Baseball and Life Differences

June 22, 2017

Bud Selig
Baseball Hall of Fame
July 2017 Inductee

 

People who say that baseball is a metaphor for life are way off base. Try to convince me of that idea and I will tell you, going in, you’ve got two strikes against you from you very first trip to the plate. And you’d be listening to somebody coming at you from left field to think otherwise. As a simple swing of logic, this one’s a complete can of corn with no all-out dead-run “iffiness” about it.

Why am I so sure? Well, take a look at the differences between life and baseball that are as plain to see as called strikes to a blind umpire themselves and figure it out for yourself:

Whereas, life in America starts with birth – followed by childhood – followed by graduation from either regular school or the hard knocks variety – followed by getting a job – getting married – having kids – raising kids – retirement – growing old – getting sick and then dying – nobody ever is guaranteed that they will have the right combination of talent, opportunity, help, and good luck to be re-born to the game of baseball – even here – or in every place of the world – although, it does help to have been born in the USA, Latin America, or Japan for those chances to kick in.

Bottom Line Differences:

  1. Life is for everybody; baseball is not.
  2. Life can end in a tie score; baseball cannot.
  3. Life players end up in cemeteries or crematoriums.
  4. Great baseball players prefer to end up in Halls of Fame.
  5. Some great life players have their own Halls of Fame for what they do, but these are rarely places that people plan their family vacations around trips to go see.

One Awful Exception to the Life/Baseball Difference Rule

Sometimes undeserving baseball administrators use the power of their positions to trade their decisions on personal retirement in exchange for an egregiously undeserved merit induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In that regard, baseball and life are too similar for undisturbed contemplation for long in a normally peaceful mind.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Miggins: Short and Sweet Is Hard to Beat

June 20, 2017

Kathleen and Larry Miggins

 

Short and sweet is hard to beat, especially when those qualities flow so naturally and life-fully from the  wit and wisdom of a still wild Irish rose at the least expected of times.

This morning I made asimple friendship call to the residence of Larry and Kathleen Miggins, just to say hello, and to ask about Larry’s latest progress from that bad fall he took late last year.

Kathleen answered the phone, so I asked: “How’s Larry doing?”

“Let me tell you as best I am able, dear Bill,” Kathleen answered in that classic Irish storyteller mode she engages for speaking in response to any question that transcends the need for mere yes or no responses.

“We’ve done everything we can to get Larry out of the house to do things, but, alas, Larry spends almost all of his days now just staring through all the windows of the house.”

There was a curious brief pause, as though Kathleen was allowing that picture of Larry staring through glass to seep into my own mental imagery of the situation.

Then Kathleen simply concluded her answer to my original question in slow deliberate terms.

“If he keeps it up at the same rate for much longer, we’re simply going to have no choice but to unlock the doors and allow him to come back into the house!”

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When it comes to great column stories, short and sweet, indeed, are very hard to beat as well.

Thank you, Kathleen Miggins, for making my day.

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Early Fields and the Pitcher’s Dirt Path

June 18, 2017

 

So why, you may ask, did so many of those early 19th century baseball fields have those long dirt paths between the pitcher’s mound and home plate? And why did organized baseball continue to include these mysterious tracks on the infield until they variably started disappearing in the early 2oth century?

SABR member Rob Neyer probably supplies us all with the most common sensible answers to these and all other questions about them at Baseball Nation on October 4, 2011, when he in turn credited another SABR author, Peter Morris, for his explanations in an excellent specific baseball history book entitled: A Game of Inches: The Game Behind the Scenes.

Neyer notes that both Comerica Park and Chase Field today contain dirt strips between the pitcher’s mound and home plate as nods to old-time baseball.

The origins of the path are obscure, but researcher Tom Shieber has unearthed what is almost certainly the explanation, according to Neyer. Shieber explains that early baseball clubs often played on cricket grounds, where the two wickets were connected by a dirt path to ensure more reliable bounces. He speculates that early baseball clubs found that the path also led to fewer passed balls in their own game of baseball and made it easy for the strips to become customary in their own newer “strike the ball” game. Shieber cites a description that appeared in the New York Clipper in July 1860.

What this doesn’t explain is why baseball fields commonly featured the “pitcher’s path” well into the 20th century. Morris speculates – and Neyer agrees – that in the days of small grounds-keeping crews and limited technology, it was exceptionally difficult to keep a field in good shape; this fact should be apparent to any of you who have spent any time examining baseball field photos from the 19th and early 20th centuries. With pitchers and catchers frequently trodding back and forth upon that stretch of ground between the mound and plate, it was just easier to forget about grass and keep a dirt strip there instead. To put it mildly, baseball grounds-keeping knowledge and technology was hardly anything near the artful stage during baseball’s Garden of Eden era.

Read the full article here: http://mlb.sbnation.com/2011/10/4/2470036/so-whats-the-deal-with-those-dirt-strips for a more informative look at how things were and how the game has moved forward from the condition of those early times.

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And speaking of old ruts, the Pecan Park Eagle hopes that you remain stuck in the rut of wishing your dad either a Happy Father’s Day wish 0r a smiling tip of your memory cap for what he meant to you in his lifetime – and that everything you share together today is honest, true, and freely extended in the name of love. And, even if you somehow didn’t seem to get it from your dad, try to keep in mind too that dads are often deficient in their abilities to show love in the ways we hope to receive it. Wherever possible, try to cut these emotionally blocked fathers some slack and give them your love in return regardless. It will be the same love Dad once hoped to give to you directly in no uncertain terms – when he still didn’t know how to hit the “send” button.

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Deep Baseball Thoughts

June 17, 2017

A Humble Jack Handey Remembrance of Father’s Day 2017

 

Deep Baseball Thoughts ~ with Apologies to Jack Handey

Back in the 1990’s, a fictional philosopher named “Jack Handey” published thousands of random thoughts on life that really were intended as little tickles upon our also randomly varied funny bones. The following are little more than a humble attempt to take aim again, this time upon the aspect of life that so many of us embrace as baseball. If none of them winch even a smile, just remember, none were intended to harm.

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When Yogi Berra said, ”It ain’t over til it’s over,” was he talking about the ball game or life itself? Either way, it makes sense, but so it does also make a connection when applied to a big credit card debt – or a bad case of diarrhea – or just about anything else that matters to us on a large or small term scale. Maybe Yogi was simply trying to remind us that some human discomforts all call for the utterance of the universal “harrumph”- it ain’t over til it’s over!

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When you are a late inning reliever in trouble – and your pitching coach comes out to the mound to whisper, “make him swing at the ball, but don’t give him anything good enough to hit really well,” isn’t he just asking you to do what any Hall of Fame closer would d0 99% of the time under these same circumstances?

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Why do so many stadiums have those yellow lines along the top of seven to ten feet high outfield fences that make any batted ball that hits the yellow part on the fly a home run? When it only appears to happen, but the eyes are not sure, it seems we too often then have to go to the replay for five minutes to confirm or deny it’s status as a homer. – Wouldn’t it be easier to simply do away with the yellow line and call the balls that clear the fence home runs – and treat all those that bounce back on the field off the fence as balls in play?

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Aside from misunderstanding or disregarding the fact that making the All Star Game winner (2002-2016) the determining factor as to which league would have home field advantage in the World Series for so many years, what else did Bud Selig do to violate the integrity of the game, yet, still manage to leave himself a shoo-in first ballot selection for the 2017 Induction Class at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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“Buy me some nachos and Cracker Jack; Terry Francona craves seeds-in-a-sack!”

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We all smiled when our still grieving widowed Grandpa went trucking off alone to Minute Maid Park with his scorecard and money enough for a few beers with other Astros fans, but we weren’t smiling when he came home drunk the next morning with the pie-eyed old lady in the JR Richard jersey who would too soon thereafter become our first step-Grandma for about two months.

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Infield Sign says: “NO PEPPER GAMES. AND GO EASY ON THE SALT.”

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Remember forever the wisdom of our baseball elders. 20-game winner Ned Garver of the 1951 last place 102-loss St. Louis Browns put it this way: “Our fans never booed us. They wouldn’t dare. We outnumbered them.”

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Happy Father’s and Mother’s Day, Everybody! And among baseball fans, especially, we do mean everybody! And why not? It’s just an easy way to remind ourselves that, in baseball, the fans eventually get to pay for everything that happens in the name of our national pastime!

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Bill McCurdy
Principal Writer
Editor, Publisher
The Pecan Park Eagle

Congratulations Caleb Gilbert and LSU

June 16, 2017

“NOW PITCHING FOR THE LSU TIGERS …. # 41 …. GILBERT …. CALIB GILBERT …. NOW PITCHING! …. FOR LSU!”

 

In the knockout game with MSU, Caleb Gilbert retired 15 men in a row between the 3rd and 8th inning, striking out 6 on the way to a 12-4, LSU comeback win.

 

What a story now. What a story in the making.

Caleb Gilbert, the handsome, 6’2″ 180 pound hard-throwing, mainly reliever, right-handed pitcher for the LSU Tigers has just added another feather to his already fancy purple cap in his club’s deciding win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Now the team and all of Tiger Nation moves forward to the College World Series this weekend when the Louisiana baseballing boys break into the schedule with an opening tourney game against Florida State in their 18th appearance at Omaha.

With MSU ahead by 4-3 in the bottom of the 3rd, Gilbert gets his first K of 6 for the 2nd out. With the bases still loaded, he gets the next batter on a FC tag of 3rd to retire the side. From there, Gilbert will retire 13 more batters in a row on the Tigers’ way to wrecking the Bulldogs.

What an incredible baseball heritage that Caleb Gilbert and his teammates now put forth and defend.

Caleb Gilbert is special to all of us Houston-Austin SABR people who know his grandfather too. He just happens to be the son of Paul Gilbert – who happens to be the son of Bill Gilbert – one of our State of Texas SABR foundational icons and friends to so many of us because of our community shared love of the game and our magnetic attraction to others with any similar deep-trench affinity for baseball as the daily bread of our secular, but spiritual lives.

Bill Gilbert is our Pecan Park Eagle monthly Astros commentator during the regular season and a more general analyst and commentator on the ongoing health of the game at any time he is predisposed to impart some new observation. We could not be happier that it has become his good fortune to actually live out one of the wildest dreams our kind of baseball fan probably all shares. Living out of the dream of watching your own grandson contribute mightily to his school’s pursuit of the College World Series Title in Omaha on national television is about as star-spangled bleary-eyed an event as any older fan is going to find at our age. And, of course, it’s got to feel great to his parents and other grandparents and family members too.

Sometimes the look in for the sign is an eye-blinking contest between a pitcher and the batters he faces. In this one, Caleb Gilbert would likely have been the guy looking for the post-game Murine drops.

Congratulations to Caleb Gilbert and the entire extended (by blood or marriage) family that is into this current celebration all the way! No matter what what happens from here, it’s still a victory of the spirit, but, as long as the whole cake is still on the plate, good luck to LSU on eventually finding that the last big slice is eventually there too for their exclusive consumption.

Bill Gilbert
Grandfather of Caleb Gilbert
LSU Tigers Pitcher
(Check out the tie. How would a stranger ever know that this guy cared a single thing about baseball?)

Also, check out this link for further detail on RHP Caleb Gilbert and the 2017 LSU Tigers baseball team.

http://www.lsusports.net/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=210240718

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A Long Way Home

June 15, 2017

 

“A Long Way Home: The Untold Story of Baseball’s Desegregation” is a 42-minute long testimonial documentary featuring a number of the key men who lived it from the Post-Jackie Robinson years forward, especially during the critical period of 1960s social change in which the more obvious walls of racial segregation came tumbling down in the deep South. Last night, Wednesday, June 14, 2016, a near houseful of us attended a special invitational showing of the film in Houston at the old River oaks Theater on West Grey and then stayed for a 60 minute panel show of players featured in the film, most of whom were also quite familiar to a local audience of Houston baseball fans.

The film was put together by Gaspar González, who has produced documentaries for the BBC, PBS, ESPN, and others. His credits include the national PBS release Muhammad Ali: Made in Miami, the Grantland short doc Gay Talese’s Address Book, and the ESPN 30 for 30 Short The Guerrilla Fighter. His work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the American Cinematheque. He is the founder of Hammer and Nail Productions. Gonzalez was present and participated in the panel discussion.

When Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line in 1947, it took another generation of Black and Latino players to make the sport truly open to all. Playing in remote minor-league towns, these were the men who, before they could live their big-league dreams, first had to beat Jim Crow.

Featuring James “Mudcat” Grant, Orlando Cepeda, Tony Pérez, Jimmy Wynn, Grover “Deacon” Jones, J.R. Richard, Enos Cabell, Octavio “Cookie” Rojas, Orlando Peña, and Bobby Tolan, the film emphasizes how important it is to remember what really happened during the obvious period of desegregation and to never assume that the job is now done. The generations that come after us who were touched by the hateful barriers that segregation imposes have both a right and a responsibility to keep the lessons fresh and alive and the snake of racial hatred beheaded by the great power of love and contact

Jimmy Wynn, Grover “Deacon” Jones, J.R. Richard, Enos Cabell, and Bobby Tolan were present for last night’s screening. Melanie Lawson of KTRK-TV Channel 13 News served admirably as MC to the evening’s show.

Wisdom was falling upon the audience from participants like nuggets of gold. And it arguably may have been helped by a technical glitch. The venue had no facial lighting available for the group that sat before us near the stage, uttering pearls of wisdom at a steady rate for the children of the ages. Out of the darkness came a core of wisdom that we can only hope to sparsely summarize here, but we do recall some of the major high points – and these familiar voices spoke to us the truth from out of the darkness in ways that even strengthened our resolve to never allow anything that might cause us to slip back into the mire of what this country was like prior to Jackie Robinson, Dr. Martin Luther King, and others. All I can do here is allow them to flow through me this morning in italics below as they came at me last night from the words of men who actually lived the fight in baseball against an evil that even segregated people in the south by skin color when it came to restaurants, hotels, and public rest rooms.

Never think the battle is over for good. …. Love is the only answer for hate. …. Don’t assume that skin color or ethnicity any longer matters because the obvious forms of segregation have been put to rest. …. Even in 2017, if a club has a white guy and a black guy, both hitting .300 at the same position, the white guy will still get the job on close calls. …. To assure keeping your job, a black player has to be much better than his nearest white competitor and have the stats to show it. ….  Young black people must know and discuss the history of what their grandparents went through during segregation – and, (not expressed, but implied) …. even if young black people never have seen racial profiling, they need to keep in mind in all public situations that it can happen to any non-white person …. and that could get them killed if they fail to get that simple fact.

Self esteem grows from believing in yourself …. not from trying to be Willie Mays or Roberto Clemente. …. Believe in yourself …. believe in your own God-given abilities …. and go have the best life you can have in the Name of Love. …. Love Beats Hate Every Time. …. and that’s a headline to remember at the start of each day.

For more information about the film, check out this link:

https://longwayfromhomemovie.com/

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Carlos Beltran Career Stats Scoreboard

June 12, 2017

Carlos Beltran
Houston Astros

 

Unlike the time-limited showings we are now starting to get on the offensive accomplishments of Carlos Beltran over his 20 seasons in the big leagues, here’s a screen that will remain still long enough to wrap our minds around this man’s deservedness for great honors down the not too far distant road. Let’s hope he arrived here in Houston in time to be the major veteran cog we have needed to keep the Astros’ round World Series wheel rolling all the way to that long-awaited late October World Series victory we’ve been hoping for since 1962 and all those other years it really was – nothing more – than a dream.

Thank you for coming back to us, Carlos Beltran. We shall hope that you someday retire with the triple-sweet taste of having won a World Series, retired, and entered the Hall of Fame wearing the famous “H Star” logo of the Houston Astros. Pull off that hat trick and most, if not all of us, shall be happy to put aside all memory of what happened after the 2004 season.

If not all, winning heals so many wounds in baseball.

Here’s The Carlos Beltran Career Scoreboard on how well he’s done for 20 seasons through all games of yesterday, Sunday, June 11, 2017 with Home Runs, Doubles, Runs Scored, and Runs Batted In:

HOME RUNS

Carlos Beltran HR Standings
All Time Leaders Thru 6/11/2017
”Thank You, Baseball Almanac.com”
Barry Bonds 762 1
Hank Aaron 755 2
Babe Ruth 714 3
Alex Rodriguez 696 4
Willie Mays 660 5
Ken Griffey, Jr. 630 6
Jim Thome 612 7
Sammy Sosa 609 8
Albert Pujols 601 9
Frank Robinson 586 10
Mark McGwire 583 11
Harmon Killebrew 573 12
Rafael Palmeiro 569 13
Reggie Jackson 563 14
Manny Ramirez 555 15
Mike Schmidt 548 16
David Ortiz 541 17
Mickey Mantle 536 18
Jimmie Foxx 534 19
Willie McCovey 521 20
Frank Thomas 521
Ted Williams 521
Ernie Banks 512 23
Eddie Mathews 512
Mel Ott 511 25
Gary Sheffield 509 26
Eddie Murray 504 27
Lou Gehrig 493 28
Fred McGriff 493
Stan Musial 475 30
Willie Stargell 475
Carlos Delgado 473 32
Chipper Jones 468 33
Dave Winfield 465 34
Jose Canseco 462 35
Adam Dunn 462
Carl Yastrzemski 452 37
Miguel Cabrera 451 38
Jeff Bagwell 449 39
Vladimir Guerrero 449
Adrian Beltre 446 41
Dave Kingman 442 42
Jason Giambi 440 43
Paul Konerko 439 44
Andre Dawson 438 45
Juan Gonzalez 434 46
Andruw Jones 434
Cal Ripken, Jr. 431 48
Carlos Beltran 429 49

DOUBLES

Carlos Beltran Doubles Standings
All Time Leaders Thru 6/11/2017
”Thank You, Baseball Almanac.com”
Tris Speaker 792 1
Pete Rose 746 2
Stan Musial 725 3
Ty Cobb 724 4
Craig Biggio 668 5
George Brett 665 6
Nap Lajoie 657 7
Carl Yastrzemski 646 8
Honus Wagner 640 9
David Ortiz 632 10
Hank Aaron 624 11
Albert Pujols 608 12
Paul Molitor 605 13
Paul Waner 605
Cal Ripken, Jr. 603 15
Barry Bonds 601 16
Luis Gonzalez 596 17
Adrian Beltre 594 18
Todd Helton 592 19
Rafael Palmeiro 585 20
Robin Yount 583 21
Wade Boggs 578 22
Bobby Abreu 574 23
Charlie Gehringer 574
Ivan Rodriguez 572 25
Jeff Kent 560 26
Eddie Murray 560
Carlos Beltran 550 28

RUNS SCORED

Carlos Beltran Runs Scored Standings
All Time Leaders Thru 6/11/2017
”Thank You, Baseball Almanac.com”
Rickey Henderson 2,295 1
Ty Cobb 2,246 2
Barry Bonds 2,227 3
Hank Aaron 2,174 4
Babe Ruth 2,174
Pete Rose 2,165 6
Willie Mays 2,062 7
Alex Rodriguez 2,021 8
Stan Musial 1,949 9
Derek Jeter 1,923 10
Lou Gehrig 1,888 11
Tris Speaker 1,882 12
Mel Ott 1,859 13
Craig Biggio 1,844 14
Frank Robinson 1,829 15
Eddie Collins 1,821 16
Carl Yastrzemski 1,816 17
Ted Williams 1,798 18
Paul Molitor 1,782 19
Charlie Gehringer 1,774 20
Jimmie Foxx 1,751 21
Honus Wagner 1,736 22
Jesse Burkett 1,720 23
Cap Anson 1,719 24
Willie Keeler 1,719
Billy Hamilton 1,690 26
Albert Pujols 1,689 27
Bid McPhee 1,678 28
Mickey Mantle 1,676 29
Dave Winfield 1,669 30
Johnny Damon 1,668 31
Rafael Palmeiro 1,663 32
Ken Griffey, Jr. 1,662 33
Joe Morgan 1,650 34
Cal Ripken, Jr. 1,647 35
Jimmy Ryan 1,642 36
George Van Haltren 1,639 37
Gary Sheffield 1,636 38
Robin Yount 1,632 39
Eddie Murray 1,627 40
Paul Waner 1,627
Al Kaline 1,622 42
Roger Connor 1,620 43
Fred Clarke 1,619 44
Chipper Jones 1,619
Lou Brock 1,610 46
Jake Beckley 1,600 47
Ed Delahanty 1,599 48
Bill Dahlen 1,589 49
George Brett 1,583 50
Jim Thome 1,583
Rogers Hornsby 1,579 52
Tim Raines 1,571 53
Carlos Beltran 1,552 54
Hugh Duffy 1,552

RUNS BATTED IN

Carlos Beltran RBI Standings
All Time Leaders Thru 6/11/2017
”Thank You, Baseball Almanac.com”
Hank Aaron 2,297 1
Babe Ruth 2,213 2
Alex Rodriguez 2,086 3
Barry Bonds 1,996 4
Lou Gehrig 1,995 5
Stan Musial 1,951 6
Ty Cobb 1,937 7
Jimmie Foxx 1,922 8
Eddie Murray 1,917 9
Willie Mays 1,903 10
Cap Anson 1,879 11
Albert Pujols 1,862 12
Mel Ott 1,860 13
Carl Yastrzemski 1,844 14
Ted Williams 1,839 15
Ken Griffey, Jr. 1,836 16
Rafael Palmeiro 1,835 17
Dave Winfield 1,833 18
Manny Ramirez 1,831 19
Al Simmons 1,827 20
Frank Robinson 1,812 21
David Ortiz 1,768 22
Honus Wagner 1,732 23
Frank Thomas 1,704 24
Reggie Jackson 1,702 25
Jim Thome 1,699 26
Cal Ripken, Jr. 1,695 27
Gary Sheffield 1,676 28
Sammy Sosa 1,667 29
Tony Perez 1,652 30
Ernie Banks 1,636 31
Harold Baines 1,628 32
Chipper Jones 1,623 33
Goose Goslin 1,609 34
Nap Lajoie 1,599 35
George Brett 1,595 36
Mike Schmidt 1,595
Andre Dawson 1,591 38
Rogers Hornsby 1,584 39
Harmon Killebrew 1,584
Al Kaline 1,583 41
Miguel Cabrera 1,581 42
Adrian Beltre 1,577 43
Jake Beckley 1,575 44
Carlos Beltran 1,560 45

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Bill McCurdy
Principal Writer
Editor, Publisher
The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

Putin On The Ritz (Via You Tube)

June 11, 2017

The wisdom of the expression is entirely up to which road we chose to travel. Risk? Or Security? Example: Don’t you think the Boston Red Sox left themselves room to later feel the sting of regret that came from pulling the Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson trade back in the day?

No regrets today. Sunday’s column is basically a sensory humor roll and a taste of “pun-in-motion” – by sight and sound – so, make sure you have your computer sound turned on before making the link contact.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3z841UJiVk

Have a great Sunday!

If you are an Astros fan, let’s hope that ace pitcher Dallas Keuchel is cured of these DL-inspired neck pains before the club’s lead in the AL West falls into single-digit game measurement. Until we see the club hovering over a 13+ game lead in mid-September, we shall continue to avoid falling into anything resembling a World Series victory wish stupor.

 

Super duper.

“You Tube” is great! Now our favorite cracker-rider Russian caps the evening by morphing into a really credible culture-soul hacker by playing and singing the night away on a HUGE American blues song note.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/vlad-the-crooner-putin-sings-blueberry-hill/

Sometime down the line, we also would love to hear old Vlad do his special rendition of another SENSATIONAL hit by Fats Domino back in the day, “Yes, It’s Me and I’m in Love Again”:

“Yes, It’s me – and I’m in love again!

Had no lovin’ since – you know when!

You know I love you – yes I do!

Baby, won’t you please – ride my password through!

 

“I tried to email – but you sent me to spam!

I want to talk – but you don’t give a damn!

You’re mean to me – when you never call back!

Baby, if you don’t – better know – I will hack!

 

“Very soon! – I just said! – Very soon!

Right now! – I just said! – I just did!”

 

By Bill McCurdy

Principal Researcher, Writer, Editor, and Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

All-Time Easiest Baseball Movie Casting

June 10, 2017

It never happened, but had they done “The Ted Williams Story” on film during the Splendid Splinter’s shared lifetime with the wonderful actor Robert Ryan, there’s no doubt in my mind that the latter could have played the surly Hall of Fame great hitter better than anyone else – and as the easiest “no-brainer” casting in baseball movie history. Ryan possessed the same range of emotional expression as Ted Williams, he was nine years older than the BoSox star; they both were athletic; and Ryan’s 6’4″ height actually was an inch higher into the blue than the 6’3″ Williams.

We could spend the rest of the weekend doing this, but here is one facial picture comparison that pretty much says it all for the final resemblance connection:

Ted Williams. 6’3″
Lifetime: 1918-2002

 

Robert Ryan, 6’4″
Lifetime: 1909-1973

 

Got to cut it short this Saturday. This is one of those “everybody-has-’em-sooner-or-later” homeowner joy periods in which we are wrapping up Day II of “The AC Pan That Leaked Over Onto the Surface in the Attic and Wrought the Need for New Sheet Rock on the 2nd Floor Ceiling” episode. And I needed to write this much and no more as a distraction to my own thoughts about how houses today are built by people who know that they are going to be long gone from the picture by the time the problems of their construction shortcuts reveal themselves years later to the homeowner and the revved-up repair industry that now relies upon their eventual appearance.

What were we discussing so recently? – Oh yes. Integrity.

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Least and Most Credible Baseball Movie Acting

June 8, 2017

Jimmy Piersall
Born: 11/14/1929 – Died: 06/03/2017
MLB: 1950, 1952-1967
REST IN PEACE

R.I.P., Jimmy Piersall!

When Jimmy Piersall died on June 3, 2017 at the age of 87, I was afraid that something like this was going to happen. Instead of remembering him first as the distracting, pesky force he could be, my first thoughts would turn to that awful job that actor Tony Perkins did in the 1957 “Fear Strikes Out” movie portrayal of his disintegration into mental illness.

Had I been that tall, older, never-stopped-talking fan in the straw hat and red and black checkered shirt that sat  near us in one of our losing-cause games at Buff Stadium in the 1951 Dixie Series between our Houston Buffs and Piersall’s  Birmingham Barons, I might have expressed my frustrating admiration of Piersall in words like these:

“That Piersall fellow is like a rampaging climate of bad weather, just waiting for some baseball god of bad luck to blow it all over your best hopes for a great day at the park. Victory’s all there for a brief moment, and then, on the heels of a hard wind pushing himself unwanted around the corner onto your own sweet street of dreams, on his wicked way to your house, here comes all this Jimmy mess glop and it’s just nasty enough to wipe out all of your plans to celebrate a game you should’ve won.”

To Jimmy Piersall ~

At any rate, even if it sounds begrudging, it isn’t – Rest in Peace, Jimmy Piersall! – Some of us in the large world of baseball just missed out on having you as our rabid teammate during our shared lifetimes. You were damn-good at what you did.

At least, your demise again reminded some of us of poor Anthony Perkins playing you in the movie “Fear Strikes Out” back in 1957. Until yesterday, Perkins’ performance as you ranked at the top of my list as the “Least Credible Movie Role Portrayal of a Real or Fictional Baseball Player by a Hollywood Actor, All Time.

That evaluation changed yesterday when I serendipitously caught the chance to see John Goodman in a satellite re-broadcast of his Babe Ruth portrayal in the “The Babe” from 1992.

Where have I been? At least, Perkins could act! He may have thrown and caught the ball like a kindergarten girl, but he could still ACT! Goodman was nothing more than some fool’s casting director scheme idea that all they needed was a 40 year old fat man to play Babe Ruth from ages 15 to 35.

As a result, I had to bump Tony Perkins down from 1st to 2nd place on the “Least Credible” List and give the top spot to the absolutely horrible John Goodman. If any further discredit is extended, it should go to both the casting director and the script writer who wrote the screenplay after one short glance at a Ruth biography while taking a leak at old Yankee Stadium in the dead of winter.

My Latest List of the Top 5 “Least Credible” and “Most Credible” Performances by an Actor as a Real or Fictional Baseball Player are as follows:

LEAST CREDIBLE

No. Actor Pos. Player     Movie
1 John Goodman OF/P Babe Ruth The Babe
2 Tony Perkins CF Jimmy Piersall Fear Strikes Out
3 Jimmy Stewart P Monty Stratton The Stratton Story
4 Ronald Reagan P Pete Alexander The Winning Team
5 Dan Dailey P Dizzy Dean The Pride of St. Louis

 

MOST CREDIBLE

No. Actor Pos. Player     Movie
1 Robert Redford RF “Roy Hobbs” The Natural
2 Kevin Costner P “Billy Chapel” For the Love of the Game
3 Dennis Quaid P Jimmy Morris The Rookie
4 Robert De Niro C “Bruce Pearson” Bang the Drum Slowly
5 Charlie Sheen P ‘Rickey Vaughn” Major League

“Name” = Fictional Character

Recusal Exception: Because I saw William Bendix in the 1948 version of “The Babe Ruth Story” at age of 10, the same year the real Babe Ruth died, I cannot pass fair judgment on either Bendix or that film for either category until some time beyond the Twelfth of Never. It still brings a movie end tear to my heart, even when I watch it now.

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A Parting Handful of  Darker Humor Thoughts …

Had the Batesville Mummies ever made it to the big leagues,

  1. They would have played an all-home game schedule. Why? Ask Mama.
  2. The baseball club owning  Bates family  would have operated their own park-connected motel;
  3. Rival pitchers who got blasted to the showers at Batesville Park also never would have pitched again. Why? Because nobody ever could have found them again once they departed the game for the showers;
  4. All public bathrooms at all Batesville properties bore either one or another of these two labeled signs: Men/Norman or Women/Norma;
  5. The Batesville Mummies’ 1st and 3rd base coaches actually were taxidermy versions of Norman Bates’ father and uncle. Ironically, in spite of the missing vital dynamic that life normally brings to all decision-making jobs, neither dad nor his equivalently dead little brother ever make a mistake on the “stop” or “go” calls to base runners. Of course, they were only a Three I level minor league club and might not have done quite so well at the MLB level.

“Norman Bates? – Playing the outfield? – No way! – Why that nice young man wouldn’t even hurt a fly – let alone – actually go through the motions of trying to catch a fly ball!”

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Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle