Happiness Is Links

When the play on the field is less than spectacular, fans throughout baseball can always smile when their mascots cavort. In a season gone wrong, for many it is only habit which keeps fans coming back. It’s hot out. The summer is long. Kids demand it. Moms and Dads everywhere seek the shade of the stadiums as a brief respite from the daily tasks of raising their children.

That’s baseball in many parks in America this June, the last Sunday of June, 2015.

In Philadelphia there is the Phillies Phanatic. The team’s manager resigned this week. What? A manager resigned rather than letting the team axe him so he can walk away with the monies that are owed him? Yet there is always the Phanatic…the one with the wobbly stomach whose antics are some of the best in all of sport. Many, this season, just go to the ball park in the City of Brotherly Love to see what the Phanatic will do on that day. They already have a pretty good guess on what the team will do.

In Milwaukee, they have a bunch of mascots. There is barrelman roaming the stands as the original mascot come to life. Bernie is in his chalet ready to make that slide in case this team is a memory of Harvey’s Wallbangers. And then there are the ‘sausages’…Klement’s Racing Sausages.

Twenty-two years ago, when the team was as bad as they are today and would remain until the ‘Prince’, Ricky, Cory and Ben would save them from obscurity and the misunderstanding of the game by the Family Selig, one of the team’s sponsors, Klement Sausage Co. wanted to put their product on the field as the ‘Racing Sausages’. If you were in the stands on that day in 1993, you witnessed one of the greatest spectacles in sport. Yes. Greater than the skier falling off the ski jump in the ‘Wide World of Sports’ opening on ABC. Yes. Greater than Howard’s call, ‘Down goes Frasier. Down goes Frasier’. The sausages racing in from left field to somewhere past the first base bag, had the crowd betting ‘ons ons’ on the sausages.

By the way, if you don’t bet on Polish this season, you are going against the house. It is named in the honor of Max Surkont who ate himself out of major league baseball during his stint as a Milwaukee Braves ‘sausageing’ himself beyond recognition as he dined on a number of them each and ever night. But I digress.

Back then, in the 90s, the crowd went wild. And well before the day of social media, everyone in the community began talking about it, even in the boardroom of Splinter Pickles where it was discussed whether ‘Pangborn S. Pickle’, the company mascot, should challenge Klements, another south side food manufacturer, to a duel in the sun. But alas, the Splinter board found out it would cost sponsorship monies and that deal was out. Their lawyer, the Grand Russ Pickel said in a statement, ‘No Dill!’.

Up in Little Chute, the executive committee pondered introducing ‘Jack’s Rolling Pizzaman’ and challenge the sausages. After all, they were once a sponsor of the pregame Brewers broadcasts in the 80s. But it was decided that ‘Pizzaman’ would be too difficult to make in motion unless it could be done on a big wheel. In the search for the perfect penny farthing, the search for a rider in a pepperoni pizza suit simply could not be found. Jim, who ran Jack’s and didn’t want it named Jim’s, said: ‘No Dill!’

But in Waukesha, the chessemen at Milwaukee Cheese were not to be outdone. The Swiss owner felt they could have a wheel of cheddar challenge with a cheese race of their own in the Fifth Inning, rather than wait for the Seventh. Always looking for a way to one-up the competition when it came to shelf space in the grocery stores, the cheese czar felt Cheddar could challenge Swiss along with Jack (the cheese not the pizza) and Havarti and bring the crowd to its feet. Preparations were made but alas, Klement’s had a non-compete clause in its contract with the Brewers leading advertising station and the head of that, W.T.M. Steve, said ‘No Mold’ to the cheese king. That was grating.

Thus, and to this day, Klement’s has been putting on a show, so great, that even the Cubbies on the North Side of Chicago have called them in to entertain their crowd from time to time. That of course is considered almost sacrilegious and some of the sausages refused to go down to the Windy land of chewing gum, gaining career applause from the sauced-up crowd in Milwaukee (Secret Stadium Sauce). After all, they are the Cubs. Well done, link. Well done.

And here we are today. When you stand for that stretch and the sausages are announced, call out ‘Polish’ as your ons-ons bet. Chances are pretty good it will win by at least seven links.

Remember, and now for a moment of silence, all of this began with the legendary San Diego Chicken. RIP, Chicken. The kids of San Diego are sad today because they will never see the legend perform in what led to that ‘thing’ in Philadelphia and Milwaukee.

Play Ball!

P.S. The Presidents in DC are not included because their team is a traitor and are leading their division. But Teddy’s OK. The racing big heads in Phoenix are not included because they have arguably cheated because they thought everybody was doing it so why not for the team that is owned by the guy who owns all the baseball cards. As for the Mets, they are not included because they are associated with the Big Apple in Center Field and because of their nearness to ‘The Hair’, one and only, ‘The Donald’. The Twin City dude is not included because his team is only a couple of games out of the lead. We’re talking losers here, folks. Nuff said.

In Memoriam

In Grateful Memory Baseball Award goes to ‘Youppi!’, the mascot of the Montreal Expos, as it was the first mascot to be thrown out of a Major League Baseball game. On August 23, 1989, in the 11th inning, while atop the visitors’ dugout, Youppi! took a running leap, landing hard and noisily on its roof, and then sneaked into a front row seat. L.A. Dodgers manager, Tommy Lasorda, complained to the umpires and Youppi! was ejected. Come on, Tommy. What were you thinking? Youppi! was abandoned as a mascot after the Expos franchise moved to Washington in 2005, but was adopted by the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens team on September 16, 2005, as potentially the first sports mascot to switch their allegiance from one sport to another, while remaining in the same city. Go, You ol Youppi you.

Brewers Keep Future Wide Open For Success


This is a team of immense accomplishment. Few have ever been able to lose 45 games by June 20th. And not to fear, they are not the worst team in baseball as some have suggested.

Happy Fathers Day.

For the season ticket holders who have been waiting for notification for playoff ticket requests, there are still 60 games to be played before anticipation of that joyous date. This is a season to remember. Last season proved that.

For most avid Cream City faithful, this Sunday will be a day filled with anticipation. Will K-Rod be traveling to Toronto to visit in time for an expected Fall run? Aramis could be swinging his bat in a) The nation’s capital; b) Any AL city or c) San Francisco just in time for summer to hit the Bay Area.

Go Go could be in New York well ahead of the Columbus Day celebrations. Lucroy might be in LaLa land to give one of those teams a lift behind the plate. And Ryan would be an excellent outfielder for the land where they remade a gravel pit to host the US Open.

Happy Fathers Day.

It is a joyful time of the year. This season has gads of possible bright days ahead. After all, they will never be rained out at home. Fresh Klement brats will be available in abundance with more than half of a season to be played. Remember they come with Secret Stadium Sauce. And you can always count on great dogs and burgers to go along with a cold bottle of Miller on a hot summer day. They do not run out of beer in the ‘Beer Capitol of the World’. Besides, Summerfeast is upon the fans and the State Fair is always a great attraction. And all look forward to the Lake front festivals in between those great days of a baseball summer. And the zoo is always just a few miles away off Bluemound.

Happy Fathers Day.

And we can always count on that fellow from Los Angeles who owns the team to be ever present in his box next to the dugout applauding the accomplishments of the team while he fields requests for playoff tickets from his very close Hollywood friends. It’s a great season to be a True Blue Crew fan. Just ask any season ticket holder.

And all can count on another season of superb General Management from Mr Melvin who really knows chemistry. He got an ‘A’ in Team Chemistry during his tenure in Arlington.

Happy Fathers Day, Brewer fans. Great days are ahead even if we don’t hack other teams computers. Because we know that’s bad. After all, why use computers when you have that faithful abacus to count to $100 million?

Play Ball!

Go West


http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/06/07/video-vin-scully-talks-d-day/

In 1958, two teams ventured out of the East and settled on the West Coast, the Giants of the National League in San Francisco and the same league’s Dodgers who settled into Los Angeles. Along with the Bums came their announcer, Vince Scully. And from that date, just 14 years after the Invasion of Normandy, baseball and the West settled into a love affair that has lasted for over a half a Century.

Baseball is played out West and of the eight teams West of the Pecos, four of them have .500 or better records this season, with one team a game under .500. But in the Senior Circuit, three are above .500 including the two originals. They play baseball out in the West.

For many, fans have long gone to bed when the West Cost games begin and end. It’s as if they don’t really exist in the East until those teams have to travel to the left coast. And when they get there, throw those team’s records out. This is the land of pitching. If you are in Seattle, the King resides up there and you don’t want to face the King. In San Francisco, it’s the home of Madison and Timmy. Down in LaLa, Clayton and Greinke rule. Further South, just North of North Island, James and then Kimbrel reside. In other words, when you go out West, young man, you better bring your hitting shoes.

On Saturday night, there was a game that proved this point. Both starting pitchers, Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, fired bullets. At one time during the game, Kershaw and Garcia had 0-2 pitch counts on 18 batters, 10 of those by Kershaw. With that kind of pitching, there is a good chance you will not get a good pitch to hit. And in fact, only the right fielder, Grichuk, got a single hit off of Dodger pitching on the evening. Garcia, beginning the bottom of the Seventh inning, had only thrown 77 pitches. But in the next five pitches, he gave up a double down the third base line which eluded the third baseman who moved over from Second base after the original third baseman, Carpenter, was hit earlier in the game and had to leave. Then, Kozma’s replacement at second, Wong, couldn’t handle a hot line drive which drove in the second run (this was after Puig had driven in the first with a double to the gap in right center). A game of inches? Yes. A game of what ifs? Yes. In five pitches the game was over. Garcia only threw 87 pitches in his outing, good enough to win most games, but in three games this year, the Cardinals haven’t scored any runs for him.

Throughout all of this, Vin Scully gave us all a delightful presentation of the game along with a history lesson on why this date is so important to Americans.

As Vin Scully told the story that wrapped in and out of pitches, in the Ninth Inning as the Dodgers were putting away the Cardinals and shutting the out, 2-0, he weaved his magic as he said, “a young man who waded ashore in Normandy on this date 71 years ago who was to become a great American writer…he pops up to the catcher for the second out…who had the first six chapters of his novel stuffed in his back pocket…and another guy who is trying to get noticed in the game…and the young man on that fateful day who was in the 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division on Utah Beach was JD Salinger…a roller down the third base line, foul….and the great American novel was ‘A Catcher In The Rye’. ‘Poor guy’…now 1-2 on Matt Holiday who fouls it off again….who can ever forget Holden Caulfield…fast ball got him looking. Do us all a favor…please tell your children and grandchildren what June 6th is all about. 12 Cardinals strike out tonight and the Dodgers remain in first place, a half a game in front of the San Francisco Giants. Good night, everybody.”

And only those of us on the West Coast could hear this fascinating melding of a sporting event in the time of our lives, on a day with a Triple Crown winner became the 12th ever to accomplish that feat, and on a date with destiny that changed the world forever so many years ago.

For those of you back East, you missed one of the greatest story telling blendings in history by a Master of the Art who ventured West fifty-seven years ago. Good night, Vin.

Can’t wait until Sunday. He is the Gold Standard.

Play Ball!

For daily updates,
go to Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/overtheshouldermlb ⚾️
or to Google+: https://plus.google.com/b/112865186055721417000/112865186055721417000/posts/p/pub ⚾️
or to Twitter: @overtheshoulde3 ⚾️

Concerto in F Flat



In the world of symphonic music, the orchestras of the world are led by a conductor, who is regarded as the task master. He is the one who whips the orchestra members into place by relentlessly practicing over and over again until everyone understands his or her part and intones correctly every single phrase of every single measure. The entire group is led by a concertmaster, usually the number one chair violinist who is the second highest person in the orchestra. Then comes the first chair oboe, who is the one that begins the orchestra by first, carrying a tuning fork and plays a perfect ‘A’ to bring everyone into tune.

Orchestras are measured by their excellence. There is a group which contains the ‘Major’ orchestras. In America, according to various sources including Gramophone, one of the leading music publishers in the world, the Majors are Philadelphia, New York (#12 in the world), Cleveland (#7 in the world), Chicago (#5 in the world and the top in America), Los Angeles (#8 in the world), San Francisco (#13 in the world), Boston (#11 in the world) and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (#18 in the world). Then there are minors, divided like baseball into various levels. While there may be good musicians in Milwaukee, as a group, they cannot hold a candle, or in this refrain, a violin bow, to Chicago.

Baseball is very much like this. The manager is the task master. The coaches are the one who train, over and over again the disciplines of a major league player, in every situation, in every condition. Then there are the star players who set the tone for the team. The General Manager is the one who makes the chemistry work, mixing the whims of this player with the wants of another player, and so forth and so on. The Milwaukee Brewers today are a step away from relegation. They have earned an ‘F’.

Here is a team which is playing with, on Friday, a minor league catcher, a minor league second baseman and a below average coaching staff. The shortstop just got off of the DL. The Center fielder is a step behind what he was last season due to injury. The left fielder is the fourth outfielder on the team. And the manager is new. Since taking over three weeks ago, things are not going so well.

This is not a good team. Nor, with all realism, was it ever a good team even though they led the league last season for the first five months. The swan song they went into in September is legendary and that carried over in Spring Training and in the first two months of this season. The sad losing song is the same.

This team needs new professionals in many positions, most importantly in pitching, in coaching and in the general management of the organization.

They will have to trade away some of their better players to bring in top young talent from the minor leagues. They will have to free up their salary structure to lure free agents pros to come play in their world-class ball park. They need to reach the very top where it is most important, and that means pitching. They need pitchers like Zach Greinke who as a Brewers never lost a game he started in Miller Park. How impressive is that? Considering that Miller is a hitter’s paradise and a home run haven, ZG’s performance was legendary. There are pitchers who will become free agents who can come close to matching that record. Milwaukee needs them.

Now for the hard part. San Francisco needs a third baseman. As difficult as it may seem and this being his last year, Aarmis Ramirez should be dealt to the Giants if for nothing else, to free up some cash. Then there is Gerardo Parra. A gold glove outfielder, he should be dealt while he is hot. A middle relief pitcher could be pulled off. There of course is Ryan Braun. With $100,000,000 due him in the next five years, he is the key to a top ranked pitcher or two top prospect picks. Washington needs a top quality outfielder and they have pitching. He would be perfect for the Yankees who need a star attraction like Ryan for a couple of their top minor league pitchers. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim need an outfield of his caliber. Milwaukee needs a top-level pitcher. Texas, Seattle, Detroit, and Cleveland could use a player of Braun’s caliber. Milwaukee needs a top-level pitcher. Even the dreaded St. Louis Cardinals will need an outfielder. Milwaukee needs a top-level starting pitcher or a couple of their top prospects. The rest including Khris Davis, Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse and Martin Maldonado could all bring Cream City something of value. Davis simply was a bad replacement for Aoki. Garza was washed up. Lohse just seems extremely uncomfortable on the mound. No pace. No rhythm. No confidence.

What they should not do is mess with the middle. No trades for Lucroy, Segura or Carlos Gomez.

All of this hinges on a new general manager with vision for the future. That is why it is important that the first step that should be taken is to bring in an architect to put a new team together who understands the game as it is today. Pitching is paramount. Starting pitching is a necessity. And a coaching staff that are proven winners is a must. At present, including the new manager, there are only three other coaches who have won a League Championship or a World Series (Coles won a WS with Toronto in ’93; Tunnell won a NL title with St. Louis in ’87; and Shelby won two WS with Baltimore ’83 & Dodgers ’88.). And it is important to understand this: the current general manager has never won a League or World Series title.

The new General Manager has to be able to see into the future and blend all of his or her skills in bringing a winner to Cream City.

And that is the job of the owner. He not only has to have vision but has to be knowledgeable enough to find that perfect baseball person to take up the challenge Milwaukee presents.

The music they are playing in Milwaukee is off-key. Fans at Miller never boo. But on Saturday the dissidents drew the nation’s ear with the sound of displeasure. Some of the players are below average. Some of the coaches are below average. The new manager has been a winner in the game. Now, let’s surround him with other winners and make music together.

Tap the violin bow on the music stand and allow the oboist to play an ‘A’. We are #watchingattanasio. So far, all we have here is a Concerto in F Flat. Now is time to get in tune and make some music on the field of play.

Play Ball!

Community

Baseball is not just a sport. It is an integral part of what America is built upon. It is a gathering…an event. It is a pastime. Most important, it is a community.

Years ago, sitting with my Grandparents where, in their usual seats at a Braves game in old Milwaukee County Stadium, a phenomena of life was created as it became a safe zone. The people who sat around them had faces that were well-known to me. In front of Grandma, was Mrs Pauling; in front of my Grandfather was Tom, Mrs. Pauling’s husband. Next to my Grandfather were George and Betty Thompson. Behind them was Billy Franzen, who owned a big Chevy dealership on the South side and studying for his PhD in women. Next to him was Billy J., who owned the 1500 Club on Lincoln. Don and Mary Jane sat behind George and Betty. Kaye and Big Bill sat behind us. Good thing because Big Bill a former Marquette basketball player would have blocked our view. ‘Smokin Stein’ Kaczmarski and one of his family members sat behind my Grandparents. Tony and Dorothy Shiro usually sat where I was sitting, but on this day as they were kind enough to give Grandma the tickets for when we visited, it was our hallowed ground, for my brother and me.

Sitting on the end of the row, my favorite seat in the whole wide world, also meant that one was, among other things, the passer of food and drink to the rest of your row. And you got to know each and every vendor who supplied them. There was Bob the Beer Guy (only Miller sold in this ballpark, thank you very much), Lefty the hot dog vender who would toss dogs like footballs with perfect spirals with mustard packs following on the same flight behind it until you said ‘no more’. And of course, Snooky, the beleaguered Cubs fan who was forced to wear a Braves cap while peddling Coke. And they got to know who you were, as they were the invaluable key to our safe zone, making sure you were alright and making sure you knew where you were at all times in the Stadium. This was the community of Section 16.

Baseball is best as a community event. Season ticket holders have made this happen for years and many more years at a stadium near you, made up the core of the cloistered village. This community was built upon hard-working people from all walks of life, workers who built their lives from the ground up and who went to the games to leave every problem in life behind them. This was a mental-free zone where you could concentrate on only one thing…the thrill of being at the ball park with all of its sights and smells that will free you forever. That, along with your new-found friends who lived in this community gave solace to this little piece of sanity. There was the smell of the hops and mustard, Secret Stadium Sauce and the bratwurst, hamburgers and dogs on the grill. The popcorn popping, the smell upon the opening of the fresh salty flavor in the cracking of another bag of peanuts. There are probably more peanuts eaten at a ballgame than at any other single time or event in your life, unless you worked for Planters. And of course, there was the unforgettable overwhelming aroma of that stinky cigar that ‘Smoking Stein’ smoked which was ever-present when the wind blew from South to North. Never buy a LaPalina no matter how much you like CBS. I am convinced that this is another solid reason why he single-handedly is responsible for the boost in sales of Advair in Milwaukee today. All of this rolled into one identified where you were… smack in the middle within the community of the game.

There were the arguments, of course. Was that ump really blind? Was Mathews better than Mantle? Simple stats flew through the air like paper in the wind. No WARP here. We dealt in real stuff…runs, hits, wins, loses, home runs, BA’s, RBIs (not RBI. We were not politically correct at that time.), double, triples, strike outs and balls. No OPS or OPS+ or IBBs, RAR, oWAR, dWAR, oRAR nor XYZs. No Rtot or Rdrs’ either. While stats are the conjunctions of the game, the pitching and hitting are the train within this community. While hitting is for show, pitching was for all the dough. And Milwaukee had the pitching.

The announcers were like big brothers or the best uncles in our lives. They were the stars the stars looked up to. Earle and Blaine led the other important box car in our community’s train, Miller High Life & Clark took us out to the park. Later Kent got in there too. And who could forget, looking up at the press box and seeing the likes of Harry, Bob, Mel, Jack or Vinny. These were our unmet friends…our buddies that brought us those ‘inside’ bits of information which we could recite the next day to our friends in an attempt to impress them with our knowledge of the game. You relished these tiny morsels of inside info. It was the foundation, along with the info on the back of the Topps, in how you would be graded on the ladder of baseball standing in your life.

While all of these reflect yesterday, today there are few who can weave the magic lexer any better than Mr. Sculley. The other day, during one of the epic Dodger/Giants games (now put on your earphones. Beats or ear buds and really listen in the voice of Vin), he said: ’Now coming to the plate, is Nori Aoki…the pest. And the reason why he is a pest is that he is always challenging the pitcher and the opposing team. Did you know, that when he comes up for the first time facing the starting pitcher of the other team, he is batting .257. But when he comes up for the second time against the same pitcher, he is hitting about 100 points higher. And if he faces that starting pitcher for the third time in the game, he is hitting over .400.’ Ye Gads! With information like that I could have had a career writing the backs of the Topps cards.

These types of words were the essence of conversation the community passed along to one another throughout the game. For most in the community, the baseball game on the radio was the constant in their lives. It was way more than white noise. When Earle said that it was time for the 7th Inning stretch, just after he caught another foul ball in his fishing net, Billy would get up and turn around to face the entire stands in his tee-shirt with the big ‘bow tie’ logo on the front. It simply would not be a game unless Billy did that. You actually knew these folks so well. For instance, my brother Mike still remembers our Grandmother asking where the Paulings were during a game, and Betty, three seats away, amazingly answered, ‘Tom and Lona are at their grand daughter, Mary Ann’s, baptism.’ And the game went on. Now the community was officially informed by the town crier. And for the rest of the game, mumblings about what Mary Ann looked like filtered in and out while the box score was being kept. In the margin of that program against the Dodgers, there was a notation…not of the official attendance but of the simple note: ‘MaryAnn’. There was always talk about Billy F. and his latest girl friend from Rosary or was it St. Mary’s College? The question centered around when he would bring her to the game so we could all give him a standing ovation for his courage in asking her out without crashing down the light poll on South 20th Street. This was the community. When my Grandfather missed a game because of his induction into the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus, the next game both Betty and Lona had brought cookies and a cake for my Grandmother to take home for those evenings when my Grandfather would be at Knights meetings when the Braves were out-of-town.

Baseball is, yes, a game. But in America it is so much more than that. This community, this family, cares and shares and lives on well past the sale date. In fact, when you go back to the ball park today, to see those same seats in the new stadium where ever you are, you look for those folks, who have all passed along with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daffy, Lawrence and Mae and Dizzy and Warren. But if you look real hard, there is Billy standing up during the 7th inning stretch, turning around to the crowd, puffing out his chest and wearing a tee-shirt with a ‘bow tie’ logo on the front. Yes. Next to him is that girl from Rosary or was it St. Mary’s? ‘And if you’re not here it’s a shame…’

And the answer to the first question is ‘Yes’.

Play Ball!
images

Fate of the Seams

79 have done it in baseball history. 50 of those were in the Senior Circuit. While the game has been played for well over a Century, no Ranger ever did it, including the time as the Senators. No Twin has ever done it, including the time as the Senators. Needless to say, no Senator ever did it. Sandy Koufax is the only pitcher in history to do it three times for the Dodgers. Nolan Ryan, was only one of three pitchers to ever do it twice. And of course as a member of the Hall of Fame, he did it once in each league, the only player to accomplish that feat. Dodgers did it six times. The Yankees did it five times. The Brewers and Athletics are the only teams to have done it four times.

This past Thursday, Milwaukee Brewer, Mike Fiers did it…he struck out all three Dodger batters he faced, Enrique Hernandez, Carlos Frias and Joc Pederson, perhaps the hottest hitter in the league, in the top of the 4th inning. Nine pitches. Three strike outs. 9 pitches, 9 strikes and 3 outs. It is called the ‘Immaculate Inning’.

This obscure stat began on June 4, 1889 when John Clarkson of the Beaneaters struck out Jim Fogarty who led the league in stolen bases (99), Big Sam Thompson, the right fielder who led the league in home runs that season with 20, and the big first baseman, Sid Farrar, of the Philadelphia Quakers in the top of the 3rd in Boston.

The famous names that have done it are impressive. Rube Waddell of the Athletics did it in 1902, Lefty Grove was the other pitcher who did it twice in 1928 for the Athletics. Billy Hoeft of the Tigers did it in 1953. Jim Bunning of the Tigers did it in 1959. Al Downing of the Yankees did it in 1967. Ron Guidry of the Yankees did it in 1972. Roger Clemens of the Blue Jays did it in 1997, Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox did it in 2002. Felix Hernandez of the Mariners did it in 2008. Dazzy Vance of the Dodgers did it in 1924; Robin Roberts of the Phillies did it in 1956; Sandy Koufax did it three times for the Dodgers in 1962, 1963. Tony Cloninger did it for the Milwaukee Braves in 1963. Bob Gibson did it in 1968. Milt Pappas did it for the Cubs in 1971. Bruce Sutter of the Cubs did it in 1977. David Cone accomplished the task in 1991. Orel Hershiser did it as a Giant in 1998. Randy Johnson did it twice, once in 1998 as an Astro and the other in 2001 as a Diamondback. Ben Sheets accomplished the task for the Brewers in 2004.

So where does Fiers accomplishment rank, a portend of the future as a great pitcher or along with the likes of Pat Ragan, Joe Oeschger, Bob Bruce, Pedro Borbon, Lynn McGlothen, Joey McLaughlin, Jeff Robinson, Rob Dibble, Sloppy Thurston, Danny Jackson, Jeff Montgomery, Stan Belinda, Doug Jones and the like.

Only 79 did it. As beautiful as it was, it is a ‘Fate of the Seams’.

Play Ball!

Calling Dr. McDreamy

Since the greatest warrior of Homer’s Iliad, slayed the Trojan hero Hector outside the gates of Troyhe, how he was killed near the end of the Trojan War by Paris, still sends shivers through the heart of any athlete. We know Achilles was shot by him in the heel with an arrow. But now, one of the warriors of baseball faces a long rehab as he fights through the stunning pain of the imaginary arrow into his Achilles’ heel. Mathew Melton wrote, ‘From radios to broadband, streetcars to subways, and megaphones to smartphones, there was baseball. With that sublime inspiration, there also comes a callous reality to the game. How else can you describe a sport where the very best hitters fail seven out of every ten times they enter the batter’s box? Or where the very best teams leave the park losers at least sixty times during the season? However, the game (and life) are not always kind to its members.’

Around the major leagues, they are dropping like flies. And the season has just begun. Now that Dr McDreamy is no longer working on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, perhaps he can help out in The Show as this has turned into a Season of DL.

In just one week, from March 20-26, 2015 this is the designated list:
Chicago White Sox placed RHP Matt Albers on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, 2015. broken little finger on right hand
Chicago White Sox activated RHP Jake Petricka from the 15-day disabled list.
Chicago White Sox placed RHP Javy Guerra on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 13, 2015. Right shoulder inflammation.
St. Louis Cardinals placed RHP Adam Wainwright on the 15-day disabled list. Left achilles and left ankle injury.
Toronto Blue Jays activated RF Michael Saunders from the 15-day disabled list.
Toronto Blue Jays placed C Dioner Navarro on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 22, 2015. Strained left hamstring.
Oakland Athletics placed 2B Ben Zobrist on the 15-day disabled list. Medial meniscus tear in his left knew.
San Diego Padres activated RHP Ian Kennedy from the 15-day disabled list.
Boston Red Sox placed RF Shane Victorino on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 23, 2015. Right hamstring strain
Tampa Bay Rays activated 1B James Loney from the 15-day disabled list.
Tampa Bay Ray activated LHP Drew Smyly from the 15-day disabled list.
Tampa Bay Ray placed LHP C.J. Riefenhauser on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 19, 2015. Left shoulder inflammation.
Tampa Bay Ray placed 2B Ryan Brett on the 15-day disabled list. Left shoulder subluxation.
Tampa Bay Ray transferred LHP Jeff Beliveau from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Left shoulder soreness.
Miami Marlines placed LF Christian Yelich on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, 2015. Lower back strain.
Baltimore Orioles placed 2B Ryan Flaherty on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 23, 2015. Right groin strain.
San Diego Padres placed RHP Shawn Kelley on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 23, 2015. Left calf strain.
Seattle Mariners placed RHP Hisashi Iwakuma on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 21, 2014. Right Lat Strain.
Houston Astros activated RHP Josh Fields from the 15-day disabled list.
Los Angeles Angels transferred RHP Josh Fields from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Left core muscle injury.
Philadelphia Phillies placed RHP Sean O’Sullivan on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 18, 2015. Tendinitis in his left knee.
Washington Nationals placed LHP Felipe Rivero on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 18, 2015. GI bleed.
Colorado Rockies placed RHP LaTroy Hawkins on the 15-day disabled list. Right Bicep Tendinits.
Colorado Rockies activated LHP Jorge De La Rosa from the 15-day disabled list.
New York Mets placed C Travis d’Arnaud on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, 2015. Fracture of his right little finger.
New York Mets placed LHP Jerry Blevins on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, 2015. Distal radius fracture of his left arm.
New York Mets transferred RHP Zack Wheeler from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Recovering from March 2015 Tommy John surgery.
Milwaukee Brewers placed C Jonathan Lucroy on the 15-day disabled list. Broken left big toe.
Milwaukee Brewers placed 2B Scooter Gennett on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20, 2015. Left hand laceration.
Chicago Cubs transferred 3B Mike Olt from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Hairline fracture in his right wrist.
Arizona Diamondbacks placed 3B Jake Lamb on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 19, 2015. Left foot stress reaction.
Arizona Diamondbacks transferred C Gerald Laird from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list.

Thirty-two DL actions in seven days. And did you notice how many were pitchers? Eighteen were hurlers. Of these, probably the most devastating was the loss of ace right hander, Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals. His injury was really quirky. (See above) Wainwright suffered his injury in the fifth inning of last Saturday night’s game against the Brewers as he was running out a pop-up. Wainwright, who has pitched four scoreless innings, was running to first when he came up lame after hurting his left ankle. The 33-year-old (34 in August) missed the entire 2011 season thanks to Tommy John surgery. Through four starts this season, the three-time All-Star has posted a 1.44 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9. For his career, Wainwright has pitched to a 2.98 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.

What does all of this mean? If you read articles, blogs and listen to the pendants, here are some of the topics they have made for discussion on the subject:

Goofy scheduling.
Lack of team training year round. Individual training rather than team training.
Short term attitude
Over paid.

But what is probably more logical is what Ben Charington, GM of the Boston Red Sox said two and one-half years ago on the subject. “I think players put their bodies in positions that they never did before in the name of performance. Pitchers manipulate the ball like never before: cutter, sinker, split, multiple types of fastballs. This all requires different finger pressure, different hand position at release. When this happens, it could very well change the torque on the elbow and shoulder. Pitchers have had to do this because hitters are so much better. They’d get killed if they weren’t manipulating the baseball. But it could come with a downside — more stress on the joints.”

No matter the reason why, injuries cost team owners tens of millions of dollars and change the pennant race landscape. For some, it ends their season before it can bloom.

As Melton wrote, ‘For a select few in the game’s history, their greatness was never fully realized.’ Players like Eric Davis, Rick Ankiel, Juan Encarnacion, J.R. Richard, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Nomar Garciaparra, Bo Jackson and Mark Fidrych had career ending injuries’. Others, who had fantastic careers, struggled through injury to finish their baseball life, players like ‘Junior’, ‘Sandy’ and ‘Mickey’. But they are the exceptions.

What will this year’s host of injuries tell us about the future?

All we can do is…

Play Ball!