This Time In The Natty

The first time he was in Cincinnati, Scooter hit a home run. This was his boyhood team. And he had done the improbable right at home. Ryan Joseph “Scooter” Gennett was the future second baseman of the Milwaukee Brewers for four years. He was by all standards, a fan favorite.

In his tenure, he batted .279 and hit 35 home runs in Milwaukee. On Tuesday, back home again in his home town in another uniform, and he hit one-seventh of that total in one game.

While it all began with Beaneaters in 1894, on Tuesday for only 17th time, Scooter did something for which he will always be remembered. He did something Lou Gehrig did.

#watchingattanasio⚾️

Play Ball!

Advertisements

Can Any Of These Teams Win 63 Games This Season?


What a nightmare of a season for some of these teams this year. Catastrophe hit a number of them while several decided to rebuild, which means drop in attendance and a groan from their fans. In Milwaukee it is called SOT, the ‘Same Old Thing’.

In Minnesota, first Prince and now this? In Atlanta, what’s new? For Cincinnati, this proud franchise can’t seem to get past the Redbirds, Pirates and now the Cubbies. For the Diamondbacks, it should come as no surprise. They only have two players. But for the Astros and the mighty New York Yankees, it is an entirely different story. In Houston, is this the flash-in-the-pan season of truth? In New York, this is simply not acceptable. George must be rolling over in his grave. Spend the money, sons. That’s how you get a winner in the Big Apple! Now you run the risk of Trump not showing up to your games because you’re no a ‘Winna’.

Have these teams season ended in May?

OK. Here is the question after the first near 30 games of the season: Can the Brewers, Braves, Reds, Padres or Diamondbacks win 63 games this season? Can the Astros, Twins or Yankees win 63 games this season? While it seems to be a crazy question considering it contains the New York Yankees, what is universally linking these teams to this question is their pitching or lack thereof.

Take the survey today and we will post the results next Sunday.
Click on: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/725PSJF

Play Ball!

Swede And A Rose

Did The Swede Tell the Truth? Did The Tigers Throw 1917 Pennant? In Pettibone, North Dakota, it was the topic of conversation on a blissful, summer Sunday in 1929 as all was well with nearly everyone in the land. Prices of wheat were at record levels. People had money. And America’s pastime was baseball…everywhere, including Pettibone, it was baseball.

‘See that guy playing shortstop over there?’, Frank asked his young 10-year-old son, Stanley, while attending a Deluge Cuban game in Lignite, North Dakota. ‘Who is he?’, Stan asked. ‘He’s Swede Risberg.’ Stan asked, ‘Who’s Swede Riseberg?’ It was a beautiful, hot summer’s day and for once in his life, Frank was not working the farm. It was Sunday. And today it was all about baseball. Besides, he was there to see his oldest daughter’s (Irene) boy friend play, a big fellow called Harry Fleming. It was said he was the Babe Ruth of these parts. Big hands. Big arms. And he was very fast. Could hit the ball a mile.

While Harry was on deck, Frank told Stan that ‘Swede’ ‘was one of the infamous Chicago Black Sox, banned from major league baseball for life because he took a bribe and threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. I watched him play with the Mesaba Range Black Sox along with two other member of the old powerful Chicago American League team, Happy Felsch and Lefty Williams when I visited Stein (his wife’s brother).’ ‘Was he any good with the White Sox?’, Stan asked. ‘He was OK, but in 1919, he was better but went 2 for 25 in the Series plus he made 8 errors. You just knew something was up.’

‘What did he do?’, Stan asked again. Frank said that Chicago was a heavy favorite in the 1919 World Series but he and a group of White Sox players decided to intentionally lose the series in exchange for parents from a group of gamblers. Swede was the ringleader. He convinced some of this teammates like Shoeless Joe Jackson’ to accept the payments. Rosberg got $15,000 for the fix. He made $3,250 a season, so that was quite a take.’

The Chicago White Sox were split into two factions in 1919. One was the more educated group of players, led by second baseman and team captain Eddie Collins and the other, more rough-and-tumble group led by former boxer and current first baseman, Arnold ‘Chick’ Gandil. Swede belonged to the rough and tumblers. He was the youngest White Sox.This was the group that agreed to throw the 1919 World Series in exchange for payoffs from gamblers.

‘He’s a real snitch’, Frank told Stan. He threatened to kill Shoeless Joe if Jackson blabbed about the fix. Jackson was reputed to have said ’Swede is a hard guy’.

Everyone considered Risberg a bad guy. ’The idiot even sent a telegram before the Series to his friend, St. Louis Browns infielder Joe Gideon, informing Gideon that the Series was fixed and advised him to bet on Cincinnati.’ ‘Really!’, Stan exclaimed. ‘Yep.’ replied Frank. ‘Did he bet on the Reds?’, Stan asked. ‘Don’t know,’ Frank replied, ‘but a year later Gideon informed on Risberg to the White Sox, in hopes to collect a $20,000 reward offered by that tightwad Charles Comiskey for information on the fix.’ Stank asked, ‘Did he get it?’ ’No,’ Frank replied. ‘Gideon didn’t get the reward, but he was later banned from baseball for his prior knowledge. Ya gotta love that Comiskey.’

On December 30, 1926, The Chicago Tribune reported the 1917 Tigers had thrown a four-game series to the White Sox to help Chicago win the pennant. Within the week, Commissioner Judge Landis began a hearing to investigate the charges.

Risberg was called by Landis to testify about a gambling scandal involving Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker. Although he had nothing to add to that case, Swede (with the help of Chick Gandil) suggested that in September 1917, the Detroit Tigers deliberately lost four games to the White Sox, helping Chicago capture the pennant. Two weeks later, Rosberg added, he and Gandil collected $45 each from White Sox players, and forwarded the money to players in Detroit. Landis called many Tiger players to testify. But the former White Sox and Detroit players contradicted Swede’s story claiming that the money was paid out to Detroit players as a reward for winning late-season games against the Boston Red Sox, Chicago’s chief rival for the pennant. This practice of ‘rewarding’ opponents was common during the Deadball Era. But Landis quietly banned it and cleared the Tigers of any wrongdoing. Will Rogers attended Rosberg’s hearing and in his view, ‘It was just that bottled up hate against everything that made Risberg think he hadn’t had a square deal in the game, and he exaggerated the incident.’ Landis dismissed all charges. Landis could not find any witnesses to confirm any part of Swede Risberg’s claim.

Risberg’s first wife, Agnes, at the time of the events stated about Swede’s game-fixing scandal, that Risberg grew fond of saying, ‘Why work when you can fool the public?’.

Did the Swede tell the truth that the Tigers threw the 1917 Pennant?

During the summer of 1922, Risberg joined Cicotte, Williams, Weaver, and Felsch on a traveling team known as the “Ex-Major League Stars.” They scheduled a series of games against teams from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, but lackadaisical play and poor management meant the players left with only a few hundred dollars afterward. Cicotte left the team in mid-June after an argument with Risberg over money. It seems the hard-nosed Swede reportedly responded by punching Cicotte in the mouth.

The New York Times claimed him as the worst player in the game.

Why kick off the Risberg story to kick off 2016?

Betting on baseball is illegal. Every player understands what will happen if they bet on the game. Pete Rose knew. Risberg was banned for life from the game. So was Rose. There should be no Hall of Fame talk for any of these who disgraced the game. After all, Risberg said it all…’Why work when you can fool the public.’

Play Ball!

Did You Know

15209838_115525156640
In his book, ‘Is This a Great Game or What?‘, ESPN analyst Tim Kurkjian wrote, “Baseball is the only major sport in which some of the standard-bearers have been dead for fifty years, and a team that hasn’t played in eighty years, the 1927 Yankees, are still mentioned in casual conversation.”

Recently, at a bar with some friends, the majority of discussion centered around the ‘Did you know…’ friendly betting game. It is a great way to win a beer or two with your friends at a bar, backyard or ball park.

Did you know when the first touring ballplayers went overseas to play exhibition baseball? If you said it was in the winter of 1888-89 you would be correct. That winter a team of baseball’s first All-Stars went around the world promoting the game of baseball and Albert Spalding’s sporting equipment.

Did you know where the All-Stars played? The teams played very competitive games while touring Ceylon (Sri Lanka), New Zealand and Australia as well as Italy, France and England.

Did you know why the 1904 World Series was never played? The 1904 World Series was canceled due to: stubbornness. Yep. John T. Brush, President of the National League champion New York Giants, simply refused to play the returning American League champion Boston Americans, otherwise known as the Red Sox.

Did you know there were triple headers? Although there were common place in the late 1800’s, the practice was a rare one. In the modern era, the Reds and Pirates played in the first (and last) triple header in 1920. The Reds took two of the three games. They are now prohibited due to baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.

Did you know who the first DH was? That would be Ron Blomberg, on April 6, 1973.

Did you know who the first National Leaguers to DH? The first ones to get an at-bat (within minutes of one another) were ‘The Rickey’ Henderson (SD) and Glenallen Hill (SF).

Did you know which National Leaguer hit the first home run? That would be ‘The Rickey’.

Did you know who was the first pitcher to pitch a no-hitter in the modern era? Chick Fraser of the Philadelphia Phillies threw the first no-hitter in the modern era against the Chicago Cubs.

Did you know the score? 10-0.

Did you know how many were in attendance? 1,200 were in attendance.

Did you know, which city has the most dead ballplayers buried? St. Louis has the most dead ballplayers in a single cemetery. An astounding 180 Baseball Players are laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.

Did you know how many of those guys were Hall of Famers? None were in the Hall of Fame.

Did you know where the most ballplayers are buried on the West Coast? The record for number of baseball players buried in on the west coast belongs to Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma California. No fewer than 55 former major leaguers are laid to rest.

Did you know two players who are Hall of Famers buried there? Joe DiMaggio leads the way, along with teammate Frank Crosetti.

OK, now did you know who the first President of the United States was to attend a major league baseball game? That would be President Benjamin Harrison.

Let’s face it, the last part of the season is like that. But thanks to Mr. Kurkjian, you can play this game all year-long.

Play Ball!

Fast Max

Dee Gordon was a joy to watch on Friday as Jimmy Nelson tried in vein to stop him from stealing second base. Not once but twice as he scored both times he was on base. In an interview, he credits Davey Lopes for assisting him in this extraordinary art of grabbing an extra base and forcing the opposing team to shift into another zone while he is on base. You could see him cheat toward second on each pitch attempt which forced Nelson to try to catch him off base time and time again. In one span Nelson threw more pitches to first than to home. When Gordon got to the grass cut approximately six feet off first base, everyone in Dodger Stadium knew that he was about to light out. And boom. He was gone. He had stolen on the pitcher Nelson who probably had never seen anyone like Gordon on first before. Wait until he gets to Cincinnati and meet Billy Hamilton (not to be confused with Billy Hamilton of the Boston Braves who ranks #3 on the all-time stolen base list).

In the annuals of ‘The Show’, there are all kinds of base stealers. Certainly one is ‘The Rickie’ Henderson as he stole everything in sight. But back in the day, there were a couple of other guys who flashed spikes better than most.

The guy who get much of the early century attention is Ty Cobb. He was just mean. Going into a base, he would flash his spikes like a knife wielder at a butchers stand. More than one took the cuts Cobb delivered as he slashed his way into the Hall of Fame.

No one every mentions Max Carey. Ty Cobb was, in the early days of the game, regarded as the greatest base-runner of all time and yet Max Carey (born Maximilian George Carnarios) had a better base-stealing record than Cobb. Carey stole 738 bases in 18 years of major league competition, an average of 41 per game. Cobb stole 892 bases in 24 years in the big leafs, an average of 37 per season.

H.G. Salsinger, in his ‘The Umpire’ column in The Detroit News August 12,1951, noted ‘While attending Concordia College, he adopted the name Max Carey when he played his first professional baseball game in order to retain his amateur status. The name would stick his entire career.’

He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1910 until 1926. He played his final three and a half years with the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers) before retiring in 1929. He managed the Dodgers from 1932 to 1933. He was also the manager of the Milwaukee Chicks and the Fort Wayne Daisies of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. He entered Baseball’sHall of Fame in 1961.

Carey led the NL in base stealing for 10 seasons while Cobb led the American league for only six. Carey set an all-time record in 1922 when he stole 51 bases in 53 attempts. He still leads in the stealing of home plate.

The customers packed the ball parks to watch Cobb run bases but who ever paid money to see Carey run? And who ever mentions Carey’s name when base-stealing is discussed?

Milwaukee Brewer fans haven’t seen too many stolen bases since the days of Molitor. Pauly still holds the Brewer record with 412. Maury Wills less the Dodgers as he stole 490 in his career. Dee Gordon ranks #692 in all time stolen base history in baseball. It’s a long way to Max Carey’s rank on the list. But unlike Carey, people do pay to see him play and steal that base.

Play Ball!

61Xz+Jws3IL._SL1500_

Minnie, A Shadow Player.

68869

Before Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu or Yoenis Cespedes, there was Minnie Minoso. Thirty years ago this week, after 12 years of retirement and after 17 years in the Major Leagues, Minoso was activated by Bill Veeck, then owner of the Chicago White Sox an started as designated hitter, batting ninth, in the first game of a twin bill with the California Angels. In the second inning, with two outs and Chet Lemon on first base, he singled to left off Angels’ starter Sid Monge. At age 53, Minoso had become the second oldest player to notch a hit in a major league game (Jim O’Rourke had a hit at 54 years/21 days) and the second oldest to suit up after Satchel Paige had played at age 59 for Veeck’s Indians in 1965. Minoso would play three games in 1976, getting one hit in eight at bats. He played again in 1980 for the White Sox. In 1993 (at age 71) and 2003 (at age 81), he put on a uniform for the independent Northern League’s St. Paul Saints, becoming baseball’s first octogenarian and only seven-decade player. He was a 7 time All-Star and batted .298 for his career. He won the Golden Glove three times. In his 12 years with the Chicago White Sox, he batted .304.

Minnie Minoso is one of the famous Great Ten of Cuban baseball players. These are the Shadow Players. With one exception, all were terrific players who played in the shadow of having two handicaps, one was the color of their skin and the other was the unfamiliar language when grew up with, spoke and understood.

Certainly Luis Tiant would head the list as he pitched 19 years in the Show, winning 20 or more games four times and was an All-Star three times. He’s not in the Hall.

Tony Perez is the lone Hall of Famer of the Great Ten as he won two World Series as a player for Cincinnati and a 7 time All-Star and MVP in the 1967 game.

Tony Oliva was the 1964 AL Rookie of the Year and played 15 years for the Minnesota Twins becoming an All-Star 8 times. With a 3.04 lifetime batting average, it is seemingly improbable that he is not in the Hall of Fame.

Mike Cuellar won 20 or more game four times and was the 1969 Cy Young Award winner and four-time All-Star. He finished after 15 years in the Major Leagues with a 185-130 record and a 3.14 ERA. He is not in the Hall of Fame.

Dolf Luque, The Pride of Havana, was a legendary pitcher who spend 20 seasons in the Bigs. He had the second most wins of any Cuban pitcher and finished with 194-179 record with a 3.24 ERA from 1914-1935. In 1923, he went 27-8 with a 1.93 ERA for the Cincinnati Reds. He won the 1923 and the 1925 NL pitching title. He is not in the Hall.

Camilo Pascual for 18 season produced a 174-170 record with a 3.63 ERA, particularly with poor teams. He was a 7 time All-Star. Ted Williams said he had the ‘most feared curial in the American League’. In an era when pitchers were real pitchers, he had back-to-back 20 game win season and had 18 complete games in each of the 1962 and 1963 seasons and led the AL in strikeouts 1961 thru 1963. He is not in the Hall.

Bert Campaneris played in the MLB for 19 seasons and at one time in 1965, played all nine positions in a major league age, the first to ever do that. He was an All-Star 6 times and won three World Series titles in 1972, 1973 and 1974 with the fantastic Oakland A’s. The undisputed shortstop of his day, he is not in the Hall of Fame.

Two of the Great Ten were the Tainted Ones.

Rafael Palmeiro ended a 20 year career with Baltimore Orioles in 2005 when he gained his 3,000th hit. He is one of four players to have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs in his career (he hit 569 home runs). A 4-time All-Star, he escaped from Cuba with his family to Miami in 1964. Some say he was a juicer. While he is not in the Hall, others who took cocaine were admitted.

Jose Canseco hit 462 home runs in 17 seasons in the Major Leagues. A 6 time All-Star, e won two World Series with the 1989 Oakland A’s and the 2000 New York Yankees. He was the American League MVP in 1988 and was the first player to ever compile 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a season. He is not in Cooperstown.

But this is about Saturnino Orestes Armas ‘Minnie’ Minoso Arrieta, the fuel behind the ‘Go Go White Sox’ of the ’50s. To anyone growing up in the Midwest at that time, every team had their stars. In Milwaukee it was Eddie and Warren. In St. Louis it was Stan ‘The Man’ and ‘Country’. But in Chicago it was ‘Billy and Minnie’. Minnie was one of the most exciting players in his day and someone who belongs in baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Play Ball!

 

Erector Arm

K stands for Caracas

K stands for Caracas

As a kid, the excitement of building something great with an Erector set was held with anticipation. Occasionally, one would build a crane which would carry products from one point to the next, just like the real things did. Then one morning, you came out to find out your brother had done something to which the dreams of building the perfect city would never come to be. The crane’s arm was hanging from a screw…limp and of no more use.

During the past month, K-Rod has come out of the bullpen, night after night, to save another win for the Brewers. The Cream City Nine has seen this before. A Canadian named Axford did it for some 40+ games before the ever present consistency was a thing of the past and all hope was lost. Now the pessimism of ‘when’ looms constantly as we see yet another tight game come down to the point where ‘K-arm’ is up in the bullpen, warming up hard to pinpoint his control on the outside corners before coming in again. It is not ‘how far can he go’. It is ‘when will it end’?

At 18-6 to begin with one of their better starts in their history, these malt and barley men are an interesting lot. A committee of veterans at first, a kid taking over for a vet at second, a miracle with a broken face at short, a heavy hitting veteran at third. A kid in left who is quietly performing within the excitement of the early season. A ball of energy and unpredictability in center…many consider the heart and soul of the ball club, with Braunschweiger in right with a bad thumb, a thing in his shoulder and the gas of millions of outraged fans in every opponents park yet still hitting and fielding like the best. Behind the plate there is the most underestimated catcher in the game with a backup who is now nicknamed ‘The Destroyer’ and a gaggle of starters who may or may not be reaching their peak all at the same time. Then K-Rod.

Francisco Rodriguez first poked his head into The Show in 2002 with the Angels, who were then proudly from Anaheim, for 5 innings and 13 strikeouts. He didn’t get his first save until the next season but on Saturday, in 14 innings so far this season in 24 games, he has 21 K’s and 11 saves. At this rate he will have 74 saves for the season and the Brewers will win 121 games.

Nope.

His arm will fall off.

But if it doesn’t, with the help of rosary beads everywhere, this is going to be a nail-biting, internal hemorrhaging season of all seasons. But there is one more obstacle ahead. It is called May.

The Milwaukee Brewers in the month of May is like Clark Kent sleeping on a bed of kryptonite. The month begins in Cincinnati then moves home for the perplexing D’Backs and for the first visit in nine years, with the kings of baseball visiting Miller Park. Then on the road with the Cubs, the carpetbaggers and Miami. Then home again with a rare visit from the Orioles and the near weekly confrontation with the Northsiders.

So, the Erector Arm and the Month of May. Hope takes a strange shape this season.

Play Ball!