Another Unemotional World Series, I Guess

I don’t know if there’s some sort of baseball award for most blown opportunities in a series, but the Yankees really deserve it for this year’s ALCS.

I won’t bother researching the Bill James stats or whatever they are to see if they set a record for men left on base or for the lowest batting average with runners in scoring position… but it sure feels like it. And defensively they were certainly erratic.

And give it up to the Astros – they took advantage of every mistake, made the most of practically every opportunity they had, sparkled in the field, and simply carried themselves like the team to beat. Too many of the Yankees looked confused and tired. A lot of times you can predict the winners of these things just by sensing the mood and attitude.

So I’ll watch what looks like to be a great matchup between the Astros and Nationals. Both teams have a pair of amazing starting pitchers, and I wonder if Nats manager Dave Martinez will do what he did to the Dodgers and stagger his pair of aces so that they don’t face the aces on the Astros. I guess we’ll see.

I’d have to give the edge to the Astros (who I figured to win it all once they signed Greinke, to be honest… but I have to root for my team and hope for the best… that’s what fandom is all about). The Astros have better hitting and balance, and probably a more reliable bullpen.

Yankees off-season will be interesting. I’m thinking they let Encanarcion go. Sabathia is retiring. I’m not sure if they’ll re-sign Gregorius with Andujar due back & the team overflowing with infielders, although I’d love to see him return. But with Urshela becoming what he has, and Voit doing well, and the wonderful addition of LeMehieu (probably the best move they made) along with future HOF Gleyber Torres out there… well, it’s a bit crowded.

What would I like to see in the off-season? Well, signing Garret Cole would sure be nice, although right now the 2020 starting rotation looks to be Severino – Tanaka – German – Paxton – Montgomery, and that’s not too bad. Bettances should return to the bullpen, too. But they can spend a billion dollars on free agents for all I care. I’m not paying for tickets and get to watch free on TV. Spend, spend, spend, I say!

Although all the “ifs” involved in that or any roster set up rely on avoiding the never-ending injuries that plagued nearly the entire team this year, so I think what I really want to see during the offseason is what I’ve wanted to see since maybe late April, that being for them to FIRE THE ENTIRE GOD DAMN STRENGTH AND TRAINING STAFF. Whatever the hell they’re doing, they’re doing in wrong. Guys miss half the year injured, like Judge – or the entire year like Stanton, only to come back and strain themselves AGAIN doing ordinary baseball stuff like running to first or swinging a bat. It’s ridiculous.

Another off-season move they should seriously consider is trading Gary Sanchez for pitching and prospects. They have other catchers who are perfectly fine, and the more I watched him this post-season the more I think he costs more than he provides, even when he hit better this year.

Cutting loose Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird might be imminent as well.

So now to watch the World Series as merely a fan of the sport. Less stressful to be sure, but I don’t think it will affect my alcohol consumption during the games.

When Topps Got Lazy: 1972 & 1973 Mickey Rivers

“Just zoom out a bit and sharpen the photo. Maybe a little color tinting on the sky, yeah, that’s it…. NONE OF THOSE LITTLE KIDS WILL EVER NOTICE.”

Oh YEAH TOPPS????

I NOTICED!!!!

And he wasn’t even on the Yankees yet. You lazy BUMS. Get off your fat bubblegum stained asses and take a new photo of the man.

OR – perhaps you could use the exact same photo every year for his career, and when he switches teams, simply write in the new logos with a crayon.

The Yankees got him & Ed Figueroa from the Angels before the ’76 season for Bobby Bonds, which turned out better for NY over the next three seasons where both players were instrumental to 3 pennants and 2 world championships.

When Reggie Jackson told a reporter he had an IQ of 160, Rivers responded “What, like out of a thousand?”

But then the Yankees traded Mick the Quick to the Rangers in the awful summer of ’79, when the Yanks struggled to catch the Orioles and Thurman Munson died in a plane crash. They got Oscar Gamble & his impressive hair back, but Gamble only really served as a platoon outfielder. Rivers played a good centerfield and was a great leadoff hitter, averaging .300 or better and distracting pitchers with base stealing and general speed, back when hit and run still existed.

He trained horses for a while, now he’s back in the Yankee organization (yay!) You can read more about him at his spiffy website here.

Just look at all those photos…. JUST LOOK AT THEM, TOPPS! Gawd.

Random Baseball Card Of The Day: Topps 1972 Rich Reese

Back before the times of ubiquitous digital photos and wall-to-wall television coverage of every game, the majority of the photos on baseball cards came from posed sessions with Topps usually done during spring training or even the previous season. Older cards have players in obvious staged poses faking a pitching windup or fielding stance or whatever.

I like this one of Rich Reese and his gigantic Freudian bat.

Is he trying to bash the photographer’s head in? Was he psychically predicting a light saber battle pose five years early? Was he doing his impression of Al Capone? Or is he merely illustrating a phallocentric interpretation of baseball’s emphasis on male virility via a cross-cultural archetype of traditional masculine power within the extradiogetical space? Well, that last part is what it says on the back of the card, right after how much he enjoys hunting & fishing during the off-season and before his stats. But I’m still leaning towards the light saber theory.

No big surprise that Reese would rather pose with a bat than a glove – he spent a bunch of years, mostly with some decent Twins teams, as a backup infielder and premier pinch-hitter. He’s still tied for the all-time pinch hit grand slam record with 3.

He did better after he left baseball. He went to work in sales in the liquor industry, first for the old Hamm brewery (long since bought out by Miller/Coors) and eventually became CEO of Jim Beam brands before retiring some years ago.

I’d like to think he swang that bat against his competitors in the booze biz the same way Al Capone did.

And now I’m thinking about having a bourbon. Thanks Rich!

New Baseball Cards For My Collection

Let’s have some fun with Topps’ Customized Baseball cards, shall we?

That’s right, you can upload any photo, set it within a few choices of Topps classic baseball card designs, and have them custom printed.

OR, if you’re a troll moron like me, you can have fun just taking some screenshots of imagined cards for FREE! So I think I’d like a 1986 Ro-Man. I think he’ll make all the difference for the Dodgers this year when he cranks up that bubble machine and kills everyone on Earth except for a small group of morons near Bronson Canyon in Los Angeles.

Unless, of course, he’s stopped by my 1973 Big Jim Slade

Yeah, yeah, I know… Big Jim really played for the Kansas City Chiefs (and the capital of Nebraska is LINCOLN!), but only baseball card designs were available.

Continue reading “New Baseball Cards For My Collection”

A Full Rich Wednesday

A lost dog wasn’t really lost, I guess that was the highlight, really.

I got up early like the good boy I’ve been all summer, did some work and then did my daily 3-4 mile walk before it gets too hot out. After some more work, shave and a shower, I figured I could run my afternoon errands.

Had a nice bean & cheese burrito for lunch in front of the bar screens covering the baseball trade deadline. The Yankees stood pat, which I guess I can admire given their pitching and strength of the prospects they did not give up… but at the last minute Zach Greinke waved his no-trade clause and got dealt to the Astros, joining a starting rotation already sporting Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. I really don’t see anyone in the AL beating them in post season series now.

I mean, you never know… but deep down, I think I do know.

Did some grocery shopping and got yelled at by some dumbass in weird pants who walked in front of my foot-on-the-brake but not totally stopped car and thought I was gonna run them over. I probably should have. Suffice to say it’s a good thing my windows were closed since my commentary on them and their wardrobe would not have been taken as constructive criticism.

But then the drama – I get home, pull into the garage, shut the door… and hear a noise outside. Crying maybe? I light up suddenly and think it’s a cat meowing.

No cat. Just a little kid from down the street yelling for her dog. He’s gotten out before, and I’ve seen him run around the street before they corral him. I vaguely remember what he looks like. So I ask her if she saw where he went, and she says no and tells me about the last time he got out (which is SUCH help). Although the last time he got out, he walked too much on hot pavement and messed up his paw pads. I thought the same possibility existed today with the heat. The kid’s home alone with grandma, she says. I tell her I didn’t see the dog wandering around when driving home just then. Grandma comes out and seems able to walk around. I had images of grandma wheeled to the window wondering what a dog was, figuring she’d be no help, but she starts calling the dog loudly in the street.

I put my groceries in the fridge and go back outside to see if I can help them find the dog. They’re both still yelling “DUKE! DUKE!” Grandma assures me the dog comes when he’s called.

So I walk down the paths into the nearby woods, figuring if Duke felt like a smell odyssey, he’d take that route instead of wandering through peoples’ yards.

I go walking early in the morning before the temperature climbs past 80. Now it’s mid-afternoon high 90s time with the sun beating down. I really don’t want to walk 3-4 miles to find this dog or fight a coyote for him, but as I go further into the woods, I don’t see or hear anything.

Then I see a woman walking a dog who looks a lot like Duke. But a lot of people have brown bulldog mixes, don’t they? I ask her if she’s seen any other dogs running around. She says no.

Then she hears Grandma yelling “DUKE! DUKE!”

And we walk back out of the woods to Grandma. Evidently no one told her or the kid about the professional dog walker the parents hired to come get the dog out of the backyard. The walker thought someone had been yelling “DUDE! DUDE!” and wondered why the dog responded, pulling on the leash.

Duke certainly enjoyed all the attention. He was the only intelligent participant in the entire exercise, when you think about it. Glad he wasn’t lost, but how the hell do you not know/forget a professional dog walker has been hired?

Back inside, A/C on. Looking forward to cooking the salmon fillet I bought for dinner, along with a nice drink.

These Are The Times That Try Fans’ Souls

Watching the Yankees the past week has been an emotional chore. They’ve set a team record by allowing more than 73 runs in their last 7 games, not exactly the sort of record you want to set.

They can still score runs, if not enough to win, and they had some nice comebacks against the Twins, early on in this ongoing slog. But the Red Sox decimated them.

The pitching? Awful. Just awful. No one consistently pitches effectively. While sporting a weak starting rotation all year, they managed to finesse a wonderful record by a stars-all-align combo of people like German stepping up, across-the-board solid performances by overused bullpen names, and a lot of breaks going their way.

But these are the sorts of things that catch up with a team down the post-All Star break stretch, through August, when team pitching strength really makes the difference in which teams fade, collapse, or get to the finish line strong, ready for October battles between strong starting rotations.

Every team I can think of that started out the first half or 2/3 of the year looking amazing and then falling apart and collapsing by the end of the season all have the same thing in common: weak pitching. The ’64 Phillies overused their 2 main starters and blew a 6 1/2 game lead with only 12 to play. The ’69 Cubs, ’78 Red Sox, ’07 Mets, ’11 Red Sox… all cruised along early in the season, only to wither and fall by the wayside during the August-September stretch, all because of mediocre to poor pitching.

This week makes me think the 2019 Yankees could be added to this list – they got a 9 game lead right now, flirted with the best overall record in baseball, looked good against likely October competition like Houston, Tampa or Minnesota… but this past week… ugh. They look like crap.

CRAP I TELLS YA!

They have no stopper in the starting rotation. You won’t find a Guidry to chalk up a majority 25 wins after a Yankee loss like in ’78. When the bullpen door opens, Rivera will not appear to ensure the game is over, victory secured. Their best starter, German, seems effective but his win-loss record is a tad deceptive since they’ve come back in a few games where he got blown out early. Guidry he is not.

I thought they might stand pat before the trade deadline, but now it’s looking very likely they deal before the stroke of midnight July 31 for a starter, and the other teams know the price is going up for the Yankees when they’re playing like this. They’ll most likely give up some of the younger players and prospects I like just to get some above .500 pitcher with an ERA below 5, and that’s not good.

Severino, Montgomery and Bettances might come back before season’s end… but the odds of any of them being in top form after being injured so long are slim.

Can they rebound from this week’s doldrums? Sure, anything is possible. Signing some solid starter who rallies a clubhouse might happen. Standing pat, getting players back from the IL and coming together might happen.

I might also win the lottery. You never know. But in the meantime, Houston, Minnesota and Cleveland must be licking their chops.

Halls Of Fame Exist For Guys Like These

While sports heads constantly argue back and forth with hot, cold and lukewarm takes on who-was-better-than-who, it’s practically unheard of for someone to pretty much be unanimously accepted as the Best EVER at their particular position in the sport.

I can’t think of anyone making a serious argument for anyone other then Mariano Rivera as the best closer of all time, both in the regular and especially in the post-season. When the bullpen door opened and “Enter Sandman” blasted over the speakers at Yankee Stadium as Rivera took the mound to protect an 8th or 9th inning lead, you could see the opposing dugout simply shrug since they knew the game was over. The man was practically unhittable.

Yeah, I know… he’d been gotten to in a few key games in the post-season, like in the ’97 playoffs, ’01 series and ’04 against the Red Sox… nobody’s perfect. The Yankees winning championships in that period boiled down to whether or not Rivera got saves, and he most often did.

Most closers don’t last as long as he did, unless they’re knuckleballers like Hoyt Wilhelm. 18 seasons of consistency from closers is just unheard of – most of ’em have a few stellar seasons and then blow their arms out, or fail to fool hitters, or just lose control. The history of baseball is littered with guys who had one to a few amazing seasons as a lights-out closer and then vanished – I can think of all the ones I remember over the years – Bill Campbell, Eric Gagne, Tom Niedenfuer, Rawly Eastwick… the list goes on. And then there were the ones who had the staying power, the ones who most often made in into the Hall like Rivera: Eckersley, Sutter, Hoffman… but even those guys weren’t as good as Rivera.

Practically every other position in baseball presents a debate over who was the best ever: Catcher? Berra or Cochrane? Wait, what about Bench? Fisk? Maybe shortstop is easier… Wagner? Jeter? No, no… maybe Ripken. How can you compare different baseball eras, some will say. Even the greatest ever gets debated, by those in the Ruth camp and those offering various alternatives for assorted reasons.

Continue reading “Halls Of Fame Exist For Guys Like These”

And Now Judge

FIRE. THE. TRAINING. STAFF. NOW!!!!!

Left oblique injury. From SWINGING THE BAT AT THE PLATE.

Gee, good thing he doesn’t have to do that every game, huh?

He’s off to an MRI, and then to the injured list, along with practically the rest of the starting lineup.

And just to reassure us that this crap will continue, the Yankee announcers kept pushing their PR BS on how the Yankee Organization and the Steinbrenners would most CERTAINLY make sure the training regimens were state-of-the-art top-of-the-line bla bla bla so on and so forth.

Yeah, guys. It’s just bad luck. Bad luck over and over and over again with every player in the roster. Injuries resulting not from collisions or running into the wall, or getting beaned on a bone, but from SWINGING THE BAT, RUNNING INTO BASES or PITCHING BASEBALLS.

YOU STUPID BRAIN-DEAD PR FLACK SUCKUP MORONS.

Oh, and Aaron Boone still sucks as manager and also ought to be fired. The Red Sox being worse doesn’t excuse him either.

Ah yes, the Steinbrenners and the vaunted Yankee organization… they’d NEVER spend their enormous amounts of money on garbage would they? That certainly never happened with any of several dozen free agents over the years, huh?

Here’s a story: My dad had a longtime friend who made decent dough, and spent a lot of it on a spiffy new Jaguar luxury car. I certainly never got to see this car and I’m not sure my dad ever did either, since it was ALWAYS in the shop for repairs.

You know what you do when you have money and get stuck with a car like that, despite it’s impressive brand?

YOU BUY A DIFFERENT GOD DAMNED CAR.

FIRE. THE. TRAINING. STAFF. NOW!!!!!!



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