Monday, September 15, 2008

Max Kellerman Monday Musings Vol XXVI - A multidiscipinary show

Today's Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny show (during the limited time that I listened to it today) seemed to be a nice melding of many different sports disciplines. I will try to get to a few of them in this post.

The first thing that I heard was a joint interview with Roy Jones, Jr and Joe Kalzagi (that's probably not how you spell it, but its worth a try). It was interesting to me because you could really see that Max was in his element because he was talking about his first love - boxing. Max was throwing questions at the two fighters (they will face each other in a match soon) and was putting each of them on the spot about their careers and what the upcoming fight will mean to the other. The fighters were quite complimentary to each other which is different than what you see in at the weigh ins. I always thought the antagonism at those events was for show.

Its funny, but before I met Max (actually well before I knew that I was going to meet him) I watched the Rocky movie with my wife and I pointed out Max as the ringside boxing commentator. He seemed like a kid in a candy shop, just don't pinch him so that he would wake up from being in a Rocky movie. I mentioned this to him when I met him, but I can't remember his response (sorry).

Before moving on to the rest of today's show (or at least the part that I heard), I want to touch on something that Max spoke about last week. There was a story brewing that the Jets and Giants were considering an offer from Allianz to sponsor the new stadium. Max was extremely outspoken about Allianz and their historical allegiance to Nazi Germany. He said that he would never go to the stadium if they took the Allianz name and then said a Yiddish phrase about never forgiving and never forgetting. Its no secret that Max's Jewish heritage is important to him and having someone who will not apologize for saying things like this is important for young Jews who have grown up three and four generations removed from the holocaust.

But back to Sports Today. Max talked about how Favre is trying to win the game by himself because he is throwing interceptions and forcing passes when he should trust his teammates to help him. I can't say that I necessarily agree, since his improvisation when a play is busted is less about doubting his teammates and more a question of trying to make something from nothing. Sometimes it turns out to be genius and others its a mistake. Still, a quarterback with skills and the willingness to take chances is a better asset than a percentage passer who can't fling it down field.

There was also a statement made about the Houston Astros playing a home game against the Cubs in Milwaukee. I actually had said something to my wife about this when they announced this Saturday night - how do you have a neutral site game when the Cubs are playing less than two hours away from Wrigley? Of course, Max framed it better than I could, pointing out that the Astros were no hit in front of screaming Cubs fans and it counted as a Houston home game in the standings.

Max also talked about how Jeter will pass the immortal Lou Gehrig with his next hit at home for most hits at Yankee Stadium. He then correctly noted that its a record which will never be broken because Yankee Stadium is being replaced. But then he offered this observation - Jeter did not have as many extra base hits as Gehrig.

As usual (in my opinion) Max infused his show with Torah thought. Many times, people get caught up in the superficial numbers - hey look he has more career hits then the other. However, what's behind the numbers can be even more important. Max and Brian love to tout the OPS stat (On Base Plus Slugging) as a true barometer of a player's worth, because things like RBIs (Yes, I said RBIs) can also be a function of who is on base ahead of you. Its looking behind the gaudy numbers at what the substance is in baseball that allows you to understand the true value of the player. A similar concept is found in Torah Judaism. The Gemara (Ta'anis) relates how on Tu B'av the single girls who were looking for husbands would all go out wearing borrowed dresses so that no one would be embarrassed and all would have the same stature. Why? Because one's value cannot be determined solely by looking at the outer shell.

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