Image: USA TodayMLB: WWII Navy Veteran and Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller passed away in a Cleveland area hospice on Wednesday night. The 92 year old was suffering from acute leukemia and pneumonia.
Feller, a first ballot hall of famer, first appeared with the Indians at the age of 17 in 1936 and stayed with the Indians his whole career. His career totals of 266 wins, 3,827 innings pitched, 2,581 strikeouts and 279 complete games remain a franchise record to this day.
The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Feller enlisted in the United States Navy and ended up as a Gun captain serving on the USS Alabama until 1945.
"I'm proud of that decision to enlist," Feller said. "It was important to serve your country. I didn't worry about losing my baseball career. We needed to win the war. I wanted to do my part."Feller also was on the last Indians team to win a World Series title. Although he went 0-2 in the 1948 World Series against the Boston Braves of the NL, Cleveland would go on to win the series 4 games to 2.
Feller never considered himself a war hero: "The soldiers that didn't come back were the heroes. It's a roll of the dice. If a bullet has your name on it, you're a hero. If you hear a bullet go by, you're a survivor."
Feller would retire in 1956 and go on be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. In 1995, a museum in his hometown of Van Meter, IA opened up and in retirement, 'Bullet Bob' or 'The Heater from Van Meter'- as Feller was sometimes referred to in his playing days- was a regular fixture around Cleveland's Jacobs Field.
ELSEWHERE IN MLB: Just when it was looking like highly prized free agent pitcher Cliff Lee had to choose between the Yankees or Rangers, the Philadelphia Phillies swooped in- seemingly from out of nowhere- and signed Lee to a 5 year $120 million deal.
In taking the Phillies offer, Lee leaves an estimated $30 million on the table that the Yankees were offering and leaves the Bronx Bombers scrambling to try and find any big-name free agent they could sign this offseason. I imagine this signing is a particularly bitter pill to swallow in the Big Apple, not only for the blow to the Yankees, but also the fact that the NY Mets are on the same division against a team that features a starting rotation of Roy Halliday, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and....um......Joe Blanton? OK....you gotta admit the first four are pretty formidable.
*The Washington Nationals have signed free agent right-fielder Jayson Werth to a 7 year, $126 million contract this week. In his final season with the Phillies, Werth had a .296 batting average with 27 homers and 85 RBI
NFL: Brett Favre's streak of consecutive regular-season starts was snapped Monday night in Detroit when the Vikings home field was moved from the collapsed roof of the Metrodome to Detroit's Ford Field. The streak that began on September 13, 1992 on the road against Tampa Bay unceremoniously came to and end as backup QB Tavaris Jackson and the Vikings offense sputtered in their 21-3 loss to the NY Giants.
That was actually Game 1 of a rare late-season Monday Night doubleheader (although unless you had DirecTV or Sirius/XM, the Vikings/Giants game was only broadcast in NY and the Twin Cities). The regularly scheduled Monday Night game got underway in Houston's Reliant Stadium shortly after Favre's streak was snapped
And while I have not rooting interest in either team, the nationally televised Monday Night Football game between the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans got very interesting very late.
The Ravens took a 21-7 lead into halftime and almost immediately added to that with a 103 yard kickoff return by Baltimore's David Reed to make it a 28-7 game. At this point, the casual observer would've figured it was over, shut off the TV and found something else to do.....clean up around their place, go to a Christmas party, update their crappy blog.....anything but continue to watch this one-sided ass kicking.
In all honesty, I didn't tune in until the score was 28-13 Baltimore, but wouldn't you know it? That Reed kickoff return was it for the scoring for Baltimore in the second half. Texans QB Matt Schaub engineered two drives in the 4th quarter- including one from their own 5 yard line with 2:42 remaining in regulation- to tie the game with a successful 2 point conversion attempt with 21 seconds left in the 4th.
So on to overtime- Baltimore's offense gets the ball to start off the OT, but the drive sputters when Ravens QB Joe Flacco [who just happens to be a Colonial Athletic Association alumnus- NANESB!] was sacked for an 11 yard loss on 3rd and 10 from Baltimore's own 41 yard line. Texans get the ball back, but thanks to a pretty good punt and shoddy return by Texans special teams, they're pinned inside their own 10 yard line. Schaub's first pass attempt falls incomplete. His next pass attempt is complete to Ravens CB Josh Wilson, who runs the interception back 12 yards for the Ravens TD in a 34-28 OT win.
NHL: The only Sabre to get on the board against the Bruins on Wednesday night was returning RW Drew Stafford, but that's all Buffalo would need. Stafford injured his shoulder in a November game against Montreal, and while returning in a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Stafford re-aggravated the injury. The Wednesday night game would mark his first time back on the ice since Dec 3rd.
And apparently he decided to celebrate with a hat trick. David Krejci would open up the scoring in the first with a goal just two and a half minutes in, but Stafford got Buffalo on the board with a power-play goal to tie the contest up at 1-1 with less than 90 seconds left in the 1st. After a scoreless 2nd period, the Bruins briefly took the lead in the 3rd on a Micheal Ryder power play goal. Stafford would knot the contest back up with an even strength goal to make it 2-2 30 seconds after Ryder's tally and then put the Sabres up for good on his 2nd power play goal of the night midway through the 3rd with what would prove to be the game-winner.
Stafford scored his 3rd career hat trick and the Sabres win by a final of 3-2 at the HSBC arena on Wednesday night. Tukka Rask stopped 32 of 35 shots faced while Buffalo's Ryan Miller let in two on 34 shots faced.
This is the second straight loss for Boston, although they're still only two points behind Montreal for 1st place in the Northeastern division.
Speaking of Montreal, the Bruins will travel there for Thursday night's game. Puck drops at 7 PM Eastern time.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL: The Glendale, AZ City Council approved a 30 lease agreement with new Coyotes owner, Chicago financier Matt Hulsizer.
The City council's decision comes a few weeks before a December 31st deadline to find a new owner for the team or have it relocated. The city also asked the council to authorize the sale of up to $125 million in municipal bonds to accommodate the terms of the lease.
NBA: Yikes...they don't come much tighter than that.
Instead of rolling over as they had done so many times before for so many teams, The New York Knicks put up an uncharacteristically tenacious fight on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
And since I missed most of the game, might as well fast forward to where it really counts, with Paul Pierce hitting what he thought would be the game winning with all of 0.4 seconds left in the 4th. However, the Knicks Amare Stoudemire immediately heaved a 3 pointer that was good, but after the referees reviewed the videotape, they determined that the ball left Stoudemire's hands after the final buzzer had sounded.
Boston hangs on to win this one by a final of 118-116 for their 11th straight win. The Wednesday night win brings to an end the Knicks own, respectable win streak of 8 games.
The Celtics will next take on the Atlanta Hawks at home on Thursday night. For the 2nd week in a row, the C's will be broadcast nationally on TNT at 8 PM Eastern, 5 Pacific.