Happy Thursday everyone, here's my Top 5 for July 22, 2010 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.
1. Quick Hits
* Former Yankee manager Ralph Houk is dead at the age of 90.
* Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw was suspended 5 games. (He's appealing.) Manager Joe Torre and coach Bob Schaefer were each suspended 1 game for that testy game with the Giants the other day. (More on that game in #4.)
* While you were sleeping. The Mets got swept by the last place Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-3 in 14 innings. If not for a blown umps call in S.F. the Mets would be 0-7 since the All Star break.
* Cubs minor league manager Ryne Sandberg says he's ready to take over the big club.
* Alabama football coach Nick Saban compares some players' agents with pimps. Agent Ralph Cindrich correctly countered that some college coaches "also fall in that category."
2. The Major
It's been a tough month for the "Yankee family." Word comes that "The Major," Ralph Houk, has died. I can rattle off the starting 9 for the 1961 Yankees, arguably the greatest team in baseball history. (OK, nitpick away with the '27 and '98 Yankees, or the Big Red Machine.) But the manager wasn't on the tip of my tongue. When we were kids, and the Yanks were in the World Series every year, we never gave Casey Stengel any respect. We'd always say anybody could manage those teams. And I guess we felt the same way about Houk, Casey's successor. All Houk did was win back to back championships in '61 and '62. I once worked an HBO spring training special with Ralph. I enjoyed his baseball stories as much as his reserved demeanor. And when it comes to rings, two as a manager, six as a backup catcher, and one more in the front office with the Twins. Oh, did I mention he was a Major at the Battle of the Bulge? Quite a resume.
3. Bad Year
Things are rough all over. Tiger Woods' endorsements have dropped $22 million thanks to his personal scandals. But weep not for Tiger, he's still #1 among athletes in the $90 million dollar range. And Phil Mickelson is #2. Golfers are 1-2, go figure. There's a boxer in the top 10, Floyd Mayweather. And only one football player, Peyton Manning. Shut out of the top 10 are hockey, tennis and NASCAR, but I guess in the case of NASCAR the cars take up most of the advertising.
Did you catch this one the other night? Can a manager make two trips to the mound on one trip? Can it cost you the game? Even if you're not really the manager? Yes, yes and yes. It happened to one my faves, Don Mattingly.
By the way, and are you sitting down? It seems the umps screwed up. There's a little known rule that says the manager should have been ejected, but the pitcher should have been allowed to stay and face one more batter. But Dodger pitcher Jonathan Broxton was forced to leave, and his replacement, George Sherrill, allowed the critical two-run double to Andres Torres.
5. Baker's Dozen
When I mentioned yesterday that the Islanders now have an official cupcake, two of you chimed in that it should really be cream puffs.
The Top 5 is a tough room.
Happy Birthday: When he was traded from the Yankees to Texas, Graig Netlles quipped "he went from Cy Young to sayonara." Reliever Sparky Lyle. 66.
Bonus Birthday Answer: He hosts a game show, and is 70 today. Who is Alex Trebek?
Today in Sports: The Big Train, Walter Johnson (featured in my soon to be released kids book The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time,) becomes the first to record 3,000 strike outs. 1923.
Bonus Event: The Pied Piper of Hamelin leads the rats out of town. Can we hire Mr. Piper for some of our favorite sports teams? 1376.