SPORTS TALK: Goodbye to Stan Mikita – one of the best ever

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You want even more good news from the cave rescue in Thailand? Sure.

Three of the boys and the head coach that were rescued from near-certain death were given Thai citizenship. It’s an odd story but apparently, the three players and the skipper were stateless and it’s because the national borders around Thailand have apparently changed, which leaves nationalities in question. In any event, it’s a great epilogue to a one of the best stories we’ve heard about in a long time.

Now on to a sad epilogue for one of the greatest hockey players of all time:

Slovakia’s greatest player

If you didn’t watch Stan Mikita play with the Chicago Blackhawks (like I didn’t) you will have remembered him in Wayne’s World as the owner of Stan Mikita’s Donuts. That I do recall. Clever spoof of Tim Hortons, eh?

Mikita was, however, one of the best players to ever grace the old Chicago Stadium and we’re now remembering him in the former sense for good. He died on Aug. 7 at the age of 78 after suffering from Lewy body dementia. He had been diagnosed with the condition in January 2015 and by June of that year, it became known that his memory was next to nil. Couldn’t even remember anything of his former life. So sad.

Stan Mikita takes the plaudits during an appearance in 2009. Mikita, who’s considered to be the best Slovak-born player to have ever played in the National Hockey League, died on Aug. 7 at the age of 78 and he will be honoured in some fashion. Bet on it. photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Mikita’s family escaped communist Czechoslovakia in 1948 and settled in St. Catharines, Ont., where he would go on to be a junior star in his hometown before becoming the highest-scoring Blackhawks player there ever was and the 14th best scorer of all time.

He was a feisty player in his younger days but changed his ways after coming home from a road trip. In his autobiography, he told the story of his wife telling him about how his daughter turned to her and asked why daddy was always sitting down. The camera had apparently shown Mikita in the penalty box.

After hockey, he became a golf pro and even founded his own business (no, not with donuts) called Stan Mikita Enterprises. The product which you’ve seen most often is when it comes to dunking your Chicken McNuggets at McDonald’s. Mikita’s company made the little plastic cups that the sauce comes in. Laugh if you will but that’s a contract more than a few companies would like to have.

His last days weren’t the ones you would wish on anyone else but you can bet the Blackhawks will be honouring him like no one else when the new NHL season comes around.

 

Was it worth the $80?

I’m often reminded of the great line delivered by David Niven at the 1974 Oscars when a streaker interrupted his introduction of the presenters for the Best Picture honour:
“Probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life was by stripping off and showing his shortcomings.”

That line is as true today as it was then and it’s appropriate when it comes to what happened at a Seattle Mariners game on Aug. 4. Yes, someone decided it would be a good idea to show what the good Lord gave him and then be tackled like an idiot. But that’s not the story. He apparently took a bet of $80 that he wouldn’t do it.

Here’s the other problem which will most likely haunt him forever: the streaker has been identified as an Irish citizen living in Vancouver. No big deal, you might say, but if he’s charged and convicted of even that crime, as threadbare as it may be, he will face deportation from Canada. No joke. So let’s recap: Irish national enters the U.S. from Canada to watch baseball game, takes dare of $80 to run on the field in his birthday suit, could get deported.

Never blame the Irish for having common sense. Take it from me. My last name gives it away.

 

And finally …

Good Idea: Throwing a no-hitter.

Bad Idea: Throwing a no-hitter and losing.

Here’s a riddle: how does a baseball team win a game in extra innings without recording a hit? Sit back and I’ll spin a yarn.

This actually happened on Aug. 6 between the Tampa Tarpons and Clearwater Threshers, both of which play in the Florida State League, a class-A advanced minor league. Rather than write it out, here’s how the Tarpons described it on their website:

“Clearwater did not have a base runner until Luke Williams became the extra-inning runner when the scoreless game moved into the eighth. Christian Morris relieved (Deivi) Garcia and Henri Lartigue grounded a ball back to the mound. Williams broke for third and Morris threw to Diego Castillo at second. Castillo attempted to throw Williams out at third, but dropped the ball.
After a groundout by Edgar Cabral, Daniel Brito rolled one to first baseman Steven Sensley. Williams scored as Sensley’s throw to the plate arrived late, giving the Threshers a 1-0 lead.”

Now, you’re probably wondering what this extra-inning runner is all about. Those of us who play softball know this all too well because we call it the international tiebreaker. Because class-A advanced games are only seven innings long, there was a rule brought in by Minor League Baseball called “pace of play” where the top of the eighth inning sees a runner go to second base to start the inning. The home team gets to use it as well.

I like the rule and it should be instituted in Major League Baseball as well. It would make things awfully interesting and keep teams on their toes. The only crappy thing about this is Garcia, who pitched a gem, is out a perfect game. So yes – you can pitch a perfect game and still lose. And you thought Trump winning was impossible …

Until next time, folks …