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FILE - In this Aug. 4, 1985, file photo, Chicago White Sox pitcher Tom Seaver reacts as a fly ball hit by New York Yankees' Don Baylor is caught, ending the game and giving Seaver his 300th win, in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York. Seaver, the galvanizing leader of the Miracle Mets 1969 championship team and a pitcher who personified the rise of expansion teams during an era of radical change for baseball, has died. He was 75. The Hall of Fame said Wednesday night, Sept. 2, 2020, that Seaver died Aug. 31 from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19. (AP Photo/Forrest Anderson, File)

Rest easy Tom Terrific

With all apologies to Tom Brady, there is only one Tom Terrific and it was George Thomas Seaver.

Tom Seaver died earlier this week. He was 75.

His baseball accomplishments were the stuff of all-time legends. A true Hall of Famer as a pitcher and a person is an easy posthumous phrase that is used too often, but it certainly applies to Seaver.

He won 311 games, struck out 3,640 hitters and had a career 2.86 ERA, which gets you quickly to Tom Terrific, but how about Tom Tough? He had 516 decisions in 647 starts, which means he figured in the outcome in 80 percent of the games he walked to the mound.

Want more toughness? Despite being the hardest thrower of his generation not named Nolan (or maybe J.R. Richard, who was a boss for those unaware), he was the personification of that starter-and-finisher era for No. 1 frontline pitchers. In those 647 starts, Seaver averaged 7.1 innings per. Think about that. In this day and age as we celebrate Max Fried going six innings and allowing two runs, Seaver would have been ticked about that outing.

With three Cy Youngs and 10 finishes among the top-10 in his 20 years, Seaver's easily one of the 10 greatest pitchers ever and fashioned a motion as iconic as any of the superstars of any sport of his generation.  

One more pitching note: Seaver fanned a record 10 hitters in a row, which is amazing enough and is still a record. But if that does not give you pause, now know that those were the final 10 hitters of a complete game.

But, this one hit me harder than most. Seaver was the figure of my first professional sports memory, even though I grew up a Dodgers fan and rooting against Seaver during his days with the Reds in the late 1970s and into the 1980s.

In July of 1976, Seaver was at the tail end of his time with the Mets (he was traded to Cincinnati the next summer) and was starting against the Braves.

We had a big group outing — not sure if it was the Jaycees, which my parents were active members in, or the ballpark or whatever — and had tickets in the old picnic area at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.

At that time a Mets-Braves games — Atlanta was well on its way to last place, some 32 games behind the Reds in the NL West — had the same attendance as a county commission meeting, but it was always a thrill to go to the game. And before I get into the "Get off my lawn" and "Turn down that rock-n-roll" lanes that Spy, Chas and Ron call their own, this was the only way to see MLB games other than a Saturday afternoon broadcast and the postseason.

Seaver was the starter, and the old picnic areas were down the foul lines right next to the field. We were down the third-base line, and the opposing team's bullpen at Fulton County was right there next to the stands.

So Seaver finishes his warm-ups and is walking back to the dugout. I was looking through binoculars — my old man was a big believer in binoculars and toted them to every sporting event we attended, whether we were sitting on the front row or the in the Uecker seats — and Seaver eased up and looked through the other end of the glasses.

As you know, anything that close on the other end of binoculars makes the everything in the glasses go completely dark. At the tender age of 5 — I would have been 6 later that year — it startled me and I dropped the binoculars and thought I had broken them, which then made me upset.

So standing there, Seaver was trying to be playful and then is standing there as a 5-year-old is squalling. He felt terrible, and of course was not to blame, but he was super apologetic. He signed several autographs and a couple of baseballs, and I didn't know until later, but offered to pay for the binoculars and gave my father tickets for the next day's game.

It was one of dad's favorite stories to tell. Tom Terrific, indeed.    

 

Fab 4 (plus 1) picks

In some ways, this may be the most normal thing since early March around these parts.

Through the years we have had several pieces and additions to the 5-at-10, be them regular items or regular readers.

Some were short-lived — not sure how many of you guys and gals were around back then, but early on the 5-at-10 came our at 10 a.m. and the 2:00 Drill was a follow-up piece at 2 p.m. That became too (2:00) much.

Some become constants — think contests and the Rushmores.

Well, among those is the Fab 4 picks, which has been a part of this song and dance since the 2011 college football season. Wow, we've been doing this a long time; it will be 10 full years later next month.

And even amid the Corona, we've got games, so naturally, we got picks. (Lines are from VegasInsider.com as of Thursday morning.)

Memphis minus-18 over Arkansas State. Runaway, friends. RUN-a-way. Not run away as in, "Hey Intern Scott, run away from this game." Runaway in "Hey Memphis is up 34-3 at the half this game is a runaway." Know this: Teams with returning starters at quarterback, especially early, get a huge edge in my book considering the lack of spring and the unprecedented preseason. Side note: The over under is in the 70s, and Memphis is going to get the vast, Vast, VAST majority of those.

SMU minus-20.5 over Texas State. See above, and did you know that Shane Buechele, yes, the former Texas QB and son of the former major leaguer, is still in school? Isn't he like 42 years old?

South Alabama plus-15 against Southern Miss. Both teams return starting quarterbacks, but more than two TDs is simply too many. South Alabama was a different team down the stretch last year after turning the offense over to Desmond Trotter late last season.

UAB minus-19 over Central Arkansas. We covered the importance of a returning QB, well, how about a team returning 18 starters? UAB checks that box, and despite the Bears already having a game under their belt, we'll ride with the Blazers, who are an eye-popping 18-0 at home since the program was restarted in 2017. So there's that.

Army minus-3 over MTSU. Hey, speaking of traditions and feeling normal Buy the half friends. That's right. Heck, let's do it cheerleader style to the tune of "hold that line." "Buy That Half! Buy That Half!"

This season: 0-0

Last year: 85-64-4 (57.1 percent against the spread)

 

Comings and goings

With that the Jamie Newman era in Athens is over. Here's more from college football ace David Paschall, who only wrote three stories for today's TFP. Slacker.

The Georgia slant is that Newman was losing status on the UGA QB chart. The rest of the SEC slant is, "Horray, a super talented Georgia roster is now crossing its fingers that J.T. Daniels is going to get cleared or turn that offense over to a newbie."

Either way, UGA is deep and talented, but without Daniels being cleared, you have to think the Gators are frothing at the chance to dethrone the Bulldogs' run atop the SEC East.

That said, wow, what kind of story would it be if Justin Fields came back to Athens? Buckets of intrigue and outrage, and yes Fields was at Georgia's closed scrimmage over the weekend.

Again, as we said earlier this weekend with LSU star wideout Ja'Marr Chase, this will not be the last college star to opt out this season.

 

This and that

— Here are the other two college football stories from Paschall's pen, first on how UT's crowded QB room is a good thing in Chris Wienke's eyes and an inspiring return to the field for an Alabama player.

— Man, no classes on campus this fall at Harvard for the first time in 384 years. Hey Spy, how was that first fall at Harvard?

— As a Falcons follower, do the Tampa Bay Bucs not have to follow the salary cap? Asking for a friend. The latest addition to an offense that has already added Brady and Gronk is reportedly Leonard Fournette. So there's that.

 

Today's questions

What is your first professional sports memory?

Best pitcher you ever saw in person? Seaver was on my short list, with Maddux and a slew of others. Best performance I ever saw was easy. I was in the stands when Randy Johnson was perfect against the Braves in 2004.

As for today, well, Sept. 3 would have been my dad's 79th birthday. Rest easy Pop.
Everyone called him Pop. Rushmore of 'Pop' and be creative and don't forget the mailbag.

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