– Every so often a publisher will send me a book in the mail to review, and I usually flip through it quickly and then absentmindedly set it on my bookshelf. If I’m too busy or uninterested, the book makes a home there, snug amongst the “serious literary fiction”, and gathering dust until I just happen upon it while searching for other things, which in turn brings upon pangs of guilt. I’ve waded through a malaise of baseball books–hundreds in fact–and I usually enjoy them more often than not. I must have been in the middle of reading one (I’m usually reading, or grazing multiple books at one time like a maniac) when I tucked in a baseball card moonlighting as a bookmarker. What a pleasant surprise to see the incomparable, all-time greatest thief staring back at me with sun-blasted squinty eyes, the square jaw of Zeus, and an air of don’t fuck with me. Many years had passed, and I recalled that I had last seen this alluring piece of cardboard when I was going through a “my own worst enemy” caveat and floating through a listless existence of fast food, an unfulfilling job, innumerable cocktails, and memories of a failed relationship.
– The Angel Hernandez fiasco will bring up more hyperbole (baseball fans are incessant complainers) about needing robotic umpires, but the conversation should turn to MLB and its incompetent hiring practices and institutional/generational standards. (amongst other amateurish discrepancies) I’ve watched Japanese baseball (NPB) for many years now, and it’s very rare that they miss a call at the plate. Perhaps they have more astute hiring practices? There’s nothing more frustrating than the American way of doing things–which is to call a pitch a strike that is a foot off the plate–and the announcers calling it a “pitcher’s pitch.” In many cases, you would need an oar to hit one of these things, and frustration just turns to laughter as the strike zone becomes more abstract than a Jackson Pollock painting as the game matures. Welcome to the theatre of mediocrity known as MLB.
– Franklin Barreto, aka the biggest bust in Oakland A’s trade history and Billy Beane WonderBoy is batting a cool .200 with a .624 OPS for the Asterisks’ AAA team, the Sugar Land Space Cowboys. You can call him the most highly touted pinch-runner–and there have been many–in A’s history, just don’t call him Maurice–because he doesn’t speak of the pompatus of love. (yes, I am showing my age here)
P.S. please check out Hugh’s Atlanta Braves-based blog Cheap Hill 44 if you get a chance!
The pompatus of love! 😂 😂 😂
That’s a really nice card! Given the fact that his Topps rookie is so iconic and valuable, collectors on a budget can turn to his second appearance in 1981 Topps for a key early Henderson card.
Yeah, you’re right. The card above would only set you back about roughly 15 bucks. Thanks for the comment.
In the 90s I believe it was at it’s worse… Maddux and Glavine would pitch 6 inches to a foot outside.
It’s so true, and I think the 70’s was even worse. Really the whole thing is kind of dumb because they do everything they can to create more offense and then the umpires they instill kill it with a weird ass, inconsistent zone. Seems self defeating.
Baseball….I really love the game…it’s my favorite game of all the sports… but how the hell it survived it’s management (through the decades) will always be a mystery to me.
Hope I didn’t get off topic too much but self defeating says it all and it leads me back to the Scandals, Kuhn, Manfred, Landis, Selig, owners, players…who try to kill it…but luckily for us won’t die.
Could it be that the image of Rickey Henderson on the baseball card was his reaction to being asked if he speaks of the pompatus of love?
On May 28 and 30, 1977, The Day on the Green concert headliners at Oakland Coliseum were Steve Miller Band, the Eagles, Heart, Atlanta Rhythm Section and Foreigner. Tickets cost about $10.
Your ability to recite these obscure gems never ceases to amaze me Mark, and I like quite a few songs by that collection of bands. “Dirty White Boy” by Foreigner is quite the romp in the realm of raunchy rock and roll. Of couse, Steve Miller Band always reminds me of being a teenager and hanging out with friends, having a few brewskis and smoking some hippie lettuce.
Hey Gary, i love the Rickey Henderson state of mind, raised fist and Muhammad Ali confidence. I can always use some of that.
Good point about the strike zone inconsistency maybe being bad hiring practice. I hadn’t thought of that. I sure hope they don’t bring in robot umps. I like the thinking a pitcher must do, the adjustments he must make when considering who the home plate ump is and what kind of game he’s calling.
I kind of like the chess match of figuring out a subjective strike zone as well, but some of these guys (Angel Hernandez, C.B. Bucknor, Laz Diaz) are not consistent enough to figure out a zone in order to formute an attack. It’s like someone moving around the pieces in the middle of a game. Where the hell is my queen now? What makes it even more odd is that these guys see 100’s of thousands of pitches in their lifetimes so a strike should just be an ingrained muscle memory sort of thing. I honestly can’t think of another profession where they make so many mistakes. (except maybe the movie industry) 🙂
I wonder how many, if any, umpires have been fired over the years? Seems like that Angel Hernandez is deserving of getting canned.
I believe they can be fired, but baseball doesn’t want to be seen beating the disabled when they are down–and if it comes to a lawsuit, the umpires will probably be allowed to continue working with a seeing eye dog, which would lead to longer games.
You raise a good point, a funny one – the seeing eye dog, leading to longer games. It seems that everything they try is balanced out by something else they try like instant replay. That sometimes takes five to ten minutes.
…and they STILL get it wrong on occasion!
Love the Rickey card. I too occasionally stumble upon a random baseball card/bookmark. Mine usually are Len Gabrielson or Ken McMullen or any number of common cards Topps used to put in seemingly every pack of cards I opened in the 60s. The thing about Angel Hernandez (and Joe West) is that it’s one thing to be incompetent, but they are/were incompetent, arrogant, and confrontational. Eric Gregg actually may have been a worse balls/strikes ump, but at least he seemed like a good guy. Hernandez and West are the reason we will have robot umps. Also, thanks for the shout out for my blog at the end of the post.
I feel like we as a society don’t use “the pompatus of love” enough in our everyday vocabulary, and don’t worry about “showing your age” Gary, because kids from the 50’s who listened to The Medallions’ song “The Letter” will connect with you as well. The “pompatus of love” spans generations and your writing is bridge. Well done, sir!
I was just talking to someone the other day about how the younger generation doesn’t appreciate older music. I know when I was young I liked jams from every era, but now it’s just whatever is “relevent” or “cool.” THe actual music tales a back seat to pop-culure relevancy and hyper capitalism. And don’t get me started on Auto-Tune!!! Thanks for your awesome comment!
We signed Rickey Henderson as a free agent after the 1995 season; I was working for the Padres then. He actually had a good year in ’96 and helped us win the division. Tony Gwynn was not happy at the attention Henderson received and Rickey kind of wore out his welcome, although he was (usually) not the distraction we heard he could be.
A Henderson story: he signed a big contract with the Yankees that included a signing bonus. Much later, Yankees’ accounting realized the check had never been deposited. They reached out to him trying to find out what happened to the check. He said he had it framed and hung on a wall. They had to send him another check and asked him to deposit that one.
Great stories! Thanks for the comment.
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