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Archive for March, 2013

George Brett prefers Pine Tar to Hemorrhoids

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 26, 2013

Pt and P H

When July 24 arrives this summer with it should come 30th anniversary remembrances of the Pine Tar game.

Talk about a different world. 

George ruled the roost.  Billy was the skipper.  Berra, trim and bespectacled, coached at 1st base.  Don Zimmer’s corpulent form was poured into pinstripes as he stood in the 3rd base coach’s box.

These were the Yankees of Winfield, Nettles, Piniella and Rags.  They were destined to go 91 – 71 and finish 3rd, 7 games behind Baltimore and 6 behind the Kitty Kats.

These were the Royals of Brett, Wilson, White, U.L., Hal McRae and 44 year old Gaylord Perry in his final tour of duty.  KC would finish under .500 at 79 – 93, good for 2nd place and 20 games behind the Pale Hose.

Haven’t at least 34,000 different people told you that they were at the Pine Tar game?  Some of them were kidding.  33,944 was the official count.

It was a scrappy game played by two teams that had faced each other in the ALCS 4 times in 8 years.  With George holding a grudge that he hadn’t won all 4.

It was a scrappy game, as I said.

KC scratched out one run in the second on a Frank White ground out.  NYY answered with a Winfield solo shot in the bottom of the 2nd.  Frank White got his 2nd RBI in the 4th on a single.  White and Slaught hit back to back triples in the 6th for a 3 to 1 KC lead in the 6th.  Baylor tripled in Campaneris and Piniella, and then Winfield singled in Baylor all in the bottom of the 6th.  Yankees 4, Royals 3.

Thus, with the Yankees ahead by 1 run with 2 outs in the top of the 9th, George Brett did turn on a shoulder high fastball thrown dead  red from the hand of Rich Gossage and Mr. Brett did blister a high line drive that landed 10 rows deep in the sunny right field grandstand.  It was a laser.

Beautiful.  KC takes the lead.

Oh, but then Billy Martin acted on something 3rd baseman Graig Nettles told him before the game.  Nettles had told Billy that Thurman Munson had once been called out in a game for placing pine tar too far up his bat, and that Brett’s bat looked just like it.  Nettles suggested Martin use the rule against Brett should he hurt the Yanks with a big hit that day.

The rest is history.

It was a unique year for the Yankees.  They played .562 ball and finished 3rd.  Winfield killed a seagull in Toronto and was arrested.  Righetti no hit Boston but was converted to a closer.  Martin gets Brett called out on a technicality and gets reversed.

There were also some peculiarities to the Pine Tar TV broadcast.

Bill White and Frank Messer started the broadcast.  White was replaced by Rizzutto in the middle innings.  Bobby Murcer, who had been driven from the playing field to duty in the booth by George, took  Skooter’s place in the 6th and finished the game with Messer.

Early on, White asked Messer if he thought Lou Piniella would someday manage in the bigs.  Messer said, “No, he won’t manage.  Lou says he doesn’t want to stick around the game after he retires.”  Of course, Lou went on to manage for 23 seasons with the Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Rays and Cubs.

At another point, White comments on U.L. Washington’s cleats:  “U.L. is wearing New Balance baseball shoes.  You don’t see a lot of those.  They do make a fine sneaker, though.”  Today, Miguel Cabrera, CJ Wilson and Curtis Granderson are web-site poster boys for New Balance, a dominant brand.

Skooter had his Skooter moments, too.  When someone noted the misty weather conditions, he said it reminded him of that Johnny Mathis tune.  When Bert Campaneris got an infield single, Skooter exclaimed, “Campanella beats it out !  Hey, did I just say Campanella ?”  When a Bobby Murcer Day was mentioned, Skooter asked that somebody please give Murcer a solid gold spittoon for his Skoal shots on his day.

When Bud Black began to unravel somewhat in the 6th,  Messer observed that “This young man does not have a complete game in 11 starts this year….he may have a history of running out of gas.”  Maybe so.  He would go on to have 3 CG’s in ’83, far below Ron Guidry’s league leading 21.  It was a different world.  3 CG’s in 2012 would have been a top 5 performance in the A.L..

Wondrously, ironically, baby faced Don Mattingly, getting just his 100th career plate appearance in this game, prompted Bobby Murcer to say, “He’s a good defensive first baseman.  He likes it in Columbus (the minors) but he knows the majors are the place to be.”  Bobby did not recall that Mattingly had a .332 BA in 5 minor league seasons, I guess.  He had a glove….and a stick.

Credit Murcer with seeing the protest coming.  After Messer’s call of Brett’s pine tar home run….”Uh Oh!  Uh Oh! It’s gone !”, Murcer immediately explained that Martin was telling the umpires that Brett had broken a rule and could be called out, and he explained why.  Bobby was on the money.  And as it turns out, George Brett should have been called out.

Murcer concluded the broadcast saying, “You know, Frank, you and I may have been a part of history today.  I just talked to some people with 50 years in the game and they’ve never seen anything like this.”

Amen, Bobby Mucer.  May you rest in peace, brother.

Today, George Brett says he’s happy for the entire incident.  “Instead of being remembered as the guy with hemorrhoids in the 1980 World Series, I’m the guy with the pine tar bat.  I’ll take it.”

Go Sox.

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Around the bases: Tito, Tigers and Trials

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 7, 2013


The New Idiots

There is an interesting story by Albert Chen in the March 4 issue of Sports Illustrated about the new look Cleveland Indians.  Chen tags them the strangest, most fascinating camp in Arizona.

Nick Swisher twirls a baton, hugs groundskeepers and bubbles with enthusiasm in the outfield.  A former fireballing first-rounder named Scott Kazmir, now skinny and wan, seeks a roster spot.  Daisuke Matsuzaka, the 32 year old Japanese hurler who once elicited $103 Million from John Henry’s coffers, is present.  There is also Jason Giambi, the 42 –year-old former MVP who once had p.e.d.-related tumors removed from his privates.  There is Michael Bourne, the free agent speedster that should have been grabbed long before the Tribe got him.  And there is Mark Reynolds, a 1B/3B/DH man that could K 220 times, but might also deposit ball over fence 40 times.

And this is Terry Francona’s new team.  There he is, stuffed into an Indian uniform and smiling broadly on the SI contents page.

After going 68-94 last year, the Tribe could rise with Francona and a new bunch of idiots.

There will be a happy clubhouse.  There will be loosey goosey players hitting it, catching it, throwing it.

Go Tito.  Go Tribe.

Amen, Westmoreland.

Today comes the news from Paul Doyle @ The Hartford Courant that former Red Sox top prospect, Ryan Westmoreland, has retired at age 22.  He has twice had brain stem surgery to correct a cavernous malfunction and it has been determined that it is impossible for Ryan to continue his dream of a MLB career.  The kid was said to have a tremendous upside although fate only gave him 60 pro games at Lowell in 2009 (.296, 7, 35 with 15 doubles).   There is a good message in the following words from this young Rhode Islander for anyone who has taken a hit in life:

“I believe that there is a plan for me that will utilize my experiences, however painful some may have been, to do something special in my life. It is time for me to find that path, and to pursue it with the same focus and effort that I pursued the dream of playing professional baseball.”

Amen, Ryan.  And thanks to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal for his piece on Westmoreland yesterday.

Be assertive, Jerry.

The Chi Sox circulated a new video to their fan base this week, the intent being to fire up the bugs for 2013.  “To make an impact” featured hitting, throwing, running, sliding and leaping action from Alexei Ramirez and Paul Konerko while Hawk Harrelson makes the call.  Other than praising off season workouts, I’m not sure what they are saying.  The 85-77 White Sox finished a smidge behind the World Series bound Tigers.  I hope the Chicago players shake up the Central Division better than their marketing folk are.  Compare ”Impact” to “162 Chances to Restore the Faith”, the 2013 tag line of the last place Red Sox.  Maybe take a Dale Carnegie class, Mr. Reinsdorf?

Young Tigers rising from the ashes

2013 is the 45th anniversary of the 1968 Detroit Tigers World Championship, the first Detroit crown since 1945.  The Kitty Kats went to camp in Lakeland after having been eliminated by the Red Sox on the last day of the 1967 season.  Ernie Harwell asked 26 year old Bill Freehan about the team’s chances in 1968.  He answered, “I am convinced we can do it.  We have some real good young talent.  Our young guys went through something last year that they had never been through.  I’ll tell you what, if we can stay healthy, yes, we can win it this year.”   Freehan led his team to the ultimate victory, becoming an All Star, a Gold Glover, and finishing 2nd in the MVP voting only to team mate Denny McLain.

Keep the faith.

Go Sox.

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

A John Farrell Primer

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 1, 2013

Farrell n GM Farrell pitch monmouth beach

Here are 9 quick hits to better understand the new Red Sox Skipper as we prepare for the restoration of order in the AL East.

Farrell was born in New Jersey on Aug., 4, 1962. On the same day, 600 miles away in Ohio, little Roger Clemens was born. Both babies would grow to stand 6 foot 4 inches tall and weigh 205 pounds. Over their MLB careers, the right-handed birthday boys combined for 5,027 K’s, 7 Cy Young Awards and 390 wins. All of Farrell’s stats are apparently legit.

Bobby Valentine will be a tough act to follow for many reasons not the least of which is the number of games from which he was ejected. While he was exploring the meaning of life and sarcasm in Beantown, Bobby was ejected from 6 games by 6 different umpires. Farrell was boring by comparison, getting chucked only twice in 2013 with the Jays.

Farrell made his MLB debut and got the win on August 18, 1987, the same calendar date that Tony C gets beaned, Brooks Robinson hit into the third triple play of his season, and Black Sox Buck Weaver was born. Then again, it is also Roberto Clemente and Bob Zupcic’s birthdays.

On August 26, 1987, Farrell stopped Paul Molitor’s 39 game hitting streak. Farrell K’d him, doubled him up 6-4-3, grounded him out 6-3, and let him reach first in his last at bat on an error by Pat Tabler.  Molitor was on deck in the 10th when Rick Manning hit Doug Jones for a walk-off single. This was the 7th longest streak in history, the 5th longest since 1900.

Gray ink is the HOF measurement that reflects how much a player finished (or didn’t) in the Top 10 statistically during his player seasons. Farrell has a gray ink total of 3…..vs. 185 for the average HOF’er. He made the Top 10 only in 1988 and 1989 for CG’s (1x), Shut Outs (1x), Losses (1x), HBP’s (2x), ERA (1x), and Fielding (1x). And those HBP’s aren’t good. But that’s OK. Terry Francona’s gray ink total is 2. Sparky Anderson’s is 1. Earl Weaver is Zero. So it doesn’t matter, right? Then again….Casey Stengel’s is 44. John McGraw’s is 50. Joe Torre’s is 71. And Gil Hodges is 128.

Farrell’s athletic career at Oklahoma State (1981 – 84) yielded four Big-8 championships and 4 College WS appearances. Farrell went 20-6, 4.51 with 168K’s in 219 IP, plus a no-no vs. Missouri Southern. He is in the OK State BB HOF along with Allie Reynolds, Pete Incaviglia, Robin Ventura, Jerry Adair and Mickey Tettleton, among others. OF COURSE, The Cowboys Football history is more glamorous with former Stillwater residents Pappy Waldorf, Bob “The Blond Bomber” Fenimore, Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas all in the College Football HOF.

Yes, there is. Farrell originally hails from Monmouth Beach, NJ, which has 3,279 residents, a median HH income of $94,583 and one square mile of beach. The beach doesn’t look as it did before Super Storm Sandy, though. See the Reuters photo above.

Over 6 starts in 1989, Farrell K’d 10 or more dudes THREE TIMES. A nice run for a guy with just 4.6 K’s per 9 IP in his career. On August 11, he K’d 10 Brewers, baffling every Trebelhorn Man except Yount and Surhoff. On August 17, he rang up 11 Athletics, TWICE whiffing Canseco, McGwire, Parker and Henderson. On Sept. 5, he smoked 10 O’s, having an especially good time with Mike Devereaux, who he made look bad FOUR times.

Farrell made something slightly north of $1.2 Million in total as a player. The fellow the Sox sent to Toronto for Farrell, Mike Aviles, made $1.2 Million last year as a super sub. Aviles is signed to a combined $5.25 Million in ’13 and ’14.

Go Sox.

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