The Boys of Summer

Baseball is back and I’m thrilled. I’ve always been a baseball fan first. No other sport matches up against it. It’s a game that takes a tremendous amount of skill to play. Most players who get drafted never get to play in the majors . Hitting a major league curve ball is probably the hardest thing to do in all sports.

Anyway, there is nothing like spring training and the hope for a new season. Every team is tied at 0 in the standings. I really wish an MLB team was in the city I live in…we have an NFL team that I would trade in a heartbeat to get an MLB team. Baseball is not an action packed game like basketball, soccer or hockey but there is a game within a game. When you get up to bat…no one is going to block for you…no it’s you against that pitcher … What I love is the different sized fields, no clock, no salary cap, players with quirks, fastballs that are 95 and above and the people who have the skills to play it right…it is a beautiful thing to see.

Baseball really hasn’t changed too much over the years except for instant replay and some small changes. What you see now is pretty much what you saw in 1920s. It’s one of the few things in America that stays consistent.

It’s a game of numbers and history…From Honus Wagner to Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Jackie Robinson to Willie Mays to Hank Aaron to Sandy Koufax to Clayton Kershaw to Mike Trout… No game has the history that baseball does that is as important.

I love to listen to broadcasts on the radio and to catch a game in mid summer after I get done with what I am doing. In an instant I’m back on the little league and then high school field…in what Bruce Springsteen says…my…”Glory Days”

The cold weather is leaving soon and it is time for me to follow my Dodgers all the way to a World Series again.

 

Ken Stabler: No cooler athlete ever walked the earth. He is missed.

No cooler athlete ever walked the earth than Ken Stabler. He was THE rock star in sports…he was more of a rock star than rock stars. Passing the ball left-handed with deadly accuracy along with the cool nickname… “The Snake”. The way he carried himself with the salt and pepper hair coming out of the back of his helmet while sporting a beard. Always looking like he was having the best time of his life.

He didn’t just exist he lived…and he lived with style. Never saw him panic on a football field.  His teammates said he would never call someone out for not blocking or missing someone to get him sacked. John Madden has said that the more pressure Ken was under the calmer he got.

He did what he wanted to do how he wanted to do it. Yes, there are a lot of bar room stories of Ken Stabler like reading the playbook by the jukebox light. He and his teammates made training camp fun… If that is a possible thing. John Madden had the good sense to let men be men and off they went. The rest of the Raiders all respected Stabler and followed him…they had his back and he had their back.

The Snake should be remembered not just for his cool personality… He was a great quarterback and should have been in the Hall of Fame long before he got in… I heard one commentator say that he would rather have Tom Brady etc… nope not me… I would rather have Stabler because for most of his career he played without the Blount rule and the timing plays that modern quarterbacks do would not run as well without that rule that was enforced in 1978… The receivers could be pretty much be beat all down the field…timing was much harder then.

Plus Stabler was just damn tough… all of them were tough back in the 60s-70s. Ken paid for that in the last few years of his life…

Some of the most well-known games in history he was in the middle of… the Holy Roller, The Sea of Hands, The Ghost to the Post and unfortunately the Immaculate Reception game which went the Steelers way but it may be the most memorable game ever.

The 1970’s team was full of outcasts, free thinkers and characters…also amazing football players. I recommend this book about the 1970’s Raiders called Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders.

Easy read and great stories. Makes you want to youtube and find all of the games you can find of that era’s Raiders.

The NFL would not know what to do with him today. He had a personality…that goes against the game now.

Sadly Mr. Stabler passed in 2015…He is a man I wished I would have had the honor to meet.

New book about Stabler called Snake: The Legendary Life of Ken Stabler

Ken’s autobiography called “Snake” that was published in 1986.