After the Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals to win the 2013 World Series, making it a total of three World Series championships in ten years (2003, 2007, and 2013) I couldn’t help but think about Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox manager for the nightmarish 2012 season.
My memories of Bobby Valentine have former manager of the Dodgers, Tom Lasorda, bragging about the young infielder. In fact, Valentine was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1st round (overall 5th pick) of the 1968 amateur draft. Coincidentally, it was Ted Sizemore, another infielder in the Dodger system, who captured the 1969 Rookie of the Year award.
(Since the inclusion of African-Americans into the game of baseball the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers have been a factory of players who won the Rookie of the Year award. In 1947, Jackie Robinson won it, 1949- Don Newcombe, 1952- Joe Black, and 1953- Jim Gilliam. From the years 1947-1953 all of the Rookies of the Year were African-American with the exception of Alvin Dark in 1948.
Once again in the early 1980s the Dodgers had a hold on the Rookie of the Year award with Rick Sutcliffe winning in 1979, Steve Howe in 1980, Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 and Steve Sax winning in 1982. It was either a Dodger or an Oakland Athletic that captured the Rookie of the Year honors. You can look it up!)
Then I recall Bobby V going to Japan to manage and for all accounts had an experience that elevated his stature as a manager. The charismatic former infielder and Texas Ranger manager must have looked good to the Red Sox brass as they extended their laurel and hearty welcome.
Did I mention that Bobby V is Ralph Branca’s son-in-law? Ralph Branca served up Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World.” How thick of a skin do you think this guy has? But to be sure, both Bobby V and Ralph Branca are thick as a brick to think Valentine was improperly ousted by the Boston Red Sox.
I don’t know how ‘Bobby V got screwed’ when it seems like he called out people he could have kept behind closed doors and he made visible things you just don’t do if you are in position of authority, which a manager is for a baseball team. Discretion was not a glimmer of Bobby V’s method in handling a ball club that had talent with an assortment of attitudes that needed attention.
Valentine’s smug mannerisms throughout the 2010 season certainly rubbed me the wrong way I can only imagine how Sox fans felt. I had a hard time believing this guy, Bobby V, was being sincere. I saw a man filled with disdain who was frequently pointing the finger of blame.
Fitting Jethro Tull lyrics to "Thick as a Brick,"
in regards to Bobby V and his father-in-law.
Your bread and water’s going cold.
Your hair is too short and neat.
Ill judge you all and make damn sure that no-one judges me.
You curl your toes in fun as you smile at everyone -- you meet the stares.
You’re unaware that your doings aren't done.
And you laugh most ruthlessly as you tell us what not to be.
But how are we supposed to see where we should run?
I see you shuffle in the courtroom with
your rings upon your fingers and
your downy little sidies and
your silver-buckle shoes.
Playing at the hard case, you follow the example of the comic-paper idol
who lets you bend the rules.
Take the child from him
Put it to the test
to be a wise man
How to fool the rest.
so you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick.
Kevin J. Marquez
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Posted by silverstreak at 5:12 PM
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Every article about every stellar pitching performance begins with the type of command the pitcher had, the sheer dominance. And I suppose, during the inception of what we now know to be baseball, when the game was getting its bearings straight(as to the best rules to make for the fairest competition) there may have been any number of things that aided and abetted a pitcher's sway. Some of which were most certainly not fair to the hitter but they were within the realm of the rules.
Back then and even moreso now I think how a home plate umpire fixes his strike zone throughout the game is paramount to the ultimate decision-making plays that take place in any outstanding pitching performance. Somehow, though, baseball wants the umpire to blend in with the background of the game. Which harkens back to the tired notion "if you don't notice him, he did a good job," which is every bit as belittling as telling a youngster, "Children should be seen and not heard!"
I just think that when you tune into a ballgame (on the telly) with all of the information the screen provides: name of teams, inning, score, number of outs,runner(s)on and the bases they occupy... why isn't the name of the home plate umpire there for ALL TO SEE? Isn't the home plate umpire a vital part of each and every baseball game? Let us once and for all recognize this person's significance. It may be the kick in the pants these guys need to take the initiative to improve their skills (abilities of determining what is or is not a strike) to a higher level than the mediocrity they are currently displaying a majority of the time.
Thank you and enjoy the games.
Kevin J. Marquez
Posted by silverstreak at 11:24 AM
Monday, August 26, 2013
Let's get this out of the way right up front -- this has been a disaster of a baseball season. It's bad enough that here it is the last week of August and the Giants are languishing in last place in the NL West -- one season removed from winning yet another delicious, thrilling World Series championship in 2012. For weeks we have known that there will be no Giants World Champions repeat in 2013.
But what has made the disaster far worse has been watching week in and week out as the hateful Dodgers climbed up from inside a little hole at the lowest point of the cellar (30-42) in mid May all the way up to first by going FORTY TWO AND EIGHT over the past three months. 42 wins and 8 losses. Ridiculous. That really has been just about the most horrible thing one could ever have imagined. And as a result, like the rising whine of a swarm of approaching locusts, we were treated to the spectacle of legions of fair-weather Dodger fans suddenly jumping on the winning blue bandwagon -- fans who were barely paying any attention in May or who were contemplating various ways to kill Don Mattingly and/or looking to score some coveted Angels tickets.
So as we close out August I know even some of us diehards here in the 415 are starting to eye the 49ers schedule with impatience. But me, well, I still have one fond hope for this baseball season. And this is the part where I share that not so secret hope with others.
Let's start with the Giants. The non rational part of my brain imagines the Giants suddenly catching fire and closing out the season on a terrific run of winning baseball. A winning streak like we haven't seen all season. If The Giants managed to go, say, 23-9 over their last 32 games, they would finish the season dead even at 81-81. It's been that kind of season where it would take a remarkable run like that just to claw up to .500. Finishing there would also have the salutary effect of having us finish in the middle of the pack -- most likely in 3rd place. SO much better than the cellar. Yeah yeah, I know all too well a .500 finish for the Giants isn't likely. Please see the the title of this post. But finishing someplace other than last IS certainly possible. But this post isn't about the merely probable or attainable, I am aiming higher -- I'm rooting like hell for .500! Let's go!
And the Giants fighting their way up to .500 is not even the most important part of the fond hope. And I think you all know where I am going with this. I mean, come on, the Dodgers' sustained winning streak was absolutely one of the most unlikely things I have ever seen. I don't think any of us have ever seen a team stay THAT ridiculously hot for THAT long -- certainly not a team that was on pace to lose 95 games. I don't know if the Dodger turnaround set some kind of record -- but it's got to be close. They damn near broke the all time road winning streak number (held by the New York Giants).
So what happened? Well, MAYYYBEE the Dodgers really were that good during all that losing in April & May and were playing way way below their potential. [Hard to believe that though as for the most part they featured the same lineup that was so very lackluster over the latter half of 2012.] Or maybe somebody at Dodgers HQ made a deal with the Devil/Lola a la "Damn Yankees." Or maybe Mr. Puig really is that good and the addition of ONE player turned their whole team rightside up.
But I think it's much more likely that while Puig energized them and the Dodgers have played better they also have had everything fall their way. And some reversion to the mean is coming.
Now to be completely honest, I have been expecting a Dodgers slump since sometime in June. And though Mr. Pythagoras agrees with me -- he's a temperamental old cuss and he's been giving us all the finger for the past couple of months. Will he finally come around? Well this past week, finally, FINALLY we saw perhaps the beginning of a reversal. The Dodgers had been winning at an .840 clip (the eye popping 42-8 record I mentioned earlier.) However, this week, the Dodgers went just 4-3, a much more terrestrial .571 record. They lost consecutive games & lost a *series* for the first time since May.
Yes, I realize that it would take a collapse of BIG proportions for the Dodgers not to win the NL West this year. Having said that, LA has to play the Snakes 4 more times this season -- in Phoenix -- and the Giants get 7 more cracks at them (3 at home, 4 in LA). That's 11 games against teams that really, REALLLY want to Beat LA. And if the losses start happening more frequently, the doubts start creeping in... well we have seen teams collapse horribly before. And there will be no Wild Card from the NL West, so if the Dodgers don't win the division, they'd be out of the post season altogether, even after their historic hot streak. NOW WOULDN'T THAT BE A GREAT WAY TO END THE 2012 SEASON? Why yes it would.
Here are the numbers -- 1.) Dodgers lose ~ two out of every three games the rest of the way... Let's make it 9-23 over the last five weeks. LA would end up with an 85-77 record, which will put them in second place, provided that 2.) Arizona finishes 20-13 the rest of the way, giving them an 86-76 record. (The Snakes finishing close to that mark is probably the least unlikely thing in this entire post.) And for fun 3.) the Giants have gone on a 23-9 tear to finish at 81-81 to end the hangover season.
Of course, more losing by LA or more winning by AZ takes the pressure off the other part of the formula. Complicating matters is that LA has 2 series apiece (home/away) against the mediocre Rockies and Padres. (Hey, nobody said this was gonna be easy.)
On the other hand, in addition to the 11 games against AZ and the Giants, LA does have to play three on the road against the Reds, who are fighting for their lives in the Central and who are very tough in their building.
Another factor in all of this is that The Dodgers feature several players who were part of the historic 2011 collapse of the Boston Red Sox: Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett (DL) & Nick Punto. Who's to say they can't bring a little of that Epic Fail mojo to the LA stretch drive? And don't underestimate the effect our sleeper agent Brian Wilson will have on LA's fortunes. Things are not always what they seem, my friends. The Beard may be down there on a covert mission. Shhhhh.
So that's it -- my Fond Hope for the end of the 2013 baseball season is that the stars re-align such that the hateful Dodgers are denied the post season. It's a stretch, but it could happen. And it delights my black and orange baseball heart tremendously to imagine all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Southland if that should happen. Mmmm, those salty tears would taste so so good. Yes, friends, Schadenfreude is a real and powerful thing.
It's true that a big rounded scoopful of Schadenfreude at the Dodgers' expense is certainly not as satisfying as another World Series title for the Giants. But on the other hand, it would be pretty damn satisfying. And as a finale to this weird regular season, I would certainly take it.
Posted by Rich at 9:32 PM
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
A common phrase repeated in baseball circles is how one needs only to look at a player's baseball card to see the type of ballplayer that particular individual was when performing on the diamond. This applies to Tim Lincecum. The Giants' brass knows this and may refer to the back of #55's baseball card when it comes time to negotiate a contract to keep the beloved hurler in the city by the bay.
I think baseball cards are fascinating because, as a boy trying to learn something about a game that arrested my interests from any outlet of recreational activities outside my home, this was the beginning to discovering facts about those who played the game well enough to make the big leagues.
I remember how the 1960s had shortstops who were there because of their ability to field the position as nobody ever hit double-digit home runs. And if there was such a player he would be recognized around the league as someone who was changing the game. Every kid would want to get a bat with his name on it because chances are he wasn't as proficient fielding as he was hitting if this shortstop was knocking 10-20 homers in the big leagues.
Shortstops like: Don Kessinger, Bud Harrelson, Bobby Wine, Maury Wills, Hal Lanier, Enzo Hernandez, Gene Alley, Dal Maxvill or Terry Harmon were all punch and judy hitters with respectable gloves. Then in 1969, another shortstop not known for his slugging prowess belts 22 home runs. That player was Campy Campaneris, the former Kansas City-Oakland Athletic. Remember him and that ridiculous nickname Monte Moore attached to him. "Beep, beep, the Roadrunner!" Moore would say again and again. What happened that year?
Then you look around the league and in Boston there was shortstop by the name of Rico Petrocelli who blasted 40 homers that season. He usually hit around 15 homers a year so 40 was a freakish display of power. Was something happening that would change the game forever? Probably not for another 20 years or so (wink, wink) would suspicions ring doubt into the minds of baseball fanatics.
But you could see a trend happening simply by looking on the back of someone's baseball card and noticing how a player would hit 1, 3, 4, 2, or 5 home runs and then all of a sudden 22. (Golly gee Wally, did they eat cans of spinach like Popeye?) Just the sort of thing that captured this boy's imagination into the world of baseball.
It's what got me hooked for life.
Posted by silverstreak at 2:08 PM
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." - Mark Twain
Does that sound familiar, Giants' fans?
All the years in Candlestick where the "routine" pop fly was out of a Steven King novel and it tormented anyone who dared to put on the cream colors with orange and black trim.
Back when the Giants called Candlestick Park their home nobody wanted to play for the San Francisco Giants. Oh, they knew that the game was a business and if some team needed a player on the Giants' roster and your name was asked about, as possible trade bait, then you had to suck it up and play for the Giants at their dreaded home ballfield at Candlestick point.
In interviews with former Giants you hear all the right things being said but they all, tongue in cheek, have some sort of comment or body language that tells you exactly how treacherous playing in San Francisco was. (We, as humans, have a tendency to laugh at things that may have been uncomfortable or was perhaps stressful at an earlier time in our lives.)
Baseball is a humbling game. It's tough enough to play 162-games a year. Now throw in the element of unforgiving, unexplainable, inclement weather and you- as a ballplayer- can't find a glove big enough or apply plenty of stick 'em to the piece of leather you have come to play defense with as long as you played baseball.
It's unfortunate really because the fans love their Giants. Always have. And the one unexplainable reason why Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Ray Hart, Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal, Jack Clark, and Will Clark never won a World Series championship comes down to the unpredictable winds that blow in the City by the Bay.
In this 2013 baseball campaign the Giants have been witness recently to seeing very reputable defensive players befuddled by the interesting route balls took with the help of Mother Nature. And it dawned on me when Gregor Blanco trapped the opening batter's fly ball (in Tim Lincecum's game after his no-hitter) that it was the damned wind that kept the Giants from attaining more glory in America's pastime.
Kevin J. Marquez
Posted by silverstreak at 9:51 AM
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Left-hander Clayton Kershaw and Right-hander Bronson Arroyo have an ownage over the San Francisco Giants like nothing I have ever seen or heard of before this season. It's the most unlikely, unbelievable, Greek Mythology type of episode that keeps playing out as a painstakingly haunting tragedy with absolutely no moral decency whatsoever.
Children raised to be Giants' fans have to be looking at this two-headed monster in horrifying disbelief. What a way to break into the great game of baseball having the likes of Arroyo and Kershaw dominating in the one-sided fashion that they have been accustomed to (when facing those dressed in orange and black colored uniforms).
This two-headed monster has nowhere near the same effect over other major league teams. That's not to say they don't fare well when facing other teams because they have made very good careers in major league baseball. Unfortunately, they don't dominate like they do when facing their favorite team of prey, the San Francisco Giants. The San Francisco nine are a mere target for the two-headed monster to try new things out on, before facing tougher more formidable foes.
When I listen to a game broadcasted between the Arroyo-Reds or the Kershaw-Dodgers it's really sickening. I get the feeling the real Giants' players were replaced by clones who were made to look and dress like ballplayers but are incapable of producing anything remotely positive in the way of run support for their unfortunate, un-armed, and underdog pitcher.
This season has revealed how the World Games was just too many innings for the professional ballplayer to endure, a Panda who knew he had one more year on his contract in which to get into playing shape and this two-headed monster that shall forever rule the orange and black must be destroyed before children have no other choice but to change their alliance to the team their parents had hoped they would follow.
It is up to the general manager and his collective group of scouts to come up with a solution to overthrow the great two-headed beast. When such a force effects the allegiance of our youth it is time for something super to override this impending e-vil.
Something has to be done to de-throne this 21st century version of DaVinci's sketch of an allegory of Pleasure and Pain as a two-headed man, known as: Clay-Bro Ker-yoyo!
Kevin J. Marquez
Posted by silverstreak at 3:12 PM
Thursday, July 11, 2013
WHY ISN’T RICHIE “DICK” ALLEN IN COOPERSTOWN?
Richie “Dick” Allen was one of the finest yet most controversial players ever to wear a Philadelphia uniform. When you have antagonistic scribes and contentious, ignorant fanatics that root, root, root for the home team, could it be any other way?
According to an article dated 4/29/09, by Cody Swartz, Allen had a world of talent but didn’t produce as he could have. Much of the blame goes to Allen and not enough to his teammates, managers, fans and the media.
Allen was left alone to struggle with racism while in Little Rock, Arkansas playing in the minor leagues without being assigned a father-figure, mentor type who could provide him personal support (segregation was in full bloom during this time in the United States. It would have been good if he had a support system, not only for his peace of mind and well-being but also to have someone else witness that such behavior was alive and well and in need of attention in the United States of America.)
It had become fashionable to say that Richie “Dick” Allen was a victim of the racism of his time. Nicholas Zettle, whose article “Revisiting Dick Allen” says that the Phillies were callous to send Allen to Little Rock, in 1963, with no support network and that the press often treated Allen differently than had it been a white player who did similar things.
Allen was a second generation of integration. There was a struggle with understanding a person’s culture when you have writers who harbored a bias and prejudice that didn’t allow their readers the option of freedom of choice to interpret things as they may have been versus how they were instructed to understand the situation as explained by an opinionated writer.
The writer brings up an excellent point when he writes: We tend to uphold the glory of the careers of the best black major league baseball players of this era, while placing less of an emphasis on the daily struggles they faced while doing their jobs…That by doing so it may have suggested to Americans, in general, major league baseball’s integration processes were completed.
Yielding headlines to sell papers? Inaccuracies are what the writers wanted the fans to believe because that is what they believed. They chose to stereotype rather than investigate and discover the truth. Blacks were not given a platform to express themselves. Due to an unmitigated gall that must have given the writers some sort of entitlement to speak for others (through the dense fog of prejudice) about a race yet to be explained and most assuredly misunderstood.
The short-sightedness and confabulation of the facts distorts the possibility of most people’s comprehension when reading this drivel and having the cognitive ability of piecing together something not before surmised therefore encouraging a new way of seeing how poorly a race had been treated. In other words, this was a clear case of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.
Philadelphia was the last National League team to integrate blacks onto their roster (1957). During Allen’s time there (1963-69) the trades made by the Phillies usually involved sending blacks to teams for aging veterans whose best days were almost entirely behind them. Many of the young players who had been mentored by Allen so by trading them for players past their prime was yet another way of making Allen feel like his time with the organization was not as important as other players on the roster.
Here he had a chance to share his experiences with those in hopes they would not have to endure what he himself did and the organization interrupted that bond by dealing those players away. There was a reason why Philadelphia was one of the last teams to integrate and it was unfortunate for those players to have to live through the growing pains of uneducated, ignorant, narrow-minded, short-sighted individuals in positions of authority within the front office of this National League baseball team.
Tim Whitaker notes that throughout almost this entire ordeal, Allen’s race was kept quiet in the newspapers, and Allen played beneath a bizarre cover in which his struggles could not be openly admitted. (This is very accurate. I recall when I first tuned my transistor radio to KSFO 560AM, to follow the San Francisco Giants, whenever a player was called up from their AAA farm club there was never any mention where the player was from or his ethnicity when that player was African-American.)
Richie Allen didn’t always know how to handle the structure of major league baseball; he didn’t always know who his real friends or enemies were; he did pull a number of staggering stunts to force his way out of Philadelphia in an era in which baseball players had no choice as to their employers.
Clay Dalrymple, a catcher for the Phillies during Richie Allen’s first few years in the big leagues said the Philadelphia Daily News was the biggest instigator. Kashatus wrote: Whether or not they consciously stirred controversy, the Philadelphia Daily News was personally responsible for the negative attitude and behavior of the fans after 1964. The writers’ emphasis on racial division within the Phillies clubhouse became a self-fulfilling prophecy by 1968, as Allen’s rebellious behavior to force a trade fragmented the team.
Couldn’t anyone within the organization understand why Allen resorted to such behavior? When confronted with the various racial encounters didn’t someone come to the realization that the racial segregation was very much in existence and was a significant factor in Richie/Dick Allen’s retaliatory actions? Imagine the outcome had someone or more than one person stepped up on behalf of Mr. Allen?
In 1967, he severed the ulna nerve in his right wrist pushing his car up a hill during a storm. Allen’s wrist would require 5 hours of surgery and the doctors game him a 50-50 chance of ever playing ball again. He courageously returned even though false rumors leaked out that his hand was hurt during a bar fight. He received hate mail and his children were harassed in school. Why? Because a black man couldn’t possibly get hurt doing something as civilized or urbane as pushing a non-functioning car in foul weather. How did the Phillies support their superstar ballplayer?
Is it any wonder that Allen came up with the quote, “I can play third, outfield, first-base, anywhere but in Philadelphia!” Or when the time came that he was traded for Curt Flood, to St. Louis, that the trade exemplified slavery to Flood and liberation to Allen?
Glen Macnow (whose book “The Great Philadelphia Sports Debate,” says that Allen had a way of overshadowing his play on the field with his off-filed issues. Is that because this is what the media thought that particular fan base craved? What off-field issues are Macnow speaking of? Does he mean the incident with Frank Thomas, a racist who referred to Richie Allen as Mohammed Clay? He came at Allen with his bat and hit Allen’s shoulders only after Allen stung Thomas with his fist. Or do we speak of Allen’s wrist injury that the media allowed to be blown out of proportion?
It has been said by those close to Richie “Dick” Allen that he had issues with arriving to the park in time to get his work in before the game. I’ve read several books about the Negro ballplayer and how many of them- including Hank Aaron, don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on time because of the manner in which their fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles,and grandparents were remunerated. If you make someone feel like their time was irrelevant to their efforts or that no matter how well they performed they were still made to feel “left out,” wouldn’t you expect some sort of reaction by the person always getting the short-end of the stick?
After being subjected to racial slurs and having no part of the organization protect him from the abuse he had to feel stuck in Philadelphia. (Unlike what was going on in St. Louis, for example. I recall a story by Tim McCarver. McCarver grew up in the south and didn’t have a clue as to how to treat African-Americans until Bob Gibson enlightened him. Now I know Gibson is an imposing individual but I’m sure he was intelligent enough not to bully McCarver but rather compare and contrast. McCarver said the team began to play as one once everyone was on the same page socially and then fundamentally to play the game of baseball. They all had to tune into the game of life outside the foul lines before it all clicked. By saying “it all clicked” I am also speaking of the media throughout St. Louis. Jackie Robinson’s battle with the color line had some unforgettable moments in St. Louis. The fans had to be enlightened as well and when they saw how their team played as one they united and made it a place African-Americans would be comfortable playing. Vince Lombardi did that in Green Bay. He wasn’t interested in skin color only men playing together and believing in God, family and what’s good for the team.
(Having said all of this, I now can see why Richie Allen was glad to leave Philadelphia and Curt Flood had to say, “No!”) Feeling stuck in Philadelphia had Allen scribble messages in the infield dirt. The fans who were misinformed about the man from the “get-go” were perturbed and this got to the office of Bowie Kuhn, a commissioner who wasn’t much of a hands-on guy so he reacted by ordering Allen to stop it. The next game Allen scrawled in his response, “Why?” Next up was the umpire who no doubt got his orders from the Commish to which Allen responded, “Mom.” This was Allen’s way of saying his mother was the only one who could tell him what to do.
The interesting thing to me is that Bowie Kuhn didn’t need to know why Richie Allen was scribbling words in the dirt only that it needed to stop happening. If he really cared about the man he would have stopped taking other people’s words for it and found out for himself. It would have been the best thing he could have done for the game, one of its better players and a place once referred to as the City of Brotherly Love.
“To be a Philadelphia sports fan is to be an eternal pessimist,” says Dave Coskey, President of Marketing for the 76ers and Flyers.”You go through life expecting the worse because, all too often, bad things happen,” from The Great Philadelphia Fan Book,” by Glen Macnow and Anthony L. Gargano.
In “Another View- Dick Allen” by Craig R. Wright, Wright interprets Bill James’ evaluation of Dick Allen as something in which James goes to great liberties to shed the worst possible light on Dick Allen’s career. When Chuck Tanner was managing the Chicago White Sox during Allen’s time in Chicago, Wright asked Tanner if Allen was a disruptive presence on the team and he showed Tanner what James had written. “He’s full of shit,” snapped Tanner as he referred to Bill James’ off-target assessment of Dick Allen.
In “To Every Thing a Season: Shibe Park and Urban Philadelphia,” Bruce Kuklick asserts “As much as he could, Carpenter opposed a black presence in the majors and certainly at Shibe Park,” and charges that the Phillies “were racist on principle” and “willingly hurt the quality of their teams.”
Glen Macnow’s book, The Great Philadelphia Sports Debate, calls (Richie) Allen the “all-time what could’ve been player,” in franchise history. He received unfair criticism for the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies decline because he did his part. When you bat .318, hit 29-HR, 91-RBI. In the last month of the season, when the Phillies were up by 6 ½ games with 12 to go and went on to lose 10 in-a-row, Allen batted .341, with 5-HR, and had 76 total bases.
What cost the ’64 Phillies was the manner in which manager Gene Mauch handled the pitching staff. And the bad karma he received for his mishandling in-house events. Mauch came off a bit ethically dilemma challenged. That is, whenever he is presented with two equally good or bad options and the correct decision isn’t immediately apparent he has a knack for making what turns out to be the wrong choice. Rather than call Frank Thomas into his office to discuss his displeasure with Thomas’ attitude and penchant for using racial slurs as well as his efforts on the baseball he chose to let the Philadelphia media try to wing-it based on what little knowledge they had on the subject and what some players had told them. This is why Mauch threatened to impose a $2000 fine on any ballplayer that had anything to say about the matter. Sadly, their way was to make the incident a white man against a black man thing in a city that was the last in its league to integrate Negro ballplayers onto their roster. Needless to say, all hell broke loose and Richie Allen was the unfortunate recipient of bad press that would begin in Philadelphia and last throughout much of his playing career.
Richie Allen won’t go down in the annals as the first black who played for the Philadelphia Phillies but he may as well have been. The player credited with being the first Negro(John Kennedy)played in only 5 games which is as limited as any Negro was afforded during the integration phase of African-Americans into major league baseball. It was only that Allen was so gifted that he was given such an extended opportunity to play for the Phillies.
In much the same way the New York Yankees would defend their position of not signing African-American ballplayers it was the Phillies’ cop out, as well, their belief that the player had to be of major league caliber. Insert laugh track here, when you consider both organizations had plenty of players who both belonged to and came from the “good ole boy” league. (And as luck would have it, both teams suffered the consequences of taking this route. The Yankee dynasty would hit a lull while the Phillies were perennial cellar dwellers.)
From 1965-1967, after making three straight All-Star teams, Richie Allen’s adjusted OPS (On-base percentage plus slugging average. The abilities of a player both to get on base and to hit for power)was 166.
Comparing that to some of the other stars of the mid-1960s:
Hank Aaron – 156 OPS
Willie Mays 154
Roberto Clemente –150
Orlando Cepeda- 144
Dick Allen 165
Hank Aaron 161
Willie McCovey 161
Frank Robinson 161
Harmon Killebrew 152
Willie Stargell 152
Roberto Clemente 151
Willie Mays 148
Frank Howard 147
Carl Yastrzemski 145
Al Kaline 140
Boog Powell 140
Billy Williams 139
Tony Oliva 137
Ron Santo 136
Those are adjusted OPS numbers between 1964 and 1973. Seventeen Hall of Famers played 1000 or more games during those ten years. Dick Allen had a better OPS+ than all of them.
Looking only at his record, it is a little surprising that Dick Allen hasn’t been elected to the Hall of Fame. He won the 1964 Rookie of the Year and the 1972 AL MVP. He was a seven-time All-Star, a high .300 hitter with remarkable power. His career numbers suffer slightly because his prime years took place in an era of low offense, but by any reasonable measure Dick Allen was a great hitter.
For that, his career was somewhat unique: the few players who can boast peak ability similar to Allen generally have much better career lines than he did. Only Johnny Mize is a fair comparison to Allen: both players had brief but brilliant careers:
G HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS+
Dick Allen 1749 351 1119 .292 .378 .534 156
Johnny Mize 1884 359 1337 .312 .397 .562 158
And to be clear: Dick Allen’s career was short, but it wasn’t that short. Chuck Klein played fewer games than Allen. So did Joe DiMaggio and Tony Lazzeri and Earle Combs and Lou Boudreau and Hank Greenberg and Ralph Kiner and Kirby Puckett.
Conservatively, Dick Allen was one of the top forty hitters of all-time. And that’s very conservative. He averaged 31.68 Win Shares per 162 games, which is higher than any first baseman except Lou Gehrig. Dick Allen won a few major awards and was the best offensive player in the game for ten years. His career line is a little low, but his peak is remarkable. His statistical record is the record of a Hall of Fame player. (from Dave Flemings article)
I think it is very unfortunate that Richie Allen has not been elected into Cooperstown, New York. The location of baseball’s Hall of Fame. And a big reason is due to the opinions of people like Bill James.
On December 4, 2008, Dave Fleming wrote an article, “Dick Allen and the Hall of Fame,” and it points out how Bill James wrote something in his (James’) Historical Abstract: Bill James once wrote that Dick Allen “did more to keep his teams from winning than anyone else who ever played major league baseball.” In his Historical Abstract, Bill added that Dick Allen was the second most controversial player in baseball history, behind Rogers Hornsby.
Then Fleming goes on to give examples of how extreme this comment by James was. But many people with the power to vote for those to enter the Hall of Fame read this James piece. How many of those readers were swayed to vote one way or the other, enough to make the player fall under the parameters of the 75% needed for entry into Cooperstown? The point is, why do the sports writers have so much say as to who enters the Hall of Fame?
Why don’t umpires have a vote? If you were an umpire and you umpired during a particular player’s career, say a minimum of three (3) years, let the umpires have their say. They are qualified in determining which player did or did not have sportsmanship. Isn’t that what the naysayer writers are saying why this player or that player SHOULD NOT GO INTO THE HALLOWED HALLS?
An umpires vote, like the vote of one’s peers, has a significant impact versus some hack who sustained a bitterness towards a player simply because he felt that player should kiss his ass.
Kevin J. Marquez
http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/fanblogs/123695834.html (Revisiting Dick Allen by Nicholas Zettle and co-written by Tim Whitaker)
Bill James (in The Politics of Glory) www.billjamesonline.com
(Article by Cody Swartz on 4/9/09)
Richie Allen, the ’64 Phillies, and Racial Integration by William C. Kashatus
http://www.billjamesonline.com/article914/ (Dave Fleming article)
Posted by silverstreak at 9:30 AM