Gang, if we get around 20 comments today, we'll have a 100-plus comment week. That would be a new weekly high, and since we're going to be on the road for most of Friday, we're leaving it mostly in your hands. And play nice.
Before we get to the mailbag, two things we need to cover really quickly. First, Best of Preps was a grand slam. We can't put into words how many folks do how many different things to make this come together, but it was great. And Eli was a good sport. For those of you in attendance, feel free to chime in.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James, left, prepares to drive against Boston Celtics forward Mickael Pietrus, right, during the first quarter in Game 6 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Second, did we witness LeBron just issue a grudge funk on the Celtics? Did we witness LeBron fulfilling the need to answer the bell like the best player on the planet? Yes and Yes. Sweet buckets of irresistible force, dude goes for 45 points and 15 boards with his team facing elimination. Where are the LeBron bashers this morning, because dude deserves some praise for bringing his Todd962-level A-game.
On to the mailbag from the "Talks too much studios"
OK, Jay not sure if it's mailbag material or not but with your love of Babe Ruth today in the 5/10, who is your greatest hitter of all time? I think I would have to go with Ted Williams or Tony Gwynn.
Excellent question. Best hitter is a tricky connotation, but in the grand scheme of things, we'd probably say Ruth then Ted Williams. He hit .344 for his career and hit 521 homers despite missing three seasons in his prime serving our country in the military.
We'd rank Ruth No. 1 and likely go with Williams No. 2. The difference between their lifetime averages (Ruth hit .342, Williams hit .344 for their careers) is miniscule. And while three years of heroic military service cost Williams a slew of homers off his career total of 521, Ruth hit 714 homers despite being a pitcher in the first few years of his career and spending a chunk of his time in the dead-ball era.
If you are talking about pure knowledge and style and the science and art of hitting — Williams, Gwynn and some of the other hitting savants would rein — then we may have a different list. But in our view is power+average deserves some special kudos.
If we could go without regard to defense, here's our all-time hitting order (and gang, don't get spoiled by this research stuff... you know how we like to fly from the cuff):
LF — Williams (.344, 521 HRs, 1839 RBIs)
CF — Ty Cobb (.366, 117, 1,938 — surprised he had more RBIs than Williams aren't you? Cobb is wicked underrated by today's population)
RF — Ruth (.342, 714, 2,213)
3B — Chipper Jones (.304, 459, 1,585 — he's roughly 40 points higher than Schmidt, and has 140 more homers and roughly the same number of RBIs and the same average as George Brett)
SS — Honus Wagner (.328, 101, 1,733)
2B — Rogers Hornsby (.358, 301, 1,584 — another guy completely underrated by today's baseball fan, the 5-at-10 included)
1B — Lou Gerhig (.340, 493, 1,995 — and he did this in 17 years, which meant his 162-game average was .340, 37, 149... Wow-Standing)
C — Mike Piazza (.308, 427, 1,335)
Don't get spoiled by the research.
In reading today's TFP (paper version), I saw where David Reutimann will replace Kurt Busch-league at Pocono this weekend. To better control this knucklehead, and others like him, will NASCAR start suspending the car too and make the Owner discipline/control the driver?
Imagine if Goodell had told the Saints, not only is Vilma suspended for a year, but you now have a 52 man roster for the 2012 season. The only bounty you'd hear about is the paper towels in the breakroom.
This is an excellent idea. Top notch.
In fact, it's so good it will N-E-V-E-R happen. No way NASCAR ever parks a car that has a sponsor on the hood. No way. In fact, the reason that Busch — who is a world-class punk, up there with the all-timers in fact — is getting extra heat from his car owner is that the sponsor likely has had enough of Kurt Brat's antics.
As for the NFL scenario, what a great idea. In fact, when Roger Goodell reads this mailbag — and we all know he's a 5-at-10 regular — he's going to slap his forehead and scream, "Why didn't I think of that.... Someone get James Harrison on the phone so I can suspend someone."
Now we don't embrace the soccer red card rule where if a player gets dismissed they can not be replaced. Imagine that in hoops if someone gets tossed and you have to finish the game with four players. (Our team is on the floor is how Coach Norman Dale would phrase it.)
But those are in-game decisions, rather than suspensions form on high.
What a huge win for the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. These NBA playoffs are FANTASTIC! (Remember those commercials?) First let me preface my question by saying that I don't like the Miami Heat, Lebron James or Dwyane Wade. I can deal with Erik Spoelstra and that's where my question comes in.
Is he that bad of a coach? They made the Finals last year. They're in the Conference Finals this year. Is that really the sign of a bad coach? Do you think Spoelstra has been placed in an impossible situation where it's either NBA Championship or total failure?
We think Erik (Estrada) Spoelstra is a mediocre coach who to this point has been getting middle of the road results. So it goes.
The Heat have two of the five best players in the league. This should not be this hard. And while getting to the NBA Finals is certainly nothing to sneeze at, looking at the yahoos who have ridden a hot streak to the big stage.
Now, we think you are correct that (Estrada) Spoelstra is in a severely tough spot. Win it all, and that was the goal/expectation. Don't and you underachieved. So it goes.
But every professional coach/manager knows three things:
1) When the local media is out to get you, you're cooked
2) Those paychecks have a nice number of commas
3) When things go bad, it's way easier to replace the coaching staff than turn over the roster
(And while our man C-Vol submitted this question Wednesday o the afterglow of his Celtics' impressive Game 5 win, we once again must bring up Game 6. Let's not overstate it — just like we tried not to overstate some of his playoff struggles — but calling Game 6 LeBron James' finest moment is not overstating anything. Wow. Dude was a killing machine. Period.)
Top five sports moments that made your face leak. MJ winning one without his faja, the olympic sprinter blowing his hammie and finishing with his dad.
Dude, you have really delivered this week. Great run.
Let's go two lists: five in real life that got us and five from sports movies that made us ask if it was getting dusty in the theater.
Real-life face leaking moments (and there are a few that were before our time — Munich Olympic massacre, Marshall plane crash, Jackie Robinson, etc.)
— US Hockey in 1980. So special and dramatic.
— The sprinter hurting his Achilles and his father helping him finish in 1the 1992 Olympics. So real for anyone who has children. God bless you Derek Redmond.
— The autistic kid that came off the bench and hit a slew of 3-pointers.
— Piazza's homer to beat the Braves in the first game back in NYC after 9/11
— Auburn winning the 2010 national championship in football. Didn't know if we'd ever see one.
Moments on film
— U.S. Hockey scenes in "Miracle." This would be life imitating art and vice versa. Quite possibly the most underrated sports movie out there right now.
— When Rudy gets accepted into Notre Dame and he sits on the bench at Holy Cross and cries.
— A slew of scenes from "We are Marshall." Both good and bad.
— "Dad you want to have a catch" from Field of Dreams.
— Of the many great scenes and moments from the TV series Friday Night Lights, we'll dare anyone to stay dry-eyed when Smash Williams comes home and embraces his momma and says, "I'm going to college," or when Matt Saracen breaks down after his father returns from Iraq in a casket. (And if you have not been apart of the Friday Night Lights greatness, well, we have just given you hours of great TV viewing this summer. Enjoy.)
In anticipation of the Summer Olympics, here's my Olympic Top Five Game Changers (if ever so briefly...) - Al Oerter (4 time Olympic Champ - read that again...at the top of his game over the span of 4 Olympics), Mark Spitz (7 Gold Medals), Sugar Ray Leonard (Olympic Gold winning 5 bouts by 5-0 decisions), 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team (Beat the Russians during the height of the Cold War), and Vasely Alexiev (80 World Records in weightlifting and Olympic gold medals in '72 and '76). Who are yours?
Great list (did that guy have 80 world records — wow — who knew there were 80 weight-lifting categories in which to set records). Let's cover the five game-changers all-time and five potential game-changers for these summer games.
All-time Olympic game changers (there were several that were tough to leave off including Carl Lewis going nuts, Greg Louganis, Usain Bolt, Eric Heiden and Michael Johnson):
— Jesse Owens putting his thumb and four gold medals in the Nazi party eye in Berlin in 1936
— The 1980 Olympic hockey team, who showed us the power of inspiration and proved that magic can happen
— Dick Fosbury wins the 1968 gold in the high jump in Mexico City. Every high jumper from that point forward used his style of leading with your head — in fact today's common style of high-jumping is known as the Fosbury Flop.
—Michael Phelps winning eight golds. Plus, Phelps was the first mega-star that came to the Best of Preps banquet, so he was game-changer on international and local levels.
— Any of the collection of inspirational pixie gymnasts of Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton and Keri Strug.
As for this year's Olympics, well, there are a ton of storylines and we'll get more into them later this summer. Here is a quick five overview:
— Caster Semenya, who posted the year's fastest 800 time as 18-year-old in 2009. Her masculine build created accusations of PEDs, and unofficial leaked results of those tests revealed she had male and female parts. She has qualified as a female for the London Games.
— U.S. women's soccer... can they finish the drill?
— Is Usain Bolt still the fasting thing on two feet?
— Who will rule the pool, Phelps or Lochte?
— Are we ready for LoLo mania?
Discuss and enjoy.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...