Thanks to Baseball's Boys of October
Sunday 6 PM: Since this post began as a praise to baseball for keeping me sane, let's stick with this post through the end of the Series....even with peregrinations to college rivalries (?) and uniform numbers and love of La Belle Province. My dirty new little secret: I couldn't watch Games 3 and 4 because I cannot stand the two Fox guys. They display no wit, no change of pace. In the day hours, my baseball lunch companions have been conducting a web seminar in scoring, fielding, analytics pro and con. Anyway, I am on for Game 5 Sunday evening -- and any ramblings that may ensue. GV
While waiting to see if the United States can save itself on Election Day, I needed something to fill my socially-distanced time.
Once again, baseball has come through – with a 60-game mini-season that allowed me to have a familiar sense of angst and rage about the Mets.
Now there is about to be a World Series – with any luck, as taut as the two league series, seven games preferable to four – something to occupy house-bound fans like me.
My first hope is that the network types will stop bombarding us with “post-season” statistics. First of all, give the computer a rest. Enough with the arcane stats. Second, we are about to enter what used to be called the World Series but now seems to be morphing into “the finals,” like the other endless post-season “playoffs.”
True, the title “World Series” is a bit pretentious, even now with Latino and Asian players everywhere, but the title is baseball’s throwback to the days of two separate leagues that produced one champion each, to meet in early October.
The leagues were different. Starting in 1947, the National League got a head start with the majority of Black superstars, and the American League had the Yankees stomping on their supine league rivals. Then, more likely than not, the Yankees won the World Series.
Now baseball has blurred the rivalry between two leagues, but the separate identity of the World Series needs to be protected – including separate World Series statistics and achievements as homage to history, going back to 1903.
So much else has changed in baseball. The recent series confirmed that the age of great starting pitchers has been terminated. Pitchers are interchangeable parts, no longer expected to go long. As Tyler Kepner pointed out, a pitcher can have a 3-0 lead in only 66 pitches and still be replaced by the parade of relievers, as Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton was Saturday evening. That’s the way the Rays roll – right into the World Series.
Most managers seem wired into the dictates of the analytics hordes in some bat cave under the ballpark. Hitters are encouraged to swing for a launch arc, not putting the ball in play in some open sector of the field. Something’s been lost.
But I watched. And watched. As an alternative to endless sightings of a dangerous fool on the loose. And when the league finals came around, I found things to like about all four teams.
I fell in love with Houston a few years ago, because of their charismatic players, before we knew the organization was systematically stealing signals. Now the Astros have become the team people love to hate. Did you see James Wagner’s great piece about the fan who hectors the Astros at high decibels?
I get it -- the antipathy toward the Astros -- but Dusty Baker, age 71, a good human being who surpreisingly got to manage the Astros after the housecleaning, and I want him to win a World Series one of these years. Plus, I loved how Carlos Correa made clutch hits and showed leadership by lecturing his pitcher who was about to blow his top. I could not hate the Astros.
However, the Tampa Bay Rays played the Mets late in the regular season and I acquainted myself with a willful group of mostly interchangeable parts, managed by Kevin Cash. Some of them could even steal bases and hit for contact, not distance – a throwback to real baseball.
FAVORITE MOMENT AS SOME FANS WERE ALLOWED IN THE JUST-CONCLUDED SERIES: Justin Turner of the Dodgers picked up a foul ball -- and lobbed it to a fan in a distant seat. A sweet little custom, now revived
I couldn’t choose between the Dodgers or the Braves, either.
The Dodgers are the team of my youth, in Brooklyn. I love the uniforms and colors, although I have trouble seeing newcomers in blue Dodger trim. (Wait, why is Kiki Hernandez wearing Gil Hodges' No. 14?)
The Braves are the retooled power in the same division as my second-tier sad-sack Mets, and I am jealous about their talent and leadership.
The Dodgers had Mookie Betts making plays in the outfield. The Braves had Freddie Freeman, surviving an ominous case of Covid-19 and earning MVP honors – and chatting up any “opponent” who stopped at first base, including Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers’ star who would win the pennant with a home run late Sunday evening. (And dislocated his shoulder giving high-fives in the tumult.)
Now the two survivors are going to meet in what sportswriters used to call “the old autumnal classic.” (And I just did it again.)
Somebody, please tell the network yakkers: it’s the World Series.
10/19/2020 11:36:14 am
So true that there was more to like than dislike in all four teams. None deserved to lose though Braves bad base running was fatal. Good games in October brought back to me some sense of normality.Even seeing the Dodger blue unis with red number on front. We won't ever see a 60 (not 50) game again but glad we had it and here's to an absorbing World Series.
10/19/2020 02:53:31 pm
Lee: you're right about the Braves running themselves out of the game. Between outfielders turning the wrong way on fly balls and runners looking like headless horsemen, I think there was a lag in what Keith Hernandez calls "Fundies!" The interrupted spring training kept players' habits and minds from ever achieving mid-season sharpness.
10/21/2020 08:47:09 am
Lee, I fixed it. Now 60. It just seemed like 50. Over so soon.
10/19/2020 12:43:11 pm
"As an alternative to endless sightings of a dangerous fool on the loose" GV strikes again!
10/19/2020 02:56:07 pm
Tom: you know my mantra -- recited dozens of times a day: "There's a horse in the hospital." Courtesy of John Mulaney.
10/21/2020 12:58:14 pm
The last half of the horse is in 1600.
10/19/2020 01:56:27 pm
Larry Ritter told us at lunch that he hates the owners, hates the players, hates the stadium atmosphere, hates the announcers, hates the overload of stats, hates the playoffs.....but loves baseball. I think you carry Larry's wisdom forward.
10/19/2020 03:08:55 pm
Marty: thanks., There must be some announcers we needn't hate -- but collectively? Of course, I used to like the ballpark atmosphere -- I can remember when fans talked baseball -- but now (not counting the pandemic) fans are out of control -- taking selfies, flyin' high, the central figure in their own play. As for broadcasters, I have great respect for local announcers, Babbitry aside. They generally know the game and know their team -- Mets have a great bunch, Suzyn W knows the game. But the game announcers during playoffs are (as Mario Cuomo's mom called Walter Mondale, "polenta.") And the stars in the pre and post-game circus suffer from over-testosterone-itis. BTW, you know who knows the game? Jessica Mendoza. She refers to herself as a left-fielder (Olympic softball champ) who knows a hook from a slice -- and she keeps getting better.
10/19/2020 04:06:08 pm
10/21/2020 08:49:49 am
Altenir: I appreciate your point. I love the "new" teams in the WS -- Red Sox finally winning, then Cubs, plus that nice KC team, over too soon, and then the Astros with their garbage can. There's a moral to the story about the dangers of commitment. You could write a play about it. GV
10/19/2020 07:30:37 pm
George, Only one correction. It is properly called the “Serious.” As in “ “whirl serious.”
10/21/2020 08:51:24 am
Ed, is that Long-Island-ese?
10/21/2020 01:00:20 pm
Too many games at Ebbets, Section 8
10/20/2020 10:16:25 pm
The comments about the announcers got me recalling an All-
10/21/2020 08:54:59 am
I've done that a few times -- but no Scully these days, plus the radio and TV are a second or two off, which can be confusing, GV
10/21/2020 07:05:35 am
10/21/2020 08:57:52 am
Randy: listening to radio in the Appalachians can be tricky. I got attached to the Reds when we lived in Louisville....but the Reds' broadcast shifted from local station to local station as I drove through E KY and WVA. Young feller named Al Michaels. Wonder what became of him? Big Red Machine in Beckley or Whitesburg.
10/21/2020 09:18:47 am
This comment co-sponsored by Crayola and UnderArmour.
10/21/2020 01:06:20 pm
Was “The Lip” number 2 as MGR? Vague Memory.
10/21/2020 01:44:08 pm
GV, gang. Forgive my several popups, as ideas, memories strike. Remember I have been mostly secluded since March. I usually share “Bon Mots” with Peggy, who is reading, but the Sheriff has just texted me a “Cease and Desist Order! “. So--
10/21/2020 03:49:49 pm
Ed: Rizzuto was No. 10 for the Yankees.
10/21/2020 03:39:24 pm
Hillel: great points. Having seen my first game in 1946, age 7, I can remember players of the post-war/JR42 era:
10/22/2020 11:06:39 am
GV, about numbers, here’s one, not mentioned—32, perhaps the greatest Dodger of all.
10/21/2020 11:41:22 am
10/21/2020 03:58:37 pm
Bruce: If you keep using the spelling "centre," as a tipoff to your Canadian status, you will be on The Fool's list of Enemies of the People. Just warning you.
10/21/2020 05:08:49 pm
10/21/2020 07:33:21 pm
Last one, I promise, (until tomorrow,). Bruce, Peggy and I have been summering on Lac Memphremagog, 75 miles east of Montreal. I saw several games there at Olympic Stadium back in the day.
10/21/2020 08:09:14 pm
10/21/2020 11:24:48 pm
10/22/2020 09:12:10 am
Great memories about sports announcers. Although a Yankee fan from age four in 1934, I have always preferred listening to “Red” Barber over Mel Allen. Phil Rizzuto was very refreshing.
10/22/2020 10:54:38 am
10/22/2020 10:23:47 am
10/22/2020 10:36:28 am
Bruce, when Peggy and I moved to Florida, we found the summer too hot for outdoor activity, and headed north, mostly to New England and The Cape where had vacationed. We decided to go to Quebec City, (K-bec), I had been there once as a kid, Peggy, never.
10/22/2020 10:49:12 am
10/22/2020 03:11:00 pm
I once heard Frank Robinson, when he was managing, in a dugout, pre-game, say that to him the most amazing career stat was Joe DiMaggio’s 361 homers and 369 strikeouts. He shook his head in profound admiration.
10/22/2020 06:09:31 pm
Joe DiMaggio had a reputation for having a good eye at the plate and never obviously questioning the plate umpire's ball/strike calls. Once, when he turned to look back at the umpire on a close call, the umpire remarked, "honestly Joe, it was a strike".
10/22/2020 06:15:10 pm
10/22/2020 03:15:32 pm
10/22/2020 06:26:00 pm
Bruce, here is a good book on old baseball stories.
10/22/2020 07:05:36 pm
10/22/2020 07:33:12 pm
Yes I have, it was Moe Berg.
10/22/2020 08:16:31 pm
10/23/2020 11:56:01 am
Alan, piggy backing on Bruce to reply to you.
10/23/2020 04:37:41 pm
Ed-There may have been many valid and/or mental reasons for for my current state, but the water along The Grand Concourse.
10/22/2020 08:22:24 pm
10/23/2020 04:26:58 pm
Bruce, here is the link.
10/23/2020 05:52:31 pm
10/23/2020 02:18:24 pm
I am reading a true spy story, Agent Zigzag, the most amazing espionage story I have ever read, true or fiction. A young British thief, escapes to Chanel Islands, which were invaded by Nazis. No more details. Read Moe Berg’s story years ago and enjoyed it and appreciated him. Agant Zigzag is Major League!
10/23/2020 04:52:41 pm
Ed-Agent Zigzag is a fantastic book. You might want to join a monthly History Study Group that I host now that we are online through Zoom.
10/23/2020 06:21:39 pm
Two books about women excelling in wartime:
10/24/2020 01:50:58 pm
Alan, will keep it in mind. Right now book is not available online from our library, but will check around. Meanwhile, I have an idea, lets both hate Lafayette, that should work!
10/23/2020 06:21:33 pm
Alan, I realize Lehigh was not a liberal arts school, mostly slide rule crowd, but the Grand Councourse reference is poetic license implying Yankee fans, as you know they were called by their cult followers as the Bronx Bombers, not the Upper West Side Orphans. Besides Muhlenberg was Muhlenberg when Lehigh was a pup.
10/24/2020 02:31:58 pm
Ed, I must show more respect as Muhemberg was founded in 1848 and Lehigh in 1865. I believe that both began as religious institutions, but with little effect on either of us.
10/24/2020 07:49:48 am
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10/25/2020 03:54:07 am
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10/25/2020 03:54:08 pm
I did not watch the game, the the replay of the winning run was a short comedy of errors. The outfielder struggled with the ball before finally throwing home in time for a play. However, the ball escaped the catcher's mitt several times before the runner finally reached home plate.
10/26/2020 09:46:18 am
10/27/2020 07:31:45 am
10/27/2020 08:41:03 am
10/27/2020 09:19:49 am
10/27/2020 09:29:34 am
10/27/2020 11:53:38 am
Randy: It could also have been John Cage or Erik Satie.
10/27/2020 02:33:05 pm
Comments are closed.
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.