Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how it was that Hogan’s Heroes ate so well . . .

Scattershooting

Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, on the state of the NBA today: “The NBA and its fans must come to grips with the fact that a new era has dawned. Professional basketball in the U.S. now is part of the Age of Load Management (ALM). The inexorable fact of life in the ALM is that a fan who tunes into a game — or purchases a ticket to see a game at an arena — cannot rely on seeing star players perform even when those star players are perfectly healthy. Now, if you think as I do that far too many NBA regular-season games are nothing more than an exhibition of dunks and 3-point shot attempts, the last thing you want to see is such a contest populated by the junior varsity.”



“Seattle Mariners infielder Tim Beckham drew an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Considering he’s been hitting .211 since April 7, here’s hoping he kept the sales slip.”

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One more from Perry: “Two weeks after the LPGA Tour’s Dow Great Lakes Invitational included a Anannarukarn-Thanapolboonyaras twosome, Im and An shot 62s to share the first-round lead at the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship. That, folks, is what you call an overcorrection.”


Horses


The B.C. Lions are 1-7 after giving up a 15-point lead and losing, 35-34, to the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton on Saturday night. They also are the CFL’s biggest tire fire, lacking a pass rush and an ability to keep quarterback Mike Reilly on his feet. . . . The Lions visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-2) on Thursday, then return home to face the Tiger-Cats on Aug. 24. You are free to wonder just how many fans will show up for that one, especially if the Lions lose to Winnipeg and go home with a 1-8 record.

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The Lions were at home to the Edmonton Eskimos on July 11. The announced attendance for what was a 33-6 loss was 17,026. But theBreaker.news checked with PavCo, the landlord at B.C. Place, and the actual attendance was 12,502. . . . On July 27, the Lions dropped a 45-18 decision to the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders before an announced crowd of 20,950.


DalaiLama


If you are wondering how this blog got to this point, moving from hockey to kidneys, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week explains it all right here.


If you haven’t seen the latest from Patti Dawn Swansson, it’s right here, including a rather timely fact check on Postmedia sports columnist Steve Simmons.


The Oakland A’s signed Nathan Patterson the other day after he hit 94 m.p.h. — or maybe it was 96 — on a radar gun in a booth at a minor-league game. Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I stepped into one of those booths about 15 years ago. Gave ’em my best Bruce Springsteen “Glory Days” speedball. The read-out was somewhere in the 50s. High 50s, as I recall. I slunk away, cursing the defective radar gun. Iced my throbbing arm for a week.

“Those speed-gun booths are to orthopedic surgeons what Halloween is to dentists. You warm up with a beer and a churro, then fire the rock as hard as you can? Snap, crackle, pop.”


File this one under ‘The More Things Change . . .’


Thread . . .


The 2019 Kamloops Kidney Walk is scheduled for Sept. 22. Dorothy Drinnan will be walking for a sixth straight year after having a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . If you would like to support her, you are able to do so right here. . . . Thank you, in advance.


Weaving

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Julie Dodds searching for kidney donor. . . . Turns to Facebook. . . . Husband builds website to help

Unless you have experienced it, you don’t have any idea how hard it is, how much courage it takes, to ask someone for one of their kidneys.

Seriously.

This isn’t like asking someone — friend or family — for $20, or to borrow a book or a lawn mower from a neighbour.

No.

JulieScreenGrab
A screen grab from the website that Allan Dodds has created for his wife, Julie, to help in her search for a kidney. The website is at youdontneedtwo.com.

You are asking someone, maybe even a stranger, to take some time out of their life and to give you one of their internal organs.

Believe it or not, one of the things you have to deal with before you get to the asking stage is denial.

First, you are in denial that you have kidney disease.

Once you admit to yourself that, yes, you have kidney disease, you go into denial again because you just know that things aren’t as bad as the nephrologists are telling you. Surely, you think, someone misread one or two tests . . . or 12 or 14.

By now you are feeling fatigue, but you tell yourself that it will go away.

But it doesn’t. It lingers and, in fact, gets worse.

And now you’re told that you have Stage 4 kidney disease.

How do I know this? Because my wife, Dorothy, went through all of this before she had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013.

She had been born with one kidney, but that wasn’t discovered until she was 29 years of age. Years later, when the time came to go on dialysis (she did peritoneal dialysis for almost four years), she went through all the stages of denial. When it came to asking family members or friends for a kidney, she found it extremely hard because she didn’t want to burden anyone with her problems.

Julie Dodds of Kamloops has experienced all of that, but, like Dorothy, reality has set in.

Dorothy and I had coffee with Julie’s husband, Allan, last week, so I knew a bit about Julie’s situation. On Tuesday, Julie turned to Facebook in the hopes of finding a donor.

She wrote:

So the day has come . . .

Many of you already know, but it may still be news to some — I suffer from a genetic kidney disease called Medullary Kidney Disease Type 1, and have reached Stage 4

JulieDodds
JULIE DODDS

kidney failure. My kidneys are failing and I need a LIVING KIDNEY DONOR to have the best chance at life.

I understand that this is a huge request, but for myself, for my husband, who wants nothing other than to be able to save me from all of this, for my three boys, who still need their mom to be present and healthy in their lives, it would mean absolutely everything.

The unknown — what will my life look like? — has been very stressful, but the outlook for a living donor transplant is my best-case scenario, hands down.

WILL YOU HELP?

• Any healthy adult can donate one of their kidneys — and, thanks to paired kidney exchange, you don’t have to be a blood-type match to the recipient!

• You only need one kidney to live a healthy, long life.

• Most donor surgery is done laparoscopically, meaning through tiny incisions.

• The recuperation period is usually fairly quick, generally two weeks after 1-2 days in hospital.

• The donor will have a separate team of healthcare professionals to evaluate her/him as a living donor. Their job is to help you understand the risks and benefits and look out for YOUR best interests.

I am listed at the St. Paul’s Hospital living donor program at 604-806-9027, or you can go to the BC Transplant website (www.transplant.bc.ca) for more information. Should you choose to call and say you are interested in donating to me, you are under no obligation and can back away at any point.

Please feel free to ask any questions and follow along on this journey. Your support will mean so much to our family.

Also, please share this . . . you never know who this will reach and could be my person!

Thank you.

Julie and family.

——

A few notes about Stage 4 chronic kidney disease (CKD) . . .

The key number to people with kidney disease is the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). If you are in the company of people with CKD, you often will hear them ask: “What are you at?” In other words, “What’s your GFR?”

Those with kidney disease have their blood checked regularly, which is how the GFR is found.

Once a person’s GFR slips to between 30 and 15, they are in Stage 4, which means that a kidney transplant or dialysis (hemo- or peritoneal) is looming.

When the GFR falls below 15, the person has kidney failure, and it’s time for dialysis or a transplant.

——

If you need a kidney transplant, the best you can hope for is a living donor who is a sibling.

Failing that, you are able to enter the Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry. By doing that, you are hoping to find someone who is a match and willing to give you a kidney.

In the end, Dorothy got a kidney through that program. Her best friend was eager — yes, eager — to donate a kidney, but she wasn’t a match. Through the Paired Exchange, she agreed to donate a kidney to someone, but only if Dorothy got one from someone else. That’s exactly what happened.

To this day, we don’t know who gave Dorothy a kidney, nor do we know who got the friend’s kidney.

—-

If you are contemplating being a donor, it’s worth keeping in mind that you will have to undergo a battery of tests before you are selected. During these tests, if you are found to have any medical issues, you will be able to get treatment. While that likely would end your chances of being a donor, it just might lengthen your life expectancy.

Should you end up being a donor, doctors will tell you that were something to go wrong with your remaining kidney, you would go to the top of the waiting list for a transplant.

If you are at all interested in helping Julie, call the number at St. Paul’s Hospital. Do some research. Learn about the kidneys — how and why they function.

And always remember that, as Julie mentioned, you aren’t under any obligation and are able to change your mind at any time.

——

Julie’s husband, Allan, has a website up and running, too. It is called You Don’t Need Two, and you will find it right here.

Drazenovic no longer with Cougars. . . . New clock coming to Brandon. . . . Hurricanes sign prospect


MacBeth

F Nick Buonassisi (Prince George, Lethbridge, Brandon, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). Last season, in 25 games with Pergine (Italy, Italian League), he had 13 goals and 21 assists. He was tied for the team lead in goals, and led the team in assists and points. . . .

D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and eight assists in 60 games.


ThisThat

Nick Drazenovic no longer is with the Prince George Cougars. He had been their director of player development for the past two-plus seasons. . . . Drazenovic, 32, is from Prince PrinceGeorgeGeorge and was a highly popular player through his four-plus seasons (2002-07) with the Cougars. In 281 regular-season games, he put up 77 goals and 137 assists. He added nine goals and 10 assists in 24 playoff games. . . . A sixth-round pick by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL’s 2005 draft, Drazenovic went on to play nine seasons of pro hockey, including 12 regular-season NHL games — three with St. Louis, eight with the Columbus Blue Jackets and one with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Injuries forced his retirement after the 2015-16 season. . . . Todd Harkins, then the Cougars’ general manager, hired Drazenovic on Feb. 17, 2017. . . . Drazenovic wasn’t mentioned on Tuesday when the Cougars announced the hiring of Jason Smith as associate coach. In fact, Drazenovic’s head shot and bio were on the Cougars’ website on Tuesday but had been deleted by Wednesday afternoon. . . . When contacted by Taking Note, Drazenovic said: “I love Prince George. I love the Cougars. I love the players. I love the fans. It’s sad.” . . . Drazenovic also told Taking Note that he is staying in Prince George and will be starting a business venture — Northern Elite Hockey — that will “support the north in hockey development.”


The Brandon Wheat Kings will have a new scoreclock, complete with video screens, in Westoba Place when they open the WHL’s regular season against the Winnipeg Ice on Sept. 20. . . . The Keystone Centre is installing the new score clock because the previous one, installed prior to the facility playing host to the 2010 Memorial Cup, has, according to a news release, “reached the end of its useful life.” . . . That news release is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed D Logan McCutcheon to a WHL contract. McCutcheon was a third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. From Saskatoon, he had 13 goals and 46 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Maniacs last season.


Spiros Anastas is the new director of hockey operations and head coach of the Brampton Beast, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Anastas takes over from Colin Chaulk, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Belleville Senators. . . . Anastas spent four seasons as the head coach of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns, before working as the director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays last season.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? All that’s involved is clicking on the DONATE button over there on the right and following the instructions. Thank you very much.


The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers have signed Darren Naylor, their director of hockey operations, general manager and head coach, to a “long-term deal,” according to the team’s Facebook page. Naylor has been the Clippers’ head coach since Dec. 22, 2017. He replaced Mike Vandekamp, who was fired shortly after the franchise underwent a change of ownership. Vandekamp was in his seventh season in Nanaimo at the time. . . . Vandekamp now is the general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals.


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting on a Sunday night as we continue to recover from an epic Wimbledon men’s final . . .

Scattershooting

Here’s one from Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “Texas Rangers pitcher Jesse Chavez was frustrated with the strike zone on Friday night, so removed his glasses and offered them to plate umpire Rob Drake as he walked off the mound. Drake didn’t throw him out. Apparently, he didn’t see Chavez’s offer.”


Headline at The Beaverton: Children agree not to get abducted after 8 PM so Amber Alert doesn’t wake anyone up.


AirportSecurity


“A Lithuanian couple won the 28th annual World Wife Carrying Championship in Sonkajarvi, Finland, on July 8,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Just think of it as the flip side of U.S. soccer, where the women carry the men.”


Taking Note has heard that Jesse Wallin, who has spent the past six seasons scouting for the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, is moving over to the Detroit Red Wings as their director of amateur scouting. He would replace Tyler Wright, who left Detroit last week and now fills that position with the Edmonton Oilers.


Here’s Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade: “Still mourning the adios of Kawhi Leonard from the Tranna Jurassics to the L.A. Clippers? No need for long faces according to team mucky-muck Masai Ujiri. ‘Don’t lose one day of sleep, one second of sleep,’ he says. I hope Steve Simmons of Postmedia Tranna got the memo. He’s been typing from the fetal position ever since news of Kawhi’s departure dropped.” . . . Swansson’s piece, in its entirety, is right here.


 

MRI


Every play-by-play caller and analyst should be forced to watch at least the last hour of ESPN’s coverage of Sunday’s men’s final at Wimbledon. In doing so, they would learn that silence is golden, that there is no need for constant nattering when the TV audience can see all that is occurring. . . . Watching Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic scrap on Sunday was pure gold, especially with the telecast crew not feeling an urge to talk all the time.

——

Of course, later in the day, one could tune into ESPN’s coverage of the MLB game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and host Boston Red Sox, and you could listen as another game was drowned by the flood of words from a three-person team in the broadcast booth.


ICYMI, a recent fire at a Jim Beam warehouse resulted in the deaths of thousands of fish in the Kentucky River. As Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com noted: “Not only did it kill them, they were all sloshed to the gills.”


Dorothy, my wife of more than 47 years, is preparing to take part in her sixth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk; she also is one of the Walk’s organizers and a co-founder of the Kamloops Kidney Support Group. Oh, and she also helps organize a Christmas luncheon for dialysis patients, transplant recipients and kidney donors. . . . If you’re new here, she had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, and she wants to give something back. . . . If you would like to help out, you are able to make a donation and become part of her team right here.



“Addictions to electronic cigarettes are derailing the dreams of promising young athletes, leaving them struggling to breathe, keep up with their teammates and find motivation to practice,” writes Erika Edwards of NBC News. . . . Later, she adds: “The popularity of e-cigarettes among teenagers has skyrocketed in recent years. In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 78 percent increase in high school students vaping from 2017 to 2018. Youth e-cigarette use has been called an epidemic by major public health officials, including the U.S. surgeon general. And it’s increasingly evident that vaping is affecting young athletes and youth athletic programs nationwide.” . . . This is scary stuff, and the entire piece is right here.


You no doubt are aware that Anthony Davis, formerly of the New Orleans Pelicans, has joined LeBron James as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. But did you know that James was going to give his No. 23 to Davis, who had worn that number in New Orleans? That, however, isn’t going to happen. Davis and James would have had to cut a deal of some kind with Nike, but that wasn’t able to get done because of the amount of James No. 23 merchandise already produced and ready to hit shelves in 2019-20.

——

BaskinRobins

Scattershooting on a Sunday while wondering if Kawhi will be able to survive financially in L.A. . . .

Scattershooting

While Pittsburgh was playing the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers on May 25, Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli was struck on the chin by a piece off a broken back. He hasn’t played since. Now he says he’s through catching thanks to what was the sixth diagnosed concussion of his MLB career. . . . “That’s enough,” Cervelli, 33, told DKPittsburghSports.com on Sunday. “This time is different. I can’t live like this.”


I keep reading about how Kawhi Leonard left a few dollars on the table when he left the Toronto Raptors for the Los Angeles Clippers. Apparently, he signed for US$142 million over four years, when he could have stayed in Toronto for US$190 million over five years. While I understand the cost of housing is high in L.A., leaving that money on the table doesn’t mean that Leonard will be homeless, does it?


KidsMeal


The Curse of Hammy? Is it only a coincidence that the Saskatchewan Roughriders are 1-3 — with the lone victory over the woeful Toronto Argonauts — since someone made the horrible decision not to bring back Ian Hamilton for a third season as their senior reporter?

——

Of course, Saskatchewan football fans have been so wrapped up in the appearance of a giant gopher that they may not realize that their favourite team is struggling.

——

Patti Dawn Swansson (aka The River City Renegade) got in on the gopher madness with: “Summer swathing and happy banjo plucking came to a halt on the Flattest of Lands last week, after Gainer the Gopher went missing and was feared to be lost in a corn maze or abducted by body-snatching aliens. Left behind was a hairball that looked like Chucky’s pet rodent.”

There’s a whole lot more right here.



Congrats to the Victoria HarbourCats for grabbing a West Coast League playoff spot with an 8-1 victory over the visiting Bellingham Bells on Sunday afternoon. The HarbourCats, who will be in the post-season for the third time in four seasons, finished atop the North Division, winning the first-half title at 18-10. The lost left Bellingham at 16-11. . . . There still are rumblings that the WCL is working to get a franchise into Kamloops, but has yet to find a baseball fan with deep enough pockets to get involved.


RippedPants


It was on July 4, 1939, when Lou Gehrig stood at home plate in Yankee Stadium and spoke about being the “luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Now, 80 years later, Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot writes of that speech: “Words that still resonate . . . In another 80 years will anything a current athlete says be remembered?”


Here’s what Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun wrote about Don Cherry this weekend:

“One thing that hasn’t been confirmed for the next season of Hockey Night In Canada: the return of Don Cherry and Coach’s Corner. Rogers is cutting all over the place, which included the removal of Bob McCown on radio and television and Doug MacLean doing the same. Cherry is handsomely compensated for his work. Not sure if this is a place they want to go with the 85-year-old.”

Nothing definitive in any of that, but, oh boy, did the stuff hit the fan on social media. Gotta think the split was about 50-50, too, on whether folks want Grapes back on their TV sets.

——

The debate even morphed into whether Don Cherry should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. I’m thinking if he’s in, Paul Henderson is, too.


OrganDonation2


Dorothy, my wife of more than 47 years, is preparing to take part in her sixth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 22. She also is one of the Walk’s organizers and a co-founder of the Kamloops Kidney Support Group. Oh, and she also helps organize a Christmas luncheon for dialysis patients, transplant recipients and kidney donors. . . . If you’re new here, she had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, and she wants to give something back. . . . If you would like to help out, you are able to make a donation right here.


Scattershooting on a Monday after paying 1.55.9 for gas in Burnaby and feeling like I’d won a lottery . . .

Scattershooting

I don’t know how you spent you Memorial Day weekend, but here’s Bob Tory, the general manager of the Tri-City Americans, heading out on another scouting junket. . . .


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is ‘involuntarily’ removing Division III powerhouse St. Thomas’ football program because of its ‘competitive’ advantages. Translation: It wins too much. . . . ‘You can do that?’ asked 31 NBA teams in unison.”



Rob Vanstone, in the Regina Leader-Post, prior to St. Louis taking out San Jose a week ago: “The 2019 NBA playoffs are so much more interesting and entertaining than the NHL post-season. Honestly, is there any reason to care unless you happen to be a fan of the Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues or San Jose Sharks? The entire post-season process is a grind. The officiating is awful and the calibre of play isn’t much better.”

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Vanstone continues: “And the NHL’s video-review system? A complete mess. The offside challenges simply have to go. Give the linesmen the final say and leave it there. Please. Enough.”

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One more from Vanstone, who was on a roll earlier this week: “Drake, who seems to think that he is playing for or coaching the Toronto Raptors, has singlehandedly turned me into a Milwaukee Bucks fan.”


Phone


Hey, NHL, I tried. I really tried. I tried to watch Game 1 of your final, but, well, this thing about letting the players decide things really shouldn’t be a thing. A cross-check is a cross-check and a slash is a slash, except when you pretend it isn’t. So, sorry, but I’m outta here. I’m off to watch the NBA final. Here’s hoping I am able to find a national U.S.-based telecast.

——

So . . . I don’t enjoy play-by-play voices and analysts who constantly seem to be yelling, which is why I rarely watch the Toronto Raptors on Canadian TV. But I tuned in to Game 5 of their series with the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. I gotta say the only thing missing was Buck Martinez.



If you have ever wondered about the popularity and power of the NFL, consider this . . .


“Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay forked over $718,750 to buy John Lennon’s famed piano,” reports the aforementioned Dwight Perry. “Hey, Jim, when the player-personnel people said they wanted Peppers, they meant Julius, not Sgt.”



We got home late Monday afternoon after spending some time on the highways and byways of beautiful B.C. I am pleased to report that we saw a lot of Alberta licence plates along the way, meaning those nice folks continue to visit and spent their hard-earned dollars on our expensive gasoline.


Mondays With Murray: Palmer Had the Open; Andretti Has this Place

The Greatest Spectacle in Racing

The 103rd running of the Indy 500 is set for Sunday, May 26. It will mark the 50th anniversary of Mario Andretti’s victory in the race.

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SUNDAY, MAY 23, 1993, SPORTS

Copyright 1993/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Palmer Had the Open; Andretti Has This Place

   If, as has been said, it’s never a good idea to bring up the subject of rope in the house of the hanged, perhaps it’s not too advisable to bring up the subject of the Indianapolis 500 in the house of the Andrettis.

   For too long, it has been a sore spot. The purists wince, the dedicated fans groan, and well-wishers shriek “Not again!” as the tragic words come drifting over the loudspeaker mondaysmurray2in the late stages of the race, “Andretti is slowing down!” Pit crews kick the fuel tanks, owners curse, wives weep.

   It’s a bit of historic injustice that happens every year. It doesn’t seem to matter which Andretti — father Mario, or sons Michael and Jeff. Maybe, one of these years, it will be nephew John.

   The Andrettis should enter this haunted house with dread. Trepidation. It’s Little Red Riding Hood going to grandmother’s house. Hansel and Gretel strolling through the forest. Snow White and her stepmother.

   It’s galling. It’s particularly discouraging when it keeps happening to Mario. Mario Andretti is unquestionably —  now that A.J. Foyt is retired — the greatest race driver of our times still in a car.

   The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was supposed to be to Mario Andretti what the stage of the Old Vic was to Olivier, the Met to Caruso, the Bolshoi to Nureyev, a ring to Muhammad Ali. A showcase for his great talents

   The first time he drove the 500, he dazzled the natives with the confident competence with which he handled it. He was a 4F driver — fast, fearless, feisty and (usually) first. He was rookie of the year. He finished third, only ticks behind winner Jim Clark.

   When he won in 1969, it was freely predicted he might win a dozen of these before he was through.

   He has won one.

   Anyone who ever watched an auto race knows what a colossal bit of unfairness this is. Mario Andretti winning only one Indy is like Arnold Palmer winning one U.S. Open. Mario is the Arnold Palmer of auto racing. The gods of sport have it in for them.

   You will remember that Palmer, too, in winning only one Open, was second in four of them and in playoffs in three of those.

   Mario has won only once at Indy. But he has been second twice, third once and fourth once.

   You might say he was in a playoff in 1981. That was the year Bobby Unser, driving one of Roger Penske’s cars, arrived in Victory Lane, only to be told the next morning that he had been penalized a lap for passing cars under a yellow light. His “victory” was taken away from him and awarded to Mario Andretti, who had come from 32nd — next to last — on the grid to second. And then, apparently, to first.

   Andretti got the traditional pace car at the victory banquet the following Monday — but without the keys in it. He got an envelope with the winner’s check in it — but the check wasn’t signed.

   The race was turned over to the courts. The litigation dragged on until October, when a three-judge panel returned the victory to Unser — but by a vote of 2-1. Bobby got two-thirds of a triumph.

   It was the longest, costliest Indy race in history, four months from start to checkered flag. It computed out of an average of about 6 m.p.h. Covered wagons might not take that long to make 500 miles.

   So, Mario — like Palmer with golf — became synonymous with racing, a popular victim of what Aristotle called underserved misfortunate.

   Arnold won 60 golf tournaments on the PGA Tour, fourth all time. Mario has won 52 Indy car races, second all time.

   By rights, each should be multiple winners in his sport’s showcase tournament.

   The Open eluded Palmer once when he had a seven-shot lead with only nine holes to play.

   Indy has eluded Mario when he was in sight of the checkered flag, had a clear track in front of him and plenty of fuel. In 1987, he had led the race for 170 laps when, on Lap 195 of 200, his car suddenly slowed and stopped.

   In 1985, Mario not only saved Danny Sullivan’s race, he saved his life. Andretti dived down beneath Sullivan’s spinning car on Lap 120. Mario led that race for 107 laps, but finished second.

   Shouldn’t Mario stay in bed on race day? Or take the family to the beach? Get an insurance policy against even hearing the race?

   Not Mario. He couldn’t wait to get out on that track this year, as usual. He was first off the blocks on qualification day. He rolled out there and put himself solidly on the pole — for six hours — on a day the track was so hot it made pizza out of the tires and slowed the cars into delivery trucks.

   But, Mario knows those corners like Palmer knows the greens at Augusta, and he put up a number — 223-plus — that stood until late in the day and the cool of evening, when Arie Luyendyk went out and took the pole away from him by a tick of the second hand.

   Mario has won the pole three times at the Speedway. This will be the third time he has started from the No. 2 position. The first time he did, he won.

   Does he feel snakebit at this citadel of motorsport? Is the Brickyard the graveyard for Andretti hopes?

   “Well, when you consider I’ve led this race more laps than anyone in it — and more times than a guy who was a four-time winner (Rick Mears), you have to think something is at work here,” Mario concedes. “Yes, I would have thought I’d be working on my fifth win by now.”

   Instead, he’s working on his second.

   It’s the hardest race in the world to win. You don’t even win it when you do.

   Of the 1981 debacle, Mario says: “The rules say you can’t pass (cars) under the yellow (caution flag). (Bobby Unser) passed 13 cars under one yellow. He put 13 cars behind him and the pace car. The pictures showed that.

   “The rules are there. When Jerry Grant finished second (in 1972), they found he had pitted in Bobby Unser’s pit and took on fuel there. They penalized him 12 laps. Moved him back to 12th and cost him a lot of money ($72,000). They penalized Johnny Rutherford for passing under the yellow one year (1985) when he was running third.”

   So, who won the ’81 race?

   “Penske’s lawyers,” Mario says.

   Mario makes his 28th assault on the Speedway next Sunday. At 53, is he Don Quixote tilting at his personal windmill once again? Age 48 is the oldest anyone has won this race — Al Unser Sr.

   Mario Andretti is not interested in trivia. The Indianapolis 500 owes him one. Auto racing owes him plenty. The hope in the infield is that this year the exciting news that comes spewing over the loudspeakers on Lap 198 is, “Andretti is speeding up!”

   Even Arnold Palmer would applaud that. It would be fitting and just. But, if racing had any decency, Andretti would be on the pole. If it had a conscience, he would win. And we would all be 25 years younger.

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

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What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

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A dozen years ago, Linda McCoy-Murray compiled a book of Jim Murray’s columns on female athletes (1961-1998). While the book is idle waiting for an interested publisher, the JMMF thinks this is an appropriate year to get the book on the shelves, i.e., Jim Murray’s 100th birthday, 1919-2019.  

Our mission is to empower women of all ages to succeed and prosper — in and out of sports — while entertaining the reader with Jim Murray’s wit and hyperbole.  An excellent teaching tool for Women’s Studies.

Proceeds from book sales will benefit the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing sports journalism scholarships at universities across the country.