GRAND RAPIDS — Stuff.
This week the ballots for the 2020 Hall of Fame hopefuls were released. Thirty two players are on the ballot, including the usual “steroid crew.” After looking at the ballot, I think only one guy should be inducted- Derek Jeter. He had a Hall of Fame career; I don’t believe he should be a unanimous pick- his numbers weren’t “that” good. But 3,465 hits, a career .310 average, 14 time All Star, and 5 gold gloves put him in the “shoo-in” category. Besides, he really was one of baseball’s greatest ambassadors.
A number of talking heads think Curt Schilling should be inducted this year. I don’t know about that. Compare Schilling’s 216 wins, 3.46 ERA, 3,264 innings pitched and 3,116 strikeouts to Bert Blyleven’s 287 wins, 3.31 ERA, 4,970 innings pitched, 60 shutouts, 242 complete games and 3,701 strikeouts. It took Bert about 25 years to get in; no way should Schilling get in this soon-bloody sock or no bloody sock.
I have mixed emotions about Roger Clemens. I mean, the guy was a Hall of Fame pitcher prior to the 1998 season when the steroid stuff exploded. Before the ’98 season he had already won four Cy Young Awards, was a seven-time all star, an MVP, had five 20+win seasons, led the league five times in strikeouts and was a workhorse, throwing 250 innings seven times. If the writers have a change of heart on the steroid crew, Clemens should be the first one in.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the actual playing time of a Major League baseball game is 17 minutes and 58 seconds. Action includes balls put in play, runner advancement attempts, stolen bases, pitches, trotting batters (on home runs, walks and hit-by-pitches.) I’m sure the minutes of action have declined this past season – the season of home runs and whiffs. Balls put in play were at an all time low in 2019.
Football is worse. There are only 11 minutes of action in a three-hour-long football game. As a matter of fact, the average NFL broadcast spends more time on replays (17 minutes) than live play. My son, who has done some television work out in LA, has always told me, “Dad, TV is just one big commercial. The TV show itself is just filler for the ads.” He may be right. The average football game contains 20 commercial breaks containing more than 100 ads.
Hockey is the king of action sports. You get 60 full minutes of nonstop action in a hockey game.
Fred Cox. Kicker. Chiropractor. Nerf football inventor. Fred was a constant in those great Viking seasons, playing in all four of the Vikings’ Super Bowl appearances. He was First Team All-Pro a couple times, his 1,365 points is the most all time for a Viking, and as of today that total ranks 34th in the history of the game. He was one of the last of the straight-ahead kickers. I remember when the “foreign” soccer style kickers entered the league – guys like Pete Gogolak and Garo Yepremian, and later Jan Stenerud, who probably did the most to cement the soccer style kick in for good in the NFL.
Yepremian was from Cyprus, where he grew up playing soccer. The story has it that while he was in London selling men’s hats, his brother had traveled to the United States and watched a football game on TV. His brother had a great idea. He sent a football to London and told Garo to practice with it and that he could become a football player. Somehow he got a tryout with the Lions and after kicking a few 50 yarders, he signed a contract. He had never even seen a game! His first sighting of action was when he kicked off in a game against Baltimore. After he kicked the ball he turned around, bent over, rear end aimed downfield, to pick up the kicking tee. Garo’s introduction to the NFL came about two seconds later when one of the Colts special teams’ guys smashed into Garo, flattening him. Garo got up off the turf with blood gushing from his nose!
A couple weeks later the 5’7” Yepremian kicked an NFL record six field goals against the Vikings in Bloomington as the Lions defeated Fran Tarkenton, Fred Cox, Dave Osborn, Bill Brown and crew 32-31. After the game Viking coach Norm Van Brocklin was asked “How can you stop soccer style kickers?” Van Brocklin said “Tighten the immigration laws.”
Rest in Peace Fred. Know that you were loved by all Viking fans. Come to think of it, you were probably loved indirectly by all those parents whose kids didn’t break windows playing football in the back yard. And by all the kids themselves, who spent countless hours playing with that wonderful toy you invented.