Thursday, May 26, 2011

That's what's great about baseball

AP Photo
Phillies infielder Wilson Valdez was the winning pitcher
in Wednesday night's 19-inning marathon win over
the Cincinnati Reds.

I stayed awake Wednesday night/Thursday morning to watch the Phillies' 5-4, 19-inning victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

While I'm feeling the effects of that decision today, it was worth it. It's games like that one that make baseball the great sport that it is.

First, there's no time limit. In basketball, if your team is down 5 points with 10 seconds left, the clock will tick to 0:00 and you lose. In baseball, your team could be trailing by runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the last inning, but your chance to win doesn't end with the sound of a buzzer.

And when baseball games last as long as that Phillies game did, you never know what you might see. Last year, Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt ended up in left field for a few innings in a 16-inning lost to Houston. On Wednesday night, playing 3rd base in the 19th inning was starting catcher Carlos Ruiz. The winning pitcher in the 19-inning marathon? None other than Phillies infielder Wilson Valdez, who started the game at second base.

Valdez became the first position player to start a game in the field and be the winning pitcher since 1921, when a guy named Babe Ruth did it. And that's probably the only time you'll see Wilson Valdez and Babe Ruth mentioned in the same sentence.

Unfortunately for the players, today's game was scheduled for 1 p.m., less than 12 hours after Wednesday's game ended. Phillies' shortstop Jimmy Rollins, third baseman Placido Polanco and Ruiz were not in the starting lineup for Thursday's game. And manager Charlie Manuel has to be hoping that starting pitcher Cliff Lee can pitch deep into the game, since the bullpen is wore out from the 19-inning marathon.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Randy "Macho Man" Savage dies

Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
Back in the mid-1980s, I followed pro wrestling. I was in my early 20s, so I guess that's an excuse.
One of the more popular wrestlers back in the day was Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Well, the Macho Man died this morning in a car accident in Florida. He was 58.
His real name was Randy Poffo, and in the early 1970s, he played minor league baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. You can check out his stats here.
Here is the story from The Associated Press:
Randy "Macho Man" Savage, the professional wrestler known for his raspy voice, the sunglasses and bandanas he wore in the ring and the young woman named Miss Elizabeth who often accompanied him, died in a car crash Friday in Florida. He was 58.
 A Florida Highway Patrol crash report said the former wrestler — whose legal name was Randy Mario Poffo — was driving a Jeep Wrangler when he lost control in Pinellas County around 9:25 a.m. The Jeep veered over the raised concrete median divider, crossed over the eastbound lanes and collided head-on with a tree.
Police said he may have suffered a "medical event" before the accident, but the report did not elaborate, and it said officials would need to perform an autopsy to know for sure.
The report said a woman in the vehicle, identified as Barbara Poffo, suffered minor injuries. A statement from Stamford, Conn.-based World Wrestling Entertainment said the passenger was the wrestler's wife.
"Poffo will be greatly missed by WWE and his fans," the statement said.
Savage was a charismatic wrestler made famous for his "Macho Man" nickname and his "Oooh Yeah!" catchphrase. He was a champion in Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation, and later Ted Turner's now-defunct World Championship Wrestling.
Poffo was under contract with WWE from 1985 to 1993 and held both the WWE and Intercontinental Championships.
"Our sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends. We wish a speedy recovery to his wife Lynn," WWE said.
Savage defined the larger-than-life personalities of the 1980s World Wrestling Federation (now WWE). He wore sequined robes bejeweled with "Macho Man" on the back, rainbow colored cowboy hats and oversized sunglasses, part of a unique look that helped build the WWF into a mainstream phenomenon.
For most of his career, his valet, Miss Elizabeth, was by his side. Elizabeth Hulette was his real-life wife. They later divorced, and Hulette died in 2003 — one of the many performers in the sport to die young.
The WWF made Savage their champion after a win over Ted DiBiase in the main event at WrestleMania in 1988.
Savage had not appeared for a major wrestling organization since 2004 when he performed for Total Nonstop Action.
He was both at times the most popular and most hated wrestler in entertainment. His flying elbow off the top rope was mimicked by basement and backyard wrestlers everywhere. Savage made good use of his deep, raspy voice as a corporate pitchman as well, for years ordering Slim Jim fans to "Snap into it!"
He's most known his legendary rivalries with Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair. Wrestlers took to Twitter to let fans know Savage won't be forgotten.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson hailed Savage as one of his childhood inspirations and heroes, while Mick "Cactus Jack" Foley called Savage "one of my favorite performers."
Hogan said he and Savage had just started talking again after 10 years.
"He had so much life in his eyes & in his spirit, I just pray that he's happy and in a better place and we miss him," Hogan wrote.