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Josh Hancock and Nolan Ryan's Seventh No-No
by Jim Sells
First, a nod of the head and a moment of silence for the Cardinals' Josh Hancock, who was killed in an automobile accident late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. I'm of two minds about this, so bear with me.
Here are the details and back story which, due to circumstance, are a bit ghoulish:
Hancock had turned 29 just eleven days earlier and had been involved in a small accident just three days prior that left him shaken but intact. The talk since the original shock and grief at the beginning of this tragedy has been about Hancock's supposed inebriation from having too many drinks at a near-by restaurant. The Cards' own manager, Tony LaRussa, had DUI issues on March 22ND of this year when he was found asleep at the wheel of his SUV that had stopped in the middle of an intersection in Jupiter, Florida. As for deceased pitchers, the memory of Cardinal pitcher Darryl Kile, who died in his sleep on June 22ND, 2002, still hovers over the franchise. Goddamn, isn't that just uplifting?
Now for the other hemisphere:
I really feel for his family, who will be in a tormented limbo waiting for the toxicology results to return and have to listen to second-guessers and self-appointed scribes just like me blather on about the social implications of a professional athlete dying in what may be, MIGHT be an alcohol-related incident. Hancock told the officers that responded to the earlier accident that he hated day games after night games (Fred Lynn's favorite "Hell, I'm gonna take a day off" excuse) and often drove around late at night until he was tired enough to sleep . . . Sounds reasonable to me. I've worked a lot of second and third shift work in my time and, just like a nine-to-five job, there's no immediate OFF switch; it takes time to unwind. So all the blame game I'm seeing in the baseball media needs to stop . . . now. Jesus, let the family, the team, and what are possibly the best fans in baseball grieve the loss of one of their own in peace.
BTW, second and third shift work has the same impact on your health as a pack of smokes a day, according to a local MD here. Just saying . . .
I've really been wearing out "Who's Next" lately. It just gets stronger every year and ages better than most things, including yours truly. Also, love 'em or hate 'em, the hermanos Gallagher had the world by the balls for the years 94-97, releasing three albums and taking the piss outta everything in general. The middle album from the time, (What's The Story) Morning Glory?, has been on heavy Jim-in-the-car rotation. Good Lord, could these guys bring it. They even got Paul Weller, the Modfather himself, to come in and raise up.
Bob Wickman, my main man, is on the 15-day DL with what is being termed upper-back strain but I swear is a case of the "Itis". Oh well, look for Mike Gonzalez to get the save opportunities in Atlanta UNLESS he starts walking people like he did last year in Pittsburgh. Pitching of that kind leads directly to Bobby Cox's doghouse, not passing go, not collecting $200. That scenario would thrust Rafael Soriano into the closer role, at least at first.
The Yanks are in deep doo-doo and sinking deeper. No pitching and an OLD lineup make an unholy combo when it comes to postseason chances. AND THE METS STILL SUCK! So there. Things are not well in Gotham, baseball-wise . . . Oakland's talking about moving Rich Harden. If they can snooker the Mets out of Lastings Milledge and Mike Pelfrey, pull the fucking trigger . . . Russell Martin, and I hate the Dodgers, is the best catcher in baseball bar none. His given name is Russell Nathan Coltrane Jeanson Martin Jr. That kicks ass . . . Next power arm that will blow your doors off when he gets to the Bigs is Tim Lincecum, who is 4-0 with a 0.29 ERA with 46 K's in 31 innings at Fresno, the G-Men's AAA affiliate. That, people, is pure filth . . .
Nolan Ryan was 44 (read that carefully) when he threw his seventh no-hitter, a total matched by no one else in the history of baseball. It had been 18 years since his first one, a 3-0 win over the Kansas City Royals. He must've been feelin' it when he unleashed an ungodly barrage of serious heaters and knee-breaking curves on the Toronto Blue Jays on May 1, 1991. The Jays were no garden-variety punks; the nucleus of this team would win back-to-back World Series starting the next season. No matter - Ryan K'ed sixteen, while walking only two. Sixteen strikeouts at forty-four years of age . . . I may not be able to get up the stairs by the time I'm that old. If you weren't around when Nolan was bringing the good gas, do yourself a favor and peruse the Internet for some thing besides porn - Nolan Ryan footage, especially this game. What an amazing pitcher/force of nature Nolan was. Clemens is great, no doubt, but watching the guy HE idolized growing up really brings it all on home. Power pitchers beget power pitchers. So let it be written; so let it be done (c'mon, we ALL need some Yul Brenner now and then).
Oh yeah, a friend of mine made me a copy of Motorhead's On Parole (sorry RIAA). Kick ass!