Oct. 16, 2008: Prophesies, Profundities and Prologues
Before we let baseball go to slip into the quagmire known as mid-week coverage of pro football, take a quick look at these prophesies, profundities and prologues.
You know that awful suicide squeeze the Angels tried in the last inning of their last game which gave the division series victory to the Red Sox? That’s been a tradition in Southern California since Gene Mauch managed there years ago. Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams, a hired hand of Mauch’s who handled the Cherubs for years, once explained to me, “I’m gonna call it until it works.”
Speaking of Williams, the writers who covered the American League once named him the luckiest baseball manager who ever lived. He half agreed when we told him. Now, current Boston skipper Terry Francona probably has that title. His constant bad moves, particularly with his pitching staff, always seem to work out.
Heck, I’m with Detroit manager Jim Leyland. He’s mildly upset that he didn’t receive a contract extension beyond next season after the sparkling season the Bengals turned in.
Something to think about the next time you hear what a great young player B.J. Upton is for the Tampa Bay Rays: Twice in less than two weeks Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon sat the kid down (once in mid-game) for not running out grounders. And it only gets worse as a player ages. Look at Manny Ramirez.
If and when the World Series ever gets under way, the Cubs and White Sox should simply act as if their getting bumped out in the first round of the playoffs never happened and go along with a best-of-seven at Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park. Bet both joints would be packed.
One of the truly awe-inspiring careers in any sport, any time was that of Elgin Baylor. First, there was the glorious 14 years as a player wherein Baylor is arguably a top five NBAer of all time. But more amazing is his 22-year stint as an executive with the Los Angeles Clippers. A visitor from space could have done a better job than he did.
As you’ve probably figured out by now, I love lists. Especially if they happen to agree with the way I see things.
I recently happened upon a book entitled “The Real 100 Best Baseball Players of All Time… and Why!” by a gent named Ken Shouler and it’s a keeper. It came out (unnoticed here) about 10 years ago, so some minor updating might be in order.
The top position players in order begin with the usual suspects, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby and Honus Wagner. While you might disagree with the placing, there’s no denying this gang. No arguing, what fun is that?
The Orioles are well represented with Frank Robinson (14), Cal Ripken (30), Eddie Murray (44), Brooks Robinson (61) and Luis Aparicio (70). But how in the world can Ralph Kiner end up No. 59 and Wade Boggs grab No. 37?
Note, we haven’t mentioned a pitcher yet. The author, no fool he, keeps these guys separate in a list that numbers 25. Numero uno is Walter Johnson followed by Christy Mathewson, Tom Seaver, Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn, Bob Feller, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Cy Young, Steve Carlton and Greg Maddux.
I was getting ready to go berserk until I read the less than two-page explanations. I assumed since Sandy Koufax was the best I’ve ever seen he’d be way up there. Would you believe No. 17? But look who was down there with him: Juan Marichal (13), Jim Palmer (15), Bob Gibson (16). By the way, in the history of the GOG (grand old game, silly), only three flingers have had eight 20-game seasons: Palmer, Johnson and Grove.
One other note: making it to No. 72 and 73 on the list are Andre Dawson and Jim Rice -- and these poor guys can’t get voted into the Hall of Fame, although they’re getting close.
Speaking of all-time great players, etc., the Los Angeles Dodgers recently polled fans for an all-50-year squad and they ended up with four pitchers. None of them were named Don Drysdale (gasp).
Issue 3.42: Oct. 16, 2008