"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 9/3/11

Just as impressive as the Red Sox being at the top of several AL team offensive categories in 2011 is the fact that they've done it in spite of one HUGE distraction: the lovely Heidi Watney from NESN being stationed close to the dugout during each game they play..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1993 Houston Astros--who finished 85-77 under manager Art Howe--were led in victories by a pitcher who also led the NL in W-L%. Can you name this former right-handed hurler? Answer to follow..........Great stuff from Bobby Valentine on a recent ESPN Sunday night game--when Cubs pitcher Rodrigo Lopez demonstrated NO CLUE about how to lay down a bunt vs. St. Louis: "You'd think that at 35-years-old, he'd know how to handle the bat just a LITTLE better."..........This week in sports history, September 6, 1960: American Rafer Johnson finishes with an Olympic record of 8,392 points--winning the decathlon at the Summer Games in Rome. Though being defeated in seven of ten events by Taiwan's C.K. Yang, Johnson was able to dominate in the field events: discus, javelin, and shot put. Entering the final event--the 1,500 meters--Yang truly had a shot at winning. However, Johnson stayed close enough to the speedier Yang for the entire race and held on for a 58-point victory..........Inspired by junior goalie Ona McConnell, the Yale field hockey team is running its second annual campaign to raise awareness/funds for the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation. As a freshman, Ona was diagnosed with myotonic dystrophy--the most common form of muscular dystrophy. The "Get A Grip" campaign raised more than $50,000 last year. Throughout the 2011 season, the team will also be accepting donations for a "Goal-a-thon" in which donations are based on the number of goals the team scores this season. Pledge forms and other info is available by visiting www.yalebulldogs.com/getagrip ..........CLASSIC quote--once attributed to former tennis star Ilie Nastase: "I haven't reported my missing credit card to the police because whoever stole it is spending less than my wife."..........I don't know what's more exciting: listening to an interview with St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa or watching the rust grow on the rotors of my 2002 Ford..........Answer to trivia question: MARK PORTUGAL--who finished 18-4 that season with a league-leading winning percentage of .818..........I used to think that a Steve Carlton slider was a pure thing of beauty. That all changed the other day when I saw a picture of sultry actress Sharon Stone shaving her legs on the NYC set of her upcoming movie "Gods Behaving Badly." My goodness..........Scenario: Singer Fiona Apple marries former NFL player Deron Cherry, divorces, then marries a much older man--ex-NFL quarterback Milt Plum. Seeing that the age difference is a hindrance, she divorces Milt and marries ex-slugger Darryl Strawberry. Could we then refer to her by the "fruity" name of Fiona Apple Cherry Plum Strawberry?..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former MLB pitcher Micheal Nakamura--who blows out 35 candles on September 6th. Born in Japan and later moving to Australia as a youngster (he played on the Australian Olympic team in 1996 and 2000), Nakamura pitched only two seasons in the majors--2003 with the Twins and 2004 with the Blue Jays. In short, his major league tenure WASN'T pretty, folks. Appearing in a total of 31 big league games, Nakamura went 0-3, pitched 38 innings, and allowed 32 earned runs (including 11 home runs). Yes, his career ERA was a robust 7.51. Hey, they all can't be Bert Blyleven or Dave Stieb, right? Nakamura later went on to play in Japan--where he actually set a Pacific League saves record in 2006. Best wishes, Micheal..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former MLB pitcher Mike Flanagan--who died of a self-inflicted gun wound last week in Maryland at the age of 59. Flanagan pitched 18 seasons in the "bigs" between 1975 and 1992--mostly with Baltimore--finishing with a lifetime record of 167-143. His best year came in 1979 when he won 23 games for the Orioles while leading them to a World Series appearance vs. Pittsburgh. I remember seeing Flanagan pitch in person that year vs. the Yankees while I was a college student; he didn't have his best "stuff" that day, but was able to pitch into the eighth inning during a 5-1 New York victory. He later went on to become a coach, front-office executive, and broadcaster for the Orioles. He is survived by his wife, Alex, and three daughters: Kathryn, Kendall, and Kerry. May Mike Flanagan rest in peace.
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