I’ve followed the career of David Eckstein for a number of years now. One reason is my son is about the same stature, in every sense of the word. He wasn’t given much of an opportunity to play sports because of his size, and as a parent it was painful to watch. He is now a triathlete. I pointed out Eckstein to him as a role model, something fathers usually don’t do to their adult sons. That speaks volumes for Eckstein, as does the fact he has had to scrap for everything he has achieved.
It’s not the size of the dog in the scrap that matters, it is size of the scrap in the dog. That scrappiness undid the Tigers, as his MVP trophy attests. Notice it wasn’t some beefed up basher who won the MVP; instead it was the little man who came up big. Maybe this is a fitting end to the steroid era. Maybe the contracts will start going to baseball players, not circus freaks. It was interesting to note that Eckstein, who is probably vastly underpaid, admitted he has never bought a new car.
He’s now driving the Corvette. Good for him. Good to see.
Every time there is a Yankees or Red Sox World Series, there are these sepia toned reminisces of Ruth or Williams and the historical legacy of these storied franchises. Yet the two current participants are in no wise devoid of past greatness. Speaking of, this is a great site on the immortal Ty Cobb.
After 80 years, baseball is just now emerging from the shadow of the Bambino, Cobb’s nemesis.
Could this be a latter day Tiger, Kenny Rogers, game?
One of Cobb’s most devastating approaches to baseball and perhaps the one that left the most lasting impression was his psychological intimidation. One part of that particular program was to nurture his image as a monster that both he and the media were creating. The more horrible that opponents thought that he was, the more that he felt that he could manipulate them to his advantage. For example, it was a good thing that opposing fielders thought that he sharpened his spikes.
As is always the case, we only recognize what we’ve lost after it is gone. Instead of inducting Buck O’Neil into the Hall of Fame during his lifetime, when he could have enjoyed it and shared that smile with us all, baseball is looking at finally doing the right thing posthumously. Tell me you didn’t see this coming. As I’ve said before, racism is alive and well in America.
Instead of looking at his not being inducted as a slight, O’Neil viewed the whole process as a celebration of a bygone era in baseball — an era of rich stories and great talent. He showed no bitterness, anger or hatred.
I never learned to hate," O’Neil said at the induction ceremonies. "I hate cancer. Cancer killed my mother. Ten years ago, cancer also took my wife. I hate AIDS. I had a friend who recently died of AIDS. But I can’t hate a human being."
It was O’Neil’s last public speech, and it was a fiery speech that further endeared him to people everywhere who long ago had learned to love O’Neil for the man he was.
"I’m not thinking about winning an MVP, I’m thinking about winning the division. Our focus here isn’t on individual awards. We’ve still got something to play for." — Derek Jeter, on Boston’s David Ortiz’ comments
Ortiz: Jeter’s no MVP – AM New York
Willie Mays turned 75 yesterday. I’m old enough to actually remember Willie Mays playing, as a Giant and as a Met. Like any other child of the Bay area, my first heroes were Giants.
I remember reading about the chase for Ruth’s homerun record in baseball magazines of the time, and finding it shocking that Aaron was thought to be more likely to break the record than Mays or Mantle. Hammerin’ Hank never had the appeal of The Mick or Say Hey Willie.
Oddly, by his own account, Willie didn’t seem destined to be a home run hitter. He was too small, and took as much delight in robbing another player of a homerun as he did hitting one himself. The Twins Tori Hunter said something to that effect on a commercial. I’ve often wondered why climbing the fence and snatching a sure dinger isn’t as appreciated as a homerun itself. It has as profound of an effect on the outcome of the game as a homer, only in reverse. If there were statistics for that there would be a history, and records to be broken, and baseball itself might be viewed differently. We forget that we view baseball through a glass, a filter of perceptions based on the story that is being sold.
It is fitting that Mays is remembered as much for a defensive play as his offensive prowess. The Catch in the 1954 World Series will live on forever in baseball lore.
Willie might have passed the Babe himself if he had not played much of his career in San Francisco. But the answer to that question was consigned long ago consumed to the swirling winds of Candlestick Park.
Defense to me is the key to playing baseball. I know people say, "Well, you’ve got to score runs," but you’ve got to stop them before you can score runs. And I used to love to run every fly ball. — Willie Mays
Cobb is a *****. But he sure can hit. God Almighty, that man can hit. – Babe Ruth
Before game 1 of the World Series, I told my son about Roger Clemens. I told him that if the White Sox dinged him for a couple of runs, he would be out of the game for one reason or another. Maybe he would be injured. Maybe he would get himself thrown out. But I predicted if things weren’t going his way, Clemens would find a way to get out of the game. Why? The simple fact is Clemens doesn’t generally perform well under pressure. Like ARod, he has amassed gaudy statistics in the regular season, enough to make them bona fide Hall of Famers. But they aren’t money players.
I don’t have much problem with that. It takes all kinds to be successful. Just because ARod doesn’t deliver during the playoffs doesn’t mean he isn’t the best player in baseball. Nor does Clemens failures in the postseason mean he hasn’t been the greatest pitcher of our time. It simply means they aren’t big game performers.
What is most interesting to me is ARod has been chewed up in the press for it, while Rocket has been given a pass. At least until today. Keith Olbermann is the first reporter I’ve seen who has had the guts to raise the issue of Clemens postseason foibles (The Case Against Roger Clemens). I’ve read a couple of other reporters tip toe around the issue. That raises the question why Clemens gets a free ride, while someone like ARod is pummelled mercilessly. I suspect it is because ARod is something of a nice guy, an easy target, while Clemens intimidates reporters the same way he does hitters and umpires.
So the press doesn’t get the job done. I had to tell my son about Roger Clemens.
A number of people are beginning to associate the Astros with the Red Sox (check out Bill Simmon’s article Houston, We Have a Problem). Personally, I think it is a little premature to write off the Astros. The same pundits just yesterday were proclaiming the inevitable demise of the Cardinals in the face of Pettitte, Oswalt and Clemens. The Cardinals still have to win against Oswalt on Wednesday night, and if he fails (and he just might), well, there is Clemens on the mound for the deciding game. But wait! Wasn’t Clemens on the mound for the Red Sox when the Mets clinched the 1986 World Series??? Maybe there is something to Red Sox Redux.