Josh Gibson ‘greatest home run hitter ever’
For a baseball fan, Martin Luther King Day brings attention to the forever neglected legacy of the Negro League. Josh Gibson, a catcher who hit 75 home runs for the Homestead Grays in 1931, was known as “the Black Babe Ruth.”
He preferred to say, “Babe Ruth was the White Josh Gibson.”
Gibson’s view was endorsed by a white ballplayer, Sean Casey, former Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman now an analyst for MLB Network. He said of Gibson: “If he’d had a chance to play in the big leagues, he probably would have been the greatest home run hitter ever.”
His record is incomplete, as the Negro League played sporadically; its stars appeared more often in exhibition games, many involving big-leaguers. In recorded at-bats against major league pitchers, Gibson hit .426.
Historians put his home run total at almost 800 and marvel that half his at-bats came in two of the most spacious parks, Forbes Field in Pittsburgh and Griffith Stadium in Washington. He died while still in his prime, at 35, of brain cancer.
His great-grandson, Sean Gibson, tends to his legacy by operating youth baseball leagues in Pittsburgh.
Belichick reveals his pettiest side
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick usually delivers as few words as possible in his infrequent interviews. But he was loquacious after Sunday’s 26-16 loss to Denver in the AFC Championship.
His verbosity was inspired by contact between former Patriots receiver Wes Welker and current Pats cornerback Aquib Talib that resulted on injury to the latter.
“It was a deliberate attempt by the receiver to take out Aquib,” Belichick said. “No attempt to get open. I’ll let the league handle the discipline on that play. It’s one of the worst plays I’ve seen.”
But to most observers, the “rub” (as the offense calls it) or “pick” (as the defense calls it), by the 180-pound Welker was routine and within the NFL rules. The rub-pick is in gray area, but no team makes it a more integral part of its offense than New England.
Clearly, Belichick was looking for any excuse to insult “the receiver” who did not give him reverence he felt he deserved when the player was a Patriot.
Mike Wilbon, on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, said: “Belichick, besides being perhaps the greatest coach who ever lived, is also the pettiest guy who ever lived.
“He’s mean, he’s vindictive, part of which probably go to making him a great coach. But he and Welker have had beefs for a couple of years. Welker is the only Patriots player I know of who would publicly take shots at Belichick and was seen as being funny. So this is really petty.”
Summarizing the NFC Championship Game between Seattle and San Francisco, CBS Network’s Jim Rome said: The Seahawks “were bigger and badder when it mattered.”
Goodell misses on the extra point, but he’s close
Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL is considering eliminating the Point After Touchdown, which has become virtually automatic (only five missed during the 2013 season).
Media commentators tend to agree that the extra point needs to be more difficult, but not eliminated. Bill Plaschke, appearing on ESPN’s Around the Horn, said: “Move it back to the 25-yard line. A kick is one point. But if you decide to run or pass and make it, three points. It’s football’s version of a 3-pointer.”
Barkley cites Irving for over-shooting
The development of point guard Kylie Irving is giving Cleveland hope of luring LeBron James to return to his Ohio roots. But Charles Barkley doubts that will happen until Irving changes his focus from scoring to passing.
Appearing on NBA TV’s Inside the NBA, Barkley chided Irving for taking 30 shots in a game against Dallas: “He needs to make his teammates better. You don’t want your point guard taking 30 shots.”
Barkley, while not doubting Miami’s likelihood of a three-peat, is respectful of Indiana finishing the first half of the season with a better record. He called the Pacers “the best defensive team in the league.”
Winter Olympics: Mixed messages from Russia
Keith Olbermann (ESPN) saw irony in Russia’s Olympics administrators building bathrooms in Sochi that place two toilets in each stall. “They’re using the Olympics as a platform for spouting anti-gay propaganda. But they’re encouraging pairs of men to take their pants down in the bathroom? I’m getting kind of a mixed message here, Russia.”