Sports Illustrated ran an interesting article a while back about "favorite" athletes. It was a list of 20 athletes ---not necessarily the greatest in their sports---but a list of those who were fun to watch or they were the kind of performers who had "it." You know, they had flair or charisma or an incredible knack for delivering in the clutch. Or maybe they were just fun to watch.
My own list would be far different than the Sports Illustrated one. I’d put Mickey Rivers on my list. Although he won’t be going to the Hall of Fame, Mick the Quick will never be forgotten by Yankee fans. The slow, almost crippled gait he took to home plate----the breakneck speed he used on the base paths. Gozzlehead, as he was affectionately called, could get under Reggie Jackson’s skin. Reggie who used to brag about his IQ and was among the first athletes to refer to himself regularly in the third person (I know what’s best for Reginald Martinez Jackson") got it good from Gozzlehead. Rivers told him he was screwed up because he had a white man’s first name, a Spanish man’s middle name, and a black man’s last name. Jackson muttered that it wasn’t right getting put down by a man who couldn’t spell IQ.
And my favorite list would have Thurman Munson and Catfish Hunter; I loved Bobby Murcer and Sweet Lou Piniella.
I hate to say but I really like the ultimate Yankee killer George Brett.
And I liked Yaz in Boston.
I preferred Connors to McEnroe and Ali over Frazer; I loved Doctor J, Earl Monroe and the Captain, Willis Reed.
I liked Jack Nicklaus and could never root for Lee Trevino or Johnny Miller or anybody else in Jack’s way of another major.
I liked Billy Martin but got tired of him. I never tired of Red Holzman.
Sports Illustrated provided and interesting article but there was something missing. When you list favorites you gotta list your anti-favorites. The ones you hate.
Like Pete Rose. Damn, I hated him. And Sparky Anderson (for dissing Thurman). I couldn’t stand Steve Garvey and Tommy Lasorda. Whitey Herzog and Tommy Heinsohn.
I couldn’t stand Kareem Jabbar and Isaih Thomas. I hated Dave Cowens but secretly loved John Havlicek. At first I hated Magic Johnson then he became a favorite.
I hated Lenny Dykstra and Keith Hernandez.
I hated the Mets but Seaver, you couldn’t hate him.
I hated some Yankee failures, too. Carlos May and Jim Mason still make me want to kick in a TV screen.
Sometimes you hate a guy because he’s so good; because he’s killing your team. Sometimes you hate a guy for no reason; maybe because you hate the way he wears his socks or the way he smiles when things are going good.
Sometimes you love a guy because he’s the best; sometimes you hate another because he’s the best.
**Boyle-ing Points: Hoop deity Frank Walker, bemoaning the fact that he’s gotten skimpy coverage in this space, has reportedly theorized aloud that it’s because he used to own my youngest brother on the b-ball court. When I asked Terry about Frank, he said "You mean the Frank Walters, the guy who appeared in Dorothy Dunne’s column? That Frank Walters?" No, I said, Frank Walker. "Who?"
**Marty Feeney told Billy Collins to tell me that the Old-timer’’s softball game has been moved from July 31 to August 6 or 7. If you were in the league back in the day check with either of those two for the straight facts.
**Say it loud, say it proud: Rockaway Little League produced the best 9-10 year old all-star team in Queens.