Saturday, July 31, 2021

The DC Comics Film Universe: How It Should Have Happened

In 2007, following the success of Batman Begins, Warner Brothers was ready to make a Justice League film. However, it would star someone other than Christian Bale, star of Batman Begins, as Batman. And it would star someone other than Brandon Routh, star of the less successful Superman Returns, as Superman.

One thing led to another, and the project got delayed, and delayed, and delayed, and finally dropped.

At first, the director was supposed to be Jason Reitman, who had recently directed Juno. He dropped out, and was replaced by George Miller, best known for the Mad Max films. But it never happened.

The stars were supposed to be as follows: D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Armie Hammer as Batman, Meghan Gale as Wonder Woman, Adam Brody as The Flash, Lonnie Lynn (a.k.a. the rapper Common) as the John Stewart version of Green Lantern, and Hugh Keays-Byrne as the Martian Manhunter. Aquaman was also supposed to be included, but was never cast.

(In hindsight, casting Hammer as Batman would have ended up very problematic, and not just because he did a terrible job as the Lone Ranger in Disney's 2013 film.)

As villains, Jay Baruchel would have played Maxwell Lord, on the heels of Lord being the lead villain in DC's recent Identity Crisis storyline; and Teresa Palmer would have played Tali al Ghul, daughter of Ra's al Ghul and occasional girlfriend of Batman. (As with everything else about Batman, his love-life has always been complicated.)

DC had a chance to get a "cinematic universe" going before Marvel Comics did with Iron Man in 2008. Here's how they should have done it:

* Let Batman Begins start it in 2005, as actually happened, with Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman.

* Release a Superman film in 2006, as actually happened -- but not Superman Returns. Instead, totally start over, as was done with Man of Steel in 2013. This film could have kept that title -- and only that title.

Otherwise, basically do a remake of the film that started it all, the 1978 Superman starring Christopher Reeve, to which Superman Returns tried so hard to pay tribute, and succeeded in part.

At the time, Routh was 27 years old, a little too young to play a veteran superhero; and Kate Bosworth was 23, too young to play Lois Lane as we usually see her, and way too young to play a seasoned reporter with a 5-year-old child. They would have been the ideal ages to play Clark Kent and Lois as being early in their careers.

Again, in hindsight, Kevin Spacey is a problem. Compared to how hokey Gene Hackman played Lex Luthor from 1978 to 1987, Spacey did for the character what Jack Nicholson did for the Joker in 1989: He reminded us that this guy is a killer, and meant to be scary.

This problem is easy to correct: Frank Langella, who played Perry White, had previously played villains ranging from Count Dracula to Richard Nixon (and subsequently reprised his Broadway role for the film version of Frost/Nixon). He should have been Luthor.

So who plays Perry? Laurence Fishburne plays him in the real-life DCEU. Perry has always been depicted as a poor kid from Metropolis (or, sometimes, the real city of Chicago) who made good. By 2006, a black man with that background running "a great metropolitan newspaper" would no longer have seemed odd. So we move Fishburne up.

* 2007 would have brought the first Wonder Woman film. Gale would have been 32, about right to play Princess Diana of Themiscyra/Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. 

Chris Pine was 27, so he would already be a good choice to play Steve Trevor. Anything to keep him from playing "Captain Jerk" in J.J. Abrams' blasphemous Star Trek films. (Gal Gadot was only 22.) 

It would have been set in World War II, like her early comics and the 1st season (1976-77) of the TV show starring Lynda Carter. 

Setting the 1st Gadot movie during World War I would only have worked without the WWII background of the character. And it forces the question: If WWI was serious enough for her to leave Themiscyra, why wasn't the even more serious WWII enough to bring her back?

* 2008 would have been the key year. We get the 2nd Batman film, The Dark Knight. We get a 2nd Superman film, possibly remaking Superman II with the Phantom Zone villains: "Kneel before Zod!" We get a Flash film, with Brody as Barry Allen.

And we get an Aquaman film. Alan Ritchson, who played Arthur Curry on Smallville, and now plays Hank Hall a.k.a. Hawk on Titans, could have been cast. 

Certainly, he looks more like the blond character seen in the comics than does the native Hawaiian Jason Momoa. He would have been a good choice to play Katar Hol, a.k.a. Carter Hall, a.k.a. Hawkman.

* 2009 brings us the 2nd Wonder Woman film. Still set in World War II, it would set up the idea of the Justice League by introducing the superhero team of the 1940s, the Justice Society of America. 

The "Golden Age" versions of the Flash (Jay Garrick), Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and the Atom (Al Pratt) could be shown, along with Dr. Fate, Dr. Mid-Nite, Hourman, Wildcat, the Sandman and Starman. Aside from John Wesley Shipp, who starred in the 1990-91 Flash TV show as Barry Allen, and now plays Garrick on the current TV version, these roles are open to speculation.

This film could show the JSA as vital in winning the war, but also show the sacrifice of Steve Trevor that leads Diana to retreat to her island -- for a while.

The year could also have given Green Arrow a film, with Justin Hartley playing him as he was doing on Smallville.

* With Green Lantern established, we get the film with Ryan Reynolds as the Hal Jordan version a year earlier, in 2010. The only thing that really bothered me about that film was the CGI'ed GL costumes. They were very distracting. 

We also get a film for the Ray Palmer version of the Atom, although, with Routh occupied as Superman, he couldn't play the Atom, too.

* So here we go. July 1, 2011 -- a Friday, with the 4th on the following Monday, making for a three-and-a-half-day weekend. Justice League premieres. 

Basically, it's the story we got with The Dark Knight Rises, a film that should have had people asking, "Are there no other superheroes in this world who could have helped Batman save Gotham City?"

This time, not only does Bruce realize that he has to put the Batsuit back on, but he figures out he needs help before Bane can break his back -- but that still happens before the others can properly respond to his call for aid.

So the heroes figure out where the League of Shadows' prison is, and they break him out. Whether he gets cures through Themiscyran or Atlantean medicine is negotiable.

Ultimately, Batman still beats Bane but is betrayed by Talia. However, it is Superman who gets the nuke off Earth.

But in so doing, this attracts the attention of Darkseid, setting up future movies. Bale could have continued as Batman, with a Robin. Gale could have continued as Wonder Woman, in the present day with Pine playing a grandson of Trevor (as opposed to Lyle Waggoner playing father and son on the 1970s TV show).

The Green Lantern films could have introduced the Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, etc. versions. 

A Green Arrow sequel could have introduced Dinah Lance, a.k.a. Black Canary, classically GA's girlfriend and later wife, matching the comics, instead of what the TV version did, killing her off and having Oliver Queen instead marry Felicity Smoak, who in the comics was connected to the hero Firestorm.

Captain Marvel/Shazam could be introduced. And here's an idea: Since Wonder Woman is being played by Gale, Gal Gadot can play Zatanna, the Mistress of Magic.

The CW's Arrowverse could begin on time in 2012, totally separate from the DC Cinematic Universe, with Stephen Amell starring in Arrow, and play out as it actually has, leading up to a Crisis On Infinite Earths in 2019 with some of the aforementioned actors.

Where does that leave Henry Cavill? He can still play The Witcher, and maybe replace Daniel Craig as James Bond. Ben Affleck? After the 2003 film Daredevil, he should never have been allowed to play another superhero. So he's out. 

There's the plan. All we need now is for the Legends of Tomorrow to take the Waverider back to 2004 and set it up.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Trades and Tampa Series: Too Little, Too Late for This Season?

Anthony Rizzo (left) and Joey Gallo

The Yankees took the opener of a 3-game series away to the Tampa Bay Rays, and it was a great boost following the 3 losses out of 4 in Boston.

Nestor Cortes started the 2nd game of the series on Wednesday night, and was very effective. He went 5 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and no walks, striking out 5. But he threw 79 pitches, which is a lot for a pitcher that the Yankees still seem not to have decided on a starting or relieving role. Lucas Lustre pitched a perfect 6th and 7th. Zack Britton pitched a hitless 8th. Chad Green pitched a perfect 9th.

But the Yankees once again had problems scoring. They didn't get a hit until the 3rd inning, and were trailing the Rays 1-0 going into the top of the 5th. Gio Urshela started the inning by reaching on an error, and Greg Allen doubled him over. Aaron Judge struck out, but DJ LeMahieu hit a sacrifice fly that scored Urshela. But Gleyber Torres was robbed on a line drive, and so the inning ended just 1-1.

Torres tried to make up for it with a 1-out double in the 8th, but was stranded. Gary Sánchez led off the 9th with a walk, and was balked over to 2nd. But Brett Gardner flew out, and Urshela lined out to Rays 2nd baseman Brandon Lowe, who caught Sánchez off the base for a double play.

The game went to the 10th inning, and the ghost runner rule. Urshela began the inning on 2nd, and the Rays' Pete Fairbanks hit Allen with a pitch. Judge singled Urshela home home the lead. 

Rays manager Kevin Cash brought Andrew Kittredge in to relieve. Judge immediately tested him by stealing 2nd, and he failed the test by throwing a wild pitch, scoring Allen with a variation on what may have been intended as a double steal. 

The Yankees did not score again, and so Aroldis Chapman went out to pitch the bottom of the 10th. Cliché Alert: Aroldis gotta Aroldis. He never seems to make it feel easy. He got a strikeout, but then issued a walk, and then a wild pitch of his own. 

Then he struck out the aging but still dangerous Nelson Cruz. Francisco Mejia popped up, and it seems like the entire Yankee infield lost the ball in that stupid white roof in that stupid dome that the stupid Rays play their home games in. LeMahieu managed to catch the ball about 2 inches off the ground. A lot of people on #YankeesTwitter mentioned that they had just about had a heart attack, knowing that the game would have been tied had LeMahieu dropped the ball. 

Nevertheless, he didn't. Yankees 3, Rays 1. WP: Green (4-5). SV: Chapman (20). LP: Fairbanks (3-4).

*

Taking the 1st 2 games in Tampa Bay felt really good. A sweep would have felt even better. But this year's Yankees seem to have trouble closing sweeps out. Usually, after winning the 1st 2 games of a series, the 3rd game turns out to be lousy. 

This one was beyond lousy. Alleged ace Gerrit Cole gave up 4 runs before getting an out in the bottom of the 1st inning.

It wasn't quite downhill from there, as he retired 15 of the next 16 batters. But he lost control again in the 6th, and a horrible error by left fielder Brett Gardner didn't help. Albert Abreu was brought in to relieve, and he threw gasoline on the fire. The Rays scored 10 runs in the inning.

None of that mattered, because the Yankees didn't hit. Judge singled in the 1st and walked in the 6th, Torres and Gardner singled in the 2nd, Estevan Florial walked in the 5th and singled in the 8th, and Stanton walked on the 9th. Those were the Yankees' only baserunners.

Rays 14, Yankees 0. WP: Luis Patino (2-2). No save. LP: Cole (10-6).

*

The trade deadline in baseball is like the two-minute offense in football. If you can do that in the last 2 minutes of the game, why not try it sometime in the 1st 58 minutes? If you can make these trades at the end of July, what is stopping you from doing it beforehand? 

There is, of course, a difference. At the trade deadline, baseball teams are coming to the conclusion, either that they have a chance to win it this year with one or two additions, and go for it, or, the opposite, that it's not going to happen this year, it's probably not going to happen next year, either, so they might as well make the best trait they can, in the hopes of rebuilding.

But Brian Cashman pulled off 2 trades last night, as if finally conceding that a team with a shirt porch in right field needs lefthanded sluggers.

He sent 4 prospects I'd never heard of to the Texas Rangers for Joey Gallo and Joely Rodríguez. Rodríguez, a 29-year-old lefthanded reliever from the Dominican Republic, is a throw-in, and probably won't have much of a positive impact.

But Gallo, a 27-year-old outfielder from Las Vegas -- not to be confused with the Mob hitman about whom Bob Dylan wrote a song -- should. He's made 2 All-Star Games, won a Gold Glove, and has hit 145 career home runs.

Cashman wasn't done: He sent 2 prospects to the Chicago Cubs for 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo. About to turn 32, the South Florida native has made 3 All-Star Games, won 4 Gold Gloves, and hit 243 career home runs. In a farewell salute tweet, the Cubs called him the heart and soul of their 2016 World Series winners.

The Yankees are 8 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League Eastern Division, 7 in the loss column. They are 3 1/2 behind the Oakland Athletics for the AL's 2nd Wild Card slot, 2 in the loss column.

The acquisitions of Gallo and Rizzo give Yankee Fans hope for next season. But will they be enough to make a difference this season? Or is it too little, too late?

Scores On This Historic Day: July 30, 1930, The 1st World Cup Final

The Uruguay team that won the 1930 World Cup

July 30, 1930: The Final of the 1st FIFA World Cup is held at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. The host nation had advanced, to play the nation across the Rio de la Plata from Montevideo, Argentina. (Their capital of Buenos Aires is a little further inland.)

Only 13 countries competed in that 1st World Cup. The only European countries that did so were France, Belgium, Yugoslavia and Romania. Britain's "Home Nations" -- England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -- refused to play, due to a dispute with FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the governing body of world soccer, and would continue to refuse until 1950.

No Asian nations took part. Nor did any African nations. The United States of America took part. So did Mexico. The other 6 were all from South America: Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile.

The tournament began on July 13. Argentina won Group 1, over Chile, France and Mexico. Yugoslavia won Group 2, over Brazil and Bolivia. Uruguay won Group 3, over Romania and Peru. And the U.S. won Group 4, beating Belgium 3-0 on July 13, and Paraguay 1-0 on July 17.

On July 26, Argentina beat the U.S. 6-1 in one Semifinal. In the other, on July 27, Uruguay beat Yugoslavia by the same score. The U.S. has never been so close to winning the World Cup again. Neither would Yugoslavia, nor any sub-nation thereof, get that close again until 2018, when Croatia lost to France in the Final.

The 1930 World Cup Final was held on July 30, before a crowd of 68,346. Pablo Dorado, an outside right for Bella Vista, scored in the 12th minute. Carlos Puecelle, an outside right for Sportivo Buenos Aires, tied it for Argentina in the 20th. Guillermo Stábile, a forward for Huracán, scored in the 37th, and it was 2-1 Argentina at halftime.

Pedro Cea, an inside left for Nacional, equalized for Uruguay in the 57th. Santos Iriarte, an outside left for Racing Montevideo, gave Uruguay the lead in the 68th minute. Héctor Castro, a forward for Nacional, capped the scoring in the 89th. Uruguay 4, Argentina 2.

Alberto Suppici was the winning manager. José Nasazzi, a right back from Bella Vista, was the winning Captain. Ernesto Mascheroni, a left back from Olimpia, lived until 1984, making him the last survivor of the winning team. Francisco Varallo, an inside right from Gimnasia, was the last survivor from Argentina, making it all the way to 2010.

Uruguay won the World Cup again in 1950, in a shocking upset of Brazil. Along with Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina, France and Spain, they remain 1 of only 8 countries to win the World Cup. Along with Italy, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and France, they remain 1 of only 6 countries to win it more than once.

They reached the Semifinals in 1954, 1970 and 2010. They reached the Quarterfinals in 1966 and 2018. They reached the Round of 16 in 1986, 1990 and 2014. The got into the Group Stage in 1962, 1974 and 2002. They did not enter in 1934 and 1938; and did not qualify in 1958, 1978, 1982, 1994, 1998 and 2006.

The Estadio Centenario still stands, seating 60,235.

*

July 30, 1930 was a Wednesday. It was the off-season for the NFL and the NHL, and the NBA hadn't been founded yet. But there were Major League Baseball games played that day:

* The New York Yankees swept a doubleheader from the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. They won the 1st game 8-2, in 10 innings. Herb Pennock went the distance. So did former Yankee Milt Gaston, whom they pounded for 6 runs in the 10th inning, including home runs by Lou Gehrig (of whom you've surely heard) and Harry Rice (of whom you probably haven't).

They won the 2nd game 10-1, with George Pipgras going the distance. No home runs were hit. Over the doubleheader, Gehrig went 3-for-10 with 4 RBIs, and Babe Ruth went 4-for-9 with 3 RBIs.

* The New York Giants beat the Boston Braves, 5-2 at the Polo Grounds.

* The Brooklyn Robins swept a doubleheader from the Philadelphia Phillies at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. "Dem Bums won the opener, 9-5; and the nightcap, 9-4. After 1 more season, Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson, for whom the team was then named, would be fired, and the old name of "Dodgers" would be restored.

* The Philadelphia Athletics beat the Washington Senators, 7-4 at Griffith Stadium in Washington.

* The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-5 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians, 6-5 at League Park in Cleveland.

* The St. Louis Browns swept a doubleheader from the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park in Chicago. They won the 1st game, 3-2, on Oscar Melillo's sacrifice fly in the 10th inning. They won the 2nd game, 6-1.

* And the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds were not scheduled.

Scores On This Historic Day: July 30, 1965, Medicare and Medicaid Become Law

July 30, 1965: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Social Security Amendments of 1965 into law, in a ceremony at the Harry S Truman Presidential Library and Museum, in Independence, Missouri, outside Kansas City.

Former President Truman had tried to get a national health service, offering universal coverage, similar to Britain's passed in 1949, but failed. Holding the signing ceremony at his library was a tribute to his efforts. Also in attendance were each man's wife, Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson and Elizabeth "Bess" Truman, and Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Also, Governor Warren Hearnes of Missouri, for whom the University of Missouri's arena is named.

Although the Amendments increased benefits for people who met the legal definition of being disabled, the two main components were Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare provides coverage for healthcare for people aged 65 and up. Medicaid helps with health care costs for people of limited income, including nursing home and personal care services, which Medicare doesn't cover.

Medicare and Medicaid joined the Office of Economic Opportunity (a.k.a. "the War On Poverty"), and two major education reform bills to form Johnson's "Great Society." Within days of signing this bill, LBJ would add the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It remains the high point of American liberalism.

Canada passed National Health Service with universal coverage in 1967. Australia did so in 1984. In both cases, they use the term Medicare. In America, however, that term is still limited to health care for senior citizens.

*

July 30, 1965 was a Friday. It was the offseason for the NFL, the NBA and the NHL. However, there was a full slate of Major League Baseball games played:

* The New York Yankees lost to the Cleveland Indians, 5-0 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees were shut out by Sonny Siebert, who allowed only 4 hits, 2 of them by Elston Howard.

* The New York Mets lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-3 at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.

* The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs, 3-1 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

* The Cincinnati Reds beat the Houston Astros, 7-1 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox, 3-1 at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

* The San Francisco Giants beat the Milwaukee Braves, 9-2 at Milwaukee County Stadium.

* The Minnesota Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles, 3-2 at Metropolitan Stadium in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota.

* The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the st. Louis Cardinals, 4-2 at Busch Stadium, formerly Sportsman's Park, in St Louis.

* The Washington Senators beat the Kansas City Athletics, 3-1 at Kansas City Municipal Stadium.

* And the California Angels beat the Boston Red Sox, 9-2 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. From 1962 to 1965, the Angels shared Chavez Ravine with the city's National League team, before opening Anaheim Stadium for 1966, now named Angel Stadium.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Yankees Rebound vs. Rays, Make Puzzling Trade

After getting humiliated in Boston -- much more doing it to themselves than letting the Red Sox do it to them -- the last thing the Yankees needed was a trip to the white elephant in St. Petersburg, Florida. Nevertheless, that was next on the schedule: a 3-game series away to the Tampa Bay Rays. 

Fortunately, Jordan Montgomery kept his recent hot streak alive. He pitched 5 shutout innings, allowing 5 hits and 3 walks, with 5 strikeouts. 

Of course, his big problem lately has been almost no run support at all. This time, after 4 innings, that looks like it would be the case again, as the game was scoreless. But Greg Allen led off the top of the 5th with a double, and DJ LeMahieu singled him home, to make it 1-0 Yankees. 

The top of the 6th begin with Gleyber Torres and Rougned Odor hitting singles, and being driven home on a double by Gio Urshela. Now, Montgomery had a 3-0 lead. 

But Aaron Boone didn't send Montgomery out for the bottom of the 6th. Instead, he let Chad Green pitch it, and he allowed to walk and a home run. Why does Boone make these decisions? Is he an idiot? Or is he following Brian Cashman's orders, and Cashman is the idiot? We may never know for sure, unless Boone gets managing job somewhere else, and gets to prove what he can really do -- good or bad. 

Jonathan Loáisiga rebounded from his Fenway disaster to pitch a perfect 7th. Ryan La Marre hit a home run in the top of the 8th. But Zack Britton allowed another run in the bottom of the 8th. And so, when Aroldis Chapman was sent out in the bottom of the 9th, it was to protect a one-run lead against Tampa Bay, away. 

He got the 1st 2 outs, then issued a walk. Cliché Alert: Aroldis gotta Aroldis. But that also means he's capable of the game-ending strikeout, blowing the last hitter away, and that's what he did. Yankees 4, Rays 3. WP: Montgomery (4-5). SV: Chapman (19). LP: Shane McClanahan (4-4).

The series continues tonight. Nestor Cortes starts for us, Michael Wacha for them.

After last night's game -- indeed, after midnight, in the kind of bush-league move you would expect from the Mets -- the Yankees announced a trade, a puzzling one. They sent Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson to the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named later.

This is a classic Cashman close-to-the-trade-deadline move. Cessa and Wilson have both been bad relief pitchers, but both have been considerably improved lately. So now, when they're actually strengthening the bullpen instead of hurting it, Cashman hurts it by trading them. And for what? So far, nothing. 

It is widely suspected by Yankee Fans on social media that this is simply freeing up salary, mostly Cessa's, so that Cashman can bring in a big name before the deadline. Or maybe he's just being a cheap prick, like so many other times before. 

The difference between this trade and the white flag trades he made at the deadline in 2016 is that, at that point, I thought the Yankees still had a chance at the Playoffs. This time, I don't think they're going to make it. And even if they do, they won't get very far. That's on Cashman, too. 

Another wasted season, unless whoever Cashman brings in -- either from the Reds or is it part of a 3-way or even 4-way deal -- turns out to be a blockbuster, a game-changer, a season-changer, or even, in Cashman's case, a historical reputation-changer. Because if this there's one guy on the Yankees who needs his reputation changed, it's not any player, it's Cashman.

We shall see.

Scores On This Historic Day: July 28, 1932, The Rout of the Bonus Army

July 28, 1932: The Bonus Army is chased off Capitol Hill by the United States Army.

Those words might not make sense to you. Let's go back, much further than 1932:

The practice of war-time military bonuses began in 1776, as payment for the difference between what a soldier earned and what he could have earned had he not enlisted. America first did this, as you might expect, in the War of the American Revolution. 

In 1783, as the war ended, hundreds of veterans from Pennsylvania marched on the nation's capital, Philadelphia, demanding an increase in their bonuses. They surrounded the State House, soon to be renamed Independence Hall. Congress evacuated, and a few weeks later, the U.S. Army arrived, and kicked them out. Nobody died.

The U.S. entered World War I on April 6, 1917, and made the difference for the Allies, gaining the Armistice on November 11, 1918. In 1924, Congress passed a bill awarding that war's veterans $1.00 per day of domestic service, up to $500; and $1.25 per day of overseas service, up to $625.

Lest you think that Republican Presidents being conservative assholes is a relatively new phenomenon, President Calvin Coolidge vetoed the bill. Congress overrode his veto, and the bill became law. But here's the kicker: This bonus would not be made available to the veterans until 1945. (Which turned out to be the year that World War II ended.)

Then came the stock market crash of 1929, and the Great Depression. President Herbert Hoover did not cause these things, but in 1930 and 1931, he didn't seem to be trying very hard to turn them around. (He never publicly said, "Prosperity is just around the corner," and he knew it wasn't. The)

By early 1932, one out of every four men in the workforce could not find a job. Many of these men were veterans of the war. Some men sold their medals to get money for food, bringing to mind the expression, "What price glory?" The plight of unemployed veterans worked its way into songs, including Bing Crosby's "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?", although that song was not released until a few weeks after the Bonus Army march.

Not for the first time in human history, and not the last, men asked the question, "I was there when my country needed me, so where is my country now that I need it?" And now, Hoover had to run for re-election.

On March 11, 1932, Oregon veteran Walter W. Waters organized a group of fellow veterans and began leading them East toward Washington. Taking their name from that of American troops in France in World War I, the American Expeditionary Force, he called them the Bonus Expeditionary Force. Most news reports just called them the Bonus Army.

They arrived in Washington 43,000 strong -- 17,000 veterans and their families -- on May 28, and camped in tents to the south of the U.S. Capitol Building, on the Anacostia Flats. Like so many other encampments of the homeless across America, it was quickly labeled a "Hooverville."

They demanded that Congress pass, and Hoover sign, a bill into law paying their 1945-due bonuses immediately. On June 15, the House of Representatives passed such a bill, 211-176. There was hope.

That hope was crushed only 2 days later: The Senate voted it down, and it wasn't even close, 62-18.

There seemed to be very little reason for the Bonus Army army to stay. But they did. Through the 2nd half of June. And almost all the way through July.

Finally, on July 28, Hoover had had enough. He ordered Pelham Glassford, the Superintendent of the District of Columbia Police, to get the Bonus Army out.

The Bonusers refused to leave. The police opened fire, and killed 2 of them: William Hushka, 37, an immigrant from Lithuania who became a butcher in Chicago; and Eric Carlson, 38, of Oakland. Both, as they were legally entitled, were buried across the Potomac River in Arlington National Cemetery.

Finally, Hoover ordered Secretary of War Patrick J. Hurley to use the current real Army to get those aggrieved heroes away from Washington. Hurley gave the order to the U.S. Army's Chief of Staff.

This 4-star General sent in cavalry and tanks, and told his troops to do whatever it took to disperse the Bonus Army. Nobody else died, but many were brutally beaten.

Had modern television coverage been available at the time, the outrage throughout the country would have meant that this General would have been forced to resign. Instead, his career continued. His name was Douglas MacArthur.

On November 8, 1932, Hoover was defeated for re-election, losing 42 out of the 48 States then in the Union to the Democratic Party's nominee, the Governor of New York, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In 1933, there was a smaller march on Washington demanding the Bonus. FDR responded by offering them federal government jobs. Those who accepted were better off. Those who refused were given transit fare home.

In 1936, with the Depression easing but by no means over, Congress passed a bill awarding the Bonus, now just 9 years ahead of schedule. FDR vetoed it -- something his hagiographers usually don't mention. Congress overrode his veto, and the Bonus was paid.

In 1944, determined not to make the same mistake, FDR asked Congress to pass a G.I. Bill of Rights. It did, and the returning veterans of World War II got immediate benefits far beyond what those who returned from World War I got.

Walter Waters was never prosecuted for anything he may have done with the Bonus Army. He lived until 1959. First MacArthur, then Hoover, died in 1Got.

*

July 28, 1932 was a Thursday. It was the off-season for the NFL and the NHL, and the NBA hadn't been founded yet. But these games were played in Major League Baseball:

* The New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians, 10-1 at League Park in Cleveland. Babe Ruth hit 2 home runs in support of Red Ruffing.

* The New York Giants got swept in a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds. The Pittsburgh Pirates beat them in the 1st game 10-7, and in the 2nd game 9-1.

* The Brooklyn Dodgers split a doubleheader at Ebbets Field. They beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener, 9-6, before dropping the nightcap, 8-6.

* The Chicago Cubs beat the Boston Braves, 4-1 at Braves Field in Boston.

* The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-4 at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. 

* The Detroit Tigers beat the Philadelphia Athletics, 4-2 at Navin Field in Detroit. (It was renamed Briggs Stadium in 1938 and Tiger Stadium in 1961.)

* The Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago White Sox, 2-1 at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

* And the St. Louis Browns beat the Washington Senators, 6-4 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Scores On This Historic Day: July 27, 1953, The Korean War Armistice

July 27, 1953: The Korean Armistice Agreement is signed at Panmunjom, just on the South side of the newly-established border between the Republic of Korea, a.k.a. South Korea; and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, a.k.a. North Korea. It ends the Korean War, which had begun over 3 years earlier, on June 24, 1950.

The signatories were:

* For the United Nations, including the United States and South Korea, Lieutenant General William Kelly Harrison Jr.

* For North Korea, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nam Il.

* For the People's Republic of China, Marshal Peng Dehuai.
Deaths in the war: For the U.S., 36,574; for South Korea, 162,000 military, and nearly 1 million civilians; for North Korea, no one knows for sure, but including civilians, it may be over 1.5 million.

*

July 27, 1953 was a Monday. It was the off-season for the NFL, the NBA and the NHL. And Monday is often a travel day in Major League Baseball. As a result, there was only one game played that day.

The Milwaukee Braves beat the New York Giants, 13-0 at Milwaukee County Stadium. It was only 1-0 Braves going into the bottom of the 4th inning, when the Braves scored 8 runs. Eddie Mathews hit 2 home runs. Warren Spahn allowed 7 hits, but kept his shutout.

The best-known players on each team were not in this game. Hank Aaron was still in the minor leagues, on the way up. He debuted on the Braves' next Opening Day, April 13, 1954. And Willie Mays was in the U.S. Army, serving in the Korean War. Fortunately for him, he was kept stationed stateside, and never went into combat, and rejoined the Giants in Spring Training 1954.

In 1970, Aaron became the 1st player to collect 3,000 hits with 500 of them being home runs. He beat Mays to this distinction by 2 months.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Yankees Can't Stop Digging

The first rule of being in a hole is "Don't dig." The Yankees are in a hole, and yet they can't stop digging.

In the 4-game weekend series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Yankees had leads in all 4 games. They had their chances to win all 4 games. Doing so would have put them right back into the American League Eastern Division race, and would, at the least, have solidified them as a legitimate contender for an AL Wild Card slot.

Instead, still in a hole, they kept digging.

Domingo Germán started the series finale. He hadn't pitched well lately. This time, he was fantastic. He allowed a walk in the 3rd inning, and through the 1st 7, that was it: A no-hitter. At Fenway Park.

That kind of performance deserves a lot of support. But the Yankees wasted a leadoff double by DJ LeMahieu on the 1st. Two walks and a Roughned Odor single got a run home in the 3rd. A Gleyber Torres doubled and a single by the returning Gio Urshela made it 2-0 in the 4th.

The Yankees wasted a leadoff single in the 5th. Odor led off the 6th with a home run. They wasted bases loaded with 1 out in the 7th, thanks to a Giancarlo Stanton strikeout and Odor flying out. Still only 3-0.

A Gary Sanchez triple and a Torres single began the 8th, and it was 4-0. But they couldn't get anymore.

No matter: Germán for 3 outs in the 8th and Aroldis Chapman for 3 in the 9th, right?

Wrong. Germán starts the 8th by giving up a double to Alex Verdugo. And Aaron Boone takes him out. 

Not because he's obviously tiring. He's not. But because he's thrown 93 pitches, and with Brian Cashman's rules for pitchers, Boone isn't allowed to let a pitcher throw that much. Unless he's pitching a no-hitter. Gotta leave him in as long as he's got that. It's good for publicity. 

So Jonathan Loáisiga is brought in. He's been good most of this season. This time, he allows RBI double (and YES Network viewers could already feel the wheels beginning to come off), RBI single, single, RBI double. He gets nobody out, and it's 4-3.

Boone brings in Zack Britton. Injury has left him a shadow of his former self. He actually gets the next 3 outs, but the 1st 2 are a groundout that brings home the tying run and a fly ball that brings home the winning run.

Had Britton been brought in instead of Loáisiga, the groundout might have moved Verdugo over, and the fly ball might have brought him home, but it would only have been 4-1 Yankees at the end of the inning. 

Instead, it was 5-4 Red Sox, and the worst part is just how inevitable it all felt when it was still 4-1 Yankees.

But, what the heck, it's still only a 1-run deficit. At Fenway. Surely, the Yankees could overcome it. Well, these are not your father's Yankees (of 1996 to 2003), or even your big brother's (of 2009).

Cliché Alert: The Yankees went down quietly in the 9th. Greg Allen flew out to left. LeMahieu grounded to 2nd. Stanton singled. Boone sent Tyler Wade in to pinch-run for him, and he stole 2nd. There was the tying run. But Odor, who had done so well earlier in the game, popped up to 3rd to end it.

Red Sox 5, Yankees 4. WP: Brandon Workman (1-2). SV: Matt Barnes (21). LP: Loáisiga (7-4).

*

So, needing at least 3 out 4 in Boston to legitimately get back into the AL East race, the Yankees had leads in all 4 games, but ended up losing 3 out of 4. They are 51-47, 9 games behind the Sox, 8 games in the loss column. They are 3 1/2 games out of the AL's 2nd Wild Card slot, for all the good that would do them.

Once again, I am enraged. Really, the "quality" of the game should matter more than the identity of the opponent. But I have hated the Red Sox as long as I have loved the Yankees, and this is unacceptable.

I looked it up. The Yankees have had 16 bullpen meltdowns this season. If they had half of them, 8, and at least 1 fewer against the Red Sox, they would be tied for 1st place.
Blame Boone for bad pitching changes all you want. The fact that we don't have a reliever capable of preventing half of those losses is on Cashman.

The hole is getting deeper. Still, Cashman's has the "DIG WE MUST" sign out.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Scores On This Historic Day: July 25, 1965, Bob Dylan Goes Electric

July 25, 1965: Bob Dylan crosses a rock and roll Rubicon. He performs with The Paul Butterfield Blues Band at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. They use electric instruments, something the festival had never allowed before, as folk music has traditionally been all-acoustic. 

Dylan had been born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. He grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota, but found life there dissatisfying on multiple levels. Early early rock and roll stars of the mid-1950s appealed to him, and so anyone who has studied his entire life should have seen this coming. But most people didn't know about that when they became fans of him in the early 1960s. 

In 1961, having dropped out of the University of Minnesota, he came to New York, renamed himself for Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, and started singing folk music in the clubs of Manhattan's Greenwich Village, where Thomas had lived and performed for the last few years of his life. 

He had adopted a persona like that of is that of earlier folk singer Woody Guthrie, with scraggly clothes and a nasal twang. He combined traditional folk songs with his own new compositions, and it didn't seem to matter that he couldn't sing in the traditional sense, or that he wasn't an especially good-looking guy. People were mesmerized by his performances. Soon, men wanted to be him, and women just wanted him.

On April 16, 1962, at Gerde's Folk City on 11 West 4th Street, he first performed "Blowin' in the Wind," and it was a sensation, with its 3 short verses citing the civil rights and antiwar movements. This was less than a year after the Freedom Rides, but a year before American TV viewers saw the firehoses and police dogs of Birmingham, and most hadn't yet heard of Vietnam, let alone realized that we already had troops fighting, killing and dying there.

His self-titled debut album had been released on Columbia Records the preceding March 19. Shortly after the Gerde's premiere, he began recording The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Released on May 27, 1963, it included "Blowin' in the Wind," "Masters of War," "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" -- the latter the first in a long line of great breakup songs he would write. 

Any 1 of those 4 songs would have been a great triumph for any writer. Dylan had all 4 on 1 album. He was 3 days past his 22nd birthday, and he was already a musical legend.

That July, he appeared at Newport for the first time, along with the biggest active legend of folksinging, Pete Seeger. (Guthrie, to whom Seeger had introduced Dylan, was still alive, but sidelined by the condition that would kill him 4 years later.) 

Also there were Peter, Paul and Mary (Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers), the folksinging trio who recorded what remain the biggest hit versions of "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Don't Think Twice." And Joan Baez, the leading female soloist of "the folk revolution," who helped make Bob famous, then became his girlfriend. Together, these and others closed the show by joining hands and singing a song Seeger, though he didn't write it, made the anthem of civil rights: "We Shall Overcome."

Dylan then began recording his next album, finishing it before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, but not released until afterward, on January 13, 1964: The Times They Are A-Changin'. It included the title track, "Ballad of Hollis Brown," "With God On Our Side," "Only a Pawn In Their Game," "When the Ship Comes In," and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." His previous burst of creativity was thus proven to be no fluke.

Just 25 days after the release, The Beatles arrived in America. Each influenced by other tremendously, and it may have been The Beatles who influenced Dylan to switch to electric instruments. Before he did though, he recorded Another Side of Bob Dylan. Released on August 8, 1964, he told music critic Nat Hentoff, "There ain't no finger-pointing songs." There was "All I Really Want to Do," "Chimes of Freedom," "It Ain't Me, Babe," and "My Back Pages," on which the 23-year old Dylan sang, "Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now."

Fame and the expectation of his peers were getting to him. Until now, except for a couple of songs on the latest album where he had played piano, it had been just him, his guitar, and the harmonica he wore in a neck brace. No other musicians. For his next album, he went electric, and it was titled Bringing It All Back Home.

Released on March 22, 1965, this was a revelation. It was a reminder of his rock and roll roots, about which his "folkie" fans seemed to know nothing. It began with "Subterranean Homesick Blues," with its angry declaration that, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

It included "Maggie's Farm," which certainly sounded like a folk song, but the electricity behind it give it a bigger punch. It included "Mr. Tambourine Man," which he recorded in 3/4 time, but the band The Byrds would later switch it to 4/4 time, and give him his 1st Number 1 hit as a writer.

It included "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," with its declaration, "He not busy being born is busy dying." If that wasn't a message to the people who wanted him to remain the 22-year-old golden boy of the Greenwich Village clubs forever -- just as there were others who got upset when The Beatles moved beyond being "The Lovable Mop Tops" -- then the last song on the album certainly was: "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." 

And on July 20, he released a standalone single, a 6-minute reminder of how their delusions of him, not himself, had let them down: "Like a Rolling Stone." (Rolling Stone magazine was named for this song, not the new British band of the same name.)

So when Dylan, backed by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, took the stage at Newport on July 25, nobody knew what to expect. Here's what he gave them: "Maggie's Farm," "Like a Rolling Stone," and "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry," each electric.

There was booing, but there's dispute over why. Some have said it wasn't because the electric instruments were blasphemy to the folkies, it was because the sound system was bad, and Bob and the band couldn't be heard properly. The surviving film suggests that this is true, because the songs don't sound much like they did on the records. 

Another legend, that Pete Seeger yelled at show producer George Wein, to turn the amps off, and that, having been refused, the "purist" Seeger tried to chop the cord with an ax, were denied by Seeger himself. He admitted that the problem was the sound system, not Dylan's audacity.

Dylan played 2 more songs, just him, his guitar, and his harmonica: "Mr. Tambourine Man" and, providing a definitive last word for them, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." He soon wrote one of the nastiest songs ever written in the English language: "Positively 4th Street," opening with, "You got a lot of nerve to say you are my friend," and going on to really let them have it.

By this point, he had further enraged the folk music community by breaking up with Joan Baez, and marrying someone else, Sara Lowndes, for whom he wrote some of his more interesting songs thereafter.

Dylan would go through many more changes to his career, and did not appear at the Newport Folk Festival again until 2002. As of this writing, he is 80 years old, and still performing. Few people now doubt that going electric was good for him, and good for music.

*

July 25, 1965 was a Sunday. It was the off-season for the NFL, the NBA and the NHL. But, being a Sunday, there was a full slate of Major League Baseball games, including doubleheaders:

* The New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians, 3-0 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Mel Stottlemyre pitched a 4-hit shut out, and was backed by home runs from Tom Tresh and Joe Pepitone. Mickey Mantle went 1-for-4.

It was the 1st game of a doublehader. Despite the opener giving Yankee Fans hope, the nightcap prices that, for the old Dynasty, it was all over now, baby blue. The Indians won it, 7-4. Al Downing got clobbered, allowing 6 runs in the 1st inning. Mantle hit a home run in the losing cause.

* The New York Mets split a doubleheader at Shea Stadium. They beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1st game, 8-1, but lost the 2nd game, 3-1.

* The Minnesota Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles, 8-5 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

* A doubleheader was split at District of Columbia Stadium in Washington. The Washington Senators won the 1st game, 4-3. The Kansas City Athletics won the 2nd game, 5-3. (In 1969, the stadium was renamed for Robert F. Kennedy.)

* The Boston Red Sox beat the California Angels, 5-4 at Fenway Park in Boston.

* A doubleheader was split at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. The Chicago White Sox won the 1st game, 10-6, and the Detroit Tigers won the 2nd game, 13-2.

* A doubleheader was split at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Pittsburgh Pirates won the 1st game, 3-2. Del Crandall won it with a home run in the top of the 13th inning. The Chicago Cubs won the 2nd game, 5-0. Bill Faul pitched a 3-hit shutout, beating former Cub pitcher Don Cardwell.

* The Cincinnati Reds beat the Houston Astros, 3-1 at the Astrodome in Houston.

* The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the St Louis Cardinals, 5-1 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

* And the San Francisco Giants beat the Milwaukee Braves, 2-1 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Yanks Get Most Improbable Win In Strangest Season

This is, beyond any doubt -- and beyond a statement I made in a post in 2014 -- the strangest season I have ever seen the New York Yankees have.

Given what the starting pitching matchups were projected to be in this 4-game series with the despised Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, yesterday afternoon's game seemed like the least likely for the Yankees to win. And after dropping the 1st 2 games, with much more favorable matchups, that was depressing. 

But, as Yankee broadcaster John Sterling likes to say, "You just can't predict baseball."

Jameson Taillon started for the Yankees, and allowed 1 run in each of the 1st 3 innings. Ordinarily, in Fenway, that might not be so bad. But the way the Yankees have been hitting this season, pretty much any lead the opponent gets can be considered safe.

This time, Taillon settled down, and got through the 7th without allowing another run. It was still 3-0 Sox.

But former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi was pitching, and the Yankees couldn't touch him. They got a man on 1st with 1 out in the 1st, the 1st 2 batters on in the 3rd, a man on 2nd with 1 out in the 6th, and a man on 1st with 2 out in the 7th. None of them scored.

This was the Yankees' season in a nutshell, the organization driving their fans nuts because they're a shadow of their former selves.

But Eovaldi tired in the top of the 8th. Rookie Estevan Florial led off with a double. Rob Brantly's fly ball advanced him to 3rd base. DJ LeMahieu's fly ball wasn't deep enough to score him. But Brett Gardner singled him home.

That convinced Sox manager to take Eovaldi out, and bring in another former Yankee, Adam Ottavino. He embarrassed the Yankees with them last season, and he's  embarrassing them for the Red Sox this season.

But Giancarlo Stanton greeted him with a ground-rule double. Aaron Boone, whose guesses have been pretty bad lately, smelled victory, and pulled the DH Stanton for pinch-runner Tyler Wade.

Roughned Odor doubled home Gardner and Wade. Tie ballgame. Gleyber Torres singled home Odor. 4-3 New York. The Yankees could get no further, but Jonathan Loáisiga, back from the COVID version of the Injured List, got our of a jam in the bottom of the 8th to keep it 4-3.

Now, it was time for Boone to send Aroldis Chapman out to protect a 1-run lead at Fenway Park. My blood pressure was Oy/Vey. So were my pronouns.

He got Alex Verdugo to ground out. And he struck Kevin Plawecki out. So far, so good. But, Cliché Alert: Aroldis gotta Aroldis. He walked Hunter Renfroe. Then, the wacko nature of Fenway Park resulted in another ground-rule double, this time by Christian Vazquez, that meant a man on 1st had to stop at 3rd. 

The batter was Enrique Hernandez, and a lot of Yankee Fans couldn't look. Chapman struck him out. 

Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeee Yankees win! Yankees 4, Red Sox 3. WP: Taillon (6-4). SV: Chapman (18). LP: Ottavino (2-3).

In their strangest season that I can remember, the Yankees got their most improbable win.

The series concludes this afternoon, with Domingo Germán starting against Martin Perez.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

The 2021 Yankees Are Obscene

In 1964, there was a case before the Supreme Court of the United States. In Jacobellis v. Ohio, one of those groups of self-appointed moral arbiters wanted the Court to judge that a particular film, The Lovers, released in 1958 by French director Louis Malle, was pornography, that it was obscene, and that the conviction of the manager of a theater in Cleveland Heights, Ohio who showed it should be upheld.

In a 6-3 vote -- oddly, the Chief Justice of the time, Earl Warren, normally a liberal Justice, voted the more conservative way -- the Court ruled that the film was not obscene, and vaccted the conviction. One of the Justices, Potter Stewart, wrote in his opinion that the 1st Amendment protected every form of artistic expression except, as he put it, "hard-core pornography." And he refused to flat out define that, giving only this definition, which entered the American lexicon: "I know it when I see it." He said this wasn't it, and the self appointed moral arbiters lost.

By the standards of France, where the film was made, it was not a big deal. By the standards of early 1960s America, it was pretty racy, but tame by today's standards.

In 1969, Irving Wallace published a novel titled The Seven Minutes. There was a book within the book, also titled The Seven Minutes, declared to be the most obscene book ever written, because it was about a woman's thoughts during 7 minutes of sex. It was made into a movie in 1971, and yesterday was the 50th Anniversary of its release.

As with the book it was based on, the film tried to make the point that there is a difference between art and obscenity, and that the people should decide for themselves, without any group ordering them to accept a definition.

*

What does this have to do with baseball? This: At some point, we need to decide whether the 2021 New York Yankees are art, or obscene.

Last night, the 2nd game of a 4-game series against the hated Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, may have been the game they most needed to win this season, and they couldn't do it, not even with Garrett Cole as the starting pitcher. It ended up going similar to the game before it, as the Yankees threatened to break the game wide open, but only got 1 run, stranding baserunners, and living to regret it as the game went on.

Gary Sanchez led off the top of the 2nd with a walk, followed by a single by Gleyber Torres and a double by Brett Gardner. And Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez left the game, with a migraine as we later found out. So Phillips Valdez was brought in to relieve, and the Yankees had a 1-0 lead, men on 2nd and 3rd, nobody out, and the Sox bullpen needed to get 24 outs at Fenway. And Gerrit Cole on the mound.

This was set up to be the Yankees' best game of the year.

Instead, Chris Gittens struck out, Ryan LaMarre was hit by a pitch, Greg Allen struck out, and DJ LeMahieu struck out. That was it for the inning.

Giancarlo Stanton led off the top of the 3rd with a walk, and was stranded. Gittens singled with 2 out in the 4th, and was stranded. With 2 out in the 5th, Stanton walked, an advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch, but was stranded. Think about that: Giancarlo Stanton drew two walks, and we did not reward this unexpected plate discipline with any runs.

And then the final nail may have been driven into the Yankees' 2021 coffin in the bottom of the 5th. Cole ended it with 104 pitches. He began it with a strikeout, but allowed a single to Enrique Hernandez, a double to Jarren Duran, a sacrifice fly by Xander Bogaerts, and a home run by Rafael Devers. It was 3-1 Red Sox, and that was it for Cole.

A 3-1 deficit, at Fenway, against the Boston bullpen, should not be too much to overcome -- for a good team. The 2021 Yankees are not a good team. They have shown flashes of past Yankee teams -- 1978, 1996 and 2009 come to mind -- but they are not getting the job done.

Gardner walked with 2 out in the 6th. Stranded. With 1 out in the 7th, Allen was hit with a pitch, and LeMahieu singled. Both stranded. Nestor Cortes, back from the COVID version of the Injured List, gave up 2 singles and a home run by Devers, and it was 6-1 Boston. In the 8th, with 1 out, Torres was hit with a pitch. With 2 out, Gittens drew a walk. Both stranded.

The Yankees mounted a 2-out rally in the 9th, but it was too little, too late: Stanton singled, and Rougned Odor doubled him home. But Rob Brantly popped up to end the game.

Red Sox 6, Yankees 2. WP: Yacksel Rios (3-0). No save. LP: Cole (10-5).

The Yankees are now 9 games behind the Red Sox in the American League Eastern Division, and 4 1/2 games out of the AL's 2nd Wild Card slot. According to Baseball-Reference.com, they have an 11.7 percent chance of making the Playoffs, and this chance has dropped 14.6 percent in the last 30 days. Since the All-Star Break, they are 6-for-55 with runners in scoring position, a batting average of .109.

Yankee RISPfail: As Michael Corleone would have said, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!"

I'm reminded of a story I once saw in Mad magazine. A character based on Joe Namath interviews a judge, who turns out to be corrupt. He asked the judge, "What kind of cases do you enjoy the most?" The judge said, "Pornography cases! I have to view all the films to see if they're obscene! Isn't this great?" And the Namath analogue says, "It sure does beat looking at old football films. Except for the last few games of my career, which really were obscene!"

In that sense, the 2021 Yankees are obscene. No, they are not pornography. There is nothing about this team that excites a person. Not sexually, not any other way. But they are obscene, with no artistic value. I know it when I see it.

The series continues this afternoon, for all the good that does the Yankees. Especially since the starting pitchers are Jameson Taillon (who, to be fair, has pitched better for the Yankees lately) and Nathan Eovaldi (who has spent all the time since Cashman got rid of him pointing out what a mistake that was).

I may have reached the point where reporting the details of every game the Yankees have left this season is no longer worth it.

Scores On This Historic Day: July 24, 1915, The Eastland Sinks

July 24, 1915: The SS Eastland sinks in the Chicago River. A total of 844 people are killed, making it the greatest loss of life in a Great Lakes maritime disaster.

The Eastland was launched in 1903, and the Michigan Steamship Company used it for excursions across Lake Michigan, from Chicago, Illinois to South Haven, Michigan. The West Coast of Michigan remains one of the leading resort areas for the Midwest.

But, like the PS General Slocum in New York in the previous 2 decades, before it burned on Long Island Sound in 1904, the Eastland had problems will before its ultimate disaster. Less than 3 months after its launch, it hit a tugboat docked at the Lake Street Bridge in Chicago. Mere days after that, crewmen who hadn't been fed mutinied, and the captain ordered their arrest. Instead, the captain was fired and replaced.

On a voyage the next year, the Eastland nearly capsized with about 3,000 passengers. Its official capacity was reduced to 2,800. It was sold in 1909, and its new owners transferred it to a Lake Erie run, Cleveland to the resort town of Cedar Point, Ohio. But it listed on a 1912 voyage. In 1914, it was sold to the St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship Company, and began service between Chicago and another western Michigan resort town, St. Joseph.

The Western Electric Company chartered 5 steamers -- the Eastland, the Theodore Roosevelt, the Petoskey, the Racine and the Rochester -- to take their employees from their Hawthorne Works in Cicero, Illinois, up the Chicago River, and out to Lake Michigan, to a picnic in Michigan City, Indiana.

At a time when the American labor movement was really struggling -- the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire was only 4 years earlier -- and Sunday was traditionally the only day off, this was a big deal. This was especially true because, like many of the General Slocum and Triangle victims, the people in question were mostly immigrants, in this case from the parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which, after World War I, would be used to form the nation of Czechoslovakia.

In the wake of the sinking of the RMS Titanic 3 years earlier, a federal Seamen's Act had been passed. The big transatlantic ship lost more people than were expected on its tragic maiden voyage because it didn't have enough lifeboats. Eastland was equipped with as many lifeboats as could fit -- and this may have caused the opposite problem: The weight of the lifeboats may have "helped" in the sinking.

At 7:10 AM on July 24, the passengers boarding the ship at its dock, on the south bank of the Chicago River between Clark Street and LaSalle Street, had already reached the legal capacity of 2,572. It began to list to port (left, away from the dock). Passengers made the mistake of rushing to that side, and at 7:28, it sank to the bottom of the river, 20 feet below the surface. Half the ship was still above the water line.

The steamship company did nothing to provide relief for the survivors of the victims. Western Electric provided $100,000 worth, about $2.7 million in today's money.

Eventually, an urban legend got around that Chicago native comedian Jack Benny survived the Eastland disaster. It wasn't true. 

A list of the lost was printed in the newspaper. One of those names was George Halas, age 20, a Chicago native, and a football player at the University of Illinois. One of the people who survived the disaster was Ralph Brizzolara, a fraternity brother of Halas', who escaped through a porthole. When he led a delegation of brothers to the Halas home, to give their condolences, they saw he was alive.

Halas would go on to found the team that became the Chicago Bears, and Brizzolara would work in the team's front office until his death in 1972.

Marion Eichholz, the last known survivor of the Eastland disaster, died on November 24, 2014, at 102, just short of 100 years after.

*

There was another 1915 event for which I could have done a "Scores On This Historic Day": The execution of labor activist Joe Hill at the Utah State Prison in Salt Lake City on November 19, at the age of 36. He had been convicted, probably incorrectly, of murder. He became a martyr to the labor movement, and is now best known for the song "Joe Hill."

But the execution happened on a Saturday. Baseball was out of season. There was no NFL, no NBA, and no NHL. And no major college football games were played on the day.

July 24, 1915 was also a Saturday, but it was during the baseball season. In the American League:

* The New York Yankees did not play, because they were scheduled to play the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Out of respect to the victims, the ChiSox postponed that day's game, and the next.

The July 24 game was rescheduled as the 1st half of a doubleheader on August 21. The White Sox won it, 1-0. Ray Caldwell of the Yankees and Jim Scott of the Pale Hose both took shutouts into the 11th inning, before Hall-of-Famer Eddie Collins singled home Eddie Murphy. No, not that Eddie Murphy.

The Yankees won the 2nd half, 3-2. Ray Fisher outpitched Eddie Cicotte, who would later help the White Sox win the 1917 World Series -- and, still later, would help them reach, and then lose, the 1919 World Series.

* The Cleveland Indians swept a doubleheader from the Philadelphia Athletics, at League Park in Cleveland. The A's won the opener 4-3, and the nightcap 12-4.

* A doubleheader was split at Navin Field in Detroit, the ballpark that would become Briggs Stadium in 1938 and Tiger Stadium in 1961. The Detroit Tigers won the 1st game, 2-0. The Washington Senators won the 2nd game, 8-5. In the opener, Jean Dubuc pitched a shutout to beat Walter Johnson. Over both games, Ty Cobb went 1-for-5 with an RBI.

* A doubleheader was split at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. The Boston Red Sox won the 1st game, 7-3. The St. Louis Browns won the 2nd game, 3-2.

In the National League:

* The New York Giants swept a doubleheader from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Polo Grounds. They won the 1st game, 4-2, and the 2nd game, 8-4.

* The Brooklyn Robins swept a doubleheader from the St. Louis Cardinals at Ebbets Field. The once-and-future Dodgers won the 1st game, 6-5 in 10 innings. They won the 2nd game, 9-5.

* The Boston Braves beat the Chicago Cubs, 1-0 at Fenway Park in Boston, where they were playing until their new Braves Field was ready.

* The Philadelphia Phillies swept a doubleheader from the Cincinnati Reds at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. The Phils won the 1st game, 4-0, as Grover Cleveland Alexander allowed 9 hits, but kept the shutout. They won the 2nd game, 13-1. The Phils went on to win their 1st Pennant that season.

And 1915 was the 2nd and last season of the Federal League:

* The St. Louis Terriers swept a doubleheader from the Brooklyn Tip-Tops, at Handlan's Park in St. Louis. The Terriers won the 1st game, 4-2; and the 2nd game, 3-1.

* A doubleheader was split at Exposition Park in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates played before Forbes Field opened. The Newark Peppers beat the Pittsburgh Rebels in the 1st game, 5-1. The 2nd game was tied 4-4 when it was called due to darkness. 

* The Buffalo Blues beat the Kansas City Packers, 3-2 in 11 innings, at Gordon and Koppel Field in Kansas City.

* And, in respect to the victims of the Eastland disaster, the Chicago Whales postponed their game with the Baltimore Terrapins at Weeghman Park, the ballpark that would become Wrigley Field. A doubleheader was played on July 26. The Whales won the 1st game, 11-3. The Terrapins won the 2nd game, 5-1.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Scores On This Historic Day: July 23, 1967, The Detroit Riot

July 23, 1967: Riots break out in Detroit, over racial injustice. There were 43 deaths, and over 700 injuries. In terms of property damage, and long-term effects, it was the most devastating race riot in American history.

There had, of course, been racial disturbances in the years leading up to this. Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, except that wasn't the civil rights demonstrators doing the rioting, it was the police with their response. In 1964, New York's Harlem, and North Philadelphia. In 1965, the Watts section of Los Angeles. In 1966, the East Side of Cleveland and the West Side of Chicago.

Detroit had previously been stricken by race riots in 1919 and 1943. And it wasn't the only city stricken by race riots in July 1967. The one in Newark, 2 weeks later, had 26 deaths.

And those weren't the only cities stricken that Summer. In June, there were riots in Boston's Roxbury, Tampa's Central Park, Cincinnati's Avondale, Atlanta's Dixie Hills, and Buffalo's East Side. In July, in between Newark and Detroit, North Minneapolis broke out. At the same time as Detroit, possibly "inspired" by it, 60 miles to the south, Toledo, Ohio. After these, the West Side of Milwaukee.

It may have been a "Summer of Love" in San Francisco, but, in so many other places, it was "The Long Hot Summer" and "The Year of Living Dangerously." And it was all because of the lingering effects of what America's white aristocracy had done to black people.

In 1968, the Kerner Commission released a report saying that it had resulted in an America that was "two societies, one white, one black, separate and unequal." The Commission's survey found that, prior to the riot, 30 percent of people living within city limits were black, but 93 percent of Detroit policemen were white, 45 percent of those working in black neighborhoods were "extremely anti-Negro," and another 34 percent were "prejudiced." So that's 79 percent, 4 out of every 5.

Detroit was a proud city. It was the home of the American auto industry, and the home of the United Auto Workers, making it the de facto capital of the American labor movement. It was proud of its sports achievements: The Tigers of Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, and now Al Kaline; the Lions of Dutch Clark and Bobby Layne and Doak Walker; the Red Wings of Larry Aurie and Gordie Howe; and boxers like Stanley Ketchel, Joe Louis and, Sugar Ray Robinson and Buster Mathis.

Its music scene was powerful: Even before Berry Gordy Jr. founded Motown Records in 1959, it was a flashpoint, with white singers like Margaret Whiting and Johnnie Ray, and black singers like Billie Holiday, Big Joe Turner, Dinah Washington, Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Della Reese and B.B. King.

On a Yankee roadtrip to Detroit, Mickey Mantle, who lived in Dallas during the offseason, met with Dallas native Layne, in the process of quarterbacking the Lions to 3 NFL Championships in the 1950s, and he introduced Mantle to the place that had made Ray, Reese and other singers famous, the Flame Show Bar.

The Flame didn't last long, only running from 1949 to 1963. Outside Michigan, it's best known from a mention in former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton's book Ball Four. Bouton wrote of how Mantle told him and some other younger Yankees to "meet me at the Flame Lounge," and when they got there, in this already-decaying, now-black neighborhood, and got in, the black maître d' -- paid off by Mantle, so he was in on the joke -- said, "Mickey Mantle? He don't come in here!" and laughed. 

Within 8 years, by the time of the riot, Gordy had made so many of his performers legends, including The Supremes (with Diana Ross), The Temptations, The Miracles (with Smokey Robinson), Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, Martha & The Vandellas, The Four Tops, and a teenager going by the name of Stevie Wonder.

And the city's club scene, and that of the nearby University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, made it good for non-Motown rock acts: Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels had already debuted, while such acts as Bob Seger, Iggy Pop and The MC5 (Motor City Five) soon would.

But all was not well. The city always had a crime problem. During Prohibition (1920-33), its status as a border city (a bend in the Detroit River, between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, makes it the only place where you can cross from north to south and go from America to Canada) made it a place for bootleggers, to try to get liquor from Canada (including highly-regarded Canadian whiskey) into America. Due to the passage of time, most people only know the Purple Gang from a line in Elvis Presley's song "Jailhouse Rock," but it was real, a Jewish gang that ran bootlegging in Michigan.

The big thing in Detroit crime in early 1967, if you asked the Detroit Police Department, was prostitution in black neighborhoods. They especially didn't like that many black hookers had white customers. If there's one thing a racist hates more than a black person achieving anything, it's that achievement being sex with a white person, especially if it results in a child: "Race-mixing."

On July 1, a prostitute was killed, and rumors spread that the police had shot her. The police said that she was murdered by local pimps. Whatever the truth was, the DPD didn't seem to mind that the locals thought they were guilty. The DPD used "Big 4 Squads," a.k.a. "Tac Squads" (short for "Tactical") each made up of four police officers, to patrol Detroit neighborhoods, and such squads were used to combat soliciting.

Black residents felt police raids of after-hours drinking clubs were racially biased actions. Since the 1920s, such clubs had become important parts of the city's social life for black citizens. Although they started with Prohibition, they continued because of discrimination against black people in service at many Detroit bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues. As with white ethnic bars, and also gay bars, people felt safer when their own people were running their places.

On the overnight of Saturday into Sunday, July 22 to 23, at 3:45 AM, the police raided an unlicensed weekend drinking club at the United Community League for Civic Action, at 9125 12th Street. They found 82 people celebrating the return of a pair of local Vietnam War veterans. Apparently, these black men having served their country wasn't good enough for these white cops, and they arrested all 82 people.

This led the doorman, William Walter Scott Jr. -- according to the memoir of his son, William III -- to throw a bottle at an officer. This may apparently inspired people around the club to start looting an adjacent clothing score. Since it was a Sunday morning, the DPD's request for help from the Wayne County Sheriff's Department, the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Army National Guard took a while to be heard.

The first major fire broke mid-afternoon, in a grocery store at 12th and Atkinson. Soon, word reached downtown. Martha and The Vandellas were performing at a Motown Revue at the Fox Theater. Lead singer Martha Reeves was informed, and she asked people to leave the theater quietly.

A crowd of 34,623 was at Tiger Stadium, watching the Tigers play a doubleheader against the Yankees. Willie Horton, the Tiger's African-American left fielder born in Appalachian Virginia but raised in Detroit, a graduate of the city's Northwestern High School, left after the 2nd game, kept his uniform on in order to be more easily recognizable, drove to the riot area, and got up on top of his car. But he couldn't get people to stop destroying property and looting stores.

Mayor Jerome Cavanagh called a citywide curfew from 9:00 PM to 5:30 AM, prohibiting sales of alcohol and firearms. (Good luck with that.) On Monday the 24th, Cavanaugh, until now a fairly popular Irish Catholic who was planning on running for Governor against the incumbent Republican, George Romney, in 1970, was reluctant to ask Romney for State assistance, but he had no choice.

The partisan nonsense went further up. Romney, who was already planning to run against President Lyndon Johnson the next year (in the end, neither was still in the race in April 1968), called LBJ and asked for federal troops. LBJ told him he legally couldn't do that unless Romney first declared a "state of insurrection." He did, and the troops arrived.

As usually happens in situations like this, the rioters ended up wrecking their own neighborhoods, hurting their own people more than "Whitey" or "The Man." One black merchant said, "You were going to get looted no matter what color you were." John Conyers, then a young black Congressman whose District included the hardest-hit area, got a bullhorn, and said, "We're with you! But, please! This is not the way to do things! Please go back to your homes!" But the crowd responded by throwing rocks and bottles at his car.

The tide didn't turn until Wednesday the 26th, and the rioting didn't stop until Thursday the 27th. Federal troops were finally able to leave on Friday the 28th. It's been said that 10,000 people participated in the riots, 7,200 were arrested (most with no previous criminal record), 1,189 were injured (including 134 firemen who were shot at while trying to put fires out), and 43 were dead: 33 black, 10 white.

Property losses ranged from $40 to 45 million (about $325 to $366 million in today's money), 2,509 businesses reported damaged, 412 buildings were damaged enough that they couldn't be saved and had to be demolished, and 388 families were left homeless. 

Cavanaugh was just 49, and had easily been elected in 1961 and re-elected in 1965. He had actively worked with civil rights leaders, both local and national. Unlike his fellow Irish Catholic, the imperious Major Richard J. Daley of Chicago, who saw Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a public-relations threat, Jerry Cavanaugh had welcomed him to his city. Comparisons were already been made to another Irish Catholic, the late President John F. Kennedy.

Instead, everything fell apart for him. He said, "Today, we stand amidst the ashes of our hopes. We hoped against hope that what we had been doing was enough to prevent a riot. It was not enough." Shortly afterward, in events probably unconnected to the riot, his wife Mary Helen left him, and they were divorced the next year.

Cavanaugh did not run for a 3rd term in 1969. He ran for Governor in 1974, but lost the Primary, and never ran for office again. He died of a heart attack in 1979, only 51 years old. Two of his sons were elected Wayne County Commissioners, another to the State House of Representatives, and another served on the State Court of Appeals.

Councilman Mel Ravitz said the riot "deepened the fears of many whites, and raised the militancy of many blacks. The desire of white people for "law and order" led to the election of Roman Gribbs, Sheriff of Wayne County, as Mayor in 1969.

He created a secret and elite police unite: "Stop The Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets," or STRESS. It actively ignored white criminals, and focused on entrapment in black communities. In their 1st 30 months, this one police department unit killed 20 people, more than any other entire police department in the country. Furious, in 1973, blacks and their white allies shamed Gribbs into not running for re-election, and elected State Senator Coleman Young to be the city's 1st black Mayor.

Young did his best -- as with Newark's 1st black Mayor, Ken Gibson, not always within the law -- and served 20 years, as "white flight" turned some Detroit neighborhoods into "ghost towns" as much as the riot did in the black neighborhood where it happened.

Things went from bad to worse. In 1999, having parents who grew up in Newark, and still living nearby, I visited Detroit for the 1st time. It never looked to me like Newark had come back much from their riot, 2 weeks before Detroit's. But seeing Detroit showed me how much Newark had come back. On a Saturday afternoon, hot but with no rain, downtown Detroit was practically a ghost town. In his memoir, Mayor Young wrote:

Detroit's losses went a hell of a lot deeper than the immediate toll of lives and buildings. The rebellion put Detroit on the fast track to economic desolation, mugging the city and making off with incalculable value in jobs, earnings taxes, corporate taxes, retail dollars, sales taxes, mortgages, interest, property taxes, development dollars, investment dollars, tourism dollars, and plain damn money.

The money was carried out in the pockets of the businesses and the white people who fled as fast as they could. The white exodus from Detroit had been prodigiously steady prior to the riot, totaling twenty-two thousand in 1966, but afterwards it was frantic. In 1967, with less than half the year remaining after the summer explosion—the outward population migration reached sixty-seven thousand. In 1968 the figure hit eighty-thousand, followed by forty-six thousand in 1969.

In the 1950 Census, Detroit's population had peaked at 1,849,568. By 1967, it was about 1.6 million. By 1980, it was 1.2 million. By 1990, a shade over 1 million. In 2000, 950,000. In 2010, 713,000. Today, with the results of the 2020 Census not yet in, it is estimated at 670,000 -- just 36 percent of what it was at its peak, and 56 percent of what it was at the time of the riot.

The Tigers just missed winning the American League Pennant in 1967, and rebounded from that to win the World Series in 1968. It was a tremendous lift for the city, but it was fleeting. Although the various teams had their moments, there wouldn't be another title until 1984, when the Tigers won it again. The Pistons won NBA titles in 1989 and '90, and the Red Wings recovered from a 42-year drought to reach 6 Stanley Cup Finals, winning 4, from 1995 to 2009.

But despite 2 more Pennants since 1984, the Tigers haven't won the World Series since. And the Lions haven't won, or even been in, an NFL Championship Game, under any name, since 1957. The Tigers built Comerica Park at the northern edge of downtown, across from the Fox Theater, in 2000. The Lions built Ford Field next-door to that in 2002. And the Red Wings and Pistons moved into Little Caesars Arena, a 5-minute walk away.

But such facilities only seem to be built for white people coming into the city from the suburbs. The Detroit metropolitan area's population has remained steady: It's the suburbs who take on people (white) while the city loses them. The city still suffers, and makes the fictional Gotham City, home of Batman in DC Comics -- in both desolation and crime, blue- and white-collar -- look like Superman's Metropolis by comparison.

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July 23, 1967 was a Sunday. It was the off-season for the NFL, the NBA and the NHL. In Major League Baseball, all 20 teams were in action, including some playing Sunday doubleheaders, including in the city in question:

* The New York Yankees played a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium. The Yankees won the opener, 4-2. Joe Pepitone hit a home run off Mickey Lolich, in support of Mel Stottlemyre.

The Tigers won the nightcap, 7-3. Bill Robinson hit a home run for the Yankees, but Willie Horton proved more successful that day inside the ballpark than out, hitting a home run off Fritz Peterson, as did Jim Landis. Mickey Mantle went 1-for-3 in the 1st game, and 0-for-3 in the 2nd.

People were worried that the riot might damage Tiger Stadium. It didn't, and it helped that the Tigers then went on a roadtrip.

* The New York Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-1 at Shea Stadium.

* The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-1 at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.

* The Baltimore Orioles beat the Washington Senators, 7-3 at District of Columbia Stadium in Washington. (It was renamed Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in 1969.) The O's scored 4 runs in the top of the 11th inning.

* A doubleheader was split at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. The Houston Astros won the 1st game 8-5, and the Pittsburgh Pirates won the 2nd game, 15-2.

* The Boston Red Sox split a doubleheader with the Cleveland Indians at Clevelane Municipal Stadium. On their way to their "Impossible Dream" Pennant, the BoSox won the 1st game 8-5, and the 2nd game 5-1.

* A doubleheader was split at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The San Francisco Giants won the 1st game 5-2, and the Chicago Cubs won the 2nd game, 6-3.

* The Chicago White Sox swept a doubleheader from the Kansas City Athletics at Kansas City Municipal Stadium. The ChiSox won the opener 8-4, and the nightcap 1-0. Hoyt Wilhelm got the last 4 outs for Gary Peters on a 6-hit shutout.

* The St. Louis Cardinals swept a doubleheader from the Atlanta Braves at Busch Memorial Stadium. The Redbirds won the 1st game 3-1, and the 2nd game 8-3.

* The California Angels beat the Minnesota Twins, 2-1 at Anaheim Stadium. (It's now named Angel Stadium of Anaheim.