|2016 Season||Edition No. 11||May 18, 2016|
WEEK 6: CUBS CLOSE GAP TO 60 POINTS;
WAHOOS’ LUCK RUNNING OUT;
DEFENDING CHAMPS LOW ON WAMPUM
The big news for Week 6 is that Shamu’s Cubs are en fuego, having posted a scorching total of 637.6 points for the week, and narrowing the gap between 1st and 2nd to a paltry 60.1 points. The heretofore white-hot Wahoos, on the other hand, could muster only 469.6 points for the week, now that Possum has used up all of his rabbits’ feet and horseshoes.
At the other end of the spectrum, the defending champion Chiefs could manage only 343.0 points for the week, or just under 54% of the Cubs’ weekly point total. As has been observed more than once in this organ and by other HSL owners, heavy is the head that wears the crown. Unless the Chiefs’ crafty manager can turn this thing around, the prideful owner of the 4-time HSL champion Chiefs could be looking at a First to Worst 2016 campaign, something even Brother Screech was able to narrowly escape last season.
Here are the standings for Week 6 and the point totals amassed during said week:
STANDINGS THROUGH WEEK 6
WEEK 6 POINT TOTALS
TOP 25 HITTERS
COMMENTS: Barring injury, the top 5 hitters in the current standings (Altuve, Arenado, Rizzo, Machado and Harper) are a good bet to end the 2016 season in the top 5-8 scorers in the circuit, as this quintet looks to be the class of the league. It is doubtful that Trevor Story, Robinson Canó, Xander Bogaerts and Daniel Murphy can keep up their current pace, but one has to expect that Mike Trout will start inching his way up the standings. Look for Wahoo overachiever Dexter Fowler to continue his descent down the batter standings.
TOP 25 PITCHERS
COMMENTS: Clayton Kershaw is once again showing that he is the top hurler of his generation, as he vies for a 4th Cy Young Award. Max Scherzer of the Monarchs parlayed his 20-strikeout performance last week to a move up to No. 18 on the list, executing a deft fly-by over Vince Velásquez of the Wahoos, as Vince began his ride on the express elevator down toward the basement.
I meant to mention this in an earlier issue, but April 1 was the 31st anniversary of the Sports Illustrated hoax article which occurred on April Fools’ Day of 1985. As you all know, George Plimpton authored a spoof piece about a fictitious pitching phenom by the name of Sidd Finch, who was reportedly about to make his MLB debut that baseball season for the New York Metropolitans. Maybe some of the rest of you already have seen it, but ESPN had a terrific 30 for 30 piece that it aired last spring in honor of the 30th anniversary of the gag, which I just recently watched for the first time.
As the ESPN program highlights, Finch was described as a most unusual bird who, among other things, allegedly only wore one shoe—a heavy hiker’s boot—when pitching, and was trying to decide between a sports career and one playing the French horn. According to the Plimpton article, Finch grew up in an orphanage in England and was adopted by an archeologist who died in a plane crash in Nepal. After attending Harvard for a short time, Finch purportedly went to Tibet to learn the “yogic mastery of mind-body” under the great poet-saint “Lama Milaraspa,” which supposedly was the source of his pitching prowess.
Now almost laughable to think about, Plimpton wrote that Finch’s fastball had been clocked at a peak velocity of 168 mph, and the choicest part of the whole gag was that there were even a couple of Major League general managers who fell hook, line, and sinker for the reported Finch persona. It has been reported that two (unnamed) general managers called the Commissioner of Baseball, Peter Ueberroth, to ask how their hitters could safely face Finch. The sports editor of one of New York’s newspapers also reportedly complained to the public relations director of the Mets about allowing Sports Illustrated to get the scoop.
Pictured below, the imaginary Finch was played by Joe Berton, a junior high school art teacher from Oak Park, Illinois. Sports Illustrated photographer Lane Stewart recruited Berton, his friend, for the role. Berton posed as Finch for the photographs (usually with his face averted from the lens). Berton stands at 6 feet 4 inches and wears a size 14 shoe.
Lenny Dykstra with Sidd Finch
The Curious Case of Sidd Finch was a major league bit of tomfoolery by a highly respected author and a heralded sports magazine, the likes of which are not likely to be seen again. A link to the original Sports Illustrated article is provided here. If you get the chance, be sure to watch the ESPN 30 for 30 on Sidd Finch.
BOOK REPORT: HAMILTON
A short while back I finished the 731-page tour de force by Ron Chernow entitled Hamilton, with which B.T. gifted me this past Festivus. Originally published in 2005 by Penguin Books, this excellent biography about one of our most important founding fathers was the inspiration for the current Broadway hit musical by the same name, which in turn updrafted the book onto the current New York Times bestseller list.
Perhaps I wasn’t listening well at the time, or perhaps my high school history teacher was not well-informed, but I had no idea until reading this book that Hamilton was born a bastard son of a Scotsman (James Hamilton) on a small British Caribbean island known as Nevis, in the capital city of Charleston; nor that his mattress-backed mother Rachael died when he was young, leaving him to be raised by relatives on the island of St. Croix. In 1772 when he was but 13, a hellish hurricane nearly wiped out the good people of St. Croix and all of their buildings and belongings, prompting Hamilton to pen a masterful bit of prose that appeared in the local island paper, the Royal Danish American Gazette. Recognizing his budding genius, some of the movers and shakers in St. Croix raised money to send young Hamilton to Elizabethtown, New Jersey, to attend an academy for a formal education, and then on to Kings College, now known as the Ivy League Columbia University. This twist of fate in turn led to Hamilton becoming part of the revolutionary movement and a trusted and beloved aide to General Washington, and later President Washington.
Largely an autodidact and entirely self-motivated, the former Boy Bastard of the Caribbean almost single-handedly brainstormed and then constructed and implemented our national treasury and banking systems, and was the principal author of the prodigious Federalist Papers. Had he not experienced a serious lack of judgment and entered into a disreputable relationship with a tawdry young woman who then blackmailed Hamilton with the aid and assistance of her husband—which became fodder for the tabloid press—Hamilton would undoubtedly have been a strong candidate for the presidency at or after the time of the regime of Thomas Jefferson. As described by Chernow, the circumstances of Hamilton’s shooting at his infamous duel with the much-loathed Aaron Burr are both fascinating and tragic, as Hamilton reportedly pointed his dueling pistol into the air and fired off his shot harmlessly toward the heavens, while Burr declined to return the favor. Hamilton’s subsequent death led to months and months of Aaron Burr being on the lam to avoid arrest, even as he was our country’s sitting Vice-President.
Having read this tale of political intrigue from the late 1700s and early 1800s, I hope I have a chance to see the Broadway musical in the Big Apple before Hamilton ends its run. If you are looking for a very readable and enjoyable 700+ page book to fill all your idle time, Hamilton is it.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: 1994
SHAMU STRIKES WHILE THE IRON IS HOT
Since the 2016 From the Bullpen publications have evolved into a bit of a nostalgia tour, let’s continue the practice by revisiting the grand and glorious season of 1994, in which Brother Shamu took advantage of the players’ season-ending strike to take his first Hot Stove League title over the Reds by a final tally of 6410-6209. It was a memorable season for a lot of reasons, including:
Opening Day Trip to Arlington
“It will be worth a fortune one day!”
THE HSL TRIP
“I really am having a great time, guys!”
U-BELLY'S ENGAGEMENT TO JODY
ITCHIE'S PROMOTION AT FDR
And the top ten list of reasons for his promotion:
HSL WINTER MEETING 1/21/95
Hot Stove Leaguers celebrate Shamu’s first title.
(Who says Itchie’s hairline has receded a bit?)
YOU CAN QUOTE ME
This past weekend as I was perusing Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, I was reminded of some of the great quotes from our past presidents and world leaders, and was wondering to myself when the last truly memorable quote was made by a United States president. I had to go back to JFK (and/or Ted Sorensen) to come up with anything remotely notable:
My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.
Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
Having opened the door, let me repeat here a few of my favorite presidential quotes from the Bartlett’s archives:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Harry Truman: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Dwight D. Eisenhower: What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight—it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
Ronald Reagan: When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat; and Trust, but verify.
With either The Donald or Hillary likely to be our 45th U.S. president, I don’t think we’re in any real danger of the sans quotable streak being broken:
From The Donald:
I don’t actually have a bad hairline.
There were these Two Corinthians that walked into a bar . . . .
Good grief. Talk about your Hobson’s choice. Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? The nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
But now for the big finish. Having read a couple of great biographies about Churchill (including the masterful The Last Lion by William Manchester), I am going to step out on a limb and say that the most widely-quoted politician of all time, and the politician with the most great speeches and sayings worth quoting, was the great Winston Churchill. Savor for yourself these delectable Churchillian morsels from this historical mastodon who is chiefly responsible for rescuing the British Isles from Germanic massacre:
And now for the greatest of the great (it helps if you close your eyes, lean back, and imagine the words coming right out of Churchill’s mouth:
And now, the grand finale, with chills running down my spine as I dictate these monumental words:
Never, never, never give up.
* * * * * *
That does it. I am emotionally spent. Good luck in the rest of Week 7, lads. I am heading to Pittsburgh!