2015 Sports Life

Posted In: Sports, National Sports,   From Issue 820   By: Richard Curry

17th December, 2015     0

Michigan State football was highlighted again this year in Michigan sports.  The Spartans went 11-2, 7-1 in the Big 10 and they ranked 7th in the nation.  This Cotton Bowl game with Baylor was the best of the season as they came back from 20 down in the last quarter to win 42-41.  Cook threw for 314 yards and Baylor’s QB Petty tossed for 550 yards in the loss.  

Another game was just as unbelievable.  The “Popeye Bowl” in the Bahamas saw CMU come from 35 down in the 4th quarter, only to lose trying a two-point play at game’s end.  The Chips were 7-6 for the season and 5-3 in the MAC, but this finish was unreal.  For the game, CMU QB Cooper Rush threw for 493 yards and Western Kentucky’s QB, Brandon Doughty, tossed for 486.  That’s a lot of passes. 

The College National Championship game featured the only two teams that beat MSU in 2014:  Oregon 46-27 and Ohio State 49-37.  To the surprise of many, Ohio State (Big 10) put a whippin’ on Oregon 42-20 and they did it with a 3rd string QB for their last three games.  His name is Cardale Jones, a quick-on-his-feet 250 pounder.  Cardale came in and beat Wisconsin 59-0, Alabama 42-35, and then blasted Oregon.  He was 46 for 75, 742 yards, and five TDs.  One should not forget OSU sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott who blew away the opposition with his last three games:  220, 230, and 246 yards for a crazy total of 696 yards.  This kid will go in the 2nd round for sure in two years (but not next year as he went back to school).  MSU won its 1st two games in 2015 and was rated 4th in September. The Jim Harbaugh era started -  Michigan won it’s 1st home game 35-7 over Oregon State.

The NFL did it again by canning seven coaches at the start of the year.  The list includes:  Jets/Rex Ryan (the man who mistreated Tim Tebow for days. Tebow was again cut this year off the Eagles, off to the CFL, 49ers/Jim Harbaugh (off to the U of M – his choice), Falcons/Mike Smith, Bears/Marc Trestman, Broncos/Fox (about time – he also mistreated Tim Tebow), Raiders/Dennis Allen, and the Bills/Doug Marrone.  How the Tampa Bay Bucs did not send Lovie Smith packin’, I don’t have a clue.  They finished an inept 2 and 14, but got the 1st pick of the 2015 NFL Draft as a prize.  Sports talk in Tampa was never ending on who to take.  FSU bad boy Jameis Winston was projected #1 even though he had 18 interceptions in 2014, but had lost only one game in two years.  Marcus Mariota of Oregon was also a rock star and he looked the part. 

Tampa took Winston, in the Bucs 1st game this year, he played Mariotta’s Titan.  Marcus tossed 4 TDs in the 1st half winning 42-14 over Tampa.  Getting to Super Bowl 2015 was interesting.  Green Bay lost a heartbreaker to the Seahawks in the closing minutes, 28-22.  New England killed Luck’s Colts 45-7, and were accused of using deflated footballs.  With a score like 45-7 they could’ve used beach balls.  New England won 28-24 over the Seahawks in Super Bowl 2015.

I read the book, “Made in America – Chris Chelios.”  The best moment for me in the book:  After Chris was traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Blackhawks, he ran into two irate Montreal fans on the street.  They refused to go away and were relentless.  Chris said, “I didn’t ask for the trade,” but it didn’t matter to the doofs.  So Chris said before fighting one of them, “I’ll fight you if you sign this paper stating you will not sue me, and claim it’s your idea to fight me.”  As soon as he agreed, Chris sucker punched him and knocked him out cold.  His friend said, “That was a cheap shot.”  Chris replied, “Yep and I have a signed letter that he asked for it.”  Love it.  A few years back when I was President of the AHHS Letter Winners Association I got Chris to speak at our yearly dinner.  He’s a great guy – humble and a gentleman.

Red Wing Boy, Howie Young moment:  In 1962 I took my wife Paulette to her very first NHL game (and her 1st ever hockey game).  We sat directly behind the penalty box at the old Olympia where Howie was sent three times.  My future wife sure got an earful; hearing words she couldn’t believe were spoken in public.  What she didn’t know was she would become a fan for the next 40 years, 30 plus years of me coaching/playing and then the kids and grandkids.  Now back to Howie Young.  He was already an alcoholic by age 15, but the NHL liked his athleticism and great skating ability.  1963 found him on the front of Sports Illustrated (he was hung over for the photo shoot) as he led the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup finals and in penalty minutes with 273 minutes in 64 games.  His demons never left him through 434 NHL and WHA games along with 960 minutes in the box.  He played for 23 teams from 1954 to 1986.  (His last four games were with the Flint Spirits.)  The good news is he finally straightened up.  Howie settled in New Mexico, married a Navajo girl, drove a school bus, and tried raising money so the Navajo children could have a place to skate.  I met him at the Olympia after a game years later.  He looked great in his jeans, cowboy hat and boots.  His Indian Princess was beautiful.  Sadly, he passed at age 62 from pancreatic cancer. (The same thing my Pastor has.)

Back to football:  The 2015 NFL Pro Bowl had 17 replacement players – yikes!  Sixty points were scored.  Who won?  Who cares?  UNREAL:  Living in our condo in Clearwater, FLA is Bobby Layne’s son.  His birth is not talked about since he’s Bobby’s son from another woman.  (Bobby had two other sons from his marriage of 52 years.)  The resemblance to his father is obvious.  This young man came along after Bobby was traded to Pittsburgh.  His name is Scott Rush.  He said his father didn’t come by often because he partied a lot.  Scott looked sad in remembering.

After nearly 40 years, Horse Racing has a Triple Crown Winner - American Pharoah. 

Saginaw’s Serena Williams (age 34 with 732 plus wins) may very well be the best ever ladies’ tennis player of all-time, having now won 21 Grand Slam Events, with 3 Slams this year.  Lost in the semi to an unknown… She was not a gracious lose: SHE SHOULD BE MOVED INTO THE MEN’S BRACKET. OMG Novak Djokovic won the 2015 Men’s Open. He won all majors this year.

Tiger Woods going in the other direction. He shot an 85 in the Memorial & an 80 in the U.S. Open to finish in 152nd place on the 1st day. The man should call it a day and go chase women again.  The young guns took over in 2015.  Jason Day (Australia – age 27) won the PGA Championship.  Jordan Spieth (age 22 – USA), already has won 7 pro events, the US Open/Masters and 2nd in the PGA.  Zach Johnson (age 39) won the British Open.  

In the NBA Finals LeBron James said “I’m the Best Player in the World”.  Will maybe not. The Stephen Curry’s Golden State warriors beat Cleveland in 6 games. Saginaw’s Draymond Green guarded LeBron though out the Series.  Draymond signed this year for $85 million (5 years).  He donated $3.1 million to MSU.

Max Scherzer left the Tigers for $210 million – see ya, bum.  Owners throw money out the window like they are making it themselves:  Clayton Kershaw $215M, Justin Verlander $180M, Felix Hernandez $175M, CC Sabatha $161M, Masahiro Tanaka $155M, Jon Lester $155M, Zack Greinke $147M, Cole Hamels $144M, and Johan Santana $135.5M.  OMG – stupid!  J.D. Martinez went to arbitration and went from $500,000 to $3 million (well deserved).  David Price went from $14M to $19.75M then traded.  As I said, the money is nuts.   For the first time in 20 years, baseball did not have Derek Jeter on the field for the Yankees.  His HOF numbers:  .310 BA, 250 HRs, 1311 RBIs and 3465 hits.  Post season:  .308 BA, 20 HRs, 61 RBIs, and five World Series rings.  Derek was born in NJ and moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan at age four where he went on to high school.  Jeter now lives in Tampa on Davis Island and has $84M in the bank.  Always a class act.  He was missed in baseball.

The Detroit Tigers, after 4 Central League Champions, fell to the bottom like a rock (last place 65-78).  They dumped off their best pitcher (Price), Leftfield (Cespedes) and closer (Soria) for Zip.  Dave Dombrowski – got let go – signed w/the Red Sox as GM ($ now the money goes out the door for days.  Young two Tigers have come into their own this season.  Fielding wizard, Jose Iglesias (25 yr old Cuban), hitting .300 and playing SS like a magician.  J.D. Martinez (age 28) in his 1st 533 AB hit 36 HRs, 94 RBIs, and .287 BA.  One person the Tigers should not have let go this year was Yoenis Cespedes (wanted to be a lifetime Tiger) in 582 AB – 35 HRs, 103 RBIs, and a .296 BA.  The Saginaw Old Golds Vintage Ball Club went 19-7 in 2015.

The NHL All-Star game was held down the road in Columbus, OH this year.  The score 17-12.  It must have been played without goalies.  The NHL Hall of Fame vote came in June.   The people I wanted to see go in: Don Cherry (still waiting).  This man is the face of hockey:  past and present on TV.  Cherry played 21 years in the minors and one NHL game with the Bruins.  Cherry has a DVD movie on his life “Keep Your Head Up Kid.”  It’s great.  Jarmir Jagr, the ageless wonder.  Forget having him wait five years.  Jagr numbers:  705 goals, 1755 points, five Art Ross trophies, and two Stanley Cups (played again 2015-2016 (so he has to wait).  Sergei Federov (in this year).  He should have a banner hanging at the Joe.  Sergei:  Three Stanley Cups, 13-year Red Wing, in 1993-94 he scored 56 goals and 120 points, 483 career goals and 1170 points, won Gold five times with Russia, and the fastest skater in the NHL twice.  Paul Kariya (still waiting), a gentleman and a real talent (402 goals, 989 points.  His career ended early with a concussion.)  Chris Osgood (still waiting) was a great goalie and is an awesome hockey commentator for the Wings.  Chris won three Stanley Cups (one of them as backup), played for the Wings 14 years, and played 744 total games with a 2.49 GA.  Mike Vernon (still waiting) – I saw him light up a cigar and put it on his net before the game ended in the Stanley Cup finals win over Philadelphia.  (I was there with Dave Kessel.)  Mike was in 781 games, 2.98GA, and won the 1997 Conn Smyth Trophy.  Dave Andreychuck (still waiting) – the man is hockey along with Phil Esposito in Tampa.   Dave’s numbers:  1639 games, 640 goals, 1338 points, and a Stanley Cup with Tampa. 

One of the best goalies hung up his skates in 2015:  Martin Brodeur.  Unreal numbers for him:  Three Stanley Cups, 691 wins, 124 shutouts, 2.24GA and in the playoffs, 202 games and 2.02 GA.  The man also was a 10-time All-Star and won the Vezina four times.  Recently-found two great Rocket Richard moments:  March 23, 1944, Richard scored five goals in a semi-final game against Toronto and was named #1, #2, and #3 Stars of the game (Richard 5-Toronto 1) and December 28, 1944, he racked up five goals, three assists for eight points in a 9-1 win over the Red Wings.  He did this after moving into his new home earlier in the day.  The 2015 HOF Class: Wings Nick Lidstrom, Federov, and Chris Pronger, Phil Hausley, Angela Ruggiers, Bill Hay, Peter Karmanos Jr.   Lidstrom Numbers: 4 Stanley Cups, a World Champion, 12-time All-Star, 10 time 1st team All-Star, 7 time Norris Trophy Winner.  Regular Season: 1564 games, 264 goals, 878 assists, 1142 pts; Playoffs: 263 games, 54 Goals, 129 assists, 183 pts.

Ted Lindsay turned 90 this year.  He works out three times a week.  Ted had balls for days, and played the game of hockey like a warrior.  In 1957 he wanted to start a Players Union.  The players needed it.  The owners were making all the money and the players were getting screwed.  (Ted was making $10,000 that year.)  That season Ted was Red Wing captain and had a great year, scoring 30 to go along with 85 points and 103 penalty minutes.  But the forever cheap ass Jack Adams broke up one of the greatest teams in hockey history because of the Players’ Union talk.  Jack later dumped John Bucyk, Red Kelly, and Glen Hall – all in the HOF.  Ted was traded to the Blackhawks where he played three years.  (On that team was rookie Bobby Hull.)  Ted waited four years but staged a comeback with his Red Wings.  In 1964-65 at age 39, Ted scored 14 goals, set up 14, had 173 minutes in penalties and led the Red Wings to 1st place. Ted was an 8-time All-Star, in 11 All-Star games, and won four Stanley Cups.  Along the way Ted picked up 900 stitches, eight broken bones, knocked out five times, black eyes, and concussions.  If dumbass Jack Adams hadn’t broken up that 1957 team, they would have won three more Stanley Cups.  Jack Adams was a bad joke.  Little known fact:  Ted coached Hillsdale College’s hockey team division II in 1974.  That year they played Delta College and beat them, 5-4.  Delta was coached by Jim Keenan, my coaching buddy at Douglas MacArthur.  Jim had the boys take a credit at Delta in a class called “Death and Dying.”  Rick and Bill Spitz both scored twice for Delta.  All three later played for Fullerton Tool’s Class A Men’s Championship teams at the Civic Center.

The NHL had a great playoff run. A very young Tampa Lightning team (GM-Steve Yzerman) came very close to winning it. They took the Red Wings in 7 (Coming back from 2-0 down in the last 5 minutes to win in OT-game 4), Taking out Montreal in 6 (NHL’s best defensive team), beat the N.Y. Rangers in 7 (Won two 2-0 games on Ranger ice), before playing 6 close games with the Black Hawks before bowing out.

Record: The Blind River Beavers, Junior A Tier Two Team went 0-58 in 2014-2015.  

Richard’s Sports Hotties for 2015 in no special order:  1) Michelle Jenneke - Australian hurdler; 2) Ellen Hoog - field hockey; 3) Sophie Horn – golfer; 4) Allison Stokke - pole vaulter; 5) Ana Ivanovic – tennis; 6) Anastasia Ashley - big wave surfer; 7) Alana Blanchard - pro surfer; 8) Alex Morgan -American soccer player; 9) Maria Sharapova – tennis; 10) Genie Bouchard - tennis.

In the Boxing World: Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Grand Rapids, MI) retired with 49 straight wins and $400 million in the bank.

Michigan Sports HOF Class 2015 was flat awesome!  1) Sergei Federov -Three Stanley Cups;  2) Derek Jeter – five Gold Gloves, five Silver Slugger Awards, five World Series rings; 3) Tom Izzo - 2000 NCAA Basketball Champions;  4) Doug  English - Detroit Lions, great player on bad teams; 5) Mike Modono from Livonia - 4-time Olympian hockey player and NHL star; 6) Barry Larkin - Red’s SS; 7) Aleta Sill - first woman to win a million $ in prize money in bowling;  8) Shelia Taormina - Olympic swimmer/runner.  For sure a great group.

Super Bowl 2015 TV ads cost $4.5M for half a minute (OMG?).   Super Bowl note:  Tom Brady has won 21 NFL playoff games (3 MVPs, 4 Super bowls).  This game was the best Super Bowl I ever saw.  Tom Brady out passed Russell Wilson 320 to 234 yards.  Brady was 37 for 50 while Wilson mainly hit on three long bombs.  Lynch (the NFL’s best runner) ran for 102 yards but was not used at the goal line in the end which no one could believe.  A small college rookie defensive back named Malcom Butler intercepted a Wilson pass at the goal line to end the game and give New England the 49th Super Bowl.  That pass will be talked about until the end of time. 

Thank God Marshawn Lynch didn’t score the winning TD.  I couldn’t handle watching him grabbing his crotch one more time.  He’s a dope.  Note:  Katy Perry’s half time show was out of this world good.  A lot of church folks were upset because they thought Katy, a pastor’s daughter, was too risqué.  OMG, if they ran across a Sports Illustrated for 2015 they may drop dead away.  (The Cover Girl was very close to showing her special treasure in this issue.)  The girl is Hannah Davis, Derek Jeter’s girlfriend.  Saginaw’s Brian Cole, Heritage, was picked by Jim Harbaugh.  His class was rated 40th by ESPN.  Brian is 6’2”, 191 pounds, and was rated high by ESPN.  He accepted to play for Jim.

Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, passed this year.  The Chicago great hit: .274, 2583 hits, 512 HRs, 1636 RBIs, 14-time All Star and 2-time MVP.  Little known fact:  Ernie was busy off the field too. Two greats passed on the same weekend:  Billy Capser, who won 51 golf tournament, three majors, and won the very first Buick Open in Flint, Michigan in 1958 and Dean Smith, HOF College basketball coach who won 879 times.  Another coach down:  Jerry Tarkanian, age 84, record: 705-198, won the 1990 National Title with the Running Rebels and once won 45 straight games. 

Other deaths:  Boxer Ernie Terrell (75), Jean Beliveau (83) – Hockey’s true gentleman, Bevo Francis (82) - once scored 113 pts and 116 in college games, Al Arbor – 2nd winningest coach in the NHL died at 82, Mel Farr, Lion Running Back (age 70), Billy Pierce (88), Ken Stabler (69), Charlie Sanders (68), Alvin Dark (92), Bob Suter, 1980 USA Hockey team, Tom Veryzer, Tiger (61), Louis Zamperni (97), Bob Welch (57), Earl Morral -Lion QB (79), Jim Fregosi (71), Jerry Coleman Yankee (89), Earl Loyd, NBA’s 1st Black NBA player (86), Jerome Kersey of the NBA (52), Vic Howe, Gordie’s brother (85),  and Claude Ruel - Montreal hockey coach (76). 

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