BEATING THE ODDS!

No…I’m not talking about going to Vegas to beat the Odds but rather situations that sports players/teams beat the odds to change long lasting trends.

….Clearly, the top story of Beating the Odds belongs to Damar Hamlin. Hamlin suffered a heart attack during last Monday’s game. After making a tackle, he collapsed to the ground. It was clear immediately that it was very serious. After tremendous medical care for 3 days, he appears to be making progress. But…he’s “not out of the woods” yet. The game was halted and ultimately postponed after doctors provided CPR to resuscitate Hamlin on the field before taking him to the hospital.

….Players of both teams knelt on the field in unison realizing that a fellow Player was fighting for his life. Only the immediate attention & talented skill of the doctors on the field  kept his life going. Transported to U of Cincinnati hospital, the first 3 days there were STILL very “iffy” for Hamilin. It seems now that Hamlin will survive due in large part to the talented medical care that he received. He clearly ‘BEAT THE ODDS” at that moment. The fight isn’t over for him but the odds are much better.

…I’m sure many anti-football folks will begin the “that football is a barbaric sport” chant. In fact, doctors can’t or haven’t determined by the medical community that Hamlin suffered from commotio cordis, a rare condition that occurs when the heart’s rhythm is disrupted due to a blow to the chest that lands at a very specific moment in the heartbeat. Or, if it was a congenital impact.

…Either way, the reaction by the players on the field made them human. They knelt together side-side erasing any concern about the game. The same severe tone was true for the fans also. The game was postponed, later cancelled by the NFL. It was a real show that the players are people…yes—very big, very fast, very athletic people but they still face the same challenges in many ways as “regular” folks.

….Thank Goodness Times have Changed—in the past, some didn’t BEAT THE ODDS. In the NFL in 1971, Detroit Lions Chuck Hughes a 28 year old WR had a heart attack while running back to the huddle and died. He collapsed to the ground and was tended to, of all people, by Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus, one of the most vicious players in NFL history. They kept playing the game! They not only kept playing, it’s clear from a contemporaneous view of the incident, it didn’t even occur to anyone to stop. “We thought we had him when we got it [his heart] going again,” said the team doctor, who had rushed on the field to revive Hughes. That was the only consideration at the time: Get his heart going and get him off the field so the game could resume. Hughes lay dying in the locker room as the game continued. (I guess outta sight…outta mind mentality) The Lions’ drive stalled and they lost the game & their chance for the playoffs., but the notion that the shock of Hughes’s collapse might have had something to do with a decline in play wasn’t even treated as a possibility in the postgame recaps. Thank GOODNESS times have changed WHICH led to the BEATING THE ODDS with the Hamlin tragedy.

…But football isn’t alone as players try BEATING THE ODDS by staying alive through their fierce physical competition. Even the MLB has seen it! Cleveland Indians SS Ray Chapman was hit by a pitch from pitcher Carl Mays and died 12 hours later on August 17, 1920. Apparently in those days, baseballs were not replaced frequently or at all. During that era, pitchers commonly dirtied balls with soil, licorice, and tobacco juice, and scuffed, sandpapered, scarred, cut, or spiked them, giving them a “misshapen, earth-colored ball that traveled through the air erratically.”  It was thought that Chapman never really saw the pitch because it was dirty and he never attempted to get out of the way. The ball struck him right in the skull and bounded far away. Chapman never reacted or moved in any way so most observers felt that he never really saw the pitch. That’s why when the ball hits the ground in any way these days, it’s thrown out.  It goes all the way back to 1920!

…In the vast majority of times, the NHL’s players BEAT THE ODDS and stay healthy(even during their fights). But…not always…The NHL has suffered one on-ice death in its history, and it took place on January 13, 1968, in Bloomington, Minnesota. Bill Masterson (Minnesota N. Stars) was hit by 2 members of the Oakland Seals. Seals defenseman Tracy Pratt, on the ice at that time, described it this way,” It was a funny type of play,” Pratt recalled. “Ron Harris was backchecking and Masterton was on the left wing skating down our right side. I went to stand him up, Ronnie came from behind and Masterton’s skates came up from under him and his head hit the ice. We were in awe. We saw some blood but the blood was thick and clotty… we were waiving our arms for the trainers and Masterton was not moving. He might have been convulsing. The doctors came out and took him off the ice.”  Masterton slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. He died a few days later.

….In another, closer to home, hockey incident–During the 1998 Western Conference final between the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings, Blues blueliner Chris Pronger collapsed after being struck in the chest by a slap shot. After trying to get up after the initial hit, Pronger fell back to the ice. Of course he recovered but…it is scary!

…You can BEAT THE ODDS if you know the answer to this MLB player quiz—This Canadian born pitcher averaged 300 innings, with an average of 20 wins & 22 complete /year. 5x led the league in strikeout/walk ratio; 7 times he led the league in most HR allowed; seldom threw any other pitch than a fastball; from 1967 to 1972 he completed 20, 20, 23, 24, 30 & 23 games in a year. He pitched 4500 innings in his 19 year career. Most of you watched him often. In his 19 year career, his career WHIP was 1.142. Who am I?

…In far, far less serious level of BEATING THE ODDS, Tulane Football has finally done it! They finished the 2022 season at 12-2 when they upended So. California 46-45 in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. That REALLY BEAT THE ODDS as the Green Wave posted a 12-2 record for the 2022 season. The last time that they won as many as 8 games in a season was 2002! Sounds modest but it’s even worse…that’s only the 4th time since 1940 that Tulane has won 8 or more games(that’s more than 80 years)! I guess we can’ complain about Mizzou 😊

…You’d think that the closeness of MLB teams in talent or that a team would acquire talent through the draft or trades, One would expect a playoff game or two every decade or 2.  Hold on….the SEATTLE MARINERS have yet to BEAT THE ODDS. Since their inception in 1977, Seattle has NEVER made the World Series (1977-present). The Pirates aren’t far behind….they haven’t made a World Series since 1980! Remember Bill Mazerowski’s Series winning HR and giddy trip around the bases?

…Quiz Answer is Ferguson Jenkins (long time Cub).

….Well…I’m NOT BEATING THE ODDS on a short Buzz. Thanks for the read. Check out recent editions of the Buzz on http://www.bobryansportsblog.com. Have a great week…hope that YOU BEAT the ODDS in some way this week!  Bob 

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