Before there was Walter Payton and Michael Jordan in Chicago as icons, there was Ernie Banks, and you couldn't get enough of him. His smile and enthusiasm and love of life and of people was something I had never experienced. Period.
Days fly by in our lives. But it is the memories such as were evoked in thousands like Mike and me upon the passing of Mr. Cub and those gathering to celebrate and honor him at the memorial service that are the salve making our later days even richer and more rewarding.
Ernie Banks died tonight. And in the summer green fields of heaven, they are playing baseball. Later on, I'll go listen to Steve Goodman sing "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request." But not right now.
Banks lived on Chicago's South Side. He often commuted to Cubs home games on the L train. He had no choice. Though he was the biggest name and biggest draw the Cubs had, he could not buy a home or rent an apartment in the neighborhood surrounding Wrigley Field.
Selig's legacy is as follows: When baseball needed a strong commissioner, he was the game's nowhere man. When he did act, it was in the best interests of owners -- and not in the best interests of the game and its fans.
Mo'ne, caught the world by storm in the Little League World Series this past summer. She became the first Little League player ever to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. Her jersey was inducted into the National Baseball Hall-of-Fame, and recently, she was named AP's "Female Athlete of The Year." But that's all a given -- you can read news-feeds for that. So let's take it a little deeper.
I'm told there must be 3,000 men and women playing the sport, all the way in the 90s; yup, into the 90s! So, coming from a baseball background, I wanted to play. Before anyone can play, one has to go through three separate evaluations and then be drafted. Sounds like MLB, huh?
Major League Baseball seems poised to admit its largest class into the Baseball Hall of Fame since 1936. Of those candidates for Cooperstown, fewer are generating as much debate as John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves.
For the players of Major League Baseball, the World Series is the ultimate goal. For directors of MLB games on television, it's a career-crowning achievement. For two decades, two directors have been a perennial postseason dynasty.
The first thing you see when you enter Pete Silletti's office is the company logo. If you don't recognize the "you're in good hands" corporate art, it is spelled out in huge, shiny silver letters: Allstate.
We do well to define our ambition in order to gain the clarity of a baseball player who keeps his eye on the ball and home plate as his goal.
Since I am in the holiday spirit (and, having just consumed a mug of hot toddy, a glass of eggnog and a nip of cheer, the holiday spirits are in me), ...
It's the kind of thing you probably missed over Thanksgiving dinner, while gnawing on a turkey leg, bickering with your uncle, or falling asleep during a Detroit Lions game: The Miami Marlins just signed an outfielder to a $325 million deal, the largest contract in sports history.
Of course, millions of fans will be watching as well, checking to see if their favorite teams sign those coveted free-agents. To best enjoy the Winter Meetings, take this lesson in the lingo and, you too, will be ready to kick it like a baseball veteran.
I shouldn't have been surprised when I was asked what separates a sport from something else. I answered by paraphrasing Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's attempt to define obscenity: I'm not sure what a sport is, but I know it when I see it.
As the debate unfolds between the old school system of voting and the new "sabermetric" style votes with WAR (wins above replacement), defensive runs saved, fielding percentage, etc. there's likely to be some tension.