And so in this Podcast brought to you by Lifestyles…
Jeff and Johanna break out the hot stove holiday eggnog (topped off with a couple gallons of that special Kentucky blend, of course) and discuss all things important to the baseball-politico world, including but not limited to: adult circumcision, the 1960 World Series, the Phillies’ impending rape of the National League, peeing on your hands a la Moises Alou to get a better grip and much, much more… all to make you forget with a smile the horrors of your latest office party!
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*Special thanks to our PodMaster Keith Carmack. You can experience Keith’s wicked podcast and subsequent film projects at Undercard Films. The man is talented, people. You don’t want to miss out, so go check it!
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Recorded Saturday, December 18, 2010
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.
the Julio Lugo trade has left you despondent. But here’s the question.
If you were cast away on a desert island and could choose only one
Cardinal, past or present, to be with you, who would you choose?
While the human condition often leads us to fantasize about achieving maximum fame — to be known throughout the world as easily as a McFlurry, the Bible or Michael Jackson — the truth is, most of us would be extremely lucky just to get that fifteen minutes everyone talks about. So when posed with a question of such magnitude, of course, my initial list of suitors would already seem to be set in stone. My grandfather’s generation would say Stan Musial. My father’s would say Bob Gibson. Mine, Ozzie Smith and today’s would most assuredly go with Albert.
But here’s the thing: with any one of those St. Louis Cardinal icons, there is no question that I would cower from awe, go silent from my insecurities, shy away with humbling woes of unworthiness. In other words, I would hardly be good company, especially for someone on a deserted island.
Which would lead me to choose that St. Louis Cardinal who isn’t quite the paragon of baseball supremacy — the one who I feel like I could carry on a legitimate conversation with sans all the slobber, the one who all Cardinal fans know, but aren’t likely to jump at spending any hang-time with. And that man’s name, dear readers, is Fernando Tatis.
Despite playing in just 300 games for the Cardinals between 1998 and 2000, Tatis is as recognizable a name in St. Louis as Hornsby, Brock and Herzog; and his name is known for one thing and one thing only: making history on April 23, 1999 by becoming the only Major Leaguer to ever hit two grand-slams in the same inning!
Clearly, this accomplishment is almost as intriguing and noteworthy as creating a number one hit single called “Jesus Hates the Cubs”, so I am satisfied that Fernando and I would get along just swell on our little deserted island with plenty of ways to relate.
And considering Fernando’s consistent injury issues, I feel like my role in keeping us alive would be much greater than if I were stranded with King Albert, who might just eat me to make things easier. Plus, I’m pretty sure I could get my slider by Fernando which would go a long way in keeping my spirits high.
So go ahead and hate me ‘cuz I’m so unpredictable, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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***Pictures of a skinny Bartolo Colon also welcome but we don’t think such a thing exists.
John McLaren, the fiery, F-bomb dropping manager of the Mariners just
lost his job, perhaps in part because of his profanity laced tirade.
Bobby Cox set a career mark for ejections last season. And Lou Pinella
always seems to be cussing out someone, no matter if his team is in
first or last place. Does it really make a difference when a manager
hollers at, kicks dirt on or otherwise abuses the umps and who does it
I believe it was 1985 or 1986. I was just a bright-eyed kid who would hold his breath as he walked into the chasm of old Busch stadium — overwhelmed and overjoyed by the simple lush green of artificial turf. They were known as the runnin’ Redbirds back then and Vince Coleman was on the front line.
He walked to lead off the first inning and on the very next pitch he stole second. The ump called him out. Coleman went nuts. He got in the ump’s face, threw down his helmet and the crowd (me included) erupted with a supporting roar. It wasn’t enough to change the umpire’s mind because two seconds later, he tossed him.
Immediately, Whitey Herzog stormed from the dugout and dashed towards second base.
He got tossed too.
I was only six or seven years old, but I got it. I was pumped. I was charged. I would’ve fought to the death for Whitey.
And that sentiment rings true still today for players and fans. Why do managers argue calls, risk being fined, and make scenes in front of 30,000 people? It’s part of their job. They are paid to lead, to discipline, to encourage and to fire up the troops.
Some are passive-aggressive (Bobby Cox), some are aggressive (Lou Pinella, Earl Weaver, Billy Martin) and some are just lameballs (Willie Randolph). No matter what the style, the purpose is the same. This is elementary.
As for who is the best? I’m not sure that any current manager could touch the combativeness of Earl Weaver or Billy Martin. Perhaps “Sweet” Lou Pinella is the closest we have as he always puts on a good show and his teams seem to respond: they win. And isn’t that the most important thing?
Of course, there’s always room for a loony toon or two, and I think we could all agree that minor league manager Phillip Wellman of the Mississippi Braves is the quintessential example of how sometimes one can take the whole arguing with the umpire thing a bit too far. If you live under a rock and don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this footage from June 2007:
Nutjob. Yes. But at least he was committed. And confident. Confidence can go a long way, especially if you’re looked up to as a leader and you have no clue what you’re doing half the time. Of course, I can’t relate to that. I can’t relate to that at all.
Don’t hate me cuz I’m right.