Now in his fourth season WITH the Redbirds, Stubby Clapp has grown about as popular as the Peabody Ducks or a Memphis sunset. But how well do we really know our backflipping second-sacker? We threw a few questions his way to try and discover the real Stubby Clapp.
Barbecue ribs ... dry or wet?
Dry. In Canada, I've only had wet. When I got here and had the Rendezvous ribs, they were outstanding. I'll always prefer dry now.
Elvis or Jerry Lee?
Elvis. He's the King.
Hanging curveball or straight fastball?
Straight fastball. They go farther.
Grizzlies or Tigers?
I'd have to go with the Tigers. More exciting for me. The Tigers are younger, they've got stuff to strive for, and they play harder.
Ozzie Smith or Ozzy Osbourne?
Oh, you can't do that to me! Can I say both on that? I come out [to bat] to Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train."
Bull Durham or The Natural?
The Natural. It gets the heart going more as a baseball player. Man, you want to be that guy.
Tobacco or chewing gum?
Bubble gum, definitely.
Mike Tyson or Lennox Lewis?
Lennox Lewis. I can't stand Tyson. He's just a farce. There are some guys [on the team] trying to get some tickets. But you know what? I'm not a boxing fan and I'm not a Tyson fan, so if I went that would kind of make me a hypocrite, right? I'm not going to support Tyson in any kind of way.
Game-winning homer or suicide squeeze?
I'll take the home run. Why not?
Backflip partner: Nadia Comaneci or Mary Lou Retton?
I'll go Mary Lou. She's old-school.
FedEx or AutoZone?
That's a straight fastball, right?
Isaac Hayes' or B.B. King's?
I don't know. I went to Isaac Hayes' the other night and thought it was a real classy establishment, and I've been to B.B. King's several times. I'm going to have to go with B.B. King's.
If you were to listen to one?
Rockey or Fredbird?
I'll go Rockey.
Bigger stud: Mark McGwire or Albert Pujols?
Mark McGwire, still one of the best professionals that I've ever come across. Not taking anything away from Pujols, but he's just getting started. McGwire lifted [St. Louis] up. He brought baseball back to the game it was. Even when he was going through his struggles last year, he was still a professional about his life and the way he handled the media. I sat between him and Mike Matheny last September. What more could I want?
Cybill Shepherd or Kathy Bates?
Baseball fight or hockey fight?
Oh, a hockey fight, definitely. There's nothing better. That takes talent. A baseball fight is just a brawl, just a big mess.
Memphis summer or Canadian winter?
Canadian winter. Snowboarding, tobogganing, hot chocolate, skating on the pond. Anytime.
Union or Poplar?
Poplar. There's more stuff I go to on Poplar. Petco's on Poplar. I've got two ferrets.
Friends or Seinfeld?
Friends. Better scenery.
Overton Square or Peabody Place?
Peabody Place. It's brand-new, got a good look to it. It's revived downtown.
Barbecue nachos or hot dog?
Barbecue nachos, definitely. Hot dogs? That's just old scrap-meat.
Big-league bench or Triple-A stardom?
Big-league bench, because there's always the potential to be a big-league star if you're there.
By Chris Przybyszewski
To do: Take out trash, do laundry, get the Memphis RiverKings to second finals berth in 10-year franchise history, win Central Hockey League's President Cup ... Welcome to the world of 'Kings coach Doug Shedden, who, at least, is in familiar territory. "This is my sixth one," he says, before a nonmandatory 'Kings practice. "I enjoy them. As a coach, this is what you prepare for from the start of the year -- to get to the finals."
Shedden prepares well. In his seven years as head coach of three teams (the others being the Flint Generals of the United Hockey League and the Wichita Thunder in the CHL), Shedden has compiled three championships. His teams have never failed to reach the playoffs. "Playoffs are playoffs," he says. "It's always going to be difficult. That's what it's all about. It's never going to be easy."
The 'Kings haven't had an easy time either. Their opening-round series with Fort Worth went four games in a best-of-five. In the second round, the 'Kings had to face three-time defending champs the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs. That series went to seven games, with the 'Kings beating the Mudbugs 4-2 in last Saturday's final at the Desoto Civic Center. "It certainly was an exciting game the other night," Shedden says. "A great series. It's well-documented what kind of team they are and what they have done in the last couple of years. Game seven: For true hockey fans, it doesn't get any better."
Any trip to the finals requires overcoming adversity, but the 'Kings are playing without two starters. Center Jonathan Gagnon and right-winger Robb Palahnuk were each called up to higher echelons of minor-league hockey. "You lose Gagnon, who has scored 40 goals for us," Shedden says. "Then you lose Palahnuk, who scored seven goals for us in the playoffs. Obviously, your depth chart gets real low. That's why getting past this series was so important to us, because possibly we'll get those guys back for the finals."
If Gagnon and Palahnuk do not return, Shedden has to figure out a way to win without them. "You have to hopefully make [the players] understand that we can win without those guys, but it's hard," Shedden says. "It takes more of a herculean effort from everybody. It's more ice time, and we're short-handed."
Most minor-league sports are geared toward getting the players to the next level of play, but Shedden says that the finals are different. "I think in this round you use the [motivation] that you don't get to the finals often as a player," he says. "Don't miss this challenge of getting there. You'll enjoy it; it's the number-one stage. We just tried to drill that into their heads."
Shedden's job got tougher on Monday night as the Austin Ice Bats beat the El Paso Buzzards in the CHL's Southern Conference finals. The Ice Bats have a better regular-season record, so the 'Kings lose home ice for the finals, something the team has held in the first two rounds.
"Home ice got us that seventh game, so that's very important," Shedden acknowledges, but that doesn't change his perspective. "It's going to be business as usual," he says. "If you're in the finals, hopefully, you have to take home ice and throw it out the window, because every game is so big. We know we have to win one in their building and then win all our games at home."
No big deal. Just add that to the list of to-dos.
The RiverKings face the Ice Bats at home Thursday-Friday, April 25th-26th, and Sunday, April 28th (if necessary), at the Desoto Civic Center.
Memphis rookie forward Pau Gasol has broken the Grizzlies franchise record for offensive rebounds. He has 233 offensive boards on the year, with two games left to play. Gasol also holds the franchise record for most blocks in a season with his current tally of 167.
Another season record for the Grizzlies: 287 man-games lost to injury.
ESPN.com has given retired Grizzlies center Bryant Reeves the title of "most overpaid NBA player." Reeves is still collecting on a six-year, $65 million deal.
The Grizzlies ended their home schedule with a loss, but 15 of their 23 wins have been home games. Overall, the Grizzlies are currently 5-5 over their last 10 games.
"It's been a bumpy road, but no one expected it to be that smooth. I am sure that in the next two years, we will be playing in the best arena in the NBA."
-- Grizzlies majority owner Michael Heisley, speaking to the crowd before the team's last home game of the season.