The air is getting more crisp in the mornings and I’m looking forward to Fall and sweaters and hot coffee in the early AM hours. I walked the dog in the wet air, and after peeing in his preferred spots I came home, made my girlfriend a bagel with cream cheese and then sat down for some light reading. I found this to be a rather funny excerpt from the current book on the “devour list,”Billy Martin’s 1987 book, Billyball:
…Mickey Mantle and I were in (the club) and sitting across the room was Elizabeth Taylor. She was with Michael Todd, who was her husband at the time, and Rock Hudson. Ed Wynne came over and asked if Mickey and I would pose for a picture with the three of them. I said we’d be glad to.
We went over and Ed makes the introductions all around, and let me tell you, I looked at Elizabeth Taylor’s face and it was like looking at the face of an angel. Her features were perfect. She was simply lovely, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. I just couldn’t believe a woman could be that beautiful. And she was wearing a low-cut dress. Oh, my God, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
So Ed introduces us and she’s very nice and sweet although I’m not even sure she knew who we were. And we pose for pictures and that was it, the whole thing took no more than a few minutes. Now Mickey and I return to our table and I just can’t get over how beautiful Elizabeth Taylor is. I’m talking a mile a minute.
“Mickey”, I said, “Did you see that face? Did you you ever see such a face? That is the most beautiful face I have ever seen in my life.”
“I ain’t seen her face,” Mickey said. “but did you see them tits?”
By Colonel Harland Sanders
Process over results every time. All. The. Time. Process is how you sustain success. Process is how you give yourself the best odds to avoid baseball being “stupid.” It’s how you become the horrible, awful, infuriating (if you’re not from St. Louis) Cardinals. This is not to say sabermetrics are always right. Actually nobody EVER says that except for people complaining about advanced stats who seem to rest their entire argument on that particular straw man. Advanced metrics simply improve your odds and give you a better chance.
The really crazy thing to me is that this isn’t specific to sports, but it seems to be the only place where people think it’s a bad thing. Let’s say you went to the doctor because you were sick and were given 2 options; a treatment that’s been around for 20 years that is supported by all of the research and gives you an excellent chance, or a medical technique that was popular in the 50’s but has since been shown to be flawed. Would anybody pick the treatment that gives them worse odds just because that’s how “old school” doctors would have done it? Of course not! And if for some reason, you did pick the statistically flawed and it worked…that doesn’t mean you made a smart decision, it means you got lucky.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am genuinely thrilled for Royals fans. They deserved this win!* but you know who didn’t deserve this win? Ned Yost. Dayton Moore. They made poor decisions and were rewarded with dumb luck. Their victory doesn’t change that.
*you know who DIDN’T deserve that heartbreaking loss? A’s fans. These people support a club that has been trying to leave town for years. It has a crap payroll. It has a dilapidated stadium. They have lost every do-or-die game they’ve played in this millennium (0-7). And they lost the Wild Card game LIKE THAT? In a season where they really went all in? Yuck.
Even a “genius” can make mistakes. Nikola Tesla made bizarre contraptions such as an earthquake machine and a death ray. Thomas Edison wanted to make entire houses out of concrete. Einstein said that the universe was eternal (apparently he thought the Big Bang Theory was hooey.)….and Billy Beane traded Andre Ethier for Milton Bradley.
At the time the trade seemed to make sense. The Athletics needed a big bat and they acquired one in Bradley. All they had to give up was their minor league player of the year and Texas League MVP in Andre Ethier. The trade worked fine for a while as Bradley helped the A’s get to the 2006 ALCS where they were eventually swept by the hated Detroit Tigers. Bradley, however must have forgotten to take his meds the next season as he became the violent schizophrenic that he had been in Los Angeles and was traded to the Padres after only 19 games (with cash…now THAT is desperation) for forgotten relief pitcher Andrew Brown.
Ethier, on the other hand became the poster boy of Los Angeles. He is one of the most beloved Dodgers to ever put on the uniform and will forever be seen as a heart-throb (right up there with Menudo!) to the female contingent of 20 and 30 somethings in the City of Angels. He is a two-time All Star, won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award. Ethier also gave the Dodgers 145 career HR’s and 628 RBI’s, compared to Bradley’s 16 and 59 for the Athletics. Ethier is class–personified while Bradley is quite the opposite. The psycho burned every bridge in every city he played in until everyone finally gave up and he wasn’t re-signed after the 2011 season (he even took to wearing earplugs to drown out the heckling fans)….and it didn’t end there. Bradley was facing 13 years in prison for spousal abuse and even threatened to kill his wife on more than one occasion. Strangely enough, she died on September 14, 2013 of unknown causes. (this was swept under the rug…perhaps I might get a notice from a lawyer or 2 after this is posted.)
This was a trade of disastrous proportions and will probably go down in history as one of Mr. Beane’s worse, and to save subjective judgment is diametrically opposed to what “Moneyball” was supposed to be about in the first place. This is but the first installment of “The Billy Beane failure chronicles.”
Here I am again, sitting by the poolside with a screwdriver, one of my favorite adult beverages. You may think that I’m trying to be a braggart, but L.A. summers are hot, man. I’m not having the time of my life or anything. Mind you, I live in a post WW 2 bungalow (L.A. is known for these….look for them in just about EVERY movie) so I don’t have air conditioning. Yep….tough times.
OK…OK….on to baseball. As you may or may not know my answers are unfiltered and to-the-point, often poignant but always unsentimental, not rude but refusing to infest the garden of honest human communication with the Victorian-seeded, American-sprouted weed of pointless politeness. What was the question you asked?
Well, the A’s sucking major ball-sack lately.
The A’s hitting has been anemic since “the trade”. They are 7-10 since trading the “Cuban Missile” and have currently lost 7 out of their last 8. They got a great ace in Lester but traded their 4 hitter to get him. Losing Cespedes has an effect on your 3 an 5 hitters and, ultimately, your entire lineup…..and that’s fine. There is a philosophy at work here. And that philosophy is based on “gamers”, L/R matchups (the baseball du jour) and amazing starting pitching.
I’ll take the above mentioned any day of the week over a guy who had an OBP of barely .300 and would make a great play every now and then. This is baseball…it takes patience, articulation and grittiness to win. If I know anything about this team….we’ll be alright. This is a desperate plea to all the nerds out there in internet land….CALM DOWN! I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING! ENJOY BASEBALL! SOMETIMES YOU LOSE! LIFE GOES ON! QUIT BLOWING UP MY INBOX! …..and now…..back to my screwdriver.
“The tears I shed yesterday have become rain.”
A psychiatrist analyzes Billy Martin: He acts out our own anger. The athlete in America is a hero figure because we can sublimate our anger through his action. It wouldn’t be socially acceptable to slug somebody at a bar. It would be socially acceptable conduct to sit in the stands and egg Billy Martin on against an umpire; an authority figure. He fights our battles for us with no loss of status and with no pain. Heavy alcohol use directly affects brain function and alters various brain chemical and hormonal systems known to be involved in the development of many common mental disorders (e.g., mood and anxiety disorders). Thus, it is not surprising that alcoholism can manifest itself in a broad range of psychiatric symptoms and signs. Alcohol abuse can cause signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis, and antisocial behavior, both during intoxication and during withdrawal. At times, these symptoms and signs cluster, last for weeks, and mimic frank psychiatric disorders As Freud believed, conflicts are part of the human condition and certain ego functions may become conflicted by aggressive and libidinal impulses, as witnessed by conversion disorders, speech impediments, eating disorders, and attention-deficit disorder.
The A’s were eliminated from the playoffs last week, which means baseball season is essentially over for me. The disappointment burns even deeper as I have absolutely zero interest in the Redsox/Tigers series; I’ve watched maybe one inning of the 4 games played in the series so far.
Usually during the off-season, in order to get a fix, I’ll read up and polish my knowledge of baseball history. I’ve always had a keen interest in the history of the game, with a pretty healthy interest and focus on eccentrics…or weirdos. Rube Waddell is one of the more interesting characters I’ve come across during my readings. Never mind Rube’s induction into the Hall of Fame in 1946 or 193 career wins. It’s Mr. Waddell’s off the field habits that I found to be of the most interest…
Despite Rube’s drinking problems with the National League’s Louisville Colonels, in 1902 Owner/manager Connie Mack took a risk on the oddball and signed him to the Philadelphia Athletics. Waddell’s turnaround was a direct result of Connie Mack’s managing. According to Mack, Waddell “had more stuff than any pitcher I ever saw. He had everything but a sense of responsibility.” Because of this, Mack paid Waddell on an as-needed basis in singles so he wouldn’t blow his earnings on alcohol. While Mack could control Waddell’s paychecks, he couldn’t control all of the idiosyncrasies. Waddell’s fascination with fire departments continued throughout his time with the A’s and he routinely wore red under his clothing just in case a fire bell would ring. He missed starts because he was fishing, or was late to games because he was playing marbles in the streets of Philadelphia with children. He was married three times and was often put in jail for missing alimony payments.
Other examples of the bizarre with Waddell include:
- He wrestled alligators during the off-season.
- He played for two Philadelphia Athletics clubs in 1902: the baseball club and the Philadelphia Athletics of the first National Football League (at 6’2″ and 200 lbs. he was a fullback).
- He almost shot Connie Mack in the head when a pistol fell out of his pocket and fired at the team hotel.
- His contract included a clause, at his catcher’s insistence, that prohibited Waddell from eating crackers in bed. During the early years, players would share beds on road trips and Ossee Schreckengost couldn’t sleep because of the crumbs.
- In 1903, he climbed into the stands to beat up a spectator who was heckling him and was suspended for 5 games.
- In one game, Waddell was at bat in the 8th inning with 2 outs and a man on second. After a pitch, the catcher threw to second in a pick-off attempt, but the ball sailed into the outfield. The A’s runner took off and was rounding home to score when the center fielder fired home. Waddell, with bat still in hand, swung and hit the ball back into play. He was called out for interference. His explanation for the gaffe, “They’d been feeding me curves all afternoon, and this was the first straight ball I’d looked at!”
At the end of the 1907 season, Waddell was slumping badly and was then sold to St. Louis “in the interests of team unity.” He pitched out the final three years of his major league career before drinking his way back to the minors in 1911.
The events surrounding Waddell’s death were just as memorable as those surrounding his life. In the fall of 1912, he was living in Kentucky with friends when a nearby dam collapsed and caused devastating flooding in the region. Waddell immediately went to help out in whatever way he could, by pulling people out of homes and by working for hours on end in cold water piling up sandbags. Although his actions were heroic, they also proved costly as he developed pneumonia. As a result, his body was severely weakened and he battled bouts of pneumonia and tuberculosis from which he never fully recovered. He died in 1914 at the age of 37…on April Fool’s day
Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley has some interesting opinions about his fellow inductees. Enjoy!
On Rod Carew: “ I had this thing with Rod Carew. I had thrown at him or something, knocked him down, and he took me deep the next time and yelled at me around the bases. At the All- Star game in 1977 he came up to me and said, “What’s your problem?” I didn’t like him. I don’t think he liked me, either. A year later I had an 8-0 shutout in Boston in the ninth inning with 2 outs, and he steals second base. asshole. Next guy hits a ground ball between the second baseman’s legs and Carew scores and yells at me from home plate. Coming from a superstar like him, I wondered why he would belittle himself. I guess I got under his skin. Typical.
On Carlton Fisk: Guys in Boston would tell me, “you’re just a .500 pitcher.” You are what your team is, as a starter. Pissed me off. My control was better, I was spotting the ball. Fisk made me throw all my pitches and stop trying to be just a strikeout pitcher. Which was smart. Writers used to go and ask him, ” How come’s Eckersley is successful?” and he’d say, ” Well I’ve got him throwing his change outside, and I’ve got….”
He’s got me doing this. He’s got me winning 20 games. Well, he’s got me doing shit! I got to throw it! He helped alot, but don’t take credit for everything! Used to PISS ME OFF. He had the locker next to mine so I would hear it everyday. Maybe that’s why I got irritated after awhile.
The A’s have played 7 games so far, in which they split with the Mariners, and then beat up on the hapless Houston Astros to start the season with an impressive 5-2 record. I’m not going to bore you with stats, etc. because A.) You’ve probably seen/heard about the games yourself and you’re not a dumbass. and B.) I’m not going to sit here like every other shitty blog and feed you endless soul-sucking stats that don’t mean shit because the season is only 7 games old. Ahem. Thank you.
Instead, I have decided to regale you with the story of former A’s pitcher Matt Keough. Matt played on the A’s from ’77 to ’83, made the All Star team in 1978 (he is largely considered one of the worst All Star selections of all time) and finished his career in 1986 with an unimpressive 58-84 record. His career was in shambles by 1992, but the Angels gave him a shot in spring training. He was subsequently hit in the right temple with a foul ball while sitting in the dugout, giving him permanent brain damage. Matty married one of the ugliest Playboy playmates ever to walk the earth, Jeana Tomasino, and then appeared with her on the reality show, “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” (this whole thing sounds like a nightmare so far) She then divorced him because of his alcoholism, even stating that his brain damage may have left him a bit off.
Here’s where things start to get a bit crazy…. In 2005, Keough pleaded guilty to felony charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, during which he collided with a car at a red light in Orange County, which in turn, rolled into a pedestrian walking his bicycle across the street who was briefly hospitalized with a knee injury. (d’oh!) The incident occurred following a family squabble. Making matters worse, Keough wandered away after the accident. He said that he did not flee the scene as some reports had indicated, but he was so disoriented that he walked toward some nearby shops where he was tracked down by police officers. His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. On December 18, 2007, Keough was arrested for violating his probation when he was found drinking at a bar. Under terms of his probation, he was to not consume alcohol. He was then sentenced to 180 days in the Orange County Jail on January 11, 2008. In August 2009 he was arrested AGAIN for a DUI and was sentenced to a year in jail. (Not to dismiss the brain damage theory, but if I was married to that thing in the video below, I might toss back a few too.)
Hopefully someone at OC Jail has been keeping a bunk warm for Orange County’s version of Otis from The Andy Griffith Show. Perhaps we should pity Keough. Rob Harley, the ex-arm’s attorney, has reportedly said that his client has never been the same since he was hit in the head with a foul ball during spring training in 1992, when he was attempting a major league comeback with the Angels. “He lost all self-respect, his self-esteem,” Harley says in wire service accounts of today’s sentencing, “and now he’s an alcoholic, a caged animal.”
I was floored last night when a family friend told me that Jason Giambi had signed with the goddamn Cleveland Indians. Just months earlier I had a cheap laugh at his expense when I found out he was trying to manage the Colorado Rockies. Giambi in my eyes was a “party animal,” whose reign started long before he shed his mullet, beard and laid -back attitude for the lilly white sanctity of a Yankees uniform.
Giambi’s three-year tour of NYC’s taverns, according to eyewitnesses, actually began two months before he signed with the Yankees in December 2001, with him table- dancing until 4 a.m. in an Upper West Side bar the night he flew to New York with the A’s up 2-zip in the Division Series. (that series turned out to be the most chair throwing disaster in the history of my fandom thanks to his idiot brother)
Giambi’s excessive partying that night (complete with faux rockstar poser duds) apparently spooked several Yankees players. But maybe word never got up to George Steinbrenner before he signed off on the worst contract in Yankees history.(still laughing about that one) Giambi “lived the life of a rock star,” according to a former member of the Yankees’ traveling party, and several witnesses say he was partying late with Ricky Williams in Miami during the 2003 World Series, right before begging out of Game 5. The same person said Giambi would sneak beer onto the bench and call his in-game shots personal “protein drinks.” He also picked up smoking and could be seen during the 2004 ALCS chewing tobacco while supposedly in sick bay. His production withered to almost nothing as he transitioned from the physique of a He-man to Pee-wee Herman. (not from cutting fat out of his diet, it turns out) The fans started getting on his ass because he couldn’t get the job done without the ‘roids, and was being paid 120 million. A former Yankees official predicted the bad publicity would overwhelm him because he’s a “mental midget.”
I’m certainly not going to judge Mr. Giambi for partying and (alleged) drug use, I’ve done loads of that in my time and still drink or take a toke in a social gathering or if I’m trying to listen to some mellow jams. As any reader of this blog may or may not know, I also didn’t disapprove (then) of steroid use. The game needed a jolt, was at an all-time low in popularity and home runs made the game sexy again for a short time. Sure, I suppose there is a bit of jealousy because I’ll never make the kind of money this guy does; but it’s more than that. (or the Yankee signing) It’s about the privilege these guys feel they have. Giambi can disrespect the game, rape fans for their hard-earned cash, and still expect the game to give him a shot at a distinguished managerial role. I don’t hate the guy, he’s just the physical representation of everything that is wrong with this country; a culture of exposure, where we desire to let it all hang out in an orgy of exhibitionism, self-involvement and confession. An abuse of power and a big “fuck you” to the fans….. as I cry into my 15 dollar beer.
Dave Kingman played for the A’s from 84-86, was known for his amazing power, amassing 442 career homers,(38th all time) and leading the league in the ’79 and ’82 seasons. Dave, however, was known for being a brash jerk and a bore: even giving a female reporter a box with a dead rat in it because he didn’t like female reporters in the locker room. Ball players were known to be a bit sexist and insensitive in those days, (our cultural landscape is devoid of heroes, and instead dotted with false idols born of contrivance and vanity) so I tend to look at these gentlemen with a cynical eye no matter how much I admire their skills.What does intrigue me are the flawed, existential, and humanistic side of these athletes. I was tickled by the opinion of Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda on June 4th, 1976: Kingman had hit 3 homers with 8 RBI’s against Lasorda’s Dodgers while playing for the Mets.
Currently, Dave is enjoying his retirement with his family and lives in the western U.S. He wants his fans to know that he is an avid fisherman and hunter (bird and big game). So if you have any tips on good fishing or hunting areas (land owners, hot spots, favorite spots, etc.) particularly on the West Coast (CA, OR, WA) drop him a line at the website: davekingmanfan.com