Results tagged ‘ hall of fame ’

Mark McGwire, my childhood, and why he should be in the HOF despite the “Boomers” that keep him out.

1985-mark-mcgwire-rookie-card

Whoa…this card stirs up a lot of emotions.

It’s strange; when most baseball fans talk about iconic cards of their youths they will usually cite a  1952 Mickey Mantle, 1968 Nolan Ryan or even a 1984 Don Mattingly rookie. That is all well and good; I enjoy baseball’s past and have spent countless hours and even days researching it. The most iconic card in my youth, however, was the 1987 Topps Mark McGwire.

You see, he was my favorite player on my favorite team; that’s not much of a stretch for a kid growing up in Northern California. When I look at this funky piece of cardboard with a blurry photo of a young, lanky, hunchbacked McGwire with the tacky, 1970’s Dad’s den border, I feel that it represents a couple of things that my generation encompassed so well–mass production and the willingness to do anything at all costs to achieve economic success in an era of unemployment and despair. (In this case “success” can be translated into “baseball success” through PED’s which equals economic success, my generation didn’t have the leisure of  the metaphorical PED in the workforce due to the “Boomers” taking all the corporate sectors that they inherited overseas in order to pay the rabble pennies on the dollar. In effect, fucking over China, Indonesia and El Salvador’s working poor and their own people as well. We are forever destined to bat .260 and never have a set position…so much for the “hippy generation.”)

“Popularity of era” is a part of becoming a HOFer…that is why Mark McGwire should be in there. PED’s or not, he was a HUGE part of those 90’s Athletics teams that people love and will talk about forever. Not to mention the class he showed to Roger Maris’ family when he broke the home run record.. (who was vilified as well by the fascist MLB brass…the asterisk instilled by then commissioner Ford Frick still has not been removed due to Maris breaking the record in the then-newly instilled 162 games. The feeling and overall jealousy of the new generation (now old as dirt or perhaps dead…do you see a running theme here?) was further recognized when HOFer Rogers Hornby said, “It would be a disappointment if Ruth’s home run record were bested by a .270 hitter”. Isn’t it strange how the players in an era with the least talent in an era where they didn’t even have to face black players are the biggest shit talkers!?)

goof

One of the greatest power hitters of all time.

There is a lot of talk about Tim Raines for the HOF..let’s get real…his stats are solid and then as the 90’s become a reality he becomes sort of hanger-on and a non entity. No one cared outside of Montreal. (and then again...they didn’t even care) It’s akin to giving the handicapped kid a pat on the back.

It’s all about IMPACT, era and the impact of that specific era. Just ask Derek Jeter, who was never even close to being the best player on his team, (or Pee Wee Reese for that matter.) yet Jeter will be a first ballot HOFer based on “good looks,” a great interview and a legion of mooks from Brooklyn who think they can be an MLB player because he did it. (Miguel Tejada was infinitely better in his prime.)

Here’s what I remember:
Multi-ethnic “sources” saying over half the players on every team used, and that MLB even tacitly encouraged it. I remember a reporter mentioning McGwire having androstenedione displayed openly in his locker, then said reporter getting raked over the coals by players, other reporters, and even the commissioner of baseball–Bud Selig.

Players linked to steroid use have been resoundingly rejected by Hall of Fame voters in recent years, shunned as synthetically enhanced frauds. But drawing an integrity line in the sand is a tenuous stance at a Hall of Fame with a membership that already includes multiple cheaters. Baseball has always had some form of hypocrisy when it comes to its exalted heroes. In theory, when it comes to these kinds of votes, it’s true that character should matter, but once you’ve already let in those who cheated, how can you exclude anyone else?

Here are a few:

Gaylord Perry (class of 1991) had a disregard for the rules that was far more patent and unashamed than any steroid user. Perry doctored baseballs with spit, Vaseline and other substances to confound hitters. All of baseball knew what Perry was doing even if he never admitted it — until writing a tell-all book after his retirement.

Don Sutton (class of 1998) Late in his career, Sutton was often accused of scuffing. In 1978 he was ejected and suspended 10 days for defacing the ball, but when he threatened to sue the National League, he was let off. Was teammates with Gaylord Perry for a while. “He gave me a tube of Vaseline,” joked Sutton. “I thanked him and gave him a piece of sandpaper.” Umpires took the allegations seriously, and sometimes gave him a good going over. Once, he left a note inside his glove for the men in black. It said, “You’re getting warm, but it’s not here.”

Whitey Ford (Class of 1974)… Ford used his wedding ring to cut the ball, or had catcher Elston Howard put a nice slice in it with a buckle on his shin guard. Ford also planted mud pies around the mound and used them to load the ball. He confessed that when pitching against the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series, “I used enough mud to build a dam.” He also threw a “gunk ball,” which combined a mixture of baby oil, turpentine, and resin. He kept the “gunk” in a roll-on dispenser, which, the story goes, Yogi Berra once mistook for deodorant, gluing his arms to his sides in the process.

Things are becoming a bit strange in the baseball world due to the advent of the internet and the basic human emotion of being a follower in a world of followers. (or they may do it to seem intelligent; I know this blog has been attacked by many lard-ass “experts,” with mustard stains running down their shirts, living in their mom’s basement and if they’re lucky MAY have a book published with a small run that no one will read.)  I’m starting to see a lot of followers who have no ideas of their own embrace idiotic “statistics”, nostalgia where there never was any, forced moral platitudes and just overall madness. I would die of shock if anyone had an original idea that was absolutely and irreducibly their own. Let’s hope the future generation/s gets it right when the novelty of being angry about a specific (and fun!) era finally dissolves after the Boomer HOF voter generation is finally dead. I have a feeling that the children of the future, because of their gradual and inevitable loss of civil rights, may find fault in the faceless men in the ivory tower who cashed in their billions and instead find compassion for the men simply trying to please them.

Tony LaRussa is as full of shit as anyone.

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complicated vegetarian

We here at the ‘Fro don’t enjoy muck-raking, yet all the unabashed Tony LaRussa love since his Hall of Fame induction is a wee bit over the top. As I have said on this blog before, Mr. LaRussa’s “invention” of the most over-rated statistic in sports: the one inning “save,” is mind- boggling in its supposed importance, and is ultimately a money-eating affair equivalent to a crotch grab. LaRussa also won’t be inducted as an Oakland Athletic as he has nothing but nasty things to say about the ball club. While we are here to celebrate the athletes/managers who have played for the team that wears the green and gold, we certainly aren’t against critiquing or even exposing the things that prove even a so called “genius,” “renaissance man” and World Series winner can be an idiot.

Manager Tony La Russa blew up at Ruben Sierra yesterday, blasting him as an “idiot” for comments he made in yesterday’s Chronicle.

“Every time he opens his mouth he makes a fool of himself,” La Russa said. “You try to protect guys, shade the truth a bit, but there’s a term players use, V.I., when a player starts believing fantasy. He’s a village idiot.”

I agree with LaRussa on this account. Ruben Sierra was a self-serving idiot. I saw the 2nd game he played in Oakland after being traded from the Rangers and he had the nerve to still be using use his Ranger blue glove. 

The biggest news of the night came when Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa expressed his views of the Tea Party and Arizona’s immigration policy to KSDK.

“You’re supposed to be able to have opinions and disagree, and a lot of things they (Tea Party) do I think are correct,” said La Russa. “I’m actually a supporter of what Arizona’s doing, you know, people don’t fix your problem, and the government, national government doesn’t fix your problem, and you’ve got a problem, they’ve got to take care of it themselves.”

This is a generalized, oppressive, ignorant and racist statement. There really is no way to pussy-foot around it, and if LaRussa wasn’t in the privileged position of ordering grown men to do things in a children’s game, I’m sure he would think differently.

Radnich: First of all, congratulations on having your uniform retired in St. Louis. … I know you’re not losing any sleep, but the A’s haven’t retired your number, correct?

La Russa: Well the A’s have a little different opinion, with the current regime, about what a manager means. They really don’t think a manager means much, so I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

Radnich: Since you went that far, why does (A’s general manager Billy) Beane have that feeling? I mean, he played for you briefly – why do you think he feels that way?

La Russa: Well, you have a right to your opinion, but I take that personally because he watched me manage. I certainly don’t blame him, because those A’s clubs – I mean, I do blame him but I don’t blame him, because they were push-button clubs and anybody could have managed them. But you take other clubs, and the manager can contribute. You’re not a player, neither is the coaching staff, but we all have a job to do. But he’s made it really clear that under their scheme of developing metrics and analytics, that anybody could do the job down there, and I couldn’t disagree more with that.

Radnich: The one thing that bothered me about the movie was I thought Art Howe was just treated awfully. Have you talked to him?

La Russa: Yeah, in fact I talked to him right when it came out, and he said, “You’re a lawyer, can I do something?” I said, “Well, you could sue, but that’s one of the toughest proofs.” You could do it to get press and just to make your point. … But whoever says he should get over it, or don’t pay attention, if it was them they wouldn’t feel nearly as forgiving when they’re being embarrassed like that. The point is, Art did a really good job there, and he was a part of that success as much as a manager could be, and it really portrays him as kind of a buffoon and useless. A lot of us – not just Art, but a lot of us that know better were really pissed off about that.

This site unabashedly supports the Oakland ball-club on this position. It’s quite easy to dismiss philosophies when in St. Louis he had one of the highest pay-rolls and probably the best scouting in the game. Perhaps Mike Matheny leading the Cardinals to the World Series exposed LaRussa as the “button pusher” that he abhorred to be.

I certainly am not going to judge the man for this one. People make mistakes. Even hot shot lawyers.

“I tell my players, ‘You’ll never see me without one of my friends,’ and by that I mean a book.”

The greatest thing to ever come out of his mouth.

LaRussa and the Hall of Fame

larussa

vegetarian, renaissance man, and originator of one of the most over-rated positions in sports: the one inning “closer.”

1986 And The Rest Is History…….. by Scott Guilmette
You can’t really fault Jackie Moore, the 1986 Opening Day Manager of the Oakland Athletics; the pitching on that team was suspect at best. The Athletics had a decent hitting team, with eventual Rookie of the Year Jose Canseco leading the way. Dave “ King Kong “ Kingman was playing his last season and the natives were getting restless, so a change needed to be made……Bring in one Anthony “ Tony “ LaRussa to guide this team of rookies, scrap heap rejects and players who’s better days have long been in the rear-view mirror. La Russa, who had spent 7 years managing the ChiSox was a great pickup by the Athletics after the ChiSox axed him three weeks earlier and he proved it in his first game as manager. The Athletics were in Boston to play the RedSox and he chose seldom used long reliever Dave Stewart to start that night against Roger Clemens and of course Smoke beat that ass!!!!! He started a trend that night that Clemens wished he was never part of…….NO LUCK AGAINST THE ATHLETICS OR STEWART……
LaRussa has a Degree in Law and I always thought of him as a smooth snake in the grass lawyer as to how he managed the game….he always seemed in control, no matter what the situation was, and he always seemed classy in doing it. He was just what the Athletics needed at that time in their history…..after it was all said and done in Oakland, LaRussa was the winningest manager in Oakland Athletic’s club history with 798, one World Series Championship ( 4-0 Sweep against the sorry asses from across the Bay ) and two Manager of the Year Awards. He is 3rd on the All Time wins- list with 2,728, behind only John McGraw and All Time Leader Connie Mack.  Not bad Athletics fans, some of us have had the good fortune to see one of the greatest managers of all time!!!!!
LaRussa will forever be linked to the shady past of the game of baseball known as the Steroid Era……It was during his watch that the Athletics clubhouse exploded with brawn, and it seemed that he did nothing about it…..you might as well put ALL of MLB’s managers, front office personnel and the Commissioner in that boat too because NO ONE did a damn thing to stop it from happening. It’s not the first time in this games’ illustrious history that there been a shadow cast on it and it won’t be the last either. It’s not LaRussa’s fault……but the haters will hate… oh well, get in line because he’s in the Hall of Fame now. He made it easy for me, a life long Athletics fan to follow him and the St. Louis Cardinals after he left the Athletics when Walter Haas, Jr. passed away.
So CONGRATS Tony, I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch you manage this game I truly Love…….

Rube Waddell…eccentric.

rube-waddell-signed-image-3The 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  Waddell.Rube.Grave1

ECK!!!!

   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.