Saturday, November 28, 2009

Best Sponsorship Comments: Honorable Mentions

After months of toiling in blog obscurity I finally broke through with a hit last week. My Best of Baseball Reference's Sponsorship Comments post got linked all over the internet, with Rob Neyer's ESPN blog generating the most traffic. How cool is that? To go from one hit on November 15 to 2,607 hits on November 18 was quite exciting, to say the least.

Since it proved so popular, I thought I'd share some of the sponsor comments I found that didn't quite make the cut. These people deserve some of the love too.

1966 Chicago Cubs
Andere Richtingen sponsor(s) this page.

Three Hall of Famers, one guy who without a doubt should be...and 103 losses.

Mr. Richtingen, if you read the comments to the last post, was actually responsible for two items on the list: the 1987 Cubs and Todd Hollandsworth. Perhaps he deserves some sort of lifetime achievement award for his commenting. I enjoyed this little riff on the Cubs' inability to win even with great players.

Shane Andrews
A Fan sponsor(s) this page.

September 26, 1998, Section 284, Busch Stadium, St. Louis. Three home runs were hit into the second deck in left field that Saturday: Mark McGwire's 67th and 68th, and Shane's career-high #25. Guess which one I've got.

There's a bit of self-deprecation in this one, a device I've always enjoyed. A forgotten homer by a Dave Kingman-esque third baseman won't fetch a ton of money from collectors, it'll only give you a good story and an excuse to sponsor said player's page.

Joe Borowski
Joe Meginnes sponsor(s) this page.

Here's to coming out of nowhere and providing a very effective arm out of the pen for the 2002-03 Cubs. It was rarely pretty, but you got the job done, foreshadowing your career turn as Indians junkballer Eddie Harris.

Nice. A reference to Major League. Lucky thing Borowski played for the Indians or Mr. Meginnes here couldn't have made such a great joke.

Deivi Cruz
An Anonymous Supporter sponsor(s) this page.

Someone gave him MVP consideration in 1997. Seriously.

Two homers, 40 RBI, three stolen bases, six times caught stealing, a .241/.263/.314 batting line, a 51 OPS+, -3 on TotalZone and he finished 25th in AL MVP voting. Come to think of it, that is pretty messed up.

Joe Walsh
Dan Lee sponsor(s) this page.

Got any gum?

You just know that with three different Joe Walshes in baseball history some wiseacre out there would have to sponsor one just so he could make a reference to the musician of the same name and his poorly-received 1987 album.

Eric Chavez
Death, Taxes, and Chavy flailing at high cheese sponsor(s) this page.

Some things never change. Chavy in the 2001 playoffs: whiffing on face-high fastballs. Chavy in the 2006 playoffs: whiffing on face-high fastballs. Chavy, when are you gonna learn that you're not supposed to swing at that??? For cryin out loud.

I like the sponsor's name best here: "Death, Taxes, and Chavy flailing at high cheese." We all have those players on our teams that we love despite the fact that we can always count on them to screw up in certain situations.

Doug Mientkiewicz
Catherine sponsor(s) this page.

For the glove, for the hustle, and most of all, for alienating all of Red Sox Nation by keeping that ball. . .Doug, I salute you!

With the increased obnoxiousness of Red Sox Nation since 2004, I think Catherine speaks for a large portion of baseball fandom here.

Doc Amole
More effective than his brother, Guac. sponsor(s) this page.

On three, ready? One...two...three...GROAN!

It's great to have a blog post get national recognition, but the credit should really go to these sponsors, without whose witty comments my post wouldn't have been worth reading.

Happy post-Thanksgiving weekend, everyone!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Which Team Had the Most Cy Young Winners?

Awards in sports, particularly baseball, can be misleading. They recognize one specific season of outstanding play which may or may not be sustained. Having the former winner of a major award on your team doesn't necessarily mean you have a star. The Cy Young Award has been bestowed upon many all-time greats, including (but certainly not limited to) Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux. Its recipients also include several pitchers who've since taken up residence in obscurity, like Mike McCormick, Pete Vuckovich, John Denny, La Marr Hoyt and Mark Davis.

Many of us probably remember the Braves' seeming monopoly on the Cy Young Award back in the '90s, but with so many forgettable guys winning the award it got me wondering. Could there be a team out there that had even more winners on its roster than those Braves did? It'd be easy for one to slip through the cracks if it included some of these flashes in the pan. To Baseball Reference I went, searching for answers!

As it turns out, there have been four instances of a team having four future or former winners on its roster:

1972 A's (Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Denny McLain)
1993-95 Braves (Steve Bedrosian, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz)
1998 Blue Jays (Chris Carpenter, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Pat Hentgen)
2014 Tigers (Max Scherzer, David Price, Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello)

McLain only pitched five games for the '72 A's. He was washed up by that point and Oakland was able to win the World Series without his services. The Blue Jays are the most interesting to me, as I never would've guessed they'd show up here. Clemens was a superstar, Hentgen was a mid-level starter who had a few big years, and Halladay and Carpenter were both unestablished at that point. I doubt anyone realized at the time what a special group Toronto had.

Steve Bedrosian's three-year career wind-down in Atlanta would have to make the Braves the most impressive entry on this list. Bedrosian was effective for the first two of those three years, and the Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz triad was still in its prime. Is it any wonder that pitching staff inspired so much awe?

While Smoltz was considered a great pitcher at the time, he didn't win the Cy Young Award until 1996. That leads us to another question: Which team had the most former winners and which the most future winners? By "future winner," I should clarify, I mean a pitcher who had yet to win the award, not one who had already won it but would later win it again.

Let's start with the former winners. Which staffs had the most previously-recognized greatness?

1980 Rangers (Fergie Jenkins, Sparky Lyle, Gaylord Perry)
1981 Orioles (Mike Flanagan, Jim Palmer, Steve Stone)
1997-99, 2001-02 Braves (Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz)
1998 Red Sox (Dennis Eckersley, Pedro Martinez, Bret Saberhagen)
2000 Yankees (Roger Clemens, David Cone, Dwight Gooden)
2001 Red Sox (David Cone, Pedro Martinez, Bret Saberhagen)
2009 Giants (Randy Johnson, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito)
2014 Tigers (Justin Verlander, David Price, Max Scherzer)

Most of these groupings weren't especially noteworthy. The '80 Rangers, '00 Yankees, '01 Red Sox and '09 Giants all had at least two of their three pitchers in the decline phases of their careers.

The 1981 Orioles were an unfortunate bunch. All three former Cy Young winners posted an ERA+ below 100. Stone overworked his arm to win the award in 1980, leaving him ineffective for 1981. Palmer was near the end of his playing days, but he turned in one more great season in 1982. Flanagan had an up-and-down career, and this was a down year. The 1998 Red Sox had Martinez in his prime, a still-good Saberhagen who'd flame out due to injuries a few years later and Eckersley in his so-so final season. The Tigers had all three pitchers still in their primes (at least, we hope so as of the 2014-15 offseason), but Verlander suffered a down year.

That leaves us with the Braves once again as the most impressive group on the list. They held onto a core of three former Cy Young winners for an unprecedented six seasons (technically only five where they all played, as Smoltz missed 2000 due to Tommy John surgery). On a personal note, if I'd been older at the time I might've had a greater appreciation for what I was seeing.

What about future winners? Which staffs had the most as-of-yet unfulfilled awardability?

1956 Dodgers (Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe)
1969-71 A's (Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter)
1980-81 Dodgers (Rick Sutcliffe, Fernando Valenzuela, Bob Welch)
2002 Indians (Bartolo Colon, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia)
2010 Tigers (Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello)

The first three groups on this list featured hurlers who won the Cy Young in the final season of the string. 1956 was the first year the award was given out, with Newcombe the inaugural winner. All in all, they each did a good job of stockpiling young pitching talent.

Then you have that other team...the 2002 Indians. None of those three pitchers won the Cy Young until 2005. Lee was acquired in a midseason trade for Colon, so there was never a point where all three were in the organization together. They're the only one on the list that never won a pennant with all these gifted arms. Tribe fans must curse their luck that Lee struggled so badly in 2007.

For curiosity's sake, there are still some others who had three winners but weren't mentioned here:

1975 A's (Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers, Jim Perry)
1975 Indians (Dennis Eckersley, Gaylord Perry, Jim Perry)
1975-76 Orioles (Mike Cuellar, Mike Flanagan, Jim Palmer)
1975-78 Yankees (Ron Guidry, Catfish Hunter, Sparky Lyle)
1978-79 Padres (Rollie Fingers, Randy Jones, Gaylord Perry)
1980-81 Phillies (Steve Carlton, Mark Davis, Sparky Lyle)
1981 Mets (Randy Jones, Mike Marshall, Mike Scott)
1982 Phillies (Steve Carlton, John Denny, Sparky Lyle)
1983-87 Dodgers (Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela, Bob Welch)
1983 Phillies (Steve Carlton, John Denny, Willie Hernandez)
1986 Cubs (Dennis Eckersley, Greg Maddux, Rick Sutcliffe)
1986 Giants (Vida Blue, Steve Carlton, Mark Davis)
1988 Braves (Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Bruce Sutter)
1989-91 Mets (David Cone, Dwight Gooden, Frank Viola)
1992 Braves (Mark Davis, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz)
1992 Mets (David Cone, Dwight Gooden, Bret Saberhagen)
1997 Indians (Bartolo Colon, Orel Hershiser, Jack McDowell)
2008 Diamondbacks (Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb, Max Scherzer)

Who would've guessed that the 1975 Indians, 1978-79 Padres, 1981 Mets, 1986 Cubs or 1986 Giants could make this list? If you ever think about those teams it probably isn't outstanding pitching that comes to mind. You can also see that the Phillies had a knack for finding future winners in the early '80s.

Having written all this, I acknowledge the fact that recent advances in baseball knowledge make it easier to second-guess the voters' past decisions. For instance, Kevin Brown had a much better season than John Smoltz the year Smoltz won the Cy. Had Brown won it in '96 the Braves would look somewhat less impressive by this post's standards. Even so, I think it's safe to say that you have to have a pretty darn good season to win the Cy Young. Being in the discussion for your league's top pitcher is select company regardless of who's truly number one. These groupings may not necessarily represent convergences of men who were once the circuit's top twirler, but they do represent convergences of men who at one point possessed top-level pitching talent. Receiving a trophy recognizing you as the best at your craft is something truly special, and it's not every year you see at least three men who have that experience wear the home team's colors.

Post last updated: November 16, 2016

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

PTWSW #21: The 1924 Washington Senators

Manager: Bucky Harris
Record: 92-62
Ballpark: Griffith Stadium
Owners: Clark Griffith and William M. Richardson
Coaches: Nick Altrock, Al Schacht

Future Hall of Famers: Goose Goslin, Bucky Harris, Walter Johnson, Sam Rice

Team Leaders, Batting

Goose Goslin, .344
OBP: Goose Goslin, .421
SLG: Goose Goslin, .516
OPS: Goose Goslin, .937
2B: Sam Rice, 39
3B: Goose Goslin, 17
HR: Goose Goslin, 12
RBI: Goose Goslin, 129 (AL leader)
BB: Roger Peckinpaugh, 72
SB: Sam Rice, 24

Team Leaders, Pitching

Walter Johnson, 23 (AL leader)
SO: Walter Johnson, 158 (AL leader)
ERA: Walter Johnson, 2.72 (AL leader)
IP: Walter Johnson, 277.2
CG: Walter Johnson, 20
SHO: Walter Johnson, 6 (AL leader)
K/BB: Walter Johnson, 2.05 (AL leader)
SV: Firpo Marberry, 15 (AL leader)


Oldest Player:
Technically it was Nick Altrock (b. September 15, 1876), but he was actually a coach. Among regular players it was Walter Johnson (b. November 6, 1887).

Youngest Player: Bennie Tate (b. December 3, 1901)

First to Leave Us: Ralph Miller (d. March 18, 1939)

Last Survivor: Showboat Fisher (d. May 15, 1994)

First in Majors: Once again, Nick Altrock (debut July 14, 1898) is the technical winner here, but Walter Johnson (debut August 2, 1907) debuted first among regulars.

Last in Majors: Ossie Bluege (final game July 13, 1939)

First to Play For the Franchise: Walter Johnson (August 2, 1907)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Ossie Bluege (July 13, 1939)

Pre-union Team: The 1917-19 Yankees had four: George Mogridge, Roger Peckinpaugh, Muddy Ruel and Allen Russell.

Reunion Team: The 1925 Red Sox had three: Doc Prothro, Ted Wingfield and Paul Zahniser.


Sam Rice, 31-game hitting streak
Walter Johnson, Pitching Triple Crown
Goose Goslin, cycle on August 28
Walter Johnson, AL MVP
Firpo Marberry, 15 saves, new Major League record

Season Summary

For the last decade the Senators had been a middling team with no real pennant hopes. Just the previous season, in fact, they'd finished in fourth place with a mediocre 75-78 record. Owner Clark Griffith responded by firing manager Donie Bush and tabbing his 27-year-old second baseman Stanley "Bucky" Harris as player-manager. The move would prove to be a wise one.

Even though it was several years into the live ball era, you'd think the Senators were a deadball team from a look at their stats. Griffith Stadium was a pitcher's park, so they relied on the traditional speed, defense and pitching formula to win games. Their 22 team homers (led by Goose Goslin's 12) were last in the AL, and their 116 steals were second only to the White Sox. In an eight-team league they were sixth in runs scored per game. The pitching staff, led by ace Walter Johnson, blew away all competitiors with a 121 ERA+, and their defensive efficiency was also tops by a good margin. Their innovative employment of Firpo Marberry as a bullpen ace paid off, as he racked up 15 saves (retroactively figured, of course). Allen Russell was second on the team (and in the league) with eight saves of his own.

The AL was wide-open in 1924. The Senators were 24-26 on June 16, but they were only four and a half games behind the first-place Yankees. They proceeded to win 17 of their next 19 games to take first place. The Senators were a streaky team all year. They fell out of first on July 11 and fluctuated between second and third until late August. On August 28 they beat the first-place Yankees to take over the top spot, where they remained the rest of the season. The Yankees fought their way back to tie a few times, but they never could overtake Washington. It snapped a three-year New York pennant streak.

Over in the NL the New York Giants won their fourth straight pennant to face the Senators in the World Series. The presence of Walter Johnson, one of baseball's most respected figures, made the Senators a sentimental favorite over the big-market Giants. The Giants beat Johnson in both Games 1 and 5, after which they led the Series 3-2. The Senators won Game 6 and took a risk in Game 7. Harris started right-handed pitcher Curly Ogden and replaced him with lefty George Mogridge after two batters to gain the platoon advantage. After eight innings, with the game tied 3-3, Johnson entered in relief. This time "The Big Train" would be a hero. He held the Giants scoreless the rest of the way, and the Senators won in the 12th inning when Earl McNeely's grounder hit a pebble and bounced over third baseman Fred Lindstrom's head, scoring the winning run.


Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Best of Baseball Reference's Sponsorship Comments

Most internet-savvy baseball fans spend a lot of time over at the ultimate resource, Baseball Reference. If you have, I don't need to tell you what a superb website it is. One feature I've always enjoyed is the ability to sponsor pages. In fact, I finally took the plunge this year and decided to sponsor some pages of my own. Those yellow sponsorship boxes are special. They can link you to interesting sites, give you fun facts or make you smile with a cool story or witty comment. I was thinking it a shame that some of those comments would be lost for the ages after the sponsorships expired, when suddenly I was hit with an idea. Why not pay tribute to some of the better ones by dedicating a blog post to them?

I compiled a list of candidates so long that I unfortunately can't share them all here. Perhaps later I'll dedicate a separate post to the honorable mentions. For now though, I'll just give you a top ten countdown, since it's a nice round number and all.

10. 1987 Chicago Cubs

Andere Richtingen sponsor(s) this page.

Seemed every game I attended that season featured Greg Maddux as starter. And he sucked!

In a different time, before he became one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, Greg Maddux was a young Cub trying to solidify a place in the Majors. This fan undoubtedly remembers taking trips to Wrigley and wondering why the home squad couldn't find anyone better than this kid. On a last-place Cubs team you can imagine Maddux blending in with the ineptitude Mr. Richtingen witnessed all summer long. This comment serves as a sort of mental time capsule, which I find fascinating as well as humorous.

9. 1993 Boston Red Sox sponsor(s) this page.

"Click on the link to fast forward 10 years to my favorite baseball moment!", G Travis Crawford.

Who doesn't love the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry (well, besides pretty much all non-Yankee or Red Sox fans, that is)? Overhyped though it may be, the rivalry produces some solid smack. Take this sponsorship, for example. The link is listed as "," which sets the reader up to think it'll be a pro-Red Sox moment. Of course, ten years after 1993 was 2003, the year the Red Sox lost the ALCS in seven games to the Yankees. Clicking on that link takes you to the page of Aaron Boone, whose homer sent the pinstripers to the World Series. How irate must some fans be who fell for it?

8. Len Koenecke
Eric Enders sponsor(s) this page.

"Please remember that Federal Aviation Regulations require passenger compliance with crew member instructions."

This comment won't make much sense to you if you're not familiar with Len Koenecke's untimely death. If you are, this comment should elicit one of those "that was so wrong" chuckles. For those of you unfamiliar, Koenecke was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher when he attacked the crew of a small plane he was riding on. Ahhhhh, makes sense now, doesn't it? Isn't that comment so wrong?

7. Dale Sveum
Brewer Fan Ange sponsor(s) this page.

I once saw him throw a ball from third base in to the fifth row of the box seats, well done. Also love the fact that a player who's career strikeout average (.260) is higher than his career batting average (.236) is our hitting coach. SPLENDID HIRE!!

There are comedians who make careers out of being bitter and angry, so we know those emotions can be played for their humor value. I think that's what Brewer Fan Ange was going for here. The punctuation and grammar mistakes convey a sense of muddled frustration, which is simultaneously cathartic for the sponsor and a source of amusement for the reader. What can I say? It works.

6. 1872 Washington Nationals
Bob Vesterman sponsor(s) this page.

They would've won the twelfth.

Perhaps you need to see the whole page to get this one. The joke is that the Nationals went 0-11 before folding. It's inspiring, in a way. It's almost as if 137 years later there's still one lone advocate who believes in this team. Does it matter at this point? Of course not, but it's a sentiment we can all appreciate. Mr. Vesterman repeated this joke on the 1873 Baltimore Marylands page.

5. Todd Hollandsworth
D.J., Stephanie and Michelle Tanner sponsor(s) this page.

You're the greatest, Uncle Joey!

Wow. A Full House reference? The joke here is that many people think Hollandsworth resembles Dave Coulier, who played Joey on the popular family sitcom. My only gripe is that D.J., Stephanie and Michelle didn't call the character "Uncle Joey." Jesse was the girls' mother's brother, which made him "Uncle Jesse." Joey was their father's college buddy, which made him just "Joey." It's clear to me that whoever left this comment had only a casual familiarity with the show. Despite the inaccuracy, it's clever enough to make the list.

4. Terry Francona
An Anonymous Supporter sponsor(s) this page.

Now we know! Welcome back to Woodrow Wilson, a loaf of bread for 10 cents, and The Curse. 2004 and 2007 are tainted beyond question. Welcome back to 1918 Red Sox Nation.

You may have noticed that there are a bunch of Red Sox-related pages that blast them for copying the Yankees' "spend to win" approach. I find it amusing, because I hate the Red Sox as much as anyone (well, maybe not anyone, since I don't hate them enough to sponsor a bunch of BB-Ref pages bashing them, but whatever). This comment is in the same vein, so I can appreciate it. I assume it was in response to Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz' PED revelations. The second sentence is what makes this one truly great. Listing historical markers to get your point across appeals to the intellect while tickling the funny bone.

This comment, presumably from the same person, is repeated on the 1978 Red Sox page.

3. Quinn
An Anonymous Supporter sponsor(s) this page.

The man, the legend....Quinn!

Several 19th Century players are shrouded in mystery. Their careers were so short and their names so common that it's nearly impossible to find any information about them. In some instances we don't even know their first names, as is the case with Mr. Quinn here. What better way to honor one of these unknown soldiers (and spend the $2 credit from BB-Ref's user survey), than to make a joke about his obscurity? It comes courtesy of "An Anonymous Supporter," whose decision to remain unnamed gives him some commonality with his subject. I wish I knew if that was intentional or just a great coincidence. Nonny, whoever you are, you made me laugh.

2. Ruben Rivera
Nesta Jones sponsor(s) this page.

September 1995. Rookies Derek Jeter and Ruben Rivera sit in the Yankees dugout, mouths full of Big League Chew, on the verge of stardom.

I like it. It paints a picture of a moment in time. Here you have two players at the dawn of their Major League careers looking forward to the glory that awaits. The future is bright and shiny, and they can't help but eagerly anticipate its arrival. Of course, the twisted irony is that one became a franchise icon while the other, the man being sponsored here, became a mediocre journeyman. Rivera was one of the Yankees' top prospects back in '95, but these days the only thing he's remembered for is stealing Jeter's glove and getting kicked off the team. How quickly the bright, shiny future becomes the disappointing, ignominious past.

Finally, the comment that beats all others I've encountered:

1. Marvin Benard
A high fastball sponsor(s) this page.

I loved this guy. He couldn't hit me with a tree trunk.

Genius. Pure genius. It personifies something as ephemeral as a pitch, then says that this hurtling sphere of cork and cowhide decided to pony up ten dollars and razz the player consistently baffled by it and its brethren. It's perhaps the most creative way one could pick on a former player's weakness as well as give a laugh to any fan who remembers it. Well done, McCovey Chronicles!

So there you go: the best of the best for 2009-10. Hopefully all these sponsors will renew them once they expire, because their brilliance deserves to live on and be enjoyed by many generations. If they decide not to renew, hey, the future generations can visit this blog.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Talkin' Baseball With btroup1!

Last offseason on my now-defunct FoxSports blog I did a series of interviews with other bloggers about their baseball fandom. It ended up being a pretty popular series, and I don't know if I myself ever had more fun blogging than when I put those posts together. Now that the offseason is unfortunately here again we fans of the world's greatest sport need something to keep the flame burning. I thought I'd share those interviews over here so that they don't get relegated to obscurity. You probably won't know these bloggers, but if you're like me, you love hearing baseball fans talk about their memories of the game. Since these are from last offseason, a few of the questions and answers are a little dated, but it shouldn't make them any less enjoyable.

This is the fifth and final one I did, with btroup1, an Orioles fan.

1. What started you on this path? How and when did you become a baseball fan?

Around third grade. It was a perfect storm of sorts. I received a baseball card starter set with 100 or so Topps 1986 baseball cards. I put them in their plastic sheets, and read all the backs. Maybe that's why I took to the SABR stuff. That same year, we got cable. I thought it was cool that we got stations from around the country like TBS and WWOR (sorry Ian, they didn't have WGN or maybe we'd be brothers in arms). The Mets were good, and being a kid, having a fellow named Strawberry on the team is kind of magnetic. It would take an entire season before I could comprehend that there was an actual team in my area. Naturally, the year was 1988. I would show up at school, and it became fun to ask if the Orioles had won. "Nope." "No." "Not yet." "Maybe tonight." "Lost again." I'm running out of ways to say they lost. 0-21 was such a joke, but in a weird way, it helped my fandom. The next season, "the Why Not Orioles," was such an awesome season. It grabbed me, and coupled with the Dykstra trade by the Mets (and Straw and Dr K), I was full-blooded orange and black. I was a late bloomer, well compared to my son, at least. He attended his first game within months of walking. It was one of the greatest days of my life. More below...

2. Of all the baseball games you've attended, which one is your favorite?

I'll give you four for the price of one. But I'll choose a favorite.

-My son's first game was an adventure. Just he and I. Being the dad, I forget a coat for him. A mother would have brought two, one for the cold, another for a gentle breeze. The first two months of the season can provide the occasional windy day if you're in the wrong section. This was one of those days. I bought a little Oriole outfit for him. Then we get to our seats. I'm thinking, "I'll get four or five innings in, and we'll go from there." The kid sat in my lap the whole game. Helping matters was that it was Preakness week. The Saturday prior involves a balloon lift-off with hot air balloons. They flew right past the stadium and kept him occupied. After the game, we went to the harbor area to watch the rest of the balloons lift off.

-The best game I attended as a child was at Memorial Stadium. My mother took a friend and I [as an 80s child of divorce, mothers found themselves doing things they would not ordinarily do. So thank your mom if she took you to a game. And if I ever see those insolent little snots that I saw a couple of years ago who sat in front of me complaining on a day their mom pulled them out of school early to go, I will fight you] Eddie Murray won the game with a home run in the 10th. It was hit in our bleachers. Our little arms couldn't reach the ball, and I can still picture that braggart who did get it. Great job, you outmuscled some kids for a baseball.

-Winding down the 2007 season, we went to a game against the Royals. You can imagine the apathy. Each September a group of clowns walk around the stadium, imploring Angelos to sell. Since no one is there, they are an audible group. I thought, "this is what's wrong with us. We call ourselves fans, but act like children when the team isn't winning." In a 1-1 game heading towards the 8th, my son wanted to see the bullpens. As much as he likes the game, he also enjoys the intricacies of the stadia. We watched the final two innings standing above the bullpens. It's cool to talk smack (friendly smack) to the visiting closer as he warms up. Okay, it's cool to hear the ball whiz towards the catcher before popping the mitt. Anyhow, I remember looking around thinking, "There was a time when people gave a damn about this place. I SAT here (more below) for a playoff game." In the bottom of the 8th, Markakis hits the go ahead home-run into the bullpen area. As we watched the final outs in the top of the 9th, one of Baltimore's finest shouted up, "Hey! Is that your boy?" I thought, "Oh great, a leaning on the railing fascist." Anyway, I said "Yes." He said, "Here." I quickly had to reach out, realizing I was being tossed the home run ball. If I had the drive, I would have written about it. It has a "Tuesdays With Morrie" feel to it.

-Finally, the 1996 ALDS against Cleveland. The standing room areas had bleachers built. I sat in the one built above the bullpen. The Orioles won a squeaker, and eventually the series. Cleveland lost the Browns and the ALDS to Baltimore in the same year. Of course, karma caught up to the wire-to-wire Orioles of 1997.

Picking one, I'll take the first.

3. What did you think of Oriole Park at Camden Yards when it first opened?

Wow. When they opened that place, it was just so different from Memorial Stadium. First of all, if you asked how to get there, you were a dolt. Second, it didn't have a generic feel to it. Even at 13, I could feel the difference. That's how awesome it was. Nooks and crannies that all have their own story. The warehouse, and the promenade between it and the actual ballpark is a great stroll, and a great use of an historical building for modern purposes. The ushers, to this day, wipe down your seats before you sit in them. Plenty of bargains abound nowadays to see this club. If you have a modern home park, you may be inclined to think, "It'll be no big deal if I go." I still run into fans who come from these cities, and they say (seventeen years later) "They got this right. It's not over the top. It's not forced." Despite the nationwide praise, the Orioles have gone to a digitized look for their jumbotron and scoreboard. Hopefully they'll get the mix right on that.

4. What was your favorite season of following baseball?

My first season (1986) treated me to the greatest post-season I ever saw. That had to be the most pre-wild card postseason innings ever played. Even without MLB Network reminding me, I could tell you who Mike Scott, Bob Stanley, Calvin Schiraldi, Donnie Moore, and Dave Henderson are/were. But I'm willing to write that off as childhood romaticism.

The 1997 season was my favorite. I thought we were finishing the job. A lineup 1-9 with 20 HR? Pick your poison.

5. Are you glad the Orioles' road uniforms are back to saying "Baltimore"?

Sure. Angelos, Jacobs, and Williams kept them off so as not to alienate the Washington portion of the fan-base. It's no longer an issue, so give this team an identity.

6. I'll name some names and you tell me what comes to mind. It can be a thought, a memory, or whatever you want.

Craig Worthington = The number of 3B during Cal's streak was staggering. He was seen as the best candidate (pre-Chris Sabo) to fill the void left by Brooks. If you're keeping score, it's 30 years and counting.

Randy Milligan = Not Eddie Murray. But seemed a nice enough fellow who could hit 20 HR for your club. Sort of a Sam Horn Lite.

Chito Martinez = Part of the crop of early-mid 90s prospects who teased fans with 15-20 HR in a partial season (Leo Gomez, Dellucci, Hammonds)

Alan Mills = A GREAT fireman. If you want a comparable player to recent times, think Arthur Rhodes (another former O). Interesting (perhaps) was that he wore #75. He was a NRI who made the club. He retained the number as a reminder to himself that this is all fragile.

Jeffrey Hammonds = A six-tool, can't-miss player. Yeah six tools. They invented tools for this guy. Honestly, he was a good player. It does you no good if you can't stay on the field. Knee injury after knee injury. Not a psychological bust like a Ryan Leaf. Just a physical one.

Rocky Coppinger = Our Clay Buchholz. Once around the league, and he was a stud. Once you gave teams some tape, and gave Rocky a cheesesteak, that was it.

Lenny Webster = The quintessential back-up catcher. Chris Hoiles was a fan favorite. There was a time when Hoiles was #2 in active career HR for catchers (behind some Piazza fellow). A Webster game was kind of like "aw man!" Seeing the backup catchers around the league nowadays, it's like "Find me a Lenny Webster!"

Buddy Groom = Best of the worst. He seemed to excel here. In Detroit, I recall him being awful.

Ryan Kohlmeier = I had to look him up. My memory was jogged slightly. This was part of the first attempt at rebuilding headed by Syd Thrift. Even after looking him up, I can only try a Loretta Lynn (Kohlmeier's daughter) joke.

7. Which former Orioles prospect disappointed you the most?

Ben McDonald. Not our Brien Taylor by any means. He had good seasons. He just never became our Randy Johnson. I don't recall him having the injury excuse as a fallback. I recall his dad being involved at some point in the beginning. If I recall, he ultimately flamed out in Milwaukee. Oh well, at least we still had that Schilling guy as a plan B. THEY DID WHAT!!!!!???????????

8. Do you think the Orioles would've won the pennant in 1996 if it hadn't been for Jeffrey Maier?

I honestly do. Wells would have gone the next game for the O's. He lived to pitch in Yankee Stadium, which is where the series would have returned.

9. Did you ever think the adulation for Cal Ripken Jr. was a little excessive?

I do, but I don't think we should blame him for it. Though, it may have fed his ego a bit. Now we have videos espousing the "Ripken Way." Eh, come on. The lap around the field? Bobby Bo and Raffy seemed to egg it on a bit. I didn't hero worship the guy. Mixed emotions for sure. He went through horribly average stretches. But at the same time, there is a point of no return. Then once you break it, you can't just stop. Then it looks like you were playing for the record. Rock and a hard place.

As we progress in age I think we can agree, the game could use a few Cal Ripkens.

10. What changes would you make if you were in charge of Major League Baseball?

I would change the revenue sharing rules to force recipients to supplement their payrolls with the funds. I have also advocated the creation of a third major league, putting the non-traditional/poor clubs in one league. It's somewhere on the blog.

11. How optimistic are you about the Orioles' chances in the coming years?

I have been optimistic each year since 2004, so I'll continue that optimism. Last year, midway through the season, the O's were a top 10 club if you factored in run differential and schedule. All things being equal, this could be a third place club. In the East, it looks like 4th will be as good as it gets for now. But when Wieters comes up, the Orioles will have two players who are the best in baseball at their position (Markakis in RF, Wieters at C). How's that for a bold prediction? The jury is also out on Adam Jones and Felix Pie. I'd like to think we can be good enough while we control these players, boost attendance, and take that money to apply to long-term deals.

12. To sum things up, tell us what the game of baseball means to you.

It's a sport that creates many interesting arguments. It can be watched passively. It can be watched aggresively. I wish I could articulate it on some personal level. It has highs and lows. It provides memories and new opportunities (like that game against KC). It's a place where I can throw peanuts on the ground, or have something in common with a kid from West Baltimore for three hours. I don't know. If it's something that can be articulated in a mere sentence, it's something that may disappoint if not conforming to that sentence. So it's something that will always be there with an ever-evolving meaning. I may have a new perspective on this, as I'll be moving from the Camden Yards area and into a town with A ball. My trips to Camden will still exist, but fewer than now. It'll have a different meaning when that time comes.

btroup1 is yet another whose blog seems to have faded into oblivion. If you want to browse through his archive though, it's got some great stuff in it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Talkin' Baseball With blue@orange!

Last offseason on my now-defunct FoxSports blog I did a series of interviews with other bloggers about their baseball fandom. It ended up being a pretty popular series, and I don't know if I myself ever had more fun blogging than when I put those posts together. Now that the offseason is unfortunately here again we fans of the world's greatest sport need something to keep the flame burning. I thought I'd share those interviews over here so that they don't get relegated to obscurity. You probably won't know these bloggers, but if you're like me, you love hearing baseball fans talk about their memories of the game. Since these are from last offseason, a few of the questions and answers are a little dated, but it shouldn't make them any less enjoyable.

This is the fourth one I did, with blue@orange, a Mets fan.

1. Where did it all begin? How and when did you become a baseball fan?

I was 5 years old in 1969, Dad was a Mets fan. I guess he decided that was the best time to introduce me to the game. We watched the games on an old black-and-white TV, and I can still picture it clearly in my mind. I didn't get it then as I did later, my father staring at the TV saying over and over, "I can't believe they did it." Great memory.

2. Of all the baseball games you've attended, which one is your favorite?

11-year-old little leaguer in, I think, 1975. I grew up in a neighborhood packed full of kids my age who did nothing but play sports, and back there baseball was king, whether wiffle ball in the streets, softball or baseball at the park at our school. In the summer we played every day, and we always pretended to be our favorite players. I had the head-first Pete Rose down to a science. In my town we had a summer rec program that included 4-5 trips a summer to the Vet to see Philly games (damn, why couldn't Flushing be closer?). We, for a dollar, would be packed into 2 or 3 buses and head to those Bob Uecker seats, the yellow ones at the top in right-center.

It was a day game, Phillies/Reds. One of the older kids found a way to get to the lower level, but this included hopping off a 6-foot railing onto an escalator that was still turned on and going up. Well, those of us with the grapes made the jump. I and about 8 others had the grapes. We broke into groups, and the guys I was with headed to these box seats behind the Reds' dugout, so close to the on-deck circle that Pete Rose had to hear me yell, "Hey Charlie Hustle, get a hit!" It was all I could think of at the time. I know he heard me, because he turned around and smiled.

That lasted all of 2 innings before we were rudely ushered back upstairs, only to wait 'til the coast was clear and head right back to that escalator. We headed for the bullpen this time. You could hang over the railing and look down on the pitchers warming up, and those guys were great, they would actually talk to you. The bullpens were set up between the outfield walls and the back wall of the stadium, perfect for that echo effect. The ball would hit the mitt and it sounded like a cannon going off. Rudely interrupted for a second time, we spent the rest of the game in our nosebleed seats. Seeing guys like Bench, Rose and Schmidt that close for the first time was just awe-inspiring.

3. How much do you hate the Florida Marlins?

I don't, nor do I hate the Phils or the Braves, though I pretend to. Rivalries are great for the game. It adds another element, makes things interesting. But I do hate the Yanks.

4. Other than 1969 or 1986, which was your favorite Mets team?

The current one. Wright, Reyes and Beltran are quickly becoming part of my all-time favorite list. Actually, I love them all, even the cellar-dwellers of the 70's. You remember, Dave Kingman, John Milner and them. They made the 80's that much more rewarding.

5. Who were the best and worst Met managers you ever saw?

Best, Gil Hodges, PERIOD. Student of the game, disciplinarian, and his players loved him. Just listen to Tom Seaver rave about the guy, or just look at the ballclub he won with. He got more out of old-timers and role players than anyone ever in the game's history. '69 was more Gil than anything else.

Worst, you know I'm goin' Willie Randolph. Don't even need to explain.

How 'bout this one? Davey Johnson. Yup, I said it. Polar opposite of Hodges. Had the best team in the 80's. No discipline. He seemed to just put this talented team on autopilot. If I'm wrong, why didn't the Mets win 2 Series in oh, 4 attempts? They won one by the skin of their teeth and that was it. Nope, Johnson did less with more.

6. I'll name some names and you tell me what comes to mind. It can be a thought, a memory, or whatever you want.

Ed Kranepool= Steady Eddie. Was a Met forever. Best pinch-hitter of all time in my book. Trivia: What pinch-hitter holds the highest average for one season? Ed Kranepool, close to .490 as I remember.

Jerry Koosman= Koosman? You kiddin'? So far in this series you've passed by Tony Gwynn, Yastrzemski, Schmidt, the greats that we've all wanted to talk about. You throwin' me a bone, or did you drop the ball, 'cause the Koos is in my top 5 Mets easy. If there's no Koosman, there might not be a miracle. Seaver lost Game 1, Koosman won the first and last game for the Mets in the '69 series. He also (if memory serves) staved off elimination against the A's in '73 with a win in Game 6. He never stopped tryin'. Had his best year, 21 or 22 wins, as part of those cellar-dwellers I spoke of. Best #2 starter the Mets ever had. Loved the Koos.

Ron Hodges= Jerry Grote got old, Duffy Dyer didnt pan out, and Hodges was our capable backstop for 3 or 4 years. I got less to say about him than his bat had to say.

Lee Mazzilli= Fan favorite, great utility player and another in a long line of great Met pinch-hitters. Believe it or not, I'd like to see this guy get another shot, a real shot at managing the Mets.

Doug Sisk= Where's he at these days? He'd have fit right into last year's bullpen: devastating sinker that was hardly ever seen near the strike zone.

Mackey Sasser= He was the Duffy Dyer to Gary Carter. As Dyer was supposed to be the next Grote, Sasser was supposed to be the next Carter. Same result, basically. The one thing that sticks out about Sasser was the hiccup in his throw back to the mound. It looked like he was pump-faking the pitcher. Pretty funny.

Bobby Jones= What happened to him? He was pretty good. Not a flame-thrower, but a good curve that was so slow it was like an offspeed pitch. Almost no-hit the Giants in the Playoffs in 2000. Damn Jeff Kent! Guy was good for win totals in the teens every year, and for the life of me I can't remember what happened to him.

Butch Huskey= Mid-90's role player for 2 or 3 years. Played everywhere but pitcher and catcher, I think. I guess he was there just waiting until the Mets got a real 3rd baseman.

Edgardo Alfonzo= Think he's still playin' minor league ball in the area? I don't know. This one leaves all Met fans scratching their heads. He was so good for about 2 years and then just got so bad so fast it made our heads spin. Kinda like Andruw Jones, he just lost it.

7. If you could undo any trade in Mets history, which one would it be?

It's not what you're thinkin', not Nolan. The Mets had Seaver, Koosman and Matlack. Ryan had control problems at that point and had asked the Mets to trade him. I dont believe in hindsight. No, but I got a tie for my worst. #1, Juan Samuel for Lenny Dykstra? To the Phillies? No way, that one killed me. #1A, David Cone for Jeff Kent? Cone went on to glory with the Yankees, OUCH, and Kent went on to give his best years to the Giants, DOUBLE OUCH. Honorable mention? Scott to Houston almost cost us in '86, Kazmir, Isringhausen...I better stop, the list is long.

8. What do you think of all the alternate uniforms the Mets have these days? Do you like them or do you think the Mets should stick with their traditional look?

As Keith Hernandez always says, "Bring back the pinstripes!!!"

9. Are you going to miss Shea Stadium?

I'm holding my answer until after my first trip to Citi Field.

10. What changes would you make if you were in charge of Major League Baseball?

I've often discussed on this blog my disgust of the DH. I hope one never makes it to the Hall. When I finally get the vote and become the Commissioner, losing the DH will be a top priority. The money is a hard issue and I don't pretend to have the answers, but there's got to be a way to help the smaller market teams. I just don't know what it is.

11. What does 2009 hold for the Mets?

Gee, thanks man? I see only two ways this can go: a trip to the Series or another heartbreaking collapse. They're just too good a team to drop from the picture altogether at this point, but they are the same team who I thought would win it all the last 3 years runnin'.

12. To sum things up, tell us what the game of baseball means to you.

You know Ian, The first thing that comes to mind is when you and I tried to convince Lisa and others of the greatness of this game and we were told it was boring and took too long. If you get the game, you enjoy all the little things like 3-2 count and the batter knows he's gettin' a fastball, but when he gets the change his knees buckle and the bat never moves. OR you're down 1 run in the 5th, 2 outs, man on 2nd, your pitcher (other than the 1 run early) has settled in and is well under the pitch count, but you want the run, what do you do? OR some of my favorite nuances of the game, Beltran takes the field, any field, and the gaps in right and left center that you thought were there are now gone because he's the best. I could watch the game for that alone. OR David Wright goin' deep behind the bag for that grounder that's sure to be a base hit, but Dave's got a cannon and Delgado is a human vacuum, go back to the dugout son, you're out. I love it all. Guys who can paint the corners like Glavine, it's high art to me. Getting the game Ian, the 6-4-3 double plays or watching that shut down closer do his thing. Knowing the game, not just the K's and home runs, That's what it's all about to me now.

B@O seems to have disappeared from the Fox blogging scene. He had several accounts, and these two still have a significant number of extant posts.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Talkin' Baseball With Bolt Backer 21!

Last offseason on my now-defunct FoxSports blog I did a series of interviews with other bloggers about their baseball fandom. It ended up being a pretty popular series, and I don't know if I myself ever had more fun blogging than when I put those posts together. Now that the offseason is unfortunately here again we fans of the world's greatest sport need something to keep the flame burning. I thought I'd share those interviews over here so that they don't get relegated to obscurity. You probably won't know these bloggers, but if you're like me, you love hearing baseball fans talk about their memories of the game. Since these are from last offseason, a few of the questions and answers are a little dated, but it shouldn't make them any less enjoyable.

This is the third one I did, with Bolt Backer 21 (Will), a Padres fan.

1. Where did it start? How and when did you become a baseball fan?

I can’t remember the day, like a born-again moment, but I know that it was in the early '70's when I became a baseball fan(atic). I was constantly watching baseball or playing wiffle ball in my front yard. I started playing when I was 8, in 1974. I quickly became a Dodgers fan. I’m sure that thrilled my father, as we lived in San Diego and he supported the Padres. I guess the fact that the Dodgers were winning games and the Padres were a horrible team with little history made Los Angeles easier to root for.

I was a huge Steve Garvey fan. I even picked Steven as my confirmation name when I turned 13. Not exactly Biblical, but no harm done. When Garvey was sent packing to San Diego, my allegiance went with him. I was thrilled that I would be able to watch him whenever we went as a family to watch a game. Unfortunately, his boy-next-door reputation was tainted after he retired and we found out that he impregnated half of downtown San Diego. This knowledge brought about bumper stickers that read "Steve Garvey is not my Padre." I wish I had thought of that one.

2. Of all the baseball games you've attended, which one is your favorite?

This is a tough one. I don’t know that I have one particular game that is my favorite. The whole experience of going to the games was enough for me. I loved popping popcorn before the game and bringing it in a grocery bag, loading the whole family in our 1967 Chevy Impala station wagon and heading down to San Diego Stadium (later to be Jack Murphy and Qualcomm). Walking into the stadium was another favorite moment of mine. That moment when you walk through the tunnel and the field appears is still awe-inspiring to me.

As for individual games, I never went to a playoff or WS game, so I don’t have those kinds of memories. However, I do remember going to "Old Timers" games where the former greats would play a short game before the Padres would come out for their game. I still have a scorecard that my Dad kept from an old timers game where Mickey Mantle got a hit.

There was another game where I went with my college baseball team. We tailgated in the parking lot through the first 8 innings! I finally got fed up and went in to the game. The Pads were playing the Phillies. The game was tied in the ninth, when I took my seat. Mike Schmidt hit a foul ball into the upper deck, about one section away from me, and it smacked the hand of a fan who tried to catch it. That ball was smoking. I remember thinking that the guy probably broke his hand and didn’t even get the ball. Anyway, the game went on for another six innings, so I got to see much more than I thought I would.

I guess my favorite game, looking back, would be a Little League Night, back when I was around 10. My whole team loved Tito Fuentes. He was a flashy second baseman who did wild and ridiculous things when he played. He was a true hot dog on the field. To give you an example, the character "Willie Mays Hayes" from the movie Major League acted like Tito in the batting practice scene. During that game, my Dad kept telling us how bad Fuentes was and we didn’t want to hear it. We loved flipping the ball up to our bare hand after catching a ground ball and throwing it to first. We loved bouncing the bat handle off of the plate and making it flip up into our hands too! Horrible!? C'mon Dad! By the time the game was over, Tito had three errors and cost the Padres the game. My respect for Fuentes lowered and raised for my Father.

3. Which Padres season did you most enjoy following?

1984! That was the first time that the Padres made the World Series!!! A young Tony Gwynn, Steve Garvey, Graig Nettles, etc. were very fun to watch. Unfortunately, they ran into a buzzsaw in Detroit and lost in five. Kirk Gibson hit another memorable homerun in that series against The Goose, who talked Dick Williams out of walking him. Goose still gets teased about that.

4. The Padres have gone through a lot of uniform changes over the years. Which uniform do you think was the best?

This is a tough question. When the Padres were a minor league franchise in the PCL, they were blue and orange (b@O)! When they went to the bigs in 1969, they changed to brown and gold, except the gold was often an egg yolk yellow. There were years when they had yellow jerseys and pants with brown writing. Those were hideous. They then switched to brown and orange, and then blue and orange again.

When they got the new stadium, they came up with new colors, blue and sand. I think their home unis are my favorite, but their sand on sand road unis are brutal.

5. What was your most heartbreaking moment as a baseball fan?

I remember going to a game in the '80's and looking forward to seeing my hero Steve Garvey play. He had a consecutive games streak going that was soon to be the longest in N.L. history. I sit down with my binoculars and watch them exchange the lineups at home plate. When I looked at the scoreboard, Garvey was not in the lineup!!!! He eventually did show up and batted one time, late in the game. That was not enough for me.

6. I'll name some names and you tell me what comes to mind. It can be a thought, a memory, or whatever you want.

Gene Richards= Not that it bothered me, but I remember Richards as one of the ugliest players in the league, right up there with Derrel Thomas and George Foster. Anyway, Richards choked up about nine inches from the handle and slapped the ball. He was actually pretty good. He hit over .300 at least once and stole quite a few bases.

Tim Flannery= Flan was scrappy. That guy busted his butt and never took a play off. He got most of his ability to come out. I met him at the San Diego School of Baseball one day. I recalled a moment in the 1984 playoffs against the Cubs when he got hit by a Rick Sutcliffe slider, right in the knee. I asked him how he was able to shrug it off and run down to first base. He said, "Nothing hurts in the playoffs." I also heard him state, regarding the signing of Jerry Royster to platoon with Flan at second, "He hit .241 last year! I could hit .241 drunk!"

Eric Show= Show was a tough little pitcher who was famous for sitting on the mound after giving up Pete Rose’s record-breaking base hit. Rose did have a nice statement about Show once, however. Rose said, "Anyone who hits a homerun on a slash (butcher boy) play can play on my team any day."

Goose Gossage= In my collection of memorabilia I still have a "Goose Saved the Game" pin. Every time he saved a game everyone in attendance got one of these pins and free food from some local restaurant. I used to love The Goose. He had the ultimate in maximum-effort deliveries. It was much like my own in high school. Goose would come in during the seventh inning and be expected to stop whatever rally had started and then finish the game. Most of the time he would succeed.

I also remember Goose pitching in an exhibition game against San Diego State. He blew a fastball past one of the SDSU hitters that left the batter staring at his teammates with a silly grin on his face. You could tell that he had never faced anyone like Goose before.

I was glad to see him make it to the HOF this year. It was about time!

Bip Roberts= Another overachiever. Bip was a little guy who hustled all of the time.

Phil Plantier= I grew up and played against, and with, Phil’s brother Ray. Ray used to put his bat in a vice to flatten the barrel. He figured that would help him hit the ball squarely. It worked pretty well.

I also remember getting free beer at a club because my friend told everyone I was Phil Plantier. Who was I to call him a liar?

Scott Livingstone= I remember the name, but not the player.

Quilvio Veras= Veras was a solid second baseman on the Padres' second, and last, World Series team.

Brian Lawrence= Lawrence was a puss-throwing righty who had some decent years with the Padres. He is also the starting pitcher on the baseball game that I have on my cell phone. He kicks butt in that!

7. Other than Tony Gwynn, who would you say is the greatest player in Padres history?

There were many great players, but most made their mark for other teams:

Dave Winfield

Ken Caminiti

Ozzie Smith

Willie McCovey

Steve Garvey

Jake Peavy (soon to be on another team)


After thinking, I would say that the greatest player in Padres history other than Gwynn was Randy Jones.

He was a crafty lefty who couldn’t break a bottle at a carnival booth. He threw his fastball in the high seventies and his curve was said to have been faster than his fastball. He won 20 or more games twice as a Padre when the team was at its lowest. He threw 25 complete games in 1976 while posting a 22-14 record. He pitched 315 1/3 innings in 1976 as well.

Today, Jones is a radio personality for the Padres' pregame show and owns his own chain of barbecue stands, as well as his own barbecue sauce that is sold in stores. If you find yourself at Petco Park, go out past the center field fence and check out his stand. He is often there serving up the food and talking to fans.

8. How did you feel about Bruce Bochy leaving for San Francisco?

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out Boch! Honestly, Bochy did a lot with what he was given. When he had talent, he won. When the cupboards were bare, he lost. Of course, isn’t that the case with most managers? If your team is loaded, you normally win. I do not think that he ever was able to overachieve with a team by doing a great job inspiring them or bringing talent out of underachievers.

I know the players loved him because he kept the bench players busy and he got the starters a lot of rest. However, he would rest guys who were on fire and replace them with scrubs. The next day, the hot starter had cooled off and didn’t have it anymore. He also didn’t like smallball, which made it difficult with few power hitters.

9. What's your opinion of Kevin Towers?

I think that K.T. has done a good job over the years. Last year may be the exception. He has pulled off some great trades and built very good bullpens in the past. Last year, everything fell apart.

I also think that most of his power has been stripped. He is looked over by Sandy Alderson, Grady Fuson and Paul DePodesta. Personally, I think Alderson is the CEO, GM, and perhaps future owner (the team just went up for sale).

I would like to see what Towers could do with a big budget.

10. What changes would you make if you were in charge of Major League Baseball?

It will never happen, but I would like to see the contracts changed from guaranteed to a limited guarantee. Right now, if a player signs a multi-year deal, he will get his money no matter what. There may be a buy-out clause, but the team is still screwed if a player turns out to be a bust after signing for millions. Look at the Dodgers with Andruw Jones. He gets a massive contract and then earns his way back to the minors. No matter what, the Dodgers have to pay him the rest of his contract.

There needs to be some kind of accountability. If you sign a contract and then fall on your face, your team should be able to dump your contract and either renegotiate or send you packing at the end of the year. This may put an end to the old "Look for him to do well. This is a contract year!" A player should always push to be at his best, not just when a contract is coming to an end.

11. What changes would you like to see the Padres make?

Owners. John Moores did a nice job when he first stepped in and kept the Padres from moving. Now, he is getting a divorce and has to cut the payroll from around 80 million to around 35-40 mil. He is being forced to dump talent and pick up kids. At this point he may as well keep going and get rid of Peavy and Giles, because they are in a position now that they have too many holes to fill to win anytime soon. Word is that Moores announced today that he would be willing to sell the team.

12. To sum things up, tell us what the game of baseball means to you.

I love the game of baseball. The most fun in my life was when I was playing baseball. Whether it was Little League, high school, college, semi-pro, or just a pick up game with some friends, I was always looking to play. I played from age 8 to 30 and loved every minute of it.

I remember playing in three leagues at the same time one summer. My poor parents were constantly driving me from one field to another. They were almost always at my games and never used my participation as a weapon.

To me, baseball is a game of strategy, skill, and teamwork. It’s a thinking man's game where a crafty lefty can be triumphant over a big slugger. It is a game where a slap hitter can get a game-winning hit off of a guy blowing 100 MPH. You can watch baseball every day of your life and never see all the possible plays happen. There is always something new.

Will's blog unfortunately no longer exists, but it will live on in the memories of those of us who enjoyed it. It looks like he got his wish about a new owner and that his prediction on Jake Peavy leaving soon was correct.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Talkin' Baseball With edhardiman!

Last offseason on my now-defunct FoxSports blog I did a series of interviews with other bloggers about their baseball fandom. It ended up being a pretty popular series, and I don't know if I myself ever had more fun blogging than when I put those posts together. Now that the offseason is unfortunately here again we fans of the world's greatest sport need something to keep the flame burning. I thought I'd share those interviews over here so that they don't get relegated to obscurity. You probably won't know these bloggers, but if you're like me, you love hearing baseball fans talk about their memories of the game. Since these are from last offseason, a few of the questions and answers are a little dated, but it shouldn't make them any less enjoyable.

This is the second one I did, with Ed Hardiman, a Phillies fan. Ed took some crap for his comments on Sabermetrics, but there's a lot here to like even if you disagree with him in that department.

1. Where did it all begin? When and how did you become a baseball fan?

Maz hits the walk off HR to beat the Yankees in the World Serious. I remember hearing the call on the radio the next day.

2. Of all the baseball games you've attended, which one is your favorite?

Had to be the 1st home game of the infamous '64 collapse when the Phillies got beat 1-0. Art Mahaffey's glacial delivery allowed a guy to steal home.

3. Which do you like best: Connie Mack Stadium, Veterans Stadium or Citizen's Bank Park?

Connie Mack, the Vet, then CBP...that's my order of preference...

4. What did you honestly think the Phillies' chances of winning the World Series were going into the 2008 season?

Are you kidding? We eliminate the Phillies from postseason contention no later than November the previous season over at the BIT, my favorite baseball forum...

5. Who were the best and worst Phillie managers you ever saw?

Best ever is tough. Have to go Dallas Green but hate him for stealing Ryne Sandberg. Worst ever is a tie between Frank Lucchesi & Nick Leyva.

6. I'll name some names and you tell me what comes to mind. It can be a memory, a thought, or whatever you want.

Johnny Briggs= Another "never lived up to expectations" guy from the 60's.

Don Money= 1 good season, 3 so-so ones. His career came after the Phillies with Milwaukee...they traded Bunning to get him and then traded him for Lonborg and the wrong Brett, Ken.

Wayne Twitchell= Twitch? Did you dig these guys up from the Phillies Pet Sematary? Another bust on the mound.

Larry Christenson= Great pitcher, always hurt.

Del Unser= Had his career Last Hurrah seasons in '79 & '80 with the Phillies, smell the Del.

Jeff Stone= Another disappointing 80's guy. 2 and half good seasons then throws it in reverse. I think he once swatted a couple of potatoes in one game and never came close to the fence ever again. I would have preferred Steve Jeltz or Juan Samuel as a question...j/k.

Pat Combs= The Phillies flat out overcoached him and yoyo'd him between AAA & the club out of a career. A real shame, 'cause the kid pre-headcase was pretty decent. They Steve Blassed him. I haven't trusted a 2nd half of the season wonder ever since Combs. He's the poster boy for why the Phillies farm system is where pitchers go to die.

Jim Eisenreich= Awesome, gutsy player. The '93 team was full of them. True grit.

Kevin Jordan= Forget him, my favorite Phillies Jordan was Ricky Jordan, the 1st sacker who hit two different people in the stands with bats one game I was at 'cause his hands were swollen and the dope manager, I think it was Leyva, made him play. His hands looked like two of the bats augered in on a lady's head like a hellfire missile shaking hands with an Iraqi tank...

7. Do you think Dick Allen belongs in the Hall of Fame?

Absolutely. It's a crime he isn't in, but you know baseball always hated Richie...he used to make a question mark with his bat while waiting for a pitch. I think every kid in lil league copied it. He owned a house up where I lived near Philly and you would see him drinking in tiny bars minding his own business. A real gentleman.

8. If Mitch Williams escapes the 9th inning of Game 6 unscathed, does Danny Jackson beat Pat Hentgen in Game 7?

The blame rests on Fregosi. Friggles had an open base for Carter, Mitch pitched out of a gazillion bases-loaded jams, then to compound the error, Friggles has him pitch out of the stretch, which he never did. It knocked 15 MPH off his fastball. As to your question, I think Jackson had the lightning in the bottle that season and the Phillies had enough sticks to win, but as the old saying goes, if wishes were pigs there'd be no bacon. OK I made that up, but it's pretty good. The only guy I ever met who could recall every pitch in that game is The Dan. He'll tell you Friggles not giving Hollins the take sign with two men on and two out when Stewart walked two straight on eight wild pitches really cost the Phillies the game, because Hollins swung at a ball and weakly flied out.

9. You gained some notoriety on the internet last year thanks to your "Slobbermetrics" article. In all seriousness though, what do you really think of Sabermetrics?

As a viable interpretation of the past it's OK, as a predictor of the future, not so hot. Moneyball hasn't changed baseball. Influenced it perhaps and improved Boston, but what has it done for the A's? I think Charlie Lau's contact hitting sytem has had a far greater impact than Sabermetrics. It's like believing in fortune tellers. If you exclude the failures it looks great, when you factor them in it resembles flipping a coin. Why wouldn't a Kansas City just hire the brightest SABR guy if it was so infallible? I'm OK with people who live and die by it, but don't try to cram it down our throats or claim it's the last word in understanding baseball. Even Bill James refutes that notion. It's math that can't pass any rigorous testing. If the player doesn't conform he's underperformed? How about the math underperfomed and individual humans can't be expressed mathematically? What about the 2008 Mets? Sabermetrically, that team was better than the Phillies. Just grade out the pitching staffs and the Phillies shouldn't have been a speck in the Mets' rearview mirror. The Cubbies should've beaten the Dodgers SABR-metrically, what happened? That's why I take it with a grain of salt.

10. What changes would you make if you were in charge of Major League Baseball?

Come clean or get bounced out would be my PED policy. It cons the fans first and foremost out of what they pay to see: the best, not the most chemically enhanced. I'd raise the pitching mounds so the turnstile pitching staffs would become a loathed memory. Balance makes the sport great. This artificial dinger ball from the Selig era is like pork rinds. How many can you eat before harking? I'd make umps and players get through games in under two hours. Enough with the triple switches, mound conferences and hitters adjusting their jocks every pitch. Finally, I'd mandate a section of every stadium priced at $5 a seat. If fans can build a stadium they sure as hell should be able to afford to attend a game.

11. What do you expect from the Phillies in 2009?

We've eliminated them already at the BIT. Promoting Rube Amaro is a disaster, like one of those movies from the 70's where Steve McQueen is a fire chief wandering through a towering inferno while the audience wonders what the hell he's doing in such a cheesy, crummy flick.

12. To sum things up, tell us what the game of baseball means to you.

Baseball speaks to me from every era. From players like Pickles Dillhoefer right up to Ryan Howard, it exemplifies what I like to call American Splendor...

For more of Ed's entertaining scribble, you can check out his blog.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Talkin' Baseball With bosox61!

Last offseason on my now-defunct FoxSports blog I did a series of interviews with other bloggers about their baseball fandom. It ended up being a pretty popular series, and I don't know if I myself ever had more fun blogging than when I put those posts together. Now that the offseason is unfortunately here again we fans of the world's greatest sport need something to keep the flame burning. I thought I'd share those interviews over here so that they don't get relegated to obscurity. You probably won't know these bloggers, but if you're like me, you love hearing baseball fans talk about their memories of the game. Since these are from last offseason, a few of the questions and answers are a little dated, but it shouldn't make them any less enjoyable.

This is the first one I did, with bosox61 (Paul), a fan of both the Red Sox and the Rays.

1. Let's start at the beginning: When and how did you become a baseball fan?

I was about nine or ten years old when my love affair with baseball began, and as I look back at my past, I tend to think that baseball served to fill a void in my life that desperately needed filling. My Dad passed away in 1953 causing a lot of changes in my home. My older brothers had both gone off to the service and my Mom had to go to work in order to support the family. I found myself alone a lot of the time and somehow became infatuated with playing baseball. At first it was on the streets by my house and as I grew a little older it moved to a playground about a quarter of a mile away.

In 1955 my Mom sent me to stay with my sister and her husband in Long Island, New York for the summer. My brother in law was an ardent New York Giants baseball fan and took me to the Polo Grounds many times to see his team play. He also taught me how to properly read the sports page of the local newspapers and I became enamored with statistics. He also taught me how to be a proper Yankee hater. I think I had that one down pat before I ever developed my life long love affair with the Red Sox.

As the summer of 1956 approached, I wasn't really too keen on going to New York mainly because of the Red Sox. I had become a fan and will never forget the lineup the Sox fielded that year. It was beyond my comprehension to even think that there was a better outfield than Ted Williams, Jimmy Piersall and Jackie Jensen. Yogi couldn't possibly be as good as Sammy White. Don Buddin was going to be the All-Star shortstop for many years to come.

It was in 1956 that I first started to question front office moves. The Sox signed Mickey Vernon to play first base (a move that made no sense to me). They already had a first baseman named Norm Zauchin who hit 27 homers the year before with over 90 RBIs and I thought he was great.

The Sox had a pretty good year in '56 and another in '57, although they finished down in the standings both years. But then the slide came. They managed to have 9 straight losing seasons after that and although I still loved the Red Sox, I accepted that they just plain sucked.

Well that's it. I was about 8 years old when I learned to love playing the game. However, it wasn't for another year or so before I became a fan of the game played by others.

2. Of all the baseball games you've attended, which one is your favorite?

I actually wrote about this last April. I'll just repeat the story here.

I was fourteen years old and probably had been to 50 or 60 games up to that point in my life. I lived and died baseball back then (as most of us did and I still do) and when someone came up with the idea of going to see the Red Sox play a twilight doubleheader against the Tigers, I was all for it. It was a Tuesday or Wednesday night right before the Labor Day weekend and school was starting right after that. We went to four different schools back then and knew that we weren't going to be seeing each other very much now that the summer was almost all over so the game was a great idea.

The Red Sox were about 20 games back in the standings but that didn't matter. We met at Uphams Corner in Dorchester and caught a bus to Andrew Station. From there we caught the subway to the Park Street station where we transferred to a trolley to Kenmore square which is less than a 10-minute walk to Fenway. Everyone else on the street was going to the ballgame and we got caught up in the excitement long before we bought our tickets. It cost a buck to get bleacher seats in right field. The first game was to start at 4:00pm and we got there early enough to get seats next to the visiting bullpen.

Billy Monbouquette was pitching for the Sox in the first game against the Tigers' Frank Lary. They both pitched pretty well but neither of them was involved in the decision. At the end of the 9th inning they were in a four to four tie and nobody but the Sox second baseman (Pete Runnels) seemed to want to win the game. Finally, after 4 hours and in the bottom of the 15th inning, Runnels hit a drive into the triangle next to the Red Sox bullpen and scored Frank Malzone from first base. It was Pete Runnels' 6th hit of the game and the place went crazy.

It took close to an hour to get the second game started. This was going to be another good one. Earl Wilson was pitching against Jim Bunning. The sore spot was that Ted Williams was not going to play in the second game. In the top of the 9th inning Rocky Colavito hit a monster shot over the left field wall to tie the game and put us into extra inning again. Thank goodness the Sox scored in the bottom of the 10th on a throwing error by the Tigers' shortstop and ended up winning both ends of the double header. Pete Runnels had three more hits in the second game to raise his total to 9 hits for the day. I think that was some kind of a record at the time.

The coolest thing about the game was not actually the game. We spent over 9 hours next to the visitors' bullpen and got to know some of the Tiger pitchers. Hank Aguirre and Paul Foytack were the two I remember most and they were terrific. Rocky Colavito was the Tiger right fielder and he interacted with us during both games. I sort of became a Tiger fan after that and grasped at the opportunity to visit Tiger Stadium in 1972 when I was in Windsor on business.

Now we ran into problems. Public transportation stopped at 1:00pm back then and the lateness of the game was only going to change the number of subway cars, not the time schedule. We ran like heck to the Kenmore Square station and caught a trolley to Park Street. There we managed to get the last subway back to Andrew Station but only found that the last bus home had already left. We had I'm guessing about a five mile walk ahead of us. It was after 1:00am and we were all in trouble as we were all 14 or 15 years old and it was not acceptable to be out that late. There were no cell phones and we couldn't find a pay phone during the walk to alert our families of our whereabouts. About half way home a Boston Police Department cruiser stopped us and the policeman inquired as to why we were out that late. Upon hearing our explanation and seeing a ticket stub he graciously drove us home.

However, this caused us more problems. All our parents were still awake waiting for us. They saw the police car drop us off one by one.. My Mom was at the top of the front steps when I arrived. She only asked me if I was all right and then getting a positive answer told me to go to bed. The next morning was a different story. Back then it was very embarrassing for parents to have their children brought home in a police car. None of us got through that unscathed. When I asked my Mom recently if she remembered the incident she only remembered the night that the police brought me home. It's funny how one of the best baseball nights of my life caused me so much trouble.

I think my second favorite game was the one that took place at the Trop on September 11th, 2002. My wife and I wanted to do something "patriotic" on the anniversary of 9/11 and going to a baseball game seemed to be the right thing to do. The Red Sox were in town and Pedro was pitching. The Sox won easily but we were both moved by the experience. The Devil Rays had a ceremony that would have moved the most stoic of people.

3. You've said that you had a feeling about the 2008 Rays in Spring Training. Did you have a similar feeling about the 2004 Red Sox?

Absolutely not! When that season started the Sox had a brand new 37-year-old pitcher in Curt Schilling. Did he have anything left? Could Wakefield give you 30 decent starts? What the hell was a Bronson Arroyo? It was Lowe and Pedro and cross your fingers. Could Keith Foulke match what he did in Oakland and Chicago? Did Timlin and Embree have 70+ appearances in them? If they didn't, it was going to be a long season.

You also have to remember that the Sox began the year with Pokey Reese as their shortstop and Mark Bellhorn in his first season with the team at second. Gabe Kapler began the season in right field because Trot Nixon was broken for much of the season. And don't forget, Nomar was broken for most of the year before he was traded.

Taking this all into account and realizing that the Sox were almost as old as the Yankees, it didn't bode well for the 2004 season from my point of view.

When the Sox were down 2 games in the ALCS to the Yankees and were losing in game 3, my wife announced that when the Red Sox won the World Series the whole family was going to get Red Sox tattoos and she was paying for them. Just to humor her, I agreed to it. It was the same for my daughters. I was just shy of my 60th birthday when I blessed my body with a red B on my left shoulder. The whole family flew into Tampa for the tattoo party in Ybor City.

4. Do you have any memories of the Boston Braves? What was the status of their fans after the franchise left for Milwaukee?

I went to 2 games at Braves Field, but I don't remember either one of them. I did see the Milwaukee Braves play in the Polo Grounds in '55 a couple of times. I knew the names but all I really remember was how high Warren Spahn kicked his right leg in the air.

The Braves didn't have much of a following in Boston that I was aware of. But then again I was just a little kid and by the time I got into the Red Sox, they had been gone for a couple of years.

5. What was your most heartbreaking moment as a baseball fan?

When Tony Conigliaro got beaned in August, 1967. For a while it was just like the Kennedy assassination all over again (as absurd as that sounds).

And of course, Bucky "Fucking" Dent. Nuff said about that!

6. I'll name some names and you tell me what comes to mind. It can be a memory, a thought, or whatever you want:

Ike Delock= (#14) I liked Ike; both in politics and on the Fenway bump. He played his whole career with the Sox. He was a pretty good reliever for the first couple of years I watched him but he became an average starter for some really bad Red Sox teams.

Chuck Schilling= (#2) He came up with Yaz in 1961 and had a real good rookie season at 2nd base. Had high hopes for Schilling but he only lasted a couple of more years.

Dalton Jones= (#3) This guy's career has never made any sense to me. He had the prettiest swing you ever saw. He played all the infield positions in a utility role and was a great pinch hitter. He was one of my favorites but could never hit consistently enough to stay in the lineup.

Rick Miller= (#16; #3) Everyone in Boston loved Rick Miller. He was a good ball player but nobody ever took him serious enough to let him play every day. He had 2 stints with the Sox; playing 3 years with the Angels in between. If memory serves me right, he was married to Carlton Fisk's sister or Fisk was married to his sister. Something like that anyway.

Wade Boggs= (#26) Wade Boggs sucks! I should have many great memories of Boggs but they were all deleted when he signed with the Yankees. I will never forgive that and refuse to acknowledge that he ever played for the Red Sox.

Kevin Romine= (#16) Not a whole lot to remember about this guy. He was a utility outfielder who was probably the 25th man on the roster for most of his career. Played his whole career with the Sox.

Tim Naehring= (#11) This guy was a good ballplayer. He was the starting 3rd baseman for a couple of years in the mid nineties and was a good hitter. John Valentin took his job away and he left the game. Another guy who played his whole career for the Sox.

Aubrey Huff= I never liked Huff when he played for the D-Rays. He was a great hitter and an adequate fielder in a number of positions, but he had this way about him. He had this "strut" that drove me crazy. He was like the villain blond headed kid who was a member of the Cobra Kai in the Karate Kid Movie. Talented, but you had to hate him. This is only my opinion though. I have never heard anyone else express this opinion of him.

Lance Carter= Somebody had to go to the All-Star game in 2003 and since they already had enough outfielders, it wasn't going to be Aubrey Huff. That Game was pretty much Lance Carter's claim to fame. If the D-Rays didn't exist, he probably never would have played at the Major League level.

7. There seems to be a lot of resentment among Red Sox fans toward "pink hats", i.e. fans who jumped on the bandwagon five years ago. What's your opinion on this issue? Do you feel that bandwagoners are cheapening the culture surrounding the Red Sox?

I don't consider it an issue. My sister has never been much of a baseball fan. She probably went to one or two baseball games a year for most of her adult life (this was during the time when you could get tickets at Fenway without taking out a second mortgage). In 2004 she got caught up in the Red Sox pennant drive; probably because her friends did. In '05 and '06, I don't think she even knew where the Sox finished. But low and behold, she got caught up in it again in '07. Should I be critical of my sister because she is a fair-weather Red Sox fan? Hell no! I'm thrilled to have something else to talk about with her that doesn't concern the family.

I personally think that people who engage in these kinds of discussions are morons. And I don't care what team they support or what sport they support. That's all I have to say about that.

8. Not counting any year where the Red Sox won the World Series, what was your favorite season of following baseball?

1967! I had just come back to the World and baseball was the only thing I could concentrate on besides the level of intoxication I needed to achieve just to function. I believe it saved my sanity, although I'm sure a lot of folks would say that wasn't so.

9. Do you think the Rays need a new ballpark, or is Tropicana Field good enough for now?

I think that the Trop is fine as far as a facility is concerned. I like the fact that I don't have to sit in a ballpark at 10:00pm when the temperature is 90 degrees with an 80% humidity level. However I will concede that the stadium is located in probably the worst place it could be as far as fan support goes. So I suppose my answer to the question is yes, they need a new stadium in a more favorable location.

10. What changes would you make if you were in charge of Major League Baseball?

I'd kill interleague play and set up balanced schedules again. I'd kill that ridiculous idea that the All-Star Game should mean something. I would do anything that makes the playing field even. Bud Selig is unfairly criticized in my opinion for not doing the things that so many of us would like to have done. The man is extremely limited in what he can do besides tend the seeds that have already been planted. After Fay Vincent resigned, the owners lopped off a great deal of the powers that the Commissioner once had. As a result, the commissioners since then have no power to build anything without the owners and the Players Association giving their blessing. All they can do today is throw a new coat of paint on it every now and then to bring in more revenue.

11. Do you see both the Rays and the Red Sox making the Playoffs again next year?

At this point I can't see why not. Ask me again in February when all these teams have retooled. You know that the Yankees are going to do something and probably a lot of things. The Orioles were not that bad last season and Cito Gaston made the Jays respectable; it was just too late to make a difference.

The Twins are for real and I think that the Indians and the Tigers were aberrations last season. The Royals may be next seasons Rays. No offense to you, but I don't see the White Sox being as good next year. And don't ever turn your back on Billy Beane.

As far as the Rays go, I don't know. When you have 14 .260 hitters and 11 pretty good pitchers, chemistry and attitude have an awful lot to do with a team's success. You never know what the successful 2008 season will do to that chemistry and attitude in 2009. I think this off-season will really determine if Andrew Friedman is the genius that he is credited with being.

The Red Sox will be there in '09. If they do nothing this winter they will be there and I don't think anybody expects them to do nothing.

12. To sum things up, tell us briefly what the game of baseball means to you.

I love the game of baseball. I think that baseball is the purest of all sports. It is a microcosm of the real world in many respects. The first pitch starts a game as birth starts life. Managers and coaches plan for that first pitch as parents plan for their baby's arrival. The last out symbolizes death. When that out has been made we all can evaluate the success or the failure of that which has past.

In the process, baseball has rules to play by as we have rules to live by and when we don't, there are authorities there to judge and sentence us. In baseball, as in life, there are mentors and teachers and supporters and antagonists. There is no time limit in baseball. A game can be short or it can be long, just as our lives can be short or long.

There are great teams and there are stars. There are also those whose names that we never learn but without who, we could never be successful. There are rewards for great accomplishments and then there are those who win the lottery. There are those who are taken for granted and those who are valued too highly.

In the end, a valued effort may not bring forth outstanding results but the effort can be and is often appreciated.

Still great after almost a year. It looks like he was right about the Red Sox' playoff chances too. You can read more of Paul's fine work here.