Thursday, September 8, 2011

My 2011 NFL Picks

It’s the year of Michael Vick, but will he play like a dog now that he’s making huge bucks?(If Vick can stay out of trouble, both the Eagles and the entire canine race can take a deep breath.)

Will Carson Palmer sit at home all season-long, watching the Bengals go 3-13? (No, I think he will be traded to some team whose quarterback gets beheaded around Week #3)

Will Plaxico Burress, Braylon Edwards, and Chad Ochocinco have good seasons, despite changing surrounding? (Yes, yes and yes. Burress is still an elite athlete; Edwards has a heart of steel and will make 49ers QB Alex Smith look good; and Ochocinco will hook up with QB Tom Brady all day long, if he’ll leave his ego at the door.

West: St. Louis Rams: A young, smart, well-coached team will make the playoffs. Sam Bradford is one year better and their much-improved defense will keep them in almost every game.

East: Philadelphia Eagles: With Vick comfortable at the helm, this team will score at will and stop their opponents just enough to win a series of games with scores like 42-38.

South: Atlanta Falcons: Deeper and better than they were last season. A more experienced Matt Ryan at QB with better receivers will equal a deep run into the playoffs.

North: Green Bay Packers: They won’t get complacent after winning it all last year. Aaron Rodgers will make everyone forget Brett Who? Unless they already have.

Wild Card: New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees will have a monster year, but they’ll run into the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs and their season will end down on Bourbon Street.
New York Giants: The younger (uninjured) Manning will shine, and this team will slide into the sixth spot for the playoffs, but the Big Apple will shrink somewhere along the run to the Bowl.

West: San Diego Chargers: Will they finally realize their full potential? Charger fans are tired of a winning team losing big games.

East: New England Patriots: Will the Brady-to-Ochocinco experiment really work? Yes. Will the Pats return to the Big One? Yes. They’re just too well-coached and deep on both sides of the ball. (Even though I hate them!)

North: Pittsburgh Steelers: The only question with the Iron Curtain might be, can their o-line protect Big Ben? Otherwise, this team is loaded and they always find ways to win crucial games.

South: Houston Texans: This team will finally have a big year. They’ve lacked a great defense, but now they’re looking strong. The offense is explosive and the Texans will average 30-plus points per game this season.

Wild Card: New York Jets: Sanchez will be nasty this year, but I don’t think they’ll be as good as they were last season. They won’t be able to get past the Patriots or the Chargers, I believe.

Baltimore Ravens: A great defense with an improving offense. Watch Boldin get bolder and Rice start stuffing it into the end zone on a more regular basis.

Super Bowl: Atlanta Falcon 34
New England Patriots 24

Monday, June 27, 2011

Baseball Icons Who Couldn't

This is an art piece I recently created. This is an all-star team of little-known baseball players from 1901-1915. Each comes with it's own biography. Prints will be available starting soon!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Dodgers are Saved!!

Major League Baseball is taking the unusual step of wresting control of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team recently paralyzed by its owners' bitter divorce. Thank God! A new day for the Dodgers started yesterday. Watch them now go on a long winning strike, unburdened by an owner who was running his team like a bad Denny’s franchise.
I’ve said for many years that you can fire your front office people, managers/coaches, and cut or trade all your players, but what happens when the team’s owner has to go? Examples over the years include the late Georgia Frontiere, (LA Rams); the late Marge Schott (Cincinnati Reds), Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks) and the late George Steinbrenner (NY Yankees.) All of the aforementioned owners ran into their own troubles all on their own—Schott was run out of baseball, Steinbrenner was suspended and Cuban has been fined more than just a few times for his boorish behavior and courtside antics.
Once among baseball's renowned franchises, the Dodgers have been consumed by infighting since Jamie McCourt filed for divorce after 30 years of marriage in October 2009; one week after her husband fired her as the team's chief executive. Frank McCourt accused Jamie of having an affair with her bodyguard-driver and performing poorly at work. It’s a sordid tale of adultery, selfishness and a prime example of the fact that just because some people are rich, it doesn’t logically mean they’re all that smart.
Selig told Frank McCourt he will appoint a trustee to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the club. Frank McCourt, however, has retained Sullivan & Cromwell and was preparing to sue MLB, a baseball executive familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because McCourt had not made any statements.
"I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the club," Selig said Wednesday in a statement.
A person familiar with Selig's thinking said the commissioner may choose to force a sale. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because Selig's statement did not mention that.
In December, Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon in Los Angeles invalidated a March 2004 postnuptial agreement giving Frank McCourt sole ownership of the team, allowing Jamie to seek one half of the franchise.
Selig's move came after The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Frank McCourt had arranged a $30 million loan from Fox, the team's television partner. Selig has not approved a $200 million loan from Fox to the club, which was first proposed by the Dodgers last summer, and the Times said the money was needed to make payroll.
"As the 50 percent owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I welcome and support the commissioner's actions to provide the necessary transparency, guidance and direction for the franchise and for Dodgers fans everywhere," Jamie McCourt said in a statement.
Baseball officials could not recall another instance in modern times in which the commissioner's office seized control of a team from its owner. Before Tom Hicks sold the Rangers last year, Selig appointed MLB executive John McHale Jr. to monitor the Rangers but left Hicks in charge of the franchise.
Portions of this article courtesy of LA Times.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Interview with Freddy Schmidt

Frederick Albert Schmidt (born February 9, 1916) is a former pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for three different teams between 1944 and 1947. He was born in Hartford, Connecticut. Listed at 6' 1", 185 lb., he batted and threw right-handed. Schmidt entered the majors in 1944 with the St. Louis Cardinals, playing for them one year before joining military service during World War II. In his rookie season, Schmidt went 7-3 with a 3.15 earned run average, two shutouts, and five saves to help his team to clinch the National League pennant. He also pitched 3.1 scoreless innings of relief in Game 3 of the 1944 World Series, won by the Cardinals over the St. Louis Browns in six games. After his discharge, Schmidt rejoined St. Louis in 1946 but he was not the same after that. He divided his playing time with the Cardinals, Phillies and Cubs in 1947, his last major league season. In a three-season career, Schmidt posted a 13-11 record with 98 strikeouts and a 3.75 ERA in 85 appearances, including 15 starts , three complete games, two shutouts, five saves, and 225.1 innings. Schmidt (95) is recognized as one of the oldest living major league ballplayers, and the oldest to have played for a World Series-winning team.

On the minors: I was pitching for a church team, a shop team, I was getting nice write-ups and the Cardinals sent me a letter in 1936. They asked if I would like to try out to be a ballplayer…just bring shoes and a glove at this field. And then the guy hung up when he says, “I’ll see ya.” I was working in a foundry, I was just a kid. I had to go to work because the depression was on and my folks were getting ready to lose their home and I had to get a job. I never went to high school. I graduated eighth grade and I had to hunt for a job to get my folks to get a couple of bucks coming in to hold on to the home. So I’m over there and there’s about 400 guys on this field. And they all want to be ballplayers because nobody was working. And naturally, with me getting these write-ups in the local papers, they said, “Schmitty, warm up and let’s see your fastball.” And I could hum them in there pretty good, I’ll tell ya, or they wouldn’t even look at you. And they said, after throwing two, “Where do you live?” I says, “So and so and my folks are there.” “Well, they gotta sign up for you.” And, I’ll tell you what, it was pitiful. They gave me $24 for staying out of work two days. Here’s what I got. Started in Class D in North Carolina for $75 a month. This is the way it used to be. Not only me going through this, a lot of other guys went through it. My first game pitching on the mound, I struck out 19 batters. And they said, “Oh my God, he’s another Dizzy Dean” and all that stuff, but I gradually crawled through the minor leagues of the Cardinals. From D to C to B to A and then finally got up to Rochester….You know how many minor leagues I played in? About 35…I always had four, 14, 15 wins and you move up a little bit and then you drop down again, oh my God. It was tough. I spent seven years in the minors with the Cardinals. Just going up here and there, here and there and going to spring training once in a while, coming back out. It was pitiful. There were only eight teams then in the National League. Oh my gosh, I’ll tell ya, I’ll tell ya. Oh, my God, when…you know, it was a funny…I’m gonna tell you a good story. When I was down in…they had in ’38, see ’37 is when I was…had them strikeouts and they thought the world of me and so they had all their best prospects. Down in ’38 they went ahead in Florida. And then they had the old Cardinal ball players showing us different things, how to slide and all that. So, I’m sitting with a new pair of baseball shoes on next to Pepper Martin. And he’s chewing tobacco and he spits on my new shoe. So I says, “Now what did you do that for?” He says, “Hey, kid, that’ll put a good shine on for me, you don’t have to worry about shining them anymore.” [laughs] Being a rookie, I had to keep my mouth shut…or you’re going to hell, you know? [laughs]

On Branch Rickey: Well, see I got married in 1940. And I was gradually making a better salary, you know, seeing since I was getting to be a better pitcher. But, yes, I got tired of it. I was thinking, gee, when am I going to get the, you know, get up there a little bit. And I wrote into Branch Rickey one time and I says, “Mr. Rickey, my mother says that if I can’t make more money than this I ought to go back to the factory job.” You know what he says to me? He said if that’s the way you feel, he says, well then go back to your factory job, knowing that I was dying to play baseball. See, that’s the answer I got from Rickey. Oh, he cheated more ballplayers out of a buck. He cheated men that were married in the minor leagues playing for starvation wages and had to pay their own hotel room when they were home, you know, at the home. You had to pay for all that, throw your wife in that and you were just about getting enough and then when the season’s over, you’d hurry up home and get a job someplace to get you through the winter. You didn’t make anything.

On playing during WW2 (and the 1944 Cardinals): So finally, after Rochester, I figured they wouldn’t have any baseball on account of the war but Roosevelt said we’re going to play baseball and we’re going to…for the people that are working, they have to have some enjoyment, so I says to the superintendent at this job, I says Mr. Briggs (?), I’m sorry but I’m going to leave to go play baseball. He says, “You’re taking a chance, they’re going to draft you.” I said, “That’s all right, then they’ll get me at my baseball.” We got through, I got through the summer, I got through the summer, made the World Series in ’44 and then just before Christmas I finally was drafted. There was a lot of them drafted, you know, but there was a lot of them that missed, too. I was the first reliever, but you didn’t need relief and then we had starting pitchers that went nine innings. Mort Cooper, Harry The Cat Brecheen, Ted Wilks, Red Munger and Max Lanier, those were the starting pitchers. They went nine innings. They didn’t go five. I was the number one reliever. See because (manager) Billy Southworth did pitch me. And now here’s something. Southworth says to me one day, “Schmitty, I know you was always the starting pitcher in your minor leagues.” He said, “Max Lanier’s elbow is sore, could you start tomorrow?” I says, well, I’ve only been going two or three innings. I says, sure, I’d be glad to. I went nine innings, I pitched a shutout. Against the Giants. So here comes all the writers into the clubhouse. Where the hell you been all the time? I says, out in the bullpen sitting there and waiting. So Southworth says, I’m the starting pitcher from now on. Five days later, Pittsburgh comes in, Preacher Roe’s pitching against me. I’m starting again. And Frankie Frisch is the manager. And I pitch another shutout. And I got two hits off of Preacher. Max Lanier’s elbow got well in a hurry, because you know what they do, they ship you to the minor leagues. They could do that then. They could send you to the minor leagues anytime they wanted to. I’ll tell you what. When you’ve played in St. Louis in the middle of the summer, a doubleheader on a Sunday, that was murder. 120 on the field. The ballplayers used to come in from the heat and they said they could give it back to the Indians as we hate to play here. We were always glad when we’d go to Chicago and get some air again so we can live and breathe again. Honest to God, because the Browns played there too, the ballpark was rough as hell. Marty Marion used to be picking up little pebbles here and there.

On the 1944 World Series: Ted Wilks started the third game, he’s going good and then about the third inning, I guess, they got about five straight hits so Southworth waves to me in the bullpen, “Get ready, get ready!” I threw about four or five pitches, he calls me in. See, I’m walking in…they didn’t run in those days. While I’m walking in, half the people in St. Louis are for the Browns and half are for the Cardinals. So when I start walking in, they says, you know my name is Schmidt, they say, “Rowse-Schmidt-Shmidt” (?) So I’m hearing all that stuff but I was used to it, that didn’t bother me no more. And you just warm up and then I did pitch that, and Southworth says load the bases and I threw a curve ball to Cooper. And I think he could have blocked it but it bounced against him and got away and a run scored from third base. But they had already had three off of Wilks. So anyway, then I pitched the rest…three and a third innings, no hitting. I did a good job. I batted once and then they brought in (Al) Jurisich to relieve me…but we did lose the game.

On Eddie Dyer, who replaced Southworth as St. Louis manager in 1946: We had about four guys sitting in the bullpen. See, with Eddie Dyer, he was the manager. He played favoritism, played favoritism too much. He had all these guys in the minor leagues that were down in Houston where Eddie managed. And he would favor them more than the other guys like me. So, you sit, I didn’t do much pitching in ’46. So I told (St. Louis owner Sam) Breadon during the wintertime at a hot stove meeting they had, “I’d like to be traded”. He said, “What do you want to be traded for? We’re a championship ball club.” I says, “I’m not pitching, I’m not getting a decent record to get a raise or anything.” “Oh, don’t worry about that,” he says. “We’ll get in there and we’ll be in the World Series, you’ll make some money.” I thought to myself, yeah, it’s not very much. So anyway, he says, “Get down to spring training with good feelings.” See? So I get down there in St. Petersburg, and there’s Eddie Dyer. He says, “Schmitty, what do you mean by telling them that I play favoritism too much?” I says, “Well, you do! You got all these guys that played for you at Houston in the minor leagues, I says, “I’m sitting out there…” He said, “You feel that way?” I said, “Yes! I want to leave, I want to get with somebody else.” He says, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll get you a lot of pitching.” Yeah, he gave me a lot of pitching. Three other guys and I sat out in the bullpen, Red Barrett and Howard Krist, we never did any pitching. He used to use his own, I ain’t going to mention the names. But the favoritism was there, see? inally, Harry Walker and I were finally traded to the Phillies. And Harry Walker went over there and he led the National League in hitting.

On Ben Chapman and Jackie Robinson: Oh, we were fighting the Civil War every day in the clubhouse. Oh, my God, you know what (the Southerners on the Cardinal roster) did? They threw a chunk of watermelon on the field and they threw a black cat on the field and that first night Harry Walker and I and Chapman had the meeting and he says, “Whatever you do, when you go to your car tonight, make sure you’re with a buddy in the parking lot.” He says, “We’re going to have trouble because of the night before, what when on and the colored people were in a ruffle.” What they did to Jackie…it was pitiful what that poor guy took. I don’t want to get in wrong with these Southern ballplayers because a lot of them are good boys but it was still there and they gave him a going over. Oh my God, what they called him was pitiful. I never talked to (Robinson) but he came over to our dugout after what went on the night before…Chapman was standing on the top step and he was holding a bat and they wanted to get Jackie over to smooth things over. And he says, “You know, Jackie? Good ballplayer but you’re still a nigger to me.” And I heard all this stuff….What could he do? Jackie was told not to say anything because they’re gonna call you everything in the book, they’re gonna slide into you, try to hurt ya, try to hurt ya. And they said, you can’t fight back, Jackie, if you do the fans are gonna get on ya, goodbye negro baseball. You gotta keep your mouth shut. And he took it for two years. What they did to him. The only trouble I ever had with a man in baseball was Ben Chapman. I never hit it off with him….He was the worst. I played ball down south with a lot of nice people, and my first wife was a southerner. But this guy here was a real rebel, Chapman. He had trouble wherever he played. He was a troublemaker. Now, we were in the Polo Grounds and we’re playing the Giants and these big Jewish guys, they had nice box seats right behind our dugout. And they were riding us a little bit, which they do, they call ya, ‘ay a bunch of bums,’ which you don’t care, as long as you don’t swear at ya. And…this big Jew reaches over (to Chapman), he says, “Hey! We spent $100,000 to get you out of the American League and we’d get you out of this league, too.” And Chapman crawled back in the dugout and I’m movin’ in the corner and pull my head down, I says, “Good, good” to myself. Good, you son of a bitch…. You want to knock him on his ass but you can’t because as soon as you said anything they shipped you to the minors. There was no protection. See, they gotta a union now, they got a little a bit of a protection.

On the Mexican League’s intrusion in 1946: Mexico was trying to start baseball down there. And some of them were jumping down there because these Mexicans were handing out big money to them. See, hear, come on down and play in Mexico and we’ll give you a lot more money. Three of the Cardinals jumped down there. Two of them jumped from the Giants jumped….And anyway, they finally got down there and there was a guy in a hotel in St. Louis, I don’t want to mention his name, but in comes these three Mexicans with a black suitcase and they say, “So and so, let’s go up to your room and…we got something to show you.” All right. Okay. I know what it’s all about. We went up to the room, they opened up the bag and dumped all this money on the bed and they said. This will be all yours, we have more if you come down to Mexico. The guy says to me, “What do you think, Schmitty?” I says, if you’re going, I’m going because I’m sure in hell ain’t making much. But, anyway, he told them wait ‘til I talk to the manager. I wanna let it lie for a couple of days. Finally, he was told…”Don’t go, you’re going to be a star one day.”

On the 1946 World Series: See, what happened, when we played the first two games in St. Louis in the World Series. Rudy York hit a home run in the first game. Harry Breechen came and won the second game. So we get on the train, we didn’t fly then, we took trains, you know. Train all the way to Boston and we pull into the hotel there, I forgot what the hell that name was, but anyway, right outside of Fenway Park. And these guys, couple of these guys that were groundskeepers, they were staying in this hotel and they were sitting there mingling with the ballplayers and talking about Ted Williams. You know what that Ted does? He goes out early in the morning just when it’s getting light and he shoots the damn pigeons out of the rafters. They’re up there, they’re (pooping) in the seats. See, so when he come up to the plate, he would be facing, we were in the third base dugout, but I was out in the bullpen but I could see what they were doing. When he’d come up, they would grab bats and they said, “Hey, Ted. They’re up there.” And he said, “Ah, go to hell, you…” But you know what? He was a big flop in the series. He let them down, oh my God.

On Enos Slaughter’s Mad Dash: I think he might have had a hit-and-run on with Harry. See, Dominic (DiMaggio) was playing the outfield but he hurt his ankle and he a new centerfielder in and he was kind of slow getting to the ball. Walker hit the ball over the, you know, it’s kind of past in the shortstop section. And it was going out there and this guy was slow getting to it and here goes Slaughter ‘round second, third base runs on Mike Gonzalez is holding him up, holding him up he went right by him like a freight train. And (Boston shortstop Johnny) Pesky turns around, the guy threw the ball…finally threw the ball to Pesky, nobody helped Pesky, they should have yelled, “Home, Home” or something, see? I guess Pesky figured he’s gotta be at third base, you know…well, here he’s going home and he’s sliding and Pesky tried to throw with a short arm, he didn’t have the full arm throw, and it…lousy throw up there and Slaughter slid in there to win the World Series for us.

On meeting another guy named Schmidt for the Phillies, Mike Schmidt: When we were (at a Phillies’ old-timer function), my wife says get that Schmitty over here. So I call, I says “Mike, come over here. My wife wants to have a picture taken with you.” So I stood by him and one of the old ballplayers says, “Hey, Mike. That guy could be your father.” Mike says, “Maybe he is my father!”

On his World Series rings: I had my ’44, my stepson, see I was married before then, I adopted the boy. And he used to wear this ’44 ring and I told my wife, I said, don’t let him wear that, somebody’s going to steal that. She says, “No, he can take care…” Well, he went deep-sea diving for coins down in Florida and he was told not to because his heart wasn’t that strong. Well, he went down and he passed away….Oh, young boy, maybe 18…And somebody took the ring off his finger and goodbye.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Yo, Meathead!—2011 MLB Picks

Well, I’m not going to get into as much detail as my pal, Ed. No MVP or Cy Young picks here. You see, while I know that he’s so used to the Lakers winning that they’re not even really on his radar right now, I am actually watching the Knicks attempt to make the playoffs for the first time in recent memory, so I haven’t really caught up with spring training yet. Yes, all those lousy years… I know, they’re still not the best, even with Amare and ’Melo, but next year, once they trade for a legitimate center, get a solid backup point guard…

Anyway, I digress.

So, my picks for the 2011 MLB season?

American League

AL West: Oakland A’s

AL Central: Your guess is as good as mine—oh, okay, the Minnesota Twins

AL East: Tampa Bay Rays

Wild Card: Texas Rangers

AL Champ: Tampa Bay Rays

National League

NL West: San Francisco Giants

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies

Wild Card: Atlanta Braves

NL Champ: Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Champs: Tampa Bay Rays

Eh, what the hell do I know?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My 2011 MLB Picks!

Baseball season starts next week, so here are my fearless predictions. Read these again in late October for a good laugh, because last season I picked the Boston Red Sox to win it all, and they didn't get into the playoffs. I am picking the Red Sox again to win the World Series in 2011, but I haven't been right since 1989, when I picked the Oakland A's to capture the crown. Since then I'm oh-for-21 and still searching for winners!

My MLB 2011 Predictions
National League
NL West: Colorado Rockies
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central: Milwaukee Brewers
Wild Card: Atlanta Braves
NL Champion: Philadelphia Phillies
American League
AL West: Angels of Los Angeles
AL East: Boston Red Sox
AL Central: Detroit Tigers
Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays
NL Champion: Boston Red Sox
MLB Champs: Boston Red Sox
2011 Award Winners
National League
MVP: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
Cy Young: Ray Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
Rookie of the Year: Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
Comeback Player of the Year: Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
Slugger of the Year: Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
Closer of the Year: Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants
American League
MVP: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays
Comeback Player of the Year: Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins
Slugger of the Year: Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox
Closer of the Year: Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers