Saturday, September 23, 2006

September 23rd, 1952

Phillies at Dodgers

Given the sheer number of teams in the league these days, divisions are something of a necessary evil. It would be impracticable to have all the teams in one gigantic division and just go straight into the playoffs. As this year's NL proves, it wouldn't even necessarily create a great race. It must said though that today's divisional races, as exciting as they might be, can never match the excitement of teams contending for one spot, knowing that one team goes to the World Series and the rest all go home.

Today's game illustrates that point, but in an odd way. With their one-run victory in the first game of a doubleheader, the Dodgers clinched the NL pennant. (They would go on to lose, of course, to the Yankees in the World Series.) This meant that the Dodgers had clinched with five games remaining. This marked the first time in four years that the winner of the National League pennant was not determined on the season's last day. Perhaps not surprisingly given the pressure of having to clinch that late, the National League teams lost those four World Series (the first to the Indians, the other three to the Yankees) by a combined game score of sixteen to four.

As I said, having all of a league's teams in one division won't happen again, and probably shouldn't. But that it is still fun to look back on when every team was gunning for one spot.

Friday, September 22, 2006

September 22nd, 2006

Nationals at Mets

Having attended today's Nats/Mets game, I'm not quite up for blogging. But of course, I went with my trusty scorebook, and we all know what fun that can be.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

September 21st, 1977

Brian Tallet Born

Brian appeared in yesterday's Yankee game--oh, just like last year, I'm accepting shirts--and being that my family recently entered the twenty-first century and got cable, I got to see Brian Tallet for the first time. Tallet is a tall (6'7") and generally underwhelming left-handed reliever who spent the first three years of his career in Cleveland and this bouncing between Toronto and Triple-A Syracuse. Simply listening to the radio, as I used to, there is nothing to distinguish Tallet from any of the other parade of mediocrities seeking to become the next Mike Myers.

On television however, the true Brian Tallet emerges. I guess the nicest way of putting it is that Tallet has a look going. I don't quite understand what look it's supposed to be, but it's a look either way. In addition to the rather prominent sideburns you can see on Tallet in this photo, he's since added a rather bushy mustache and allowed his rather curly hair to grow out the back of his cap. The overall effect is of a nearly seven-foot Groucho Marx with large sideburns pitching for the Blue Jays. I wish I could explain Brian's decision making in all this, but I'm afraid it's as much of a mystery to me as it to you. We can only stand and admire.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

September 20th, 1954

Mickey Klutts Born

That sounds like a British gangster's to me, a character you might expect to see in a Guy Ritchie movie or the like. As it turns out, Mickey Klutts was no tough-man from Bradford, but rather an infielder from Montebello, California. Klutts didn't really have much in the way of a career, never sticking as a regular on any team, although he played parts of eight seasons.

One thing to say about Klutts, even though he rarely played, he did have a talent for rarely playing on some pretty good teams. He came up for the first time with the 1976 Yankees, the first of three consecutive pennant winning teams. Klutts played a grand total of nine games those seasons, but at least he can say he was around the clubhouse.

He was traded to the A's in the middle of 1978 and although the A's were pretty terribly in 1979, in 1980 Billyball! took over and by 1981 Klutts was back to being a minor figure on a good team as the A's won the first half of the bizarre strike-shortened split-season before losing in the ALCS to the Yankees. The A's reverted to their terrible form in 1982 however, and after one more year with a not-so-good team (the '83 Blue Jays) Klutts was done with the Majors for good.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

September 19th, 1900

St. Louis at Brooklyn

Yesterday I described a representative bit of history from the pre-1900 period and used it as an explanation of why I don't often do events from that time period. That's a loose standard, of course, and today's incident provides a perfect example that using 1900 as the cut off is hardly a perfect tool.

At some point during this game,
St. Louis catcher Wilbert Robinson objected to an umpire's ruling that a Brooklyn runner was safe at home. Being that this was the early days of baseball, Robinson's objections consisted of throwing the ball at the umpire and then poking him in the chest. In response, the umpire ejected Robinson, but this being the early days of baseball the ejection consisted of smacking Robinson in the mouth with his mask.

Normally at this point the manager, in this case John McGraw, would put in another catcher but this being the early days of baseball (and John McGraw being John McGraw) it was not that simple. McGraw refused to install another catcher, claiming that he only had two remaining catchers and one was injured and the other suspended. In response, the umpire declared the game a forfeit and awarded it to

Brooklyn fans were probably happy to see their team win, they were unhappy with the stoppage of play before seeing a whole game. Evidently hoping to head off a riot, Brooklyn team President Charles Ebbets (for whom Ebbets Field would be named in 1912) offered all fans who wanted one a full refund. For the fans then it was the best that could be expected, a free (partial) game and a Brooklyn victory. All in another day's work in the early days of baseball.

Monday, September 18, 2006

September 18th, 1883

Philadelphia at Cincinnati

Or, possibly, September 18th, 1893, Baltimore at Cincinnati. I've mentioned in the past that I don't often do stuff from pre-1900 because (a) I don't know much about it and (b) no one knows that much about it, the whole period is a trifle sketchy. Today is a pretty good example of that. According to the usually reliable Today In Baseball on, Cincinnati assistant groundskeeper Louis Can married his wife-to-be before the game with the ceremony taking place at home plate. According to BaseballLibrary, Can and his wife netted sixty dollars from the home team and another forty from the visitors (that's about two thousand dollars total in modern money) and the ceremony attracted a crowd of more than twenty-two hundred people. This story checks out somewhat, as the Red Stockings (as they were then known) did play the Athletics on that day in Cincinnati.

Things get a little tricky, however, when we come to this same date in 1893. According to BaseballLibrary, on that day, assistant groundskeeper Louis Can was married in a pre-game ceremony in
Cincinnati. In this version however, in addition to being ten years later, the game was against Baltimore and Can and his new wife took off for a honeymoon at the World's Fair in Chicago. This story does check out to some degree as well, as the Reds were hosting the Baltimore Orioles on that day and the World's Fair was going on in Chicago--as anyone who has read the brilliant The Devil in the White City can tell you.

This leaves us with a couple of different possibilities. One is that somewhere along the line BaseballLibrary (or its sources) messed up, and Louis Can was married just once, on
September 18th 1883 or 1893 and that was the end of it. The other option is that Louis Can, in an astonishing display of tastelessness, got married at home plate before a game on the same day exactly ten years apart. I really don't know which to believe, as baseball in those days was so bizarre that either is really plausible. No matter what the solution, it's both an entertaining story and a pretty good example of why I don't do many pre-twentieth century stories.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

September 17th, 1993

Frank Tanana Traded

So, who remembers last week's linkback, which I said would be the last because it was my last beach weekend for a while? Well, I lied. But barring a continuation of this Indian Summer in the New York area, this one, really will be the last linkback for a while.

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