Results tagged ‘ baseball card ’

The namesake of this blog has lost his position.

burns all star rookie As much as we here at The ‘Fro enjoy Coco Crisp and his exciting style of play, it seems as if the Athletics may have found a new center fielder. Every baseball team seems to want to get younger, and it just makes sense to play a 25 year old over a 35 year old with a potential career threatening neck injury and a .044 average. 

Billy Burns is superior to Crisp at EVERYTHING at this point in his career. Crisp had 19 stolen bases in 126 games last year. Burns already has 13. (and this blog  thinks he need to run more!) There is nothing more to convey, baseball fans. This is a no-brainer and a (near) ending to an otherwise great career for the man who once sported a giant afro and punched “Average Game” James Shields.

There has been a bit of controversy lately about Kansas City fans voting in 8 position players for the All Star Game. Kansas City fans have taken it upon themselves be didactic about their “passion” for their team by telling other fans to vote for their own teams and even appalling others by calling it a “popularity contest.” The average baseball fan doesn’t know Lorenzo Cain or Omar Infante from Jean-Paul Sartre, so that is an almost idiotic response to the detractors. As far as “voting” is concerned, all it comes down to is glorified “click-bait” by the MLB brass to get people to go to their website. This is capitalism mzojodisguised as democracy which means only an idiot would sit around making hundreds of fake e-mails in order to sit around pushing a button 35 times (the most you can vote per e-mail) in order to see their favorite player/s in an exhibition game. It all comes down to what cities have the most unemployed/unsophisticated/bored fans.  

I have no problem with the game deciding who has home field advantage because the league used to arbitrarily flip-flop it between leagues before Bud Selig decided to step in and make it just as arbitrary. My question is this–why didn’t K.C. fans vote for the players who deserved it? As a child I would sit in the ballpark during batting practice meticulously punching the paper chads, all the while still voting for the deserving players as I wanted to see an exciting All Star game which didn’t include Mike Gallego starting at second. I’m not saying your average American sports fan is a moron, but then again maybe I am. Alas, even a child had a better sense of democracy and fair play than a bunch of adults with an inferiority complex. Let’s hope commissioner Rob Manfred does what Ford Frick did before the start of the 1957 game. Another boring, Midwestern town, Cincinnati, stuffed the box and had 8 players starting. An investigation launched by Frick found that over half of the ballots cast came from the local newspaper, printing up pre-marked ballots and distributing them with the Sunday edition of the newspaper to make it easy for Reds fans to vote often for their favorite players. Frick then decided to appoint Willie Mays and Hank Aaron in the outfield positions they righteously deserved, all but deeming provincial hubris irrelevant and ultimately outing the so-called “voting democracy” as a farce that still exists today in electronic form. It may have been just as “easy” to stuff the ballot box using paper back in the old days, but having to use a pencil to punch tiny chads seems a whole lot more indicative of “fan loyalty” than spending 25% of a lunch break to exploit a ridiculously low-security voting web site.

Hank Bauer had a very bad day.

hank

This is a short piece of fiction inspired by a very real situation.

Hank Bauer slammed down his glass of scotch as his wife, Charlene looked on. Charlene was worried about the glass because it was part of a crystal set and she didn’t want the assemblage to be compromised.

“Hank isn’t supposed to use those,” she thought.

There was now a large gash on top of the deep brown oak desk where the glass had chipped away the smooth, glossy veneer. The glass was still in one piece.

“That son of a bitch Finley embarrassed the hell out of me today — I told that hippy Jim Nash to cut his sideburns,” Hank snarled, “and what does Charlie do? He tells Nash that they’re nice.”

“I’m sure…”

Jim Nash 1969P2

Jim Nash and the “hippy” sideburns that started the fracas.

“Now I’m the laughing-stock of the goddamn team! I tell you Charlene, if anyone pulled that shit in the Marines he’d be picking my foot out of his ass.” Hank had spent nearly three years in the South Pacific during WW2, surviving attacks of malaria, sustaining shrapnel and winning numerous medals. He was proud of all of this.

Hank wasn’t finished. “I’m telling you that this shit wouldn’t have happened in Baltimore. I had that goddamn team on a leash, and that’s why we won it all in ’66.”

“Maybe you should talk to Charlie?” Charlene was speaking in hushed tones.

Bauer took a long slug from his glass, drained it and poured another. “Son of a bitch already fired me in Kansas City, I’m not going to put up with his foolishness again…you know what he wants me to do? He wants me to pinch hit for the catchers during every at-bat. I tell you — it’s a goddamn circus, Charlene.”

“Hank…”

“I’ve never dealt with so many bores, bastards and phonies in all my days. If it was up to me I’d roll the whole thing into the sea like a sack of waste.”

Bauer started peeling off his khaki shirt, in turn putting on his military uniform. He usually did this on flimsy pretext. Charlene exited the room quietly. Bauer let the anger rise until he began to see bright, quick flashes. The synapses in his brain entered places they had never been before. He began to see new dimensions in everything that had happened.

 

 

SLUMP!!!!

i guess  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.

Shrink Logic

billy martinnnnn

HELP!

“The tears I shed yesterday have become rain.”

–Marlon Brando

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.

 

Brad “Dolla Dolla Bill” Mills

brad By now every Oakland A’s fan has heard of the acquisition of Brad Mills from the Milwaukee Brewers for one dollar. Mills supposedly had a contract with the Brewers stating that he had to be called up from AAA Nashville (where he was doing great–Mills was 4-2 with a 1.56 ERA, lowest in the Pacific Coast League in 14 games including 12 starts for Triple-A Nashville.) by June 15th or be traded.  While the transaction is unusual, Mills isn’t even the first Brewer to be traded for a buck. Wil Nieves was shipped from Milwaukee to Atlanta for $1 in 2011. Third baseman Wes Helms was traded by the Marlins to the Phillies in 2008 for the same sum.

A one-dollar bill. Fluttering there on the sidewalk, yet miraculously motionless in the early-morning breeze; flapping just enough to attract his attention without flying away…..

His foot clamped down upon it, hard; he squatted down fast and dug it out with greedy fingers; crushed it into a ball and stuffed it deep in his pocket. depositphotos_1377137-Empty-cup-of-coffee-and-dollar

It was barely past dawn. Nothing was open. Brad wondered who had dropped it, who had been benign or foolish enough to toss away one whole dollar as if it were nothing, as if it meant nothing. Perhaps they just simply dropped it. It’s only one dollar. It’s not life or death. Brad didn’t think of himself as himself as a temporary collection of atoms with fractionary memory collective. He also didn’t think of himself as worth a dollar. Life is funny that way.

He smiled as he reached his local coffee shop. The curtains hadn’t been drawn yet, but the familiar sign still stood in the window. Coffee, one dollar. He sat down on the sidewalk, waiting. It smelled of stale vomit, the product of the golden hammer of gentrification that had not yet been brought down.
There was a click and the door opened behind him. He was glad to get out of the Oakland rain.

Hallelujah! Daric Barton now selling churros in Sacramento.

butt It is hot in Los Angeles right now. I mean hot! My house is from the 1930’s or 40’s era, so there is no air conditioning. The dog is miserable, and my only respite is a 6 pack. Yesterday I fell asleep on the floor next to the one tiny fan that I own watching a Black Sabbath documentary. Good times.

On to the BIG NEWS: The Oakland Athletics have acquired Kyle Blanks from the Padres, effectively pushing Daric Barton out of town. Barton was not much loved in Oakland…yet we will miss his churros. Will he clear waivers? Probably. Which means he will be selling churros in Sacramento with the AAA River Cats. Blanks doesn’t have to do much besides provide a little sock and not be Daric Barton which means he is already halfway to achieving his and our goals. Here are some of the reactions of a few fans of this page:

***Please, somebody pick this piece of shit up so he is never seen in the green and gold again.

***Even coming off a loss…this is the best day of the season so far

***Amen! I whooped when I read this.

***Fucking send Limp Johnson with him too, guy is fucking horrible.

***Please say it’s true!

Asked about making an impact with the A’s, Blanks said, “Any time I look back, the biggest thing for me is, when I’m healthy I’ve been able to do well.”

He’s healthy now.

Churro vendor season stats: 57 AB’S, 9 hits, 0 HR’S, .158 average

Brian Kingman interview…part 3

kingman

This is part 3 of my Brian Kingman interview…

3) You were best known for being a 20 game loser before Detroit Tigers pitcher Mike Maroth “achieved ” this honor in 2003. Have you spoken to Mr. Maroth about this dubious achievement?

No, I never have spoken to Mike. I didn’t want to distract him during the 2003 season. I think I can safely assume he wasn’t very interested in talking to me
about losing 20 games after the fact. The Tigers were having a horrible year and didn’t appreciate the added media attention regarding the possibility that Maroth
might lose 20 games.

When I lost 20 games in 1980 it wasn’t as uncommon of an occurrence as it was in 2003.  There has been a 20 game loser almost every year in baseball history, and some years there were multiple 20 game losers. A  list of 20 game losers was established by baseball reference.com because of the media created interest started and fueled mainly by Jayson Stark. In 1991 Stark wrote a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer that mentioned a couple of
pitchers that might lose 20. He noted that no one had lost 20 in over a decade and that “somewhere Brian Kingman was praying for someone to lose 20 games
so he could be relieved of the dubious distinction of being the last 20 game loser”. A friend of mind who lived in Philadelphia mailed me the article. I called the Inquirer and
they gave me Stark’s home phone number. I called him and told him that I wanted to remain the last 20 game loser, basically forever. He of course didn’t believe it was me calling at first. He thought he was being pranked by one of his friends. This was the start of what I call my “Reign as the Last 20 Game Loser” which lasted until 2003. This however is a story in itself and deviates from your question.

When Mike Maroth lost 21 games in 2003 it had been 23 years since I had lost 20.  Baseball, and especially pitching, had undergone a lot of changes. Complete games were on the decline, and the importance of the relief pitcher increased. Pitch counts gained in popularity as front offices worried about injuries to starting pitchers who had been rewarded lucrative contracts. Because of these factors starting pitchers didn’t pitch as deep into games, and had fewer decisions.
Just as it became harder to win 20 games it became less likely that someone would lose 20. It took a historically bad team (2003 Detroit Tigers) losing 119 games for Maroth to “achieve” 20 losses. When a team has that many losses they are very likely going to produce a 20 game loser. The 1962 NY Mets finished lost 120 games and produced two 20 game losers as well as a 19 game loser.
In this sense becoming a 20 game loser was most likely less stressful for Mike in 2003 than it was for me in 1980. No one on the Tigers was winning while on the 1980Mike Maroth
Oakland A’s everyone was winning except me. I am sure the casual fan believed I was a horrible pitcher.  It is assumed that over the course of a baseball season
everything evens out. If you get shut out once in awhile you’ll likely be the be beneficiary of an offensive outburst every now and then as well. I learned first hand that
this isn’t always true;
A section of a blog by Aaron Gleeman:
 

Perhaps more amazing than the fact that no one has been able to do what he did in 1980 in 22 years is how Brian Kingman lost 20 games that year. First of all, he actually pitched for a good team. The 1980 Oakland A’s went 83-79 (.512) and finished second in the American League West. The AL East was much stronger that season, but A’s had the 7th-best record in the 14-team American League. 

Secondly, Brian Kingman was actually a decent pitcher in 1980. He pitched 211 1/3 innings and had a 3.83 ERA. . 

So, he pitched for a good team and was right around league-average in preventing runs, yet he went 8-20. 

Meanwhile in 1980…
Dan Spillner pitched 194 1/3 innings for a Cleveland ballclub that went 79-83. He had a 5.28 ERA – 29.4% worse than league-average – and he went 16-11.

Well as you can see here I have drifted off in my answer to the original question! 
Jack Morris pitched 250 innings for the Tigers who went 84-78. He had a 4.18 ERA – 1.5% worse than league-average – and he went 16-15.
Len Barker pitched 246 1/3 innings for that same Indians team that Spillner was on. He had a 4.17 ERA – 2.2% worse than league-average – and he won 19 games.
Dennis Leonard pitched 280 1/3 innings for the Royals

who were American League Champions (97-65). Leonard had an ERA of 3.79 verysimilar to Kingman’s (3.83) and was a TWENTY game winner (20-11). 

Oakland’s runs per game when Kingman pitched:

             R/G

Wins        4.12

Losses      2.50

No-Dec.     2.75
That’s the difference run-support can make. For the season overall, the A’s scored 4.43 runs per game. So, even in the games Kingman won, he got below-average run support from his teammates.In the games Kingman pitched in, the A’s scored 2.87 runs per game. In the other 130 games they played in 1980, they scored 4.55 runs per game. That’s just plain, old, simple bad luck.

Of the 20 games Kingman lost, 5 of them were games in which the A’s got shutout.

The 2.50 runs per game the A’s scored in Kingman’s 20 losses are even a little inflated because 11 of the 50 runs scored were in one game. If you take out those 11 runs and that one game, Kingman got a whopping 2.05 runs per game in his other 19 losses.

*************************************************************************************
Well as you can see here I have drifted off once again from the interview question! The answer sort of morphed into things I would have mentioned to
Maroth if I had talked to him. That’s why editors get paid the big bucks.
When I lost 20 most fans didn’t realize the number of really good pitchers that had lost twenty games. The average fan assumed that only bad
pitchers lost 20. They forget Steve Carlton lost twenty games the year after winning 27 games, and that there are several 20 game losers in the Hall
of Fame, including Pud Galvin who lost 20 games ten years in a row.
The biggest factor in a pitcher losing 20 games is almost always poor sun support. Pitchers ERA’s are always posted on line or in the sport section
along with their won-lost record. There should also be a number that indicates the average number of runs scored for the pitcher. I think it would
be enlightening for fans and players to see run support adjusted W-L totals. Some big winners would look less impressive, and some pitchers with unimpressive records would gain respect. It is so much easier to pitch when your team scores for you.

Gods never answer letters

game “saved” by a clown?

” Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.”       Nietzsche

I recently read John Updike’s short story entitled “1960: hub fans bid kid adieu;” a glorified monument to Ted Williams’ final game at Fenway park.  The long and wordy piece was impressive  in its literary and authoritarian tone, reminding me of my own inadequacies when it comes to the English language, but also reminding me that the reader shouldn’t be bored out of their minds while the writer achieves some sort of mental jerk-off.  Story finally completed and compartmentalized, one line stuck out like a huge pair of bosoms in the crowded bleachers; “Gods never answer letters.”

Jose Canseco was a god to me as a freckle faced, no girlfriend -having  Jr. high schooler;  he was the young, handsome baseball phenom, an Oakland A’s outfielder with unlimited potential, a muscular slugger with mythical power. After retiring, he wrote a book, “Juiced,” that rocked the baseball world, outing several superstar big leaguers as steroid users, or “juicers.” (The best part of the book being Canseco telling A-Rod that he ” hated him” after Mr. Yankee tried numerous times to fuck his wife)  After a long and tiresome “sting operation” by the powers that be in the MLB kingdom (pathetically, i may add, as they knew this behavior was happening but thought home runs would bring the pissed off  fans back after the strike of ’94.) they installed a new, more thorough way of testing players, all but eliminating steroid use in baseball and lowering home run totals dramatically. MLB needed a scapegoat, and they got it.  Canseco was universally seen as a pariah for writing the book which all but astounded me for 2 reasons. 1) he was “cleaning up the game” single-handedly, (or at least bringing media attention to it) and 2) making some bread while he was doing it which seems to follow the age-old baseball adage of making money unethically and in a clownish manner at all costs no matter what the cost. Here we had a someone ready to speak out and debunk the myth of a “tighter wound ball” and baseball fans (mostly working class may i add) were siding with the  money hungry, uber-capitalists that disrespected the hallowed home run totals for a quick buck at MLB. (reminding me of the controversy and backlash Jim Bouton received after his 1970 book, “Ball Four” was released. I had a chance to meet him, he is a wonderful man and I absolutely adore that book.)

Canseco continued his “career” playing for virtually peanuts for the Yuma Scorpions of the North American League in 2011, was banned in 2012  from playing with a Mexican team, the Quintana Roo Tigers for using testosterone; and finally  in April, was signed by the Worchester Tornadoes of the Canadian/ American Association of Professional Baseball.  Reading the latter story made me feel as if  Canseco was a sad specimen, holding on to his youth and past glory; but also a bit of admiration because of his love for the game that keeps us all clicking the turnstiles no matter how uninterested the players are with our historical musings and passionate regional rivalries. I suppose then, I owe Mr. Updike a posthumous apology, as his admired, single statement above jolted these feelings lose and vehemently  spread upon the page before you. It also reminded me of a fan letter I had written to Canseco in 2011, hoping that he would answer because of his bush league status. Hoping that perhaps he was humbled and ready to give something back to the fans that had enjoyed him as a player, author, cheater and jackass. Alas…. Gods never answer letters.