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Father of Marine killed in 2019 bomb attack wants answers amid reports of Russia bounties Thousands of Your Favorite Fast Food Locations Could Close Why do I love sports? Because the song from This Week in Baseball still gives me goose bumps © Stephen Borelli Stephen Borelli vividly remembers the soundtrack of his youth as a diehard baseball fan.

We really miss sports. So much so that we've asked ourselves a question: What was *the* moment or reason that we fell in love with sports in the first place?

This story below is from USA TODAY Sports' Stephen Borelli.

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The song still gives me goose bumps.

It danced along with a Pete Rose head-first slide, a skyward Fernando Valenzuela glance and heavy high-fives from Kirk Gibson.

It signaled the end of my favorite television show, “This Week in Baseball,” but it was one last flourish to tide me over until next week. I was not alone.

“I would get people all the time who say, ‘I want to use it as my wedding theme,’ ” Geoff Belinfante, the show’s former executive producer, would tell me nearly two decades later. “And we always tried to make available copies of it, even though we’re not supposed to.”

“Gathering Crowds” was scored by British composer John Scott without baseball in mind. It was a stock instrumental number available for sale to TV producers. It became the soundtrack of baseball for a legion of baseball fans.

REMEMBERING THAT SPARK: More awesome memories of why we all fell in love with sports

The melody ended one of the most pleasant half hours of my week. Debuting in June 1977, “This Week in Baseball” was a groundbreaking show that brought a steady stream of baseball highlights into America’s dens and living rooms for the first time. (ESPN’s first launch was still more than two years away.)

The jolly opening jingle – dunnt-dunnt, dunnt-dunnt …. Dun dun … dun dun dun – known as “Jet Set” meant I had found it on TV. Then came the narrator’s cheerful words. Hello there everybody, this is Mel Allen.

Then the flood of highlights, so rare even by the early 1980s, when I turned on the evening news at 6:40 to catch only a quick glimpse during the sports report. “T.W.I.B.” recapped entire series while adding a twist no one had ever seen before.

“ ‘This Week in Baseball’ and through Mel’s voice, invented the baseball blooper,” said Bob Bodziner, a longtime “T.W.I.B” producer. “Pat Kelly was playing for the Baltimore Orioles, the ball hit the heel of his glove and bounced over the fence. That was the first blooper.”


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The most popular portion of the show became a segment in which players had baseballs roll up their arms; or they juggled them a number of times before dropping them; or they fell over each other trying to catch a popup. Allen narrated along “lovingly,” Belinfante says.

 “I think he showed the mortality of these players – that they were just like you and I and they were capable of making mistakes,” Belinfante says. “And we always tried to couple our bloopers with great plays because, after all, many bloopers are just great plays that weren’t made.”

Allen always said he broadcast as if talking to one person. I felt he was talking to me. The puns Allen read from his script, and the occasional interjections in his Alabama drawl, made you think the major leagues – a world where chicken mascots danced and players cackled with their hats on backward – were just as welcoming. “How about that!” he exclaimed, unearthing his signature phrase from his broadcasting heyday of the 1940s and 1950s.

“Everybody I ever met thought that Mel walked into the studio and ad-libbed the script,” said Ouisie Shapiro, a former writer for the show. “They were shocked that he didn’t. He made it seem so spontaneous. Everything seemed so spontaneous and fresh. He never made you feel he was reading something.”

Allen created the illusion he was in the ballpark with the players, not a recording studio. By the end, after my favorite tune had played and Steve Garvey raised his hands in triumph in tune with the final bars, I was ready to race outside and play. The final score filled my head through games of Wiffle Ball with my friends and solo sessions in the front yard when I threw up the ball and hit it.

Those memories of my childhood in Westchester County, New York, remained in my subconscious as I went on to play high school baseball and into sports journalism. In 2001, five-plus years into my career, I caught an episode of T.W.I.B.

Allen had died in 1996. The show used a Claymation Allen (“Mini-Mel”) that said, “How about that!” during a segment about the week’s top plays.

As we all knew, there was no way to recreate Allen, whose smiling face we’d see time to time on the show.

“His eyes – they were just so soft and gentle and they sparkled,” says Jeff Scott, who wrote for the show in Mel’s later years. “He had that little sparkle in his face that he was going to tell you something that would make you laugh.”

I wrote a column for debunking “Mini-Mel” and taking a nostalgic look at the original show and its host. I heard from Roy Epstein, another former producer. I would end up writing a biography about Allen (entitled “How About That!” naturally).

I interviewed more than a dozen people who worked on the original show. My project became a labor of love, much like it was for all of them.

Allen had been the radio voice of the Yankees during an era when his tones loomed so powerfully over the landscape, fans thought him as much a part of the team’s unprecedented success as Mantle and DiMaggio.

“We got a chance to work with a legend, but a legend that was as sweet as your grandfather,” says Heather Mitchell, a T.W.I.B. producer in the 1990s.

I learned about the radical idea behind the show in the 1970s: to place a ¾-inch videotape recorder, which would become the standard VHS model, in every big-league ballpark and have the tapes shipped to New York studios by planes, trains and writer Warner Fusselle’s automobile. Jody Shapiro, an original producer on the show, told me how the early crew spent 12 to 15 hours assembling and editing the highlights before they even wrote the script.

They would work 24 hours straight, then they would walk to meet Allen in a studio on the West side of Manhattan.

 “You go through all this hell being up all night doing this and there would be Mel with a great story,” said Mark Durand, the show’s original writer.

Allen had been unceremoniously dismissed by the Yankees in 1964 and drifted out of public consciousness. But people remembered him. He gave the show legitimacy and, at the same time, became a celebrity to a new generation of fans, including myself.

And when he said his signature sign off – “That’s all for now, folks; see ya next week on “This Week in … Baseball” – we heard that song. It was the song that set in motion my whole professional life in sports.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why do I love sports? Because the song from 'This Week in Baseball' still gives me goose bumps

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Angels exciting prospect Jo Adell could make debut in 2020

New York Police Departments budget has been slashed by $1 billion McDonalds will stop reopening restaurants for 21 days as COVID-19 cases spike across America Angels exciting prospect Jo Adell could make debut in 2020

Despite a shortened MLB season and the cancellation of the minor-league baseball season, the Los Angeles Angels’ most buzzed-about prospect since Mike Trout might still make his big-league debut in 2020.

© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports Angels 21-year-old outfielder Jo Adell has been called a five-tool player.

In a media conference call this week, Angels GM Billy Eppler indicated that 21-year-old outfielder Jo Adell could get the call-up this season, according to Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times. 

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Eppler said the format of the upcoming training camp should allow prospects to continue developing, adding that the Angels will hold intrasquad games between their minor- and major-leaguers. After the MLB season starts, the Angels’ minor-leaguers will continue to play simulated games at the team’s secondary site in Long Beach, Calif.

“That’s what we’re hopeful for,” said Eppler of the ability of Adell specifically to benefit from the intrasquad games. “There’s some upside to the intrasquad format. We’ll just have to keep getting him at-bats. There’s going to be talented pitchers over there for him to face and we’ll go from there.”

The right-handed hitting Adell, who was included in the Angels’ initial 60-man player pool, is an elite athlete who has hit .298 with an .878 OPS in three minor-league seasons. He is also a strong defensive outfielder with a good arm and tremendous speed, making Adell a true five-tool player.

Adell has a flair for producing viral moments as well, and if all goes to plan, we may be seeing him produce more of them at the MLB level this season.

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Full screen 1/25 SLIDES © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Revisiting the best, worst and most puzzling moves of the MLB offseason The delay in the MLB season due to COVID-19 and resulting 60-game season changes the impact of some offseason moves since they were initially made. Looking toward the shortened season, here's a look at the best, worst and most puzzling moves of the 2019-20 MLB offseason. 2/25 SLIDES © John David Mercer / USA Today Sports Images Best: Blue Jays sign Travis Shaw Toronto signed Shaw to an economical one-year, $4 million contract after a terrible 2019 season. He hit a combined 63 home runs in 2017-18 and spent the offseason revamping his swing, which paid off with two home runs in his first 32 plate appearances in spring training. With the abbreviated 2020 season, the Jays are hopeful Shaw can get on a hot streak as their first baseman and DH. 3/25 SLIDES © Reinhold Matay / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Blue Jays sign Hyun-Jin Ryu Ryu's four-year, $80 million contract was well earned after winning the NL ERA title last year and posting a 1.97 ERA in 15 starts the previous season. The problem for Ryu is staying healthy, so a four-year deal is a huge risk for a team with limited resources, like Toronto. Ryu goes into the 2020 season as Toronto's ace, and the team is hopeful he can have two months of health. 4/25 SLIDES © Rick Scuteri / USA Today Sports Images Most puzzling: Angels sign Julio Teheran For a team struggling to find healthy starters, adding a highly durable pitcher like Teheran makes sense. The problem is Teheran's inconsistency and poor control, with 4.3 walks per nine innings in each of the last two seasons. That's a problem unlikely to improve with the move from Atlanta to the AL, but perhaps Teheran will show better control in shorter spurts as he ramps up his arm in the short season. Slideshow continues on the next slide 5/25 SLIDES © Kim Klement / USA Today Sports Images Best: Braves sign Marcell Ozuna Ozuna was unable to find the multi-year contract he desired this offseason, settling for a one-year deal with the Braves. He could be quite a bargain with the team after hitting 29 home runs in St. Louis last year, and he potentially fits as Atlanta's DH now that the NL will employ the new rule over the 60-game season. 6/25 SLIDES © Kim Klement / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Braves sign Travis d'Arnaud D'Arnaud is a quality player when he's healthy, but it's his health that has been the problem for much of his career. He's reached 100 games only three times during his career but did get on a hot streak last year in Tampa with a .782 OPS and 16 home runs in 92 games. Signing d'Arnaud to a two-year deal was a risk, though that risk is mitigated slightly now with a shorter season in Year 1. 7/25 SLIDES © Steve Mitchell / USA Today Sports Images Most puzzling: Astros re-sign Martin Maldonado The Astros still have a World Series-worthy roster, but it's clear they've downgraded offensively at catcher from Robinson Chirinos. Maldonado is set to be their starter, but his .644 career OPS is hardly worthy of that honor. He enters the first season of a two-year contract in 2020. 8/25 SLIDES © Jim Rassol / USA Today Sports Images Best: Cardinals sign Kwang-Hyun Kim If the spring training results are any indication, the Cardinals found a huge bargain when they added Kim on a two-year contract. The former KBO star figures to be a member of the team's starting rotation after posting a 2.51 ERA in 31 appearances in Korea last year and could post dominant numbers as unfamiliar hitters try to figure out his stuff. 9/25 SLIDES © Rob Schumacher / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Diamondbacks sign Madison Bumgarner Bumgarner is a former World Series hero in San Francisco, coming off his seventh 200 inning season. Still, this clearly isn't the pitcher of a few years ago, as Bumgarner's velocity has declined, resulting in his 3.90 ERA last season. Given that decline, a five-year contract is a big risk for a pitcher who will turn 31 in August, but he does effectively replace Zack Greinke as Arizona's ace. Slideshow continues on the next slide 10/25 SLIDES © Roy Dabner / USA Today Sports Images Most puzzling: Brewers sign Avisail Garcia Milwaukee clearly paid for upside in signing Garcia to a two-year, $20 million deal. It's a risk for a small market team like the Brewers, and his poor defensive contribution isn't a great fit with the team also trying to get by with Ryan Braun in the outfield. The addition of the DH this year does certainly help Garcia's cause, and the Brewers are hopeful he can get on a hot streak. 11/25 SLIDES © Rick Scuteri / USA Today Sports Images Best: Dodgers acquire Mookie Betts and David Price 2020 looked like the Dodgers' year when they added Betts and Price late in the offseason, giving one of the most talented teams in MLB even greater upside. Unfortunately, Betts is headed toward a 60-game sprint before entering free agency, but the move will still be worthwhile if the Dodgers can finally get over the hump and win the World Series. With one of the deepest farm systems in the league, it's less likely L.A. will regret trading youngsters Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong. 12/25 SLIDES © Troy Taormina / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Nationals re-sign Daniel Hudson Hudson was one of Washington's playoff heroes last year, serving as the team's closer. Washington extended him on a two-year deal, which is a risk given his age (33) and mediocre track record with a career 3.83 ERA and 2.76 K/BB ratio. The team will be relying on him heavily this season, especially with less time for the starting pitchers to ramp up. 13/25 SLIDES © Reinhold Matay / USA Today Sports Images Most puzzling: Cardinals trade Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena The Cardinals go into the year thin in the outfield after trading Martinez and Arozarena in the offseason. The return in top pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore might have been too attractive to turn down, but it was an odd move for a team seemingly still in position to win now. With the late start to the season, it's more clear than ever that rookie Dylan Carlson will have a spot on the team. 14/25 SLIDES © Joe Camporeale / USA Today Sports Images Best: Dodgers sign Alex Wood Wood missed most of 2019 with a back injury, allowing the Dodgers to bring him back on a one-year contract. With a season that will require plenty of pitching depth, the move looks even better for the Dodgers, as the lefty has experience in a variety of roles and had a 3.46 ERA in four seasons with L.A. earlier in his career. Slideshow continues on the next slide 15/25 SLIDES © Jim Rassol / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Nationals re-sign Stephen Strasburg Strasburg hasn't been the most durable pitcher during his career, reaching 30 starts for only the third time in 10 seasons last year. As a result, his seven-year, $245 million contract looks even more risky, and most of the first season when Strasburg is at peak value has now been wiped out. 16/25 SLIDES © Sam Navarro / USA Today Sports Images Most puzzling: Marlins acquire Jonathan Villar Villar is an exciting player, as evidenced by his 24 home runs and 40 stolen bases with Baltimore last season. However, he's shown inconsistency both offensively and defensively during most of his career and doesn't do much for a rebuilding Marlins team. Miami is likely regretting the one-year, $8.2 million contract already now that it is unlikely to recoup the investment by hosting fans at home games. 17/25 SLIDES © Sam Greene / USA Today Sports Images Best: Giants sign Kevin Gausman Gausman is coming off a terrible 2019 season between Atlanta and Cincinnati, causing him to settle for a one-year deal. However, San Francisco's roomy dimensions could allow Gausman to fix his home run issues, and he pitched well in a relief role for the Reds late in the year. With teams likely to use tandem starting pitchers and shorter starts, the momentum Gausman showed late last season makes this signing look even better in a hybrid role. 18/25 SLIDES © Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Padres acquire Trent Grisham and Zach Davies San Diego traded former top prospects in Eric Lauer and Luis Urias for Grisham and Davies during the offseason. Grisham does show enticing upside after hitting 32 home runs between the minors and Milwaukee last season, but his previous minor league performance was poor. Davies is a proven MLB arm who has posted a sub-4.00 ERA four times in his five seasons, but his career 6.4 K/9 and limited innings show a lot of risk. With the team breaking in other young pitchers, Davies isn't exactly the innings eater the team needs. 19/25 SLIDES © Kareem Elgazzar / USA Today Sports Images Most puzzling: Reds Sign Nicholas Castellanos Castellanos carried the Cubs on his back when he was acquired last year, and his bat is worthy of the four-year, $64 million contract he received from Cincinnati. However, the signing looked odd at the time for a team that already had a full outfield after signing Shogo Akiyama. The addition of the DH in the abbreviated season really works in the Reds favor, as Castellanos can be shifted, opening up more playing time for Aristides Aquino. 20/25 SLIDES © Kareem Elgazzar / USA Today Sports Images Best: Reds sign Shogo Akiyama Akiyama looked exactly as advertised early in spring training after signing with Cincinnati. He's expected to be the team's leadoff man after an accomplished career in Japan that saw him hit above .300 in four of the last five seasons, and he adds more athleticism to an outfield that needed it. 21/25 SLIDES © Kim Klement / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Red Sox sign Martin Perez Boston desperately needed pitching depth for 2020, but the team's moves show more of a rebuild. One of the few signings was Perez, who will be a big part of the starting rotation after signing a one-year deal. He's posted an ERA above 5.00 in consecutive seasons, so it's unclear what the Red Sox are hoping for from him in 2020. 22/25 SLIDES © Kareem Elgazzar / USA Today Sports Images Most puzzling: Reds sign Wade Miley Miley has proved he can be effective over the last two seasons, but his 2019 season ended on a sour note. The lefty insists he was tipping his pitches after posting an ERA above 16.00 for Houston in September, and the Reds apparently believe the same after giving Miley a two-year contract. Such a commitment is still a risk after his late-season struggles, but Cincy does need all the arms it can get in the shortened season. 23/25 SLIDES © Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports Images Best: Twins acquire Kenta Maeda Maeda was moved to the bullpen at the end of the last two seasons with the Dodgers and pitched masterfully, but he wanted an opportunity to be a full-time starter. He gets that chance with Minnesota, though the relief work should come in handy with a ramp-up period for starters early in the season. Minnesota's strong pitching depth looks even more valuable now. 24/25 SLIDES © Joe Camporeale / USA Today Sports Images Worst: White Sox sign Dallas Keuchel Adding a veteran starting pitcher made sense for the White Sox with an influx of young talent arriving, but it's unclear if Keuchel was the right signing. He got a hefty three-year, $55.5 million contract despite struggling to keep the ball in the park last season and posting a mediocre 2.33 K/BB ratio. The innings that Chicago was hoping to get from Keuchel might not come to fruition in the shortened season either. 25/25 SLIDES © Bill Streicher / USA Today Sports Images Most puzzling: Royals sign Maikel Franco Phillies fans were probably happy to see their former failed prospect go elsewhere during the offseason. Franco has frustrated fans with a career .249 batting average, .733 OPS and poor defense to this point. Signing for less than $3 million on a one-year deal shows limited risk from Kansas City, but Franco has barely been worthy of a starting job over the last three seasons. 25/25 SLIDES Continue Reading Show full articles without "Continue Reading" button for {0} hours.

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  • Rick Pitino offers suggestions for college basketball season
  • NBA restart: Are the Lakers or Clippers better prepared to resume the season?
  • Legendary NBA announcer Kevin Calabro steps down from post with Blazers
  • Are the Warriors interested in trading for Aaron Gordon?