In the wake of Bill Russell’s passing, my current favorite sportswriter Joe Posnanski riffed in a blog about who would be on a Mt. Rushmore of American Sports? He also considered one for the city of Boston.
Russell he observed was a given for both.
Like Top 10/100/Whatever lists, such an endeavor by default always generates disagreements.
It’s why we do them, right? We all need something to disagree on, or so I’d observe.
So, as it happens I’ll steal another’s idea. Because Joe’s conjecture got me to thinking what Louisville sports figure’s faces would be carved on such an elevation? (I guess you could do one for U of L too , but that only came to mind right now as I compose.)
So here goes nothing. Well, something actually. If just to pass the time until the fall sports season kicks off.
I’m so very sure you shall free to disagree with one or some of my selections.
Rare is the occasion when you can consider a person, and can say beyond peradventure, “They are the best ever at what they do.”
We lost two this week.
Bill Russell, the greatest winner in American sports. Not only basketball.
Vin Scully, the greatest broadcaster in American sports. Not only baseball.
* * * * *
I have a vague memory that I might have seen Bill Russell play in person once.
At some point in the early to mid 60s, if memory serves, there was a preseason NBA doubleheader at Freedom Hall. One of the games featured Philly — either the Warriors or 76ers — because I remember walking up and standing next to Wilt Chamberlain, who was the biggest human being I’d ever seen
Of the nuances of another game we love, Larry Bird once observed — and I paraphrase — a free throw made or missed in the 1st quarter is just as important as one in the final seconds.
This thinking applies in college baseball, both micro in a specific game being contested, but also macro if somewhat differently over the course of the long season.
In ultra-steamy College Station, Texas, U of L’s Cardinals dropped two one-run Super Regional affairs, grinders in balance until the final AB. To a similarly talented ball club, blessed to be sleeping in their own beds.
Playing in familiar confines, before a rabid Aggie crowd with that institutional 12th Man attitude, as loud and quirky and inclined to try to get under foe’s skin as any in the land.
Given how the collegiate post-season is structured, what happens in March and April and May informs the scenario come tournament time.
Idling at entrance of the Cul de Sac, the Cardinal Nine hit reverse in the ACC tourney, driving themselves out of a possible coveted Top #8 seed in the NCAA tourney.
So, a #12 it is.
It could be worse. There’s a regional on the home diamond at the Jim.
Last year the Cards were in line at the Dairy Kastle, when they ran out of soft serve at closing time. While 64 schools advanced to the playdown.
Despite the double meltdown last week at Truist Park, this campaign isn’t over, U of L lives for another day.
While the Cards might have hoped for more clutch knocks last week, it would appear they’re only going to advance as far as the guys taking the mound carry them.
Last week’s hurling performances fell short of engendering hope.
Their ace and closer gave up the tying and winning runs in the opener against Pitt. And umpteen hurlers failed to derail the Ramblin’ Wreck, who loaded the bases in four different innings, and scored a lot of runs.
But, as we wags are wont to offer, everybody’s equal at the moment.
A part of me wants to point out that U of L fans should also be pulling for TCU, Louisiana and Oral Roberts. Those are the three schools journeying to College Station to join #5 seed regional host Texas A&M. The winner of the foursome here plays the survivor of that one in a Super, at the home of the higher seeded school.
You do the math.
Then again, I must admonish myself as I so very often admonish others.
Baseball, lest we forget in this age of rave, is a pastime.
A pastoral series of moments to be savored, then won, lost, survived.
Instances of engagement to be built upon, or having succumbed, to rue.
On a sultry Saturday at the Jim, two Top 20 outfits — Louisville, Virginia — both attempting to close out their regular campaigns with victory in a series then split, there was such a moment.
It evoked tension thick as the humidity.
The finale against Virginia started early in hopes of avoiding impending inclemency.
So too the Cardinals in a reversal of their early and fatal travails on Friday in a way-behind-from-the-get-go setback.
In the bottom of the first, Levi Usher knocked in a couple of Card baserunners with a two-out single. An inning later, Ben Bianco batted in Isaac Humphrey. Ben Metzinger went yard. Jack Payton also cleared the fence with a solo shot.
Thanks to that assault, and rookie starter Carson Liggett’s back to back scoreless frames, Louisville led 6-0.
Obviously not in a rush, the muckety mucks at the University of Louisville finally hired a search firm to help choose a new Athletic Director.
I understand there are other administrative priorities.
Like, ya know, a university president.
But still, it’s been like five months since that Tyra guy decided to take his talents to Florida State, or somewhere which was somewhere else besides his office at U of L.
That the school wants to be thorough makes sense. But still.
Given familiarity, Josh Heird’s name is the most resonant.
He’s intelligent. He’s competent. He obviously wants the job.
But, as I’ve previously opined, the quiet nature of his personality is different from most fellows who fill such positions. Which are filled with men and a few women, who are Intelligent and competent, as well as being able to work the room.
So by now, anybody within the sound of my voice is aware that former Cardinal ace Reid Detmers hurled a no-hitter for the Angels the other night, in a blowout W against Tampa Bay. 12-0.
Yet another exclamation point to the incredible job Dan McDonnell has done turning U of L baseball into a national power.
Lots of interesting sidenotes to the 108 pitch performance. Some of which, I gleaned on my own. Like how it was old old school. Only two Ks along the way. Only one other guy has pitched a no-hitter with so few strikeouts since 1980. Francisco Liriano.
But much of which info I pass along I hereby acknowledge came from my favorite baseball writer Joe Posnanski at his JoeBlogs, to which I subscribe. Like the second half of the above paragraph. Credit and acknowledgement to Joe.
Turns out this was the first nine inning complete game Detmers has ever pitched.
At any level. Pros. (Never tossed more than six.) College. HS. (One perfecto. 7 innings.) As in ever.