October 21, 2018
One of the great things about baseball is more than any sport there is a living vibrant link to the past. Checking my old reliable Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia, I see that in early October 1916 the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in five games.
Babe Ruth was hitless in five at-bats but won game two, 2-1. He allowed only six hits, walked three and struck out four in a 14-inning complete game masterpiece. Ernie Shore won the first and last games and baseball's first Dutch Leonard won the fourth one.
Outfielders Harry Hooper and Duffy Lewis showed why they were a formidable regular season duo each hitting over .300 in the Series and future Hall of Famer Hooper led both teams with 6 runs scored.
Third baseman Larry Gardner only had 3 hits in the Series but two of them were homers, one of them a three-run job that won Game 4. Shortstop Everett Scott, another Bosox player who wound up with the Yankees in owner's Harry Frazee's fire seal deals, saved the first game win with a late game dramatic defensive robbery.
And let's not forget first baseman Dick Hoblitzell who did not contribute much offensively but has one of the great forgotten names in baseball history. The three games in Boston were played in Braves Field that had a larger capacity than Fenway Park. (A Boston-Milwaukee series would have delighted local historians because of the Hub town connection of each team but it was not to be.)
On the Brooklyn side, outfielder Casey Stengel tied for the team lead with 4 hits but produced only 2 runs. Jack Coombs won the only game for Brooklyn and would retire undefeated in Series action with a 5-0 record, the other four coming with Connie Mack's first Philadelphia A's dynasty.
The home run dominates the game in the 21st century and yet I firmly believe that pitching and defense still wins championship. Just look at LA Dodgers Game 7 win over the Brewers last night (Oct. 20).
Chris Taylor's sensational catch on Christian Yelich's two-strike screaming liner into the left center field alley preserved LA's precarious 2-1 lead. And let's not forget Manny Machado's remarkable 3-2 bunt that immediately preceded Cody Bellinger's game-changing two-run homer.
Little things still win baseball games. Appreciation of these nuances for me makes baseball the great game it is. I hope to live to see the day when the cutting comment, "Baseball is what this country used to be, football is what it has become," no longer is accurate.
As for the coming World Series, I like the Dodgers in six or seven. I think their starting pitching looks a little sharper than Boston's. Their bullpen too looks in better shape than Boston's, especially if closer Craig Kimbrel keeps near-imploding.
Winning the final game against Milwaukee on the road indoors has to also provide LA an amazing psychological boost.
The Dodgers accomplished what neither the Cardinals in 1987 or the Braves in 1991 could do in the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Silence screaming fans in a very hostile foreign environment. Whatever happens, let's hope they are good crisp games.
For five innings last night the drama of a game seven was priceless. Every pitch, every breath mattered. But when Yasiel Puig homered in the top of sixth off Jeremy Jeffress it was all over except for the countdown.
That's all for now. Always remember: Take it easy but take it. And also remember to vote on November 6!
August 2, 2017
I just got back from a blissful week at the Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York State past Jamestown and not far from Erie, Penna. For the second straight summer, I was privileged to teach a class in Baseball and American Culture.
My students were a diverse and fascinating group that included former concession (more…)
May 26, 2009
THOUGHTS AFTER MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
I’ve always believed with pitcher Joaquin Andujar that there is only one word you need to understand baseball: “Youneverknow.” I like to think I’ve coined an adage of my own: “No four-run lead is ever safe in baseball until the game is over.” I may have to (more…)
May 20, 2009
Entry of May 20th
ON THE IMPATIENCE OF NEW YORK BASEBALL FANS
Suzyn Waldman, the Yankees radio color commentator, makes a very good point about the psyche of today’s New York baseball fans. “We play 162 one-game seasons in this town,” she says. The Yankees are hot now, winners of seven games in a row, most of them close games and thrilling come-from-behind wins at home. Yet boos still cascade from the stands whenever a Yankee reliever walks a batter.
I guess the memory is too fresh of the Yankee bullpen implosions early this season but it was just one or two games and not coincidentally, the reliability of the bullpen has improved during the winning streak. Yet there is no placating the demands of the Winnites who are not real fans in my opinion but have the outrageous sense of entitlement that has always made me loathe that kind of Yankee fan.
It is becoming just as bad on the other side of town. Winnites have been coming out in full throat ever since the Mets beat the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. Logic and humility should remind Mets fans that Red Sox blunders played a big role in that victory (the Rich Gedman passed ball as much as the Bill Buckner error) but of course there is nothing logical when it comes to sports passion and addiction. It is fortunate that the Mets’ recent defensive mishaps that cost them the last three games happened on the road but believe me, the culprits will hear plenty of Bronx cheers when they return to Queens next week. Even the New York Times is making a comparison to today’s Mets and the original blunderers of 1962. What is alarming about the Mets is that it seems they have nobody in their farm system who can play good defensive baseball. We’ll know more after they go into Fenway Park this weekend and face off against the Red Sox and their increasing loud and obnoxious Winnite fans.
As for me, I say that the Bronx cheers should remain in the Bronx where the term originated in the 1920s, probably coined after hearing those first set of Winnite fans who expected Babe Ruth to lead the Yankees to victory every game and every year. It didn’t happen, folks (Ruth won only four World Series rings as a Yankee) and it should not have happened. Especially when you consider that Red Sox owner Harry Frazee presented the Yankees with not only Babe Ruth but also Herb Pennock, Joe Bush, Joe Dugan and others. And Yankee gm Ed Barrow gratefully allowed Frazee, for whom he was field manager in Boston, to use a desk in his office for his theater work. (Learn all this and more in Dan Levitt’s fine Barrow biography from U. of Nebraska Press.)
LOW ‘N’ FISH ‘N’ CHIPS:
**Speaking of Suzyn Waldman, as far as I know, she is the only radio broadcaster not to do one inning or even half-inning of play-by-play. She is playing Tonto to the Lone Ranger of John Sterling and for you old-timers I’d rather hear the voice of Clayton Moore any time. Even Yankee fans have told me that Sterling’s home run calls are increasingly buffoonish and worse, not accurate. Oh for the days of the Phil Rizzuto home run call – “It’s gone . . . holy cow, he called it foul!”
**Coming tomorrow – Reflections on the 50th anniversary of Major League Baseball’s commitment to expand in some version. I know I said this yesterday but this time I mean it!