Monday, October 22, 2012

Did You Ever Think You Would Miss George Steinbrenner?

This weekend, the football teams at Rutgers University (beating Temple on the road in Philadelphia, 35-10) and East Brunswick High School (beating J.P. Stevens on the road in Edison, New Jersey), 35-28), were good enough.

While the soccer team known as Arsenal Football Club (losing to Norwich City on the road in Norfolk, England, 1-0) and the New York Yankees (didn't even make it to Game 5 of the ALCS), were not.

Think of the odds you could have gotten by betting on that.


Mike Lupica, Yankee-hater extraordinaire, in yesterday's New York Daily News:
Here is what the Yankee brand has become: Winning a lot of regular games, drawing a lot of people, making a lot of money. They are big winners, unprecedented winners, April through September. Just rarely in October. October was the old brand...
We keep hearing that they’re going to get the payroll down to $189 million by 2014 to avoid serious luxury-tax penalties, but that is a bit of a hustle, too. The next year they can go right back to outspending everybody (well, maybe not the Dodgers going forward) if they choose to.
Understand: They have made a lot of smart decisions in that time to keep the pump primed, don’t worry. Cashman had one of his best years in 2012 with Ibanez, Ichiro and Hiroki Kuroda, and maybe it’s fitting that his best work turned out to be with guys whose ages are 40, 38, 37. The Yankees, year after year, are always a win-now team. But when it comes to the World Series, they have become a win-then team.
Under Joe Torre they won four times in five seasons, made it to the World Series five times in six seasons, finally six times in eight. But starting in 2002, they have  become the New York Braves.
That is unacceptable.  Not good enough.

But it could be worse. They could be the New York A's. George Steinbrenner wouldn't just have fired Brian Cashman by now - for being more committed to saving money than to winning titles, he would have fired Billy Beane after 2006.

At least they're not going out of their way to say that Cashman is a "genius," like so many people say about Beane.

But shouldn't somebody lose his job?

* Cashman, the general manager who picked all of the players who got the job done -- and all of the players who didn't get the job done?

* Joe Girardi, the field manager who had a humongous amount of talent for 4 years, and has won exactly one Pennant in his entire managerial career -- just like Davey Johnson?

* Kevin Long, the hitting instructor, whose instruction clearly isn't working?

* Whoever suggested to Cashman that he acquire certain stiffs, both of the April-through-September variety and the October version?

* Lonn Trost and/or Randy Levine, whose focus was on maximizing profit so that the new Yankee Stadium could be built? Shouldn't they be let go, if for no other reason than that their work is done now?


I mentioned Arsenal before. Today is the birthday of Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger. In club soccer, the "manager" is both the field manager/head coach and the general manager. For a team with as much riding on it as a team in any of the four major North American sports aggregations (MLB, NFL, NBA & NHL), two jobs combined are too much for any one man.

NFL head coaches as wise as Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson and Mike Holmgren all proved this when they demanded total control from the teams that hired them after they left the clubs they'd led to Super Bowl wins. To ask one man to do it for a team in England's Premier League, or any of the other major European soccer leagues, is insane.

Wenger has kept Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League every season since 1998-99, despite a new stadium having been built, requiring a massive outlay of cash. That stadium debt is well on its way to being paid off.

In the meantime, Wenger is purchasing young players -- as yet unknown, or at least unproven, in England -- from other, smaller European clubs for sums between $8 million and $20 million (when converted to U.S. dollars). But other clubs in his own league -- fellow Londoners Chelsea, and the two Manchester clubs, Manchester United and Manchester City -- routinely buy superstars from other countries for sums of over $40 million. And that's just the purchase price for these players, never mind their salaries. (European soccer teams rarely do "trades" in the North American sense.)

As a result of having to operate on the cheap, Wenger has gone from being English soccer's Joe Torre (king of hunches and smart buys, winning 3 Premier League titles and 4 FA Cups in an 8-year stretch from 1998 to 2005) to being its Billy Beane (getting close to a trophy every year since 2005, but not winning one).

For a couple of years now, there have been Arsenal fans demanding that he be fired, or "sacked" as they say over there: "Wenger Out!"

And replace him with who, exactly? Any other manager they could hire would either not take a job where their moves would be hamstrung by the kind of budget that the other European big boys would give them (i.e. Jose Mourinho, now of Real Madrid, and winner of 2 Premiership titles at Chelsea), or would take the job and find that he can't win in that league with that budget, and with a league full of referees that will now hate him because he's with Arsenal instead of always giving him the benefit of the doubt because his previous club was favored by the league's corrupt overlords (i.e. what I suspect would happen with Pep Guardiola, formerly of Barcelona).

Wenger drives me crazy, but he's not the problem: It's the guys clogging up the money flow that are the problem.

Likewise, while I'm much closer to wanting "Girardi out!" I'd rather see Cashman replaced. Even firing Trost and Levine, while being nothing more than throwing pieces of meat to the hungry wolves, would be a welcome gesture.

But Hank and Hal won't do that.

And they call themselves Steinbrenners?

Not good enough.

If you're a Yankee Fan old enough to remember 1990, or 1982, or even 1973 (I qualify on the first two counts, and just miss being able to remember the third)...

Did you ever think you would miss George Steinbrenner?


October 22, 1746: The College of New Jersey receives its royal charter. The college will be located in Elizabeth, New Jersey. It moves to Newark in 1747, and to Princeton in 1756. In 1896, it will be renamed Princeton University. In 1996, Trenton State College in nearby Ewing will change its name to The College of New Jersey.

October 22, 1845: The New York Morning News – not to be confused with the New York Daily News, which begins publication in 1919 – reports that in yesterday's "friendly match of the time honored game of Baseball" the New York Club beat Brooklyn 24-4. A box score of the game is included in the account.

Henry Chadwick, the New York Clipper writer who did much to popularize the game,  is often credited with inventing the box score, but this appears not to be the case, as he would not first write about baseball until 1857.

Two oddities: First, this account lists the name of the sport as one word, “baseball,” not two words, “base ball,” as was common even at the end of the 19th Century.

Second, we have been told that “the first baseball game” – usually defined as the first game under codified rules, as written by Alexander Cartwright and the Knickerbocker Club in September 1845, was played on June 19, 1846, between the Knickerbocker Club and the New York Club, and that this club, often referred to as “the New York Nine,” beat the Knickerbockers 23-1 in 4 innings – 21 runs constituting a win under the rules of that time – despite rule-writer Cartwright serving as umpire for a contest involving the club of which he was a member. Hello? Conflict of interest! But somebody had to be the ump; who better to enforce the rules of the game than the man who literally wrote them? (Even if he wasn't the originator of all of them, though he probably was the originator of some of them, particularly the 90-feet-apart rule for the bases.)

I’ve often wondered how the people who are the closest thing we have to the definitive inventors of the game could get their heads handed to them, so soon after they wrote the rules. Were the New York Club quick studies? Were the Knickerbockers truly bad at the game they “invented”? Now I know: While this game may not have been under the Cartwright rules, those rules were based in part on the way the game had already been played for a while, and, clearly, the NY9 was already quite good at that version of the game, and it appears not to have taken much adaptation to the Cartwright rules on their part.

October 22, 1857: The Atlantic Club defeats the Eckford Club‚ both of Brooklyn‚ to take the best-of-3-games match and claim the championship for 1857. The baseball custom, by this point, has become that the championship can only be won by a team beating the current title holder 2 out of 3 games. And, of course, baseball is still all-amateur. Nobody is getting paid to play. At least, as far as anybody is willing to say publicly. There is, as yet, no surviving evidence that anyone in the pre-Civil War period had been paid to play for any team.

October 22, 1872, 140 years ago today: The Boston Red Stockings win the National Association championship‚ winning their 39th game by defeating the Brooklyn Eckfords 4-3. When the season ends on the 31st (only 17 matches will be played this month) Baltimore and Mutual (of New York) will be the closest teams finishing behind Boston‚ with 34 wins.

The Boston Red Stockings were direct descendants of the first openly all-professional team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. Harry Wright was owner, manager and left fielder. Brother George Wright was shortstop. Cal McVey was catcher, Charlie Gould played first base, and Andy Leonard was in right field. That’s 5 out of the 10 Boys of ’69.

Their second baseman was Roscoe “Ross” Barnes, who would move on to the Chicago White Stockings, forerunners of the Cubs, when the National League was founded in 1876, and not only win the first batting championship of what’s now considered a “major league,” but hit the first home run in NL competition. And the Red Stockings’ leading pitcher was 21-year-old Albert Goodwill Spalding, who will go to Chicago with Barnes and form the White Stockings, and later found the sporting goods empire that still bears his name and will go on to dominate the sport, and thus make him the closest thing baseball had to a commissioner in those days.

By winning the 1872 Pennant, the Red Stockings resume the dominance they had enjoyed as the Cincinnati club from April 1869 to June 1870, until their legendary defeat by the Brooklyn Atlantics. This is the 1st of 4 straight NA Pennants that they will win, and upon entering the NL in 1876, they will win Pennants in 1877, ’78 and ’83. By the time of that 1883 Pennant, they will be known by another name, indicative of their city: The Boston Beaneaters. They will win Pennants in 1891, ’92, ’93, ’97 and ’98, before a change in management damages them and ends their dominance. From 1899 to 1956, they will win just 2 Pennants in 58 seasons; from 1899 to 1990, only 4 Pennants in 92 seasons. By 1912, they will be known as the Boston Braves; in 1953, they move to Milwaukee; in 1966, to Atlanta.

Thus they, not the franchise founded in 1882 and known these last 130 years as the Cincinnati Reds, are the descendants of the first professional baseball team, and thus the oldest continuously-operating professional sports franchise in North America. But as the Atlanta Braves, they cannot legitimately claim the 1869 Cincinnati “world championship,” or the 14 Pennants and the 1914 World Series won in Boston, or the 1957 World Series and 1958 Pennant won in Milwaukee.

October 22, 1873: The Boston Red Stockings clinch the pennant by defeating the Washington Nationals‚ 11-8‚ in Washington. George Wright leads the attack with a triple and 2 singles. Note that there are teams today named the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals, but neither is connected to these 19th Century teams.

October 22, 1878: According to sources I have found, the first rugby match under floodlights takes place at the Yew Street Ground in Salford, outside Manchester, England, between host Broughton and visiting Swinton.  How this was done, almost exactly one year to the day before Thomas Edison invented the first practical light bulb, I don't know.  Broughton won, scoring "two goals, three tries, three touchdowns" while  Swinton was held scoreless.  A contemporary account suggests that there were 8-10,000 people on hand.

October 22, 1885: John Montgomery Ward, a licensed attorney as well as “a clever base ballist” (as someone called him at the time, a phrase used as the title of a 21st Century biography of him), and several teammates secretly form the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, the first players’ union in any American sport. The Brotherhood‚ strengthened by fights against salary restrictions and abuses of the reserve clause‚ will become a force to be reckoned with by the end of the decade.

October 22, 1907: James Emory Foxx is born in Sudlersville, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The 1st baseman known as "Jimmie," “Double X” and “The Beast” was said by Yankee pitcher Lefty Gomez to be so strong, “even his hair has muscles.” Gomez also said, “He wasn’t scouted, he was trapped.” In 1937, he became the first player to hit a home run into the upper deck in left field at Yankee Stadium, which was much harder to left than to right because of the angle of the seats. He hit it off Gomez, who was asked how far he thought it went: “I don’t know, but I do know it took somebody 45 minutes to go up there and get it.” Gomez also said, after the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, that the astronauts on the Moon found an object there that they couldn’t explain: “I know exactly what it was: It was the home run that Jimmie Foxx hit off me in 1937!”

Foxx helped the Philadelphia Athletics win the World Series in 1929 and ’30 and the Pennant in ’31. He hit 58 home runs in 1932, second only to Ruth’s 60 in 1927. He won the Triple Crown in ’33, and won the 2nd of back-to-back MVP awards that year.

After the 1936 season, Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey opened the vault and paid A’s owner Connie Mack $150,000 for Foxx’s contract -- $2.4 million in 2012 money. This time, Foxx did break a record of Ruth’s, the $125,000 purchase of 1920 ($1.6 million). He even looked a lot like Ruth, and both were from the State of Maryland. Foxx hit 50 homers for Boston in 1938.

At his retirement, he had a .325 lifetime batting average and 534 home runs, which remained 2nd all-time to Ruth and first among righthanded hitters, until surpassed by Willie Mays in 1966. Until Alex Rodriguez, he was the youngest player ever to reach 500, doing so shortly before his 33rd birthday. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

His life was a sad one, though, as he was plagued with alcoholism, was perennially broke, and choked to death before he turned 60. The Tom Hanks character in A League of Their Own was based on him. Sadly, because he played so long ago, died before the rise of baseball nostalgia films and books, did not give a televised interview, and did his best work for a team that technically no longer exists (the Philadelphia A’s), he has been largely forgotten today.

It doesn’t help that the A’s don’t retire numbers from their Philadelphia days, and the Red Sox haven’t retired his number, either: He usually wore Number 3. But The Sporting News didn’t forget: In 1999, publishing their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, Foxx, who hadn’t played a game in 54 years and with most of his teammates, like himself, dead and unable to speak on his behalf, came in at Number 15.

October 22, 1918: Louis Frank Klein is born in New Orleans.  Lou Klein was the starting second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals when they won the NL Pennant in 1943, then served in World War II, and when he and previous starter Red Schoendienst returned from the war, Klein accepted an opportunity to “jump” to the Mexican League. He was immediately suspended indefinitely by Commissioner Happy Chandler. He and the other “Mexican Jumping Beans” were reinstated in 1949, soon became a coach with the Chicago Cubs, and is now best known for being a part of the Cubs’ ridiculous “College of Coaches” experiment in 1961-62.  He died in 1976, only 57.

October 22, 1925: Marv Goodwin‚ a former righthanded pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals who joined the Cincinnati Reds at the end of the season‚ is killed in a plane he was piloting. He was 34. He is the first active player to die from injuries sustained in an airplane crash. Goodwin was one of the 17 spitball pitchers who was "grandfathered" and still allowed to use the illegal pitch after it was banned in 1920.

The tragedy becomes a controversy when Cards GM Branch Rickey asks for the full payment from the Reds for Goodwin. Cincinnati answers that the agreement was that Goodwin had to stick with the club for 30 days into the new season. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis steps in, and, reading the letter of the agreement and ignoring its spirit, rules in favor of the Reds.

October 22, 1927: New York Giants outfielder Ross Youngs‚ one of manager John McGraw's favorite players‚ dies of the kidney ailment Bright's disease at age 30‚ cutting short a 10-year career in which he batted .322. Youngs had been accompanied by a specialist as early as 1924‚ and after the illness had been identified‚ the Giants hired a nurse to travel with Youngs. He was bedridden in 1927‚ after appearing in just 95 games in 1926.

For years, McGraw had no pictures of former players in his office. Two years earlier, when Christy Mathewson died, he became the first player so honored by McGraw. Youngs would become the second. Like Mathewson, World War I hero Eddie Grant, and eventually McGraw himself, Youngs would be honored with a plaque on the wall of the center field clubhouse at the Polo Grounds. (There would later be 3 other plaques: For New York Giants football players Al Blozis and Jack Lummus, both of whom died in combat in World War II, and former Mayor Jimmy Walker, who left office in scandal but was a great friend of the sports establishment in the City.) Decades after his death, Youngs will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Since he died before uniform numbers were worn, there is no number to retire for him.

October 22, 1929: Lev Yashin is born in Moscow. He was a goaltender for both the soccer and ice hockey teams at Dynamo Moscow. With their soccer team, he won 5 Soviet league championships and 3 Soviet Cups, and led the USSR to the 1956 Olympic Gold Medal and the 1960 European Championship -- the only major "professional" tournament won by the Soviets or any of their post-1989 breakaway nations, including Russia. In 1967, while still an active player, he was awarded the Order of Lenin. He died in 1990. In 2000, FIFA named him the goalie on their World Team of the 20th Century. In 2003, in celebration of its 50th Annviersary, UEFA named a "Golden Player" for each member nation, designating them as that country's best-ever footballer, and Yashin was posthumously so awarded for Russia.

Also on this day, Philadelphia Phillies catcher Walt Lerian is hit by a truck and killed in his native Baltimore. He was only 26.

October 22, 1936: Bobby Seale is born. The Black Panther leader, ordered bound and gagged for his outbursts during the Chicago Eight trial, went the opposite was of the A's: He left Oakland for Philadelphia, where he now teaches at Temple University, and has written a barbecue cookbook and founded a youth-outreach organization. I suppose he's been trying to show that the Black Panthers were about more than just brandishing firearms and threatening the white power structure of the 1960s.

October 22, 1938: Derek Jacobi is born in London.  He starred in the title roles in the miniseries I, Claudius and the mystery series Cadfael, was one of the voiceover readers for Ken Burns’ Baseball despite being British.

Also born on this day, in Stamford, Connecticut, is Christopher Lloyd, who watched the World Series with Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, played “Reverend” Jim Ignatowski on Taxi, played a Klingon ship commander who ordered the killing of James T. Kirk’s son in Star Trek III, and invented a time machine in Back to the Future, expressing in the first BTTF film how nice it would be to know who’s going to win the next 25 World Series -- and then, in the second film, warning how dangerous it might be to know things about the future and bring that information back to the past, and being proven right.

October 22, 1942, 70 years ago today: Bobby Fuller is born in Baytown, Texas, a suburb of Houston. In 1966, he had a huge hit with “I Fought the Law.” But within a few weeks, he was murdered. It has never been solved. He could have become one of the giants of rock and roll. Instead, we have only his one real hit and a few other tracks.

October 22, 1943: Catherine Fabienne Dorléac is born in Paris. “Share the fantasy,” the French actress better known as Catherine Denueve said in her Chanel No. 5 perfume commercials. She has been the object of many a fantasy. She and director Roger Vadim had a son, Christian Vadim; she and actor Marcello Mastroianni had a daughter, Chiara Mastroianni; both children, now grown, are also actors.

October 22, 1949: As I said earlier, Arsene Wenger is born, in Strasbourg, in Alsace, a region that France and Germany spent the better part of 1870 to 1945 fighting over.  He grew up in neighboring Duttlenheim, where his German father and French mother ran a bistro name La Croix d'Or (The Cross of Gold), where he would spend hours studying the behavior of the football-loving customers.  He would later say, "There is no better psychological education than growing up in a pub, because, when you are five or six years old, you meet all different people, and hear how cruel they can be to each other. From an early age, you get a practical, psychological education to get into the minds of people. It is not often that a boy of five or six is always living with adults in a little village. I learned about tactics and selection from the people talking about football in the pub – who plays on the left wing and who should be in the team."

He got an economics degree at the University of Strasbourg, and played as a sweeper with FC Strasbourg, winning the Ligue 1 title in 1979 -- but that club has since fallen all the way to the 5th tier of the French football system, roughly equivalent to baseball's "A-ball." As a manager, he led AS Monaco – keep in mind that Monaco is a separate, though very small, nation but their soccer team is in the French league – to the 1988 Ligue 1 title and the 1991 Coupe de France, and Nagoya Grampus Eight to Japan’s Emperor’s Cup in 1996. That’s when he was signed to manage the Arsenal Football Club of London.

Known as “Le Boss” for being French and "Le Professeur" for his scholarly demeanor, Wenger led “the Gunners” to the Premier League title in 1998, 2002 and 2004, and to the FA Cup, England’s national tournament, in 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2005 – taking both titles, a.k.a. “The Double,” in 1998 and 2002. The 2004 Arsenal team is known as “The Invincibles,” as they went through an entire league season undefeated: 26 wins, 12 draws, 0 losses. It is the only undefeated season in the Football League since its very first, 1889, when Preston North End did it in far fewer games. Their undefeated streak eventually reached 49, breaking the former record of 42 set by the Nottingham Forest team of Brian Clough in 1978-79.

Arsenal have infamously not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup, and many Arsenal fans -- forgetting how the club was not nearly as successful before Le Boss arrived -- are getting restless. But many "Gooners" are still sticking with the slogan, “Arsene Knows.” Joyeux Anniversaire, mon chef.

October 22, 1960: The New Yorker magazine publishes "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," an article by 28-year-old John Updike, which chronicles Ted Williams' last game in the major leagues. The future Pulitzer Prize-winning author, among the 10,454 fans to watch the fabled game in Boston, ends the much celebrated baseball essay with, "Gods do not answer letters,” as an explanation of why the 41-year old superstar did not acknowledge the Fenway faithful after homering in his final major league at-bat.

Even if you don't like the Red Sox, you gotta read this.  It is one of the best pieces of sportswriting ever -- and it's by someone whose writing training was not in sports at all.

October 22, 1963: Brian Boitano is born in Mountain View, Califorina, in the San Francisco Bay Area. He won the Gold Medal in men’s figure skating at the 1988 Winter Olympics.  Before losing his hair, he bore a striking resemblance to Bronson Pinchot, a.k.a. Balki Bartokomous on the ABC sitcom Perfect Strangers.

Also on this day, Roy Hamey resigns as Yankee general manager. Field manager Ralph Houk is promoted to replace him. He had managed 3 seasons, and won the Pennant all 3 times, including winning 2 World Series. Soon, Houk will ask the man to whom he was backup catcher, Yogi Berra, “How would you like to manage?” Yogi says, “Manage who?” Houk says, “The Yankees!” Yogi says, “Sure.”

October 22, 1964: Drazen Petrovic is born in Šibenik, in what was then the Croatia province of Yugoslavia. He starred for his national team – first the united Yugoslavia, then Croatia – medaling in 3 Olympics, and was an All-Star for the New Jersey Nets, before a car crash in Germany killed him in 1993. The Nets retired his Number 3, and he was posthumously elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

October 22, 1966: Valeria Golino is born in Naples, Italy. The actress has nothing do to with sports, unless you want to count her equestrian scenes in Hot Shots! So why do I mention her? Why do you think I mention her? Google her or YouTube her, and you’ll find out why I mention her!

October 22, 1972, 40 years ago today: The Oakland A's win their first World Championship in 42 years, since the 1930 Philadelphia team, with a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 7 at Riverfront Stadium. Gene Tenace has 2 RBI in the game. Tenace‚ who had only 5 homers in the regular season, had 4 in the Series‚ and is named MVP.

The Reds go on to win 2 World Series in the 1970s, and will win more games in the decade than the A’s. They win 4 Pennants and 6 Division Titles in the decade to the A’s’ 3 and 5. For these reasons, their surviving players are convinced that they, not the A’s, were the team of the decade.

However, the A’s won 3 World Series in a row, and, what’s more, in the one head-to-head matchup between the A’s and the Reds, the A’s won, winning 3 of the 4 games in Cincinnati, including the clincher, and doing so without their best player, Reggie Jackson. So there can be no doubt that the A’s were the Team of the Seventies. And, besides, neither team was the one that won the most games in the decade: It was the Baltimore Orioles who did that, while winning 5 Division Titles and 3 Pennants, but only 1 World Series.

October 22, 1973: Ichiro Suzuki is born in Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture, outside Nagoya, Japan. The first Japanese batter to really make it in the North American major leagues, the man who did so much this season to get the Yankees into the Playoffs -- maybe we shouldn't thank him for that -- may become the first player to make it to the Baseball Hall of Fame based on both his Japanese and his North American achievements.

He has won 8 Gold Gloves, and his 1,278 hits for the Orix Blue Wave and his 2,606 hits with the Seattle Mariners and the Yankees gives him 3,884. This includes 262 hits in 2004, which broke the 84-year-old major league record of 257 by George Sisler. Granted, those 1,278 Japanese hits weren’t all against pitchers good enough to make it in MLB, but if the Japanese leagues are accepted as “major league,” then his 3,884 hits would rank him 3rd all-time, trailing only Pete Rose and Ty Cobb, and 1st in the Divisional Play Era, ahead of Paul Molitor and, yes, even Derek Jeter.

October 22, 1974: The Giants and Yankees swap popular star outfielders: Bobby Bonds goes to New York, and Bobby Murcer heads to San Francisco. Bonds will play just one season in New York‚ 1975, hitting 32 homers and stealing 32 bases‚ becoming the Yankees' first-ever member of "the 30-30 Club." But leg injuries prevented him from doing more that season. He never quite adapted to New York, and after the season, he is traded to the California Angels for outfielder Mickey Rivers and pitcher Ed Figueroa, two major figures in the Yankees’ revival. Today, Bonds is known third for his amazing combination of power and speed, second for being traded so many times, and first for being the father of Barry Bonds. That really isn’t fair, as Bobby was a fantastic player, one of the best of the 1970s.

As for Murcer, he loved the city of San Francisco, but hated playing in cold, windy Candlestick Park, both as a batter and as an outfielder. He would be traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1977, and he enjoyed Wrigley Field a lot more. (Sure, Wrigley also has wind issues, but it is also much more of a hitter’s park.) Still, Murcer was heartbroken to be traded by the Yankees, to whom he had given as much as anybody could in those dark years between 1964 and 1976, and swore he would never forgive them for trading him. But in 1979, George Steinbrenner traded to get him back, and Bobby jumped at the chance, and he remained a part of the Yankee family until his death.

October 22, 1975: Just 20 hours after Carlton Fisk's home run finished what some still call the greatest baseball game ever played, the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox have to play Game 7 of the World Series at Fenway Park, to decide the championship of the baseball world.

Before the game, Reds manager Sparky Anderson says of his starter, Don Gullett, “No matter what happens in this game, my starter’s going to the Hall of Fame.” Told by the reporters that Anderson had said that, Red Sox starter Bill Lee says, “No matter what happens in this game, I’m going to the Eliot Lounge.” The Eliot was a popular Boston watering hole, at the convenient intersection of Massachusetts and Commonwealth Avenues, known for local athletes dining and drinking there. But since its closing in 1996, people who knew it well have argued that it was not a “sports bar,” as if that term diminishes what the Eliot meant to the sports fans of Boston.

The Sox take a 3-0 lead in the 3rd, just as they had in Game 6. And, just as they had in Game 6, as they would say in English soccer, “Three-nil, and you fucked it up.” Lee decided to try a blooper pitch against All-Star 1st baseman Tony Perez, and he crushes it, sending it well over the Green Monster. That makes it 3-2 Boston. Lee allows another run – some sources say he’d developed a blister, or maybe I’m confusing this with Roger Clemens in ’86 – and the game is tied.

Jim Willoughby finishes up the 7th and also pitches the 8th for Boston, but in the 9th, Sox manager Darrell Johnson pinch-hits Cecil Cooper for Willoughby. Johnson brings in Jim Burton to pitch, and Burton allows two runners, and Joe Morgan singles up the middle to bring home Ken Griffey Sr. to make it 4-3 Cincinnati.  Will McEnaney stares down Carl Yastrzemski with one out to go, and Yaz flies out to center fielder Cesar Geronimo to end it.

The Reds thus win their 3rd World Series, but their first in 35 years. The Red Sox have now gone 57 years without winning one, and New England will have to wait.

Many Sox fans wonder what could have been: If Johnson hadn’t brought in Dick Drago and blown Lee’s 2-1 lead in the 9th in Game 2; if Ed Armbrister hadn’t interfered with Carlton Fisk in Game 3; if umpire Larry Barnett had called interference on that play; if the Sox hadn’t blown a 1-0 lead in the 4th in Game 5; if Lee hadn’t thrown the blooper to Perez; if Johnson hadn’t pinch-hit for Willoughby; if Johnson had relieved Willoughby with someone other than Burton; and if rookie outfielder Jim Rice hadn’t been injured late in the regular season, rendering him unavailable for the Series...

This Series has been regarded as one of the best ever, maybe the best. For the Red Sox, Yastrzemski, Fisk and Rice have been elected to the Hall of Fame, and some people think Luis Tiant should also be elected. For the Reds, Anderson, Morgan, Perez and Johnny Bench have been elected, and Pete Rose, named MVP of this Series, would have been elected to the Hall if he hadn’t been caught betting on baseball. However, despite Anderson’s prediction, his Game 7 starter, Don Gullett, developed a shoulder problem, and a promising career was cut short, and he did not achieve election to the Hall.

October 22, 1982, 30 years ago today: Robinson Jose Cano is born in San Pedro de Macoris, in the Dominican Republic. The Yankees’ 2nd baseman was named after Jackie Robinson, and wears Number 24 as it is Robinson’s 42 reversed.  He has really come into his own in regular-season play, although his postseason hitting leaves much to be desired.

Also born on this day is Earl Heath Miller Jr., in Richlands, Virginia.  The tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Heath Miller is the winner of 2 Super Bowl rings thus far.

October 22, 1986: Game 4 of the World Series at Fenway Park. Gary Carter hits two home runs, and the Mets beat the Red Sox, 6-2. The Series is tied, and those trash-talking Met fans get their confidence back.

October 22, 1991: For the first time, a World Series game is played in a place that used to be part of the Confederate States of America. Game 3 is held at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and Mark Lemke’s 2-out single in the bottom of the 12th gives the Braves a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Twins.

October 22, 1992, 20 years ago today: Walter Lanier Barber, the Voice of Baseball, dies from complications from surgery. The Old Redhead was 84. Since then, he has watched games from the real "catbird seat."

October 22, 1996: The Yankees get a desperately-needed win in Game 3 of the World Series in Atlanta, 5-2 over the Braves, behind the gutsy pitching of David Cone. John Wetteland gets the save as Bernie Williams drives in 3 runs.

October 22, 1997: With the Jacobs Field game-time temperature hovering at 35 degrees, the coldest start of any postseason game on record, the Cleveland Indians' bats come out smoking in Game 4 of the World Series, scoring 3 runs in the 1st and another 3 in the 3rd. Highlights of their 10-3 rout of the Florida Marlins include Tribe 3rd baseman Matt Williams reaching base six times and the match-up of 2 rookie starters on the mound, 21-year-old right-hander Jaret Wright for Cleveland and 23-year-old southpaw Tony Saunders for Florida, making it only the 6th time that freshman hurlers have opposed one another in the history of the Fall Classic.

October 22, 2000: Game 2 of the Subway Series is one of the most bizarre contests in baseball history. In the top of the first, with 2 out and a man on, Mike Piazza bats for the Mets against Roger Clemens of the Yankees. Piazza had hit some long home runs off Clemens, and in July, in an Interleague game also at Yankee Stadium, Clemens had nailed Piazza on the helmet with a fastball, giving him a concussion.

This time, Piazza hits a foul ball, and breaks his bat. The barrel of the bat comes back to Clemens, and... he throws the jagged-edged bat barrel across the first-base foul line. Right in Piazza’s path, and Piazza almost steps into it.

We may never know what was going on in the head of the Rocket, but what’s going on in the head of Piazza is rage. He thinks Clemens was throwing the sharp object at him. Piazza moves toward Clemens and both benches empty. Piazza is furious. For one of the few times in his career, there’s an on-field controversy and Clemens is not the most insane man involved.

The umpires restore order, and Clemens finishes the at-bat by striking Piazza out. He pitches 8 strong innings, and the Yankees pound Mike Hampton, and take a 6-0 lead into the 9th. But the bullpen can’t hold it, and the Mets come to within 6-5, including home runs by Piazza (the first-ever World Series homer for “the greatest-hitting catcher ever”) and Jay Payton, before Joe Torre has enough and brings in the Hammer of God, Mariano Rivera, to slam the door and keep it 6-5. The Yankees take a 2-games-to-0 lead in the Series, which now heads across town to Shea.

Clemens will be fined $50,000 for his what-the-hell moment. But Met fans have never gotten this into their thick skulls: Clemens was not throwing the bat at Piazza. If there’s one thing that Roger Clemens made perfectly clear in his playing career, it’s this: If he wants to throw something at someone with the intention of hitting him, that person will get hit. If he wanted to throw the bat at Piazza, that bat would have hit Piazza.

And now, the question needs to be asked: Which of these men was on steroids, warping their perceptions of what was happening? Was it Clemens? Was it Piazza? Was it both? Until either man, or both men, decide to change their stories, we may never know for sure.

Almost lost in the craziness of this game is that fact that, a few hours earlier, Corey Dillon of the Cincinnati Bengals rushes for 278 yards against the Denver Broncos, breaking Walter Payton’s single-game record of 275, set in 1977. The Bengals had been 0-6, but win this one, 31-21. They win the next week, too, beating their arch-rivals, the Cleveland Browns. But they fall apart, finishing 4-12. Dillon’s record has been surpassed by Jamal Lewis and Adrian Peterson.

October 22, 2002, 10 years ago: Renel Brooks-Moon becomes the first woman to be the public address announcer at a finals game in any major league sport, in Game 3 of the World Series at Pacific Bell Park (now AT*T Park) in San Francisco. Her predecessor with the Giants, Sherry Davis, had been the first female P.A. announcer in Major League Baseball. She was not the first female, nor the first black, P.A. announcer in the major leagues, but was one of the first of each.

She can't be happy with the result of this game, as the host Giants are pounded 10-4 by the Anaheim Angels.  This was the first World Series game played in San Francisco since the earthquake-interrupted Series of 1989 ended in Game 4 at Candlestick Park.

Born across the Bay in Oakland, Brooks-Moon remains the Giants' P.A. announcer, and has long been a disc jockey at San Francisco radio station 98.1 KISS-FM and and the entertainment reporter for KPIX, Channel 5, the CBS affiliate in the Bay Area.  She has now announced for a World Championship team, the 2010 Giants -- and the Giants are now 1 win away from getting into a 3rd World Series with her at their microphone.

October 22, 2003: Game 4 of the World Series at the Dolphins/Marlins Stadium. I’ve seen the location listed as “Miami,” “Miami Gardens,” “Miami Lakes,” “Carol City” and “Opa-Locka.” Just as the stadium itself has gone through several names: Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Land Shark Stadium, and, currently, Sun Life Stadium.

The Florida Marlins lead the Yankees 3-1 after 7 innings, but as he strikes out Luis Castillo (a name that will feature in the Yankees-Mets rivalry in 2009) to end the 7th, Roger Clemens walks off the mound, and a crowd of 65,934 gives him a standing ovation, thinking that the 41-year-old legendary fireballer is walking off the field as an active player for the last time.  (Within weeks, this will prove to have been greatly exaggerated.) Marlins starter Carl Pavano holds the Yankees to 1 run through 8 strong innings.  Like Clemens' retirement, Pavano's frustration of Yankee Fans is happening for the first time, but by no means for the last.

The Yankees rally in the 9th against reliever Ugueth Urbina, whose own post-baseball career will be incredibly troubled. Bernie Williams singles with one out, Hideki Matsui walks and Jorge Posada grounds into a force play. Pinch-hitter Rubén Sierra fouls off two full-count pitches before tripling into the right-field corner to tie the ball game. This is Sierra’s 2nd tenure with the Yanks, having made up with manager Joe Torre after Torre had him traded for Cecil Fielder in ’96 due to disciplinary issues; this is the biggest hit Sierra ever got for the Yankees – or for anyone else, for that matter. But he is stranded on 3rd.

No matter, as the momentum seems to have shifted to the Yankees, and if they can win the game in extra innings, they will take a 3-games-to-1 lead and can clinch their 27th World Championship tomorrow night over a Marlins team that really was unworthy of being there. (This unworthiness is almost certain now that nearly everybody suspects Ivan Rodriguez of steroid use.)

The Yankees threaten to score in the top of the 11th when they load the bases with one out off Chad Fox. Braden Looper relieves and strikes out Aaron Boone, and replacement catcher John Flaherty pops out to third. (Yes, the same John Flaherty who has since parlayed one big hit, against the Red Sox in 2004, into a career as a mediocre broadcaster. At least he had one big hit, which is more than the similar Fran Healy ever got.) Still, the Yankees have the chance to win this game.

But in the bottom of the 11th, Torre makes a mistake every bit as critical as the stranding of Sierra on 3rd in the 9th. He had already used Jeff Nelson, and Jose Contreras, originally a starter, had already pitched 2 innings. Torre could have left Contreras in. He could have brought in his closer, Mariano Rivera. He could also have brought in Chris Hammond.  Instead, he brings in Jeff Weaver, who gets through the 11th with no trouble, but Alex Gonzalez leads of the bottom of the 12th, and Weaver throws him a hanging curveball, and Gonzalez hits it down the left-field line, and it creeps over the fence for a game-winning home run. Marlins 4, Yankees 3.

Not since Bill Mazeroski, 43 years earlier, had the Yankees given up a walkoff home run in a Series game. By bringing in Weaver – or, as Red Sox fans would say if this happened to them, Jeff Fucking Weaver – Torre turned the Yankees from a team that was 1 run away from being up 3 games to 1 to a team that ends up losing the World Series to a shit team with a steroid-ridden catcher that was lucky to win the Wild Card and face the Cubs during the Steve Bartman collapse.

In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. The winning pitcher in the clinching Game 5? J.F.W.  He last pitched in the majors for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010, although his brother Jered has been an All-Star with the Anaheim Angels. Jeff's career record is a mediocre 104-119, with an ERA of 4.71, an ERA+ of 93 and a WHIP of 1.367.  But he has a World Series ring, while Ty Cobb, Nap Lajoie, George Sisler, Ted Williams, Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Carl Yastrzemski, Phil Niekro, Rod Carew, Don Mattingly, Tony Gwnn, Ken Griffey Jr. and Jeff Bagwell do not.  I demand an explanation for this bullshit!

October 22, 2005: For the first time in 46 years, a World Series game is played in the City of Chicago. The White Sox take Game 1 with a 5-3 victory over the Astros at U.S. Cellular Field. Yankee castoff Jose Contreras gets the win for Chicago‚ and Joe Crede homers and makes a pair of great defensive plays in the field. Jermaine Dye also homers for Chicago while Mike Lamb connects for Houston. Contreras hits 3 batters in the game to tie a Series record set by Bruce Kison.

October 22, 2006: The Detroit Tigers even the Series with a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, behind the rather mysteriously rejuvenated Kenny Rogers. Craig Monroe homers for Detroit, and Carlos Guillen gets 3 hits. This remains, for the moment, the only World Series game won by the Tigers in the last quarter of a century.

It is also the first time that a father-and-son combination have appeared in a World Series game as a player for the same franchise. Scott Speizio, the Cardinals' current 2nd baseman, and his father, Ed, a 3rd baseman for the club in the 1967 and '68, both played (and won) in the Fall Classic with the Cards. Scott had already won a ring with the '02 Angels, thanks in part to his home run that sparked their big Game 6 comeback. And Ed had hit the first home run in San Diego Padres history in 1969.

October 22, 2010: The Texas Rangers win their first Pennant.  Unfortunately, they beat the Yankees to do it, winning Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.

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