Where Are They Now? Crash Davis: Bull Durham

Bull Durham dope AFWhat were your glory days? The days when everything in your life was perfect and your life’s dream was fulfilled. How does one measure these days of bliss? In weeks? Months? Hours? For one man it was days, 21 days to be exact.

For 21 days life was perfect for Crash Davis. For those three weeks Davis, whose lifelong passion was the game of baseball was in the major leagues. Playing on emerald green diamonds in front of 40,000 fans under the lights of prime time. Then, just as quickly as his dream was realized, it was over.

Crash Davis is a legend, just not the one you hear about. In the pantheon of baseball lore the names of the greats like Ruth, Gehrig, Mayes, Aaron, Robinson, and C.Y. Young have become to american society super natural beings such as the gods and ancient heroes of Greece. For Davis, he is not one of these iconic figures, but rather a man whose journey could be appropriately described as a greek tragedy.

For 12 years Davis was a minor league player, the baseball purgatory where players are either trying to find a way to the majors, and veterans are desperately trying to claw their way back. Still, Crash’s legacy among the baseball misfits is considered the greatest. Davis was in the record books with 432 career minor league home runs the most in minor league history. A record that stood until August 2015 when Mike Hessman, another career minor leaguer, launched his 433rd home run toppling Crash’s record which stood for almost thirty years.

Despite his offensive records and his immeasurable gift for helping players in the minors he helped make the jump into the show, Davis just couldn’t crack the big leagues again. “I was always the player to be named later” Davis told me. “I knew how things worked and that I was just a piece that helped to finish a trade. The kinda guy that would help move their prized horses through the system, but not a guy who would help them in the bigs”.

Now years after hanging up his shin guards and catcher’s mitt, he is one again in baseball’s purgatory. Now the manager Mobile BayBears, the Double A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Crash is nurturing the next generation of baseball players.  Once again he is a leader of a team, this time just not squatting behind the plate.

Davis has helped players move through the system as a player. Now he is doing it as a manager.

Davis has helped players move through the system as a player. Now he is doing it as a manager.

“It’s a challenge but I help the guys I can. It’s tough though. There are guys like me who have the all the smarts but not the talent to make it, and the players with all the talent in the world but can’t hold a thought in their head.

After all my years I found that the ones who have a bit a of both usually make it. Baseball is cruel though because you do see the guys that god gave a thunderbolt arm and who piss their talent away squeak through with talent, while guys like me are screwed because they’re not talented enough despite knowing the actual game. But that’s just how it’s always worked”.

When I asked what he thinks is the most important thing that Davis can influence the guys in he says it’s all about their communication with the media.

“At this point you can tweak or put the finishing touches on guys but they are what they are. I tell them to give simple cliche answers when interviewed or on social media. It’s boring but their attitude on the field is not what people want to hear”.

Me: “What attitude do you mean Crash”?

Davis: ” You gotta be cocky and arrogant. Even when you’re getting killed out their you gotta play this game with fear and arrogance.”

Me: “You mean fear and ignorance”?

Davis: “No you hayseed. Arrogance. You gotta walk around like you’re the best goddamn player on the planet. You gotta fear that players and our own limitations, but when you step between those lines you let everyone know that your their best and you’re not intimidated by anyone”.

Like his playing career before Crash is helping countless minor leaguers get their chance to play under the bright lights of the major leagues. And like his playing days he is still waiting for the call that tells him he is back in the show. Still, when people talk about Crash Davis, or his name flows to the top of baseball conversation he won’t be known for what he could do as a major league manager.

Instead it’s his minor league odyssey. How he continued to take buses and live the grueling life of a minor league player even after he knew he had no chance to be back in the bigs. But for Crash it was never about the money, the fame, the glory, and even to play in the majors for a long time. Why did he play baseball? For the love of the game.

 

 

Pirate will “Let it Go” at the plate this season

Frozen continues it grip on pop culture by now getting involved in baseball

Frozen continues it grip on pop culture by now getting involved in baseball

Unless you’ve been under a rock the past three months you’ve had to have heard the song “Let it Go” performed by the wickedly talented Adele Dazeem, I mean Idina Menzel. If people thought Frozen’s popularity would fade as winter began to thaw into spring, you’d be wrong. In Pittsburgh, catcher Tony Sanchez has announced that the smash hit “Let it Go” will be his walk up song when he comes to bat in 2014. Talk about an unusual choice. It may have won an oscar, but Let it Go is a rapid departure from the usual hard rock and hip hop walk up songs the big leaguers usually use. Who knows? If Sanchez helps the Pirates win and makes an all star team, maybe will be hearing more of the Walt Disney soundtrack throughout major league ball parks. Sorry Pirates parents, looks like your not escaping Frozen just yet! For the full music video check out the link here (Frozen “Let it Go”). Comment and follow below!

Can they be stopped? When will the Heat’s reign end?

The Big Three now go for the three peat

The Big Three now go for the three peat

The 2013-2014 NBA season has many captivating story lines. Derrick Rose’s injury, Kobe’s bout against father time, and Eastern Conference’s futility. Still, no NBA team is stirring up more controversy and headlines then a certain team from South Beach. The NBA’s evil empire, the Miami Heat.

With the opportunity to three peat as champions and join some of the league’s most storied teams, the heat is on in Miami. The question is can a David step up and topple the mighty Goliath? Can any team upset the Heat and spoil their quest of dominance? The reloaded Nets and the Bulls struggles have many doubting their ability to knock King James of his throne. Can a team from the Wild West such as the Thunder, Clippers, or Spurs be able to shock the Big Three? Without question the Heat are the lightning rod for attention in the NBA.

Whether its Lebron’s legacy, the team’s health, it’s fans, or just the animosity that no other team seems to get attention in the NBA, the Heat are the logical focal point. It’s understandable why this team is hated so much. The best player in the NBA leaves his hometown team and community to create an all-star team just to win championships. Theres the constant media attention where the top NBA story always involves Miami. It doesn’t matter if Kevin Durant drops 50 points for the Thunder because ESPN  needs to analyze James’ supporting cast for the hundredth time. Miami is despised for having the worst fans in sports, who only either care about the team when they are winning or are so spoiled because they have jumped on the best team bandwagon. Heat fans are always complaining for no good reason! Why? Now idea, they’ve won three championships in a decade so what’s the problem? However, the biggest reason the Heat are hated is because they are the best.

They have Lebron James, and your team doesn’t. Their arrogance and cockiness about being the best team drives NBA fans crazy. This team just thinks it will be a breeze to win another championship. However, I think there is another thing at play here. People still love Michael Jordan. The fact that Lebron is threatening what many claim is the NBA’s greatest legacy strikes a nerve within die-hard NBA fans. Then you hear the criticism and laundry list of reasons why Lebron James will never surpass his Airness. The points, position, competition, the list goes on and on and on. The fact that Lebron threatens one of if not the most beloved player in NBA history, and the way he has achieved his success, just riles up Jordan supporters who will try to find any flaws within James’ game. However, there is no question that right now there is no better player in the NBA.

The question shouldn’t be if Lebron James is the best player in the NBA, he is, but is there a basketball team that is constructed better than the Heat right now? Is there such a team whose sum of parts will equal a greater team then the Heat? Obviously, Lebron skews this equation by being the best player in the game, but is there a roster whose depth and overall talent can expose the Heat’s flaws of being a team built on three players? These are the questions that teams in the NBA must answer. I think there is such a team. With so much talent in the NBA and a few teams with loaded and lethal rosters, it might be when not if the Heat are eliminated from contention this year. Will Lebron hoist his third trophy, or will some other superstar begin their own Hall of Fame legacy? We await with bated breath to find out if the King will get another ring, or if his mighty empire will be failed be a worth adversary.

Where are they now? Thad Castle BMS

No matter what he does, Thad Castle leaves a mark

No matter what he does, Thad Castle leaves his own mark of Football

Thad Castle is a lightning rod, period. Whether it’s on or off the field, no football player has brought more attention and controversy to the game of football. Beginning with his glory days at Blue Mountain State, where he was the premier defensive player in college football, Castle has provided both jaw dropping playmaking ability and controversy. For a four-year period he was one of, if not the most dominating defensive force that college football has ever seen. However, despite his greatness, Castle is known more for his off the field shenanigans then his actual football play. Whether it’s complaining to NCAA officials that defensive players don’t win the Heisman trophy, a drug scandal on a boat that resulted in a one game suspension, threatening opposing players, and of course his arrest for a house party. Oh, not to mention he did his best Brett Favre impression and sent pictures of a certain body part to female BMS students.

After his senior year the question was where would he be selected in the NFL Draft? Would a team overlook the rampant off the field issues and draft Castle on his pure talent alone? When it was announced that Castle would be the cover athlete for NCAA Football 2012, it sparked a firestorm. Thousands of emails and letters were sent to EA Sports demanding that Castle be removed from the cover for being a terrible representation of the college athlete. When EA Sports announced that they would release a second copy with Mark Ingram on the cover Castle responded: “I knew it! These people just don’t get how great I am!” Surprisingly, the Castle cover became the highest selling copy of an EA video game to that point. After the cover controversy, Castle would be drafted by the New York Jets.  However, Castle thought it was criminal because he was a first round talent and that team’s had made the biggest of their lives. Hey went to Twitter say “Tebow’s a first round pick and I’m not? What is this a conspiracy? #WTH”. While Castle was furious about not being selected in the first round, and even threatened to not attend training camp at all, Rex Ryan was excited to have Castle on the team. Ryan: “He’s a ferocious and aggressive football player. Did we know about the off the field issues? Of course, but we know this kid loves to play football and that he can be a playmaker on our defense. I love  his swagger and know that he’ll bring the attitude to our defense”. Castle would make an instant impact with the Jets by knocking out Mark Sanchez in training camp for the season. At first this seemed like a bad thing, until people realized that this was a blessing in disguise since Mark Sanchez couldn’t play quarterback. In his rookie season Castle would have 145 tackles, 15 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 4 interceptions. Leading the number 1 defense in football, Castle propelled the Jets to a 17-7 victory in the Super Bowl where he was the MVP with a defensive touchdown and 15 tackles.

But once again, Castle’s biggest opponent wasn’t an offense, but his own success. Following the Super Bowl, Castle was arrested for possession of drugs and was found naked in his hotel room holding the Lombardi trophy. When asked about this behavior, NFL star Rob Gronkowski told Sports Illustrated : “jeez and I thought I liked to party. Castle makes me look like Tim Tebow!” After a tumultuous sophomore year in the league, which included two suspensions for the drug use in the off-season and for biting Tom Brady’s leg, Roger Goodell went on the war path stating that if Castle did not change his ways, he would be out of the NFL. Of course, this is Thad Castle we are talking about. That night he tweeted “Goodell is just jealous because he wishes he was a football star and not some loser wannabe #ThadRules”. We all know what happened next. Thad got suspended, Goodell got his way, and Castle went to twitter to infamously tweet: “FU NFL”. Despite the suspension, Castle still was still in the mainstream. He tried to become an action star in his own movie, Road Rage. The movie was a disaster from Castle’s terrible “acting”, and was critically panned by critics. But was this really a surprise? Really? Thad plus acting is not an equation that ends well. It didn’t help with all of the negative publicity about Castle getting into fights on the set and constantly pranking the director. At least he made millions off of his “Guck Foodell” t-shirts.

When he returned to the grid iron, he would once again help to lead the Jets to a second Super Bowl victory. However, after he flipped off Goodell when he took the Lombardi Trophy and told him to “suck it”, Goodell snapped. On the Super Bowl podium in front of the world he told Castle that he was done in the NFL.

Today, Castle is 29 years old and playing in the Canadian Football league. There he is trying to jumpstart his NFL and acting careers, both so far unsuccessfully. Currently he is in a heated battle in court trying to fight his NFL suspension to be reinstated. Castle’s main defense that while his actions, while idiotic, weren’t criminal. While he continues to fight the NFL ban and try to find a director gullible enough to give him an acting role, Castle has continues to play in the Canadian Football League with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders. There, he has led them to two consecutive championships and has won the defensive player of the year twice. While his antics have continued north of the border, one anonymous GM told me that Castle will never be banned from the CFL. “Are you kidding me? Of course they wouldn’t suspend him. He’s the main attraction for the CFL right now and has brought countless revenue and media attention to this league. Now the CFL is a headliner because of Thad Castle. Now were in the same conversation with the NFL! He’s too big in the CFL and could get away with anything”.

While Goodell has made it known that he is trying to clean up the NFL, he might consider the Castle suspension because of the media magnet he’s become. Hey negative attention is better than no attention at all am I right? Whatever happens to Thad in the future two things are for certain. He is one of the best football players in the game today, and that he will be a media lightning rod. Heck just look at his twitter. Why else does he have over 15 million followers.  Hey it’s Thad’s world, and all we can do is just sit back and wait to see what he is going to do next.

Where are they now? Gordon Bombay: The Minnesota Miracle Man

From community service to legendary coach

From community service to legendary coach

In any relationship there is give and take. When it comes to Gordon Bombay and the game of hockey, it’s been a rocky but satisfying relationship. It’s had heartbreak; The death of his father, being pushed to far as a kid by a ruthless coach, and blowing out his knee missing out on his opportunity to play in the NHL. However, for all the blows that hockey has dealt, it’s the positives that Bombay is known for. Taking the worst team in Minnesota to the state championship, and having the U.S.A. junior team to pull off the major upset against the best team in the world, Iceland. After the Junior Good Will victory, Bombay shocked the hockey world when he accepted the American ambassador role for the Good Will games. “I felt that I could’ve helped more kids in need in that position. The Ducks had grown up and I knew that I needed to let them soar on their own. Was it hard? It was the most difficult decision in my life but in the end I knew I would always be there for the Ducks whenever they needed me”. After helping hundreds of kids, the games would come to a close in 1998 and Bombay would be out of a job. What to do? The Ducks were all grown up and had gone their separate ways. While in L.A. Bombay was one of the driving forces

As a coach Bombay helped establish 2 NHL franchises including the Mighty Ducks

As a coach Bombay helped establish 2 NHL franchises including the Mighty Ducks

behind Anaheim getting a pro hockey franchise. When they looked a namesake, they looked no further than Bombay’s team for inspiration and adopted the banner Bombay helped to create. Although, it’s no coincidence, after all Bombay was always great at persuasion from his lawyer days. After establishing a franchise in L.A., Bombay used his abundant free time to help bring back a franchise back to Minnesota. After the North Stars departed after the 1993 season, Minneapolis was without a pro franchise. Bombay would be one of the men who lobbied to get an NHL franchise back, and in 2000 the dream was realized. Since their inception Bombay has remained in the Wild front office and is in charge of the player development. When asked if he would ever return to behind the bench again, Bombay smiles and stays with a chuckle, “I’m retired”. However, I follow the Minnesota miracle man after he leaves the Wild facility. When he stop his black Lincoln on the edge of a sea of glass ice, he puts on a pair of skates and grabs his stick from the backseat. Then I look out through the frozen mist and see the Ducks, like apparitions gliding through the winter evening. The stop when they see their former protege and burst out in a joyous roar. Then I see the group that enthralled a nation, resume what they’ve been doing for years, flying across the truth. Then I remember those famous words that Bombay once said and know that it is really true. Ducks will always fly together!