Sunday, November 14, 2021

R.I.P. Sam Huff, and beware of Cortaca

In 1967, he spoke at my high school. Afterwards, I got to shake his hand. All I remember is his size: far smaller than on TV. He was just someone's dad. 

The Giants are a miserable franchise. I can't even decide  whether to root for them - or if they're better off tanking. It's that bad. But next time the Giants play in the Meadowlands, I hope the place is blue with No. 70 jerseys. They'll hold a moment of silence and then, probably for the last time, the landscape will swell with the chants of "HUFF... HUFF... HUFF..." 

Another punch list item to cross off. It's getting alarmingly short.   

While on the subject of our national pastime - (BTW, nothing is happening in the Yankiverse) - Cortland State beat Ithaca  College yesterday, 28-27, to maintain the Cortaca Jug, the fiercest and most intoxicated rivalry in modern football. Think of it as a war between opposing tribes of future gym teachers, most of whom are the size of Sam Huff in 1967. Consider the legendary Cortaca riot of 2013, when cars were flipped and barbecue grills fell like rain. Upstate NY has its secret Mr. Hyde moments. Cortaca used to be one. (BTW, it was a thrilling game, played in sunshine, rain, sleet and snow - and decided by a blocked FG in the final moments. I tried to watch on streaming video. I kept getting messages that the servers were overloaded.) 

Two years ago, they played Cortaca in Met Life Stadium, an insane notion, considering the size of the colleges. It drew more than 40,000 - largest Division III football crowd in history. 

Next year, they will play in Yankee Stadium. 

Wear a helmet.


JM said...

It's as painful to remember the era of Giants greatness as it is to remember that of Yankees greatness. We may never see either one again in our lifetimes. Maybe never.

Doug K. said...

"Cortland State beat Ithaca College yesterday, 28-27, to maintain the Cortaca Jug, the fiercest and most intoxicated rivalry in modern football. "

Is that the one where John Valby sings the National Anthem?


Sam Huff R.I.P. There was defiantly something about him that multiplied his greatness.

DickAllen said...

We are living in a world where mediocrity palms itself off as excellence, where parity is the moral equivalent of giving everyone a “participation trophy.”

I can vividly recall watching pro football as a kid where (in Buffalo probably) the snow was so thick you couldn’t tell who was who, and players uniforms were caked with mud, grass and blood. It was a glorious mashup. Today we have sanitized fields where rug burns and toe turf are the norm and the nice, clean products are piped into my living room each Sunday. The game gets played for 15 minutes and we sit through hours of advertising awaiting the next fateful moment.

It is a passing of times, as true warriors are slowly retired only to be replaced by media darlings who sell insurance in their spare time.

In many ways the Yankees are the most tangible result of the mundanity of modern professional sports where the “pride of the Yankees” is only a reminder of the death of legendary heroes now faded into a quaint and hazy history that corporations use to keep us somnombulent and teary-eyed for a past that will remain long gone. And that image will continue to be invoked as long as the suckers keep the cash register ringing (point of fact: the cash registers don’t ring anymore; the take our money as they literally and ironically “swipe” our plastic cards).

Sam Huff was a relic of a vague childhood memory. His passing is the passing of a time when men bled and sacrificed their lives, days when they knew they were ecstatically alive in victory and defeat. And did so without complaint or self-pity. Without creating their “brand.”

Which brings me round to our very own Brett Gardner, in many ways our modern day Huff. He is a man filled with passion and purpose, and his inevitable retirement is nigh on hand and I mourn that loss. For all he might not be worth, for all his statistical failings, and as much as we clamor for his replacement, I will always see him, enraged, jaw set, banging a bat onto the dugout roof, daring the ump to banish him.

Such men remind me of what we’ve lost as mediocrity becomes the new normal and money becomes the only baseball discussions to be had before spring arrives.

Rest in peace Sam. You were a true warrior, even in your diminutive size, a man worthy of worship and emulation. A man to be remembered.

The Archangel said...

You mean OBJ is not the new Sam Huff?

HoraceClarke66 said...

Another of the "immortals" gone, it's true.

Dick Allen, I agree with much of what you're saying. But I do think most guys still play hard, and I'm always astonished that, in football, they can pick themselves up and still walk after the hits they take.

The athleticism is astounding. I just had the Michigan St.-Maryland game on in the background yesterday—one of many college games I had on, no rooting interest—and MSU pulled this fleaflicker in which the QB handed off, the RB lateraled the ball back to him, and then he threw a 60-yard strike, seemingly without looking, to a receiver who just outran a very fast CB and raced into the end zone.

The sheer coordination and skill of that blew me away...

HoraceClarke66 said...

...I think this sort of thing still goes on daily in big-time sports, and I don't blame the players—particularly in sports like football, where they risk devastating injury on almost every play—to want a big score in return. ESPECIALLY when we're ponying up the cash to watch it.

But I think that's the problem, right there. WE keep saying yes.

Tickets go from $2.50 to $50 in our lifetime? For worse seats? Yes, please. The Yanks take out 15,000 seats for more luxury boxes? Yes, please. Games that used to be free on television now cost money? Yes, please....

HoraceClarke66 said...

...And as long as we DO keep saying yes, the idiots who run these sports, players and owners alike, will keep taking advantage and making everything worse just so they can get still more money.

You know, when Sam Huff came up, the NFL still played just 12 games a year, with 1 championship game. Now they play 17, with at least 3 playoff games. And we wonder why the whole season becomes a battle of attrition, with a terrible game at the very end (at least last year).

It's because we keep saying, "Yes, please."

No more of this...

HoraceClarke66 said...

...I'm (mostly) serious about Defund the Yankees. I know many of you hear join me in more or less boycotting YS III already. We ought to keep doing that, at least until they give us back the game we want, at a reasonable price.

We, all of us, have to get some perspective, and realize that yes, teachers and firemen (among many examples) deserve more money than our athletic heroes, AND ACT THAT WAY, not just say it. "Sorry, I can't afford the pricey new NFL cable package. I'm donating that money to our local school." Or whatever.

Anyway, this diatribe has rambled on for long enough. As the late, great Walt Kelly put it, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

borntorun999 said...

Horace Clark, a double high five to ya!

Doug K. said...


No disrespect. And I actually mean no disrespect, not the NY version where I mean disrespect, but pro athletes deserve the big bucks and yes, much bigger than teachers etc. (And no disrespect to teachers etc.)

The reason is fairly simple. Pro athletes exhibit a skill in the marketplace that is hard to replicate.

There are, and this is a totally made up number, lets say 200,000 teachers in this country. If my kids want to be teachers the odds are excellent that they will be able to be one. If they want to play for a team in MLB, NFL, or the NBA etc. well, that ain't happening.

This high bar of participation plus the $$$ they generate (directly) with their skills means they are worth more. Much more. Pro Badminton players not so much.

I understand that you are making a moral point. I come from a family of educators and have a Master's in education myself. (Although, if you see the way I punctuate, it would be easy to conclude that my teachers were OVERpaid.)

Some members of my family have made a real difference in the lives of their students. But, that said, being one of 1,000 of something that people get value from wins the market. Every time!

Ideal? I don't know. Fair? Absolutely.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Oh, no offense taken, Doug! And I completely understand that this is how our system works. And under that system, I'm happy to see the talent—the ballplayers—get the money that would otherwise just go to the owners.

But I do think that this is part and parcel of what is killing this country. The rewards for hitting that sweet spot are now completely out of control.

Ballplayers have made nice money and lived good lives for a long, long time—at least in the postwar era. Their salaries always tended to be well above what the average fan made. But not nearly as far above as it is now, which is why they had to work off-season jobs, and were thrilled when fans threw them a "day." Same thing for the owners' profits, more or less. They were big, but not so big they approached the GDP of entire countries.

But we quite actively enabled the change. We kept shelling out tax money for these teams to build themselves new stadiums—always with more luxury suites and fewer regular seats.

(Essentially, this is why the Dodgers left. I'm not a Robert Moses fan, but when O'Malley wanted the city to subsidize a big new park for him—for which, actually, he would've paid more than owners do today—Moses said, 'No thanks, but you can rent space, cheap, in this stadium the city is going to build.' When he turned up his nose, the city let him walk, much as it hurt.)

In the end, it all comes down to us. When do WE say, enough? And if we don't, well, as you say: it's likely to continue.

DickAllen said...

It should be noted that Walter O’Malley put up his own money to build Chavez Ravine, notwithstanding the $1.00 he paid for over 300 acres of parkland that the city had been trying to lease/sell for years. The only taker LA ever got was a company involved in the mortuary business if I’m not mistaken.

What O’Malley wanted was for NYC to condemn the area at the junction of Flatbush and Atlantic to build what would have been the first domed stadium in pro sports history. Moses wanted him to relocate to a place called Flushing where highways would exist to satisfy his grand plan for paving New York with miles of concrete. Those of us who’ve had the pleasure of attending games in Shea in the springtime know what a miserable experience that can be. In a note of some irony, that same space in Brooklyn O’Malley couldn’t get would lay vacant and dangerous for decades until a few short years ago someone had the foresight (sic) to build the Barclays Center.

I think O’Malley had no desire to continue to share the same city as the mighty New York Yankees. He wanted to be king of his own metropolis. Who could blame him? The Yankees made his life miserable and Ebbets Field was turning into a morgue. His move to Los Angeles was a stroke of genius. The first game of the season in LA was held in the Coliseum with more than 60 thousand in attendance. And they keep on coming. There are more people wearing Dodger Blue here than all the Yankees gear in the east.

I’m not defending his decision.He broke a lot of hearts in Brooklyn, but he gave LA. a team to fall in love with. Which they still do. All except for me - I hate the Dodgers and always will.

Just because.

Doug K. said...


Just to be upfront - I don't like when owners blackmail cities to be able to raid the public coffer.

That said, I think that stadiums come from a different bucket of money.

A city of any note provides, lets call them entertainment amenities. This is not money that would ever go to schools or firemen. It's for arenas, parks, zoos. Places to go that make a city more attractive.

An argument can be made that the money could be better spent. Say, a museum plus several smaller pubic concert venues... but cities need venues.

Right now parking in downtown Sacramento is getting expensive because we're paying for the Golden One Arena. Would I rather they pave the streets? On one level yes because I've only been there once but I get why we have it.

TheWinWarblist said...

That's a lovely photo. I'd like to see the live footage.