The mental approach to the game is
something we take seriously.” 

Chris Erskine of the LA Times received a note on the Tour de France, from a newsroom colleague, and had this to say.

“Note from a newsroom colleague:

Dear Chris,

How was France? I imagined you sitting at a sidewalk cafe drinking Irish coffee and ogling a blond across the way while
pretending to study the fingernails of your outstretched hand.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting up at the crack of dawn to watch the Tour de France on Versus. How you could be in Paris
on an exceptionally long “assignment” taste-testing regional brandies or whatever it was you were doing and not report
on the race is beyond me. But here is your chance at redemption. (I figure that any sport with a Team Liquigas-Doimo
has to be on your beat.)

Would be so kind as to clear up some questions about the lesser-explored aspects of the Tour?

Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen are doing their usual admirable jobs explaining the important matters of the race, but
since you are a man of the details I thought these more peripheral issues would be right up your ruelle. Also I thought
it unlikely they would respond since they at least give the appearance of actually working.

1. Who are these race team sponsors and do they realize this is not really a good way to advertise? Other than
RadioShack and teams that have the word “bank” in their names, I’d wager six out of four Americans haven’t a clue.
Astana? Garmin-Transitions? Euskaltel-Euskadi? Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da?

2. What’s with the parade of bonbons at the finish of each stage? It looks like the race route has been visited by the
Marshmallow Man from “Ghostbusters.”

3. About the outfits worn by the models/presenters: Do they send them down the line to the girls in the next city or do
they all have their own? I ask because those leatherette looking pantsuits appear a tad ill-fitting.

And how do they decide who gets to wear what? “I’m sorry. Since you’ve drawn the short straw you must wear the pink
polka-dot skirt that is made out of an open umbrella.”

Your colleague,



Dear Lauren,

Thanks for writing. I have no idea.



Actually, I have been following the race rather closely, both here and during my recent boondoggle to Paris, and am
happy to offer up some insider knowledge. And I promise not to be flip, for these are incredible athletes accomplishing
incredible things. I know this because, like coaches and editors, they hardly ever smile. All my life I have been drawn
to seriously obsessive people. Which explains my love for newspapers and cycling. (Or is it biking?)

Anyway, in a fit of genius only the French could muster, you’ll notice that this year’s Tour de France is being held
primarily on cobblestones, some of them loose.

If all goes according to plan, they will hold the next Tour de France on crushed Pepsi bottles, which could be tough on
those thin-as-soup racing tires but will make for some really good TV. And heck, you already have built-in sponsors:
Pepsi and Kaiser Permanente.

From what I am able to discern, the race itself is coming down to a duel between the virtually uncoachable Alberto
Contador and a dude by the name of Andy Schleck, who I’m pretty sure was in my P.E. class in high school, where he
still holds the school record for most swirlies by a sophomore.

After Contador overtook him during a recent mechanical breakdown, Schleck spat: “My stomach is full of anger and I will
take my revenge.”

That’s Zorro talk, and I like it. I can almost hear Antonio Banderas spewing that sort of geeky Euro dialogue in the
movie version, if they ever did a movie of the Tour de France, which is so unlikely that it’s almost a sure thing.

I mean, couldn’t you just see Mike Myers in some sort of Austin Powers-style spoof? Will Ferrell as the chubby team
leader would be funny as well. Martin Short should be in there, too, for all the obvious reasons: He’s hilarious and
needs the work.

Their nemesis would likely be Cameron Diaz, not just because she is a supreme actress of the first order, but because
she would look very good in form-fitting Lycra (I’m just guessing).

In fact, in a perfect world, Diaz would probably be the only person allowed to wear form-fitting Lycra, and she’d have
to wear it all the time.

For the record, in form-fitting Lycra, I resemble a pregnant dachshund.

Hope this helps, Lauren. As always, think of the Tour de France as just a really big soap opera. Too much opera, not
enough soap.”

Scott Ostler, of the SF Chronicle, talked about things ballplayers do on the field.

“As so often happens in sports-talk radio, a scholarly discussion broke out one recent morning.
The topic is worth continuing here because it says something about the blue-collar grit of the Giants.
On the “Murph & Mac” morning program, Brian (Murph) Murphy said he noticed that Giants’ pitcher Madison Bumgarner, as
he leaves the mound after each half-inning of work, presses his glove to one side of his nose and blows.
Ah, the old baseball nose-blow. One of the charms of the game is that players do stuff on the field that if we did in
our workplaces, we would have our desks moved away from the general population, probably to a dark basement.
I sat near the A’s bullpen at Tuesday night’s game and reliever Craig Breslow paused during warm-up, faced the crowd
and performed a full major interior readjustment. And Breslow’s no rustic. He majored in molecular biophysics and
 biochemistry at Yale, wherever that is.
A caller to the radio show noted that one term for the al fresco nose-blow is the Farmer John. Which would make sense
for Bumgarner, who was raised on a farm in North Carolina. You never see a Kleenex dispenser on a tractor.
Gaylord Perry must be kicking himself. Perry loaded up baseballs with substances foreign and domestic. It’s probably no
coincidence that nine of Gaylord’s catchers died of mysterious bacterial infections. But Perry never thought of loading
up the ball Farmer John-style.
Bumgarner has never been accused of doctoring the ball, so that’s almost surely not his intent in letting fly as he
walks off the mound.
My guess is that his “turbo” (one of the many terms) is more a punctuation, a gesture of “mission accomplished.” It’s a
tough-guy thing, a way of marking his territory. If the superstar-thin Giants are going to make noise down the stretch,
they will need to display this kind of attitude.
In polite society, a subtle and tasteful fist pump does the trick. But this is country hardball, son.”

John Shea, also from the Chronicle, talked about my change of mind (based on something Frank Deford said) with regard
to instant replays of decisions of game officials- I’m now in favor of them.
John Shea gave an opposing view.

“As Doug Harvey tells the story, he was umpiring first base in a game in the ’60s, and a manager rushed out four times
to dispute calls, saying each time that a replay would prove Harvey wrong. Harvey eventually told the manager, “You can
take your replay and shove it because I’m better than any replay machine you’ve got.”
Harvey’s going into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, and maybe he actually was better than a replay machine, especially one
in the ’60s. Hey, players and managers called him “God.” He was that good. He didn’t have a Don Denkinger or Jim Joyce
moment. He’s not known for a brutal call that altered history.
Suddenly, Phil Cuzzi is known for costing the Giants their sixth straight victory. He did a terrible job Sunday,
especially when ruling that Travis Ishikawa was out at the plate in the ninth inning, giving New York an extra chance
to beat the Giants – which it did.
It’s the latest ammunition for the pro-instant-replay campaign, but we prefer the alternative. Rather than relying on
more technology, how about trying to improve the quality of umpiring in place? Such as:
— More in-season training. If players spend hours before a game hitting, fielding, throwing and running, umpires could
afford to spend more time on the fundamentals of making calls. Don’t simply appear at game time with all the answers.
— Encourage more consultations. Harvey’s all for this. Umpires need to double- or triple-check certain calls. Joyce
could have done everyone a favor, immediately after his unfortunate call in Armando Galarraga’s imperfect perfect game,
by meeting with his crew.
— Wait a second. Umpires love to make immediate calls, especially on bang-bang plays. Makes them feel authoritative,
which is fine – unless they’re wrong. Broadcasters hate delayed calls, but so what? Harvey was good at pausing before
calling. He wanted to make sure he got it right.
— Re-evaluate all umpires. Make sure they’re the best in the world. If someone’s better in the minors or elsewhere,
get him. Don’t be afraid to release a guy who can’t keep pace. General managers aren’t.
The more Doug Harveys, the better. As he said, “I know that there are no famous Doug Harvey plays, and I’m proud of

Tom Robinson bemoaned on,
“Sweet Lou’s fiery displays will be missed

It’s sad that, after this season, big-league infield dirt won’t have Lou Piniella to kick it around anymore.

Piniella, 66, has mailed in his managerial effort lately with the Chicago Cubs, which his retirement announcement this week basically confirmed. So maybe Cubs fans will hold the door for him.

But in Piniella’s heyday of short temper and long argument, few big-league skippers could take a stage and hold it, and hold it, like Piniella in full ejection-mode.

Piniella’s public displays of umpire abuse were laden with projectiles – spittle, uprooted bases, unsuspecting caps and garbage strewn across the outfield from bleacher creatures roiled by a Piniella rant.

That image – and a walk down YouTube Lane with Piniella – got me to mulling the baseball world next year devoid of Piniella and the game’s all-time hissy-fit leader, Bobby Cox of the Atlanta Braves, who also says he is quitting after this season.

What Cox lacked in Piniella-like combustion, he made up for in prolificacy. That is, no manager has been ordered to hit the clubhouse buffet early more than Cox.

It’ll be quieter out there, no question. Veteran managers like Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Mike Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire can raise a nice ruckus, for sure.

But for entertainment value, they bow to Cox and a professional powder keg like Piniella, who himself piggy-backed on the unstable emotions of Billy Martin and Earl Weaver to set his own argumentative standard.

Hit YouTube. Search “Lou Piniella ejections.” Enjoy the show, especially the clip supposedly from ’98 when Piniella, then Seattle’s skipper, repeatedly kicks his cap across the Cleveland infield. It’s practically ballet.

It’s that Piniella influence you can spy in the modern, interpretive ejection dances of minor league managers Phillip Wellman and Joe Mikulik. You’ve seen them, I know, but YouTube lets you stop, start and replay in all their inspired insanity.

During his most famous three-minute performance in ’06, Mikulik dives into second base, rips it up and sprays the field with the bag, bats and ultimately a water bottle spiked onto home plate he’s covered with dirt, while a cheeky P.A. operator pumps out the cries of a wailing baby.

That one’s a warm up, though, for Wellman’s show-stopper a year later as the Braves’ manager in Double-A Mississippi.

(You mean, Tom, the one where Wellman throws third base into center field, crawls on his belly toward the mound, hurls
the rosin bag like a grenade and blows a two-handed kiss to the crowd upon his exit? Yeah, that one.)

Close, but Wellman’s not my favorite Vesuvial manager of all time, all-time encompassing, say, the last few decades.
Nor even Wally Backman, an Internet must-see for his incredible tirade a couple years ago in an independent league.

No, Weaver, of the long-gone Baltimore Orioles glory days, is king of the meltdown. And if you think that’s even up for
debate, type “Earl Weaver goes nuts” into YouTube and put on ear phones.

I repeat: ear phones. Otherwise, don’t blame me when you’re fired for the river of profanity pouring from your PC into
the office pool.

That’s part of what makes the Weaver clip, circa 1980, so stunning. Umpire Bill Haller was miked for a documentary. So
as the object of Weaver’s wrath, Haller transmits every raspy, unfiltered word to the historical record.

What results is a three-minute, blush-worthy dialogue of old combatants; Haller gives Weaver the business pretty well
himself, even hilariously at times.

But it’s truly more incredible as you slowly realize – through verbal clues and a glimpse of the scoreboard – that
Weaver has gone totally gonzo just three batters into the game because of a balk Haller called on pitcher Mike

What’s funny is Weaver climbs all over Haller but never mentions the balk. Rather, he tells Haller multiple times that
Haller is in Baltimore for one reason and one reason only – which I would write if it wouldn’t be the last thing I ever

Anyway, if Piniella at his best routinely unleashed Weaver-level potty mouth, well, bless him. In any event, Godspeed,
Lou, you raving #@!$#@.”

Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe talked abpot the USC nonsense.

“It’s official: The University of Southern California has declared Reggie Bush to be a non-person.

Incoming president C.L. Max Nikias announced that the school will return its replica of the 2005 Heisman Trophy awarded
to the great all-purpose running back, whose elusive forays into rival end zones produced both victories and untold
amounts of money for the Trojans. The school will also remove commemorative murals of both Bush and tainted one-and-done basketball star O.J. Mayo from the campus grounds. That will show the world how deeply sorry we are, and how committed we are to seeking athletic success in the Right Way, won’t it?

I wonder if Mr. Nikias also plans to forfeit victories or redirect some of the money the school made because of Bush’s exploits toward charity? Yes, of course, I’m being facetious.

These are tumultuous times at USC. The haughty Mike Garrett, a Heisman Trophy winner himself (1965), will no longer be the school’s athletic director, a position he’s held at his alma mater since 1993. No one is sure whether he jumped or was pushed off the ledge, but he’s out and Pat Haden, another certified USC gridiron great, is in.

It would have been interesting to see what Mr. Nikias would have done about Pete Carroll, the coach under whose watch Bush received all the “improper benefits’’ that are in question. But Carroll conveniently skedaddled northward to the land of blue summer skies and rain the rest of the time. He’s now the Big Cheese for the Seattle Seahawks, and as far as what was going on at USC away from the field while he was coach, he don’t know nuthin’ about nuthin’. After all, a coach can’t keep track of 85 guys 24/7/365, now can he?

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. That’s just the way it is in big-time college sports, where scandals and assorted crises come and go, but where little honest change ever takes place. Every once in a while some excrement hits the fan at an athletic behemoth such as USC, and there is a flurry of activity, but in the end it’s business as usual because the constituency — alumni, fans, and, in the case of major state universities, concerned citizens for whom the
school, not a pro team, is their sole athletic interest — really cares only about one thing, and that is, “Did we win or lose?’’

They’re certainly putting on a big show at USC. They now have what I shall refer to as Compliance Religion. Whereas USC had but one full-time person concerned with NCAA compliance issues, henceforth they will have nine. Yup, nine. Even as we speak there is a committee headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh that is working on a report for Mr. Nikias.
Actually, all they need do is read up on what was reported by various newspapers and sleuths during the last five years. It seems that everyone knew what Bush and many other USC football players were up to during the Carroll administration. Everyone, that is, but the folks at USC, for whom see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil was the credo.

Carroll was half-right. It is impossible to know what 85 players are doing 24/7/365. But it is entirely possible to know where every one of your players is living, and equally important if you’re serious about living by the NCAA law, where their parents or guardians are living, especially if their domicile appears to be a wee bit out of the family’s means. You needn’t be a math major to have the ability to add certain two and twos, you know?

I mean, c’mon. If I’m Pete Carroll, de facto CEO of the USC football juggernaut, and I’ve got upward of 15 future draft picks on my roster at any given time, three or four of whom are drop-dead first-rounders, and if I really and truly want to cover my butt with regard to NCAA eligibility/compliance issues, don’t I make it my business to know both where my players and their families are living? It might be a pain, and it might cost the school money if what’s needed is
private detective work, but I do it, if only for self-preservation. Honesty and integrity have nothing to do with it.
That would be a bonus.

As further proof that it really means business, the USC athletic department is making every member of the football team produce documentation concerning living arrangements, car-related info, and both “summer and academic year employment information,’’ whatever that means. It’s been a long time since the likes of USC football players were ever guilty of working.

Of course, if you listen to these people, agents are the bad guys. Of course! Kids need not have any sense of right or wrong. They might be lectured morning, noon, and night from the time they set foot on campus until the time they leave about the perils of premature involvement with agents, but in the end they’re guiltless because these dastardly agents have almost supernatural powers. How enlightening it was for us all to receive a briefing from that paragon of athletic virtue Nick Saban, who informs us that the agents are no better than “pimps’’ who practice “entrapment.’’

Thanks, Nick, for that update. And did your agent similarly manipulate you during your well-documented perambulations from Michigan State to LSU to the Dolphins to Alabama, with assorted flirtations in between? That’s right. Your agent was “offering’’ your services. His dealings had nothing to do with the “P-word.’’

It’s people like Nick Saban who make it difficult for me to defend college sports.

But to support big-time college sports is to make a pact with the devil. The very premise is unique to America and makes very little sense. Why should an institution of higher learning be a training ground for professional sports? Why should schools have grandiose facilities when more modest, functional venues were once good enough? How can financially strapped state U’s justify extravagant salaries for their football and basketball coaches? How is it, in any way, morally defensible?

We live with all this because many of us truly love the product and cannot imagine life without it. We love the competition and, in many cases, the tradition. A college football game on a crisp autumn Saturday afternoon, or a college basketball game on a frosty winter’s night can be a wonderful eperience, as long as we don’t dwell too long on how we arrived at the product. The sausage factory analogy generally applies.

Don’t think it was ever anything more than what it is. The NCAA exists because at the turn of the 20th century colleges couldn’t trust each other to play fair in terms of just who was wearing these uniforms and what was being done for themat their schools. Nobody has ever trusted anybody, and with good reason. This means you, too, Ivy League. You’ll all do whatever you think you can get away with.

Now, here’s what USC could do to impress me: dump its certified lunatic of a coach. No school with the envelope-pushing Lane Kiffin at its helm can ever be taken seriously. Well, Mr. Haden?

Oh, and you should have kept the trophy, USC. You’re not fooling anybody.”

Scott Ostler talked about the last steal allowed by O’Doul.

“Darlene Sularski, a cocktail waitress and hostess at Lefty O’Doul’s Restaurant and Tavern, recoiled in horror Tuesday morning when she opened a package delivered to the famed San Francisco establishment.
Inside the box was the severed left arm of Lefty O’Doul, legendary San Francisco baseball player and manager.
Technically, it was the detached left arm of a mannequin that had been Lefty’s stand-in near the entrance of his Geary Street saloon for many years, draped in a baseball jersey and silently greeting patrons. Three years ago, the arm was
ripped off, literally and colloquially, by two tourists. Bartender Paul Stengel (grandnephew of baseball legend Casey Stengel) leapt over the bar and gave chase, but the miscreants eluded him in nearby Union Square.
Lefty’s arm was abducted by two men who perhaps were emboldened by too many of O’Doul’s Bloody Marys. The men took the arm on a three-year joyride through the Midwest, photographing it in various locales and situations – some of them
rated PG-13.
Tuesday, the arm returned in its mysterious package with a return address of Des Moines, Iowa. Besides the arm, the white box – big enough to hold an old-fashioned 19-inch TV – included a letter, a dozen snapshots and a barrelful of
Styrofoam peanuts.
The letter was from “Lefty’s Left Arm” and opened “Dear Bar Patrons of Lefty O’Doul’s.” It recalled the plane flight to Des Moines in an overhead bin and its “reservations about the weather.”
The arm then listed some of its adventures, including participating in a 12,000-cyclist bike race across Iowa, sledding  and touring the state Capitol. Somewhere along the line, it put on a yellow bracelet from Livestrong, cycling champion Lance Armstrong’s cancer foundation.
To judge from the photos, though, the arm was usually involved in harassing the friends of its captors, who used it to grope anyone within arm’s reach.
The letter included a handwritten note: “We felt it was time for Lefty to return home. He will be missed but long remembered! Lefty’s friends.”
Sularski said that when she opened the box, she quickly realized the arm was plastic, but it creeped her out anyway.
She has worked at Lefty’s only since September and didn’t know the story of the dis-arming. (The Lefty mannequin, with its empty left sleeve, had been moved to a secure balcony above the saloon floor.)
Sularski quickly handed the package to O’Doul’s owner Nick Bovis, saying, “I’m not dealing with this.”
Bovis, whose family bought O’Doul’s in 1998, said Tuesday he plans to insure the left arm for $1 million, and to hold a reattachment ceremony. Although Bovis now markets a Bloody Mary mix based on O’Doul’s recently rediscovered secret
recipe, this job might require a screwdriver.
Lefty O’Doul
Lefty O’Doul, who played with the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Dodgers and Phillies in the major leagues and managed the minor-league San Francisco Seals for 17 seasons, opened his saloon in 1958 and died in 1969. The tavern remains a shrine
to O’Doul and to baseball, the walls covered with scores of historical photos.
Lefty O’Doul’s baseball career
When his mannequin was maimed three years ago, it wasn’t the first time Lefty O’Doul had experienced left arm trouble.
Francis Joseph O’Doul was a San Francisco native who became a big-league pitcher in 1919. He soon blew out his left arm and had to focus on hitting. He made a comeback as a slugging outfielder, posting a career .349 batting average,
including a .398 season – just short of the sport’s revered .400 mark – with the Philadelphia Phillies in ’29.
O’Doul managed the minor-league San Francisco Seals from 1935 to ’51 and was a beloved figure in town. He helped develop a local baseball phenom named Joe DiMaggio. O’Doul also was instrumental in introducing baseball to Japan and is
enshrined in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.
A drawbridge spanning McCovey Cove outside AT&T Park is named the Lefty O’Doul Bridge.”

“All teams should copy Ravens’ policy on autographs,” wrote Bob Molinaro on

“When training camp starts later this month, Baltimore Ravens players will sign autographs only for children ages 6 through 15.

Following morning practices, the Ravens will issue wristbands to enter a special autograph area. Adults are not invited.

The Ravens’ policy begs the question, why would anyone 16 or older need an autograph? But the team says that its rule was created with safety in mind.

“Our crowds for the morning practices have become so large,” Ravens president Dick Cass said, “that we’ve had safety situations with people pushing each other to try and get closer to the players.”

If you’ve ever been to an NFL training camp, or outside an arena or stadium after a game, you might have witnessed a 48-year-old guy hip-checking an 8-year-old while going after an autograph.

A pathetic scene, akin to an adult fighting a child for a foul ball at a baseball game, it makes you wonder who really is the child.

“Often times,” said Cass, at previous training camps “children would be put in difficult positions with the rush for autographs.”

Put in difficult positions?
Doesn’t he mean “nearly trampled”?

Every NFL team should follow the Ravens’ lead in discouraging grown men from
tussling with children over autographs. As for the whiners – like those complaining on Baltimore call-in shows and Internet message boards – it’s best to consider the source. Many autograph hounds are just looking to put a signed jersey or football on eBay.

Selling autographs is a crass enterprise, but in addition to being a waste of money, it’s also bad form to purchase them online or any other way.

Receiving the autograph of a favorite athlete shouldn’t involve a business transaction. The signature should come with a personal story, not a receipt.

The Ravens prepare for their season in Westminster, Md., about 30 miles northwest of Baltimore. That’s where the old Colts trained and where, as a
child, I chased down autographs.

Over a few summers, a small group of us – 9-, 10-, 11-year-old diehards – would pile
into a station wagon belonging to a friend’s mother for the trip to Colts camp. I’d usually bring along a blue autograph book. The cover featured an artist’s rendition of a flying horse wearing a football helmet.

On a good day, I’d leave with the autographs of Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore and Jim Parker, but I wasn’t picky. Any Colt would do.

I don’t recall an adult ever shouldering me out of the way as I waited my turn with a player. I hear that this happens frequently at NFL training camps, with adults screaming at players who dare walk away without signing one more item.

What is it about autographs that turn people into raving fools? It’s a name on a piece of paper or a ball. Why is that such a big deal?

At one time, autographs were strictly for children. Nobody sold them. The very idea, had anyone thought of it, would have seemed preposterous.

The angry fallout from a peculiar breed of Baltimore fan is just another indication of how much times have changed. Some of the disgruntled, no doubt, will try to skirt the rules by sending in children to get something signed that they can then sell. Somebody’s already thought of that.

As for everybody else throwing little tantrums over the Ravens’ policy, maybe they think that merely acting like a 6-year-old qualifies them for an autograph.”