“Ewing, the men’s basketball coach at Georgetown University, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, revealed Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was being treated at a local hospital.”

He scored more than 24,000 points in his career, 28th highest in NBA history. He scored more than 23,000 of those points for the Knicks, making him their all-time career leader in points. He also holds the team records for career rebounds and blocked shots. His single season high of 13.5 win shares has been topped only by Clyde Frazier in Knicks history.

Am I really talkin’ baseball? Now it seems like it all never really happened.

How fickle is the fate of ball players. About a year after being the World Series MVP, Steve Pearce was an unwanted free agent.

You may not even remember Steve Pearce, not even after I just reminded you that he was the MVP of the 2018 World Series. He could do no wrong then, delivering homers and timely hits whenever they were needed. He hit three homers and knocked in eight runs in only 12 at bats. The World Series does occasionally provide some surprise MVPs, but few were more surprising than Pearce, who wandered through seven major league teams in a career in which he averaged only about 170 at bats per season.

So how did he follow up his unexpected moment of glory? Last year he batted .180 with one homer while earning more than six million dollars. His OPS+ was 32, which means he was approximately one-third as productive as an average player, whereupon the Sox made no effort to re-sign him and let him become a free agent. He “unofficially” retired. The Orioles invited him to spring training, presumably because .180 with 1 homer put him at immediate parity with the rest of their line-up. (You may laugh, but five of the Orioles’ regulars had a negative WAR last year, including their starting first baseman, who batted .179 while earning $23 million – and that was an improvement over his previous year! Pearce could have given them similar production at a quarter the cost.) Alas, it did not work out. Even the lowly Orioles could not open a spot for him, and his unofficial retirement became official.

Oh, a benign idiot would still be better than an evil idiot, but would it be too much trouble for just one of our major political parties to give us a candidate who thinks matters through before he speaks?

Biden tweeted his support for the women’s team to keep moving forward in the wake of a judge’s ruling against the USWNT in its equal pay lawsuit. Biden said that he wanted U.S. Soccer to pay the women’s team equally to the men’s team. And if it didn’t, he would withdraw support for the World Cup should he be elected president.”

Yeah, that’s just what we need – a president who ignores due process and issues an executive fiat based on an emotional reaction to an issue he hasn’t studied.

Been there, done that.

The Judge made the exact right decision. The women’s equal pay suit had no merit. The reason they don’t get paid on exactly the same formula as the men is that they were offered that formula and turned it down. When they were negotiating their CBA, one of the offers on the table was “just take the men’s deal.” They didn’t want it because of the high risk involved. Instead of the higher performance-based salaries, they wanted more of the money guaranteed, they wanted longer terms on their contracts, they wanted more players on the team, and they wanted a different set of benefits. In fact, they bargained well. Their total compensation package is actually more than the men’s, even though their salaries are lower. The women get far more in total because they play more games, but they also get slightly more per game. Both sides before the judge stipulated that from 2015 to 2019, the period covered by the suit, the women’s national team averaged $220,747 per game in total payments, for a total of $24.5 million, while the men’s national team averaged $212,639 per game in total payments, for a total of $18.5 million. But now they are suing because the men get paid higher salaries – the same salaries the women were offered and turned down in order to improve the overall package.

The judge understandably ruled that such an Equal Pay Act claim had zero merit. Because he is a judge, he could not say that the claim seems to be a complete scam devised to make lawyers rich.

But I can.

The judge did rule that the rest of their suit could proceed. They also filed some claims under the Civil Rights Act regarding the unequal access to flights and hotels, proper medical services, quality of training facilities, etc. That part of their suit seems to have merit, or is at least debatable enough to require a full trial.

You won’t see these stats at baseball-reference.com.

Mickey claimed to lead the league in the category of in-game blow jobs

Mickey also holds the record for most times vomiting on Angie Dickinson – actually he’s tied for the lead with the great Cap Anson.

I made up the Anson part. Angie isn’t that old. (Anson is a 19th century player). But the Mantle story is true, or so he claimed.

Previous:

Mickey also carried with him a cute little Hallmark-style card that said “wanna fuck”

Mickey Mantle once slipped a female reporter a cutesy greeting card during an interview — with the message “Wanna fuck?” written inside.

“As the evening wore on and Mantle kept drinking, he became tipsy and, at one point, nearly fell off his chair. Later, as we walked along Central Park South, he tripped on the curb at Sixth Avenue and — for one fleeting moment — oh, God — there was my hero, lying in the gutter.”

Luscious Luke was my favorite player when I was a kid. If you grew up in Rochester or Buffalo, you will probably say the same thing. He was a local legend. Although a kind-hearted man who was a clubhouse joker, he was a brute in the batters’ box. He was 240 pounds of muscle with shoulders that seemed as wide as two ordinary men, and he could hit the ball as hard as anyone ever has – as hard as Bo Jackson, Giancarlo Stanton, Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle. In fact, if you want to imagine him, just picture a black version of Stanton. By the time I saw him, Luke was nearly 50, wore glasses to bat, and was slow to time the fast ball – but was so strong that he hit 400-foot homers to the opposite field.

Wikipedia summarizes:

“As a player, Easter was best known for his powerful home runs, colloquially known as “Easter Eggs.” While with the Homestead Grays in 1948, he became the first player to hit a home run into the center field bleachers at New York’s Polo Grounds during game action, a section that was 475 feet from home plate. During his rookie season, he also hit the longest home run in the history of Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, a 477-foot blast over the auxiliary scoreboard in right field. The only other player to match that feat was Mickey Mantle, who did it in 1960. Finally, during his twilight days with the Bisons, he became the first player to hit a home run over the center field scoreboard at Buffalo’s home park, Offermann Stadium, doing so twice in 1957. On June 14 he cleared the board, and newspapers reported the blow at an estimated 500 feet.[Rochester, New York, Democrat and Chronicle, June 15, 1957, p. 21] On August 15, he hit the board near the top, and it went through a space between the board and a sign just above it.[Rochester, New York, Democrat and Chronicle, August 16, 1957, p. 26]

When told by a fan one time that the fan had seen Easter’s longest home run in person, Easter is reported to have replied, “If it came down, it wasn’t my longest.””

Luke was already a PCL legend when he made it to the majors. In 1949 he batted .363 for San Diego with a .722 slugging average.

Nobody is really sure when Luke was born, and the big guy offered a different birth year every time he was asked. The census data indicate he was born in 1915, making him a major league rookie at 35. Despite his advanced years in baseball terms, Luke had three great years with Cleveland.

1950: 28 homers, 107 RBI
1951: 27-103
1952: 31-97

After the Indians cut him, he went on to hit more than 200 minor league homers.

Here is a really great article about Luke’s colorful life, mostly about the early days of his career.



Al was about 18 or 19 in this photo from his 1954 card. The following year, at age 20, he won the AL batting championship with a .340 mark. He was one day younger than Ty Cobb had been when Cobb won the batting title in 1907, making Kaline the youngest batting champion ever, a mark that has endured to this day.

Al Kaline, who in a long and unique Detroit Tigers lifetime grew from youthful batting champion to Hall of Famer to distinguished elder statesman, died Monday afternoon at his home in Bloomfield Hills. He was 85.”

If you are a baby boomer and a baseball fan, you certainly remember him well. He never played an inning for any pro team but the Tigers, not even in the minors. He was probably the 2nd-best American leaguer of his era, behind Mickey. He never won an MVP, but he finished second twice and third once – and finished in the top ten six more times!

He is considered one of the two best defensive right fielders of his time, perhaps of all time, alongside Roberto Clemente.

Kaline had nowhere near Mickey Mantle’s power, but thanks to his consistency and a 22-year career, he managed to hit 399 lifetime homers without ever reaching 30 in a season, and in 1959 he even managed to lead the AL in slugging average, upsetting the favored Mantle.

The stats: Coronavirus mapped and quantified

NEW 3/29: President Trump extends social distancing guidance until end of April

NEW 3/29: When will the virus peak in your area, and what are your best and worst case scenarios? Computer simulations. The national peak is supposed to occur approximately April 14-18, just after Easter, but some areas are expected to be hit hard later in the year. Wisconsin, for example, is expected to peak more than a month later.

NEW 3/28: The data are beginning to reveal that covid-19 is much more dangerous for men. The data are consistent from country to country: men make up 72% of the intensive care unit admissions in Spain, 73% in France, 75% in Norway, 71% in the UK. While researchers cannot yet determine how much of the gender disparity can be attributed to behavioral components, it seems clear that the significance of the gap across cultures means that there must be some biological explanation.

NEW 3/28: Why is Germany’s death rate so much lower than everyone else’s? Nobody is certain. There are several possible reasons: (1) aggressive testing has identified many mild cases; (2) the average age of those infected is low – for example, it’s 46 in Germany, 63 in Italy; (3) they have a good healthcare system and an aggressive government; (4) the fatality numbers are not-apples-to-apples because other countries are routinely doing post-mortem tests on those who were not tested in life, while Germany is not. (When a corpse is tested positive, it adds to the infected total, as well as the total of those who had covid-19 and died – in effect weighing in a 100% death rate for that group.)

Scoop’s note: The fatality numbers in general don’t mean what you think they do. The total represents those who were identified with active coronavirus, then died without recovering. It is not specifically the number determined by a medical examiner to have died from the disease. To make a silly example, if an active case with very mild symptoms died in an automobile accident, they would appear in the coronavirus death column, even though the disease was not the cause of death. The way the statistics are kept, there are only three types of cases: active, recovered, or died. There are not separate columns for “died of corona” and “died of an unrelated cause while an active case.” I presume that the impact of that distinction is minimal, but I’m not certain of that.

The Dow’s rollercoaster continued – down 900 Friday.

Jobless claims hit a record 3.3 million

The best way to spend your $1,200 stimulus check, according to financial advisers.” My choices, hookers and bourbon, were conspicuously absent.

An MIT study, Will Coronavirus Pandemic Diminish by Summer?, suggests that 90% of transmission occurs within a narrow temperature band (37 to 63 F) and absolute humidity band. The scientists do not claim that transmission ceases outside those temperature and humidity bands, but that the spread occurs more slowly. If that holds, the Asian monsoon season, as well as the North American summer, should work against the disease.

A silver lining? Pollution levels are falling rapidly!

Prince Chuck and BoJo have tested positive for Coronavirus and Greta Thunberg seems to be a coronavirus victim. They join Harvey Weinstein, Senator Rand Paul, Andy Cohen , two members of the House, NBA superstar Kevin Durant, Idris Elba and Tom Hanks among the public figures with the virus. Olga Kurylenko has recovered.

The Dow dropped another grand on Friday. It’s now about 550 points lower than it was on the day before Trump’s inauguration.

The Trump administration is asking state officials to hold off releasing unemployment numbers. As Trump likes to say, “I like the numbers being where they are.”

Mortgage Lenders Consider Plan to Suspend Payments Amid Crisis. One company, Bank of America, is already committed, and the Fed is taking action on Freddie and Fannie mortgages to suspend payments for those laid off during the crisis.

More light at the end of the tunnel: Although “there are no confirmed effective treatments specifically for COVID-19 to date,” a very small-scale French test (30 patients) has produced excellent results from a combination of hydroxycholoroquine and azithromycin. The Chinese are also reporting excellent results from the same combination. Although this combination has not been proven safe and effective through large scale clinical trials, it at least offers us a glimmer of hope.

BUT NOTE


Italy and Spain record their highest single-day death tolls

Remember those dolphins in Venice? Maybe not. Definitely not. (I was among those conned by this one.)

The State Department has warned Americans abroad to either come now or plan to say out of the country indefinitely. And of course they are also advising Americans now in the country not to leave because coming back may not be possible.

Light at the end of the tunnel (for the Northern Hemisphere). New study says ‘high temperature and high relative humidity significantly reduce’ spread of COVID-19. “An increase of just one degree Celsius and 1% relative humidity increase substantially lower the virus’s transmission, according to the data analyzed by the researchers.”

More light at the end of the tunnel? China reports zero new domestic virus cases for the first time!

Walmart to give hourly workers cash bonuses, seeks 150,000 new employees

This is how long coronavirus survives airborne — and on cardboard, plastic and steel, according to a peer-reviewed study

South Korea seemed to have the virus under control. How did they do it? Unfortunately, even they are experiencing a roller coaster ride, with numbers of new cases starting to creep up after many days of decline.

Trump Defends Using ‘Chinese Virus’ Label, Ignoring Growing Criticism.

WrestleMania 36 WILL happen on April 5, but without fans., and it will last two nights.

Studio Movies in Theaters Will Be Offered for In-Home Rental. “Universal Pictures said on Monday that it would no longer give theaters an exclusive period of roughly 90 days to play new movies, a break with longstanding Hollywood practice that could have wide-ranging reverberations. At least some competing studios are likely to follow.”

With brick-and-mortar stores closing, Amazon will hire 100,000 new workers.. The only aggressive employers now are going to be places like Amazon, Supermarketers, Netflix and the toilet paper manufacturers.

This can’t be good: Man who recovered from covid-19 has become re-infected. At this moment it is not possible to determine whether the virus re-appeared without additional exposure or if he was exposed a second time.

A 42-year-old Zamboni driver won his first NHL game Saturday after being tapped to play as an emergency goalie for the opposing team. Dave Ayres stepped in for the Carolina Hurricanes after both the team’s goalies had to leave the game with injuries, prompting the Zamboni driver to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the home team.”

Read that again carefully, because it’s even stranger than you think. Ayres works as a Zamboni driver and area maintenance worker for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, but he played AGAINST the Leafs, after having been loaned to the other team – and he essentially beat his own employers.

(This seems to be SOP in hockey, as I understand it. This is all new to me, but I just read that every game has a designated emergency goalie, provided by the home team, but available to either team in case both of their roster goalies are incapacitated in the same game.)

21 points in the 4th quarter.

The Super Bowl was the third post-season game they won after trailing by double digits. The Chiefs started the post season by falling behind the Texans 24-0. A Super Bowl victory seemed unlikely at that point, which makes it sweeter now.

The Onion’s take: “Victorious Patrick Mahomes Thanks Bears For Drafting Mitchell Trubisky

All the 2020 Super Bowl commercials are here.

Bryant, 41, was killed along with one of his daughters, 13-year-old Gianna, in a helicopter crash

“In 2006, at age 27, Bryant scored an amazing 81 points in a single game against the Toronto Raptors. Two years later, he earned the league’s Most Valuable Player award, calling the trophy a blessing at the time. At 34, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to earn 30,000 career points, edging other scoring greats such as Abdul-Jabar, Chamberlain, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan. He is currently the fourth-highest scorer of all-time in the league.”

(Kareem is the #1 scorer of all time. LeBron should be in the future, if he plays three more seasons.)

Jeter was an obvious selection. Although he was not as great as some seem to think, he is certainly a Hall of Famer. 3400+ hits, a .310 average and a complete handful of rings speak for themselves. He missed being a unanimous selection by a single vote.

The selection of Larry Walker was more contentious.

Many people believe he is the best Canadian baseball player ever, but I went back and forth on his HoF merits for some years until I finally concluded that he was a Hall of Famer. To place my logic in a nutshell, Walker was exactly as good as Duke Snider, and Duke Snider is a solid Hall of Famer, therefore Larry Walker is a solid Hall of Famer. Normally I don’t accept the logic of “X should be in because Y is” because when people make that argument X is usually being compared to a Y who shouldn’t be in there. If we based the HoF on that logic, about half of the players who ever played should be in because they were better than Tommy McCarthy, who was a totally average player (lifetime wins above average: 0.2). But the “X vs Y” logic is valid in this case, because The Duke is a bona fide, solid Hall of Famer.

To take Denver out of the equation, Walker’s numbers outside of Coors are just about identical to Snider’s outside of Ebbets Field. When I place them side-by-side, you won’t be able to tell which is which because they are virtually identical:

Player A Player B
Batting Average .282 .286
On Base Percentage .375 .372
Slugging Average ,501 .505
OPS .876 .877
HR/550AB 26 28
RBI/550AB 91 96

Moreover, I think you can fairly argue that Walker was a better overall player than the Duke outside the batter’s box, even though Duke played a more difficult position. Walker was a better baserunner, stole more bases, had a better arm, and actually had comparable range factors on those occasions when he was called upon to play center field.

Of the three New York center fielders in the famous baseball song, Larry Walker was not as good a player as Willie and Mickey, but he was as good or better than the Duke, who is not only in the Hall of Fame, but definitely belongs there.

As does Walker.

The longer version of this article can be found in Uncle Scoopy’s Ballpark

Joe Burrow demonstrated why he won the Heisman as he passed for 5 TDs and ran for another, leading LSU to 600 yards of offense from scrimmage.

LSU won by 17, but that’s misleading. The boys from Baton Rouge pulled away a bit at the end, but Clemson was up by 10 at one point, and it was 28-25 late in the third quarter. The two teams left no doubt that they were exactly where they belonged – as the last men standing.

LSU won only one championship in the 20th century (1958), and even that one was disputed. There was no official championship game back then, and there were three major polls declaring champions. Two of them called it for LSU, but the football writers association picked Iowa. (That seemed like a questionable call, given that Iowa had a loss and a tie while LSU was 11-0.) 1

The Tigers have certainly made up for that in the 21st century. This is their third national championship in this millennium despite the fact that they have to play in the same conference as mighty Alabama, which has won five flags of their own, and Florida, which has two titles. Add one more for Auburn, and that means the SEC has won 11 of the 20 in this century.

———-

FOOTNOTE:

1. They sure played a lot of ties in the old days. For example, the 1958 Big Ten had four teams with only a single loss. They were 8-1-1, 7-1-1, 6-1-2 and 6-1-2!! Over in the SEC, Vanderbilt’s conference record was 2-1-3.

DIGRESSION:

That’s nothing compared to the 1932 Chicago Bears in the NFL – they finished the regular season 6-1-6 after starting the year with three consecutive scoreless ties. (And they lost their fourth game 2-0 on a safety. Exciting offense! After four games they had not scored, yet they finished as the league champions.)

Here’s how screwy the NFL was in 1932, with all the ties: the Packers won ten games, but got to watch from the sidelines as a special championship playoff game featured two teams with six wins apiece! The aforementioned Bears won that special playoff, and the Portsmouth Spartans’ loss dropped them officially into third behind the Packers. Therefore, the Packers, who did not make the championship game, finished ahead of the poor Spartans, who did make it.

During the regular season, those three teams could not have been more even. Portsmouth split 1-1 against the Packers, and 0-0-2 against the Bears, while the Bears and Packers played three times, finishing 1-1-1.

This week’s results:

How often in football does each team have a 20 point lead in the same game? Only once in post-season history. Today. The Chiefs became the first team in NFL history to win a playoff game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 20 (24, to be precise). Next up: the Titans.

And the Pack almost blew an 18-point lead of their own, but clung to a narrow victory in storied Lambeau Field. Next up: The 49ers.

 

Earlier this year:

  • The Niners blew the Packers away 37-8. Green Bay had no offense. They were one for 15 on third-down conversions.
  • The Titans edged the Chiefs 35-32.

 

Next week’s odds:

  • Niners favored by 7 at home over the Pack
  • Chiefs favored by 7.5 at home over Tennessee, but the Tuxedos seem to be oblivious to long odds in road games.

 

Odds to win the Super Bowl:

  • Kansas City Chiefs 7/5
  • San Francisco 49ers 3/2
  • Green Bay Packers 7/1
  • Tennessee Titans 8/1

I’m not a betting man, but given the Titans’ hot streak and the fact that they’ve already beaten the Chiefs once, they seem like a decent risk at 8-1. Derrick Henry has been unstoppable in his last three games.

Scoreboard:

Interesting weekend. The visiting teams won three out of four games. Two teams with serious Super Bowl aspirations, the Saints and Pats, fell by the wayside on their home turf. That Pats lost at home in Foxboro after losing last week to the Dolphins, truly marking the end of a dynasty.

You’d think that things would get easier for the Titans after beating the Pats in Foxboro. You’d be wrong. Now they have to face the juggernaut that is the Ravens, who last lost in the Hoover administration. Well, it seems that long. It was actually September. The Ravens are favored by 10 in that one.

The other lines for next week:

Packers by four over the Seahawks in Green Bay.
Niners by seven at home against Minnesota.
Chiefs by ten at home over the Texans

Larsen memories:

  • He was the last living St. Louis Brown.
  • He was an excellent hitter for a pitcher. Over the course of his career he batted .242 and poled 14 homers in just 596 at bats. One year he batted over .300 with an OPS over .900. He got into 75 games as a pinch hitter, and even played occasionally in the outfield.
  • And I hear he pitched a pretty good World Series game once, a game which ended with one of the most famous baseball images of all time (below). And he was either drunk or hungover when he did it! Teammate Mickey Mantle said, “Where was Don the night before he pitched the perfect game? I haven’t the slightest idea, but you could smell liquor on his breath all day. I’ll tell you this: He came to the ballpark feeling pretty good. In fact, to Don, the whole game was a joke. After each inning, guys left him alone, not because of the smell, but because they didn’t want to jinx him, and he’d say with a smile and a laugh ‘You think I’m gonna do it?’”

Here’s his obit at ESPN.

I became a baseball fan in 1957, the year after Larsen’s perfecto, so he seemed like he should have possessed superhuman skills. He always disappointed my juvenile expectations. He was a sub-.500 pitcher for his career and never won more than 11 games in a season. He did lose 21 one season, with only 3 wins. Ouch. That’s not one to tell your grandkids about. But he had his moment.

And what a moment it was.