est. 1985


2007 Season     

   Edition No. 15        

September 13, 2007




Because T-Squared (the Teutonic Tickler a/k/a Baby Trumpetfish) has asked for a one-year reprieve on writing his first contribution to the league newsletter archives (it’s understandable -- he’s only been in the league 23 years now), and because I enjoyed writing last week’s edition of From the Bullpen so much, I am again offering up a few thoughts on things baseball and general, which I hope you will find read-worthy. 


TRIP 2009


I realize that I’m getting ahead of myself by shooting forward two years and talking about our HSL Trip for the year 2009, but a notion occurred to me over this past weekend that is so exciting I just couldn’t wait to share it with my baseball brethren.  So here goes.


In 2009, the season after next, we will be participating in the 25th year of Hot Stove League play, a monumental event to be celebrated in high fashion.  How better to celebrate this milestone than a Trip to the Big Apple to see two new ballparks, both scheduled to open that season, with a trip to Cooperstown sandwiched in between?  I mean, could it get any better than that? 


With a little bit of help from the MLB game scheduler, some prudent advance planning, and almost two full years to build up marital capital, chits, beg, plead and/or negotiate with your better halves, I think that we can pull it off.  We will identify a week in June or July when the Yankees and the Mets are both at home, fly out on a Thursday morning, see a game at one of the new ballparks on Thursday night, drive to Cooperstown on Friday morning, spend all afternoon Friday and part of Saturday in Cooperstown, return to New York City for a Saturday night game at the other new ballpark, and escape from New York on Sunday, perhaps even seeing another game on Sunday afternoon, if airline schedules permit.


There you have it, the mother of all HSL baseball Trips.  If everyone concurs, this will be the one at which we will need to have 100% attendance, all 13 league members, to include Possum and that certain pair of bookends down in Lincoln who seem to be a package deal on league trips.  Start planning, saving, and most important, begging and pleading, especially those of you who cannot be said to be rowers of your own canoes. 




I’ve been meaning for some time to recommend to all of you a fantastic baseball book that I read a while back, actually in 2006, entitled:  The Old Ball Game, written by noted Sports Illustrated contributor Frank Deford.  I actually saw this on a bookshelf in Seattle last year, in the baseball section at the Barnes & Noble bookstore, and was surprised to see that Mr. Deford had written a book solely about baseball, since I don’t necessarily think of him as a baseball author.  In any event, after glancing at just a couple of pages, I could immediately tell that it was going to be a very good read, so I purchased it and began reading it while on that trip.  It turned out to be one of those books that you don’t want to put down, but you also don’t want to finish it because you just want to savor the experience.  It may sound odd, I know, but when I find a great read like The Old Ball Game, the book becomes like a reliable old friend, something I can pick up each night at bedtime and know that I’m going to enjoy the experience. 


I made a whole bunch of crib notes about some of my favorite excerpts from The Old Ball Game that I was planning on sharing with my baseball brothers, but it seems that some irresponsible, unnamed individual at the Ernst house discarded them (grrrr), so I will have to give you just a couple of them from memory.  First of all, I found it fascinating that one of the greatest managers of all time, John McGraw, and his wife would share a residence in Manhattan with Christy Mathewson and his wife, at the time Mattie was playing for McGraw.  Sure, times were different then, but I would have thought that there was a line of separation between manager and player which would have prevented this.  Another winning feature of the book is Frank Deford’s masterful recounting of the 1905 World Series, in which the Big 6 (Mattie’s nickname) won three games and absolutely dominated the opposing Philadelphia Athletics, hurling three complete game shutouts and striking out 18 batters while walking only one.  Wow. 


In summary, The Old Ball Game is a short, easy, and pleasurable read.  I highly recommend it. 





For anybody who hasn’t been keeping an eye on him, take a look at what Curtis Granderson is doing this season.  He recently stole his 20th base to become only the third member (together with Willie Mays and Harry “Wild Fire” Schulte) of the exclusive 20-HR/20-3B/20-2B/20-SB club.  As we saw for ourselves on our trip to Detroit, Granderson has an extraordinary combination of power and speed.  Playing in the spacious Comerica Park, Granderson has the opportunity to display this power and speed in the form of hitting triples, and his current total of 22 three-baggers is the highest single season total in 58 years.  Since Dale Mitchell hit 23 triples in 1949, only two other players besides Granderson have hit more than 20 triples in a season, Lance Johnson in 1996 and Willie Wilson in 1985, both with 21.  If Granderson hits two more triples this year, he will be in the top ten for most triples in a season in the modern era. 




Did anyone see where David Wells recently had a perfect game going into the 6th inning?  This is the same guy who gave up ten consecutive hits before being cut by his previous team?  Go figure. 




In that same “Old Guys Rule” department, I see that Tom Glavine also had a perfect game going for 5 or 6 innings, that John Smoltz had a no-hitter going into the 8th, and that Maddux recently pitched something like three games in a row without giving up a walk, and is on a four or five-game winning streak.  Good stuff. 




With 52 home runs and 140 RBIs with almost 20 games left in the season, I don’t see how A-Rod doesn’t win the AL MVP.  Yes, Magglio has had a very fine season as well, but he’s no A-Rod.




How come so few of the current major league players and managers have colorful nicknames, or nicknames of any sort?  We need more guys nicknamed “Red” or “Whitey” playing and managing the great game. 




Did anybody see the Joba Chamberlain-Alex Gordon match-up least weekend?  High drama.  I thought that Joba was going to give up a two-run home run the inning prior, ruining his father’s first chance to see him pitching live in a major league uniform.  Both Joba and Gordon look to have the right constitution to enjoy enduring major league careers, assuming that they remain healthy of mind and body. 




Time for me to sign off.  Which of you slugs who have not yet contributed to our league writings this year will step up to the plate and author an issue next week?  Easy, easy.  Not everybody all at once.  Just one of you will be fine.