Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Asterisk* Season

The Asterisk* Season

                With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, changing our everyday life, keeping people in quarantine, and maintaining social distancing, we are looking for releases. Recreational activities are beginning to return, albeit under new rules. Gatherings were shunned, then welcomed, and now are being shunned again.
                The pandemic struck in the late winter/early spring, just as baseball was beginning to limber up, stretching out, and preparing to begin its one-hundred-eighty-second season as the National Pastime. It has survived the Civil War, two World Wars, the 1918 Flu pandemic along with various other disasters and catastrophes, both natural and man-made.
                While the NBA, NCAA basketball, NASCAR and NHL seasons were brought to a screeching halt, baseball was just starting its engines. It too shut down. But the comeback…
                It started in the Orient, with the Korean Baseball League playing their games in empty stadiums, with the games broadcast back here on the all-sports station. Some fans, not naming any names, would get up extra early to watch the games at 3 or 4 AM. Some of the players were known in the U.S., but most were not. But baseball is still baseball.
                So here, at home, the powers that be decided to continue the baseball tradition, and re-open the season, eventually.

                We know about the difficulties of the negotiations in bringing the game back. It is easy to see both sides of the argument, and still be able to disagree with both.
                Yes, the games are scheduled to restart at the end of this month, beginning with empty stadiums. The ‘television money’ will fund the game for the short term. We will see how long that lasts. It would not surprise me to see some sort of advertising on each team’s uniforms (apart from the ubiquitous swoosh.
                Sixty games is what they will give us. Re-aligning the divisions to alleviate travel concerns. Designated hitter across both leagues. Designated runner in extra innings. How far will they bend this great game of ours before it breaks?
                With the prospect of a hitter getting on a streak and hitting .500, or a few reaching the .400 mark, or the possibility of a pitcher barely being able to reach ten wins, it goes without say that this will be a season where the asterisk is prominent.
                But how will history look upon this baseball season?
                Will it be glanced over and ignored, or will it be studied like other troubled seasons of the past? The strike-shortened seasons of 1981, 1994 and 1995?
                Will the decision to play in 2020 be held with the same reverence as the letter from Franklin Roosevelt to Commissioner Landis requesting that baseball continue as a morale booster during World War II?
                Basically, the question will be: Will history be kind to my beloved sport? Will it look at 2020 as something that was done to improve the morale of our countrymen, or will it be seen as an opportunistic money-grab?
                I honestly hope that history will support the former, but I fear that it will believe the latter.

                I hope I am wrong…

                Stay safe
                    (artwork by my daughter)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


The Answer....


         There were a few Mets ties in that All-Star game. Tom Seaver was the starting pitcher, pitched 3 innings, and was replaced by a pinch-hitter...future Met teammate Rusty Staub.
          The National League squad was managed by Gil Hodges.

          But the two key Mets directly involved in the play were Jim Hickman, then of the Cubs, who was an original Met. Hickman hit the ball that Rose scored on, a single to center-field. And then Amos Otis, who came up with the Mets and was traded prior to the 1970 season to the Royals, made the throw to Fosse to try to nail Rose.

 Congratulations to Timothy Dougherty, who was the closest with his guess. His prize is on the way...

Monday, April 27, 2020

Rose vs. Fosse

Rose vs Fosse

         We have all seen, or heard of this play, which happened 50 years ago this year. Pete Rose attempting to score the winning run in the All-Star Game, colliding with Indians catcher Ray Fosse. jarring the ball loose.
          Fosse separated his shoulder on the play, which some have speculated changed his career trajectory. For Rose, it became on of the defining moments of his playing history.
          Baseball politics aside...can anyone tell me the two important New York Met connections directly related to this play?

          Reply in the comments...1st with both correct will win a prize!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Make Baseball Great Again!


          It's our National Pastime.
          It has survived for many years, through the best of times, through the worst of times.
          It has survived wars, drought, depression, recession, technology, innovation, prosperity, and a mix of all of the above.
          It has survived scandals and scoundrels, enjoyed heroes and legends, and seen its terminology become a part of our everyday conversations. (Out of left field, having two strikes against you, hitting a home name a few)
          And it will survive the current situation.

          At one point in our history, the fabric of this country had baseball woven into it. Towns featured pro, semi-pro and amateur teams that they were fiercely proud of.
          And as you see photos and watch footage of baseball games, ladies wore dresses, and gentlemen wore shirts and ties, and a fedora seemed to be expected as well. Cigar smoke and popcorn filled the air, along with cracks of the bats and roars of the crowds. Games during the day
         It was an intimate game back then, smaller parks, giving way to behemoth stadiums. Bandbox fields with odd dimensions, leading to altered batting stances to take advantage. Teams would sculpt their lineups based on playing half of their games in their home park. The "House that Ruth Built" featured a shorth right field porch for the Babe to take advantage of. The left-field wall at Forbes Field was dubbed "Greenberg's Garden", and then renamed Kiner's Corner. Even to the lackadaisical groundskeeping which kept the infield grass a little higher around the plate for teams with a strong bunt/speed game.
          Die-hard fandom was rampant. Major league players often lived in the same neighborhoods as their stadiums, and got to know the local grocer, butcher and newspaper boy. Willie Mays would play stick-ball with the youngsters in upper Manhattan. Gil Hodges owned a bowling alley in Brooklyn.

          Times have changed, and tides have turned. The cookie-cutter, multi-purpose stadiums of the seventies and eighties, have gone. Most replaced with single purpose stadiums, each with the unique features that were prevalent in the early century parks.
         The monuments in the outfield of Yankee Stadium are still there, just not in play any longer. The slight uphill climb near the wall in Crossley Field was replicated in Houston on Tal's hill (which has been removed now. To the sound of the ball hitting the tin wall at Ebbett's Field, to the players taking the long post-game walk to the clubhouses in the Polo Grounds, which were located 480 feet away in dead center-field.
          Now, we can see a train atop the left-field wall in Houston, A bridge, resembling the Hell Gate bridge, celebrates the many bridges that connect the five boroughs. It also pays homage to the link from the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants to the modern day Mets. There is a swimming pool in right-field in Arizona.

         One of the many great things about baseball is the rich, colorful history of the games, and the characters that made it so much fun. Fun to play, fun to watch, fun to study, and fun to learn.

          I hope to use these pages to remind us all about those characters. About those games. the legends, myths, wrongs and rights.