On a rainy Friday here in Pittsburgh, not much is going on. My plans on going to the ball game with my friend who's in from California have been spoiled by the wet stuff. That's the third time this year. Tonight's was especially disappointing, not only because of my friend, but it was 1971 World Champions night. I love baseball more than anybody, but not sitting in the rain (going under the roof is for sissies). So as I wait to see if they get the game in, I decided to post some random thoughts on what is going on here, there and everywhere. Kind of like the stuff you watch on the Jumbotron while waiting out the delay.
Steve Blass always, to me, always had one of the best senses of humor in baseball. Still does. According to the recent book Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero by David Maraniss, Blass had just pitched the game of his life. He tossed a four-hit complete game at the Baltimore Orioles to win Game 7 of the 1971 World Series. In the delerious locker room after the game, Blass answered the call from the President of the United States by saying "Wally's Delicatessen!" Just tonight, as they're introducing the members of that '71 team, when it was Manny Sanguillen's turn, Blass ran halfway to the greeting line before his name was announced. Not quite Chris Rock material, but funny in that silly, before-you-discovered swearing sort of way.
Speaking of Clemente, I highly recommend reading Maraniss's biography of the late great superstar. It's wonderfully written, and it tells the whole story of Clemente. Two things stuck with me. One, Clemente was a saint, but was no angel. The book recounts how in 1966 he punched out an autograph seeking fan who got a little too close. Could you imagine if something like that happened in 2006? It would be a thousand times more scandalous than say, the Kenny Rogers incident last year. Oh, these look-at-me sportswriters (it should just be 'read me' - I hate ATH) would be calling for his banishment from the game along with his head on the proverbial platter.
Second, was his unfaltering kindness to those who he chose to be a part of his inner circle. A young Phillies fan attempted to say hello to him in Spanish, and Clemente befriended her and her family immediately. Not just fleeting small talk, but he made them friends for life, inviting them on the road and to his home in Puerto Rico in the offseason.
Staying on the 1971 tip, the late Nelson Briles was honored tonight. Not many know too much about Briles, but he was one of the most unheralded World Series pitchers in history. He won games in the 1967 and 1971 Fall Classics, and pitched well in the '68 Series as a starter and reliever. He threw two complete game shutouts (including a two-hitter in '71 with the Bucs down 2-0) and helped the Cardinals and Pirates win world titles. Not bad for a career 129-112 pitcher (baseballalmanac.com).
Back to the current team, there's not much to get excited about; but what I've been boiling about is the fact that Jason Bay is not in the TOP 15 in all-star balloting among NL outfielders. He's apparently not better than the likes of Juan Encarnacion, So Taguchi, Xavier Nady and Juan Pierre. He is definitely one of the top three outfielders in the NL - albeit not as popular. I tried to get my friends to help me start an online balloting campaign for Bay (and for Freddy Sanchez, who's leading the NL in hitting, but isn't ON the ballot), but it fizzled as soon as we realized none of them have an internet connection. So, if anyone out there would like to help, you could vote up to 25 times a day. It would be great to see Bay starting in his home park.
Well, looks like the game is going to go on after all! Thanks for staring at the Jumbotron.