|Edition No. 31||
December 27, 2012
Happy Holidays! The staff here at From the Bullpen hopes that you had a very merry Christmas, and that your 2013 is filled with nothing but good things, if not a Hot Stove League championship!
From Santa’s big sack, I want to share with you now an absolutely wonderful tale about the final months of the iconoclastic Ty Cobb, in a marvelous piece written by his hand-picked, official biographer, Al Stump. The biography, entitled My Life in Baseball -- The True Record, was a complete whitewash. The later piece, first published in True magazine not long after the Georgia Peach’s death, describes Stump’s incredible journey with Cobb as he practically lived with him for the better part of a year as he worked together with him on the book.
The title of Stump’s piece is “Ty Cobb’s Wild Ten-Month Fight to Live.” Provided herewith is a link to this 21-page nearly unbelievable tale, told in almost breathless tones. I suggest that you print it off and read it when you have the time. To whet your appetite a bit, the following is an excerpt from this wonderful story:
With dawn breaking, we reached Reno. All I wanted was a bed, and all Cobb wanted was a craps table.
He was rolling now, pretending he wasn’t ill; with the scotch bracing him, Ty was able to walk into the Riverside Hotel casino with a hand on my shoulder and without staggering as obviously as usual. Everybody present wanted to meet him. Starlets from a film unit on location in Reno flocked around, and comedian Joe E. Lewis had the band play “Sweet Georgia Brown”—Ty’s favorite tune.
“Hope your dice are still honest,” he told Riverside co-owner Bill Miller. “Last time I was here I won twelve thousand dollars in three hours.”
“How I remember, Ty,” said Miller. “How I remember.”
A scientific craps player who’d won and lost his hefty sums in Nevada in the past. Cobb bet hundred-dollar chips, his eyes alert, not missing a play around the board. He soon decided that the table was cold and we moved to another casino, then a third. At the last stop, Cobb’s legs grew shaky. Holding himself up by leaning on the table edge with his forearms, he dropped three hundred dollars, then had a hot streak in which he won eight hundred. His voice was a croak as he told the other players, “Watch ‘em and weep.”
But then suddenly his voice came back. When the stickman raked the dice his way, Cobb loudly said, “You touched the dice with your hand.”
“No, sir,” said the stickman. “I did not.”
“I don’t lie!” snarled Cobb.
“I don’t lie, either,” insisted the stickman.
“Nobody touches my dice!” Cobb, swaying on his feet, eyes blazing, worked his way around the table toward the croupier. It was a weird tableau. In his crumpled Stetson and expensive camel’s-hair coat, stained and charred with cigarette burns, a three-day beard grizzling his face, the fuming old giant of baseball towered over the dapper gambler.
“You fouled the dice, I saw you,” growled Cobb, and then he swung.
The blow missed as the stickman dodged, but, cursing and almost falling, Cobb seized the wood rake and smashed it across the table. I jumped in and caught him under the arms as he sagged.
And then, as quickly as possible, we were put out into the street by two large uniformed guards. “Sorry, Mr. Cobb,” they said unhappily, “but we can’t have this.”
In Peterman’s words (Seinfeld), “A ripping good yarn.”
The Bums won the 2012 Campaign by drafting a rock-solid team on Draft Day, picking five players in the first ten rounds who finished with more than 600 points on the season:
These five selections netted Mitch a total of 3324.3 points, which is solid, but not spectacular. Since each team had twenty active players in their line-ups, if you multiplied the total points of these five players by four, you would come up with 13,297.2 points, which is fewer than 500 points more than the Bums’ total for the year of 12,728.6 points. This made me scratch my head a bit.
When you add in Magpie’s next several solid picks, Marty Prado in the 12th (517.4 points), Chris Sale in the 15th (643.0 points) and Austin Jackson in the 18th round (538.5 points); together with 1st-round pick Albert Pujols’ total of 577.0 and 3rd-round draft pick Hunter Pence’s 498.1 points, Mitch’s top ten selections totaled 6098.3 points for the year, which is less than one-half of the total of all of his players of 12,728.6 points.
I am befuddled. If someone else can do the math on this and help me understand how Magpie ended up with well over twice the total of team points of his top ten players’ points, I would love to have this conversation. Is this what calling up ten relief pitchers a night will do for your score? Or is my math just completely messed up?
In any event, in addition to Magpie’s solid Draft, he also picked up a couple of nifty performers in the Free Agent Draft. On April 18, he snagged Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles, who ended up the season with 462.6 points. On April 23, he grabbed starting pitcher Jared Parker of the Oakland Athletics, who finished the season with 518 points. His only trade of the year was of starting pitcher Matt Harrison of the Rangers, his 27th-round pick, to Jim Ed for Brandon Phillips which, in the end, was not exactly an earth-shattering move.
This solid if seemingly unspectacular group of players drafted by Curby finished with the second most runs (1076) of any team, 25 behind the Redbirds. The Bums finished with 2036 hits, second behind the 2074 hits of the Chiefs. The Bums finished first in doubles with 431, just one more than the Wahoos’ 430. In the triples department, the Bums finished third with 47 three-baggers, well off the 56 legged by the Senators and the 55 recorded by the Chiefs.
In the home run department, the Bums finished with 274 jacks, well off the Herculean 333 blasts by the Wahoos and the 282 taters smacked by the Bronx Bombers. In runs-batted-in, the Bums finished second with 1058 to the Wahoos’ 1100 RBIs.
In the pitching department, where this thing is always won, the Bums finished with 142 wins, well ahead of the second place Blues’ total of 134, the third-place Tribe’s 129, and the fourth-place Senators’ 128. In terms of losses, the Bums were the only pitching staff not in triple digits, recording 87 losses for the year, well ahead of the shared second-place mark of 107 losses on the part of the Wahoos and the Tribe.
But then there is this: The Bums’ collective won-lost record for the season was 142 and 87, a staggering .620 winning percentage, which has to be a Hot Stove League record. By contrast, the next highest winning percentage among HSL staffs was that of the Kansas City Blues, who at 134-108 had a .553 winning percentage, a chasmic difference between the first and second best pitching staffs. And by further way of contrast, B.T.’s Chiefs, which finished third overall, ended up with a 125-135 won-lost record, with 17 fewer wins and 48 more losses than the Bums hurlers. Astonishing.
So in conclusion, Mitch, great work in 2012 in picking a solid hitting team and a great pitching squad, recognizing that you had done so, and wisely making very few changes during the course of the season. As the old bromide goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Easy to say, hard to do.
We will meet on Saturday, January 5, 2013, at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha for our annual fete to the league winner. Mitch has reportedly secured ample UNO hockey tickets so that all of us may attend and pay tribute to him, while collecting our championship apparel. Plan to meet at the CenturyLink between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. that evening. Watch for more details.
For the first time in the 28 years of our existence, the Hot Stove League Draft will take place outside the city of Omaha. Our silver-tongued spiritual leader, B.T., has cajoled, coerced and convinced all 13 Hot Stove League members to beat it down to Scottsdale for our Draft Day on Saturday, March 23. Yesss! This is gonna be great!
If there are any of you who do not yet have your air reservations for this trip, time to get on the stick. Should be an absolute blast having the funnest day of the year in the warmth and sunshine of Scottsdale. There may even be a spring training game or two and/or a round of golf in it for the Hot Stove League boys. Not sure how it could get any better than that.
Mitch brought up the subject of the “Picture Man” from Lincoln at our holiday luncheon at Jams last Friday, suggesting that there may be some blackmail material out there if any of us should ever decide to run for office. Sorry, Mouse, but your plan to move into the Governor’s Mansion when Heineman’s term is over may just have been dashed.
Anyway, speaking of Pictures, in a break from tradition, we here at From the Bullpen have decided to allow the 2012 HSL winner, Magpie, to offer up a proposed baseball picture to grace our FTB Masthead when we go to our new look in January, per our annual tradition. Some of you may recall that both Possum and McBlunder have carped and whined a good deal about wanting to have a say-so about the baseball art that we choose for the homepage of the website, and so in the spirit of open-mindedness, we have decided to give this a shot on a trial basis.
Mitch, if you can get us a proposed photograph or other artwork in the next few days, Linda will get it up on the website for all to see prior to our winter meeting on January 5.
* * * * * *
And with that, I am off to Mexico for some sun, good food and endless libations. See you next Saturday for the Winter Meeting.
Our 501st Issue