Sports Digest by Bill Byham

Sport announcer and writer Bill Byham

Sport announcer and writer Bill Byham

LIVING ON THE BLACK – We were out running some errands. Walked on the car port and on our table was a book that someone had delivered. No note. Nothing. Just the book. On the front cover I am looking at an action shot of right handed Mike Mussina letting go a pitch. Under that photo was the book title -LIVING ON THE BLACK. Underneath that was a sub title – Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember. The book was authored by John Feinstein who is noted for being a New York Times Best Selling Author. At the bottom of that front cover a photo of Tom Glavine as his pitch leaves his left hand.Inside the cover it tells me this John Feinstein has written 22 books, many of them of a sport nature. I had read one of those called THE LAST AMATEURS which dealt with smaller college basketball and used, as a focus point, schools like Bucknell.

I had thought that long time sidekick, Mike Fogarty, had left the book as he had told me about it as a “must read” but he said he can’t remember it. (That lack of memory probably comes from it being a “long must read on my part”.

I am passing those same words on to you. It is a must read IF you are a good baseball fan, if pitching baseball is of great interest to you, if you are either a Mussina or Glavine fan, if you have an interest in two humans employed as major league baseball pitchers who are not at their glorious best over a chosen season.

While I am very respectful of the Glavine career (over 300 wins, etc.) it is the Mussina story that carried me through the 508 pages (including the Epilogue) that most interested me.

He is the local story. Coming from the Montoursville Little League to star for the Carter Giles Montoursville Warriors in high school where he often pitched with more than a dozen hungry pro scouts aiming their speed gun on him on every pitch. Stanford University where he graduated early and came into professional baseball with the Baltimore organization.

Eighteen years later, 270 wins , his first 20 win season, 15 consecutive years of winning 10 or more games and has those four world series rings to wear. He is now unemployed, no options on his last contract that ran out on the last day of this 2008 season. A major life changing decision out in front of him.

LIVING ON THE BLACK is all about the 2007 season. Not a good season for Mussina. Just eleven wins and, at one juncture in the season, Joe Torre removed him from the rotation and sent him to long relief out of the bullpen.

When it was over he said to Feinstein, “Right now I don’t see myself pitching after next year (1980, end of contract). I’m not going to be close enough to 300, even if i have a good year that I’m going to want to come back for two more years, realistically three more years. I’d be 42 and our oldest son will be a teenager by then, My youngest son is close behind. I don’t want to come home just when they are saying “See ya, Dad!”.

The Yankees, as you might know, are in a pitching shambles. Their young studs have a lot of maturing to go so an offer might be there for Mussina.

The Yankee web page quoted Mussina last week as saying, “It could be my last year, it may not be my last year. When you get to your 18th season, it could always be your last season. I’m not going to bounce around and try to scratch out something that still may never happen.” Stay? – Retire?

SHHHHHHHHHH-DON’T TELL THE MAC – Chances are the Middle Atlantic Conference is already well aware of the fact that the Lycoming College Warriors have sent a clear message that they are in the hunt for the 2008 MAC championship but if they haven’t heard the Warriors plan to let them in on the secret as the season progresses.

“We are just two games in conference play, ” said an elated Mike Clark after his Warriors defeated favorite Albright, “but we have been saying since January we have a good football team and we are aiming at the conference title. Its has not been any secret to us how we are playing.”

The Saturday win, before a happy Homecoming crowd, was the second conference win in a row and the fourth in a row overall. Lycoming, stepping into the conference as a fifth place pre season pick has now defeated the Number 1 and Number 2 ranked teams in Widener and Albright.

The Lions brought with them a highly skilled ball club that was averaging some 40 points per game behind the passing, running and punting of Tanner Kelly, a stern defense and a well coached special teams unit.

Clark had said before the game, “That kid (Kelly) is dangerous from any place on the field. I will tell you that the only time he doesn’t make me nervous is when he is on the sidelines and we have the ball.”

Kelly did his best but Lycoming’s defense, sparked by Nick Reed shut him down for all but the last two minutes of the game. They also shut down the rest of the offense and used kicker Scott Ericson and his own band of special teamers to shut Albright off on long run backs.

Meanwhile Josh Kleinfelter (132 rushing yards, TD) and Colin Dwyer (9-19 for 119 yards, TD) moved the Warrior offense into the win column.

The Warriors now prep for Wilkes at Wilkes next Saturday.

– Thats 30 –

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: