1/20/13

David Rubin - More Baseball Notes

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Sunday, January 20, 2013Top 10 rotations in MLB history




Tom Glavine/John Smoltz/Greg Maddux
Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux were a formidable trio in the 1990s for the Braves.
I grew up as a crazy Los Angeles Lakers fan right in the middle of Boston Celtics country, in central Vermont, which meant that all of my friends rooted for Larry Bird and Robert Parish and Cedric Maxwell, and I rooted for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. I loved the debate, even when it was a certainty that we would disagree.
It is in that vein that we present a week-long series ranking the greatest units in baseball history -- the greatest rotations, the greatest bullpens, outfields, infields, lineups and the greatest teams.
It's a sure thing: We are going to disagree. And that's a big part of the fun.
Here's my list of the top 10 MLB rotations of all time:

1. 1997 Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta rotation was so good for so long that you could actually make a case for about a half-dozen other seasons -- 1995, the year that the Braves won the World Series, or 1998, or 1999, or 1993, or maybe 2002. I solicited opinions on this from a bunch of colleagues, from Jayson Stark to Justin Havens to Frank Labombarda of the Elias Sports Bureau, and Jayson sent along a list of the teams with the greatest differential between their staff ERA and the league average. Five of the top 30 teams were those Braves teams of Greg MadduxTom Glavine and John Smoltz.
In 1997, the difference between the Braves' staff ERA of 3.18 was more than a run better than the league average -- 1.03 runs, to be exact -- which is the fourth-best of all time. That year, John Smoltz had 241 strikeouts in 256 innings, with a 3.02 ERA, and he was arguably the fourth-most effective starter in their rotation. Denny Neagle went 20-7, with a 2.97 ERA and 1.084 WHIP, and finished third in the Cy Young voting; Glavine had a 2.96 ERA; and Maddux finished second to Pedro Martinez in the Cy Young voting, after posting a 2.20 ERA.
And within the next five years, we'll probably be able to say that three-fifths of the Atlanta rotation was comprised of Hall of Famers, which means even more today than it did two weeks ago.

2. 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers

This rotation included three pitchers who would eventually be inducted in the Hall of Fame. Sandy Koufax, in his last season before retiring, posted a career-low 1.73 ERA, with 317 strikeouts in 323 innings. Don Drysdale had the highest ERA among the starters, at 3.42, and the guy filling the No. 4 spot in the four-man rotation was 21-year-old Don Sutton, who went 12-12 with a 2.99 ERA. Claude Osteen, the Dodgers' No. 3 starter, surrendered just six homers and 65 walks in 240.1 innings, the foundation for his 2.85 ERA. The difference between the Dodgers' staff ERA that season -- built on the 1,062 innings of those starters -- and the league average was 0.98 runs, the eighth-best in major-league history.

3. 2011 Philadelphia Phillies

On the second day of spring training that year, the Phillies' rotation of Roy HalladayCliff LeeCole HamelsRoy Oswalt and Joe Blanton held a press conference together, and the whole thing was a little awkward. Halladay and Lee are naturally reticent and none of the other three was inclined to speak out of turn. When Blanton was asked, in so many words, whether he felt he was worthy of being in the same company as the other four, Oswalt reacted with a look of disgust at the question.

Greatest rotation ERAs since 1987

YearTeamERA
2011Philadelphia Phillies2.86
1992Atlanta Braves2.95
1988New York Mets2.97
1989Los Angeles Dodgers3.02
1988Montreal Expos3.05
1997Atlanta Braves3.05
From Justin Havens of ESPN Stats & Info
But while they didn't like talking about themselves, they lived up to the hype. The Phillies' rotation posted a 2.86 ERA that season, best in the majors, and Philadelphia went 102-60. Halladay, Lee and Hamels all posted ERAs at 2.79 or lower, and at one time or another, each of them was part of the Cy Young conversation during that summer; Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history.
Halladay could retire today and be all but assured of induction into the Hall of Fame, and Hamels has started his career strongly and given himself a chance to someday join Halladay. Either way, Hamels and the rest of the 2011 Phillies can say they were part of one of the greatest rotations of all time.

4. 1954 Cleveland Indians

The Indians went 111-43 that year, setting the modern-day American League record for wins -- later broken by the 1998 New York Yankees and then the 2001 Seattle Mariners -- and their rotation led the way. Early Wynn and Bob Lemon each won 23 games, Mike Garcia went 19-8, and No. 4 starter Art Houtteman went 15-7 with a 3.35 ERA. The No. 4 starter? The 35-year-old Bob Feller, who he mustered a 3.09 ERA in his 19 starts. Wynn, Lemon and Feller all were eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame -- as was a veteran reliever on that team who chipped in with one spot start, the 33-year-old Hal Newhouser. ERA that year of 2.78, markedly better than any other team; the Chicago White Sox finished second, at 3.05.

5. 1907 Chicago Cubs

It was the Deadball Era and pitching dominated, but no staff may have dominated the way that this Cubs team did. The Cubs' ERA was 1.73 ERA, with five of the eight members of the team checking in with ERAs under two runs per game: Orval Overall went 23-7, with a 1.68 ERA; the legendary Mordecai Brown had a 1.39 ERA; Ed Ruelbach, at 1.69; Carl Lundgren, 1.17; and Jack Pfeister, 1.15. In the sweep of the Detroit Tigers, which included a 3-3 tie in Game 1, the Cubs' staff allowed four earned runs in those five games.
Oh, what the Cubs would give to have a pitcher like Overall now.

6. 1986 Houston Astros

That year, a 39-year-old Nolan Ryan struck out 194 in 178 innings, with a 3.34 ERA -- and he was the Astros' No. 3 starter. Mike Scott's splitter (or whatever it was) was at its best, and he posted a 2.22 ERA, with 306 strikeouts in 275 1/3 innings. Bob Knepper was 17-12, 3.14 and Jim Deshaies was 12-5, 3.25 in 26 starts. That staff generated 1,160 strikeouts, easily the most in the majors, and Houston's rotation ranked No. 1 in ERA in the majors that year, at 3.06.
Their year would end with a wrenching playoff defeat to the New York Mets, because the Astros on that team -- and some Mets, for that matter -- will always believe that if Houston could have forced a Game 7, then Scott would have gotten the ball and won. He had been completely dominant in his first two starts, allowing one run and one walk in 18 innings, with 19 strikeouts.

7. 1971 Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles lost the World Series in seven games that year, but this may have been the best pitching staff among the many great staffs managed by the late Earl Weaver. This rotation is famous for being the only rotation in history with four 20-game winners -- left-hander Mike Cuellar (20-9), right-hander Pat Dobson (20-8), right-hander Jim Palmer (20-9) and left-hander Dave McNally (21-5). The Orioles' staff pitched 1,415 1/3 innings that year, and the starting four accounted for 1,081 of those.
It's hard to make a case for this quartet as being the greatest rotation of all time though, given the fact that Baltimore's staff ERA was just a shade better than that of the Oakland Athletics, the California Angels and the White Sox. But the Orioles' staff was extremely efficient: Baltimore finished ninth in the league in strikeouts that season, but allowed the fewest walks -- and in keeping with Weaver's directive about avoiding bean ball battles, the Baltimore batters hit only 18 opponents that year, the fewest in the majors. The Orioles had a great defense, and Weaver implored his pitchers to take advantage of it -- and in 1971, they did, day after day.

8. 1948 Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland staff ERA was more than a half a run better than any other AL team, and the Indians' primary five starters of Bob Lemon, Bob Feller, Gene Bearden, Sam Zoldak and Don Black did a lot of heavy lifting in that season -- manager Lou Boudreau used each of them for at least six relief appearances, as well. Lemon had a couple of saves and Feller had three, among the Indians' league-leading 30 saves. The Indians' ERA of 3.22 was 1.06 runs better than the league average, the third-highest of all-time.
The difference in eras may be best borne out by this number: Cleveland's accomplished staff combined for 593 strikeouts in 1,409 1/3 innings, or 3.79 per nine innings. According to Katie Sharp of ESPN Stats & Info, the last team to post a strikeout/9 ratio this low was the 1983 Kansas City Royals.

9. 1939 New York Yankees

It's a group of pitchers mostly forgotten by history because of the dominance of the Yankees' lineup that year, but consider this: The staff ERA of 3.31, or 1.31 runs better than the league average of 4.62 represents the greatest difference in baseball history. The Yankees' ERA was almost three-quarters of a run better than any other AL team, in a year in which New York went 106-45. Joe McCarthy employed his own version of a pitch count that year: Eight different pitchers had at least 11 starts and not one of them started more than 28 games. Nonetheless, Red Ruffing went 21-7 with a 2.93 ERA, and Lefty Gomez went 12-8 with a 3.41 ERA, in 26 starts. Three of the top four leaders in hits per nine innings were members of the Yankees' rotation.
That season will always be remembered for the last days of Lou Gehrig's consecutive-game streak, and for Joe DiMaggio's preeminence. But the Yankees' pitching was sensational.

10. 1905 Philadelphia Athletics

It was a different time, and really, a different game. Connie Mack used a total of seven pitchers that year, and his Big Four of left-handers Eddie Plank and Rube Waddell and right-handers Chief Bender and Andy Coakley combined for 1,169 of the team's 1,383 innings that season. Waddell had a monster season, posting a 1.48 ERA and striking out 287 hitters in 328 2/3 innings -- and he went 27-10.
Others considered: The 1968 St. Louis Cardinals -- It was very, very difficult to leave them out. With Bob Gibson leading the way with a record-low 1.12 ERA, St. Louis had an ERA of 2.49 that year, and he was followed in the rotation by Nelson Briles and Steve Carlton.
The 1926 Philadelphia Athletics -- At a time when offense had started to take over the sport, Connie Mack's staff posted a league-best 3.00 ERA. Philadelphia finished third that year, despite the fact that the staff ERA was 1.02 runs per game better than the league-average, the fifth-best of all time. Hall of Famer Lefty Grove led the way for that rotation.
The Oakland Athletics' rotations in 1972-1974 -- Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman and Vida Blue were the Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz of those years.
The 1986 New York Mets -- Before they outlasted the Astros and Red Sox in the postseason, the Mets were a regular-season machine, going 108-54 -- and their rotation did staggering work. Sid Fernandez, their No. 4 starter, allowed just 161 hits in 204 1/3 innings, and their No. 5 was a 24-year-old Rick Aguilera. Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and Bobby Ojeda fronted the rotation, with Gooden posting a 2.84 ERA.
The 1998 Yankees -- Led the AL in ERA by a significant margin as the Yankees won 114 regular-season games.
The 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks -- Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson combined for 665 strikeouts in 506 1/3 innings that year and carried that rotation.
The 2003 Oakland Athletics -- Mark MulderTim Hudson and Barry Zito were in their prime.

New York baseball writers' dinner report

Old friend Willie Weinbaum attended the New York baseball writers' dinner Saturday, and as he does every year, he checked in with this file -- after a day filled with sad news.
As Saturday's 90th annual Baseball Writers Association New York Chapter awards dinner began, chairman Tyler Kepner of the New York Times announced the names of baseball figures whose lives had ended in the past year, concluding with Hall of Famer Earl Weaver, who died the night before at age 82.
Then word started to get around that another Cooperstown immortal, Stan "The Man" Musial, died Saturday at 92. "It is a very sad day for me," Willie Mays said in a brief interview after being informed of his perennial National League All-Star Game teammate's passing. Mays, on hand to celebrate the 2012 Giants' world championship honorees and the chapter's "Willie, Mickey and the Duke" award to his 1973 Mets, called Musial "a true gentleman who understood the race thing and did all he could.
"I never heard anybody say a bad word about him, ever."
Rather than cast a pall, the news seemed to infuse the event with a renewed spirit of reflection and reveling in the people present -- like the 81-year-old "Say Hey Kid."
The Nationals' Davey Johnson accepted the N.L. Manager of the Year award and immediately lightened the mood by thanking both presenter Terry Collins, the Mets' manager, for trading R.A. Dickey out of the league, and fellow honoree Chipper Jones for retiring. Johnson also reminisced about Weaver, his indomitable manager with the Orioles, whose confidence even back in his days as a shortstop was over the top for someone "only 5-foot-3 who couldn't run and couldn't throw."
Jones, recipient of the William J. Slocum-Jack Lang Award for meritorious service, was a legendary Mets killer and his prolific numbers against them made up most of his introduction. Jones said he'd gotten the itch to go to spring training this year and looked at the Braves' web site, but worked out for five minutes and decided "it's better to go to Hawaii."
Giants catcher Buster Posey, a Georgia native, received his N.L. Most Valuable Player award from Jones and then chided him -- as did others -- about being long in the tooth. Posey recounted starting to watch Jones his rookie year, "when I was six or seven -- I don't want to make you feel old … my dad's 10 years older than you."
Earlier in the day, American League MVP Miguel Cabrera, MLB's first Triple Crown winner since 1967, and Rookie of the Year Mike Trout got together for an ESPN The Magazine cover photo shoot. Trout said he'd rented a tuxedo for the BBWAA banquet, but has plans to buy one. Judging by Cabrera's predictions of MVP and other awards for Trout, investing in a tux seems practical for the young Angel.
Instead of a traditional comedian, often the entertainment at these shindigs, the showcase act was Gar Ryness, better known as the "batting stance guy." And Ryness' act didn't disappoint, as he mimicked Cabrera's home run trot, Posey's quizzical expressions on questionable calls and the idiosyncrasies of CC SabathiaNick Swisher and Derek Jeter. He also joined the jabbers at the recently retired Jones, saying that when Hank Aaron hit his 715th homer 39 years ago, Dusty Baker was on-deck, Davey Johnson in the hole and Jones next.
Dinner emcee Kepner is a Vanderbilt alumnus, and he expressed special pleasure in the A.L. Cy Young Award going to former Commodore David Price, who proclaimed his love of the game from the time he first played it as a two-year old.
Ever-topical Mets general manager Sandy Alderson played the Manti Te'o card in making light of his team's no-name outfield, telling the audience he has had "serious discussions with several outfielders I met on the Internet; one I really like says he played at Stanford."
Alderson wished his former pitcher R.A. Dickey well, saying he hopes the knuckleballer now with Toronto becomes the first to win back to back Cy Young Awards in two different leagues, in two different countries.
The 38-year-old Dickey received the N.L. Cy from a mentor, Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro, who said Dickey's career is "only beginning." How meaningful to Niekro was the chance to present the award to Dickey? Niekro said he told his wife that if their wedding had been scheduled for Saturday, he probably would've rescheduled it.
Jim Abbott, winner of the Casey Stengel "You Could Look it Up" Award commemorating his no-hitter for the Yankees 20 years ago, recalled firing the game's first pitch to the backstop and then walking leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton on five pitches. But as the momentous performance progressed, Abbott, who was born without a right hand, said he thrived with the rousing support of the fans, who vented at Lofton "like you would not believe" in the ninth inning when he unsuccessfully tried for a bunt single.
Abbott paid tribute to the respected baseball officials Jeff Idelson, president of the Hall of Fame and former public relations director of the Yankees, and Tim Mead, a longtime Angels executive, for their teachings about how to treat people. And he cited his career and the BBWAA award as examples of what his father taught him, that "what's taken away once will be given back twice."
Courage in the face of adversity is the common denominator cited for the co-winners of the Arthur and Milton Richman "You Gotta Have Heart" award. MLB Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner, despite being diagnosed with brain cancer last summer and dealing with a taxing treatment regimen, has helped the sport forge historic new approaches to performance-enhancing drugs. Weiner stated his commitment to live his life and do his job as always and described the outpouring of support for him, his wife and their three daughters, as "off the charts."
The youngest person on the dais, perhaps ever, was 10-year-old Lindsey Duquette, daughter of former Mets and Orioles general manager Jim Duquette. For eight years and through 22 surgeries, Lindsey says her rare kidney disease, FSGS, controlled her family. But thanks to Jim's kidney donation last summer, Lindsey says she is doing well and can be of help to others. Her speech followed her dad's and she projected impressive calmness for a speaker of any age. To Weiner, her father's fellow alumnus of Williams College, Lindsey said, "if you ever need any advice when you're in the hospital, I'm available."

News and notes

Here is a clip of the final at-bat of Stan Musial, the creator of baseball's most perfect statistic: 1,815 hits at home, 1,815 hits on the road.
Tim Kurkjian offers his memories of Musial, and of Weaver.
Dick Goldstein, who writes some of the best obituaries anywhere, does justice to Musial's legacy here. As you can imagine, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has extraordinary coverage of the passing of that city's greatest sports icon.
There was a record crowd at the Orioles' fanfest, where Weaver was honored.
Jayson Stark writes about Earl's secret weapon.
Thomas Boswell writes about Earl Weaver, the master. Old friend Dave Ginsburg writes about a man beloved in Baltimore.
Corey Hart will need knee surgery, and will miss the start of the season. This is not a minor procedure; if it was a simple cleanup, he'd be ready for the start of the season.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. There are interested teams chomping at the bit to get involved in the Justin Upton conversations with Arizona, which focused earlier this month on talking with two teams that are on Upton's no-trade list -- the Mariners and the Cubs.
2. Adam Wainwright isn't setting any deadlines in his talks with the Cardinals, writes Derrick Goold.
3. Garrett Jones worked out a one-year deal.
4. Lynn Henning has some questions for Dave Dombrowski.
5. The Cubs are willing to spend $300 million for renovations.
6. Delmon Young and Luke Scott are among the Rays' DH options.
7. The Padres and Chase Headley are far apart in their arbitration filings, writes Bill Center.

Other stuff

• The Cubs are open to the idea of bringing Sammy Sosa in from the cold.
• John Axford will be able to pay off his student loans now.
• Matt Kemp wants to be ready on Opening Day.
• Rich Hill is a big fan of Boston's signing of Ryan Dempster, writes Scott Lauber.
• The U.S. won't be putting its best team on the field in the WBC, writes Troy Renck.
• The Rangers' rotation might be its most important building block, writes Jeff Wilson.
• Some Braves pitchers say throwing in the WBC will help, not hurt.
• The Indians are pleased with the middle infield depth that they are developing, writes Paul Hoynes.
• The Tigers are on their winter caravan.
• Royals fans filled a convention center, writes Pete Grathoff.
And today will be better than yesterday.



TIME TO CHANGE SUBJECT TO ALCOHOL

By Murray Chass

January 20, 2013
Nearly two weeks later the debate rages on over the outcome of the Hall of Fame voting. It has dominated baseball’s off-season. Even the Hall of Famers themselves, elected by the writers in a less controversial, less contentious, time, have added their views.
But as the all-steroids, all-the-time discussion has gone on, it has prompted a long-nagging question in my mind: why steroids and not alcohol?
Asked that question, baseball people usually give the simple answer: alcohol is legal, steroids are not. Or they might add: alcohol doesn’t enhance performance; steroids do.Carlton Fisk DUI 225
However, to repeat the start of a column I wrote nearly six years ago, “Alcohol last week killed one more major league baseball player than steroids ever have.”
I referred to the automobile fatality of Josh Hancock, a St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher, whom the club knew to be a frequent and a heavy drinker.
Carlton Fisk was a lot luckier than Hancock. The Hall of Fame catcher recently pleaded guilty to drunk driving two months after police found him asleep in his pickup truck in a cornfield in a Chicago suburb. The 65-year-old Fisk wasn’t there resting up for a game in the field of dreams.
In probably the most interesting piece of the hundreds of thousands of words that have been written about the Hall of Fame election and the writers’ rejection of known and suspected steroids users, the Associated Press quoted several Hall of Fame players as welcoming the writers’ shutout of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, among others.
“I’m kind of glad that nobody got in this year,” Al Kaline said. “I feel honored to be in the Hall of Fame. And I would’ve felt a little uneasy sitting up there on the stage, listening to some of these new guys talk about how great they were.”
Rich (Goose) Gossage had previously been quoted as saying players who used steroids should not be in the Hall of Fame, and he didn’t alter his position post-vote.
“I think the steroids guys that are under suspicion got too many votes,” he said. “I don’t know why they’re making this such a question and why there’s so much debate. To me, they cheated. Are we going to reward these guys?”
The players the AP talked to didn’t mention Fisk and most likely weren’t asked about his transgression. But most Hall of Famers have been sitting on the Cooperstown stage with him since he was elected in 2000 and probably will again this coming July or in future Julys. Why will Fisk’s DUI not make him a pariah in their midst?
I can guess the answer they would give if they were asked. Drinking is legal. It isn’t cheating. It doesn’t enhance performance. It doesn’t create an unbalanced playing field. And one answer they wouldn’t articulate: There but for the grace of G-d go I.
On the heels of Fisk’s guilty plea, which got him a year of court supervision and drug and alcohol evaluation and counseling, another former all-star player resurfaced in the same arena.
Mark Grace was participating in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ fantasy camp even though the team had fired him as its television analyst after he was arrested last August, the second time in 15 months he was arrested for drunk driving. He pleaded not guilty to four felony counts of aggravated DUI and is scheduled for trial March 19.Mark Grace DUI
Fisk and Grace, of course, are retired players no longer subject to the authority of the baseball commissioner. But there are enough DUI subjects still in baseball to wonder what’s going on: Miguel Cabrera, Coco Crisp, Derek Lowe, Austin Kearns, Adam Kennedy, Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Pineda, Bobby Jenks, Joba Chamberlain, Cristhian Martinez, Alex White and assorted minor leaguers.
“You’re right; we focus on steroids and amphetamines, which have been around for 100 years,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a telephone interview in response to a statement I made about alcohol. “But alcohol is a very serious situation. I’m very sensitive about that.”
Although appearances might make it seem that baseball has ignored alcohol, it has not, though results have not been noticeable publicly.
“We negotiated changes in how alcohol is dealt with in the last round of collective bargaining,” Michael Weiner, the head of the union, said, referring to the labor contract that took effect 13 months ago. “The doctors have always dealt with alcohol issues, players who have alcohol issues or have potential issues with other things.”
One change Weiner cited requires a player who is charged with DUI to meet with Major League Baseball’s joint treatment board, which consists of one doctor and one lawyer from each side.
Alcohol matters are covered in Attachment 27, which was added to the basic agreement between the clubs and the union. It states:
“…the parties have agreed to establish a Joint Treatment Program to deal with certain alcohol-related conduct and off-field violent conduct by Major League Players during the term of the 2012-2016 Basic Agreement.”
The last paragraph of the page-and-a-half attachment declares that a player’s participation in a treatment program is voluntary and that refusal to participate does not subject the player to discipline. At the same time, it says, a player’s referral to the treatment board does not preclude the club from taking disciplinary action.
The treatment board, Weiner explained, determines “whether players can benefit from a treatment program or not, with the recognition that a lot of people who are charged with alcohol-related crimes were caught making a mistake and don’t have alcohol-related problems.”
Cabrera, last season’s American League most valuable player, was not one of those “caught making a mistake.”Miguel Cabrera 225
A year and a half apart he had two incidents that brought him in contact with the police. Hours before the start of the Tigers’ final series of the 2009 season, Cabrera wound up in jail after an alcohol-induced fight with his wife. The incident very likely cost the Tigers the division title, which they lost in a playoff game to Minnesota.
Two Februarys later, on the eve of the start of spring training, Cabrera was pulled over in Florida and charged with DUI.
After the first incident, he underwent outpatient treatment. After the second, he was assigned a monitor for the entire 2011 season. The Tigers, though, did not discipline Cabrera.
When I asked a Tigers’ spokesman about the absence of disciplinary action, he said that was up to the commissioner’s office. When I asked Selig, he said, “I normally leave these things to the clubs, but you raise a very good point. If the club isn’t doing enough, then I have to get involved.”
As far as I know, the Cardinals did nothing in 2007 when its manager, Tony La Russa, was arrested in Florida during spring training for driving under the influence. Police found him asleep at the wheel at an intersection in Jupiter near the St. Louis training camp.
After La Russa pleaded guilty in November to drunk driving, the team’s principal owner, Bill DeWitt Jr. declined to comment, saying, “We addressed this matter with Tony last season and the nature of those discussions will remain private.” The matter, he added, was closed.
The Pittsburgh Pirates apparently did nothing after their president, Frank Coonelly, who previously was a labor lawyer in the commissioner’s office, was arrested in December 2011. News of the arrest didn’t even surface for two months.
Coonelly was charged with DUI, careless driving and driving the wrong way. He subsequently apologized, calling his actions “irresponsible and wrong.” But he offered no explanation for hiding the arrest for two months.
And then there is Matt Bush, who has surpassed Josh Hamilton in killing his career. An unemployed pitcher who was a high school shortstop when San Diego made him the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft, Bush has hit the jackpot. He has turned his third DUI conviction in 10 years into a 51-month prison sentence.
Bush, 26, completed his baseball destruction last March when he ran over a motorcycle – with the 72-year-old motorcyclist on it –and kept going, telling police after he was arrested that he didn’t remember hitting anything or anybody.
Hamilton, the 2010 American League most valuable player, squandered four years as he struggled to overcome alcohol and drug demons. Bush will very likely spend that much time in prison. Besides their drinking problems, the two players have one thing in common. Both were in the Rays organization.
Hamilton, however, found life after the Rays. For Bush, life after the Rays, who released him last October, is prison.
REYES A VICTIM OF LORIA’S LIES
Jose Reyes Marlins 225After nine years, the Mets had no use for Jose Reyes and tossed him onto the free-agent pile, making no effort or offer to re-sign him. So the newly named, quartered and uniformed Miami Marlins made a big splash by singing him to a 6-year, $106 million contract.
Then after only a year in Miami, Reyes again was unwanted. This time, however, Reyes was surprised when the Marlins traded him to Toronto because he had it on good authority, or so he thought, that he would be a long-time member of the Marlins.
In his initial appearance in Toronto the shortstop said last week that the Marlins’ owner, Jeffrey Loria, had given him different information.
“Five days before I got traded,” Reyes related, “I was with the owner of the Miami Marlins and he said he was never going to trade me.”
It would be easy to say that’s baseball, but it would be more accurate to say that’s Loria.
Not surprisingly, Loria did not return a telephone call seeking comment on what Reyes said Loria told him. It wouldn’t be the first time Loria lied.
Among other instances, I recall that several years ago, when I called Loria to find out something about the team’s new park, he told me it wasn’t finished and that he would call me when it was finished and tell me whatever I wanted to know. The Marlins began playing at Marlins Park opening day last year. I still haven’t heard from him. I guess he lost my number.
THIS EARL WAS A DIAMOND PEARL
They don’t make them like Earl Weaver anymore. In fact, with Weaver joining Sparky Anderson, there’s not much reason for baseball writers to visit managers’ offices anymore. They were the best.lEarl Weaver 225
Weaver died last Saturday at the age of 82, apparently of a heart attack while on a Caribbean cruise.
The feisty Weaver, who guided the Baltimore Orioles to six league championship series and four World Series, managed his last game in 1986. He actually retired after the 1982 season but returned to manage the last two-thirds of the 1985 season and all of 1986.
After he came back, he told me why, blaming it on the economy. “I had it all figured out,” he said. “I had enough money to live on, but then the economy changed and I had to go back to work and make some more money.”
When I brought up that reason years later, he denied having said it. But my guess was he was too proud a man to admit that he somehow had made a mistake.
The Orioles under Weaver were the best clubhouse a reporter could cover. He encouraged his players to talk to us and set the example.
He especially liked the New York writers and enjoyed talking to us, either individually or as a group. There was one time when he chewed us out. The Yankees were playing in Baltimore, but there was something happening before the first game of the series that required our presence in the visiting clubhouse.
When a couple of us walked into the home clubhouse before the second game of the series, Weaver barked at us in his gravelly voice. “Where were you guys last night?” he demanded to know.
There was one other time when Weaver demonstrated his fondness for the press, as well as his players. It was the league championship series in 1979, Orioles vs. Angels. Baltimore won the first two games of the best-of-five series and led the third game in Anaheim, 3-2, going into the Angels’ half of the ninth.
The first two batters reached base, and Bobby Grich lofted a routine fly to center field. It was an easy catch for the talented center fielder Al Bumbry, but he inexplicably dropped the ball. Rod Carew scored the tying run, and moments later Brian Downing scored the winning run.
After the game, Bumbry, a Vietnam veteran, was distraught. He stood in the shower, crying. Weaver walked by and saw him. The manager, still in uniform, marched into the shower.
“You have nothing to be ashamed of,” Weaver told Bumbry. “Go out there, stand at your locker and answer all the reporters’ questions.”
Bumbry did precisely that. He stood there until every last question was asked, winning the admiration of the reporters. Those who had seen Weaver’s moment in the shower with Bumbry admired the manager even more.
REMEMBERING A MAN WORTH REMEMBERING
Marvin Miller4 150Dave Winfield, Joe Morgan, Phil Garner, Rusty Staub, Steve Rogers and Buck Martinez are scheduled to be among the speakers Monday evening at a celebration of the life and achievements of Marvin Miller, the union leader, who died Nov. 27 at the age of 95.
Although Miller’s son, Peter, has expressed the desire that people stop talking about Miller’s absence from the Hall of Fame, it’s a good bet that at least some of the speakers will bring up the controversial subject.
The event is scheduled for 6 p.m.at Tishman Auditorium in Vanderbilt Hall at New York University

ESPN.com: New York Mets[Print without images]

Sunday, January 20, 2013David Wright engaged to model Molly Beers

By Adam Rubin

Scott Wintrow/Getty ImagesMolly Beers and David Wright.
David Wright is off the market. And we're not referring to the eight-year contract he signed last month.

Weeks after model Molly Beers accompanied Wright to the winter meetings for his contract-extension announcement, the couple became engaged over the holidays, Wright told ESPNNewYork.com.

No wedding date has yet been set.

JOE POSNANSKI: SPORTS ON EARTH

REMEMBERING THE MAN

musial_1980x1100Hall of Famer Stan Musial passed away Saturday night at his home in Missouri. (Getty Images)
The words echoed in the Brooklyn ballpark. Stan Musial walked to the plate. He would not remember hearing the chant, but he never did hear too much when he was hitting. He was just 25 then, back from the war, unsure about the future. Only a couple of weeks earlier, he had been offered a preposterous sum of money -- 10 times what the Cardinals were paying him -- to break his contract and go play baseball in Mexico. That was the year of the great Mexican baseball raid. Musial didn't exactly consider going, but he wasn't exactly thinking straight when a Mexican millionaire named Alfonso Pasquel showed up at the team hotel and spread five $10,000 cashier's checks on his bed.
"Consider it a bonus," Pasquel had said. Musial was making $13,500 for the Cardinals.
He turned it down, of course, Musial would remember his manager, Eddie Dyer, asking if he wanted people to see his two children and say, "There are the kids of a guy who broke his contract." But he didn't really need the caution. Musial belonged in St. Louis, and he knew it, and after turning down the money he started rocketing the ball. Two hits and a homer against Philadelphia. Three hits and a homer the next day. Three hits and three runs scored against the Dodgers. Three hits and a homer against the Giants. Four hits, a double and a homer against Boston.
By the time he got into Brooklyn, he was batting .346 and up to second in the league in hitting. When he left Brooklyn, three days later, he was hitting .363 and leading the league. He hit the ball all over Ebbets Field -- two singles, a double and a triple the first day, three singles the second -- and on the third day, when he walked up, the Brooklyn fans were chanting.
"Here … blur … the … blur. … Blur … comes … blur … blur."
"What the heck were they saying?" the St. Louis sportswriter Bob Broeg asked at dinner that night.
"Bob," the Cardinals traveling secretary Leo Ward said with wonder in his voice, because these were, after all, Brooklyn fans. "They chanted, 'Here comes the man! Here comes the man!"
"You mean 'that' man, don't you?" Broeg asked.
"No," Ward insisted. "The man."
Broeg wrote it like that. And that's how Stan Musial became known as "Stan the Man." After that, all he had to do was spend the next 67 or so years living up to the name.
* * *

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Maybe it is right that Stan Musial, after a long and happy life, passed away while the sports news is so strange and disagreeable. Here, one of the most famous athletes in the world admits to Oprah that he cheated and bullied his way to the top. There, one of happiest college football stories of the year talks about being duped, and how the girlfriend who had inspired him to do great things never existed. The sports pages overflow with cynicism and bitterness and anger. Maybe it is an especially good time to look back and remember Stan Musial.
This is not to say that Musial should be deified or idealized … he was a man, flesh and blood, made his share of mistakes and hit into his share of double plays. But if there's one overriding theme of Stan Musial's life, it was how much he wanted to make people happy. This was true when he played ball, the way he would duck into his peek-a-boo batting stance -- "like a small boy looking around the corner to see if the cops were coming," the Hall of Famer pitcher Ted Lyons would say -- the way he would uncork on a pitch and then break out of the batter’s box, full of expectation, full of ambition; 725 times he would turn those hits into doubles, 177 more he would make them triples. No one in baseball history rounded first at full speed as many times as Stan Musial.
But this zeal to make people happy did not end when he stopped playing. Every single day, when Stan Musial left the house, he would tuck his harmonica into his pocket. Every single day, at some point, he would run into someone, and he would pull out that harmonica, and he would play "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Musial would say he learned to play the harmonica because he did not like speaking in public, did not feel comfortable doing it, and the harmonica gave him a voice. It made people smile.
Harry Caray, who knew Musial for more than a half century, often would tell the story of Musial wandering out after a steaming doubleheader, looking as if he'd been through 15 rounds, and every single thing in his body language said he just wanted to go home and lie down. Instead, when he got to his car, he found fans waiting for him.
"Watch this," Caray told a friend, and sure enough Musial's whole body straightened -- like Popeye after spinach -- and he shouted, "Whaddya say! Whaddya say!" and he signed every autograph. Caray loved telling that story not because it was unusual, but for the opposite reason: Because it was ordinary. Even in his time, when baseball players weren't paid as much and, so, were more a part of the community, Musial stood apart.
"We all disappointed someone from time to time," the Hall of Famer Robin Roberts said when we talked about kids and autographs. "Well, all of us but one."
"Who was that?" I asked.
"Musial," he said in a voice that indicated I should have already known.
* * * 
The stories of the young Stan Musial crackle in the rich black and white of old Hollywood movies. He grew up in a big family in a Pennsylvania factory town called Donora. His father, Lukasz, had come to America when he was 19, and he worked in the zinc mines. Lukasz did not want Stan to play baseball. The story has been told many times … a man named Andy French, who managed the nearby team for Monessen and who was working as a scout for Branch Rickey's famed Cardinals farm system, wanted to get Musial signed up.
Again and again, French tried to get Lukasz to sign. Again and again, he was rebuffed. In the version Stan would tell, Lukasz wanted his son to go to college.
Finally, one day, Mary Musial went up to her husband and asked: "Why did you come to this country?"
"Because America is a free country," Lukasz said.
"That's right," Mary said. "Isn't your son free to not go to college? Isn't your son free to play baseball?"
In some versions of this story, Lukasz looked over at his son and saw tears, and his heart was melted. He then asked French how much money Stan would be paid, was told $65 a month, and he signed the contract.
The story, like so many, is almost certainly exaggerated and softened -- it's unlikely that Lukasz, in the late 1930s, with the Depression still weighing heavily on America, was especially interested in his son going to college. It's much more likely that he wanted his son to quit that baseball nonsense and go to work in the factory and make some money. It was Stan himself who sometimes looked back with regret that he did not go to college. In any event, Stan Musial unquestionably did go to play baseball against his father's will. Musial was going to become a great pitcher.
And it was while trying to become a great pitcher that he met the man who would change his life. Dickey Kerr was the honest White Sox pitcher during the thrown 1919 World Series. Kerr pitched a three-hit shutout in Game 3 and pitched 10 innings for the victory in Game 6. After a couple of years, he got into a big contract dispute with Charlie Comiskey and went to play semi-pro baseball. He was banned for violating the reserve clause. When he returned in 1925, he had little left. He became a college coach at Rice, then he coached in the minor leagues. He never made much money. But he was one of the baseball lifers who just loved being around the game.
Musial played for him in Daytona Beach, and they bonded. At one point, Musial and his wife Lil moved in with the Kerrs. It was a small house and a pretty big burden. But the Kerrs never complained. They talked a lot about baseball and life. And that season, 1940, Musial blew out his left shoulder diving for a ball while playing center field between starts. The pitching dream was over. For the next half century, people would write that Musial wanted to quit baseball and Dickey Kerr talked him out of it. It wasn't exactly like that. Musial was hungry to become a baseball star. If he couldn't pitch, then he wanted to become a big leaguer hitter -- he would say he never considered giving up -- and Kerr encouraged him. "You can be a hitting star," Kerr told Musial. For his kindness, Musial named his first son Richard -- after Dickey Kerr.
One year later, Musial was playing for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Eighteen years later, in 1958, Musial was an established star and a rich man, and he went to see Dickey Kerr, who was living in Houston. Musial told Kerr that he wanted to give him something to repay him for his love and encouragement. Kerr and his wife said they did not want anything, that Musial's friendship more than repaid them through the years. Musial bought them a house anyway.
* * *
Pitchers always had to reach for jokes and exaggerations to explain the hopelessness of pitching to Stan the Man Musial. Preacher Roe would say the only way to get him out was to throw him four wide ones and then try to pick him off first. Carl Erskine said it was to throw your best stuff and then back up third. Warren Spahn worried about the safety of his infielders. 
Musial almost never struck out. In his long career, he never once struck out 50 times in a season … and until he was 40 years old, he only once struck out 40 times in a season. He only struck out three times in a game once -- against the Cubs’ Dick Ellsworth -- and that was in 1963 when he was 42 years old. Heck, he only struck out twice in a game one time in his magical season of 1948, and one time in his magical season of 1952, and one time in his magical season of 1958.
Well, they were ALL magical seasons; that was the point with Musial, every year he led the league in something. He led the league in everything but homers in 1948 -- there are Cardinals fans who still say the homer that would have won him the Triple Crown was washed away in a game postponed by rain -- and led the league in doubles and triples in 1949. He won the batting title in 1950, '51 and '52, led the league in doubles and walks in '53, in doubles and runs in '54, in games played in '55, in RBIs in '56, and he won another batting title in '57.
People had tried to talk him out of that peek-a-boo stance in the early years, thinking it looked unsteady and would be ineffective against good pitching. Musial was always an accommodating sort, but when it came to his stance he was as protective as those penguins in "March of the Penguins." He always said the stance helped him see the pitches and, even more than see them, it helped him SENSE the pitches. "I never guess what the pitch is going to be," he told the writer Roger Kahn. "I know what the pitch is going to be." He explained that he didn't recognize the spin and he didn't look for the laces of the ball. He somehow could tell the pitch by how fast it was coming at him.
Few people understood what he meant. Even now, few understand. Musial was always generous with hitting advice -- he once worked with Chuck Connors, even though Connors played for the Chicago Cubs at the time -- but few ever really knew what he was talking about. As Curt Flood would say after Musial had offered him a few hitting tips, Musial hit naturally. And he could not explain it anymore than a hawk could explain how it flies.
"You should change that batting stance of yours," Warren Spahn shouted at him during batting practice of the 1961 All-Star Game, when Musial was 41. "It'll never do you any good, son."
"Sorry," Musial said with this big grin. "It's too late to change."
* * *
Everyone was in awe of him -- teammates, opponents, fans. In Chicago one year, the fans actually voted Stan Musial their favorite player … over all of their own Cubs. In New York, one year, they had a Stan Musial Day. And the umpires … oh, the umpires loved him. He never got thrown out of a game. There are two umpire stories worth telling now, one true and the other probably an exaggeration that began in truth. The exaggeration goes like so: A rookie was pitching to Musial, and after working it to a 3-2 count, walked Musial on a borderline pitch.
"That was a strike," the rookie growled at the umpire.
"Young man," the umpire said. "Mr. Musial will be happy to let you know when you throw a strike."
Right, that probably didn't happen, not exactly like that … but this did happen. In 1954, Wrigley Field, Musial lashed a key double down the right field line with the Cardinals trying to come back. Only the umpire, Lee Ballanfant, mistakenly called it foul. Or, anyway, the Cardinals were sure he was mistaken, because they rushed out on the field, so full of fury that crew chief Augie Donatelli felt compelled to throw out shortstop Solly Hemus, then throw out manager Eddie Stanky, then threaten to throw out Peanuts Lowry.
"What happened, Augie?" asked Musial, who had been confused by the scene. "It didn't count, huh?" Donatelli explained -- in somewhat embarrassed tones -- that his double had been called foul. Musial shrugged and stepped back to the plate. He promptly hit a double to the same spot, this time keeping it clearly fair. The Cardinals came back to win.
So many stories. There was the ending of the 1955 All-Star Game, which was actually the first All-Star Game in eight years that Musial did not start. The game went into extra innings, and kept going, all the way to the 12th. Musial led off the bottom of the 12th. Yogi Berra was catching that day.
"Stan," Yogi said, "I'm beat."
"Well," Musial said, "maybe I can put you out of your misery."
And he hit the game-winning home run off Frank Sullivan.
There was the story that Robin Roberts told me about how one time he was so frustrated against Musial -- Stan hit .383 and slugged .679 against Roberts in more than 200 plate appearances -- that he actually threw Musial something resembling a knuckleball. "I just ran out of things to throw him," he explained.
"Did it work?" I asked.
"Nah," he said. "He lined it to right for a single."
There was the story of John Kennedy, who became Musial's friend. In 1962, at 41, Musial became a .330 hitter again, like he was reversing time. "They told me I was too young to be president and you were too old to be playing baseball," Kennedy said. "But we fooled them."
Well, there are so many stories. Many people will tell you that the defining statistic for Stan Musial -- and it is amazing -- is that he had 3,630 hits in his career (fourth all-time behind Pete Rose, Ty Cobb and Hank Aaron). He had 1,815 of them at home. He had 1,815 of them on the road.
"I wonder if he meant to do that," Albert Pujols said once. Pujols -- the greatest St. Louis player since Musial -- for a long time was known as "El Hombre." Spanish for "The Man." He politely asked for people to stop calling him that. He said there is only one Man.
* * *
One last story -- this one comes from someone who lives in St. Louis and had overheard that I was doing a story on Musial. I had been talking with Bob Gibson, who had agreed to talk to a reporter because of the respect he had for Musial. "The nicest man I ever met in baseball," Gibson said. Afterward, this man came up and told me this story.
He said he did not know Musial. I nodded … I had heard from so many people who did not know Musial but still had a story, almost all of them favorable and enthusiastic and loving, but a couple of them were about being spurned or ignored by Musial in some setting or another. I wasn't sure which way this man was going to go. He said he was in a restaurant with his wife and daughter. And he saw Musial across the way. He had wanted to go over and say something, but he decided against it. He was celebrating his daughter's birthday. Anyway, Musial looked like he was about to leave.
The man said that at some point, the waiter brought out a little cupcake with a candle in it. Other waiters and waitresses gathered around her.
And then, all of a sudden, Stan Musial was at the table. He brought out his harmonica. And he played "Happy Birthday." The girl had no idea who this man was, but she found herself utterly delighted. The father, of course, felt his eyes well up with tears. I know this because even as he told the story, tears welled up in the eyes of the father.
You could argue that Stan Musial should be better remembered as a ballplayer. You would be right. Only two men -- Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds -- created more runs than he did. Only Hank Aaron totaled more bases. Only Tris Speaker and Pete Rose hit more doubles. When the fans were picking the All-Century Team and left off Musial's name -- this despite getting to select TEN outfielders -- it did make you think that Musial's greatness was too subtle for some. He didn't play in New York. He didn't hit in 56 consecutive games. He didn't hit .400, and he didn't hit tape-measure home runs, and he didn't make impossible catches in center field. He wasn't a drunk, and he wasn't a jerk, and he wasn't especially quotable.
He was, instead, someone who enjoyed seeing people smile. It's not heroic. He never claimed to be heroic. He only claimed to be lucky. What a life. He married his high school sweetheart, Lillian, back in 1940. She died last May at 91. He died on Saturday at 92. Musial grew up an immigrant's son in a town where the sky was blackened by the zinc mill. He signed to play baseball. He became a star. He went to war. He hit the ball so hard that in Brooklyn they called him The Man. He raised a family. He got 1,815 hits at home, 1,815 on the road, became friends with the president, inspired Brooks Robinson and Bill Clinton and countless others. Also, it's true, he played "Happy Birthday" on the harmonica for a lot of kids and adults in a lot of restaurants. See, Stan Musial always carried his harmonica.

Stan Musial, Gentlemanly Slugger and Cardinals’ Stan the Man, Dies at 92

By 
Stan Musial, one of baseball’s greatest hitters and a revered figure in the storied history of the St. Louis Cardinals — the player they called Stan the Man — died Saturday. He was 92.
The Cardinals said he died at his home in Ladue, Mo., surrounded by family.
A signature Musial image endures: He waits for a pitch in a left-handed crouch, his knees bent and close together, his body leaning to the left as he peers over his right shoulder, the red No. 6 on his back. The stance was likened to a corkscrew or, as the White Sox pitcher and Dodgers coach Ted Lyons once described it, “a kid peeking around the corner to see if the cops are coming.”
Swinging from that stance, Musial won seven batting championships, hit 475 home runs and amassed 3,630 hits. His brilliance lay in his consistency. He had 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 on the road. He drove in 1,951 runs and scored 1,949 runs. And his power could be explosive: he set a major league record, equaled only once, when he hit five home runs in a doubleheader.
“There is only one way to pitch to Musial — under the plate,” Leo Durocher, the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants teams that Musial often victimized, once said.
Musial was renowned for his concentration at the plate, and for his patience: he struck out only 696 times in 10,972 at-bats in his 22 major league seasons, all as a Cardinal. A gentlemanly and sunny figure — he loved to play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” on his harmonica — he was never ejected from a game. When admirers approached him, he chatted them up with his familiar “whattayasay, whattayasay.”
But he otherwise had little of the glamour of the other stars of his era — from the World War II years to the early 1960s — when baseball was the undisputed king of sports. He did not have the mystique of Joe DiMaggio, the tempestuousness of Ted Williams, the electrifying presence of Willie Mays, the country-boy aura of Mickey Mantle. His Cardinals were far removed from the coastal media centers, and he shunned controversy.
He simply tattooed National League pitching.
Musial played on three World Series championship teams, won three Most Valuable Player awards, had a career batting average of .331 while playing in the outfield and at first base, and was the fourth player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
He was the most cherished Cardinal of them all in a city that witnessed the exploits of Grover Cleveland Alexander and Rogers Hornsby, Dizzy Dean and the Gashouse Gang, Enos Slaughter, Marty Marion, Red Schoendienst, Ozzie Smith, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols.
Pujols, the slugger from the Dominican Republic, was sometimes saluted as El Hombre as he neared the end of his time in St. Louis.
“I don’t want to be called that,” he told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2010. “There is one man that gets that respect, and that’s Stan Musial. I know El Hombre is The Man in Spanish. But he is The Man.”
A frail Musial, wearing a Cardinal red sport jacket, went to the White House in February 2011 to receive the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, from President Obama, who called him “untarnished, a beloved pillar of the community, a gentleman you’d want your kids to emulate.”
There is one Gateway Arch in St. Louis but two statues of Stan the Man. Both are outside the Cardinals’ Busch Stadium, the earlier one engraved with the words of Ford Frick, the baseball commissioner at the time, speaking at a ceremony before Musial’s final game, on Sunday, Sept. 29, 1963, at home against the Cincinnati Reds: “Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.”
Stanley Frank Musial was born on Nov. 21, 1920, in Donora, Pa., a zinc and steel mill town some 30 miles from Pittsburgh where smokestacks sent grime aloft around the clock. He was the fifth of six children of Lukasz Musial, a Polish immigrant who worked at a steel and wire company, and his wife, Mary, a New York City native of Czech descent.
His father had no interest in the frivolity of baseball, but the young Musial competed in gymnastics at a Polish sports club, developing his athleticism, and he played baseball with balls that his mother sewed from rags and string. His family and friends called him Stashu, the diminutive for the Polish Stanislaus.
His high school didn’t have a baseball team, but he excelled in American Legion play as a left-handed pitcher, and he could hit as well. The Cardinals signed him to a minor-league contract for the 1938 season.
Musial was pitching for the Cardinals’ farm team at Daytona Beach in the Florida State League in 1940 when he injured his left shoulder diving for a ball while playing the outfield part time. He was converted to a full-time outfielder, and his batting prowess brought him to the Cardinals in September 1941.
Playing left field in a superb outfield with Terry Moore in center and Slaughter in right, Musial hit .315 in 1942, when the Cardinals staged a furious pennant run to overtake the Dodgers, then defeated the Yankees in the World Series.
Musial hit .357 in 1943, winning his first batting title, but the Cardinals lost to the Yankees in a repeat World Series matchup. He batted .347 in 1944, when the Cardinals were again pennant-winners and defeated the St. Louis Browns in what was known as the Streetcar Series.
Musial spent 1945 in the Navy, which assigned him to play baseball for its ball clubs to entertain servicemen. When he returned to the Cardinals, he picked up where he had left off, winning his second battling title with a .365 average in 1946 and helping to propel the Cardinals to the pennant, which they won in a playoff with the Dodgers. They also won the World Series title, defeating the Boston Red Sox.
That Series was the last in which blacks were kept from playing. By the spring of 1947, Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier with the Dodgers.
That did not sit well with some Cardinals players, according to reports, which said they had talked about refusing to take the field in protest when the team was scheduled to play at Brooklyn in May. But the truth of those accounts remains murky, and the Cardinals did, in fact, play against Robinson.
Musial did not speak out on racial issues, but he showed no reluctance to face black players. He liked to tell of how he once played baseball with blacks in his hometown, among them Buddy Griffey, the father and grandfather of the outfield stars Ken Griffey and Ken Jr.
The Dodgers’ Don Newcombe, major league baseball’s first black pitching star, recalled hearing taunts from some Cardinals players, but never from Musial or Schoendienst, Musial’s longtime roommate.
“We’d watch ’em in the dugout,” Newcombe told George Vecsey in “Stan Musial: An American Life.” “Wisecracks, call names. I could see from the mound when I got there in ’49. You never saw guys like Musial or Schoendienst. They never showed you up. The man went about his job and did it damn well and never had the need to sit in the dugout and call a black guy a bunch of names, because he was trying to change the game and make it what it should have been in the first place, a game for all people.”
The Cardinals did not have a black player until 1954.
Despite Musial’s consistent brilliance, the Cardinals fell in the standings during the late 1940s and ’50s, when the Dodgers of Robinson, Newcombe and Roy Campanella and the Giants of Mays and Monte Irvine dominated the National League.
Musial thrived at the Dodgers’ Ebbets Field, plastering the right-field scoreboard and hitting home runs over it, and winning the grudging admiration of the notoriously tough Brooklyn fans.
“I did some phenomenal hitting there,” he told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The ballpark was small, so the seats were close to the field and you could hear just about anything anybody said. Then I’d come to the plate and the fans would say, ‘Here comes that man again.’ And a sportswriter picked it up and it became Stan the Man.”
The nickname, attributed to Bob Broeg of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, stayed with Musial as he piled up hits, combining his talent with intense concentration at the plate.
“I’m always set for a fastball,” Musial told The Saturday Evening Post in 1958 when he got his 3,000th career hit. “When I’m concentrating up there, I know that pitcher’s best fastball. When he lets the ball go, if that ball jumps out in front of me there about 30, 40 feet, I know it’s got to be a fastball. If he lets that ball go and it doesn’t come up that quick, then it’s going to be a change or a curve. I never watch the spin of the ball. I watch the ball in its entirety, and what it’s doing, and how fast it’s reacting to me. And then I try to adjust from there.”
Musial was durable as well. He once held the National League record for consecutive games played, a streak that ended at 895 when he hurt a shoulder in August 1957. He won his seventh and last batting title that season, hitting .351. The following year, he became the first National League player with a $100,000 contract.
Musial retired after the 1963 season, having played in 24 All-Star Games. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969.
After his playing days ended, Musial became an adviser to the Cardinals as a senior vice president. The team ended an 18-year pennant drought in 1964 and beat the Yankees in the World Series, having finally fielded outstanding black players like Gibson, Brock, Curt Flood and Bill White.
Musial succeeded Bob Howsam as the Cardinals’ general manager in 1967, but the team was set to contend when he took the job, and he made no major personnel moves. That team, managed by Schoendienst, went on to defeat the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.
Musial stepped down from the post after the season to pursue his business interests, notably the St. Louis restaurant popularly known as Stan and Biggie’s. He had been greeting guests there as an owner since 1949, when he bought into a steakhouse run by Julius Garagnani, known as Biggie, a product of the Italian-American Hill section of St. Louis.
Musial is survived by his son, Richard; his daughters Gerry Ashley, Janet Schwarze and Jeanne Edmonds; 11 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. His wife, Lillian, whom he married in 1940, died in May 2012 at 91.
St. Louis did not forget Musial. At the 2009 All-Star Game there, he received a huge ovation as he rode onto the field in a golf cart and handed President Obama a baseball for his ceremonial first pitch. And Musial did not forget the Cardinals. He visited with them during the 2011 playoffs and World Series, when they defeated the Texas Rangers in seven games.
Musial was appreciated even by rival players. “Stan was such a nice guy that I was probably happy for him when he homered off me,” Johnny Antonelli, a leading left-handed pitcher of the 1950s, told Danny Peary in the oral history “We Played the Game.”
Musial had an explanation for his good nature. “Maybe one reason I’m so cheerful is that for more than 20 years I’ve had an unbeatable combination going for me — getting paid, often a lot, to do the thing I love the most,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1963. “The love is important, but let’s not pretend; so is the money. My old Cardinals coach, Mike Gonzales, used to say to me, ‘Musial, if I could hit like you, I’d play for nothing.’ Not me. But I wouldn’t play for the money without the fun.”

From MLB Trade Rumors:

East Notes: Rays, Scott, Mets, Yankees, Soriano

By Zach Links [January 20 at 10:23am CST]
Here's a look at some items out of the AL and NL East..

...because I still can't get enough Dickey...lol...

Text of Dickey's speech accepting Cy Young

January, 20, 2013
Jan 20
12:58
PM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com
R.A. Dickey returned to New York to accept his NL Cy Young Award on Saturday night at the Hilton in midtown Manhattan. Here's what he had to say ...

"I want to thank everybody from Fred and Jeff Wilpon, to Jay Horwitz, to Sandy Alderson. By the way, Jay Horwitz, one of these days they're going to make an award after him. I know it. If you don't know Jay Horwitz, he's the P.R. guy for the Mets. A fantastic guy. But the only thing is, it's not going to be a plaque. It's going to be a bobblehead, with mustard on the tie. But he's great.

"I have so many thank-yous to my Met family. And that's what it really felt like while I was here. I was embraced by the fans and the staff. I don't think I could have ever wished to play for a better manager than Terry Collins. Terry, thank you very much.


Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
R.A. Dickey 
"I have to also thank my agent [Bo McKinnis]. But he's not really my agent. He's much more than that for me. I've known him for a while. We both live in Nashville. And he's the guy who when I wanted to go play in Korea, just to try to make a little bit of money before I hung it up, convinced me that, 'You know, you might have a little bit left. You might not want to go to Korea.' And that was in 2008. So publicly he always rides me about it. Publicly, let me say thank you, Bo, for that. I appreciate that.

"I also need to thank, obviously, my wife [Anne]. She's here. I think Cy Young's wife, her name was Robba. For every Cy Young Award winner who has a mate, is married, there needs to be a Robba Young Award to go alongside of it, because I have drug her from every little city in the country, to Venezuela, to Puerto Rico, to the Dominican Republic, and everywhere in between. All the while, she never wavered. She didn't want me to have any regrets, even when I thought about giving it up to try to support our family. We were making $1,100 a month -- just the months we were playing -- and we were trying to get by. So thank you, Anne, for that. I appreciate it, and I love you.

"And a special thanks to who I refer to as the Jedi council of knuckleballers. They are Charlie Hough, Phil Niekro and Tim Wakefield. When I met Charlie Hough in 2005, I was on my way out. I had run my course as a conventional pitcher, was throwing 85 mph, and didn't have the control of Greg Maddux. I was serving up some balls that still haven't landed. And so I knew it was time to do something else.

"And I had people in my life who loved me well enough to tell me the truth. That was Buck Showalter and Orel Hershiser and Mark Connor. And they said, 'What you've got now isn't going to cut it. And if you want to try to be a knuckleballer, then we'll give you that opportunity.' And so I took it. Seventy-five thousand knuckleballs off a cinder-block wall later, here I am. I would not be here if it weren't for Charlie, Phil and Tim. And this is an award not only to be celebrated with them, but with the city of New York and the New York Mets fan base."

Ron Darling, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez will play major roles on SNY's expanded NY Mets pregame

In order to make room for the new pregame element, 'Wheelhouse' will be canceled. Wheelhouse host Brian Custer gets shifted to the primary anchor spot on SportsNite, SNY’s news/info show

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Saturday, January 19, 2013, 5:29 PM

 New York Mets vs San Francisco Giants. Mets TV announcers Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez in the TV booth before the game.

Howard Simmons/New York Daily News

NY Mets fans can look forward to more of (from l. to. r) Ron Darling, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez on SNY this season.

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1 comments:

shoma alam said...

plasterer sutton,
I think you are right that the TUC (and all of us) have not done enough to highlight and campaign against the ConDems plans to water down health & safety.

This also needs to be from the bottom and not just the top. We need to get ordinary workers to understand that they cannot rely on the Government, the law or their employers to keep them safe at work. They can only rely on their union (for all our faults) and community organisations such as Hazards and FACK.

Mack's Mets © 2012