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About "Bob Elliott"

Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame inductee (writer category) Bob Elliott joined the Sun in January 1987. Elliott is Canada's best-known and best-connected baseball columnist. He's also a legend in Canada's minor baseball community.

Koppett’s Law rules

- October 21st, 2012

Three hours before Game 5 in St. Louis, I bumped into a Detroit Tigers scout in the press box at Busch Stadium and extended congratulations,

Then, I asked him who he thought would win.

The San Francisco Giants or the St. Louis Cardinals.

A St. Louis win meant the Tigers would be facing the Cards in the World Series.

Lance Lynn stepped in and did a great job replacing Chris Carpenter when he was injured this year, I read where if Lynn wins it will be his 20th win of the season.

“I like Lynn better than Barry Zito, what did he last 2 2/3 innings against Cincinnati? Plus over-all the Cardinals are a better team than the Giants.”

WRONG!

I said it with so much conviction the man was startled.

I told him how he did not understand how the post-season worked.

Had he not heard of Koppett’s Law?

He had not.

Leonard Koppett of the New York Herald Tribune, the New York Post, The New York Times, the Peninsula Times Tribune, and The Sporting News, stated a long time ago it was easy to forecast what would happen next in the post-season play. Just figure out which result inconveniences the most amount of writers.

If the Cards win the World Series would have opened in St. Louis on Wednesday night. Writers and broadcasters could stay put or go home for a couple of days, returning for Tuesday’s work out day.

If the Giants won Game 5, the National League Championship Series would continue Sunday in San Fran and everyone would be on a Saturday flight to the coast.

“Oh, I think I get it,” said the scout. “So, big deal you fly out there for one game and come back to St. Louis.”

No, under Koppett’s Law the Giants will win Game 6 and then lose Game 7 Monday and everyone will rush back to St. Louis for the workout day on Tuesday.

“I had no idea these strange forces were at work,” said the scout.

Believe it.

The Giants blanked the Cards 5-0.

On to San Francisco.

Pinero, Collymore commit

- October 21st, 2012

Infielders Daniel Pinero and Malik Collymore have signed their letters of intent for next fall.

Both played for Danny Bleiwas’ Ontario Blue Jays and have worn the Canadian Junior National Team colours for coach Greg Hamilton.

Pinero, a Toronto resident who also played for the Mississauga Majors, is headed to the University of Virginia.

Mississauga’s Collymore, also played for the Majors and was on the gold medal winning Canada Cup team this August in London, has signed a letter of intent to attend North Carolina State.

A totel of 51 Canadians have signed letters of intent to four-year NCAA schools either starting this fall or next.

The complete list of Letters of Intent 

Getting there is half the fun, OK 10% of the fun

- October 16th, 2012

Getting from New York to St. Louis is easy … easy as the Blue Jays winning without Jose Bautista.

Not that anyone cares about the woes of a ball scribe jetting around the country but here was my day …

1. Arrive at La Guardia Airport, named after the former New York City mayor Theo La Guardia, around 2:30 PM.

2. Flight is slated for 5:20.

3. It’s bumped back to 6:30 because of mechanical problems.

4. Then, 8 p.m.

5. Next comes an announcement that you can switch terminals and get on an American Airlines flight to St. Louis. All the seats are gone.

6. I go standby on the 8:20 PM.

7. Get the last seat and am walking pass the gate agent and ask about my bag … “Oh you’ll have to come back and get it, we don’t deliver, it was your choice to leave it behind.” I say forget it, I’m sticking with my bag.

8. Finally a plane arrives which is supposed to turn around and take us to St. Louis.

9. So do three cops.

10. People get off the plane and finally some young guy who smoked an electronic cigarettes on the plane.

11. Guy perhaps was over served as he’s wobbly, he’s loud and he’s walking around with his hands over head. Policemen are staring at him.

12. Finally the guy starts throwing stuff and cussing his gal. Cop arrives and trumps his four-letter vocab: “these are not dopey New York City rules, these are FAA rules, you had 90 seconds on a plane if there is a spark before flames reach the jet fuel. Hey wise butt you probably should not drink if you can’t handle. KnowwhatI’msaying.”

13. We board around 10:30.

14. Arrive in St. Louis at 1 AM … wait at baggage carousel for half an hour — no bag.

15. Go to airline office and there is bag … it came on the 8:20 and says the guy behind the desk “we would have delivered if it  was mechanical, not weather, but mechanical is our fault.”

I miss my private plane, flying commercial is rough.

Sad seeing Capt. Jeter go down

- October 16th, 2012

Am not sure the first press box I ever went into — there wasn’t one a VIMY when I had my first byline as the Montreal YMCA edged the Kingston YMCA by a point in the final of the a biddy basketball tournament at the forces base in Kingston in 1966.

Maybe the top turret at the Royal Military College alongside coaches who were yelling into head sets as the RMC Redmen played the Carleton Red Ravens on the football field down below.

But I can only recall four times when row after row of writers gasped at what they had just seen on the field below:

Maybe there was the same reaction when Joe Carter homered to win the 1993 World Series, but the noise at the SkyDome drowned everyone out.

1. Game 6, 1986 World Series, Oct. 25, Shea Stadium.

The Boston Red Sox baseball’s poor sisters were finally going to win … thousands of words, bytes, characters, lines and stories had been filed from rickety old Shea by the dandelions of North American journalism.

The Red Sox led the New York Mets 5-3 heading into the bottom of the 10th, three outs from winning their first Series since 1918.

Calvin Schiraldi retired Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez, who headed for the clubhouse to book a flight home.

Gary Carter singled on a 2-1 pitch, pinch hitter Kevin Mitchell singled on an 0-1 pitch and Ray Knight singled to centre on an 0-2 pitch, bringing home Carter.

Now, it was a one-run ball game.

Manager John McNamara brought in Bob Stanley who threw a wild one to the screen.

Tie game.

Mookie Wilson dribbled a ball up the first base line …

It looked like a routine out … now we’re headed to the 11th inning.

One problem the roller went between the wickets of first baseman Billy Buckner, Knight scored and the Mets had forced a Game 7.

The whole press box let out a scream and moved into panic mode to re-write what has happened.

The ‘Curse of the Bambino is over’ stories were saved but they were eventually killed when the Mets won Game 7.

2. Game 1, 1988 World Series, Oct. 15, Dodger Stadium.

Again everyone had filed their stories. The Oakland A’s had a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the ninth and Mr. Perfect Dennis Eckersley was asked to get the final three outs.

Due to injuries Tommy Lasorda fielded one the worst post-season lineups ever (1. 2B Steve Sax, 2. 1B Franklin Stubbs, 3. LF Mickey Hatcher, 4. RF Mike Marshall, 5. CF John Shelby, 6. C Mike Scioscia, 7. 3B Jeff Hamilton, 8. SS Alfredo Griffin and No. 9. RHP Tim Belcher) in baseball history. When an TV commentator said so on the pre-game show Lasorda stormed into the clubhouse screaming at what he’d heard on TV in an effort to motivate his troops.

When Eckersley arrived the Dodgers had managed six hits: a Hatcher homer and five singles. Pinch hitter Mike Davis worked a five-pitch walk.

And now limping out of the dugout, after spending the game in the trainer’s room came injured pinch hitter Kirk Gibson on one leg, holding one bat.

Gibson hit the seventh pitch from Eck for game-winning homer. Eck coined the phrase “walk-off” as the press box gasped in unison, although there may have been a few “holy craps” mixed in and Hall of Famer broadcaster Jack Buck said:

“I don’t believe what I just saw.”

That genuine statement earned him a rip in Monday’s USA Today.

3. Game 5, 2001 World Series, Nov. 1, Yankee Stadium.

Arizona Diamondbacks manager brought in Byung-Hyun Kim for the ninth with a 2-0 lead.

Kim allowed a lead-off double Jorge Posada and retired Shane Spencer and Chuck Knoblauch.

With two out and all the stories filed Scott Brosius hit the second pitch he saw for a game-winning, two-run homer.

“I can’t believe what I just saw,” said a writer down the row from me next to George Steinnbrenner’s private box.

“A re-run of last nite,” exclaimed another.

In Game 4, Kim was brought in for the save with a 3-1 lead in the ninth. Kim allowed a one-out single to Paul O’Neill, but with two out Tino Martinez hit a two-run homer to tie the game. And Jeter hit a walk-off homer on a 3-2 pitch from Kim in the 10th.

4. And the latest entry … Game 1, 2012 American League Championship Series, Oct. 12, Yankee Stadium.

This time it was not writers fretting about the change of the outcome.

This time it was not writers in awe marvelling at what they’d seen.

Nick Swisher had already misplayed Delmon Young liner to give the Detroit Tigers a 5-4 lead in 12th.

Jhonny Peralta hit a grounder to short. Jeter moved to his left and went down like a sniper had fired. He turned and grimaced, showing a face of pain as he attempted to flip the ball to Robinson Cano.

“Don’t cart me off the field,” he told manager Joe Girardi.

So trainer Steve Donohue and Girardi carried Jeter to the dugout.

In this resurgence of the Yanks — he was on the bench watching as a September call up in 1995 and was there for the first of five rings in 1996 — as the Yanks make the World Series for the first time in 1981, he has always been first class and accommodating.

He was the face of the franchise more so than Cal Ripken, knocked for putting his personal streak ahead of what’s best for the Orioles.

Some knock Jeter for his lack of range and claim Alex Rodriguez is the better shortstop on the roster.

Yet, it was and is Jeter’s team.

Players respect him.

Umpires respect him.

Writers respect him.

Yankee fans respected him.

That was obvious from TV clips.

As Jeter was carried off fans were shown sobbing and crying.

Coach Roach, Belichick, Madden and WYO-Mania IX

- February 5th, 2012

Our annual trip to Wyoming each fall — WYO-Mania — is always special.

Yet the 2011 WYO-Mania IX was extra special.

The night before the Wyoming Cowboys thumped the New Mexico Lobos to move to 7-3 about 50 of us, counting some university officials, ate in the Paul Roach room and I was a few seats down from Paul Roach. 

Not often do you sit near a guy who has accomplished enough in his lifetime to have a room named after him.

Roach was the Wyoming head coach from 1987 to 1990, compiling a 35-15 record (.700 winning percentage), with two seasons of 10 or more wins (1987–1988) as he won WAC Coach of the Year honors and was a two-time finalist for National Coach of the Year. Later he was the athletic director.

Seated nearby was former Wyoming quarterback Art Howe, who injured his back, turned to baseball going on to play 11 years in the majors and managing 14 seasons.

Roach began telling stories … of his NFL days as an assistant and then his college coaching days as a head coach.

From 1977-1980 he was the running back coach with the Denver Broncos and told about a young coach on staff in 1978.

“The guy would come up, ask ‘coach why are we doing it this way?’ What about trying it like this? Coach how we do it that way? And on and on it went,” Roach said. “Finally I told him to cut it out, save his questions for either lunch or after practice.

“After practice it was even worse — he had even more questions written on his note pad. He was a learner. He kept us late for dinner. He’d rather talk football than eat.”

The name of the young enthusiastic coach?

Bill Belichick, the Broncos assistant special teams coach and defensive assistant, and now New England Patriots head coach who lost Super Bowl by four points to the New York Giants Sunday night in Indianapolis.

Roach’s first year in the pros was as a running backs coach with the 1972 Oakland Raiders.

“I thought I did OK during camp and now it’s time for our first flight,” Roach told the table. “I get onto the plane and I’m looking at the name tags and I see I’m sitting beside the head coach. I’m thinking ‘hey I must have had a great camp — they’re putting beside the boss man.”

Like all good story tellers Roach saved his punch line for the ending.

“You know all that stuff about him being afraid of flying? All true,” Roach said. “He nearly ripped the seat rest off its moorings and my arm was black and blue.”

The name of the Raiders head coach?

John Madden.

After three years with the Broncos, Roach moved on to coach quarterbacks with the 1975-76 Green Bay Packers, then the Broncos and finally the Wyoming Cowboys.