Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Free agent in the sky...

                       Well, it's been a few weeks, but I'm back. There were several topics I was going to discuss; One was the whole Marlins/Jays fiasco, but I figured that was pretty well covered by now.
I've also written about 95% of another piece, but I'm still researching on that one ( It's a secret ).  Then Marvin Miller died, so I thought maybe I could work with that.  As most of you know, Marvin Miller is famous for being the lawyer that challenged the reserve clause and paved the way for free agency...oh, and he also made Curt Flood a household name, he being the first player to refuse to report to camp because of being traded to Philly from the Cardinals.  Flood was a gold glove All Star, but also was well known for a slip-up in the outfield during the 1968 World series against Detroit, which led to the Tigers comeback and eventually victory.

                Free agency has been both good and bad; that players can make a living at it and not have to supplement their income like players of yesteryear did, you can see the good.  When you see a relatively O.K. player like Jason Werth receive a contract that would make Dave Winfield faint, you think, not so good.  Miller was an enemy to most of the owners back in the '70s as well as Commissioner Bowie Kuhn...but to the players, he was a godsend.  Of course, it's mostly the New Yorks, the Bostons, the Chicagos and L.A. s of the world that are benefiting from the bigger names.
The off season is more interesting with Free agency ( along with trades, that is ).  The biggest free agent out there now is Josh Hamilton, who is a risk because of health issues.  I think if the Red Sox get him, there should be a clause in his contract that he never brings up "Jesus" in an interview...although if he wants to talk about his drug filled past, that'd be O.K.

                   Miller hasn't made it to the Baseball Hall of fame yet, but when he does, some people won't be too happy about it; Bowie Kuhn was already dead, but some of the owners from back in the '70s who are still around are probably still reeling from it.  As for the players, every one of them should get down on their knees and pray to the this guy...when you think of all the mediocre players who make a million dollars, it's astounding;or, as Bob Uecker once said "If I played in this era, I'd be making a million scary is that"?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hey Rookie...

                               This week, both the MVP  and Rookie of the year for both leagues will be chosen; And although Miguel Cabrera will most likely win the AL MVP, there is a slight chance that it will go to the Angel's Mike Trout, which would be only the third time in baseball history that a rookie won the MVP.  The last time it was Ichiro in 2001, although he was in his late twenties when he won it, having played for years in Japan.  The first player to ever win an MVP as a rookie was the Red Sox Fred Lynn in 1975, putting up numbers that he would best four years later.  After he left the Sox, however, he became a sort of poor man's Harold Baines; solid, if unspectacular ( although, to be fair, Lynn was a much better fielder, whereas Baines was mostly a D.H. for his career).  My brother always thought he should have been the next Willie Mays, but what are ya gonna do?

                 As for Trout, he should have a great career ahead of him if he can avoid the injuries that plagued Lyn for most of his career.  It's too bad he didn't play on the Angels 12-15 years ago;that way he could have played next to Tim Salmon.  I myself am more of an ocean fish man, but anyway...
Trout's chances are slim because of Cabrera's triple crown year, so when Cabrera does win it, coupled with Buster Posey winning the NL MVP, we'll have both MVP's that played each other in that years World series.  The last time that happened was 1980, When Mike Schmidt's Phillies beat George Brett's Royals in baseball's first all astroturf series.  It used to be a lot more commonplace for that to happen, but all these divisional series kind of muddy things up a bit.

          I'm always fascinated with rookies who were mostly one year wonders.  A few leap to mind; the Royals Bob Hamelin in 1994, the Red Sox Walt Dropo in 1950, and of course there's Joe Charboneau in 1980.  The Cleveland Indians were their mediocre selves that year, but Charboneau gave the hometown fans something to root for, even inspiring a song called "Go Joe Charboneau" ( couldn't find the name of the band, for some reason).  After his rookie season where he batted .287 with 23 homers and 87 RBI's, he was never the same.  The next season he hurt his back and then went in and out of the minors for the next few years, becoming the only ROY to ever get sent to the minors the year after winning the award.

          Charboneau, like a lot of players from that era, was an eccentric; long before Dennis Rodman would do so, he dyed his hair different colors.  He also opened beer bottles with his eye socket and drank beer with a straw up his nose.  After his career ended, he did appear in the movie "The Natural", playing one of Roy Hobb's "teammates", although that would be his only time on film.  As for now, he's a hitting instructor for a parks and recreation team in Ohio.  Oh how the mighty have fallen...could be worse though;he could be Lenny Dykstra...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Yeah, I get it, you used to catch Bob SHUT UP ALREADY!...

                       Herb Score was going to be the next Bob Feller; he was young, had amazing stuff and his future looked, as Elvis would say, "bright ahead". Then, during a game against the Yankees, the Cleveland Indians hurler had happen to him what most pitchers fear; a line drive to the face...the blow came off the bat of Gil MacDougal, who, to his credit, said he would retire if Score went blind from it.  Herb actually recovered his vision, but was a little gun shy for a while, and by the time he started to feel better, he hurt his arm.  He would never be the same pitcher and soon retired.
Instead of feeling sorry for himself and quitting the game he loved, he decided to become a broadcaster for the Indians.  It was a job he kept for 33 years. First in T.V., then in radio. After he had called games for a while, a younger athlete/broadcaster asked him for advice, and one of things he said to the young man was something to the effect of, "Don't talk about your playing're an announcer now".  Oh, if only 80% of jocks- turned- broadcasters would take that same advice.

           Listen, I love watching the World series, playoffs, et all...but Joe Buck and Tim McCarver do their best to annoy the ever living shit out of me every time; I actually will go to a bar to watch the game just so I don't have to listen to them talk. 
Firstly, I'll get Joe Buck out of the way; he was not a pro athlete, but he is the son of one of the greatest announcers of all time; longtime Cardinal announcer Jack Buck ("I don't believe what I just saw", "Go crazy folks" and so on...)...Joe's Ken Doll looks and non stop pretentiousness are annoying to be sure, but the worst is when he goads McCarver into talking about his playing days with the Cardinals (there's a theme going on here....the fact the St. Louis has been in the series a lot lately isn't helping), and, more specifically, catching Bob Gibson.

               Bob Gibson was one of the most feared, intimidating and clutch pitchers of his era and McCarver was his catcher for a lot of his years with the Cardinals.  I never count, but I think McCarver brings his name up at least once a broadcast, even when the Cardinals AREN'T playing; when they are, forget about it.  Tim also tries to be clever with people's names and will say stuff like ..."to quote Willy Shakespeare, now is the hour of our discontent"...maybe trying to be as pretentious as Buck, but good ole boy it up a little.  Funny, because Bob Gibson was about as no nonsense as they come; McCarver was a good catcher to be sure, but it's his post playing days that I'm on a rant about...however...

           Believe it or not, McCarver is not the worst athlete-turned broadcaster. That honor goes to a man so bad, that when he was working for ESPN a few years ago (he has since retired from the booth, thank God), there was a website dedicated to his incompetence as an announcer.  The site was ""...Yes, hall of famer Joe Morgan was maybe the worst baseball announcer ever; boring, arrogant, condescending...maybe these traits helped him become one of the greatest second basemen ever, who knows.  What I do know is that the man was torture to listen to.  For all of McCarver's hucksterisms, at least he seems to enjoy himself.  Joe Morgan looked like he wanted to be anywhere else in the world.  Actually, where he wanted to be is on the playing field circa 1976; the man was a fierce competitor who used his diminutive size to his advantage, winning back to back MVP in '75 and '76 for the fearsome "Big red machine" of Cincinnati...

           Morgan had a long, successful career as player; he didn't need to become a broadcaster, I don't think...Score had to, at least if he wanted to stay in the game in some capacity. I'm not saying that "little Joe" should have been hit in the face with a line drive to become a better announcer, but it wouldn't hurt...actually, it would actually REALLY hurt, physically, but you know what I mean.  With the salaries players make these days, I'm amazed anyone would do anything after their playing days.  I myself could retire on the money some of these players make in a year.   It's like that old Steve Martin joke about charging people 500 dollars a ticket so he'd make over a million dollars; "One show....goooodddbbyyee..."