"I always thought I was the guy sitting in my chair on home wanting to experience this," Brian Snitker, manager of the world champion Braves, told Hazel Mae, a Blue Jays' TV reporter, just moments after Atlanta won the World Series.
For a fellow who said he was "numb," Snitker sure expressed himself beautifully. Smelling the roses after 45 years in the same organization, usually at the important but rarely-recognized lower levels, his is a very nice story.
Here are a few more:
**Southpaw reliever Tyler Matzek virtually unhittable throughout the post-season. Signed to a big bonus by the Rockies, he was in the 2015 starting rotation for Colorado until his wildness led to a deep slide to baseball's underworld, including a year without playing at all.
Through the help of a former player turned sports psychologist, Matzek made the slow climb back through independent leagues. As he told Scott Miller in the Oct 27 NYTimes, he ultimately chose to "fight" over "flight" or freeze."
**Closer Will Smith finished every one of the World Series victories and others throughout the three rounds of playoffs. Originally a KC Royal, then a Brewer and a Giant, Smith lost 7
games in regular season but was flawless in the playoffs.
We can put to rest the home run he served to Dodger catcher Will Smith in last year's playoffs that contributed to Atlanta's narrowly missing the 2020 World Series.
**The NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario and World Series MVP Jorge Soler were both late additions at the trade deadline. Their slugging, and Rosario's remarkable catch of A. J. Pollock's line drive late in Game 4, will be forever etched in Braves lore.
**Here's to Max Fried who with Ian Anderson restored some glitter and glamor to the still-important craft of starting pitching. With veteran Charlie Morton knocked out with a broken leg suffered early in Game 1, they rose to the occasion in Games 5 and 6.
Even if Anderson was taken out after 5 no-hit fairly stressful innings and Fried had a shutout going after 6. The days of the complete game may be gone forever but sure was
nice to see starters getting at least into the 5th and 6th.
**Here's to the great infield of the Braves. Two of them are essentially local boys,
third baseman Austin Riley from Hernando, Mississippi and shortstop Dansby Swanson from nearby Marietta, Georgia.
Shortstop Ozzie Albies hails from Curacao - he struggled at the plate until Snitker dropped him to 7th in the order in Game 6 and he relaxed and sparked two rallies.
Last but certainly not least is Freddie Freeman the slugging first baseman from SoCal, the longest tenured Brave. How fitting that the last out of 2021 was your basic 6-3 from Swanson to Freeman.
If the Braves don't sign Freeman as he enters free agency, it will be a blow not only to their fan base but to those of us, however naively, still believe in the old adage, "The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence."
Let's not forget Astros manager Dusty Baker who plans to be back next year for a third try at his first World Series title. He remains the only manager to take FIVE teams to the playoffs and is a surefire Hall of Famer in my opinion especially if you add in his fine playing career.
For some reason Cooperstown's Hall of Fame does not consider a person's record as both player and manager. Which is why Gil Hodges is still outside, something that could change in the next Veterans Committee voting released next month.
Astros pitching coach Brent Strom won't be returning in the same role. The 73-year-old Strom is tired of the travel, but he may help out their impressive young pitchers in both
majors and minors at some point next season.
Strom did a fine job with the young Astro starters but the loss of their ace before the Series, Lance McCullers Jr., ultimately proved too much to overcome.
Now it's time to see if the warring sides of players and owners can hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement so spring training and the regular season start on time
in 2022. Expect saber rattling on both sides, but at a juncture in our history when baseball is losing fans, another work stoppage would be ill-advised, to understate the issue.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT:
There have been some notable passings in the arts recently that need mentioning.
**Satirist Mort Sahl, 94, in Mill Valley, Calif. on Oct 26. I attended probably Sahl's last NYC performance in 2004 at the now-defunct B.B.King's blues club in Times Square.
The iconoclastic Sahl, who became famous as a social critic during the Eisenhower years of the 1950s, claimed that Ronald Reagan was the last US President to have a sense of humor.
Before the Soviet Union fell, according to Sahl, Reagan told a joke about a man in Russia who buys an automobile and asks when it will come.
"Ten years," he is told.
"Morning or afternoon?" he inquires.
"Why do you want to know?"
"Because the refrigerator is coming in the morning."
**Classical conductor Bernard Haitink, 92, on Oct 21 in London, England. Leading Amsterdam's Concertgebouw Orchestra from 1956 to 1988, its principal conductor from 1963, he was well known around the world for his no-frills but passionate musicianship.
I attended an all-Beethoven Haitink Carnegie Hall concert late last century. The stirring
opening bars of the "Eroica" Symphony #3 had just begun when all of a sudden Haitink stopped and whirled around, pointing his baton at people talking in a box in the second tier.
The audience gasped, the clueless dolts hushed, and the concert resumed. A moment never to be forgotten.
**Finally, Jo-Carroll Dennison, 97, Oct 18 in the San Jacinto Mtns. east of LA. She had been the oldest-living Miss America winning the pageant in 1942.
Katharine Q. Seelye's late October obit in the NY Times had fascinating details. Born in Arizona into a traveling medicine show family, Dennison became during WW II the second most popular pinup girl of servicemen after Betty Grable.
Was married to comic actor Phil Silvers from 1945-1950 (before his "Sgt. Bilko" years). Appeared opposite Larry Parks in the "Jolson Story" (1946). Had limited schooling but she got educated on tips from Leonard Bernstein and Ray Bradbury.
Became a feminist long before #MeToo. Wrote an autobiography in her last years,
"Finding My LIttle Red Hat".
Last but not least, here are some TCM tips for November which is Sydney Greenstreet
month. The John Huston-Bogart-Mary Astor "Maltese Falcon" was already on, but Wed evenings Nov 10-17-24 will feature his work.
Sports pickings are rather slim in November but on Su Nov 21 at 615p there is
"Stealing Home" (1988) with Mark Harmon/Blair Brown/Jodie Foster. It's about a ballplayer who returns home after the suicide of a friend. Have not seen it so I'm curious.
And speaking of Blair Brown, don't let a less than favorable NYTimes review of Simon Stephens' "Morning Sun" keep you away from seeing the three-character play at Manhattan Theatre Club - it's located on lower level of the City Center (on W 55 St between 6-7 Aves.)
Blair Brown plays the mother, Edie Falco the daughter, and Marin Ireland the granddaughter in a moving play about the three generations of women in our unsettled times. It may
start a little talky but as it moves on, thanks to good directing by Lila Neugebauer, you really get into the characters of these women.
Edie Falco is quite a remarkable actress. She adds Charlotte (Charley) to her formidable resume that includes Carmela Soprano and Nurse Jackie with hopefully many more roles to come.
That's all for now as the long off-season of baseball has begun and my rooting is focused on
my alma mater's teams, especially Columbia football and women's basketball and Wisconsin football and basketball.
Always remember: Take it easy but take it, and stay positive and test negative.