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Archive for June, 2010

Best of friends.

A week or so ago, I wrote about the RBs of the Dan Marino era and was just a total blast.  It was a 17 year journey through a sea of mediocre running backs.  While talking to Alex the other night, we came up with the idea for this post.  The stiff’s that patrolled the paint during Michael Jordan’s reign in the Windy City.  The results are just as depressing and even funnier than the jerks Marino had to play with.  Enjoy.

  • Dave Corzine (1984-1989):  The mustachioed Corzine was the Bulls starting center for Jordan’s rookie season in 1984-1985.  He averaged 8 points and 5 boards a game in about 25 minutes a game.  He hung on as a reserve for the next few seasons while getting pretty significant minutes.  His finest seasons came earlier in his career when he average double-digit points with the Nets.
  • Jawann Oldham (1984-1986):  Oldham got most of his playing time for the Bulls in the 1985-86 season, when Jordan played in only 18 games due to an injury.  The seven-footer averaged 7 points, 6 boards and nearly 3 blocks a game in fairly limited action.  Those numbers (especially the blocks) are impressive given his lack of playing time.  Oldham now has his own basketball camp and website.  On the site, he refers to himself as an “NBA Superstar.”
  • Brad Sellers (1986-1989):  Sellers was a lottery pick in 1986.  He is considered a bust.  However, he was one of the few players from that draft not to completely ruin their lives with cocaine, so at least he has that going for him.  Sellers was seven-feet tall and could shoot the rock, but he was a total wimp and not a real center.  He never averaged double digits for the Bulls and was shipped out-of-town for a draft pick.  That draft pick would become BJ Armstrong, one of the most mediocre All-Star’s of all-time.

Bill Cartwright always looked pissed. Probably because he was a dick.

  • Bill Cartwright (1988-1994):  Bill Cartwright was a dick.  He frequently picked up technical fouls for being a dick.  He was a beast in college at San Francisco, where he followed in the footsteps of Bill Russell.  He was an NBA lottery pick who put together a pretty decent career and was probably the best Jordan-era center.  He started most of the time Chicago but rarely got over 30 minutes a game.  He averaged double digits during his first two seasons before deferring even more to Jordan.
  • Jack Haley (1988-1990, 1995-1996): Jack Haley sucked.  Perfectly nice dude from what I can tell, but a lousy basketball player.  Haley averaged just a tick over two points a game while with the Bulls and played in only one game during the 1995-96 season.  Haley is best known for being in Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator” music video and for being Dennis Rodman’s best friend.
  • Will Perdue (1988-1995, 1999-2000): Believe it or not, Will Perdue was a Lottery pick way back when.  The Bulls took the seven-footer 11th overall back in 1988.  He never averaged more than 8 points a game.  Even though he is a career 57% free throw shooter and was never a regular starter, Perdue is the proud owner of four NBA Championship rings (3 with the Bulls, one with the Spurs).  He is arguably the whitest player to ever appear in the NBA (post 1965).
  • Stacey King (1989-1994):  King is the highest lottery-pick  bust of the Jordan era centers.  King was drafted 6th overall in the 1989 draft out of Oklahoma where she absolutely dominated.  In her four seasons with the Bulls she averaged about 7 points and 3 rebounds a game before the Bulls traded her for the immortal Luc Longley (more on him in a second).  King never get it together in the NBA but has a pretty sweet TV gig for Bull television.  Stacey is noted as being the only female player in NBA history.

I would have killed to be at this party.

  • Bill Wennington (1993-1999):  Wennington’s main claim to fame is being one of the finer, bearded-Canadian basketball players of the 1990s.  Wennington looked like a towering Red Wood out on the court, checking in at seven feet tall and 250 pounds.  Sadly, he played much smaller, getting about 5 points and 2 rebounds a game during his time with the Bulls.  Wennington was a decent free throw shooter for a center, making over 80% of his attempts.    He is a proud member of the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame.

Luc Longley: Professional Big Dog.

  • Luc Longley (1994-1998):  Luc Longley has been described as a deft passer.  He has also been described as slow, offensively handicapped, and Australian.  It’s all true.  Longley came over in that BIG Stacey King trade and was the Bulls starting center for three seasons.  Longley averaged right around 10/5 while with the Bulls.  He was traded to the Suns after winning three rings with the Bulls.  He currently resides in his homeland and his married to a celebrity chef.  What a dude.

Corie Blount has a problem.

  • Corie Blount (1993-1995):  Blount was a first round pick of the Bulls in 1993 after a mediocre run at Cincinnati.  He averaged only 3 points and 3 rebounds a game while in Chicago with Jordan (he made 2 more appearances with the Bulls later in his career).  There are some other guys that logged more minutes than Blount, but he has a story.  Since retiring, Blount has been arrested multiple times for drug offenses.  He was busted with over 11 pounds of marijuana.  He later pled guilty and spent a year in prison for having close to 30 pounds on him at his house.  You can watch him get sentenced here if you’re into that sort of thing.

No one knows what happened to Bison Dele.

  • Bison Dele (1996-1997):  Dele (formerly Brian Williams) played in only 7 regular season games in 1996-97, but made significant contributions in the postseason.  Williams struggled through some personal issues while in college and early in NBA career.  After his nice run with the Bulls, in which he earned a ring, Dele got a big free agent deal from the Detroit Pistons.  After a couple of nice seasons with the Pistons, Dele tired of the organization and of basketball and called it quits abruptly at the age of 30.  He walked about from over $30 million.  Weird dude.  The story of what happened next is sad and even weirder.  Reportedly, Dele went sailing on his boat (the Hakuna Matata) with his girlfriend, a skipper and his brother.  Dele was last seen on July 8th 2002.  Almost two weeks later, the boat docked with only Dele’s brother on board.  The conclusion made was that Dele’s brother killed everyone on board in order to get the boat, some gold, and some cash.  His brother insisted he was innocent, but he feared prison.  In September he overdosed on insulin and died.  He was the only major witness in the incident, so it seems unlikely that we will ever find out what happened to Bison Dele.

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Dolphins RBs: Dan Marino Era

Terry Kirby coughs it up.

Dan Marino is, without question, one of the biggest dogs to ever suit up in NFL history.  He was blessed with an absolute canon of an arm and a smile that could melt your heart.  He also played opposite a young Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: PEt Detective.  Dan Marino is a legend.

However, if you had to find a chink in the guy’s armor it is that he NEVER won a Super Bowl.  During his prolific 17 year NFL career, the great Marino appeared in only ONE Super Bowl and that was when he was 23 years old and in his second NFL season.  Some think he just didn’t have the heart, others blamed it on bad luck.  It’s hard to prove any of those theories, so I’m going to highlight something we can prove:  Marino played with an abundance of mediocre running backs.  Peep this:

  • Tony Nathan (1983-1987):  Nathan was one of Marino’s first backs in Miami, and was actually with the club before Marino arrived for the 1983 season.  He averaged over 4.5 yards a carry while playing with Dan, but never racked up more than 700 yards in a season.  He topped out at 685 yards during Marino’s rookie season.  Nathan had a good college career at Alabama and has bounced around the college ranks and NFL as a running backs coach.
  • Lorenzo Hampton (1985-1989):  Hampton was a first round pick of the Dolphins following their Super Bowl appearance.  The club recognized the need for a running game and thought Hampton would be the answer.  They were wrong and it would not be the last time.  Hampton peaked with 830 yards in 1986 but was done by 1989 with a yards per carry rate below four.
  • Sammie Smith (1989-1991):  Another first round pick (ninth overall) to go poorly for Marino and the Dolphins.  Smith was very talented and put together a great college career at Florida State.  However, he was at FSU in the late 1980s (presumably on cocaine the entire time).  He ran for 831 yards in 1990, but that was about all he ever contributed as he was out of Miami after the following season.  In 1996 he was busted with cocaine (FSU, man) and spent seven years in prison and it’s hard to succeed in the NFL when you’re in prison.
  • Mark Higgs (1990-1994):  Higgs was not drafted by the Dolphins, but signed as a free agent prior to the 1990 season.  He topped the 900 yard mark twice while in Miami and was of the better backs to be paired with Marino.  He wasn’t much on average though, never once averaging four yards per carry.  Sadly, Higgs was a total dud out of the backfield as a receiver, never once catching more than 16 balls in a single season.  He has since started his own business and coaches HS football.
  • Terry Kirby (1993-1995):  Kirby is one of my favorite Marino backs.  Kirby actually had a pretty decent career, spending his first three years in Miami.  He rushed for only 1,035 yards in those three seasons, but was a terrific weapon as a receiver.  In fact, he caught 75 balls during his rookie season and 66 in his final season.  He is the brother of mediocre baseball player, Wayne Kirby.  What a family.
  • Bernie Parmalee (1992-1998):  The longest tenured Marino back, Parmalee was only a starter for two years.  He topped the 800 yard mark twice as he made a decent duo with Terr Kirby in 1994 and 1995.  He would stay in Miami for a few more seasons, primarily as a back up and totaled just under 2,000 yards in his seven seasons with the Dolphins.  This past February he was hired as the tight ends coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Karim Abdul-Jabbar (1996-1999):  Ladies and Gentleman, I give you the only 1,000 yard rusher to ever team with Dan Marino.  This should tell you just how anemic the running game was during Marino’s career.  The hilariously named Abdul-Jabbar was drafted by the Dolphins in the third round out of UCLA (not be confused with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).  He ran for 1,116 yards in his rookie season, but got those yards averaging just 3.6 a carry.  In 1997, his second season, Abdul-Jabbar led the NFL with 15 rushing touchdowns (BIG).  However, his career was over two years later.  He has had at least three different names in his lifetime, recently changing it because he was sued by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  I’m not making that up.
  • Lawrence Phillips (1997):  Phillips played only a half season with Marino in 1997.  He is notable on this list though because it’s when Marino’s career was coming to a close and the Dolphins were desperate.  Phillips had a shady history legally before joining the Dolphins but they needed some pop.  He provided only 44 yards and was in the news constantly for being a son of a bitch.  During his career and after, the talented Phillips has been arrested numerous times for violent offenses.  In 2009 he was sentenced to 31 years in prison.
  • Cecil Collins (1999):  Lawrence Phillips Jr.  Collins had a TON of problems while in college, so much so that he was kicked out of LSU.  Still, the poor Dolphins needed a running game, so they took the talented Collins in the fifth round of the NFL draft.  He ran for over 400 yards as a rookie during Marino’s final season.  It ended up being Collins’ final season as well.  The winter of his rookie season, he broke into a woman’s house to “watch her sleep”.  This stunt, coupled with previous charges landed him in prison for 15 years (he’s due out in 2014).

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Clarence Weatherspoon

Baby Barkley

Clarence Weatherpsoon came into the league with about as much buzz as a ninth overall pick can.  He came into the league with the nickname “Baby Barkley”.  Like Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley, Weatherspoon was a short and stout power forward.  Like Barkley he came from the south.  Clarence and Charles were also both selected in the NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Weatherspoon was a 20/10 guy in college at the University of Southern Mississippi.  He joined players like Alonzo Mourning and Derrick Coleman as players with at least 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in DI basketball.  After his four-year run at Southern Miss, Baby Barkley was a a lottery pick of the 76ers and immediately stepped into the starting lineup for the Sixers.

During his rookie year in Philly, Weatherspoon averaged 15 points and 7 boards a game, starting every single game for the 26-56 Sixers.  Yuck.  This good production was only good enough to net Weatherspoon a spot on the All-Rookie 2nd team.  It would be his only award during his NBA tenure.  Just for kicks, here is who made the 1st team that season:

  • Shaq
  • Alonzo
  • Gugliotta
  • Laettner
  • LaPhonso Ellis

A pretty decent All-Rookie team, so it’s hard for hardcore ‘Spoon fans to be too pissed off.

While he posted some very good numbers in his first season, Clarence never really improved all that much.  He averaged 18 a game for some pretty bad Sixers teams in the mid-1990s before his journey around the NBA really took off.  His best production came in Philly, but he moved around and played minor roles on some really bad teams and a couple of playoff teams.  Here’s the rest of his journey:

  • 31 games in Golden State after a trade from Philly.  He gets 10 point a game.
  • 2 seasons in Miami where he played primarily off the bench.
  • 1 year in Cleveland.  He averaged 11 points a game as a starter.
  • 2 years in New York with the Knicks.
  • 2 years with the Rockets.

That’s quite a bit of movement.  I remember this era of the NBA pretty well, and it seems like Weatherspoon was involved in about 80% of the trades in the NBA over this seven-year period.  Here’s a list of some of the guys included in trades with Weatherspoon.  It’s quite a list:

  • Jimmy Jackson:  Lottery bust.  Decent role player.
  • Joe Smith:  Lottery bust.  Decent role player.
  • Chris Gatling:  The only man traded more than Weatherspoon.
  • Shawn Kemp:  Former star, father of at least 12 children.
  • Brian Grant:  He of the dreadlocks.  One of my favorites.  Currently suffering with Parkinson’s Disease.
  • John Amaechi:  I think he was the first openly gay basketball player.  He was not very good at basketball.

Weatherspoon retired after the 2004-05 season, having made about $40 million.  Not bad for a guy with career totals of 11 points  per game and 7 rebounds per game.

I have no idea what Clarence is up to these days, so instead, watch this video of him from the 1993 Slam Dunk contest.  He finished second.

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Rob Deer

Rob only needed a third of a bat to hit home runs and strike out.

Just in case I haven’t mentioned this here before, I am huge Detroit Tigers fan.  My favorite Tigers team in my lifetime is the 2006 club that went to the World Series.  A close second is the 1991 team.  That team really didn’t threaten for a playoff spot, but they brought some serious thunder at the dish.  The club featured Cecil Fielder, Mickey Tettleton, and Travis Fryman among others.  However, one of my favorite players from that club and from any club really was Rob Deer.

Deer came up through the minors with the San Francisco Giants in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Deer played a bit with the Giants in 1984 and 1985 before he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.  It was in Milwaukee that the Deer was fully able to display his free-swinging style.  In 1986, his first full season, Deer slugged 33 home runs and led the Brewers to a mediocre record of 77-84.

In that first full season, Deer struck out 179 times while hitting only .232.  However, he managed to draw 72 walks and post a decent on-base percentage.  This season would basically set the tone for the rest of his career.  Check out these HR/K totals year-by-year:

  • 1986: 33 HR / 179 K
  • 1987: 28 / 186*
  • 1988: 23 / 153*
  • 1989: 26 / 158
  • 1990: 27 / 147
  • 1991: 25 / 175*
  • 1992: 32 / 131
  • 1993: 21 / 169*

As you can see, Mr. Deer led the league in Ks four times during his career and made a habit of hanging out with the league leaders.  What is even more impressive is how few hits he had.  For his career, Deer crushed 230 home runs and totaled only 853 hits.  If you crunch the numbers, you will see that 27% of hits his went for home runs.  I don’t know how to check this, but you’d be hard pressed to find many players with that high of a HR percentage.

So, Deer was basically an all-or-nothing sort of batter.  And he took that ethos to the MAX.  A Rob Deer at-bat usually ended with a home run, a walk, or a strike out.  Big.

My favorite Rob Deer season happened in that infamous 1991 season.  Deer put up his usual home run and strikeout totals, but with a new added wrinkle.  Deer never really hit for average (.220 for his career), but in 1991 he took it to another level.  Deer got into 134 games that season (one game shy of a career high) and managed to bat just .179.

.179.

Unreal.  How in the world does a guy hit only .179 and still get 534 plate appearances?  Below you will find the list of players with an average of .180 or lower in 500 or more plate appearances:

  • Rob Deer

Yep.  That’s it.  No one else really comes close.  Usually if a guy hits for that poor of an average he his yanked from the lineup before he reaches the 500 plate appearance mark.  Apparently this thought did not really occur to Hall of Fame manager, Sparky Anderson.

Deer currently serves as a hitting instructor (seriously?) in the Padres organization.  He also begs people to purchase the Viz-U Bat.

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Gary Gaetti

Ohhhhh Boy!!!

Like a couple of my other posts, this one was suggested to me by a student.  When this student suggested doing a piece on Gary Gaetti my first reaction was to say, no way.  I remember Gaetti being a power-hitting third baseman who could pick it at the hot corner.  However, when this student cited Gaetti’s hilarious early-eighties mustache, I had to look a bit deeper.  So, upon further review, Gary Gaetti is officially mediocre.

Gaetti was drafted out of college in 1979 and was a first round pick by the Minnesota Twins.  He made his debut in 1981 and played his first full season in 1982.  Right away, Gaetti set the style of play we would see for his entire career.  The power numbers were there and they were impressive.  The 23-year-old rookie blasted 25 homers and even legged-out four triples for good measure.  He also homered in his career at-bat.  Amazingly, of all the players to homer in their first at-bat, Gaetti has the most for his career.   However, everything else was sad.  He hit only .230 with an on-base percentage of only .280.  He struck out 107 times and walked just 37 times.  When you add all of this up, you have a slugger with an OPS+ of 93.

Gaetti would go on to top the 20 home run mark eight times, including three 30+ HR seasons.  His best power season came in 1995 at the age of 36, when Gaetti smacked 35 home runs for the Kansas City Royals.  He had his best three-year run from 1986-1988 while playing on some very good Minnesota clubs.  He had OPS+ totals of well over 100 in each of these seasons while providing plenty of power and Gold Glove defense.

When it was all said and done, Gaetti put up the following totals:

  • Played in parts of 20 MLB seasons.
  • He played for six teams, including 10 years in Minnesota.
  • OPS+ of 97, the same as Ronnie Belliard and Juan Encarnacion.  Hmm.
  • 2 All Star Games
  • 1987 ALCS MVP
  • 4 Gold Gloves
  • 360 home runs
  • 2,280 hits.

I like that he hung around for way too long.  I like that he had some of his finer seasons in his mid-30s.  I like that awful mustache and I like that one of his nicknames was “The Rat”.

Since wrapping up his playing days, Gaetti has served as a Major League and Minor League hitting coach.

Check out this awesome fan site for Gaetti.  Good stuff.

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