Monthly Archives: January 2013

Mickey Mantle Shares Billy Martin ….. Youtube

If you watch the video on full screen there’s not a thing to prevent you from imagining you’re sitting right there as he tells his story.  Mickey Mantle was my teen-age heart throb and it never really went away.  Maybe it was that soft spoken southern drawl or maybe it was just his dang good looks.  But no matter, I wasn’t the only one.  Thousands became immediate fans of the shy, freckle-faced  baseball player from Oklahoma.   Here he tells an entertaining story about his friend, Billy Martin, that has very little to do with baseball! 


GFBB Note: One of the best tributes I’ve read today. Stan Musial was my dad’s all-time favorite ballplayer and though my dad had a lot of faults, in many ways he was very much like him. At least I think he tried to be. That some of those values may have rubbed off on me? I should be so lucky.

Ethics Alarms

Stan Musial

Baseball great Stan Musial is a different kind of lifetime ethics hero, which is one reason it is important to so honor him. Unlike everyone who has ever received that designation here,  the iconic St. Louis Cardinal had no famous episode that crystallizes his character for posterity, no inspiring quotes attributed to him, nothing at all as impressive by itself as his athletic feats on the baseball field, which were among the most distinguished of any Major League baseball career. What was remarkable about Stan Musial is that over three decades in the public eye and four more after leaving it, he never did anything wrong.

Musial remained with one team his entire career, out of loyalty to the city and the fans who loved him. He never complained about where he batted in the order, or where he played; though he spent a lifetime being overshadowed in the sports…

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GFBB Note: I have to agree. This is my favorite of all baseball movies. Kevin Costner is the “ultimate guy” as Kelly Preston puts it. I’ve watched it at least eight times and undoubtedly will watch it eight more. I really enjoyed “Moneyball” this past year and I have DVD’s of most others, but the ultimate prize in my baseball collection is “For Love of the Game”. Good job on this movie review.

Another Plot Device

I don’t know about you guys, but I really like it when Kevin Costner stars in sports movies.  It doesn’t matter if it is Golfing, Cycling or Baseball, he just has the right look and feel for being this Joe Sportsman.  Granted he has only been in like 5 sports movies total, each one of them are incredibly touching and memorable in particular way.  I don’t much care for the shoehorned love interest angle that they have to put into the movie, but something about watching him struggle in the game he loves to play just gets the best emotional reaction.  I have already covered American Flyers, Tin Cup and Field of Dreams, so today’s is another underrated baseball movie that also happens to be directed Sam Raimi.  YES that Sam Raimi who made Evil Dead.  Who would have thought he had a touching, sentimental look at…

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Baseball Writers ~ Who Cuts the Mustard and Who Cares?

This week the Baseball Writers Association of America has been in the news.  It’s been in the news a lot.   For only the second time in its history the Association has failed to name one eligible baseball player worthy of entering the Hall of Fame.  

So I’m pondering this little ditty thinking about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and their alleged partaking of performance enhancing drugs, and thinking about the BBWAA.  Who are these people?  What are their credentials?  Why does it matter what they think?   When I read their membership list I’m surprised that I only recognize a couple dozen or so names.  Most of the names that would have been at the top of my favorite baseball writers list aren’t even listed as members of  this association.  

The primary purpose of the BBWAA  is to assure clubhouse and press-box access, and to elect players to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  That’s it, at least according to Wikipedia.  All writers with 10 years membership in the BBWAA are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame.   It was founded in 1908 and as far as the baseball world is concerned, the sun rises and sets with this organization, and my question is “why”?

I compiled a list of  a few of my favorite baseball writers and tried to give a reason why, though sometimes it’s not apparent even to me.   These are good writers because what they write makes me want to read more, even after I’ve finished reading their articles.   Note that none of these have BBWAA associated with their names.  They might be a member, but it’s not known to me and honestly I could care less whether they’re a member or not.  

JON STEINER.  I discovered Jon back in April, 2011, while researching a piece I was doing on the Cleveland Indians and the lack of attendance at their beautiful ballpark.   His blog, “Waiting for Next Year” was written like I talk so it was an easy read and I was sorry when it ended.  I don’t know a thing about this guy, just that I’d buy his book if I ever found out he wrote one.   Here’s the April 5, 2011 article that made Jon the ultimate writer in my mind.  “Some Thoughts on the Indians’ Record Setting Attendance.” 

ALEX PAVLOVIC.  I’ve been following this writer for the past several years as he stood in the shadows of Andrew Baggarly at the San Jose Mercury News.  When Baggs left last year to join the ComCast News Group, Alex stepped up big-time.   I like writers who are  up-front, in your face, and don’t try to sugar coat interviews and the news.  You know, just put it out there and let me decide what my opinion is about the subject.   That’s what this guy’s about.  He writes a blog, “Giants Extra“, that I read on a regular basis and always look forward to his meanderings. 

BRYAN O’CONNOR.  My acquaintance with Bryan began when he made some astute comments on one of my blogs a few years ago, so I checked him out and my mind’s still whirling.  His blog is “Replacement Level Baseball” and I’m not sure why he doesn’t write professionally for the main stream media, but goodie for us that he doesn’t.  It gives him more time to overwhelm us with his baseball knowledge.  Warning:  He’s a Bill James sabremetrics fan and goes way over my head on occasion.   But here’s a recent analysis of his personal “Hall of Fame Ballot” vote, if he had one, that was especially entertaining.   

JONATHAN HACOHEN.  But of course Jonathan’s one of my favorite writers.  He was very generous with his review of my book “Garlic Fries and Baseball” and I’ve been reeling ever since.  But before the review I had already subscribed to “MLB Reports” that Jonathan founded in 2010.  He’s been writing baseball for over twenty years and if he had a specialty I’d have to say it was his in-depth interviews, done only as he can do them.  His website is growing leaps and bounds and I rather miss that he doesn’t personally write as often now, but I latch onto whatever he does write as soon as it’s posted to my “Inbox”.  

CRAIG CALCATERRA.   I really hate to admit that I like this guy’s writings so much because, to tell you the truth,  a lot of what he writes irritates the socks off me.   I rarely agree with anything he says.  But it’s the way in which he says it that kind of grabs you, hooks you and draws you in.   Usually when I read one of his articles I find myself running to Wikipedia or other resource material just so I can prove him wrong, which I rarely do, because most of what he writes is opinion as he’s quick to point out.  Craig writes for NBC Sports HardBall Talk  and I guess the reason he’s on my favorite baseball writers list is because, whether we agree or not,  I always look forward to reading whatever little morsel he decides to throw my way for the day.

HENRY SCHULMAN.   Hank Schulman writes “The Splash” for the San Francisco Chronicle.  He’s a full-fledged newspaperman, sports reporter and columnist, with sports jacket and everything.  When he starts off with “I just talked with Bruce Bochy “or whoever it might be that morning, it grabs my attention and I latch on to every word.  He’s that “if it’s written it’s real”  type of writer.   He’s one of those guys you’d most like to have dinner with, have a conversation with.  You know what I mean.  There’s a thousand stories in there somewhere and I’d like to hear them all.  But in the meantime I’m content with reading the morning paper with my morning coffee and telling my hubby, “Guess what Hank Schulman said today?”  My husband gets it. 

Baseball writers each have their own style of writing; some you like and some you don’t.  And that’s okay.   This year the BBWAA decided to make the Hall of Fame vote into a popularity contest and that’s okay too.  I mean if they want to tell us which players cut the mustard and which ones don’t, who the hell cares? 

Really, who cares, because baseball fans have always made up their own mind on this type of thing and, after all, in the court of public opinion, isn’t that what really matters?

UPDATE:  “Get the Media out of the Honoring Business” New York Times 1/15/13

Brooklyn Atlantics 1865 baseball card auction could fetch $100,000 or more…..

Note: You just never know what you’ll find at those garage sales. This one was in a binder with some other cards ~ I hope someone took time to check out the other cards in that binder!


A 148-year-old team photo of the amateur Brooklyn Atlantics, which the Library of Congress calls “the first dated baseball card,” might fetch $100,000 or more when it goes up for auction next month in Maine. Problem is, nobody knows exactly how much it’s worth.
Only two Atlantics cards are known to exist — the other having been in the Library’s archives since the 1880s, when the photographer Charles Williamson submitted the photo for copyright.
Of course, this card is not like the contemporary baseball cards your mom threw away when she cleaned out the attic back in the ’70s. It’s not even like the tobacco cards of the late 19th century, either. It’s an original photograph, mounted on a card, that features nine uniformed players gathered around a bearded manager in a suit who appears ready for a Civil War reenactment. Or maybe even the real thing. It…

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Lesson’s Learned: Sleep With One Eye Open

“Innocent until proven guilty”. I’ve been thrashing around for the past few days trying to put into words how I feel about this year’s lack of Hall of Fame nominees. Bill does a pretty good job with this post.

The On Deck Circle

Honestly, I was not going to comment on yesterday’s Hall of Fame voting results.

Too many keyboards have suffered enough over that topic the past couple of days.  But I read a comment by a member of the BBWAA today that I have to admit irked me a great deal  (I won’t name him; there’s no reason to give him greater exposure.)

This writer said (and I’m paraphrasing) that he was very glad that no one was elected in this year’s HOF voting because it teaches our children a lesson that cheaters and cheating will not be tolerated.  Otherwise, he claimed, our children would come away with the opposite lesson, that cheating can and will be rewarded.

Fine, but here are some other lessons our children can take away from yesterday’s HOF voting:

1)  In our culture, you are now guilty until proven innocent.  Moreover, the court of public opinion…

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I’m no fan of the DH, but pitchers batting has got to go

GFBB Note: I’ve posted several blogs about the designated hitter. I don’t think they belong in baseball. Pitchers should learn to bunt well and even accidentally hit the ball on occasion. But here’s another look at the subject, which is going to be around for a long, long time.

The Annual “Congressional Baseball Game”

             “Ron Paul Stars in 1983 Congressional Baseball Game”

congressional baseball flyerTo tell you the truth, I never heard of our congressman playing an annual baseball game.  From 1909 to 1949 both teams were filled with members of the House.  Members of the Senate were not prohibited from playing, they just didn’t participate.  Separate teams are comprised of Republicans and Democrats who play against each other.   The games are played for charity and they raise more than $100,000 annually for local area charities in the District of Columbia. 

"Congressman Ron Paul" in the Line-up

“Congressman Ron Paul” in the Line-up

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was on the Republican team in the 1980’s.  He was elected to the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012 and was the first player  in the history of  this series to hit an over-the-wall home run in 1979.  In the 1983 game, shown in the above video,  Paul went 2 for 3 and is considered one of the best players to have played in the annual game.  This particular game ended in a 17-17 Tie. 

Originally each team had “Republicans” or “Democrats” embroidered on their uniforms but in recent years teammates  wear uniforms of the teams from their congressional district or home state.  Games have been held historically throughout the Washington, D. C. area and in the past few years have been played at the newly built Nationals Park. 

Back in 1914 the baseball game interrupted an Appropriations bill debate on Civil War cotton damage because there wasn’t a quorum present.  It seems they were all at the baseball game.  The House eventually resumed with a quorum when rain interrupted the game, but nothing was decided as the members apparently still had their minds on the unfinished game, which brings me to the reason I decided to write this little ditty.

"Democrats Win Trophy 2011"

“Democrats Win Trophy 2011”

I wonder how much could have been accomplished if congress had decided to take the budget hearings out to the ballpark this year.  I don’t understand much about the “fiscal cliff” but it has something to do with the budget and debt reduction.   Can’t you just see Harry Reid, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, all decked out in their uni’s, socks pulled high, waiting for the challenge?   I know, I know ~ it’s no laughing matter, but it makes me chuckle just to think about it.   A decision was finally made three hours before the midnight EST deadline tonight, when the Senate agreed to a deal to avert the fiscal cliff.   The House will vote later.

Hopefully, they’ll be able to take to the ballpark for the final vote before April when the regular season starts.  I don’t know why, but things seem to happen on a timely basis at the ballpark ~ results oriented you know?   Who knows, it just might work!