Category Archives: Degrees

Must See TV Again

Dick Howser managed the KC Royals to their only World Series victory. It is not as well known, however, that he was friends with Burt Reynolds as a youth. They both went to Florida State. I think this was actually before Bobby Bowden was the football coach. That’s how long ago this was. Reynolds played football for the ‘Noles, but he went on to acting. One of his early movies was Deliverance. He was in that with Jon Voight.

Voight sired Angelina Jolie who is married to Brad Pitt. Pitt played Billy Beane in Moneyball. Chris Pratt played Scott Hatteberg. In a sabermetric twist, Pratt’s day job is playing Andy Dwyer on Parks and Rec. Parks and Rec is written by Michael Schur. He was also Ken Tremendous on the Fire Joe Morgan blog. Scott Hatteberg was a pickin’ machine. Morgan was on the Big Red Machine. But before that, he was an Astro. One of his teammates was diarist Jim Bouton. Bouton and Howser were teammates before that on the Yankees.

DC Pierson is a comedian and buddy of Donald Glover who plays Troy on Community. Pierson has appeared in episodes of Community. Not sure if he had a speaking role, but he was involved in the recent war between Troy and Abed. Chevy Chase is Pierce Hawthorne on that show. He was Clark Griswold in the Vacation movies. Jane Krakowski played Cousin Vicki in the first movie. Now she plays Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock. Jenna is friends with Liz Lemon who has had a few boyfriends on the show. Among them is Dennis Duffy.

Duffy is/was played by Dean Winters. Winters is “Mayhem” in Allstate commercials. Another person who appears in Allstate ads is Pierson. He gets into a fender-bender with some business guy. Hopefully, this post ins more entertaining than a car wreck.

PS – The main Allstate spokesman is Dennis Haysbert. He appeared in Heat along with Jon Voight. They weren’t in the same scenes. I suppose that type of connection works in the Kevin Bacon Game, but it is rather tenuous.

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“What Did The GM Know and When Did He Know It?”

Way back ten, eleven years ago, before there were blogs and other social media, my buddies and I would email each other quite frequently at all odd hours. We were friends, once removed, with a bunch of bikers known as the Go Nowhere Gang. They weren’t apathetic losers. To the contrary, they were a smart group of guys with good careers. They just didn’t go far that often. Their idea of a long ride was to the next town.
Even back then, I would occasionally opine on sports. The emails are long gone now. They probably are part of the cyber mist, but I recall writing about Tiger Woods and Kevin Harvick. Around this time, IU fired Bobby Knight and I wrote one with the witty subject line “Indiana’s Knightmare.” The parallels aren’t perfect, but the recently revealed scandal at Penn State reminded me of those days. I probably would have dashed off some email full of bullshit about Joe Paterno to my friends. I’m not smatter now, but I hope that I am wiser.

One thing that that scandal did accomplish is that it got Dennis and Callahan to stop talking about the Red Sox collapse. For those of you who get their power delivered by CL&P, Boston did not make the playoffs this year. Terry Francona is gone. Theo Epstein left for Chicago. Dirty Water turned to vinegar. I knew that Epstein’s grandfather and great uncle wrote Casablanca. I did not know that his sister wrote for the TV show Homicide: Life on the Streets. (I once complained that Detective Munch has a longer Wikipedia entry than Richard Belzer himself and someone accused me of Wikigroaning, but I digress.) That show crossed over with Law and Order several times. Epstein helped write an episode called “For God and Country.” Jerry Orbach guest starred as Lenny Briscoe.

Arthur Branch was the Manhattan DA on L&O for a few years. Fred Thompson played him. Thompson actually had some prosecutorial experience and was minority counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee. Another counsel was then Cubs fan Hillary Rodham. She was a Yale Law classmate of Larry Lucchino. Lucchino was counsel on the House committee considering impeachment. He was a protégé of Edward Bennett Williams and would later become Theo Epstein’s boss. BTW, Lucchino was a Princeton alum who roomed and played hoops with Bill Bradley, but that’s a story for another day.

That Senate Watergate Committee and its hearing was my first exposure to politics. I vaguely recall it being on TV instead of whatever kids show I wanted to watch at the time. I’ve had an on and off fascination with it since then. I’ve saved only a few newspaper clippings in my life, but one was a Hartford Courant article from 1999 speculating that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. This was a few years before Bob Woodward and Felt admitted this. I’ve read quite a few books on the topic over the years; the Woodward and Bernstein ones as well as bios by many of the co-conspirators like Liddy, Dean, and Haldeman. At one point, I was sympathetic to Nixon. These days, not so much. Anyways, it is back in the news again. Nixon’s grand jury testimony has been released.

Penn State? That’s not a scandal. Watergate? Now that was a scandal. /Crocodile Dundee


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George Blanda R.I.P.

From the Hartford Courant’s AP feed.

The Oakland Raiders announced the death of legendary quarterback and kicker George Blanda on their website Monday.

Blanda, who was 81, played 26 seasons in professional football, including stints with the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Colts and Houston Oilers before playing his final nine seasons with the Raiders. He retired in 1976 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981.

He holds several league records, including most PATs attempted (959) and made (943), oldest person to play in an NFL game (48 years, 109 days) and most seasons played.

In tribute, here’s a link to my piece suggesting that he’s the center of the football universe.

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Reggie Jackson: The Next Generation

Letters Of Note mentions that Jackson was the favorite to be casted as Geordi; a role that LeVar Burton wound up filling. Rob Neyer and Baseball Think Factory mentioned this post. Stuff like this is right up my alley.

Over at BTF, I mentioned that LeVar Burton played Ron LeFlore in a TV movie and LeFlore was discovered in prison by Billy Martin. Martin went on to feud with and manage Jackson with the Yankees. Alas, it went over like a lead balloon. I think folks have a limited appetite for my ramblings like that unless I can find a better way to structure them and capture people’s interest.

It’s ’70s month here at DS HQ. I just finished Josh Wilker’s Cardboard Gods. Now I’m reading Dayn Perry’s recent bio of Mr. October. I’m up to 1978 and I’m hooked. Never was a fan of Jackson (being a Red Sox fan and all), but he’s an intriguing subject.

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The Baer Essentials

Max Baer was once heavyweight champeen of the world back when that meant something. If you saw Cinderella Man, he was the guy that Braddock had to beat to win the title. On his way to the top, he killed Frankie Campbell in the ring. Campbell was a boxing name. His real name was Francisco Camilli. Had a brother named Dolph Camilli who played baseball. Leo Durocher was his manager when Dolph was a Dodger.

I’m not going to tell you that much about Durocher. If you want to read more, seek out Nice Guys Finish Last. Anyways, Durocher fell out of favor in Brooklyn went on to manage the Giants. But then he returned to the Dodgers as a coach. He was with them in LA and The Lip wound up doing some guest shots on TV. It was an era that had rather unrealistic, absurdist TV shows and he was on a few of them. Mr. Ed, The Munsters, and The Beverly Hillbillies – he was on them all. It was in the last of these where he appeared alongside Max Baer Jr. (aka Jethro Clampett.) Did they talk about Max’s dad beating to death the brother of one of Leo’s more valuable players? Who knows? The conversation would have been 47 years ago and I doubt Baer remembers it. And Durocher is dead.

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Filed under baseball, beisbol, Degrees, Other sports, Uncategorized

Minnie Minoso Is Now The Most Linkable Baseball Player

Not sure when it happened, but Minoso now slightly edges out Early Wynn and Warren Spahn. I still think Bobo Newsom is the center of the baseball universe. Every player is within five degrees of separation of him.

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The 600 Club

If Alex Rodriguez ever hits another home run, he will join the 600 club. (If you count the postseason, he already has 612 at the major league level, but no one outside of Tom Tango counts those 13 dingers.) Right now, there are three sluggers in this tier (I’m not including The Seven Hundred troika of Bonds, Aaron, and Ruth.) There’s Willie Mays, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr..

Arod played with Junior early in his career when both were with Seattle. Then Tom Hicks lured him to Texas with his filthy, filthy lucre. Hicks had purchased the team from a group that included George W. Bush. Bush’s dad played first base for a Yale team that made it to the first College World Series. He was one of those rare cats who bat right, throw left, and vote center-right. Another Eli (or Bulldog) on that squad was Frank Quinn. Quinn pitched for a couple of years for the Red Sox and was a teammate of Ted Williams. Williams played until 1960 and was really the only reason to watch the Red Sox in his later days. Bobby Thomson was a Red Sock in Ted’s final year. But he is more famous for being a Giant in Willie Mays’s rookie year.

Mays went to Fairfield High School in suburban Birmingham, Alabama. One of his teachers was Angeline Rice. Her daughter was Condi Rice, who went on to become W’s NSA and Secretary of State. Now, when W owned the Rangers, they got rid of a young Sammy Sosa. There are only three degrees of baseball separation between Sosa and Mays and a few ways to do it. Sosa was a Cub with the peripatetic Mike Morgan who was once a Blue Jay with Randy Moffitt who was a Giant for the early 70s Red Juice Giants. Moffitt, incidentally was the second best athlete in his family. His sister was Billie Jean King. You can also go Mays to Marichal to Carlton Fisk (1974 Red Sox) to Sosa (1990 White Sox.) But my favorite path might be through two knuckleballers. Hoyt Wilhelm was a New York Giant teammate of Mays and an L.A. Dodger teammate of Charlie Hough’s. Hough and Sosa later played together.

Griffey, incidentally, played with his dad. His dad was part of the Big Red Machine along with Foster. Foster started out as a Giant, but Bobby Bonds made him expendable.


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Orange WHIP

In The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood Blues sang the old Spencer Davis Group hit “Gimme Some Lovin'” On the original, teenage Steve Winwood sang and played the Hammond B-3. Winwood would go on to Traffic and later Blind Faith. Blind Faith was a supergroup that included Winwood, Ric Grech from Family, and Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton from Cream. The bandmates were indeed in the “Presence of the Lord” for Clapton was still God at the time. This was before his music became wimpy.

Blind Faith had the half life of plutonium and only recorded one album. Slowhand was more interested in playing with Delaney, Bonnie & Friends, anyways. But constant infighting between Delaney and Bonnie fouled that band up. Out of the ashes came Derek and the Dominoes. Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, and Jim Gordon all played with Clapton in Delaney, Bonnie & Friends and they joined him again on Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs. To complete the quintet, they called on Duane Allman.

Allman was the Sandy Koufax of guitar. He formed The Allman Brothers Band with his brother Gregg. Before that, he was a respected session musician. He played with all sorts of R&B cats down at Muscle Shoals. He played with Wilson Pickett and Percy Sledge. Aretha Franklin covered The Band’s “The Weight” and Duane played guitar on that. Kids today don’t remember the Queen of Soul, do they? Aretha was in The Blues Brothers. She played Matt “Guitar” Murphy’s wife and sang “Think.”

I suppose I could have went with Blues Brothers 2000. Steve Winwood appears in that with Eric Clapton as part of the Louisiana Gator Boys. So does Franklin, still playing Mrs. Murphy. But I’ve never seen that flick.

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Why Wasn’t This Guy Nicknamed Goose?

This guy I’m talking about is Greg Goossen. The Society for American Baseball Research is having their annual shindig in Atlanta this week. They have an email list called SABR-L. On that list there’s been a recent discussion about Gossen.

Goossen was a ballplayer back in the ’60s. He was on one of the early Mets squads. Once, he was coming back to the hotel after curfew and a bit schnockered. He ran into Casey Stengel, who was managing the Mets at the time. “Drunk again, Goossen,” said the septugenarian skipper. Goossen replied, “Yeah, me too, Casey.” But he’s more famous as part of a Stengel quote. It goes something like “There’s Ed Kranepool, who is 20. In 10 years he has a chance to be a star. And there’s Greg Goossen; in ten years he has a chance to be 30.”

45 years later, Goossen is still alive. He was a California guy and went Hollyweird after he hung up his spikes. Got a job as a stand-in for Gene Hackman in movies and ended up getting some bit parts as a result of this. One of these was the 1990 copedy Loose Cannons. S. Epatha Merkerson had a role in that pic. She’s best known as Lt. Van Buren from “Law and Order.” But she also did some film roles. She appeared in Terminator 2 with Ahhnuld.

Schwarzenegger came to fame in the 1977 documentary Pumping Iron. But before that he made an uncredited appearance in Robert Altman’s adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. Synechdochically enough, he played some muscle in that flick. It was a quirky film; Elliot Gould’s Marlowe was like a fish out of water stuck in the Watergate era. I liked it and like to think that Mickey Mantle and Bowie Kuhn got a kick out of it, too. You see, toward’s the end, Marlowe blows away his friend Terry Lennox by firing his roscoe at point blank range.

Lennox was played by Jim Bouton. Bouton was Goossen’s teammate on the 1969 Seattle Pilots.


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Moe Berg: Pitchers and Catchers

More classic stuff from Google Books. I’ve discussed Berg in these pages a few months ago. He once appeared on Information Please! with Clifton Fadiman. I wish I could find it online, but I can’t. The “it” that I’m referring to is an essay called “I Shook Hands With Shakespeare.” In it, Fadiman connects himself to Shakespeare via a series of acquaintances. The essay was as much of an inspiration for me and my occasional Mobius strips linking baseball figures as James Burkes’s works.

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