Lazzari’s Sports Roundup – 2/2/16

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

I had the pleasure of interviewing former NFL Pro-Bowl quarterback Jim Everett this past week; he was asked to comment about the main difference between college football and the pro game. His answer? “The CHEERLEADERS.”……….TRIVIA QUESTION: The 2002-’03 Denver Nuggets–who finished with a pathetic record of 17-65 under coach Jeff Bzdelik–were led in scoring by a player who played a mind-boggling NINETEEN seasons in the NBA. Can you name this former power forward? Answer to follow……….If N.Y. Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is worth $25 million per year, then yours truly is dating Jennifer Lopez by the time this column is published……….As of press time, the Prairie View A & M basketball team had a record of 1-19 overall and was tied for last in the SWAC with Alabama State. *Question: Do you think the sports fans who follow that respected university are already looking forward to the 2016 FOOTBALL season?……….The Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance (CSWA) has announced that five individuals will receive prestigious Gold Keys at the 75th annual Gold Key Dinner–to be held April 24th at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. The recipients: Former Hartford Whalers owner/founder Howard Baldwin, 1960 U.S. Olympic Hockey gold medalist Bob McVey, former welterweight boxing champion Marlon Starling, Trinity squash coach Paul Assaiante, and longtime Greenwich High School boys swimming coach Terry Lowe. Since 1940, the CSWA has recognized individuals from the state who’ve excelled at the amateur, high school, collegiate, and professional levels. Tickets to this special event can be obtained by contacting CSWA President Matt Conyers at (860)874-4166 or by emailing VP Tim Jensen at [email protected]……….ITEM: SEVEN New England Patriots back out of this year’s Pro Bowl. The irrelevance of this game is BEYOND laughable at this juncture, folks. *Question: If they want a game devoid of contact with superstars absent in abundance, why don’t they just get six volunteers from each conference to congregate on Waikiki Beach and play a VOLLEYBALL game instead?……….I’m not gonna say that the clock has totally run out in regard to the great Roger Federer winning another major championship. But put it this way: The amount of grains of sand in the hourglass has now dwindled down to SINGLE DIGITS……….*Question: How much longer until the Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists “Johnny Manziel” as a synonym for “disaster”?……….I’m sorry, folks, but if a guy like James Lofton is in the NFL Hall of Fame, then how could a guy like Isaac Bruce NOT be?……….Did you know that the 1994-’95 Washington Bullets had EIGHT players on the team who averaged in double-figures (ppg) but finished with a horrific record of 21-61 under coach Jim Lynam? Perhaps a lack of defense figured into the team’s misfortune that season as the Bullets allowed more than 106 points-per-game–which was third worst in the league behind Golden State and Phoenix……….Freelance sportswriter Willie Backer: “If I had a dollar for every woman that turned me down, they probably WOULDN’T be turning me down!”……….ITEM: UCONN athletic director Warde Manuel gets a raise/ boost in salary of $250,000 (yes, you read that correctly) to do the same job at his alma mater–the University of Michigan. Question: Do you think the guy is losing any sleep in regard to relocation expenses?……….*O.K.–here goes: Former Tulane track team member Taylor Crosby marries NFL WR Kenny Stills, divorces, marries NHL winger Rick Nash–divorces again–then walks down the aisle with former MLB player Dmitri Young. Fans of Woodstock/classic rock in general would surely delight in her full married name of Taylor Crosby Stills Nash Young……….Further evidence of the pathetic state of the newspaper biz and sports journalism in general: Try to locate a non-Top-25 college basketball score in any weekday edition of the Hartford Courant. It AIN’T happenin’, folks……….Answer to trivia question: JUWAN HOWARD–who averaged 18.4 ppg that season; his career lasted from 1994-2013 (with EIGHT different teams)……….Finally, I was saddened greatly when learning of the passing of former Red Sox pitcher Frank Sullivan last week in Hawaii; he was 85. A two-time All-Star who led the Red Sox in ERA from 1954-1957, I was fortunate enough to interview Frank on “Monday Night Sports Talk” a few years ago. A great storyteller (who even wrote poetry on occasion), he was as “down-to earth” as any guest I’ve ever spoken to. And he was SO thankful to my co-host Tony DeAngelo and yours truly for remembering his career and making him feel comfortable during our chat. We remained in touch and became friends since that interview with Frank often providing me with various memories of his career that were both humorous and enlightening. Sadly, I was never able to visit Frank in Hawaii as he had wished–something I’ll always regret. But I received a wonderful, comforting email from his widow, Marilyn, following his passing. She relayed to me that Frank was always cautious of the press–but truly respected and enjoyed my work. Yeah, that kind of compliment–from this day forward–will go far in dealing with any regret on my part. Mr. Sullivan’s ashes were scattered near the sight of his favorite fishing spot in Kauai this past weekend; Marilyn said it was a time of many laughs mixed with tears. Condolences go out to the entire Sullivan family following the loss of a man whose indomitable spirit will never be forgotten. I’ll miss you, Frank, and perhaps a personal visit to that fishing hole WILL happen someday for one regretful columnist; tears and laughs will surely be flowing once again. Rest in peace, “Sully.”

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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