Friday, December 14, 2007

Another Year Just Around the Corner

With another baseball season a little more than two months away I thought I'd share some old stories about America's pastime just to get you in the mood for the upcoming baseball season.

Apes gibber; Asses bray; Bears growl; Bees hum; Beetles drone; Blackbirds whistle; Bulls bellow, Calves bleat; Cats mew, purr; Chickens peep; Cocks crow; Cows moo; Dogs bark, bay, howl and yelp; Frogs croak; Geese cackle; Eagles, Vultures and Peacocks scream; Ducks quack; Horses neigh; Hens cackle and cluck; Owls hoot and screech; Parrots talk; Pigeons coo; Lambs baa or bleat; Snakes hiss; Sparrows chirp; Stags bellow and call; Swallows titter; Turkey-Cocks gobble; Swans cry and are said to sing just before death; Wolves howl and I'm going to begin with the snipets of yesteryear. Some long ago and some in more recent times.

In a book by former Umpire, Durwood Merrill are his opinions.
On Rod Carew: Never saw a pitch he couldn't hit. I once worked a game with the Minnesota Twins playing the California Angels when Nolan Ryan threw a 4-hitter. Carew got all four hits. To every other hitter on that day, the ball looked like an aspirin tablet. Carew told Merrill the ball looked like a volleyball.

On George Brett: At some point during his at-bat he knew exactly what the next pitch would be... The master of setting up the pitcher.

Per Durwood: Another thing I've never understood about major league pitchers is why they don't all keep track of the umpires' tendencies. We all have different strike zones. Wouldn't it be wise to keep a chart (even if it's just a mental chart) of all the umpires in both leagues? Hitters do. There's not a .300 hitter in either league who can't tell you the exact strike zone of every umpire in their league.

Don't you think guys like Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Junior Griffey and Barry Bonds study umpires and their strike zones?

Pitchers should pay more attention. I've known pitchers who'll toss a great game-maybe a 3-hitter-and three hours later they've forgotten who was behind the plate.

A lot of pitchers today have a 6-inning mentality. They believe that success is pitching until the 6th inning. Somebody should tell these guys that baseball's last 30-game winner, Denny McLain, completed 28 of his 31 wins.

Merrill's simple formula for success in pitching: You've got to be able to bounce back after a rough inning, or even a tough game. The Sporting News hit upon a pretty revealing statistic. Forty percent (40%) of the pitchers in today's game (1990s) have been released at least one time. Merrill believes the pitchers who continually fail actually have strong arms and good stuff. You can't battle your way through the minor leagues and make the Bigs without some talent.

But the dividing line between success and failure in pitching is the neck.


After the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series in 1988, Bill Russell, one of the coaches, decided to invite Tommy Lasorda, the coaching staff, and the wives to his house for dinner. I'm sure you've heard Tommy harping about bleeding Dodger blue. Well, Bill and his wife decided to paint all of the toilet seats in their house Dodger blue. They used that quick drying Krylon paint, which at the time was being endorsed by retired Reds catcher, Johnny Bench.

By noon, the commodes were painted. The Russells figured they'd be dry in plenty of time for the dinner party. About halfway through the dinner that night, Mother Nature called Tommy and he answered. After several flushes, Tommy was still unable to get up because that quick-drying paint hadn't dried. He was stuck like a horsefly in wet asphalt.

Bill heard Tommy yelling and cursing and he came running into the bathroom to find his boss now Dodger blue in the face. Bill went to tugging on Tommy and pretty soon he realized that the old skipper was actually Dodger-glued to the seat. So Bill got a screwdriver and took the commode lid completely off. He wrapped Tommy up in a sheet and together they headed off to the local hospital.

They looked pretty funny walking into that emergency room and I'm sure all the patients were wondering why Tommy was dressed in a sheet. On top of that, you could tell he had something stuck to his rear end. The nurses told Tommy to climb onto the examining table and to set himself on all fours. Wouldn't you know that a female doctor was on duty that night, and Tommy, not being at a loss for words, said, "Doc, have you ever in the world seen anything like this?" And the doctor smiled, winked and said, "Well, now, Mr. Lasorda, I've seen ten thousand of those. But it's the first time I've ever seen one in a picture frame."
From Durwood Merrill's book...

The problem with the rule book is that you can't get everyone to agree on anything when it comes to interpretations.
I ran Billy Martin out. Then I tossed his A's coach, Charlie Metro, for arguing with me. A's centerfielder, Dwayne Murphy, walks past me and says, "What's wrong with you Durwood? You got a hot date after the game?" And I tossed him out, too! I was sending them out of the game fifteen-second intervals. It looked like a conga line.

Pat Kelly, a religious man, was sitting next to Earl Weaver. "Skip," Kelly said, "you need to learn to walk with the Lord." Weaver tilts his head and shoots back, "Fuck you, Kelly. You need to learn to walk with the bases loaded."

Kevin Marquez (from a book by Durwood Merrill and old notes)