Lazzari’s Sports Roundup – 6/20/09

While attending an Eastern League AA baseball game in Norwich last week, I was treated to CT Defenders mascot “Cutter” boogying to Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” between innings on the home team’s dugout; PRICELESS.  Yes, while this entertaining figure may not be the Phillie Phanatic (then again–who IS?), this individual truly gives the fans in Norwich their money’s worth at each and every home game……TRIVIA QUESTION:  In 1978, the Cleveland Indians had two starting pitchers with the same first name who pitched more than 200 innings apiece.  Can you name these hurlers?  Answer to follow…….Just thinking:  In the case of yours truly, you KNOW you’re getting old when you can blame some of the ongoing, nagging morning stiffness and soreness on old athletic injuries that were incurred when GERALD FORD was our president…….This just in:  Brett Favre, in the mood for water-based activities the other day, wanted to go swimming–but decided to go fishing instead.  After further thought, he opted for snorkeling, but changed his mind when he found out the water was murky.  After continued pondering, he decided to go water skiing–but thought better of it because he didn’t have the right equipment.  Finally, after thinking some more, he scrapped all the ideas and decided to stay home…….This week in sports history, June 22, 1947:  Cincinnati Reds pitcher Ewell Blackwell comes within two outs of pitching consecutive no-hitters–but has to settle for a two-hit shutout as his team beats the Brooklyn Dodgers 4-0 in the first game of a doubleheader at Crosley Field.  Trying to equal Johnny Vander Meer’s amazing feat of 1938, Blackwell lost his no-hit bid with one out in the ninth inning when Eddie Stanky singled up the middle; Jackie Robinson would hit another single later that inning.  Four days earlier, Blackwell had held the Boston Braves hitless during a 6-0 Reds victory that was also played in Cincinnati…….I’m truly convinced that the N.Y. Yankees’ walk-off win last week vs. the Mets, due to Luis Castillo’s dropped pop-up, should go down in history as a gift larger than the one the people of France gave to the U.S. well over a century ago–a lady that still stands on Ellis Island……A message to the “suits” at NESN (New England Sports Network):  If you’re ever worried about viewers changing the channel when the Red Sox are on the short side of a blowout game, just keep a split shot of sideline reporter Heidi Watney on the TV screen for the remainder of the telecast.  I GUARANTEE that the average guy watching goes NOWHERE after that…….The most surprising/disturbing thing about the aforementioned Luis Castillo dropped pop-up fiasco last week?  The credit/attention given to Mark Teixeira for simply doing his JOB and running out the play.  Sheesh–are we now THAT far removed from fundamentals and have to actually applaud millionaires for playing baseball the way it was MEANT to be played?…….Speaking of the CT Defenders–who’ve been the subject of relocation rumors lately–I asked GM Charlie Dowd the other day about the status of the franchise right now:  “If we get good weather this summer, we should do well attendance-wise,” Dowd told me.  “And as long as our front office staff works hard and we put out an exciting team, we’ll be fine.”…….Answer to trivia question:  RICK WAITS (230.1 IP) and RICK WISE (211.2 IP)…….Happy birthday wishes go out to former major league infielder Marty Barrett–who blows out 51 candles on June 23rd.  In a career that spanned from 1982-1991, Barrett spent nine of his ten seasons as a member of the Red Sox before finishing his career with the San Diego Padres.  A second baseman, Barrett led the AL in sacrifice hits three consecutive years from 1986-’88; he was a lifetime .278 hitter.  Marty was also the MVP of the 1986 ALCS when he hit .367 vs. California; he went on to hit a sizzling .433 in the World Series vs. the Mets that year.  A native of California, Barrett had the reputation of being a VERY difficult guy to strike out–always finishing near the top of the league in that category.  Best wishes, Marty…….Finally, condolences go out to the family of former major league infielder Jack “Lucky” Lohrke–who died recently at the age of 85 in San Jose after suffering a stroke.  Lohrke played seven seasons for the Giants and Phillies between 1947 and 1953; he also appeared in two World Series games for the Giants in 1951 vs. the Yankees.  Lohrke will forever be remembered for his ability to cheat death AWAY from the baseball diamond.  He fought in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge; on various occasions, soldiers on both sides of him were killed in combat while he emerged unscathed.  He was also bumped off bus and plane rides on two different occasions during the 40’s where ‘would-be’ fellow passengers would later die in tragic accidents.  Yes, by the time Jack Lohrke was even 25 years old, he appeared to have escaped death at least six times.  May “Lucky” Lohrke 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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