2010 offered a little something for everyone. There were elections in the US, implied succession in the DPRK and in between all that, we even found time to play a little baseball. 2010 was also special because the Krause-Lung powerhouse accomplished a feat that had not even been attempted in many years. That’s right, we got to hang out on two separate occasions!
In the world of RSBS, we provided the hard-hitting analysis and cheap shots you’ve come to expect. Cheap shots. You know, like not once but twice writing on David Paterson and making puns about blindness in both titles. Luckily we could always fall back to classy topics, like in the tenth edition of the Podcast when the idea of sprinkling AIDS on Bud Selig’s salad somehow slipped out.
Although Mr. Lung’s interests are legion, he always makes sure to come back to sure-fire crowd pleasers, like the Cubs. Or pictures of half–naked women. However, this year Mr. Lung managed to take things to an entirely new level by combining both his hatred of the Cubs AND his love of gratuitous, scantily-clad women.
Ultimately, we kept doing what we have been doing since 2008. Red State Blue State gets out there and addresses the issues and topics you want to know about, just like the following top five Jeffery Lung bylined entries of 2010:
2nd Honorable Mention:
Sure, we aren’t the biggest fans of the Yankees over here at RSBS. But you can’t say we don’t make an effort to be fair. Mr. Lung took this sense of fair play to a previously unheard of level when he spent several days towards the end of the season as a Yankees’ fan. To get the full picture you’ll have to read the other two parts but Day 1 sets the tone and sets Mr. Lung on a path that few others have dared to tread.
That famous RSBS sense of fairness also flared up back in March when Jeff addressed the notion that we were biased for or against certain teams and players. He then proceeded to take the piss out of all 30 teams showing once and for all that bias is only in the eye of the beholder. Unless you’re talking about the Cardinals in which case, “Guilty as charged.”
2010 was notable for RSBS in the we got the chance to sit down and talk to several Hall of Famers. The series kicked off with Jeff’s interview of Ken Griffey, Sr. in which Jeff and Ken (can I call you Ken? Mr. Griffey? Mr. Griffey, Sr.?) discussed a topic close to all three of us, prostate cancer. Between the Griffey interview and Strasmas, the end of June turned out to be quite eventful.
1st Runner Up:
This Took 18 Years!?!?
Despite the irreverent tones, RSBS takes both its baseball and its politics seriously. So when the Congress finally overturned the abomination of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell just before Christmas, it was inevitable we’d have something to say. Mr. Lung met the challenge head on and delivered an impassioned defense of all that makes America good.
And the Winner is…:
There are certain moments that mark us all. Certain events rest forever in our memories and fundamentally alter our psyches. I’m guessing Jeff’s interview with Ozzie Smith was one such moments. Put aside the fact that the guy is a Hall of Famer and one of the best shortstops to have played the game. Forget that generations of Cardinals’ fans look at his career as the second coming of Christ. Jeff got to sit down with his childhood hero and talk to him one on one. That, my friends, is something special.
So, there you have it. The Year in Review, RSBS style. And stay tuned as we roll into another year. There will be baseball. There will be politics. And evidently, if Mr. Lung has anything to say about it, there will be gratuitous scantily clad women.
And for Dave Winfield, a man who was drafted by three different professional teams in three different sports, such an aspiration never seemed too lofty.
“People would say ‘yeah, yeah, yeah.’ But the thing was: I found something I loved. And I was pretty good at it. Next thing you know I was drafted. Four years later, my dream came true.”
In the minds of today’s youth, such dreams continue to be commonplace, which is why Dave speaks with us from the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, where his partnership with Ask.com and Susan G. Komen for the Cure continues its tireless campaign of awareness, action and prevention.
“I just think back to when my brother and I were playing baseball at this age, if we would’ve had the opportunity to play on these beautifully manicured fields against kids from around the world, this would’ve been the highlight of our lives.”
Luckily for Dave, his highlights came later in life, in the way of 7 Gold Gloves, 12 All-Star selections, a World Series ring and a spot in baseball’s coveted Hall of Fame. But the kids in Williamsport still have plenty to look forward to:
“I know how much they love it. And they’re excited about it and how they’ll remember this experience the rest of their lives.”
There’s no doubt about that. And one needn’t look only to the Little League World Series to find such enthusiasm. Just head out to your local youth ball field and watch how regimented, how jovial, how respectfully the game is played, even on a small level. It is with that in mind that Dave recalls one of his more cherished little league memories:
“We used to take infield practice that was flawless. That was our goal, to take these flawless infield practices before the game and it would set the tone and intimidate the opposition. We were good.”
In fact, back then, growing up in Minnesota following the Twins, Dave’s focus was on defense.
“There were many players on that team but the one I really liked was Zoilo Versalles. He was a shortstop. And his glove was what I’ll never forget. I followed those guys. Harmon Killebrew. Tony Oliva. Guys like that. We used to imitate all of them.”
Kids will always imitate their heroes. They will always dream big; always envision themselves in the spotlight. But with only 30 teams and set 25-man rosters, the reality is that only 750 Major Leaguers can exist at any one time. So Dave’s advice to kids with Big League aspirations is “to get their education. Do well in school. Be versatile.”
“Enjoy the sport. Go hard. We’ll give you every tool and every opportunity to succeed. Just know that there are other things in life too.”
Of course, not every kid can grow up to be Dave Winfield. But every kid can grow up to be like Dave Winfield — to do things the right way, to respect that which demands respect and work hard to make a difference.
If every little leaguer can live up to those ideals, then the future is as bright as their dreams are big.
Written by Jeffery Lung
Special thanks to Zack Nobinger for arranging the interview.
For more information on Dave Winfield’s thoughts on the progression of little league baseball, check out his book Dropping the Ball.
Click *HERE* to read Jeff’s interview with Ozzie Smith.
Click *HERE* to read Jeff’s first interview with Dave Winfield.
to read Jeff’s interview with Ken Griffey, Sr.
(Top image courtesy of Essence.com)
(Bottom image courtesy of Tim Shaffer/Reuters)
Growing up a kid in America is synonymous with being a dreamer. We’re taught that anything is possible if we’re dedicated, if we work hard. And we often model ourselves after those we look up to, our heroes.
I always had two: my dad, whom I got to see everyday, and St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame shortstop, Ozzie Smith. Many a summer afternoon was spent in the backyard… swinging like Ozzie, diving like Ozzie, smiling like Ozzie.
“I want to be Ozzie Smith,” family members recall me saying, “I want to be Number One.”
So what does one say when he finally gets to have a conversation with his boyhood hero?
“My grandpa had Musial. My dad had Gibson and Brock. I had you, Ozzie.”
And Ozzie’s response?
Of course, I expected nothing but the coolest things from the man who gave us reason to Go crazy, folks, go crazy! Heck, it’s been nearly 25 years since that homerun prompted Jack Buck to give us his iconic call, but I promise you this: to a Cardinals fan, it never gets old.
“It never went away,” chuckled a candid Ozzie Smith, “and as a matter of fact, it’s still reverberating today. I have little kids coming up to me, reciting that. So yeah, it’s pretty cool.”
Indeed it is pretty cool and so is Ozzie Smith, the man: 15 time All-Star, 13 time Gold Glove Award Winner, Hall of Famer and all around good guy.
The seriousness of prostate cancer cannot be overstated. In fact, 1 out of every 6 men will experience the disease, as it is the second-leading cause of male cancer-related deaths in the United States.
“I’m just here to encourage all men 50 or older (40 or older for African-American men and those with a family history of the disease) to get involved, talking with their doctors about prostate health. Because with early detection, prostate cancer isn’t only treatable, it’s beatable.”
As was Ozzie’s signature game plan on the field, the best way to beat this disease is with strong defense. And if anyone knows anything about defense, one need look no further than The Wizard.
After a decade plus of abnormal offensive numbers in baseball, Ozzie sees the current renaissance of pitching and defense themed ball-clubs as a natural, cyclical part of the game.
“It’s the way the game is supposed to be played. You can get a lot more out of playing the game the proper way than just building your team from an offensive standpoint.”
If you’re looking for an example of such managerial strategy, Ozzie suggests we look at those teams at the top.
“The Atlanta Braves in the East, I think they’re one of those teams. Not a whole lot of power, but they certainly do the little things that it takes to win. The Cardinals have always been one of those teams that have done that and I think it’s part of what’s allowed the Cincinnati Reds to lead their division this year.”
Such game theory often begins with the manager and Ozzie Smith was lucky enough to serve under one of the best, one of this summer’s Hall of Fame inductees: Whitey Herzog.
“As a manager, the goal is always to make players better than they are. Whitey was certainly one of those people. The relationship we had was of admiration and respect. A good manager, like Whitey, only has two rules: be on time and give a hundred percent. As a professional athlete, that’s all you can ask, to be given the opportunity to do what it is you do. If you can’t abide by those rules, then you shouldn’t be playing.”
And as we gear up for the 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim, it’s a pretty safe bet that the players involved abide by those rules. One cannot be the best without giving his best. As a 15 time All-Star himself, Ozzie was quite comfortable being at the top of his game. When asked to describe his fondest All-Star memories, he was quick to answer.
“The first one I had a chance to go to in 1981 and then my final one in 1996, those two really stand out. The first one simply because of the excitement of going to your first All-Star Game and the festivities, the lockering, visiting with guys you admired from afar and played against, having a chance to play with them was very special. Then the reception I received in Philadelphia for my final one was very, very special.”
Yep. It sure was. In fact, I fondly remember… crying. I was 17 years old, my hero was retiring and I was morbidly afraid of baseball without Ozzie.
But I quickly learned: no one can take away memories, no one can take away dreams. The game continued on and Ozzie never really went away. The moments he created are remembered today. His work ethic is passed down. His desire to help those in need, to educate, to make life better wherever possible through public service, as he’s doing with the Depend Campaign, all these things make him forever an All-Star.
Forever a hero.
Forever a reason to go crazy, folks.
Written by Jeffery Lung
Special thanks to
Kristin Adams of Taylor PR for arranging the interview.
Click *HERE* to read Jeff’s interview with Dave Winfield.
to read Jeff’s interview with Ken Griffey, Sr.
And there is no doubt. Hall of Famer Dave Winfield gives. A lot.
From being the first active professional athlete to establish an official 501(c)(3) charitable organization (The Winfield Foundation) to funding the Dave Winfield Nutrition Center at Hackensack University Medical Center to providing entire blocks of game tickets for underprivileged youth in San Diego, giving back to the community has always been a high priority for the 12 time Major League All-Star.
“I think part of it comes from the area of the country I’m from in St. Paul and Minneapolis, major corporations used to always give a part of their pre-tax dollars to charity. For some reason, that’s just always sunk in.”
“And with my Winfield Foundation, we try to give to things that deal with health and education; I’ve used sports as a kind of carrot to lead people into these areas.”
But as Winfield admits, the strongest inspiration for his remarkable spirit of philanthropy comes from his mother, Arline, a selfless woman who tragically passed away from breast cancer after seeing her son play in the 1988 All-Star Game. In an effort to further educate the public, Winfield has teamed up with Ask.com and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation to form “Answers for the Cure”, allowing baseball fans and people everywhere to get involved in the fight against breast cancer.
For every person who goes to Ask.com/ForTheCure and uses the search engine, Ask.com will donate ten cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Contributions will help fund life-saving research, education, screening services and community outreach projects.
“Early detection is the most important thing,” Winfield remarks. “There is no cure, but if you detect it early on, you can combat it. If you’re late, there may not be a second chance.”
In his mother’s case, there was no second chance; but by giving back to the community, Winfield keeps her spirit alive. And he is not alone.
In fact, many current Major Leaguers have adopted Winfieldian philanthropic lifestyles, donating their time, money and efforts to educating the public on important health and educational issues. Nick Swisher, Mariano Rivera, Mark Teixeira… these are just a few of those giving back.
“Derek Jeter,” says Winfield, “he stands out as a person who has been totally committed, using his career and his life to be a role model and a good example for others to follow. He has a great foundation. He’s raised millions of dollars. He has helped so many kids. One day, when he retires, he will have affected tens of thousands of people for sure.”
Indeed, Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation and Jeter’s Leaders Program have both done incalculable work inspiring young people to live active, healthy, substance free lives, rewarding academic achievement and promoting social activism. And Jeter’s inspiration for establishing such charitable work?
One might even say Winfield inspires us all to give back to our respective communities. Who else could turn an unfortunate (and inadvertent) 1983 Toronto seagull killing into a charitable endeavor that raised over $60,000 by donating two paintings to an Easter Seals auction?
Whether it’s hitting a World Series winning double off Charlie Leibrandt in extra innings or educating the public through selfless charity work, one thing is certain:
Dave Winfield is clutch.
And now you can be too. Join Dave and RSBS in the fight against breast cancer. Make a difference today.
Written by Jeffery Lung
Special thanks to Zack Nobinger of Taylor PR for arranging the interview with Dave Winfield.
(Below image courtesy of Padres Nation)
And for Ken Griffey, Sr., a man who just four years ago was diagnosed with prostate cancer, this is definitely great news.
Fully recovered and feeling strong, the elder Griffey has joined other sport legends Len Dawson, Rod Woodson, Jim Kelly and (one of my personal favorites) Ozzie Smith in the Depend Campaign to End Prostate Cancer, a movement which educates the public on this important men’s health issue.
By sharing his own personal story, Griffey, Sr. hopes to help quell this potentially devastating disease. “I was diagnosed early. To me, that’s the most important thing: to get diagnosed early. Because then there’s treatment and it’s pretty much curable.”
Griffey was fortunate enough to know this before he was diagnosed, so the fight against the disease began long before he actually acquired it.
“My doctor explained to me that I was a strong candidate for it because of the fact that it was in my family. I had four uncles that passed from prostate cancer. My doctor was very cautious about it, making sure that with each physical I was tested for it.”
Today, not only is Griffey, Sr. spreading the message against prostate cancer, he’s also living life to the fullest, working every day as the hitting coach for the minor league Dayton Dragons, and reflecting on his own illustrious Major League career.
“Getting the opportunity to play with Junior, hitting the back-to-back homeruns with Junior, being world champions with the Cincinnati Reds… those are the major highlights of my career.”
In light of his son’s recent retirement from baseball, when asked about how long it took for Senior to transition he replied: “It didn’t take me long!”
Of course, Senior’s was a decision forced by injury. “For Junior, it was a decision based on the fact that he wasn’t getting the opportunity to play. He sat out for ten games or something like that. We had talked about it last winter. We discussed it. And I think he felt pretty good about the idea of coming home to be with the family.”
And as one legend leaves the game, a new sensation potentially takes his place in Stephen Strasburg. Not since Ken Griffey, Jr. came up in 1989 has there been more buzz about a rookie phenom than there is right now about Strasburg.
“Yeah, that’s exactly right. When Junior came into the league, everyone wanted to see him play.”
Did they ever. One would have to be from another planet to not know how colossally good Junior’s career was, how he became an idol for the masses, how he used class and composure to solidify his future place in the Hall of Fame.
Indeed, Strasburg has a long way to go. But Ken Griffey, Sr. does see the potential: “From what I’ve seen, he has a tremendous career ahead of him… if he stays healthy.”
Then, with a deep-hearted chuckle reminiscent of one who has overcome adversity and seen baseball legends come and go, Senior said:
“I’ve seen him on T.V. But I couldn’t tell you much about how he pitches unless I face him.”
Ken Griffey, Sr. has faced an obstacle or two before. And I’m pretty sure that if he strapped on the cleats today, he’d still have plenty of fight in him.
For more information on how you can join Ken Griffey, Sr. in the fight against prostate cancer, please visit the Depend website.
(by Jeffery Lung)
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Special thanks to Kristin Adams from Taylor PR for arranging the interview with Ken Griffey Sr.
This was the first time I ever spoke to a baseball legend on the phone, so to say I was excited about it doesn’t quite relay just how excited I was. Think Erin-Andrews-in-my-living room-like excited.