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6/22/2007 12:47:00 PM

Can't Keep A Good Man Down

Pedro Martinez, Don Zimmer
Pedro Martinez didn't care about Don Zimmer's age when he flung the Yankees coach to the ground in 2003.
Photo by AP
By Lang Whitaker

They got knocked down, but they got up again. Most of them, anyway. Today's List is dedicated to the lifers, the men who've dedicated decades of their existence to their chosen sport, only to be rewarded by being deposited on their can by an overzealous player (or a bat).

These instances aren't necessarily funny -- though I don't care what you say, the Tommy Lasorda one is hilarious -- but we present them as a cautionary tale: Watch where you stand, coaches, particularly you older men. When it's in the game, it's in the game.

(And what did I learn while writing this list? That Major League Baseball is ridiculously strict about their videos appearing on YouTube. In fact, I couldn't find video of any of these baseball incidents online. I understand protecting your property and all that, but give the fans a little something, Bud!)

1) Tommy Lasorda vs. Vlad Guerrero's bat: Easily the funniest moment on this list, especially because it happened on such a high-profile stage. Lasorda, coaching third base during the 2001 All-Star Game, stood helplessly as Guerrero's bat shattered and spun through the air toward him. It seemed to happen in slow motion, like that suitcase at the beginning of The $6 Million Man. Lasorda got nailed in the hip and went down awkwardly, falling back and to the side. Even the photos of it are just hilarious. Meanwhile, in the American League dugout, Don Zimmer sat watching…

2) Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martinez: This happened during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS. It was supposed to be Martinez versus Roger Clemens, but after Clemens came inside against Manny Ramirez (following a beaning by Pedro), the benches emptied. And for some reason, Yankees bench coach Zimmer, all of 72 years young, decided he needed to take on Pedro. He charged Pedro and, at least live, it seemed like Martinez threw Zimmer to the ground. Upon further review, it became obvious that Pedro more accurately guided Zimmer to the turf -- face-first, sure but he did guide him.

3) Dick Bavetta vs. The Floor: It was a great idea: Retired NBA legend Charles Barkley in a foot race against active sexagenarian NBA ref Dick Bavetta during All-Star Weekend in Vegas. Before the race, Bavetta compared himself to Seabiscuit, but I don't think he meant the race where Seabiscuit broke his leg. Rather predictably, Barkley smoked Bavetta in the race. In an effort to spice up the ending, Bavetta inexplicably chose to dive headfirst across the finish line, scraping his knee in the process. (Barkley adds a bonus tumble.) Thanks to the NBA not hating their fans, you can see video of the race here.

4) Gregg Popovich vs. Robert Horry: I saw it with my own eyes during Game 2 of thie year's NBA Finals in San Antonio. While the rest of America was trying to figure out what the hell had happened at the end of the The Sopranos, the Spurs were polishing off the Cavs. And even though the game was pretty much over, Horry suddenly decided to show some hustle and he dove for a loose ball right along the scoreboard. Popovich appeared as shocked as anyone else, because he never moved out of the way and got floored by Horry. "I was hoping he wasn't going to move because I was trying to go the other way," Horry said later, "and I went right into him. But he got up fast."

5) Joe Paterno vs. two players: The 79-year-old Penn State coach was patrolling the sideline last season during a game against Wisconsin when the game suddenly came to him. Really hard. Paterno suffered a broken bone in his leg and required surgery and crutches, but will back on the sidelines next season. Not making light of the injury aspect, but

Can you add to the list? Let us know below…

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com.
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6/20/2007 12:03:00 PM

Mattingly's Five Best Hitters

Manny Ramirez
Manny Ramirez is a career .313 hitter.
Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images
By Richard Deitsch, SI.com

Cover your ears, Yankee fans: Don Mattingly says the best right-handed hitter he's ever seen is a Red Sox. "There's really nowhere to pitch to Manny Ramirez," says the Yankees' bench coach. "He's solid mechanically, he can hit the fastball, he'll hit the ball the other way, and he'll hit the breaking ball. Honestly, I think Manny is probably the best right-handed hitter I've ever seen."

Mattingly, who finished with a .307 career batting average, is a connoisseur of fine hitting. Here, he offers SI.com the five best hitters, in no particular order, he's seen from the start of his pro career in 1982:

1. Manny Ramirez: You can't just go pitch to him one way and think, 'Oh, you can get him here.' You've got to get him off balance somehow, and that's a very hard thing to do.

2. Edgar Martinez: He's right up there with the great right-handed hitters. He's tough to get out. Edgar seemed like he was always driving in big runs. I always look at the RBI guys. Guys that drive in runs, hit for average and power, well, they hurt you bad.

3. George Brett: You feared him. You looked at him as a guy that could hurt you in RBI situations. He could get a hit when he needed one. And he could get a hit the other way if he had to, even off a lefty. Then if you came in and tried to mess with him inside, he could hurt you deep.

4. Paul Molitor: One of the best hiitters I've ever seen. He didn't feel dangerous, but he was going to hurt you with hits.

5. Rickey Henderson: Maybe the player that impacted the game as much as anybody. He really changed the game. When he was going, he would walk and steal second and then he could go deep on you. He's another guy with great mechanics that was tough to get out. But I don't want to leave out guys like Dave Winfield and Cecil Cooper. They were great hitters. Even Derek Jeter. Jete is dangerous. He's one of those guys that always gets big hits.

Agree with Mattingly? Give us your list of the game's best hitters since '82.
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6/18/2007 01:13:00 PM

Five additions to the 2008 US Open

Angel Cabrera
Angel Cabrera survived the US Open's tough course to win the tournament by one stroke.
Photo by AP
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com

I didn't plan on it, but somehow I got suckered in to watching most of the US Open yesterday. Parked on the couch, I watched a few hours of challenging golf, although "challenging" may be too kind a word. The desire to construct a difficult course for a major championship is understandable, but it also means we viewers are treated to four days of defensive golf. Oakmont seemed unbelievably hard to play, so much so that the winner, Angel Cabrera, finished a sizeable 5-over par.

What we watched this weekend was basically extreme golf, requiring better-than-perfect shots with every swing. And that's not exciting, it's just tedious.

The US Open should be exciting, shouldn't it? Ain't that America, the home of the free? Let's make next year's US Open something to really remember. Here are five additions to the 2008 US Open that I'd like to see…

1. Land Mines: I don't mean the kind that injure and maim, but golf would certainly be more interesting if there were occasional devices implanted throughout the ground that would maybe give a guy a hotfoot or just spray smoke into the air. We don't want to see any damage done, just the occasional frightened golfer hopping a few feet into the air or into his caddy's arms.

2. Wind Machines: No need for tornado-force gales, but an occasional blast in the 15-20 mph range would be appreciated. It would also clear the smoke trail from behind John Daly.

3. Pirates: Hey, everyone loves pirates, and since ESPN is involved with the telecast it would seem an ideal cross-promotional vehicle for the DVD release of Pirates Of The Carribbean 4: What The Hell Is This About Anyway? Personally, I'd love seeing Captain Jack Sparrow burst from the woods and, with a flick of his sword, remove any and all valuables from Tiger's possession. Besides, Tiger has OnStar. He'll be fine.

4. Varied Traps: Limiting golf's traps to just sand seems rather, well, limiting. How about a few traps filled with jagged broken glass, or maybe just a trap on fire? Think that wouldn't make guys steer way clear?

5. Exploding Golf Balls: Call me simple, but I find few things funnier than the old exploding golf ball trick. Guy steps up to the ball, takes a few serious practice swings, then realizes he's been punked. I'm not going to limit your enjoyment -- go wild here. Of course, we'd have to get the caddies involved, so maybe we could get a sponsor to pitch in something like $1,000 each time a caddy made the old switcheroo.

How would you spice up next year's US Open? Let us know below…

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com.
posted by SI.com | View comments | Add a comment
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