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Baseball Card Of The Day: 1959 Chick King June 12, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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Just look at him, ladies. You KNOW he lives up to his name…

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Why I Love Baseball, Part Infinity May 29, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
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On the right, for my Yankees, is Aaron Judge, at six feet eight inches.

Standing next to him on the left is Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, at five feet six inches.

The tall guy on the right won Rookie of the Year last year, and came in second for Most Valuable Player.

The little guy on the left won Most Valuable Player.

Altuve’s amazing, and I cringe every time he comes to the plate against my team and kicks ass.  But guys like him make the game great.  It’s all about skills. It’s why a little annoying shit like me could play baseball, back before I got old and feeble and my liver fell out when I got up this morning.

Tonight, the Yankees struck out a whopping 17 times, made a pathetic 2018-leading FIVE errors in the same game, and yet still managed to mount a 9th and 10th inning comeback against the reigning World Champ Astros and win 6-5. Two rookies got two big hits in the bottom of the 10th with 2 out. The set up double came from 23 year old Miguel Andujar. The winning RBI came from 21 year old Gleyber Torres.

HOW ‘BOUT THEM BABY BOMBERS!!!!

THIS IS THE YEAR!

Gotta go put my liver back. It’s time for a drink.

Baseball Card Of The Day, Cranky Old Man Edition – 1968 Bob Gibson May 20, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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Gibson had arguably the greatest single season performance of any pitcher in the modern era in 1968 – a record of 22-9, with 268 Ks in 304 innings…. along with a phenomenal 28 complete games and a seemingly impossible ERA of 1.12.

But look at these amazing stats that log every game of his in ’68 and zero in on June and July – he pitched FIVE complete game shutouts in a row during a stretch where he won ELEVEN straight complete games, EIGHT of them  shutouts.

His shortest start all year was his first – where he went 7 innings.

And now consider baseball in 2018 – the era of pitch counts, 7th inning left handed batter ground ball specialists, having five different guys come out of the bullpen to pitch the last three innings and other such SABERMETRIC BULLSHIT, and then hark back to the days when REAL MEN LIKE BOB GIBSON went out on a regular basis and dominated the living shit out of hitters who included Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Pete Rose and the rest.

Gibson’s iron manliness was the rule and not the exception, either. Those 28 complete games were NOT the league lead – Juan Marichal pitched 30 of ’em for the Giants. Gibson’s World Series opponent Denny McLain would also have 28 complete games for his amazing 31-6 record. Gibson would beat him twice in that series, but would get bested by Mickey Lolich in the end after a bad 7th inning.

Last year, Corey Kluber led the majors with 5 complete games, total.

Gibson did that in a row, in a month, all shutouts.

Kluber is no slouch, either, I’ve watched him beat my Yankees enough times. Cy Young winner, the whole bit. But Gibson intimidated the living crap out of batters. He was notorious for brushback pitches, yet did not hit many batters. He just made you think he did. His scowl and aura from the mound made it look like he didn’t just want to get you out, he wanted to KILL you and have your entire family watching in the stands die of heart attacks. You’d be thankful after all he did was strike you out.

We live in times of too much overthinking and finesse. And you kids better stay off my lawn.

And stay off Bob Gibson’s lawn too, he looks like he wants to kill you.

 

And His Nickname is “Big Sexy” April 15, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
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Bartolo Colon is 5’11” and weighs 285 pounds. He’ll be turning 45 next month, and has played for 11 different teams in his 21 year career.

He’s the oldest active player in the majors, and the only active player who once played for the long-gone Montreal Expos.

Teams would cut him from their rosters, thinking he’d retire. He’d sign with others, even for a minor league deal, before inevitably coming back to the majors.

He’s one of 18 pitchers who have beaten every major league team.

Tonight he took a perfect game against last year’s World Series champions into the 8th inning before it got broken up.

I love baseball. Physicality helps, but skills matter so much more. Just ask BIG SEXY!

Opening Day 2018! March 29, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
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’tis Spring, and this old fart’s thoughts turn to… baseball.

Opening day is finally here, there’s a slate of games on the dish, although they’re saving the Yankees/Bluejays matchup for a Friday night on MLB instead of today. Meh.

After pleasantly surprising me last year and achieving the amazing run that brought them to within 1 game of making the World Series for the first time since 2009, the Yankees seem poised for a similar run this year.

Although Greg Bird is already off to his traditional months-long injury streak, the rest of the lineup looks very solid, and adding last year’s NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton to a batting row already loaded with the homerun producing power of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorious will mean lots and lots of offense.

Pitching got better in the second half last year once Tanaka got his act together. Hopefully that will continue, hopefully Severino will continue to grow as the ace of the staff, hopefully Sabathia will continue to shine in the twilight of his career, hopefully Montgomery will grow into a solid young starter, hopefully Betances will fix his mechanics and become more consistent, hopefully Boone will turn out to be a good manager ….. and as Benjamin Franklin said, “He who lives upon hope dies farting.”

But you never know!

Their main rivals in the division, as God intended, will be a strengthened Red Sox lineup. Best rivalry in all of sports, no contest.

So I guess it’s time for some predictions. Since I’m clearly biased, I see the Yankees winning the AL East over the Sox, who ought to make a wild card spot. I like the Indians in the Central, with the Twins giving them some grief, but not much else. I think the Astros will repeat in the west, with a strengthened but not-quite-balanced Angels making the other wild card.

I’d go with the Nationals in the NL East by default. There’s no one else really challenging them there for it. The Mets run hot and cold, the Braves are rebuilding and have some good rookies and may surprise this year, but I don’t think taking the division will be one of those surprises. Miami dismantled itself, and the Phillies just blow. The NL Central might be the most competitive division of all. You’d think the Cubs would repeat despite the changes in personnel, but St Louis always manages to be competitive and made some nice additions, Milwaukee will be in there, and maybe even the Reds can surprise. The once strong Pirates are really the only team you can count out. I’ll go with the Cards winning it by a hair over a wild card Cubs, in what’s really a roll of the dice. In the west, the Dodgers look poised to repeat, with the Rockies and Diamondbacks breathing down their necks, either of which could make the other wild card. That’ll be another good divisional race, especially since I don’t see LA going on the sort of win streak they managed last summer again this year. It & Alex Wood’s won-loss record felt like a fluke at the time, and still feels even more like one in retrospect. I’d like to think Aaron Judge’s post-All Star game batting slump was also a fluke. We shall see.

Making post-season predictions at this point is stupid. There will be trades & the like, late summer, that will have an enormous effect on the post season, i.e. Justin Verlander going to the Astros.

Welcome back, baseball. You’ll make a nice addition to the Final 4 this weekend.

 

The Immortal Babe Eats A Nutritious Breakfast March 22, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
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A nice big bowl of puffed wheat… followed by two dozen hot dogs, some ham sandwiches, a dozen eggs, big stack of pancakes, a side of bacon, three stuffed lobsters and a porterhouse, rare.

All washed down with a fifth of bourbon, eight bottles of soda, and a case or two of beer.

Oh, and a coffee. Two sugars, cream.

All done, Babe?

Time for the morning workout. Five, no make that six hookers.  Remember, you’re in training.

Opening day is just a week away!

And how ‘BOUT them Yankees?

Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Robin Yount (Fleer) March 21, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Art, Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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Not sure what the graphic designers of this beauty were thinking. “Let’s give Robin a longer neck, and put him into a CONCEPT LANDSCAPE! I can SEE IT NOW!!!! A UNIVERSE OF BASEBALLS!!!! With Robin Yount, all-star shortstop, first ballot hall of famer, SURVEYING THE PLANETARY UNIVERSE OF BASEBALLS LIKE A HAPPY GREEK GOD…”

Seriously, wtf is up with this card?

I like the idea of surrealist influenced baseball card art, though. They should have done more of it, or hired Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and so forth to design their cards. Yount’s ’92 Fleer bizarro card reminds me of Dali’s Galatea with all those floating spheres, maybe a little of a Magritte sky of fluffy clouds.

Or just replace that green apple in front of the guy’s face with a baseball, perhaps.

Baseball cards would be a lot more interesting if they were done in styles of great artists and well known paintings. A team photo staged as Velazquez’ “Las Meninas.” Michaelangelo’s God giving life to Adam as one of those “Casey Teaches” type cards with Reggie Jackson in heaven with the ’77 Yanks touching Aaron Judge’s finger in Eden. Perhaps Clayton Kershaw could pose as the “Dodger Blue Boy.”

I’d start buying bubblegum packs again, for what that’s worth.

 

Pie Day March 14, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards, General.
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1972-Kelloggs-All-Time-Baseball-Greats-8-Harold-Pie-Traynor

… although you had to eat a lot of Kellogg’s Danish-Go-Rounds in 1973 to get THIS bastard.

But I saved room for pie. Urp.

Baseball Card Of The Day: 1971 Reggie Jackson March 10, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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“Batting donut? I don’t need a fucking batting donut, I’ll just swing two bats to warm up a little before I take your sad junk ball throwing ass DOWNTOWN.  That’s right, you heard me. I’m the straw that stirs the drink, get it? And if I flub an easy one out in right field and a hungover Billy Martin tries to fuck with me on national TV, everyone’ll take my side when I destroy the Dodger pitchers in the series, dickwad. Hey, speaking of national TV, didja catch me on Szysznyk?  Damn right, there I am acting opposite Ned Beatty! Ned FUCKING Beatty! I moved him more emotionally than those two hillbillies did in Deliverance, too! And not with two bats neither, let’s not go there, ok? Anyway, I gotta go to the plate now. Gonna slam one, win the game, and then tend to my car collection.  I speed all the time, and the only reason cops pull me over is to meet me. That’s the sort of treatment you get when you’re an all star with a genius IQ, motherfucker. And don’t you forget it.”

I miss the soap opera that was the late 1970s Yankees.

And I miss Reggie. Always dramatic, always fun to watch, always dependable in the post season.

But I’m certainly looking forward to what looks like will be a wonderful late 2010s Yankee era, with Judge, Sanchez, Bird, Gregorius and now Stanton and Torres forming a new Murderer’s Row lineup, and Severino, Tanaka and…. well, I guess we’ll see how the rest of the mound rotation works out, won’t we? I’m glad they have Sabathia coming back, now the older and wiser finesse pitcher, and always the great clubhouse presence, offering the sort of leadership all those young guys need. THIS IS THE YEAR!

THIS IS THE YEAR February 23, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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I’m watching the opening spring training (even if it’s still winter) game for MY New York Yankees, against the Tigers.

I already know the outcome since it’s on tape delay from several hours ago, AND I DON’T CARE.

I’m just happy to have baseball back, even if everyone looks a bit rusty. I have high hopes for the Yankees this year, with the murderers’ row lineup they’ve put together by stealing Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins for next to nothing.

I hope they sent Derek Jeter a gift basket after they screwed him. Get it?

They came within 1 game of getting into the World Series last year. This year? Well, they ought to be in the post-season mix. Let’s see how things go and how healthy they are come late September.  Hopefully I’ll be savoring all the games along the way. I’d like to think they’re growing a young team akin to the late ’90s Yanks powerhouse. But we’ll see.

In the meantime, I’ll tune into spring training games and see lots of A and AA players with uniform numbers in the 60s and 70s fight for spots. I love that Aaron Judge kept his spring training 99 number for his actual…. very Gretzky of him.

Judge is Number 1 in this year’s Topps baseball card set, a spot they reserve annually for major stars these days. (Although I’m old enough to ‘member when the #1 card in the set was last year’s ERA leaders or some highlight card). Haven’t bought sets of cards in many years, alas. I already have too much crap, and the charm just isn’t there, even if watching the game makes me feel like a wide-eyed 8 year old hero-worshipping Hank Aaron or Frank Robinson or Bob Gibson every now and then. Probably why I keep watching.

Let’s take a little trip back to those wonderful days of 1970s era baseball, and my beloved Yankees…

Hey, so who wants to swap house keys with this guy?

Wait, aren’t you in the pitching rotation too?

That’ll turn out awkward….