Friday, January 25, 2013

Tim Flannery and the Lunatic Fringe's Song: 21 Days

Andrew Baggerly wrote an article on this terrific song. Here's the link:

I tuned into Murph and Mac on Wednesday morning, January 23, 2013, and I heard a song for the ages. "21 Days" by Tim Flannery and the Lunatic Fringe. As he was answering questions from Brian Murphy he and his mandolin strumming partner went into song.
Andrew "Bags" was good enough to supply some of the lyrics (in the same aforementioned article):

“I knew the odds before us/And I didn’t stand a chance/Jokers started smiling/Queen of hearts danced her dance/Over in the corner/The barkeep offered up last call/All I need is a little hope/When my back’s against the wall.”

“We slammed through Cincinnati/And in Missouri we had to show/ That every breath we ever take/Has a purpose if its own/In Motown we found magic/And together we grew strong/21 days that forged is through/Our backs against the wall.”

For all the Giants fans who appreciate the lyrics in a song this is the one you must purchase. Flannery says the song is even more enthusiastic with electric guitar. I can imagine. I heard it totally acoustic and he may as well have been playing misty for me, 'cause there was a fog a formin'.

All pubs need to purchase this tune. You say you're a Giant fan? Then this is a must play. Hear this song a couple of times and you'll be singing "GO GIANTS/GIGANTES!"

(thanks to Andrew Baggerly for having the timing to jot his thoughts down about something creative and awe inspiring from the two time World Champion third base coach, Tim Flannery.)

Kevin Marquez

Friday, January 18, 2013

Still Thinking About Hall of Fame Voting

Been doing plenty of googling on the Internet recently between quarters here at Heald College on Howard Street in San Francisco. And I'm reading what many writers have to say about the flaws and overall do's and don'ts for what would be a good manner in which to vote for someone considered a Hall of Famer.

Carl Zimring ( had a few things to say that interested me about the subject. He mentions that a blank ballot counts against all and that is something the voters should be aware of. Their moderate stress type focus needs to adjust to the overall picture versus a particular task or problem. But for those who do not vote for anyone they border on severe stress and panic stress. Which is to say they have a definite inability to focus on details and have a tendency to be very indecisive. As for those exhibiting panic stress, let us hope they are not in the position of wanting to remove themselves from the situation entirely. If there is even a hint of such a thing someone in a position to relieve them of their privileges, show some intestinal fortitude and give them the hook.

But like other writers, Zimring is of the ilk that not everybody in these hallowed halls is a saint. Or at least excluding the quality of always behaving according to moral principles that they believe in. Knowing right from wrong and adhering to their influence for determining such a stance. Or in the words of John Cougar Mellencamp: YOU'VE GOT TO STAND FOR SOMETHING OR YOU'LL FALL FOR ANYTHING.

Zimring continues: "Until the current era, the Original Sin of gambling has been the taboo disqualifying prospective hall of Fame members. Players were not being denied for forms of cheating which gave them a better chance to win games. Although the use of the spitball was banned before he was born, Gaylord Perry flaunted his association with the pitch, even writing an autobiography titled "Me and the Spitter," during his career. Gaylord Perry is lauded as a 300-game winner and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991. Nor was PED use in baseball novel in the 1990s."

In 1991, after 314 wins over twenty-two seasons, Perry was inducted into the Hall of Fame. George Owens of the Utica Observer-Dispatch described the ceremony: "When Rod Carew was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame, Panamanian flags waved. When Ferguson Jenkins was inducted, Canadian flags were flown. When Gaylord Perry was inducted it began to rain."

"Following widespread use of amphetamines in the US military during World War II and the Korean War, these stimulants made their way into baseball clubhouses, assisting performance in an era when westward expansion and (after 1960) longer seasons made greater demands on players' endurance. Players from this "golden era," including Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and the acclaimed fighter pilot Ted Williams, are characterized as the greatest of players despite playing in a time rife with illegal amphetamine use (widely credited with improving concentration and endurance). In the 40 years after World War II, career records in home runs and stolen bases were broken by men who easily won enshrinement in the Hall. Amphetamine use was considered widespread throughout the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, and sanctions for amphetamine use by active players are the same as the sanctions against steroid users."

And in closing, Carl Zimring wraps a bow around this tidy piece of information,"The history of the baseball Hall of Fame, with its spitballers and speed-freaks reminds us that true cleanliness is illusory. In the biological realm, we know this to be true. Our obsession with disinfectants result in superbugs; our need to constantly remove waste from our bodies and homes puts tons of excrement and synthetic garbage in our waterways and landfills. Absolute purity is impossible to reach, there is no such thing as clean. Even if definiing purity in the Hall of Fame is simply a lack of PEDs, it is hard to argue that the current hall is not already populated by players who have augmented their bodies with these substances."

Bravo Mr. Carl Zimring.

Kevin J. Marquez

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hank Greenberg's Trouble Getting into Cooperstown

Hank Greenberg was to many people of Jewish descent what Joe Louis was to people of his descent as well as people being from the United States of America. It's hard to find anyone who did America prouder than the Brown Bomber during World War II, except maybe Jesse Owens?

Hank Greenberg was someone who had to withstand all sorts of heckling by fellow ballplayers because of his descent. While the African-American race has been subjected to much abuse by ignorant people who had this idiotic belief that they were of an inferior race, I really can't think of anything being worse than people abusing you even though you were "allowed" to work with them. The people in position of hiring and firing people, for the betterment of their place of business, have never ever figured out the most humane way of how to hire WHO,over the course of civilization. Always there was a point in the interview when somebody had to know this person or a reference of some kind by a source who didn't bring anything to the job other than being of limited perspective when it came to hiring new people into the fold. And when I think about it there had to be one race that was the majority of employees that the owner had a preference for which may not have been the same as his own ethnicity. You would think that whomever was placed, or put themselves, in the nefarious position to have the leeway to pick and choose people based on something other than the skills needed for the job (these unfortunate folks were applying for) would have been the owner or perhaps a relative or close friend. Some kind of nepotism was almost always involved and has been since the need for filling out applications has come into existence. We've all been on the receiving end of an unfair or unlikely correspondence that told us we would be put on file even though we were looking as good as one could possibly fill another's eyes and yet somehow, some way we just weren't good enough for the mindless person whose purpose was to make the company they were hired by be a more productive place and a place ambitious people wanted to work. But as one learns through absorbing some bumps in the road (of life), it's usually a good thing when you encounter such an experience because you get the better feeling that it really would not have been a good fit. Hey, anyone that doesn't want me I probably don't want them either. It's one way to keep on keeping on.
( Here are some excerpts from this website that speak of the prejudice bestowed on those who played baseball.

But unashamed prejudice was not confined to people of color. For example, prejudice against Italians is reflected in Life Magazine’s May 1, 1939 profile of Joe DiMaggio:

Although he learned Italian first Joe, now 24, speaks English without an accent and is otherwise well adapted to most U.S. mores. Instead of olive oil or smelly bear grease he keeps his hair slick with water. He never reeks of garlic.

Life Magazine was hardly a fringe publication! Prejudice was mainstream.

And this prejudice certainly extended to Jewish folks. Father Charles Coughlin provides a perfect touchstone for this, since he was an immensely influential figure, reaching millions of devotees through his radio show. A couple of quotes give a taste of what was in the minds of Coughlin and followers:

"… the word 'fascist' is merely bandied about as part of Communism's offense mechanism…. the term 'anti-Semitic' is only another pet phrase of castigation in Communism's glossary of attack." (

"If Jews persist in supporting communism directly or indirectly, that will be regrettable. By their failure to use the press, the radio and the banking house, where they stand so prominently, to fight communism as vigorously as they fight Nazism, the Jews invite the charge of being supporters of communism." (
The Catholic church tolerated Father Coughlin’s bile; it did not feel pressured to order Coughlin to either desist or be defrocked. Prejudice was mainstream.

Hank Greenberg certainly experienced this anti-Semitism. Greenberg’s career was full of incidents where he got into arguments and fights when standing up to players who called him names because of his religion. His own words show the flavor of the times:

How the hell could you get up to home plate every day and have some son-of-a-bitch call you a Jew bastard and a kike and a sheenie and get on your ass without feeling the pressure? If the ballplayers weren't doing it, the fans were. I used to get frustrated as hell. Sometimes I wanted to go into the stands and beat the #### out of them.
Prejudice was mainstream, even in the stands of the National Pastime. So it is quite understandable for people to wonder whether the prejudices of 1930s America extended to American League managers and pitchers to the point that they deliberately kept Greenberg from breaking the Babe’s record.

But now that we have the Retrosheet data, what does it tell? Megdal says it shows that prejudice was a factor. In his own words:

[I]t is also impossible to ignore the statistical record. In short, the American League didn’t seem exactly thrilled with Greenberg’s pursuit. Until the Web site recently published game logs for the 1938 season, the subject of anti-Semitism during Greenberg’s record chase was a matter of opinion…. Almost no other hitter going after the home run record had anything like Greenberg’s late-season spike in bases on balls.

Megdal cites the following stats mined from the Retrosheet data as evidence that this spike existed:

"Greenberg walked in 15.9 percent of his plate appearances through the end of August 1938. In September, that rate jumped to 20.4 percent."

"…the way pitchers handled Greenberg early in the season was clearly different than the way they approached him as Ruth’s record came into view. Greenberg had four three-walk games in the final two months of the 1938 season, three in September."

For all those who say Jackie Robinson had it rough entering the big leagues I concur. But right with him (and a man who supported Jackie) was Hank Greenberg. If you think otherwise, you would be badly mistaken.

Greenberg missed all but 19 games of the 1941 season, 1942, 1943, 1944, and most of 1945, due to World War II. And he missed the majority of another season because of a broken wrist. I wonder if that was an accident?

In the 13 years he played he was in 1394-Games, had 5193-AB, Scored 1051-runs, had 1,628-hits, 2B: 379, 3B: 71, HR: 331 RBI:1276 and career average of .313. In his lifetime he had 852 bases-on-balls and struck out 844 times. Not bad for a slugger!

Much like Ted Williams, if you just give an average for the years he missed and he plays those 5 seasons you know he's passing 500-home runs. Because he was such a good hitter, there may even have been the possibility of him amassing 3,000 hits.

And yet it took Hank Greenberg 9 years to get into Cooperstown. Back when there was no waiting period. Don't you give a guy who gave so much to his country the benefit of the doubt when he puts up the numbers he did or was this a racist thing? Jackie Robinson got in on the first ballot and it was well deserved. What happened with Hank Greenberg?

(In 1936, Joe Louis lost to Max Schmeling in a heavyweight bout and was praised by non other than Adolf Hitler. World War II was seemingly inevitable at this point of American history. But the Brown Bomber came back to knock Schmeling out in the first round of their rematch in 1938.)

In 1937, Greenberg challenged a record that had been set six years earlier by Lou Gehrig. While “Hammerin’ Hank” was still working his way up through the minor leagues, “Larrupin’ Lou” had driven in an American League record 184 runs, a mark bettered by only one other man in major league history, before or since . Entering the final game of the 1937 season, Greenberg had 182 RBI, with a young pitcher on the mound. It appeared that he would have ample opportunity to remove Gehrig from the record book, especially after driving in run number 183 in the first inning. Karma was not on Hank’s side, however; the youngster settled down and pitched well; the game ended 1-0. And 75 years later, the American League record still belongs to Gehrig.

The following year, with the Tigers spiraling out of the pennant race by mid season, Greenberg began to hit homeruns at a record pace. It had been only eleven years since Babe Ruth had become the first man to reach the magical number of 60; unbeknownst to those watching during that season, it would be another twenty-three seasons until another hitter would follow suit. In the summer of 1938, however, Hank Greenberg had a chance. He kept hitting homerun after homerun after homerun—with the Tigers hopelessly behind in the pennant race, he did not have to concentrate so much on driving in runs and hitting for a high average. He could swing for the fences. And he did, reaching the 58 homerun mark with five games left in the season. As in the year before, the native New Yorker had a chance to steal one of baseball’s biggest records from a New York Yankee. And, as in the year before, he could not quite seal the deal, going without a homerun in those final five games.

Then think back to 1938 when he had 58 homers and the pitchers stopped pitching to him because of his Jewish descent. He was no longer allowed to play the game the way he knew how because there could not be someone of Jewish descent that could be the all-time home run hitter for a single season.

(Thanks to some of the aforementioned information by,Author: Brian Moynahan ©. Published: 2003. Appeared On: Baseball Almanac and the website given with even more in-depth information on the way Hank Greenberg was treated because he was Jewish.)

Kevin Marquez

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ralph Kiner

The story of Ralph Kiner getting into the Hall of Fame tells you how erratic the voters can be. From the same article by Dan Levy "Baseball Hall of Fame: If you can't fix the voters, fix the voting."

In 1960, back when Hall of Fame voting happened every other season, Ralph Kiner received 1.1 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility. Two years later, Kiner received 3.1 percent, and a pattern was beginning to form. It wasn't until his 10th year on the ballot that Kiner received more than 50% of the vote. And as the math stayed consistent with the kind of formula that would need all 20 years to enter the Hall of Fame, (his last year of eligibility) he in fact did qualify for the 75 percentile of votes to get into Cooperstown.

Did Kiner become a better player over those 15 retired seasons? Or did he have to wait for more vote-worthy players like Stan "the man" Musial, Warren Spahn, Mickey Mantle, or Lawrence "Yogi" Berra to enter before him?

According to Dan Levy, what happened to Ralphie boy has happened throughout history.

(thanks to the Dan Levy article)

Kevin Marquez

Is It the Voters or the Voting?

From the desk of Dan Levy, lead writer for the National, were some noteworthy comments on an article he titled "Baseball Hall of Fame: If You Can't Fix the Voters, Fix the Voting."

"There are egos everywhere, and it has grown out of control. It's nearly impossible to discuss who the best players in the game are without focusing just as much attention on who gets to decide what "best" even means."

He goes on to say that it is about the vote, not the voters. In doing so, he brings up former writer Murray Chass. He explains that Chass used to be a popular baseball writer before he took a buyout when his newspaper need to get rid of old, 'and presumably, overpaid writers.' Chass gets a seat for games because Major League baseball still credentials it to him. And evidently, in a blog he wrote, Chass admitted that voting for the Hall of Fame is more about about him than any of the players who deserve to be in Cooperstown.

Chass is also known for claiming Mike Piazza, while with the New York Mets, had backne.

I, personally, don't know the man. But a fellow writer says as much. I figure Levy can't say anything he pleases for fear of being held libel.

Levy then brings up the name of T.J. Quinn of ESPN. How Quinn wrote a post why he quit voting. Said Levy: "In a nutshell, he admitted he like to vote because it was 'cool' to be a Hall of Fame voter, but with the presentation of candidates who have more complicatred resumes, he decided he has, 'come to the conclusion that it isn't my mess to solve, and I wouldn't be qualified to solve it even if it were.'"

Levy: "On one hand, we should applaud Quinn for admitting that he can't make sense of what to do and that the pressure of being a gatekeeper for the history of the game should go to someone else, not him."

"On the other hand, it's complete and utter malarkey that Quinn would allow himself to vote for the Hall of Fame when it was easy to figure out who should or shouldn't be enshrined, but now the vote is complicated, Quinn thinks it's time to give up and let someone else deal with the mess. In other words, now that the game needs a judging body to look at the last 20 years with the kind of perspective the gatekeepers of the game should be able to provide."

Levy discusses the 'first ballot nonsense.' 'the big issue is this notion that letting people into Cooperstown is a privilege, not a right. Essentially, the voters get to decide who has that privilege, and when.'

Just thinking about that last paragraph really stinks out loud!

Then a small graphic that reads: NOTABLE FIRST BALLOT INDUCTEES is shown that Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Warren Spahn, Willie McCovey, Jackie Robinson, and Robert "Lefty" Grove. And what catches your eyes is that Sandy Koufax got 344 out of 396 ballots. Willie McCovey received 346 out of 425 ballots. Who could possibly think these two were not Hall of Famers? But wait, there are even more unbelievable ballots not filled out for stars of the game.

In 1979, when it was time to vote the "Say Hey" kid in, (a.k.a. Willie Mays) 23 voters did not vote for him. Are you kidding me? This is where Tom Tolbert's cry for making the voters accountable comes in to play. I would definitely want to know who did not vote for Willie Mays and that person gets his voting privileges removed on-the-spot, baby! Same with Ted Williams, of the 322 voters, 302 selected the "Splendid Splinter" leaving 20 misguided souls feeling better about themselves because ole Teddy Ballgame, more than likely, told them what to do with their newspaper. To these voters I've got to go Dick Vitale on them. With that ringing voice, Dicky V would probably give 'em a, "You are outta here!"

Then there was a list of players who entered Cooperstown with 90% of the vote,or higher. But really, what you have to notice hear is how some rated higher than others. Take Cal Ripken, Jr., please. He had a higher percentage than Mays, Hank Aaron, Honus Wagner, Johnny Bench, Babe Ruth, Rickey Henderson, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Brooks Robinson, Rod Carew and Christy Mathewson.

No way was Cal Ripken, Jr. a better fielder, hitter, overall player than Brooks Calbert Robinson. Babe Ruth at 95.1% vs Nolan Ryan at 98.8% proves that this like every form of voting has a tendency to be more of a popularity contest than anything else. That the Babe was a bit of a rogue was probably used against him by some short-sighted,jealous voter who used his privilege to show the Babe who was really the boss.

Thanks to the aforementioned article. Here is the website if you'd like to check it out yourself.(

Kevin Marquez