SEATTLE SPORTS PIT
710 Classic Picks: Groz on ‘Slap Shot,’ the 1986 Masters, books and more
With the sports world at a standstill, we’re checking in with the cast of characters from 710 ESPN Seattle and 710Sports.com to find out what they’ve been watching or reading to get their sports fix, or what sports memories they have that other fans in the Seattle area (and beyond) might connect with.
Full schedule: Classic Mariners games air at 7 every night on 710
Here’s what 710 host emeritus Dave “The Groz” Grosby, who you can hear every day at 11:50 a.m. with John Clayton, has picked out.
Movie: “Slap Shot”
What makes a great sports movie? Story, of course, and “Slap Shot” was a great story about a down-and-out hockey player/coach (Paul Newman), a down-and-out team (the Charleston Chiefs on the verge of folding), and a down-and-out town about to lose the mill. Then make this sad story a comedy with a rogues gallery of characters while keeping true to the sport. It also needs to stand the test of time, and 42 years later it’s still a movie that’s relevant and hilarious.
Big time talent at work here. Director George Roy Hill and Newman had recently collaborated on “The Sting” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” It was written by Nancy Dowd, who wrote “Coming Home.” There were cream of the crop of character actors like Strother Martin and unpredictable newcomers like the Carlson brothers, who played the Hansens.
Despite the story being about a town going under, the comedy shines through. I think this is the funniest sports movie as well as the best. Since we’re about to become a hockey town, watch the movie’s look at the rules of the game in the opening scene.
Book: “Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion’s World Series of Poker” by Jim McManus
A book about poker by a man best known at the time for poetry might seem a strange choice, but this is a great tale masterfully told. In a nutshell, the author, who plays in a weekly poker game, gets an assignment to cover the sensational Las Vegas trial of the Ted Binion murder. He tries to qualify for the World Series of Poker by risking the advance he got for the story and does, then makes it all the way to the final table against the best players in the world while covering the trial – and it’s all true.
The poker scenes are so well written that you can imagine the feel of the felt and anguish of a bad beat. It’s colorful, action-packed and provocative. In short, everything a great sports book should be.
Also a nod to a couple of local books: “My Oh My: The Dave Niehaus Story” by Billy Mac and “Mr. Townsend and the Polish Prince” by my old partner Mike Gastineau.
Golf: The final round of the 1986 Masters
One of the most dramatic days of golf ever as 46 year old Jack Nicklaus shot a final round 65 with an unbelievable 30 on the back nine to win his fifth Masters championship.
After an opening round 74, Jack had quietly moved up the scoreboard into a tie for ninth at four shots back, though no one felt he had a chance. The names in front of him – Ballesteros, Norman, Watson, Kite and the defending champ Bernhard Langer – figured to battle it out. But with a dramatic charge on the last four holes in which Nicklaus played at -4, the impossible happened.
Great broadcast as well anchored by Brent Musberger, featuring a young Gary McCord and a REALLY young Jim Nantz making his Masters debut on 16 with I would argue his most memorable call (the quote: “If anyone has ever owned this hole its Jack Nicklaus”) before he drills his tee shot on the par 3 to within three feet. Nantz also asks Tom Weiskopf to speculate on what’s going through Jack’s mind and he responds “If I knew how he thought I’d have won this tournament.”
It’s great theater and a great way to spend an afternoon.
Favorite quick hitters for when you’ve only got 10 minutes or less
• Let’s start with the best of Vin Scully. In 1986 it was Mookie Wilson’s epic at-bat against Boston in Game 6.
• And two years later, it was Kirk Gibson in Game 1.
• In 1991, Jimmy Connors was 37 and made an epic run at the US Open.
• The first round of Hagler vs. Hearns is what many believe is the greatest round in middleweight history. Note Al Michaels on the call.
• And finally, after winning the first two legs of the triple crown, Secretariat rises to the occasion in New York.
Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s The Groz on Twitter.
More 710 classic sports picks
• Shannon Drayer’s connections to “All I saw was purple” and “Field of Dreams”
• Movie time and Duke fandom with Dave Wyman
• Brandon Gustafson on Wilson vs. Mahomes
• Jessamyn on Shaq and ‘Remember the Titans’
• Paul Gallant on Clowney’s insane HS highlights
• Tom Wassell’s way-back machine
• Jim Moore will set you straight on WWE wrestling
• Danny O’Neil on Ken Griffey Jr. and Bobby Knight
• Brent Stecker on the 1996 Sonics and “Little Big League”