Sportsfly.com’s Blog

Various Sports Mutterings from Sportsfly.com!

Rickey Henderson – Hall of Fame Linguist

Part Cobb, Part Satre

Part Cobb, Part Satre

The 2009 MLB Hall of Fame class will be announced later today and one thing is for certain; Mr. Rickey Henderson’s name will be announced.  Thank the heavens.  The numbers don’t lie.  First in all-time runs.  First in all-time steals.  First in leadoff homers.  First in third person references.  Before Rickey, the word “I” was the most common word used by athletes.   Now the time has come to salute Rickey.

Without Rickey’s groundbreaking reconstruction of the English language by means of shunning the first person where would the sports world be?  Bo Jackson would have just been a stuttering bull from the Deep South had Rickey not paved the way.  Manny Being Manny?  Rickey Being Rickey is the only “being” that matters.  Put all of the on-the-field excellence Rickey exuded aside and ponder how it really feels when someone you’re speaking to refers to themself in the third person.  It’s quite odd, and furthermore, it’s a little intimidating.  When a person answers a question in the third person it completely removes the question asker from the conversation.  Thus, it is no longer a conversation, but instead a monologue of the most disassociated sense.  Example: “How’ve you been?”  “FlyMaster’s been working on his type speed and FlyMaster’s font choices are improving.”  See, that just sounds cool, yet removed.

Rickey’s gifts to our cultural lexicon do not end with his mastery of the third.  No, he also made the non sequitor, the double entendre, malapropisms, and syllogistic arguments forms of art.  From standing in his New York condo and saying he could see the “Entire State Building,” to telling the A’s “if you want to pay me like Mike Gallego, I’ll play like Mike Gallego,” Rickey channeled the best of Ty Cobb and Jean-Paul Satre.  A philospher capable of creating poignancy from simplicity.  Who can’t appreciate a man who would stand in front of the mirror, nude and repeating “Rickey’s the best” for several minutes with the asceticism of St. Augustine before games.  That, my friends is a higher calling.  Rickey’s philosophical genius bears itself in his reaction to becoming Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout victim.  After fanning Rickey said “Ryan just blew it by me, but it’s an honor….Rickey will have another paragraph in the baseball books….Rickey already is in there three or four times.”  Genius, plain and simple. 

Here’s to the greatest leadoff player in history, the first left fielder to be inducted since Yaz, the man who could not recognize John Olerud after playing with him on two teams, and the “symbol of great base stealing.”  All hail Rickey.  Rickey hail Rickey.  FlyMaster can’t wait for the Hall of Fame speech.

FlyMaster Signing Off…For Now!

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Features & Opinions, Major League Baseball, Talkin Trash | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All Hail The GOAT!

December 11, 1981 isn’t a date that resonates in the great annals of history, but it should.  On this day 27 years ago the greatest athlete in the history of sports faced the ultimate demise of his illustrious career in the idyllic paradise of the Bahamas.  An aged 39 year old Muhammad Ali fought for the last time against young heavyweight Trevor Berbick.  Ali left the bout on his feet and with his legacy firmly intact, but as he said “sometimes we all grow old.”

When mentioning the greatest athletes of all-time folks from generations x, y, and whatever other letter we’re on now seem to be clouded by the legend of Michael Jordan and to a lesser extent, Tiger Woods.  Older folks may still point to Babe Ruth, while some mention Ali.  While all are worthy candidates, the debate begins and ends with Muhammad Ali.  In the ring, no boxer in history matched the sheer combination of speed, power, strength of chin, ring generalship, and sheer charisma.  Outside of the ring, no athlete, even His Airness, possessed the ability to transcend sport, unite people, polarize people, catalyze social movements, simultaneously being considered a symbol of hope and a symbol of revolution, and an international ambassador.  Ali’s transformation from the “Louisville Lip” to the face of the black Muslims, to social activist to prodigal boxing son returning to glory, to aging warrior, to symbol of boxing’s ugliness, to international ambassador of peace and freedom took place on the world’s stage.

Might For Right
Might For Right

Ali’s craft was the art of war and through his trials and tribulations in the ring he defined the transforming world of his time.  The downtrodden, the unemancipated, and the legions of unrepresented around the world found their inspiration in Ali.  The hegemonic power structure feared Ali and his catalyzing capabilities.  Thus, when Ali stood up and refused to go to Vietnam he was stripped of his title and banished from his place of work and artisty; the ring.  Ali lost 3.5 years of his prime athleticism only to return reborn, reinvigorated, and determined to continue the fight.  Ask yourself, would Lebron James or Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant or Jeff Gordon or Peyton Manning leave their respective sports in the prime on principle alone.  No way, no how.  Ali did, and because he did, no other athlete has ever felt that they should have to.

Upon his return, Ali coupled the skills of his youth a brazen maturity borne from the fire of  indomitable spirit.  In his absence, Joe Frazier ascended to the top of the boxing world.  Ali immediately set his sights on Frazier.  Their first fight at Madison Square Garden is the single greatest sporting event in history.  Not only was this a battle of styles, Frazier’s old-school Philadelphia slugging versus Ali’s combination of speed and power.  This was a battle of social proportions.  The reigning champ, Frazier, was seen as a pawn for the existing social structure, while Ali symbolized the determination and antiestablishment pathos of the civil rights movement and the hippies.  In the epic battle, Frazier emerged victorious and broke Ali’s jaw in the process.  However, they would meet two other time including the “Thrilla In Manilla.”

In the late 1970s Ali became a symbol of the evils of boxing and of the classic notion of “athletes” holding on too long.  Losses to Leon Spinks, Larry Holmes, and Trevor Berbick tarnished Ali’s image at the time and eventually led to his battle with Parkinson’s Disease.  However, even shaky and with muted speech, Ali still captivates people to this day.  His lighting of the Olympic torch in 1996 summed up his legacy.  Though battle-tested and slightly worse for wear, the fiery passion for life Ali always possessed still burned brightly.

In a time when athletes have become excessively self-absorbed, glorified for menial accomplishments, and put on pedestals because of their salaries, it’s important to look back at Muhammad Ali and see how the greatest conducted himself throughout his nearly 50 years on the world stage.  The sense of entitlement that exudes from most pro athletes leads them to the idea that they are invincible and above the law.  In the fight game, the MMA-ification of both boxing and MMA has reduced fighters to gladiators and beasts, and the fighter as an artist of war has all but become extinct.  So on this anniversary of the GOAT’s passing from athlete to icon the FlyMaster screams “All Hail the Goat and Long Live the Greatest.”

FlyMaster Signing Off…For Now!

December 11, 2008 Posted by | Boxing, Features & Opinions, General, MMA | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where are they Now?

Ah, as High School basketball draws to a close we should anxiously anticipate the unveiling of the next “sure thing” moving through a year or two of the NCAA’s into NBA fame.  Names like Chris Webber, Kobe Bryant, “King” James, and Dwight Howard, all of which have done all but dissapoint.  But what about the ones that did disappoint, the ones that carried that world of potential to, well, not to the NBA.  Where are THEY now?

 

Jewish Jordan

"Jewish Jordan"

Tamir Goodman: Tabbed the Jewish Jordan, Goodman was recognized by Sports Illustrated, 60 Minutes, and ESPN after averaging 35.4 points per game at the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore, and was dubbed the 25th best HS basketball player in the country.  Goodman received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Maryland in 1999, but was released from his verbal commitment since the school could not accommodate his religious need to have Fridays and Saturdays free.

Goodman transferred to Towson University, but had a separate falling out as he thought his coach was Anti-Semitic.  Goodman finally had the opportunity to showcase his “Jordan-esque” skills when he was signed by Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.  In 2005, Goodman went on to serve in  the Israeli Defense Force, as a requirment of Israel.  After numerous knee injuries, Goodman returned to America, trying his hand with the Maryland Nighthawks of the PBL, yet today has has returned to Israel to play for the Maccabi Haifa team back in Israel.  Tamir is a motivational Speaker for youth in the Jewish Orthodox religion

Felipe Lopez

Felipe Lopez

 

Felipe Lopez: One of the most heralded players in US High School basketball history, Felipe landed countless accolades including Gatorade, Parade, and USA Today Player of the Year, McDonalds All-American MVP, and the cover of Sports Illustrated.  At 18, Lopez attended a conference with Jim Brown, Bill Clinton, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  He went on to have a little success at St. Johns University, inlcuding a 17.8 PPG Freshman Year then managed to squeak into the NBA, where he averaged a career total of 5.8 PPG over 4 years.

Felipe has gone on to play ball in the Domincan Republic, where his family immigrated from, The NBA’s D-League, Germany, Spain, The CBA, Brazil, and today in Venezuela for Gaiteros del Zulia.

The Greatest of All Time

The Greatest of All Time

 

Earl “The GOAT” Manigault: Who could forget, when legendary Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had his number 33 retired in the Los Angeles Forum, he was asked who the greatest player he ever faced was.  His response, yes Earl the GOAT Manigault.  

Earl was a basketball legend renowned for his dunking ability, even at 6 ‘-1”.  Rumored to have been able to touch the top of the backboard and execute on the Double-Dunk (Dunk with one hand, then with the other, all while remaining in the air).  Aftering receiving scholarships from Duke, North Carolina, Indiana and more than 70  more Universities, Earl opted to attend Johnson C. Smith University, where he lasted only one semester because of bad grades, which led to less playing time by his coach.  Earl fell into drug usage, catapulting him into prison on 2 separate occasions, but rebounded by starting the “Walk Away from Drugs” tournament held in Harlem, NY, still around today.  Earl passed away in 1998, but will always be remembered as the Greatest Of All Time!

Honorable Mention: Damon Bailey, Jerod Ward, Donnell Harvey, Sebastian Telfair, Leon Smith.

December 5, 2008 Posted by | NBA | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment