It was a tough week for the sports world, as we lost two legendary figures. Four-time Super Bowl champion Chuck Noll, who presided over the Steelers dominant run in the 1970s, and Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn each passed away. Gwynn was only 54 years old.

Gwynn’s former teammate and manager Bruce Bochy joined Christopher this week. Bruce knows Tony perhaps better than anyone in baseball, and he talked to Chris about the terrible loss that the baseball world suffered.

As a producer, when we lose someone in the sports world, many times the first reaction is, “Who can I get on?” You know it’s going to be a topic, and finding the right person to reflect on that person’s life is important to the show.

When I first heard the news about Tony Gwynn, my first reaction was shock and sadness. Tony had been battling cancer, but at only 54 years of age and always remaining upbeat, you always thought Tony was going to pull through. Secondly, as part of sports media, we interact with athletes and former athletes all the time. Some don’t want to be bothered, some put on “a show,” and others are genuine. I can honestly say that I never met a more genuine and kind person in all my dealings in this industry than Tony Gwynn. He always took my calls, always returned my calls, and whenever we interacted in person, he was gracious.

There are dozens, sometimes hundreds of sports media members around teams and players constantly; I am just one of several flies buzzing around a locker room or stadium. It would be just as easy to swat at me than talk to me. Tony never did that with any media members; you can’t fake that type of genuineness. Tony Gwynn will be missed.

The NFL lost one of its greatest coaches in the history of the league. Chuck Noll, the only head coach in the history of the sport to win four Super Bowls, died after a long struggle with multiple health issues.  The Raiders- Steelers rivalry in the 1970s might be the best rivalry in the history of the sport, and the Raiders legendary coach, John Madden, joined Mad Dog to talk about his great adversary.

What amazes me about Chuck Noll, is for all his accomplishments, he seems to get lost in the shuffle. When people bring up great NFL coaches, they bring up George Halas and Vince Lombardi, they bring up Don Shula, they bring up Bill Walsh and Bill Belichick, many bring up Bill Parcells, and of course Tom Landry. You rarely hear the name Chuck Noll brought up in the conversation. No one would argue against him being a top 10 coach in the history of the sport, I’m sure many would consider him even top 5; but rarely is his name brought up with much fervor.

Perhaps it’s because of the Steelers’ huge pool of talent; but what Noll doesn’t get enough credit for is the fact that he inherited a horrendous team. And not only was Noll the coach, he was intricate in bringing in all the talent that led them on those championship runs. Not only did Noll coach and win with the talent he had, he drafted it and developed it.  The Steelers are considered one of the great franchises in the history of the National Football League, and the sole reason for that, is Chuck Noll.

The Washington Wops?

The Washington Redskins name controversy has become a headline grabber again after the US Patent Office rescinded the trademark on the “Redskins,” stating that the name is “disparaging to Native Americans.” Our own Mad Dog has been adamant that they should not change their name, and he weighed in on the controversy.

Although I don’t agree with all of Dog’s points, I do agree with the overall assertion that the Redskins should not have to change their name. From what I have seen, most of the vocal opposition is from the Oneida tribe in New York. They are the ones who sponsored the NBA Finals’ anti-Redskins ad. Many tribes across the country seem to be relatively quiet on the topic, and others that speak up on the topic, some are against, and there are others that support the name. Some think it’s an honor.

There is definite disagreement on the topic. What I find most interesting is the writing of Ives Goddard, who discusses the very benign origins of the term “redskin.”  This is the strongest point to the pro-Redskins campaign; that this word was actually created by Native Americans to refer to themselves, almost like I would call myself “white.”

There is no question that there are some groups that find it offensive, but there are also groups that find “Fighting Irish” offensive. Do we change the name for that group as well? It becomes a slippery slope. Do we change any name associated with Native Americans? It is an interesting debate. The one thing I would say, this seems to be growing into such a headache for Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder that maybe the time is coming shortly that he just changes the name because it is not worth his aggravation and effort to continue this battle. Whether he is right or wrong is becoming almost irrelevant at this point.

Summer is here

The NBA playoffs and Stanley Cup Playoffs have come to an end. They provided plenty of excitement and drama. There was so much hype behind the Heat-Spurs series that even the blowouts were so amazing they were interesting to watch. The Stanley Cup Finals were filled with drama and overtimes.

Now we’ve reached the point that other than some NBA offseason news, Major League Baseball has the center stage until Labor Day weekend, when the NFL and college football get back into full swing.

Here’s a few interesting storylines to keep your eye on as the season develops this summer.

David Price

The Rays are one of the few teams that are buried ,and will be sellers at the deadline. David Price is controlled through 2015, but the Rays will never be able to provide the nine-figure contract he will almost certainly receive, which means the sooner they move him, the better the package. This deadline, with so many teams appearing to be in the hunt, will be a perfect opportunity to get a bidding war going and move Price.

Masahiro Tanaka

Check the schedule every day, and when you see Tanaka pitching for the Yankees, set the DVR. Tanaka is must-see television, not just for Yankees fans, but for baseball fans. His stuff is dynamic, his location is spot on, and it’s just impressive to watch him go out there and mow down opposing hitters. He has a legitimate shot to win Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP this year.

Giancarlo Stanton

Like Tanaka is must-see television in the American League, Stanton is must-see television in the National League.  He is the best pure power hitter in baseball, and watching how hard he hits the ball on a regular basis is truly a feat. If he’s in your area, go to the ballpark and get their early to watch a show in batting practice.

Derek Jeter

He may be a singles hitter, he doesn’t have much range in the field, but if you have a chance, get yourself to a ballpark and see Derek Jeter play. He doesn’t have much left in the tank, but he’s still utilizing the most of his fading skills because he’s a smart, skillful ballplayer. He’s only got about 85 games left on the tires; make sure you see this baseball gem (whether you love the Yankees or hate them) before he rides off into the sunset.

The Brewers and Royals.

Two teams with smaller payrolls both find themselves in first place in their divisions ahead of the more traditional powerhouses in the Tigers and Cardinals. It will be interesting to see if they can hold them off and earn themselves a surprising division title.

The Wild Card races.

There are only six teams currently more than 5 games out of playoff contention. I can’t remember a season where we are almost halfway in, and 24 teams are in the playoff chase. It could leave us with a wild September, and will be fascinating to watch.

The Boston Red Sox.

The defending champions haven’t been above .500 since May 14. They are only five games back of the wild card, so they are definitely still in contention, but if they are going to make it back to the postseason to try and defend their title, they are going to have to play significantly better; and right now, they are starting a 10-day road trip against Oakland, Seattle and the Yankees. It’s not getting any easier for Boston.

Stream of Consciousness

Anyone still doubting that Joel Embiid will have injury issues in the NBA? … I’m starting to get the idea that everyone in Major League Baseball is going to finish between 75 and 85 wins … A week later, I’m still impressed with how good the LA Kings are … Is there a better Jimi Hendrix song than “The Wind Cries Mary?” … Is it football season yet? … I already miss the NBA and Stanley Cup playoffs …  Jordan, Russell, Bird, Kareem, Magic, Wilt, LeBron, Kobe, Oscar and Duncan. I can no longer put Jerry West in the top 10 … I’m very surprised Terry Bradshaw ripped Peyton Manning. That being said, he’s not wrong … Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter was phenomenal, but after watching both, it was not better than Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeout game … I am excited for NBA free agency. It’s either going to excellent, or a complete dud … Pat Riley calling out his players before the opt-out deadline is interesting to say the least … I’m still not into the World Cup, though I’m sure you are all riveted to the update.

Tweet of the Week

Good or bad, positive or negative, we provide you with the best tweet sent to @MadDogUnleashed.

ESPN personality Keith Olbermann and Mad Dog got in a little Twitter spat over the Redskins team name. Olbermann took issue with Russo’s stance, and Russo invited Olbermann on the show to discuss. However, Olbermann declined and took issue with Russo’s “style.” Honestly, we knew Keith would decline; he can’t script his witty retorts on radio.

Vote for Lucroy

Now this is funny.

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Mad Dog Underground

Episode 2: In the second episode of “Mad Dog Underground,” Mike Babchik and Bill Zimmerman explore Mad Dog’s office sleeping spots, Evan Cohen sleeps past the start of the show, and Babchik tries to book a dead guy.

Episode 3: In episode 3 of Mad Dog Underground, Babchik and Billy Z discuss Doggie’s distrust of GPS machines, Dog’s musical tastes, and Babchik’s surprise business trip.

Catch more episodes of Mad Dog Underground on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Next week on MDU

Our shows next week will be dominated by a few topics. We will have plenty to discuss about the NBA Draft, which takes place this Thursday, especially with the news that Joel Embiid, the potential No. 1e overall pick, is now going to need foot surgery. We will react to the USA-Portugal World Cup match on Monday as the USA continues to try to reach the round of 16. Plus, you know Doggie will be all over all the action in Major League Baseball.

You can follow Bill ZimmermanMad Dog Unleashed and Mad Dog Sports Radio on twitter, or follow along on Facebook.

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