What an amazing time of year if you're a sports fan. There is something going on for everyone — provided you are interested in athletic competition. On the professional sports scene all four major sports can be found in season, sometimes all competing on the same day.
Major League Baseball is wrapping up their Fall Classic, which used to end in the middle of October. This year if it goes seven games, the calendar turns to November. As I'm penning this column, it appears it could be headed that direction. The Dodgers and Astros are evenly matched and could turn it into a November Classic.
This brings up a couple of quick thoughts. Do you remember when the LA Dodgers and Houston Astros were in the same division? Both competed in the National League West and obviously could not meet in a World Series. And if someone has a huge World Series are they now going to be known as Mr. November? Reggie Jackson first earned his nickname as Mr. October playing for the Oakland A's during the early 70s. He cemented his nickname in history with three home runs in game six of the 1977 Fall Classic as a New York Yankee. Reggie-Reggie-Reggie for those who were watching back then.
Yankee captain, Thurman Munson, was interviewed and stated, "Go ask Mr. October," in reference to Jackson's great postseason success. That's when the name stuck, and Reggie would be forever branded as “Mr. October”. Incidentally, the Yankees did close out the '77 WS that night; the date was October 18th. The only other player to hit three home runs in a WS game? The legendary Babe Ruth. It happened in Game 3 of the 1926 World Series versus St. Louis. The Cardinals won that World Series in six games and it ended on October the 10th. And yes, I had to look up the dates. Is November baseball a good thing or bad thing?
Moving right along…
Next up the NFL, who now play their Super Bowl in February. With all the discussion about concussions and health effects on players, the season sure doesn't end any sooner. I guess they did cut out some work out and preseason action. That's a conversation for another day.
This is the time of the year that the NFL just gets cooking when the contenders separate themselves from pretenders. NFL action can now be watched Thursday, all day Sunday and, of course, Monday night.
The Eagles and Steelers are both looking like strong contenders to still be playing around the time Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his hole to let us know Spring Training is about to begin for the MLB players. Oh, I thought that was what it meant if he saw his shadow?
In 1979, Pittsburgh was known as the City of Champions. The Steelers defeated the Cowboys, 35-31 in the Super Bowl, which was played on January 21, 1979. I always liked talking about the Steelers beating the Cowboys. Terry Bradshaw was the MVP, and there was much discussion about the Super Bowl being held so late in January. That same year the “We are Family” Pirates won the World Series on October 17th over Manager Earl Weaver’s Baltimore Orioles.
Let’s move on to the ice. The NHL just began their season, and the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking for the hat trick of Lord Stanley’s Cup, three in a row for all the Flyers fans reading this. This past National Hockey League season ended on June 12th, a 3-1 Pens victory over the San Jose Sharks. That took the National Hockey League right to the time the Boys of Summer were just getting warmed up and also about the time the NBA was thinking about a champion.
The National Basketball Association season also began a week or so ago. You can find an NBA game on TV every night of the week. I must say I am not a fan like I was during the days of Michael, Magic, and Bird. For you younger readers that's Michael Jordan, Ervin Johnson, and Larry Bird. In 1980 the NBA Series featured Bird versus Magic. The Lakers won the series in six games, and it ended on May 16th.
I do tend to watch when playoff time begins in the middle of April. Last year the NBA ended the season on June 12th with Golden State defeating Cleveland and LeBron James. That's right the NBA, and NHL both ended the same day last year, how could I forget that? Maybe because they play nine months out of the year in today’s world?
So that links together one long professional sports season that never ends. Let's just call it the MFL — short for money for all leagues. That is where those extra long seasons and television contracts come into play — or should I say pay?
Wait there's more — what about college football the first BCS rankings are coming out and basketball soon to tip off? I enjoy them much more than the pros. I better save that story for another day.
How about this, get out and support your local high school team. The PIAA District 4 playoffs are set to begin on the gridiron and those young men, and yes we have a few young women playing locally, play for the love of the game. The coaches also coach for the love of the game. If we ever figured out a local coaches pay per hour, we all would probably be shocked.
Seven or possibly eight county teams will be in playoff action this week. It's been another great high school football season around the area. I wish all good luck and great health as many players are closing out their scholastic careers. We all can be proud how our young people and coaches represent our communities.
God Bless America.