Volume II, Issue II Summer 2003

From the Bleachers
Rickey in blue

Rickey HendersonRickey Henderson has the Turbula staff in the unfamiliar and even uncomfortable role of actually rooting for a Dodger.

See, we're in San Diego – and if we've adopted ex-Dodgers like Fernando Valenzuela and Steve Garvey, it was because at the time they were Padres.

Of course, most folks outside San Diego think of Henderson as an Oakland A or even a Yankee, given his long and repeated stints with those teams. But his two terms with the Padres were fond ones for local fans – and presumably for Henderson, too, seeing as he collected his 3,000th hit with the team.

Besides all the local times, Henderson has a place in the Turbula pantheon for his example that one can learn grace. Early in his career, Henderson was a brash, arrogant braggart – a man who showed up the great Lou Brock when he broke his all-time stolen bases record.

But while with the Padres, Henderson regularly deferred to fellow future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, gave his teammates full credit for his success, and reacted with what was almost modesty when he broke Babe Ruth's all-time walks record and got his 3,000th hit.

And if you press us, we might admit to one more reason to rooting for Rickey. Most of us who help produce Turbula are, after all, on the distaff side of 40 – seeing one of our own still competing at the highest levels of athleticism warms our middle-aged hearts no end ...

Sports literacy

Hal McCoy Dayton, Ohio, must have something in the water to produce so many great sportswriters. This year, Hal McCoy was elected to the Writer's Wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, joining the late Si Burick, also of the Dayton Daily News, and Ritter Collett, who wrote for the morning Journal Herald and later the Daily News.

Turbula's publisher was a paperboy the summer McCoy first began covering the Cincinnati Reds for the Daily News – and to this day blames daily exposure to Collett, Burick and McCoy for his own tragic inability to escape the news bug. And the truth is, most years Dayton readers have had better coverage of the Reds and Bengals than folks in Cincinnati.

And so now McCoy joins the Hall of Fame, enshrined alongside such sportswriting legends as Ring Lardner and Damon Runyon, Shirley Povich and Red Smith and Grannie Rice. (And if you don't know who they are, then you've no business calling yourself a sports fan.)

Congrats, Hal. And thanks.

Sammy So-So?

Sammy SosaIt was as if Cal Ripken admitted to hiring body-double stand-ins during his incomparable run, or if Michael Jordan had really invented and used Flubber – popular power-hitting Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs got caught hitting with a corked bat.

The point that's been made repeatedly throughout the media bears repeating here: It was so stupid because it was so very unnecessary.

Sosa corking his bat is like Dolly Parton padding her bra. It can be done, of course, but the appeal will be limited to those with a seriously morbid turn of curiosity. Sosa has forearms the size of Earl Campbell's thighs; he hardly needs to cheat in order to hit more home runs.

Besides, corking increases bat speed but significantly reduces a bat's overall kinetic energy – meaning you have better bat control but less power. Sammy ain't hitting for average – corking undermines his whole offensive game.

All of which lends some credence to Sosa's claim that he accidentally grabbed a batting practice bat instead of one of his regulars.

Regardless, one of the most popular players in a game of steadily declining popularity now sees his reputation sullied, and the game's along with it ...

Bigotry on the greens

Annika SorenstamWith all the hullaballoo over Augusta National Golf Club not having any women members (although they let women play as guests), you'd think Vijay Singh might have known enough to simply keep his mouth shut.

When sponsors of The Colonial offered a spot in their golf tournament (which is, after all, an invitational event) to women's champion Annika Sorenstam, Singh angrily announced that he hoped she would miss the cut and that if placed in her group, he would refuse to play.

When those comments became – rather predictably, really – a major media flap, Singh then withdrew from The Colonial: wanted to spend more time with his family, you see.

Sans Singh, Sorenstam played well, but missed the cut (along with a bunch of men, by the by) – and yet, became hugely popular not only with women, but with men as well. Anyone who appreciates gumption and courage can't help but be swept up in the Sorenstam craze. Unlike Singh, she had the pluck to put it all on the line and see where she stood.

Singh may now be a folk hero to the rednecks, the same folks who don't really want Asians (among others) on the PGA Tour, but we imagine things are a bit dicier with the women in the Singh household ...

Summer 2003 Culture, Politics & Technology Section | Summer 2003 Main Page | Current Home Page