Archive for Baseball

Happy birthday, Kid

Posted in Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2020 by macmystery
Williams-Ted-3877

The Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams (Baseball Hall of Fame)

 

Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived, would have been 102 years old today.

Williams, not just figuratively, but statistically, as well, is one of the greatest, if not THE greatest hitter in Major League Baseball history.

If you love baseball, it’s really hard not to love Ted Williams.

He is the all-time leader in on-base percentage (.482), second all-time in slugging percentage (.634) and second in OPS (1.116), the combination of those aforementioned two numbers, which essentially paints a picture of how productive a hitter is.

The leader in both categories in which Williams is second? Babe Ruth, often considered the game’s greatest player. But Williams, unlike Ruth, played his career in the live-ball era and played the majority of his career after integration, meaning all of the best players could finally make the major leagues. (More on this topic later.)

He is the last major leaguer to hit higher than .400 in a full season – .406 in 1941.

He won the Triple Crown in 1942 (.356, 36 HRs, 137 RBIs) – the last season before he joined the Marines as an aviator for World War II. And he won the Triple Crown in 1947 (.343, 32, 114), his second season back from WWII.

As a 2nd Lt., Williams was an F4U Corsair flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola. He was in Pearl Harbor awaiting transport to a unit in the Pacific when Japan surrendered in 1945. He missed three full seasons in his prime (1943-45) for the war.

When the Korean War happened, Williams was called up from the reserves and assigned to VMF-311, Marine Air Group 33 in Phang, South Korea.

For much of the war, he was future astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn’s wing man. Glenn called Williams the best pilot he had ever seen. Glenn’s wife said he was the most profane man she’d ever met.

Williams earned the Naval Air Medal when his plane was hit across enemy lines and he guided it back safely, despite the plane eventually catching fire after a crash landing.

He finished his military career with two Silver Stars and three Bronze Stars. And he never complained about his time in the prime of his career lost to the service.

Using Williams’ averages during those periods in his career, in almost five full seasons, military service cost him 864 hits, 155 home runs and 582 RBIs. Adding those numbers to his career totals, Williams would have amassed more than 3,500 hits, good for fifth all-time behind just Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial; 671 home runs, behind just Barry Bonds, Aaron, Ruth and Alex Rodriguez; and more than 2,400 RBIs, easily eclipsing Aaron as the all-time leader.

And it’s fair to say Williams could have done even more damage. He retired as a 41-year-old after a 1960 season that saw him hit .311 with 29 home runs and 72 RBIs. An all-star, he posted an OPS of 1.096. For reference, that OPS would have been second in the major leagues last season by .004.

In his retirement, Williams was an avid and talented fisherman, owning several records during his lifetime. He is a member of the International Fishing Hall of Fame, making him one of just four athletes to reach the Hall of Fame in multiple sports joining Jim Brown (football, lacrosse), Cumberland Posey (baseball, basketball) and Cal Hubbard (baseball, football).

Politically, Williams was once described as even “to the right of Attila The Hun,” except when it came to civil rights. Possibly the best thing Williams did off the baseball field during peacetime was to use his acceptance speech upon induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966 to advocate for the inclusion of Negro League players who had been denied the opportunity to play in the major leagues and were not eligible for the Hall.

“I hope that some day the names of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson in some way could be added as a symbol of the great Negro players that are not here only because they were not given the chance.”

 

 

Rakim, minus Eric B., of course, but not all by himself

Posted in Journalism, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2018 by macmystery

https://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=622595890&mediaId=622597776

While procrastinating late Monday night, as I so often do when I have a viable writing topic, I found myself listening to music.

It’s not an uncommon activity in my life. A large percentage of my disposable income (and a lot that should have never been disposable) has been spent on music, not to mention my time, both disposable and indisposable, as well. Concerts, records, tapes, CDs, road trips.

But I’ll admit that over the last few years of my marriage, which LEGALLY ended in 2016, aside from time spent in the car, music had all but disappeared from my life. And maybe that should have been a sign. But that’s another story for another day.

Anyway, as I said, I was listening to music, something I do again, typically late at night. A strange mix … Dierks Bentley, the Cowboy Junkies, Henry Mancini, Metallica and Dave Brubeck. (I’ll admit, there was 10 minutes of George Carlin mixed in there, as well.)

I was listening to this strange mix as I put off writing something more substantial than my Facebook post from earlier Monday evening about former two-time National League Most Valuable Player and longtime Atlanta Braves standout Dale Murphy. Ironically, I’m still going to write that post, but it’ll be another day now, at least.

That’s because, while perusing Facebook, I came upon the New York Times story (How an Affair Between a Reporter and a Security Aide Has Rattled Washington Media) about the relationship between its reporter Ali Watkins and a man who handled security for many years for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

So, of course I was going to write about that. Being a former journalist — being a former journalist is like being a former Marine … there’s no such thing — the story presents some interesting and frustrating dilemmas during a time when the press is badly needed, as well as badly maligned.

And then Rakim happened.

Someone I know from high school, a lifetime ago, had shared the latest installment of National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Concert. Featured for June 25, 2018 was Rakim, initially, at least, of Eric B. & Rakim fame.

I’ll admit it. Aside from straight up classical music, the least represented major genre in my music collection is rap. Or hip-hop, if you will. Old school Run D.M.C., some Sir Mix-A-Lot, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar … but not much else. A lot of it doesn’t interest me. A lot of it I respect but simply don’t enjoy.

I have read a lot about Rakim. But I haven’t listened a lot to Rakim.

But I did Monday night.

And I was treated to 9 minutes and 37 seconds of brilliance that maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for 30 years ago, when Eric B. and Rakim were on top of their game. Kind of the same way I have a different appreciation for jazz now than I did as a young man.

And in a lot of ways, comparatively, Rakim’s style is jazz, at least vocally. His lyrics and voice are his instrument, and while aggressive, he is not necessarily loud and not in a hurry. Much as Willie Nelson brought jazz phrasing and guitar to his otherwise solid country gold lyrics, Rakim in some ways does the same thing.

It’s evident with the live band, rather than a DJ, backing him in the small NPR studio. The musicians are tight and work infectious grooves through three songs, allowing Rakim’s lyrics to shine as his instrument.

I was impressed. I had a moment, really. Usually, though, it’s when I hear something new that blows me away. I am admittedly not used to, at this point in my life, hearing songs more than two decades old, performed by the original artists, that pique my interest so completely.

My son, Dylan, possibly in the wrong place at the wrong time, can attest. He walked in the room in a moment of boredom after his computer crashed, expecting to wander in and wander out.

Instead he was detained by me and forced to surrender 9:37 of his evening, too, to sit and watch this Tiny Desk Concert. Not surprisingly, to me, he found himself, like I did, enjoying the video, foot tapping and hands popping.

The final two songs of Rakim’s three-song set, were “Paid In Full” and “Know The Ledge,” … classics and songs I will now seek out. But they followed “King’s Paradise,” a song released a few days ago and featured in Season 2 of Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix.

“King’s Paradise” is Rakim’s first new release in a decade. Suddenly, seemingly, I’m hoping it’s not his last.

List of the week: Doubling down

Posted in Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2010 by macmystery

San Francisco Giant Edgar Renteria, back, is congratulated by teammates after his three-run home run in Game 5 of the 2010 World Series.

Shortstop Edgar Renteria’s seventh-inning three-run home run in Game 5 of the 2010 World Series led the San Francisco Giants to a 3-1 win and a 4-1 Series victory against the Texas Rangers.

Renteria also had the Series-winning hit in the 1997 World Series for the Florida Marlins.

With the the homer, Renteria became just the fourth major league player to have the World Series-winning hit in more than one Fall Classic. And he joined quite an elite club.

Here are the major league baseball players who have had the Series-winning hit in more than one World Series:

 

Like it or not, I’m back

Posted in Family, Uncategorized with tags , , on July 2, 2010 by macmystery

After successfully failing to post for the entire months of May and June (Heck, I posted just one day in April), I have returned. See how I made that sound positive.

Some health issues (well, one actually), a lack of computer access and a heavy load at work have conspired to keep me down, but I have prevailed.

I’ve missed a lot the last three months … a lot I’d have liked to comment on.

I saw a Neil Young concert, my third, that was downright nasty it was so good.

I went to camp for three days with my son, Dylan, and thought I was going to die.

I had some sort of episode at work and thought I was going to die.

And among other things, I really would have liked to comment on some people I admired who did die.

Down the road, I may get to some of those things, albeit a little late. But for whatever small number of people who read this and myself, it’s simply progress that I’ve typed these words. Any catching up I do will be icing on the cake.

Later this morning I leave for Washington D.C. and then New York City for my annual baseball trip. Hopefully, I’ll have some things to comment on from there.

Bye, for now.

Daddy & Dylan Day, Part II

Posted in Family, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2009 by macmystery
Dylan and Grandpa Bill at Atlanta's Turner Field on Monday night. It was Dylan's first major league baseball game with daddy, and the Braves won 4-0.

Dylan and Grandpa Bill at Atlanta's Turner Field on Monday night. It was Dylan's first major league baseball game with daddy, and the Braves won 4-0.

Monday night was Dave Ramsey Night at Turner Field. As a result, the seats in the sections at the end of the upper deck, in both right and left field, were all $1.

It seemed like the perfect night to take Dylan to his first Major League Baseball game. The Braves were winning and still in the wild-card hunt. The seats were cheap.

Brooke called my dad, and he said he was interested. So I picked Dylan up early from school on Monday and we drove down to Atlanta. Brooke and Ella stayed with my mom, and Grandpa Bill, Dylan and I headed downtown.

After a quick dinner at Arby’s, we caught the MARTA train at the East Lake station. Dylan had been looking forward to the train ride as much as the game. As it turns out, it was easily his favorite part of the evening.

Our seats were not bad, but that didn’t mean Dylan had any intention of staying in one. It was a two-plus-hour effort to get him to be still. He was in the aisle, on the steps behind us and three rows down at the railing.

At one point, he was leaning at the railing and yelling below, “Hey you, hammer head! Hey hammerhead, up here!” I thought, “Oh my God. He’s yelling at a person.”

Boy, did I feel stupid. When I reached the railing to admonish him, I realized he was yelling at an actual hammer head. Braves sponsor Home Depot holds a race similar to that of the sausages in Milwaukee, only it’s a hammer, a saw, a paint brush and a drill that race around the outfield wall.

Dylan and I missed a Chipper Jones home run while we were in the souvenir shop. That’s where I spent 20 minutes convincing Dylan that we didn’t need a red foam tomahawk for $5 (I must have 10 in a box at home) or an $8 red big foam finger.

(The souvenir shop is also where a I was approached by a hot latin chick about the 2009 Little League World Series T-shirt I was wearing.)

We bought two drinks for $9 and a bag of peanuts for $6.25. Ouch.

We stayed through the seventh inning, and then we left to let Dylan play in the big Cartoon Network playhouse and then take some pictures with some big statues. (The most disturbing of which shos Dylan sitting on Ty Cobb’s lap as he slides into a base.)

Dylan complained about the walk back to the MARTA station as much as he complained about the walk to the stadium. I guess it was to be expected. But for the most part, while a bit hyper, he was good.

Will he ever be a baseball fan? Enough to sit through a game? I don’t know. And that’s fine. If it’s not his cup of tea, I won’t push it on him. But I can hope.