Tag Archives: World Series

Fixing the date for the annual Baseball Solstice: Dec. 29, 2013

The World Series is behind us, at least some of the Red Sox are shaving off their beards and baseball fans the world over are gathering scraps to light the fire for the Hot Stove League. It’s a time for reflecting on the season past and recognizing that we have several fallow months ahead before the games resume in the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues in 2014.

In our annual ritual, the high priests of baseball here at the Ball Caps Blog and Countdown to Spring Training have pointed our Houston Astrolabes to the sky and fixed the date for the annual Baseball Solstice. It will be Dec. 29, the midpoint in the days between the final out of Cardinals-Bosox series and the first exhibition games of Spring Training.

The series ended Oct. 30, and the first exhibition games will be played Feb. 26 by six teams in Florida. (Sorry, Yankees fans. We’re not recognizing the Feb. 25 game against Florida State.)

We encourage all baseball fans to mark the solstice in a meaningful way.

Play a Wiffle ball game in the snow with the kids on the block. Thumb through your old sets of baseball cards. Pick up the phone and call Dad to thank him for insisting you not throw a curve until you were 15. Venture out into the night and look for the Star of Cooperstown.

Whatever you choose, make it a celebration of the One True Game.

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Cardinals and Red Sox in a World Series rematch

Ever since the Indians got knocked out (not to mention the Giants failing to make the playoffs altogether), I have sulked and turned my back on the baseball postseason. Oh, I caught a half inning here of the NLDS, a few outs there of the ALCS. Most mornings I woke up to check for the score of whatever game stretched well past bedtime with incessant late-inning pitching changes.

I tuned out nearly completely.

But the imminent arrival of the Red Sox and Cardinals facing off in the World Series will bring me back, not only to see two fine teams compete but also because of the memories this matchup will stir.

For this 50-something baseball fan, the 1967 series between Boston and St. Louis is usually what comes to mind when I think “World Series.”  (Yes, even ahead of the Amazin’ Mets in 1969 and the Giants finally prevailing in 2010.) I was 11 years old back then, in sixth grade and at the height of my boyhood baseball card collecting.

And, with apologies to the good sisters who taught me at St. Margaret Mary elementary school, Bob Gibson was God. Gibby was seemingly invincible on the mound, and I hung on every pitch appearing in grainy black and white on the Zenith TV in our dining room for whatever innings I could catch after dashing home from school.

A decade later as a college student, I’d visit the home of my roommate in Lowell, Mass., where we’d often find his father in the basement, playing a Red Sox ’67 highlights record album over and over. Even though Boston lost in seven games, for him it was worth reliving that season if only to know how close the Sox had come to ending the Curse of the Bambino.

A World Series is no longer a novelty for modern-day Red Sox fans, nor for a long time has it been for Cardinals fans. I will be tuning in, waiting for Gibson and Yaz and Jim Longborg and Curt Flood and all the others to come walking out of the long shadows.

I’m hoping for a classic.

 

 

 

Will we ever see someone pitch a complete World Series game again?

We’ve seen some outstanding performances by starting pitchers in the league championships and the World Series this year, but has anyone pitched a complete game?

No.

The closest anyone came was Justin Verlander, who went 8 and two-thirds as the Tigers defeated the Yankees in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner were excellent in leading the San Francisco Giants to victory in the first two games of the World Series, but Zito didn’t finish the sixth inning and Bumgarner was relieved after seven frames.

You have to go back to the American League Division Series to find a complete game. There were two: one by Verlander, and one by C.C. Sabbathia.

I’m not demeaning the performances of any of the pitchers who started and won without closing out the other team through nine innings. It’s merely more evidence of the ascendancy of relief pitching.

The baseball season ends, and winter begins

It’s no coincidence: The baseball season concluded last night as the Cardinals knocked off the Rangers in St. Louis, and it’s snowing this morning in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New York.

What more do fans of the Phillies, Pirates, Yankees and Mets need to remind them that the 2011 season didn’t go their way?

But what a season it was! The Pirates were winning for most of the first half of the year, while two hours away in Cleveland the Indians were leading the American League Central, and the Tigers eventually won that division.

The Brewers got back to the playoffs for the first time in 29 years, and the Diamondbacks smoked the National League West.  The Red Sox dominated for so long, then fell apart.

The Rangers rolled through the season and the American League playoffs to get another crack at the title. And the Cubs still sucked.

But the best story of all was the Cardinals, coming from way back to sneak into the playoffs as the AL Central Wild Card and ultimately win the World Series in seven games.

The series got better ratings than in previous years, helped by wild and crazy Game 6, which is already a big chapter in more than a century of Major League Baseball lore.

Baseball’s detractors will coldly point out that the playoffs’ and series’ ratings pale in comparison to the ratings the National Football League games get, and there’s no arguing the point.

The NFL has our wallets.

But baseball has our hearts.

A miserable night in Chicago as the World Series begins some miles south in St. Louis

Misery in October

CHICAGO — It’s a miserable night here, and not just because of the dreary, cold rain drenching the city. Three hundred miles to the south in St. Louis, the Cardinals have opened the World Series against the Texas Rangers.

In Chicago, I wager most Cubs fans are trying to ignore the game. But deep inside, it’s eating them up that the Cardinals are playing. And, God forbid, if  a Cubs fan is watching the game on television, he’s forced to listen to Tim McCarver, a former Cards’ catcher, and Joe Buck, son of former Cards’ broadcaster Jack Buck.

I had dinner with friends the other night, one of whose father had recently died without the Cubs having won a World Series.  And my friend — like me in his mid-50s — has lived his life without watching a single Cubs’ appearance in the World Series.

I’ve never lived in Chicago, but I’ve been nearby in central Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin at a couple of points in my life. And I picked up many Cubs’ games on the radio during my Nebraska years.

I’d love to see the Cubs get to the series and win. What a party it would be here in the Loop — even if it were snowing. The way things are going tonight, that could happen tomorrow.

Remembering the Milwaukee Brewers post-World Series parade of 1982

It probably was an omen. Over the weekend, I found in our garage an old cassette tape. Onto the cassette was dubbed a recording I made for The Associated Press radio network after the 1982 World Series, in which the Brewers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

This year, the Brewers lost to the Cards in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. There will be no welcome-home parade for the Brewers.

Back in ’82, I recorded the audio report — a “voicer,” as we called it in the AP — in downtown Milwaukee as the Brewers rolled along Wisconsin Avenue in antique cars. It was either one or two days after the series ended on Oct. 20.

Here’s a link to the audio, in which I do a fairly good job of disguising how teeth-chatteringly cold it was, probably in the low 40s.

I recorded this report while standing in the street,  microphone in hand and tape recorder slung over my shoulder. In the 30 seconds or so leading up to the cut, I have the “natural sound” of the crowd cheering. Just before this recording, you can hear a couple of people yell “Vuke” for pitcher Pete Vukovich.

At the end of the recording, there are two sign-offs: a generic one for use by radio stations, and an “AP Network News” version for use by the network.

After I made the recording, I headed back to the AP bureau to send it over a telephone line to AP’s radio network in Washington. I unscrewed the mouthpiece of the telephone and using alligator clips attached a line from the recorder into a couple of metal prongs in the handset. That was the analog way of doing things back then.

The kicker to the story is that after work, either I picked up my brother-in-law or he picked up me. I can’t remember which – but I do remember we had WBBM from Chicago on the car radio.

As the sportscast came on, to my delight and to my brother-in-law’s surprise, the announcer reported that there were World Series parades in Milwaukee and St. Louis that day — and then they played my audio.

That’s one of the high points of my career.

Salary cap for baseball? It’s not the American way

FOX Sports ran a commercial today during the Cardinals-Phillies game on TBS that got under my skin in a bad, bad way. It was a misty-eyed paean to the Yankees, with lots of images of Derek Jeter and Reggie Jackson  implying that the Bronx Bombers own October.

I hate that.

Let me say that again: I HATE that.

The Yankees are the big, bad franchise that rules baseball — except that it doesn’t. Their unassailable lead in World Series titles notwithstanding, the Yanks don’t win every year. And that’s great.

Baseball doesn’t have a salary cap as the NFL does, and the parity fans out there love to crow about how just about any team can rise up and win the Super Bowl.

But that’s not the American way, is it? In our capitalist culture, there are winners and losers. He who accumulates the most money wins – most of the time, anyway.

Baseball is America’s pastime, the national game, reflecting who we are better than any sport.

So let the Yankees spend and spend and spend. Let’s celebrate their victories.

And let’s celebrate a little more whenever the Phillies or the Mets or the Tigers or the White Sox or the Cardinals or any other team rises up and triumphs.

It’s the American way.