It Was Night

51KjwvujlRL

It had never been done before. The All-Star game would be played at night.

Thanks to a three-run home run by Red Sox second baseman Bobby Doerr, the American League defeats the National League in the first night All Star game in 1943, 5-3. In a game broadcast to GIs via shortwave radio around the world, Pirates’ outfielder Vince DiMaggio stood out for the Senior Circuit, hitting a single, triple and home run. This, the 11th All-Star game, was held in Shibe Park in Philadelphia, baseball’s first steel and concrete stadium. Connie Mack, who owned the Philadelphia A’s and Shibe Park, tried to install lights in 1938 and overcame neighborhood objections to have the first night game played at Shibe Park just four years earlier than the All-Star game, on May 16, 1939.

Prior to this All-Star game, the first to be held at night, American League manager Joe McCarthy was publicly accused of being flagrantly partial to his own Yankees when it came to selecting his starters. In a bold and controversial reply, he played the entire game without calling on any of the five Yankees on his bench. Due to the war effort, many of the previous standout players such as Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Johnny Mize, Pete Reiser, Warren Spahn, Bob Feller and others were absent.

In the first inning, the National League took the lead on a run batted in by Stan Musial, who was making his first of twenty-four straight All-Star appearances. The senior circuit did not hold their lead for long as the American League began its comeback against Mort Cooper. With the junior circuit now up 5-1, Vince DiMaggio stepped up for the National League. He had singled as a pinch-hitter in the fourth and stayed in the game. Next, he tripled off of Tex Hughson in the seventh and scored on a fly ball. In the ninth, he hit a long home run off Hughson. Still, Hughson managed to wrap up yet another American League win for their eighth All-Star victory, 5-3.

So as you settle into your viewing room seats this Tuesday, think back to the night of the first All-Star game. Now it’s time to…

Play Ball!

2964

For a look at some silent, black & white film footage of the game, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rTpEhLIa58. The film shows crowd shots. Billy Southworth, Manager of NL team and Joe McCarthy, Manager of AL team. Ford Frick, President of NL, Commissioner Landis and AL President Will Harridge. Crowd. In the first inning for NL Hack singles, Herman singles sending Hack to third, Musial hits long sacrifice fly scoring Hack (all against Dutch Leonard) Crowd. Mort Cooper pitching in second inning for NL, Chet Laabs walks, Bobby Doerr comes up and hits three run homer scoring Laabs and Jake Early who also had gotten on via a base on balls.

BANG THE DRUM

What is the deciding issue that separates a Manager from his weekly pay check? Hitting? Pitching? Decision-making? Hiring the wrong coaches? This is an interesting question when you consider the following. But you have to forget the illusion that has appeared in Philadelphia during the past 48 hours.

Your team has a starting line up with the leadoff hitter batting .298; the second hitter batting .352; the third hitter batting .300; the clean up hitter batting .300 and will get his 2000th hit later this month along with his 350th home run next month; the fifth hitter batting .321 with the balance of the line up hitting slightly above or below the team’s best hitting pitcher who carries a .222 batting average. Your first baseman is at .226; the catcher was hitting .227 (before he hit Philadelphia) and the second baseman carries a .182 batting average. Opposition teams know that your team can only hit while the first five hitters in your line up are at bat. Consider this: they hadn’t held the lead in 61 innings before Friday’s 3rd inning.

Bang the drum a little louder.

Your team has a pitching staff that has…a problem. Your #1 pitcher has a 4 – 5 record with an ERA of 5.05. Your #2 pitcher has a 1 – 6 record and has a 4.37 ERA. Your #3 pitcher has a 4 – 6 record with a 5.94 ERA. Your #4 pitcher has a 4 – 3 record with a 4.96 ERA. Your leading closer a couple of years ago has a 1 – 3 record with a 5.70 ERA. Do you know that fans turn to another channel when he is brought in? The closer you count on has a 2 – 1 record and a 0.92 ERA with 9 saves. But he is hurt.

Bang the drum a little louder so the whole world can hear.

Your team also does not have their regular first baseman that is on the DL, again, until sometime this summer.

You have made some unusual moves or non-moves as you continue to play a veteran second baseman who has clearly not performed up to his or anyone’s level both at the plate nor in the field, for the better part of two plus seasons.

Your catcher, before Friday, has not performed up to an acceptable level since his wife dropped a suitcase on his hand in their hotel room, last year, in Los Angeles.

You can’t make these things up.

Bang the drum.

You hired a new hitting coach who has obviously performed fairly well considering they are 20th in hitting with a .258 batting average. After all, your team has a third of the major leagues that are performing worse. The real problem is they don’t hit when it counts. Your team has only produced 216 runs. That means they don’t win a lot of games. In the last 48 hours, this team accomplished back-to-back wins for the first time since April. Wow!

You have a pitching coach who has not performed while his chargers are second to last in the league (they rank 28th out of 30 in all of the major leagues with a 4.56 ERA). But this should not surprise anyone considering his past record. Prior to his current team, his pitching staffs finished in the bottom four of the entire Major League in ERA.

Your team’s fielding ranks #26 with a fielding percentage of .981 with 38 errors.

There have been very few teams to be able to hit their way into a championship, especially if your team only has five hitters. In baseball, it’s all about pitching…fielding…running…then hitting. Hitting is for show. Pitching is for all the dough.

You have a third base coach who does not know how to stop an aging, injured runner rounding third and finding it impossible to score on a double. This same coach can’t keep a young runner from being picked off both 2nd and 3rd in the past couple of weeks.

When you consider that you learn how to run the bases in grade school, this team’s performance day in and day out is laughable. Watch one of their games and the odds are that one of their base runners will make a blunder. Who’s coaching these guys? These are fundamentals of the game.

Bang the drum a little louder.

Your record as a manager is 200-178, with a record this season of 21-33 (.389), 15 1/2 games behind St. Louis and last in the Central Division of the National League thru Sunday morning; a 6 wins and 22 loses in May, tied for the worst record in franchise history. And that was when they were in Seattle as a first year team (they had in improbable 6-22 record in August, 1969). Sibbi Sisti was a coach on that team. Bang The Damn Drum!

Nelly Furtado, a Grammy Award winner, whose song, ‘Bang The Drum’ repeats a phrase throughout the lyrics:

Bang the drum a little louder

So the whole world can hear

The whole world can hear”

It’s time we bang the drum a little louder so the whole world can hear, even in Los Angeles where the owner is drinking his Miller beer.

Play Ball!

It Was A Season To Forget For 29 Others

The San Francisco Giants are champions of baseball, once again. Their sold out season at home was a testament to their power in the West and throughout all of the game. The center of attention come spring will be Scottsdale. That is where they will begin to defend their title this past season and second in the past three years. For other teams it was a season to forget.

In Miami, what should have been a season to remember, became a nightmare quicker than you can say Fidel Castro. Of course when Ozzie said those two words, the beginning of the end began. Ozzie is no longer the manager of the Miami Marlins. He’s out of the fish tank. Now he can spout off about the aged dictator in Cuba all he wants with his profanity laced vocabulary. Así que lo siento. Me encanta el béisbol.

In Boston there was a tea party like only Beantown can deliver. They had fired the most successful manager in their history, who won not one but two World Series supposedly because he had lost control of his team. Guys were actually drinking beer in the clubhouse. Imagine that. Baseball players drinking beer in the clubhouse. After that horrible discovery was blabbed throughout New England on every fish wrap and sports talk mediums, there was a long debate between the candidates they would select as the next great Red Sox manager. Suffice to say the guy they should have taken grabbed the job with the Cubs before the Red Sox decided on Bobby Valentine. Yikes!

In Philadelphia and Milwaukee, great pre-season pitching staffs do not materialize to automatically put them into the playoffs. In Minneapolis, they found out that you can’t have a team built around one high-priced catcher. On the North side of Chicago, Dale Sveum is facing, like others who have taken over that franchise before him, another losing season which must be followed with a winning season or Sveum will have swum. On the South side of Chicago, they let a season of great leadership by one of their own disintegrate in September. St. Louis, Atlanta and Cincinnati had hopes crushed by the tidal wave known as the Giants. Arizona’s owner showed how he knows more about baseball than anybody because he has all the baseball cards Topps has ever printed. That makes him an authority. Unfortunately, Gibson can’t manage cardboard players. Houston was seen rushing over to the American League. They forgot to play ball in 2012.

Seattle had a season to remember. They gave up the greatest player in the game to the Yankees but had more great pitching performances at their stadium than anywhere on the planet ever. They are smiling in Seattle. Same with the fans in Washington, DC, where they were rewarded with a team that brought the city their first divisional championship. Quite an accomplishment for a City that had not seen a title winner since 1933.

Pittsburgh did it again. After a hot start, they faded badly. What do you expect from a team  that is managed by Clint Hurdle. Cleveland was never in the papers the entire season. Nor were the Padres. The New York Mets were non-factors this past season. Colorado disappeared in their own thin air plus their manager left after the season. Kansas City’s only claim to fame this season was hosting the All-Star game. The two ‘T-Towns’, Toronto and Tampa Bay had flashes of brilliance but not enough to put them in the big dance. On top of that, the Blue Jays lost their manager who became the head dude of the Boston Valentines.

Then there were the New York Yankees. The rapid loss of skills of A-Rod and the physical loss of The Captain, doomed the pinstripers this past season. In Dallas, the almost unexplainable coldness of Hamilton’s bat late in the season doomed the Rangers third attempt to win it all in three straight seasons. This franchise still hasn’t realized it needs pitching to win. Did you hear that Nolan Ryan? Remember what you did better than most? It wasn’t hitting. And what can you say about Detroit that hasn’t already been said?

That brings us to Baltimore. What a magical season Buck Showalter brought to baseball. 93 wins. Finally, Buck got his due. After rebuilding the Yankees and then getting fired; after building the Diamondback from scratch and setting all of the pieces together to win the World Series and got fired; after rebuilding the Rangers before he got fired; he took over a team that had won only 66 games the year before he got there and in two short years took them to the door of greatness.

Then there is Oakland and Billyball. The Athletics won the American League West title. And they played for the Championship of the American League. Go ahead. Name three players on the A’s besides Coco Crisp. They won an exciting 94 games. This was one of the most amazing stories in baseball. Billy Bean for President. He is the star of this franchise. Nobody understands the game better…on how to get the most out of talent like Mr. Bean.

On the other side of the equation is the Battle for LA. On one hand there is a billionaire who  bought a pig in a poke and thought he could win the American League pennant and finished third. On the other hand there are billionaires who not only  have to improve a team on the field but a stadium they play in and make it once again safe to go and see games. The Pujols Angels were only exciting because of one rookie. Their manager finally showed what he is made of. Arte has to take a look at his manager if he hopes to capture a title soon. As for the former LaLa Dodgers, they have gotten rid of all that has been bad over the past couple of years by taking out of the game the battling McCourts.

Which leads us to the Giants of San Francisco. Jack Elliot once said “Baseball is grown men getting paid to play a game.” In the City by the Bay, men enjoyed playing baseball this season like few before them. The had food fights before the games. One of their biggest boosters was an injured pitcher who played Ernie Kovacs routine of The Nairobi Trio in the dugout during the game. There were more than smiles. There was laughter and joy of being in a game they love to play. Pandemonium ruled. They put new gas into the gashouse gang. Think of them as the laughing gasers. They have all winter to smile the smile of victory.

Play Ball!

From The Navy Yard To Pigsville And Beyond

In case you are living under a rock, baseball fever is at an all-time high due to the expanded playoff spots now up for grabs. It is pandemonium in the parks. All you have to do is watch the Fightin’s and the BrewCrew to see what’s happening. Both teams, picked to finish near or at the top of their divisions before the season began, struggled to find their bearings throughout the summer. But now when the window is closing fast, both Philadelphia and Milwaukee are putting together winning streaks that are defying the odds.

As of this morning, both teams are closing in. The Phillies are only one game behind in the loss column and the Brewers two games behind because the Dodgers pulled off another great 9th inning rally to beat St. Louis and tie the Cardinals for the wild card spot. That leads us all to the next question: if you tie for the Wild Card at the end of the season, do you have a one game playoff? And, where would that game be played? How is it determined? Let’s not forget the D’Backs. There are only 4 games out in the loss column.

Wild Card fever is not only limited to the National League. In the American League, there is an insane rush  for the playoffs going on as well. The Amazing A’s not only are in the driver’s seat for the Wild Card spot, they are only 2 1/2 games behind the mighty Texas Rangers for the top spot in the AL West. Baltimore, behind their Manager of the Year candidate, Buck Showalter, are three games ahead of the payroll laden Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the unbelievable Tampa Bay Rays and the powerful Detroit Tigers. For everyone who wants a final half month of the season to be up for grabs, you’ve got it this year.

The Angels are another interesting story in all of this. With a payroll that is bigger than most, along with an amazing AL Rookie of the Year candidate in Mike Trout, they continue to stumble when they need it the most. The latest Scioscia Slip occurred last night in Kansas City where former Royal’s Cy Young Award winner, Zach Greinke, the former Brewer earlier in the season, took the mound and was Greinkesque. He masterfully shut out his former team for 8 innings. Then Scioscia, as only he can do, decided to let him go  back out to the mound for he 9th. With the pitch count running into the low 100s, Greinke had not finished  a complete game in years. But if Big Mike wills it, it will happen.

Or not.

Greinke got the first two out before he gave up a single into left. Now Mike the Merciless jumped out of the dugout and immediately called for a reliever who promptly gave up a game tying home run and then the winning home run, back-to-back. If you could have seen Greinke’s face in the dugout when Billy Butler slammed the game tying home run, you would have been whisked back to an earlier few days in the season when he had the same experiences while a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. Deja Vu all over again.

How quickly we come full circle back to Pigsville’s favorite ball park. Last night the Crew unloaded against the Mets only to see Scoscia’s disciple, Ron Roenicke bring in Axford in the ninth inning with a big lead. Axford promptly made the game interesting as he gave up his usual runs in the 9th. But unlike what happened in KC or in Dodger Stadium, the game at Miller Park ended with no more runs scoring.

We’re in for a great final few weeks in September. As Jim Murray said, “The charm of baseball is that as  dull as it may be on the field, it is endlessly fascinating as a rehash.”

Play Ball!

#23 Maybe #1

For many of us who grew up in the land of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan or Ohio, the cool breeze of fall leads to one destination: Pasadena. The ‘Granddy of Them All’ is the goal for every kid who steps on the gridiron in the breadbasket. It’s the time the kids from the Midwest get to strap it on against the kids from the Pacific Coast. No matter where you live in Rockford, Rochester, Akron and the many other cities that mark this region of blue-collar workers, the goal is there. This year our team will make it to the Arroyo Seco where the Rose Bowl resides.

He was like us all. The difference: he was a natural from Pontiac. Tough, determined and very athletic, the schoolboy star became an All-American wide receiver who won the Big Ten football title while attending Michigan State. His tough, Ditka-type mentality along with great speed and agility, made him a sure pick for pro ball. When the draft came, the Cardinals picked him. But just when everyone expected him to jig, he jagged. Who wanted to play for the Racine-Chicago-St. Louis-Phoenix-Arizona Bidwell’s?

During college, his football coach, Darryl Rogers, suggested he go out for baseball. In only one collegiate season he hit .390, with 16 home runs and 52 RBI in 48 games. He jagged to the Tigers. His career was filled with honors. Two World Series championship rings, one in the American League (1984) and one in the National League (1988). One NL MVP (1988). A Silver Slugger (1988) and 2 time All-Star.

Oh ya. He hit what was probably the most famous home run in Dodger history. It is one of the most famous in World Series history. Just ask Hall of Fame pitcher, Dennis Eckersley. Strike one. Strike two. Ball, outside. Ball, again outside. Foul ball. Ball again. Mike Davis is on the move toward second.

“But, we have a big 3-2 pitch coming from Eckersley. Gibson swings, and a fly ball to deep right field! This is gonna be a home run! Unbelievable! A home run for Gibson! And the Dodgers have won the game, 5 o 4. I don’t believe what I just saw! I don’t believe what I just saw! Is this really happening, Bill? One of the most remarkable finishes to any World Series Game…a one-handed home run by Kirk Gibson! And the Dodgers have won it…five to four; and I’m stunned, Bill. I have seen a lot of dramatic finishes in a lot of sports, but this one might top almost every other one.” (Jack Buck)

The other day, in the tunnel that takes one from their seats to the club beneath the stands behind the plate at Chase Field, if you are on the 3rd base side, you get to pass the entrance to the Diamondback’s locker room and their dugout. It is one of the great hidden gems in all of baseball, as you will undoubtedly meet any number of players and coaches as they go back and forth from dugout to locker room. Surprisingly, the players and coaches  are very accommodating. Most have smiles and acknowledge you with a ‘how ya doing’ or ‘great to see you’ without ever having met you before. This close. This intimate. This is unbelievable. These are the guys in the Show. That’s Kennedy. “How ya doing, Up?”. “Goldie”. “Let’s get’em tonight.” “Thanks.” “See ya.” “Have a good game.” Talking with the guys. Guys talking to us.

Then, there he was. Looking down at a piece of paper in his left hand, shuffling toward the dugout, looked up briefly and said, ‘Hi’ as he moved on past and into the dugout. Another ‘Hi’ in the land of dreams. He looked like an older man, shaggy stubble of a beard, an old athlete well past his prime. But he was undoubtedly ‘Gibby’, the hero of East Lansing, Detroit, Los Angeles and certainly soon to be in Phoenix.

This is a tough man. He takes no guff. Going back to his days in Detroit (the first eight years he was there) he became a free agent in 1985 but received no meaningful offers and therefore re-signed with Detroit. He knew it. Baseball knew it. Baseball ownership had been in collusion and in 1988, an arbitrator moved that MLB owners colluded against the players in an effort to stem free agency. Seems nothing changed between players and management from the time of Comisky to Selig. Owners are owners. Players are chattel. Gibson took free agency immediately and went to the land of Dodger Blue.

He was a Sparky Anderson player. Tough. Straight-laced and to the point. There he was the student. In Dodgertown he appeared to be outspoken and disciplined, something never said about the team since they flew across the nation to reside in Hollywood. He chastised the team for being unprofessional and brought about a winning attitude through the full strength of his personality. He openly criticized the team and became the de facto leader. His intensity and absolute determined attitude made the powder blue into a fighting blue. The Dodgers became tough under Gibson. Some say he brought back the Brooklyn spirit (us against them) to Los Angeles. The result? They became winners once again. They were once again the Dodgers of Robinson and Hodges, Pee Wee and Campy, Erskine and Newcombe. More than anyone, it was Gibson who brought them to this point.

Skip forward a decade or so. Now he was a bench coach in a very lonely Diamondback’s dugout for a manager nobody remembers. After a few really horrible months, crowds thinning and losses mounting, D’Back’s fired their manager and moved Mr. Gibson up to an ‘interim’ position as manager of their ball club. It was a move that saved money with management not caring what would happen the balance of the season. Gibson was an old baseball man who would step in place and marshal the troops until they could find someone who might bring them back to a pennant fight. After all, if their previous manager couldn’t do it, why would you think Gibson could do any better?

What he did in the final few games of 2010 was a miracle. These same bunch of guys who literally wallowed in defeat learned to become winners. There was only one thing that happened. Kirk Gibson became their manager. It is absolutely as plain and simple as that.

But the Diamondback management, since the days they forced out Colangelo as the owner, have been helter skelter. This GM in. That GM out. The owner interferes with everything. He criticizes the players and drops hints to his journalist pals about this and that. Announcers are fired because they don’t wear a logo T-shirt. Loyalty is non existent. Important decisions are hard to come by.

Beyond all odds, prior to the next season, mercifully, the ‘interim’ tag was thrown away and Gibson became full-time manager. It was the best decision this owner has ever made, certainly better then his purchase of the T-201 Honus Wagner (The Gretsky) baseball card.

Before the season began, Gibby asked around, including his old Dodger coach, Tommy Lasorda, what he would look for in selecting a good coaching staff. Lasorda simply said, ‘get the best’. Get the guys that every player looks up to.’

Gibson is no dummy. He quickly surrounded himself with the finest coaching staff in baseball. For batting coach, who better than Don Baylor (former NL Manager of the Year. 1979 AL MVP, hit 139 RBI in single season. 19 years in the Major Leagues.) Charles Nagy, Pitching Coach, 3x All Star (Cleveland) pitcher (129-105) in 14 years. Eric Young, First Base Coach, All-Star (Colorado), Silver Slugger (1996) in 15 years. Matt Williams, Third Base Coach, 5x All-Star, 4x Gold Glove, 4x Silver Slugger. Only player to hit home run for three different teams in three different World Series (Giants-1989, Indians-1997 & Diamondbacks-2001). Alan Trammell, Bench Coach. 3x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger, 4x Golden Glove, MVP World Series (1984). Hit .343 in 1987. One of only three players to play 20 or more seasons for the Tigers (Ty Cobb & Al Kaline).

If you are a player for the Diamondback, who do you want to look up to and ask if you have a question? This is the best coaching staff in baseball. Result? The Arizona Diamondbacks were the surprise team of the season in 2011. Result? Gibson was NL Manager of the Year (2011) with nearly all of the same players he had inherited from the previous regime.

That was yesterday. Now is another year. Without any superstars, without the great pitching staff of the San Francisco Giants. Without the rah-rah of the Magic invested Dodgers, here come the D’Backs, within 2 in the loss column. This isn’t the Roeneke led Brewers, 16.5 out of first. This isn’t the Ozzie led Marlins, 14.5 out of first or the Manuel Phillies 16 out of first place at the beginning of August. These are the Gibson led Diamondbacks. Tough as their manager is. Strong as their manager is. Single-minded as their manager is.

Since he has worn that jersey number since he was a kid, #23 may just be the #1 manager in all of baseball. Other than he, who has done what he is doing? For many, we don’t believe what we are seeing.

Play ball.

Romo-Them’s In The Land of Lombardi

It was to be a great series, the Philadelphia Phillies against the Milwaukee Brewers. At least that’s what most thought would happen in the City of Brotherly Love at the beginning of the season. Here were two teams loaded with pitching talent, ready to take on the world as a preliminary face-off of the National League Championships in October. That was not to be the case. The Brewers limped into Philadelphia fresh from a three game losing sweep by Cincinnati and trailed the Reds by 10 games in the loss column at the time. They were only moments away from unloading a bunch of talent because they couldn’t or wouldn’t keep them to make a run for the pennant.

There are some fundamental flaws in the team structure this year. The first baseman, Cory Hart, a right fielder who is just learning to play the position because the regular first baseman is on the DL for the season. The second baseman, Week’s, is not fielding nor hitting, two vital flaws in anyone’s game. The current shortstop-of-the-moment is playing because the starting shortstop is on the DL for the season. The third baseman, Aramis Ramirez is a doubles machine. He has 35 doubles this season and is one of the bright spots on the team. The left fielder (we call him Mr. Braun in the land of beer and sausage and, yes John…cheese curds), after a very difficult off-season, is playing better than he did last year when he won the league MVP. The center fielder (whoever plays that position) is missing in action. The right fielder, Aoki, is a huge surprise and playing above what anyone expected. The catcher, Maldonado, is also a wonderful surprise but he had to move over for the starting catcher (Lucroy) who came back Thursday from the DL (he had broken his hand when his wife dropped a suitcase on it during the Dodger series way back in June). And that leaves the pitching.

Want a migraine? Strangely, starting pitching has been fairly good of late for the Brewers (forgetting last night’s Wolf-mare). Now that may all change. So you want relief pitching? So do the Brew Crew. The relief pitching has been a disaster. They have lost at least 19 blown saves in games that were in the bag. Only Philadelphia in the National League have a worst blown save percentage (comparing this year to last year) than the Brewers. While the Phillies are -23.0 vs last year, Milwaukee is -18.3 in save percentage in 2011/save percentage in 2012 difference. Both Philadelphia and Milwaukee were playoff teams last year. The Phillies have a save percentage of 62.5% this season. Milwaukee has a miserable 52.9%. The major league average save percentage is 69% this season. You get the picture.

Then there is the hitting, or lack thereof. Only Braun is hitting above .300 (with a .313 batting average, a league leading 28 home runs and the second best RBI total with 70 and an OPS of 1.002. Aoki, who could win the Rookie of the Year honors, is hitting .280. The starting catcher, Maldonado, who came up from AAA Nashville after Lucroy went on the DL is hitting a respectable .272 while Ramirez is hitting .286 and an OPS of .845. That’s it. They are the only batters above .270. Hart is hitting a disappointing .260; Gomez who alternates in center field is hitting .244 while Morgan the other center fielder is at .228; the shortstop Izturis is at .220 while Rickie Weeks, former All-Star second baseman last season is struggling at .209. When your middle can’t hit, you will loose.

As for the ‘Fightn’s’, they were 15 games in the loss column behind the Eastern Division leading Washington Nationals. In order to get to the playoffs, they have to jump over four teams in their division. Only the Cubs, Padres, Rockies and Astros have lost more games this season. And these are the fearsome Philadelphia Phillies. These guys won the entire thing just a couple of seasons ago. So what happened? Milwaukee was swept again.

The twisting in the wind began after that last loss in Philly and before you could spell Greinke, he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for three minor leaguers quicker than you could spell Greinke’s wife’s former profession, that of a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.

Of all that is holy, that just isn’t right. No, not that the Brewers got nothing in return for a front line pitcher but because his wife was one of Romo-them’s in the land of Lombardi. That would make any cheese head spit out a perfectly good bratwurst.

It’s been that kind of week. That kind of year. Only 62 regular season games left, boys and girls. Fourteen and one-half games out, ten under .500. Only six teams have lost more games in the National League this season.

There is a hint of a breeze beginning to blow from the North this year across Pigsville and Miller Valley, earlier than anticipated. Green is replacing Blue in the jerseys. What a horrible thought. And it isn’t even August yet.

If baseball is a game built upon hope and prayers, it is time to hit the kneelers, bring out the beads and say after me, “Hail Mary full of grace”.

Play Ball!

072912