Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……

13) Father’s Day is Sunday; I talk about my dad a lot on here- he passed away five years ago. He grew up in New York City, a huge Brooklyn Dodger fan, so when I was growing up, I knew a lot more about the Dodgers than the average teenager in upstate New York should’ve known.

Fast forward to 1990 or so, can’t remember exactly when, but Mohawk Mall is about eight miles from Armadillo World HQ; they had a free autograph signing to try and get customers into their stores. Ralph Branca, the old Dodger pitcher who is famous for giving up Bobby Thomson’s pennant-winning homer in 1951, would be there to sign autographs.

12) Now I had heard the story of that day 50 times, so I thought this would be fun, and I was right; told my dad to be ready at a certain time, that I would pick him up and we were going somewhere, but I didn’t tell him where.

The Thomson home run was my dad’s version of the Kirk Gibson homer for me; not our favorite moment. There is M*A*S*H episode about the Thomson home run game, and my dad refused to watch it, but when I told him where we were headed, he brightened up.

11) Luckily, and this was a weird event in that it was a weeknight, not a weekend afternoon, not many people were there, so I introduce my dad to Ralph Branca, tell him what a big Dodger fan he was, and the two of them hit it off like long, lost buddies. It was excellent; they had time to talk, Branca confirmed a lot of the stories my dad told me that I would pretend not to believe.

One of the best things I ever did; remembering it today made me smile.

10) There was a catcher named Ernie Lombardi; my dad always said the third baseman would play on the outfield grass when he came up, that’s how hard he hit the ball. I would roll my eyes every time he said that, but Ralph Branca confirmed that it was true.

Because this is a full-service website, Ernie Lombardi made seven All-Star teams; he had a .306 career batting average, a .358 career OB%. He played 17 years in the majors.

9) Last bit of Ralph Branca trivia; former Mets’ manager Bobby Valentine is married to Ralph Branca’s daughter.

Elsewhere in this world of ours…….
8) Wall Street tycoons Joshua Harris and David Blitzer bought around 5% of the Pittsburgh Steelers; they’re also the majority owners of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.

7) At the golf tournament in Texas last week, the players had a hard time on holes 3-5; thru the first three rounds, the whole field was a combined 188-over par on holes 3-5, 340-under par on the other 15 holes. Not sure why the more difficult holes would be out of the range of the TV cameras, which generally show the last 6-8 holes.

6) What on earth is Mike Gundy thinking? Oklahoma State’s football coach was pictured over the weekend in an OAN t-shirt, the “news” outlet that says Black Lives Matter is “a farce.”

Oklahoma State plays football in the Big X Conference, a very good league. Gundy needs to win a lot of games to keep his job, so he can keep making a ton of money. He needs to recruit a lot of good players to win those games, and the majority of those players are African-American.

From here on in, how does he go into the home of a black athlete with a straight face?

This I know; if he wore a t-shirt of an organization that mocked bald, white guys, then he tried to recruit my kid, his butt wouldn’t get inside my door, not a chance.

5) On June 14, 1974, Nolan Ryan pitched against the Red Sox; Angels won 4-3 in 15 innings, with Ryan throwing 13 innings, walking 10 guys, striking out 19. He threw 235 pitches in 13 innings, striking out Cecil Cooper six times— Cooper was batting .297 before the game.

Nolan Ryan was a freak, for sure.

4) Weird stat of the day: In his career as a head coach, Penn State coach James Franklin has won 21 games when he was favored but didn’t cover the spread; in the game AFTER those 21 games, Franklin’s teams are an amazing 19-1-1 against the spread. 

Think about that stat, it is pretty amazing.

3) That stat was from Ralph Michaels, and so is this one:

Since 2010, NFL underdogs of 6+ points who pulled an upset the previous week, also as an underdog of 6+points, are only 9-32-1 ATS. No bueno.

2) New Jersey Institute of Technology does the geographically smart thing and bolts the Atlantic Sun Conference to join America East. NJIT will visit Albany now and then, which isn’t as much fun as schools in Florida/Georgia, but they’ll save money on travel.

Robert Morris bolts the NEC for the Horizon League, a decent step up in class.

1) PGA Tour moves to Hilton Head, SC this week; this tournament is usually in April, right after The Masters. How much different will the course play now, two months later than normal? Has to be lot warmer now; will the greens be that much faster? We shall see.

TV highlight of the day: There is a show on NBA TV called Work at Home; Matt Winer hosts it, and he has an NBA coach talking to him from home. The coach introduces various segments with his staff running drills for players that they can do at home, with or without a basketball. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.