Monday, April 9, 2007

Big Mo's Big Projects

Whenever I, or any Met fan, hears the name "Mo Vaughn" we usually shudder and convulse uncontrollably. It reminds us of the time when Steve Phillips, in his infinite wisdom, took a chance on an overweight former MVP coming off a missed season due to injury. A chance not worth taking and one of many moves that eventually put Mr. Phillips behind the desk at Baseball Tonight saying things like............

Well I don't know what he's saying because I'm usually screaming obscenities over him and yelling about Mo Vaughn.

You remember Mo Vaughn. The Extra-large first baseman spent 8 seasons in Boston and was a star, a fatter and less charismatic version of David Ortiz. In 1995 he hit .300 with 39 HR and 126 RBI and was named American League MVP. And in 1996 he was even better, hitting .326 with 44 HR and 143 RBI. In his contract year of 1998 he hit a career-high .337, 40 more homers and 115 RBI. He turned that into a beefy (6 years, $88 mil) contract with the then Anaheim Angels of Anaheim.

In Anaheim, Vaughn drove in over 100 runs in 1999 and 2000 but was plagued by injuries. Those injuries caused him to skip the 2001 season entirely. Still, the Mets thought (rather, Phillips) of Vaughn as a viable middle-of-the-lineup bat and the Angels welcomed the salary dump and traded him to New York for pitcher Kevin Appier. Vaughn's .259 average, 26 HR and 72 RBI helped the Mets finish last in 2002. He came back in 2003 at least 30 lbs overweight and against doctor's wishes, and played in just 27 games before going on the DL and eventually retiring, but still taking the remains of his $88 mil off the Mets' hands. Appier, meanwhile, helped the Angels win the World Series in 2002. Good trade, Stevie, good trade.

So what is Mo Vaughn doing now? Actually, it may surprise you. Mo owns and operates OMNI New York, a company that buys and rebuilds low income housing in NYC. To date, OMNI has rehabilitated over 1,000 units of affordable housing in The Bronx, Brooklyn and Long Island, and they are working on projects in Seneca County and Westchester. Not only does OMNI focus on rebuilding the housing units, but Vaughn's personal mission is to revitalize the communities around his projects. So he builds parks and playgrounds and brings his personal celebrity charisma to the equation as well.

So good for Mo. No more obscenity-laden tirades for you. Keep doing what you're doing.

I'll save the screaming for Phillips. Schmuck.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Way way, back.....

.....many centuries ago, not long after the bible began. Yes, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Cope.

1:30 P.M. CT--Thursday, March 11th, 1999. Where were you? I was in a car--jetting away from Homewood-Flossmoor High School as rapidly as possible. Typically, I crafted some yarn about a sore throat, infected ear or sore infection to avoid being forced to "learn" on the second Thursday of the third month. I was getting too old for that, though. As of my sophomore year in high school, he was expecting me home to watch the NCAA Tournament--excuse-free. In fact, in this instance, he picked me up from 999 Kedzie Avenue.

As we drove, we heard on the radio that 7-seed Minnesota was in grave danger of losing in Seattle to some team called "Gon-ZAGH-uh". Evidently, the school's founders couldn't decide on a name. So, they agreed to call the institution "whatever the Green Giant says first today".

The Gophers were trouble that year. Minnesota didn't have four starters in that game (Welcome to Clem Haskins Suspension Theater, here's a bag of cash to show our appreciation) and did have a leading-scorer named Dusty Rychert.

Even so, the maroon and gold was playing Onomatopoeia U--home of John Stockton. And a fine liberal arts education.

And.......AND. And.

The pride of Battle Ground, Washington. He hit for 26 points, 16 in the first half. And he buried Minnesota in Seattle.

The guy who did that thing is Richie Frahm.

Not only lead he compel the 'zags (as we now know is peachy--some of us were frowned upon for using this moniker before its time) to their first NCAA victory, but their second (aloha, Stanford--15 Frahm-points) and third (17 points in Frahm's Lullaby to Florida).

Gonzaga went to the sweet 16 in 2000 in Frahm's senior year and also in 2001. The Bulldogs have not missed the tournament since that trip to the Emerald City in '99.

Head coach Dan Monson was not around the Pacific Northwest to see all of the joy his team proliferated. He left after Gonzaga's remarkable 1999 for....Minnesota. Congratulations, Coach Monson. You're on the list.

Richie Frahm has since married a woman named Joanie, thus fulfilling America's #1 Happy Days fantasy, according to a poll of prison inmates.

He was last seen in the NBA with the Houston Rockets.