Tagged with "of"
Deep Thoughts 10-15-14
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Playoff Baseball 2014 OU still sucks Dallas Cowboys beat Seattle Seahawks Victor Cruz injury


Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. It has been an interesting fall in Austin. While the days have begun to grow shorter and the leaves have begun to fall…the temperature stubbornly held in the 90 degree range. But, as they say…all good things must end. With the cold front this past weekend, we actually saw the mercury fall into the low 50s. If I am looking for a jacket, Halloween must not be far behind. Mother Nature reminded sports fans that of her power by forcing the postponement of game 3 of the ALCS. I have asked this question before and I guess it is one a question that I will continue to ponder…given the technology available today, why would a baseball team build a stadium that does not have a retractable roof? Having the ability to play a game despite the weather would seem like something that is a very attractive option. Anyway…despite the one day delay, Tuesday delivered two more terrific post season games. Okay…after watching the Giants and Royals play in the playoffs, I have to admit that both of these teams have captured my fancy. The Giants are unique in the manner that they win games. It seems that they use everything except a hit to score the winning run. On Tuesday night, it was a walk off bunt that bested the Cardinals. I have to chuckle to myself watching the successful use of the bunt during this postseason. I chuckle because I know how much the sabre metric folks deplore the use of bunting. I realize that the propeller heads have added value to baseball, but the part of the story that these guys overlook is human error. While it may appear simple for a pitcher to field a bunt and throw to first, in a pressure packed situation like a playoff game…the act is not always automatic. It is basic baseball for me…in the bottom of the 10 inning, runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs…that is a situation that begs for a bunt. Randy Choate’s wild throw gave the Giants the game on Tuesday, but given the Giants ability to win ugly…it was probably just a matter of time before they squeezed across that winning run anyway. The Giants have a one game advantage, but those Cardinals are pretty salty as well. I still think that this is a 7 game affair.




The Royals snatched another one run game from the O’s Tuesday night. I thought that this might be the game that the Orioles might take. I did not think that Jeremy Guthrie could hold down the potent O’s bats. Boy was I wrong. Guthrie threw a three hit gem to once again stifle Baltimore. Coming into this series, the buzz was about the running game of the Royals. You have to tip your hat to Buck Showalter for his goofy, yet very effective manner of positioning Pearce to hold the runner at 1B. I have never seen this and apparently it has somewhat unnerved the Royal base runners. It is funny…I was watching a bit on the MLB channel talking about the Royal team speed. Typically, we think of the team speed with regard to stolen bases, but that speed can come into play in other ways. A baseball axiom is to always build a team strong up the middle…as in catcher, middle infield and center field. The Royals certainly got the center field position covered well. The Royals are blessed to have two great centerfielders on the roster. I really like how Yost brings Jarrod Dyson off the bench to pinch run, then moves Cain to right field and Dyson to center field. Is it any wonder that teams have a difficult time scoring runs against the Royals? The gaps are covered; the dying quails are scooped up. As a former outfielder, I just marvel at the skill of these guys. For me, it is definitely part of what makes this KC team so special. Of course, that bullpen does not hurt either.

Jarrod Dyson was asked about the series heading back to Baltimore. His reply has created a bit of a stir with the media…”we expect to finish the series in Kansas City and so does Baltimore…” or something along those lines. Maybe he should have left out the part about Baltimore thinking they were done…but words don’t make a team play better. This Oriole team is a very talented, proud team and they have given every bit of effort in each game. The baseball being played has been fantastic. Despite this fact, the media somehow still finds it necessary to try to stir up shit.  Up 3 to 0, I expect the Royals to take care of business in game 4…but the Orioles can always remember the Red Sox improbable come-back. The words of Kevin Millar are forever immortalized, Don’t let us win tonight. This is a big game. They’ve got to win because if we win, we’ve got Pedro [Martinez] coming back today, and then [Curt] Schilling will pitch Game 6, and then you can take that fraud stuff and put it to bed. Don’t let the Sox win this game.”

You just can’t make this stuff up.As improbable as an Oriole win is, there is always that crazy chance. I know I will be watching.





                                                                          Regardless of time...OU still sucks.



Last weekend was the annual Texas vs OU rivalry game. Despite the fact that Texas lost to OU, I was very pleased at the progress that the Longhorns have made. I am sure that offenses that have faced the Horn defense this year will agree that this is a very good defense. In the days of Coach Fred, Texas won with defense and special teams. Those old Horn offenses were boring, but they won a ton of games despite the lack of offensive firepower. Charlie Strong is on the right path with his defense, but poor special team play can and will get you beat. In losses to Baylor and OU, special teams have killed Texas. Quite honestly, Texas is just not good enough to allow a blocked field goal or kick returns to good teams. I was proud of the effort Texas gave and will borrow the words from perhaps the best rant ever…”they were who we thought they were and we let them off the hook.” Yep, I actually thought that Texas had a chance to beat Oklahoma this year. When OU has an experienced QB, they are tough to beat. Trevor Knight may be a playmaker in time, but to this point, I am not impressed.






I must admit that I was shocked to see Dallas beat Seattle on the road last weekend. It was one of the best Cowboy games I have watched in many years. With this win, I am encouraged, but I realize that there are 10 games left to play in the season.  As happy as I was to see the Cowboys win, there was a surprising sense of dread as well. Coming into this season, expectations for this Cowboy team were low. I won’t say that Dallas snuck up on early opponents, but at least the hype was limited. Now, that is no longer the case. Suddenly analysts want to know if Dallas is the best team in the NFL. Best team in the NFL? How about starting with being the best team in the NFC East? Of the 6 games the Cowboys have played, they have played zero against the NFC East.  I like what I see and truly think that Dallas has a good chance to win their division, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is a very good reason that smart coaches refuse to look beyond the game at hand. To do so, frequently gets you beat. The other thing that comes with Cowboy success is all those haters that fire up the hate wagon. Yeah, I get it…once upon a time the Cowboys won many games. They were anointed “America’s Team” and this pissed many people off. When I look at how this Dallas team has been constructed, I see many similarities to those Cowboy Super Bowl teams. Those Cowboy teams did not rely on Aikman to win games; they ran the ball behind a huge offensive line. This is exactly what Dallas is doing now. If you watched what Dallas did to Seattle, they did not have a first down in the first half. Dallas had long sustained drives that kept their defense fresh. To be truthful, if not for the mistakes Dallas made, they would have blown the Seahawks away. One thing that everyone said before the Seahawk game is that this game would tell us much about this Cowboy team. While I think this is true, we also learned quite a bit about the Seattle team as well. This is not the same Seahawk team that routed the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Russell Wilson is a talented kid, but why did the Seattle coaching staff not pound Lynch when they took the early lead on Dallas? I think that the Seahawk coaching staff got their ass kicked in this game. I am reminded just how hard it is to repeat after winning a Super Bowl. Successful teams lose players to contracts, injuries or attrition. This is one reason that I have been so impressed by what Belichick has done in New England. Although they have not won it all recently…they have been in the conversation for a long time. Is Dallas good enough to be in the conversation this year? I definitely believe they are, but they will need to win a few games in December first.










Like it or not, the media is responsible for public opinion. This is not conjecture, but a fact. Here is an example of how this works… Last Sunday, Victor Cruz went down with a torn patellar tendon. It was a horrific injury that I was really sorry to hear about. A picture was published by the New York Daily News that had a member of the Philadelphia Eagle’s staff cheering the injury to Cruz. People everywhere jumped to criticize Philly. The fact is this team staff member (named Charlie) was not cheering the injury to Cruz, but only the fact that the pass was incomplete. I think that Charlie’s words will explain exactly what happened:

Angelo, I never call the radio,” Charlie told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show on Monday morning. “I just want to be clear. I don’t want to make it look bad for Philadelphia, especially me. I got to live with myself. It was fourth and two, which is an exciting play, the ball was overthrown and I just reacted like we just stopped them, so I was just cheering. As soon as I saw him [Cruz] hurt, we—everyone stopped cheering. I didn’t cheer for that. And honestly, if anyone in the media followed it, they’ll see me go down to my knee—not with the players, but I’m actually, I said a prayer for him as well. It was terrible. I would never do that.”

Hey…I have taken plenty of shots at the Philly fans over the years. They did in fact boo Santa, cheered Michael Irwin’s career ending injury and have been well known for throwing batteries…but in this case, the truth is this criticism was misplaced. Here is the article in case you want the entire story: http://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2014/10/13/6968881/victory-cruz-injury-new-york-daily-news-cover-media-misrepresent-philadelphia-eagles-fans

It is always a good idea to slow your roll...and get the facts, even if it is Philly.





Kickers take quite a bit of abuse for being…well, kickers. Dayton has a kicker that made a play worthy of a look. Here it is…






That’s all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…



I wish I would have a real tragic love affair and get so bummed out that I'd just quit my job and become a bum for a few years, because I was thinking about doing that anyway.

The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death. What's that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you're too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months warm, happy, and floating...you finish off as an orgasm.



Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…



Deep Thoughts 10-8-14
Category: FEATURED
Tags: MLB Playoffs 2014 Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks Pierre Garcon and Richard Sherman.


Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. If you are a baseball fan, you have to love what the MLB playoffs have delivered this season. The NL has delivered old reliable victors in San Francisco and St. Louis, while the AL has a fresh look with the Royals and Orioles taking the next step. Since I don’t have any strong rooting interest, I have just been enjoying the great performances of all the teams. I made a comment to Norm about Bryce Harper being “over hyped”, but after watching the kid play this week…I may have to change my assessment. The bomb he hit Tuesday night in San Francisco was simply amazing. There is no way a ball hit that high should clear the right field wall, much less make the water. Damn. What a moon shot! Of course, in the end…Harper’s blast was not enough to prevent the Nationals from being eliminated. There was one inning that sort of defines to me why teams like the Giants and Cardinals seem to always end up playing in October. In their last game of the year…the Nationals brought in a rookie reliever to face Hunter Pence. To say it did not go well is an understatement. A walk to Hunter Pence, a wild pitch to Pablo Sandoval allowed a run to score. With first base now open, Nationals manager predictably decided to intentionally walk Sandoval. The plan was reasonable, the execution was lacking. Barrett’s next pitch was lobbed way over the head of the Nationals catcher Ramos. Honestly, I have never seen anything like that. But, the funny thing is…the poor throw careened right back to Ramos, who flipped to Barrett in time to tag Posey on his way home. My takeaway from watching the Giants and Cardinals moving on is that they are battle tested and…they both have very good bullpens. Like it or not, players are judged by how well they play when the pressure is highest. The Nationals and Dodgers are loaded with talent, but must perform better under the bright lights of the playoffs if they want the brass ring.

I have always been a National League guy. I love the thought required of the manager with having the pitcher hit. The NL games are usually low scoring games with a premium on defense and pitching. As I have watched the Orioles and Royals play this year…darned if they don’t look like National League teams to my eyes. When you throw in the Royals penchant for stealing bases…any National League fan would be proud of the game being played in KC. Although the Orioles and Royals do not have the recent playoff experience of the Cards and Giants, both teams are playing without fear. I think that Buck Showalter has much to do with the Orioles fearlessness. But, the Royals are another matter. Ned Yost is a good manager, but does not appear to be of the same ilk as Showalter. What I am beginning to believe is that GM Dayton Moore has crafted the perfect team for a fall run. Moore has been telling the Royals fans the past few years to be patient and promised that 2014 would be the year that this Royals team would find success. True to his word, these guys are playing as well as anyone…and they have the bullpen talent to hang with anyone. If Eric Hosmer continues swinging the hot bat, I would not be at all surprised to see this Royal bunch facing the NL’s best.


Okay, so the Cowboys are better than we thought. But…are they good enough to beat Seattle in Seattle? My guess is that the way to beat Seattle at home is to run the ball. My initial hunch is that Seattle will win this game, but if Dallas can stay consistent in pounding the rock…they have a puncher’s chance. Seattle has had a great run and many attribute their success to the ground game of Lynch and dominant defense. In watching bits and pieces of the Seahawk and Redskin’s Monday night game…I was struck with just how damn good Russell Wilson is. Last year, I saw a QB that was essentially a game manager. In watching Wilson this year, my eyes tell me that he has matured greatly.  Wilson singlehandedly beat Washington on Monday night with his legs. But, in watching his performance, I was left thinking that if the Skins had used a spy that Wilson just would beaten them in another manner. Is Wilson a top ten QB now? For me he is…

Here are a couple of videos that I found entertaining:




A.J. Pierzynski, Mike Matheny













                       A. J. Pierzynski was left off the playoff roster, but that did not prevent him from photo bombing Coach Matheny




         When I was coaching junior football, it was common for kids to play defense the way that Dee Ford did on this play. We used to laugh that they were working on maintaining the property pursuit angle...it was an angle that never had them intersecting the ball carrier. But, since this is the NFL...I am left to wonder what the hell Dee Ford is doing??? Did he think that Gore might pass and his responsibility was to make sure that Bolden was covered? I wonder how this went over during flim this week? I can't imagine it was a happy sesssion for Ford.






Richard Sherman took to twitter to blast Pierre Garcon for pulling his hair. As Sherman is known to do...he proclaimed that Garcon is not worthy to play in the NFL. Garcon only used a few words in his response...but I would say it was well said:





I would also add, that if having your hair pulled is an issue...cut your damn hair!




That is all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…



If I ever get real rich, I hope I'm not real mean to poor people, like I am now.

I hope that after I die, people will say of me: "That guy sure owed me a lot of money."



Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…








MLB Playoffs. Tags: MLB Playoffs

Are you in favor of the one game MLB wild card playoff format?

Deep Thoughts 10-1-14
Category: FEATURED
Tags: MLB Playoff Baseball KC Royals Oakland As Adam Dunn Paul Konerko and Derek Jeter


Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. What a time to be a sports fan. The football season is beginning to take shape and playoff baseball began with an epic game between the Royals and A’s. Honestly, I missed the first five innings. I went for a run and sat down to find the game and ended up taking a nap. Although I am mad that I missed part of the game, I cannot imagine that the beginning was anything like the ending. Do the Royals look like an old school team or what? 7 stolen bases, four bunts? It was hard to believe that this was an American League game. Brandon Moss did is part to bring the power normally part of AL games, but it was not enough to overcome the resilience of the Royals. I can’t remember 7 different players with a stolen base in one game.  It looked to me like Salvador Perez could be the goat in this game. He was 0 for 5 and had missed two opportunities to drive in a big run. Of course, the beautiful thing about baseball is that there are many chances to make up for missed opportunities. Perez came up with the big hit to win the game, but for me…Eric Hosmer’s triple was the biggest hit of the game. When Cain made the first out of the 12th inning, I texted my son and told him that now the Royals would have to hit to win. Otero had Hosmer’s number staying low and away. He missed his target just one time and Hosmer made him pay.

I know that many fans have been critical of the one game play in that the new playoff format created. As I watched this game, I had to believe that it would not have been possible to create the drama of this game with a 5 game format. I really dig the one game playoff and believe it is here to stay. This was a game for the ages and is what is so awesome about playoff baseball. Is it unfair to the A’s to play all season and then be done so quickly? Perhaps, but they brought this upon themselves with their second half collapse. I know what I will remember is the great baseball played to open the 2014 MLB playoffs. The Royals are a long shot at making the World Series, but they live to continue their quest. We can only hope that Wednesday night’s game between the Pirates and Giants is half as entertaining as this game.




                                                  There will only be one Big Donkey. Thanks for the memories Adam!


With Oakland’s loss, Adam Dunn will be retiring from baseball. He will join Paul Konerko and Derek Jeter in hanging up the spikes. While Dunn was not in the class of Konerko or Jeter, the “Big Donkey” had perhaps the best nickname of his generation. I always found Dunn to be somewhat of a unique player. It seemed that his at bats were one of three options: a prodigious blast, a walk or a strikeout. 462 HRs, 1317 BBs, and 2379 Ks. Many do not realize that Dunn was recruited to play QB at the University of Texas, but chose to play professional baseball instead. Watching him lumber now, we forget that he once stole 19 bases early in his career. Paul Konerko broke my heart in 2005 with the grand slam in the World Series that beat my Astros. He finishes his career with 439 HRs and 410 2Bs putting him a club shared by just 9 other players in baseball history. You may recognize a few of these names: Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Albert Pujols, Eddie Murray, Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff, Carlos Delgado, Jason Giambi and Rafael Palmeiro. Konerko also joins Don Sutton and Phil Neikro as the only players to play 16 years or more for one team and less than 100 games for two others. He was selected to the All Star team 6 times during his career. For my eyes, he may fall just short of the HOF, but he had a great career nonetheless.





                                           When I hear the name Paul Konerko...I think of a tough minded guy. A blue collar hero.


While Dunn and Konerko’s final season may surprise some, Derek Jeter’s final season has received plenty of recognition. I have watched baseball fans react to this final season “hype” with mixed emotions. Most baseball fans understand that Jeter is one of the special players in baseball history. Others choose to ignore a career that will surely end in a first ballot selection to the HOF. I believe that for those that have disdain for Jeter, it is because he played in the pinstripes of the New York Yankees. I have thought long and hard trying to understand how a true baseball fan could not like what Derek Jeter has represented. He played the game the right way and lived his life the right way. He declined the spotlight, but was well spoken when his duty as captain required him to speak. We never heard his name associated with steroids or any other illegal activity. Jeter was a winner as a player and as a man. Yes, because he played for the Yankees he received notoriety, but is this his fault? If this is reason to hate a player, then you would hate Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio or Mickey Mantle if they played today. In fact, there are a couple guys in this group that would be crucified today for how they played outside the lines.





                                           This quote perfectly explains how Derek Jeter grabbed success...hard work.

We live in a world that has become jaded and I think results in some becoming cynical of anything or anyone that receives acclaim. When many hold something up as good, there seems to be others that want to play contrarian and look for a reason to disagree. Baseball fans today simply do not seem to recognize greatness and perhaps it has always been that way. Is it possible that we are only able to recognize our best players after they are finished playing? If you watched the final game for Derek Jeter in Yankee stadium, you will understand why Jeter decided to allow the farewell tour. It was not for him or the Yankees, but for baseball fans. This is a guy that understands and appreciates what the fans mean to the game. The farewell tour was his way of saying thank you and goodbye to the fans.

There are only five players in baseball history that have more hits than Derek Jeter: Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Tris Speaker. These names you will recognize as baseball royalty, which is how I view Derek Jeter. For those fans that look for the negative in good things, it is obvious to me that they suffer the same problem as the Grinch…they have a heart that is several sizes too small. Here is something that hopefully will swell that heart and allow them to enjoy the good as it comes along.









Last weekend, the Texas JUCO baseball played a series of all-star games in Austin to recognize the best players for the spring season the year before. Since so many coaches and scouts are in town, they also do a showcase on Sunday morning. Although Blake was not eligible to play in the all-star game, he was able to participate in the showcase. After his workout, a coach from Houston Baptist came by to talk with Blake. He gave him a packet and indicated he would be contacting him. It is funny…I recognized the coach, but could not place his face. It turns out that his name is Xavier Hernandez and he pitched in the majors for the Astros, Rangers and a few other teams. This got me to thinking about how many former players end up being able to stay in the game in one capacity or another. We typically don’t hear what happens after they finish playing, but it is always cool for me to run across someone that I remembered as a player. I am not sure how things will work out with Houston Baptist for Blake, but it is good to have options. Houston Baptist plays in the Southland Conference along with Sam Houston State, Lamar, University of New Orleans, Lamar and a few other schools. Last year, the conference had 18 players drafted in the MLB draft. As they say, sometimes when God closes a door, he opens a window. We will see what happens, but it sure was fun to see our son play again…it seems like forever since we have had a chance to see him behind the plate.








Dallas Cowboys are celebrating the huge win over the Saints and a 3-1 start to begin the season. To be honest, I am surprised. Like most football fans, I expected the Cowboys to struggle this year. Losing big names off of their defense from last year, it was a foregone conclusion that the defense would be worse (and they were really bad last year). A funny thing happened to the unit that lost Ware and Hatcher…they got better. How is it possible for a team to lose two high profile players and improve? Is this a situation where less is more? Well, I think it is. The Cowboys defense that was literally punked by the Saints in New Orleans returned the favor in the rematch in Dallas. Granted, the Saints are not usually a great road team…but anytime you beat Drew Brees, it is a big deal. So what is the difference in 2014? For one, removing big names on the defense meant that the entire unit had to shoulder the load. The addition of Henry Melton and Rolando McClain has been huge. Also, the Cowboys got back to what made them successful during their Super Bowl seasons…running the ball. I think that Jerry and Co. became enthralled with Romo’s right arm and forgot that successful football begins upfront…on both sides of the ball. It is no coincidence that Dallas has better blocking after they invested early draft picks to shore up the offensive line. Yeah, Johnny Manziel might be a sexy pick in the draft, but a player like Zack Martin truly makes a difference. Martin is a guy that can play at a high level for 15 years or so. Given the fact that Romo is coming off surgery, it is no small deal to be able to keep him upright. Dallas has chosen to focus on running the ball, which has allowed the defense more time on the sideline. If Murray can stay healthy, this could be a season to remember.


But, it is a season that is only 1/4 complete. Yes...Dallas is 3 and 1. How about those Cowboys and all that! Yeah…that is great. But, I am looking ahead now to games against the Houston Texans and a road game in Seattle. I will continue to temper my excitement as I know that there is a long road ahead. Please pardon my lack of excitement as I have been to this rodeo before. It is great to play well in September and October, but championships are won in November and December. I will be watching each game and enjoying the victories, but until I see the late season success…consider me a doubting Thomas.












As surprised as we have been by the play of the Cowboys, I think equally surprising is the poor play of the New England Patriots. Last Monday night, the Patriots laid an egg in Kansas City. Each season, we see early struggles from the Patriots become late season success. So fans are used to seeing the Patriots adjust to early adversity. But, we have never seen the Patriots implode as they did on Monday night against the Chiefs. I have said on several occasions that I thought that Belichick the GM might have missed the mark by allowing Wes Welker to leave. But, given his track record…it is difficult to second guess the moves of Belichick the GM. Patriot after Patriot have been allowed to leave before they were completely done. By taking the best years and not paying for the declining years, New England has remained at the top of the AFC. This may seem cold hearted, but in a league with a salary cap…this “Patriot Way” has proven to be very successful…until this year. I think the struggles of New England’s offense can be directly traced to the trade of Logan Mankins. The 6 time pro bowl guard seems to have been the glue that kept the offense together. As we have seen in Dallas, a good offensive line helps the entire team. By running the ball, it takes pressure off of the QB and keeps the defense off the field. Tom Brady does not look like a QB that has had NFL success. Without time to throw, Brady looks nervous in the pocket and led to comments from Rodney Harrison that Brady looks, “scared to death”.  While I think reports that the Patriot dynasty is over are a bit premature, unless Coach Bill can fix the problems that GM Belichick created…this could be a long year for fans in New England.



Have you ever had a chance to take a picture with a famous person? Would you have the balls to do this?



                                                              I don't care who you are...that is funny right there!






That is all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey



"Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he's carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you're drunk."

"What is it about a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves, that makes you want to get drunk?" "And after you're real drunk, maybe go down to the public park and stagger around and ask people for money, and then lay down and go to sleep."



Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own.




Faces of the Franchise
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Jeter face of the franchise


This weekend marks the final appearence of the contemporary Mr. Yankee at Fenway Park or, for that matter, at any park. Derek Jeter has gone through his farewell tour, in similar fashion to Mariano Rivera last year.

Is it an indication of baseball's flagging though still solid popularity that teams (well, the Yankees anyway) feel compelled to publicize farewell tours while the legends of the game, who played in times when baseball wasn't just king, it was the entire royal family, never had such occasions formally arranged? 

Perhaps it's the novelty in the era of free agency of having a player spend his career in one town. Nobody can argue with Jeter's success. He has five Series rings. He's been on seven pennant winners. And he's been arguably the lynchpin of the Yankees throughout his tenure.

But is he really Mr. Yankee? Some modern fans who remember no one else would say yes. But the Yankees have won a lot of pennants. Dating from 1920, the year Babe Ruth (and practically the entire Red Sox roster) went to New York, the Yankees have won 40 pennants and 27 World Series in 95 seasons.

The Yankee pantheon is enormous. From their first run as winners, led by The Babe, they've seen even more successful runs led by Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.

Mickey Mantle? The winningest player of all time is none other than his teammate Yogi Berra, with an amazing 10 rings. He won 14 pennants, by the way. All this in 16 seasons with the Yankees. Is Yogi really Mr. Yankee?

Joe DiMaggio won at almost the same clip, bagging 9 rings. Gehrig got 8. The Mick had 7.

It seems shocking in retrospect that Babe Ruth, the icon of winning and power, only won 7. More amazing is that 3 of them came within a 6-year span while pitching for the Red Sox, only 4 as a Yankee despite a 15-year tenure. He didn't get a farewell tour, by the way. He got turned down for manager and left to end his career with the Boston Braves, who also turned him down as a manager.

Despite all of that, there's no doubt that the all-time face of the Yankees continues to be Ruth. In fact, he continues to be the most famous baseball player of all time.

So who are some other 'faces of the franchise' around the older clubs?

The only Red Sox with 4 rings is Harry Hooper. He was part of Boston's famous outfield of Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper and Duffy Lewis, but outlasted his companions in a Boston uniform and won four pennants and four Series between 1912 and 1918, four out of seven in that span. But he's not even recognizable to the Pink Hats. They know the name Cy Young, but only as an award. They may recall Carl Yastrzemski. Luis Tiant. Jim Rice. Wade Boggs was big, and for a good team. Clemens too. David Ortiz has won 3 rings with Boston and been a primary contributor for all 3.

But the face of the Sox continues to be Ted Williams, who was more famous than any of them despite reaching only one World Series. A .344 average and 500+ HRs (despite missing nearly 5 seasons as a combat Marine pilot in 2 wars) will do that for you. And he played on teams laden with Hall members (not to mention a few such as Johnny Pesky and Vern Stephens who most believe should be in the Hall).

Detroit? Oh, you have your Trammels, Kalines, Greenbergs, Gehringers and Loliches, but how is Ty Cobb not Mr. Tiger, more than a century after he came up? .367 BA? And his legends deserve some mention. You can't make this stuff up. We think, at least.

Three weeks before his Tiger debut, his mother killed his father with a pistol, supposedly thinking him a prowler. Cobb would dedicate his life to his father. The split-grip dead ball hitter got so tired of hearing about Babe Ruth as his career wound down in the 20s that he announced he would show people something on a trip to St. Louis to play the Browns. He unsplit his grip and hit 5 home runs in 2 days. Then he went back to his old style. His apocryphal urban legends (which may be true) include him carrying a satchel with $1M around with him everywhere (Cobb had invested his money in Coca-Cola very early on and was a shrewd manipulator of stocks) so he could buy anything he wanted on sight, and a guest appearance in a radio booth in his later years where he was asked how he thought he'd do against modern pitching. When he replied "Maybe .310, .320" he was asked if he thought pitching had improves so far as to hold him down like that. He is supposed to have replied something like "No, I'm 70 years old, ya damn fool!"

The A's? Lotsa candidates, but their travels have obscured their history. Certainly in Philly it could be Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons or Lefty Grove. In Oakland? Any one of a bunch from the team of unknowns with funny names that dominated baseball for 3 years straight, names like Catfish Hunter, Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, Rollie Fingers and Reggie Jackson.

Howsa bout the Washington Senators, now the Twins? They spent a lot of time in the basement in Washington. In Minnesota they've had more luck. Harmon Killebrew sure rings a bell. So does Kirby Puckett. Rod Carew anyone? But it's gotta still be Walter Johnson, the Big Train, at least for DC.

The Cardinals? If it were about stats, Rogers Hornsby ('The Rajah') would have the title hands down. A .358 average? Hit .400 3 times in 4 years? But despite stars before and since who've come and gone (Frisch, Gibson, Brock, Smith, Pujols to name a few) Stan Musial still seems to be the historic figure that leads the pantheon.

The Cubs? Despite some success here and there, they haven't been dominant since Tinker, Evers and Chance. Ernie Banks is more recent, and despite playing for mediocre teams, he's still Mr. Cub.

The Giants? In New York it could have been Christy Mathewson, Carl Hubbell or several others. Bobby Thompson wasn't an all-time great but everybody sure remembers his name. Still, their most famous player spans their two locations, and that's still Willie Mays over Barry Bonds, I'd wager.

Braves? Could be Warren Spahn. Could be any number of great 90s Atlanta pitchers. But it's most probably Hank Aaron.

Orioles. That's a tough one. If you include their St. Louis Browns incarnation, nobody was a better hitter than George Sisler, a contemporary of Ruth and Hornsby who, for a time, was just as good. His run was felled by, of all things, a sinusitis condition that blurred his vision. Remember, there were no antibiotics in the 1920s. These days the face of the O's, however, is probably Cal Ripken (though as a shortstop he sure didn't win as much as Mark Belanger), though I wonder how many still think of Brooks or Frank Robinson? Or Jim Palmer?

The Indians have had tons of good teams. Nap Lajoie dominated the AL's early years. But despite an angry Tris Speaker leaving Boston for Cleveland and playing the balance of his career there, despite the amazing lineups they fielded in the 40s and 90s, and despite the fact that he was an aging cog in the machine that was their pitching staff in 1954 (featuring Early Wynn, Bob Lemon and Mike Garcia), the face of the Tribe probably remains Bob Feller, the fastest pitcher on record.

The White Sox? You tell me. I suppose Frank Thomas is the name that still rings loudest. Could be Carlton Fisk, but he chose a Red Sox hat for the Hall. Truth be told, the most famous names I ever recall for the Hitless Wonders were the keystone combo of Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio.

The Dodgers? In Brooklyn it may have been Pee Wee Reese, Hal Newhouser or Duke Snider. In LA? Sandy Koufax? Don Drysdale? Maury Wills?

Pittsburgh... Bill Mazeroski held the title for years after hitting the home run that cost Casey Stengel his job. Willie Stargell became an icon. Marty Marion was an octopus at 3rd. Ultimately, their most lasting all-time name may still be a guy who started his career in the 19th Century. That, of course, would be Honus Wagner.

Cincinnati? Hm. They had Frank Robinson, but traded him to the Orioles. They had the Big Red Machine, and Pete Rose. Johnny Bench is a candidate. With Rose's complications, perhaps he's the #1 candidate for Mr. Red. 

Phillies? Wow, there was Chuck Klein but he played on bad teams. There's been a recent good streak for the old traditional doormat, but that may be too close to current. Heck, their hot streaks have been so few and far between people still remember Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn. Or Dick (Richie) Allen. The king may still be Mike Schmidt.

Faces of franchises are things you expect to change, especially with the eternal 'today is better' mentality. It's surprising, even for a traditional sport like baseball, how old some of them are.


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