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.

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