Memories of The Greatest

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This wasn’t supposed to happen. Sure, I was just 13, but I read the New York Post, the New York Times, the Daily News, the Herald Tribune and Sports Illustrated and I watched TV and I listened to the radio and all the experts said Cassius Clay would be crazy even to appear in the same building with Sonny Liston, let alone the same ring. Hell, he’d be crazy to set foot in the same ZIP code, a newfangled thing that had been invented the previous year.

Sonny was a monster. He was big and way too strong and he had a couple of sledgehammers hanging from his shoulders that could kill a skinny, 22-year-old pretty boy. He would hit Clay so hard, the experts said, that his fist would come out the back. Clay would certainly leave the ring on a stretcher. He’d be lucky, the experts said, to still be breathing. Continue reading

Just a dad, with his little girl

I collect handshakes. Hank Aaron, Smokey Robinson, Buddy Guy, Sam Moore, David Halberstam, Bill Kunstler, Hubert Sumlin … Getting a photo, or god forbid a selfie, is not what matters most. It’s shaking the hand and saying thank you for making a difference in my life. Thanks for making me smile. Thanks for making me think. Thanks for being you.

I like to think that if I shake your hand, maybe some of the brilliance will rub off.

But there’s one handshake I didn’t get. Continue reading

Now that I’m commissioner …

I know, there’s a lot of things that need fixing. Ebola. ISIS. Global warming. Racism. Sexism. Rush Limbaugh. But saving the world can come later. First we have to fix baseball. Because priorities.

We’re coming off a good World Series, and a great Game Seven. The baseball season ended with the tying run on third and a kid named Madison Bumgarner standing on the mound, proving that you don’t have to have a great baseball name to be a great baseball player.

So let’s hear it for the World Champion Giants, the last team standing. They deserve to wear the crown. And hooray for the Royals, too. The Little Engine That Could came oh-so-close. Continue reading

Game Seven, and nobody’s watching

Baseball is the greatest game on earth. It isn’t perfect – it would be if you didn’t have to refinance your home to take the wife and kids to the ballpark, and if they had a better selection of beer, and if they played the blues between innings instead of those hideous pop tunes – but, hey, it’s awfully damn close.

And tonight the greatest game on earth gets its signature moment, its pinnacle, it’s Ray Charles singing Georgia on My Mind:

Game Seven of the World Series.

A season that began on the first day of April will end tonight, seven months and some 175 games later. One game, winner take all. One guy gets to sip champagne. The other guy goes home and cries in his Bud. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Too bad nobody will be watching. Continue reading

Nothing wrong with No. 2

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I hated Derek Jeter. Hated him.

Not all the time, of course. How could anyone hate Derek Jeter all the time?

But you gotta understand … I’m a Mets fan, which meant that for six games a year (except for last year and this year, when it was four games, and 2000, when it was 11), I hated him. Continue reading

Thank you, sirs, we’ll have another

Just when I thought nothing in the world could be uglier than ISIS, the NFL season has begun. Yes, fans, it’s time for some serious violence on the home front.

You know it’s a lousy time for the National Football League when, instead of debating who’s better, you’re debating who’s worse . . .

The guy who did this to his 4-year-old son:

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Or the guy who did this to his fiancée:

article-0-1BA6330300000578-989_634x416 Continue reading