1. The Baseball Hall of Shame -- The Lion in Winter vs. The Turkey Wing of a Manager
"Yo Dog. Heard about Davey Lopes and his first ballot election to the Baseball Hall of Shame?"
"Naw, Dub. Clue me."
"The Brewers' manager was suspended two games for publicly threatening to 'drill' Rickey Henderson -- no, for ordering his pitchers to 'drill' Henderson, then bragging about it later at a press conference. Said he knew Henderson was trying to get the record for most runs scored in history, but he should do it 'the right way.' 'I don't give a s---,' Lopes said, brilliantly. 'He was going down. I told him, I said, "Stay in the game, you're going down." But he didn't stay in the game. I knew he wouldn't,' Lopes sniffed."
"Sniffed, huh? Um. Do the words "be-atch move" seem to fit better than 'the right way,' Dub?"
"All I know is, Davey Lopes should check this out: If Cobb stole second base without a throw in the seventh inning of a 12-5 game against the Milwaukee Brewers, and Lopes came out of the dugout to curse Cobb out on the field, threaten to have a pitcher 'drill' Cobb, Cobb wouldn't have shown Henderson's restraint. The press conference would've been held in an ambulance, or at a local hospital. Cobb would've peered in at Lopes talking smack, calmly called time out, gotten it, then sprinted off the bag and jumped into Lopes with both spikes and laughed as the blood came spurting out. Or, Cobb would've 'drilled' Lopes with a right hand. Or, preferably to
Cobb, he would've just pulled out a pistol and shot at Lopes."
"Wonder if Davey would think Cobb was shooting at him, 'the right way,' Dub ..."
"It's not like Rickey Henderson insulted Davey Lopes' wife, or ethnicity. Cobb likely would have done both, then took third base, too. Rickey Henderson ..."
"Who I hate ..."
"... who you hate, but still, even though you hate him, you still know he's a run, you still know what he came to do. The score of the game hardly matters. The mercy rule is for Little Leaguers, college football, divorce settlements, politicians with domestic issues they don't want aired in the media. Rickey Henderson took a base to score a run. That's what he does. No real surprise. That's what he's always done, better than anybody else who ever lived, except Ty Cobb. That fact, along with being a mediocre manager, is Davey's problem. It's Rickey and Cobb people will remember in a hundred years, not Davey. Even after Lopes was fined by his own people, Bud Selig and them, he still said, 'I regret what I said, but not why I said it.'"
"Ain't he heard? It ain't how, it's how many."
|Milwaukee Brewers manager Davey Lopes plays Salieri to Rickey Henderson's Mozart.|
"Even you know that, Dog. They even say it in Brooklyn."
"Yo Dub -- they started saying it in Brooklyn."
"Whatever. Davey Lopes has proved that he has about as much business
managing a ballclub as Rickey Henderson has directing 'Planet of the Apes.' Let your game, your ability to manage, keep you out of embarrassment. Don't ask for mercy. Mercy is for hospitals. For the surviving family of Korey Stringer.
"Ain't no mercy in baseball. But there's an awful lot of be-atch moves in the big leagues lately. Somehow, they mostly seem to be directed at the brothers with their own sense of style. After hitting a home run, Philadelphia Phillie Jimmy Rollins, a cute little infielder who, like Henderson, came up in Oakland Babe Ruth as a youngster, and has helped the Phillies into contention this season, was followed around the bags, cursed and berated by a Cardinals' pitcher named Steve Kline, all for hitting a dingo, then ducking his head, and flipping his bat. Kline was yelling, 'Next time, lay the f----- bat down! Gently! Don't show me up!'"
"I say, don't throw no gopher ball down the cack to no little middle infielder, you won't get shown up."
"Dog, you got more big-leaguer in you than some of these so-called big-leaguers these days."
"Yeah, I ain't a Rickey dude, but I do know it'd take 'bout three Davey Lopeses to make onea him."
"That's all I'm saying, Dog. When Rickey Henderson finally does break Ty Cobb's record and goes into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Lopes will be gnashing his teeth, wishing it could've been someone more fit -- somebody like, oh, I dunno, Davey Lopes? Hey. Salieri wished Mozart was more fit. Fay Vincent wished Pete Rose was more fit. But that's how it often comes, genius ... it comes flawed, at least unbound by more common practices; it is often socially stunted in areas outside of its specialty. Genius is but still human."
"Somebody wake up Davey Lopes and tell him."
"Naw Dog, let him sleep. The Brew Crew could use the shot in the arm."
2. The Pro Football Hall of Fame: The Big, Fast Bananas
|If you don't even try to stop Rickey Henderson, then he's not the one who deserves to be drilled.|
Compare and contrast Lopes with John Stallworth, who played on the other side of the formation from his far more celebrated teammate, Lynn Swann, who this month is going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In all the pre-induction hoopla, no one has been more steadfastly supportive of Swann than Stallworth. Stallworth extols his teammate's skill and grace. And it took doing, good p.r., to get Swann into the Hall of Fame. He's been eligible 10 years. There was resistance to him among the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters, the writers who cover the game, and look to statistics to tell the whole story of a football player.
But this ain't baseball. Stats don't tell the whole story of a Lynn Swann. But certain testimonials can.
"No one was more gifted, no one was more athletic, no one was more
spectacular, no one was more important to us winning four Super Bowls than Lynn Swann," John Stallworth said just this week.
He could have added, "No one ... except maybe me."
But he didn't. Probably didn't even think of it. If John Stallworth had Davey Lopes' head, he would've said Lynn Swann wasn't going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame "the right way," if Swann wasn't going in without him right alongside. Stallworth is so humble, you'd think he never actually played himself.
But, statistically, in the biggest games and the regular season, Stallworth was as good or better than Swann.
Only Stallworth will never be the one to say it.
Stallworth was as good or better a playoff and Super Bowl receiver. No one tops his 12 playoff TD catches.
Stallworth will never be the one to say it.
The first Super Bowl yours truly attended was the 1980 game between the three-time Super Bowl champ Steelers and the L.A. Rams. Before the game, I told bookies and a few others that the Big, Fast Bananas were unstoppable, so that was two touchdowns right there, and the Super Bowl hadn't even started yet.
Sure enough, Swannie caught a 47-yarder for a touchdown in the first half.
Then, also sure enough, he suffered a concussion and had to sit out the fourth quarter.
|Statistically, in the regular season and playoffs, John Stallworth was as good or better than Swann.|
In the fourth quarter, Stallworth ran The Perfect Route, "60 Slot Hook & Go," your basic down, in, and up move, and Terry Bradshaw hit him deep down the middle, and Stallworth took one all the way to the house, a 70-yard strike, then he beat the Rams on the same play later for 48 more yards, setting up an insurance Franco Harris TD in a 31-19 win, the last of the Steeler's four Bowls. Bradshaw was elected game MVP.
Terry Bradshaw? Been in the Hall of Fame. With the likes of Swann, Stallworth & Franco Harris to dish the rock off to, and a Steel Curtain to sit and watch, well, of course Terry Bradshaw is in the Hall of Fame.
Of course Lynn Swann should be up in there too. And he is all up in there, now.
Stallworth may never get in. But, if he doesn't, he won't bleat like a
bleached sheep about it. Even though his playoff numbers, his thousand-yard seasons on a running team, his Man of the Year award, his Steeler team MVPs (Swannie never won one) seem to shout "Yo, Canton -- you sleepin' on Stall up in here!"
John Stallworth belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Only you'll never get him to say it.
That's why I'm saying it.
Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."
|Lynn Swann is going into the Hall, but the other Big, Fast Banana should be going in alongside him.||