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Three Cheers for Frank Robinson and Mark Shields (corrected version)

A lot of coverage was given last week to MLB's decision to bestow retroactively

major league status to several of the domestic Negro Leagues that existed before and up to 1948. Newly-found box scores unearthed by indefatigble researchers influenced the decision.

It is too bad that stats from the last years of the Negro leagues through 1959 were not included. If available, stats from the winter leagues in Latin America would have been very eye-opening, too. 

I do find a problem of mixing in stats from leagues that played 80 or 90 games a season with the 154 game season major league season that existed since 1903.  I have no problem with a statement against segregation.  

Here's another idea that I hope is considered by the Baseball Writers Association of America.  Why not name the MVP trophies after Frank Robinson?

The name of baseball's first commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis was recently removed from its MVP trophies, mainly because of his role in enforcing the color line. Why not name the trophy after Frank Robinson?

He is the only player ever to win the MVP in both leagues, the Cincinnati Reds in 1961 and the Baltimore Orioles in 1966.  He was a first ballot Hall of Famer with unquestionable numbers:  21 year career, .294 BA, .537 SA, 2943 H, 586 HR, 1829 R, 1812 RBI.  

He also managed contending teams in both leagues and served as a major league executive for several seasons. His Hall of Fame acceptance speech is one of the most moving I've ever read.  

He deserves to be immortalized in this trophy.  He passed on in February 2019.  In an earlier post I thought he was one of the far-too-many Hall of Famers who left us in 2020. 

Happily, liberal political commentator Mark Shields, 83, is still with us. But he retired last Friday Dec 18 from his long-running Friday night gig opposite David Brooks on the PBS NewsHour.  

After a feature filled with praise from his colleagues, Shields said that his father would have been happy with it and his mother "would have liked to believe it." He expressed optimism that President-elect Biden can succeed in bringing the country closer together.


In a closing moment, Shields quoted from Dick Tuck, famed in his day as a prankster against Richard Nixon.  When Tuck ran for office himself and lost a close election, he said, "The people have spoken, the bastards." 

Unfortunately, President number 45 is refusing to accept defeat.  We'll have to sweat nervously up to noon on Jan. 20.

I do hope for the day soon when this #45 will recede into unpleasant memory and we can think of the truly immortal #45's like Pedro Martinez and Tug McGraw. I'm sure I'm missing some 45's so please suggest others.  

Here's to a healthy happy holiday season for all and the return somehow to normality or normalcy at some point in 2021. (Warren Harding coined the word "normalcy" and I usually avoid it. But hey for all his failings he was about as liberal as any President on racial issues and he did release socialist Eugene Debs from prison.)   


Normalcy won't return unless people follow simple public health guidelines.  Alas, nothing is simple anymore. 

That's all for now.  Always remember:  Take it easy but take it!

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"Tomorrow Is Your Best Friend" and Other Tips On How To Deal With A Looooong Baseball Season

The drama of the major league baseball season is enfolding before us in all its glory and agony. And the best advice for dealing with the inevitable peaks and valleys remains: "Tomorrow is your best friend." I heard the phrase first when Bobby Valentine managed the Mets at the turn of the 21st century.

Of course, it helps to get off to good starts as the Orioles and Yankees have done in the AL East and the Astros in the AL West. On the other hand, the road will be very difficult for those who have stumbled mightily in the early going, esp. the Giants in the NL West and the Blue Jays in the AL East.

Yet unlike football and even basketball, baseball plays by far the most games. There are still well over 120 to play. In a very impatient society, the best advice is to chip away day-by-day, inning-by-inning, pitch-by-pitch and perhaps the winning feeling will return.

Remembering the late relief pitcher Tug McGraw's mantra, "You Gotta Believe," never hurts. Yet for most of us I'm afraid the late great Oriole reserve outfielder and scout Curt Motton said it more realistically: "You're never as good as you look when you are winning, but you could be as bad as you look when you are losing."

Inclement weather continues to plague the Northeast. I don't recall a spring that feels more like fall and even winter. Impressive Houston's Saturday afternoon game against the Yankees was postponed early, and Derek Jeter Retirement of Number Day will now actually be part of a single-admission Sunday doubleheader.

Weather has impacted the Ivy League baseball playoff between defending Rolfe division champion Yale and Penn champions of the Gehrig division. These games won't be played until Tues May 16 and if necessary Wed May 17.

Penn eliminated Columbia, 6-3 in a single play-in game last Sunday May 7. Senior right-hander Jake Cousins pitched six solid innings and slugging senior outfielder Tim Graul did what all visiting teams must do on the road, contribute to a first-inning lead by slugging a two-run homer.

If forecasters are right, almost summery weather will finally bless us during the week of May 15 and I hope beyond. It is a very exciting time for baseball followers.
College and high school tournaments are starting in about a week. More on that in next installment of this blog.

Before I close, a special tip of the cap to Mark Melancon, the SF Giants new closer who really cares about the history of his team. On Monday May 8 before the start of the Giants' 3-game series against the Mets, Mark treated over 30 members of the New York Giants Preservation Society to a pizza lunch on Monday May 8.

We gathered at the foot of the John Brush steps below Edgecombe Ave. in Harlem just above where the Polo Grounds stood. Mark and his agent, John Fuller, listened with obvious sincerity to all of our stories about how we fell in love with the Giants as youngsters and how we sustained those memories even though the team left for San Francisco after the 1957 season.

For now, always remember: Take it easy but take it!  Read More 
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