Mother-Hope Thoughts for Mother’s Day

May 14, 2017

There’s a reason that Boston is a City of Champions,
And it’s Name is Soul.

  • This early Mother’s Day morning, the Houston Astros are sitting on top of the AL West by 8 games with a blow-out hope record of 25-11 record and a winning percentage of .694.
  • A .694 winning percentage for the entire season, no matter how improbable that is, would give the club a 112-50 record for the entire season.
  • Guess where winning 112 games puts any club’s chances of winning their division and home field advantage through the league playoffs? (The “best record gets home field advantage” rule should include the World Series, but doesn’t because of that stupid Bud Selig assignment of that determination as a league prize for winning the All Star Game!)
  • Hard as it would be to maintain a .694 W% for the whole season, playing at that level through the first 36 games is still good enough to hold out a more reasonable hope: The Astros can now simply play .500 ball over the course of their remaining 126 games, even if we do still think it’s reasonable to hope they will do better than play even the rest of the way. we are talking about going 63-63 the rest of the way. That’s all it would take. Do that and the Astros finish at 88-74, .543 – and a record that would possibly be good enough to make the playoffs, even after leveling off.
  • Wait! Simple math has more to offer!
  • If the Astros sweep the Yankees today, their actual record ascends to 27-11 with a W% of .711 – and they only have 124 games left to play.
  • Plug in the .500 ball the rest of the way again. Add 62 wins and 62 losses to the new “what if” 27-11 mark and the projected final season record rises by 1 to 89-73, .549.
  • See how easy it is to project success when we’ve got a Mother’s-Day-Good team playing the games for us on the field?
  • One final “what if” should be enough to warm mama’s toast on Mother’s Day morning. (See 10-12).
  • Let assume that today’s hoped-for sweep of the Yankees is merely the start of ten more additional consecutive Astros wins to the current five-game win streak.
  • With ten more wins, the Astros record now jumps to 35-11, .761.
  • At 35-11, .761, the ‘Stros again draw the .500 ball card for their final 116 games. With those remaining 58 wins and 58 losses, the Astros get to finish with 93 wins, 69 losses, and a W% of .574.
  • Bottom Line: Yes. Games are won on the field. Not on paper. But it’s still fun to play with numbers. Let’s just hope this 2017 version of the Astros stays as far above .500 ball as they seem capable of doing in the early going.
  • Happy Mother’s Day, Astros Nation ~ and Everybody Else Too!

 

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

The Almost Flawless 1948 Babe Ruth Movie

May 13, 2017

Babe Ruth
Gone But Never Forgotten
Forever the Hero

 

The Almost Flawless 1948 Babe Ruth Movie …. as seen by the 6-to-10 year old tribe of Pecan Park Eagles upon its release for viewing at the Avalon Theatre on 75th near Lawndale during the Summer of 1948:

  1. Babe had to grow up in a Boy’s Home because his mom died and his father couldn’t handle him. Poor Babe. It could have happened to any of us.
  2. At St. Mary’s, Babe grew up to become an incredible baseball player under the watchful eye of Brother Mathias, the priest who ran the place.
  3. When Baltimore Orioles Manager Jack Dunn came to St. Mary’s to sign Babe Ruth, Babe was only 19, but he looked to be about 35, as portrayed by actor William Bendix.
  4. While Dunn was waiting inside the place with Brother Mathias to meet Babe, a hard tossed ball came crashing through a glass window, breaking only a hole that was only slightly larger than the baseball that had made it. Once the talking was done, and his new contract signed, Brother Mathias invited Babe to take the ball back outside. Babe picked it up and, from a distance of about 60 feet, 6 inches, he threw it back outside through the hole from which it had first come – without nicking off any new glass damage in the process.
  5. After that memorable early scene, the movie just continued to unfold as one more incredible Ruth story unfolding upon another.
  6. In the movie, Babe Ruth turned out to be just the hero we thought he was. He was kind to ladies and he loved kids. He did things on the field that no other player could do – things like predicting his next home run and then doing it – after taking two strikes before he ever even swung the bat that crashed the homer.
  7. Babe cared more about taking care of a little dog named Pee Wee, whom he had injured with a foul ball in batting practice, than he did about getting back to the ballpark from the real hospital where he found a real doctor to treat the little shaggy canine in time to play his game.
  8. The doctor that treated the little dog for his foul ball injuries would turn up late in the movie as the same doctor who would treat Babe Ruth for cancer.
  9. Also late in the movie, Babe awakens from a dismal short 1935 season with the Boston Braves, finally leaving the game in a burst of glory by hitting three homers in Pittsburgh – and then turning over his job to a rookie who had been taunting him as a has-been – until this magic retirement moment comes along.
  10. After hitting three monster home runs at Forbes Field, the Babe almost stumbles on his way to first with a late inning single that we are led to believe is the last hit of his career. This turns out to be the moment in which the Babe calls over the rude rookie to run for him and take over his job.
  11. In the wake of Babe’s heroic Forbes Field exit performance, the rookie is awed by both the hero’s incredible ability and his unimaginable generosity.
  12. “Take care of baseball, kid,” the Babe says to his rookie replacement runner at first. “Take care of baseball. – And baseball will take care of you.”
  13. When someone suggested to the Babe that he should sue baseball for not making the Braves keep their promise to make him their next manager, Babe waved his head in a way that was as clearly rejecting of that idea as his words that followed. “Sue baseball?” asked the Babe. “Why, I couldn’t do that. – That would be like suing the Church!”
  14. The movie ends, of course, on a sad heroic note. The Babe is laying in his hospital bed, dying of cancer, but he is about to be carted down the hall for treatment by an experimental drug that could save him and help others to be saved from the same terrible illness. A small chorus of sandlotters stands outside the open window of Babe’s first floor, street-side room – and they are singing a low and mellow version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The singing continues as Babe is bed is rolled from the room by orderlies and pushed down the hall for his daring adventure into treatment.
  15. “Goodbye, Babe, but take this thought with you too: No matter what happens next, we shall love you forever!”
  16. As Babe’s hospital gurney disappears down the hospital hall, the final movie scene shifts seamlessly to kids playing sandlot baseball in street clothes on an improvised field, somewhere out here in the heart of America. And a powerful orchestra and accompanying angel chorus has picked up on a rousing, building conclusion to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ as kids throw, hit, run, and slide home on the field.
  17. The closing announcer affirms that, even though Ruth is now gone, the game will go on, as long as there’s a kid with a bat …. a ball …. and a glove …. to carry on!”
  18. When the movie ended, there was a nanosecond gap of silence that seemed to hang in the air for ten minutes or more. Then we all broke into shouts of support for Babe Ruth.

As kids of 1948, were we buying any of this? – Of course, we were. At least our little Pecan Park Eagle group and our fellow denizens of the Avalon Theatre were. And every bit of it. Our heroes were bigger than life – or the actual truth. We needed them to be. And Babe Ruth was the biggest hero of them all.

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

An Artful Homage to Larry Dierker

May 12, 2017

John McCurdy
Pecan Park Eagles
1947-1951

 An Artful Homage to Larry Dierker from my 75 year old “little” brother, John C. McCurdy. John and his lovely wife Linda of nearly 55 years live in Beeville, Texas, north of Corpus Christi, where both are quite active in our old McCurdy roots town before our family moved to Houston on December 31, 1942. John is a genuine curmudgeon and one of the loudest complainants in South Texas over the rarity of Astros baseball over these rural system baseball delivery programs. Apparently you need to have Direct TV to get all the Astros games at home. With cable, you have to wait for the Astros to come up on the Rangers telecasts to see them play live at home. – At any rate, my little brother John is a passionate and talented cartoonist too. He drew this cartoon and sent it to me with the following inscription about a month ago. I have been saving it until the next time I saw Larry, but decided today to send it this way. – You will get the original in person, Mr. Dierker, at either the June SABR meeting – or at our next luncheon together, whichever comes first. Hope you enjoy the talent, the intentionality, and the effort that Brother John put into this piece. I know your career meant a lot to him as one of the surviving original Houston MLB baseball fans.

____________________

An Artful Homage to Larry Dierker
By
John C. McCurdy
Beeville, Texas

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

A Closer View of Mr. Dierker Cutting the Mustard.

23 Skidoo! Astros Sailing on Sea of Blue!

May 11, 2017

23-skidoo copy

 

The precise meaning of “23 Skidoo” is lost to history, but this late 19th/Early 20th century slang expression actually comes up most often as a “get away quickly” exhortation among street urchins in search of more immediate privacy or greener social pastures.

Given the fact that the Astros just racked up their earliest recorded date in history for the registration of their earliest season capture of win # 23 today, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, a lot is getting said early about the team’s ability and fire to win baseball games in just about every way possible – but, even more importantly, to play the game with a tenacious club commitment do whatever it takes to win each game on its own terms.

The earliest previous Astros time for win # 23 came a season date later, on May 11, 1998. That was the year that the later acquirement of Randy Johnson helped the Astros set their all time high for regular season wins at 102. Unfortunately, it was also the same season that the Astros fell asleep against the Padres in the NL Playoffs, causing the club to miss their shot against the New York Yankees in the World Series that October.

And that is the sober reminder that’s worth far more than a thousand extra words here about the early 2017 AL season success of our Houston Astros.

23 Skidoo to you too, bad news and late season folds. We Astros fans will much prefer the discovery that this early season 23 Skidoo good fortune pace of the 2017 Houston Astros turns out to be a successful season run for our good guys – and one that goes all the way through the entire World Series.

One day at a time. One game at a time. 23 Skidoo.

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HGH and the Top 20 Career HR Leaders

May 10, 2017

HGH and the Top 20 Career HR Leaders

Barry Bonds
His 762 MLB Career HR Total Leads All Others.

The Top 20 Career HR Leaders in MLB History

No. Player HR HOF Status
1 Barry Bonds 762 HGH Guy 1
2 Hank Aaron 755 HOF 1
3 Babe Ruth 714 HOF 2
4 Alex Rodriquez 696 HGH Guy 2
5 Willie Mays 660 HOF 3
6 Ken Griffey, Jr. 630 HOF 4
7 Jim Thome 612 HOF Prospect 1
8 Sammy Sosa 609 HGH Guy 3
9 Albert Pujols 595 HOF Prospect 2
10 Frank Robinson 586 HOF 5
11 Mark McGwire 583 HGH Guy 4
12 Harmon Killebrew 573 HOF 6
13 Rafael Palmeiro 569 HGH Guy 5
14 Reggie Jackson 563 HOF 7
15 Manny Rameriz 555 HGH Guy 6
16 Mike Schmidt 548 HOF 8
17 David Ortiz 541 HOF Prospect 3
18 Mickey Mantle 536 HOF 9
19 Jimmie Foxx 534 HOF 10
20 tie Willie McCovey 521 HOF 11
2O tie Frank Thomas 521 HOF 12
20 tie Ted Williams 521 HOF 13

 

Notes.

Because of the 3-way tie for 20th place, 22 men cover the top 20 spots.

There are 3 group categories for our 22 career Top 20 HR leaders: (1) HOF Members; (2) HOF Prospects: and (3) HGH Guys – those guys – proven or not – whose production has been suspected, at least, as helping the power hitting totals in each of their careers.

Hall of Fame Members = 13

Hall of Fame Prospects = 3 (including one still active man, Albert Pujols.)

HGH suspect Guys = 6 None of these six guys have been convicted of HGH use in a court of law, but there’s been enough suspicion in the Court of Public Opinion to hang each of them twice. Once suspicion convicts you in the public mind, it’s very hard to nearly impossible to ever again gain independence from that verdict in the minds of fans and other concerned members of the baseball public.

My questions remain: What do we do with the records of these guys over time? Are we going to punish the offenders by gradient offense – or simply paint them all with the same brush and treat all those large HR totals as being totally due to the powerful, but variable stuff they may have been using, consciously or not. In so doing, do we simply look past these record totals as though they never happened?

Look! We’ve learned a lot more about HGH since it starred twice – first as the savior of baseball through McGwire and Sosa in 1998 – and then as the destroyer of the game through the Bonds and Company numbers of the early 21st century that sprang up in the Big Mac and Sammy Show wake period of time.

We now understand better that HGH is associated with faster tissue repair – and with the increase in muscle strength. But we’ve also come to grasp – if only a little better – that there is no known HGH that improves eye-hand motor coordination in a way that directly turns any batter who uses it into Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, or Willie Mays.

Will we ever give the HGH guys a little recognition for their statistical records – or shall we simply leave them buried forever – anonymously together – in baseball’s own purgatory for lost souls?

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

Arguments For and Against the Sacrifice Bunt

May 9, 2017

Prologue to Deeper Thought in Shallow Waters

~ Or to Shallow Thought in Deeper Waters,

Dependent Upon the Egotistical Inclinations

Of Each Individual Thinker,

Regarding the Risk/Reward Value

Of the Sacrifice Bunt as a Game Strategy:

Rays DO it! – Cubs DO it!

Sometimes Even Astros Like Jose – DO it!

Should we DO it? – Should we use the Sac Bunt?

Arguments For and Against the Sacrifice Bunt.

What else among the large factors are we missing, if anything really big?

With a Runner on 1st and Nobody Out

For Bunting

  1. You greatly reduce the chances for a batted double play ball;
  2. You probably will move a runner into scoring position at 2nd base;
  3. You now have a two-outs-left chance to bring the runner home from scoring position; and,
  4. If either of the next two guys hits safely, you may be setting up a big scoring inning.

Against Bunting

  1. You are giving up the chance for 2 base runners or an extra base RBI with no outs;
  2. If your best or hottest hitter is next up, you simply don’t give him up to a bunt attempt;
  3. If the bunt works, the pitcher will be facing two of your worst hitters with only 2 outs left open.

With Runners on 1st and 2nd and Nobody Out

For Bunting

  1. To add momentum to scoring pressure with 2 runners now in scoring position and only 1 out;
  2. To avoid the DP that would kill the momentum for a multiple-run scoring opportunity;
  3. If successful, it will force the other manager to think more now about whose pitching and defense; and,
  4. Runners on 2nd and 3rd and only 1 out bring out the “rabbit-ear” thoughts in many pitchers.

Against Bunting

  1. Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, or Babe Ruth is at the plate;
  2. Bunting won’t help you make your “Big Bad Wolf” statement against a particular team;
  3. Sometimes a manager doesn’t use the sacrifice bunt for a long time just to create the impression that he doesn’t really understand that aspect of offensive baseball strategy. Then he uses it in the bottom of the 9th to help win the 7th Game in a future World Series.

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Some 2017 Astros Imagery

May 8, 2017

CARROT TOP

Dye the face as orange as the jersey. Then, when the cap comes off, dye the reaching-high, dangling low hair as green as any buried plant stalk you’ve ever seen. Then allow that image to ramble around in the associative symbolic memory region of your brain for a little while. The imagery will hit home without further assistance, if it hasn’t landed already done so on its own.

“CARROT TOP!”
Yulie Gurriel looks like an ordinary mature MLB player until his cap flies off. Then – dramatically – he instantly becomes …..”

PUERTO RICO TO VENEZUELA TO CUBA

Baseball’s 2017 Sad Lexicon
These are the saddest of possible words:
“Correa to Altuve to Gurriel.”
Trio of Latin bubs, and fleeter than Flamingos,
Carlos and Jose and Yulie.
Ruthlessly pulling out facial hair stubble;
Making a Ranger hit into a double
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Puerto Rico to Venezuela to Cuba!”

__________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Some Sunday Night Game Smoke

May 8, 2017

Bill McCurdy and Jimmy Wynn
~ From the deepest row of Keuchel’s Corner. – Lapping up the 2017 fun from Opening Day One!

 

Some Sunday Night Game Smoke

No Real Smoking Please

Just to set the record straight. My “Sunday Night Game Smoke” these days is all mental fodder for the mind. As one of the rare fortunates who got away from inhaled nicotine addiction several years ago, so far, I’m a survivor with great empathy for anyone else out there still living in my generation with a biochemical  craving worse than that of heroin. My “Sunday Night Game Smoke” enjoyment today is simply modeled upon how my growing addiction to the idea that our Astros are the best team in baseball – and that we may be headed deeper into s season in which that old Tony Bennett number, “The Best is Yet To Come”, simply grows louder and lasts longer as the 2017 Houston Astros theme song.

Out of – the Tree – of Life

Jose – stuck out his thumb!

 Banged out – a 3-run bomb,

And things started – to hum!

 Stros on the way – to win

The Best Was Here – To Come!

Question: What’s the Answer to a 3-Man Dead Spot at the bottom of a batting order?

Answer: Don’t have one. – How? See Brian McCann, Nori Aoki, and a few others who fit well as hole-in-the-boat hitters that will keep that old bottom-feeder spot as alive and productive as the rest of the lineup.

The Fiers Home Run Curse

Of course, if any of us really had the bottom line answer to that one, we might have been invited to LA this passing weekend to spend some time with Astros starter Mike Fiers. The worst thing that can happen to a pitcher on any pitch (other than being struck in the face by the pitch that could not survive its ride through “the arc of force” that potentially awaits almost all pitches to the plate) is the crushing home run.

Sometimes an outbreak of home runs off one pitcher are like a strange case of diarrhea. You know the guy throwing the bombs, at least, has a bug of some kind, and that, even though it may be hard to diagnose, the hope remains that it will go away in time. Or maybe it is something mechanical that can be spotted by an expert and corrected.

But sometimes. – Just when you think it’s now gone. – WHOOPS! – It happens again.

Once the normal viral period expires – now the work turns earnest in the search for mechanical corrections. If found, hope for the problem being solved now soars. If not, the weight shifts to the risk-reward question that is never too far away. Is this guy going to be of any help to us at the rate he now gives up the long ball?

If not, over time – and sometimes over not too much time – it will become time to say goodbye to any pitcher with a serious, mysterious ongoing WHOOPS problem.

Astros Have Answer to “Play ’em Were They hit” defenses.

The “Play ’em Were They Hit” defense has become the 2017 answer to many club offenses, but that doesn’t seem to work well on most players in the Houston offense. Brian McCann jumps immediately to mind, but he is not alone among the guys who can “hit ’em where they ain’t” to every field. I would love to see a player-by-player hitting chart on where the hits are falling for all of our Astros regulars in support of this notion. My perception isn’t graphed. It’s just how it feels of late.

The Future of Jose Altuve

Two related questions:

(1) How hard is it going to be to sign Jose Altuve to a contract extension with Scott Boros as his agent?

(2) How hard is it going to be o sign Jose Altuve to a contract extension if we wait until he wins a 3rd AL batting title?

Who knows?

Who knows, we may be simply getting lost in our own Sunday Night Astros Baseball Smoke! All I really know tonight is – that 21-11 and 1st place feels pretty good when it also comes with a 5.5 lead game over the 2nd place Angels in the AL West.

___________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

Shrine of Eternals Picks Three

May 7, 2017

the-baseball-reliquary-large copy

Shrine of Eternals Picks Three

In an announcement dated May 3, 2017, the Board of Directors of The Baseball Reliquary has announced that their membership has selected a class of three electees for induction into their “Shrine of Eternals” on Sunday, July 16, 2017, in a public ceremony at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California.

As Executive Director Terry Cannon explains, the Shrine of the Eternals is the Baseball Reliquary’s equivalent to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Of the 50 eligible candidates on the 2017 ballot, Vin Scully was the top vote-getting electee with a 59.5% appearance on all returned ballots. Bob Uecker was second with 37% and lovable cartoon character Charlie Brown was third – just barely above the 25% minimum qualifying line with a sweet reading of 25.5%.

Runner-ups in this year’s election included Leo Durocher (24.8%), Bob Costas (23.5%), Octavius V. Catto (23%) and Effa Manley (23%).

Further down the list of those not selected were former Astros J.R. Richard (22%), Rusty Staub (15%), and Joe Pepitone (12%) – and Country & Western singer/ballplayer Charlie Pride (12%).  For further information on the event and for their help making your travel plans to the induction this coming July, please go to the Baseball Reliquary site for further information.

Contact: Terry Cannon, Executive Director, The Baseball Reliquary

Phone: (626) 791-7647

E-Mail: terymar@earthlink.net

Website: www.baseballreliquary.org

___________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Last Night’s Astro Counter Rally

May 6, 2017

“You can’t – always get – what you want!”
….even Albert Pujols knows the money lyrics to this old hit song.

 

Disappointment – Then Joy Restored.

It was the bottom of the 9th in Anaheim. The Astros has just blown a 6-2 lead over the Angels and were clinging to a 6-5 margin with Halo runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs. ROOTS commentator Geoff Blum had just uttered a variation on the old “baseball’s a crazy game” when the next LA batter whacked a playable, but twisting bouncer to 3rd baseman Marwin Gonzalez as he crosses over backhanded to make the effort.

BOING!

The ball bounces out of Marwin’s glove. The batter will be safe at 1st. The runner from 3rd will be safe at home to tie the game. The runner from 2nd will be safe at 3rd before Gonzalez gets the ball to make the only play possible – and it’s too late.

Ken Giles gets the next guy to save us for “extras”, but that old “wind-out-of-our-sails” deflation is trying to kick in. Can we still win this game?

Yes! Of course!

This is 2017!

In the top of the 1oth, a lead off single and a quick stolen base by Jose Altuve are the set up. Then Carlos Correa drives a forceful single to right that plates Altuve for another Astros lead at 7-6. This one will hold as Chris Devenski comes on to save the 7-6 counter-rally win for Ken Giles and the Houston Astros.

One Very Enjoyable Pitch.

Loved it. When Ken Giles struck out Albert Pujols  swinging in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded and two outs while the Angels were still trailing, some of us simply enjoyed watching him slump back to the bench in a state of controlled frustration over his failure this time to once more launch “the bomb of all bombs.” – Come on, man! You can’t have it your way every time, can you?

Climb, Mr. Beltran, Climb!

You are doing some stuff right, this year, Mr. Beltran. Otherwise, MLB.com writer Brian McTaggart wouldn’t be keeping such close tabs on your numbers in the career doubles and extra base hits department. Check him out:

http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article/228649536/carlos-beltran-passes-rose-in-extra-base-hits/

My Decades Old Problem with the Winning Pitcher “W” Award

In last night’s first game of the weekend Astros@Angels series, Dallas Keuchel pitched great through eight, but lost his control of the game. Enter Ken Giles, who couldn’t save Keuchel, but did save the Astros from defeat in nine innings. Then the Astros scored one run to regain the lead in the top of the 10th and pitcher Chris Devenski came on in the bottom of the 1oth to save the game for the “W” awarded second pitcher Ken Giles – even though he – Giles – could not save the game for Keuchel.

How about assigning the “Win” to Keuchel for his 8 innings of effective work? Handing a “Blown Save” to Giles for losing the lead that would have closed the game as an Astros win in 9 innings? And a “Save” to Devenski for saving the win for Keuchel and the game for the Astros?

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle