Last weekend, Tony DeAngelo--my co-host on CTV-14's "Monday Night Sports Talk"--referred to the concession stand at Yankee Stadium as "The Extortion Booth." Why? For starters: While there, I bought him a bottle of water and a hot dog which set me back THIRTEEN DOLLARS. What REALLY made me laugh (but actually CRY on the inside) was the small pizzas I saw them selling in one of the mezzanine suites; each pie was the size of a frisbee and the thickness of a half-dollar coin. The price? Again--THIRTEEN DOLLARS..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The lowly 1986 Pittsburgh Pirates had just ONE starting pitcher with a record above .500. Can you name this former right-handed hurler? Answer to follow..........Oh--and after I bought the aforementioned items at Yankee Stadium last weekend, I said to the girl behind the counter, "Is this a stick-up?" She wasn't amused..........I was listening to WFAN Radio last week when a clueless N.Y. Yankees fan called up host Marc Malusis--and said that since MLB doesn't have a problem with A-ROD's past steroid abuse, that makes it perfectly OK with him, too. Malusis: "So if you walked into a department store and the security guard was sleeping, then it's OK to STEAL, right?"..........Gotta love WFAN's Joe Benigno's disinterest/disdain for fantasy sports games/leagues. As Benigno has reminded us on so many occasions, "My fantasy team is one with NO men on it." Can't disagree, Joe..........This week in sports history, August 2, 1979: New York Yankees team captain/catcher Thurman Munson dies in a fiery plane crash when his twin-engine jet clips some trees and goes down short of the runway at the Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio. Two survivors--Jerry Anderson and David Hall--tried to save Munson, but the intense heat from the flames thwarted their valiant efforts. As a hitter, Munson had topped the .300 mark five times in his career and hit .292 lifetime. He was also the AL Rookie of the Year back in 1970 and won the league's MVP Award in 1976..........ITEM: Florida State linebacker Nigel Carr is arrested by Tallahassee police on charges of auto burglary, criminal mischief, credit card theft, and fraud. Wow--shame on naive yours truly. While all these transgressions were happening, I just assumed that Carr was holed up somewhere in the Robert Manning Strozier Library on the campus of FSU--brushing up on his knowledge of microbiology or examining various Shakespearean sonnets..........The death of the wife of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher (Kaye) from skin cancer should send a message out to all the "sun worshippers" out there--especially if you're over the age of 50. Contrary to popular belief, sun block should be used YEAR-ROUND--even on cloudy days; if you possess very light hair or skin, it's even MORE important to protect yourself. Also, wear a hat or sunglasses when you go outside, folks; seems simple enough, but it COULD save your life--especially if your family has a history of skin cancer. We hope Kaye Cowher's death simply sheds additional "light" on a disease that CAN be avoided using simple precautions..........Just sayin', Red Sox fans: Don't you wish pitcher Tim Wakefield had aged HALF as well as lovely model Christy Brinkley has over the past year or so?..........Answer to trivia question: RICK RHODEN--who went 15-12 (ERA of 2.84) for Jim Leyland's sixth-place ball club..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former MLB outfielder Troy O'Leary--who will blow out 41 candles on August 4th. A native of Compton, CA, O'Leary spent 11 seasons in the big leagues between 1993 and 2003--hitting .274 lifetime. O'Leary spent the majority of his career with the Red Sox (seven years), but also played with the Brewers, Expos, and Cubs. Perhaps Troy's best year came in 1999 while with the Red Sox--a season in which he smacked 28 home runs and drove in 103 runs; he also led all American League left-fielders with 296 putouts that year. Best wishes, Troy..........Finally, it was sad to hear about the passing of former MLB manager Ralph Houk--who died last week in Florida at the age of 90. Really--what can you say about a man who was a MUCH bigger hero OFF the field than ON? This was a man who took part in the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, was exposed to a barrage of enemy fire, and received a Silver Star for his brave, heroic actions. "The Major," they called him--and he later found time to win three straight American League pennants along with a pair of world championships as the skipper of the New York Yankees. Altogether, Houk won 1,619 games as manager of the Yankees, Tigers, and Red Sox--always being known as a "player's manager." Houk leaves a daughter, a son, four grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren; his wife, Bette, predeceased him in 2006. May "The Major" rest in peace.
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