brewers baseball and things


so there’s a pitching change…so what!

Will White; wikipedia

Will White; wikipedia

Switch hitting to some is an act of brown noser desperation to attract a scout or manager’s attention. Others see it as compensation for an inadequacy like a poodle yapping louder than a bulldog. Gives Willie Wilson 705 at bats in 1980.

Pete Rose encouraged hitters afraid of getting beaned to turn around and bat from the other side and in doing so never face a curve ball that starts out heading toward you.

The first known switch hitter was Will White way back in 1877. He was also a pitcher and the first player to wear glasses. It seems like more than a coincidence. If you can’t hit the ball very well right handed, you better do something to stick out and double your chances, switch hit; slap the ball somewhere and run. The manager will pencil you in every day.

George Davis drove in 131 runs in 1897. Tommy Tucker hit .375 in 1889. Max Carey scored 140 runs in 1922. All three were switch hitters. Frankie Frisch is near the top for all time hits, runs, and at bats for switch hitters, but the name Mantle, as in Mickey Mantle sticks out as something all together different.

The Mick arrived in 1951 and turned a predominately punch and judy switch hit skill into a never before seen display of power from both sides of the plate. He hit 370 home runs as a left handed batter in 5,268 at bats and 161 as a right hander in 2,749 at bats. But numbers aside, no switch hitter prior to Mantle scared the opposition quite the same.


I found a graph detailing number of switch hitters from 1940 on up and the mid-1980’s was the peak followed by a somewhat steep decline. It makes sense with the rise of astro turf, the fashion of righty lefty spits and relievers galore. The switch hitter became baseball’s multi-tasker; a two for one on a roster of only 25 men; pounding balls into the cement and run rabbit.

There’s been plenty of switch hitting slapper types. Nothing new there, but Mantle marked the birth of a new species.

Nowadays, an all time switch hitting team can be made from sorting through a box of baseball cards from the post Mantle 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s.

Eddie Murray at first base; Roberto Alomar at second, Pete Rose-third, unfortunately Ozzie Smith at SS. Mickey Mantle, Tim Raines, Carlos Beltran in the outfield; Ted Simmons, Jorge Posada behind the plate with Mark Teixera, Lance Berkman, Chili Davis, Chipper Jones, Carlos Santana, and maybe Pablo Sandoval ready on the bench.

I don’t know what the future holds for switch hitters. Anyone who can hit for power from both sides has a place, but so do the singles hitter with speed and defense, maybe even more than 100 years ago.

Players save runs with great defense. We always knew that; even with the naked eye, but nowadays, the skill is measured, analyzed and quantified with sabermetric formulas. If these switch hitters get on base and save runs on defense….that’s useful. But I wonder if coaches still discourage kids from messing around with switch hitting? Probably. They don’t even let kids pitch and bat anymore.

The Brewers didn’t play again Thursday; some weird glitch in the schedule. Kind of rare to have a Monday and a Thursday off in the same week. I watched Empire of the Sun and kept thinking John Malkovich was impersonating Tom Waits while teaching that fancy tongued British kid-Christian Bale how to be American.

The kid pulled it off; demonstrating a real knack for being both spoiled and street smart urchin; a switch hitter extraordinary.

The Brewers are 51-35.


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a small little gathering

Galliano is a name I will always remember as fat mouthed mickey’s malt beer and dumpster diving for day old donuts. We called Galliano, “g-lee” because he wouldn’t tell us his first name.

He showed up at the wall ball diamond to pick a fight. He was a new kid and needed to mark his turf, posing as a gambler with a wad of cash. We should have called him “hot plate.”

He was easy meat for The Last Straw Fantasy Baseball League driving around town in late March looking for the year’s new recruits. They suckered g-lee and his last 260 bucks without lifting a finger. The rules were real simple. Draft 25 major league baseball players and sit back and watch as the season makes or breaks you. That was the last we saw of g-lee until the all-star break.

He returned to the wall ball diamond looking real pale. He had quit the fantasy league, but it had nothing to do with success or failure. He was in second place. He was just bored, real bored.

sidney mines, novia scotia

sidney mines, novia scotia

The draft day in early April turned out to be the first and last time the owners got together. No one even watched games on tv. They stared at numbers on screens and forgot all about their favorite teams.

“Fantasy is for private sky box general managers,” G-lee said.

On the day he returned, it looked like rain, so we headed indoors to play strat-o-matic baseball. G-lee  had nothing else to do, so he bought some mickey’s malt beer and came inside.

He made a lot of “i’ll be damns” while looking at the detailed player cards, advanced strategy charts and the dice. Man oh man, he loved rolling those dice and when the red one landed on 3 and the two white dice added up to 6, he grabbed his hitter’s card and sang “home run 1-15 or fly ball 16-20.” And when he rolled that 20 sided dice to determine the outcome, he recited a play-by-play we never knew he had in him.

Yeh, g-lee loved all that, but what he loved even more was the beer, pizza, and simply hanging out.

I don’t know this Tony guy in the following video, but there’s definitely some g-lee in him.



The last baseball player who did double duty as the team’s manager was Pete Rose. He did it for almost three years between 1984 and 1986 and then he got booted out of baseball for gambling. There have been 221 player managers in the history of baseball.

Ya gotta figure it saved a team lots of money with one less salary to pay and yet in today’s supposedly greedy game, the prototype is nowhere to be found.

The industrial revolution lured people into slaughter houses and crowded apartments. Everyone got assigned a rivet to send home or whatever and specialization eventually thrived, in baseball too. The LOOGY (left-handed one out guy) is my favorite example. He sits in the bullpen day and night and then emerges to face one batter and then it’s shower time.

Paying a million bucks or more to a guy who works 5 minutes is a good deal for a LOOGY. Every kid should dream of being left-handed reliever. His arm stays strong and his career endures into Darrin Oliver grey. I vote for teams to be cheaper, especially small market teams.

How about a LOOGY records a strikeout and then changes places with the shortstop who then pitches to the right-handed batter and then back and forth like that for a while.

Yes, I’m talking about having a left hander play a position he’s not supposed to because of those shortstop pivots and arm angles and what not. Shortstop is for right handers only.

But the thing is, teams wouldn’t need 25 players on the roster and while we’re at it, get rid of the manager too. That would save teams not called New York or California three salaries to spend money on? I don’t know. The search for extra terrestrial baseball talent?