The greatest thing about Barry Bonds' number 756 wasn't the record breaking home run. Instead it was the endorsement by Hammerin' Hank Aaron on the jumbo scoreboard immediately after Bonds broke what many consider to be the record of all records in baseball. What a class act by one of the game's all-time greats. Of course, the gesture was as shocking as it was gracious as not more than a month ago, Aaron was outwardly questioning the integrity of the home run record amidst the swirling steroids allegations and investigations consuming baseball. Aaron, at least for a night, at least for a special moment, has put that aside and in doing so let us all once again get a glimpse into the life of an incredible man that so many have admired over the decades.
The other class act of the night belonged to the pitcher who served up number 756, Mike Bacsik. His in-game interview after hanging that record inducing curve ball was an interview for the ages. Humorous. Humble. Honest. It was great. I think I have a new favorite pitcher to root for now.
On a side note, Bonds said hitting home runs would get a lot easier now that he had finally stroked 756. Guess what? He wasn't kidding as number 757 splashed into McCovey's Cove the very next game. He followed that home run with another dinger Friday night, giving him 24 for the season and 758 for his career.
On another side note, it must be an amazing feeling to know that every time you do something, like hit another home run, you're setting a new record.
You know why the Yankees will make the playoffs this season despite all their earlier struggles. No, it's not because of A-Rod's MVP-like performance thus far. And it's not because of the Bronx Bombers resurrecting their home run swings. It's not even because Mariano Rivera suddenly looks like the same Rivera who was once an un-hittable force at the turn of the century. It's because Roger Clemens willingly got himself tossed from the game on Tuesday night by throwing at Toronto's Alex Rios in retaliation for the Blue Jays throwing at A-Rod for the second straight game. The unwritten rules of baseball are one of the many things that make the game great, and Clemens is a special kind of player who understands the importance of adhering to each and every one of them. The funny thing is that A-Rod broke an unwritten rule himself earlier in the season, which is what started this entire feud with the Blue Jays in the first place. A-Rod shouting "I got it" while running the bases (a stunt that forced Toronto's third baseman to back off a pop up and allow the fly ball to fall harmlessly to the ground) was uncalled for and the Blue Jays pitchers are making him pay for it. But how many times are they allowed to throw at him before it becomes too much? I myself cannot answer that because it's an unwritten rule in baseball and I'm not a big leaguer. However, those like me who are keeping score on the sidelines finally got our answer on Tuesday when The Rocket beaned Rios in the back – a gesture by the veteran that told the younger Blue Jays that enough WAS enough.
I didn't want to make that big of a deal regarding the Kevin Garnett to Boston trade when it happened even though every time I thought about the trade over the course of the next week I broke out into a Napoleon Dynamite-like stage dance. Granted, the trade suddenly made the Celtics relevant again and virtually guarantees that I won't have to sit through another Celtics game like the 100-77 loss at the hands of the Clippers last December. But for me, I'm still very concerned about the awful looking yellow floor sponsorships that are disgracing the Garden. I was a bit upset that Danny Ainge couldn't have worked that yellow labeling into the trade package, but I'll settle for them just disappearing on their own before the season begins.
What is worth making a big deal about though is the potential Reggie Miller signing. I for one am a big fan of this. Miller would effectively become the Clemens of basketball; a hired gun, sniper is more like it, who can alter a game just by stepping on the floor – even if the last game he played in was at the local Y. Miller would supposedly be called upon to play about 15 minutes a game. He doesn't even need to play that. You put Miller on the floor down the stretch in a tight game and he suddenly eliminates the double teams on Garnett and Pierce. He'll stretch the defense by forcing defenders to honor his incredible Robert Horry-like "clutchness" from behind the arc. You flare Ray Allen out to the other wing and add to that mix a sharpshooter like the newly signed Eddie House and defenses will have a tough time locking down the Celtics during critical late game situations. As a Celtics fan, I am very excited about a potential Miller signing and the fact that buying Lakers/Celtics tickets for $350 a seat might actually be worth it again.
Have you ever heard of the Oscar Wilde aphorism, "Life imitates art far more than art imitates life?" Well, I'm trying to figure out if Roy ‘Tin Cup' McAvoy was a character modeled after John Daly or if Daly is modeling his career after Tin Cup. I mean, seriously. You can take a movie clip of Tin Cup during one of his fictitious press conferences, superimpose Daly's head onto Tin Cup's body and you'll have a pretty accurate rendition of Thursday afternoon's "live" press conference with Daly – all the way down to the advertisement patches Daly has populated all over his collared shirt. Just like how in the movie where Kevin Costner adds new sponsors to his apparel over the course of his four rounds, I hope Daly shows up on Sunday with like 15 patches or something.
Speaking of advertising, it really says something about a person when they openly admit to drinking about 30 diet sodas a day yet can't land a diet cola sponsor.
Who said pitchers can't hit? Rick Ankiel, an ex-pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, has rejoined the team as an outfielder. In his return to the big leagues on Thursday night, he smacked a three-run homer that stretched a 2-0 lead into a 5-0 Cards win.
One funny commercial series I failed to mention in last weeks's Fizz are the ads by Jack Links Jerky where hikers torment Bigfoot with old school practical jokes like filling a paper bag with doggy doo, placing it outside Bigfoot's cave and then lighting it on fire. They're all great, but my personal favorite is the one when two guys put shaving cream on Bigfoot's hand while he's sleeping and then tickle his nose with a leaf.
I can't believe I finally predicted something correct. After a stellar 9-game stretch during last year's basketball season when I was nailing Arizona's final scores and spreads like Brandon Lang in the first two acts of Two For the Money, I was then jinxed, un-jinxed, then jinxed again and well, we all know how poorly the season ended for my predictions. Anyway, two weeks ago I predicted that UCLA receivers coach Eric Scott would get off Scott-Free and guess what? He did, as evidenced by recently released reports that Scott will not face burglary charges.
I'm watching a TiVo replay of the PGA Championship while I write this week's article. I have to say that the field is in trouble if Tiger Woods is able to hit long irons off the tee box the rest of the tournament. The last time Tiger shelved his driver in favor of long irons off the tee, he blew away the field at the 2005 British Open at St. Andrews. Friday, this same strategy resulted in him shooting a Major Championship record-tying low round of 63. I doubt Woods will shoot another 63 over the weekend, but he may shoot a 61. No, seriously, Woods is striking the ball well, he's putting well and he's getting up and down when he needs to. Traditionally, he pushes his driver to the right when he's struggling. If he's hitting two, three and four irons from the tees all weekend, he's basically eliminating the one aspect of his game that can truly get him in trouble.
It's nice to see Arizona finally show some depth at the quarterback position. Right now Willie Tuitama is the clear starter with Kris Heavner holding an edge on Tyler Lyon for back-up duties. Although I have no favorites, I'd love to see Lyon win the battle for #2 but the good news is that Lyon is only a redshirt freshman. My point is that Lyon doesn't have to be forced into action this season if he's not ready and the fact that he may not be ready is no big deal. Teams synonymous for developing great quarterbacks rarely rush a quarterback onto the field. Arizona had to with Tuitama in 2005 because if they hadn't a 1-10 season was a virtual guarantee. But now that Tuitama is an experienced junior and Heavner is a really experienced fifth year senior, Arizona can afford to protect Lyon, Bryson Beirne and future incoming quarterbacks by slowly and effectively integrating them into Arizona's football program. Cal does this with almost all their quarterbacks. For USC, keeping a quarterback off the field for at least two years has become the gold standard for developing strength at the position. Arizona can now begin to head down this road and in the long run (thanks to the talented QB commits entering the program), should see some dramatic improvements at the position for not just a season or two, but for years and years to come.
It's been a pretty busy and stressful week and I can't wait for it to end so with a few final taps to the keyboard I'm cutting this Fizz short and signing off.
Bear Down, and have a great weekend!