Monday, October 24, 2011

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Mental Illness

I printed out copies of the articles posted on the USCF website concerning the 82nd FIDE Congress and read every word. Having just finished reading the book, A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness by S. Nassir Ghaemi, I particularly liked the article by Michael Khodarkovsky, According to Kirsan: A Billion Clever People. ( He writes, "When Mr.Ilyumzhinov started to talk about pending legal issues many were taken by surprise that he dedicated a great deal of time to demonize Garry Kasparov, “who wants to bankrupt FIDE” and glorifying Anatoly Karpov, his opponent at the 2010 FIDE Presidential election, “who joined the newly formed political party by Vladimir Putin in Russia” (Putin, Prime-Minister of Russia plans to return to his former position as President of Russia in 2012)."
It was answered by, "The audience was mute until Tomasz Sielicki, President of the Polish Chess Federation and Deputy President of the European Chess Federation, asked for the microphone and said: ”We all came here to discuss chess issues and I don’t understand why should we listen a political speech for more than an hour, which has nothing to do with the agenda.”
Why, indeed.
I read looking for information on Senior chess and found something by Sophia Rohde in her post of October 19, Sophia Rohde on the 82nd FIDE Congress. ( wrote, " Age categories for the senior World Championship of 60 and 70 was agreed on." I have absolutely no idea what that means.
Later, in the post USCF President Ruth Haring Wraps Up 82nd Fide Congress, ( found this: "The age categories for the World Senior will be changed to age 50 and 65 for both Men and Women."
It is more than a little obvious that what happened at the FIDE Congress in regard to Senior chess needs clarification.
Sophia also had this to say concerning the USCF practice of 'drop-ins'; those that 'drop-in' in the middle of a tournament playing several games at a much faster time control than those players in the 'main' tournament: "Things heated up considerably when discussing tournaments with two schedules merging to become one. Normal in many parts of the US, this is quite foreign in other parts of the world. Commission members quoted the FIDE Handbook paragraph 1.11 about requirements for title norms; “The tournament system must be a fair one. Tournaments where the composition is changed (without FIDE approval) during the tournament or those where players have different conditions in terms of rounds and pairing are not valid.”
"July 2013 will be a crucial date, that’s when FIDE expects every federation to follow the same FIDE Laws of Chess."
It is good to read that the reprehensible USCF practice of allowing many different tournaments to 'merge' into one section near the end of a tournament is "...quite foreign in other parts of the world."
Rather than leading the chess world in 'drop-ins' and half-point byes, USCF should consider leading the world by pulling out of the crooked, gansta run FIDE, led by a petty tyrant nut case.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Best Campaign Song of All Time!

Thanks, Mr G!

Please do not take this as an endorsement of this candidate. When it comes to politicians I reflect back to the time I heard a British member of Parliment interviewed on the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour say, "You Americans are so naive. Democrat-Republican; left shoe-right shoe."
I will admit, though, that I have never understood anyone who votes not voting for the candidate from his home state, regardless of party affiliation. Every POTUS has brought improvement to his state. Since the Great state of Georgia is my home state, I realize that Herman Cain as POTUS would be beneficial to Georgia.
This is an UNofficial campaign song. That could be why it is one of the best of all time. Many candidates have co-opted songs for their own nefarious purposes. The most famous being the time the Reagan campaign used "Born in the U.S.A.", a song criticizing the treatment of Vietnam War veterans, as a campaign song, without permission, until Springsteen, a lifelong Democrat, insisted that they stop. It was obvious no one in the Reagan campaign listened to anything other than the title, which, come to think of it, is a fine metaphor for the whole Reagan administration. One of the first things the Reagan administration did was to cut benefits to veterans. One never hears about such things in relation to the 'Gypper', for some reason.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do Liberals Play Chess?

Kenneth Timmerman the President of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran has written a piece titled, Iranian regime plays chess, we play checkers. (
It would appear that the thing to do today is to disparage another group by saying they play an inferior game. I expect to soon read something like, "He played chess like a human, while I played the game like a computer!"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Scrabble player demands strip-search at World Championships!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


The young people are are in the streets protesting. The network minions are telling We The People that they do not know exactly what they are protesting, but one young lady on the tube summed it up best when she said she was there because of "Human need," and to end "Corporate greed." Good luck with that!

You don’t know me but I’m your brother
I was raised here in this living hell
You don’t know my kind in your world
Fairly soon the time will tell
You, telling me the things you’re gonna do for me
I ain’t blind and I don’t like what I think I see Takin’ it to the streets
Takin’ It To The Streets
by Michael McDonald

In the South we call them the 'upper crust' and the one thing they do not like is rebellion from the rable. I just hope we the people don't get fooled again.

We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song
Won't Get Fooled Again by The Who

The song ends,
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

When young one thinks he, or we, and change the world. As one grows older he learns that the machine is just too strong and will grind you down; pulverize into nothingness, especially if one shows any sign whatsoever of becoming a leader. JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X, R.I.P.

The people in the streets are asking, "What about We the People?"

You poisoned my sweet water.
You cut down my green trees.
The food you fed my children
Was the cause of their disease.
My world is slowly fallin' down
And the air's not good to breathe.
And those of us who care enough,
We have to do something...

Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?
Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?
Your newspapers,
They just put you on.
They never tell you
The whole story.
They just put your
Young ideas down.
I was wonderin' could this be the end
Of your pride and glory?

I work in your factory.
I study in your schools.
I fill your penitentiaries.
And your military too!
And I feel the future trembling,
As the word is passed around.
"If you stand up for what you do believe,
Be prepared to be shot down."

And I feel like a stranger
In the land where I was born
And I live like an outlaw.
And I'm always on the run...
And I'm always getting busted
And I got to take a stand...
I believe the revolution
Must be mighty close at hand...

I smoke marijuana
But I can't get behind your wars.
And most of what I do believe
Is against most of your laws
I'm a fugitive from injustice
But I'm goin' to be free.
'Cause your rules and regulations
They don't do the thing for me

And I feel like a stranger
In the land where I was born
And I live just like an outlaw.
And I'm always on the run.
And though you may be stronger now, my time will come around.
You keep adding to my numbers, and you shoot my people down.
Quicksilver Messenger Service - What About Me
Written By: Jesse Oris Farrow / From The Album: "What About Me"

What We the People are feeling can best be summed up by the soliloguy by the character Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch, in the 1976 movie 'Network'.
Howard Beale: I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

Saturday, October 15, 2011


More proof that GM Kevin Spraggett's blog is nonpareil in the blogosphere!
Her name is Amanda Marie Manning was elected "KENTUCKIANA'S NEXT HOT MODEL 2009/10-2010/11." After you check her out at Kevin's blog, be sure to vote for the lady from LaGrange, KY, US at:
Who says I do not write good things about ol' Kentuck?

LaGrange by ZZ Top

Rumour spreadin' a-'round in that Texas town
'bout that shack outside La Grange
and you know what I'm talkin' about.
Just let me know if you wanna go
to that home out on the range.
They gotta lotta nice girls ah.

Have mercy.
A haw, haw, haw, haw, a haw.
A haw, haw, haw.

Well, I hear it's fine if you got the time
and the ten to get yourself in.
A hmm, hmm.
And I hear it's tight most ev'ry night,
but now I might be mistaken.
hmm, hmm, hmm.

Ah have mercy.

- Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill & Frank Beard

Friday, October 14, 2011

US Chess League

I have to admit I do not follow the USCL. I received the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Newsletter #555 today via email. Coverage of the San Francisco USCL team showed that they had lost to the Chicago team by a score of 2 1/2 to 1 1/2. GMs squared off on the top two boards and both games were drawn. Two IMs faced each other on board three and that game was also drawn. Ratings were not given for the players on board four, so I went to the USCL website ( to find: Uyanga Byambaa (SF) vs NM Sam Schmakel (CHC) 0-1. So the Chicago player is a NM, but how strong is the SF player? I clicked on the game to learn that he Byambaa is rated 2080, and Schmakel is rated 2190. The match was decided by these two lower rated players. The ratings of the other players range from 2687 to 2415, a difference of 272 points. The difference between Angelo Young (2415) on board three and Byambaa (2080) on board four is 335 points.
This is like one of those 'which one does not belong' pictures. How can the USCL ever be taken seriously when there is such a FORCED disparity in the skill levels of the players? It would be better, and much more interesting, if teams consisted of the strongest players available and not much weaker players who are playing in order to fit some arbitrary rating cap.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are Last Rounds More Important?

GM Nigel Davies, in a post entitled, 'Last Rounds' on his blog, The Chess Improver, has this to say about the importance of last rounds: "I’m convinced that the later rounds of a tournament carry far more weight than the early ones. How can this be when the same number of points can be scored throughout a tournament? Well in the games leading up to them players are often trying to consolidate their position in the tournament, building hopes and expectations as they pull their punches or abandon their fears. And in this highly charged atmosphere dramatic swings in fortune become much more likely." (
The GM is writing about the just concluded Bilboa Masters tournament. I have written much the same about the weekend swiss, so it is great to see my position in print, especially by a GM, who because of his numbers, has much more gravitas than I.
When half-point byes first appeared, they were only allowed in the first three rounds. That was to allow a player who had to work to miss the Friday night round; or the Saturday morning round; or even the Saturday night round, if playing to midnight, or later, and then having to be back at the board at ten am was too much. Then the half-point bye was allowed in the fourth round Sunday morning for those who believe in a myth and wish to spend their time among other 'believers'. I have always liked what the Legendary Georgia Ironman had to say about those who missed the fourth round for their 'Sunday go to meeting'. He once said, "Bacon, when I'm at the board for the fourth round Sunday morning, I AM at my church!" Now the half-point bye is even allowed in the last round! It has become a weapon to be used by those who often lose in the last round to higher rated players.
I asked a fellow named Big Jeff why he had quit chess. He was honest enough to admit that, "I am a half-point the better players as I always seem to finish a half-point behind." Too bad half-point byes were not allowed back in Big Jeff's day...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dark Stuff & Reality

Having read 'The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality' by Richard Panek, it was with great interest I learned of the awarding of the Nobel prize in Physics to Saul Permutter; Brian Schmidt; and Adam G Riess. (See: Because the book brings out their human qualities, I view them as not just cold, calculating scientists.
The Noble was awarded for their work on the accelerating universe. (See the Astronomy Picture of the Day at:
But is the universe really accelerating?
A new idea has been put forward by Edmund Schluessel of Cardiff University. He argues that gravitational waves, which are disturbances in the fabric of spacetime created by massive gravitational disturbances like colliding black holes or the Big Bang, are big enough to disrupt our observation of the distant universe. His theories are not accepted by the established physics pooh-bahs, but what if he is correct? Read all about it at: (

Saturday, October 8, 2011

2011 Georgia Senior

The Monday after the Georgia Senior I received an email from my friend Mike Mulford, aka 'Mulfish'.

You're going to have a field day with this one.


I replied to Mulfish that I had already learned of the small turnout via an email from the Legendary Georgia Ironman. Tim reported, "Fun Fong reported a total of 14 at the ill planned Georgia Senior, which conflicted with the 3rd Annual Fall Kickoff, my brainchild, as Vest told the cameraman during the interview today. We had 108 at old North DeKalb Mall and the house was rocking. Mr. G was on hand all day as one of the assistant TDs. I am planning to help Thad promote an Atlanta Senior at the ACC around the end of the year. It could well be the last dance at the HOP. Thad told me tonight that Spinks was exhibiting symptoms of a possible stroke when he was there last week."
I could not help but think of the ol' chess coach, the Legendary Georgia Ironman, when watching this video:

I wrote to Mulfish, "That's 3 Seniors (Tim and his sidekick David Vest and Mr G.)who woulda played at another time. There's a huge difference between 14 & 17!
It actually makes me quite sad, Mike. I cannot recall exactly what the turnout was last year, or the previous years, but it seems that the numbers have dwindled. This is a bad thing for Senior chess! If players do not come, they will stop having tournaments, which is, I expect, what most pooh-bahs want. Rather than take the time to ascertain why the players are not coming, I'm afraid they will concentrate on where the money is-with the kids...
Organizers continue to do goofy things-like the 'drop-ins' at Harry's Tn Senior, for example. Mostly they just continue to do the same things that have proven to not work. Is that not a sign of insanity?!
This tournament does point out what I've written about in that, like Klaus said, "A Senior tournament should be an open tournament, because at our age anyone can beat anyone!" Better to have one 14 player tournament than one 5 & one 9 player tournaments. That has been proven conclusively at the House of Pain!"
I had considered making the trip down for the Senior in the Great state of Georgia, but decided against it. I sent this to Mulfish before the tournament: "I want you to know that I had given consideration to coming down to play next weekend. I considered the cost, which is considerable. 800 miles would be about a C-note in petrol. Then there's the hotel expense with the average room being about $100 these daze, so a cheap one would be $50, making it another C-note. (If I'd known about it earlier, I could've gotten an extended stay for a week for about $50 or so more, which woulda been better) Then there's the fact that I would hafta drive all day Friday, which wipes me out for the next day, and I can't drive back Sunday night, so that's another night in a hotel...Then there's EF & United Scholastic Chess Federation dues...Not to mention the fact that I've not played chess in a coupla years, nor have I prepared at all....Then there's the time control, a time control I've never used in my life! I do not understand why you people continue to use new-fangled TC's for us 'old-timers'...I would even prefer a 40/90 with a SD of 30, or even 15, plus the time added for only the second control. Most games are over by the end of the first TC anyway...And then there's the noon start time on Sat. WTF for? I mean, do you REALLY think out of towners are gonna drive in Sat morning and look forward to playing a game at 5:30, which will end at what, 10 or 11? HeyZeus, don't you folks read the BaconLOG?! What's wrong with ending the first day at 7, or even 8, so that a SENIOR can have a decent meal and actually get a night's sleep? We are OLD, and we need REST! There is hardly any time between rounds to stuff a biggy burger in one's gullet and cram it down before having to be back at the board! So much for digestion and a nap..."
Let me say that having two sections points out a fact that with more sections there is a greater probability of having more players sitting out with a bye by being an odd man out. If this had been one 14 man section, there would have been a even number of players.
Mr Mulford was unable to play because of a serious family matter. I could not help but notice that Mark Couvillion, who won last year (or was it the year before?), did not play, which is strange since it was held at his cousin Joe's North Georgia Chess Center. There were many others I did not see on the crosstable. I cannot help but wonder why they did not play. Some interested person should make contact with every player who has played in the past to ascertain why they chose not to play this year. An effort should be make to contact those that could come, but chose to stay home. I am afraid what will happen to Senior tournaments is the same thing that Republicans are trying to do to government. They appoint lackies and toadies like 'Brownie' and his 'superior' Chertoff, who kept his job even though he proved how incompetent he was, and then say, "Government doesn't work!" The fact is that government works fine when competent people are placed in proper positions. Chess pooh-bahs will continue to foist poor tournaments on Seniors and when they do not come will say it is proof that Senior tournaments do not work.
I noticed that the 2012 US Senior is once again in Houston in July. I guess the 'drop-ins' (see who played a few games one day, took some half-point byes, and played one real game on the last day put a large enough smile on the pooh-bahs faces that they decided to stick with a 'good thing'. I can't help but think of something written to me via email by a well respected Senior about playing in Houston during July: "Spending a week at the Houston airport in July does not appeal to me." Me neither!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Risk-taking and Attractiveness in Chess

The article on Chessbase begins: "In a recent research project on expert chess players, scientists found that male chess players choose more aggressive chess openings on average when playing against good-looking female opponents compared to when playing against less attractive female opponents, although they are equally skilled, experienced and of similar age." (
I can only recall playing a couple of members of the opposite sex, and fortunately, both were too young for me to have lascivious thoughts. There is no way for me to know from experience if I would be more agressive if I crossed mental swords with a pretty woman.
One does have to face women in backgammon though. I always found it disconcerting to play any woman, whether attractive or not. I recall facing a woman in the very first round of a major tournament; that being a weekend tournament, as opposed to a nightly tournament. With only one checker left I was off the next roll. My opponent had four men left on her six point which meant only one roll-double sixes, a 35-1 shot-would win for her. When the dice landed on double sixes, I thought of something a friend used to say. "Supposed to happen."
"Oh Michael, I'm so sorry," she said. "You're a top player and have a chance to win this tournament." I looked at this woman and thought before speaking. She was nice enough when she was not drunk. She came to many tournaments for the social aspect of it and never won, but kept coming back. Players like her enhanced to prize fund considerably. She would keep coming back, telling anyone who would listen that she once beat me in an official tournament match. I smiled and said, "Do not ever say you're sorry to win! You play all the time and are bound to win sometime. It is my misfortune that it happened to be at this time. Good luck in the tournament." She was knocked-out in the next round.
The Legendary Georgia Ironman played the lovely Jennifer Shahade once. He had this to say about the experience, "I went 69 tuff moves facing down that double-barreled shotgun!" I have often wondered whether Tim was more, or less, agressive playing that game.

Monday, October 3, 2011

It Was Uggla

The Braves collapsed because they could not score runs while the Red Sox collapsed because they could not stop the opposing team from scoring runs. The Sox averaged scoring a little over five runs a game from April through August, and kept it up during September. Their downfall was that they allowed an average of two more runs per game during the last month of the season. Fortunately for the Braves, their collapse has been over shadowed by the Red Sox, especially now that 'Tito' Francona has been forced out as manager. Boston did underachieve though, coming in at 90-72 when their Pythagorean (runs scored vs runs allowed) W-L record was 94-68. The Braves, on the other hand, over performed to the tune of four games. Their 89-73 record should have been 85-77.
Terry Francona is a fine manager and I have rooted for him, not only because to root for the Red Sox means seeing the Damn Yankees lose, but also because he, along with his teammate, Buddy Bell, were in my Buckhead Safety Cab when they were both in town with the Reds to face the Braves in the mid to late 80's. Terry was amazed that I knew so much about his father, Tito, who had played for the Braves in 1969, one of my favorite seasons because the Braves won the Western division title. What the hell they were doing in the 'west' along with the Dodgers & Giants, both on the left coast is anybody's guess! I told Terry that it broke my heart when the Braves sold his father to the Oakland A's that summer. I thought it was a big mistake since Tito was a 'professional hitter', and he proved it by hitting almost .350 down the stretch with the A's, after hitting almost .300 with the Braves. He said I would get a good tip, so I told Buddy that I had several of his father's baseball cards from the early 60's, when he was over 30 and declining, but I knew from the back of the cards that Gus had put together some real good years in the early to mid 50's. Buddy said he would double the tip! They asked me to suggest a bar with good food and I took them to Aunt Charley's, where they invited me in and bought my meal while we talked baseball. And yes, the tip was HUGE!
After the Braves lost one of the tv men asked Dan Uggla, "How can you explain it, Dan?" Uggla said, "We went out and left everything on the field." Yeah, right. I thought of my favorite baseball movie, Bull Durham, when Crash is trying to tell the kid how to talk to interviewers when he gets to the show. "Just fill 'em with cliches."
Earlier they had shown the 'game changing moment' which was Uggla's 3-run homer in the third inning. That would be all the runs the Braves would score. I thought the 'game changing moment' occurred in the bottom of the sixth when Uggla failed to score when he was tagged out at the plate. There were two outs, with Uggla on second and Freddie Freeman on first, after both had drawn base on balls. Jack Wilson hit a line drive single to right field which was fielded by Hunter Pence. Uggla, not a fast or good baserunner, rounded third and I could not help but think of Pete Rose in the All Star game when he rounded third with his head down heading for home. In what has become a defining moment for 'Charley Hustle', he barreled into the catcher, Ray Fosse, who had tried to block the plate, like a torpedo, and scored. Uggla took a look at the right fielder after he rounded third, which seemed to slow him down. The Phillies catcher, Ruiz, was blocking the dish with his left leg as he awaited the one-hop throw. Uggla had two choices at this point...He could have slid in with his feet first, as is taught to every player since little league, and maybe his foot would dislodge the catchers leg. Or he could have taken the Pete Rose route and crashed into the Ruiz, the preferred method. Uggla did niether. He slid into home face first and never even touched home plate! That was an unforgivable baseball sin. He was out and it was like you could see the Braves balloon deflate. If he had come hard-charging into home and blasted Ruiz he would have made a statement and fired up his teanmates, even if he had been out. Even if he had 'slud hard' as ol' Dizzy Dean used to say, with his feet first, it would have shown something. Instead, the Braves with Uggla as an example, with down meakly, like wimps. It was the Braves season in a microcosm.
One of the tv guys said he had talked with someone in baseball who said the Braves could only score runs with the home run. No one typlfied that as much as Dan Uggla. With him it was all or nothing. He averages striking out once a game, and has done so over his career. His on base % fell to only .311 this year, below major league average. To score runs a team must have a sustained offense. The Braves OBP was only .308 this year, below average. Good things happen when a batter gets his bat on the ball as shown by the blow from which the Braves could not recover, a soft, broken-bat, floater, hit by Hunter Pence, a batter who chokes up on the bat, and still hits 20+ home runs. As pointed out by the announcers, if Freeman had not been holding the runner on first, the ball would have been caught.
Uggla salvaged his season this year with his good second half. Still, it did not make up for the abysmal first half. His defense, by any measure, is not up to major league standards. For example, defensively he rated -1.6 in Wins Above Replacement, which means some guy in triple A could field better than Uggla. An example would be when the umpire saved Uggla's butt in the top of the sixth. After Utley singled, Pence hit a ground ball to Uggla, who made a backhand flip to the SS that had nothing on it whatsoever. By the time the SS caught the ball he was way off of the bag, and the runner should have been called safe, but the ump called him out and the SS completed a double-play. The commentators mentioned it, saying, "He was in the vicinity."
Actually, losing could have been the best thing that could have happened for the Braves. The Braves were being discussed on ESPN and they were talking specifically about Greg Kimbrel's failure to close out the game and earn a 'save'. Bobby Valentine put the blame on the manager, Fredi Gonzalez, for his abuse of his young relievers all year. Kimbrel could not find the strike zone and Bobby V said, "First goes the control and then goes the arm." He also mentioned that Greg had logged more innings than any other 'closer'. I followed the Braves mostly by box score this year, watching only a dozen or so games. It sure seemed that Kimbrel and Venters were brought into far too many games in which the Braves had a 2 or 3 run, or even more, lead. Kimbral's ERA for most of the year was around 2.00, but balooned to over 4.50 in September. The last thing the young relievers needed was to have to hurl more innings in high pressure situations this year. As it is they will be fortunate if at least one of the young guns does not blow out his arm next year.
When a team collapses the manager must accept responsibility. It is kinda like the captain of a ship. The buck has gotta stop somewhere. One of the biggest decisions facing any manager is the problem of the under performing former star. An example of it would be how the Damn Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, handled the situation with 39 year-old Jorge Posada. Joe slotted Jorge in the ninth position in the batting order and the vastly over paid former star refused to play after whining like a little girl. It seems batting last was too much for his fragile ego. He should have been happy to be in the lineup in lieu of on the bench, where he belonged! Later on in the season the manager finally put him on the bench, where he was still drawing his gargantuan salary, I might add. Joe did it for the good of the team and the organization.
The Braves mamager faced a similar situation with his former star, Chipper Jones. Chipper had a damn good year considering his age, 39. His WAR was a positive 2.8. Offensively it was 3.1, but on defense it was -0.3. In the top of the 12th inning on the final day of the season the first batter hit a hot shot to Chipper's left, which went through for a base hit. One of the announcers said, "A lotta big league third basemen woulda scooped that up but Chipper's 39 year old legs cost him half a step." Someone chimed in with the fact that Chipper was playing with a knee that was "bone on bone." It hurt just to hear it...
In game number 150 on Wednesday, September 14, vs the Fish, a game the Braves won, Chipper went 0 for 4. There was an off day the next day. From game 151 until the end of the season, Fredi put Chipper's name in the lineup in every game but one, #156, a game in which Chipper pinch-hit, making an out. In the final 13 games of the season Chipper went 8 for 46, an average of .174. He went 2 for 4 in game #160, with a home run and a double. In only one other game during that stretch did Chipper get two hits, with that being in game 152, and one of the hits was a double.
In an article in the NY Times newspaper after the Braves lost to the Phils on Sept 27 it was written, "Just after Chipper Jones agonizingly lugged down the first-base line Monday on a double-play grounder in the eight inning, Braves Manager Fredi Gonzales whistled to get his attention. Gonzalez invited Jones, with a gesture, to consider leaving the game. No, came the answer, via a shaked of the head."
The thing is that the above was NOT included in the online article on the NY Times website! (
I sent this to my friend, the Discman, regarding the story: Since when did a manager hafta ask his aging 'star' if'n he wants to come outta the lineup?! What the hell kinda weak-assed manager ASKS?! If the guy cannot perform, the manager OWES it to the team and the organization to get his ass offa the field! Can you imagine Billy Martin asking anyone if'n he wants to come offa the field?!!!
It was terribly sad to read about and see Chipper play during the final stretch run. It was more than a little obvious that he was hurting, and hurting his team by playing. Chipper WAS a great player; a sure HOFer if ever there was one. But by the end of the season Chipper Jones had become Chi Jo at best. The manager had other players who could have played who were not injured, and could have helped the team, in lieu of hurting it. It was the manager's responsibility to put the best players on the field, for the good of the team and the organization. It was obvious that Chipper was not gonna come offa the field unless forced to do so. For that Fredi Gonzalez should be forced to seek employment elsewhere, for the good of the team and the organization.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ted Williams Wing Men

After what is being called the greatest night in the regular season by the media it seems as if everyone is talking about the great game of baseball, so I will drop my two cents worth into the pool. Everyone has his own way of looking at things and I am no exception. The difference between the 'talking heads' on the tube and me is that they get paid by baseball, directly or indirectly, which causes them to lead the cheers rather than take an honest and objective look at the state of the game. For example, I have heard it said that Bud Selig should be enshrined immediately in the baseball Hall of Fame because of the 'excitement' caused by the reprehensible 'wild card'. Curt Schilling, a perfect name for one leading the cheers for baseball, was on ESPN wearing a shit-eating grin, beside himself with joy as he said, "There are four cities filled with excitement because of the wild card!" The fact is that if the Red Sox and Braves had not collapsed completely there would have been no 'wild card' race and the playoff teams would have been set before Labor Day, and not much 'excitement' in Mudville. Although I realize most of the people following baseball are not old enough to remember the 1960's before the leaguse split into divisions, I still cringe when they try to foist this 'wild card' crapola on we the fans as something wonderful. I loath and detest the 'wild card'! How can a loser ever win? (How can you mend a broken heart?) Become a WILD CARD! Pitiful, ain't it? You can put lipstick on a pig... The year of the Phillies infamous collapse, 1964, saw the Cardinals take first place, with the Phils and Reds only one game behind. The Giants were only three games behind and the Braves finished only five games out of first place. Now that's what I call a pennant race! I would come home from the Boys Club and listen to the St Louis Cardinals game on the radio every night because at that time the Braves were still in Milwaukee and if you lived in the glorious South, the Cardinals were your team. If you do not understand why, you obviously do not know much about history...and probably biology too, I'm willing to wager. In the AL that year the Damn Yankees finished only one game ahead of the White Sox, with the Orioles only three back. The pennant races really did go down to the wire and there were seven excited cities in '64. It was not the only year with close races. 1967 saw the Boston Red Sox finish only one game ahead of both Detroit and Minnesota, with the White Sox three back and the surprising California Angels seven and a half back after being in contention most of the year, but fading at the end. That was the year Carl Yastrzemski put the team on his back and carried them across the finish line. He hit like Teddy Ballgame the last month of the season, with a batting average over .400. Speaking of Ted Williams, there was a fine story about him by Bill Pennington published in the NY Times Sept 17 ( is a series of pictures showing Ted swinging a bat in the clubhouse. Although he was a big man for that time, he looks positively skinny compared to today's 'juiced' players. Ted was lean. Today's players are muscle-bound, which is one reason there are so many injuries these days. The tendons and ligaments simply cannot handle the extra bulk.
From the article: "His batting average stood at .39955 with a season-finale doubleheader to be played the next day at Shibe Park, home of Connie Mack’s Athletics. Since batting averages are rounded to the next decimal, Williams could have sat out the final two games and still officially crested baseball’s imposing .400 barrier.
At the time, Williams said, “If I’m going to be a .400 hitter, I want more than my toenails on the line.”
I thought of that when reading the scrawl while watching the final night of the regular season. Jose Reyes pulled himself out of the game after a bunt single on the last day of the season, giving Ryan Braun a chance to win the title with an outstanding day. Unfortunately, he did not get a hit. I recall a Braves player, Gerald Perry, in 1988, was at .2998 going into the last game of the season and chose not to play as it would be rounded to .300. Ted Williams flew combat missions in the Big One, World War 2. I don't think Ted would have wanted either of these guys flying with him as his wing men.