Week of December 20, 2019

Tap the brakes, Max. 


The Hole

℅ Jamie Morganstern. Rob Krar is one of the best ultra runners on the planet. Krar also suffers from depression. This is the story of how he thrives in one area of his life, and how he manages the other. There are parallels between ultra races (Krar does a bunch of crazy-difficult 100-miler type races), but those parallels are not exclusively focused on pain and the struggle. The parallels also are about the importance of a supportive community around you. About acceptance. There’s a willingness needed in both. 

Krar’s bio is pretty interesting. Good runner in high school in Canada. Gets a scholarship to Butler. Enters a challenging pharmacy school. Rigors of school collide with the realization that running is no longer a pursuit of joy but a requirement. Moves to Phoenix. Hates the heat, stops running, depression really starts to simmer. Doesn’t help that, as a pharmacist, mistakes can carry pretty grave consequences. Moves to Flagstaff. Mountain climate leads to running again. Starts winning races out of nowhere. Although he hadn’t articulated it at the time,  “the hold” the depression persists. 

Most important, he meets Christina Bauer. She’s the love of his life, a counselor, and – on what sounds like a first date – the first person he tells about his depression. 

Krar’s story, beautifully written by Christine Fennesey, is about the courage it takes to embrace something like depression. In talking openly about it, Krar makes it easier for others to discuss it. He’s also started a camp for endurance runners that has attracted other runners struggling with mental illness. But this isn’t some after-school special piece on depression. For as head-on as he’s tried to address his mental health, Krar admits that it’s getting worse for him. He admits that there’s a magic to the darkness he feels in the final miles of a race, and the relation it has to the darkness he feels from his depression. He’s willing to take medication, but for reasons left unspoken, he will not attend therapy. 

The irony is Krar’s story isn’t about overcoming obstacles; it’s about accepting them. That is the key to how he approaches his depressions, and that’s what sets him apart as a runner. 

“He’s obviously very talented, but there are a lot of very talented people who don’t win Western States,” [Dylan] Bowman says [a fellow top-tier runner]. “You have to have the willingness to go to the deepest, darkest places in order to pull out victories in the most competitive races. Rob has been really open about his depression, so it could be that he’s just not afraid to put himself in a dark place. And when you pair that with a unique talent, you’ve got an absolute world-class athlete.”

Well worth your time. – PAL 

Source:Rob Krar’s Never-Ending Race”, Christine Fennessy, Outside (12/16/19)


You Won The Heisman, But It’s Not Yours

File this under dumb. Since 1999, winners of the Heisman are not allowed to sell their trophy. So let me get this straight: dudes who are generating millions of dollars for their conferences and schools can’t sell something they won, even after they’ve left the NCAA and the world of amateurism? This is so absurd. 

I’m with Tim Brown (1987 winner): “When I own it and it’s mine, I can do whatever I want with it. If the Heisman Trust wants to sue me for doing whatever, then sue me. I don’t think anybody’s going to worry about that.”

I mean, what the hell; they won’t allow the students to make money off of their names while in college. The folks in charge of the Heisman (not the NCAA) think they need to dictate how an adult manages his assets? Get out of here. 

For what it’s worth, Ricky Williams Heisman just sold for over $500K. – PAL 

Source: Congrats on the Heisman Trophy. Now Sign Here and Promise to Not Sell It.”, Billy Witz, The New York Times (12/14/19)


How the Dodgers Lost out on Clemente

Here’s a pretty cool read for older readers or fans of baseball history. It’s hard to imagine Roberto Clemente in anything other than the honey mustard yellow the Pittsburgh Pirates sported in the 60s. Before he became, as actor David Conrad describes him in short MLB bio video, “the gracenote of Pittsburgh”, Clemente was on track to be a Dodger. 

Many folks know that, but it’s during his minor league season in Montreal when the legend and truth about Clemente start to diverge. The legend goes that the Dodgers discovered him in Puerto Rico and essentially tried to hide him in Montreal until the Rule 5 draft. Why did they need to stash him up there? Because he was a bonus baby. 

Stephen Nesbitt explains the rule: 

On Feb. 19, 1954, Melchor Clemente, a foreman on a sugarcane plantation in Santurce, P.R., sent a telegram to the Brooklyn Baseball Club offices in New York informing the Dodgers that his 19-year-old son Roberto had agreed to sign with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ International League affiliate, for a salary of $5,000 and a $10,000 bonus. That sum made Clemente a bona fide Brooklyn Dodger farmhand and — more importantly — a bonus baby.

A bonus rule in place at the time stipulated that teams were required to keep any player who had signed for more than $4,000 on their 25-man active rosters for two full seasons, or risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft. The Dodgers were gunning for a third consecutive National League pennant after losing the previous two World Series. Brooklyn was, as we might say today, in win-now mode. They had already added one bonus baby to the roster — Sandy Koufax — so instead of sticking Clemente on their bench, the Dodgers gambled.

Koufax and Clemente on the same team? These are the little factoids of history that never, ever get old.

So up to Montreal Clemente went, and, if the Dodgers had it their way, soon he would be forgotten. The story goes Clemente was benched, pitch hit for in early innings, and used as the most overqualified pinch runner in history. Anything to keep him off the radar of other scouts. That’s the legend, anyway. 

Funny thing about baseball – the record-keeping has been pretty consistent for quite a long time. So when children’s author Stew Thornley started a bit of research after deciding to write a book about Clemente, it didn’t take long before the montreal legend started to fray.  

Thornley pulled box scores. Yes, Clemente did sit a bunch of games, but he was also hitting around .200 halfway through the year. Not exactly tearing it up. In fact, as to be expected, he was a teenager playing professional baseball, and he was swinging at everything. 

And while some of the legends hold up, many others simply aren’t true. Clemente never hit three triples in a game. He didn’t hit a homer in the first week of the season, only to be benched. He wasn’t benched for the last 25 games of the season. All of these claims are pretty easy to confirm or deny. 

More interesting is the truth: Clemente was a platoon player. He started 37 games that year, and all 37 of them had one thing in common. Give the story a read to find out. – PAL

Source: Hide and seek: The true story of how the Dodgers lost Roberto Clemente”, Stephen Nesbitt, The Athletic (12/17/19)


Video of the Week:


Song of the Week: Booker T. & the M.G.’s – ‘Sunday Sermon’


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Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com


Can’t see the line, can you, Russ? 

-Clark Griswold

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