The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Yankees’

The retirement tour

Posted by keithosaunders on September 29, 2016

These days when superstar athletes retire they have to go on a tour, meaning the road team felates them with video tributes and while showering them with gifts.  Why these millionairs need gifts is beyond me, but that’s the way it goes in the corporate world of MLB.

Yesterday someone on my Facebook feed bragged that he was going to David Ortiz’s final game at Yankee Stadium.  Suffice it to say that I just about threw up in my mouth.  Who cares?!  He’s the enemy!  (…of Crankee fans, that is.  I always loved it when he would destroy them his P.E.D.-enhaced home runs.)

Do you think Harmon Killabrew went on a retirement tour?  Bob Gibson?  Ernie Banks?  No!  They retired like men – they played their final game and got the hell out.

Sandy Koufax pitched the entire 1966 season in pain, along the way compiling a 27-9 record with 1.79 ERA.  He started 41 games and pitched 323 innings.  He started one World Series game which he lost, mostly due to six Dodger errors.  (three by Willie Davis in the same inning!)  Then he retired.  No tour!

Lifelong Giant, Juan Marichal, inexplicably ended his career on the Dodgers.  He started two games, was lit up in both, and retired.  No Tour. Get out.

The Dodgers, when I was growing up in the 70s, had a streak of signing superstars near, or at the end of their run.  They had Dick Allen in 1971, Frank Robinson in 1972, Jim Wynn in 1974 & ’75, and Boog Powell in 1977.  I can remember going to a game and seeing Powell his a 340 foot single off of the right field wall.

So there you have it.  For God’s sake can these players just retire with dignity?  Leave the circus for Ringling brothers.

Image result for boog powell dodgers

 

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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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R.I.P. pennant races

Posted by keithosaunders on August 24, 2011

It seems like only yesterday that I was waxing rhapsodic about the possibility of an epic four team National League Central Division pennant race.  I had Pirate fever and was envisioning playoff games from PNC Park.  Braves-Pirates would have been a fun first round matchup — a rematch of the 1991 and ’92 NLCS, and a chance for the Buccos to have reaped revenge. 

Alas, what a difference four weeks make.  Not only are the Pirates dead and buried — their hopes of breaking their 19year consecutive losing season streak all but dashed — the entire division has been taken over by the ascendant Brewers.  Mind you, I am happy it’s Milwaukee, rather than the Cardinals and their insufferable skipper, LaRussa, but I would have preferred a good old-fashioned dogfight.

In fact, there is only one pennant race this year, and I am lucky enough to be residing in one of two major league cities that is still hosting meaningful games.  By all rights, the San Francisco Giants should be buried, but it is their good fortune to play in the NL West, which contains a broke Dodgers, and a broken down Rockies.  The Diamondbacks are a feisty, young squad, and they are the surprise team of 2011, but I don’t see them winning more than one playoff game, if that. 

The Giants, with their pitching, would at least have a shot.  They have been a walking M*A*S*H unit this year — at this writing they have nine players on the DL — and yet have managed to remain in the race.  They picked up Carlos Beltran from the Mets, who did his best to blend in with his teammates by immediately going on the DL.  What is it with Beltran — the man can’t stay healthy.  He is a great player, but his entire career is based on the 2004 post season. 

A September devoid of pennant races is a bitter pill for me to swallow.  Once October begins, so does my personal hell, which consists of sweating through another Yankee blitzkrieg.  It’s torture watching them grind their way through playoff run after playoff run.  Yes, I know they’ve lost a few first round series in recent years, and the Redsox look formidable, (as does Texas) but something tells me that the Yanks will not be an easy out this year.  I dread another Redsox – Yankees ALCS — those five hour marathons which end when some obscure Yankee hits a homerun.  

All I hope for at the beginning of each baseball season is for the Yankees to miss the playoffs.  This has occurred once in the last 16 years.  It has been a reign of terror and there is no end in sight. 

The fact that there may be no pennant races, thus cutting off my last enjoyable month of the year, is a bitter pill to swallow.  Football, you can not start soon enough.

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At last…the MLB playoffs!

Posted by keithosaunders on October 6, 2010

As we turn the page on another disappointing Mets season it’s time to focus on the playoffs.  The divisional series I’m most intrigued by is Phillies vs Reds — two classic teams which date back to before the turn of the 19th century. 

The Reds won the Black Sox Series of 1919 — there probably should be an asterisk after that one – and they appeared in back to back Series in 1939 and ’40, winning in 7 games against the Tigers in 1940.  They then endured a 21 year Series drought before losing to the Yankees in 5 games in 1961.  They lost to the Orioles in 1970 and the As in ’72, but by 1975 the Big Red Machine was in full bloom and they won a classic 7 game Series against the Boston Redsox.  Next year they would go on to sweep the Yankees.  Throw in a sweep of the steroidally-infused Oakland As of 1990 and you are up to date with Reds Series history.

It’s a much simpler endeavor to chronicle the Philadelphia Phillies World Series appearances.  In fact, until I was 20 years of age they had yet to win one.  They first appeared in the Series in 1915, losing to the Redsox in 5 games.  If you had been born in November of that year you would have had to wait until your 35th birthday to see them play post-season ball.  That’s 1950, for those of you scoring at home, when the team known as the Whiz kids finally returned to the Series.  They were the youngest National League champs in history with an average age of 26.  Youth was not served, however, as they were swept by the Yankees, who were in the midst of winning 5 consecutive championships.

In the 70s the Phillies got good again.  (note:  I am magnanimously skipping over the great pennant race collapse of 1964.)  With a nucleus of Mike Schmidt, Bake McBride, Larry Bowa, Steve Carlton, and Tug McGraw they appeared in 3 straight playoffs — from 1976 to ’78 — losing all of them.  Just when it appeared they would never get over the hump, they beat the Houston Astros in the 1980 NLCS, a series in which 4 out of the 5 games went to extra innings!  The Phillies would go on to win their first World Series ever, beating the Kansas City Royals in 6 games.

In 1983 the Phillies lost to the Orioles in 5 games, and in 1993 their Lenny Dykstra/John Kruk/Mitch Williams version lost to the Toronto Bluejays in 6 games.  (I’ll thank you not to mention Joe Carter)  That takes us into the current millennium in which the Phillies won their second Series, a 5 gamer against the upstart Tampa Bay Rays.  Throw in last year’s loss to the Yankees in 6 games and you are up to date.

Now let the games begin!

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My long national nightmare continues: in Palatine, Illinois

Posted by keithosaunders on August 12, 2010

Apparently the fact that I no longer live in New York city has done little to lessen the sting of a Yankee comeback victory. Through the miracle of ESPN I was able to watch them put the finishing touches on a 6-1 comeback victory on the road against Cliff Lee of the 1st place Texas Rangers. I am nauseous just typing that.

The Yankees earn so much money,between their cable network, gate receipts, and merchandising revenue, that if they wanted to they could add another 50 million in payroll without blinking. There is no reason, barring a rash of freak injuries, that they should miss the playoffs. Ever.

After an easy five-hour drive from Eastern Michigan to Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, we spent a beautiful day and overnight with my brother and his family. We had a refreshing swim in his pool, which with the 90 degree humid weather, was much appreciated, and we made a run to Lowes where a bought a plastic, rain-resistant tarp for our canvas car-roof bag.

After dinner they surprised me with a 50th birthday cake. My birthday is in two weeks, but being that I will spend it in my new city it was great to celebrate it with family. The cake was in the shape of a hamburger, the significance of which I could only surmise was that this is the type of food that i’d best not over- indulge in lest my arteries go the way of downtown Detroit.

Next on the trip we will probably be calling an audible. We had intended to drive north to South Dakota and go through the Badlands, but we may have to arrive in Cali a few days earlier, necessitating a more direct route. This would mean that a trip through Nebraska is looming. Bring it.

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Leviathan

Posted by keithosaunders on August 1, 2010

I was just saying to a friend of mine, “If only the Yankees had more left-handed power.  Then maybe, just maybe they could win a pennant.”  Lance Berkman, a switch hitter, should enjoy the friendly confines of that marble-infested ball orchard known as Yankee Stadium, and he should be able to ride his current hot streak to that inevitable parade down the canyon of heros. 

How fortunate for Berkman that he actually wanted to play for the Yankees!  Any old player can help a small market franchise to the World Series.  Players such as Kirby Puckett, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett (when he was a Marlin) are a dime a dozen, but it takes a player with intestinal fortitude to want to contribute to a team that has already won 27 world championships and is a favorite to win their 28th.  Now that takes guts!  

I’m so happy that Berkman was reunited with his old friend Andy Pettitte.  The thought of those two peas in a pod being separated had me crying myself to sleep for the first four months of this season.  Now that they are reunited they can reminisce about the bad old days in Houston.  It’s too bad that their old friend Roger Clemons is disgraced as a bat-throwing roid-raging freak.  Otherwise he might be able to join them, forming a modern-day three amigos.   

The grreat thing about the Yankee’s plan is that if fist baseman Mark Texeira gets hurt the Yankees have a perfect replacement in Berkman.  If Berkman gets hurt (god fobid)  they can trade for Justin Morneau or Prince Fielder.  One or the other ought to be able to get them through to the tough times until Ike Davis is free agent eligible.  That’s the beauty! 

I used to resent the Yankees but I’ve come around.  Now I hate the small market teams who jealously horde their yearly windfalls from the luxery taxes as a result of Yankee spending.  After all, why shouldn’t the Kansas City Royals, a team that earns 1/9 of the Yankees, spend the same amount as them to keep up?  Shame on them!  If they can’t stand the heat they should get the hell out of baseball’s kitchen.  I’m for an eight team league in which every team makes the playoffs with a best of nine series so that there can be plenty of TV money.  I want Buck and Tim to do every game. 

What a guy!

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