The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

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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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Brian Kingman interview…part4

William Miller:

Part 4 of Gary’s on-going interview with former A’s pitcher Brian Kingman.

Originally posted on Coco Crisp's Afro:

4) You told our readers the story about you and Billy Martin getting into a scuffle outside of a club. Do you have any other particularly funny stories involving you and Billy or any other teammates on those Athletics teams?

I won my last start of the 1980 season in Chicago 5-1. I always liked pitching in Chicago. I liked the restaurants, the bars, the nightlife, and after winning what I thought was my last game of the season I took advantage of all Chicago had to offer. Our last two games of the season were in

Milwaukee. I planned to catch up on my sleep and watch Mike Norris (22 wins) and Rick Langford (19 wins) close out the season.

Rick Langford started the very last game of the year in pursuit of his 20th win. It was a cold October day in Milwaukee. Rick was having an amazing
year. He…

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Brian Kingman interview…part 3

William Miller:

Part 3: More fine stuff.

Originally posted on Coco Crisp's Afro:

kingman

This is part 3 of my Brian Kingman interview…

3) You were best known for being a 20 game loser before Detroit Tigers pitcher Mike Maroth “achieved ” this honor in 2003. Have you spoken to Mr. Maroth about this dubious achievement?

No, I never have spoken to Mike. I didn’t want to distract him during the 2003 season. I think I can safely assume he wasn’t very interested in talking to me
about losing 20 games after the fact. The Tigers were having a horrible year and didn’t appreciate the added media attention regarding the possibility that Maroth
might lose 20 games.

When I lost 20 games in 1980 it wasn’t as uncommon of an occurrence as it was in 2003.  There has been a 20 game loser almost every year in baseball history, and some years there were multiple 20 game losers. A  list of 20 game losers was…

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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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Brian Kingman interview…part 2

William Miller:

Following up on Part 1 of the Brian Kingman interviews, here’s Part 2. This one’s even better than Part 1.

Originally posted on Coco Crisp's Afro:

kingman062111

Part 2 of this amazing interview…just some nuances that are the ambrosia of baseball.

2) What was the day like when you took the photo for the Sports Illustrated cover, and how did that come about?

I am going to answer this two part question in reverse order: How it came about…

SI decided to put us on the cover for two reasons. First was our performance during the 1980 season. We went from 54-108 in 1979to 83-79 in 1980. That’s a remarkable 29 game turnaround. We racked up 94 complete games, which I believe is the modern day record. I don’t know though, does 1980 qualify as modern day or does it seem rather ancient to the readers of your blog? It was the most complete games since 1946, and
if you look below at the innings pitched per start, it was quite an aberration from the norm!

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Brian Kingman interview part 1…the minor leagues

William Miller:

Gary conducts one of the great baseball interviews of all time with former pitcher, and 20-game loser, Brian Kingman. This is the first in a (so far) four part series.

Originally posted on Coco Crisp's Afro:

Brian, just a young buck in the “bushes”.

This is the first part of what will eventually be a 4 or 5 part series interview with former Athletics pitcher Brian Kingman. I know this is the part where I usually talk incessantly about nothing, but I’ll let the man speak for himself. I will, however, add that Brian was gracious enough to give me some in -depth answers that read like a book. This is good stuff readers! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

 1) Well, I suppose we should start at the very beginning. I have a sort of strange obsession with the life of a minor leaguer. The trials, tribulations and bus rides in the “bushes” always stoked my imagination. Do you have any stories or thoughts about any of your stops in the minors?
 
LIFE IN THE MINORS
                                                “The…

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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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