Issue #17: A Big Celebration of Short Kings
Today we praise the players that proved height is just a number.
Hello, my name is Colin. Welcome to the 17th issue of The Wood Report, an eclectic smorgasbord of sports “news” and humor.
Did you miss me last week? My apologies for the lack of Wood Report. The side effects of my vaccine shot on Thursday took me out of commission for a couple days, making it impossible to get the Report finished and sent out. While I am disappointed to have missed a week with my readers, that vaccine has me feeling stronger than ever. I feel nearly immortal! But because of the missed week, I have double the content to sift through to find that proverbial gold. So without dilly dallying any longer, let’s get right into this week’s main topic.
This Week’s Main Story
During the 2021 NFL Draft a few weeks ago, the Arizona Cardinals selected Rondale Moore, wide receiver out of Purdue. Moore was one of the most electric players during his college career, with a ridiculous combination of speed, agility, bounce, and strength. His athletic measurables are insane. But what drew even more attention to Moore was his diminutive size. At just 5’7” and 181lb, he is one of the smallest players ever selected in the NFL Draft.
Now, there are people that believe Moore’s size will be too big of a disadvantage for him, causing him to flame out quickly in the NFL. I am part of the much bigger group that thinks that concern is overblown for a guy with this much talent. There are already plenty of examples of short guys who are succeeding in the NFL. You don’t even have to search outside of Moore’s own team, where fellow short king Kyler Murray is quickly developing into must watch TV. Those two guys being teammates already got me thinking about their success together. During the draft I tweeted out “Haven't done the research yet, but I'm pretty confident that once Kyler Murray throws a touchdown to Rondale Moore, it will be the shortest combined QB-WR touchdown of all time.”
Well, you can now relax, as I have done that research for all of us. In fact, wading into that bit of trivia got me to sink even further, finding the best and shortest combinations in all of sports. I went through all of the major sports to find these Short Kings. Normally, they might only be noticed on the field because they are so obviously a different body type than we expect to see competing at the highest levels. But today, these guys are getting their time in the spotlight of The Wood Report.
The Short Kings of Sports
Shortest WB-WR Touchdown Combination
I didn’t just want to go through a list of the shortest players to play the game (though many of them make appearances on this list). I wanted to take it one step deeper and find two or more players than combined to beat the odds of their stature. This research is much harder, not only because few have decided to do this before me, but because Stathead doesn’t have a filter for player height (though maybe they will after the dozens of emails I sent them begging for that feature to be added). My normal methods didn’t work here, so I had to take a much more manual approach. It took much longer than normal, and has a greater potential for missed pairings. But, I’d like to think I went deep enough on each category to find the definitive answer.
The first category I explored was the one that kicked off this entire thing. Kyler Murray (listed at 5’10”) was a good place to start. He already has a touchdown pass to Chase Edmonds (5’9”) and I believed that this might be the mark that Murray and Moore would combine to beat. This was also tied with a touchdown pass from Doug Flutie (5’10”) and Kevin Williams (5’9”). But I found that this isn’t the record, and the record would not be broken by the Cardinals any time soon.
The real record is held by QB Eddie “Little General” LeBaron and HB Dick James. LeBaron was at one time listed in the NFL at 5’9” and 168lb, but he later admitted to truly being 5’7”. Dick James is listed at 5’9” and 179lb, a full 30 pounds lighter than Chase Edmonds is currently listed. LeBaron and James played for Washington in the 50s and would connect on 2 touchdown passes during their tenure together.
Shortest Pitcher-Hitter Homer Run Combination
Now we switch to a little bit of short king on short king violence, finding two guys on opposite teams. It’s a little unfortunate to bring one of these two players down, but just being a part of something historic can be special. The pitcher in this scenario is Dinty Gearin (5’4”, 148lb). Dinty wasn’t in the majors for very long, so he didn’t have a lot of time to set the record. He pitched just 53 innings over the course of 2 seasons (1923-1924) with the NY Giants, finishing with a record 2-4 and ERA+ of 103, just barely above league average. He only gave up 4 home runs in his career, but two of them are tied for the record of shortest combo.
On May 4th 1924, Dinty Gearin would give up just the 2nd home run of his career to Philadelphia outfielder Johnny Mokan, who stood at 5’7”. Just one week later, Gearin would allow his 4th and final homer to St. Louis outfielder Ray Blades, who also stood 5’7”. Mokan and Blades would both have very good careers as some of the shortest batters in MLB history, but poor Dinty Gearing wouldn’t get the same chance to continue the legacy of short pitchers. These days, smaller batters can continue to find success in the league (Altuve, Betts, and Pedroia all break the mold), but with pitchers becoming even bigger and taller than ever, it’s unlikely we’ll see anything like Dinty again in the future.
Shortest Goalie-Skater Goal Combination
Here is one place where I hit a wall with my research. I know the goalie that is likely one part of this tandem, but unfortunately, the stat keepers have failed me. There is no record of individual goals scored during this era, just whole game statistics. So it’s impossible to know who scored each of the goals against our heroic Short Goalie. But let’s highlight that goaltender real quick. Roy “Shrimp” Worters was a 12-year veteran of the National Hockey League and is believed to be the shortest player to ever play in the league. At just 5’3” and 135lb, Worters defied all expectations of how to keep the puck out of the net. In 1928-29, Worters posted 13 shutouts in 38 games and a 1.15 goal against average, becoming the first goalie to win the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player. He would later win a Vezina trophy as well. He never played on a powerhouse team, and made the playoffs only 4 times, making his 67 career shutouts even more impressive. I’m sure there was some 5’7” skater who was able to slide an errant puck past Worters at some point though.
Shortest Goal Scoring Combination
This category is even more fun because of the addition of a secondary assist in hockey goal combination. We aren’t just looking for 2 Short Kings, we need to find 3 that combined for a goal during a game. Just another layer of fun. The goal scoring combos I found are much more contemporary than most of the record holders we have been talking about so far. Recent enough that many of you would probably remember watching these players play, or at least recognize the names more readily than Dinty Gearin.
We have two lines that combined to score the shortest goal in NHL history. Both trios, if laid out end to end, would measure 17 feet and 1 inch tall, averaging 5 feet and 8 1/3 inches per player (that’s some free math for you). The first line includes one of the shortest skaters in NHL history, Nathan Gerbe. Gerbe is still in the league with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he scored this Short Goal with the Buffalo Sabres in 2013. Gerbe is listed at 5’4” and has managed to score 63 goals in NHL. His 25th career goal came in one of his few 2 goal games, which ended in a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers. Gerbe was assisted by 5’9” Tyler Ennis and 6’0” Steve Ott (a giant relative to this entire section of the newsletter).
Quick aside about Gerbe: I believe that he is also part of the biggest height difference between goal scorer and goal assister. Linemate Tyler Myers assisted on 4 of Gerbe’s goals, and at 6’8”, towers 14 inches above him. These two would be perfect for a buddy-cop movie.
The other Short Goal came from a more well-rounded collection of close to the ground skaters, with every player involved at 5’9” or shorter. The goal scorer was Brian Gionta, one of the most prolific pint-sized scorers the league has seen, standing at just 5’7”. Longtime linemate Mike Cammalleri (5’9”) assisted, as well as Marc-Andre Bergeron (5’9”). Even better is that this trio scored the goal for the Montreal Canadiens against an Empty Net, which I guess you could technically say adds 0’0” as the goalie part of this combo.
Shortest 5-Man Lineup in the NBA
I would not be surprised if this answer is incorrect. I did as much research as possible to find the shortest collection of 5 players on the court at the same time, but 5 variables created an overwhelming amount of combinations to check. What I did find was an incredibly diminutive set of 5 players, but I cannot guarantee you it is the shortest of all time. This is your warning, if you use this trivia fact to impress your friends and someone calls you out, it is not my fault. Also, if that does happen, please put me in contact with that person, I would like to talk to someone with that kind of knowledge floating around their head.
Now, you might have already guessed, the shortest NBA lineup starts with none other than Muggsy Bogues. This should be obvious. Muggsy was a fascinating basketball player, a 5’3” phenom point guard who was taken with the 12th overall pick in the draft. He regularly found himself in the top 10 in assists each season, never allowing his massive size difference to make him feel uncomfortable. His short stature was the entire reason he was cast in Space Jam to have his talent stolen by a bunch of aliens. It was a great sight gag alongside 7’6” Shawn Bradley.
The rest of the lineup looked like this: 6’1” guard Tony Delk, 6’1” guard Bimbo Coles, 6’6” forward/guard Jim Jackson, and 6’9” forward Donyell Marshall. Together with Bogues, this group averaged under 6’2” on the basketball court. This is the true small ball revolution, and it took place in 1997-98, coincidentally for the Golden State Warriors, so I guess they have always been ahead of the times. Was this group effective? Well they only played 3 possessions together, and neither team scored any points, so let’s go with “Inconclusive”. But the lineup existed, and that’s all that matters.
Gold Medal – Connor McDavid
Connor McDavid is on another planet when it comes to talent in the NHL. Last Saturday, he scored 4 points by the end of the 2nd period to push his season total to 100 points. In just 53 games played. He is just the 9th player in the NHL history to hit 100 points in 53 games. He is in such a zone right now heading into the playoffs, its hard to see how anyone could slow him down.
Here is what he has done in his last 13 games:
He has more games this season with 3+ points (18) than he has games with 0 points (11). This is a ridiculous level of dominance.
Villain of the Week – Tom Wilson
I am tired of Tom Wilson. Every time he’s involved in something, we know what we’re getting. Last week, he did what he always does and started a fight because of some cheap shots he took on New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich.
Tom Wilson ends up getting no suspension, and fined just $5,000 for his punch on Artemi Panarin. Naturally, everyone hated this, including the Rangers, who issued a strongly worded statement calling for the firing of the head of the Department of Player Safety (the body that handles incidents and issues punishment). With no suspension coming, and the Rangers and Capitals set to play again just 2 days later, the Rangers decided to take it into their own hands.
6 different fights in the opening 5 minutes of the game. It really made the game hard to watch. Everything that happened in the game seemed to stem from the lack of punishment for Wilson. And incredibly, Pavel Buchnevich ending up receiving a 1 game suspension for a cross check during this game, while the Rangers were fined $250,000 for their comments about the DoPS! (Buchnevich definitely deserved it, but it looks terrible after not suspending Wilson). If Tom Wilson is suspended even 1 game, none of this occurs and both teams carry on with this game like normal.
The worst part of it all is that it overshadowed what should have been a shining moment for the league. TJ Oshie, who’s father pass away the day before this game, scored a hat trick. It was an emotional night for him, as his father was a huge part of his like and hockey career.
Coach Oshie was an inspiration to his son and Capitals fans alike due to his high praise from his son and his battle with Alzheimer's. T.J.'s emotional postgame interview after the Caps won the 2018 Stanley Cup stands out as one of the most heartwarming moments.
This should have been the lead story for the entire NHL that night, but instead, we get Tom Wilson antics and arguing about suspensions and punishment.
Is This How You Play?
Is this how you play basketball?
Is this how goals work in hockey?
Is this how you play baseball?
Is this how you play baseball? (Seriously why do players keep doing this?)
What to Watch this Week
There is quite a lot going on this week! It’s an exciting time for the sports calendar. Today marks the beginning of the NHL playoffs. Well, sorta. Most of the playoffs anyway. The playoffs begin for everyone except the Scotia North division, who won’t start until Thursday. This is because Vancouver (a team that sits at the bottom of the division) still has 4 games left to play, none of which will have any effect on the playoff seeding. So the playoff and regular season are both happening at the same time, I guess? Well the playoffs that do start tonight have a lot of really juicy matchups. My personal favorite is Tampa Bay vs Florida, a 2-3 matchup with a lot of great storylines. These two teams have played a lot in recent weeks and most of those games have been extra chippy. A close second is the Vegas vs Minnesota series, where the dominant Golden Knights look to beat a surprising upstart Wild team that boasts one of the most exciting rookies in recent memory.
The WBA began their 2021 season yesterday. This season is going to be very fun after all of the offseason moves that saw a lot of high profile talent change teams. Between Candance Parker, Kayla McBride, Liz Cambage, Aerial Powers, Natasha Howard, etc., the league will look a little different than the last time they took the court. But something that hasn’t changed is the teams at the top. The Seattle Storm and the Las Vegas Aces, the 2020 champion and runner up respectively, enter the season with the highest odds to win the 2021 title. And the schedule makers did us a solid by giving us an early season matchup of the two heavyweights. Saturday at 3pm we get a look at what could potentially be a championship preview.
The NBA Play-In Tournament takes place on Tuesday. The much complained about format for the finals seeds in the playoffs offers some very intriguing matchups and star power. While all of the seeds are not set in stone yet, we know that the red hot Steph Curry will be there with a chance to solo carry the Warriors back into the playoffs. We will also get a look at some young stars like Ja Morant and Lamelo Ball getting their first taste of the high stakes atmosphere of win or go home games.
News by the Numbers
2 - Times per game I am shocked by a LaMelo Ball pass. He’s operating at a level where I can’t believe he would even think to make such a pass in the moment, let alone drop a dime like he does. I am very excited to watch him push the envelope of passing in the league.
9 - Number of pitches in an immaculate inning. 9 pitches, 9 strikes, 3 Ks. It’s one of the rarest accomplishments. For reference there have been 309 official MLB no-hitters. On May 5th, Kyle Finnegan had the 102nd immaculate inning.
60 - Number of times Mark Canha has been hit by pinch in his career in Oakland, a record for the Athletics. Canha recognizes this major feat and tips his cap to the fans. Is this a skill to be proud of? Is it a skill at all? I’m not sure, but I know that Billy Beane is out there with the biggest smile on his face.
71 - Blocks by Matisse Thybulle this season. He has allowed just 59 3-pointers this season. This is some high level defense from a 2nd year player getting just 20 minutes per night. He is a nightmare for opposing teams.
Homer Bias Restricted Area
Aroldis Chapman currently has a negative FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which measures what a player’s ERA would look like if the pitcher were to have experienced league average results on balls in play. This implies that when Chapman pitches, the opposing team somehow loses runs.
The Devils season has come to close. And while it frequently did not go the way I would have liked, it was fun to watch the young core of the team gel and get comfortable together. There’s definitely some talent here to be excited for future.
End Of Restricted Area
That’s all for this week’s newsletter! Hopefully, the old adage is true and “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Taking a week off of something you love doing is never fun, and it made it even tougher than usual to cut down the content to a readable length. Thanks for reading this week and can’t wait for the next one!
Don’t forget to subscribe, like and comment about which WNBA team you are rooting for this season, and share this very important newsletter with the Short Kings in your life.
Keep Sports Fun.
Twitter - @ColinRingwood12
The Buzzer Beater
RIP Mookie Betts