|Edition No. 2||
February 9, 2012
Since there isn’t a lot of baseball news to report on, let’s take care of a detail or two for the upcoming 2012 Campaign.
By putting out an early Guest Author Schedule, as opposed to no schedule last year, I am hopeful that we can obtain 100% contribution to the league archives this year. As usual, I have given Itchie his coveted slot as Guest Chronicler of The Trip, and have slated The Oracle (Underbelly) for an early edition of The Bellyflop. As to the rest of the slots, I have simply assigned them at random. Please note your guest assignment deadline and plan accordingly.
I would sincerely like to see full participation this year, as each and every one of you has a good baseball mind, a keen wit (some keener than others), and the ability to communicate. While some are better at communicating on paper than others, please take the time necessary to share at least a few of your thoughts about the league, the season, the brotherhood, and, not to be redundant, life. For most of us, baseball is life and life is baseball, so please share with us a bit of prose about your life. It doesn’t have to be ten pages (Possum, this means you), it doesn’t even have to be a single page; it can be a paragraph, a sentence, or even a word. But if it’s limited to a word, it had better be a damned good one.
If because of other plans your assigned slot will not work for you, please let me know prior to the start of the season, and I will get you a new date. If you want to switch with someone else, this is fine as well, so long as the person that you switch with meets the deadline.
Here are your assignments:
For those of you who read S.I., you may have seen the story about how the owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, resuscitated this once-flagging franchise. One of the three key moves made by Kraft in orchestrating this turnaround was the trading of arguably the top quarterback in the NFL at the time, Drew Bledsoe, and giving the reins to a little-known 6th-round draft pick named Tom Brady, the 199th pick of the 2000 draft.
There is a great line from this article that reminds me keenly of someone else. As the story goes, Brady was walking out of old Foxboro Stadium after practice one day, shortly after the draft, pizza box under his arm, when he encountered the team owner for the first time.
“He looked me right in the eye,” Robert Kraft recalled, “and said to me, ‘Mr. Kraft, hi, I’m Tom Brady. I just wanted to tell you I’m the best decision your franchise has ever made.”
Immediately in my mind’s eye, I pictured Itchie, newly born, in the hospital nursery, meeting his parents for the first time and uttering, “Hi, I’m John Thielen. I just wanted to tell you I’m the best decision the two of you ever made.” And I could imagine that a number of people throughout his life—his high school basketball coach, his then-fiancée Anne, the person who hired him at FDR, the hiring decision-maker at West, etc.—have heard similar proclamations from our man Big Johnny. Confident, bordering on cocksure.
As promised, more on this year’s patron saint of the Hot Stove League, William Jennings Bryan:
Bryan in front of The Commoner office in Lincoln.
William Jennings Bryan in full oratorical splendor.
Rivals, face to face: Darrow and Bryan
You probably thought that this section of the newsletter was going to be about Billy Beane and/or Moneyball. That wasn’t the plan, but as long as I am thinking about it, can anyone believe that Moneyball the Movie has produced an Oscar nomination for Brad Pitt? Angelina must have the goods on someone on the nominating committee, is what I think. And since you all care so deeply about my opinions on such matters, I thought that Moneyball was a very good and quite entertaining movie, and fairly true to the Michael Lewis book of the same name. I also thought that Brad Pitt—not one of my favorite actors—did a credible job of portraying Billy Beane, in a way that seemed believable but at the same time did not cause the movie to be a crashing bore.
I may have mentioned this in an earlier From the Bullpen—I can’t remember and I’m too lazy to look back to see—but I had forgotten about the amazing winning streak of the Oakland Athletics during the 2002 season, a key part of the Moneyball movie. So I had to take the old perfessor’s advice and “look it up,” on retrosheet.com, and sure enough the Athletics won 20 consecutive games between August 13 and September 4, 2002, the last of which was a 12-11 squeaker over the Kansas City Royals after the A’s had established an 11-0 lead, as displayed so dramatically in the movie. As clogged up as the old memory banks have gotten, it still seems like this is something that I would have remembered from just ten years ago, but I would be lying if I said that I did.
Can you believe that The Trip is now just a little bit over two and a half months away? Miami, here we come! Get ready for Big Johnnie and his mindless followers—line up those Jaegerbombs! If you haven’t yet arranged for your air transportation to Miami for April 27-29, get on your phone, iPad, laptop, desktop or knees and do what you need to do to get your happy little butt down to South Florida for this not-to-be-missed junket.
Just to whet your appetite a little bit, here are a couple of tidbits about Marlin Stadium:
Make your reservation N-O-W!
Finally, I’m happy to pass along that the Mount Michael basketball team not only broke into the win column two weeks ago against David City Aquinas—as earlier reported—but that they have now picked up their second win, a thrilling home court, overtime victory against Omaha Concordia Lutheran. In this epic clash of two metropolitan Omaha parochial subtitans, a virtual Whiteout, the visiting Mustangs blistered the archaic Knight 1-3-1 defense with 3-point shot after 3-point shot, racing to a 14-point lead with just four minutes to go. Then, for the first time all season, the plucky Knights employed a smothering full-court press, forcing turnover after turnover as the visiting Lutes withered under the pressure with the raucous Mount Michael yell section in full throat. To the thrill of all Mount Michael fans in attendance—including HSL heavyweights Scott “B.T.” Krause and Rick “Big Guy” Drews, the Knights tied the game with three seconds to go in regulation, forcing the contest into overtime. The Knights scored first in the 4-minute extra period and then hung on to win the game for the Knights’ first home victory of the 2011-2012 campaign.
For those of you who have never been, there is nothing quite like a home basketball game at the barn at Mount Michael. If you ever get the chance to go to one, take it.
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That’s it for this issue. Wait, what’s that I hear?
PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT.
In the immortal words of Rafiki, “It is time!”