The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Dodgers’

I’ve got nothing

Posted by keithosaunders on December 29, 2018

It’s the end of the year and I’ve got nothing.  I’m running on E, emotionally, artistically, and spiritually.  We’ve got a lying sack of excrement in the White House that 40 per cent of the country approve of.  The Dems are taking control of the Congress which opens the door for impeachment, but with the feckless Republican-controlled Senate there is little or no chance of conviction.

Sports continue to be a microcosm of capitalism with the rich getting richer (Yankees/Dodgers/Warriors) and an almost cult-like subservience to time-sucking instant replay booth reviews.

As much as I practice and strive to improve it is looking like too little too late.  The time is growing short and I’ve got a lot left to accomplish, not the least of which is staying alive.  How much longer will gigs and teaching be a reliable source of income?  Was it ever?

Happy New Year.

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Martin Saunders Jan 15th, 1927-November 18th 2015

Posted by keithosaunders on November 23, 2015

My earliest memory is of my father encasing my brother and I in his arms and rolling us down a hillside in a park in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.  That’s all you need to know about him.  He was there for us.  He took us to ballgames, to the beach, Disneyland, played catch with us in the summer, and shot hoops with us in the winter.  Even though he didn’t make any real money until well into his middle age, he rented a piano and gave me piano lessons from the time I was 8 until I turned I8.  When I decided to make music my life’s work, rather than discourage me by suggesting I find something to fall back on he encouraged me to keep playing and to follow my dream of moving to New York City.

He was born in Brooklyn in 1927.  My grandfather Leo was a rabid Dodgers fan and he passed this on to my Dad who would pass it on to me, although unlike him I would become a traitor , turning to the New York Mets in 1984.

Dad grew up with those bad Dodgers teams of the ’30s but would see them develop into a juggernaut in the 40s and 50s. He used to tell me about those bad Dodgers teams — how Leo would take him to Ebbets field and insist on staying to the end of the game no matter how far the Dodgers were behind. “You never know!”  One day Leo wanted to take my Dad to a Dodgers game but the skies looked threatening.  He decided to phone the stadium.  My Dad tells the story that all of a sudden Leo burst out of the phone booth with a huge smile, shouting, “GAME TODAY!”

He had this uncle Bill who somehow knew Babe Ruth. One day Uncle Bill took my Dad, who would have been 4 or 5, to Manhattan to the hotel Ruth was staying in. Somehow Dad ended up in Ruth’s lap and the Bambino asked him, “Are you a Yankees fan, son?” My Dad scowled and shot back, “I root for the Dodgers!!” The Babe smiled, laughed, and answered, “You stick with them, son. One day they’ll be good!”

Shortly before coming out of the army in 1946 Dad was quarantined and finding himself bored with nothing to do he invented a card football game.  At some point it was actually published in Esquire magazine.  He also invented card baseball and basketball games but the game that my brother and I loved the most was card boxing.  Not because it was a good game — it wasn’t.  You assigned  the two boxers a color – red or black. If two cards of the same color turned over that was a knockdown – if three in a row came up it was a knockout.  What we loved about it was that Dad would announce the fight, often making it an imaginary fight between a pair of friends or our neighbors. His announcing was so funny that he would have us in hysterics.

He could name every World Series and how many games it went going back to 1940.  Through him I learned that Stan Musial was a Dodger-killer, the most rabid Dodger fans lived in Bay Ridge, and that Jackie Robinson was the most exciting player he ever saw.

When I was 19 I had my first gig away from home playing in a cruise ship lounge band.  Dad drove me to the harbor in San Pedro to board the ship.  We pulled up to find the ship 30 yards from the dock and moving in the wrong direction!  (I had been given an erroneous arrival time and would have to fly to San Francisco the next day to catch up with the ship)  It just so happened that the Dodgers were home playing a day game and on the spur of the moment my Dad suggested we go.  I’ll never forget that game.  The Reds got off to a 4-0 lead in the 1st inning and just when I was wondering if the day could get any worse the Dodgers answered with a 10 run bottom of the 1st and coasted to an easy victory.  But what has stuck with me all of these years is that stolen time that I had with my Dad at a weekday baseball game.  He took time off from work to cheer me up and ended up giving me a memory that lasted a lifetime.

Thank you, Dad.  Thank you for your wit, your humor, and your love.  You’re physical presence is gone but I’ll carry you with me forever.

 

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Match point

Posted by keithosaunders on October 15, 2015

This is the 3rd playoff series between the Mets and the Dodgers.  The first, in 1988, featured Orel Hershiser pitching a complete game gem in the 7th and deciding game.  Who can forget Mike Scioscia’s shocking, game-tying home run off of Dwight Gooden in game 4; a game the Mets lost in 12 innings. (Kirk Gibson’s 12th inning home run was the difference)

In 2006, which was the last time the Mets were in the post season, they swept the Dodgers in the NLDS.  There are two players, one from each roster, that are playing in this current series.  They are Andre Ethier and David Wright.  That 2006 Dodger squad included veterans Kenny Lofton, Greg Maddux, Jeff Kent, and Nomar Garciaparra.  The Mets had a more youthful lineup, featuring Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, and the aforementioned Wright.  Their roster also included veterans Carlos Delgado and Cliff Floyd. That Mets team would go on to lose a heartbreaking NLCS to the St Louis Cardinals and the next two years they would suffer gut wrenching late-season collapses.

This brings us to tonight’s series-deciding epic matchup between another veteran Dodgers team and an upstart young Mets club. Jacob deGrom versus Zack Greinke.  If deGrom falters manager Terry Collins will use Noah Syndergaard and even Matt Harvey. (Scott Boras be damned)  I imagine big Bartolo will be on hand as well –  anything it takes to get to the one pitcher that matters the most: Jeurys Familia. For if he is in the game that’s a good sign that the Mets have a lead and what was once unthinkable — a trip to the NLCS — may yet come to pass.

Let’s go METS!!!

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It’s go time

Posted by keithosaunders on October 13, 2015

If you had told me on April 6th when the Mets opened In Washington against the Nationals, that on October 13th they would be playing a playoff game against the Dodgers that could propel them to the NLCS, I would have laughed in your face. But here they are, poised for success in this most improbable season that turned on a dime with the July 31st acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes.

Matt Harvey was mediocre last night versus the feckless Dodgers, but when you’re facing third-rate starters such as Brett Anderson and your lineup possesses gamers like Curtis Granderson and the aforementioned Cespedes, it doesn’t much matter. The Dodgers [probably wisely] sat Chase Utley, but at this stage of his career he is not an impact player unless you count chippy slides.

As for Harvey, I don’t blame him for not being sharp, what with nearly a two week layoff.  In this era of pitch counts and coddling it is unrealistic to expect your ‘ace’ starter to have any kind of rhythm in his biggest start of the year. I wonder what Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson think of today’s crop of tin-men. Hopefully, if the Mets move on, Harvey will be stronger in the NLCS.  They will need him against a frothing-at-the-mouth, too young to be scared Cubs lineup. (yes I have written the Cardinals off)

In the meantime the Mets have a game to win.  Rookie Steven Matz and his sore back will face Clayton Kershaw, who will be starting on three days of rest. The realist in me wants to believe that the pressure of pitching in a closeout game in hostile Citi Field will be too much for Kershaw, who thus far in his storied career has been a playoff washout.  The fatalist in me, however, hears a voice buried deep inside of my head saying, ‘He’s due.  He’s due.’

This is it, Mets.  FINISH THEM.

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The slide

Posted by keithosaunders on October 12, 2015

LIsten, the Mets did not lose Saturday night’s NLDS game against the Dodgers because of Chase Utley’s chippy slide. They lost it because they couldn’t score more than two runs against Zack Greinke.  As much as I hate to admit it Utley did nothing wrong.  He went into second base hard, as he was trained to do; as ballplayers have doing for over a century.  I’m more upset that the umps did not rule him out since he came nowhere near to touching second base.  Once again replay fails us. What’s the point of having it if not to decide plays like these?

And memo to Terry Collins:  Throw the sabermetrics away.  You had no business taking Bartolo Colon out of the game after a botched double play.  This may be a stretch, but big Bartolo has pitched a few years — I think he can get a lefty out. Leave your broken down chess pieces in the bullpen until you get into real trouble.

That being said, this series is the Mets to lose.  They got what they wanted out of their trip to Los Angeles — they stole a game from Clayton Kershaw.  Now it’s time for Matt Harvey to back up his cocky demeanor.  Harvey against Brett Anderson is a mismatch.  If the Mets bats are quiet we need to see Harvey go deep into this game and silence an anemic, underachieving Dodgers lineup. That means pitch count be damned. Is Harvey a ballplayer or a corporate interest?  A gamer or a faceless drone? A hero or a bum?

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Terry Collins mans up

Posted by keithosaunders on October 10, 2015

At last a manager showed some guts and sticks with his ace rather than adhere to the one-size-fits-all pitch count of 100. Terry Collins’ decision to allow Jacob deGrom to hit in the 7th inning with one out and men on 1st and 2nd paid off in spades.  The Mets came away with a 3-1 victory in LA against erstwhile ace and longtime playoff underachiever, Clayton Kershaw.  DeGrom, who had thrown 102 pitches, laid down a picture perfect bunt, nearly beating it out, setting the table for gamer David Wright.

Out came Mattingly to remind us that this is indeed the era of pussy baseball. He pulled his ace, the big bad, unbeatable (or so I have been told by Dodgers fans the past two weeks) Kershaw to bring in Pedro Baez, because we all know only righties can get other righties out.  Baez got behind in the count and at 3-2 grooved a fast ball which Wright banged into center for a 2 run double.  Ballgame.

By taking Kershaw out Mattingly undermined his ace’s confidence.  Do you have an ace or not?  If the answer is yes then has to be able to work out of tough spots in big games I don’t care how many pitches he has thrown.  it’s go time!  What’s the good of having an ace if he can’t pitch through late innings bases loaded situations? This is what you work for all season long. It comes down to who do you want to pitch to Wright:  Your Cy Young winning pitcher who had been untouchable all year long, or Pedro straight-down-the-middle-fast-ball Baez.

If I was Terry Collins I would name Matt Harvey today’s starter.  Here’s your chance to drive a stake through the heart of the Dodgers and take a 2-0 lead in games back to New York.  Then you have Syndergaard pitching at home where he is much more effective than the road.  You would always have DeGrom for a game five, or if you’re man enough, a game four.  If Scott Boras responded with as a much of a peep I would ban him from Citi Field.  What’s the worst that can happen?  The Mets miss out on the chance to sign a non-gamer pitcher for 30 million a year.  Boo hoo.

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Why getting it right is so wrong

Posted by keithosaunders on October 2, 2015

A few comments about how much baseball sucks today. That 1977 Phillies/Dodgers playoff game I watched the other night: How long do you suppose it took to play that game? Remember, this was a 6-5 game. The Phillies used 4 pitchers while the Dodgers used 6, which was a lot for those days.

It took 2 hours and 59 minutes.

Here’s another thing: In the 2nd inning there was a play at the plate. Burt Hooten hit a double and Steve Garvey tried to score from 2nd. Bob Boone, the Phillies catcher, blocked the plate because this was pre-pussy baseball before the neutering of the catchers and umpires.   Harry Wendelstedt, the home plate ump,  ruled that Garvey was safe. However…he was out. You could easily tell by the ONE REPLAY they showed that Garvey was not able to slide under the tag. Wendelstedt, got the call wrong. The announcers noted it and then moved on, never once mentioning it again.

And guess what? The world didn’t stop turning on its axis, and what ensued was one of the more memorable playoff comebacks. There was the technology, even in ‘1977, to institute booth reviews yet they didn’t. Why? Because they realized they had a great game and didn’t want to ruin it.

Think about this as you enjoy your 5 hour Yankees/Bluejays games.

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Dodgers v Giants: A feel good taping story

Posted by keithosaunders on September 1, 2015

For years my buddy in the Bronx and I have traded taping foible stories.  What is a taping foible?  That’s when you set your DVR, or in the old days, VCR to record the game and something goes horribly wrong.  The most common thing is to learn of the score either by accident or having it told to you by a random person.  In the old days it was actually difficult to program VCRs.  The taping landscape was fraught with danger.

Today I have a taping story with a happy ending. I had the night off (I’m a musician and gig most every night)  so I decided to watch the Dodgers/Giants game. Since I also wanted to watch this horror show I’m into called The Strain I decided to tape the game and watch it on delay.  I set it up to tape 2 hours extra. I use the word ‘taping’ in the generic sense.  I recorded on a DVR.

By the time I got to the game it was about 90 minutes old.  It was a slow moving game with deliberate pitchers and lots of pitching changes. In other words, it was a normal paced ballgame. The game went extra innings but since 9 innings took 3 hours and 40 minutes there was only 80 minutes left on the timer.  By the 12th inning there was only 20 minutes of taping time left and was 40 minutes behind real time!  I was rooting for a broo-ha-ha so I could get in some serious fast forward action but it was not to be.  I began forwarding between every pitch all the while sweating bullets.
Finally it was zero hour but I still had 1 minute of tape to get through.  The tape ran out with Justin Turner up representing the winning run.  I was sure that the one minute gap was going to do me in and that I would miss a Turner walkoff homer but the taping Gods were with me. I only missed a single.  Or a walk. Or a hit by pitch. I don’t know because I missed it.
I watched the final 2 innings in real time, every once in a while hitting the fast forward button on the remote by mistake.    A great pennant race game and a happy taping ending!
VCR

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Four more days

Posted by keithosaunders on August 3, 2010

There’s very little time left for me in New York City before moving to the Bay Area.  On the outside I am calm but inside is a different story.  Almost everywhere I go is for the last time — every friend and acquaintance that I see is someone I may never see again.  I have no words that are profound enough for goodbye so I just give them an extra hug.  Tears come at strange times — almost never around people.  I just hold it in.  Bottle it up.

This morning I decided at the spur of the moment to go to the Jewish cemetary in Ridgewood, Queens to visit my grandfather and grandmother, my father’s parents.  I never knew either of them — they both passed away early in life due to heart disease.  Before going I called my father asking him for some details on how to locate the graves.  He said “Don’t tell my Dad that I no longer root for the Dodgers.” 

 I took my two younger children, and thanks to a helpful cemetary worker we were able to locate the plots.  Somehow seeing these two graves made me feel connected to an earlier New York — the New York of my father’s childhood.  He grew up in Brooklyn and Queens, and in 1964 took his family west to California where there was more work and an easier lifestyle.  Standing in that cemetary with my son and daughter, thinking of my Dad and his parents, I realized that except for the 20 years between 1964 and 1984, my family has been represented here since the beginning of the 20th century. 

Somehow it felt right to be in a cemetary during my final week, thinking about the past, while nervously looking ahead to the future.  People of that generation, for the most part, lived their entire lives in their home town.  Starting with my Dad’s generation that began to change.  I should feel lucky that I’ve been able to live here as long as I did.  New York is not an easy place to move to, but it’s an even harder place to move away from.

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The Bumblebee Bucs

Posted by keithosaunders on June 18, 2010

Between the years of 1977 and 1983 the Pittsburgh Pirates wore what was arguably the most garish uniforms in the history of baseball.  Their color scheme, like their Pittsburgh brethren Penguins and Steelers, was banana yellow and black.  The combination of colors changed every day.  One day they might wear a black jersey with yellow pants — the next it could be the opposite.  Or they could go straight black jersey and pants.  They also had white jerseys and pants which gave them nine different combinations.  I always looked forward to seeing the Pirates on their bi-annual trips to Dodger Stadium –for me the holy grail was all yellow.

Nowadays it’s common for a team to wear an alternate black jersey to go along with their regular pants.  Back then, however, it was a radical idea to have more than two possible uniform combinations, the norm being home whites and travelling greys. 

  The Pirates were dominant in that era and featured players every bit as colorful as their uniforms.  Kent Tekulve was a reed-thin submariner relief pitcher with a rubber arm.  He regularly would throw more than 100 innings a year.  In those days closers weren’t only used in the 9th inning, but when they were needed the most, which often as not was the 7th. 

Bill Madlock was a batting champ — a pure line drive hitter who regularly batted over .300 .  Willie Stargell, Pops, was my favorite.  Even though by the late 70s he was nearing the end of a great career, he was still a feared home run hitter.  To this day he is one of three players to hit a ball out of Dodger Stadium.  (Mark McGwire and Mike Piazza are the other two)  He did it twice.    He also owns the record for the longest home run ever hit in Dodger Stadium — 506 feet.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention two-time batting champ Dave Parker, the Cobra.  He was a tall, burly right fielder with a howitzer for an arm.  In the late 70s we thought he was on track to become one of the all time greats but injuries and cocaine use hampered the latter part of his career, largely spent with the Cincinnati Reds.

So let’s have a drink to the Pirates of the ’70s, a team that along with the Dodgers and Reds, dominated the post season.  The decade was framed by their twin championships of 1971 and 1979, but they also appeared in the NLCS in 1970, ’72, 74, and ’75.  As of now the Pirates have not appeared in a post season since 1991 which is a dubious record:  No other sports franchise has suffered through this long of a drought.  Perhaps they should bring back the Bumblebee Bucs unis.   

For those of you interested in sports uniforms here is a link to a great blog called uniwatch.

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