In 1964, Ron Hunt was a young second baseman just starting to make his bones in the big leagues. He played for the Mets, a terrible team still years away from transforming into Amazin’ glory. On May 9 of that year, they were playing the mighty Cardinals, a loaded team that would go on to win the World Series. The man on the mound that day was Bob Gibson, one of the best and most terrifying fireballers in baseball history.Gibson had staked the Cards to a big lead, and he now needed just two more outs to bag a complete-game win. Hunt was due up next, and he knew all about Gibson’s blazing fastball, his tendency to come inside with it, and his neverending quest to intimidate batters into submission.“I started messing with my shoelaces,” said Hunt 51 years later, speaking in short, hard-edged bursts from his farm in Wentzville, Missouri.At the time, he figured that fiddling with his laces and stalling for time would do one of two things: Break Gibson’s concentration, piss the big right-hander off, or both. A warning rang out from the dugout: “ ‘Gibson is gonna drill you!’ Sure enough, he hits me.”Shaking off the impact of the pitch, Hunt spotted the ball coming to rest near his feet. He picked it up, turned toward Gibson … and flipped it back to him. Trotting down to first base, Hunt was greeted by first baseman Bill White, who wanted to know if Hunt was OK after getting drilled by the one fastball that caused more nightmares than any other of his generation.“Yeah, I’m all right,” Hunt replied indignantly. “Now tell that fucker to go warm up!” 5Jason Kendall199831 2Don Baylor198635 1Ron Hunt197150 6Steve Evans191031 Flipping balls back to pitchers wasn’t something Hunt reserved for titans of the game like Gibson. He did it nearly every time after getting plunked by a pitch. And nobody in baseball’s modern era has been hit more times in one season than Hunt. He retired in 1974 with 243 hit-by-pitches (HBPs)1Don Baylor broke that post-Dead Ball Era record in 1987, and Craig Biggio subsequently passed Baylor in 2005. Hughie Jennings remains the all-time leader with 287, but he played most of his career in the 19th century., but his record-breaking season came when he was playing for the Montreal Expos in 1971. That year, he got plunked 50 times, still the highest total for anyone after 1900.2Jennings did get hit 51 times in 1896. But when you consider that spitballs were legal (and incredibly hard to control) in the 19th century (thus causing more wayward balls to hit batters), and that the overall level of play in those days was much more uneven due to a lack of talent, Hunt’s total of 50 is more impressive.It’s one thing to be a record-holder. It’s quite another to absolutely obliterate the field in one statistical category. Check out how far ahead of the pack Hunt’s 50 HBPs look compared to all other post-1900 totals. PLAYERYEARHBP 3Craig Biggio199734 7Craig Wilson200430 9Craig Biggio200128 8Fernando Vina200028 4Jason Kendall199731 That’s a 43 percent spread between Hunt’s 50 and Baylor’s runner-up effort. Pick your most unbreakable record, and Hunt’s dominance dwarfs it. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak? Pete Rose came closer to Joe D at 44 than Baylor did to Hunt.3We’re not counting Willie Keeler’s 45-game hitting streak, from 1896 to 1897, to stay consistent on post-1900 numbers. Cy Young’s 511 wins? Walter Johnson’s 417 Ws came closer. Barry Bonds’s 73 homers in 2001? Nope. Hack Wilson’s 191 RBIs in 1930? Nope. You could argue that in modern baseball history, no player ever crushed all others in any one facet of the game the way Hunt did with his plunk-fest in 1971.When we assemble every player since 1900 who’s ever logged 502 or more plate appearances in a season,4The minimum required to qualify for a batting title. Hunt’s lonely spot way over on the right side of that chart is 13 standard deviations above average for hit-by-pitches in a season. If you’re not a math expert, think about that number this way: There’s ostensibly nothing in our everyday lives that could ever be anywhere close to 13 standard deviations above the norm — not a man who’s 8 feet tall, or 700 pounds, or blessed with a 200 IQ.When you’re 13 standard deviations ahead of any other season, it suggests somebody didn’t just get lucky — he got really, really good.“His hitting style was that he crowded the plate,” said Bill Stoneman, Hunt’s teammate for three seasons in Montreal, including his record-breaking campaign. “Back when we played, pitchers pitched inside a little more than they do now. When that pitch came inside, he didn’t budge. He just let the thing hit him.”“First I would blouse the uniform — this big, wool uniform, I would make sure it was nice and loose,” Hunt said. “Then I’d choke way up on the bat, and stand right on top of the plate. That way, I could still reach the outside pitch. That was the Gil Hodges philosophy on hitting: The two inches on the outside corner were the pitcher’s, the rest was his. I thought, ‘If I can take away those two inches, and he’s not perfect, I can put the ball in play and get some hits. And if he comes inside, I can get on base that way, too.’ ”This, to Hunt, was gamesmanship, a way for a power-deficient hitter to gain an edge on the pitcher both physically and mentally. It was also, if we’re applying the letter of baseball law, illegal. A right-handed batter, Hunt would set up with his left arm hanging over the plate. Major League Baseball’s Rule 6.08(b) stipulates that the batter must make an “attempt to avoid being touched by the ball” to be awarded first base after getting hit by a pitch. Hunt made no such attempt.“The ball would be headed toward his elbow or his ribcage,” said Dave Van Horne, who called Expos games on TV and radio for the first 32 years of the franchise’s existence. “He would turn his back away from the pitcher and deflect the ball with that spin move, so that he avoided those direct hits. To the average person, it would look like he was trying to get out of the way of the pitch, when, in fact, he just wanted to stand in there and take it.”“Did the umpires know what he was doing?” Van Horne asked rhetorically. “Sure. But I don’t think they wanted to get into many arguments with him!”At 6 feet tall, 186 pounds, Hunt wasn’t the biggest guy, even if he was strong for his size. But it was his fearlessness, as well as his quick and nasty temper, that earned him respect within the game. No other player, then or now, had the courage to flip baseballs back to pitchers after getting hit. Most players don’t want to piss off the guy who could hold your life in his hands, and really don’t want to do it when that guy is Bob Gibson.Never was Hunt’s win-at-all costs approach better on display than in 1971. His HBP pace started relatively slowly that season, with Hunt getting hit seven times in his first 33 games. Then on May 26, he put on a clinic, reaching base four times in five trips to the plate, via a walk, a trademark slap single, and two plunks in an 11-1 over the Braves. On June 6, Padres lefty Dave Roberts fired a nine-hit shutout against the Expos … and Hunt still found a way to get hit twice. On June 25, he absorbed three blows in a single day, with one HBP in the first game of a doubleheader, and two more in the nightcap; that first one came against Nolan Ryan, whose fastball could bore a hole into Fort Knox. Finally, on Aug. 7, Hunt led off the game against Reds right-hander Jim McGlothlin … and got nailed for the 32nd time that season, breaking the 20th-century record held by long-ago Cardinals outfielder Bobby Evans.But he still had 18 bruises and one major brawl to go. Ten days later, Hunt led off the top of the third against Padres righty Steve Arlin. He took a fastball in the ribs, winced, then watched the ball come to a dead stop right next to him. Keeping with tradition, Hunt picked the ball up and gently tossed it back to Arlin. His next at-bat came in the fifth, with a runner on first and nobody out. Again Arlin tried to come inside with a fastball. Again he whacked Hunt with the pitch, this time on the arm. The ball bounded a few feet up the first-base line. Hunt walked toward it, ready to scoop the ball up and lob it back. Padres catcher Bob Barton, widely regarded as a nice guy, had had enough of Hunt’s act. Barton scurried to the ball, and grabbed it before Hunt could get it. Hunt turned toward Barton, ripped his mask off with two hands, and punched him right in the jaw. A fight ensued, the benches emptied, and in the end Hunt was the only player ejected. He returned to the lineup the next day and got drilled by Padres lefty Fred Norman.Hunt took all of that beating with pride. He was keenly aware of his limited talent and reveled in beating his opponents with guile, and a mean streak.All that abuse took its toll over the years. Now 73 years old, Hunt can reel off his 15 surgeries, 12 of them from baseball: one on the left shoulder, four on the right, both knees, a steel rod in his back, you name it. And none of that counts the injuries he’d shake off to play the next day.5Hunt’s manager in Montreal, the equally scrappy Gene Mauch, knew that his second baseman frequently played hurt, so he’d occasionally lead off with Hunt on the road, then pull him in for a pinch-runner if he reached base to start the game. Don Drysdale once threw a fastball so hard, it left a baseball-shaped imprint on Hunt’s shoulder blade for weeks.Hunt eventually gave in, donning a protective rubber sleeve around his ribs that was so tight, it was painful to watch him pull it on. That one provision aside, Hunt’s body was fair game, with none of the modern armor that helped next-generation HBP leaders like Biggio trot to first base again and again.Jacques Doucet, a sportswriter for La Presse in Montreal for the Expos’ first three seasons and the French-language TV voice of the team for their final 33 years, was one of Hunt’s closest friends. They’d go on fishing trips together, with Hunt airing his grievances against half the league and Doucet sitting and listening. They remain close to this day, with Hunt offering little nuggets of baseball wisdom that never fail to make Doucet smile.“Ronnie always used to say one thing to me in jest,” Doucet said. “ ‘A lot of people give their body to science. I gave mine to baseball.’ ”
Ohio State redshirt junior midfielder Brady Blackwell (4) protects the ball from a Falcon during the Ohio State-BGSU game on Sep. 22. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorEighteen minutes into the first period of the Ohio State men’s soccer game on Sept. 26 against Detroit Mercy, redshirt junior midfielder Brady Blackwell flicked in a shot four yards out from the net and scored his first career goal as a Buckeye.Blackwell’s collegiate soccer story doesn’t begin in Columbus, Ohio, however, and it wasn’t always easy. He spent two seasons playing soccer at San Diego State University before he made the decision to transfer 2,263 miles back home and attend Ohio State.Growing up in Dublin, Ohio, 10 minutes away from Ohio State’s campus, it was always a dream for Blackwell to don a scarlet and gray jersey and play soccer for the Buckeyes.“When the opportunity presented itself to come home, I couldn’t pass it up,” Blackwell said.A little over a year ago, Blackwell was working hard during the preseason prior to his junior year at a new school with a new team.That preparation came to a halt when he was injured. It forced him to take a medical redshirt and stand on the sidelines while he watched his teammates play the 2016 season without him.“It was just tough having to watch my teammates work and not being able to help out,” Blackwell said. “I tried to encourage them and do all I could, but there’s nothing like competing and practicing with your teammates.”Blackwell said it was frustrating not being on the field with his team, but ultimately, he took his injury as a learning experience.“I was very upset I couldn’t help contribute in my first season here at OSU,” Blackwell said. “But that’s part of the sport, and I think the injury helped me learn some important lessons.”Fast forward to the 2017 season and Blackwell is healed from his injury and trying to make every second of this year count.So far this season, Blackwell has played in 13 games for Ohio State, started 11 matches and added one goal to his list of accomplishments.Being injured can be detrimental to a player’s future career and success, but Blackwell said being injured made him appreciate the game even more and motivated him to work harder.“It’s important to play and train hard everyday, because you have no idea when something like an injury might happen,” Blackwell said. “Overall, it just made me respect the opportunity I’ve been given.”Blackwell’s return to play has been a huge boost to the Buckeyes success in the season so far, his teammates said. In the midfield, Blackwell’s ability to dictate the flow and tempo of the game has made a large impact on Ohio State’s game, said senior defender Niall Logue.“Last year we knew he was going to be a big player for us,” Logue said. “In the preseason he got the news that he was going to have to medical redshirt, and that was a huge blow for us, especially in the midfield.”For the Buckeyes, having a roster filled with 15 freshmen requires plenty of leadership from the few upperclassmen. Blackwell delivers that much-needed command both on and off the field, Logue said.“Having him back this year is a big influence in a leadership way as well,” Logue said. “He’s a big personality in the locker room.”After experiencing different trials and tribulations throughout his collegiate soccer career, Blackwell brings a lot of wisdom to the team. “I’ve played at two different universities and have gained experience along the way. My injury humbled me and allowed me to take a step back and observe the opportunity we have as Ohio State athletes,” Blackwell said. “I hope that I can encourage younger players to take nothing for granted, and to train and play everyday like it’s your last.”
A jubilant Jurgen Klopp has warned Real Madrid that his Liverpool side will be “on fire” when they meet in the Champions League final later this monthThe Reds scrapped through a tricky return leg against AS Roma on Wednesday night with a 7-6 aggregate win to book their place in the final, despite losing 4-2 to the Italian side at the Stadio Olimpico on the night.However, next up for Liverpool will be the 12-time Champions League winners Real on May 26 at Kiev.But Klopp, who led his Borussia Dortmund side to victory against Los Galacticos in the 2013 semi-finals of the competition, is certain that his players will up for the challenge of defying the odds and prevent Real from winning a third consecutive title.“Going to a final is really nice. I did it a few times but winning it is even nicer. We will be ready,” said the Liverpool manager, according to SportsKeeda.“You cannot be more experienced in the competition than Real Madrid. I think pretty much 80 percent of the team played all these finals four times in the last five years and they are still together.“So if we talk about experience, they are experienced and we are not. But we will be really on fire, you can imagine.Report: Origi cause Klopp injury concerns George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Divock Origi injury in today’s game against Newcastle is a cause for concern for Jurgen Klopp.Perhaps with one eye on Tuesday’s trip to Italy…“We are looking forward to it but before that, we have to play two more Champions League semi-finals in the Premier League. That is first of all the job to do.“Then we’ll have two weeks to prepare for the final and we will use that time.”A concerning fact for Klopp is that he has lost five of his six finals in his managerial career and the German is aware that his Liverpool side still way some way to go yet.“Look, we were in the League Cup final and we didn’t win it. People don’t tell me in the street since then, ‘Thank you for bringing us to the final’,” said the 50-year-old.“We were in the Europa League final. I didn’t see any trophies after these games.“They don’t hang silver medals at Melwood. That’s the pity, that’s the game. So there’s still a job to do but that’s how it is.”
Nikola Kalinic was officially presented as Atletico Madrid’s newest number nine on Monday afternoon and he promised the fans that he intends to give it his all at the clubAfter a difficult season at AC Milan, the Croatian striker opted to end his three-year stay in Italy for a move to the Spanish capital with Atletico for an undisclosed fee.Kalinic will have big boots to fill at the Wanda Metropolitano this season after being handed club legend Fernando Torres’ iconic number nine jersey following the Spaniard’s departure to Japan at the end of last season.But Kalinic is up for the challenge and revealed just how much it means to him to join Los Rojiblancos.“I’m going to give it my all for the team,” said the 30-year-old on the club website.“I’ve been following Atlético for a while and I’m excited to fight for my spot.”The Croatia international got his first taste of playing for Diego Simeone’s side in a pre-season friendly against Inter Milan at home over the weekend.Now Kalinic is looking to make his official debut for Atletico in Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup clash with city rivals Real Madrid at Estonia.Zidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.“I felt good in my first match in this magnificent stadium,” he said.“We’re going to give it our all on Wednesday and I hope we win.”Club president Enrique Cerezo welcomed home Atletico’s newest recruit.“Kalinic is a talented forward, who has shown in the Italian league that he’s a great player,” Cerezo said.“We’re sure you’re going to give it your all here. Welcome to your new home and team.”?⚪? | #BienvenidoKalinic? Kalinic: “Vengo a darlo todo por el Atlético”.#AúpaAtleti pic.twitter.com/IYlcQLxRzx— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) August 13, 2018
Real Madrid midfielder Isco rose to the defence of under-fire manager Julen Lopetegui by claiming that the responsibility of the team’s displays lies with the playersThe pressure is at an all-time high for Lopetegui in his four-month reign in charge of Real following Saturday’s shock 2-1 home defeat to the lowly Levante.The former Spain boss is being widely tipped to be dismissed from his post before Sunday’s El Clasico game with Barcelona.But Lopetegui stated his intention to fight on earlier today and Isco revealed that both himself and the entire squad are behind their manager.“I do not believe that the press has the power to sack a Madrid coach,” said Isco ahead of Real’s Champions League game with Viktoria Plzen, on Sport.Mourinho: “Lionel Messi made me a better coach” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho believes the experience of going up against Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at Real Madrid made him a greater coach.“The controversy that you want to create in the dressing room is not there. We trust in the staff that we have and in what we have done.“The boss has all our confidence. It would be crazy [to sack him]. You have to let him work.“If you sack the coach you have to sack us all because we are the ones on the field – this is something for everyone, not just the coach.“Historically, people who criticise us come back later with their tail between their legs once we win Champions League.”
Kolkata: Aedes Aegypti mosquito which is responsible for transmitting dengue virus into your body is lured by deep colour of clothes. Deep red, deep black and deep blue are the three colours that attract dengue mosquitoes towards a person, said Vector Control Officer of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation Debasish Biswas. Speaking at an interactive session on dengue, Biswas said: “These three colours are spotted by an Aedes Aegypti, female mosquito, from a distance of 10 metres. The shadow of these colours help the insect in the sighting and it is attracted towards these colours. So it is better to avoid these colours at least from June to October which are the months in which dengue cases are the maximum.” Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsThe event was held at Rabindra Sadan organised by the KMC’s Health department on Saturday. Fashion designer Agnimitra Paul suggested roping in cricketers and film stars for the campaign. “I have seen that when some brand is endorsed by a cricketer or a film star, it has more appeal. The same process may also be followed in the KMC’s awareness programmes about dengue,” Paul added. Member Mayor-in-Council (Health) Atin Ghosh welcomed the proposal and said the civic body will give it a serious thought. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedSpeaking at the programme, Ghosh said the objective of the programme was to make all the stakeholders aware of the treatment protocol of the vector-borne disease that is made by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) every year. “We want that treatment at all hospitals, health centres (both government and private) of vector-borne diseases would be of the same pattern as per the guidelines of World Health Organisation (WHO). We have invited all hospitals, both government and private, in the programme to hand over the treatment protocol. We will also be sending it to other stakeholders who failed to attend the programme,” Ghosh said.He urged the doctors dealing with dengue to consider the treatment to be a part of social cause. Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, in a word of advice to the councillors and borough chairmans who attended the programme, said not to create unnecessary panic over dengue.”The civic body is fully geared up to fight dengue and we will strive in ensuring that there is not a single death due to this disease,” Chatterjee said.He reiterated that deaths due to dengue in the state are much less than most other states in the country.