Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Far Out Space Nuts

Tim McCarver said that the Yankees have "erased" Joe Torre from their history, the way the Nazis and Soviets used to do with former insiders, later "disgraced," in theirs.

I would have no problem with him comparing Yankee management to those totalitarian regimes... if what he said was true.

It's not. There are banners with Joe's picture on them in the new Stadium. True, Joe's Number 6 has not yet been retired, and his Plaque does not yet grace the new Monument Park... but neither has his Number 6 been given back out, either.

Nor has Bernie Williams' Number 51. But Roger Clemens' Number 22, Tino Martinez's Number 24, and David Cone's Number 36 remain in circulation. Goose Gossage's Number 54 and Dave Winfield's Number 31 have been continually given out; Reggie Jackson's Number 44 was worn by a number of coaches after he left, mainly Jeff Torborg and Mike Ferraro; and both Ron Guidry's Number 49 and Paul O'Neill's Number 21 were briefly given to pitchers who couldn't cut it, before the outrage was recognized and the numbers were taken away, and Gator's number has been retired, although Paulie's has not, yet.

Someone brought up the point that McCarver's best friend in baseball is his former St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies batterymate, Steve Carlton. Carlton was famous (or infamous, if you prefer) for not talking to reporters, leading to a joke in 1981: The two best pitchers in baseball don't speak English, Fernando Valenzuela and Steve Carlton.

But when Carlton did start speaking to the press, after his retirement, he said some far-out things. In 1994, prior to his induction to the Hall of Fame, he made comments about how the world is run by Jewish bankers in Switzerland, although he also suggested other groups such as the U.S. government, the Soviet government (guess he hadn't heard that the Soviets folded in 1991), British intelligence, and a committee of 300 in Rome (presumably Catholic rather than Jewish).

McCarver has suggested that Carlton's problem is that he reads a lot of things and believes them too easily. I find that doubtful: Carlton was one of the smartest players of my lifetime, and I can't believe he's that gullible.

I was at the 1994 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, because of Phil Rizzuto. A lot of people there were wondering if Carlton was going to, uh, go off on a tangent in his acceptance speech. Or if he would choose not to talk at all. Instead, he spoke for a few minutes, solely about baseball and what it meant to him. He was fine, and gave no hint as to any eccentricity or controversy. He handled it with class.

Did listening to Carlton too much cause McCarver to make the statement he made last Saturday during the Fox broadcast? I don't know. I do know that, since the 1964 World Series (when he hit a big home run for the Cards against the Yanks), through his years broadcasting with the Mets, to a brief run on WNYW-Channel 5 where he did Yankee games but was highly critical of them, to his Fox national-network-broadcast tenure, he has been very anti-Yankee.

Well, that's his right... but he needs to get his facts straight. I don't know what would be worse for a man in his position: Lying, or being ridiculously, and easily proven, wrong. Probably the latter: Possibly the greatest insult you could give to McCarver is that he is insufficiently prepared.

On a somewhat related, and much lighter, note: One time, at the start of a Met game on WWOR-Channel 9, Ralph Kiner introduced him as "Tim MacArthur." Not so strange, Kiner had goofed many names over the years -- strangely, it's happened less often as he's gotten older -- and even called himself "Ralph Korner" on at least 2 verified occasions. At the end of the game, which the Mets lost, McCarver cited something said by the legendary general with whom Kiner had confused him:

McCarver: "You know, Ralph, Douglas MacArthur said, 'Chance favors the prepared mind,' and the Mets obviously weren't prepared today."

Kiner: "He also said, 'I shall return,' and so shall we, after these messages."

At least, on that occasion, Ralph didn't repeat a past mistake, by manglin the name of one of the Mets' sponsors, Manufacturer's Hanover, a bank since absorbed by Chemical Bank, itself now absorbed by Chase: "We'll be right back, after this message from Manufacturer's Hangover."


I should have done this last year, on the 40th Anniversary of the Moon landing.

Early in his career -- versions of the story disagree as to exactly when -- Gaylord Perry, a pretty good pitcher who made it to the Hall of Fame (some would say by cheating with illegal pitches), was taking batting practice, and someone said that man would land on the Moon before Perry hit a home run.

Well, Perry did indeed hit his 1st major league home run -- his 1st of 6, as it turned out -- on July 20, 1969, apparently just a few minutes after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, but a few hours before Neil Armstrong stepped onto its surface. So did anyone actually make this dubious, but oh-so-slightly true, prediction? It's uncertain.

On July 20, 1969, the Yankees were playing the Washington Senators, managed by Ted Williams, at the old Yankee Stadium. In the bottom of the 11th inning, Roy White doubled, and Gene Michael (not exactly a clutch hitter, not exactly any kind of hitter for that matter) singled him home to win, 3-2.

Other games on Moonday:

* The Mets split a doubleheader with the expansion Montreal Expos at Jarry Park in Montreal. The Expos won the 1st game, 3-2, with a Mack Jones homer off Gary Gentry making a winner of Gary Waslewski. The Mets did recover pretty well from this one, starting with winning the 2nd game, 4-3, with a 10th-inning sequence very similar to the one the Yankees had in their game: A double by a starting outfielder with a lot of promise, in this case Ron Swoboda, followed by a game-winning single by a light-hitting infielder, in this case Bobby Pfeil. Don Cardwell started the nightcap for the Mets, but Ron Taylor blew a save before Jack DiLauro turned out to be the winning pitcher.

* The Phillies lost a doubleheader to the Chicago Cubs, 1-0 and 6-1 at Connie Mack Stadium, with Ferguson Jenkins outdueling Grant Jackson in the first game and Dick Selma beating Bill Champion in the second.

* The Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles, 6-5 at Fenway Park.

* The California Angels split a doubleheader with the Oakland Athletics at Anaheim Stadium. The Angels took the first game, 7-3; the A's won the second game, 9-6.

* Another doubleheader was played at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians in the opener, 3-2; the Tribe took the nightcap, 5-4 in 10 innings.

* It must have rained all over the country the day before, because a 5th doubleheader was played, at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The expansion Kansas City Royals swept the White Sox, winning the first game 8-6, then taking the second 3-2 in 11. (It was a Monday, but not a holiday Monday, so there's no civic reason for 3 doubleheaders in one day.)

* The Minnesota Twins beat the expansion Seattle Pilots (soon to become the Milwaukee Brewers), 4-0 at Sick's Stadium in Seattle.

* The Atlanta Braves pounded the expansion San Diego Padres, 10-0 at what was then known as Atlanta Stadium (later Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium). Hank Aaron got 2 hits, but neither was a home run. The Braves did get a homer from a future Hall-of-Famer, Orlando Cepeda.

* And in the game where Perry hit his 1st big-league homer, the Giants were playing their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The Giants won, 7-3.

Far out, man. That's one long article for a man, one giant waste of time for you, the reader.

1 comment:

nutballgazette said...

Good Stuff, You were one of those I was referring to when I wrote this on my most recent blog

Through there I have found so many brilliant writers who are much better at this than I am.