The Roots of Entitlement Don’t Need Much Water

February 23, 2017
If a ball rolled this far on Japonica Street. it was well on its way to the the Japonica'Kernel concrete street marker that still remains standing at the corner. - Looking west from here, Eagle Field, now called Jponica Park, is located to the far right, just beyond that dark bushy tree that stands by the curb.

If a ball rolled this far on Japonica Street. it was well on its way to the the Japonica-Kernel concrete street marker that still remains standing at the corner. – Looking west from here, Eagle Field, now called Japonica Park, is located to the far right, just to the right of that dark bushy tree that now stands by the curb.

Sometimes the seeds of entitlement are sewn from even small acts of intended kindness, even in baseball.

Sometimes the seeds of entitlement are sewn from small acts of intended kindness, even in baseball.

As you know, or should know, the organized game of baseball that we’ve all grown to love today once began in the mid-19th century, or probably earlier, as an entitlement relationship between the batter on offense and the pitcher on defense.

The Original Entitlement Rule. The batter had a right to tell the pitcher where he wanted the pitcher to throw the ball, inside down the middle or outside – low, medium, or high.The pitcher may have variably maintained the right to select the speed of his pitch, but he had no choice about the location. If the one governing “Blind Tom” official ruled that a pitch came in amiss of the batter’s location request, the game would either stand there as a potential “base on balls” (depending upon how many ball counts constituted a “walk” at a given time or locale, – or worse. The batter got to stand there until the crack of doom – if need be – to get the pitch of his rightfully requested location delivered.

Nobody liked the idea of standing motionless in a cow pasture or vacant city base ball ground until the crack of doom. Even in the 19th century. People had other things to do, even then, And other fish to fry, if you please.

Besides, the original entitlement request was there to jump start the action. The pitcher’s job was to intentionally help the batter see a baseball that he could swing and hit – and put in play – with the swinging of a wooden bat.

Once the striking of the ball deed was done, each time, the entitlement game ignition duties of the pitcher were done. – The pitcher and catcher were now only two of the nine men on defense now whose job it was to get three outs on the offensive team as quickly as possible, each inning, without allowing any runs to score, if possible.

The Late 19th Century Game Through Today. As pitchers developed pitches that moved differently by the aid of mechanical handling and the addition of scratches, saliva, and other substances to the ball – and as protective gear for the catcher’s hands, body, and face evolved, pitching moved totally away from its original “help the batter put the ball in play” role. It came to be the most dominant weapon a defense could literally or figuratively throw at the other team. Pitching became the counter-business to batting that the great Warren Spahn once described in this way: “The business of hitting is timing. The business of pitching is to upset the hitter’s successful timing in every way possible.” And so it is today in 2017.

japonica-flowers The Sandlot Ball Variant on the Original Entitlement Rule. In the years that followed World War II, most of us who played pure sandlot baseball were still using the pitcher in a a quasi to almost complete modeling role of the original batter entitlement rule. (Although none of us in Pecan Park ever had even heard of Alexander Cartwright back in the 1946-52 era.) We often lacked a catcher’s mitt, seldom saw a catcher’s face mask, and never saw a a catcher’s chest protector at Eagle Field in Pecan Park. Allowing the batter to call for a pitch location was unheard of (we would never have approved that rule, but we did throw out the balls and strikes count in favor of a game that invited balls that would get put into play by contact with the bat. Older better hitters got to see harder pitching; younger, not-so-good hitters got to see pitches they could put in play, even if most of these were 1-3 soft ground outs. We also had to “waste” a second older kid to catch – but to make it worse – with frequent wild pitches and no back stop – we also had to add a speedy young kid to play hind catcher. It was that kid’s job to chase all the run-a-way pitches that raced east on Japonica on their way to the Flowers Street intersection where Mrs. Mancuso, the mother of Gus and Frank Mancuso once lived.

The Mid-20th Century Sandlot Ballers Creed

We sometimes lacked the talent – We sometimes lacked the speed

Our equipment was the scarcest – But that was all we’d need

To find our field where dreams could grow – In passion’s need to bleed

In Heart – And Hope – Neath Eagle’s Skies – Our Game – The Indelible Deed

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eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Honesty Comes Easier When the Truth is Obvious

February 22, 2017
Lefty Gomez was one of the brightest, funniest characters to ever help invent the game of baseball. We could use more people like him today.

Lefty Gomez was one of the brightest, funniest characters to ever help invent the game of baseball. We could use more people like him today.

dumb-numb-gomez

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Unlike the mass coming together moments in football and basketball, where it is often not possible, especially for the untrained observer fans, to see what is going on individually in the crowd, baseball probably makes it easier for all to see “who done it” on both sides of the great plays and errors in the field.

Although, even in baseball – what we see often is not the whole story – even in the painful case of Bill Buckner‘s croquet-wicket moment in the 1986 World Series. It soon came out after the historic misplay that the fall guy Buckner was playing with a leg injury that could limit his mobility on the playing of ground balls – and that this information was arguably known by his Boston Red Sox manager, John McNamara. If that were the case, who was to blame for Buckner even being in the game at that critical moment in the World Series?

We find the story of Lefty Gomez’s answer to that job interview question (“Why did you leave that employment [of ‘pitching baseball’] to be extremely honest and refreshing. He quit, Gomez says, because he “couldn’t get the other side out.”

Now Gomez was ready to try something else.

That’s the baseball life for pitchers. If you can’t get anybody out, you gotta quit and do something else. Don’t go to some other club and try to smoke-and-mirrors the truth into a lie for the same kind of job elsewhere. Don’t do it, unless you’re one of those guys who just needs the door slammed hard in your ace before you ever try it again. Don’t do it, especially, if you do already know what they are going to find out after you pitch only a few innings to a few batters. It’s not worth the insanity and waste of everyone’s time.

Can you imagine a down-and-out car salesman answering those same questions that were first put to Lefty Gomez in another car sales job interview at the local Ford dealer in the following way – about why he quit his job at the Volvo dealer?

“I couldn’t sell Volvos to Swedish-American customers if my life depended upon it!”

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FOOTNOTE: Another “Hail and Thank You” again to Aunt Minnie’s Scrapbook” by A.K. (“Rosey”) Rowswell. Today’s excerpt features a big reason we love sports, and for many of us, baseball in particular.

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eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Discount the Fans With This Math

February 22, 2017
"If the Astros give you a 1/10% discount for being a 10-year buyer, they ought to give me a 1/20% discount for being a 20-year buyer. And, to be totally fair, they ought to give all of us season-ticket holders a flat-rate 1/54% break for each of the 54 years we've been in the big leagues!" - One Astros Season Ticket Holder to another.

“If the Astros give you a 1/10% discount for being a 10-year buyer, they ought to give me a 1/20% discount for being a 20-year buyer. And, to be totally fair, they ought to just give all of us season-ticket holders a flat-rate 1/54% break for each of the 54 years that Houston has had a club in the big leagues!”
– One Astros Season Ticket Holder to another.

dumb-numb-etc-03_edited-1

 

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FOOTNOTE: Another “Hail and Thank You” to Aunt Minnie’s Scrapbook” by A.K. (“Rosey”) Rowswell for this slippery math delivery. One probably could find the same kind of price-structuring deal available over the Internet in 2017 on car insurance, if they had about five minutes to look for it.

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eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Shock and Awe: Browns Pull Triple Play

February 21, 2017
Zach Taylor, 1948 Manager, St. Louis Browns

Zach Taylor, Manager
1948 St. Louis Browns

dumb-numb-etc-04_edited-1

An Ode to Zach Taylor

The Brownies looked suspicious – ‘gainst Washington that day

With all the bases full of Sens – and three 1st outs to play

Perhaps their pitcher – Kennedy – had early eggs to lay

 

And in the first base dugout – Zack Taylor’s mind did sway

Would this be one more time he failed – to keep the beasts at bay

As head man of the lowly Browns – he could not rightly say

 

Instead he made a private pact – if one more hit did hasten

All those nightmare next-pitch thoughts – of no more time to chasten

Bill Kennedy was coming out – there’d be no conversation

 

Then whack it came – the ball struck hard – McBride was off and running

Time to act – and Zack arose – to saunter through Sens funning

To get Bill out – and try anew – another pitcher’s cunning

 

In trance-like pace – Zack’s eyes stayed down – he didn’t want to see it

If this hit meant – two quick Sens runs – that’s how it was – so be it

Brownie pain was season long – no manager could flee it

 

But when he reached the first base line – Zack raised his eyes in wonder

The Browns were all hand-slapping glad – their voices roared with thunder

What they had done – and Zach had missed – shred sadness to asunder

 

The Browns had forged a triple play – to string the three-out weenie

A carom drive – off Bill’s big glove – was caught by Pellagrini

A toss to third – a flip to first – had served up sweet linguini

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Footnote: Here’s another great story from “Aunt Minnie’s Scrapbook” by A.K. (“Rosey”) Rowswell, made available to The Pecan Park Eagle by Houston Astros Baseball Icon Larry Dierker. Our local fun is turning the poetic muses loose upon the heart of such stories whenever the gods of baseball will punch their green cards for entry into the creative publication process. – For the sake of future brevity here, we may stop thanking you for each specific use of materials you’ve brought to us here, but rest assured – we shall never cease to be grateful for them. Stuff like this just makes the business of baseball joy sort of like the fun some of us used to derive from shagging fly balls. ~ The Pecan Park Eagle

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Baseball Almanac Box ScoresSt. Louis Browns 13, Washington Senators 2
St. Louis Browns ab   r   h rbi
Dillinger 3b 4 1 0 0
Zarilla lf 5 0 2 0
Priddy 2b 4 2 2 3
Lehner cf 5 0 2 2
Moss c 5 0 2 1
  Fannin pr 0 0 0 0
  Partee c 0 1 0 0
Kokos rf 5 4 4 1
Stevens 1b 3 1 1 1
Pellagrini ss 5 2 3 1
Kennedy p 2 1 1 1
  Garver p 4 1 3 2
Totals 42 13 20 12
Washington Senators ab   r   h rbi
Yost 3b 4 0 2 0
Kozar 2b 2 0 1 1
Coan lf 4 1 2 0
McBride rf 2 0 0 0
  Stewart ph,rf 2 0 1 0
Christman ss 3 0 1 0
  Fleitas ss 1 0 0 1
Vernon 1b 4 0 0 0
Wooten cf 4 1 3 0
Okrie c 4 0 1 0
Wynn p 0 0 0 0
  Ferrick p 1 0 0 0
  Hudson p 1 0 1 0
  Robertson ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 33 2 12 2
St. Louis 0 1 1 3 0 2 1 2 3 13 20 1
Washington 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 12 1
  St. Louis Browns IP H R ER BB SO
Kennedy  W(2-4) 4.2 7 1 1 3 1
  Garver  SV(4) 4.1 5 1 1 0 0
Totals
9.0
12
2
2
3
1
  Washington Senators IP H R ER BB SO
Wynn  L(7-11) 3.1 6 5 5 3 0
  Ferrick 3.0 7 3 3 5 1
  Hudson 2.2 7 5 5 2 0
Totals
9.0
20
13
13
10
1

E–Pellagrini (8), Okrie (1).  DP–St. Louis 3. Pellagrini-Priddy-Stevens, Dillinger-Priddy-Stevens, Pellagrini-Priddy-Stevens, Washington 2. Kozar-Fleitas-Vernon, Okrie-Vernon.  TP–St. Louis 1. Kennedy-Pellagrini-Dillinger-Stevens.  3B–St. Louis Kokos (1).  SH–Dillinger (6); Stevens (18).  Team LOB–14.  Team–7.  SB–Priddy (5); Yost (1).  CS–Pellagrini (1); Vernon (9).  U–Eddie Hurley, Bill Grieve, Charlie Berry.  T–2:42.  A–7,059.

Baseball Almanac Box Score | Printer Friendly Box Scores


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eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Oh Danny Boy!

February 20, 2017
DANNY MURTAUGH MANAGER 1960 WORLDS SERIES CHAMPIONS THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES Is this really the face of a man who would get into a dispute of judgement by a game umpire?

DANNY MURTAUGH
MANAGER
1960 WORLDS SERIES CHAMPIONS
THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Is this really the face of a man who might ever get into a dispute of judgment with a baseball game umpire?

danny-murtaugh2_edited-1

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Ode to That Ancient Account Back in Houston

Dan was nimble

Dan was quick

He beat the fine

But the toss did stick

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FOOTNOTE. Another jewel from the ancient “Aunt Minnie’s Scrapbook” by A.K. (“Rosey”) Roswell. Thanks again to our not-so-anonymous-now contributor and friend Larry Dierker for this item and several other story-source tales to come in future columns. Our contributions through each other – to each other – in the name of the game we all have loved so well – and for so long – is one of the best known “secrets” we all protect in the interest of making sure that both the history -and the game’s arcane mystery – have both been preserved.

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eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Who’s NOT on Third?

February 20, 2017
(L>R) HERMAN, FEWSTER, VANCE EBBETS FIELD, BROOKLYN AUGUST 15, 1926

(L>R) HERMAN, FEWSTER, VANCE
EBBETS FIELD, BROOKLYN
AUGUST 15, 1926

 

It happened at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn back on August 15, 1926.

Led (but often arguably so) by the beloved future Hall of Fame Manager Wilbert Robinson,  the local NL club was dubbed the “Robins” as a tip-of-the-hat reference to their revered leader, much in the same light that the Cleveland Indians much earlier called themselves the “Naps” in honor of their future Hall of Fame leader, Napoleon Lajoie. Fortunately for Brooklyn’s Robinson, most of the ineptness tales that take root in the “Robins Nest” later found more familiar identity as “Dodger Daffiness” from back in the 1920s and 1930s era of losing big-time in insane ways. The club even had a dazzy pitcher named Dazzy Vance who also redeemed himself over his career for one memorably bad-egg Robin’s Nest day by posting a pitching record that also took him all the way to the Hall of Fame.

August 15, 1926 at Ebbets Field was not Hall of Fame Redemption Day as a base-runner for Dazzy Vance or a couple of other Brooklyn players either. Today, if they aren’t all yet dead by 2017, there are some old Brooklyn “Dodger” fans who know both parts of this ancient jab at the club’s baseball IQ on that probably now forgotten actual date from 1926:

Baseball Radio Announcer: “Brooklyn now has three runners on base.”

Radio Game Fans at Home: “Which Base? Hey! You forgot to tell us which base they’re on!”

How it all happened isn’t hard to explain. What’s harder for those of us who weren’t around to see the great job he must have done as a teaching manager in general, is to figure out how many of these kinds of mustard-stain plays are allowed on a managerial candidate’s resume’ for the Hall of Fame before they become something that keeps the entry door closed.

On that already posted game date, in the bottom of the 7th of a DH Game One, and now tied 1-1, Brooklyn had the bases loaded against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field, with one out. Brooklyn Catcher Hank DeBerry was the runner at 3rd; Pitcher Dazzy Vance was the runner ar at 2nd; and 2nd Baseman Chick Fewster was the runner at 1st.

Lefty 1st Baseman Babe Herman was the batter, facing lefty Braves reliever George Mogridge, with a run already scored in the same stanza already tallied and charged to Braves righty starter Johnny Wertz.

On the pitch, Herman crushed a ball that took off on a liner path to deep right center field. DeBerry figured it as a sure hit and scored easily from 3rd. Vance, on the other hand, hesitated briefly at 2nd to see if the ball was in there. Once assured, Vance went screaming around 3rd before another 2nd thought caused him t0 hit the brakes and head back to 3rd.

By this time, Fewster also was arriving from 2nd on the heads down break-neck pace that had lighted his race from the crack of the bat.

Both Vance and Fewster looked surprised to see each other – but not as surprised a they were quickly to be – as they both turned to see batter Herman joining them in his own search for safety. Babe had not halted a second in his pursuit of this apparently sure-fire-triple and 3-RBI time at bat.

Only Vance has found his refuge. As the returning runner at 3rd, he was entitled to it. As for Fewster and Herman, their attempts to retreat in an orderly fashion to 2nd and 1st were absolutely doomed. The Braves tagged them both out on their retreat to 2nd base and the innings was done. Brooklyn had taken a 2-1 lead and would add two more off Mogridge in the 8th for the winning 4-1 final margin, but this was not to be a day long remembered for winning – or excellence in achievement.

It would be recalled, even into the far distant future, as “that time the Dodgers ended up with three runners on third base” – an err0r-framed description on two major levels: (1) Vance was the only safe runner at 3rd base on that play; Fewster and Herman were there in jeopardy and soon called out. (2) Brooklyn wasn’t the Dodgers in 1926; the club’s nickname was the “Robins”.

The cruel, but funny barbs aimed at Babe Herman were both inevitable and never really malevolent by intention from their Brooklyn fans, or so it seems. Locals just loved the quirky memory that they were once home to “the first major league batter to ever doubled into a double play.”

As for how such a sloppy base-running play could actually ever unfold without their being plenty of blame to pass around. Who knows if we shall ever know for sure how badly a bad team shall find a way to destroy its opportunities. The only certainty here is that we don’t have either the time or the digital ink determination to find those answers tonight.

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Footnote: Thanks for the featured cartoon that we borrowed from Page 9 0f  “Aunt Minnie’s Scrapbook” by A.K. (“Rosey”) Rosewell. The source was an anonymous gift from a friend of a long-out-of-print 79-page paperback collection of baseball stories. Based upon the title, some of you will figure out quickly that it must have come out during the period of time that Bob Prince worked as broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Pirates. There also is a heavy western Pennsylvania influence upon this entire little jewel. – And, thanks again, “Anonymous Friend.”

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eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

Greatest Pen Call Theme Never Adopted

February 19, 2017
"Hold on! I'm Coming!" By Sam & Dave 1967

“Hold on! I’m Coming!”
By Sam & Dave
1967

 

Sure, “The Sandman” by Metallica worked wonders as the bullpen call “closer theme” for both Mario Rivera of the Yankees and Billy Wagner of the Astros back in the 1990s and early 21st century, but we’ve often thought that some other great baseball lights-out themes from a slightly earlier, less music-branded bullpen killer-guy call time because of a branded closer dog present in that earlier era to grab it up. 1967’s big soul music hit by Sam and Dave, “HOLD ON, I’M COMING” is exactly the number we have in mind.

Wrap your mind around this list of MLB Save Leaders in 1967 as you hit the following link of “Hold On, I’m Coming” on YouTube. The low save totals and the scarcity of disgruntled old-timers still alive beating up on the Hall of Fame for passing them by is simply not a credible mix for protest here, but please, give these less rally-killer-reputed relievers a chance for earning this great identity-call-song from 1967 as their mantle of promise. Imagine your favorite pitcher-pick from either the list, or from your own choice from those relieved over the next  five to ten years (1967-1977) that followed.- Now visualize this guy coming out of the pen in the 9th with his club leading, 3-2, with 1 out, and the bases loaded, as “Hold On, I’m Coming” blasts their first appearance, as they are coming in from the distant bullpen gate to handle the situation.

Multiple answers are less clarifying, but still acceptable, if you absolutely can’t pull the trigger on a one-man call.

Top Ten MLB Save Leaders in 1967

1) TED ABERNATHY, NL REDS (28)

2) MINNIE ROJAS, AL ANGELS (27)

3-4) BOB LOCKER, AL WHITE SOX (20)

3-4) JOHN WYATT, AL RED SOX (20)

5) DOOLEY WOMACK. AL YANKEES 18

6-7) FRANK LINZY,  NL GIANTS (17)

6-7 ) ELROY FACE, NL PIRATES (17)

8-9) RON PERRANOSKI, NL DODGERS (16)

8-9) AL WORTHINGTON, AL TWINS (16)

10 tie) JOEL HORNER, NL CARDINALS (14)

10 tie) DAROLD KNOWLES, AL SENATORS (14)

“Closer” was not even yet a part of the everyday baseball game plan or language in 1967. The 1967 leader board “Save” numbers speak to that point right away, but there still were some pretty tough late inning pitching dudes birds on this list. If their clubs could just hold on to a late inning lead, these were the guys who would be most ready to come in for the more rarified, but still important “save” of that era. Help us decide who was best among them. And please. you “gotta” listen to the song as you are reflecting on your best answer as to who best deserves this number as their late inning call from bullpen into game-saving action.

Just hit the play arrow on the yellow Sam & Dave album cover. Kick back and listen.

 

Then, whenever you are ready, please record your answer in the comment section that follows this column.

Thanks too for going along with the fun!

____________________

eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Yes, Athletic Ability Has Expiration Date….

February 18, 2017
Carlos Beltran is Back! Hopefully, he will retire as a Houston Astros in a Blaze of Glory that spreads like an incurable infection of the clubs great talent base.

Carlos Beltran is Back!
Hopefully, he will retire as a Houston Astro in a Blaze of Glory that spreads like an incurable wisdom and positive attitude infection of the club’s younger great talent base.

Yes, athletic ability comes with an individually variable expiration date, but the great ones – the ones with the hearts of champions – often fail to see it. You just have to hope that some to all of the lessons of the elders pass on to the younger players on their last teams during the brief open window of opportunity that exists in that precious nanosecond of contact through those same elders with the baseball gods. In life, we can’t all be great in all things, but we can sure learn from greatness, when we have the humility to recognize those moments we are in its presence.

It is our impression that the great Carlos Beltran realizes how happy most of us in Astros Nation are to see him back in Houston after 13 years – and this time – we welcome him as both a great player – as well as a strong teaching influence upon our Astros’ many talented younger players.

From the very top of them all, some of our greatest former players had a little trouble seeing or accepting that their playing days were done before they actually stopped. We don’t see Carlos Beltran. He’s still quite talented at age 39 just may be one of those guys with 3 to 5 five seasons left in the tank. And let’s hope so. For his sake and the Astros club as well. Our younger guys could learn much from him.

I’ve always been interested too in the guys who played past their primes when it came to playing too long. Three of my favorite tough retirement stories are summarized here. Another is Willie Mays. I simply did not write him up this time:

Babe Ruth (1914-1935) hit .342 over the course of those 22 seasons he banged out that iconic total of 714 career home runs. He probably would have done well to have retired at age 37, following his last great season of 1932, and perhaps immediately after his last as a New York Yankee World Series champion – and maybe right after he hit that so-called homer shot off Charlie Root of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. What an eloquent last statement that time at bat would have imprinted upon his already illustrious trip to Chicago that year. – It simply didn’t happen. Babe still hit .301 and 34 homers in 1933 and .228 with 22 homers in 1934. Good numbers, but not Ruthian figures. The Yankees knew it and found a way to deal Ruth off to the Boston Braves for an illusion in Ruth that his short playing career there would next lead to his appointment there as their manager. Didn’t happen. Never was going to happen. And at age 40, the Babe’s career was almost totally dead. He quit by the start of summer with a final season batting average of .181 with only 6 homers in 28 games. Too bad the Babe could not have retired himself the way his 1948 bio-picture did. The movie version of Babe went out on top – 0n the same afternoon he hit the 3 last hurrah homers off the Pirates in Pittsburgh. What a way to go.

Stan Musial (1941-1944, 1946-1963) never under .300 through his first 17 MLB seasons. Then came 1959 and “The Man’s” BA dropped to .255 and his HR total shrank to 17. His power gun was already gone. He hit only 14 in 1958. After four last seasons (1960-1963) in which Musial hit under .300 for 3 more times, Musial finally hung them up for good. In so doing, he missed being a playing part of the 1964 Cardinals club that rallied past the famous faltering Phillies and went on to take the World Series from the New York Yankees. Had Musial continued one more season, it would have been his first World Series participation since the Cardinals defeated the Boston Red Sox in 1946. Musial did have one more great batting for average year. In 1962, he hit .330 in 505 plate appearances as he also registered a .924 OPS on the season.

Mickey Mantle (1951-1968) Too bad Mickey Mantle needed the money from those last four seasons he played beyond the 1964 World Series Yankees loss to the Cardinals. Mantle’s batting average nose-dived in those four seasons, pushing him below .300 to a career .298 level. His failure to hit .300 over his entire career was Mantle’s biggest regret about his final MLB stats. What stings the most is that Mantle already had done enough in 14 seasons to qualify for the Hall of Fame. Four last little power seasons (1965-1968), with BA’s of .255, .288, .245, and .237 only served to distract how great Mantle  had been – and how much greater he might have been – had he played his entire Yankee career in a state of healthier mind and body.

So many other examples abound, but they represent more of a book research challenge than does this happy weekend dance column.

All I know for sure is that Ted Williams is my favorite retirement stylist. He quit after finishing the 1960 season with a home run at Fenway. Then he passed on a final weekend road trip to New York for a meaningless series with the Yankees. Ted wanted that last home run to stand up as his final goodbye as a player who would neither acknowledge, nor accept in gratitude, what he long suspected was only the gratuitous applause of him by otherwise critical Red Sox fans. Ted didn’t know it at the time – we don’t think – but the great New England writer John Updike just happened to be at the park that day and ended up writing an iconic column on the whole occasion and its outcome.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1960/10/22/hub-fans-bid-kid-adieu

____________________

eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Baseball and Football by George Carlin

February 18, 2017

war-game

 

We’ve run this piece here in The Pecan Park Eagle in the distant past, but it always loudly again in our heads, anytime something comes up, or makes reference to essential differences between baseball and football. Yesterday, the stimulus again landed, begging for another scratch, when Larry Dierker wrote these words in his brilliant summary of how the game of baseball has changed over time – and continues to change – and more to fit the culture’s growing sports market culture – the one that seems to emanate full throttle from the NFL’s warlike perception of victory over defeat.

Larry Dierker wrote the following: “Like golf, baseball is (was) pastoral. Like golf, it is not played on a rectangle like an old fashioned war.” He could have added “as is football”, but it wasn’t necessary. Most of us haven’t been standing in the rain for the past half century, looking up at the sky – and simply drowning from all the water we’ve been taking in through our agape mouths of open relentless concern for finally solving the mystery of what has uprooted baseball from its long time identity as “our American national pastime.”

It’s really no mystery. We’ve always already known the answer, sort of.

Or, at least, we thought we did. – We thought the answer was football, but that was only partially true. The deeper answer may have germinated from our growing attraction to television – and the way that the violent battleground of football’s rectangular world played out so well on the small screen. It did well because it was playing to viewers who seemed to have grabbed hold of a growing smash-mouth cultural need for victory of “us” over “them”. Football gave the sponsors what they wanted. Better than any other sport, the televised big football game became the best place to sell everything from beer to cars to Viagra.

By the time the television medium finally grew in its ability to show the game of baseball in a much better light, the role of football as the Judas Goat leader in the marketing field – the same one that now takes aim at all discretionary spending – was already set at the way beyond challenge level in all sports. (If it doesn’t sell anything, don’t expect to see it anywhere.)

So, why does football still grab a larger audience than baseball? The answer should be very easy to see, by now. Baseball is to football on TV – as Shakespeare is to a helicopter telecast of a car chase scene. – Which of these subjects is easier to follow without paying much attention?

No contest.

Many people watch TV to escape the ambiguity, loneliness, and stress of everyday life. Shakespeare can’t help them there. If they can even get past the difficulty of learning what Shakespeare’s old English words even mean, how is that an escape? They will still have to think and follow plot lines over time to get the point of the thing, if that can happen for them at all.

Besides, whether we are pulling for the car chase lead driver to get caught – or get away – like football – it’s much easier for any viewer to watch a TV car chase for twenty minutes than it is for a casual baseball fan to watch TV baseball for five minutes.

Some new baseball fans, for example, will never come to understand the rationale behind the bunt in baseball the first time they see one attempted. Like Shakespeare, the bunt does not fit the way they think about things.

“Why would a batter just mildly poke at the ball when all this other, much farther away space is available to them, if they strike it hard enough,” a one-time baseball game companion once asked of me.

As with Shakespeare, some new observers to baseball will never see a second bunt attempt either.

At any rate, here’s the never-grows-old George Carlin comparison of baseball and football as it currently is shown at the wonderful Baseball Almanac site:

Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - might have extra innings. Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.

“Baseball has no time limit: we don’t know when it’s gonna end – might have extra innings.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.”
~ George Carlin

BASEBALL AND FOOTBALL

BY GEORGE CARLIN

Baseball is different from any other sport, very different. For instance, in most sports you score points or goals; in baseball you score runs. In most sports the ball, or object, is put in play by the offensive team; in baseball the defensive team puts the ball in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he’s out; sometimes unintentionally, he’s out.

Also: in football,basketball, soccer, volleyball, and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball and in baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.

In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager. And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you’d ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform,you’d know the reason for this custom.

Now, I’ve mentioned football. Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

I enjoy comparing baseball and football:

Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.
Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park!
Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.

In football you wear a helmet.
In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs – what down is it?
Baseball is concerned with ups – who’s up?

In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error.

In football the specialist comes in to kick.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog…
In baseball, if it rains, we don’t go out to play.

Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football has the two minute warning.

Baseball has no time limit: we don’t know when it’s gonna end – might have extra innings.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.

In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there’s kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there’s not too much unpleasantness.
In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you’re capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.

In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! – I hope I’ll be safe at home!

____________________

eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

Almost Finished Look of MMP CF in Place

February 17, 2017
Minute Maid Park is Game Ready Winter Invitational D-II tournament Begins Februrary 16, 2017

Minute Maid Park is Game Ready
Winter Invitational D-II tournament Begins
February 16, 2017

Based on the lead picture, the Almost Finished Look of MMP in CF is Now in Place. We say “almost finished,” but if you look at the cropped close-up of the center field area, which follows, you will see that  it’s pretty obvious that much yet needs to be done. A green curtain has been hung to cover that unpainted yellow-block structure to the left of dead CF – and only a small tarp of green hangs over the tops stairs that lead down into that right of dead CF stands. Their current light yellow to concrete grey appearance today is certainly not the Astros Opening Day hand they plan to play.

Deep Center ~ Minute Maid Park February 16, 2017

Deep Center ~ Minute Maid Park
February 16, 2017
“Some Work Remains”

This note just came in from Mike Acosta, via to us by a notification from Darrell Pittman.

“The first baseball game of the year at Minute Maid Park is underway with the Winter Invitational D-II tournament.”

~ Mike Acosta, Authentications Administrator, Houston Astros, February 16, 2017.

We have no idea what the “Winter Invitational D-II tournament” is all about, but that isn’t pertinent to the point here. – The point here is that an actual game is now taking place for the first time today with the new MMP modified center field area now in play as part of the new home turf scenario for clubs at all levels of competency now using MMP as a place to play the game of baseball in 2017. The work isn’t finished, but it was far enough along to allow these amateur games to go go as scheduled.

I am not really sure what we were expecting to see, but whatever it was, it’s certainly less ground-sweepingly dramatic as we may have once expected it to be. Center field now has dark green where it is always needed as the background aid to hitters, but it does seem as though people movement in that new field level fenced in section could still be a distraction to some hitters – particularly to right-handed batters, but we will have to await the feedback of the MLB types to get a read on whether any remaining problem will be enough to force further fine-tuning. In general, and this comment takes into account our Eagle opposition to the removal of Tal’s Hill as a possible influence here on this generality, but, the once fluid green look of center field now seems a lot more “patchworky” by design. (I couldn’t find a legal word that truly expressed what I see here, so I took it in my own hands to invent a word that has been around the literary block a few times without finding universal acceptance as a legal English adjective or adverb candidate.)

Patchworky, it is, then – until we’ve all had a better chance to give it a full rating in person – from the completely finished product – and heard more from the people who actually play the MLB games down there on the field.

Have a nice weekend, everybody!

____________________

eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas