SAYING NO TO ICHIRO
Just when you think the baseball writers are wising up—like not repeating the travesty of 1998 when they picked Barry Bonds over Sammy Sosa—they go and do something stupid like give the American League MVP award to Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
We’re all for the internationalization of the game, but anyway you want to define valuable, Ichiro comes up short. Want the most valuable hitter in the AL? No doubt that’s Jason Giambi, who led in both slugging percentage and on-base percentage. An MVP’s got to play defense, too, right? How about Alex Rodriguez, whose range factor at short was just as good as Ichiro’s in left—and he hit 52 homers and scored more runs in fewer at bats. Gotta be a Gold Glover? How about Cleveland’s Roberto Alomar, who got on base far more, and drove in 31 more runs. But did any of these guys play on a team that won 116 games? Bret “Superfreak” Boone did, slugging 100 points higher and driving in 40 more runs.
Do you mean valuable in terms of marketing? Then maybe Ichiro’s your guy. By the way, remember that supposed New York bias in awards voting? Care to guess how many first-place MVP votes Yankee players have received since 1986? Exactly one: for Derek Jeter in 1999. That total is matched by legends like Carney Lansford, Kenny Lofton, and Jose Mesa. By comparison, the Reds won six MVPs during the ’70s, while the A’s won two MVPs and two Cy Youngs, and the Yankees of the 1950s and early ’60s won 10 MVPs in 14 years. So if you can make an argument that Freddy Garcia or Mark Mulder deserved the AL Cy more than Roger Clemens, even Oliver Stone couldn’t call it a conspiracy.
A TURKEY SPECIAL
The announced attendance was 3715 at last Thursday’s 11 a.m., one-time-only Thanksgiving Day special between Fordham and Columbia at sun-drenched Jack Coffey Field in the Bronx. But half of the crowd seemed to be sleeping. This D-train rivalry just turned out to be a snore.
At the half, Fordham led 24-10, and it was all academic from there. Fordham won the 1-AA battle of New York City, 41-10, in a game originally scheduled for September 15. Both teams decided to reschedule following the World Trade Center disaster, and the Ivy League, which bans its teams from playing after the Saturday before Thanksgiving, made an exception, allowing the Lions to be feasted upon. It was such a complete domination that even die-hard Freddy the Fan and his signature frying pan and spoon were MIA by the third quarter. “Yanks Don’t Win Maybe Fordham Will,” Freddy’s sign said. On the strength of quarterback Mark Carney‘s four touchdown passes, the Rams won their fifth straight. Going into the game, erudite Fordham coach Dave Clawson said he was concerned about a letdown after the Rams beat “Jesuit rival” Holy Cross, 24-21, the previous Saturday. No letdown here. Carney, who lost 30 pounds in the off-season and won back his job after losing it to a freshman, roped passes all day to wide-open receivers, specifically Javarus Dudley (seven catches for 159 yards).
Meanwhile, the Ivy’s fifth all-time rusher, Columbia senior Jonathan Reese, was rammed all day by swarms of tacklers. Reese ran for 100 yards on 21 carries, but he was so demoralized afterwards that he had trouble speaking and seemed to be questioning coming to Columbia in the first place. Reese, who has professional pigskin plans, said he hopes his college choice “will pay off later.”
BREAK A LEG, MJ!
Michael Jordan‘s return to the courts as the wannabe savior of the Washington Wizards hasn’t only piqued the interest of basketball fans bored by a bland NBA. It has also been a boon to sports memorabilia dealers and collectors. Internet- and phone-auction service Sportico, for instance, has been accepting bids for a cast worn by the retired-unretired-retired-unretired basketball star when he broke his leg during the 1985-1986 season, his second in the NBA. Listed among more traditional collectibles such as jerseys, photos, and game-worn sneakers, the write-up on Sportico’s Web site says the cast “represents an historical moment in the life of Michael Jordan.”
Officials at the company estimate that the cast—which incredibly enough was, until recently, on exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry—will fetch upwards of $15,000 by the time the auction closes November 29.
Too bad Jordan isn’t surrounded by a better cast these days.
Contributors: Allen St. John, Jon Hart, Brian P. Dunleavy Sports Editor: Ward Harkavy