Remember Aaron …

It’s over. A 5th inning homer … #756 from the bat of steroid-toking Barry Bond’s has broken Hank Aaron’s long-standing home run record.

Congratulations go to Balco and to Barry.

Commiserations to Washington Nationals pitcher, Mike Bacsik, to Hank Aaron, to Bud Selig, to Major League Baseball and to all the fans of the game  …

Our silent vigil ends.

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ESPN …

Remember when ESPN radio used to be sports talk? When it was all sports all the time?

Now it seems that ‘S’ stands for “Sopranos” and the ‘E’ for “Eulogising”.

I download their podcasts (Mike’n’Mike, Herd and Patrick) every day to drown out my 2-hour each-way commute. This week I’ve been skipping huge segments and binning-off whole programmes due to the hosts’ preoccupation with becoming TV critics.

This just in: when I want to listen to TV talk and critique I download my favourite TV critic talk shows … oh wait … no I don’t … ‘cos I don’t have one … ‘cos I don’t care … hence my intent in downloaded sports talk … pity it ain’t.

I’m thinking those other letters … the ‘P’ and the ‘N’ … I’m thinking they should stand for “pretty nauseating” …

curses!

“He’s out at home plate. Lugo looked set to be safe but Posada’s late tag has him out at home plate.” Jeter’s high throw drew Posada off the plate and Lugo’s lunge ought to have seen the Red Sox take a 6-4 lead, with a man on third and an out to play with in the bottom of the seventh.

That was the moment the Red Sox boot should have crushed the Yankees’ throat. A 2-1 series loss leaving them 13 and a half games behind on the back of the demoralising new on Clemens plus an injury to Pettitt would have been devastating.

Instead the “out” saw Boston clinging to a one-run advantage but at least they had their lights-out closing duet to see them through.

Only this time they didn’t. An eighth inning single drove in the tying run and the ninth brought more drama. Papelbon versus A-Rod. Two out and an 0-2 count. Another fizzing fastball stays just a tickle too low. A-Rod’s bat swings sweetly through the line and clubs it into the Red Sox bullpen for 6-5 lead.

Crushing silence descended on the hitherto frenzied Fenway Park stands.

And worse was to follow. The heart of the Red Sox line-up battled through a 26 pitch ninth innings before surrendering to Rivera.

Ah the old ghosts had risen to haunt them.

True Red Sox fans scoff at any mention of a curse. But we know better than that deep down. Oh the Red Sox fans’ curse is no goat, no shade of the bambino. No. The true curse of being a Red Sox fan is this .. No lead is ever big enough … No stretch short enough … No cinch sure enough that you can truly relax and enjoy the moment.

A lifetime of near misses and lost opportunities condemns us to forever to fear the “what if” … to turn rabbit-ears to the whisper of footsteps behind!

Sunday night’s loss to the Yankees may prove to be nothing more than a blip in a remarkable Boston season.

But I can’t help feeling the Red Sox just handed the Yankees a massive morale boost. Abrieu, A-Rod and Manuel Reviera all shone in the clutch, whilst the feted Red Sox pitching wilted against the NY batting order.

Those footsteps may not be much closer, but their tread is more steady.

Packers un-ravel …

Brett Favre always was the player I most wanted to be. Tough. Gritty. Swashbuckling. Tragic. Triumphant . And ultimately, heroic.

Favre was Superman at play.

Could he still lead a tooled-up team to glory? Death or Glory? Hell, yeah! Just not these Packers. The rebuilding – maybe – Packers. The Packers stocking-up on low grade Draft picks hoping to find a diamond in the rough.

Not even Thomas Cook’s Tour Guide of the Year could lead that green crew to a Super Bowl. Not even with a revved-up Tom-Tom.

So, no wonder the guy is frustrated. Does he want out? Probably.

We said here last year the time was past when the Packers and he could have made a nice, tidy and ‘still friends’ break. Now they are heading for a freefall into acrimony. This (losing) season will finally drain the last dregs of love from the Packer-Favre love-fest.

And that is the inevitable consequence of the short term strategy that Favre has forced onto the Packer organisation by refusing to commit to anything other than 1 year extensions. Not that the Packers are excused … stronger management would have forced the issue three years ago now.

So, look for him to be a Vick-evicting Atlanta Falcon – for one season only – as he strives to ‘Elway’ one more Superbowl ring in 2008.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaa-nnoying …

>A-re the homerun hyping calls of J-ohn Sterling and M-ichael Kay getting the hell on anybody else’s nerves but mine?

For the mercy of our sacred elders stop already with the Aaaaaaaa-bomb from Aaaaaaa-Rod nonsense …. grow the hell up!

By the way great job Alex Rodriguez in sticking it to the whinging whining loud mouth Yankee fans. Smart move. Let ’em make jackasses of themselves booing their socks off at ya’ for a season or so then dump the heap of talent on them all at once.

If by any chance there’s a baseball God and one with a sense of humour then you’ve already inked a contract with Red Sox for 2008 onwards. Can’t wait till the pinstriped crowd are staring down the barrel of an ages long ‘Curse of the Aaaaa-migo’

Lessons learnt …

Dice-K (1-2) has found out the hard way – if he ever doubted it – that Baseball is a *team* game.

After his first game win – a 10 ‘K’ performance – he’s pitched two more ‘quality’ starts, yet picked up two losses as his batters fell silent, posting only a solo David Ortiz home run in those two outings.

With Boston peppering runs in games Dice-K hasn’t pitched it begs the question: why?

It seems facing Dice-K is just the tonic opposing pitchers need to bring their ‘A’ game to new levels of excellence. An unfortunate turn of events for a batting line-up that whilst potent is also patchy, with Crisp, Pedroia, Varitek and strangely Ramirez all getting off to sluggish starts.

Dice-K’s next start is Sunday against the Yankees for whom a suddenly slap happy A-Rod is leading the league in prompting inane home-run calls ‘an Aaaa-bomb for Aaaa-Rod’ (aaargghh!).

So, DK is going to have to find a way to waken the Bean Town bats and still the Yankee timber there could be an international incident … because if A-Rod A-Bombs … well …

Thank-you 42

It’s sixty years since Jackie Robinson (#42) joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. A whole lot has changed in those sixty years of course both within and without Baseball.

Robinson and Branch Ricky broke more than a sporting barrier with that courageous move.

But that much is obvious. My question – and it’s been niggling at me for a weekend now – is what has changed in the ten years since it was fifty years since Robinson crossed the colour line?

Ten years ago on that fiftieth anniversary – a landmark usually more auspicious than a 60th – MLB retired forever the #42. And I think that was it. Period.

Now, in 2007, there’s no end to the celebrations of Robinson, the society-changing sportsman.

I don’t have an answer as to what has changed. Yet the question bothers me still. What has changed in those ten years?

  • Has the feat itself assumed greater import?
  • Are we more sensitive to the whole racial issue?
  • Is it tangible evidence of the rising power of the Afro-American middle class?
  • Is the sport and the media simply more attuned to the ethnic diversity of our population?
  • Is it because of a genuine shift in societal sensibilities?
  • Is it because we’ve taken another step in the maturation of society? One that will grow to have a positive impact on the future of today’s youth?
  • Is it an attempt to turn-on the young Afro-American athlete to a sport that once meant so much to them but which now draws less than 20% of its players from their population?

I’m hoping sommeone closer to this than I can dig up some answers on this over the weeks ahead.

In the mean time … Mr Robinson you did a great thing, I wish you were here to be thanked in person; you’re not but your actions still reverberate through a society you helped change for ever … thank-you.