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Pablo Sandoval crushes three homers in Game 1 victory

I heard an interview with Detroit Tigers starter Justin Verlander before Game 1 where he was talking about what the fans wanted to see from him. It was something about fans wanting to see him pump fastballs past hitters instead of nibbling the corners, and that would be his approach. Well, maybe the long layoff hurt him and the Tigers, or maybe he should avoid worrying about what fans want in terms of pitching advice, as the Tigers got thumped in Game 1 of the World Series.

Meanwhile, Pablo Sandoval hit three homers in a row, two off of the mighty Verlander, as he joined Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols as the only hitters to hit three homers in a World Series game.

It’s been a crazy postseason in baseball, and anything can happen, but this was a great start for the Giants.

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MLB Hall of Famer Whitey Ford

When you think of the history New York Yankees, the most storied franchise in baseball history, most fans will immediately think about the long line of sluggers and great hitters, with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter leading the way. When you think of the great Yankee pitchers, it’s hard to come up with a list that matches the hitters, but one name that always jumps out is Whitey Ford.

Most baseball fans recognize Ford as a Hall of Fame pitcher, but some of his accomplishments still don’t get the attention they deserve given the notoriety of teammates like Mickey Mantle. For example, with 236 wins, Ford is the all-time leader in wins in a Yankee uniform. His first 20-win season came in 1961 when he finished 25-4 record and won the Cy Young Award. But that’s also the season when the entire nation was glued to the home run chase between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

You don’t have to explain this to die-hard Yankee fans however, as Ford was the best pitcher on one of the greatest dynasties in baseball history. In two separate stretches he pitched game one of the World Series four years in a row! Overall he was 10-8 after 22 starts World Series starts. Nobody has won or started more World Series games.

When you look at his career, there are a couple of fascinating things that jump out. Ford has the best all-time winning percentage (.690) among all pitchers with at least 300 career decisions. Ford had a lifetime ERA of 2.75 and his worst ERA was 3.24. Since the advent of the Live Ball Era in 1920, Ford’s lifetime ERA is the lowest. One interesting record involved his excellent move to first base, as he set a record in 1961 for not allowing a stolen base over 243 consecutive innings.

Ford served in the Korean War, so he was a veteran like many of the greats from the 40s, 50s and 60s. He once joked, “Army life was rough. Would you believe it, they actually wanted me to pitch three times a week.”

As a member of those iconic Yankee teams with greats like Mantle, Ford will always be beloved by Yankee fans. For them he’ll always be the Chairman of the Board. But he’s also one of the greatest left handed pitchers in history.

The massive ego and entourage of LeBron James

Miami Heat’s LeBron James. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL HEADSHOT)

SI recently published a fascinating profile of Walter Iooss Jr., who has spent over 50 years photographing athletes and swimsuit models. The man has led an incredible life, and he also happens to be a great storyteller.

In this article, Iooss recounts stories of his favorite athletes and models, like Micheal Jordan, Reggie Jackson, Paulina Porizkova and Christie Brinkley. Sports fans should read the whole article and you’ll get a real sense of the bravado and charisma of people like Reggie Jackson in his prime.

Iooss loves to tell stories of how he had to charm people like Tiger Woods. With Tiger, the swimsuit pictures got his attention right away, and Iooss could then get Tiger to do what was necessary to get the shot.

And then there were the difficult ones like Barry Bonds and the prima donnas like LeBron James. His story about LeBron is very telling:

I first photographed LeBron James in 2003, when he was a rookie in Cleveland. He was pretty raw as a teenager; he didn’t have any of the smoothed edges he has now. When I shot him six years later, in 2009, the difference was amazing. He walked in like a king that day, and he took over that room. And not only physically, although he was massive then. I’ve never seen an athlete look like that. He was muscular, charming, articulate, the prince of hoops. He couldn’t have been more of an ambassador for the game.

Times change, and sadly, LeBron became a villain to many after The Decision. I’ve seen a lot of entourages, but none like his. In July 2010 I got an assignment from Nike to shoot LeBron right after his TV special announcing his move to the Heat. We rented the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, where the Lakers and the Clippers used to play, and there were 53 people on my crew—including hair and makeup artists, production people, a stylist. I had $10,000 in Hollywood lighting. It was huge. When LeBron arrived, it was as if Nelson Mandela had come in. Six or seven blacked-out Escalades pulled up, a convoy. LeBron had bodyguards and his masseuse. His deejay was already there, blasting. This for a photo shoot that was going to last an hour, tops.

This is how crazy it was: I wasn’t even allowed to talk directly to LeBron. There was a liaison, someone from Amar’e Stoudemire’s family. I would say to him, “O.K., have LeBron drive right,” and then he’d turn to LeBron and say, “LeBron, go right.”

LeBron had guards in the portals on the mezzanine level, talking into their hands. Really, what was going to happen? And then at the end of the shoot they all got in the Escalades. My God, I’ve been around Michael Jordan, but with him nothing even came close to this. Unimaginable.

It was obvious that this clown had a problem when he and those around him started referring to him as King James, but this episode demonstrates just how out of control LeBron’s ego had become.

One year later, LeBron is now a punch line after his embarrassing performance in the NBA Finals. He’s gone onto ESPN to discuss how he should have done things differently when he left Cleveland last year and how he made the mistake of embracing the role of the villain. He’s going back to having fun. We’ll see about that. But more than anything he needs to get rid of the obscene entourage, and I don’t see that happening.

Reggie Jackson wants the Jets to “shut up, play football”

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, Mark Brunell and Mark Sanchez (R) smile on the sidelines in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills in week 17 of the NFL season at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on January 2, 2011. The Jets defeated the Bills 38-7 and advance to the playoffs. UPI /John Angelillo

Former Yankee great Reggie Jackson doesn’t want to hear any more squawking from Jets players this week. He just wants them to shut up and play some damn football already.

From NESN.com:

“Shut up, play football,” Jackson said on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio. “What are you talking about Bill Belichick and these people for? Spend your time looking at film, spend your time knocking down a pass. What are you doing? You’re not affecting [Tom] Brady. You’re wasting time.”

Jackson, who said he’s hoping the Jets win, said he also wasn’t a fan of Rex Ryan’s jab at Brady, specifically the coach’s joke that Brady should have been watching football rather than a Broadway show last Saturday.

“This guy is an automatic Hall of Famer,” Jackson said of Brady. “Making fun of him is like making fun of Mariano Rivera. What are you doing? What are you doing?”

Jackson’s parting words for Cromartie were rather emotional.

“Go look at the hardware, dude,” Jackson said. “Walk through the lobby [in New England] and look at the stuff that’s there. You don’t have that — you don’t have anything close to that. You might want to shut up, you might learn something. Read, you might figure something out. Watch film, you might get educated. If not, you have a chance to get embarrassed on Sunday.”

I don’t disagree with anything Mr. October had to say, but I also think all of this is being a tad overblown.

Look, this is what the Jets do under Ryan. They psyche themselves up before a big game by talking trash and making it an “us vs. the world” thing. Ryan does this because his players usually respond by playing hard for him on Sundays, so it’s worth it to him to stir the pot from time to time.

Let’s not forget that Tom Brady was the first person this year to say that he hates the Jets. Granted, he didn’t follow that up by calling Antonio Cromartie an a-hole, but Brady is on record as saying that he hates them, too. Big whoop.

As far as Cromartie is concerned, he has a track record for losing focus during games so if talking trash gets him angry and propels him to play at the top of his game, then that’s good for New York. Besides, what’s the worse that could happen for the Jets? They lose 46-3 this time? Who cares.

That said, as Reggie Jackson alluded to in his comments: Let’s play some damn football already.

Reggie Jackson defends LeBron James

MOBILE, AL - APRIL 14: Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson arrives for pre-game ceremonies following the opening the Hank Aaron Museum at the Hank Aaron Stadium on April 14, 2010 in Mobile, Alabama. At rear are (L-R) Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith and Reggie Jackson, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, Hall of Famers Bruce Sutter and Rickey Henderson. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)

While appearing on the Dan Patrick Show on Monday, former Yankee Reggie Jackson stuck up for LeBron James for signing with the Heat.

From SI.com:

Reggie thinks people are unfairly criticizing LeBron James. “I’m not offended at all that he did that,” Jackson said. Reggie said that he would have done that if he thought it would save time and effort.

Reggie said if he was in the same position, he would have loved to join his friends. Reggie would have loved to play with his good friend Jim Rice in Boston. “I would have loved to join those guys,” Jackson said.

Jackson also pointed out LeBron could have made more money in another sport. “If LeBron James was in baseball, he’d probably be playing for the Yankees,” Jackson said.

I think more people are upset with the way LeBron went about this process than they are that he signed with the Heat. Are we really surprised that a 25-year-old picked South Beach over Cleveland? Are we really surprised that he chose the path of least resistance in order to win a championship? Are we really surprised that he wanted to play with D-Wade and Bosh?

We shouldn’t be. So in some instances, I agree with Jackson that the criticism of LeBron is unfair. What he should be criticized for is giving up on the Cavs in the playoffs last year when he knew he was heading out of town. He should be criticized for not being more sympathetic to the city that treated him like a “king” for eight years. It’s nice that a lot of money from the ESPN special went to charity, but he probably could have just given the Boys and Girls club a check and just held a press conference, too.

The bottom line for me is that LeBron could have handled the situation better, but I’m not going to rip the man for the decision to sign with the Heat.

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