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Monday, December 21, 2009

Ted Williams' head... and other stuff


In reviewing all the happenings in sports over the past decade, perhaps the strangest is the 2002 headline: Ted Williams Dies. Head Frozen. What an ignoble end for perhaps baseball's all-time greatest hitter who, twice in his career, took time off and, as a Marine pilot, become a World War II hero. The Splendid Splinter, or Ted, as I like to call him, was the last man to bat .400 in 1941. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but Ted died in 2002 at age 83.

Now here's where the weird part comes in. Ted wanted his body frozen so that many years down the line, when science comes up with a way to cure "old age," Ted could be brought back from his state of er, brittleness, and live again... perhaps even bat .400 once more. Let me tell you right now... ain't gonna happen.

You see, even when technology allows (wink, wink,) word has it that someone at the cryogenic plant bashed (perhaps accidentally--benefit of the doubt) a wrench into his frozen head, which had been perhaps accidentally separated from his body. Poor Ted. Post death, he could see the stitches on a baseball pitched to him at 100-mph. Now, he didn't even see this coming.

Among other bizarre sports happenings, the U.S. mens basketball team finished SIXTH in the '02 world championships on its home court in Indianapolis! So much for world dominance there.

Fan turned villain, Steve Bartman reached for an almost-in-play foul ball at one of the rare Cub post-season games and probably cost those lovable losers their first-- and perhaps only-- shot at the World Series in my lifetime. And to rub it in even more, Boston won.

Pro quarterback Michael Vick killed dogs. NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on games he officiated. And  hundreds of major league baseball players were caught, or thought to use performance enhancing illegal steroids, setting records that some believed were unbreakable  (except for Cub favorite Sammy Sosa, who spoke poor English and no doubt, didn't understand the situation). Yes, it was the birth of the footnote in the record books: "Asterisk denotes records broken by cheaters."

Oh yeah, The Detroit Lions had their first perfect season, 0-16, about the same time all the auto plants in the neighborhood bet their shirts on a Super Bowl... and lost, big time. And a Dallas high school girls basketball team won a game 100 to nothing, once again proving a good defense is hard to beat.

Thank God we still have that bastion of honor sports, golf. Whoops. Scratch that.

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