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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Friday, March 11

Jim Thorpe & 2001 World Series

After a lengthy and complicated dream about playing in a high school football game (Yes, an old man dreaming of going back to a much less complicated time in his life), four o’clock in the morning again found me staring at the darkened ceiling, thinking odd thoughts about odd subjects.

The football dream led me to thinking about extra points in the NFL. A team, after scoring a touchdown, has the option of going for one point or two. If for one, the ball is placed on the fifteen-yard line; if for two, the ball is placed on the three-yard line. But . . . and it’s a big “but,” what if the extra point by kicking is missed but the other team was offside. Can the team decide to accept the penalty and have the ball placed at the yard-and-a-half line (half the distance to the goal line) to try for two points? Can they do so even if the extra point kick is good? Here’s another “but.” If the team sets up at the fifteen-yard line for a one-point kick but the snap is fumbled and the holder then scrambles and crosses the goal line, does it count as one point or two?

More football thoughts. I remember Burt Lancaster in 1951 playing the legendary Native American athlete Jim Thorpe in Jim Thorpe—All American. Thorpe is considered by many to be the greatest athlete of all time, playing both baseball and football professionally, competing in seventeen events in the 1912 Olympics, winning both the decathlon and pentathlon.
Among the many facets of Thorpe’s athletic abilities, I remembered how he would kick field goals not with a holder but simply by dropping the ball on its point and then kicking it through the uprights. A drop kick. And though statistics weren’t kept very well or not at all back at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Thorpe is credited with drop kicking one from forty-five yards. The goal posts were then on the goal line and not ten yards back as they are today. So his 45 yards would be like a 35-yarder now. But still, a player would have to drop the ball on its point and then time it with a kick just as it bounces, and do it as the defense is rushing at him. I wonder what all the soccer-style kickers today would do if they had to perform a drop kick.

And then a baseball thought to go with the football thoughts. I’ve always wondered what the ruling would be if a batter in the ninth inning—two outs, score tied, man on third—got a hit that drove in the winning run but in the celebration the batter didn’t go all the way to first base. Does the run count? Would the other team have to get the ball and throw it to first base to record the third out, thus negating the run scored? Or would the batter, celebrating with his teammates at home plate, automatically be out because he went outside the base line? I thought about the 2001 World Series between the Diamondbacks and Yankees, arguably the best world series ever, and if not the best, certainly in the top five. Luis Gonzalez in the ninth inning of game 7 hit a little blooper to left field off Yankee closer Mariano Rivera that scored the winning run. I can still see Gonzo, arms raised, hopping sideways down the first base line, celebrating his hit and the winning run. But . . . and it’s a big “but,” did anyone see him actually touch first base? I’ve examined on YouTube footage of that moment but it shows the team celebration and not Gonzo’s run to first. It’s a moot point since there was only one out when the run scored and even if Gonzo was determined to be out, that would make only the second out and the run would count. And the Yankees can piss and moan all they want about losing the series to a little pussy bloop single. Diamondback fans still and will always rejoice at beating the Damn Yankees.
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