2009 Season     

   Ediion No. 11        

June 8, 2009

The Standings










































Cellar Nevermore


In the spring of 1971, I was in the seventh grade at Barr Junior High in Grand Island, Nebraska.  On a glorious Saturday of that year, I was riding my bike down Charles Street with my friend Steve Schweiger.  I had just asked Florinda Peterson to go to a “make out” party that night.  Florinda was very pretty and very “mature” for a seventh grader.  Steve and I had just gone down to Golden Pointe for burgers and fries.  We had scored big time, because a 220 lb. classmate, Jamie Winslow, was at Golden Pointe and he had bought all of us chocolate shakes (under coercion, as I recall).  I was riding my bike fast and hands-free, sucking on my shake.  Schweiger and I were talking about the evening’s festivities and my plans for getting to first base and beyond with Florinda.  Life was good up to then.  In fact, life was great!


Whether because I was too engrossed in the cool, creamy taste of the milk shake or distracted by thoughts of Florinda or for some other reason, I failed to notice a parked car (make, model and year unknown) directly in front of me.  I slammed into the rear of the car at full speed.  My shake went out of my hand and onto the trunk, rear window and roof of the car.  My bike stopped in every sense of the word and the back tire flew up in the air, catapulting the then-svelte young Mr. Pie off the seat. 


From your own experiences, I bet each of you knows what happened next.  My ever so precious family jewels were abruptly introduced to the goose neck of my Schwinn ten-speed bike.  The force of that meeting cannot be overstated.  Based on my sensibilities at the time, the earth shook, the sky turned black, the air froze and the heat of hell’s inferno entered my groin.  The pain was inhumane.  It makes my LA tumble look like a stubbed toe.  Tears streamed down my cheeks uncontrollably.  I assumed a fetal position so tight that I could have re-entered the womb.  A long time later, I opened my eyes and made my way home.  Each step felt like the wrought iron clappers of the bells at St. Mary’s Cathedral swinging down below.  My night with Florinda was ruined.  I sat in ice for the rest of the night. 


I never wanted to feel that pain again or even pain which would remind me of it.  I had for the most part succeeded until the Senators blew by me and put me in the cellar for the second year in a row.  The pain was back!  As you all know, I don’t care much for the décor in the cellar.  In any event, I am out of the cellar and I shall not return!!  Quoth the Magpie: Cellar Nevermore.


Tom Glavine


Tom Glavine is a man without a team.  Maybe that is alright.  However, I believe (or maybe I want to believe) that Mr. Glavine had at least one more big game in him.  In 1991, Bill James wrote the following: 


“Is he ever going to be good?  What was the problem last year?  I like him better now than I ever have.  A headline in the September 24 issue of The Sporting News read “Glavine’s Mediocrity Reflects Braves’ Staff.”  Sure, he was 10-12, 4.28 ERA, but 10-12 isn’t bad with the Braves, a .400 team.  A 4.28 ERA isn’t bad in Fulton County Stadium. 


There are two reasons I like him more now:

He has pitched in rotation for three years.  That proves he can carry the load of being a major league starter without getting hurt – and not that many young pitchers can.  Most young pitchers will develop sore arms after a year or two of starting.

His strikeout rates are going up – 3.8 per game as a rookie, 4.4 in his second year, 5.4 last year.  That indicates a pitcher who is learning and developing.

His team is going to be better.


I can see him as a good pitcher.” 


Good pitcher?  What an understatement.  To Bill’s credit, he recognized this in his 1993 book:


“My opinion is that Greg Maddux is the best starting pitcher in the NL, but that’s not a knock at Glavine; there can only be one best.  I’d rank Glavine third, as I did a year ago, behind Maddux and Drabek…1992 ration of strikeouts to wins (129 to 20) would suggest that you might stay away from him in ’92.  Anything below 7/1 warns of a decline…”


Bill rates him as the #60 best pitcher of all time.  Wouldn’t you want him on your team if for no other reason than to teach your young pitchers about the art of pitching, game preparation, mental toughness, and leadership?




At about 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 23, 1988, I drove to Applause Video on north 30th Street in Omaha.  I sat in my car with a cup of coffee and the paper, waiting for the store to open.  After about 30 minutes, I could see the employees getting the store ready, and about 15 minutes later a big car pulled up to the front of the store, a big man got out the back car door, and entered the store.


In 1988, I was 30 years old with a wife and a child.  Staring at the man as he entered the store, I felt like a child.  After waiting another 15 minutes, I went into the store and ambled over to a table, behind which the man from the car was sitting.  I slid a baseball card onto the table and asked the man if he would sign the card.  He said that he had heard that signing a baseball card would hurt its value.  I said it didn’t matter to me.  So, he signed the card and slid it back to me.  I thanked him and turned to the door. 


The man asked, “Do you want to stay and talk about baseball for a while?  There is no one else here.”  For the next 45 minutes I talked about baseball with, tried on a World Series ring of, and listened to stories told by Wilver “Willie” Domel Stargell. 


Nine years earlier, “Pops” had put the joy of baseball into me more than ever before.  The 1979 Pirates beat my beloved Reds in three straight NLCS games and came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Orioles in the World Series; making the Pirates the last team to win game 7 on the road.


Willie had 475 home runs; seven home runs over the roof at Forbes Field, two out of Dodger Stadium and a mammoth 535’ shot at Montreal.  Don Sutton said of Willie:  “He didn’t just hit pitchers, he took away their dignity.”


Pops gave out stars for great performances and the players put them on their caps.  Moreover, Pops helped his teammates.  A pitcher from the 1979 Pirates, Bruce Kison, said:

“He had the ability to take the burden of the whole team on his shoulders.  Besides being a tremendous player, he was a very compassionate man who shared in the problems of his teammates.”


The 1979 Pirates were the “Fam-A-Lee.”  It was a name which meant something to Stargell. 


Years later, he said the nickname bestowed on that team – the Family, from the Sister Sledge song, “We are Family” – wasn’t a misnomer. 


“We won, we lived, and we enjoyed as one,” Stargell said.  “We molded together dozens of different individuals into one working force.  We were products of different races, were raised in different income brackets, but in the clubhouse and on the field we were one.”


The HSL is a family of sorts.  While we come from different backgrounds, we hang together year after year after year.  We have shared the lives of our children and we have shared experiences about which our children need never hear.  We have shared the good, the bad, and the ugly (General Noriega, Skeesix and Charles’ bum friend in San Diego). 


We don’t have a “Pops,” but we have a Skipper and a Big Guy.  We have family pets too – a Mouse, a Possum, a Trumpetfish and a Shamu.  We also have a kid named Tirebiter and an assortment of eccentric uncles like Screech, Itchie, McBlunder, Underbelly and Slopay.  All in all, it’s a good family, a very good family.




Odds and Ends


June 8


       Eddie Gaedel (1925)

       Del Ennis (1925)

       Mark Belanger (1944)

       Don Robinson (1957, a member of the 1979 Pirates

         and winner of Game 2 of the 1979 World Series)


       Satchel Paige (1982)


Jim Buser’s high school yearbook photo?




Skeesix’s dad?


UB at Jiffy Lube



Trip Tip – No buzz killers.


Why does Denny go by the name “Ernest T. Bass” from the Andy Griffith Show?  The character was an ornery, poetic lovebird of the Darling daughter.  Not much of a connection to the Silent Assassin that I see.  However, I found the following quote from Ernest T. Bass, which sounds very much like something Denny may say.

“I don’t chew my cabbage twice.  And you ain’t heard the last of Ernest T. Bass!”

That’s all for now.  Got to get back to my little corner of the world before an interloper takes my spot.