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Thursday, September 24, 2009
Speaking of fakery, check out this obvious Photoshop job. I know it's a fraud because it's a scientific fact that Bobby Cox was born into this world as a cranky 66 year old man with a protruding belly.
Seriously though, nice work
No, I'm not talking about the stuff in which he claims to be the product of Mickey Mantle's assexual reproduction. We all know he made that up and we're all content to let him go on thinking we believe it. I'm talking about his actual baseball playing. As reader Bob Tufts points out, Crystal's Wikipedia page notes the following:
Crystal attended Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, on a baseball scholarship, having learned the game from his father, who pitched for St. John's University. Crystal never played a game at Marshall because the program was suspended during his freshman year and he didn't return as a sophomore, staying back in New York with his future wife."
The claim is repeated on his IMDB page:
At Long Beach High, Billy played second base and was varsity captain in his senior year. This earned him a baseball scholarship from Marshall University in West Virginia which he accepted. However, he would never end up playing a game as the baseball program was suspended during his freshman year. This would lead him to leave the university and move back to New York. He then enrolled at nearby Nassau Community College, majoring in theater."
The only problem is that, according to Marshall's media guide, the baseball program was fully active when Crystal was of college age. Indeed, the only seasons it was ever suspended was during World War II. Bob speculates that maybe Marshall suspended the JV or freshman program or something, but if Crystal was really on scholarship, wouldn't he have been on the main team or have been fixed to make the team in a year or two anyway, all while getting a free education? Possibilities:
(1) Bob and I are simply ignorant of the intricacies of Marshall baseball in the 60s and the story is exactly how Crystal's bio says it was, in which case I withdraw the implied allegation in the title of this post;
(2) Crystal got the scholarship but left Marshall for his own personal reasons such as bad grades or the severe culture shock of being a New York Jew plopped down in Huntington, West Virginia in the mid 60s. If it's the grades or some dark secret, shame on him for letting an inaccuracy hang out there like this; if it was the culture shock, well, I fully understand because I'm kinda afraid of Huntington I'm from freaking West Virginia; or
(3) Crystal is Bill Richardson-style sham when it comes to his baseball history and as a result of his lies, lies and more lies, all of his baseball-related entertainments and all of his non-baseball output apart from "Soap," "Running Scared," "The Princess Bride," and his season on "Saturday Night Live" should be thrown into a shredder and banned for all time.
Wait, let's do number three regardless of where this baseball business comes down. In the meantime, I'd like to know what the deal is here.
Scott Simkus rocks. Why? Becuase he does stuff like find and analyze stats from Negro League barnstorming tours against white minor league teams in order to try and get a better understanding of how the talent pool looked in the days of pre-integration.
In other news, what kind of backlash would I get if I had linked to an article that uses the phrase "'super' negro league team" over at NBC?
In light of a few high profile player-ump confrontations this year you'd think that we're reaching some sort of boiling point in white-gray-blue relations, but that's simply not the case:
From 2002 to 2005, at least 100 ballplayers per season were tossed out of games by umpires. After a slight decrease the past three years, ejections have dropped by a staggering 30% this season. Through Sunday's games, only 62 players had been sent to the locker room for an early shower.
Maybe everyone just forgot the magic words.
(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)
I realize that I've totally whiffed on the Bobby Cox story. It just fell through the cracks inasmuch as I was taken away from my computer yesterday afternoon and by the time I got to NBC this morning someone else had already hit it up. This being the Internet, it now kind of feels like old news. But you know how I feel by now. I'm happy that Bobby will be back. I'm also happy that there's an actual end point so he doesn't have a Torre-in-New York type of ending or die in the saddle or otherwise go out with something other than a standing ovation. I don't believe that things like "Let's win it for Bobby!" actually matter, but I'd still like to see the Braves win it for Bobby next year.
Other thoughts: I'd like to think that having a year to really think it over will cause the Braves to talk themselves out of Terry Pendleton as the next manager, but most people seem to think he's the heir apparant. For my part, I think it would be a hell of a lot of fun to install Chipper Jones as a player-manager, but we don't seem to do that sort of thing these days, do we? And to be honest, I have no reason to believe that Chipper would be better than Pendleton. Indeed, if I'm objective I have to admt that there are many reasons to think he'd be worse. I just happen to like the idea of player-managers and of not having Chipper just peter out like he seems to be doing now.
Maybe that's what all of this about. Maybe all of my thinking on this kind of stuff -- my thinking about Bobby, Chipper and before it Ernie Harwell and Skip Caray and Maddux and everyone else -- is really about me feeling old. About the giants of my youth fading away. I don't know that it had to do with the strike itself, but 1995 is really the first year I think of myself as being a genuine grownup baseball fan. I didn't discover sabermetrics and stuff until a few years later, but by 1995 I truly started the process of becoming more objective about the game and less swayed by emotional appeals and fandom and all of that. I treat figures who were on the scene before 1995 differently than those who came after and pretty soon all of those pre-1995 guys will be gone. Very soon in terms of players, but eventually as managers and broadcasters too. Like the man sang: everyone I know goes away in the end.
So if it ends, I want it to end well. I want Bobby to go out with certainty and glory, and he seems like he will. I want Chipper to leave the game on his terms. Skip Caray dying when he did really hit me hard. Harwell leaving having attained old age and, more importantly, being possessed of a calm certainty and grace less so. I sometimes wish Maddux had left on top, but he was still useful and seemed to leave content from a sport that so often tells people they're no longer wanted.
I want all of those pre-1995 guys to have nice little curtain calls and leave with smiles on their faces, not unlike stage players after a performance. Because to me they were performers in ways that more recent players never have been. I didn't understand what made them tick when they burst on the scene so -- unfair as it may be -- I always held their accomplishments in a higher regard than I do for players I've seen come up and develop since then. Like they were magic in some strange way, even if I know better now.
Even Gary Sheffield.
How it's possible to miss four days of work yet have seven days worth of work to makeup is beyond me, but I'll be damned if that's not what I'm facing at the moment. Oh well, it's isn't going anywhere, so I'll try to get to at least some new stuff this afternoon. In the meantime:
Calcaterra's Law is in full effect: any paperwork and/or emails that sit unread on one's desktop for more than a week automatically moot themselves. Given that I have yet to be disbarred or sued for malpractice, I have no reason to believe that the law does not hold true 100% of the time.
Brewers 3, Cubs 2: Prince Fielder pads his stats with a homer and a couple of RBI. It's easy to forget in all of the Cub-drama that Chicago is actually a few games ahead of Milwaukee in the standings.
Astros 3, Cardinals 0: And look! The Cubs are technically still alive! If St. Louis just loses its last nine while the Cubs win their remaining. . . er, well, let's just never mind, shall we? According to the game story, St. Louis "had 25 cases of champagne waiting in the clubhouse, but the bottles will remain corked for at least another day." Twenty-five cases? They got, what, 38 guys on the roster right now? Add in eight or ten coaches and trainers and such. This is a road game, so figure that front office staff is light: the GM, an assistant or two, random traveling secretary types. Being generous, we'll call it a complement of 60 people with the team, and then some random media guys who don't care if partying up with the team hurts their credibility. Tops -- absolute tops -- you have 75 people that could even hope to be shooting champagne over one another, though many of these people would never touch a bottle in such a situation because, really, it's the players' thing. Twenty-five cases of champagne makes for 300 bottles. I love drinkin' as much as the next guy, but ain't that overdoing it a bit? And that's before the beer cans you always see guys throwing into the celebratory shower. Oh, one more thing: The Cubs play tomorrow and the Cardinals don't, which means that they can clinch on their day off if Chicago loses to San Francisco. What the hell happens to those 300 bottles if they clinch while on a day off? Do soup kitchens take booze?
Giants 5, Diamondbacks 2: Bruce Bochy: "We're still breathing. There's still hope." Four games back.
Braves 5, Mets 2: The ghost ship that is the New York Mets continues to drift aimlessly around the National League, its crew having all but abandoned it, a lamentable calm having descended over its decks. The Braves, like the Giants, sit four back of Colorado.
Tigers 11, Indians 3: Four RBI and two homers for Carlos Guillen keep the Tigers two and a half up on Minnesota.
Twins 8, White Sox 6: The lights went out in U.S. Cellular Field. What's worse, they hung my brother before I could say that the tracks he saw while on his way to Andy's house and back that night were mine.
Red Sox 9, Royals 2: Josh Beckett gave up 12 hits, but they weren't as big as the ones Luke Hochevar gave up.
Marlins 7, Phillies 6: Brad Lidge in the playoffs is gonna be something special to behold. Last year's Mr. Automatic blows yet another save, this one a one-run lead in the ninth. He was apparently getting the calls too, because Fredi Gonzalez was ejected with two out in the ninth for arguing balls and strikes. Lidge wouldn't record another one, however, and his legend continues to grow.
Rays 5, Mariners 4: B.J. Upton had three RBI and made a spiffy catch to rob Bill Hall of extra bases to end the game. Game story: "Seattle 1B Russell Branyan (back) took 35 swings off a tee." Despite this, his downswing is too steep, his swing path is too outside-in, and his clubface is open. Mariners' hitting coach Alan Cockrell is watching him closely, but he's still cutting across the ball and pull-slicing it.
Reds 12, Pirates 2: Homer Bailey is 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA over the past month. It will be fun to see how many fantasy players key on this strong finish to the season, declaring Bailey a sleeper, without realizing that three of those wins came against Pittsburgh. And now, Deep Thoughts, with your host, John Russell: "Obviously, when you don't score runs, it doesn't look like you're playing very good. That's one of the things that always looks bad -- you don't score and the other team's scoring a lot, then they look a whole lot better than you do."
Blue Jays 7, Orioles 3: Thirty years ago this fall, the Orioles played the Pirates in the World Series. May as well have been a billion years ago.
Nationals 5, Dodgers 4: Andre Ethier dropped a fly ball in the ninth, allowing the Nats to win the game. If they had won this one, they would have clinched the west because . . .
Padres 6, Rockies 3: The Rockies lost in San Diego, who were powered by Will Venebale's four RBI.
Yankees 3, Angels 2: The Angels struck out 15 times in this one. Ian Kennedy loaded the bases and then slithered out of the jam in his first work in over a year. The Yankees took two of three from their potential ALCS foe.
Rangers 9, Athletics 8: Of all of the stuff that could be mentioned about this game, this bit -- the last thing in the little notes section of the game story -- is the most interesting: "The Rangers stole four bases and moved past the Angels into second in the AL with 143 steals." I've said it many times this year, but this is not your older brother's Rangers team.