Lazzari’s Sports Roundup 6/14/09

The legend continues: My good friend Robert “Raven” Kraft of Miami Beach–who’s now run his 8-mile route for more than 12,500 consecutive days–completed his 100,000th mile on March 29th; he was recently the subject of a very moving piece on ESPN. Jogging daily on the sands of South Beach since January 1, 1975, the man has completed his daily trek amid serious sickness and injury–not to mention having run during lightning storms and hurricanes–with winds up to 86 miles per hour. Mary Munson–who has completed many runs with Kraft–offered her thoughts on this extraordinary man: “In a world of change, uncertainty, and insecurity, it’s comforting to know that ‘Raven’ is a constant.” And a fellow named Dave (nicknamed “Creve Coeur”)–who has completed approximately 270 runs with “Raven”–perhaps put it best when he relayed this recently: “His determination and perseverance through discomfort and injury illustrate dedication and sacrifice that’s become so rare in our ‘couch potato’ culture.” Amen, Dave; more info on the “Raven’s” amazing streak can be found at ……….TRIVIA QUESTION: This baseball player led the American League in on-base-percentage FOUR times during the 1990’s. Can you name him? Answer to follow……….I was truly perplexed after witnessing a content–almost GIDDY–Robin Soderling speak to the crowd after his straight set loss to Roger Federer last weekend in the French Open final. That is until the NBC cameras showed a close-up of his stunning girlfriend in the crowd; that answered my question and put my curiosity to rest. I’m convinced that this is one of the few guys out there who CANNOT have a bad day……….This week in sports history, June 16, 1968: 28-year-old Mexican golfer Lee Trevino shoots a final round 69–winning the esteemed U.S. Open in Rochester, NY for his first PGA Tour victory. Trevino was tied with Bert Yancey near the halfway point of the final round before parring the ninth hole at the Oak Hill Country Club to take the lead. The “Merry Mexican” finished with a four-round score of 275–good enough for a four-shot victory over defending champion Jack Nicklaus. Trevino’s feat of four sub-par rounds in this tournament was something that hadn’t been accomplished in 68 years……….When we often ponder the greatest feats in sports history, we usually think of things such as 61 home runs, 56 consecutive games, 100 points in a game, etc. But I can honestly say that the aforementioned, recently-crowned French Open champion Roger Federer’s accomplishment of 20 straight Grand Slam semifinal appearances takes a backseat to NONE of them……….This week’s definition of the “perfect sports day”: An 8:00 AM golf lesson with LPGA beauty Natalie Gulbis followed by a 12 noon swim lesson given by former Olympian/Playboy model Amanda Beard. Depending on the severity of yours truly’s hyperventilation as the day progresses, the evening would be highlighted by a candlelit dinner with former sideline reporter/sportscaster Jill Arrington……….The tackle made by the security guard at last week’s French Open final–taking down the crazed fan who jumped on the court–was truly a good one. But I’m sure some of my perfectionist/ex-football coaches would still say that a little more leg drive was needed……….Answer to trivia question: FRANK THOMAS–who led the league in OBP in ’91, ’92, ’94, and ’97……….Happy birthday wishes go out to former major league pitcher Matt Kinzer–who blows out 46 candles on June 17th. Can’t remember this native of Indianapolis? You may not be alone. Kinzer pitched just two seasons in the “bigs”–1989 with the Cardinals and 1990 with the Tigers–appearing in just nine games. A right-hander who attended Purdue, Kinzer surely didn’t enjoy too much big league success as he pitched a combined 15 innings for both teams while giving up 28 hits and 22 earned runs in his short-lived career. Yes, folks, the lifetime numbers for Matt Kinzer surely aren’t pretty: an 0-2 record with a career ERA of 13.20. Hey–he can STILL tell his grandchildren that he made the “big show,” right? Best wishes, Matt……….Finally, condolences go out to the family of former NBA guard Randy Smith–who passed away recently after suffering a massive heart attack while working out on a treadmill; he was 60. Smith spent 12 seasons in the league between 1971 and 1983–mostly with the Buffalo Braves–averaging a respectable 16.7 points per game. A true “Ironman” during his playing days, Smith played in a record 906 consecutive games between 1972 and 1983–a mark that was later broken by A.C. Green in 1997. A two-time All-Star, Smith was the MVP of the ’77-’78 NBA All-Star Game–scoring 27 points in 29 minutes. During one stretch of his career, Smith averaged more than 20 ppg for four straight seasons (1975-’79); he finished with 16,262 career points. Personally, I’ll never forget Smith’s stamina and speed–which were second to none in his day–and the excitement he brought to the game along with Buffalo teammate Bob McAdoo during the 1970’s. After his retirement, Smith worked as a host/greeter for the Mohegan Sun Casino here in CT; he is survived by his wife, Angela Crayton-Smith, a daughter, two sons, and his mother. May Randy Smith rest in peace.

About the Author

Bob Lazzari

Bob Lazzari is an award-winning sports columnist for both Connecticut's Valley Times and NY Sports Day--where his "Sports Roundup" column is featured weekly. He is a member of the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance and host of "Monday Night Sports Talk" --a cable television show on CTV/Channel14 in Connecticut. A Fordham grad, Bob is a regular contributor to ESPN Radio's "Inside Yankee Baseball"; he can also be heard weekly every Tuesday morning on WXLM/104.7 FM in New London, CT. He has a popular blog where many of his past columns have been archived.

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