In this June, 1949 photo, St. Louis Cardinals player Stan Musial kissed his wife, Lillian, at the ballpark in St. Louis. The Cardinals said Lillian Musial died on Thursday, May 3, 2012. She was 91.
Editors Note: Occasionally The Boys Are Back blog will feature a special post not directly related to the Dallas Cowboys. Stan Musial was an unusual personality in the sports world. His passing marks an end to a truly remarkable era. Mr. Musial was a class act, on and off the field.
Courtesy: Mark Feeney | Boston Globe | January 19, 2013
Stan Musial, “Stan the Man,” who was the National League’s preeminent player in the decade after World War II and whose 22 seasons playing the outfield and first base for the St. Louis Cardinals earned him a place in baseball’s Hall of Fame, died at his home in Ladue, Mo., at the age of 92, according to the Cardinals.
“We have lost the most beloved member of the Cardinals family,” said William DeWitt Jr., chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals in a statement posted on the team’s website. “Stan Musial was the greatest player in Cardinals history and one of the best players in the history of baseball.”
In a 1952 article, the legendary Hall of Fame outfielder Ty Cobb wrote, “No man has ever been a perfect ballplayer. Stan Musial, however, is the closest to being perfect in the game today.”
For all that Mr. Musial may have approached perfection, he never had a mystique, the way his slightly older counterparts Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams did, or the somewhat younger Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. Mr. Musial played far from the New York media spotlight. He had no hallowed statistic attached to his name, like DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak or Williams’ .406 batting average in 1941.
Mr. Musial, the sportswriter Jimmy Cannon said, “plays ball with a methodical gaiety and does not surrender to the moods which govern the other great ball players.” Among those alien moods was anxiety. An enthusiastic harmonica player, Mr. Musial performed the national anthem at opening day in St. Louis in 1994 with the conductor of the St. Louis Symphony’s pops concerts. Mr. Musial confided to him it was the first time he had ever felt “nervous on the field.”
The most distinctive thing about Mr. Musial was his batting stance, a coiled crouch once compared to “a man peeking around the corner.” What made Mr. Musial extraordinary was what he did, not who he was. There was nothing flamboyant or colorful about him, either on the field or off. It was no small irony that “Stan the Man” inspired one of the most memorable baseball nicknames of the 1970s when a teammate dubbed the notably eccentric relief pitcher Don Stanhouse “Stan the Man Unusual.”
FOXBOROUGH – Vince Wilfork knew something was up with the Cowboys’ offense.
Guarding a 13-13 tie with just under six minutes left in yesterday’s game, the Patriots’ defense was put to the test.
With the Cowboys facing third and goal from the New England 5, Wilfork alerted his teammates that something different was coming, he just didn’t know what.
The big tackle warned the defense. Linebacker Brandon Spikes picked up on Wilfork’s signal. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo then tossed a shovel pass to Tashard Choice and Spikes bolted through the line and dropped the running back for a 3-yard loss that forced the Cowboys to settle for a 26-yard field goal.
It was the first of two critical stops in the final minutes for the defense.
For all of the holes in the defense this season, the group banded together to give the Patriots a chance to win yesterday, finding ways to pressure Romo, make stops, and force turnovers in a 20-16 victory at Gillette Stadium.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass as with pressure by Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent (92) during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
By Howard Ulman | AP Sports Writer | October 16, 2011
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—Down three points. Barely two minutes left. One thought on Tom Brady’s mind.
“You can’t not get the ball in the end zone,” the master of late comebacks said.
That’s where he got it, throwing an 8-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez with 22 seconds left and giving the New England Patriots a 20-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
“He’s probably one of the toughest competitors I’ve ever seen, especially from a quarterback standpoint,” Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. “There was plenty of time for our offense.
“When it mattered the most, they came up with what we needed.”
It was the 32nd successful comeback of Brady’s career in games the Patriots trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter. And it came against a solid defense — ranked fourth in the NFL — that had allowed just one touchdown on the Patriots first nine possessions.
“When you’re playing against a quarterback like Tom Brady, he’s going to go down as one of the all-time greats,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “So you have to try to make it hard on him.”
The New England Patriots face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday a week after taking on their AFC East rival New York Jets. That means two straight weeks of defenses constructed by the Ryan family, with Rob Ryan the defensive coordinator of the Cowboys and his twin Rex Ryan the head coach of the Jets.
As Ian R. Rapoport of the Boston Herald puts it, “One game-planning, kryptonite-wielding, big-belly sporting, gadget-creating defensive guru down, one to go.”
Rob Ryan is a former New England assistant coach, but the Patriots didn’t get a warm response from him the last time the Patriots faced him. When Ryan was with the Browns, Cleveland stifled the Patriots, with only 68 rushing yards allowed and two fumbles forced. Rapoport writes that a key was confusion.
“Rob Ryan reversed everyone’s position on the Browns defense, taking the right defensive end and making him the left defensive end, for instance. He unveiled a walk-around look with as few as one defensive linemen, making it nearly impossible for the Pats to gauge their blocking assignments.”
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FOXBOROUGH – If you think it isn’t loud at Gillette Stadium, listen up.
When Deion Branch hauled in a Tom Brady touchdown pass against the Jets Sunday, most of the 65,000 fans at Gillette Stadium rose as one, threw their arms skyward, and screamed.
A sound meter on the field near the end zone recorded 106.4 decibels. And that was on the open end of the stadium. Tests show that the enclosed side is 10 decibels higher, which would make the noise higher than the 115 decibels the Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers dangerous for any length of time.
Even coach Bill Belichick noticed the extra fan enthusiasm for the game against the Jets.
“They were definitely into the game, no question about it,’’ he said.
The hooded master says there is a difference between the noise on the field and in the stands.
“To tell you the truth, when you’re down on the field, it’s like a constant roar,’’ said Belichick. “It goes up and it comes down a little bit, but it’s a constant roar.’’
Last month, in an audible that was deemed politically incorrect, Tom Brady called on Patriots fans to be “lubed’’ and loud for the home opener. Fans seem to have gotten the message. Safety James Ihedigbo credits Brady for getting the hometown fans pumped.
“Definitely,’’ said Ihedigbo. “I’m glad he called them out.’’
Ihedigbo, who played three years for the Jets, also did his part. He continually gestured for fans to rise up on big third-down plays, and the sound meter jumped 10 decibels.
“The fans are amazing,’’ he said. “I say we appreciate them. We need them every single game to be as loud or louder than they were.’’
Domed stadiums are traditionally louder than open-air venues. On Monday night at Ford Field in Detroit, the visiting Bears had nine false starts, prompting Lions coach Jim Schwartz to thank the city of Detroit. At Gillette, the Jets had one.
“When an offensive lineman jumps, it’s because of crowd noise,’’ says Ihedigbo. “We’ve got to increase that.’’
Ihedigbo said the fans at Gillette are louder than Jets fans at East Rutherford, N.J.
“They’re like the 12th man on the field,’’ he said.
Special teams captain Matthew Slater also credits Brady.
“I’m sure it didn’t hurt that he urged them on to support us, but it has been a little louder this year, I’ve noticed it,’’ said Slater.
Covering a Patriots game on the sideline with a sound meter is full of surprises.
Standing next to the End Zone Militia, who fire their muskets after every Patriots score, is as big a mistake as having Ellis Hobbs cover Plaxico Burress man-to-man in the Super Bowl. The musket produces a 113.3 decibel measurement, more than the average human pain threshold, according to a Purdue University study.
The loudest noise for a defensive play Sunday occurred when the Patriots challenged a Burress completion and the play was reversed. The crowd roared at 106 decibels – louder than a jackhammer.
The quietest sequence was the moment of silence observed for late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis. It registered at 62.1, roughly the sound of conversation in an office.
When the Patriots flashed a message on the Jumbotron imploring fans to “Make Some Noise,’’ it came in at 94.4. They also post “Quiet Offense@Work,’’ when the Patriots have the ball, reminding fans that Brady likes to call audibles.
Patriots fans have been criticized for being spoiled by success, complacent, and more concerned with beating the horrendous Gillette Stadium traffic than supporting their team.
In January 2010, Vince Wilfork complained that it “felt like a road game’’ when the home team was booed early in a playoff loss to the Ravens.
There were times in the pre-Robert Kraft era when Patriots fans were reluctant to take their families to games because of vulgar, rowdy crowd behavior. But now some fans complain that the atmosphere in the stands is more like a night at the opera.
“We have the greatest football team in the NFL in the last 12 years,’’ said longtime Patriots fan Patrick Frechette. “When I stand up on third down, a lot of people in my section will be like, ‘Sit down.’ I don’t like that. I want to bring on the noise, support my team. I want to root on my team.’’
The Patriots say they are only responding to fan complaints; they, too, want fans up and cheering on big plays.Frechette also noted that the cushy corporate-level seats are half-empty if the weather is inclement.
“Look at the red seats in the fourth quarter,’’ he said. “They are going to empty out no matter what the score is.’’
On Sunday, only a few fans left during the two-minute warning with the Patriots up by 6 points and moving into field goal position.
Brady called out fans last year after a season-opening 38-24 win against the Bengals.
“When I looked up, half the stadium was gone when we were up 21 points in the early fourth quarter, which I wasn’t so happy about,’’ he said.
This year, he told them before the Chargers game “to start drinking early,’’ prompting Patriots spokesman Stacey James to say Brady meant to stay hydrated.
But Sunday’s game was a perfect storm of positive energy, summer like weather, and a thirst for revenge after last year’s season-ending loss to the Jets.
In the pregame ceremony, the Patriots invited the entire Bruins team on the field (101.5 decibels). Nathan Horton squirted TD Garden “holy water’’ on the Patriots logo (98) and Zdeno Chara hoisted the Stanley Cup (98).
When Brady was introduced, he received a 98.4-decibel roar of approval, a close second to the 102.0 that greeted Bruins goalie Tim Thomas before the season opener at the Garden.
The Patriots cheerleaders received 85.1 decibels, proving that in New England an old-fashioned kick save is more valued than a well-fashioned kicking heel.
There were other surprises.
The longest and flashiest play of the game was Wes Welker’s 73-yard over-the-shoulder catch. It was good for only 13th place at 102.3 decibels, perhaps because it was the first play from scrimmage after the half.
But whatever you do, don’t ask the End Zone Militia about the noise. At least not after the Patriots score, which this season is early and often.
“What?’’ said musketeer Bill Gundling, edging closer and cupping his ear. “Huh?’’
Courtesy: Stan Grossfeld | Boston Globe