MLB Closers | Brantley & Shaw | Ep 29

MLB Closers | “A closer is often considered the best relief pitcher that a club has in its bullpen. Closers are most often deployed for the final inning of a game when a narrow lead — three runs or less — needs to be protected. Closers almost always excel against both right- and left-handed batters and are more often than not capable of striking out batters at high rates.” 

MLB Glossary

So you want to be a closer. We have two award-winning MLB closers today, and they say you better want the job or you’ll never excel at it.

How do you know who wants it? Jeff Brantley and Jeff Shaw have seen those who do and those who don’t – they’ll tell you the difference.

MLB Closers

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Jeff Brantley celebrates following the final out of game three of the National League divisional playoff against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Friday night, Oct. 6, 1995, at Riverfront Stadium, in Cincinnati. The Reds won the game 10-1 to sweep the series. (AP Photo/Mark Lyons)

Brantley was the NL relief pitcher of the year in 1996 and Shaw took that crown in 1997.  Brantley was in the Majors for 14 seasons and Shaw for 12. They were both opponents and teammates during that stretch.  

7 Jul 1998: National League member Jeff Shaw #41 of the Los Angeles Dodgers starts his wind up during the All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The American League defeated the National League 13-8. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport

Who did they learn from? How do you maneuver through the middle of a line-up, game on the line, and you need three outs? They’ll describe a unique universe they inhabit when they take to the mound in the 9th inning, a roaring crowd and a game with no room for error.

And all that time spent waiting – a couple of bullpen stories will be shared as well.

Jeff Shaw and Jeff Brantley take you into the world of the closer – then, now and tomorrow.

Enjoy.

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NHL Bargaining | McPhee & Scott | Ep 28

NHL Bargaining | GM and the player agent – relationships have redefined the business of sports and will be a major factor in the continuing evolution of the business.

George McPhee

George McPhee is the President of the Las Vegas Golden Knights. He has been a major force behind the amazing success of the new franchise that went to the Stanley Cup Finals in its first year. He was recognized as the NHL GM of the Year in 2018.

He had previously spent 17 highly successful years as GM of the Washington Capitals after an NHL playing career with the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.

McPhee has seen the contract negotiation matters from both sides.

Andy Scott is a player agent, certified by the NHL in 2008. He works within Octagon Sports, a global sports and entertainment agency, through the Scott Law Group which he helped create.

Scott represents, among others, Leon Draisaitl, Kaapo Kakko, Patrik Laine and Mikko Rantanen — all considered among the top players in the NHL.

He has traversed what he calls “a minefield of issues” in contract negations for NHL players during the pandemic.

NHL bargaining

Now you get to hear these two high profile NHL business representatives relate how management and player reps deal with one another and what makes the system work or sinks efforts to reach an agreement.

Should players be involved in the negotiations? Why does McPhee say this is a “hard business?” Hear about the late night phone calls from players to agents.

Open and frank – that describes what you are about to hear from these two highly influential men who construct NHL bargaining deals. This is about getting a deal done.

Enjoy.

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2003 ALCS | Boone vs Walker | Ep 27

2003 ALCS | You dream about it as a kid. Standing in the backyard, bat in hand. You take the swing that launches a ball out of the yard for a game winner. Not just any game winner, but a swing in a major league game in the playoffs of October against THE rival, in the deciding game, in extra innings.  

Aaron Boone and the swing of a lifetime

Aaron Boone, now manager of the Yankees, lived that dream in the 2003 American League Championship Series while playing for the Bronx Bombers.

Boston Red Sox Todd Walker hits a solo home run against the New York Yankees in the fourth inning of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series in Boston, October 13, 2003. REUTERS/Mike Segar JR/GAC

As he headed to second base in his home run celebration, he passed a longtime friend, Todd Walker, who was playing for the opposing Red Sox. Walker had a tremendous series against the Yankees, hitting .370 and leading the Sox in runs scored. Now that series was over and the Yankees were moving on to the World Series.

The 2003 ALCS

Pedro Martinez trows Don Zimmer to the ground during a bench clearing brawl.

This 2003 series was heated. There was Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. There was a lengthy bench-clearing brawl. There were managerial decision questions that will be argued about forever.
Here is the rivalry-the Red Sox and the Yankees-the 2003 ALCS. Here are two players in that series: Aaron Boone and Todd Walker. These are their stories from one of the most anticipated playoff series in baseball history. A series that lived up to all the hype.

The Brawl
Yankees tie it in the 8th
Aaron Boone walk off

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RE-AIR: Army vs Navy | NCAA Football | Ep 8

Army vs Navy – it is the “nation’s football game.”  At the end of each football season, there unfolds a pageantry that began in 1890..

The Oath

Each player took the same oath that brought him to this game.  Each has a mission far beyond football. When arriving at a military academy, each person takes one of these oaths:

United States Military Academy Oath of Allegiance (ARMY)

I, (Name), do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and bear true allegiance to the National Government; that I will maintain and defend the sovereignty of the United States, paramount to any and all allegiance, sovereignty, or fealty I may owe to any State or Country whatsoever; and that I will at all times obey the legal orders of my superior officers, and the Uniform
Code of Military Justice.

United States Naval Academy Oath of Office (NAVY)

HAVING BEEN APPOINTED A MIDSHIPMAN IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY, DO YOU SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) THAT YOU WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC; THAT YOU WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME; THAT YOU TAKE THIS OBLIGATION FREELY, WITHOUT ANY MENTAL RESERVATION OR PURPOSE OF EVASION; AND THAT YOU WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICE ON WHICH YOU ARE ABOUT TO ENTER, SO HELP YOU GOD.

Not exactly a common oath one must take to play football somewhere. 

For this game, those sworn to the same mission are rivals for one glorious late Fall afternoon.

The Army-Navy football game has been played annually since 1930.  It has involved players who went on to sports careers as well as military service:  Glenn DavisRoger StaubachPete DawkinsNapoleon McCallumDoc Blanchard, and so many more.

Army vs Navy – The Game

Keegan Wetzel played for Navy and in his senior year was selected as a 1st Team All Independent linebacker.  He played in the 2012 game that saw Navy beat Army for the 11thconsecutive time.

Across the line from him for that game was Army quarterback Trent Steelman.  Steelman is the only modern era Army QB to start every game in his four years at West Point.  He holds the Army career record for TDs and is second all-time in career yards.  

It was a game decided in the final minutes when Navy took the lead and held on as Army saw a final drive end on a turnover.

Steelman and Wetzel could not know this game would lead to a relationship that endures.

What was the intensity playing in those Army vs Navy games?  How did playing in those games shape the lives of the players involved?  What are the memories of Wetzel and Steelman about facing each other?

Listen to the depth of feeling from these two as they answer those questions and breathe individual life into the rigors and honor of playing football at the academies.  

Rivals? Army vs Navy and THE GAME, as good as it gets.  Enjoy.

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NHL | Robitaille vs Granato | Ep 31

NHL | Both were teammates and rivals of Wayne Gretzky. Both played on each coast. Both played with one of the Original Six in the NHL: the New York Rangers. Both helped grow the game of hockey in the west with the Los Angeles Kings.

The NHL Players

Luc Robitaille playing for the Kings

Luc Robitaille retired from the NHL as the highest scoring left wing in the league’s history. He was voted as one of the top hundred greatest players in the history of the NHL.

His name is on the Stanley Cup as a player with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002 and twice as a member of the Kings’ front office. He was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Luc is now the President of the Kings after having played in their jersey for 14 of his 19 years in the NHL.

Tony Granato as a Shark

Tony Granato was an all-rookie selection with the Rangers in 1989 when he set the Rangers’ rookie record for goals with 36. He played in the NHL from 1988-2001 with the Rangers, Kings and Sharks.

Tony went on to be an assistant coach with Pittsburgh, Detroit and Colorado before becoming the Avalanche head coach. He is now in his 5th season as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, the home of his college hockey career.

Luc and Tony have long known one another on ice sheets across North America as rivals, teammates and friends. Here they take you through their intertwined careers: five as teammates and nine as rivals. They also share their experiences playing for an Original Six team and describe hockey’s growth out west as led by #99, “The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky.

Let’s drop the puck!

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RE-AIR: ACC College Basketball | MD vs VT | Ep 7

ACC College Basketball | Would you really ask a college basketball player to throw up during a game if things were going bad, just to change the momentum?

What do you do when the water main breaks on campus when there is a big game to be played that day?  How about when the opposing coach has a suggestion of what to do and uses the water break as a rallying cry for his own team?

Fictional questions?  Well, no, they are part of what you are going to hear on this edition of The Sports Rivals.

The Coaches

Gary Williams is a Hall Of Fame college hoops coach who coached at American UniversityBoston CollegeOhio State and at his alma mater, Maryland.  It was with the Terps that he won the 2002 NCAA Championship and where he spent 22 years on the bench in the conference which many consider to the best in college basketball year in and year out, the ACC.

Seth Greenberg spent 34 years as a college coach, including 2003-2012 at Virginia Tech as a Gary Williams coaching rival in the ACC.  He came through Long Beach Stateand the University of South Florida on his way to Virginia Tech.  He would face Williams’ teams between 2003-2011.

ACC College Basketball

Virginia Tech was a late arrival to ACC College Basketball and Gary Williams was not all that excited about adding to the league, especially when Tech started winning games in the conference.  He’ll tell you how the Tech addition just made the season that much tougher.  

These two outstanding coaches give you an inside peak into the ACC and what it was like to face the best college teams in the country on a nightly basis.  

They will take you through their own rivalry that is a history of intense games, overtimes and an “I can beat you” attitude that came from both coaches.   Neither missed the opportunity to find a way to inspire their team by using actions or words coming from the other side. This was a rivalry of “whatever it takes.”

Seth will take you through the impact Williams had on his coaching decisions in putting the Virginia Tech program together.  Williams will tell you his thoughts as he prepared to take on a Greenberg team.  

From two ends of the court, here is a coaching rivalry that had vivid games, great memories and the creation of a relationship of respect in the college coaching ranks.

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Arizona vs Stanford | NCAA Basketball | Ep 26

Arizona vs Stanford | When it comes to rivalries, those involved in college sports are often the most inspired.

Richard Jefferson and Casey Jacobsen were (and still are) part of such a rivalry. 

Arizona vs Stanford | The Players

Jefferson played college hoops at the University of Arizona from 1998-2001 under the late Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson

Casey Jacobsen at Stanford

Jacobsen played at Stanford from 1999-2001, for another Hall of Fame coach, Mike Montgomery.

For those years they played against each other, both teams were among the elite in the nation, battling to get to the Final Four and to win a National Championship.

Richard and Casey will let you in on their meeting at a Michael Jordan basketball camp and on how they might have been teammates in college but for Jacobsen’s final college decision. In addition, they discuss their feelings regarding their coaches and how each coach’s approach was so markedly different, yet effective.

Jacobsen and Jefferson went on to extended professional basketball careers and careers in the broadcast booth. Through all of the years the memories of their college experiences ring fresh.

Here now is the inside look at a rivalry on the hardwood from two who helped write its history.

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For Love of the Game | Lyons vs Hudler | Ep 25

For the love of the game |The legend of golf, Ben Hogan, once said, “As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” 

Our guests today have taken time to smell the roses and their walk down the fairway has been filled with life: a life in sports where each day was to be treasured.

The Major Leaguers

Steve Lyons spent nine seasons in MLB, playing for four teams in an 852-game career. He played every position, doing so once in the same game. He said, “I was never a great athlete or a great hitter. I was never supposed to make it to the big leagues.” He did and made the most of every moment.

Rex Hudler played 14 seasons in the majors for six teams. His 774 games played required the grit and no quit attitude just as was true for Lyons.

For the Love of the Game

There is a sheer joy that radiates from Hudler and Lyons as they relate their experiences as rivals and survivors in the majors. Around the game, one is known as “Psycho” and the other as “Bug Eater.” They earned the monikers and will tell you why.

They were referred to as “utility players.” What did that mean then and now to each of them?

There is much to smile about here, and much to admire.

They would both move on to share their joy of the game as broadcasters, but first they shared that joy with teammates and fans while in uniform. Here is their story.

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Placekickers | Stenerud vs Benirschke | Ep 24

Placekickers | They both could kick a ball, but it was round, not oval. Before their careers were over, it was the oval football they kicked that made all the difference.

What a treat to listen to two of the NFL’s all-time great placekickers relate the unlikely roads they both took to become legends in the game.

The Placekickers

Jan Stenerud kicking for the Kansas City Chiefs

Jan Stenerud was on the field for the Chiefs, Packers and Vikings during a career that covered 1967-1985. He is the first pure placekicker to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Along with a Super Bowl win with the Chiefs and 4 Pro Bowls, he also transformed the placekicking game for all of football.

All of this coming almost by accident to a man who came from Norway to Montana State on a ski jumping scholarship.

Rolf Benirschke kicking for the San Diego Chargers

Rolf Benirschke was a placekicker for the San Diego Chargers from 1978-1986. He retired as the all-time leader in points for the Chargers, an NFL Man of the Year Award winner and a fan of Stenerud.

Listen to his story of the inadvertent chance to kick a football that leads to his time in the NFL.

They watched each other kick, they learned from each other and they competed at the highest level with a talent that brought with it real sport’s pressure.

Two exuberant men, two unlikely careers, and two joyful stories told in their own words.

Rolf walked to midfield with Louie Kelcher

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1988 NLCS | Dodgers vs Mets | Ep 10 | RE-AIR

1988 NLCS

The 1988 NLCS was a tumultuous series between the LA Dodgers and NY Mets.

It went 7 games in the rain, sleet and hail and featured the likes of KIRK GIBSON, STEVE SAX, DOC GOODEN AND GARY CARTER.

This series also pitted the to be 1988 Cy Young Award winner, NLCS MVP and World Series MVP- Orel Hershiser– against a former NL MVP, two-time World Series Champion and arguably the game’s finest defensive first baseman ever-Keith Hernandez.

They are the guests on this podcast.

We are treated here to an inside look at this series the likes of which you will find nowhere else.

The Players

Hershiser will speak to the adrenaline gained for himself and the Dodgers from public comments made by Mets players during the series.

Hernandez will speak to one of those occasions on comments made by teammate pitcher David Cone and how he and the Mets felt when they read what Cone said.

Both players access what facing one another was like. Hershiser talks about his plan in pitching to one of the games toughest outs. Hernandez reflects on what he sat on as a hitter when facing Hershiser.

Orel and Keith will lead you through the unfolding of this series: the roller coaster ride, the turning points, a game 4 that turned a potential Mets win into an extra inning game on Dodger Mike Scioscia’s 9th inning home run off Gooden and a game winning 12th inning home run by Dodger Kirk Gibson.

Keith will describe what he calls the worst defensive play he ever made that occurred in this series and that he lives with today.

Orel describes what it took to pitch nearly half of the total innings thrown by Dodger pitchers in this series, including sneaking off to the bullpen, without manager Tommy Lasorda knowing, to earn a save.

The story of that series is magic enough, but the insight both of these players provide on what their mind sets were in this series and competing at the Major League level for their careers is beyond words.

The openness and honesty you will hear is so rare as to perhaps be unique. Enjoy.

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