As I peck away, my hometown team, the A’s, are playing an exhibition game [spare me the politically correct “pre-season” bullshit] with the Giants of San Francisco. Their fine announcers, Greg Papa and Mike Krukow, reminded me that this is the 50th year the former New Yawkas will be playing in SF.
I was eleven when they left. The New York Giants had been my grandfather’s team. We’d sit, he and I, in the right field grandstand, replete with a Rose Niss sandwich on pumpernickel. “Filling if not tasty,” would chuckle Phil about every meal she prepared. He’d tell me stories about McGraw, Ott and Frankie Frisch, the “Fordham Flash.” We shared the thrill that was Willie. I learned about the “Negro Leagues.” I was taught that Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, and Josh Gibson did quite well, thank you, against the barnstorming Ruth, Gehrig, Feller, and Dimag.
Years later we stood and cheered for Mays and found it hard to back the Mets when the “carpetbagging bastards” came back to play in the Polo Grounds. Hard, but not impossible.
Because Rocco Baldelli had an incredibly hot September leading the Sea Otters to a third place finish in my fantasy league, I forgot the dreaded downside – health. Or more importantly, lack thereof. So I ended up, once again, acquiring the dear boy and hoping he can avoid the unavoidable. Good luck with that, me thinketh.
As I peck away, the Devil Rays are probably wondering if they should start the year with him on the DL. Do they know the ramifications? Are they aware that their decision will affect the California Sea Otter, America’s team? One can only hope.
During a recent power nap [lol], I dreamed that Hall o’ Fame pitcher and Senator Jim Bunning, led a hearing of some kind to investigate performance-enhancing drugs in MLB. Here are a few folks I’d like to hear under oath: Mark McGuire [warm up audience], Sandy Alderson, Stan Conte, Tony LaRussa, Dusty Baker, Brian Sabean, Peter McGowan, Bud Selig, and Walt Jocketty.
Who would you like to see on or off this list?
Once upon a time the SF Giants, replete with a lifetime of bad vibes for carpetbagging from NY, employed a great batting coach. After a few years they made the competent Sacramentan the poster boy for the “Peter Principal” by promoting him to manager [it weakened two positions, for they never found a hitting coach of his caliber- especially not Bobby Bonds]
He proceeded to give Barry Bonds the run of the franchise, burned up bullpens, developed no young players, and celebrated early [earlier and earliest, as well], so very early in WS game 6. When it was determined that he had reached his level of incompetence, Johnny Lee “Dusty” Baker was fired. Before he and Giants owner Peter McGowan parted, both men revealed more about their respective characters than we baseball fans needed to know.
After being out of the game for 30 seconds, the Cubs of Chi-town, still fighting the “jinx of the black cat” from 1969, gave our hero a multi-year contract, where he was “Ortmanized.” Fired again, dagnabit.
So this morning, I tune in to see my Metsies play the Braves in a pre-season game. There’s Baker in the Lou Piniella role [“Remember me, court me, and hire me again, please, Mr. Team Owner.”] on ESPN. Not to worry, big guy, you’ll get yet another job. After all, Johnny Lee, you’re a known quantity.
Some time ago, way back in my formative years, I read Stud Terkel’s classic, “Working.” With essays covering virtually every avocation, it gave me an insight into the lives of “Johnny and Jane Lunchbucket.” That was fine, but what about the non-traditional jobs and the people who do them?
I invite you to tell me about the most non-traditional, interesting job you’ve ever done [for at least a week].
I’ll go first:
After being turned down by the Catholic Choich [for being Jewish, and not butch enough], I do some freelance nunnin’ every now and again…
First gig? It was 1986. The New Yawk Mets were in the playoffs against the Sox o’ Red when I first felt the “callink.” In full habit, I prayed like a motha for that ball to go through Bill Buckner’s legs. And so, my children, it did… and a career was born. Her name is Sister Mary Zig Tyko, and she is aware of how annoying people are who talk or write in the third person, but she can’t stop herself. Pray for her.
As a Mets fan, I’m worried that Florida has been strengthened. Because Jorge Julio is a SO [ Sea Otter, in my fantasy baseball league], I worry less about save opps for my third closer position on my squad. The baseball Gawds work in a mysterious way. As for Julio [from the Otter schoolyard] he had 80 something strike outs in 60 something innings last year. The closer job is his with the Fish and, barring injury, this is how the Sea Otter shapes up for the season:
C- Hernandez, Boids
1b- Helton, Rox
2b- Roberts, Boids
3b- Wright, Metropolitans
ss- Tejada, Boids
of- Soriano, Cubbies
of- Wells, BJs
of- Baldelli, Rays
ut- Blake, Tribe
ut-Youkilits, Sox o’ Red
sp- Weaver, Halos
sp- Kazmir, Rainiers
sp- Bonser, Twinks
sp- Cain, Gints
sp- Jennings, 45s
sp- James, Bravos
sp- Duke, Buccos
sp- Santana, Halos
rp- Wagner, Metropolitans
rp- Dempster, Cubbies
rp- Julio, Fish
There you have it, sports fans. Your California Sea Otter, America’s team.
As you know gentle/gentile readers, I’m always looking for the baseball’s MVR [Most Valuable Read]. As a fantasy baseball participant looking for sleepers, I highly [no pun] recommend Baseball America’s fine publication, “Prospect Handbook.” Whether a player fulfills his potential in any given year, more often than not, is determined by his place in the organization he signed with. This book is a freakin’ gem.
Next to arrive is Buck O’Neil’s “Soul of Baseball.” I miss his storytelling. Jim Rome had him on his great syndicated show and Buck told the tale about the Great Confrontation. Satchel Paige pitching to Josh Gibson, both men in their prime in a game that meant something. Buck, the manager, asking Satch [the legend] what he planned to dish up to, arguably, the greatest hitter of all time. “I’ll throw a pea to his knee and smoke to his yoke.”
It’s been months. I’ve written about it on these pages and expressed my opinion every chance I get. I’m still enraged so allow me to reiterate, once again, this horrible injustice: the members of the committee who chose to exclude John Buck O’Neil from the Hall of Fame are either ignorant or stupid.
You read it here folks. Call it in. Tell your friends. Break open the bubbly. Book the parade.
Here’s how I see it: Provided they stay healthy, the five man rotation will more than keep it afloat ’til Pedro comes back for the stretch run. The lineup is tremendous. The bully has been upgraded. I’m sure they’ve learned from Popeye Mota that discretion is the better part of valor [translation: be careful where you buy your HGH]. Remember, brain train players, they have no test that detects it. Anyone suspected left a paper trail. Besides, that fine upstanding Tony LaRussa, who has been in baseball for 42 years, said that he’s never seen preformance enhancing drugs in an MLB lockeroom… That said, I wish they’d pull the trigger on the Lastings Milledge in right field job. He’s ready and his upside is abundant. S. Green [not Sihugo from Duquesne U.] is over the molehill. Eat some bucks, Omar [fellow Newtown High School alum]. Mr. Wilpon has the gelt. Had he still been with us, Johnny Sain – the second best pitching coach in the history of baseball – would have advised, “Walk those golden stairs.” Check it out in the book, “Ball Four,” by Jim Bouton. One of my all time favorites.
So sayeth me, the man I love.
Former Met [and current D-Back] Jorge Julio, rumor has it, is being pursued by as many as three top-flight closer-challenged teams in MLB. He throws heat and will stabilize the Giants, Red Sox or Marlins. Since my roster in my Yahoo Fantasy Baseball League is short one able bodied pitcher with the chance to finish games and add precious saves to a category that is every bit as important as homers, I picked him up for our Sea Otter [America’s team].
This just might be the move that makes the season…Conversely someone might pick up John Maine, the current Mets starter I had to cut to make room for Julio. He’s a sleeper as well and this all can come back and bite me.
Is it any wonder that Billy Boy describes playing Fantasy Baseball as a job?
If there is one word that describes the Kittatinny Camp [not to be confused with Camp Kittatinny] experience , that word is continuity. As I wrote earlier, it was always nice seeing old friends each summer.
The Berk twins were returnees. Both excellent athletes and identical in many ways, they were different in some. Dick was serious and driven. I remember Bobby as more of a prankster. Together, they executed the hidden ball trick in football with incredible dexterity.
I always wondered if the Berk twins would end up with the Weiss twins, Nancy and Beth [two “tall, glasses of water”]. Am I the only camper who had thoughts like those? I think not. Besides, I was only curious about which twin had the Toni.
Yes, Dick, I remember Bob Smith running the waterfront with an iron fist. His megaphone seemed permanently attached to his sunburned nose.
Jerry Peach and Sandy Peters stand out as members of the Lock Haven crew. They exuded class. Jerry was my counselor one year. What a great guy.
News of George Dittamin‘s passing saddens me. The older we all get the more times per week I get to say, “mortality sucks.”
Here’s me, bunk 25, age 10, 2nd row, far right: