The Baseball Life of the Cangy Man

I’d always thought that Rickey Henderson held the AL rookie stolen-base record… until it was pointed out to me that John Cangelosi broke the AL mark in his rookie season in 1986.

IMG_3111I was thinking, “What? Didn’t Rickey Henderson steal 100 bases in his rookie year?” Well, the man they call the “Man of Steal” did swipe 100 bases in 1980, but that was his second big-league season (or first full season)… as he’d already exceeded his rookie limits the year before by playing in 89 games.

So, John Cangelosi, a man who finished his career with 154 stolen bases, at one point held the AL rookie stolen-base record? Yes, that’s right.

And I wrote a book about Cangelosi and his inspirational baseball career, and that book came out late last week.

Talk about an inspirational story. Listed as 5’8″, Cangelosi wasn’t even supposed to make it to pro baseball, but he got there and stayed long enough to break that aforementioned record (with 50 steals in 1986), frustrate the likes of Jack Morris and Roger Clemens and John Smoltz (and even legendary manager Sparky Anderson), and, near the end of his career, win a World Series in his hometown.

And the guy was 5’8″!

A centerfielder and switch-hitter, Cangelosi played for the White Sox, Pirates, Rangers, Mets, Astros, Marlins, and Rockies.

Now, his career statistics – 2004 at-bats, 501 hits, 12 HR, 134 RBI, .250 batting average – don’t look impressive (yes, yes, guys hit a lot more home runs in a single round during the Home Run Derby at the All-Star break), but, remember, Cangelosi was competing for playing time during an era where guy were a lot bigger and teams were looking for guys who could hit the ball out of the ballpark! At his size, Cangelosi wasn’t going to hit home runs, and his game was using his speed. In that era, the game was heading more toward… home runs, home runs, and more home runs.

And we’ve got to remember, Cangelosi competed against home-run hitters for roster spots at the height of 5’8″… Had he played in the era of social media, this guy could have achieved legendary status. But he played in the 1980s and 1990s, when not every game is available on TV. He had a good run, but didn’t get the attention that he deserved.

Well, the good news is that we can relive John Cangelosi’s career in my new book. 🙂

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Can we say â€ślaziness”?

This has got to be the worst take of the week.

It’s a different sport, but that’s why Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots have been so successful since 2001. Belichick has his team practice situational football — so that when that situation comes up, the players know how to respond.

You have athletes that don’t want to prepare like the pitcher who posted that tweet above, and it’s a sign of not being committed and not being a winner.

No, he didn’t come right out and say it wasn’t worth his time to practice bunt defense, but it’s implied based on the way the tweet was written.

#gutless

NFL: Donovan McNabb shouldn’t be criticized for giving his honest assessment…

There was some controversy in Philadelphia over the weekend when former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb opined on CBS Radio on Saturday that the franchise should consider drafting another quarterback if Carson Wentz couldn’t lead the team past the second round of the playoffs in the next two seasons.

Of course, in this day and age of social media, McNabb’s take drew criticism from others, including eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson on Twitter. Johnson then went on a radio station on Sunday to call out McNabb and other former Eagles players for criticizing current players on the team.

Now, I have to say that I don’t blame McNabb for giving his honest opinion and insights. McNabb, after all, guided the Eagles franchise to seven playoff appearances and a trip to the Super Bowl following the 2004 season. He was a proven winner in Philadelphia and in the NFL, and the fact that he played in the league for as long as he did certainly proves that he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to evaluating what he sees.

I mean, what he sees on the field would be valuable analysis – that’s precisely why networks bring in former players to do commentary.

It’s better than an athlete being a homer and with Donovan McNabb being asked a question on a radio show, he gave his honest assessment and shouldn’t be criticized for that.

I remember early in the 2018 season when poor place-kicking cost the Minnesota Vikings a game, and ex-Vikings great Cris Carter was on television passionately saying the kicker needed to be cut right away. That emotion probably stemmed from Carter’s own experience in the 1998 season when his 15-1 Vikings lost the NFC championship game after Gary Anderson missed what would have been an insurance field-goal attempt late in regulation.

That would not be what I would like to see or hear from an analyst when it comes to sports takes, having emotion cloud his judgement.

But that’s just how I see it – so shame on those who criticized Donovan McNabb over the weekend.

More NHL first-round action…

On Wednesday, Calgary blew a 2-1 lead and lost 3-2 in overtime, falling behind its first-round series 3-1 against Colorado.

The Flames’ overtime struggles in playoff competition – and lack of playoff success, period – are really no surprise… you wonder if they’ve been cursed since their 1989 Cup victory. It seems they can’t win in the playoffs, or if they go into overtime in the playoffs, they lose (other than during their run in 2004).

This particular series in 2018-19 reminds me of the 1989-90 playoffs, when that season’s Flames were also the No. 1 seed in their own conference. Facing the L.A. Kings, they were tied 1-1 after the first two games in Calgary. The Flames then lost 2-1 in overtime in Game Three, and were blown out 12-4 in the fourth game to fall 3-1.

This season, it’s backwards. Tied 1-1, Calgary got blown out 6-2 in the third game and then lost the fourth contest 3-2 in OT. Anyway, an OT loss as well as a blowout loss on the road… and suddenly the Flames are down 3-1.

But it’s interesting how the Flames always seem to lose in playoff OT games… they did so in the third game in Montreal in the 1989 Finals before rallying to win that series. They lost big playoff OT games in 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, and 1996… and lost the clinching game in OT in all of those springs.

I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same, for Calgary.

NHL Series Sweeps

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh getting swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Tuesday night came as big shockers, but once again the playoffs are always unpredictable in hockey.

In particular, the Lightning tying the 1995-96 Red Wings’ single-season mark of 62 wins had many people thinking Tampa was going all the way. There were, in fact, a few articles that came out in recent weeks suggesting Tampa Bay was the greatest NHL team ever because of what the club was doing this season… but c’mon….

But ahhh… this goes back to how the winningest teams in the four professional sports leagues never won the title that year… whether it was the 2001 Mariners, those same Red Wings and now the Lightning, the 2007 Patriots, and the Warriors team that blew the 3-1 series lead to Cleveland in the NBA Finals.

I have no rooting interest here, so I’ll say that Tampa’s meltdown is something that should please fans of the 1992-93 Bruins. When Boston that year got swept by Buffalo in the first round, I remember there was talk about how the Bruins were the first team ever to win 50 games and then get swept in the playoffs. Well, the Lightning of 2018-19 won 62 and then nothing in the playoffs, so at least that takes those B’s off the hook.

And the other series – Pittsburgh vs. Islanders – was a shocker too… The Isles had a great season, but c’mon… New York had accomplished something that it couldn’t do when John Tavares was there. Now with Tavares in Toronto, the Isles are doing what they’re doing… simply amazing. I’m guessing this is New York’s first sweep since the 1983 team swept the Oilers in the Cup Finals.

We’ll see what other upsets occur the rest of the way…

A big problem in our society: Parents and Schools encouraging kids to “hate”

Instead of encouraging children to be positive and have a good attitude, some parents and schools are apparently doing the opposite.

In the story about a 10-year-old winning his science fair by proving New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady “cheated,” the boy stated that he hated Brady and said the future Hall of Fame QB didn’t deserve his money. “Gimme some of your money; you don’t deserve it,” the boy was quoted as saying in the story.

Wow. Give me a break. I’m guessing the parents encouraged him to do this science project knowing he hated the quarterback. “Hate” is always a strong word, but if parents are okay with 10-year-olds expressing hate, our society will have a big problem.

The school should be ashamed for allowing him to win. The boy hates Brady, so can his scientific findings be reliable when he has so much bias? And the fact he was allowed to win when he has hatred is just inappropriate.

Think about this: If we are encouraging kids to be biased in their research – which clearly is the case here – what does that tell us about the results of the research? It will likely be twisted to suit the “hater’s” agenda.

Finally, the comment about giving “some of your money; you don’t deserve it”: So, what makes the kid thinks he deserves that money? Just because he used his bias to cook up a biased research project? Or, just because he hates Tom Brady? Where is the logic in that?

The bottom line is this is a good example of poor parenting and a bad job by the school.

Welcome to the society and world we live in.

Things we saw in October…

The NFL is a week-to-week thing… every week has a new narrative. Remember how after the first two weeks of the 2018 season, when Pittsburgh began 0-1-1? Many of those analysts were predicting gloom and doom for the Steelers. Well, going into their huge AFC North matchup today in Baltimore, the Steelers are sitting atop the division at 4-2-1, just ahead of Cincinnati (5-3).

The Browns, who at 2-5-1 are at the bottom of the division, are who we thought they were…

Speaking of slow starts, wow – the Lakers’ Magic Johnson makes George Steinbrenner look like a saint… With the Lakers beginning slowly at 2-5, Johnson has apparently lost patience with coach Luke Walton. I mean, c’mon, the Lakers aren’t expected to be legitimate contenders and it’s early in the season….  Yes, I saw Magic play during his NBA career, but as an executive or fan, he’s not that great. He was the one cheering for Mike D’Antoni to be fired from the Lakers years earlier, wasn’t he? That’s exactly my point. Magic was a great player, but as an observer/fan/executive, he strikes me as a guy who just isn’t patient.

Ahhh.. Steve Pearce. World Series MVP. I’m sure throughout the summer, the buzz in Toronto (and the rest of Canada where Blue Jays fans reside) was something like, “What can the Blue Jays get for Josh Donaldson?” and “Donaldson will make a contending team a winner,” etc.

I was on TSN1040 during the summer, suggesting that teams that win the World Series, traditionally, have had under-the-radar pickups more often than those big mid-season acquisitions. For 2018, I was looking at Tyler Clippard, John Axford, Seunghwan Oh, etc. as possible difference makers. Maybe even a guy like Curtis Granderson. Okay, I was wrong. It turned out the biggest difference maker was Steve Pearce!! He had a hot few games and wound up helping the Red Sox win the World Series.

Man, it must be painful for those Blue Jays fans… they must have been rooting for Cleveland, with Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion being the two former Jays in the Indians lineup. Instead, it was David Price (who failed to deliver in the playoffs for Toronto) and Steve Pearce with their AL East rivals!!

Again, don’t trade within the division (ie. Toronto trading Pearce to Boston). It might make your fans cry in October…

Anytime someone brings up the need for a team to pick up a big name at the trade deadline to put itself over the top, I will just bring up two words. Steve Pearce.

Back to the NFL – an intriguing matchup on Sunday night with Green Bay vs. New England. Hours before that, Rams vs. Saints in what could be a potential NFC Championship Game matchup. The dream matchup would be a Patriots-Saints Super Bowl. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!