brewers baseball and things


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how did ted williams do that?

if good moods were the equivalent of getting on base

wait a second,

four out of ten?

baseball is really hard.

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Chuck “my bags please” Porter

No, this is not about the Brewers reliever who suffered the loss in what still is the longest game, time wise, in MLB history, 8 hours, 6 minutes. The game took two days, May 8th and 9th, 1984 and was played at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. The White Sox won in the 25th inning when Harold Baines hit a homer off Porter.

Porter, by definition is someone who carries luggage and loads, hence the Chris Berman nickname. He’s helping someone on the go and that someone is Edwin Jackson. This is an update, a glorious one in honor of Edwin Jackson. A few posts ago, I discussed the starting pitcher in the hopes he might be called back up to the Nationals and win a spot in their starting rotation or bullpen. Unfortunately, the Nats released him, but the A’s picked him up and sent him to AAA where he pitched well enough to earn a call up.

Yesterday, he got the nod to start the game and did well. (6IP, 7K’s, OBB’s, 1 ER) A no decision, but he showed that he can still pitch in the big leagues. He’s only 34 years young and here’s the kicker……he is now tied with Octavio Dotel for most franchises played for in the history of baseball – 13. What makes his traveling ways even more remarkable is that he’s a starter, not a LOOGY.

If I added a photo to this post, it would be a 13-sided collage.

Dear Edwin! You inspire me. Maybe you’ll one day pitch for the Brewers. If not, it doesn’t matter, I will always remember you, especially if one day I lose my job. I will never get too down.

Your friend and fan,
Steve


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stepping up and sitting down

Steve Sax had one named after him; so did Steve Blass, of curse, yes curse, this has nothing to do with their first name being Steve or I sure hope not anyway. It’s too small sample size to start attributing reasons especially not as silly and unsabermetric as a name. By the way, I often use the expression unsabermetric. I do not intend this as a dis or an insult. I find the science and math to better evaluate player performance as very fascinating. I simply don’t grasp most of the metrics, but I’m working on it, one at a time.

OK so on to the syndrome. Sax’s was an inability to throw the ball to first base, kind of important for a second baseman. Blass’s was an inability to throw strikes and get batters out. The syndrome hit Blass so hard that his career was cut short. Sax went on to have a few good seasons, both offensively and defensively.

What about career minor leaguers who don’t too well when they get a chance and their opposite…. mediocre minor leaguers who star in the show. I have no idea how to conduct the research for this so I’ll revert to what’s on the top of my head. In terms of career minor leaguers, I give the nod to Kilakila Kaʻaihue, born in Hawaii, an on base machine with power in the minors. But it never translated into much in the majors. He spent a few seasons with the Royals and A’s, then Japan. He’s now coaching a high school team somewhere.

Bob “Hurricane” Hazle was a big name in our house growing up. My dad made reference to him anytime anybody got on a roll doing something. He had OK stats rising the ranks of the Braves minor league system. In the year that he was called up, 1957, to give you an example, he hit .279 for AAA Wichita with 12 home runs in a little over 300 at bats, certainly good, but not out of this world. He saved that for the show where in 41 games (to replace the injured Billy Bruton), he hit  over .400 in 134 at bats, had a .477 OB%, slugged .649, and hit 7 home runs. The Braves went on to win their first ever National League and ultimately, the World Series that season.

Hazle was out of baseball in a few years. He finished with a .310 career average.

PS…yes the fences are closer to home plate, the ball seems juiced resulting in weaker hitters blasting opposite field home runs, but Jesus Aguilar barely made the team out of spring training and last night he broke up the Cardinal’s Jack Flaherty’s no-hitter in the 6th with a home run and then hit a walk off blast in the 9th off Bud Norris. He now has a team leading 16 home runs. I believe in Jesus. The Brewers believe in him. He is certainly making the most of his opportunity.

The Brewers have beaten the Cardinals in back to back games and once again sit atop the NL Central and maybe most revealing, have a winning record against division rivals.


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sort of a prayer

So Tony Horton gets traded from the Red Sox to the Indians for Gary Bell and he’s probably wondering why since Ted Williams had called him a natural in 1963 at Spring Training. Or maybe he didn’t wonder why. Maybe he witnessed George C. Scott (yes the Boomer’s middle name was Charles) on defense and knew he wouldn’t get a chance at first with the Red Sox. Sure, Scott could hit home runs, but he could also play great D. He even won a few gold gloves according to baseball reference. He musta been a big part of the Brewers. I don’t remember that far back, but a friend of mine from Milwaukee who now lives in Vancouver, Washington was in the south, in Mississippi, and he stumbled on George C. Scott, yes the baseball player and he took some pictures. He was manning a Hickory Smoked Pig House. This was before he passed away or at least I think he passed away?

I did get to witness the guy we traded Scott for….Cecil Cooper and he well, we impersonated his stance all the time, Carew like without the continuous alterations, just a consistent crouch that Cooooooooooop. That’s formative baseball years substance, comes back to mind when I catch a spring summer smell. The nose is a powerful organ, wonderful at times remembering pleasantries, but wicked other times when the opposite is true.

So there Horton goes to Cleveland in exchange for Gary Bell. Maybe Horton got bummed out about the Red Sox being so good the year they traded him? That was 1967, a couple of years before divisions were born. There was some last day significance between the Sox, Tigers, and Twins that season and the Sox finished tops and Horton in Cleveland? I don’t know where the Indians finished in the standings, but it wasn’t first. Still, I doubt that bothered Horton too much. I mean he went on to have some pretty decent years. He hit 10 home runs with Cleveland the year of the trade, slumped a bit the next season, but then bounced back in 1969 with a Charboneau year…. 27 home runs and I think that was the pitcher’s year, no? The year they lowered the mounds to give batters a chance against Bob Gibson.

Come to think of it, after doing some minimal research I discovered that he had a decent swan song season too, 17 homers and oh forget it. What good are stats! I think his method of termination was slit the wrists, but he failed and sort of lives on in mystery, but so do most suicides and almost suicides unless they are very good at vocalizing things or writing things down, but even then, as Lori Anderson sang……”Language is a virus.” I guess she meant to say it’s limited at best and doesn’t get to the eye of the storm. There is a Police Song that cites the limits of language too. It’s about love……”de dooo dooo doooo de daaa daaa daaa.”

Today’s billboard – Let Your Inner Self Scream Out.

I sometimes sit on my sofa and stare into space and wish players like Tony Horton had given themselves a break more often and then I realize I’m wishing the same for myself and everyone else.

Sun Ra would sell these types of singles out of the back of a car at shows. Often times they had homemade art work on the cover. Many of them had no record label. This one happens to be on Saturn Records. I believe that’s June Tyson who opens the chant with “Lightning, darkness” and then Sun Ra kicks in with the chant and the Arkestra follows like a caravan….on and on and on.


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a little bit on death

It’s almost the end of June and the Brewers are tied for first with the Cubs, like last year when they played meaningful baseball until the second to last day of the season. Wait a second. I don’t like that word meaningful. It’s as if a non-playoff related game doesn’t matter. Tell that to players who hit 4 homers in a game, strike out 20 batters, or simply get a chance to play.

Anyway, I figure if we get the death talk out of the way, the Brewers will stay alive. That’s a horrible pun or not even a pun, it’s downright disco stupid, but my baseball fever can be just that simple minded at times. Stay alive says my poster. I’ll be seating behind the Brewers dugout or not behind the dugout, but on that side, down in the corner, in right field.

So, onto death, some as predictable as old age and a heart attack; others not so, like being drunk and ornery, getting kicked off a train and then falling into a river and drowning or whichever Ed Delahanty legend you prefer.

All deaths are delved into great detail on the website The Deadball Era  a place maybe overlooked by internet surfers because there is another far more familiar dead ball era, the one that came BBR (Before Babe Ruth.) Some say that era never existed but most people do.

But that’s not the point of this post, death is and more specifically, suicides. I don’t know how many there have been. (The Deadball Era lists them all. Feel free to count yourself) But lift my beer stein lid open and the first name that pops out is Doug Ault. Maybe it’s because I live in Canada and for now, the Blue Jays are the only major league team here? Ault hit the first two home runs in Blue Jays history, both on a snowy, opening day in April of 1977 in Toronto. The Blue Jays won the game and Pete Vukovich earned the save, future Brewer Vuke. But Ault. His career didn’t last long, four years, and he only hit 17 home runs, amazing that two of them came on that one day. He died of a self inflicted gun shot wound at the age of 54.

Danny Thomas. He was called the sundown kid because after joining the World Wide Church of God, he refused to pitch from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. He was charged with rape and hung himself in prison.

There’s no transcript revealing either one of their last breath thoughts.

Tony Horton played seven years in the majors, three and a half with Boston, three and a half with Cleveland. He could have played a lot longer had it not been for an emotional disorder. He was apparently booed heavily and as a partial result, tried to commit suicide. That was in Cleveland. Thankfully, he failed in his attempt. Apparently his psychiatrist encouraged him to cut ties with baseball. There’s not much more info about him.

According to his SABR Bio, he became a bit of a recluse.


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walking on his toes

Spring training came way before Billy Hamilton’s mid June .187 average. It was great being there, not only because of the Arizona sun, but because I wasn’t a slave to the camera man and his angle or the words the radio man decided to use. My eyes were the camera. I could focus on whatever part of the panorama I wanted and think whatever and so I chose Billy Hamilton hopping around. God, he looked happy, talking to opponents, to teammates, old coaches, carrying his bag of bats over his shoulder, but not lugging them in labor pain, more like a woodsman with ax on his back, energetic, glad to be at the diamond.
Watching him was better than anti-anxiety medication,
a reason for being,
to play baseball.


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and happy birthday Harold!!

The sleeping pill-mood stabilizer-tranquilizer-five mile run around the block-glue sniffing distractions to snooze through the Jake Arietta daze are finally over sweet Jesus brotherly love Philadelphia for signing the former Cy Young award winner for three years at 75 million dollars….75 million?

I remember as a  kid trying to count to a million. I quit after a thousand and assumed it wasn’t possible to do in a single lifetime, but apparently it is…..

“If you count every minute of every hour of every day, you would reach 1,000,000 in 6 days, 22 hours, and 40 minutes, almost 1 week.”

But still 75 million is a lot of money. I don’t know where all of it comes from or how it’s distributed to keep everyone happy, from the big free agents to the grounds crew to the peanut vendors, but it happens, one season after another. Baseball isn’t quite the age of an empire, but it’s older than 100 years and that’s something.

Hail hail the chief, a.k.a. Mr. David Stearns (DS), Milwaukee’s General Manager for not biting the bullet and signing big free agent pitchers to dreaded four-year deals. In pre (DS) days we screwed ourselves by signing Jeff Suppan and Matt Garza for way too long. This year we went under the radar and signed Jhouyls Chacyn to a humble two-year contract for 15 million, still a lot, but he apparently has one of the deadliest sliders in baseball. We also invited former Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo to camp along with Wade Miley to duke it out in an old gun slinging wild west shoot out. May the most effective March hurler win a trip to the 25 man roster. I prefer spring training battles rather than short cut free agent signings.

All the experts had the Brewers in the mix for Arrieta, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn (recently signed with the Twins) They said the Brewers needed to muscle up their staff after losing ace Jimmy Nelson last year in a freakish pitcher injury. Aren’t all pitcher injuries freakish? No, he didn’t trip over a sprinkler or stub his thumb painting a gutter, but he did mush his shoulder sliding back into first base. Freaky enough, especially for Milwaukee, an American League city for its first 27 years, a place where DH’s ruled the roost. Larry Hisle comes to mind. There were others. I can’t remember them right now, maybe Von Joshua, Dick Davis, Thad Bosley, Joey Meyer, Billy Joe Robidoux, Jeffrey Leonard. What a job; that toiling away all alone, pacing between the dugout and clubhouse…… I did a quick search of all time greatest DH’s and Paul Molitor popped up. I don’t remember if he DH’d for the Brewers, but what a career, so great that….

“He is one of only four players to have 3,000 hits, a .300 career average and 500 stolen bases. The others are Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Eddie Collins.”

Some argue “but he was a DH.” Others argue “AND he was a DH,” the difference being that a DH is not awarded the distraction of going to the field and forgetting about the previous inning’s K with the bases loaded. It takes a special mind to be a DH.

Harold Baines…he too served time as a DH, a border line Hall of Famer, a hitter with a front leg kick. I’m biased. He’s may all time favorite player; takes me back to my baseball formative years when it – baseball was everything, the only thing. It’s his birthday today….March 15th. Happy Birthday Harold!

In other news, Edwin Jackson pitched OK for the Nationals on Monday – three innings, three hits, two walks, two k’s, one earned run, It doesn’t look like he’ll crack their starting staff, but he could very well make it as a spot starter/long man. He says it’s not about the money. It’s about still having more in the tank. More in the tank…..more in the tank…..more in the tank…….my new every day mantra.