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There’s one thing Tom Brady doesn’t have yet

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There’s one thing Tom Brady doesn’t have yet

One of the last times I spoke to Yogi Berra, I was sitting across from him at the museum named for him on the campus of Montclair State, over in Jersey. One of the most enjoyable parts about talking to Yogi was how genuinely humble and self-deprecating he was.

He effortlessly praised teammates and contemporaries — and only quieted when you asked him about good he was as a player.

“I don’t need to say nice things about myself,” he said. “So many people always say nice things about me. You don’t need to hear me say that stuff, too.”

Ah, but there was one aspect of his brilliant baseball life with which he was happy to indulge in a little trash talk. This wasn’t long after the 2009 Yankees had won the franchise’s 27th World Series title, which was also the fifth in the collection of Derek Jeter, the modern face of Yankees Dynasty. Yogi smiled then.

“Next time you see him, give him a message for me,” Yogi said, and then he extended all 10 fingers of both hands — gnarly catcher’s hands, for sure, but had he wanted to he could have covered all 10 fingers with a championship ring from his playing days — 1947, ’49, ’50, ’51 and ’52 for his left, 1953, ’56, ’58, ’61 and ’62 for his right.

(To say nothing of the 1969 Mets ring he had stashed away somewhere, or the 1977 and ’78 Yankees rings with it, all from when he was a base coach.)

He laughed. And in case the message wasn’t clear, he added, “Tell the kid he’s halfway to a Yogi set!”

Berra’s 10 championship rings are a standard for baseball, and they put him in select company with three other men wo stand as the standard bearers for winning in North American team sports. Together they could tell quite a story, one Yogi that day summed up as succinctly as is probably possible.

“Winning a title,” he said, “is forever. Winning a bunch of titles … that’s like forever, times infinity.”

Tom Brady’s formula for infinity is now a factor of seven. He was already the leader in the clubhouse with the six he accrued during his time in New England, but unlike the other three leaders in this category he wound up going outside the prime mother ship and added an extra ring — for now, it’s one extra run, anyway. That doesn’t necessarily make his feat better, but it is reflective of the way things are, and how much harder it is to collect quite so many championships.

Yogi, of course, played long before free agency, and so if you were good enough — as he was almost all of his career — it wasn’t a matter of who you would play for but how much you would play for.

It was the same for Bill Russell, who celebrated his 87th birthday this week, who won 11 NBA titles in 13 years with the Celtics in the 1950s and ’60s — feel free to write this in ink: that will never even be approached, let alone duplicated or surpassed — and did it at a time when, if Red Auerbach could be crafty enough to pry him away from the St. Louis Hawks before he ever played a game for them, he was surely going to keep him in the family for as long as possible. So it was that Red, Russ and the C’s won in 1957, won eight straight from 1959-66, then went back-to-back (Russell replacing Auerbach as coach) in 1968 and ’69.

Henri Richard — who, like Russell, won 11 times with the same team, in his case the Canadiens — also benefitted by staying put. Less renowned than his older brother (by 15 years) Maurice (though also a Hall of Famer), the Pocket Rocket played for 21 years, 1955-75, and in 11 of them — 1956-60, 1965-66, 1968-79, 1971, 1973) Montreal won the Stanley Cup. In none of those years was he the team’s best offensive player — his brother was at the start, later it was the likes of Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur and Jacques Lemaire — but he was good enough that he wasn’t going to go anywhere.

And ran out of fingers as a happy result, as did Yogi, as did Russell, a problem even Brady doesn’t have. Yet.

Vac’s Whacks

Of all the heartfelt (and well-deserved) tributes to Tom Konchalski that emerged this week, none hit the emotional jackpot quite the way Mike Breen did during Tuesday’s Knicks-Bulls telecast — Breen saluting the late scout and New York icon. Though the great Dan Klores’ remarkable piece in last Sunday’s Post is also essential reading.


Really, during Sunday’s finale of “Your Honor,” would anyone mind it much if, at some point, Judge Michael Desiato slams down his gavel as hard as he possibly can and declares, “I am the one who knocks!”?


I think it’s long been said about Rick Pitino: Don’t give the man 51 days to prepare for a game.


He played like he was under water in Brooklyn the other night, but I still maintain: If there is one NBA player I think would look outstanding playing for the home team at Madison Square Garden, it is Domantas Sabonis.

Whack Back at Vac

Bruce Welsch: For decades you’d know the home team in an NBA game — they wore white uniforms and the visitors dark. On President’s Day at MSG, the Knicks wore black and Orlando white with orange trim — I found myself inadvertently cheering for the Magic. Then for two in Chicago, the Bulls wore red and the Knicks blue. How do we stop this craziness?

Vac: I blame the NHL for going full-bore dark-at-home uniforms a few years ago, and in a copycat world there is no such thing as “home white” any more. And I miss them.


Michael Keneski: When watching Pete Alonso last season, at times I got chills down my spine in having visions of Ike Davis pop into my head: another Mets first base prospect who burst onto the scene and then quickly faded away.

Vac: Completely understandable reaction, especially for Mets fans schooled in waiting for other shoes to drop, though I do think Alonso is a better overall player than Ike ever was.


@drschnipp: I haven’t been to a sporting event since last February when I saw the Islanders play in Arizona. I am now double vaccinated. My message to anyone standing between me and an arena or stadium is: get out of my way or be flattened like Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House!

@MikeVacc: Open the doors!


Kenneth Schlapp: Innings shouldn’t start with a runner on second! Ending in a tie after 9-12 innings playing the game without a gimmick is a much better option. I wish hockey would go back to having ties instead of gimmick hockey after 60 minutes, or at least make a regulation win worth three points so all games have the same total value. Bring back the tie!

Vac: Nobody likes kissing their sister anymore.

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Donald Douglas, longtime PSAL executive director, dead at 58

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Donald Douglas, longtime PSAL executive director, dead at 58

Donald Douglas, the longtime executive director of the Public School Athletic League, died late Friday night, according to friend and PSAL colleague Dwayne Burnett.

Douglas was 58, according to his Facebook page.

Douglas died of a heart attack, while vacationing on the island of Jamaica, after a bad fall eventually caused a blood clot to form, according to Burnett. The Brooklyn native and Bushwick High School alum had retired this week from his post. He was PSAL director since 2004, when he was promoted from deputy director, and spent more than 35 years working for the New York City Department of Education.

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Don’t make this catcher mistake

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Don’t make this catcher mistake

The 2021 fantasy baseball draft season is upon us, and with its arrival comes a variety of strategies to test out and employ.

Drafting with position scarcity in mind is something we see every year, and though the catcher position is routinely linked to the strategy, the belief that you need to draft one of the top backstops early is a mistake. If you have been leaning in that direction, it’s time to change gears before you fall over.

In fantasy football, position scarcity has people drafting No. 1-ranked tight end Travis Kelce early because, in securing him, you are obtaining a significant advantage over your opposition. His production dwarfs that of anyone else at his position and on a 10-man roster in a weekly matchup, the impact is huge. The same cannot be said regarding the No. 1 catcher, J.T. Realmuto.

There is plenty to love about Realmuto from a fantasy perspective. His three-year average has him as a .273 hitter with 25 home runs and 81 RBIs. The numbers are strong, but does drafting him in the fourth or fifth round over a 40-homer Pete Alonso or a 200-strikeout Lance Lynn still give you an advantage? Not when you understand it’s just one-fourteenth of your overall team production or when you see what you can get at the position several rounds later.

Casting aside 2020 data, we can look at a number of backstops who not only hit 20 or more home runs, but also hit .270 or better in 2019 and can be obtained at a much lower cost. Willson Contreras, Mitch Garver, Christian Vazquez and Omar Narvaez immediately stand out.

JT Realmuto
JT Realmuto
Getty Images

You also have players such as Yasmani Grandal and Roberto Perez, who matched the power, but fell short on the batting average, or James McCann and Travis d’Arnaud, who posted strong averages, but hit for slightly less power. That’s already eight players who can provide similar numbers at a fraction of the cost, and we’re just scratching the surface.

If Realmuto was a .300-30-100 player, the conversation would certainly be different. He’s a great player but he isn’t performing at a level that leaves your opposition in the dust. If his production can be matched 10 rounds later, you’re better off using that early pick on an elite arm or a bigger bat at another position. Leave your catchers for later.

Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy football advice.

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Mets star Pete Alonso opens up on why he quit social media

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Mets star Pete Alonso opens up on why he quit social media

PORT ST. LUCIE — Pete Alonso wasn’t the only big voice in the Mets organization to deactivate his social media accounts over the offseason.

But the first baseman going dark on Twitter and Instagram had nothing to do with the aftermath of a stock market saga, which was the reason owner Steve Cohen ditched Twitter, and everything to do with a new outlook on life away from a screen.

“I think that real life is just absolutely fantastic and for me, I think life is a blessing, it’s something that I feel like a lot of people, sometimes including myself, take for granted,” Alonso said Friday after a workout. “And I want to spend every second soaking in every single day because every single new day is a blessing, and I feel like especially in wake of what happened last year, there’s a lot of things that I feel like were taken for granted.

“In 2019, if you see everybody wearing this mask, you kind of scratch your head and just be like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ But there’s a lot of new social norms that are in place now that we took for granted. I think for me, I just want to be appreciative of every single day. I want to live in real life.”

Alonso had been one of the more active Mets interacting with fans through social media, especially during his Rookie of the Year season in 2019, when he adopted “#LFGM” as the team’s new rallying cry.

Though he will no longer be in touch with fans online, Alonso is very much looking forward to welcoming them back in person at Citi Field this season. After playing at an empty stadium in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Mets are expected to have at least a portion of Citi Field open to fans when the 2021 season begins.

“Playing on TV is absolutely fantastic, but being there in person where one swing of the bat or making a diving play or striking somebody out, you can make that many people in person smile, stand, clap, cheer, yell even just by doing something,” Alonso said, with a big smile breaking out. “Once I heard 40,000 people at Citi Field go absolutely bonkers, that’s an adrenaline rush that I’m addicted to.

“I can’t wait until it’s packed out again like that. If it’s 25 percent, 30 percent, I can’t wait to hear people cheer again in person. For me, it’s addicting, and I love it.”

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