Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fool Me Once…

I always say that if you aren’t willing to get up on Sunday morning for God, you at least ought to do it for Frank Rich’s column in the New York Times


Barry Blit/NY Times


Today, Rich hammers the Big Dick Cheney and “a compliant media” for letting BDC unload more of the Big Lie b.s. he fed us prior to sending our fellow Americans off to die in Iraq.

Read it.  Just go and read it, okay?

Rich cites the work of the only two journalists in this country who had the Iraq story right before the Iraq war.  Rich links to their work in his column, I’ll spare you the hard work of clicking on that link by simply running it here:

Cheney's speech ignored some inconvenient truths

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.

In his address to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy organization in Washington, Cheney said that the techniques the Bush administration approved, including waterboarding — simulated drowning that's considered a form of torture — forced nakedness and sleep deprivation, were "legal" and produced information that "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."

He quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a "deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country."

In a statement April 21, however, Blair said the information "was valuable in some instances" but that "there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn't think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.

_ Cheney said that President Barack Obama's decision to release the four top-secret Bush administration memos on the interrogation techniques was "flatly contrary" to U.S. national security, and would help al Qaida train terrorists in how to resist U.S. interrogations.

However, Blair, who oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, said in his statement that he recommended the release of the memos, "strongly supported" Obama's decision to prohibit using the controversial methods and that "we do not need these techniques to keep America safe."

_ Cheney said that the Bush administration "moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and their sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks."

The former vice president didn't point out that Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman al Zawahri, remain at large nearly eight years after 9-11 and that the Bush administration began diverting U.S. forces, intelligence assets, time and money to planning an invasion of Iraq before it finished the war in Afghanistan against al Qaida and the Taliban.

There are now 49,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan fighting to contain the bloodiest surge in Taliban violence since the 2001 U.S.-led intervention, and Islamic extremists also have launched their most concerted attack yet on neighboring, nuclear-armed Pakistan.

_ Cheney denied that there was any connection between the Bush administration's interrogation policies and the abuse of detainee at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, which he blamed on "a few sadistic guards . . . in violation of American law, military regulations and simple decency."

However, a bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report in December traced the abuses at Abu Ghraib to the approval of the techniques by senior Bush administration officials, including former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

"The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own," said the report issued by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz. "The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality and authorized their use against detainees."

_ Cheney said that "only detainees of the highest intelligence value" were subjected to the harsh interrogation techniques, and he cited Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9-11 attacks.

He didn't mention Abu Zubaydah, the first senior al Qaida operative to be captured after 9-11. Former FBI special agent Ali Soufan told a Senate subcommittee last week that his interrogation of Zubaydah using traditional methods elicited crucial information, including Mohammed's alleged role in 9-11.

The decision to use the harsh interrogation methods "was one of the worst and most harmful decisions made in our efforts against al Qaida," Soufan said. Former State Department official Philip Zelikow, who in 2005 was then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's point man in an internal fight to overhaul the Bush administration's detention policies, joined Soufan in his criticism.

_ Cheney said that "the key to any strategy is accurate intelligence," but the Bush administration ignored warnings from experts in the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the Department of Energy and other agencies, and used false or exaggerated intelligence supplied by Iraqi exile groups and others to help make its case for the 2003 invasion.

Cheney made no mention of al Qaida operative Ali Mohamed al Fakheri, who's known as Ibn Sheikh al Libi, whom the Bush administration secretly turned over to Egypt for interrogation in January 2002. While allegedly being tortured by Egyptian authorities, Libi provided false information about Iraq's links with al Qaida, which the Bush administration used despite doubts expressed by the DIA.

A state-run Libyan newspaper said Libi committed suicide recently in a Libyan jail.

_ Cheney accused Obama of "the selective release" of documents on Bush administration detainee policies, charging that Obama withheld records that Cheney claimed prove that information gained from the harsh interrogation methods prevented terrorist attacks.

"I've formally asked that (the information) be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained," Cheney said. "Last week, that request was formally rejected."

However, the decision to withhold the documents was announced by the CIA, which said that it was obliged to do so by a 2003 executive order issued by former President George W. Bush prohibiting the release of materials that are the subject of lawsuits.

_ Cheney said that only "ruthless enemies of this country" were detained by U.S. operatives overseas and taken to secret U.S. prisons.

A 2008 McClatchy investigation, however, found that the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees captured in 2001 and 2002 in Afghanistan and Pakistan were innocent citizens or low-level fighters of little intelligence value who were turned over to American officials for money or because of personal or political rivalries.

In addition, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Oct. 5, 2005, that the Bush administration had admitted to her that it had mistakenly abducted a German citizen, Khaled Masri, from Macedonia in January 2004.

Masri reportedly was flown to a secret prison in Afghanistan, where he allegedly was abused while being interrogated. He was released in May 2004 and dumped on a remote road in Albania.

In January 2007, the German government issued arrest warrants for 13 alleged CIA operatives on charges of kidnapping Masri.

_ Cheney slammed Obama's decision to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and criticized his effort to persuade other countries to accept some of the detainees.

The effort to shut down the facility, however, began during Bush's second term, promoted by Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

"One of the things that would help a lot is, in the discussions that we have with the states of which they (detainees) are nationals, if we could get some of those countries to take them back," Rice said in a Dec. 12, 2007, interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. "So we need help in closing Guantanamo."

_ Cheney said that, in assessing the security environment after 9-11, the Bush team had to take into account "dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists."

Cheney didn't explicitly repeat the contention he made repeatedly in office: that Saddam cooperated with al Qaida, a linkage that U.S. intelligence officials and numerous official inquiries have rebutted repeatedly.

The late Iraqi dictator's association with terrorists vacillated and was mostly aimed at quashing opponents and critics at home and abroad.

The last State Department report on international terrorism to be released before 9-11 said that Saddam's regime "has not attempted an anti-Western terrorist attack since its failed plot to assassinate former President (George H.W.) Bush in 1993 in Kuwait."

A Pentagon study released last year, based on a review of 600,000 Iraqi documents captured after the U.S.-led invasion, concluded that while Saddam supported militant Palestinian groups — the late terrorist Abu Nidal found refuge in Baghdad, at least until Saddam had him killed — the Iraqi security services had no "direct operational link" with al Qaida.

Technorati Tags: Politics,Iraq War,Torture,Waterboarding,Dick Cheney,Ney York Times,Frank Rich,Jonathan S. Landay,Warren P. Strobel,McClatchy Newspapers

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Around the League with Rich Kincaide

We’re going to call this one “The Shows What I Know Edition…

I took the bottom of the 9th inning off in the Tigers 13-1 win in KC yesterday. Shows what I know. Yesterday, according to The Elias Sports Bureau was the time in Major League history where two different teams came back from deficits of at least six runs in the eighth inning or later on the same day to win.

I looked at the Padres score yesterday and they were down to the Diamondbacks 7-1 after seven and I said to myself, “So much for their 9-game winning streak.” Shows what I know. San Diego scored 5 in the eighth, one in the ninth and one in the tenth for an 8-7 win.

I didn’t even bother to click over to the Rays-Indians game last night. Shows what I know. Tampa Bay led 10-0 early and 10-2 when Cleveland came to bat in the eighth. The Indians scored two in the eighth and seven in the bottom of the ninth to win 11-10. I did go back later to watch the tape of that bottom of the 9th. The key play? Tampa walked the lead-off hitter. Any manager will tell you: You can’t do that. The sequence was something like this as I work from memory: walk, pop-out, broken bat single, throwing error on what could have been a game-ending double-play ball which let in a run, line drive out for the second out of the inning, three-run homer, a couple more walks and a bases-loaded two-run single, and, ballgame. Cleveland scored those seven game-winning runs in the ninth on just three hits.

I thought when the Tigers got swept by Minnesota the week before last—losing the last game at the Metrodome because they couldn’t hold a 5-0 lead with 8 outs to get—that they had sustained a spirit-crushing, season-ruining defeat. Shows what I know. The Tigers are 8-2 since that loss and have a four-game lead in the AL Central, matching their largest lead of the season.

I actually wondered which would be the bigger loss: Chicago not having #1 netminder Nikolai Khabibulin in the line-up for Game 4 or Detroit not having top defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom dressed for the game. I thought the question was worthy of debate. Top goalie or top d-man, who is more important to their team? Shows what I know. It was no contest. As evidenced, at least, by the final score: Detroit 6, Chicago 1.

Enough of that, let’s move on to some things I do know.

Nicklas Kronwall’s hit on Martin Havlat in Game 4 was legal, as least insofar as current NHL rules go. I don’t know how anyone could have ruled that Havlat was not in the act of playing the puck since it was in his feet when Kronwall steamrolled him, so I don’t know how Interference could have been called the way it was. Charging was not called, either. I did not see Kronwall leave his feet. Therefore, as I saw it, it was a legal check. Does that make it right? Of course it does not. Players are so much bigger and so much faster now than they were when these rules were written. Plus, as Don Cherry is fond of pointing out, the shoulder pads they wear now resemble those worn by football players and have become a weapon unto themselves. But I know the National Hockey League. The day they change the rules is the day somebody is paralyzed for life or his killed on a check like that. And not a moment before.

The overtime goal scored by the Black Hawks Patrick Sharp in Game 3 marked the first time Detroit lost Stanley Cup playoff game in overtime in Chicago since Harold March beat the Wings in OT in the Windy City in 1934. That was the year Chicago won the Stanley Cup for the first time and is one of only three times that the Black Hawks have hoisted the hardware.

Detroit is up three games to one in the best-of-seven which you probably already know. Including this season, NHL teams up 3-1 have gone on to win the series 211 times and have gone on to lose the series 21 times (90.9%). The last team to come back from 3-1 down was Washington earlier this playoff year against the New York Rangers. Chicago has never won a series in which it was faced with a 3-1 deficit.

And that’s all I know—and don’t know—for now.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jean Shepherd

von Ebers mentioned Jean Shepherd in a post responding to my video blog, or “Vlog” which I posted yesterday. He, and later, Seattle Dan heartily endorsed in their comments the movie “A Thousand Clowns”, which I have never seen but which, based on their recommendations, I will most certainly check out because whose opinions are to be more respected than those of theirs? The question is so ridiculous on its face and in its grammatical construction as to be rendered rhetorical and unforgivably silly: The answer is “nobody”! (Except for democommie, of course).

Anyway, for you Jean Shepherd fans out there (he’s best known as the author of “A Christmas Story” in which Ralphie wants a Red Raider Air Rifle for Christmas more than anything else in the world) I’ve got a link I think you will like.

Shepherd spent much of his career doing a daily story-telling in afternoon drive on WOR Radio in New York City. If you follow the link – which is sort of the point of this particular exercise – you will find his telling of the story of his participation in Martin Luther Kings’ march on Washington, D.C. in August, 1963. I enjoyed it as much as anything I have ever heard on the radio – including my own work, and I have to tell you, I am flat-out, head-over-heels in love with the sound of my own voice…

Peace out…

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Video Blog To Call My Own

Inspired by Dave von Ebers, I have decided, what the Hell, to produce my own video blog, or, as the kids call them, Vlogs.  I’ve upgraded the production values just a little as you will see, and I hope you enjoy it…


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Around the League with Rich Kincaide

The most interesting thing I saw on the diamond last night was not Dontrelle Willis and the Detroit ‘pen one-hitting the Rangers (interesting though that was). It was, rather, the sight of Cleveland’s Kerry Wood blowing a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the 9th in Kansas City with two outs to get and the bases empty. The sequence off Wood went like this: homer, homer, 5-pitch walk, triple, sac fly, ball game. If Wood had held the lead, Detroit’s lead in the AL Central would be 2 games, not 1. It was the pitch count, again. Talk about dumb managing. Cliff Lee, the Cy Young Award winner last year—yes, that Cliff Lee—had a 5-2 lead and did not come out to pitch the 9th because, presumably, he’d thrown too many pitches (101). So on comes Wood to blow it. His ERA is now 8.31 and he’s allowed 4 home runs in 13 innings pitched. Lee, the guy they yanked, has allowed 3 homers in 62 innings. Just for the record.

At the other end of the end of the game spectrum would be Heath Bell of San Diego. I saw him come in to finish off the Giants last night and get a load of this: Bell is 10-10 in save situations and has allowed a grand total of zero earned runs this year. Right-handed hitters are hitting (or, to be precise, not hitting) .000 against Bell. They are oh-for-24 against him and that’s amazing.

So was Willis last night. A 1-hitter into the 7th and he only walked two and if he can regain his form the Tigers have a shot at the division. Hard to believe, but the win was the first for Dontrelle as a Tiger. We mentioned Kerry Woods’ ERA a moment ago. Willis last year had an ERA of 9.38. For the record, that placed him 635th in the Majors and dead last among pitchers with at least 24 innings pitched. He finished 293rd out of 316 pitchers if you only count those who pitched in the American League. Willis looked a little better than that guy on Tuesday night in ending Texas’ 7-game win streak, extending the Tigers win streak to four and giving Detroit 9-straight home wins over the Rangers.

On to hockey…

I was covering the Wings-Avalanche Western Conference Final in 1996 and on the flight to Denver after Detroit had lost Games 1&2 at home, I dug out my Stanley Cup Media Guide, (Detroit to Denver is a pretty long flight and I had some time on my hands), and I went through all the best-of-seven series’ in NHL history to see how teams fared after losing the first two games at home. I finished just as we were on final approach and it was then that I knew the Red Wings had sustained a fatal wound. The number was something a little over 95% -- the percentage of teams which had lost the first two games at home and had gone on to lose the series. Detroit, I knew then, had just a little more than 4% chance of coming back against Colorado. The Wings won the next night as they split the two games there to get the series back to Detroit, won at home to get the series back to Denver, but lost Game 6.

The 2009 edition of that same Media Guide, Total Stanley Cup, tells us that heading into the current playoff year, teams which have won Games 1&2 have gone on to win in the best-of-seven format 87.3% of the time. So, we can safely say that statistically at least, Detroit’s probability of winning this series against Chicago now stands at close to 90% after the overtime win over the Black Hawks Tuesday night—Detroit’s 4th straight OT playoff win against Chicago dating back to the 1995 Western Conference Final.

That said…

I can think off the top of my head of 3 occasions where the Wings won the first two game and did not win the best-of-seven.

The first (which I have only read about) was in the early 1940’s when Detroit became the first team in pro sports history to lose a best-of-seven series in which it led three games to none when Toronto came all the way back to beat them in a Stanley Cup Final series.

Another (which I listened to on the radio when the games were in Detroit because the home games weren’t on TV then—it’s true, you could go to a theatre to watch them otherwise it was Bruce Martyn and Budd Lynch on the radio—and watched on TV when the games were in Montreal) was the 1966 Stanley Cup Final in which Detroit won Game 1 and Game 2, in Montreal no less, before dropping four in a row to Canadien—I said it the way I wanted to, Canadien—three of them on home ice at the Olympia.

Yet another was in 1993 when the Wings beat up on the Maple Leafs good in the first two games, outscoring the Mapleo’s 12-5; dropping four of the next five including two in overtime at home, including Game 7.

So, this thing isn’t over. Not just yet.

Tuesday Musical Interlude

There was no hockey Saturday, so, for the first time last fall, there was no Hockey Night in Canadia on the telly Saturday night.  What to do, what to do…

The CBC knew just what to do.  They re-aired “Canada-Russia ‘72”, a docu-drama about the historic 1972 8-game series between a team of Canadian-born NHL All-Stars (Phil and Tony Esposito, Bobby Clark, Ken Dryden et. al.) and the Soviet Red Army team.  Everybody, I mean everybody, thought the Canadians – even without the Bobbys (Orr and Hull)  – would win the Series, oh, about 8 games to none and by final scores in each game of about 15-0. 

Instead, in Game 1 the Soviets came into the Montreal Forum and kicked the snot out of the Team Canada, 7-3 or something.  I mean, they just killed ‘em.  Nobody could believe it.  Canada won the next game in Toronto but a tie and another loss followed.  They were booed off the ice after that last game in Vancouver.  And when Canada lost the first game in Moscow, blowing a 3-goal 3rd period lead no less, they had to win all three of the remaining games to win the series.  How’d it turn out?  Google it.  Or just Google Paul Henderson.

I was in high school 1972 and since the games in Russia were being played during the afternoon our time, I remember my teachers sneaking out of class to watch on a TV in the teachers lounge down the hall.  I didn’t care about that, I just wanted an update. 

“Canada-Russia ‘72” is a terrific program. (It was nice how the CBC put up a disclaimer after every commercial break warning that the program contained “coarse language” -- which it did.)  I’d recommend it to anyone not offended by coarse language. 

It featured plenty of rock and roll period pieces from Canadian groups which meant a lot of the Guess Who.  But also this one from the Five Man Electrical Band.  You know them from the song “Signs” (long-hair freaky people need not apply…) but back in the day I thought this was a pretty good jam, so I’m glad they used in it in the show because I’d forgotten it.  Do they still have “jams”?  Just askin’.

Party on, Garth.  Game 2, Wings and Black Hawks tonight!

Oh. My. God.  This just in.  WTF???

I thank God for Republicans.  I thank God for Michael Steele.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Around the League with Rich Kincaide (Wings v. Black Hawks Edition)

 sawchuk kings

Let’s stipulate the following right off the top: I love the Elias Sports Bureau. I know this might make you think I’m a geek, or a nerd, or even a geeky nerd, but I don’t even care. Where else are you going to get things like this:

When Toronto’s Roy Halladay beat the Yankees Tuesday, he improved to 16-5 (.762) lifetime against New York, the second-best winning percentage against the Yankees among all (opposing) pitchers with at least 20 decisions.

Do you know which pitcher has the best all-time winning percentage against the New York Yankees? This is the beauty part. According to Elias, it’s the most famous Yankee of them all: Babe Ruth! Ruth was 17-5 (.773) all-time against the Yankees. And if I have to tell you that before he became the greatest slugger of All Time in New York—it doesn’t matter that his records have been surpassed, he still pretty much invented the Home Run—that Babe Ruth was a member of the Boston Red Sox and one of the best pitchers in the American League, well, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we can see each other anymore.

Now, Elias also noted this week that Pittsburgh's 6-2 win in Washington matched the second-largest margin of victory by a road team in the seventh game of any NHL playoff series. The North Stars beat the Kings by five goals in a Game 7 in Los Angeles in 1968 (9-4), and the Oilers had a four-goal win at Colorado in 1998 (4-0).

Also, the Penguins opened the scoring in their Game 7 win over the Capitals with a pair of first-period goals eight seconds apart by Sidney Crosby (at 12:36) and Craig Adams (at 12:44). It was the fastest two goals by one team in any Game 7 in NHL playoff history. The previous record was 14 seconds by the Minnesota North Stars in their 9-4 win over the Kings in the seventh game of a first-round series in 1968 (second period: Andre Boudrias at 15:58, Dave Balon at 16:12). Those goals were hardly crucial in that game, as they increased Minnesota's lead from 6-2 to 8-2.

I thought that was pretty good stuff, too, but as I was thinking about it, I remembered something the Elias Sports Bureau had not included. The name of the goalie who gave up those 9 goals to the North Stars—including those goals 14 seconds apart—in the most lopsided 7th game home-ice loss ever. It may surprise you. It was one of the greatest goalies (if not the greatest) in NHL history: Terry Sawchuk.

That night he was shelled by the North Stars, Sawchuk—the goalie of record for Detroit in their Stanley Cup-winning seasons of 1952, ’54 and ’55—was less than a year removed from being the toast, once again, of the hockey world. (He was also, as it turned out, just over two years away from being dead.) A year earlier, in 1967, Sawchuk had come off the Maple Leafs bench to beat Montreal in 4-1 in Game 5 of the Stanley Final and 3-1 in Game 6 to win the Cup for Punch Imlach’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Sawchuk, stopping 40 of 41 Montreal shots, was the First Star in the clincher. It’s 42 years now and for the record, that’s still the last time Toronto won the Cup. A few weeks later, with the NHL expanding from six teams to twelve, Imlach left Sawchuk unprotected in the expansion draft and he became the first player selected by LA Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke. Sawchuk would last just one year in Los Angeles. That 9-4 loss at the Forum in Los Angles to the North Stars is a big part of the reason why.

Sawchuk’s coach in Los Angeles was his former teammate Red Kelly. “I was never so disappointed in Terry as I was that night,” he said. “I felt that he let me down and the team down. The loss wasn’t all his fault, but it was the big game and he missed it, really.”

Now here’s a question. Do you happen to know who Leonard “Red” Kelly is? If you don’t, you ought to. Kelly’s Detroit sweater, #4, should be hanging from the rafters at Joe Louis Arena right next to Gordie Howe’s #9, Ted Lindsay’s #7, Sawchuk’s #1 and the rest.

Kelly was to the Detroit Red Wings of the 1950’s what Nicklas Lidstrom is to the Red Wings of today. (A reporter from Stockholm once told me that we are all pronouncing “Lidstrom” name improperly. In Sweden, he said, it’s “LEED-strum”.) Anyway…

Kelly won four Stanley Cups with the Wings in the 50’s (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955), was on each of the Wings’ teams that won the NHL regular season title a still-record seven straight years, was the original winner of the Norris Trophy for Best Defenseman in 1954 and the runner-up two other times and was an eight-time All-Star—a record for a Detroit defenseman until that guy LEED-strum came along. The main thing you have to remember about Kelly as a Red Wing, though, are those four Stanley Cups.

Early in 1960, when a newspaper story out of Toronto suggested that the Wings had forced Kelly to play with a broken foot late in the 1959 season (they had) Jack Adams, the iron-fisted General Manager of the Red Wings, blew a gasket and in a fit of pique which can only be described as exquisite, traded Kelly to the Rangers. Kelly told Adams, and later NHL Commissioner Clarence Campbell, to take a hike, son. He’d quit before he’d report to New York. A few days later Adams shipped Kelly to Toronto for Marc Reaume. Kelly for Manon Rheaume might have been a better deal for Detroit.

The only reason Kelly-for-Reaume isn’t the worst trade in hockey history is that a couple of weeks after Sawchuk won that ’67 Cup for the Leafs, the Black Hawks decided Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Freddie Stanfield to Boston for Pit Martin, Gilles Marotte and Jack Norris sounded good like a good deal. The numbers say it wasn’t. Esposito scored 459 goals as a Bruin, Hodge 289 and Stanfield 135. Martin scored 243 times for Chicago and Marotte scored10. Norris was a goalie who appeared in 10 games for the Black Hawks. So, Chicago traded 883 goals to Boston and got back 253. This is not good value.

Neither was Kelly-for-Reaume. The guy for whom Adams traded his LEED-strum played 47 undistinguished games for Detroit and was down in the minors in less than a year.

Kelly, still wearing his # 4, only wearing it for the Leafs now, played 8 more years in the NHL and won 4 more Stanley Cups, giving him 8 for his career. You could look this up yourself or Elias could tell you, but of the 1,134 players who have put their name on the Stanley Cup, only 5 have had theirs etched upon it more often than Red Kelly.

Two of Kelly’s post-trade Cup wins came over the team that traded him away, the Red Wings. Kelly grew up in southern Ontario in a small town not too far from Detroit and his dad would come and see him play at the Olympia when Toronto was in town. One night he saw Jack Adams there and before Adams could scurry away he went up to him and said, “The Stanley Cup just seems to follow that boy around, doesn’t it?”

Here’s the thing. There’s another boy out there who the Cup seems to “follow around.” His name is Scotty Bowman. He’s got nine Cups as a coach (more than any other coach, ever) and two more as an executive for a total of eleven. Five of those Cup wins came with the Detroit organization. He left the Wings in the past off-season. He’s with Chicago now.

Nobody gives the Black Hawks much of a shot against the Red Wings in the Western Conference Final, but I worry when I think about things like this. I could stop reading items from the Elias Sports Bureau, but some of these things I think up on my own and there is not much that can be done about that.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Game 7 Memories

Here's my latest column for ""...

It’s about time for Game 7 in the Wings/Ducks series which has me thinking about my all-time favorite (or, as our Canadian friends say, favourite) Game 7, the decider between the Wings and the Blues which, after a quick check of the NHL publication 2009 Total Stanley Cup, we see was played on May 16, 1996, almost 13 years ago to the day. Like this series, it was a Conference Semi-Final (Round 2, in other words) and everybody will remember it as the game where Steve Yzerman blasted a slap shot high into the net from the top of the right face-off circle early in the second overtime to win the game for Detroit 1-0 and the series for Detroit 4-3.

The entire series had been nerve-wracking. The Wings won the first two games but then went out and dropped 3 straight to the Blues who had Jon Casey playing unbelievable net and Wayne Gretzky in a Blues sweater that spring. The Wings had to win back-to-back elimination games to avoid what would have been the biggest upset in Stanley Cup history. Detroit had finished 51 points ahead of the Blues that season and no team in hockey history had lost a series to a team after finishing so far ahead of them.

I was working the game that night in my capacity as the radio host for all non-play by play elements of the broadcast on WJR and the Detroit Red Wings Hockey Network, which is a fancy way of saying I handled the pre and post game shows and the intermissions. In other words, during the games when Bruce Martyn and Paul Woods weren’t on the air, I was. I don’t know how they do it these days, but back then my “studio” was in a ladies bathroom located right across the hall from the Red Wings locker room, known universally in hockey-speak simply as “The Room.” As in: “So-and so is a good guy in the room.”

Why I was broadcasting from a bathroom is another story. We had been set up for broadcast when the season began in the Olympia Room, but after some of the fans had voiced their displeasure on-air after an early-season loss or two—we had a live microphone so fans at the venue could be a part of the show—my boss got a call from Wings President Jimmy Devellano telling us we were out: There would be no more of this having fans speak truth to power. So, with limited options for a new broadcast location, we set up shop in a ladies room (one that was not open for use during hockey games, thank goodness) across the hall from The Room. On the one hand it was a little embarrassing doing a broadcast from a bathroom, but on the other, since it was right across the hall from The Room, it was always good in terms of player access. We could usually get one or more of the guys to come by to go on the air with us after games.

On this particular night, I did the intermission segment between the first and second overtimes and, as was my habit, waited a few moments for the Wings to leave The Room and head down the tunnel to the ice. I would always wait for the team to exit first. I can’t remember if I did that for luck or if it was simply so I wouldn’t get in the players way in the narrow corridor. To be honest, it might have been both.

That night, as I did on many nights, I was watching the game from the aisle next to the front row at the Zamboni end. I had a couple of friends who sat in the front row just a couple of seats off the aisle and I’d go visit them and I noticed one night that once the game started nobody kicked me out so I sort of made it a habit to sit there. I kept waiting for an usher to come down and tell me to get the hell out of there, but none ever did and so, what with it being a front-row seat (even if it was not, per se, a seat) it was a great place to sit and so I stayed.

After I threw it back to the booth for the second OT, and after I waited for the players to return to the ice, I left my studio in the ladies room and headed back towards my “seat.” Just as I got to the section entrance, I heard to roar of the crowd and I could see the red light flashing and I knew that Detroit had won. What I didn’t know is how they won. I hadn’t seen the goal. Here I am, about to go on the air to host the post-game show and all I know is Detroit had won 1-0. In effect, I was about to go on the air knowing less about the game than anybody in the entire arena!

I remember asking anybody I saw, “Who scored?” Enough people told me, “Yzerman,” that I went with it. I got an official score sheet a few moments after my part of the broadcast had begun and it was confirmed what I needed to know: Detroit goal by Steve Yzerman at 1:15 of the second overtime.

So, I missed the whole thing. But, I didn’t mind. It made for a good story, at least. Bad reporting, but a good story.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Around the League with Rich Kincaide (Quickie Edition)

A shoutout to the Red Sox this morning which scored 12 runs before making an out in the 6th inning last night to overcome a 2-1 Indians lead at the Fed and to set an all-time AL record for Most Runs Scored Before A Batter Made an Out, and to tie some NL team which also put up a dozen before a single batter had been outed – back in 18-freaking-83 which I’m not sure even counts to begin with. 

Hon Men to Andy Pettite for giving up 4 homrs in a game for the fist time in his career (432 starts/442 appearances) and to Mariano Rivera for giving up homers back-to-back for the first time in his career (863 appearances)and to Yankee Stadium for surrendering 47 homers in only 13 games.  The Yankees and their new yard are going to make a travesty of the game at this rate.

LA w/out ManRam?  They looked okay at first, batting around to score 6 in the botom of the first against the Nationals, only to later blow that 6-0 lead and lose for the first time at home this season, 11-9 to DC.  Ended is LA's MLB-record streak of 13 straight home wins to start a season.   

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What He Said

Here's the deal:  I heard from the editor and they liked it just fine.  If it's been posted yet I haven't seen it, so, since I know everyone has been waiting with baited breath, here's what I wrote for that new website I'm "trying out" for...


Around the League with Rich Kincaide

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again…”

“Terence Mann” (played by James Earl Jones) from Field of Dreams

Nice speech, James Earl. It turns out not to have been true, but nice speech nonetheless.

The game, “the constant through all the years”, has changed.

Last week, Tigers’ starter Edwin Jackson did not venture out of the dugout for the 7th inning at Comerica Park in spite of the fact that he was locked in the very definition of a pitchers duel against New York: a scoreless tie through six. (The Detroit bullpen promptly made baseball history in the top of the 7th, allowing the Yankees to score 10 runs—although to be fair only 7 of them were earned—as Detroit became the first team in American League history to allow at least ten runs in another teams at-bat in a game in which the score was 0-0 in the 7th inning or later. The Tigers, as you may have heard, lost.)

Why did Jackson get the hook? Simple. He’d pitched 117 pitches and when it comes to heaving the spherical object from 60’ 6” these days, that statistic, the Pitch Count, is the only stat that counts. It’s not just Detroit Manager Jim Leyland, either. It’s the game. Baseball has changed.

Last Friday night, Jake Peavy of the Padres was pulled after 8 innings in the midst of a two-hit shutout. He’d thrown101 pitches, you see. Peavy’s mound foe, LA’s Clayton Kershaw, lasted seven shutout innings. He’d allowed only four hits and had yet to offer up his 100th delivery of the night. On Sunday in San Francisco, it mattered not that the Giants Barry Zito was twirling a gem: a two-hit shutout through 7. Zito, having lobbed it up there 101 times just like Peavy had, did not come out to start the 8th. The opposing pitcher, Colorado’s Jason Hammel, exactly as Detroit’s Jackson had been against the Yankees five days earlier, was pulled after six in 0-0 ballgame. Hammel’s pitch count? 79.

I’m got to tell you something. I’ve known Major League pitchers who wouldn’t have given it a second thought if they’d thrown 179 pitches through six as long as the other team was goose-egged. They’d be staying in the ballgame.

Seriously, can you imagine what would have happened if Jack Morris had a shutout going through 6 and Sparkly Anderson informed him that he would not be answering the bell for the 7th inning? I’ll tell you what: A fistfight in the dugout.

In 1963, Juan Marichal threw a 16-inning complete game. Do you suppose he did that in 100 pitches or less? If they even kept a Pitch Count back then and I don’t think they did (and if they did I can’t find it) I read somewhere that Marichal said he was certain he’d thrown at least 250 pitches in that game and probably more. His opponent that day, Warren Spahn, only went 15-and-a-third innings. That’s because some guy named Willie Mays took him deep in the bottom of the 16th inning for the game’s only run in a 1-0 San Francisco win. I think it’s safe to say Spahn threw slightly more than 100 pitches, also.

Marichal, whose 1963 line included 25 wins and 18 complete games, pitched for 15 years in the Majors; won more games (191) than any other pitcher in the 1960’s and is in the Hall of Fame. Spahn, who was 42 the day he went 15-and-a-third in what has to be one of the hardest-luck losses ever, only won 23 games that season. Perhaps it occurred to him at some point that if the result of that one game had been reversed he and Marichal would have each won 24? In any event, Spahn retired as the winningest left-handed pitcher in big-league history with a career win total of 363. He’s in the Hall, too. Of course.

Now, 46 springs later, if you want see a guy to finish what he started, you have to look to Zach Greinke of the Royals, he of the 6-0 record and the 0.40 ERA. (Really? A 0.40 ERA when you are one-third of an inning off the league lead in innings pitched? 2 earned runs allowed and it’s May?) Through Tuesday, 85 pitchers had started at least one of the 186 games played this season in the American League. Only 5 of those186 games (2.7%) have featured a 9-inning complete game and only 3 pitchers have done it. Greinke himself has thrown 3. His highest pitch count in any game this season is111, meaning he seems to be the only pitcher out there who knows that if you want to be there a the end one must do it with both dispatch and efficiency.

Finally, somebody asked me about the Wings/Ducks series and I told them the thing that worried me the most about Anaheim was not that the Ducks had outplayed the Sharks in becoming the eighth 8th seed to knock off a #1 seed since San Jose became the first team to do it against Detroit in 1994 (they did), nor was it that their goaltender stopped 220 of 230 Sharks shots (95.7%), nor was it that next to Detroit the Ducks had more players on their roster (12) who had already won a Stanley Cup than any other team in the playoffs. No, it was none of those things. What scared me the most about the Ducks was the name of the arena where Anaheim plays their home games. I heard somebody who should know better call it “The Pond” the other day on the radio. Sorry, it’s not. It’s called the Honda Center. With the way things are going in Detroit and with the way things are going over at General Motors right now, does that strike anybody else besides me as, well, ominous? Could it perhaps be unlucky? Did anybody besides me stay up to see the end of Game 3 there? Would you say what will forevermore be known in Detroit as “The Washout” qualifies as unlucky?

I heard another radio guy a couple of days ago refer to the Ducks goalie as “Miller”. Uh, sorry, it’s Hiller. I’m pretty sure you spell it G-I-G-U-E-R-E.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pre-Game Jitters

I am about to write my debut column for "yournews-dot-com and I have to me admit to being a little nervous. Some of the writers who I will be joining are ex-of the two major dailies in this town, Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, so this is my shot at playing with the big-leaguers.

I'm sure I'll be fine. I know I can do this. It's just like when I'm getting ready for a hockey game. As soon as I face that first shot I'll be fine. Or, in this case, as soon as I solve my first tricky subject-verb agreement issue, the nerves will disappear.

I think I have something to say. Time will tell. In any event, I view this as a great opportunity. Once the piece is posted I'll put up the link and you can let me know if I'm right about that. Or not.

Monday, May 4, 2009

You're Fifteen (You're Beautiful, and You're Mine, at Least For Now)

I only had a wife for 17 days. As most of you girls know, according to wedding etiquette a woman is a bride for the entirety of her first year of her marriage. Well, 17 days after Jeannie and I had our first anniversary, our daughter Laura was born and it was on that day that I learned that I no longer had a wife. I was, instead, merely married to somebody's mom.

Laura, our babe, came into this world fifteen years ago this morning.

I was scared to death the night before she was born. Doctors had told us they would perform a c-section the following morning if the drugs they were giving Jeannie failed to induce birth. Laura wasn't due for almost two more months and we still had a couple of birthing classes left to go. The last of them involved a tour of the hospital maternity ward. That evening as I sat in Jeannie's hospital room, the tour happened to come by. I jumped right in. The tour ended at the nursery and I was disheartened as I looked at all the newborns because they didn't do a thing for me. Nothing. And I thought, "My God, you are going to have one of those tomorrow. Is this how you are going to feel?" I was worried about it all night and I had all night to worry. Jeannie never did fall asleep and I stayed up with her.

As I said, Laura was a bit of a preemie. At birth, which is to say at the time she was yanked out of the womb by a surgeon, she was a little blueish in hue. She flunked her APGAR test -- among the questions: "Is the baby breathing properly?" that the nurses give all the little babies as soon as they are born -- and I am pleased to report that The APGAR is the only test she has ever flunked. However, since she was not breathing properly, she was whisked her away to the neo-natal intensive care unit with me walking beside the stretcher. The little, tiny baby stretcher. I left poor Jeannie to fend for herself in the operating theatre with the words, "Gotta, go. We've got a baby to look out for here!"

They put a little baby oxegyn mask on her tiny little face and I remember I felt badly because, even though they were using the smallest one they had, it was still scrunching up one of her eyes. They put her in an incubator and told me she'd be in there for about 5 hours. I was there when they took her out later in the day and I'll never forget it. She was the pinkest, most beautiful little thing I'd ever seen and I never had another worry. I took one look at her and said to myself, "That kid is as healthy as a horse."

Laura was in the hospital for nine days. I remember I played hockey one night and drove straight from the rink to the hospital in my wet hockey clothes because I didn't want to miss her midnight feeding. I remember that you had to scrub your hands for ten minutes before you could go in the nursery. One day, the woman next to me only scrubbed for eight-and-a-half and I called her on it. She was not happy. I did not care.

I remember the night before we were to bring her home, Jeannie and I were sitting in the hospital parking lot. There was an astronomical display for us: A crescent moon with three stars, perhaps planets, who knows, inside the crescent. A sign, it seemed to us. I said to my wife, or rather, I said to Laura's mom, "I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but I never knew you could love anything as much as I love that little girl." Jeannie said, "I feel that same way."

We've always been on that same page. I have been proud to be her father every single day of these past 15 years. von Ebers once wrote of his little girl that he was as proud of her as any father could be of his daughter. He phrased it exactly right. I am, too. Of mine that is. I'm sure Dave's daughter is terrific and all, but it's a whole 'nother ballgame when it's yours. That's the lesson of the hospital nursery.