Dusty Baker, a nod to the Finns and Ed Orgeron


Another Saturday where the attention span is shorter than José Altuve’s crotch …

• Everyone knows the basic stages of life: from toddlers to teenagers to adults to parents to grandparents to villages to “are you doing okay… more soup? “

But, for baseball fans, there is another set of sidecar scenes.

First of all, as a kid, you get to know a certain baseball player because he’s on your favorite team or a divisional rival – and you have all of his gum cards from the last five. years.

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Eventually you start to shave, the ball player’s bat slows down, he goes away and you forget about him to see him reappear as a manager, pitching coach, or third base coach.

“Wow, I remember seeing him play. I must get old.

Do you want some old? You really know you’re getting old when the guys you’ve watched play and then manage got old from the dugout – Lou Piniella, Larry Bowa, Davey Johnson, etc…

That’s part of why it’s good to see Dusty Baker, 72, out there in the Houston dugout during the playoffs – a month of October that included the White Sox and their refurbished skipper, Tony La Russa, 77 years old, whose humble playing career was so long ago, you probably don’t even remember.

• La Russa began his professional baseball career as a Daytona Beach Islander in 1962 when the local nine were a farm team for the Kansas City A’s. He was just 17 when he left Jefferson High in Tampa for pro ball and was such a good shortstop that Bert Campaneris was forced to play mostly outfield and first base for the Islands.

• OK, before we go on, some more nostalgia for the local minor league team and the 1939 Winter War. You heard me, Winter War.

Astros pitching coach Brent Strom – at 73, a year older than Dusty – pitched in the mid-’70s before his elbow blew up. Small anecdote: he was the second pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery. No bonus points for guessing the first one.

Strom attempted to revive his career for a few years in the miners, including a two-month stint here with the Daytona Beach Astros in 1979.

Strom entered baseball’s unofficial record books last week when he became the first coach to train his pitchers on the Soviet Union’s invasion of Finland in 1939 – yes, the Winter War. It was the back-to-the-wall, odds-against-us type of fare.

A flurry of research shows how the largely outnumbered and armed Finns resisted this particular Big Red Machine – think of these Finns as the Miracle Mets of the international conflict.

• Tommy John’s common response when asked if a surgery was named after him: “I’m just glad it wasn’t a proctologic procedure. “

• Speaking of cumulative odds, Manny Diaz’s chances of keeping control over his coaching job seem to be dwindling day by day. Chief Hurricane is 2-4 and faces an NC ranked state today and a reinvigorated Pitt next week.

When things like this happen in the days of a 24/7 news cycle, viewers move beyond speculation about a possible layoff and start looking for a job for a replacement. .

And guess what name keeps coming up: Ed Orgeron, the former bayou darling whose sketchy offscreen issues helped grease the skates of his impending departure from LSU. Miami’s fanbase and legion of former players are so eager to return to fame that they would gladly ignore Coach O’s baggage to secure his recruiting talents and overall energy level.

In addition, Orgeron coached the Miami defensive line from 1988-1992 and coached eight All Americans… before stepping down for personal reasons.

Miami is one of the few large-scale programs you could imagine hosting Orgeron. And frankly, that would probably be a good hire. But it would help remove the Google function from school administrator laptops.

• “We were running well and catching up with the leaders before we exploded.

Back in the days of the Winston Cup, victory lane beauty queens and Chris Economaki, a Sunday never went by without that little phrase. Two or three times you would see a big puff of smoke, someone circling behind the smoke, then a yellow flag as workers gathered the broken pieces of metal and soaked up the used oil with kitty litter.

“I threw a rod,” as the old saying goes.

In the past, automobile advances learned in racing finally made their way into street cars. This time around, however, it seems the lessons learned in Detroit (and Japan) have spilled over into racing stores.

Last example: Joey Logano’s # 22 Ford suffered an engine failure last Sunday in Fort Worth. It was Logano’s first blown engine in seven years. SEVEN!

The internal combustion engine doesn’t get a lot of love in some posh corners, but the progress in reliability under our hoods over the past 20 years has been incredible.


It’s not the perfect barometer for judging the current state of a football program, but it’s not bad.

The Hurricanes are home today in Miami against North Carolina State. A Friday afternoon visit to StubHub showed many resale tickets available. Starting price: $ 6. I’d pay double just to hear Ed Orgeron clear his throat – NC State by 9.

• Somewhere else: FSU large on UMass; Notre Dame par 3 on USC; Cincy very big on Navy; Oklahoma beats Kansas by just 20; Clemson upsets (upsets?) Pitt; Ole Miss on LSU; Temple in OT on USF; Bama by a whole bunch on Rocky Top; Jackson State defeats B-CU; the Finns on anyone who dares; and on a cool, cloudy day in southern Pennsylvania, the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays by four points over the Gettysburg Bullets (no, that one never gets old).

BESIDES: If Johns Hopkins hadn’t fallen in love with his cousin, there probably wouldn’t have been several schools and medical facilities named after him. You hear me.

In the early 1800s, young Johns (that was his mother’s maiden name) moved to live with an aunt and uncle. It is said on the street that this part was not so strange at the time: Johns fell in love with his cousin Elizabeth. And she loved him back.

John Hopkins (1795-1873).

The Hopkins clan, however, were staunch Quakers, and the Quakers, being ahead of their time, disapproved of the union of cousins ​​- especially FIRST cousins.

Johns and Liz vowed never to marry anyone else and as a result with no children to explode his money on, Johns devoted his banking fortune to a ton of charitable activities in and around his hometown of Baltimore. True story.

– Contact Ken Willis at [email protected]


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