So long to Rick Hummel, “The Commish,” long time beat writer who covered the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team for five decades, most recently for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He passed just a few days ago at age 77.
Over time, he ascended to the top of the sports writers heap, taking the mantle from my childhood writing heroes, Bob Broeg and Bob Burnes, who worked for the two competing St. Louis dailies. They also were legends and dominated not only print but often be heard on KMOX radio as the experts they were.
Hummel fit that mold well as his generation’s undisputed expert on the Cardinals. and while the aforementioned twosome seemed to almost be bigger than the stories they covered, the Commish never seemed to be. I felt that he was a somewhat low key, humble human being: an old school journalist, who never let himself get bigger than the story, never ever.
And that, fans, is just one of the reasons I have such great respect for him and will feel a loss. I’m not sure how, but his writing never seemed to get boring, like he never lost his sense of joy in a child’s game played by adults. And he kept it in perspective.
You can have your sports heroes, but never lose sight of the fact that they are mere human beings who have a skill that is valued at this time in history. A 100 years from now, their batting averages might mean nothing to anyone.
Hummel handled that well in print, praising a player when he deserved it, but not losing sight of the fact that they each had human frailties. Kind of like the way Hummel seemed to approach his own life as a good sports reporter and decent human being.
BTW, Hummel is also in the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.
Nuggets go for gold:
The Denver Nuggets have played 4,000 games in their franchise’s history and they have finally reached the NBA finals. Along the way, they managed to sweep the L.A. Lakers.
Their star, Nikola Jokic, led the way with his eighth triple-double of the playoffs, passing Wilt Chamberlain for the most in a single postseason.
Even LeBron James could not stave off Denver. LA has never won a playoff game after falling behind 3-0 in a series. Their 0-9 record is the worst in the NBA.
It took the Nuggets 46 seasons to reach this point, but this is only the third longest such streak. The MontrealExpos/Washington Nationals reached 50, while the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers went 49 seasons. It looks like Washington has had a long losing streak in sports too.
Carmelo calls it quits:
Carmelo Anthony, a 19-year NBA veteran, is retiring as the league’s No. 9 all-time leading scorer. His $410 million on and off court income makes him the 47th highest-paid athlete ever. He’s had a great career and it’s good to know I don’t have to worry about his retirement income.
Heat tries new approach:
The Miami Heat once had the most powerful line-up in the NBA, then they evolved into the league’s villain but now they have found a new way to win: undrafted talent. They have nine undrafted players on their current roster, which is unheard of.
Sweeps hurt owners:
Both semifinals in the NBA may end up being sweeps or at least take only a few extra games to be completed. TV partners made $842.4 million in the 2022 playoffs and the home teams stand to lose millions per game on lost tickets, concessions and parking. Axios Sports questions whether players are all that concerned about owners losses.
Ronald Acuna Jr. is on pace to hit 40 home runs and have 65 steals this season. The last person to do so was Alfonso Soriano of the Nationals with 46 home runs and 41 stolen bases.
Brooks Koepka’s win in the PGA Championship makes him the 20th player to win five majors in a career.
He is only the third to reach this standard in the last 30 years, joining Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
He is the seventh golfer since 1950 to win five majors before turning 34. He’s in great company since the others on that list are Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros and Tom Watson.
Koepka is the first LIV tour member to win a PGA event. The LIV has some really good golfers, they just have not caught the eye of TV viewers.
But even more fun at the Oak Hill Country Club event was the 15th-place finish by club pro Michael Block.
The win qualifies him for next year’s PGA and also got him a post-tourney invite to play in the upcoming Colonial.
Premier League soccer:
It’s “same old, same old” in the Premier Soccer League as Manchester City captured their fifth title in six seasons.
Bruins lose in early round:
The No. 2 UCLA Bruins softball team ended their season at 52-5. Their previous 12 NCAA titles helped not one bit as they lost their first two regional games with Liberty and Grand Canyon.
Stewart makes a mark:
Breanna Stewart scored a franchise-record 45 points in just her second game with her new team in New York. And she only played three quarters of the game.
Big Ten, big money:
The Power Five conferences grossed $3.3 billion in revenues in 2022 with the Big Ten a decisive leader at $845.6 million. In second-place, the SEC generated $802 million.
In a distant third was the ACC with $617 million; the Pac-12 had $580.9 million and the Big 12 was fifth at $480.6 million.
SI, say it’s not so:
An 81-year-old woman on the cover of SI’s Swimsuit Edition! I don’t care if it’s Martha Stuart or Minnie Mouse, millions of impressionable youth will be disappointed and rightfully so. This could give SI a sales drop similar to Bud Light.