Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – December 19, 2013


I felt despair while recording today’s episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

My betting slips for the World Series went through the wash. Uh oh.

Also, the San Francisco Giants have a chance to join elite company in history if they win another World Series this decade.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – December 19, 2013

Shaq and Kobe = Ruth and Gehrig

This is the story of two teammates.
One was larger than life, both physically and in his personality.

He started his career in one city and had some success there but some people questioned his focus and discipline.

He moved to another city where he relished being in the spotlight. He did endorsements, appeared in movies, and became a beloved big kid who was having more fun than anyone could imagine.

Sometimes he was out of shape and some people wondered if the game had his full attention. But nobody could doubt his production. He put up numbers that were as gigantic as his body and personality. And multiple championships followed.

He was paired with a teammate who was also great. His teammate was focused, educated and had an unmatched work ethic. He did endorsements and appearances but never seemed to embrace it. He just wanted to play, play hard and win.

He may not have been the larger than life physical specimen that his teammate was, but he never broke down, played day in and day out and put up amazing numbers on his own.

Eventually the two teammates became estranged and no longer talked to each other.
The big fellow moved on. Free from the large shadow, the more focused teammate had his best years.

No longer the sidekick, he became the MVP and led his storied team to multiple titles on his own with a brand new cast of characters.

Meanwhile the larger than life guy was a broken down shell of himself, playing out the string in Boston when he called it quits. But when he retired he was a champion in two different cities, put up amazing numbers and was the most fun to watch player of his generation.

Who was I talking about?
Shaq and Kobe?
Or Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

With Shaq’s retirement, there was an insane conversation on 710 ESPN in Los Angeles of whether or not Shaq underachieved. (As if being in the top 5 of scoring, winning 3 Finals MVPs and leading 3 different franchises to the NBA Finals and winning the NBA MVP is the resume of a slacker.)

But people who criticize Shaq based on his weight and based on his being kind of a goofball are missing the joy that was Shaq and probably would have trashed Ruth for all of HIS off field antics.

They were both big kids who LOVED being who they were.

They were big, positive and fun. And backed it up with winning and piling up championships.

There is something to be said about being substantive on the field (or court) and being a big crowd pleaser as well. Yes we love to have players who are all business and eat, breathe and defecate their sport.

But having a showman who can back up the bravado is so much fun. They were not the equivalent of, say, Brian Bosworth who had the brash self promotion but couldn’t translate it onto the field.

They were the epitome of “It isn’t bragging if you can back it up.”

And lest we forget, these are fun GAMES and Shaq and the Babe were having FUN playing games. And I know it was fun to watch Shaq, even when he was a Laker.

If the more serious player is more of your style, then you are probably a Kobe lover… or would have preferred Gehrig.

Kobe was raised all over the world, speaks different languages and has a singular purpose… winning basketball games.

Likewise Gehrig was Ivy League educated and refused to take himself out of a game.

But their contrasting styles to Shaq and the Babe were also aesthetically pleasing. Two very different kind of superstars, both physically and in personality.

For Laker fans I am sure it was fun to see Shaq and Kobe together.
No doubt it was fun for Yankee fans to see Ruth and Gehrig together.

And let’s be thankful that both kinds of superstars can exist.

Ruth and Gehrig patched up their differences when Lou was dying.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that with Shaq and Kobe.

I have written a blog post that is basically a love letter to Laker and Yankee greatness.

If you will excuse me, I am going to throw up.
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I can’t tell what I love most about the Lakers 3-0 hole

There are so many wonderful things about this Lakers collapse, I can’t pick what is the best part.

– The Lakers are a loss away from a monumental face plant and doing it because the team is imploding from within.

– The Lakers are a loss away from having Phil Jackson’s career end with a whimper. Red Auerbach’s coaching career ended with the 1966 NBA Title. See the difference?

– The Lakers are a loss away from forever ending any talk of Kobe Bryant being on the same level as Michael Jordan. Kobe is a great player. A Hall of Famer. But would Jordan be swept out of the playoffs like this?

– The Lakers are a loss on Sunday away from making last Wednesday’s 93-81 fiasco their last home game of the year. That would mean the last game Phil Jackson coached at home, the Lakers got booed by the remaining fans in Staples at the end of the game.

– The Lakers call in show on 710 ESPN are filled with fans complaining about refs calls and intense denial. Schadenfreude is fun.

– Because the Lakers are down 0-3 in the series, there is talk about how no NBA team has ever come back from that. But guess what other team they brought up? What other team came back from an 0-3 hole? I’ll give you a hint… they don’t bring up the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers.

That’s right. My 2004 Red Sox! So I get to hear about Laker misery and how they probably won’t match Red Sox heroics.

It doesn’t get any better than that!

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