On The Fly: Gene Michael, 79, Was A Special Man

Gene Michael, who died of a heart attack Thursday, was among the most underappreciated figures in recent baseball history. Long before "Moneyball" popularized the idea that on-base percentage was a valuable metric, Michael was searching for batters who reached base at a high rate and saw a lot of pitches. That's what made those 1990s Yankees teams so great — they wore out opposing pitching staffs. Michael ran the team in the early 1990s, restocking a farm system that would produce Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. He also traded for Paul O'Neill and built a roster that set the stage for a dynasty. Michael, who was 79, leaves a legacy as a skilled evaluator and a baseball innovator.

Tom Herman, in his first season as Texas coach, debuted with a 51-41 loss to Maryland and offered this assessment: "If we all thought that we were going to come in here and, in nine months, sprinkle some fairy dust on this team and think that we've arrived, then we're wrong." Makes sense, right? Not to Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who told that "it's like a new generation of excuses." On Herman, Meyer said, "he got a dose of reality. Maryland just scored 51 points on you." … Did you think Pablo Sandoval's career would be revived when he left Boston? The Giants took a chance on their old third baseman and he's actually been worse in San Francisco. After striking out as a pinch hitter Wednesday night, Sandoval is mired in an 0-for-38 skid, the longest hitless streak by a Giants player since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. Between the Red Sox and Giants, Sandoval is hitting .199 with a .257 on-base percentage and a .303 slugging percentage in 218 plate appearances. And remember: Sandoval was owed close to $50 million from the Red Sox when he was released. Talk about money for nothing.

Thursday marked the 38th anniversary of ESPN's debut. The network went live on Sept. 7, 1979, with host Lee Leonard introducing the new sports station: "I'm Lee Leonard welcoming you to Bristol, Connecticut, 110 miles from New York City. Why Bristol? Because here in Bristol is where all the sports action is, as of right now." … Amid talk the Red Sox support removing Tom Yawkey's name from the street adjacent to Fenway Park, former team CEO John Harrington has offered a rebuke to a Boston Globe editorial ("Tom Yawkey was no hero"). Harrington, chairman of Yawkey Foundations, writes in a letter to the Globe that the decision to rename Jersey Street to Yawkey Way was an action taken by fans and public officials, with the Yawkey family not involved. He also writes that the Yawkey Foundations have donated near $450 million to charities, including $282 million to Boston-based organizations. The editorial, Harrington writes, "perpetuates inaccurate statements and mischaracterizations about Tom Yawkey's life and beliefs." Harrington also concedes it's "regrettable" that the Red Sox were the last team to integrate, but adds that "unfounded speculation about why that happened has been malicious and baseless."

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