The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

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The Sum of Sins Unregarded

The gray rain pelted the parlor window of the little brick house, like crutches tapping lightly on a tin roof.  A single tallow candle stood sentry in the gloom, betraying the darkness clutching the corners of the room.  All was quiet, but for the slow simmering of Katie’s casserole on the stovetop.  Supper would be at 5:30, as always, even if the power remained out all night.

The swooshing of a car sliding by in the rain made him think of those lonely nights in Cincinnati at the Sinton Hotel.  Collecting three hits could take the edge off, just a little, but being away from Katie always left him maudlin and morose.  And even late in the summer, the wind rippling off the river left him longing for Greenville’s gentle spring breeze, the smell of crape myrtles fragrant as a chorus of spring peepers filled the night.

Not a drinker, but the boys — Chick, Swede and Lefty — certainly did try to put a nightcap on the nightcap nearly every night.

What’s done is done, but man, the years drag by when you’re reduced to living in your own shadow.  Like watching your grave get dug one shovel-full per day, a cawing crow topped upon his perch, all noisy accusations and nowhere to hide.  “Say it ain’t so!”

The money?  Who the hell knows what Katie did with it, but the liquor store paid the light bill, that is, when the lights weren’t knocked out by blowing storm.  Just enough light now to read by.

Greenville News didn’t quite make it a headline, but they couldn’t exactly bury it, neither.  Not everyday a Negro got lynched anymore, not even around here.  His sixty-year old hands trembled slightly as he read the news.  Heart trouble and just plain damned getting old.  Willie Earle.  Never heard of the kid.  Why would he?  But he did recognize some of the other names.  Cab drivers, mostly.  Liked to stand around back up at West Court Street when they was bored, drinking, or both.  Passed around a bottle, he read.  Whiskey.  Like what he sold.

Probably, they’d be by tomorrow, some of them, telling their story like they was relating a fishing expedition, the high point being that they’d caught what they was after.

“Joe,” they’d say, “You should have seen him.” Their eyes would flash and twinkle in the bottles’ refracted reflection as they faithfully recalled each detail of their trip out to Pickens County and back.

Got his start out that way, at a mill sweeping floors, the machinery so loud men put cotton in their ears, though the fibers found a way into every pore of their bodies anyway, lungs clogged by 40, if you didn’t lose a hand first.

Governor Thurmond said he’d catch the vigilantes and prosecute to the full extent of the law.  Like Judge Landis, only even more Southern, if that was possible.  But ’47 wasn’t ’19.  There was talk that Truman might integrate the colored soldiers with the whites, and now you could buy a bottle of liquor at your neighborhood store, just like his.  But guys making bad decisions they’d be remembered for long after they were gone? That would never change.

He looked out at the darkness and the rain, the casserole growing cold.  Katie long since in bed.  (She knew enough to leave him alone with his thoughts.)  Violence filled the night sky, purple lightning and cannon thunder, a cacophony of random fury as the candle’s thin flame flickered once, then twice, then died and was gone.

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/the-good-fight-zwnj-the-last-lynching/Content?oid=1108264

Article from “The Guardian”

I don’t usually post / reprint articles from newspapers or news magazines in this space, but I just finished reading this one in the British publication, “The Guardian” (U.S. Edition), written by Jonathan Bernhardt, and thought it was more than worth the use of my space.  See what you think:

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2015/apr/14/josh-hamilton-falls-victim-to-the-weird-sociopathy-of-the-business-decision

The Rich Get Richer…

Word is that the Nationals have signed free agent pitcher Max Scherzer to a seven-year deal.  Scherzer joins Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister and Tanner Roark in an unbelievable rotation.  It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Nationals win a hundred games in 2015.  They led the N.L. with 96 wins last year, and that was with Bryce Harper missing 62 games, and Ryan Zimmerman missing 101 games.  Adding Scherzer to this squad is akin to cutting Mitt Romney’s capital gains tax by another 10%.  The rich just got richer.

Meanwhile, in case you missed it, the world’s richest 85 people now have as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.5 billion. Oxfam now estimates that by next year, the richest 1% will own about 50% of the world’s wealth.  Currently in the U.S., the bottom 90% of American families average wealth is exactly the same as it was in 1986, meaning that despite all the productivity gains that have occurred over the past quarter of a century, in effect, none of those gains have benefited the vast majority of Americans.  The richest 10%, however, have seen their cumulative wealth triple during that same period of time.

The wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of us combined.  Yet, in a gratuitous display of ignorance characterized by being completely immune from the real world, in a recent poll, the wealthy apparently truly believe that the poor “have it easy.”

But Americans have long history of obsequious fascination with the rich, and the upper middle class in particular seem to personally identify with the wealthiest Americans more than they do with the poorest Americans, or even with the working class, to whom in reality they are much closer (economically speaking) than they are to the wealthy.

Similarly, in baseball, Americans love a winner.  With the impressive roster that the Nationals have accumulated this year, attendance should be strong in Washington, D.C. for the Nats home games, just as it was in New York when the Yankees were the strongest team in baseball about fifteen years ago.

A nation of optimists, we identify with those who publicly display confidence, success and a sunny disposition, as Americans did when Ronald Reagan was President during the 1980’s.  We live vicariously through their success stories as we dream that someday they could one day be our own, even as those with the sunny smiles are already busily creating the conditions that actually ensure fewer and fewer of us will ever be able to reach those lofty summits.

While no one should feel sorry for the mere millionaires who own the struggling Major League franchises due to sheer incompetence or poorly executed planning, for the millions of struggling people in America, and throughout the world, life is not a game where we even if we screw up, at the end of the day we still get to sit in our private luxury box, secure and confident in our privileged lives which we begin to rationalize are of necessity worth far more than the lives of the millions around us, and of whom even God himself must deign to smile upon if he hopes to remain relevant.

Major League Baseball All-Star Game Records

William Miller:

Hey Gang, I decided to re-blog this post I did last year regarding the All Star Game. Hope you don’t mind.

Originally posted on The On Deck Circle:

The first MLB All-Star Game was played at Comiskey Park in Chicago on July 6, 1933.  Babe Ruth hit the first All-Star Game home run, leading the A.L. to a 4-2 win over the N.L.

Here are several MLB All-Star Game records which may peak your interest.

Original description: Willie Mays, standing, w... Willie Mays batted .307 in 24 All-Star Game appearances.

Most All-Star Games played:  24 (Three players)

1)  Stan Musial

2)  Willie Mays

3)  Hank Aaron

Most All-Star Game At Bats:  75, Willie Mays

Most All-Star Game Hits:  23, Willie Mays (.307 All-Star Game batting average)

Highest All-Star Game career Batting Average (minimum, 5 games):  .500, Charlie Gehringer (10 for 20)

Most All-Star Game Runs Scored:  20,Willie Mays

Most All-Star Game Stolen Bases:  6, Willie Mays

Most All-Star Game Home Runs:  6, Stan Musial

Most All-Star Game RBI:  12, Ted Williams

Number of batters who led-off an All-Star Game with a home run:  5

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Dine-one-one

William Miller:

I do believe you’ll enjoy this post as much as I did.

Originally posted on Ohm Sweet Ohm:

“In her excellent book on writing, Bird by Bird, author Anne Lamott reveals that she often suggests that those struggling to commit words to paper (or screen) write about their school lunches; something about the act of recollecting and writing those details helps jimmy the floodgates open. For Lamott, the act of opening a lunchbox is, ‘about opening our insides in front of everyone. Just like writing is.’”Daily Post

I was finishing my fourth year of apprenticeship in 1972 and happened to be working on a re-model of the high school that I had graduated from just six years before. The job was winding down and there were four electricians left: Freege (the Foreman), Big Ben, Jack and me.

Lunchtime on a construction job is generally like having a picnic in a war-zone. You want to find a semi-clean, flat area with a view, preferably in…

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Stretch

William Miller:

Verdun2 Hits this one out of the park! Great stuff.

Originally posted on Verdun2's Blog:

Willie McCovey Willie McCovey

When I was in Viet Nam I got hit in the arm and had to spend a few days in the walking wounded ward at the base hospital. Most of the guys there were baseball fans so we talked a lot of ball. One of the doctors was a Giants fan and would join us for a few minutes when he made his rounds. He kept talking about how much he was impressed by “Willie” and of course we all presumed he meant Mays. It took a couple of days to figure out he was a big fan of Willie McCovey.

Let’s be honest here, no one ever wanted McCovey for his glove. “Stretch” played because he could pound the ball harder than anyone in captivity, including teammate Mays. He was a pure power hitter, a run producer, and has slipped out of the conversations about baseball today.

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A Cloud Hangs Over Red Sox Nation

William Miller:

One helluva read. Baseball writing, or any other kind of writing, doesn’t get much better than this.

Originally posted on On Sports and Life:

Few big cities are home to sports fans more passionate than those in Boston, and at least in recent years scarcely any other metropolis has fielded a set of teams that have given their fans more reason to cheer. Since 2001 the Patriots have won three Super Bowls. The Celtics won their league-leading 17th NBA championship in 2008. The Bruins ended a nearly four decade long drought with a Stanley Cup title three seasons ago, and were back in the Finals last spring. Then there are the Red Sox, who under the ownership of John Henry have become one of the Great Game’s elite franchises, winning three World Series trophies in the last decade.

The success of the Sox has brought joy to fans of long-standing, who suffered through their portion of the 86 years between one title in 1918 and the first of the recent string in 2004; and…

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Do You Enjoy Baseball as Much as You Used to?

William Miller:

Let Arne know what you think.

Originally posted on Misc. Baseball:

This question is aimed at people who started following major league baseball before the late ‘90s, that is, before the Internet became a big deal, before every game of a season was televised, and before the home run boom really got going. Was MLB more enjoyable in the earlier years? If it was, did that result from you being younger, or from changes in MLB and how it’s presented by legacy media and on the Web?

I think if you remain a baseball fan after the transition from adolescence to adulthood, you inevitably realize that many, maybe most of the players in MLB have few exceptional qualities beyond their ability to play baseball. Certainly they are not, in any moral sense, better than the ordinary human being. This produces a more skeptical attitude toward MLB: the raw emotional attachment to teams and players goes away, and so you enjoy the…

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but we need our monster

William Miller:

Some damn fine writing by Steve, once again.

Originally posted on brewers baseball and things:

His needs were the same; food, shelter, and a sense of belonging. Only the means to get them had changed; from a luxury vagabond lifestyle of servants and leer jets, 7 star hotels, paparazzi lights to fishing for crunchy bugs in back alleys to liven up his sewer soup.

onsophiastreet.com onsophiastreet.com

He was unaware of the great fall he had endured and in many ways, nothing had really changed for Spuds Dembrooke. He was still self-absorbed, still hated, and still hoping to piss people off. It was his way of receiving affection and love. The packed stadiums of hysterical boos had turned to itinerants with blades, oily puddles behind saloons, but the emotion sounded the same to Spuds. He worked the crowd.

He once had it all; was a hero to everyone. He defied specialization as the first pitcher since Babe Ruth to also bat clean up. He enjoyed no rest days between starts, playing 

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if heaven and hell is everywhere, baseball diamonds too

William Miller:

Still more great writing by Steven.

Originally posted on brewers baseball and things:

I’m never good with remembering specific dates except the birthdays of family, friends and a few baseball players, maybe none more shazbah-ding! than Henry Aaron’s being February 5th and Babe Ruth’s a day later. But there is one date; November 22, 1963 that fascinates me in a baseball and death sort of way.

Aldous Huxley and John F. Kennedy both passed away that day; the President in full extroverted glory and Huxley flat on his bed, unable to speak, inching closer and closer, but still scribbling a note to his wife Laura; “LSD 100 mm intramuscular” and so she obliged his request and that’s how the writer and essayist drifted into golden sleep. (from This Timeless Moment by Laura Huxley)

C.S. Lewis also died that day and so did many nameless others, but there is no reverse astrology in terms of the day someone dies and how it impacts their life and for…

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