Good morning Fackers. Things have been a bit slow here at Fack Youk this week, as other responsibilities have largely prevented us from living up to our usual mediocre standards. Similarly, things are slowing down in the sporting world at large. The Stanley Cup Finals wrapped on Wednesday night, with the Chicago Blackhawks lifting Lord Stanley's Cup for the first time in 49 years. Congratulations to Chicago head coach, and former longtime Hartford Whaler, Joel Quenneville and his outstanding 'stache. Meanwhile, over in the Association, there are at most three games left in the Finals, as both the Lakers and the Celtics are just two wins away from the title. Soon, Major League Baseball will have the entire professional sporting landscape to itself for the first time since early last September.
Of course, there is an international sporting event kicking off today that will spend the next month captivating the attention of most of the civilized world. The 2010 FIFA World Cup begins this morning, with host nation South Africa facing Mexico at 10 AM. Tomorrow afternoon, the U.S. Men's National Team begins group play with a much-anticipated match against England. The Brits are favored, but the U.S. scored a major upset over England in the 1950 World Cup, and if memory serves, the U.S. fared pretty well against them circa 1776 and 1812 as well.
While the U.S. team is often referred to as the "Yanks", there is another connection between the soccer team and the Yanks we usually follow here. Midfielder Michael Bradley and his father/head coach Bob Bradley have blood ties to a former Yankee.
Scott Bradley, Bob's brother and Michael's uncle, was selected by the Yankees in the third round of the 1981 draft. The New Jersey native made his professional debut at short-season Oneonta that summer and ascended through the Yankee system. In 1984 he arrived at AAA Columbus, where he batted .335, leading the International League. He also led the IL in games played and hits and finished second in doubles on his way to capturing IL MVP honors.
Bradley parlayed his strong season into a September call up to the Yankees, making his Major League debut on September 9th. He appeared in nine games down the stretch, going 6 for 21 (.286) and seeing time in left field in addition to his customary spot behind the plate. He broke camp with the Yankees in 1985, but was soon returned to Columbus, where he again batted better than .300. He received a pair of additional call ups over the course of the season, but didn't fare so well, posting a .163/.196/.245 batting line over 51 plate appearances in 19 games. He spent the majority of his time as a DH rather than catching.
Just prior to the start of Spring Training the following year, Bradley was sent to the White Sox as part of a seven player trade that saw catcher Ron Hassey*, who the Yankees had traded to the White Sox just two months before, come back to the Bronx.
(*Between December 4, 1984 and July 30, 1986, Hassey was traded four times. Each trade was between Chicago and New York, as he went from the Cubs to the Yankees to the White Sox back to the Yankees and back to the White Sox again. The three trades between the Yankees and White Sox occurred in less than eight months' time.)
Bradley spent only nine games with the White Sox, spent most of his time as their property in AA, and then was traded again in June, heading to Seattle in exchange for slugger Ivan Calderon. Upon his arrival Bradley became the Mariners' primary catcher and served as such through 1988 season, before spending three more years as Dave Valle's back up. In 1990, Bradley was behind the plate for Randy Johnson's first career no-hitter. Bradley finished his career seven games split between the M's and Reds in 1992.
While he played his college ball at North Carolina, Bradley's post-playing career brought him back to the Garden State. He spent 1997 as an assistant coach at Rutgers. The following year, he accepted the head coach position at Princeton, where his older brother Bob went to school and had spent twelve years as the head coach of the men's soccer team. Scott still serves as the Princeton head coach today, and in his thirteen years there he has coached three eventual Big Leaguers: Will Venable, Chris Young (the pitcher, not the outfielder), and former Yankee Ross Ohlendorf. Fifteen other Tigers have been drafted under Bradley's watch, including former Yankee farmhand Spencer Lucian.
Nothing will ever replace the Yankees as the primary focus of my sporting attention, but I'll be watching the U.S. team closely for as long as they're alive in the World Cup. For some background on Bob Bradley, ESPN.com had a great piece earlier this week.