At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

WORKING THE PLATE with Eric Gregg

Posted by athomeatfenway on April 16, 2014

Eric Gregg

Here’s a great quick read by a man who conjured smiles.

Working The Plate by Eric Gregg with Marty Appel. 1990, Morrow.

Almost any Umpire autobiography is likely to be interesting. They have much in common with the ballplayers. Travel. Teammates. The uncanny ability to block out distraction. And they have daily exposure to rookies, journeymen, superstars, and — major league managers.

There is plenty of inside stuff to share, and Mr. Gregg does it well. Even better, this is Gregg’s story of success in spite of growing up in a West Philly family that lost 2 children to drugs and street crime, and a third who became a career criminal.

Now how could a guy as sweet as the 350 pound Gregg come from a place like that?

Gregg had charisma, my friends. Gregg was magnetic. He charmed and scuffled his way into Barney Dreary’s Florida umpire School as a kid. He moved through the minors in record time and began his MLB run at age 24. His personality brought him more than his share of commercials and PR jobs. Gregg was a winner.

His on field resume includes historic games including the first night game at Wrigley, 2 Perfectos, the 1986 All Star Game., the historic Reds-Mets brawl, and the 1989 World Series Earthquake game.

One of my favorite passages in this book is when Gregg pays homage to Jackie Robinson, writing that all black men in the Game, himself included, owe Jackie a debt of gratitude. Further, Gregg expands on how the NL was years ahead of the AL when it came to signing blacks. He observes that of the 16 black HOF’ers (as of 1990), only Satchel Paige was signed by an American League Club. “The others all began in the National League – Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Roberto Clemente, Monte Irvin, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Bob Gibson, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Juan Marichal, Lou Brock, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Joe Morgan and Billy Williams.”

I would add that the American League’s failure to ink African Americans in the ‘50’s helped (at least in part) to make the National League the superior circuit in 18 of 19 All Star Games between ’63 and ’82.

In another favorite part of Mr. Gregg’s book he described Jose Canseco as a big guy, and so talented that he would likely dominate the next decade.

Might have happened had Jose’s muscles been as natural as Gregg’s girth.

Never intending to leave the Game, Gregg voluntarily resigned in ’99.

At the behest of his union, Gregg was one of 22 Umps that tendered their resignations to leverage a negotiation and were shocked when the MLB accepted. That occurred 9 years after Working The Plate was published.

Clearly, Eric Gregg loved the Game, was part of the Game, and could never really leave the Game.

Bud Selig refused to reinstate Gregg even after 25 Members of Congress requested his reinstatement. That says something about MLB’s resolve to drop the unhealthy big man, whose weight approached 400 pounds frequently.

Oh yes, this book captures the moment when he umpired 3rd base and a hero sandwich had been anonymously left atop that sack for him.

And then there was the time that a player entertained the crowd at one of Eric’s games by stuffing pillows into his uniform and making out and safe calls at second base.

Good times.

Many fans will chuckle at the mention of Eric Gregg.

They are thinking of the big, fat guy who somehow umpired in the bigs for 22 seasons.

As is usually the case, if you know the man at all you have more respect than that.

He was a talented Umpire and a devoted family man.

He did not undervalue all the good things that life brought to him.

Mr. Gregg passed at age 55 after a stroke in 2006. He left behind a wife and 4 children.

Rest in Peace, Eric Gregg.

Thanks for representing Philly and adding some style to the Game.

Go Sox. And Happy Jackie Robinson Day to you.

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5 things to like about the Red Sox & this season, part 1.

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 19, 2014

Winning breeds much happiness, but it no longer sells all the tickets.

Winning breeds much happiness, but it no longer sells all the tickets.

TED AND PEDEY. Baseball fans know that Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941 and no one has done it since. A less known fact is that Ted suffered a wrist injury in spring training that year. The injury may have caused Ted to dial down his plate aggressiveness, the result being improved selectivity and batting immortality.

Dustin Pedroia returns to Fenway this season after successful surgery to repair the thumb tendon he ripped when sliding into first base in Yankee Stadium on opening day , 2013. 2014 will be Pedey’s age 30 season. 1941 was Ted’s age 22 season, an incredible fact by itself.

The two men are dissimilar in many more ways. Ted was from SoCal. Pedey is from NoCal. Pedey had 2 caring involved parents, one of them the amateur tennis champion of Cali, and Ted had a difficult upbringing by an absentee Mom. So on and so forth.

But this may be the year Pedey dials it down as did Ted. Like a great actor playing all of his scenes at the height of his intelligence, we may get Dustin’s best this year. He is capable of a .350, 20, 120, with 100 runs and 30 SB’s, and that spells M-V-P #2.

Watch out for Pedey. This may be his under-the-radar bounce back season.

THE SLIPPERY ONE ? Perhaps. I watched the NESN game cast on March 9 and saw a gentleman of Hispanic heritage picthing for the Sox, baffling Pittsburgh batters. His fastball came in on a slight drop, belt high, and then moved with a pronounced wiggle before it reached the batter. Could there have been a foreign substance on the ball? He repeated the pitch several times while trimming the Bucs. I only caught one inning and do not remember his name but after checking the box score I see it may have been Dionis/Daniel Hinojosa, or more likely, 38 year old Francisco Cordero. The same Codero with the 329 career saves. The Sox are wondering if Cordero can regain his old form, a la Grady Sizemore.

Big Ben is no doubt dreaming of the 49 Saves and a 2.13 ERA Mr. Cordero recorded for Texas in 2004.

Would a 38 year old has-been who hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2012 (with a 19.80 ERA) pull a Gaylord Perry?

In a heartbeat.

INCREASED AVAILABILITY OF TICKETS. Gone are the days when the Sox sold every ticket offered including all Sox Packs at Christmas At Fenway in December. Gone are the days when there was a waiting list for group tickets. Step right up if you need 20 ducats or more to a single game.

Want Green Monster tickets on Opening Day? No problem. Tickets on the Monsta are available for $100 standing room and $700 in the first row. And they are available for much less on non-premium game dates. The new dynamic pricing for Monster Seats is a genius idea….and simultaneously ugly. But the point is that there was a time when these GM ticks would have been snapped up.

The Sox are being increasingly creative to monetize tickets. They need to be creative.

I believe tickets will be available at reduced prices later this year because after many fans walked away in 2012, not all of them walked back last year.

And that is going to be good for you and I, my friends.

FENWAY FOR 30 MORE YEARS. Someday the love affair will end but John Henry says the grand old park can remain playable until about 2044. If that comes to pass, my children and my children’s children should thank Osborne Engineering, the original architect, and the Henry/Werner/Lucchino group. The former designed a cutting edge (for 1912) property that was conceived for a second deck expansion, making the base sturdy enough to take 100 years of use. The latter have invested upwards of $150 million to conserve our home away from home.

The oldest current ballpark is Fenway, built in 1912. The next oldest is Wrigley, built in 1914. Third in line is Dodger Stadium….1962.

Let’s count our blessings.

THE YANKEES ARE SET UP TO FAIL. Have you noticed a chippy attitude from Yankee fans of late? I have. You see, the followers of the twisted cross believe their team has reloaded and is ready for championship #28. And they have reloaded. They have improved at catcher, center field, right field, and starting pitcher. But two problems remain. First, the Yankees lack depth — on the bench and in the bush leagues. Second, they are following a first ballot HOF closer with a dude who has never closed as a professional. The Yankees may certainly jump to 95 wins this season. But if Dave Roberts cannot follow Mariano Rivera effectively, they may very well finish out of the post season again.

How delicious that would be.

Go Sox.

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Marty Barrett is still a winner

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 13, 2014

Read the rest of this entry »

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Sorting out the Red Sox, vol. 1

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 9, 2014

Grady

The last time Brad Penny posted a 15.75 ERA he rebounded, becoming a World Champion with the Marlins.  Once again, 15.75 is his ERA, this time in Spring Training for the Royals, who released him today.  Brad was a subpar starter for Detroit in 2011.  He had a 6.11 ERA as a reliever in 2012 for San Fran, the same year he flamed out with the Fukuoka Hawks after one outing.  He got engaged to (another) dancer and got married in 2013, a year in which he did not pitch professionally.  He will be 36 in May and hasn’t delivered good value on a contract since 2010.   It might be time for the fun loving wide load to sit ringside at UFC bouts full time.  He made $50,000,000 in 13 MLB campaigns.  He can afford to retire.

For Sox fans, Brad was to 2009 what Paul Byrd was to 2008 and what John Burkett was to 2003.  He was a gift in the 5 hole. 

Farewell and bon voyage, big man.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia will make $21 million over the next 3 seasons.  He must be feeling giddy.  He donned Jose Fernandez’s purple pants and uniform jersey for team warm ups, just for laughs. 21 million is $13 million more than he made in total during his first 5 years in MLB.  Yes, winning a Championship was berry, berry good for Salty. 

Expect him to go .246, 18 & 60 while catching 120 games per season for the Marlins.  Hopefully, he will improve at stopping pitches that are truly wild, and pitches that are just a little bit wild.  His lack of range behind the plate is what put him on the bench and David Ross in the starting role for the post season. 

Best of luck, Salty.  You deserve the paycheck.  We’ll catch you on the highlight reels.

Leah Hextall.  Sarah Davis.  Can’t NESN get some intelligent, great looking female on air talent that was born before 1980?

I’ll get over Jacoby Ellsbury becoming a Yankee.  But could he look a little less happy as he poses in pinstripes for the camera?  God, Jacoby.

Jake Peavy cut his finger and can’t catch the ball.  Buchholz needs to prove he can stay healthy and start more than 15 games.  Jon Lester is auditioning for a 6 year, $100 million dollar contract elsewhere.  Ryan Dempster is with his family, as he should be.  Felix isn’t fat and Lackey is our best returning starter.  I’m glad the rotation is all set.  (Not.)

Bryce Brentz, the 26 year old outfielder, has 3 HR’s in 7 games this March.  He leads the Sox in hits, runs, rbi and slugging.  But when it comes to being the next Daniel Nava (spare outfielder), Mr. Brentz doesn’t stand a chance.  Not against the born again Grady Sizemore, a.k.a. the human lottery ticket.  Nick Carfado gave Sizemore passing grades on all the early tests and the Sox are drooling.  4 years ago Sizemore could drive in 90 runs, steal 25 bases and score 100 times a season.  He garnered MVP votes in 4 seasons and owns one Gold Glove.   Brentz is competing against what Sizemore used to be.  And the delicious possibility that he can become great again.

Go Sox.

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The best Red Sox shortstop on roster is……Pedroia!

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 6, 2014

Pedey fields!

I admit to being a pathetic Red Sox fan who had a difficult moment this morning. 

Hartford Courant Sports Editor, Jeff Otterbein, gave us about 1200 words in today’s paper to describe the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry.  He focused on 1978 to 2004.

I felt the dull twinge of 1978, the soul snuffing crush of 2003, and the overwhelming release of pain from 2004, all rushing to my brain in a teary surge.

I have this dead spot in my brain.  Only the Red Sox exist within it.  Inside this inner zone the sun is always shining, I am sitting behind the plate with my Mom and siblings and it is 1968.  This place is my second childhood home.

I am incapable of having a team other than my Sox fill my primary fan allegiance.  Sometimes I slip up in speech, meaning to say “UConn Huskies” and out comes “Red Sox”.  Or I go for my home town or high school team with the same result.  I have a Red Sox speech impediment.  Truly.

A 57 year old should be moved by much more serious subjects than the NYY-Boston saga.  But…..it’s very real for me.  And there is no doubt that I am not alone in my vulnerability.

THERE IS HOPE AGAIN

As we count down the days until March 31, there is hope.  Hope for a 4th title to salve a  long & difficult fan history.  There is hope that this team can win 97 games again.  

Uehara is the biggest variable. If Koji cannot present a decent facsimile of his 2013 performance than the Sox are in trouble.  He looks good at the moment.

 I am not too worried about the starters or the middle relievers.  The absence of Ellsbury stings but the defense will be good and the offense will be almost as good as last year, I expect.

 It is concerning that Stephen Drew is gone.  He cleaned up messes for every Sox starting pitcher all year.  With SD gone, the best SS on the team is stationed (with 3 Gold Gloves) at second base.  Mr. Pedroia, the high school and college shortstop, could adapt to the 6 position quickly.  I expect he’d stun the baseball world at shortstop.  But he’s too small.  Too slow.  His arm might not be strong enough. (A High School Q.B.) All the stuff they have been saying about him since he was 8.  What bullshit.

 Xander Boegarts could hit a lightening bug over the CF wall.  He is an offensive dynamo with a laser quick bat.  He’s also a lot better 3rd baseman than he is a SS.

 Will Middlebrooks is a “7″ with the glove at 3rd base.  But he might hit 30 HR.  That is why Stephen Drew is gone and Boegarts is at short.

 Among the possible outcomes is that the left side of the infield blows a few games and the improved infield offense wins a few.  In the balance of those games, they play .500 ball and fail to gain ground on an improved Yankee, Oriole or Ray team.  Not to mention a Blue Jay team that should be healthier.

I hope Mr. Cherrington guesses correctly.  I hope Middlebrooks stays healthy and fields his position adequately.  I hope Boegarts gets better with the glove in a hurry.

I hope the  Sox someday learn the value of a smooth fielding SS.

I am hoping.  Again.

4 in my L-I-F-E-T-I-M-E.

Here’s hoping.

Go Sox.

Posted in Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, RED SOX | Leave a Comment »

Fenway Sleeps. Bring the Memories.

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 4, 2013

1

The snow isn’t on the Fenway infield quite yet but I am already thinking about what this season has been and has meant.

In late March, my cerebral friend and über Sox fan, Marc Wise, predicted about 75 wins for a very broken team coming off the sarcastic rule of Valentine.  Late in game 6 of the just concluded World Series, Marc tucked his new baby boy into his crib and sat back down to watch his team close out the Cardinals for the  championship.  Marc is rich indeed.

On April 1, when the Sox opened the season in the Bronx, I took the Metro North train from New Haven to new Yankee Stadium.  It was supposed to be an easy, streamlined in-and-out of NYC trip.  But it is still a cold, dirty amble to an overbuilt, impersonal concrete slab of a ballpark.  Greed rules.  The historic bones of a baseball shrine have been scattered.  Thank God we still have Fenway and Wrigley.

Speaking of opening day, Dustin Pedroia tore a thumb tendon sliding head first into 1st base that day.  He played injured all year.  He managed to register  .301, 9, 84, with 91 runs scored, playing in 160 games and leading the AL with 724 plate appearances…and won his second gold glove.  I pray that the little man stays healthy another 7 or 8 years.  Then we’ll see about Cooperstown.

The 2013 team threw dirt on the grave of the 2011 team and its legendary, gut wrenching collapse.  Beneath the surface of that soil lies the sadness surrounding Terry Francona’s departure and the bitter bile of Bobby Valentine’s hubris.  All is forgiven now.  I wish Tito good luck, and the same to Valentine’s bosses at Sacred Heart University.

Speaking of Valentine, how many revisions do you think his tell-all book has undergone ?  March 1 Draft Title: ” It wasn’t me; the Sox really suck!”. July 1 Draft Title:  “Even the Titanic started out well!”, and the Final Draft: ” I would have won it all if Cherrington had gotten me these guys!”

I was at Fenway on Opening Day, when Buchholz was brilliant and Daniel Nava, the player nobody wanted, hit a 3 run HR in the 7th to post a 3-1 win.

I was there on Patriots Day, when Napoli’s 9th inning wall ball double won it, 3-2, 90 or so minutes before two twisted boys detonated bombs near the finish line of the Marathon.  The T ride out of the city was somber.  Strangers looked each in the eyes and talked softly about what needed to be done.

David Ortiz’s unfortunate F Bomb on April 16 before the Fenway crowd, and a seemingly total lack of disapproval for it.

The leaving of Jose Iglesias, whose speed and fielding I adored.   The coming of  Xander Boegarts, who I saw hit a laser out of Hadlock Field in 2011, and who wears the “next great” tag.

The hard-to-watch on-camera awkwardness of Erin Andrews on the World Series broadcasts on Fox.  Heidi Watney is tip top and Rachel Nichols is almost as good as Heidi as an on-field reporter.  Andrews’ queerish self-awareness and odd interview questions make her a square peg in a round hole.  I can’t believe Fox prefers her to the others.

Fox broadcasters made a shallow & disconnected attempt to get a charge out of this championship being the first won in Boston since 1918.  It was an attempt to recall and reignite the emotional relief New England felt in 2004 when an 86 year drought ended.  It wasn’t the same.  It was poorly scripted.

The presence of Jonny Gomes, John Lester and others in Gillette Stadium for the Nov. 3 Pats vs. Steelers game was a master stroke, as was the observance at the Marathon finish line made the day before by the parading duck boats.

Fair thee well, Jacoby and Salty.  I’ll be rooting for you unless you put on pinstripes.

Congrats, Ben Cherrington.  Perhaps it was you who worked the magic that Theo got credit for in 2007.

Thanks again Larry.  I owe you.  Three times now.

Go Sox.

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The Papi Slam +1: These guys are human

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 18, 2013

UntitledI am going to make a strong effort to remember that MLB players are just people.   I saw something the other day that made me decide this.

The Papi Slam and victory in ALCS game 2 were rarified highs.  After the game I slept smiling ear-to-ear in a hotel 6 blocks from Fenway.  I snoozed  in a bed of dreams that made all my championship wishes seem possible.

The next morning I decided to walk past the new Yaz statue on Van Ness Street outside Fenway.  It was beautiful and sunny.  Yaz looked great.  So did his bronzed colleagues Ted, Johnny, Bobby and Dom.

There were busses lined up near the corner of Van Ness & Fenway, some labeled Player Bus 1, Player Bus 2, Staff Bus 1, etc..

It was approaching 10 a.m..  Looked like the team would soon be showing up to bus it to Logan, then fly to Motown for Game 3.

I stood with a flock of camera men and TV reporters behind a barrier near the first bus.  Before long, Fenway security placed another barrier behind us ensconcing me and the news folk in a media bullpen between the busses and the players entrance.

The fun soon started.  20 fans lined up in less proximate positions.  Everyone strained to identify the players in street clothes.  Easier said than done when trying to ID a part time player with one of many bushy beards.

Don Orsillo, NESN & MLB talent passed the gauntlet and received warm greetings.  Don drives a 2005 Volvo S60 just like my wife. 

Joe Castiglione walked through, sadly unrecognized by everyone but me, and that only at the last moment.

John Lackey, on foot, strode quickly into the ballpark , mute and surly.  He ignored my call of Go get ‘em, Johnny boy”.

Buchholz soon entered and like Lackey maintained a frozen façade that my Go Get ‘Em quips couldn’t break.

Shane Victorino came through and he too played the Ice King.

I decided to take a different approach with these young millionaires.

Jacoby Ellsbury, toting a drag bag and tailed by a red coated brunette, came briskly through the partition with eyes fixed straight ahead.  “Hey, Ells, GREAT GAME last night!”, I shouted.  Ellsbury looked squarely at me.  He face relaxed and broke into a beautiful smile.  “Thank you.”, he nodded, exuding joy and pride.  Don’t think for a minute that being gifted, young and rich makes you immune to the intoxication of making baseball history.

Pedroia soon scooted through.  “Great Game, Pedey!”, I yelled.  The Boston player with the biggest heart turned to me with a great big smile and said, “Thanks, man.”  He was really feeling it.

PedeyNo question about it.  When your team almost gets no-hit on Saturday, gets no-hit for 6 IP’s and down by 4 runs in the 8th on Sunday, and then pulls it out with 5 runs in the 8th and 9th to avoid going into a 2 games to 0 hole, you feel like your crew is writing one dramatic story.

The exposition goes back to Sept., 2011.  The Sox went 7-17 and were eliminated from the playoffs on the last day, frittering away a 9 game wild card lead.  Francona exited in shame.  Theo hauled ass to Chicago.  Valentine brought his special sarcasm to the mix.  A super storm of injuries hit the team and they went 69 – 93 in 2012.

Picked to finish 4th, these Sox have already written a terrific story with a 97 – 65 WL record.  Even their most loyal fans predicted  75 wins. 

This group of gritty Sox ground out a fairy tale turn around.

Dangling from the ledge of near-elimination on Sunday, they pulled out another crazy comeback.

It’s dramatic.  It will be talked about for decades.  The players know this.

More players arrived.  More softened and responded when praised for the great turn-around the prior evening.

Even the News people noticed and started to yell Great Game.

The scene took a turn for the worse when Jonny Gomes drove up in his uber truck, a big black behemoth with a dozen manufacturer decals.  Jonny’s wife popped out of the passenger side as Jonny rounded the front to her side.

“Why are you taking pictures of my wife?”, Jonny shouted at a TV reporter who had been tweeting photos of the arriving players.

Jonny Gomes, looking not at all chubby as he can look in his baggy uniform, stood ram rod straight, a stack of muscle and fuming testosterone, glaring at the reporter.

“I…..I was absolutely NOT shooting your wife.”, the newsman stammered.

“YES, YOU WERE!”, the outfielder said as he took 3 menacing steps toward the man.

“No, no.  I wasn’t.”, he offered, humbly and softly.

“100%!”, Gomes yelled, indicating his level of confidence that the reporter was a lying dirtbag.

“No, no…..here, look at the camera, look at my shots.  Your wife is not in them.”

For one stone silent moment Gomes stared at the scribe, seeming to weigh whether or not to pummel him.  Then Jonny Gomes picked up a baby carrier from his back seat, a wee one tucked inside, and walked silently away.

I later chatted with the reporter, congratulating him on getting Gomes to talk.  The tension gone, he offered to show me his photos to prove his innocence.  Still later, when I asked for copies of his shots, he mentioned he was also taking photos with his personal I Phone. 

Gomes may have been right.  Or maybe not.  But I’d like to think it was a simple misunderstanding.

One thing is for certain.  These players are human.  They soar with historic victory, and they bristle when they think that someone they love might be used.

They’re just folks.  I’ll remember that.

As always, I’ll be rooting for the Sox.  And I’ll be thinking about the people on that team.

Go Sox.

Gomes

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury | Leave a Comment »

A PODGE OF HODGES, CUBBIES & MARIANO

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 12, 2013

 Hodges Mariano pic

Some observations from my baseball life today…..

Today, Mariano Rivera gave up a game tying HR in the 9th to the devastating Miguel Cabrera.  In so doing, he blew his 3rd save in 3 consecutive opportunities.  That had never happened in Mariano’s 19 year career. 

This inspired me to look at Mariano’s game logs on BBRef so I could savor his greatness but then I thought why waste my time.  The game logs will only show he was the perfect closer, totally unique and unimproveable.  It’s a good thing for Yankee fans that Big Stein was banned while Gene Michael assembled the Core 4 back in the day.  As Pete Golenbock wrote in his 2009 book on The Boss, “Another trade that George ordered that Michael refused to make was twenty-one year old Mariano Rivera for veteran free spirit David Wells.  When Michael saw that Rivera was throwing 94 miles per hour, all talks were off.”

Boy.  Without Mariano, the Yankees might be shooting for championship #24 these days.  He’s a true great and he could blow his next 10 saves without diminishing his luster.

Rivera, you would have looked great in a Boston uni.

Xxxxxxxxx

Larry Colton, author of a baseball and Civil Rights book (Southern League) was on Book TV today.  Colton has written a number of books but he was also a bonafide pro player in his youth, mainly in the minors.  He did however appear in one game for the Phillies in which he struck out 2 in 2 IP.  He K’d Vada Pinson and George Culver on May 8, 1968 as his Phil’s lost to the Reds 10 – 1. 

Colton’s cup of joe came after 3 years of apprenticeship in Eugene, Macon and with the old San Diego Padres of the PCL. 

Culver, his first victim, was a righty reliever who batted .124 lifetime.    Not too memorable. 

Pinson, however, was a 4x All Star, a lifetime .286 hitter who batted over .300 four times.  He led the NL in 4 key hitting categories 7 x:  Runs (1), hits (2),  doubles (2), and triples (2).

How happy is the memory of K’ing Pinson for the 71 year old Colton?  I wanted to know.   Turns out, Colton was happy just to not screw the pooch and lose his composure as he debuted against the likes of  Johnny Bench (ground out), Pete Rose (double) and Tony Perez (double).  Colton is a fine writer and you can read his blog post about his one and only game in the bigs with this link:

http://www.larrycolton.com/1992/03/13/my-first-game-a-goat-brothers-excerpt/

Xxxxxxxxx

Is it my imagination or is the unpopularity of the Cubs on a never ending downswing ?  Vintage  Cub publications from the 50′s and 60′s seem to be offered on eBay at 70% off and go unsold week after week after week.  And their local broadcasts ratings in Chicagoland are off 15% from one year ago, drawing half the audience that Bulls games get and one-third the audience that Black Hawk games enjoy.  Oddly, the Cubs are 52- 64 today,  certainly better than the 46 – 70 mark they were at one year ago.  (I’d mention how their attendance is also off but so is everyone else’s this year.)

Xxxxxxxxx

Should Gil Hodges be in the HOF ?  Some folks really care about this subject. 

Hodges was a wonderful player on a mythical team, a perennial contender, the Brooklyn Dodgers of 1947 to 1957.  He hit 370 homeruns, was probably the best fielding first baseman of his era, and he was a very, very good hitter for 7 years.

As a manager, he led the Mets from  worst to first, flipping the oddsmakers on their heads in 1969 before he was taken suddenly by a heart attack in 1973, a middle aged man gone far too early.

Unfortunately for Hodges supporters, he wasn’t great in his own time and thus isn’t a HOFer.  Hodges  never led the NL in a key offensive category like average, OBP, Hits, Walks, doubles, triples, stolen bases, runs scored or RBI. Not even once.

He did lead the league in striking out once, sacrifice hits twice, and games played twice. 

Sorry, Hodges supporters.

Go Sox.

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Back, back, back with George Scott

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 30, 2013

boomer

Boomer.

The two things I remember first about George Scott was how smooth he was for a big man when fielding his position……and how much trouble I had understanding the Greenville, MS native when he spoke.

At this moment I am thinking of George Scott and I smell Fenway Franks and coconut oil.  The skin on my forehead is heating up from the sun and my legs are burning in my blue wooden seat in grandstand 8.  

I have a little belly and no fear of dying.  It is 1970.  “American Woman” is playing somewhere and a large black man deftly takes ground balls at first base.  

His grace defies his bulky build.  Inside that 235 pound frame there is a platinum timing chain.  He body and mind are perfectly synchronized.  I cannot believe how effortlessly he moves his weight, grabbing, pivoting and dashing to the bag.

He is unmitigated grace.

Except when he speaks.

When asked about a 3rd world nation that at the time suffered a famine, he was asked “What about Biafra?”.  He answered:  “I don’t know da muddafuka, but when I face him, I will hit a tater.”

Straight faced.  Straight up.  That was Boomer.

And now we say farewell.

The 3x All Star, 8x Gold Glover, home run & RBI champion will forever be

remembered by Sox fans as a valuable part of the ’67 Pennant winners and the

1977 Sox that smashed 32 home runs in 22 games.

He won a minor league Triple Crown.  He wore the Golden Sombrero, striking out 5x in his  MLB debut.  

His 27 HR’s and 90 RBI as a Rookie placed him 4th in the 1966 ROY voting behind Tommy Agee, Jim Nash and Davey Johnson.  At the AS break that year, his stats were .271, 18 , 53.  So good that he started for the AL All Stars over Norm Cash.

He hit one ball so far off of Whitey Ford at Yankee Stadium that Mickey Mantle estimated the ball would have travelled 550 feet were it to have sailed unfettered.

By 1971′s end, Boomer had struck 115 home runs for the BoSox, and been called the best fielding first baseman since Gil Hodges.

He was a rock solid cog in the machine.  I looked forward to the next decade with him at first.

But on Oct. 10, 1971, he was the key man in a 6 player package that went to Milwaukee for Tommy Harper, Marty Pattin and Lew Krause.

In 1975, Brewer team mate Hank Aaron coached him on hitting in ways previously unknown to George. He subsequently posted his best offensive stats with .285, 36 and 109.

Mr. Scott later returned to the Sox for whom he hit another 49 home runs over less than 3 seasons.

He hit 154 HR’s for Boston and 271 total in his career.  He would have ranked 5th all-time in HR’s by a Red Sox player had he played his entire career in Beantown.

Injuries ended his career in 1979 but he went on to bat .335 and .350 in the Mexican League in the early 80′s.

He also managed and coached in the minors until 2002.

He leaves behind three sons: a realtor, a high school principal and an athlete.

Red Sox fans of a certain vintage will always remember you, big man.  You carried a stick of dynamite and a slick piece of leather.

Rest in Peace, Boomer.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, RED SOX | Leave a Comment »

The Yankee Depression of ’13

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 13, 2013

When will Suzyn get her Buffalo leashed?

When will Suzyn get her Buffalo leashed?

In this year when Suzyn Waldman and her trained buffalo are having trouble finding nice things to say about the Yankees I am having no difficulty finding the bad.

Waldman and her loudmouthed Yankee broadcast partner saw Ryan Doumit’s line leave Yankee Stadium.  “IT’S GONE!”, the Buffalo exclaimed.  “No doubt about it, it was a laser.  Two runs on two home runs for the Twins, and they lead the Yankees 2 – 1 here in the 6th.”

“And for this Yankee team, a team that cannot score, that’s bad.”, said Waldman. “ In the past, being down one run in the 6th you would say ‘who cares’, but not with this team.”

“So true”, said the Buffalo.

There was a pregnant silence.

“Well, even with the two homeruns given up by Hughes, he has pitched fantastically today.  I would have him pitch this way every time he makes a start!”, asserted the Buffalo.

“True.”, said Waldman.

Waldman and Buff are in the unusual position of having to dig deep to find something nice to say.

They are subdued and beaten.  They are in a dark mood, sounding like reprimanded adolescents.

There is a lot to be bummed out about.  

Jeter is on the DL again.  The everyday line-up is largely unrecognizable.  The 37-53 (4th place) Twins were out slugging the Yankees in the Bronx.

The Yankees were on a 3 game winning streak as they entered this game.  Good news, right ?  Well….not really.  Those 3 wins were preceded by 3 straight losses.  And those 3 losses were preceded by 6 straight wins – which were preceded by 5 straight losses.

That’s some ugly streaking.

It’s an ugly year in the Evil borough.  I am taking as much relish in these Yankees difficulties as I would in casting a ballot to block Herr Steinbrenner from entering the HOF.

There is so much to enjoy.

CC Sabathia lost his last start by a 3-1 score.  He threw a 113 pitch complete game against the Royals but the Yanks could not score for him.   Nice. 

Yankee fans are sticking a shiv in Joe Girardi’s back again, ignoring the fact that the former Yank catcher has the team 9 games over .500 despite the $90 million of Bomber payroll on the D.L.. 

“I don’t think Girardi is handling the pitchers well.  They should get rid of him.”, says Yankee fan Ray in the Credit Union.

I love it.

 

Even better, the Yankee line-up is a mess.

Cast your eyes around the Yankee infield and say hello to 4 All Stars:  Teixiera, Cano, Jeter and A Rod.  Whoa.  Hang on a second.  It’s Overbay, Cano, Nunez and Cruz.  I feel downright disoriented.

And do we have Ichiro, Granderson and Swisher in the outfield ?  No.  Swisher went to Cleveland and Grandy has a broken pinky.  So the Yankees have Almonte, Gardner and Suzuki chasing fly balls.

The catching is less than tip top.  The Bombers have Austin Romine behind the plate.  He is batting .162.  Russell Martin and Jorge Posada are long gone.

The Yanks can’t score.  They are inconsistent.   They start 5 guys with whom the casual fan is totally unfamiliar. Jeter is back on the DL after missing 90 games with a broken ankle.

And CC loses a gem.

I hope you are enjoying this baseball season as much as I am.

Go Sox.

Posted in BASEBALL, NEW YORK YANKEES, yankees | Leave a Comment »

 
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