Passion of the Eagle Fans-the Army Navy Game

Earlier I mentioned the first and second reasons for the passion of  Eagle fans.  The first was no dynasty in the TV era and the second was only one winning season from 1962 to 1977.  Philadelphia, like New York,  does not have a rich college football tradition.  This further subdivides into the decline in importance of the Army Navy Game and the history of the three college teams in the Philadelphia area.  First let’s look at the Army-Navy Game.

Prior to the mid-sixties, the Army and Navy drew fans from all over the country.  We saw players such as Arnold Galiffa, Doc Blanchard, Joe Bellino, Lonesone End Bill Carpenter, and Pete Dawkins.  Philadelphia was the logical choice for the site since it is about halfway between West Point and Annapolis.  The game was either on the Saturday after Thanksgiving or the following Saturday. It was always on national television.  Since the NCAA never had  home blackouts, the game was on television in the Philadelphia area.  Even so, just over 100, oo0 people jammed Philadelphia Municipal,  later John F. Kennedy,  Stadium.  This was always an eyesore  and the worst football field in the country.  Traffic was four lanes going South on Broad Street before the game and all four going north afterwards.  All hotels, even in the suburbs,  had a two night minimum.

Then came the mid-60s. There was an unfair backlash against all service academies because of the Vietnam War.  Too bad too.  They are all fine schools and career officers are vital to our national defense.   College football continued evolving into big business.   Other schools stepped up their recruiting.  Why should excellent high school players go to any military academy?  They would have much stricter codes of conduct and owe four years after graduation.  Recruitments  for the military declined in athletic ability.  The Army Navy game dropped off in importance as did attendance.

Traffic was far less hectic.  Revenues for hotels and restaurants had marginal gains.  The two night minimum at hotels phased out. Fans  began to see how bad JFK Stadium really was.  The game moved to Veterans Stadium where conditions were  better but capacity less.  Recent years saw some games at  FedEx Field in Landover, Md, the New Jersey Meadowlands, and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.  Philadelphia will still have the game most years but the academies are not as tied to the city.

Less college football.  More energy goes to the pros.

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Safeties Can Be Big

Safeties can be big and have been turning points in three Super Bowls.   They were the only scores  teams got when dominating the game.  I personally prefer safeties to field goals.  The scoring team receives a free kick from the opponents 20 yard line.  This really rubs the score in .

Super Bowl 9

Pittsburgh vs Minnesota at New Orleans

The Steel Curtain dominated this game from the start.  In the first half, however, they blew two easy field goal attempts.  Frustration mounted and I felt that Pittsburgh was letting the Vikings off the hook.  Late in the half, Fran Tarkenton and Dave Osborn muffed a routine handoff deep in the own territory.  Tarkenton covered the ball in the end zone and Defensive End Dwight Wright covered him.  Pittsburgh led 2 to 0 at the half and won 16 to 6.  More on this game later.

Super Bowl 10

Pittsburgh vs Dallas at Orange Bowl in Miami

The Steelers owned the scoreless third quarter; but still  trailed the Cowboys 10 to 7. Early in the fourth quarter, Chuck Noll called for on all out blitz on Cowboy punter Mitch Hoppes.  The kicker was at the ten yard line.  Reggie Harrison easily blocked the punt and it flew over the End Line.  Pittsburgh pulled within a point and won 21 to 17.

Super Bowl 21

New York Giants vs the Denver Broncos

Denver had the ball three times in a mad first quarter but led only 10 to 7.  It could have been 21 to 7.  The Giants put on the deep press in the second quarter but, as with the previous two games,  failed to score.  Late in the quarter, John Elway dropped back into his own end zone.  George Martin simply brushed aside a lineman and tackled Elway.  The Giants trailed 10 to 9.  Fans sensed the New York was about to explode in the second half; and they did.  The Broncos scored late against a prevent defense. New York won 39 to 20.

Barry Goldwater Memorial

The Barry Goldwater Memorial is in Paradise Valley, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.  It’s on  the north east corner of Tatum and Lincoln Drive.  Surrounded by cactus,  the park is an excellent place to learn the names of desert plants.   I like it best in the winter months. The statue is a good likeness to Senator Goldwater.  He stands tall, erect, and proud facing  Camelback Mountain.  Easily noticed are his sharp facial features, firm jaw,  wavy hair, and horned him glasses.  It is a half statesman  half westerner  pose with his right hand on his hip and the left at his side holding a Stetson hat.

I do not want to repeat the what’s on the internet but just state my personal observations.

Barry Goldwater’s election as the  United States Senator in 1952 was a turning point for  Arizona .  This broke the firm hold that the Democratic  Party had on the state. In the Senate,  Goldwater was primarily a spokesman for a conservative philosophy rather than good legislator. He had a firm belief, in some ways like Herbert Hoover,  of the dignity and capability  of  the individual.   This did not mean the acquisition of a great amounts of money or justification of greed.  It  meant, to him, the people should rise on their own initiative.  Corporations, unions, and the government  should not expect  conformity from the individual.

In person, Barry Goldwater was high minded and most likable.   He was gregarious and very easy to talk with.  Despite his strong beliefs,  Goldwater respected the opposition and realized anybody, including  himself, functions best if they have strong opposition.  It’s easy to express your  feelings   with people who agree with you.  Senator Goldwater never shied away from confrontation; and never let get the argument get personal, counting many Liberal Democrats as his best friends.  I will talk about this many faceted man later.  Should you get a chance,  it would pay to visit his memorial.


Inconsistent Baseball Rules

Baseball owners have been resistant to any change in rules.   Changes make comparisons of players in different eras very difficult.  By contrast, NFL has made many changes,  almost entirely favoring the offense.  Here are some things in baseball I never understood.  They all relate to the batter advancing a runner while making an out.

SACRIFICE FLY BALL

If  a batter advances a runner on a bunt,  rules credit the man with a sacrifice.   This is true for any advance of a base-first to second, second to third, or third to home plate.  The bunter also gets a run batted in of a guy scores.  Sacrifice flies are different.   There is no time at bat and a run batted in if the runner goes from third to home.   However, if runner goes from first to second or second to third,  rules state this not a sacrifice.  The batter is charged with a time at bat.   There is no reason why fly balls should be different from bunts.

GROUND BALLS

This situation-A batter grounds out or hits in force play and a run scores.  The batter is given a run batted in.  Even so, this is not a sacrifice and he is charged with a time at bat. Wrong.  It takes skill to hit a ball to the second baseman  with a runner on that base.   If a batter grounds out at second and the runner moves to third, this is not a sacrifice but it should be.

RULES THAT SHOULD NOT BE CHANGE

Now Hear This-If a batter grounds into a double play and a run scores.  There is no run batted in and the batter is charged with a time at bat. If a  runner advances after a foul ball catch, there is no sacrifice.  Nor is there a run batted in if a player scores from third base.

Andy’s Three Big Mistakes

There were three big personnel mistakes in the Andy Reid era.

1} Jerimiah Trotter left for the Washington Redskins after the 2001 season.  He came back in 2004.  His presence after the 27 to 3 loss at Pittsburgh really made a difference in the run defense.

2} After Hugh Douglas got 12 sacks in 2002,  he went on free agency to Jacksonville.  Like Trotter, Hugh Douglas returned in 2004; he was good both against the run and pass.

I do not believe Jermiah Trotter would have made any difference in the 27 to 10 loss to Tampa bay in the 2002 Championship Game.  The following year in the 14 to 3 loss to Carolina, without either man, was a different story.  That loss had it roots in two regular season losses; 23 to 21 at  Dallas and 30 to 27 overtime at home to the 49ers.

The Eagles had to win the final game of the season at Washington to get the home field advantage in the playoffs.  The 31 to 7 win was easy but Philadelphia lost Brian Westbrook for the playoffs.  Had they defeated either Dallas or San Francisco, the final game would have been meaningless.   Both Douglas and Trotter might have improved the defense against both teams.  They could have played reserves with an eye to the future with the Redskins; and had Brian Westbrook  for the post season.  His presence would have made a difference against the Panthers.  Scoring only a field goal, the team really needed him.

3}  Jeff Garcia leaning for Tampa Bay after 2006.  Leaving him go was a real insult after he played four great games-at home with Carolina then on the road against the other three teams in the NFC East.    The Philadelphia Eagles required A.J. Feeley.   They remembered in 2002 Feeley quaterbacking in five consecutive victories.  Not so this time.  Feeley threw three interceptions in the 31 to 28 loss to New England and the 28 to 24 loss to Seattle.  Jeff Garcia may have done better.  These two losses ended the Eagles playoff chances in 2007.

Question on Past Baseball MVP

These are two questionable Most Valuable Player Awards.  The latest is first since it was a blatant  misfire.  Keep in mind  that  being on a pennant winning team helps a player’s chances for winning the MVP.

In 1960,  the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series.  Dick Groat, the National League batting champion, was the MVP;  but look at the statistics:

Dick Groat   HRs  2 RBIs  50  AVERAGE  .325

Roberto Clemente  HRs 16  RBIs 94  AVERAGE  .314

No question here.  14 more home runs and 44 more runs batted in easily outway  .011  points in the batting average.

In 1954, the Cleveland Indians broke the New York Yankees’ streak of five consecutive Word Series victories.  With irony the Yankees won more games  in 1954 than in each of the five previous years.  Cleveland won 111 games to New York’s 103; in other words  25% of the teams won 35% of the games.  Larry Doby broke the color line the the American League as  Jackie Robinson did in the National League.  He led  the AL in home runs and runs batted in.  Yogi Berra won the second of his three MVP awards.

Yogi Berra  HRs 22 RBIs 125 AVERAGE  .307

Larry Doby HR 32 RBIs 126 AVERAGE .271

I cannot comment here.  Are 10 more home runs worth  .036 more batting points.

More on Ollie Matson

As I mentioned, when Joe Kuharich came in Philadelphia in 1964,  he traded to Detroit for Ollie Matson.  Matson had a good year for Philadelphia in 1964 and ratly played in 1965 and 1966.  This man was murder on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With the Chicago Cardinals

1956 at Pittsburgh.Caught a 45 yard touchdown pass from Lamar McHan in a 14 to 7 ; this was the only Steelers mistake; Pittsburgh won 14 to 7.

1956 at Chicago. Carried 16 times for 159 times including a 79 yard touchdown run; Chicago won 38 to 27.

1958 Pittsburgh won both games 27 to 20 at Comiskey Park and 38 to 21 at Pitt Stadium.  Don’t blame Matson.  Ollie returned a kickoff in each game for a touchdown.

1961 Ollie Matson was playing for the Los Angeles Rams.

At LA, Pittsburgh and the Rams were  tied at 14 with four minutes remaining.   The Rams had the ball at their own four.  If the Steelers held, they would get great field position.  LA Rams quarterback  Frank Ryan threw a 96 yard touchdown pass to Matson.   Los Angeles added an insurance field goal for a 24 to 14 victory.