FanDuel - WFBC

August 26, 2011

Carlton Fisk: Nobody Disrespected Game Like Deion: On Joe Morgan's new syndicated radio show on Sports USA Radio, Carlton Fisk shared a story about playing against Deion Sanders when "Neon Deion" didn't run after popping the ball up. "I started yelling at him, 'Run the ball out,'" Fisk said. "I don't know if anybody I have played against has disrespected the game like he appears to be doing. So he comes up again and draws a dollar sign in the dirt. And you know what he says? He says, 'Hey, man, the days of slavery are over.' I stood up and walked up to him face to face and I said, 'I don't care whether you are black or blue or pink or red. ... If you don't start playing this game right, I'm going to kick your butt right here'."

posted by rcade to baseball at 04:03 PM - 40 comments

I wish Fisk had. As a baseball player, he was a one-dimensional hack who had one very good year and a bunch of lousy ones.

Also, anyone who brings up slavery in that context needs a 35" Louisville Slugger shoved up his ass.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:13 PM on August 26

I remember when Eddie Murray started doing that. He didn't want to play in Baltimore anymore, he was clubhouse poison, his family was in California and he wanted to play there, so he stopped running out the ball. And to think I used to chant his name. Doesn't take much of that kind of nonsense to tarnish a reputation, at least to the fans who are paying attention.

posted by Hugh Janus at 04:18 PM on August 26

A story as old as time. An old-timer doesn't think the young ones play the game right.

posted by bperk at 08:15 PM on August 26

...needs a 35" Louisville Slugger shoved up his ass

Sideways!!!

On Sanders' next turn at the plate, I'm surprised Fisk didn't go to the mound and suggest that the pitcher put one somewhere in the vicinity of Deion's ear. That's the way the game was played when Fisk was catching.

posted by Howard_T at 09:17 PM on August 26

An old-timer doesn't think the young ones play the game right.

Weak, unless you can find me an example where Jackie Robinson turned to Del Crandall and said, "Hey, man, the days of slavery are over."

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:09 PM on August 26

On Sanders' next turn at the plate, I'm surprised Fisk didn't go to the mound and suggest that the pitcher put one somewhere in the vicinity of Deion's ear. That's the way the game was played when Fisk was catching.

Except, it wasn't.

Carlton Fisk was a full-time catcher from 1971-1991 (his first year and his last couple years weren't full time (either as a player, or a catcher)).

During that span, the highest hit-by-pitch-per-game average for an American League season was 0.24 (1988, 1991).

For the 20 years after "Fisk's time", every single season had a higher hit-by-pitch-per-game average, with 10 of the seasons being significantly higher (0.34 or higher).

Pitchers hit batters less often during Fisk's time than now.

posted by grum@work at 12:34 AM on August 27

A story as old as time. An old-timer doesn't think the young ones play the game right.

Do you think that's how the game should be played, then?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:10 AM on August 27

Do you think that's how the game should be played, then?

It doesn't matter. Deion last played 14 years ago. This is old, dirty laundry on a player whose second-best sport was baseball. It was pretty clear to everyone that Deion loved football a lot more than baseball. The fact that he wasn't always giving the full jenny isn't surprising, and sniping for quotes to grab a headline is pathetic.

Baseball folklore is filled with a lot of rumors of clubhouse fighting being a regular occurrence. Nobody talked about it, however, because there was a mutual respect among teammates that your laundry was yours and not public.

Do I think Carlton Fisk coming back 14 years later to swipe at a former teammate is how the game should be played? Absolutely not. My grandfather used to hate those in-game interviews with former players, so much so he coined a phrase that I really like:

"Shut up and play baseball, and if you're not playing baseball today, just shut up."

That's how the game should be played.

posted by dfleming at 09:29 AM on August 27

And just a quick question...

Why does Carlton Fisk care whether an opponent runs out a pop fly?
Isn't it in his team's best interest for the opposing playing not to run it out, just in case the fielder drops the ball?
Wouldn't you want your opponents to play lazy and slow against you?
Is Carlton Fisk actually attempting to help the opposing team? ;)

For the record, the only time this could have happened was May 22nd (1990).
There are no other games where Deion Sanders popped up and Carlton Fisk was catching for the opposition.

Which is interesting, because the previous day (which Fisk also caught) Sanders drew a walk, stole second base, and legged out a triple.
But I guess Fisk doesn't remember the hustling version of Sanders, since that isn't much fun to talk about.

posted by grum@work at 09:32 AM on August 27

Ah shit, missed that Fisk and Sanders never played together. Need coffee. Still, why you would air this kind of thing is beyond me.

posted by dfleming at 09:41 AM on August 27

A story as old as time.

Really is and I wish Fisk would stop telling it. He's eaten out on that story for years. Did anyone see the NFL Channel's special on Deion? There was an awesome story about when he ducked that tackle on Roger Craig and the Niners' bench started to chant, "Don't be afraid to make a tackle!" Deion popped up and said, "Don't be afraid to make some money!"

I can't help liking the guy. He has a life philosophy and he sticks to it (at least until it changes).

posted by yerfatma at 09:55 AM on August 27

There was an awesome story about when he ducked that tackle on Roger Craig and the Niners' bench started to chant, "Don't be afraid to make a tackle!" Deion popped up and said, "Don't be afraid to make some money!"

This is an example of something you like about the guy?

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:39 AM on August 27

Why does Carlton Fisk care whether an opponent runs out a pop fly?

Because it makes everybody playing the game look bad when a millionaire sloughs off.

Regarding Deion and tackles, I wonder if people realize how tiny he was for an NFL player. I moved close to the sidelines at the end of one Cowboys preseason game when he was playing, and he had his pads off. Wikipedia says he's 6-foot-1, 198, but he looked like a high school JV kid compared to the other players.

I think his reluctance to tackle was more about self-preservation than arrogance.

posted by rcade at 10:58 AM on August 27

I love Carlton Fisk & everything he stands for. He played the game the way it was supposed to be played. I remember the days of him vs. Thurman Munson. I agree with him absolutely. Players today actually do play it differently--not all of them--but some. It's just different.

posted by kandylynn at 11:41 AM on August 27

Regarding Deion and tackles, I wonder if people realize how tiny he was for an NFL player.

Sanders wasn't big, but he wasn't small, either. And size is not a precursor to being able to tackle effectively and even violently. Ask anyone who's been hit by Jim Leonhard.

I think his reluctance to tackle was more about self-preservation than arrogance.

That is arrogance. It means Sanders valued his paycheck more than he valued the win, himself more than his team. He may have been the greatest cover corner ever, but teams that ran against the Cowboys were facing 10 guys.

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:03 PM on August 27

Self-preservation is not arrogance. There have been plenty of NFL players who have avoided the hit. Star quarterbacks are encouraged to do it. Deion in his prime was as important to his team as the quarterback. He took away half the field.

posted by rcade at 12:15 PM on August 27

This is an example of something you like about the guy?

Yup. It would help to see the story in context, but it made me laugh that he had that kind of presence of mind. I'm not saying it would be my approach, but it was his way and he was comfortable in his own skin. And it worked pretty well.

posted by yerfatma at 12:46 PM on August 27

It means Sanders valued his paycheck more than he valued the win, himself more than his team.

I don't think sports are more important than the people playing the sports. And, I'm fine with athletes that think their own health and well-being is more important than a first down or a collision at home plate.

posted by bperk at 04:18 PM on August 27

There have been plenty of NFL players who have avoided the hit.

Sure there have been. Franco Harris was famous for it, and was known throughout the league as a huge douche for it. In his case he would generally duck out of bounds or miraculously slip down when he was about to get drilled, and not cost his teammates too huge a price in yards gained.

But quarterbacks and many running backs aren't paid to create contact. They're paid (for the most part, aside from smashing through the line) to avoid it. Deion was a defender. His just was to initiate contact with the ball carrier and stop him. He just choose not to do it most of the time.

And he wasn't just avoiding hits -- he was avoiding tackling. He threw himself at the shoelaces of many of running back or receiver. Hell, Sanders wouldn't even try bulldogging them to the ground.

To think you're too valuable or good to do your job? That's arrogance.

I don't think sports are more important than the people playing the sports. And, I'm fine with athletes that think their own health and well-being is more important than a first down or a collision at home plate.

I agree with your first sentence. The second, however? Well, I wouldn't want someone who felt that way behind the plate in the ninth inning of Game Seven of the World Series. If a guy's willing to lay down in July and not sacrifice for the out then, he's probably not ever going to do it.

And that's a shitty and selfish teammate.

I'm pretty sure David Halberstam said it a lot better than I could.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:42 PM on August 27

To think you're too valuable or good to do your job?

His bust in Canton would suggest he was one of the best at his job in the history of the game.

posted by rcade at 04:48 PM on August 27

Yep. He might have been the best ever if he hit anyone.

posted by wfrazerjr at 06:00 PM on August 27

It's the tailoring that troubles me. Some of those suits that Neon features, David Byrne and (the ghost of) Cab Calloway must be scratching their heads trying to figure out who's been sneaking in their dressing rooms and making off with all their oversized shoulder ensembles.

I think Willy Wonka and the original keyboard player from Jethro Tull are also missing some outfits.

If Neon wants to be in a Batman movie that badly, he should just go down to the studio office and fill out an application.

posted by beaverboard at 06:54 PM on August 27

He might have been the best ever if he hit anyone.

On the other hand, I'm sure his family is fine with how things turned out, rather than how it did for other players who were much better "teammates."

To be clear: Not a Deion fan by any stretch, but I wonder if the standard is always "did he maximize his potential," are we allowing our fandom to create some abstract standard of "he did things the right way" that is disconnected from the fact that these are also people with families and life to think about after football. I doubt these sorts of thoughts were in Deion's mind, but you have to admit that in his post-career days he seems happy, fit, active, and enjoying life. Better teammates can't always say that, and I wonder if that is a good thing.

posted by brainofdtrain at 06:57 PM on August 27

He might have been the best ever if he hit anyone.

Or he might have suffered a serious injury and never been the same.

Jim McMahon doesn't even remember his Super Bowl season any more and he's just 52 years old. Maybe it's time we stopped maligning hit avoidance in the NFL. Peyton Manning turtles to avoid sacks and he's one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever played the game.

posted by rcade at 07:08 PM on August 27

I think when you play defense, you have to "tackle the man with the ball" & having 39 tackles in an NFL career is a joke, and the HOF should be ashamed!

posted by bo_fan at 09:31 AM on August 28

Bo, that was exactly what I was getting at, and I shouldn't have said "hit" in my last post. I should have said "tackle." The guy simply chose to omit a large part of his job.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:05 AM on August 28

the HOF should be ashamed!

Oh please. Catch the end of that NFL Network special. Michael Irvin makes a point of dismissing questions about Deion's toughness. He says to find an NFL receiver who claims he out-muscled Deion. Claims you won't be able to find one.

posted by yerfatma at 11:02 AM on August 28

Tough to make that claim when Deion never touched any of them.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:45 AM on August 28

I think when you play defense, you have to "tackle the man with the ball"

I think as a corner, the more times you have to tackle somebody, the worse you are at your position. A great corner doesn't allow possession and doesn't spend a lot of time tackling in the open field. Asomugha and Revis routinely average less than 50 tackles a year because they don't allow receivers to catch the ball in the first place.

Defence is a broad category of niche players that do different things. Saying "tackle the man with the ball" is really glossing over the different roles that each position present.

posted by dfleming at 12:24 PM on August 28

Tough to make that claim when Deion never touched any of them.

Are you serious? No cornerback in the league could survive without ever touching receivers at the line.

Sanders intercepted 53 passes and returned them for 1,331 yards. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1994 and starred on the Super Bowl-winning San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys teams in 1994 and 1995. He's one of only two NFL players to score touchdowns six different ways in his career.

Anyone who thinks the Hall of Fame should be ashamed for inducting him -- on his first year of eligibility, no less -- needs to find a sport they understand better than the NFL.

posted by rcade at 01:22 PM on August 28

Defence is a broad category of niche players that do different things. Saying "tackle the man with the ball" is really glossing over the different roles that each position present.

Great point-this is why most people give quarterbacks a pass on blocking for running plays, attempting to make tackles on turnovers, doing the Peyton Manning "turtle move" as rcade described above. While I think we have to admit that even with that caveat it is hard to imagine why Deion didn't have more tackles, at the same time the fact that we make excuses for some positions while apparently giving no wiggle room for others makes little sense to me.

If you asked the old-timers what "quarterbacking the game the right way," looks like, it would involve more than turtling-anybody ever see clips of those early QB's? To me, unless you are willing to apply the rule across the board I don't get the criticism, because in football at least lots of positions don't play the game "the right way," the old-school way (even the play on the lines has been made significantly less violent). Why is Deion/CB's held to a different standard?

Also, Deion's lack of ability/effort in one area didn't seem to overshadow super bowl contending teams from pursuing his services-maybe they knew it was worth the trade-off.

posted by brainofdtrain at 01:25 PM on August 28

Pitchers hit batters less often during Fisk's time than now. posted by grum@work

Another cliche from olden times that was nothing more than bad memory and wishful thinking.

Carlton Fisk obviously has an axe to grind. It is not rare for a hitter to pop out, take a second to watch the ball, and then begin to jog to first base. It happens all the time. But for some reason he chose Deion to be upset with. I'm guessing that he simply didn't like the guy, didn't like that he could make a mlb roster as a hobby.

The 'slavery' quote is over the top, but for all I know it was simply Deion trying to get to Fisk.

posted by justgary at 03:35 PM on August 28

Players today actually do play it differently--not all of them--but some. It's just different.

"Base ball today is not what is should be. The players do not try to learn all the fine points of the game as in the days of old, but simply try to get by...It's positiviely a shame, and they are getting big money for it, too."

- Bill Joyce, 3rd baseman and manager in the 1890s, quoted from the 1916 Spalding Base Ball Guide

(extracted from The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract)

posted by grum@work at 03:43 PM on August 28

The 'slavery' quote is over the top, but for all I know it was simply Deion trying to get to Fisk.

For all I know, the slavery 'quote' may be Fisk trying to get to Deion. Carlton, if it's such a big fucking deal why didn't you have one of your pitchers dot him? Afraid he'd steal second? I don't even like Deion but this is just petty.

Michael Irvin makes a point of dismissing questions about Deion's toughness. He says to find an NFL receiver who claims he out-muscled Deion. Claims you won't be able to find one.

That proves he was strong, not necessarily tough. I always saw it that Deion was avoiding pain. He'll fight with receivers all day but he's not going to square up pads on a running back because that's going to hurt quite a bit more.

posted by tron7 at 05:49 PM on August 28

I think when you play defense, you have to "tackle the man with the ball" & having 39 tackles in an NFL career is a joke, and the HOF should be ashamed!

Since we are basing Deion's tackling prowess solely on NFL official statistics, it's only fair to point out that Ronnie Lott, Lawrence Taylor, and Jack Tatum had exactly zero tackles. We all know how those guys avoided a tackle. I guess it doesn't matter that the NFL didn't record tackle statistics until 2001 since we wouldn't want to let reality get in the way of Deion-bashing.

posted by bperk at 07:08 PM on August 28

Where'd the 39 tackles count come from? Football Reference said he made 492.

posted by rcade at 07:36 PM on August 28

NFL official statistics. And, even Football Reference says that tackle statistics before 1994 are for amusement purposes only.

posted by bperk at 07:51 PM on August 28

Since we are basing Deion's tackling prowess solely on NFL official statistics

Perhaps you are. I'm basing it on my own two eyes, and oh, yes, the fact it was even highlighted in Sanders' own special on the NFL Network. He was at best an indifferent tackler and at worst, someone who avoided contact to the detriment of his team. Are you serious? No cornerback in the league could survive without ever touching receivers at the line.

Sorry, I missed where we were being completely literal. Sanders did touch receivers at the line, and then occasionally touched them later if it couldn't be helped. Running backs, he mostly avoided completely.

I have no qualm with Sanders being in the Hall. He probably was the the greatest cover man in league history, and was incredible returning picks for scores. Aside from that, however, he never led the league in interceptions, was only an average kick returner and he didn't tackle. He was great at one or two things. Everything else, not so much.

According to Pro Football Reference, his career matches are:

Mike Haynes*, Champ Bailey, Lem Barney*, Willie Wood*, Ronde Barber, Yale Lary*, Night Train Lane*, Willie Brown*, Mel Blount*, Mel Renfro*

There's only three or four on that list I wouldn't take over Sanders.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:27 PM on August 28

"Where'd the 39 tackles count come from? Football Reference said he made 492"

In my love for bashing Deion, I tried to get away with forgetting the fact that official stats were not kept on tackles before 2001, which makes his total at 39, any others are not official.

http://www.nfl.com/player/deionsanders/2502820/careerstats

posted by bo_fan at 08:34 AM on August 29

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