Skinny, hairy guys in polyester

Two notes on 1980s baseball:

1) In thanks for my participation in his wedding, my brother got me a copy of the October 25, 1982 Sports Illustrated, which featured the Cardinals/Brewers World Series on its cover. The issue went to press after the Brewers took a 3 games to 2 Series lead. Whitey Herzog come across as pretty grouchy, even petty, making excuse for his team’s sloppy play and attempting to lower expectations. Herzog was without a doubt a good manager for that team, but I think I prefer LaRussa’s straightforwardness, combativeness, and arrogance, at least when it comes to talking about losses.

There’s a photo from the end of game 5 in Milwaukee showing County Stadium’s scoreboard reminding fans, “Last week, Ben Oglivie was injured because fans were on the field. Please stay off the field.” The bottom half of the photo is of the field covered with happy fans.

In the article, Gorman Thomas, talking of the Brewers being down two games to one, is quoted, “We were in the same boat in Baltimore at the end of the regular season, the same boat when we went to California in the playoffs, the same boat when we went to St. Louis to play on their rug. We’re still riding the same boat whether it’s PT-109 or the Love Boat or whatever. When the ship is in the harbor, they try to bomb it. And the submarines are always out there waiting for us.” After the Brewers tied up the series at 2, Thomas said, “The submarines have drawn back, submerged. They’ve been struck by our depth charges.”

And one last thing about the article. Sports Illustrated style in 1982, apparently, called for fielding positions to be capitalized. So you get Shortstop Robin Yount and Center Fielder Willie McGee. Might as well hyphenate “base-ball” while you’re at it.

2) At Fenway Park, the scoreboard showed a baseball blooper reel . . . from the late 80s. I assume they’ve been showing the same reel for nearly twenty years. Surprisingly enough, Bill Buckner does not make the blooper reel. I guess the traagedy+time=comedy equation is still a little short on the time side.

Well, I haven’t left for New York yet

The Sports Illustrated cover curse strikes again! The Devil Rays have a losing record since the “10 things that are awesome about baseball” issue came out last Thursday with their name mentioned on the cover (2-4), and now with his blown save today, Eric Gagne is not quite so awesome anymore. The other items specifically listed: “Perfect Randy Johnson,” “Yankee Economics,” and “Must-see Barry Bonds.” So let’s see: Randy Johnson gets hypnotized into thinking he’s a chicken, Barry Bonds falls into a bottomless pit

11. Intestinal parasites!

The new issue of Sports Illustrated contains an article titled “10 Reasons Why Baseball Is Awesome Now,” or something like that. Their reasons:

1. A lot of teams are still in contention for playoff spots (more teams are within 5 games of at least a wild card spot at this point in the season than in any year since the current playoff format was adopted).
2. Attendance and TV ratings are up.
3. The Yankees are a big draw, both at home and on the road.
4. Devil Rays!
5. They’re about to announce what they’re going to do with the Expos. (Speaking of which, they’re playing the Blue Jays this weekend in San Juan instead of, I don’t know, somewhere in Canada?! Well, at least no one will be able to point to a sudden uptick in attendance if there’s a lawsuit seeking to block the move.)
6. Padres!
7. Randy Johnson! Tom Glavine! Roger Clemens!
8. Barry Bonds!
9. There’s going to be an international baseball tournament next March.
10. Eric Gagne!

Comments? Additions? Reasons why baseball sucks, instead?

Original comments…

Levi: I have as little interest as humanly possible in an international baseball tournament. In fact, I’m kind of actively against it. If there’s one thing I don’t need to see again, it’s a stadium of people shouting “USA! USA! USA!”

Actually, I’m always bugged by these lists because of their premise. Look, baseball’s always there. That’s one of its greatest charms. If you’re too busy with other things to pay attention, that’s your loss. Even when they were talking all through the nineties about how baseball was in trouble, attendance was at astonishingly high levels compared to all of baseball history except like 1990-93. It was way high compared to other sports. Revenues were up across the board. And despite a few remarkably mismanaged teams (Sorry, Toby), nearly every team had a shot at the postseason at some point in the decade.

But despite my complaining, I’ll take good news and positive coverage wherever. The Yanks/Red Sox game the other night, on _cable_, won the time slot in NYC. That’s unbelievable for a regular-season game.

And I’d add one more thing to this list: the Cubs. Anytime the Cubs are this successfull, in winning and attendance, it’s good for baseball.

stacey: it should be noted that levi is not always this cranky. he accidentally slept in this morning, and that probably accounts for this grouchy post.

ps: eric gagne is on the all-cute team!

Levi: Yeah, that probably sounded crankier than it should have. The reasons the guy gives are all good, and they’re all fun aspects of this season.

Eric Gagne is so awesome he should be two reasons. And Scott Rolen’s defense should be a reason all by itself.

Steve: I just want to vote that the Padres are decidedly uncool. They may have a new stadium, they may have my initials on their hat, and San Diego may be the home of Mandy Stadtmiller but their uniform looks like a college or minor league team. I could be talking out the other end here but I can’t help but think they are going out of their way to be PC and disavow their “padre-ness” in the wake of the catholic church sex scandal. Instead, they should embrace it. Can’t you see the headlines, “Wells, Beck, Bugger Dodgers.”

Jim: Their mascot, the Swinging Friar, was very visible at the game I went to at Petco Park in May.

Toby: I got some reasons why baseball sucks now
–3 1/2-hour games
–Interleague play (two teams meeting in the World Series that have already played each other)
–Fat managers wearing uniforms (no other sport does this)
–I can’t go one *#[email protected] summer without seeing a replay of Fancisco Cabrerra’s hit to win the 1992 NLCS (as if I don’t see that whole inning enough in my own nightmares)
–An average family’s cost to go to a game – approx. $80
–No Jack Buck anymore (and though I used to always defend him when people put him down, Mike Shannon isn’t nearly as good without him)
–Paying for autographs
–No more powder blue road uniforms
–Does every team need a new park every four or five years???
–Too many teams
–A good ERA is in the mid 3’s
And most of all
–An unprecedented 14 years of sucking for the once-proud franchise known as the Pittsburgh Pirates. They will never compete again.

(The point, in case you missed it, is that any sport is fun when your team is winning… and not so much when they’re losing… though my last-place team just swept Levi’s first-place team)

Luke: File under suck:

ESPN’s behind-the-plate ads, seen on TV (fugly!)

ESPN’s behind-the-plate ads, seen in person (fuglier!)

ESPN making Wrigley games night games so I can’t go

Retractable roofs

Fewer double headers

Major League Baseball allowing into the park fans who do not intend to stay for the entire game

MLB allowing fans into the park after the first pitch

Absence of European soccer-style relegation, which would deal nicely with the problem of too many teams

Beers more than $3

Tribune Co.

Rooftop owners

Tribune Co. vs. Rooftop owners

Warm-up jerseys worn during games (especially at home)

The off-season

File under awesome:

3 1/2 hour games!

Fat managers wearing uniforms!

My team winning

Derek Jeter and his game face

Dusty Baker’s contempt for pitch counts

There’s going to be an international baseball tournament this August

Wayner Messmer and the perfect, sub-3:00 National Anthem

$2.25 malt cups

Ed and John

Sox fans blaming the rain on the Cubs

Roadtrip blogs

Johnny Damon’s hair

No more powder-blue road uniforms; less teal