brewers baseball and things

Dear post season…..

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Is this really happening? Are the Royals and Astros really in the playoffs? And facing each other? The two biggest losers in recent memory having both enjoyed three consecutive 100 loss seasons, on prime time TV, in October! Who to hug? Bud Selig or the sewer? Both, dammit!

Where did Chris Young come from? I had no idea he was a Royal or still pitching for that 6 feet 10 inches matter and facing Jose Altuve at 5 feet 7 and the announcer says it’s the largest height disparity in playoff history and so what’s the largest in regular season history Mr. know it all announcer? Some 8 foot giant we all missed? with a stand in Eddie Gaedel stunt man at the plate?

This is the same Chris Young who pitched for the Padres I think, like 15 years ago or so it seems. He’s the guy who went to Harvard or Yale or something and he cupped the ball and did something strange with his body, a contort or gyration of some sort and 45 years before any of this happened, Sandy Denny joined Robert Plant and sang vocals for  Zeppelins Battle of Evermore.

And so up to the plate walks Jose Altuve who is listed as 5′ 6″ which makes him one inch taller than Freddi Patek and well, I can’t think of anyone smaller that ever played major league baseball, except that Veeckian Vaudevillian Eddie Gaedel and except  maybe Yogi Berra, may he never rest. But lo and behold, the same place where I took the other measurements- Baseball Reference – lists Berra at 5′ 7″. They also list Berra’s first game as September 22, 1946 and well, Berra passed away on September 22nd this year and I don’t believe in coincidences because it makes everything so dull and sober.

I think it was the 6th inning. Altuve hit a single to center field off Young.

Josh Lewin is hands down or in my case hands up with praise, my all time favorite announcer. I think he does Mets games on the radio now, but he did Rangers games for TV for close to 10 years.He was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder at a young age and well, his mind is a bit like a conveyor belt or a massive buffet with metaphors and anecdotes galore and he speaks so fast with a great cadence and a laugh that puts a smile on my face. I was upset when the Rangers fired him in 2010 and happy when the Rangers lost in the World Series that very same year and then again in 2011. In all my sabermetric wisdom, I blamed their failure to win big games on the firing of Lewin.

Speaking of not winning big games, will Clayton Kershaw join the Pirates and A’s and Rangers in a separate Hall of Fame wing called – can’t get over the hump?

As great as Kershaw is with that lollipop curve and Craig Counsell batting stance equivalent while pitching from the stretch, arms way up high-touching the sky, changing speeds, introducing new pitches throughout the game, ERA and WHIP titles, CY Youngs and Kershaw’s  post season record now sits at 1-7 after last night’s loss to the Mets and Jacob deGrom.

There are probably still some people who don’t like it when boys wear their hair long, so maybe they don’t like Jacob deGrom. What I like about him is that he offers fans another way to like him. How about a name that begins with a small letter and includes a big one in the third slot? And if that doesn’t warm your toenails, then maybe his 13 strikeouts last night will, in his first ever post season performance, a 3-1 win over the Dodgers and  yes, Krrrrrshaw, Kshaw, Kshaw, Kshaw…..a broken record.

There are so many baseball teams playing in the post season. I remember when there were two leagues, four divisions and that’s it, that’s all. Now we have 10 teams out of 30 that make it and I don’t need a chart on my wall or maybe I do?

The Blue Jays lost the first two games of their series against the Rangers and this is real bad for Canada because if the Blue Jays don’t win a World Series real soon, we will be forced to watch highlights of the 1992 and 1993 World Series all winter long again. I wish I was in Chicago because there was no TV when the Cubs last won a World Series.

I hope there is a hidden vault of soon to be released Yogi Berra-isms.

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Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

7 thoughts on “Dear post season…..

  1. Until he can win a key postseason game, Kershaw is never going to get out of the Koufax shadow. That may be unfair, but I think it’s true.
    v

    • Tough road to hoe for Kershaw in Koufax’s shadow as you say v, but maybe that key game will be this year. I hope this series with the Mets goes the distance.

  2. “And so up to the plate walks Jose Altuve who is listed as 5′ 6″ which makes him one inch taller than Freddie Patek and well, I can’t think of anyone smaller that ever played major league baseball, except that Veeckian Vaudevillian Eddie Gaedel.”

    Harry Chappas. Veeck’s White Sox, 1978 through 1980.

    Sports Illustrate, cover story (he was on the cover), March 19th, 1979 issue—–

    In a world where bigger is presumed to be better, shortness has
    never had much of a following. Shortcomings are failures, short
    circuits cut off the electricity and short odds do not pay big
    money. Consider the undesirability of being short-lived,
    short-tempered, shortsighted and shorthanded. Who wants to be sold
    short, shortchanged, short of breath or waited on shortly? Indeed,
    who among us wants to be short?

    Well, Harry Chappas does. He has been short all his life, though
    how short is now under dispute, and as far as Chappas is concerned,
    it’s no big deal. In his 21 years, Chappas has heard all the jokes,
    endured all the insults and, along the way, converted nearly all
    the skeptics.

    Chappas is a switch-hitting rookie shortstop with the Chicago White
    Sox. As this year’s rookie crop is judged, Chappas is something
    less than a phenom but something more than a prospect. The White
    Sox are giving Chappas a long–not short–look because last season
    he hit .302 and stole 60 bases for their Class A affiliate in
    Appleton, Wis., and then hit .267 and handled 92 chances without an
    error in 20 games with Chicago in September.

    White Sox President Bill Veeck feels that Chappas has many of the
    qualities–defense, speed, a high on-base percentage at the top of
    the batting order and ticket-selling pizzazz–that the team so
    obviously lacked in 1978. Chappas could be particularly appealing
    to Chicago’s large Greek community; both his mother Valli (five
    feet) and the parents of his father Perry (5′ 7″) were born in
    Sparta. If it all works out, Comiskey Park may become Parthenon
    West, and souvlaki will be a big seller for the concessionaires.

    The promotional value of a very short shortstop has not been lost
    on Veeck (6′ 1/2″), who is to baseball what P. T. Barnum (6′ 2″)
    was to the circus. Barnum had Tom Thumb (3′ 4″), and Veeck had
    Eddie Gaedel (3′ 7″), the midget who pinch-hit for Veeck’s St.
    Louis Browns 28 years ago. Gaedel’s career began and ended with a
    walk. The wily Veeck imagines a lot of walks for Chappas–and a lot
    of customers looking on.

    “Gaedel was a gag,” Veeck said while watching Chappas work out at
    the White Sox training camp in Sarasota, Fla. “Chappas is a player.
    Except for winning, there is nothing I would rather have than for
    Chappas to play shortstop. When he came up last year he immediately
    caught the fancy of the fans. If he plays, we’ll draw, because
    everybody loves to see a little guy get ahead. If David hadn’t beat
    Goliath, nobody would have heard of either one of them. David would
    have been just another guy who was scrounged in the ground.”

    To avoid being scrounged, Chappas must learn to do what Gaedel did.
    “The key to whether Chappas plays is the discipline he shows at the
    plate,” Veeck says. “He’s a tough target, and we want him to learn
    the strike zone and use his size to advantage. We’re emphasizing
    the base on balls. We DH-ed him in the instructional league this
    winter just so he could work on it. I would sit up in the stands
    and yell at him not to swing at balls over his head. He did a good
    job, too. The only mistake he made was to hit two home runs. That
    can give him bad ideas.”

    Veeck says the decision to play Chappas will be made by the Chicago
    manager. Unfortunately for Chappas, the manager now happens to be
    last year’s shortstop, Don Kessinger (6′ 1″). Even though he will
    be 37 years old in July, Kessinger hopes to pick up the lineup card
    without putting down his glove. “I’m in shape and I’m ready to
    play,” he says. “We’re going to put the best team on the field we
    can, and if that means having me at shortstop, then I’ll be there.
    I don’t think there is any question that Harry will be a
    major-leaguer, but I don’t know yet if it will be now or next
    year.”

    A rookie’s life is never easy, but imagine the difficulties facing
    Chappas. Veeck is telling him how he should play, while Kessinger
    is telling him if and when. To make the situation worse, poor Harry
    can’t even tell anybody how tall he is.

    Last Sept. 1, on Chappas’ first day as a major-leaguer, White Sox
    broadcaster Harry Caray (5′ 11″) pulled out a tape measure and
    declared Chappas to be 5′ 3″ short, or one inch shorter than
    baseball’s reigning “shortest player,” Kansas City Shortstop Fred
    Patek. Caray’s measurement became Chicago gospel. “Harry is the
    smallest player in the major leagues since Eddie Gaedel,” Veeck
    says. “He is 5′ 3″.”

    As a rookie, Chappas is in no position to disagree with Veeck or
    Caray, but a knowledgeable member of the White Sox organization (?’
    ?”) confides, “Harry is really 5′ 5″. Veeck wants people to think
    he’s the smallest player in the majors. The publicity would make
    money for Chappas and for the club. Harry Caray told the kid he
    should go along with it unless somebody wants to pay him a lot of
    money for an official measurement. Chappas is uncomfortable with
    the whole situation, but he is staying quiet because he is afraid
    to make anybody mad.”

    Chappas’ acquiescence has already forced him to participate in some
    demeaning photograph sessions. For one, he posed in the arms of a
    teammate, and for another he stooped inside a trunk. “I should have
    said no,” Chappas admits, “but I know the club wants the publicity.
    That’s not me, though. I’m not a salesman. It’s like putting a dime
    in a nickel slot. It fits but it don’t work. I want to be known as
    a quality ballplayer, not as a midget or a punk. I think I can
    create a lot of excitement on the field by being a complete player.
    There aren’t very many of those around.”

    The White Sox’ desire to lop a couple of inches off Chappas is
    particularly ironic because Chappas’ lack of size almost prevented
    him from being a professional ballplayer. Baseball people, like
    most sports experts, invariably look at short people the way Randy
    Newman (5′ 11″) did in a popular song of a while ago. “Short people
    got no reason to live,” Newman wrote. “I don’t want no short people
    ’round here.” Newman, of course, was being satirical; baseball men
    really feel that way.

    “It takes courage for a scout to recommend a small player,” says
    White Sox Vice-President Roland Hemond (5′ 8″). “He’s bound to be
    skeptical of a little man. I know if I can look down on a player, I
    wonder how good he really is.”

    A White Sox scout, Walt Widmayer (5′ 9 1/2″), was very skeptical
    the day in 1974 he first saw Chappas work out with his Fort
    Lauderdale high school team. “He looked like such a little fellow I
    couldn’t get very excited about him,” Widmayer recalls. “A player
    his size is open to a lot of criticism. He has to be real good all
    the time. A 6′ 2″ player can have an off day and not hurt himself.”

    Widmayer wasn’t at all impressed with Chappas then, but his second
    look was a real stunner. “I went to see him play a game in Miami,
    and he hit the first pitch about 360 feet against the wind for a
    home run,” says Widmayer. “I couldn’t believe my eyes.” Even with
    this clear evidence of little man, big stick, Widmayer still had
    reservations. The White Sox did draft Chappas in June of 1975, but
    in the 18th round as the 538th player selected. Instead of signing
    with Chicago, Chappas wisely decided to accept a scholarship to
    Miami Dade North Community College, which has sent 14 players into
    the majors, including Bucky Dent (5′ 11″) and Mickey Rivers (5′
    10″). Chappas made such a favorable impression during the school’s
    fall schedule that he was picked sixth by the White Sox in the
    January 1976 draft. After making All-America for his outstanding
    play in the spring season, he signed with Chicago for a $10,000
    bonus.

    If Chappas had been bigger, his bonus likely would have been
    bigger, too. His father says he remembers overhearing one American
    League scout say, “If that little shortstop were six feet, he’d be
    worth $100,000.” Widmayer says one National League scout gave
    Chappas high marks in every department but refused to recommend
    him. “Why not?” Widmayer asked. “Ah, he won’t catch the high line
    drive,” the scout replied.

    Such logic has kept a lot of little men out of baseball. The
    exceptions are few–oldtimers such as Wee Willie Keeler (5′ 4 1/
    2″) and modern players such as Albie Pearson (5′ 5″), who retired
    in 1966 after nine seasons, and Patek (5′ 4″). (Pee Wee Reese,
    incidentally, was not a peewee at all–he stood all of 5′ 10″.)

    Lack of height never seemed to handicap those players, and Chappas
    doesn’t consider it a problem for him, either. He knows he has a
    strong arm, fast feet and a durable, 150-pound body. “Once I take
    the field, my size doesn’t matter,” he says. “The only time I’d
    even think about it is if a brawl got started.”

    Chappas’ father has the most logical view of the whole matter.
    “What difference does it make?” he says. “Harry is a hell of a lot
    bigger than the baseball.”

    As a matter of fact, Chappas is bigger than a lot of God’s
    creatures, including the average gnome (15 centimeters), the
    world’s smallest man (28″) and past and present notables such as
    James Madison (5′ 4″), Toulouse-Lautrec (4′ 6″) and Truman Capote
    (5′ 3″). More important, he also is big enough to overlook the
    slighting remarks of others. Here is a recent sampling:

    –Veeck, while watching Kessinger and Chappas work out: “There’s
    the long and the short of it.”

    –Hemond, describing Chappas’ minor league background: “After we
    sent him from Double A back to A, he grew up a little. Well, you
    know, not physically.”

    –Teammate Ron Blomberg (6′ 1″): “The first time I saw him I
    thought he was the bat boy. He’s a nice little boy.”

    Chappas has put up with such condescension for a long time.
    “Smaller guys are put down sometimes, but I guess that sounds like
    I’m pulling for equal rights,” he says. “It doesn’t really bother
    me anymore. I’ve learned to ignore it. I might laugh just to go
    along, but it doesn’t absorb. I’ve never felt I was unusual so I
    don’t know why other people do. As long as I’m wearing a major
    league uniform. I don’t care what anybody says.”

    Sports has always been Chappas’ equalizer. (He was a wide receiver
    on his high school football team.) His father started him off early
    in baseball, tossing him a plastic ball to hit when he was three.
    By the time he was eight, he was the youngest player on his Little
    League team. In fact, Chappas has been just about the youngest and
    smallest member of every team he has ever played on. He started for
    his high school club as a ninth-grader and played semipro ball with
    men in their 20s and 30s when he was 17. “Being small makes you
    more aggressive and more ambitious,” he says. “My friends called me
    `the little giant.’ ”

    In 1976, his first pro season, the little giant did respectably
    enough, hitting .262 and stealing 40 bases with Appleton. But the
    next year, at Knoxville in Double A, he slumped to .231 and 20
    steals. That sent him back to Appleton for the 1978 season. At
    first, Chappas says, he was so depressed he felt like quitting. But
    after accepting the change he helped Appleton to 101 victories and
    won the Blue Jays’ most-popular-player award. Then he was called up
    to Chicago.

    Caray led the campaign to promote Chappas. The White Sox were
    struggling along in sixth place at the time, and the broadcaster
    felt Chappas might relieve the boredom. “If he had flopped he
    wouldn’t have been doing any worse than anybody else,” Caray says.
    “As it turned out, for the last month of the season he was the star
    of the team.”

    However, 20 games in September are just that: 20 games in
    September. The jump from Class A to the major leagues is about the
    longest a player can make, and if Chappas isn’t capable of
    starting, the White Sox no doubt will send him back to the minors
    for more seasoning. “I hate to see a young player like him sit on
    the bench,” says Kessinger.

    Chappas believes he’s ready to start, but would gladly accept a
    utility role to stay in Chicago. “I’m very confident in myself,” he
    says. “If the club doesn’t think I’m ready to play every day, I
    think I’d be ideal for pinch-hitting, pinch-running or late-inning
    defense. I want to prove to the skeptics that there is room for the
    little guy. I could give others some hope. I’d be somebody they
    could look up to.”

    Chappas will get his chance because White Sox economics almost seem
    to demand it. And if we are to believe Randy Newman, Chappas should
    do just fine. Short people, Newman warned, are “gonna get you every
    time.”

  3. I remember Harry Chappas, who was almost good enough, a poor man’s Albie Pearson perhaps. Chris Young went to Princeton, where I think I may have actually seen him play basketball. I remeber he was a Pirates draft pick, but they traded him away on one of those ill-fated late 90’s/early 2K deals that the club had down to an art form.